Casting a quick, wary glance out of the helicopter, Alexandra J. Luthor, Lexa to her mother, promptly shrank back into her seat and screwed her eyes shut once more. Why Mama had insisted she go with her father on his stupid business trip she had no clue. Alexandra hated her Dad's business and he knew it, she hated the outdoors and he knew it, she hated flying and he knew that too.
Her Daddy hated a lot of things about her.
Beside her, she head the rustle of his newspaper lowering and inwardly - she didn't dare show it - she cringed.
Seconds later, her father, in the scathing tone reserved only for her, yelled, "This has got to stop, Alexandra! Open your eyes!"
"I can't!" She yelled back emphatically. The nine year old didn't have to open her eyes to know her father was frowning in disapproval. He did that a lot around her.
"Luthors are not afraid, Alexandra, we don't have that luxury. We're leaders." Lionel's disapproval grew as his little girl turned her head away, defiantly ignoring his order. "You have a destiny, Alexandra, you're never going to get anywhere with your eyes closed. Now - open your eyes!"
Scowling, she did as ordered but not without declaring, "I hate this stupid trip, I hate this helicopter and I hate you!"
To Alexandra's shocked surprise, her father smiled with something akin to pride. "That's my girl."
With her father's confusing response to her fit of temper still troubling her young mind, Alexandra wandered away from him at the very first opportunity she got. Lionel barely noticed the little girl leave except to call a distracted, "Alexandra? Where are you going?" over his shoulder as he fished for a pen in his inner pocket. Accepting one from a man at his side, his daughter was forgotten in the face of an impending business deal and he smiled jovially at the men, "Now...where do I sign?"
Alexandra vaguely heard one of them answer her father's question before she stepped into the cornfield and left them behind. Looking around, she was dwarfed by the rows of cornstalks and she felt a bit like she'd stepped into another world. It was cool.
Curious, she started down the rows, looking up as a crow suddenly flew overhead. The motion caused her French braid to pull at her head and she scowled. Irritated with the restrictive style Pamela had woven her hair into at her father's insistence, Lexa began tugging at it, trying to ease the tension on her neck.
She'd just managed to work the elastic band off the end when she heard a strange sound on the faint breeze. Something like a whisper...
Looking around, the little girl tried to see who was talking but found no one. Feeling just a little scared, she took a tentative step, still looking. "H...h...hello?"
"Help me... please."
For the first time in as long as she could remember, Alexandra actually wanted her father. Turning on her mary jane clad heel, she raced back the way she had come, nearly colliding with an ugly, old scarecrow. Shrieking, she turned and darted back the other way, fumbling for her ever present inhaler.
In trying to bring it to her mouth, she missed the fallen stalk and promptly tripped over it. The inhaler slipped out of her hands and went flying as she tumbled forward, chin impacting with the moist earth.
She lay on her belly for a long moment, blinking back the automatic tears She would not allow herself to cry. Luthors didn't cry and if her Dad caught her, he'd really give her something to cry about.
When she finally felt better, Lexa stretched out a hand to grasp the inhaler then sat up, settling back against a pole. Taking a quick burst of the medicine, she fought to regain control of her breathing, closing her eyes in an attempt to calm herself.
All attempts at control vanished when she heard the voice again. Directly above her. "Hey...kid..."
Looking up, she found herself staring into the face of a teenage boy tied up like he was a scarecrow himself, a red 'S' painted on his bare chest.
Terrified, Lexa's mouth formed an 'o' of shock and she scrambled away from the pole.
"Help me..." The teen pleaded as she kept backing up. "Please...help me."
Something flew overhead and curiosity overcame Alexandra's fear and she looked up to see what it was. Fear returned in a heartbeat when she saw the column of smoke. Her eyes went wide as she watched the meteor impact in a nearby cornfield. The ground shook and exploded in response, a massive shockwave of smoke, dust and plants began to boil toward them.
Without so much as a glance at the boy on the pole, Alexandra bolted. "Daddy!!!!"
She didn't see him be engulfed by the shockwave but she could feel it nipping at her heels and she desperately tried to run faster but she just wasn't fast enough. She tried to scream as the wind enveloped her, dirt lashing at her small body, but the sound was immediately stolen from her by the roaring winds.
Before she could try again, the winds knocked her to the ground and there was only silent darkness as unconsciousness rushed up to greet her.
Emerging from his hiding place, Lionel looked around for his daughter and found no sign of her. He felt an edge of desperation creep in as he envisioned himself trying to explain to Lillian what had happened to their daughter. The image of his wife's eyes haunted him as he began to search.
"Alexandra? Alexandra, where are you?!"
Behind him Ross and his associate were beginning to move as well but Lionel ignore them, stumbling into the flattened cornfield where he'd last seen his daughter go.
"Lexa?" Unconsciously using Lillian's nickname for the girl, he began to search the field to even the tiniest sign of her presence and found nothing.
He had almost searched the field over when he called her name one last time and heard his daughter's soft crying in response. Following the sound, he kept going until he found her, curled up in the fetal position on the ground, shaking in terror.
Lionel stopped, staring at her in shock.
"Who the hell do you think you are?!" Her cultured voice dripping with incredulity, Alexandra Luthor strode into her father's office, completely ignoring the clutch of aides gathered around his desk.
Non-plussed, Lionel removed his glasses and closed the file they'd been reviewing. "Dominic, gentlemen, would you mind? My daughter and I need a moment to speak privately.
"Of course, sir." Dominic left his employer's side then moved to offer a chair to the seething Alexandra. "Alexandra?"
Ignoring him, she remained standing, staring venomously at her father.
"Forgive my daughter's manners," Lionel interjected smoothly. "She's always had a problem with respect. Giving it, I mean."
"On the contrary, Father, I have no problem respecting those who deserve it. I merely refuse to offer anyone that level of acknowledgement when they barely deserve to be in the same airspace." She waved a distracted hand at Dominic, still not bothering to look at him.
"You see?" Lionel inclined his head at her. "My apologies, Dominic."
"I quite understand, Sir," He responded then turned to leave. "Wonderful to see you again, Alexandra, you're as lovely as ever."
"Thank you." She gritted out under her father's watchful eye, her smile strained.
"Now, was that so hard?" Lionel asked, amused, when the aide had left.
His daughter narrowed her eyes at him, scowling. "You have no idea how hard." Sitting down, she crossed her legs and brushed imaginary wrinkles from her pantsuit. "I don't know how you put up with that arrogant little... man." She finished demurely, her faux tone a testament to her desire to refer to him by a less generous title. "I really can't stand the sight of him..." She directed a knowing look at her father. "Or did I just answer my own question?"
"Of course not, Dominic is a very loyal employee -- "
"Who you could stand to learn a lot from." Lionel finished as if she'd never interrupted.
"Learn a lot from?" Alexandra laughed. "Don't kid yourself, Dad. The only things I could learn from him are traits I abandoned years ago. Useless ones at that." Leaning back in her chair, she smiled lazily. "Besides, he's a fool." She eyed her manicure critically. "And to think, you actually expected me to pursue a relationship with him. You must have been drunk."
Choosing not to acknowledge the comment, her father rose from behind his desk and moved to pour them both a drink. "I assume you're here about the Number Three Plant?" He held out the glass. "My decision is final, Alexandra, your arguments - as well planned as I have no doubt they are - are useless."
"Of course they are," she shot back, taking the drink. "Why should it be different now?" She eyed the amber liquid then her father. "And you cannot possibly be serious! I am not going to move to the middle of nowhere to run a shit factory. Send one of your drones. I'm sure they'd relish the chance to be back in their natural habitat."
"The plant's manager, Gabe Sullivan, is anticipating your arrival early next week. I suggest you begin preparations for the move. Arriving a few days early should give you ample time to inspect things as they truly are." Lionel returned to his desk, picking up several files. "This should familiarize you with the way the plant is run."
"I'm not going." Alexandra insisted, her temper rising.
"Yes. You are." Her father responded silkily. "You're 21 years old, Alexandra, I've had enough of this party girl lifestyle you've adopted. Consider this your last chance. You've thrown away every other opportunity I've given you, this is the final one." He looked stern. "And, if you should think of deliberately failing at this or if you insist on not going at all, I can assure you that you will find your party funds will be severely reduced as I will have your credit cards and bank accounts frozen. There will be no argument, Alexandra, not this time. You're going to Smallville."
As she parked her Porsche before the Luthor Corp Fertilizer Plant No. 3, her father's pronouncement reverberated through her mind one more time and Alexandra sighed heavily then got out of the car.
Looking around her at the plant and its surrounding area with disdain, she smiled mockingly. "Thanks, Dad."
Smallville... It wasn't the end of the world, but she could see it from there.
It took most of the day to suffer through a tour of the plant and then meeting after meeting with Gabe Sullivan and the management staff which was a lesson in sheer torture in and of itself. Already she could see a battle ahead of her as far as gaining their trust went. Not only was she the boss's daughter with zero experience in the field but she was barely older than some of their children. A fact borne out by the photograph of a young blonde on Gabe Sullivan's wall and the pervasive attitude of every man she'd interacted with that day.
It was infuriating and more than once, Alexandra had forced herself to bite her lip to keep from saying something her father would make her regret. She had no doubts that one of the men she'd met with that day was reporting back to her father. For all she knew all of them were, it wasn't beyond the realm of possibility. When it came to Lionel Luthor few things were. Thus, she'd forced herself to keep a reign on her temper. There was no way she was going to give her father the satisfaction. Not even close.
Leaving the plant, and any possibility of eavesdropping, she unfolded her sunglasses and slipped them on saying, "I am officially in hell." As she walked toward the car, she ran a hand through her dark red hair, pushing it away from her face. "The third or fourth circle at the very least."
A good stiff drink, coffee at the very least, was beginning to look better and better as Alexandra crossed the parking lot to where she'd left her Porsche. Caffeine or, better still, alcohol, was exactly what she needed to wash away the day's events and relax a little.
Sliding behind the driver's seat it occurred to her that to get either one, she would have to go to back to the manor and she smiled bitterly. To go home. The very thought that she was expected to consider that colossal monument to her father's equally colossal ego was, at the very least, laughable. Which, was fine by Alexandra, it wasn't meant to be a home anyway. She knew that. It was a reminder to her how far her father's influence could extend...and just how far short her own fell.
"Point noted and logged, Dad." She muttered dryly, starting the car. Turning up the CD player, she pressed down on the accelerator and raced out of the parking lot, ignoring the shocked looks of plant workers as she shot by.
Let them stare. They'd get used to it eventually. They didn't have a choice.
One of the benefits of the country, Alexandra swiftly discovered, was stretches of good, straight road and very little traffic to speak of which let her find her relaxation via another venue. It had been a while since she'd participated in a street race but it was very easy to summon the memory, letting the instincts she'd honed at those events direct her driving as she shot along a back road.
The CD blasting in her ears, she let her mind wander as she drove, there had to be a way to get out of running the plant. There had to be. Her father had cut off all conventional options quite effectively but there had to be a choice of action that even Lionel Luthor wouldn't have thought of. She just had to find it. There was absolutely no way she would give him the satisfaction of watching her fail and return home in disgrace.
Of course that was exactly what he expected. Probably exactly what he wanted. One final failure to crush his daughter's rebellious spirit for once and all, giving him the chance to mold her the way he'd always wanted to.
A faint smirk formed on Alexandra's mouth. Not likely. She had no intentions of making it that easy on him. Not for a hot second.
Her cellphone began to ring and the smirk widened. No doubt it was Daddy calling to check up on his little girl after her first day at the big new job.
She laughed bitterly. The bastard.
Pulling the phone out of her bag, she glanced down to check the caller id. Her attention was only diverted for a matter of seconds but it was enough. Cellphone moving to her ear, she looked up in time to see a large roll of wire coming to a stop directly in the path of her car.
Where it had come from she didn't know but she was headed straight for it.
Throwing the phone aside, she grabbed the steering wheel with both hands and pulled hard, trying to steer the Porsche away from it but it was too late. She hit the wire going full speed and felt the car wrench free of her control.
A scream of frustration rose in her throat as she fought to regain that control and found her fight futile. Swerving, the Porsche headed straight for the bridge's railing...and the young man leaning against it.
Alexandra's eyes widened with horror and she reflexively pushed on the brakes with all the strength she could manage but it did no use. In the scant seconds it took for the car to hit him and go over the bridge, she tried to form an apology to the young man.
Unconsciousness stole her away before she could give voice to it and, just like her previous visit to Smallville, Alexandra was swallowed by the mercifully silent darkness.
"...don't die on me..."
An unfamiliar voice broke the blackness that surrounded her and Alexandra was vaguely aware of hands pressing on her chest, a mouth breathing air into hers. She tried to push them away, to tell them to stop, but her body would not respond to her commands. Instead, it jerked her upward violently and she rolled to spit water out.
Coughing, she felt hands guide her onto her back and she forced her eyes open to find the young man from the bridge, dripping wet, leaning over her.
"I..." she coughed again, her voice hoarse. "I could have sworn I hit you."
He looked at her then back at the spot where they'd gone over. "If you had," he said slowly, looking down at her again, "I'd be...I'd be dead."
"But..." She tried to sit up, to argue. She'd hit him, damn it, the vision of his horrified eyes would haunt her the rest of her days. She'd hit him! She knew she had! "I..."
He grasped her shoulders again, firmly holding her down. "Don't. You almost died, miss. You need to lie still. I'm sure somebody's called the paramedics. You shouldn't move until they get here."
"What about you?" She asked, watching him anxiously. He had to be hurt. Cars didn't hit kids going that fast and not hurt them. "You should see a doctor..."
He shook his head. "I'm fine. You didn't hurt me."
Exhaustion began to settle in and Alexandra felt the familiar darkness beckoning. "But you...I could've..."
He smiled a little, a hand brushing over her wet hair. "Try and rest. Just rest."
She let her eyes close but still, her brow remained furrowed with confusion. "Could've sworn..."
When she woke up the second time, it was a paramedic bending over her and not her rescuer. "Just lie still, Ms. Luthor, you're going to be fine. You're lucky Clark was here to pull you out. If not..."
Clark. So that was his name.
She said it softly, under her breath, testing it out. "Yes, lucky." She added absently, looking for him. "Where is he?"
"Giving his statement to the sheriff." The paramedic helped her sit up then draped a blanket around her shoulders, guiding her hand up to clasp it tightly. "Over there."
Alexandra turned to see him, a blanket around his shoulders, talking to a uniformed man with a mustache. The aforementioned sheriff, she presumed. "I'll be back." She informed the paramedic, pushing herself to her feet.
"Hey! You shouldn't be..." the paramedic jumped up and held up a hand in objection but the young heiress paid him no attention, striding off on unsteady feet, "walking around yet."
Before she could reach her rescuer, a blond man hurried down the embankment, calling out Clark's name as he did so. Alexandra stopped short, watching silently, as he reached the sitting teen. His father, she surmised by the way he checked Clark for injuries then held his face in his hands before asking, "Son, are you all right?"
A pang of envy stabbed through the watching woman as Clark replied, "Yeah, I'm okay.", in an attempt to reassure his father. She couldn't think of a time her father had ever spoken to her in a voice like that much less touched her so carefully. The truth was, the only time Lionel acted like her father was at photo ops.
Alexandra couldn't stop herself from taking a step back when Clark's father straightened and looked about angrily, "Who's the maniac who was driving that car?"
With a quick, fortifying breath, she moved forward and gathered the poise long ago drilled into her by countless tutors. "That would be me," she smiled a little, holding out her hand. "Alexandra Luthor."
He gave her an appraising look then, ignoring her proffered hand, pulled off his coat to drape about his son's shoulders. "I'm Jonathan Kent -- this is my son."
The rejection stung and she worked quickly to hide the hurt in her eyes. The legacy of the Luthor name, yet another gift to thank her father for.
Choosing to ignore the slight, she focused her attention on the younger Kent. "Thank you," her smile became one of gratitude, "for saving my life."
He blushed, waving off her thanks, clearly uncomfortable. Whether that discomfort came from his father's presence or natural humility, she wasn't sure. It was a little of both, she suspected. "I'm sure you would have done the same."
Watching him stand, Alexandra found herself fervently hoping that was so. She didn't like the idea of disappointing that newly discovered faith in her. Ironic, that it would come from someone she'd just met...not her own father.
Before Mr. Kent could follow his son, she tried again, "You have quite an extraordinary son, Mr. Kent. If there's any way I can repay -- "
He rounded on her so quickly, she had to force herself not to flinch. She wasn't entirely successful at controlling her reaction, however, and judging by the way he stopped and drew in a slow, calming breath, Mr. Kent had seen it loud and clear.
"Drive slower." He cautioned quietly.
Alexandra lifted her chin slightly, meeting and holding his gaze, resisting the automatic inclination to protest her innocence. She knew she would have never gone off the road were it not for someone else's negligence but she had the impression Jonathan Kent wouldn't appreciate her attempting to pass culpability on to someone else.
Choosing to stay quiet, she watched the Kents leave then turned at the sound of the crane as it hoisted her ruined Porsche from the river.
As she watched the men work, her own words came back to her:
"I could have sworn I hit you..."
Predictably, her father's reaction was far different from Jonathan Kent's. Alexandra awoke to find her housekeeper, Anna Palmer, standing by her bed with the cordless in her hand.
"Your father, Ms. Luthor."
Groggily brushing her disheveled hair away from her face, she accepted the phone and brought it to her ear, squinting at the morning light coming through the large windows. "Hmm... good morning, Dad."
"What were you thinking, Alexandra?!" Lionel demanded without preamble.
Rolling her eyes, the redhead threw back the covers and got out of bed. "Oh, something along the lines of 'I don't want to die'...what do you think I was thinking, Dad?"
"Just tell me...had you been drinking?"
Alexandra shared an aggravated look with her housekeeper. "Oh yeah, like a fish. I started with a white Russian at lunch and finished up with a Jack Daniels right before I left the plant. Of course, I wasn't drinking! Some truck lost a load of barbed wire and I hit it. You can tell your PR department to relax. No scandals will be forthcoming from my little brush with death. Oh, and I'm fine, by the way. Thank you for asking."
Hitting the end button, she threw the phone down on the bed and allowed the housekeeper to help her into her favorite silk robe. "If he calls back, tell him I had to go into town."
"Yes, Ms. Luthor." Picking up the cordless phone, the slender brunette started toward the bedroom door. "I had the maid draw you a bath," she smiled gently. "I thought you might like one after yesterday."
Alexandra smiled back gratefully, "Thank you, Anna, I think a good soak in something other than the river is a brilliant idea."
The housekeeper's smile widened and she added, "I'm very glad you're all right. I'm sure your father feels the same way... Mr. Luthor..."
"I know." Alexandra's look softened and she nodded once. "I know."
Sinking down into the steaming, fragrant water, she rested her head against the soft cushion and closed her eyes. A soft sigh of relaxation escaped her and she settled down, mulling over the events of the previous day.
An image of Clark Kent filled her mind and she smiled.
It didn't seem right that a simple thank you was all he'd received for saving her life. It didn't seem adequate to her at all.
Opening her eyes, Alexandra reached over to pick up her loofah, her smile widening.
It wasn't adequate but she knew something that just might be.
After breakfast, Alexandra made a quick trip to a dealership in Metropolis. She could have easily sent someone else but she knew she had to go herself. The personal touch was important this time and she just knew she had to be the one to choose. No one else would get it quite right.
The very surprised dealer very nearly fell all over himself in his eagerness to help. Amused, Alexandra indulged his excessive attentiveness and when she left some time later, she was quite satisfied with her choice.
She only hoped that Clark would be as well.
Alexandra didn't have to wait long for her answer. It walked into the garden the next day while she was engaged in a sparring match with her instructor, Senor Alvarez. She didn't notice Clark's arrival at first, mastering the disciplines of the magic circle as it was known required her full concentration and she was hellbent on mastering it. Her father had approved of the fencing lessons, he'd thought they would teach her the discipline she needed in the business world, but he hadn't been as enthused when she'd expressed interest in Spanish styles instead of the more traditional methods he'd chosen.
He'd expressed concern that it might be too difficult for her but Alexandra was insistent. She would master the technique if only because her father hadn't wanted to do it. A few vestiges of adolescent rebellion left over from her extremely misspent puberty.
She threw herself into a lunge but her instructor easily avoided it, swatting her across the behind with the flat of his blade. The unspoken reprimand ignited her infamous temper and she spun on him, ready to attack again, but dismissed the idea upon finding the tip of his saber waiting just beneath her chin.
Her gaze focused on the blade, she still missed Clark's presence and didn't see the step forward he took, the suspicious look he gave the instructor, the expression of worry that crossed his face.
"I win." Alvarez pronounced with a faint smile.
"So you do." She gritted out with an equally faint smile.
"That is enough for today." Stepping back, he lifted the blade in silent salute then added. "You must learn to control your temper, Alexandra. Your form is perfect but your temper will be your downfall."
She inclined her head in respect. "Something I have long been aware of, I can assure you. I'll see you next time then?"
He nodded his agreement and, after excusing himself, passed by her on the way out of the garden. When he was gone, Alexandra whirled, throwing the dagger she'd held in one hand blindly, venting her frustration and narrowly missing Clark.
Seeing him, her eyes widened briefly and she smiled apologetically. "Clark?! I'm sorry, I didn't see you there." Walking over, she picked up the weapon, tugging it free of the tree it had imbedded itself in.
Eying the weapons warily, Clark took a step closer, looking around before settling on her. "I, uh, buzzed, but no one answered."
Alexandra walked across the practice area to wash her hands with the garden hose, drying them with a waiting towel. "How'd you get past the gate?"
"I kinda squeezed through the bars," Clark rushed the explanation then didn't give her a chance to respond before adding. "If this is a bad time -- "
The redhead laughed, patting her neck with the towel, the motion drawing Clark's eye to the smooth column of her throat. "Oh, no, no, it's all right. The Senor has quite sufficiently kicked my ass for today." She grinned impishly at him, inclining her head toward the manor. "Walk with me?"
He nodded and waited for her to move before falling into step with her. Looking up at the castle, tried to find a proper description. "This is a great place."
Alexandra laughed again. "Sure, if you're dead and in the market for something to haunt." Leading him into the manor, she returned the blades to their cabinet then looked at him.
Flushing slightly, Clark shrugged. "Well, I meant...roomy."
"It's the Luthor ancestral home, or so my father claims." She shrugged, leading him from the room and up a flight of stairs. "He had it shipped over from Scotland stone by stone."
Following her, Clark forced himself to look at everything but Alexandra's back as they walked up the steep stairs. "Yeah, I remember, the trucks rolled through town for weeks, but no one ever moved in."
"My father had no intention of living here. He's never even stepped through the front door." Alexandra turned to look at him, stopping on the top step.
Confused by her words, Clark stopped. "Then why'd he ship it over?"
She shrugged. "Because he could." Turning, she started up the stairs again. "You'll find Lionel Luthor does a lot of things just because he can."
"Including shipping his only daughter off to run a fertilizer plant in a small town no one's ever heard of?" Clark asked with a grin.
She looked over her shoulder at him, amusement in her eyes. "Including that."
"Did you like the truck?" Tossing her towel in a waiting basket, Alexandra went to get a bottle of Ty Nant. Opening it, she took a slow sip and watched the teen fidget.
Well, that didn't bode well.
Reluctantly, Clark met her gaze. "That's why I'm here."
Not willingly if his body language was any indication. "What's the matter, don't you like it?" Taking another sip, she felt a twinge of sympathy. It seemed to her that not liking it was not the problem.
He shook his head. "No, it's not that. I...can't keep it."
Alexandra lowered the Ty Nant and watched him for a long moment before saying, "Clark, you saved my life. I think it's the least I can do." She smiled faintly. "Your father doesn't like me, does he?" Her smile widened when Clark looked away, clearly at a loss for words. "It's okay, Clark..."
Releasing her hair from her braid, Alexandra ran a hand through it, surveying it silently then picked up a family photograph from the desk. One taken just after the meteor shower. "This isn't the first time I've been to Smallville -- the first time, I accompanied by father on a business trip. While we were there... the meteor shower..." She traced the faces in the picture with one fingertip. "I was in a field when it happened. A meteor struck nearby...I got caught up in the shockwave. The next thing I clearly remember, I was in the hospital and my hair was completely white."
She looked up and smiled tightly. "In the time that followed, I learned how to deal with the fact that people will judge me before they ever meet me. Don't worry about it, I don't."
"It's just..." Clark paused then shrugged. "It's nothing personal. He's just not that crazy about your dad."
Alexandra nodded. "Figures the apple doesn't fall far from the tree I presume." She dropped her gaze to the photograph once more. "Understandable."
Putting the picture back, she tilted her head inquisitively. "What about you, Clark? Did you fall far from the tree?"
Clark shifted, uncomfortable, and she waited patiently, allowing the silence between them to lengthen. She could see something in his eyes, something stirred loose by what she'd said and she couldn't help but be curious. She couldn't quite put her finger on it but Clark Kent fascinated her and she didn't want to stop.
She watched as he crossed the room and held out the keys. She lifted one hand, palm up, and smiled. "Don't worry, Clark, we'll deal with this when your Dad's had a chance to get to know me and my motives."
Clark's discomfort grew and he took a step back, glancing at the door. "I'd better go...thanks for the truck." He turned to leave but Alexandra's voice stopped him.
He looked back and she moved closer. "Do you believe a person can fly?"
Clark's forehead wrinkled in confusion. "Sure...in a plane."
She shook her head. "No, I'm not talking about that. I mean just soaring through the clouds, with nothing but air beneath you."
"People can't fly, Alexandra."
Clark's neutrally-voiced response elicited a grin from her and she confidently said, "I did...after the accident, when my heart stopped." Turning, she looked down at the photograph then lifted her gaze to the window. "It was the most... exhilarating two minutes of my life. I flew over Smallville, and for the first time, I didn't see a dead end. The place my father had sent me to keep me out of his way. I saw a new beginning. A place for me to forge my own future." She turned back to Clark and smiled. "Thanks to you, I have a second chance."
She moved closer, looking up into his eyes. "We have a future Clark...and I don't want anything to stand in the way of our friendship."
Alexandra hated leaving the plant at night. In the brief time she'd been in town, she'd discovered she absolutely loathed it. There was something just eerie about the grounds and fields that surrounded the plant. It never failed to send a shiver of apprehension down her spine.
Resolutely ignoring the now familiar feeling, she forced herself to stride across the parking lot and unlocked her car door. She paused for a moment, looking around cautiously, then got in and locked the door behind her.
"Luthors are not afraid, Alexandra," she quoted with a wry smile, "we don't have that luxury." She shook her head, laughing a little. "Thanks, Dad."
Pulling out on to the road, Alexandra was surprised when her headlights briefly illuminated a familiar face. A face she hadn't seen in many years but could never forget. Looking into that face, she was catapulted back over a decade to the scared little girl she'd been right before the world had been knocked from beneath her feet.
She'd opened the door and was out of the car almost before she was even conscious of pressing on the brake. Resting a hand on the door frame, she squinted, trying to confirm her suspicions but the figure vanished into the cornstalks before she could.
Alexandra took a few tentative steps across the road, looking about her curiously. She even moved to the edge of the field and looked into the corn, trying to discern what path he'd taken through the plants.
She was about to give up when she heard a voice on the breeze, a whisper, a sound she hadn't heard since that day.
This time wouldn't be like the last time, this time she wasn't a scared kid and fire wasn't falling from the sky. Alexandra hurried back to the car, grabbed a flashlight and then started to make her way through the rows of corn.
In an eerie parallel of years before, she very nearly stumbled into the pole on which the young man hung. Looking up, her eyes filled with shock. "Clark?!!"
He lifted his head, the very act a seeming struggle, and looked at her with pained eyes.
"Oh god..." She dropped the flashlight and stumbled around to untie him. "Are you okay? Who did this to you?!"
"Doesn't matter." He mumbled as the ropes fell free and he dropped from the pole, something falling from his neck as he moved.
"Clark, you need to see a doctor." Alexandra cautioned, watching with worried eyes as he picked up his clothes.
"I'll be okay." He assured, practically hugging his clothes to his bare chest.
His modesty would have been amusing if she hadn't been so concerned about his health. He'd looked terrible when she'd first found him. He needed to see a doctor. She would have insisted on it but Clark took the choice out of her hands by running into the field without waiting for her response.
She bit back a curse of frustration and called, "At least let me offer you a ride!", at his retreating back.
Clark didn't answer and, in a few seconds, the tall plants had obscured him from view.
Giving her head a shake, Alexandra turned to go back to her car. The motion of her flashlight's beam traveling over the ground briefly illuminated something lying on the black dirt and it caught her eye.
Turning toward it, Alexandra knelt and picked it up. "A necklace..." Reflexively she glanced back at the pole, automatically picturing Clark there only moments before. The necklace had been hanging from his neck.
Lifting the green gem by the chain, she eyed it speculatively.
It had the potential to be very useful...
Standing at the observation window, Alexandra stared into the hospital room of Jeremy Creek, surveying his still-teenaged face with an unreadable expression.
"Spooky isn't it?"
The redhead resisted the urge to jump as she looked up at the tall doctor standing beside her. "What is?"
"The idea of spending over ten years in a coma only to wake up to a world you barely recognize and have to face not only that but the fact that, for some reason unknown to you, you haven't aged since you lost consciousness." The doctor shook his head. "It's such a tragedy."
"No," Alexandra shook her head. "The real tragedy would have been if he'd never woken up at all." With a tight smile she excused herself and entered the room.
The teen looked up from a stack of magazines. "Yes?" He leaned forward a little, scrutinizing her face. "You look familiar, do I know you?"
She paused, contemplating the best way to answer that. "We've met briefly. I didn't think you'd remember, it was before... your accident."
He smiled wryly. "That's one word for it." Closing the copy of Time he'd been reading, he put it down. "When exactly?"
"The day of the meteor shower." Alexandra elaborated reluctantly. "I was there, in the field."
Jeremy looked blank then his eyes widened comically. "That was you? You were the kid?!"
She nodded once. "I was."
"Man..." He sat back, pressing a hand to his forehead and staring at her. "It really has been that long, hasn't it? I mean, I know what they told me. I've been reading the magazines, watching TV but...it was..."
"Surreal?" Alexandra's mouth formed a tiny wry smile. "Everything connected with that day is. I've learned that quite well." She took a step closer. "It's the meteors. They do something to people."
"You look okay." He countered immediately. "Better than okay really." He grinned a little.
She laughed. "I look okay but..." Spying an older copy of a news magazine, she thumbed through it until she found what she was looking for. "See? That's me leaving a private hospital in Metropolis. My parents took me there after the meteor shower. Look at my hair."
He took the magazine and looked to where she was pointing. "It's white."
"Completely." Alexandra affirmed, reflexively brushing the now coppery strands away from her face. "I keep it colored now but if I didn't? It would grow out completely white." Her wry smile returned. "That was the most obvious physical consequence but there were others. I've noticed the difference over the years."
She was quiet for a moment then offered a little grin. "I'm sure you're wondering why I'm here."
"I was a little curious." He confessed, grinning back.
Alexandra lifted her chin slightly. "I came to apologize
Growing a little tired, Jeremy nodded and murmured his thanks. They both knew in the weeks to come he would most likely be taking her up on her offer. There was just so much to do and to deal with. And if anyone would understand...it would be someone like Alexandra.
Which was exactly why she was helping. She understood it. She remembered it. She couldn't just walk away from him, knowing what she knew. She couldn't.
Leaving him to rest, she stopped just outside the room and looked back through the observation window once more. She just couldn't.
The doctor was standing at the nurse's station when she emerged from the hallway. Stopping by his side, she touched him on the arm. "If Jeremy Creek needs anything, please let me know. This is the number I can be reached at." Scribbling it down, she handed it to him. "I've already told him the same but I wanted the doctor in charge of his case to be aware of it as well."
"Well now I am." He smiled charmingly at her. "Ms..."
"Luthor, Alexandra Luthor." Holding out her hand, she lifted a questioning brow. "And your name, Dr..."
"Bryce. Marcus Bryce."
She smiled. "Thank you, Dr. Bryce." Bidding him a
good day, she walked away from the nurse's station,
conscious of the staff's speculative eyes on her. No
doubt they were all wondering what a Luthor was doing
helping some poor kid like
Alexandra's smile widened. Let 'em wonder. If nothing else, she had a feeling she was about to make life in Smallville a lot more interesting...
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