+ Reply to Thread
Results 1 to 3 of 3

Thread: Episode 16 - "Angel" (PG)

  1. #1
    NS Senior Member Senior Member sydsvaughn's Avatar
    Join Date
    04 Mar 2003
    Posts
    1,313

    Episode 16 - "Angel" (PG)

    Title: Angel
    Written by: Sara C & Becky

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

    Lana loved running Talon errands on lazy Saturday mornings such as this one. She wore her favorite red t-shirt, enjoying the feel of the warm sun on her skin. The deep azure skies formed a beautiful backdrop to the well-kept street she was walking down; its clipped lawns and tended flowerbeds were lush from the rain the night before and the air tasted thunderstorm fresh.

    The storm had taken everyone by surprise: it was a little after sunset on what had been a glorious day, and the heavens opened on the large groups of people who were walking along the cooling sidewalks. Everyone flocked to the Talon, and was welcomed by the ‘Happy 18th Clark!’ banners and bunting hanging from the rafters. Lana smiled to herself as she remembered the countless residents of Smallville, dripping with rainwater, shaking Clark’s hand and asking if they could stay. The storm had lasted all night, so Clark found himself having a particularly vibrant celebration with half the town wishing him well.
    Clark’s birthdays had a habit of being days to remember. She recalled that night a few years ago where she sneaked into his barn to take him a birthday cake. Her lips tingled even now as she recalled their kiss beneath the star-filled sky. It was such a beautiful memory, but Lana couldn’t help feeling sadness at how far from perfect her relationship with Clark was now. Clark was a good man, they were almost perfect for each other.

    Almost.

    Last night though, last night had been good. The whole gang had been there, save for Lex who was working, again, though he had the thoughtfulness to send a UPS man to deliver a small plasma TV for Clark’s barn. Pete also sent his apologies from the Alps, together with a hastily wrapped novelty cuckoo clock.

    Jason and Chloe had been inseparable since their return from spring break, as had been the trend lately. They sat closely all night, each looking at the other as though no-one else was in the room, and kissing when they forgot that people were looking. Chloe sat with her hand hooked around Jason’s thigh, her shoulder nestled against his chest with his arm draped around her. Lana remembered thinking that they just seemed to… fit together. She was happy for them but there was a bittersweetness to seeing them together, remembering that once it had been her and Jason that way. But seeing how right they looked-she found herself wishing them only happiness.

    She suppressed a giggle as she remembered Chloe’s entrance that evening: hanging on Jason’s arm, wearing a pair of closely fitting jeans and a deep lilac checkered t-shirt, bearing the slogan “Farmboys Do It In Plaid.” An uproar of laughter made her smile proudly, and Clark’s ears had blushed for 20 minutes.

    Lana saw Jason’s flat across the road, being the upper floor of a large town house. He’d rented it a few weeks after starting to work with Lex, glad to get out of the boarding house he’d been living in for the past months. It was a nice area of Smallville, just off a quiet street filled with shops and restaurants. The house had been recently painted in dazzling white, and the glossy paint slicked over the verandah seemed to glow in the early morning sunlight. She saw that the first floor windows were open, the warm breeze blowing the voile curtains that she had bought with him from a market in Grandville just after he had arrived in Smallville.

    Looking at her watch, she realized she had time to call and say hello: she hadn’t had the chance to say goodbye to him last night, and had lost both him and Chloe relatively early in the evening thanks to the throng of the crowds eager to escape the rain. Just as she was about to step across the verge, the door opened and she saw Jason emerge in his suit, apparently going to work on a Saturday. He paused and looked behind him, smiling, and Lana stood still, watching from behind a tree.

    She stared with her mouth open as Jason clearly kissed someone who remained just out of sight, standing over the threshold.

    If he’s cheating on Chloe I’ll…

    Lana gasped as she saw Chloe walk out of the house. She was some distance away but she could clearly see the deep lilac checkered t-shirt that was so memorable from the night before. Chloe stopped on the porch as Jason struggled with his keys to lock the door, and she played with his hair, her body pressed to his with his arm clasped tightly around her back. They shared a long, passionate kiss on the porch and Lana noticed that Chloe’s hair was mussed, one side flatter than the other. They walked slowly to Jason’s car which was parked by the curb, and as she saw them get in and drive off down the street, she couldn’t help but smile despite the tiny pain that remained in her heart.

    She had never seen either of them looking so happy. She wished she could feel that happy with Clark.

    Abandoning her plans of calling in on Jason, she walked on down the street towards Procter’s Hardware store, her shopping list in her hand, mind occupied with her thoughts. Just as she expected for such a bright morning, the crowds were out in full force. A sound behind her distracted her and she turned around.

    “It’s not like you gave me any choice… I told you I didn’t want to do it but then you showed me that thing, and you know how I feel about that, I just don’t like it…” Lana watched as a man who appeared to be in his late twenties walked down the street having an animated conversation with himself… it was strange, he kept glancing up at his imaginary companion, focusing as though looking in their eyes. He seemed not to realize that he was speaking to thin air.

    Lana frowned a little, and then was distracted by an older lady crossing the street, speaking in loud, exasperated tones. “Shoo! SHOO!” the lady waved her arms around her head as though trying to swat away a dozen flies. “Get off me!” Lana moved closer but couldn’t see anything, the lady then fixed her gaze. “I banged my head and now these damned little birds won’t leave me alone!”

    This is weird, thought Lana. Even for Smallville.

    Everywhere Lana looked, she noticed that the street wasn’t its normal self today. People were doing a whole host of strange things: seemingly carrying empty boxes, talking to people who weren’t there, running at full speed and looking behind them constantly as though something was chasing them.

    “Careful!” a little girl said from her seat on the edge of the sidewalk. “You nearly stepped on him!” Lana looked down in horror as the young girl seemingly picked up an imaginary animal and seemed to be tickling it on her lap. “He’s my new kitten, do you like him?” Lana bent down next to the girl to try and look closer, but she couldn’t see anything.

    “W-what’s his name?” she asked the girl.

    “Rory,” came the reply through a wide grin.

    “Oh,” said Lana, standing to her feet once more before continuing with a distant tone, “maybe he’ll grow up to be a lion on day with a name like that.”

    Lana cast her eyes around the street once more trying to make sense of the scene before her. She was distracted however by the little girl’s scream, small hands finding hers, clambering for protection from something. Lana felt an odd sensation in her hand, and wondered if the tingle was caused by the girl gripping her fingers so tightly. She could feel the girl trembling.

    “R-rory,” said the little girl in a small, shaky voice. She let out a shrill scream and the girl ran down the street screaming “Lion! Help me!”

    Lana began to run after the girl, as something had clearly upset her. The girl’s little legs carried her nimbly through the crowds, and Lana found it impossible to keep up, she kept bumping into people, apologizing to them automatically but wondering why they weren’t trying to help a child in distress.

    If only Jason were at home… he has a phone, he always keeps a cool head in a crisis, he could always find me in a crowd…

    Lana ran into someone and stopped abruptly, the wind knocked from her. She looked up and saw Jason, his face looking down at her with a blank expression.

    “Hi,” she said, confused, “I thought you’d gone to work?”

    There was no reply. Lana remembered her quest to find the little girl, wondered why Jason wasn’t responding to her.

    I wish Clark was here. He’d know what to do.

    Lana looked up at Jason’s expressionless face and felt her heart began to thump in her chest, felt a knot forming in her stomach. Adrenaline surged through her body, ready to fuel her legs and carry her away from things she couldn’t explain.

    Jason’s face disfigured before her eyes, his hair was growing rapidly, he was getting taller, broader. Lana didn’t blink, but as she saw Clark begin to form before her, she tried to release all her fear through a scream; a vicious shrill sound that made her throat dry.

    And then her feet were no longer fixed to the ground.

    She ran faster than she ever had in her life.

    ~*~*~*~

    Lex grimaced at the smell of antiseptic as he entered his father’s bedroom. The scent brought back far to many images, most unpleasant, about his mother’s illness and his own sojourns in a hospital. Bracing himself against the images, he strode over to where Dr. Jackson was injecting his father with some clear liquid.

    He quickly hid his reaction as he noticed Lionel wince, his usually unflappable father looking jaundiced and worn out. It was obvious the disease was progressing and for just a moment, he wondered if he’d made the right decision.

    “Come to change your mind, Son?”

    Steeling his expression as Lionel finally looked over at him, he kept his voice neutral.

    “No. I came to tell you that these petty plots to buy out LuthorCorp shareholders are beneath you. LuthorCorp is firmly within my grasp and no one is in danger of giving it back to a dying old man.”

    For just a moment, Lex thought he saw something flash in his father’s eyes. What, he had no clue, but it sent a shudder down his spine.

    “Really, Lex. There are far more subtle ways of persuasion.”

    Lionel watched as Lex absorbed his words. He had noticed his son as soon as Lex had entered the room and his still sharp eyes had caught his son’s reaction to his deteriorating condition. A dangerous spark had lit inside him as he realized that he might still stand a chance of getting everything he wanted. Not that he hadn’t already taken steps beyond what Lex could conceive, but that was neither here nor there.

    “I’m not giving you my blood.” Lex meant the words, his moment of weakness reinforced at the calculating look in his father’s eyes. Lionel Luthor never accepted no and knowing him as well as he did, Lex expected trouble. Despite being weak and sick, Lionel was still a force not to be underestimated.

    When Lionel remained silent, Lex continued. “Don’t worry, Dad. You can keep trying to bribe shareholders but they all know who will take LuthorCorp into the future.”

    With that he turned and strode from the room, barely nodding to the doctor who had been watching silently.

    “It’s not just my blood that will be on your hands, Son.”

    Lex stopped but refused to turn. He knew Lionel was trying to unsettle him, but he refused to show that it was working. Instead, he ignored the chill that went down his spine.

    “Threats mean nothing to me, Dad. I’ve beaten you so far and you don’t scare me.” The words were basically true, but he was not going to let on that somewhere, deep inside, he still felt a strange fear of his father. He refused to analyze why.

    “But what about when it’s not me you’ll have to answer to. That LuthorCorp will have to answer to.” Lionel knew his voice was rising, knew he sounded far from the cool, controlled man he usually functioned as. But he was desperate and he knew it might have even more of an impact on his son. While Lex refused to turn around, Lionel noticed the tense set of his shoulders and continued on.

    “I would reconsider giving me what I need, Lex. Or else you’ll have the blood of this entire town on your hands.”

    He watched as Lex remained still for a moment, wishing he could see the expression on his son’s face.

    Lex contemplated his father’s words silently, not liking the threats they implied. But he refused to give Lionel the satisfaction of a verbal repost. Keeping his shoulders straight, he left the room with a steady pace.

    “Foolish boy,” Lionel muttered, wincing as the petite woman jabbed him not so gently with a long needle. Turning to examine his doctor, he wondered at the expression that quickly came and went in her eyes. “Something you wish to say to me, Doctor Carlton?” He deliberately used her true name, watching as she flinched and looked around to make sure no one had overheard.

    “You need to get more sleep. Rest is the only medicine you’ve got right now.”

    Lionel gritted his teeth, knowing she was right but not liking it. Still, if his plan worked, this weakness would soon be a thing of the past. In fact, if he were correct in his calculations, the people of Smallville were just about to feel the full effects of the not-so incapacitated Lionel Luthor.

    Closing his eyes, he missed the furtive glance his doctor sent towards the door.

    ~*~*~*~

    Lana’s feet were stinging.

    She couldn’t remember how long she had been running, didn’t really know where she was. Clark hadn’t followed her, he had stayed exactly as she had left him: right where Jason had inexplicably morphed into Clark. He just stared at her, motionless, an air of calm in a sea of erratic bodies acting without sense. It was a scene of pure madness.

    “Where the HELL am I?” she cried as she turned another corner and found herself in yet another alley: it had been so long since she had seen another person, and it was like she was running round in circles whichever direction she took. Oh God, I’m lost, this place is like a maze…

    Lana found herself running into a hard object once more, and she let out a grunt as she fell to the floor. The once empty alleyway had disappeared, and she was sitting on a black floor, surrounded by four tall mirrors. She was trapped in this tight claustrophobic space and she felt her breath quicken with panic. She jumped painfully to her feet, and slammed her fists against the walls closing her in. One of them was on hinges, and it led her into another similar mirrored box. Her reflection was all around her, and she kept thinking that she saw something out of the corner of her eye. She remembered seeing an old horror movie with Clark and Pete that had a maze like this one: the heroine was chased by a hooded, faceless figure and was only saved in the nick of time by the rugged hero.

    Lana screamed, it was broken and stuttered as her throat felt raw. She saw the flash of a black cloak out of the corner of her eye, then again in one of the reflections as she pushed the door open. She was disoriented, panicked. She knew only one thing, and that was that she had to keep running.

    ~*~*~*~

    Clark made no attempt to stifle the yawn that overcame him in the truck on his way to the Talon. Last night had been very memorable, and he almost felt like a local celebrity thanks to the swelling crowds that tried to escape the rain. And of course, Chloe’s t-shirt did nothing to help him shrink back into a relaxing evening with friends.

    Clark was pulled from his thoughts as he saw someone leap out in front of his truck: a flurry of brown hair, arms that were flailing out in front as though pushing something to the side.

    Lana.

    His foot was firmly on the break, and he was ready to jump out of the car at full speed and stop the truck by his own means if he needed to. The car came to a stop just in time, but Lana didn’t even seem to notice. He was out of the car in a heartbeat and shouting her name, but she didn’t respond.

    “Lana… look at me!” he said, grasping her shoulders and turning around to look at her. He was shocked to see her panic-stricken face, traces of dirt on her forehead, her body shaking from exhaustion. “What’s wrong?”

    She looked up at him confusedly for a moment, before recognition brought relief to her face. “Clark? Oh, I knew you would come…” she threw her arms around him and craved his support, “I knew you would come. Knew you would save me from him…”

    “From who? Lana?” Clark soon found that further questions were no use. She just clung to him fiercely, her face buried into his chest. He could tell her body was shaking and weak. He bent down and picked her up in his arms and carried her over to the truck, placing her in the passenger side and strapping her in.

    He brushed a strand of hair from her face, pulling away sharply as though he had been burned. He looked at his hand and saw that his veins had flashed purple… much the same way they turned red when he’d come into contact with red kryptonite. It was an odd sensation… a heat that passed up his arm and dissipated as it sank into his body. Kryptonite had a similar effect, but it was an unimaginable pain that spread through him as opposed to a tingle. He stood and stared at his hand a little while longer, but was roused by Lana’s voice.

    “I knew you would come, knew you would come…” her voice was strange, distant. He looked at her in shock and confusion spread over his face.

    She continued to mutter the words, over and over, he could hear them clearly.
    But her lips weren’t moving.

    ~*~*~*~

    Jason felt panic sweep through his system as he listened to a slightly hysterical sounding Gabe Sullivan on the phone.

    “Gabe! Listen to me! There are no wild animals loose in the plant!”

    Lex did a double take at Jason’s words as he walked into his study. Stopping to observe the other man, he noted Jason looked frazzled and was obviously trying hard to keep his voice calm. His inner radar went on alert as he listened to Jason continue speaking.

    “I promise, I’ll send someone down to check things out but you can’t take the plant offline. Promise me you won’t.” He waited, finally breathing a sigh of relief when the manager gave his word to wait until an inspector could check things out. He rubbed his temples as he hung up, only then noticing he had an audience.

    “What’s going on, Jason?”

    Giving Lex a grimace, he tried to explain. “Gabe called to inform you he was shutting down the plant because he saw a mountain lion wandering through the halls.”

    Lex blinked. “We’re talking about my very capable, never prone to exaggeration Plant Manager, aren’t we?”

    Jason nodded. “It’s strange. I could have sworn he truly believed what he’d seen-”

    “You know what they say Mr. Teague, seeing is believing.”

    Jason and Lex both turned at Lionel’s voice, watching as the man limped into the room, followed by his nervous looking doctor. Lex’s heart did something funny as he noticed the glee in his father’s expression. Lionel Luthor NEVER looked gleeful. Which was a sign he had something in the works.

    “Dad, what did you do?”

    Jason’s eyes widened at Lex’s calm statement, his gaze flying to the senior Luthor. A shudder went through his body as he noticed the maniacal gleam in the man’s eyes. This could not be good.

    “I simply raised the stakes in our battle, Lex.” Lionel sank into a chair with a slight wince before turning his eyes to Lex. He could tell his son was rattled simply by his abnormally tense posture. Time to reveal his hand.

    “What did you do?” Lex was proud his voice was calm even though his stomach was in his throat. He suddenly had a very, very bad feeling about this.

    “I’m giving you the choice … save me and you will save this town from destroying itself or let me die and the town and all its residents die a very painful death along with you.”

    Jason didn’t resist the shiver at the menace in the words. Lionel Luthor had obviously gone off the deep end. He had a sudden fear that things were never going to be okay again.

    “Cryptic words don’t suit you, Dad.” Lex’s hands were in fists, the only sign he was affected by Lionel’s statement.

    “No imagination.” Lionel tried to sound disappointed but he couldn’t help the smile that broke over his face at realizing he’d finally outwitted his son. “You see, I have released a powerful hallucinogen into the bloodstream of several of Smallville’s residents. It should soon affect most of the residents of this backwater town. I believe the effects can be seen in the example of Gabe Sullivan. Seeing wild animals is not exactly business as usual, is it?”

    Lex was trying to process the words, horror slamming into him as they finally registered. “You poisoned this town? How?” Despite the sickness in his gut, he kept his voice neutral not wanting Lionel to see how shaken he’d become.

    “Violence is so overrated, Son. Elegance is something everyone can appreciate, even when it involves their destruction. It is so much more civilized to allow people to destroy themselves rather than do it for them.”

    Lex and Jason exchanged panicked looks but remained silent, needing Lionel to fully elaborate on what he’d done before they could make a move.

    “It’s really very simple. The hallucinogen is transferred by human contact. Once infected it spreads instantaneously throughout the body and people immediately see whatever they’re thinking of.”

    Lex looked confused. “So you’re saying your drug is making Gabe Sullivan see wild animals where there are none?”

    Lionel sighed. “Imagine how boring that would be if you only saw what you were immediately thinking. No, the real impact of this drug can be felt after half an hour. That’s usually when the fear manifests and people begin to lose what’s left of their minds. After all, when everything you imagine is suddenly before you, things have to take a turn for the worse…sometime.”

    “You’re insane.” Jason’s words were calm and low, earning a chuckle from Lionel.

    “That I may be, but I think the rest of this town has me beat on the insanity claim.”

    Lex wanted nothing more that to kill his father right there. But somehow, he found the control he needed to remain impassive on the outside while his mind was already figuring out damage control.

    “How in the world could you affect an entire town? Even you aren’t that good Father.”

    Lionel’s laughter sounded slightly crazy to both men. “Haven’t you ever accepted a free gift in the mail? Package it in pretty paper, make up some organization that is rewarding you? And imagine pulling out a small horse, the wood gleaming so brightly you just have to stroke it, thus absorbing the chemical into your skin. It’s flawless really.”

    Lex felt the bile rise in his stomach. The irony too was not lost on him. “You poisoned this town with a Trojan horse?”

    Lionel’s smile was purely evil. “The irony is quite fitting, don’t you think?”

    Jason swallowed hard, watching the interplay, wondering at just how messed up the Luthor men were. He’d thought his family was crazy. They had nothing on Lex and Lionel.

    “So if I give you my blood, you give the antidote to the people?”

    Lionel smiled, sensing victory. “Exactly. It’s a win win situation, Son. I live and you become a hero to this town, saving them from insanity.”

    Forcing down the bile now in his throat, his voice only husked a little in reply. “You know, you sound almost proud of yourself.” His own voice could not hide its disgust and horror.

    “I’ve done what is necessary to save my life. You can’t tell me you wouldn’t do the same.”

    Lex looked directly at his father, wondering at the near insane light shining now behind his eyes. Something in his heart twisted as he forced himself to see the man his father truly was. It was not pretty.

    “Where’s the antidote?”

    Lionel’s smile widened as he motioned to his doctor. “Doctor Jackson has kindly created a cure but until I get what I need, it will remain safe with the both of us.”

    Lex gave the doctor a hard look, noting her eyes were expressionless. But when he’d looked up at her a few moments ago, he could have sworn she’d looked upset. Interesting.

    “So, Lex, what are you going to do?”

    Lex knew there wasn’t much time and he needed to get to the plant to do damage control and figure out what exactly his father had done. The implications of this all made him sick and it was only through a major effort to remain calm that his face betrayed none of it.

    “I believe you know your way out.” The words were clipped and coarse and brought a frown to Lionel’s face.

    “What, no congratulations? Really Lex, this is one of my more brilliant plans.” Lionel sounded far too proud and it only made Lex angrier.

    “Get out.”

    Lionel wanted to say more but wisely stopped as he saw the look Lex was giving him. He knew when to retreat. Besides, Lex needed time to realize he had no choice in the matter.

    “You know where I’ll be when you change your mind.” Motioning to his doctor, he rose and hobbled from the room. Lex and Jason remained quiet until he was out of earshot.

    “He’s one sick bastard.”

    Lex grimaced at Jason’s words. “Try having him as a father.”

    Both men contemplated for a moment before Lex remembered the situation.

    “Jason, I’ve got to get down and check the plant. I’ll try and contain Gabe somehow to stop this thing spreading. I need you to get all the information you can on every scientist my father has been working with. Someone, other than Doctor Jackson, has to know something.”

    “Right on it,” Jason replied, already reaching for the rolodex.

    After exchanging a few more words, Lex left Jason already making phone calls. His stride was quick as he exited the house. Everything in him rebelled at giving his father his blood, but before he could make a decision he needed the facts.

    After all, he’d learned long ago never to ever underestimate Lionel Luthor.

    ~*~*~*~

    Jonathan stood with his hands grasped firmly around the back of a solid pine dining chair. His body leaned forwards to take the weight from his feet and he wore a stern, yet confused look on his face. Martha was beside him, her hand on his shoulder, trying to ease her husband’s burden. They both looked at Clark, who in turn looked at Lana, sitting in a comfy chair, rocking slowly and talking to herself in low, incomprehensible tones. Martha’s look was a mix of shock and compassion: Lana needed to be in the hospital, not her dining room.

    “I tried,” sighed Clark, “But the hospital wards were like a riot zone, you could hardly get in the ward for all the people running around doing crazy things… Doctors and patients alike. I couldn’t leave her there.”

    Martha looked straight at her son, her brow furred: it was as if Clark had answered her question before she even answered it. Clark noticed her expression.

    “You didn’t say that she needed to be in the hospital, did you?” Clark asked rhetorically, his hand combing through his hair as he thought. “I think something weird is going on,” he began, “It’s almost… it’s like I can read people’s thoughts. It all happened when I touched Lana earlier, when I put her in the truck.”

    Martha took her eyes from him. Oh God, he knows what I’m thinking?

    Clark frowned at his mother: he felt the random images pass through her mind, things he had never seen, wasn’t meant to see. She was kissing a boy at school, her hair was longer then, and her skirt was much shorter, she was arguing with her father and she was clinging fiercely to Jonathan’s hand. She was at her Grandfather’s funeral, laying a rose on his casket. She was saying yes to Jonathan as he knelt before her…

    “How…” Martha shook her head and tried to speak out loud in order to stop her mind from running away with itself. “What do you think is causing this?”

    “I don’t know,” Clark sighed. “I think it has something to do with the meteor rocks, but not in a way that causes me pain… I think it’s all linked, with what’s happening to the town. Lana is imagining things, I can tell what she’s thinking, it’s as though she can see whatever she is thinking of, and she believes it’s real. My guess is that my body is different so it reacts in a different way. I called Chloe to see if she can help.”

    “Are you sure that’s wise, son?” Clark noticed that his father’s face, like his mind, was focused. “She is friends with Lex and I don’t want either of them discovering this new… ability… of yours.”

    “Dad I don’t have to tell her about it, she’ll be more concerned with Lana’s symptoms and the fact that the whole town seems to have been affected. I trust her.”

    The three of them paused momentarily, and watched as Lana rose and walked to the window, silent now.

    “Look,” sighed Clark, “I should warn Lex, can you watch Lana for a minute? Don’t let her go near you.”

    Clark picked up the phone in the hall and dialed the familiar number for Lex’s cell phone.
    After three short rings he picked up, sounding particularly curt.

    “Luthor.”

    “Lex, it’s Clark…” hadn’t he seen the caller ID? “What’s wrong, are you OK?”

    “Now’s not a good time Clark.” His tone was clipped and impatient. “There’s a crisis at the plant.”

    Clark stared intently at the receiver as he was barraged with images at a speed that made his head ache. He could see the road passing under Lex’s Porsche at a frightening pace as he headed to the plant, but he knew that Lex had told him a half-truth about the crisis. He could hear Lionel’s words, echo in a distant recess of Lex’s mind:

    …Violence is so overrated, Son. Elegance is something everyone can appreciate… After all, when everything you imagine is suddenly before you, things have to take a turn for the worse… save me and you will save this town from destroying itself…

    Lex wasn’t telling him the truth. It was obvious from his jumbled thoughts that he knew about the threat, that it was all Lionel’s doing. Anger infused Clark as he realized that Lex could stop his father by giving him his blood. How could he possibly refuse when it was obvious so many other lives were at stake?

    Who was his friend becoming? Clark wasn’t even sure if Lex’s behavior aspired to the Luthor patriarch anymore… the only thing worse than putting the lives of thousands of innocent people at risk, was having the power to stop it and choosing not to do so.

    “I’ll call you later then, if you’re busy,” said Clark, his voice mimicking Lex’s brisk manner. He disconnected the call without another thought, save for the one that reminded him of the awkwardness swelling in his stomach that felt something like disappointment.

    ~*~*~*~

    “Have you seen Mr. Luthor?”

    Jason looked up as Doctor Jackson strode into the room. For such a small woman she had a powerful stride. She also looked nervous. He felt anger come over him as he realized that this woman had played a major part in possibly destroying hundreds of lives, including those of his friends and loved ones. That anger made his voice gruff.

    “He’s busy,” he offered brusquely, knowing not to say much more considering how close Lionel and his doctor were. “Can I help you?”

    Doctor Cassandra Jackson, aka Debbie Carlton, looked at the young man before her, sensing his anger and dislike of her. Not that she could blame him after what she’d done. That was why she needed to talk to Lex, but obviously, he wasn’t there and she couldn’t leave Lionel long enough to find him.

    Which left her little choice in the matter. She’d come this far, what would one more risk hurt her?

    “The antidote isn’t here at the mansion, it’s not even in Smallville.” At Jason’s surprised look she braced herself and continued. “It’s kept in a small lab just outside of Metropolis.”

    Jason raised an eyebrow, refusing to allow the spark of hope he felt flourish. This woman worked for Lionel Luthor, she was capable of anything. “How do I know you’re telling me the truth? And why would you want to? Lionel isn’t going to appreciate it if he finds out.”

    The woman bit her lip, looking for the first time since he’d met her, concerned.

    “I know you have no reason to trust me, hell, you have every reason in the world to hate me, I hate myself sometimes,” she offered, trying to keep her voice firm. She looked quickly down at her watch and grimaced. “I can’t be away from him much longer. But if you want the antidote, you need to head to this address. The lab is in an old warehouse owned by Reeves Construction.”

    Jason watched as she jotted down the address. He wanted to believe her, but his anger at remembering the panic in Gabe’s voice hardened his heart.

    “Why are you doing this? You created this, this,” he struggled, not sure what to call it.

    “I’m not proud of how my research has been used.” She looked at him, uncertain why it was so important that he listen and understand. “I want to try and stop this before anyone else is infected. I have to stop this. My research wasn’t supposed to hurt people, it was supposed to help.”

    “You had to have known what he was planning.” Jason’s voice was still angry but he couldn’t help but feel she was sincere. “You’re one of the top researchers in your field according to your records, you could have taken a job anywhere, with anyone if you hadn’t wanted to be a part of Lionel’s plans-”

    “No, I couldn’t.” Her voice was steady as she looked at him.

    “Explain it to me then, because I can’t believe you’re suddenly willing to stop what you helped put in place.” Jason had to admit, he was curious to hear her answer.

    Knowing she had to tell him everything but realizing how short her time was, she sighed.

    “First off, my name isn’t Cassandra Jackson. It’s Doctor Debbie Carlton.”

    Jason’s eyes widened as he connected the name with something Chloe had mentioned. “The Doctor Carlton that was presumed dead in that whole fiasco with Parker Enterprises?”

    She nodded. “I’d been working on the cure for a variant of liver disease when Lionel’s case became known. My employer instructed me to work with him because he felt Lionel was the key to discovering the cure.”

    Jason looked confused. “You’re saying you don’t work for Lionel?”

    Doctor Carlton nodded. “I work for Dr. Virgil Swann.” She paused as she saw the recognition sink in. “Someone very close to him has this disease and he’s funded all my efforts to find the cure. Lionel somehow got it in Swann’s head that he held the key to helping me find the cure and Swann told me he’d do whatever it took to get that information.”

    Things suddenly seemed a lot clearer to Jason. “He’s the one who got Lionel out of prison.”

    The doctor nodded. “Between Swann’s funds and Lionel Luthor’s access to the meteor rocks and other strange Smallville phenomenon, I was able to advance my research by years.”

    “So what did you create?” Jason was intrigued as well as horrified but he needed to know the details if he was going to find a solution to this mess.

    “It’s a form of purple meteor rock, a derivative of the green and red rocks that fell during the meteor shower here years ago. Basically, it makes people hallucinate whatever they’re thinking of until they’re literally trapped inside their imagination and unfortunately if not given the antidote within a 48 hour period, it will drive them completely insane.

    A vision of Chloe, ranting and hallucinating suddenly hit him with the impact of a freight train. The thought was unbearable and nearly brought his knees out from under him. He hadn’t talked to Chloe since this morning and he had no clue if she was infected or not.

    “Jason, please, I need you to stay with me.” Doctor Carlton bit her lip as she watched him struggle to regain his focus. She knew full well he was thinking of the pretty blonde she’d observed him with lately. The blonde that seemed to hold a strange fascination for Lex as well.

    “Why did you let things go this far?” His voice was strained. “How could you let yourself create something so harmful-”

    “I had no idea how he was going to use it!” She paced the room now, her anger and frustration palpable in the air. “Lionel had me working on it even after he discovered Lex’s blood held the cure, and I should have seen it but I was so close, so close to achieving the cure, to saving lives,” she trailed off, her eyes turning sad, “and he was using me the entire time.”

    Jason wanted to hate her but he couldn’t help but feel sorry for her as well. Of course, if this was all an act, he was in danger of being suckered in. Still, he owed it to this town, to Lex, to Chloe, to do whatever he could to see if she did indeed have the cure.

    “Take me to the lab.”

    Doctor Carlton looked startled. “I can’t do that. If I leave him much longer he’ll get suspicious-”

    “Doctor Carlton, he’s going to know you betrayed him the second we get the antidote. I’d think the farther away from him you are, the safer you’d be.”

    Doctor Carlton bit her lip. The thought of finally getting out from under Lionel Luthor’s thumb was incredibly appealing, but she also knew first hand the consequences of crossing him.

    But hadn’t she already done that? Hadn’t she done enough damage the least she could do was risk her own life to stop what she’d helped begin?

    She wondered where she’d gotten so far off the path of serving mankind and instead helped to possibly destroy them. Her idealistic dreams had disappeared somewhere along the way, encouraged and fostered by the man whom she’d spent the past few years devoted to and a cause she’d thought worth every risk.

    But now, seeing where her hard fought and earned research had taken her, taken everything she stood for, she knew she had to do something about it. Even if she knew it could quite possibly spell her death.

    “Let’s go.”

    ~*~*~*~

    The atmosphere in the Kent dining room was uneasy. Clark was tense, ready to restrain Lana should she try and approach his parents. He had to do something.

    Maybe he could go speak to Lionel? And what, ask real nice?

    Or speak to Lex? I read your mind and that’s how I know what’s going on, now give up the blood…

    Clark shook his head trying to clear it. His mother and father didn’t notice the emotions flitting across his face: they were watching Lana, who was now standing by the window with her palm pressed against the glass.

    “She can see herself playing with her parents, out on the lawn,” Clark replied to his father’s unasked question.

    “Clark you have to find out who is behind this,” said Martha in a quietly determined voice.

    “Lionel Luthor,” Clark’s reply was simple and it made both his parents look at him in horror. “Lex knows what is going on, he didn’t tell me, I just sort of knew. I guess this is his retaliation to get Lex’s blood.”

    “Clark you have to stop him, or make Lex give up the blood, you can’t let this continue!” His father’s voice was raised, and Martha took a step away from him.

    Clark took a moment to observe his mother, confused at the images he saw in her mind: standing in her Luthorcorp office in Metropolis two years ago, opening a gift box holding an absurdly expensive watch, riding in the helicopter beside Lionel, reading him documentation on all his corporate deals… his mother was feeling shame. Yet at the same time, she felt comfortable around him. Safe. Clark guessed that his mother considered herself traitorous for even accepting Lionel’s job offer. That had to be it. His mother’s eyes flitted up to lock with his momentarily, before she bit her lip and looked to the floor.

    All three of them jumped at the sound of Lana banging her palm against the window, violently. And again. Her hand pounding against the window pain. Clark looked at her, knew what she saw as her strangled cry pushed itself from her throat. “Run!!” she cried, “Run!” Her fists were pounding the window now, trying to warn her ‘parents’ of a meteor that was streaking across the sky… Clark heard the glass break under her assault, a tiny hairline fracture across the surface, and it was all he needed to shoot across to Lana’s side and stop her hand from shredding itself on the broken glass. He was there, in a blink of an eye, and Lana yelped as she saw his hand come from nowhere to seize her wrist.

    She looked at him slowly, her eyes wide with shock and disbelief. “Clark?” she asked, staring up at him, “are you real?”

    Clark didn’t say anything. He felt naked, exposed, even though he knew Lana’s mind was confused. She moved her free hand up towards his face and made to cup his cheek, but her fingers met nothing but air. He disappeared before her eyes, and as Lana looked behind her, she saw him standing behind her by the dining table, with his eyebrows raised. “Are you OK, Lana?”

    She gave him a half-hearted smile and turned to look out of the window silently once more.

    “Would someone mind telling me what the hell is going on?!” Chloe’s voice came from the kitchen as she was closing the screen behind her. She had a look of shock on her face.

    Clark was so panicked that she might have seen his powers, was so occupied trying to think of an excuse… any excuse, that he completely forgot to even think about reading her thoughts.

    “Have you driven though town today? I know you said it was weird, Clark, but this is even beyond Smallville weird.”

    Clark heard his mother let out a breath that she had evidently been holding. He decided to give Chloe the same explanation as he gave his parents.

    “Lionel Luthor.”

    Chloe’s face hardened in a way that Clark had seldom seen. “It’s a way of bribing Lex to give him his blood,” explained Clark, “I told him he should have saved his father, now everyone is paying the price for his decision.”

    Chloe didn’t respond, and Clark knew why. She was replaying her conversation with Lex in her mind, displaying an expression of utter conviction. Clark’s jaw squared as he realized the outcome of their discussion.

    “What would you do, if you were in my situation?” It was Lex’s voice, subdued yet seemingly interested in her answer.

    “I’d let him die.”

    Clark felt numb. Couldn’t quite believe that Chloe had been so blunt, so opposite to him in something so fundamental… human compassion. He knew that Chloe had every reason in the world to hate Lionel, but Clark couldn’t believe anyone could hate with such intensity so as to wish someone dead, and to truly mean it.

    He had been blaming Lex for refusing to help his father. Had it been his own choice or had he taken Chloe’s advice?

    It was in that moment that Clark wondered if he knew who either of his friends was anymore.

    ~*~*~*~

    “Carlton!”

    Lionel was growing so agitated he didn’t realize he’d called his doctor by her true name. But it wasn’t like her not to respond to his calls. She’d been dutifully following his orders for the past few years, he had to wonder why she suddenly was unavailable.

    A sense of foreboding hit him as he wondered if there was a reason she hadn’t returned to him after explaining she was off to get them lunch.

    He’d been impressed with her the moment he’d met her, not just for her brains and beauty but with her determination. He’d never met someone so determined to find a cure for something, and with Swann’s incentives and referrals, he knew she might be the only one capable of seeing this through to the end.

    He’d watched as she’d struggled and researched day and night, refusing to give up, even when it appeared Lex would not cooperate. She’d earned his respect for sticking with him and standing up for him, even when he knew she wasn’t quite sure she was behind what he was doing.

    It was for that reason he’d kept his true use of the purple meteor drug to himself. Not only did he not like letting anyone in on his plans but he didn’t trust anyone enough anymore to completely take them into his confidence.

    Doctor Carlton had been the closest person to him in years, since Martha Kent had worked for him all those years ago. A pang went through him as he realized how horrified Martha would be if she ever found out what he’d done. A similar pang confronted him now as it became more and more apparent Doctor Carlton had chosen the path away from him as well.

    A bitter sense of irony and rage built inside him as he realized that more than likely Carlton was on her way to get the antidote and most likely give it to his son. The betrayal was painful but the sense of inevitability was not. If he couldn’t stop her from helping save this decrepit town he would have to take other, more drastic measures.

    He ignored the swift sadness that shot through him, only to be replaced by a grim determination.

    Rising slowly, he walked over to the desk where she kept all her notes. Seeing the formulas and notations he gathered them together. No use letting her work go to waste. The next scientist he teamed up with would no doubt benefit from the notes.

    Walking back over to the phone, he picked up the extension and dialed a familiar number. Once the call was complete he settled back onto the bed, hating the ache in his joints and the pain in his stomach.

    He’d like to say he had been planning for Carlton’s betrayal but the fact of the matter was that he’d been so weak and tired, he’d only been able to put in place a fraction of his normal contingency plans. There was so much left up to chance but he still had a few tricks up his sleeve.

    He sighed, once more realizing how much different things would have been if Lex had only said yes to the blood transfusion. Really, looking at it from that perspective, this was all Lex’s fault and he’d make sure his son was aware of this.

    Just as soon as he set the last part of his plan into motion. Wincing, he reached for the phone.

    ~*~*~*~

    “Excuse me.”

    Doctor Carlton and Jason turned as the beefy security guard approached. Taking a deep breath, Carlton held out her security badge. “This is my lab, I’m simply getting some paperwork-”

    “I have strict orders that no one goes in there.” The guard took only a cursory glance at the ID she was holding, a frown on his face. “I can’t make an exception-”

    “Certainly you can.” Her voice was strong. “I work for Doctor Swann and I’m sure if you contact him he’ll tell you-”

    “The Doctor is out of the country at the moment.”

    Jason looked around for any type of weapon, knowing he’d do whatever it took to get them into the lab. He’d called Lex on the drive to the lab and filled him in. The younger Luthor was already working on plans to distribute the antidote as soon as he got a hold of it.

    “I don’t have time for this. Either you let me in so I can save a lot of people’s lives or their deaths are on your hands.” It was a bit overdramatic, but it sounded good to her. She was desperate to end this entire fiasco.

    The guard hesitated, obviously unsure what to do. After a few moments, he sighed. “I’m probably going to regret this, but go ahead.” He stepped back as the two people in front of him quickly unlocked the door and entered the lab. He only hoped if they spoke the truth, they were in time.

    “The antidotes’ in the big fridge over there, it’s yellowish in color. It’s stable so we can pack as much of it into canisters as possible. There’s no telling how many people will need it by the time we get back.”

    Jason nodded, already hard at work packing up the liquid. He only hoped they would be in time to save the people of Smallville. His mind paused for a moment on the image of Chloe he held from that morning. Smiling, laughing, passionate and beautiful. He’d be damned if he didn’t get back and save her in time.

    “I assume you told Lex that the antidote like the hallucinogen works by touch?”

    Jason nodded. “He’s figuring out how to get it to the people in the quickest way possible.”

    Doctor Carlton nodded as she started gathering her notes. “Finish packing it up, I’m getting the last of my notes and other research materials I don’t want anyone getting a hold of. And Jason?”

    Jason looked up at the serious tone of her voice a chill running down his spine at her words.

    “If anything happens to me, don’t let Lionel Luthor get a hold of these notes.” She held up a sheaf of papers in her hands. “I’ve already sent them to Virgil Swann via our encoded email but I need a copy for myself. But Lionel cannot get a hold of them.”

    “Why?” Jason was truly curious.

    “Because they’re the only true notes on the research I’ve done and they’re the closest to the cure I’ve ever been.”

    Jason was confused. “Don’t you keep them at the mansion where you can work on them? And I thought the cure was in Lex’s blood?”

    Doctor Carlton laughed ironically. “I stopped keeping my true research at the mansion a long time ago.” Her eyes turned slightly malevolent. “Anything he has is not going to do him any good right now.”

    Jason had to admit, he was impressed. But she still hadn’t answered the blood question. “What about Lex’s blood?”

    Doctor Carlton sighed. “While there’s something in his blood that would have helped heal Lionel, it works only with a combination of other drugs. Several of which I deliberately did not note or tell Lionel about.”

    Jason looked confused. “So you lied to Lionel? Even before you knew what he was using your other research for?”

    She nodded. “I have my own secrets Jason, secrets even Lionel Luthor and Virgil Swann will never know about.”

    Jason could only nod. His opinion of the woman was constantly changing, although he wasn’t sure if it was for the better.

    “Now, hurry up. I’ve got a bad feeling about this.”

    Jason took heed to her words and began moving faster. He stopped suddenly as the door flew open to reveal a different security guard. Or perhaps not, considering the man was dressed entirely in black.

    “Oh God, he knows!” Carlton cried out even as she saw the gun aimed at her chest.

    Without stopping to think, Jason leapt at the guard, trying to wrestle the gun from his hand. The man was larger than he was, but he had the agility the other man was lacking. The struggle seemed endless as they fought for control of the gun, Jason knowing only he had to disarm the man.

    Moments later he saw his opportunity and with a raised knee, sent the man howling in pain to the ground. Twisting the hand with the gun, his heart stopped as he heard a shot ring out. Time froze for a moment as everything registered. Suddenly realizing he felt no pain, that the bullet had missed him, he delivered a solid punch to the man’s face, knocking him out cold.

    Gasping for breath, he turned. “Come on, let’s get out of here Doc-”

    He stopped, his eyes taking in the sight of the body lying on the floor, her head framed in a pool of red, her eyes glassy and unseeing.

    “Oh God, oh no,” he muttered, running over and checking for a pulse even though he knew he would not find one. He felt a strange sense of sadness overcome him, truly believing she’d wanted to help. What a waste of a life. As he knelt over her lifeless body he saw the papers she clutched in her hand.

    Reaching for them, he looked at her fine handwriting, remembering her words. Taking a deep breath, he knew what he had to do.

    Lionel Luthor would not get a hold of this research. No one would. It was too dangerous and too deadly if it fell into the wrong hands.

    Looking around, he found a book of matches lying on a nearby table. Lighting one, he watched as he set the papers on fire until they crumbled into ashes, fluttering down and coming to rest on Carlton’s body.

    “Rest in peace,” he muttered before turning back to the canisters, determined to get them back to Smallville and put everything right.

    ~*~*~*~

    “So you were unable to stop him from leaving with the antidote?” Lionel clenched his hands into fists, trying not to let the extreme anger he felt overpower him.

    “I’m sorry, Mr. Luthor. He knocked me out and when I came to, the antidote was gone.”

    Lionel took a deep breath. Things were definitely getting out of hand and he could feel time closing in around him. It was time to prioritize.

    “And what about Carlton?”

    “She’s dead.”

    He felt the slightest bit of remorse at the loss but quickly pushed it aside. “And her research?”

    “Everything I could find I gathered, but there wasn’t much.”

    Lionel nodded. He knew she kept some things at the lab but her research for him was kept at the mansion. He looked down at the papers in his hands with a small smile. Her sacrifice had not been in vain.

    “Get rid of all the evidence. Understood?”

    “Understood, Mr. Luthor.”

    Hanging up, Lionel sank into the chair, reformulating what had to be done. He could feel a sense of panic trying to take over, knowing that the drugs he’d been on for the rapidly advancing disease tended to play with his mind in various ways. But he couldn’t give into the feelings right now. He needed a clear head to figure out how to salvage what he could. He didn’t have much time.

    ~*~*~*~

    Jason sighed in relief as he returned to the mansion. Lex now had the antidote and the good people of Smallville were beginning to return to normal. He knew it was not going to be easy and LuthorCorp would have to do a hell of a lot of explaining, but he was sure Lex could handle it. The important thing was that everyone would be okay.

    Lex had promised to take the antidote to Chloe as he could get there before Jason, and this made the knot in his stomach loosen. He smiled as he reached for his cell phone as he entered the study. He needed to hear Chloe’s voice, to make sure she was okay. Hell, he needed to tell her about what he’d been doing all day, simply to hear her voice and her soothing comfort that she always provided.

    He was just about to press ‘send’ when a cough alerted him to the fact he was not alone in the room.

    “I suppose you think you’ve ruined my plans.”

    Turning, he faced Lionel Luthor head on. He’d had a feeling this confrontation would be coming and he only wished his head were clearer. But he’d take what he could get.

    Replacing the phone, he kept his voice calm, gearing up for battle.

    “I’m not foolish enough to think you’re going to roll over and hide, nor that I can connect you to Doctor Carlton’s murder.” He watched as something flickered over Lionel’s face. He knew it was the only acknowledgement he would ever get that Lionel had played a part in the doctor’s death. There would be no evidence he was sure—even the guard he’d left tied up would have been taken care of. That was Lionel Luthor’s way.

    “Such a shame, she had such potential.” Lionel shifted in the seat behind the desk an almost regretful look in his eyes.

    Jason however refused to fall for the act. “I know you killed her, Lionel. I might not be able to prove it but I know and you know. And one day, you’ll answer for it.”

    Lionel regarded him with a slight smile, and it made Jason’s nerves crawl. But he braved the emotion out, knowing he had to stand his ground to get anywhere with the elder Luthor.

    “We will all answer for our crimes one day, Jason.”

    The cryptic words sent a shiver down his spine and Jason fought the urge to step back. But he’d faced worse than Lionel before and he would do so again.

    “I suggest you move out and move on with you life, Lionel. Lex is in control of LuthorCorp, your cure is unfinished,” he smiled as Lionel smirked. Before the elder man could say anything he continued. “Good luck in making those formulas work.” He smiled grimly as Lionel’s confident expression faltered for a moment.

    Lionel wondered if the boy was bluffing. He’d made sure he had absolute access to everything Carlton was working on. He knew the formulas inside out even if he didn’t understand them. The boy was trying to intimidate him. Had to be. But from the way he was smiling, Lionel felt unease building.

    “You can try to intimidate me all you want, but it won’t work. I knew more about Carlton and her methods than she thought. And I will find a way of getting Lex’s blood-”

    “But without the right combination of other chemicals, it will do nothing for you.” Jason smiled as he delivered the blow, watching carefully as Lionel tried to mask the unease in his eyes.

    “You have no idea what you’re talking about-”

    “I know enough to know that you seriously underestimated the good doctor. I can tell you with surety that without several key ingredients that Carlton took to her grave, Lex’s blood is useless to you.”

    Lionel felt panic closing in although he struggled to keep a calm mask. There was an underlying vein of truth in the words and the more he thought about events of the recent weeks, the more he realized more than likely Jason was right. But it would never do to let the young man know that.

    “Regardless, I will find someone else to continue my research. I will beat this and return a better, stronger man. The true Luthor to run my empire.” He could hear the false bravado in his words and cursed the fact that he felt so shaky from the medicine he’d ingested several hours ago.

    “Face it, Lionel. You’re dying.” Jason kept his voice hard, feeling no sympathy for the man who’d tried to turn an entire town insane. “If I were you, I would accept it and make your peace with the world and your son.” Jason watched as his words sank in, wondering if that truly was fear he saw in the great Lionel Luthor’s eyes.

    Lionel felt something he could only describe as hysteria begin to descend over him. Because he’d never felt so out of control before, he blamed it on the medicine and the fact that he had nowhere near his usual strength. Still, the fear was soon replaced by a strangely calm rage that built and grew until he knew with utter certainty what he had to do.

    “Lex is my flesh and blood. He’s more like me than he realizes and one day, he will become me. It is inevitable. It is the Luthor way.”

    Jason felt a slight shiver go down his spine. Despite the fact that Lionel sounded like some age old seer making a prophecy, he knew that they were just words. Lex would choose his own path whether for good or bad. He could only hope the younger Luthor was strong enough to overcome the elder.

    “Lex will never become you, Lionel. Despite his fears and faults, he knows what and who you are and I know he will never become you.” Jason was sure of the words, although he wasn’t quite sure why he felt them so strongly.

    “I agree, Jason. Lex will never become me.”

    Jason wondered why he did not feel a sense of victory in the words, frowning as Lionel continued.

    “Tell me, Jason, have you ever heard of the Butterfly Effect? That when a butterfly flaps its wings in Tahiti, it could cause a tsunami in Tokyo?”

    Jason wondered if Lionel had completely gone off the deep end. He almost sounded as if he were rambling and that was something he’d never heard the elder Luthor do. He wondered if it should worry him.

    Lionel smiled to himself as he watched the younger man try to figure out the cryptic sentence. A sense of calm suddenly overcame him as he saw exactly what needed to be
    done. It was not the plan he’d spent months arranging, but something even better.

    “Even the smallest cause can have catastrophic effect. One seemingly random event can have far reaching consequences beyond our comprehension. We are all linked, Jason. When she sheds a tear over you, his rage will overcome him and he will become someone even I cannot comprehend.”

    Jason felt another shudder wrack his body at the words but tried to hide his unease. Lionel was completely speaking in riddles now and Jason was seriously debating calling someone from Belle Reve.

    “You need help, Lionel.” Jason shook his head as he reached for his cell phone. Belle Reve was looking more and more appealing. “Lex could never be as evil as you-”

    His words were cut off as a loud sound reverberated through the room. For a moment, the world around him froze as he registered the gun now smoking in Lionel’s hand. A second later, a shooting pain ricochet through his chest and almost in slow motion, he looked down to see red blossoming from his chest. Falling to his knees, he wore a completely stunned expression, his gaze locked on Lionel.

    Millions of thoughts and moments flashed through his head as he felt the blackness closing in around him. The knowledge that he would never get to make things right with his family. That he would never find the path he was destined to follow. That he would never see Chloe’s beautiful smile again in this lifetime. The blackness was closing in fast, the pain nearly unbearable as he slid to the floor.

    I’m sorry, Chloe! He thought as his vision began to gray. Her face appeared before his eyes, smiling, laughing as it had been that morning. The morning he’d thought would mark the beginning of the rest of their lives. Instead, he now could see her pain as she stood before a freshly turned grave, Clark and Lana supporting her silently from behind. But it was Lex, standing so still and silent at Chloe’s right that caught his attention. There was a hardness in his eyes, a harshness to his face that he’d only seen in one other person.
    Lionel’s words echoed in his head as the light faded. He will become someone even I cannot comprehend. He felt a great sadness as he finally understood what Lionel had been trying to say. His heart ached even as he took his last breath, focusing his gaze back on Chloe’s beautiful, sad face.

    I’m so sorry.

    Lionel felt only a slight bit of remorse as he watched Jason’s body go still, eyes glazed over as his last breath escaped. But it was the look in the young man’s eyes that told him that Jason finally understood the repercussions of today’s events.

    “My son will not become me, Jason. He will become something much, much worse.” The words were whispered over the body on the floor and if anyone had been watching, they would have seen something resembling sorrow cross over the elder Luthor’s face.

    The look quickly disappeared as Lionel pocketed the gun and turned back to the desk.

    Quickly grabbing the papers he’d left there, he pulled out a handkerchief and wiped the keyboard, desk and phone. Walking over to the fireplace, he tossed the handkerchief into the flames, watching as it caught and burned, turning into soot and ash before his eyes.

    Turning, he cast one more glance at the body lying on the floor. Sorrow once more etched his features and knowing he was alone, he allowed it, for a moment, to cloak him.

    He had ended two lives today, prevented two people living up to their expectations, making their stamp on the world. It saddened him, and this brought with it surprise as so few things were able to penetrate his cool, emotionless façade. He felt a sad smile on his lips, his eyebrows shaped into a sorrowful expression. But then a warmth began to rise within him. It enveloped him with staggering force, pushed the feelings away and blackened his heart, even darker than before.

    He had ended two lives today.

    Snuffed out potential. Oh, how he wished he would be around to see Lex experience this for himself, for he would, one day. Take a life when it’s not to save your own, but merely when it serves a purpose to one’s own advantage.

    It was the dark, sordid elation that came with knowing you had the power to take life. The power that meant you could change the world to your liking. Playing God.

    The ultimate power trip.

    Without a backward glance, Lionel strode from the room.

    ~*~*~*~

    Chloe stood tall and silent as the minister read the familiar words about a ‘time for all things.’ Her body felt numb, her emotions closed off as she stood staring at the casket in front of her. Even the day seemed to share her numbness, clouds filling the sky, not a trace of sunlight to be found. She wondered if Jason were looking down and laughing.

    Her gaze moved to his parents, the elusive Mr. and Mrs. Teague she’d heard so much about from Jason. They both wore solemn expressions, pain evident in their eyes. Despite their disapproval of their son’s choices, it was obvious they had loved him. They had both taken the time to speak to her, although it had been difficult seeing the pain in Genevieve Teague’s eyes as she’d tried not to beg for details on how her son had spent the past few months of his life. Chloe had choked up, but done her best to let them know he had been happy, that he had been loved.

    She felt a sadness break through numbness as she realized that once more, someone she loved had been taken from her. It seemed to be her pattern and she was getting sick of it. Underneath the numbness a new feeling began to simmer.

    Clark stood a few feet away, his eyes never leaving Chloe. He’d been there when she’d gotten the news. Had caught her when she staggered, going completely limp in his arms. Had known immediately that something bad had happened from the way her body trembled against him. Had mourned with her as she’d stuttered out what Lex had told her, so deeply hurt that she had been unable to cry. All thoughts of betrayal and anger at her had dissipated for the moment. He wouldn’t have wished anything like this upon his friend, even if she might have been a key factor in causing it.

    He only knew the sketchy details of what had happened that day that Jason had somehow managed to save Smallville from another plot Lionel Luthor had cooked up. And his body shuddered as he realized that when Lionel Luthor was involved, nothing was an accident.

    He wished he could do something for Chloe, wished he could sense what she was hiding behind her stoic façade today. But when he’d touched Lana after she’d received the antidote, his mind-reading powers had disappeared, along with Lana, and all of Smallville’s delusions. Part of him was relieved, glad not to know other peoples’ thoughts and secrets. His own secret was enough of a burden to carry.

    Another part of him however wondered if he could have used those powers just a bit longer. To find out what Lex was really up to. To find out what had happened with Jason. To learn what Chloe was really feeling and thinking about the Luthors, Jason, even himself. To find out if Lana was having the same doubts and fears that he found plaguing him more and more often when they were together.

    Lana struggled not to cry, wondering how Chloe was coping. She’d tried to get her friend to talk about her feelings, but Chloe had remained quiet, almost dazed. Lana had cried herself to sleep, thinking what a waste it was that Jason, good, sweet Jason should have died so young. That Chloe should be denied a future with the first man she’d really allowed herself to care about. They might not be extremely close, but Lana knew how scared Chloe had been to open up, for fear of loss. She wondered only if her friend would be able to cope with that knowledge, to ever open her heart again.

    And Jason. It had been so obvious how he felt about her. He had convinced her to take a chance, take a risk and he’d taken one too. She knew he had his own insecurities and hang ups but Chloe had been good for him. They’d been good for each other. Now they would never get the chance. He would never get the chance because of what was being called a freak accident during a burglary at the mansion.

    Right.

    She knew Jason had died saving Smallville, in a way, saving her. She shivered at remembering Clark trying to explain what had happened, why half the town had seemed insane. Learning that it had been Jason that had provided Lex with the antidote, that Jason had been killed within hours of it taking effect and restoring the population to sanity, it was enough to make her mind start spinning and draw not too pleasant a conclusion.

    Her gaze moved from Chloe’s still figure to the tall, silent man standing next to her.

    Chloe barely realized the ceremony was over until she felt Clark’s hand at her elbow.
    “Come on, Chloe. It’s time to go.”

    She pulled away, not wanting his touch, wanting only to be alone. “You guys go on, I need to be by myself for a while.”

    “But Chloe, you shouldn’t-”

    “Clark.” Lana’s voice was even as she stepped up and hugged Chloe. “Call us if you need anything, okay?”

    Chloe gave the brunette a vague smile as she watched her lead a worried looking Clark away. Their concern was sweet but she needed to do this alone. To be alone with the memories of what could have been.

    “We’ll get him Chloe. We’ll find him and we’ll make him pay.”

    Lex’s words barely registered as she turned to observe him. The numbness receded a bit from her body as she noted the hard look in his eyes. For a moment, it frightened her. She knew that look. Knew what it meant. She’d seen it before.

    On his father.

    The emotion that had been simmering beneath the numbness bubbled a little hotter. Still, she kept her voice calm.

    “I know, Lex. I have to believe that.”

    Lex stared at her, worried about how cold her voice sounded. Looking into her usually clear eyes he found something in them that made his heart shiver. It was a look he would recognize anywhere, considering he’d seen it far too often on his own features.

    “Chloe,” he began, but she held up a hand.

    “Just go, Lex. We’ll talk later.” She wasn’t sure what she was feeling but she knew she needed to be alone. Away from Lex, away from the memories, away from everything.

    Lex swallowed and nodded. She wasn’t ready yet, but he knew soon, very soon, she would be. Until then, he had a new personal mission. And he would not stop until he’d accomplished it. Whatever it took.

    “I’m here if you need me.” He watched as she nodded before turning and moving past him, walking over to the casket. He watched her a moment more before turning and leaving her to grieve in peace.

    Chloe rested her head against the polished wood, feelings and emotions finally beginning to break through the numbness. Sadness, grief, regret and pain for what they’d lost. Happiness for the moments they had shared. Frustration at knowing they’d been so close to happily ever after, only to have it taken away with a single bullet to the heart.
    The feeling underlying all her emotions suddenly boiled, expanding and encompassing all other emotions like a freight train.

    White hot anger.

    Her eyes flashed fire as she laid her hand on the polished wood, the tears she’d held back finally coming, mixed with a fiery anger that had her banging her fists against the casket as if it were a punching bag.

    She barely felt the first drop of rain as the heavens opened up around her.

    ~*~*~*~*~

    Lex was standing in the middle of his study, a glass full of Scotch in his hand that had so far not been raised to his lips. He stood motionless, staring at the patch of parquet that had a brighter sheen than the rest. The room was dimly lit, an orange glow flickered from the fire and moonlight poured through the red and white stained glass, throwing distorted shadows across the room. He hadn’t attempted to turn any of the lamps on, had hardly moved in hours. Just stood there, not drinking, looking at the spot where his father had made a butterfly flap its wings.

    It sickened him that he understood his father’s mind.

    “I see the Luthor spin wheels are turning like a well-oiled machine,” the voice was a surprise: he had expected Clark, coming to preach, or Chloe, wanting revenge. He hadn’t expected to turn around and see Lana walking into his study.

    She walked up to him and hit a copy of the Ledger across his chest and he instinctively grasped it. He looked at the front page: ‘Funeral of murdered Teague heir’ was emblazoned in bold print across the top, with an oversize shot of Jason wearing a wide grin. He saw a banner in the background that read ‘Happy 18th Clark!’, a trace of blonde hair to the right of the photo, just creeping into the frame.

    “A burglary at the mansion?” Asked Lana, her tone indicating just what she thought of the idea. “You can’t expect us to believe that.”

    “I don’t expect you to believe anything.”

    “I know what’s going on. I’m not a child, Lex.”

    Lex inwardly winced as she exaggerated every letter of his name. It sounded harsh and unpleasant. It was her way of expressing anger without shouting at the top of her voice and it grated on his nerves.

    “Do you think that between Clark, Chloe and the Kents I have no idea of what is going on? Your father murdered Jason.”

    Lex took a long drag from his whisky tumbler, taking his time to allow the heat in his throat to subside before he replied to her.

    “Do you want me to apologize, Lana? Let me tell you now that that is not going to happen,” Lana straightened her back, physically drawing herself back in, averting her eyes to the floor.

    “I’m truly sorry for your loss, Lana, I know you cared for Jason, but I’m not going to apologize for his death because I had nothing to do with it. I will not apologize for my father’s actions. They’re his actions, not mine.”

    “But he’s your father and Jason was killed working for you! Where were you when he was laying here dying?”

    “I was helping to pass the antidote around Smallville to undo my father’s handiwork… I believe that saved your life, Lana. I can’t apologize for having a father.”

    Lex knew that his line of argument was harsh, but it felt so fundamental to him to make the distinction between his father’s actions and his own, now more than ever. If he apologized for his father, he would have to take responsibility for Jason’s death in order for it to be sincere.

    “When did you grow to be so cold, Lex? Where’s the man who told me to be the girl who goes to Paris? The man who cared? It’s like you’re bored with us now… you sweep in with the grand gestures like the Spring Break trip, Clark’s birthday present, but it’s like they’re from a different person. Friends are supposed to be there Lex, not sending gifts via UPS.”

    “I’m not bored with you, Lana. I happen to be busy running LuthorCorp in case you haven’t read the papers…”

    Lana paused, shifted her weight a little and folded her arms. “You’re not too busy for Chloe, though, right?”

    “What’s that supposed to mean?”

    “I’m not blind,” she fired back at him. “I know what’s going on. Chloe has had nothing but heartbreak since she stepped into your family circle, and now Jason…” she stopped to take a breath, fighting back her own tears. “Everything you touch turns to ash, Lex, in one way or another. I won’t let Chloe suffer the same fate.”

    “Oh you won’t?” said Lex with a small, cold laugh. “What are you going to do about it?
    Refuse to serve me in the Talon, or spit in my cappuccino unless I leave your friend alone? Think about it Lana. Think about who you’re dealing with.” He was tired of her petty tantrums.

    “Are you threatening me?”

    “Chloe can decide for herself who she associates with. It’s none of your business.”

    “But you can’t…”

    “Lana,” interrupted Lex, “I know that you’re mourning Jason’s loss. It’s only because I care about that that I’ve let you say half of this to me. But no more. It ends here. You know the way out.”

    He stood firm, using his full height to tower over her. She stood up to him, a feat that few people dared attempt and for that he held a degree of respect for her, but it was soon buried. Lana turned on her heel and walked out of the study, leaving behind the room that had once seemed so welcoming, but now only made her shiver. She hated the thought that it had been the last thing Jason had seen. That he had been there alone.

    As she ran down the stone steps from the mansion, she was overcome with a feeling that she just needed to run, to try and escape the grief, the hatred, the bitterness in Chloe’s eyes, the coldness in Lex’s face.

    But no matter how fast she ran she couldn’t escape the feeling that something had broken.

    ~*~*~*~*~*~*~
    TO BE CONTINUED IN EPISODE 17

  2. #2
    An Accused Heretic Senior Member Kit Merlot's Avatar
    Join Date
    12 May 2003
    Location
    Penn's Woods
    Posts
    4,696

    Re: Angel - Episode 16 (PG)

    My God, I'm stunned that Lionel Luthor killed Jason!

    And good for Lana for trying to protect Chloe--she's actually trying to be a good friend.

    Great work on this episode.
    Last edited by Kit Merlot; 3rd January 2010 at 04:27.
    KATHY

    "Don't quote me to me!" Detective Danny "Danno" WIlliams, Hawaii Five-0, episode 1.8 Mana'o

    "This could barely fill up Thumbelina!" SALIGIA by westwingwolf

    My Fanfic Master List

    My livejournal: An Accused Heretic

  3. #3
    NS Full Member TrinityR's Avatar
    Join Date
    23 Oct 2011
    Posts
    912

    Re: Angel - Episode 16 (PG)

    Is that making me a bad person that I was happy when Jason died?
    Still, you made it very touching!

+ Reply to Thread

Thread Information

Users Browsing this Thread

There are currently 1 users browsing this thread. (0 members and 1 guests)

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts