Fun with Shakespeare: Romeo and Juliet

by Crossbow



Disclaimer:
I don't own anything associated with "Smallville" or "Superman." Shakespeare's work is in the public domain, so verily it may be said that I own it.

Warnings:
Slash. Because otherwise I wouldn't be writing it. I may occasionally play fast and loose with iambic pentameter, but then, I'm in good company. I play faster and looser with the characterization. Apologies to "Smallville" purists.

"Though this be madness, yet there is method in't." Hamlet, II, ii


Prologue

Two households, both alike in dignity,
In Smallville, Kansas, where I lay my scene, From ancient grudge break to new mutiny, Where civil blood makes civil hands unclean. From forth the fatal loins of these two foes A pair of star-cross'd lovers take their life, Whose misadventur'd piteous overthrows
Doth with their death bury their parents' strife. The fearful passage of their death-mark'd love, And the continuance of their parents' rage, Which but their children's end naught could remove, Is now the two hours' traffic of this page, The which, if you with patient eyes attend, What here shall miss, my toil shall strive to mend.

Act I, Scene i
The Talon

Since there were only two coffee houses in Smallville, Lana was used to seeing pretty much everyone pass through. Everyone who lived in Smallville, that is; not Lionel Luthor from Metropolis. She was cleaning up from the morning rush when Lionel came in.

"O where is Lex?" asked Lionel. "Saw you him today?"

"Sir, an hour before the worshipp'd Sun peer'd forth the golden window of the east, a troubled mind drave me to walk abroad, where, underneath the grove of sycamore that westward rooteth from the city's side, so early walking did I see your son. Towards him I made, but he was ware of me, and stole into the covert of the wood. I, measuring his affections by my own - That most are busied when they're most alone - Pursu'd my humour, not pursuing his, and gladly shunn'd who gladly fled from me."

"Thank you, Lana, but a simple `yes' would have sufficed." Lionel turned on his heel and left the Talon.

"Well," Lana muttered to herself, "That's one way to get rid of him."

Almost before Lionel was out of sight, Lex entered. Wasn't it getting late in the morning for all this traffic? "Good morrow, partner!" she greeted him.

Lex looked vaguely surprised. "Is the day so young?"

"But new struck nine," she told him.

"Ay, me, sad hours seem long," sighed Lex. "Was that my father that went hence so fast?"

"It was. What sadness lengthens Lex's hours?"

"Not having that which, having, makes them short." Apparently Lex thought he was being cryptic.

"In love!" Lana intuited.

"Out - "

"Out of love?"

"Out of favor where I am in love," he explained.

Lana patted his hand. "Alas that Love, so gentle in his view, should be so tyrannous and rough in proof." She turned away to make fresh coffee; it looked like Lex might be there a while.

"Alas," Lex agreed, "that Love, whose view is muffled, still should, without eyes, to see pathways to his will... Tut! I have lost myself; I am not here: This is not Lex, he's some other where. "

Men. Always with the drama.

"Tell me in sadness, who is that you love?"

"Bid a sick man in sadness make his will - Ah, word ill urg'd to one that is so ill! - In sadness, cousin, I do love a man."

Lana turned from the coffeemakers and folder her arms. "I aim'd so near when I suppos'd you loved."

Lex laughed. "A right good marksman! And he's fair I love."

"A right fair mark, fair partner, is soonest hit."

"Well, in that hit you miss," said Lex. "He'll not be hit with cupid's arrow. He hath Dian's wit, and in strong proof of chastity, well arm'd from Love's weak childish bow he lives uncharm'd. He will not stay the siege of loving terms, nor bide th' encounter of assailing eyes, nor ope his lap to saint-seducing gold. O, he's rich in beauty; only poor that, when he dies, with beauty dies his store."

"Straight guy, huh?"

Lex shook his head. "I don't know why I talk to you."

"It's a mystery," agreed Lana. "Here's your coffee."

Act I, Scene ii
The Kents' Living Room

Meanwhile back at the ranch (the ranch being, in the case, a farm), Martha Kent was beginning to worry about her son's love-life, or lack thereof.

"He's seventeen and hasn't had a serious girlfriend yet," she was telling Jonathon.

"Thank god for that," responded her husband. "Seventeen is too young to be serious."

"I guess I'm not saying it's wrong, just ... strange. He's so serious about everything else, you know. And for the longest time he was pining for Lana, then he took Chloe to the prom, then he was back to pining for Lana. Now it seems like all he thinks about is school and chores, and I'm not so sure about school.

Jonathon studied her. "Why do I have the feeling you've already had an idea and you're just working up to it?"

Martha chuckled. "Well, it is Memorial Day this weekend. I thought we could have a barbecue, maybe invite over some of Clark's friends ..."

"Like Chloe and Lana."

"Well, of course, them too - "

Jonathon stood and kissed her on the forehead on his way out. "Yes, dear. Just promise me: No Luthors."

Act I, Scene 2.5
The Talon

Forty-five minutes later, Lex was still at the Talon mooning over the unnamed object of his affections, whom Lana was beginning to imagine as being an overgrown Ken doll.

"Tut, man," she said, "One fire burns out another's burning; one pain is lessen'd by another's anguish; Turn giddy, and be holp by backward turning; One desperate grief cures with another's languish. Take thou some new infection to they eye, and the rank poison of the old will die!"

Lex grumbled something about plantains.

"Why, Lex, art thou mad?"

"Not mad, but bound more than a madman is; shut up in prison, kept without food, whipp'd and tormented and -"

To Lana's immense relief, the phone rang. It was Mrs. Kent, inviting her over for Memorial Day. After she hung up, Lana suggested to Lex that he should come too. "Mrs. Kent said she was inviting over a lot of Clark's friends, so there will probably be plenty of underage boys you could gawk at."

Lex declined. "When the devout religion of mine eye maintains such falsehood, then turn tears to fires; And these - who, often drown'd, could never die - Transparent heretics, be burnt for liars! One fairer than my love? The all-seeing sun ne'er saw him match since first the world begun," he protested.

Lana rolled her eyes and laughed at him. "Tut, you saw him fair, none else being by, himself pois'd with himself in either eye! But in that crystal scales let there be weigh'd your boy's love against some other boys that I will show you shining at this feast, and he shall scant show well that now shows best."

Either her goading got to him, or his will caved under the weight of such lengthy sentences. "I'll go along, no such sight to be shown, but to rejoice in splendor of my own."

Act I, Scene iii
The Kents' Kitchen, Memorial Day

As Martha was finishing up her phone calls, Pete wandered into the kitchen. "Clark around?" he asked.

"He's out in the barn. Why don't you go call him in for me? I have to talk to him."

Pete turned around and screamed "CLARK!" at the top of his lungs.

Matha winced. "Thanks, Pete. It's too bad he doesn't have super hearing or something, so you wouldn't have to yell like that."

"Hey, no problem," Pete answered amiably.

Clark came bounding into the kitchen. "Hey, Pete, what's up?"

"Nothing; your mom wanted you."

"Madam, I am here. What is your will?"

"Clark, I invited some people over for barbecue Monday. Lana's coming, and I was hoping you'd try to work things out with her."

Pete snickered. "Yeah, I know what kind of workout Clark wants with her."

Clark flushed. "Pete, is that necessary?"

"Yeah, it kinda is; There's no nurse in this story."

"What?"

"Never mind."

"Listen, Clark," said Martha, "How stands your disposition towards dating Lana?"

"It is an honour that I dream not of," he said enigmatically.

Pete laughed. "Well, I know you didn't pick up that attitude from me!"

This conversation wasn't getting anywhere. Martha tried again. "Speak briefly, can you like of Lana's love?"

"I'll look to like, if looking liking move," conceded Clark.

"Dude, way to keep your options open!" congratulated Pete.

Jonathon's voice floated up from the back yard: "Madam, the guests are come, supper served up, you called, my young man asked for - it's a madhouse down here!"

"We're coming!" Martha yelled out the window. "Well, boys, the county stays."

Pete shoved Clark towards the door. "Go, Clark, seek happy nights to happy days!"

Clark gestured for Pete to go first. "Lead on, Macduff."

Act I, Scene iv
Kent Farm, the driveway

Being uninvited, Lex refused to go to the Kents' barbecue without an entourage. Jonathon wouldn't throw him out if he were with Lana and Chloe. But as they got out of the car, he had second thoughts.

"You know, I think I should just drop you two off here, and you can call me when you need a ride home."

"Why the cold feet?" asked Chloe. "Is it Jonathon? He'll leave you alone. It's a party. Anyway, he knows you're not really your father."

"It's not that. Look, I'll just pick you up later." They didn't move.

"Tell us," Chloe ordered.

He didn't intend to tell them the real reason he was nervous, so he clutched at the first excuse that presented itself. "I just have a bad feeling about this." They weren't buying it. "See I had this dream last night ... "

"Ah!" exclaimed Chloe. "I see Queen Mab hath been with you."

"Who?"

"Don't get her started!" hissed Lana. But Chloe was already launching into her explanation.

"She is the fairies' midwife, and she comes in shape no bigger than an agate-stone on the fore-finger of an alderman, drawn with a team of little atomies, athwart men's noses as they lie asleep. Her waggon-spokes made of long spinners' legs; The cover, of the wings of grasshoppers; The traces, of the smallest spider's web; The collars, of the moonshine's watery beams; Her whip, of cricket's bone; the lash, of film; Her waggoner, a small grey-coated gnat, not half so big as a round little worm prick'd from the lazy finger of a maid; Her chariot is an empty hazel-nut, Made by the joiner squirrel or old grub, time out o' mind the fairies' coachmakers. And in this state she gallops night by night through lovers' brains, and then they dream of love; O'er courtiers' knees, that dream on court'sies straight; O'er lawyers' fingers, who straight dream on fees; O'er ladies' lips, who straight on kisses dream - Which oft the angry Mab with blisters plagues, because their breaths with sweetmeats tainted are. Sometime she gallops o'er a courtier's nose, and then dreams he of smelling out a suit; And sometime comes she with a tithe-pig's tail, tickling a parson's nose as 'a lies asleep, then dreams he of another benefice. Sometime she driveth o'er a soldier's neck, and then dreams he of cutting foreign throats, of breaches, ambuscadoes, Spanish blades, of healths five fathom deep; and then anon drums in his ear, at which he starts and wakes, and, being thus frighted, swears a prayer or two, and sleeps again. This is that very Mab that plats the manes of horses in the night, and bakes the elf-locks in foul sluttish hairs, which, once untangled, much misfortune bodes; This is the hag, when maids lie on their backs, that presses them, and learns them first to bear, making them women of good carriage. This is she -"

Lana was rolling her eyes, but Lex was amused. "Peace, peace, Chloe, peace, thou talk'st of nothing. That `Wall of Weird' of yours is really getting to you, isn't it?"

Lana started pulling them both towards the house. "This wind you talk of blows us from ourselves: Supper is done, and we shall come too late."

Lex's nerves flared again. "I fear, too early," he said, "for my mind misgives some consequence, yet hanging in the stars, shall bitterly begin his fearful date with this night's revels, and expire the term of a despised life, clos'd in my breast, by some vile forfeit of untimely death. But He that hath the steerage of my course direct my sail! On, lusty ladies!"

"Hey!" snapped Chloe. "Who're you calling a `lady'?"

Act I, Scene 4.5
The Kents' back yard.

Lex braced himself as they rounded the corner of the house, but the sight of Clark nevertheless stopped him in his tracks. Pete was entertaining the other highschoolers with his impression of their football coach, and Clark was flushed with laughter, his eyes sparkling.

O, he doth teach the torches to burn bright! It seems he hangs upon the cheek of night Like a rich jewel in an Ethiop's ear;
Beauty too rich for use, for earth too dear! So shows a snowy dove trooping with crows As yonder beauty o'er his fellows shows. The measure done, I'll watch him place of stand, And, touching his, make blessed my rude hand. Did my heart love till now? Forswear it, sight! For I ne'er saw true beauty till this night.

Lex noticed Chloe and Lana both staring at him. "Oh... did I say that out loud?"

Lana gaped at him. "It's Clark???"

"What's Clark?" asked Chloe.

Clark had seen them now, and left his group to come greet them.

Pete, seeing Clark heading towards Lex, Chloe, and Lana, turned to Martha and Jonathon.

"You invited Lex?" he hissed.

"No, I only called some people from Clark's class, but I don't see a problem with him being here," said Martha. "He and Clark have been good friends."

"He's still a Luthor!" argued Pete.

Martha patted him on the shoulder. "He's Lex, Pete, not Lionel. He's never been anything but polite and helpful to us."

"And that makes you trust him?" Pete asked incredulously.

Now Jonathon laughed. "Not really, but it's only dinner. There's no harm in him being here. Relax! It is my will - the which if thou respect, show a fair presence and put off these frowns, an ill-beseeming semblance for a feast."

"It fits, when such a villain is a guest: I'll not endure him."

"He shall be endur'd. It's my house, and I'm okay with it. Now buck up - the food's almost done."

Jonathon went back to the grill. Pete grumbled to himself, "Patience perforce with wilful choler meeting makes my flesh tremble in their different greeting. I will withdraw, but this intrusion shall, now seeming sweet, convert to bitter gall."

Martha heard and shot him a look. "Don't start anything Pete."

Across the yard, Lex was speaking quietly if rather intensely to Clark, who was wearing a goofy grin and kept glancing up at the door to the barn loft where he usually went for privacy. Martha made a point of interrupting them for dinner.

Although Clark and Lex didn't sit next together, Pete saw them sneaking glances at each other throughout the evening.

Finally, when everyone had left, including Lex, Pete accosted Clark. "What the hell is wrong with you? You and Lex looked like you were just going to start going at it like a couple of rabbits, right in front of everybody! What are you thinking? And why didn't you tell me?"

Clark was flustered. "I'm sorry Pete. I wanted to tell you I was gay, but I thought you might need more time for the alien thing to sink in ..."

"Gay, schmay! Who cares what sex he is - he's a Luthor! That's the trump card, dude. They're all the same."

"Pete, you only know one other Luthor."

"Well, that's one too many for my taste. And your father is going to kill both of you when he finds out."

Clark plopped down on a lawn chair. "Aye, there's the rub." He shook his head. "I wish I'd known about my parents' history with Lionel before I met Lex. My only love sprung from his only hate! Too early seen unknown, and known too late! Prodigious birth of love it is to me, that I must love a loathed enemy."

END ACT I


Act II, Scene i
The Kents' back yard

The night was clear, and it was near midnight before the Kents' guests began to leave. Lex noticed Clark had disappeared, and he used the chill creeping into the air as a pretext to leave the yard, ostensibly to get his jacket from the car. With Chloe and Lana engrossed in conversation with Martha, he needn't have bothered; they paid him no mind.

He didn't head towards the car at all. `Can I go forward when my heart is here?' he thought. `Turn back, dull earth, and find thy centre out.' He walked towards the barn instead.

Lana chose that moment to point out the time, and suggested they should be leaving, if only they could find Lex.

"Lex!" she called out. "We should really be going!"

No response.

Chloe laughed. "He is wise, and, on my life, hath stol'n him home to bed."

"I hope not; he drove us here. Look, his car is still parked. I think he ran this way, and leap'd this orchard wall. You try calling for him, Chloe."

"Nay, I'll conjure, too!" Chloe announced. "Lex! Humours! Madman! Passion! Lover!"

"We only need Lex," Lana pointed out, but Chloe was on a roll and ignored her.

"Appear thou in the likeness of a sigh! Speak but one rhyme, and I am satisfied! Cry but 'Ah me!' Pronounce but `Love' and `dove'! Speak to my gossip Venus one fair word, one nickname for her purblind son and heir, young auburn Cupid, he that shot so trim when King Cophetua lov'd the beggar-maid!"

Still nothing.

"He heareth not, he stirreth not, he moveth not," observed Chloe. "The ape is dead, and I must conjure him - I conjure thee by Clark's bright eyes, by his high forehead and his scarlet lip, by his fine foot, straight leg, and quivering thigh, and the demesnes that there adjacent lie, that in thy likeness thou appear to us!"

Lana giggled. "'Quivering thigh'? Chloe, an if he hear thee, thou wilt anger him!"

Chloe waved off that concern. "This cannot anger him; 'twould anger him to raise a spirit in Clark's circle, of some strange nature, letting it there stand till he had laid it, and conjur'd it down; That were some spite: my invocation is fair and honest, and, in his beloved's name, I conjure only but to raise up him."

This was entertaining, but Lana was getting cold and impatient. "Come, he hath hid himself among these trees, to be consorted with the humorous night; Blind is his love, and best befits the dark."

"If love be blind, love cannot hit the mark," Chloe said sarcastically. "Now will he sit under a medlar tree, and wish his beloved were that kind of fruit as maids call medlars when they laugh alone. Lex, good night! I'll to my truckle-bed; this field-bed is too cold for me to sleep: Come, shall we go?"

Lana rolled her eyes. "Chloe, you keep forgetting: He's our ride! I think we should just wait for him inside."

Act II, Scene 1.5
Outside the Kents' barn

Lex didn't know how long he stared up at the loft window before Clark appeared. After a few minutes, or hours, a shadow appeared in the window.

`But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?' thought Lex. `It is the east, and Clark is the sun! - Oh, no, it's just those Christmas lights of his.' Lex moved closer. `He speaks, yet he says nothing; what of that? His eye discourses, I will answer it... I am too bold, 'tis not to me he speaks. Two of the fairest stars in all the heaven, having some business, do entreat his eyes to twinkle in their spheres till they return. What if his eyes were there, they in his head? The brightness of his cheek would shame those stars, as daylight doth a lamp; his eyes in heaven would through the airy region stream so bright that birds would sing and think it were not night. See how he leans his cheek upon his hand! O that I were a glove upon that hand, That I might touch that cheek!'

"Ah me!" said Clark, gazing into the night.

`He speaks!' Lex thought to himself. `O, speak again, bright angel! For thou art as glorious to this night, being o'er my head, as is a winged messenger of heaven unto the white-upturned wondering eyes of mortals that fall back to gaze on him when he bestrides the lazy-pacing clouds and sails upon the bosom of the air... Man I really have it bad. Where the hell do I come up with this stuff?'

Clark was, in fact, speaking again. "Oh, Lex, Lex! Why did you have to be a Luthor? Deny thy father and refuse thy name! Or, if thou wilt not, be but sworn my love, and I'll no longer be a Kent."

Lex thought this was probably his cue to step forward, but he hesitated. Clark went on: "'Tis but thy name that is my enemy; Thou art thyself, though, not a Luthor. What's Luthor? It is nor hand, nor foot, nor arm, nor face, nor any other part belonging to a man. O, be some other name! What's in a name? That which we call a rose by any other name would smell as sweet; So Lex would, were he not Lex Luthor call'd, retain that dear perfection which he owes without that title. Lex, doff thy name; and for that name, which is no part of thee, take all myself!"

Yeah, that was his cue. Lex stepped into the light. "I take thee at thy word!" he called up. "Call me but love, and I'll be new baptiz'd; Henceforth I never will be a Luthor."

Clark jumped. "What man art thou that, thus bescreen'd in night, so stumblest on my counsel?"

Lex laughed almost drunkenly. "By a name I know not how to tell thee who I am; My name, dear saint, is hateful to myself, because it is an enemy to thee. Had I it written, I would tear the word!"

"Lex, is that you out there?"

"No, it's Leonardo diCaprio. Of course it's me."

"What are you doing here? I thought everyone was leaving."

"I wanted to say goodnight alone," said Lex. "Your parents - "

"- Are going to kill us if they see you out here. Get out of here."

"Alack," said Lex, "there lies more peril in thine eye than in your father's shotgun. Look thou but sweet, and I am proof against his enmity."

"I would not for the world they saw thee here," protested Clark.

"I have night's cloak to hide me from their sight and, but thou love me, let them find me here. My life were better ended by their hate than death prorogued, wanting of thy love."

Clark rolled his eyes. "Don't be so melodramatic. Dad wouldn't actually shoot you. But thou knowest the mask of night is on my face; Else would a maiden blush bepaint my cheek for that which thou hast heard me speak to-night. Fain would I dwell on form, fain, fain deny what I have spoke, but farewell compliment! Dost thou love me, I know thou wilt say Ay; And I will take thy word. Yet, if thou swear'st, thou mayst prove false; At lovers' perjuries, they say Jove laughs. O gentle Lex; If thou dost love, pronounce it faithfully. Or if thou thinkest I am too quickly won, I'll frown, and be perverse, and say thee nay, so thou wilt woo, but else, not for the world. In truth, fair Luthor, I am too fond, and therefore thou mayst think my 'haviour light. But trust me, gentleman, I'll prove more true than those that have more cunning to be strange. I should have been more strange, I must confess, but that thou overheard'st, ere I was 'ware, my true-love passion. Therefore pardon me, and not impute this yielding to light love, which the dark night hath so discovered."

"Clark, by yonder blessed moon I swear, that tips with silver all these fruit-tree tops -"

"O, swear not by the moon, the inconstant moon," said Clark, "That monthly changes in her circled orb, lest that thy love prove likewise variable."

"What shall I swear by?"

"Do not swear at all. Or if thou wilt, swear by thy gracious self, which is the god of my idolatry, and I'll believe thee."

"If my heart's dear love - "

"Well, do not swear. Although I joy in thee, I have no joy of this contract to-night; It is too rash, too unadvis'd, too sudden; Too like the lightning, which doth cease to be, ere one can say it lightens. Sweet, good night! This bud of love, by summer's ripening breath, may prove a beauteous flower when next we meet. Good night, good night! As sweet repose and rest come to thy heart as that within my breast!"

"O, wilt thou leave me so unsatisfied?"

"What satisfaction canst thou have to-night?"

"Oh, er, well..." hedged Lex, "the exchange of thy love's faithful vow for mine. Yeah, that's it."

Clark's grin was clearly visible in the faint light. "I gave thee mine before thou didst request it; And yet I would it were to give again."

Just then another voice drifted out of the barn. "Hey! Clark! Are you hiding out up here?" It was Pete.

Clark turned and shouted back, "Yeah, I'm up here!" Then said to Lex, "Hang on, I'll try to get rid of him," and vanished from the window.

`O blessed, blessed night! I am afeard,' Lex said to himself, `Being in night, all this is but a dream, too flattering-sweet to be substantial.'

But a moment later Clark reappeared, sans Pete, and told him, "Pete says Chloe and Lana are looking for you. You'd better go. I'll call you tomorrow. A thousand times good night!"

"A thousand times the worse, to want thy light!" answered Lex. "Love goes toward love as schoolboys from their books; But love from love, towards school with heavy looks."

"You had to go and bring up school," Clark admonished him. "Good night, good night! Parting is such sweet sorrow that I shall say good night till it be morrow."

Act II, Scene ii
Lionel Luthor's office in Metropolis

If you asked Lionel Luthor what he loved most in the world, he would probably have told you it was his son, Lex.

If you asked anyone else what Lionel loved most, they would have told you it was "power" or "money." Lex would probably not have been placed among the top ten.

But Lionel's true first love was chemistry. He loved unlocking the potential of natural substances. After all,

The earth, that's nature's mother, is her tomb; What is her burying grave, that is her womb, And from her womb children of divers kind We sucking on her natural bosom find;
Many for many virtues excellent,
None but for some, and yet all different. O, mickle is the powerful grace that lies In plants, herbs, stones, and their true qualities; For naught so vile that on the earth doth live, But to the earth some special good doth give; Nor aught so good but, strain'd from that fair use, Revolts from true birth, stumbling on abuse, Virtue itself turns vice, being misapplied, And vice sometimes by action dignified. Within the infant rind of this small flower Poison hath residence, and medicine power. For this, being smelt, with that part cheers each part, Being tasted, slays all senses with the heart. Two such opposed kings encamp them still In man as well as herbs, grace and rude will, And where the worser is predominant,
Full soon the canker death eats up that plant.

And of course, that went for meteor rocks as well as for flowers. Which is what Lionel was reading about when Lex entered his office. He closed the document quickly; he was sure Lex knew he was interested in the rocks, and in their effect on a certain local farm boy, but it would never do to have Lex knowing exactly how far the research had progressed.

"Good morrow, father!" Lex was uncharacteristically chipper this morning, especially this early, and with no coffee in sight.

"Benedicite!" Lionel greeted him. "What early tongue so sweet saluteth me? Young son, it argues a distemper'd head, so soon to bid good morrow to thy bed! Care keeps his watch in every old man's eye, and where care lodges sleep will never lie; but where unbruised youth, with unstuff'd brain, doth couch his limbs there golden sleep doth reign. Therefore thy earliness doth me assure, thou art uprous'd with some distemperature. Or if not so, then here I hit it right: Our Romeo hath not been in bed to-night!"

"Whose brain are you calling `unstuffed'?" joked Lex. "And `Romeo'? Well, I guess that fits, at this point. That last is true; the sweeter rest was mine."

"God pardon sin! Wast thou with Rosaline?" Lionel exclaimed with playful sanctimony.

"Who?"

Damn. So Rosaline had failed in her assignment to seduce Lex. "Never mind, son. So where hast thou been?"

"I'll tell thee ere thou ask it me again. I have been feasting with thine enemy, where, on a sudden, one hath wounded me, that's by me wounded."

"Oh, for god's sake. Be plain, good son, and homely in thy drift; Riddling confession finds but riddling shrift."

Lex snorted. "Shrift? As if I'd come to you for that. Every time I see you there's a spat."

"All right, so what are you doing here? You seem awfully smug."

Lex grinned. "My pleasant mood has naught to do with you; its cause is that I'm seeing someone new."

"And what's with the rhyming? Is she a songwriter you're trying to impress?"

"He. And no."

"Holy Saint Francis! What a change is here! Is womankind, that thou didst love so dear, so soon forsaken? Young men's love, then, lies not truly in their hearts, but in their -"

"Oh, cut it out, dad. You had to know I've never restricted myself to the `gentler' sex, even before both of my wives tried to murder me. And Clark - " Lionel automatically sat up straighter before he could hide his reaction. Lex noticed. "What? You have a problem with Clark?" Lionel opened his mouth to deny that charge, but Lex already had a rationalization ready. "It's not because of the problems you and Jonathon have had? That was fourteen years ago, dad."

Well. Better that Lex think that than discover Lionel's real interest in Clark. "You're right, son. And it's not my business anyway. I'm just glad you're happy."

"Yeah... I knew you would be."

Act II, Scene iii
The Talon

Chloe arrived at the Talon later than usual for her caffeine fix. It had been a late night at the Kents'. Lex had finally turned up, had driven them home to Chloe's house without comment, and then disappeared into the night.

So Chloe accosted Lana first thing. "Has Lex been in yet? I want to interrogate him. I was too tired last night."

"No," said Lana. "In fact, I tried to call him at home earlier, but the staff says he never came home. I hope nothing happened. He does drive awfully fast."

Chloe scoffed at that. "Not likely! That same pale-hearted Clark torments him so that he will sure run mad."

"Oh, no, I hadn't thought of that! I hope he didn't go back there. Mr. Kent would kill Lex if he knew -"

"Alas, poor Lex, he is already dead! Run through the ear with a love song; the very pin of his heart cleft with the blind bow-boy's butt-shaft - "

"Uh... butt-shaft?"

"Arrow, Lana. Cupid. Arrow. Honestly. Get your mind out of the gutter."

Lana shushed her. "Here he comes now!"

"Signor Lex, bon jour!" called Chloe. "Rumor has it that you never made it home last night, and we -"

"- were worried about you," finished Lana, with a stern look at Chloe.

Lex just smiled. "Pardon, good ladies, my business was great, and in such a case as mine, a man may strain courtesy."

Chloe settled onto a bar stool. "That's as much as to say, such a case as yours constrains a man to bow in the hams."

"Meaning, to curtsy?" guessed Lex.

"Thou hast most kindly hit it," Chloe said approvingly.

"A most courteous exposition," Lex acknowledged with a mock bow.

"Nay, I am the very pink of courtesy!"

"Pink for the flower."

"Right."

"Well," said Lex, "Then is my pump well-flowered."

"Well said!" laughed Chloe. "Follow me in this jest now till thou hast worn out thy pump, that, when the single sole of it is worn, the jest may remain, after the wearing, sole singular."

Lana looked blankly at Chloe. "What?"

"O single-soled jest," said Lex, "Soley singular for the singleness!"

"What?" said Lana.

Chloe patted Lana on the shoulder. "Come between us, good Lana; my wits faint."

Lex wasn't ready to give yet, though. "Swits and spurs, swits and spurs, or I'll cry a match."

"Nay," said Chloe. "If thy wits run the wild-goose chase, I have done, for thou hast more of the wild goose in one of thy wits than, I am sure, I have in my whole five. Was I with you there for the goose?"

"Thou wast never with me for anything when thou wast not there for the goose."

"I will bite thee by the ear for that jest!" Chloe threatened.

"Nay, good goose, bite not."

"Seriously, you guys ..." Lana began.

Chloe feigned injury. "Thy wit is very bitter sweeting; it is a most sharp sauce!" she said to Lex.

"And is it not, then, well served in to a sweet goose?"

"O, here's a wit of cheveril, that stretches from an inch narrow to an ell abroad!"

"I stretch it out for that word broad," said Lex, "which added to the goose, proves thee far and wide a broad goose."

Chloe grinned at him. "Why, is not this better now than groaning for love? Now art thou sociable; now art thou Lex Luthor! Now art thou what thou art, by Art as well as by Nature; for this driveling love is like a great natural, that runs lolling up and down to hide his bauble in a hole!"

"All right, enough!" exclaimed Lana. "This is a family establishment! Do I have to throw you two out? That would look pretty bad, with Lex being part-owner, you know."

Chloe and Lex were preparing to ignore her, but at that moment Pete wandered in and approached them. Lana greeted him. "Hey, Pete. Coffee?"

"No, thanks, I was just looking for Lex. Lex, I desire some private confidence with you." Lex raised his eyebrows at Chloe and Lana, who commenced snickering as Lex and Pete moved off to an empty table.

"Pray you, sir, a word," Pete began when they were slightly out of earshot. "Clark bid me enquire you out. What he bade me say I will keep to myself; but first, let me tell ye, if ye should lead him into a fool's paradise, as they say, it were a very gross kind of behaviour, as they say, for the gentleman is young, and, therefore, if you should deal double with him, truly it were an ill thing to be offered to any gentleman, and very weak dealing."

"Listen, Pete," Lex explained, "If my dear love were but the child of state, it might by Fortune's bastard be unfather'd, as subject to Time's love or to Time's hate, weeds among weeds, or flowers with flowers gather'd. No, it was builded far from accident; it suffers not in smiling pomp nor falls under the blow of thrilled discontent, where to the inviting time our fashion calls. It fears not policy, that heretic, which works on leases of short number'd hours, but all alone stands hugely politic, that it nor grows with heat nor drowns with showers. To this I witness all the fools of time, which die for goodness, who have liv'd for crime."

"Dude... you do know iambs are supposed to have the emphasis on the second syllable, right?"

"Humour me."

"All right, then," said Pete, with resignation. "He doesn't want you to come by the farm, and doesn't want his parents to hear him calling you on the phone. He wants to know if he can come by the mansion tonight."

Lex studied Pete for a moment before replying, "Tell him to come at seven."

Act II, Scene iv
Clark's bedroom.

Clark had been waiting three hours for Pete to call him with any message from Lex. Not wanting to be seen lurking downstairs by the phone, he was in his room pretending to read comics.

Finally the phone rang. Even without using super-speed (which was an effort), Clark was halfway down the stairs before his father called up, "Clark! It's Pete on the phone!"

"Thanks," he answered, forcing himself to look calm as he casually seized the phone from his father and inconspicuously huddled in the corner with it, cupping the mouth piece.

Jonathon looked at his son quizzically, shrugged, and left the room.

"Did you find him?" Clark hissed into the phone.

"Yeah," said Pete, not volunteering anything.

"Well? What did he say?"

"Clark, this is a really bad idea."

Clark was hurt. "He said it was a bad idea."

"No, moron, I'm saying it's a bad idea."

"You don't understand," Clark protested.

"Yeah, no shit I don't understand."

"Pete, will you just please tell me what he said?"

Pete sighed loudly. "He said to come over at seven tonight."

Relief washed over Clark for about three seconds. Then he was more anxious than he had been before. Still, he was grinning ear-to-ear. "Thanks, Pete. I know you didn't want to do that. But ... I need you to be my alibi, too."

"What?? No, way, Clark, uh-uh. I'm done with this."

"Come on, it won't be any trouble. I'm sure they won't even ask. I'll tell them I'm staying at your place tonight for a `Mad Max' movie marathon."

"This is ridiculous, Clark."

"No it's not - the fourth movie is coming out in a year. It's called `Fury Road,' and -"

"I mean this whole thing is ridiculous! All this lying and sneaking around - it's not like you."

"Um ... yes it is. Where have you been?"

That got a sardonic laugh out of Pete. "All right. I'll cover for you tonight, but this is the last time. I just don't wanna be in the middle of this, okay?"

"I got it, Pete. Thanks."

Act II, Scene v
The Mansion, Lex's office.

Lex might or might not have been agitated with anticipation of Clark's arrival; he was too busy being agitated by a conversation with his father to be able to tell. After ten long, falsely polite minutes, he decided to end the conversation. "I do have to go, dad. I have company coming over soon." And hopefully he'd have time to get some drinking in first, or he might be in danger of taking his frustrations with Lionel out on Clark.

"Company, hmm, son? You mean Clark, I suspect."

"Yes, I do. And he'll be here shortly, so - "

"You know, Lex, these violent delights have violent ends, and in their triumph die, like fire and powder, which, as they kiss, consume. The sweetest honey is loathsome in his own deliciousness, and in the taste confounds the appetite. Therefore, love moderately; long love doth so. Too swift arrives as tardy as to slow."

"Of course, dad."

Lex sensed a presence in the doorway, and turned in his chair to see Clark hovering there, hands in his pockets.

"I really do have to go now, dad." Lex hung up the phone without waiting for a response.

"Sorry I'm early," said Clark.

Act II, Scene 5.5
The Mansion, Lex's bedroom

Steamy gay sex ensues.

Oh, use your imagination, for crying out loud. You don't need me for this.

END ACT II


Annoying mid-story author's note:

So, I suppose this is the time to warn those who haven't already figured it out that I am following the plot of the original play scene-by-scene, and that the full title of the play is "The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet." As those familiar with the play may recall, the tragic part begins right ... about... here:


Act III, Scene i
Outside The Talon, late afternoon.

The following afternoon, Chloe stopped by the Talon at the end of Lana's shift to offer her a ride home. Lana had walked in because the morning had been cool, but the afternoon was uncomfortably hot. "Thank god this day's over," said Lana as they were leaving. "This weather is making me really cranky. I was starting to snap at the customers."

"You're kidding!" exclaimed Chloe. "I should have come by earlier! I'd have loved to see you snap at a customer. I can't even picture it."

"I guess you haven't been around me when the air conditioning is out."

"Bet you're exaggerating," said Chloe, "but it's true that everyone I've spoken to today has seemed crabby."

Heading towards Chloe's car, they spotted Pete on the opposite side of the street, walking with his shoulders hunched and glaring at the sidewalk. Lana instinctively took a step back, but Chloe waved him over.

"Pete! Over here!" she called. He approached them, looking like a thundercloud.

"Gentlewomen," he said, "Good-den. A word with one of you?"

"One word with one of us?" laughed Chloe. "Couple it with something; make it a word and a... something else."

"Chloe, I'm really not in the mood for this today. Thou consortest with Lex -"

"I wouldn't put it exactly that way," Chloe remarked.

Lana looked around. "We talk here in the public haunt of men. Either withdraw unto some private place and reason coldly of your grievances, or else depart; here, all eyes are on us."

"Oh, let them look," scoffed Chloe. "The A.C. is out in the Talon; we're just as well off out here. Hey, here's the man himself."

Pete turned as Lex's car pulled up and Lex emerged from it, looking as if the heat of the day was nothing to him.

"Lex," Pete addressed him without preamble, "the love I bear thee can afford no better term: Thou art a villain."

"What? What did I do now?"

"What did you do? You did Clark, apparently. I know you were with him last night - all night!"

"Oh. Well, yes, that's true." Lex might have been turning a little pink. Chloe tried a cat-call, and Lana elbowed her in the ribs. "But I don't know how that makes me a villain," Lex continued, "and I don't know why you care, Pete."

"I care because he's my friend, and you're a Luthor!" Pete snarled.

"Yesterday it seemed like -"

"Yeah, well, yesterday I didn't know I was giving you the go-ahead to run and defile him that very minute!" Pete was shouting now. "You've got him all turned around! You can't be trusted, but he's not thinking straight and he won't listen to me!"

"Pete, you're like a brother to Clark. That's not going to change. And because of that, the reason I have to love thee doth much excuse the appertaining rage to such greeting. Villain I am none. Therefore, farewell; I see thou know'st me not," Lex concluded, and started to turn away from Pete.

But it was not to be. Pete grabbed Lex's sleeve, making Lex turn back to him. "Boy, this shall not excuse the injuries that thou hast done me! Therefore -"

"I do protest!" Lex cut in. "I never injur'd thee, but love thee better than thou canst devise. Be satisfied with that!"

"Hey, you guys-" began Chloe, moving between them.

Pete was short, but he was younger and more muscular than Lex, and fueled with fury. If he'd bothered to think, he still would have thought he could have taken Lex in a fight. But he didn't think. He never even thought about any potential lawsuits as he hauled off and swung at Lex with all his strength. Lex only had to take one step back to be out of Pete's range, but Chloe stumbled between them and Pete's fist connected with her jaw instead. As if in slow motion, Chloe lurched forward, and as slowly as it seemed to be happening, neither Lex nor Pete could catch her before her head struck the edge of the U.S. mailbox on the sidewalk.

Pete and Lex could only stare for a moment. It was Lana who rushed to Chloe, who was lying unmoving on the pavement, blood spreading from underneath her head. "Call 911!" she screamed. Lex pulled out his phone and dialed while Lana tried to revive Chloe without moving or touching her too much. "Chloe? Chloe!" Tears of panic were springing to Lana's eyes. She turned on Lex and Pete. "What have you DONE? A plague on both your houses!" she sobbed.

Pete looked stricken. "You don't think she's - is she breathing?"

"No! No she's - oh my god, what have you done?" Lana collapsed in sobs next to Chloe's still form.

Lex lunged at Pete.

Stronger Pete might have been, but football isn't street-fighting, and by the time the ambulance arrived, Pete wasn't moving any more than Chloe was.

Act III, Scene ii
The Kents' living room

Clark waited up for Lex to call, pretending to watch some old movie. Lex was supposed to call when he was home from work, and ten o'clock wasn't unusually late for him to be working, so it wasn't until about ten-thirty that Clark tried calling him at his office at the plant.

Voicemail.

He tried the mansion, and was told that Lex hadn't come home yet. Probably driving, then.

He tried the mansion again at eleven. Still no Lex, although the staff member who answered sounded as if something might not be right, which put Clark on alert. He tried Lex's cell phone. Voicemail.

Should he call the hospital? The police station? Lana? Lana saw Lex nearly every day at the Talon. Was it too late to call? He called.

Lana was awake, although just from the way she said Hello, Clark could tell she was upset. "Lana, what's wrong?"

"Clark? It's - has anyone called you?"

"No, no one. What is it? You sound like you've been crying."

"It's Chloe," Lana said hoarsely. "She's in the hospital, in a coma. They don't know-" she swallowed.

"What happened?" Clark demanded, already putting his shoes on for a run to the hospital.

"It's - it's crazy, Clark. Pete was mad at Lex, and he tried to hit him, and Chloe tried to stop him, and-" she choked.

"Pete? Where is he?"

"He's at the hospital too; his ribs are broken. Um, three of them. There was internal bleeding, that's why he's still there..."

"Is Lex all right?"

She drew a shaky breath. "Clark, Lex is in jail. He was still hitting Pete when the ambulance came."

"What?? Lex? Broke Pete's ribs?"

"When Chloe wasn't breathing - Lex lost it. He just attacked."

"But why? If Pete hit Chloe by accident ..."

"I don't know, Clark... He just..."

"O serpent heart, hid with flowering face! Did dragon ever keep so fair a cave? Beautiful tyrant! Fiend angelical! Dove-feather'd raven! Wolfish-ravening lamb! Despised substance of divinest show! Just opposite to what thou justly seem'st, a damned saint, an honorable villain! O nature, what hads't thou to do in hell when thou didst bower the spirit of a fiend in mortal paradise of such sweet flesh? Was ever book containing such vile matter so fairly bound? O, that deceit should dwell in such a gorgeous palace!" cried Clark. "Pete was right all along - I should never have trusted Lex!"

"There is no trust," agreed Lana. "No faith, no honesty in men; all are perjured, all foresworn, all naught, all dissemblers. These griefs, these woes, these sorrows make me old. My parents, Whitney, now this! Shame come to Lex!"

"Blistered be thy tongue for such a wish!" snapped Clark. "He was not born to shame! Upon his brow shame is ashamed to sit, for `tis a throne where honour may be crown'd sole monarch of universal earth. O, what a beast I was to chide at him!"

"What? You just said -"

"Never mind. Lana, I'm going to the hospital. Then I'm going to visit Lex. Do you want me to pick you up?"

"You can't; visiting hours are over at the hospital, and probably at the jail. I'll go with you to see Lana and Pete in the morning. Lex ... well, he should be out on bail tomorrow. If not, you can see him at the courthouse. I'm not going."

Act III, Scene iii
Lex's mansion in Smallville

"Lex."

"Dad. I take it you heard everything from the lawyers."

"I did. Lex, you haven't done anything like this since you came to Smallville. Are you reverting to your old ways?"

"No. And you weren't there, so don't lecture me."

"Listen, come back to Metropolis. We'll figure something out."

"I'm not leaving Smallville, dad. There is no world without Smallville walls but purgatory and torture itself."

"O deadly sin! O rude unthankfulness! Lex, this is a very small town. Everyone already knows what happened. There's no reason for you to stay here, son. You won't be crossing state lines; you can come back for the trial. Come back to Metropolis with me for now. This is dear mercy, and thou see'st it not."

"'Tis torture and not mercy; Heaven is here, where Clark lives."

"Thou fond man, hear me speak a little..."

"O, thou wilt speak again of Metropolis!"

"I see then that madmen have no ears."

"How should they, when that wise men have no eyes?"

"Low blow, Lex. Well done. But let me dispute with thee of thy estate."

"Thou canst not speak of that that thou dost not feel. When thou were as young as I - Strike that; you wouldn't have understood even then."

There was a quiet knock at the open door. Martha Kent stood there, showing some trepidation. She was one of the few people acquainted with Lionel Luthor who did not fear him. Awkward social situations, though, made her very anxious.

"Martha!" exclaimed Lionel. "What a surprise! I wasn't sure I'd see you again after you left my employ."

Martha smiled politely.

"Come in," said Lex. "How's Clark?"

Martha's smile grew warmer. "He's all right. Worried about you. I asked him to stay away until I spoke to you. If ..." she glanced at Lionel.

"It's all right," said Lex. "Whatever is said in the mansion seems to get back to him anyway. You might as well speak freely."

"Thank you for that gesture of openness, Lex," Lionel remarked with only the barest hint of malice.

"Any time, dad. Mrs. Kent, please go on."

Martha was hesitant, but she plunged ahead. "It's this thing with you and Clark... You know, last night ..." she cast her glance at Lionel again.

"He knows all about it," said Lex, "although I didn't think you did."

"I'm his mother," Martha stated, by way of explanation.

"Are you bothered?" Lex asked with real concern.

"I... I'm not thrilled. But Clark is seventeen and these things happen. Usually with girls, but ... well, that's not why I came here, really." She sighed. "It's Jonathon. He had that triple-bypass, and his heart isn't as strong as it was, and you know how he feels about..." Her eyes cut back and forth between Lex and Lionel. "Well, you're a man and you're... I hate to say this, but you're Lionel's son, and I'm worried what might happen if he finds out." Having said her piece, Martha seemed to back away, although she didn't actually move.

Lex smiled and went to her and took her hands in his. "It'll be fine," he told her. "Subtlety. It's my thing; you know that. We'll be careful. I'll be careful."

Martha was relieved, if only that the confrontation was over. "Thank you, Lex. I'm sure you will. I just needed to be sure you knew the risks. Lionel ... it's been nice seeing you." She turned and left as quickly as etiquette would allow.

"Well, well," said Lionel. "You've got the mother on your side. This should be a piece of cake."

"Get the hell out of here, dad."

"I'm leaving. I just need to make one more thing clear to you: What you did to Pete yesterday; that was unacceptable."

"I know, dad. I just spent the night in jail for it."

"You know that's not what I meant. It showed weakness you can't afford to show. You can't let your opponents know you're that easy to trigger. It gives them far too big an advantage."

"I understand, dad. Now if you don't mind, I'm really tired."

"Metropolis, son. Think about it."

"Good night, dad."

Act III, scene iv
The Talon

Lana had finally dragged herself into work early in the afternoon. It was a slow time of day, especially in the summer. When Martha Kent walked in, Lana was happy for the company for a fleeting moment before she realized that Martha could only be here to talk about Clark and Lex. Lana had no idea what was she supposed to know about it.

"Coffee, Mrs. Kent?"

"An iced coffee would be nice. Thanks."

Martha seated herself at the bar while Lana prepared the iced coffee. "Things have fallen out unluckily," Martha said.

Without warning, tears stung Lana's eyes again. "I'm so sorry, Mrs. Kent. I should have been able to stop them-"

"Oh, it's not your fault, Lana," Martha soothed. "It's not anyone's fault. Pete couldn't help being angry, and Lex was only upset over Chloe. I just wish ... I wish Clark had fallen for someone else. Someone we've known longer."

"A girl?" asked Lana, with an impish smile.

"That too." Martha couldn't suppress a grin. "You know, for the longest time, I thought you and Clark..."

"I did too, for a while," said Lana, "But it looks like I'm not exactly his type after all."

"Well, he's seventeen. People experiment. You never know. This could be just a passing thing, Lana."

Lana shook her head and smiled. "Are you tying to convince me or yourself?"

Martha laughed. "I'm not sure. But given our history with Lionel, it's really ... I hate to say inconvenient, but it really is. Things would be so much simpler if it had been, well, you."

"I understand," said Lana. "But things could still work out for them. Like you said, you never know. Clark is only seventeen, and Lex isn't exactly an old man set in his ways either. Anything could happen."

"And probably will," agreed Martha.

Act III, Scene v
The loft of the Kents' barn, late that night. (Actually, early the next morning.)

"Do you have to go already? It's nowhere near light out." Clark lay on the old couch, under a blanket which he didn't need but had brought to the loft for Lex's comfort.

"The birds are up," said Lex, looking for his shirt. "It's got to be nearly dawn. Your dad will be up looking for you any minute."

"Birds? It was the nightingale, and not the lark, that pierc'd the fearful hollow of thine ear."

"Nice try, Clark. There are no nightingales in Kansas."

"You can't be sure of that," countered Clark, pulling him back down to the couch.

"I can be sure your father will be up soon, whether there are nightingales singing or not. Come on, let me go." Lex set to work extracting himself from Clark's arms.

"You don't really have to go to Metropolis, do you?" Clark pleaded.

"It's the best thing for now." Lex had managed to get his arms free and was struggling into his shirt.

"For how long?"

"I don't know. Where's my tie?"

"How long, Lex? Until the trial?"

"This won't go to trial. We'll settle. Shoes ..."

"That's not what I asked, Lex," Clark said sternly. "In fact, you're really working to avoid the question. How long will you be in Metropolis?"

Lex sat back on the couch and sighed. "I don't know Clark. But it could be a long time. There are..."

"Don't tell me there are complications. Just tell me what's going on. Since we're sleeping together, I'd think you'd feel close enough to tell me why you`re going out of town, and for how long."

Lex studied him a moment before answering. "Your mother came to see me. She told me your father's heart isn't very good."

"He had that surgery - it's been fine -"

"Apparently not that fine. She's worried. I told her we wouldn't let her find out about this, but look at us now - he could be up here at any moment." He paused. "I think it would be best if I stayed away for a while."

Clark stared, wide-eyed. "They told me his heart would be fine."

"I'm sure it will be," said Lex, "If we don't give him a heart attack in the immediate future."

"You don't think finding out I'm gay would... No, he can't think like that!"

"I don't know what he thinks about being gay, Clark, but I know what he thinks about me. And my father. And I'm almost sure I know what he'd think about wandering into the loft and finding me here with half my clothes on - or worse."

Clark slumped back. "You might be right. I can't believe they didn't tell me ..." He shook his head in disbelief. "I need to talk to them. But do you really have to go all the way to Metropolis?"

Lex laughed. "Where else would I go?" He reached out and ruffled Clark's already ruffled hair. "I'll be back. Don't look so sad."

"Art thou gone so, my lord, my love, my friend? I must hear from thee every day i' the hour, for in a minute there are many days. O, by this count I shall be much in years ere I again behold my Lex."

"I'll call every day. And I'll be back, I doubt it not; and all these woes shall serve for sweet discourses in our time to come." Suddenly he looked out the loft door. "But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?"

"That's the kitchen light! They're up!" said Clark. "Get dressed, get out of here!"

"That's what I was-"

"Go!"

Once he'd shooed Lex out of the loft, Clark used his speed to dress himself and raced to the kitchen, then tried to enter nonchalantly. His mom was starting on the coffee.

"Clark!" His mom said. "You slept out in the loft?" Then she blushed, for what seemed to Clark to be no discernable reason, until she added, "Was Lex over?"

"Oh," said Clark. "Yeah. Um... he stayed over."

His mom sighed and set down the coffee pot. "Clark, I know what's going on with you and Lex. Well, I don't know exactly, but... I'd just like you to keep it private. Do you know what I mean?"

"You mean don't let dad find out," he said, ducking his head." Lex told me about his heart. Mom, I can't believe you didn't tell me!"

"I'm sorry, sweetie. I think it just needs more time, and I didn't think anything would come up that..."

"Mom, this is Smallville. Something always comes up."

"You're right, Clark. We should have talked to you about it a long time ago. But I didn't just mean that you shouldn't let your father find out about you and Lex; this is a small town. If anyone knows, it will get back to him. I'm asking you to just... be really careful."

"I will, mom. And I know Lex doesn't want anything to happen to dad." He crossed the kitchen and hugged her. "Don't worry about it. Lex is going back to Metropolis for a while, so we have time to ease dad into the idea, if we have to. Everything's going to be fine."

END ACT III


~ Intermission ~

I'm too verklempt to go on. Talk amongst yourselves. I'll give you a topic:

"Romeo and Juliet does not make a specific moral statement about the relationships between love and society, religion, and family; rather, it portrays the chaos and passion of being in love, combining images of love, violence, death, religion, and family in an impressionistic rush leading to the play's tragic conclusion." (From SparkNotes.)
http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/romeojuliet/themes.html

And now for a musical interlude...

We want a 15 minute intermission, boss We want a 15 minute intermission, boss We want a 15 minute intermission, boss In out condition!

Intermission!

When makin' music gets to be a chore
An intermission is your only cure
To ease your palpitatin' embouchure
You'll never get to heaven if you treat us this way!

We want a 15 minute intermission, boss We want a 15 minute intermission, boss We want a 15 minute intermission, boss With your permission!

Intermission!

Take a 15 minute intermission, boys
Take a 15 minute intermission, boys
Take a 15 minute intermission, boys
With my permission!

Intermission!

When makin' music gets to be a chore
An intermission is your only cure
To ease your palpitatin' embouchure
You'll never get to heaven if you treat me this way!

Take a 15 minute intermission, boys
Take a 15 minute intermission boys
Take a 15 minute intermission boys
With my permission!

Mmm -- Intermission!

"Fifteen Minute Intermission"

Performed by: Cab Calloway
Composed by: Sunny Skylar and Bette Cannon - 1940


Act IV, Scene i
The loft of the Kent's barn

Lana had taken the afternoon off work and was planning to spend as much of it as she could at the hospital. Chloe was still unresponsive, but Lana had read that there was a possibility that people in comas could hear speech, maybe understand it. She had books with her to read to Chloe in case she couldn't think of anything to say.

She'd visit Pete too. Pete was probably going to be fine. He was pretty much only still there for observation, to make sure the bleeding didn't start again. She didn't know whether or not a visit from Clark would raise Pete's spirits, but she stopped by the Kents' anyway, to invite Clark along.

She was pretty sure that was the only reason she wanted to see Clark.

Almost positive it had nothing to do with knowing Lex was leaving town for an indeterminate amount of time.

Mr. Kent directed her up to the loft, where she found Clark reading. She announced herself with a "hey," which somehow came out sounding a little forced.

Clark looked up and grinned. "Lana! Poor soul, thy face is much abused with tears. How're you holding up?" He set down his book without marking it, face-down. Halfway through Machiavelli's The Prince. Definitely Lex's influence there.

"The tears have got small victory by that, for it was bad enough before their spite!" she answered with self-deprecating humor.

"Aw, thou wrong'st it more than tears with that report," Clark cajoled.

"That is no slander, sir, which is a truth; and what I spake, I spake it to my face." She sighed. "But I'm good. I'm okay. I was just on my way to the hospital to visit Pete and Chloe. Did you want to come?"

"Chloe?" Clark jumped to his feet, looking more than a little like a gigantic puppy. "Is she awake? You should have called me!"

"No, she's not awake. I just think maybe it could help her to know we're there."

"Sure, I'll come." He hesitated. "But maybe you should see Pete first and find out if he even wants to see me. It's sort of my fault he's in there. I mean, I know he picked the fight, but it was sort of about me."

"It was about testosterone and hot weather, Clark." He gave her a small, grateful smile, and Lana found she felt inordinately pleased to have been able to offer that comfort, such as it was.

When they reached Smallville Medical Center, they went to Chloe's room first, but only tried conversation for a few minutes before they resorted to taking turns reading to her.

Pete was sleeping, so they just scrawled notes for him and left.

Back in the car, Clark stared quietly out the passenger window while Lana searched for something to say. "So," she came up with finally, "It sounds like Lex is going to be gone for a while."

"Yeah. Did you see him today?"

Lana didn't miss how Clark perked up at the sound of Lex's name. She felt a slight sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. She didn't like this. Did she still have feelings for Clark? And if so, why now? Why not over the past few months?

"He came by the Talon early," she said, focusing on the road. What was wrong with her? Was it knowing about Lex and Clark? She'd never thought she was one of those girls who only wanted a guy because someone else had him, but could that be it? Sure, that's probably what it was. She forced herself to relax her death-grip on the steering wheel. Conversation. Make conversation. "He mentioned that he had a lot to get done at the plant because he didn't know how long he'd be out of town."

Clark looked startled. "You mean he wasn't leaving right away? Did he say when?"

"Not until this afternoon." She frowned. "He didn't tell you when he was leaving? Uneven is this course; I like it not -"

"Can you take me by the mansion?" he asked suddenly.

"Uh, sure." Her stomach twisted. "Is everything all right?"

He laughed a little. "Yeah, it's just that I sort of threw him out in a hurry this morning. I didn't really get to say goodbye."

"Sure, no problem," said Lana, feeling faintly queasy.

Act IV, Scene 1.5
Lex's mansion

Lionel waited for Lex in his office on the main floor of the mansion. He'd come to make sure that Lex actually got in the helicopter and away from Smallville.

He really had to stop Lex's association with the Kents, he'd decided. Jonathon Kent hated Lionel with a passion and Lex with less of a passion. Martha knew far too much about LuthorCorp. And he was never going to get his hands on Clark Kent as long as Lex was keeping an eye on the boy.

And without Clark, his research into the green meteor rocks would never yield half of what it could. Of this he was sure. The rocks had an effect on Clark that defied explanation. He was linked to them in some way... Lionel felt instinctively that between Clark and the rocks, he was on the verge of a scientific revolution. And whatever he discovered, he could most surely patent.

And if Clark or the meteor rocks held the key to a treatment for his liver disease, he might even live to see the profits.

Clark burst into the room unannounced, as was his custom. He stopped short upon seeing Lionel. "Mr. Luthor ..." The boy was clearly nonplussed.

Lionel hadn't got where he was by passing up golden opportunities like this one.

"Clark, come in. Are you looking for Lex? I'm afraid you've just missed him. I came to pick him up in the helicopter, but he'd already left by car." Of course, Lex might walk in any moment and spoil this ruse, but it wouldn't exactly be a shock to Clark to find Lionel was lying to him. "Is there anything I can do for you?"

"No," said Clark, edging back towards the door. "I just wanted to say goodbye. I can talk to him on the phone. Sorry to bother you..."

Ahhhh. "The phone?" Lionel asked in a tone of confusion. "He gave you his new number? I'm rather surprised."

"Um... no. He has a new number since yesterday?"

"Well, yes. He thought that not having his number would make you less inclined to call him. After all, I'm sure this is painful enough without dragging it out that way."

"Dragging what out?"

"Why, his move to Metropolis. Don't misunderstand, I'm sure he'll miss you, but you really can't carry on a long-distance relationship, especially not at your age. But I'm sure it's all for the best, Clark."

"Lex is coming back," Clark protested. "He wouldn't have lied to me about that."

Lionel raised an eyebrow. "Wouldn't lie to you? Clark, I already know thy grief. It strains me past the compass of my wits. Come with me; I think there is something you need to see."

Oh, this was far too easy.

Lionel led Clark from the office and down a hallway to a locked door. "Have you seen this before?" he asked.

Clark shook his head. Lionel took a moment to enjoy the wariness and confusion the boy was emitting. Then he unlocked the door.

The darkened room was lit by several computer monitors and a few display lights. The most striking object, though was a five-foot-tall image of Clark's face. It was a candid, black-and-white image, obviously taken with a telephoto lens.

Opposite the photo was a case displaying several flattened bullets. Another case held a large chunk of raw kryptonite. Another held refined kryptonite in the form of bars, and in another were several sheets of what appeared to be green glass. The monitors were running various simulations, one of which Lionel was sure Clark would recognize: the car crash from which Clark had rescued Lex.

The displays were somewhat artistically placed. Lionel knew that Lex had to be doing his research somewhere else; somewhere far from the mansion, probably far from Smallville, possibly far from the continental United States. He supposed that his son must come here, to this room, to contemplate his findings. To encourage the pieces to fall together. Lionel understood that thinking.

One of the straight, functional pedestals stood empty, with no glass casing. Lex must have been expecting a new acquisition from the labs.

Perfect.

As Clark stood transfixed by the photograph of himself, Lionel slipped a vial out of his pocket, congratulating himself on having chosen to carry it on his person until he could secure it in his office safe. He was fairly sure it would incapacitate Clark with a cold and drowsy humor; he'd only been working out a method of delivery. Silently, he placed the vial on the empty pedestal and stepped away from it.

If this worked, all he'd have to do now would be to arrange for Clark to be removed from the mansion before Lex returned.

Clark's gaze had drifted from the photograph and he was staring around the room. Lionel stood back and gave him plenty of time to take it all in before finally speaking.

"Tell me again," he said, "about how Lex wouldn't lie to you about leaving."

Clark stiffened. "You set this up!" He accused suddenly. "Lex would never have done all this. It was you!"

"Oh, no, I'm afraid Lex set this all up himself. He's been fascinated with you from the beginning, you see. Studying you. As you can see. And from what I gather, his... experiments... have become quite thorough lately. You know, I have an interest in the meteors as well, but I have to admit, Lex has gone to far greater lengths than I would have. I really do have to admire the way he's thrown himself into it." He gave Clark a smile that only just bordered on the suggestive. "Now that he'll be working with me in Metropolis, I'm hoping that he'll eventually trust me enough to share all his findings with me."

Clark looked nearly hypnotized for a moment, then shook himself. "You're a liar!" He shouted at Lionel. His voice echoed off the blank walls of the room, and he lowered it. "Lex would never do this to me. Never. I don't know how you managed this, but I'm sure it was you."

"I assure you, it was not. But I do have to be going, Clark. You're welcome to stay and examine the room as long as you like."

Clark had already turned away from him and back to the computer monitors. Lionel left the room silently, closing the door most of the way behind him. After a brief silence, he heard a rustle, a click, a faint buzzing, then, "Mom, I'm over at Lex's. I don't think I'll be home for dinner tonight."

Act IV, Scenes ii and iv
The Kents' kitchen.

Lana returned to the Kents' house, sans Clark, and went in to speak to Martha.

"I dropped Clark off at the mansion. He said he hadn't said goodbye to Lex yet. I'm sure Lex will get him a ride home."

"Thanks, Lana. He just called me from there. He actually sounded pretty tense. Did you notice anything strange while you were there?"

Lana shrugged. "The LuthorCorp helicopter was there. That struck me because I assumed Lex would be driving."

"It could be Lionel," Martha said thoughtfully. "Lana, I know this sounds strange, but do you have the feeling there's something just not right about this?"

"I do," said Lana, who had been feeling not-right about Clark Kent all day.

"Do you have time to give me a ride back over to the mansion? If Lionel's there, I think I should talk to him."

"No problem," said Lana. "Although I'm sure there's nothing to worry about."

Act IV, Scene iii
The "secret room" in the mansion

Clark stood alone in a room full of kryptonite, apparently collected by his... whatever Lex was. Lex was supposed to have stopped this investigation years ago. A faint cold fear thrilled through his veins that almost froze the heat of life. He wished for a moment that Pete were with him... but what could Pete have done? Pete would have said he'd suspected this all along. Pete was biased, and Lionel was a liar. Whatever he did about this, he would have to make the decision alone.

He lifted the glass from the display case that held what seemed to be sheets of glass made from molten kryptonite. He didn't even need to touch it to know the glass-like material was more potent than the unrefined Kryptonite was, although what its use could be, he couldn't imagine.

He sat down before the simulation of the car crash. He'd seen it before. Nothing had changed. The other simulations seemed to be of molecules. Lionel could have set this up as well as Lex. But this was Lex's home. Surely this couldn't have been assembled without his knowledge. Lionel may still have owned the building, though. But still, Lex had to have known. If Lex hadn't actually done this, then he had at least allowed it. And he hadn't told Clark.

But Lionel had. Why? To drive him away from Lex? Why do that? Or to force Lex and Clark closer together, just to piss off his dad?

He moved to examine the flattened bullets. They were suspended in their case so that they could be examined from all angles. Someone had collected all those bullets. Someone who'd been near Clark when they'd been fired.

Lex.

One case was missing. A stoppered vial of green fluid sat uncovered on one of the pedestals. Clark tried unsuccessfully to cheer himself by comparing the scene to that in Through the Looking Glass as he approached it.

The proximity of the fluid didn't make him ill. He put his hand on the vial. His hand ached, but the veins didn't bulge. What was the meaning of this? Was it meant to be drunk or injected? Something else? Another human enhancement drug? If it were some sort of poison, then it was obviously meant for Clark. It was clear that Lex had at least an idea of how Kryptonite affected him.

Thorough experiments, Lionel had said. That's all this had been to Lex after all.

Well, if it was meant for him, then it would only be polite to drink it. Numbly, he raised the vial to his lips. "Lex, this do I drink to thee."

Act IV, Scene iv
Lex's mansion

"Lana, I think maybe you should wait for me out here," Martha suggested. "I'm used to handling Lionel, but I don't like subjecting other people to him."

"That's fine with me," said Lana. "The less I see of Lionel Luthor, the better. Besides, you might need a getaway driver!"

Martha laughed as she got out of the truck, but her sense of foreboding returned as she faced the mansion.

It increased when no one answered the door.

Letting herself in, Martha heard Lionel swearing at someone. If Clark hadn't been in the house, she would have left then, but instead she followed the voice to Lex's office.

She found Lionel waving his phone and yelling at his assistant and one of the household staff. The gist seemed to be that he wanted them to leave him alone. Martha was usually good at smoothing out Lionel's tempers, at least when she knew what was going on, so she went straight to him. Seeing her, his victims finally took Lionel's advice and left.

"Martha! Thank god you're here - I've been trying to call you! O heavy day!"

"What happened? Where's Clark?" she demanded.

"You'd better see for yourself," he said, seizing her arm and leading her from the room. He pulled her quickly down the hall until she saw a shape on the floor at the corner ahead.

It was a limp hand, and the rest of the body attached to it was just out of her sight. She broke from Lionel's grasp and dashed ahead of him, screaming Clark's name. She skidded to a halt and fell to the floor next to her son. "Clark! Clark! Can you hear me?" She shook his shoulder, then slapped his face lightly.

No response.

She put her hand to his throat. No pulse. She pressed her head to his chest and heard no heartbeat. She looked up at Lionel, who, for the first time since she'd known him, didn't seem sure of what to do. "Have you already called an ambulance? Are they coming?"

"Do you think an ambulance would really help?" he asked with what sounded like curiosity.

"CALL NINE-ONE-ONE!" she screamed at him. "Alas! He's cold! His blood has settled, and his joints are stiff. Life and these lips have long been separated. Death lies on him like an untimely frost upon the sweetest flower of all the field!"

Lionel stepped back around the corner, out of Martha's line of site, and took out his cell phone. But he the number he dialed was more than three digits.

"Lex... Son, you're needed back at the mansion."

END ACT IV


Act V, Scene i
The parking lot of the LuthorCorp fertilizer plant in Smallville.

Finally, Lex was able to leave the plant. It had taken longer than he'd hoped, but not as long as he'd expected. Not that he was in a hurry to leave Smallville, but he'd promised himself he wouldn't call Clark until he was situated in Metropolis; any sooner, and Clark might well talk him out of it.

But he had a good feeling about this. Maybe it was only the dream he'd had late that morning, but he felt sure that leaving was definitely the right thing to do at this time. He mused, as he approached his car: "If I may trust the flattering eye of sleep, my dreams presage some joyful news at hand. My bosom's lord sits lightly in his throne, and all this day an unaccustomed spirit lifts me above the ground with cheerful thoughts. I dreampt that Clark had come and found me dead - strange dream that gives a dead man leave to think! - and breath'd such life with kisses in my lips, that I reviv'd , and was an emperor. Ah me! How sweet is love itself possess'd, when but love's shadows are so rich in joy!" Then he shook his head sharply. "I really do wish I'd stop talking like that. In fact, when did I start talking to myself at all?"

But that train of thought was abruptly derailed when his cell phone rang. Damn. He'd meant to turn it off on leaving the building. Feeling amiable, he answered anyway.

As usual, that was a mistake. It was his father.

"Lex... Son, you're needed back at the mansion."

"What are you doing at the mansion?"

"That's not important right now, Lex. Something's happened."

"Is someone hurt?"

"Yes, I'm afraid so. It's your friend Clark."

"Clark? Hurt? I don't think that's possible. What exactly is going on?"

"He's not moving or breathing, Lex. There's no pulse. I'm not sure what happened, but -"

"I'll be with thee straight."

Lex hung up without waiting for a reply. He slid into his car, opened the glove box, removed his gloves and pulled them on, then removed the revolver and laid it on the passenger seat. He buckled his seatbelt.

Safety first.

Act V, Scene ii
The mansion

Lionel cursed his lack of restraint. Why hadn't he stuck to the original plan? Lex was as good as gone, and without Lex's interference, Lionel would have had Clark in his lab in a matter of days. Give him controlled amounts of the serum, chart his reactions. That had been the plan. He'd been unthinking and reckless - most unlike him.

And now Martha. She'd seen far too much. How could he silence her? If both Clark and Martha disappeared, with at least two servants having seen them at the mansion - and who else knew they were here? Who might be looking for them right now? Surely Jonathon knew where Martha was, at the very least. And if the whole Kent family disappeared - that didn't bear thinking about.

Martha was distracting him, still blithering over Clark's body. He glared at the back of her head.

Had he been wrong to call Lex? No, if Martha got out of this alive, Lionel would need to appear as concerned as possible. And if Lex walked in on this without warning, it could only make matters worse. The boy could be far too rash.

He noticed Martha was making an attempt to pull herself together. She asked for his cell phone, and he handed it to her and moved farther away, trying to think. There had to be a way out, even a way to turn this to his own advantage. Could he convince Martha and Jonathon to let him have Clark's body? Almost definitely not. Steal it, then?

Why did every project involving Clark Kent have to turn into a disaster, even without Lex?

Act V, Scene iii
Outside the mansion

A pickup truck was parked outside the mansion when Lex pulled up. Not Clark's. He ignored it.

"Thou detestable maw!" he yelled at the mansion as he strode toward it. "Thou womb of death, gorged with the dearest morsel of the earth!" Still out of range, he aimed his gun at the door. "Thus I enforce thy rotten jaws to open, and in despite, I'll cram thee with more food!"

"Lex!"

It was Lana, barreling toward him form the truck.

"Lex, what are you doing with that gun? Put that away!"

Lex whirled on her. "Good gentle youth, tempt not a desperate man! Fly hence and leave me. I beseech thee, Lana, put not another sin upon my head by urging me to fury! O, be gone!"

"I do defy thy conjurations!" cried Lana, making a grab for the gun. Lex backed away, but she was too quick. When the shot rang out, they were both holding the gun, but only one was bleeding.

"O, I am slain!" gasped Lana. Numbly, Lex lowered her to the ground. "If thou be merciful, take me to Clark..." She didn't say anything else.

Lex stared at her. Had he really come here to kill his father? He didn't even know. He felt as if he were waking up from a nightmare, but finding reality even more horrifying now that he was clear-headed enough to see it. What was he doing? He didn't know that Clark was really dead, or that Lionel was necessarily responsible, and if both were true, another death wouldn't solve anything. He didn't know if he had really meant to kill Lionel, but Lana... he'd never have hurt Lana. She'd only been in the wrong place at the wrong time, and now she was gone.

Clark had loved Lana once. He should have stayed with her, like Martha and Jonathon had wanted. None of this would have happened. Lex might still be pining for Clark, but no one would be dead. Or in a coma, or in the hospital with broken ribs.

Tucking the gun into the back of his belt, Lex lifted Lana's body easily and carried her into the mansion. Somehow he knew, and never doubted, that Clark was in the Meteor Room.

He found Clark, Martha, and Lionel outside the room. The door was open, but Martha and Lionel had their backs to it, and Clark was lying still on the floor.

When she saw Lex, Martha dropped the phone she was speaking into and screamed. The phone was still emitting a tinny version of Jonathon's voice: "Martha? Martha! What is it?"

"Good god, son, what happened?" Lionel demanded.

Lex didn't speak to them, but laid Lana's body down next to Clark's. He touched Clark and found him cold. His skin was faintly greenish, and as Lionel had said, there was no breath and no pulse. "Why art thou yet so fair?" he asked the inanimate body. "Shall I believe that unsubstantial death is amorous, and that the lean abhorred monster keeps thee here in dark to be his paramour? For fear that I will stay with thee, and never from this palace of dim night depart again? Here, here will I remain. Here will I set up my everlasting rest."

Lionel pulled Lex to his feet. "Lex, what are you doing? You're talking as if -"

Lex pulled out the gun and pointed it at Lionel's face. He held his aim steady as Lionel backed away from him. When Lionel was far enough away, Lex tilted his head back and fired the gun up through his own jaw into his medulla. He didn't live long enough to see the blood spatter over the dead bodies and Martha Kent.

Silence rang through the mansion for a long moment. Then Martha faced Lionel. "You did this. Somehow, you did all of this."

Lionel only stared back at her. He hadn't been even remotely prepared for this. He needed time to think. "I didn't..." was all he managed.

"... mom...?"

Martha spun. Clark was slowly sitting up. "Mom, what are you doing here?"

"Oh, Clark!" Martha threw herself down next to Clark and flung her arms around him. `Oh, honey, I thought you were -" she sobbed.

Lionel started to move quietly away, but Clark saw him and struggled to his feet. Doing so, he got a better look at Martha. "Mom? Why do you have blood..." He looked around him and saw Lana and Lex. Lex had fallen on his back. The entrance wound under his jaw wasn't terribly large, but the amount of blood that had spread out from the exit wound... Clark used his X-ray vision to be sure. A large part of the back of Lex's skull was gone. The heart wasn't beating.

"Honey..." said Martha.

"Who did this?" said Clark, without emotion. He stared at the gun in Lex's hand. His gaze traveled to Lana. Martha and Lionel both moved toward him, but Clark shrugged them off. He went to the mysterious room, moving too fast for their human eyes to track. He glanced around uncertainly, then focused on the case of green glass. He drove his fist through the case, fragmenting the meteor glass. The noise called Martha and Lionel into the room. Clark didn't look back at them before he plunged a long shard of Kryptonite glass into his chest.

The rest was silence.


A glooming peace this ending with it brings; The sun for sorrow will not show his head. Go hence, to have more talk on these sad things; Some shall be pardon'd, others punished, For never was a story of more woe
Than this the town of Smallville came to know.

Now don't you get your knickers in a twist; I've still a smidgen more to write on this, And once I've run the tale in to the ground, You'll see some Sondheim lyrics will be found. For those who still are puzzling over quotes, I've written quite substantial author's notes. If, after that, I still have more to say, I think I'll have to wreck some other play. The sound you may hear as I click on "save" Is William Shakespeare turning in his grave. And if you think my rhyming is too cheap, Well, I have this pentameter to keep.
But if you're int'rested in my two pennies, I do think that five iambs is too many. And now before I log off for the night, I only have the epilogue to write!

[exit Crossbow]


Epilogue

Two months later

Upon moving into her new apartment, Martha unpacked her work clothes first. She would be starting work the next morning. She wasn't in desperate need of money - the proceeds from the sale of the farm would hold her for a while - but she had to start being more active.

She would have moved back to Metropolis anyway, to be close to her father, but having a job to go to made it so much easier. And it was work she knew; she'd been Lionel's assistant previously for several months. She'd quite enjoyed working with Lionel, until she had discovered his plans for Clark.

But she no longer had anything to protect or hide from Lionel. She found that without Clark to look out for, she didn't much care what anyone discovered about Krypton or Kryptonite. By staying close to Lionel, she could at least make sure he wasn't using his knowledge of Kryptonite to develop weapons... if she ever started to care about anything. Meanwhile, it would be a steady paycheck and something to occupy her mind.

And Lionel had changed. It seemed that as often as he'd come close to causing his own son's death, he had never really contemplated losing him. Without Lex, LuthorCorp was his only legacy. His wife and second son were long dead, and he'd never tried to start another family. When Lionel died, the only thing left of him would be his money.

It was probably with that in mind that Lionel had created research grants in Lex's and Clark's names. He'd set up Lex's first, for biochemistry. The Lex Luthor Memorial Grant would fund research for generations to come. It would take the place of progeny.

Later, he'd called Martha to ask what had held Clark's interest. Her first thought had been journalism, but really he'd only been interested in that for about two years. Astronomy was what he'd devoted most of his free time to before then. The stars had captured his imagination since he'd been able to speak, and he'd never been without a telescope. Lionel had set up a grant in Clark's name to fund research in astronomy.

The gesture was not entirely out of character. Lionel was used to making statements with his money, and he had been nothing but kind and respectful to Martha since the funerals. With Clark out of the way, she'd had half expected him to come knocking on her door looking for the spaceship key before the bodies were in the ground - she'd even had a tirade prepared for the occasion. But he'd said nothing and had expressed no interest in the key, or the caves, or anything else he'd been so obsessed with. In fact, he's stopped research on the caves altogether and had had them blocked off.

Martha wouldn't have been able to help him with that in any case; the key had disappeared, the spaceship had been destroyed, and he probably knew more than she did about the caves. He didn't know any of that, of course, but still he didn't ask. It was possible that he was still biding his time, but now she realized it didn't really matter. She didn't have anything left to lose anyway. Lionel knew that, and he could have used it to get her cooperation.

But he didn't ask.


Lionel Luthor had learned his lesson: Patience. He thought he'd learned it years ago, but his one lapse with Clark had cost him far too much. He wouldn't be rushing his plans again.

His worries about keeping Martha in line had been for nothing. Thanks to the shamefully lax security at Smallville Medical, he'd known about Jonathon's heart condition, but the condition was recent, and Lionel hadn't expected that the sight of his son's dead body would have instigated such a massive heart attack. After Jonathon had charged into the mansion and collapsed, Lionel had finally called an ambulance, as he had not done for Clark. Jonathon hadn't survived, thankfully, even so.

Martha had had nothing left to lose after that, which might have made her dangerous to Lionel. Instead, it had made her completely apathetic. Lionel had waited until two weeks after the funerals of her husband and son before he stepped in and offered to handle the sale of the farm for her. She hadn't even tried to protest. After another two weeks, he'd offered her her old job as his assistant and arranged for her move to Metropolis. A month later, she was settled in one of his own buildings, and ready to come to work for him.

She'd been out of Smallville before he exhumed Clark's body, and she either didn't know or didn't care that he'd sold the farm to his own company and had a team going over it with a fine-toothed comb.

Most likely she didn't care. She was an intelligent woman, far cleverer than her redneck husband had been. He'd originally hired her, when he was temporarily blinded, because of who she was related to, but had soon discovered she was truly a valuable business asset in and of herself. She possessed a sharp business sense, and a sharper sense of public opinion. Having a pleasant, attractive, well-spoken woman at his side didn't hurt Lionel's own image, either.

Really, it had all worked out much better than he'd hoped.

THE END

"Somewhere (A Place for Us)"
Music by Leonard Bernstein; Lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us
Somewhere.

There's a time for us,
Some day a time for us,
Time together with time to spare,
Time to look, time to care,
Someday!
Somewhere.

We'll find a new way of living,
We'll find a way of forgiving
Somewhere.

There's a place for us,
A time and place for us.
Hold my hand and we're half way there. Hold my hand and I'll take you there
Somehow,
Someday,
Somewhere.


Author's notes

Special Thanks:

Extra special thanks to Cassandra, for telling me to "Steal from the classics," because "It was good enough for Shakespeare." I finally realize why so many writers re-vamp fairly tales, myths, and old plays. For one thing, you can be rather lazy because the overall plot is already outlined for you. For another, people who like a story will generally like to read a new perspective on it.

Thanks to Jaded for proof-reading. Any mistakes that are still in there are probably ones that she found but I forgot to correct. Thanks to Celtic for reviewing my outline.

Thanks to Marilyn for inspiring me to start writing again. Marilyn has done thirteen LotR stories, of which I've unfortunately only read about three, but just hearing her talk about the writing process gave me the bug. I didn't plan to write fan fic because it seemed like a silly kids' game, but Marilyn is my age with a more formal background in writing than I have, so I thought if she's doing it, I should at least try it.

Thanks to all my Clex friends on the message boards who encouraged me to write more. I don't think they knew what kind of monster they were unleashing by encouraging me. I don't think they knew I was going to use my powers for evil instead of good. Anyone who knows me in real life could have warned them!

Thanks to my parents for keeping a complete collection of Shakespeare's plays in the living room while I was growing up.

Thanks to the Muse of Parody who keeps visiting me at inopportune moments, like staff meetings.

And of course thanks to old Bill, who I hope is laughing at me somewhere.

History of the play:

The story "Romeo and Juliet" appeared in its modern form in 1530, as a novella by Luigi da Porto. The story of how the young lovers died was floating around before then, but he is the one who gave it the back story and motives and the names we know them by, and assigned them to historical families. Shakespeare wrote his "Romeo and Juliet" in 1591 or 92. He changed the names only slightly, but he pretty much reinvented all the characters.

According to the "Sparknotes" study guide (see "sparknotes.com" link below), many of the details in Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet" were taken directly from the poem "Romeus and Juliet" by Arthur Brooks. However, this is the only reference I've been able to find so far on Arthur Brooks, so I can't tell you anything else about him. He's not in any of my books, and MSN and Google searches yielded nothing. Some day maybe I'll track down a primary source and tell you all about him, but from the Sparknotes comments, it doesn't sound like we're missing much.

Although Romeo and Juliet are fictional, the Montague and Capulet families were real feuding noble families. The story is set in Verona in the 1300s. It seems to be generally accepted that the tone of the feud in that time and place is historically accurate.

My experiences with and opinions of the play:

My first exposure to this story was actually the novel Sung in Shadow, by Tanith Lee. I bought it because of the pretty picture on the cover, not knowing anything about the story. My ideas about Lady Capulet and Mercutio are so heavily informed by that novel that I may not have any accurate idea of how Shakespeare meant to portray them.

I'm not sure how many productions I've seen. The only two I remember clearly are the one I saw at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival (I don't know what year) and the movie starring Leonardo di Caprio and Clare Danes.

In reading the play, as far as I was concerned, the story was over when Mercutio died, since his character has the most personality. Upon further reflection, I see that Mercutio's death, the first death in the play, is also the turning point that tells us that there is no way this story can end well. He's killed pointlessly, in a duel that he's fighting for what seems to be no good reason at all. It reminds us that the play is supposed to be a tragedy, not a romance. The story isn't about the great love between the two kids, it's about the fact that two innocent kids die because of their families' feuding.

Remember that. It makes the play much more interesting than if you try to watch it as a love story. (This is my own opinion. I do not have any authoritative sources to back it up other that Isaac Asimov's observation that the fact that Caplulet doesn't mind Romeo being at the ball indicates that the feud is dying out.)

Another note about Mercutio: I personally think that the text of the play shows he is in love with Romeo, which makes this an especially choice play for turning into slash. I also know that I'm not alone in my slashy interpretation, as I've seen it supported in other places. I don't know how widely accepted the idea is, but it's out there. That's not why I chose this play, though; my decision was entirely due to the first line of the prologue of the play: "Two houses, both alike in dignity."

My changes:

Twenty-first century Kansas is less similar to fourteenth-century Italy than one might think. Some adaptations were required.

I assign the lines where they make sense, so the assignments are a bit fluid. Pete plays both Tybalt and Juliet's nurse. Martha, whom I assigned as Lady Capulet, had to take over some lines of Paris's and Capulet's, and even part of Montague's role, and Lana also gets to play Paris. But in general ...

Lex - Romeo
Clark - Juliet
Martha - Lady Capulet
Jonathon -Capulet
Lionel - Montague and Friar Laurence
Lana - Benvolio and Paris
Chloe - Mercutio
Pete - Tybalt and Nurse

As may be entirely obvious, Lex Luthor is Romeo Montague's polar opposite. (He's also about 200 times more intelligent that Romeo.) If anyone is like Romeo, it's Clark, but no way was I going to write Lex as Juliet. One might wonder, if I was going to set R&J in Smallville, why not use one of the girls as Juliet? Well, two reasons. First, the feuding family thing; it had to be Jonathon Kent versus Lionel Luthor. Nothing else made sense. Second, if it's not slash, where's the fun?

When the play begins, Romeo is smitten with this chick Rosaline. From his conversation with Benvolio, I get the impression that Romeo has a new True Love every week. That won't do at all for Lex; in the three years "Smallville" has been running, Lex has only had one real love interest. (I'm referring to Helen, not Clark.) He's not easily smitten at all.

Romeo and Juliet first meet at the feast at the Capluet's house. That wasn't working either, because Lex needed people to dialogue with, and his only other friends in Smallville are Lana and Chloe, whom he knows through Clark. If he didn't know Clark already, I'd have no one to play Benvolio and Mercutio.

Therefore, I have Lex already being in love with Clark at the beginning; otherwise the story wouldn't make sense, on either an emotional or chronological level.

Clark Kent resembles a 13-year-old girl only his mood swings. However, like Juliet Capulet, he is surrounded by people trying to poison his mind against all things Montague/Luthor.

In "Smallville," Clark begins by sticking up for Lex and asserting that all Luthors aren't evil as Lionel is. Gradually he's coming to think that Lex really is like Lionel. Juliet, on the other hand, begins by believing all Montagues are her enemies.

Juilet does have a streak of rebelliousness, seen when she makes a point of saying that she will obey her mother's wishes in marriage only out of duty and not because she wants to. However, Juliet would never stand up to her parents the way Clark stands up to his father, and Clark wouldn't be as snarky to his mother as Juliet is to hers.

My most major change from the "Smallville" canon, then, is that I have Clark buying into his father's antipathy for the Luthors from the beginning. It's out of character in a bad way, but it also makes a certain amount of sense, as Jonathon has hated Lionel since before Clark can remember, and with good reason. Unlike the head of the Montague house, Lionel Luthor is actually a villain, who blackmailed Jonathon about his adoption of Clark.

Another obvious question might be: why didn't I leave in the eloping bit and just change Mantua to Massachusetts? Too hokey. Lex and Clark wouldn't care about getting legally married, and even if they did, Clark is under age; Lex would be committing a felony by taking Clark over state lines, so they couldn't possibly apply for a license even if they wanted to.

Act by Act:

Acts I and II were a cinch. They practically wrote themselves. In fact, looking back at them, my feeling is "I wrote this? I don't remember writing this." I think I was possessed by a muse at the time.

Act III had to wait until I was struck with inspiration, which arrived in the form of a "fan war" on LiveJournal. Act III is dedicated to everyone who pissed me off during the war.

You probably noticed that Act IV is much lighter on the Shakespeare than the other acts. This was far and away the hardest one to write; the other acts were each done in one sitting of about an hour, but Act IV took me several days and four drafts. After the first draft, I realized I'd totally screwed up the logistics. After the second draft, I discovered I had not included any of Shakespeare's words at all, so I went back and crammed in as much as I could. The third draft still had logistics problems. Then it took me weeks to get it back from my beta reader because of an email problem.

There were three major obstacles in Act IV: First, how the hell do you kill or even incapacitate Clark Kent in the first place? Second, Romeo trusts Friar Laurence, but Clark Kent knows that Lionel Luthor is out to get him, so why would he do anything Lionel suggested? Third, most of the dialogue concerns Juliet's betrothal to Paris - completely out of place in twenty-first century Kansas. It's important to the play, because it's escaping the arranged marriage that motivates Juliet to drink poison, but the CoCK (Chamber of Clark Kent, which I have Lex refer to as the Meteor Room) provided plenty of motive for Clark. I represented arranged marriage with a subplot about Lana discovering feelings for Clark, but none of Paris's lines worked for her. All that subplot accomplished, really, was to keep Lana in the story long enough to get killed. I was already far behind Shakespeare in my body count; I couldn't skip over killing Paris!

In Act V of the play, Montague announces that his wife has died of grief, then he and Capulet decide to be friends and Montague says he will raise a statue of Juliet in pure gold. In Smallville, Lillian Luthor is already dead, so it had to be Jonathon, who had a weak heart in the canon anyway. Properly, Act V should have included Jonathon dropping dead and Lionel and Martha working out their differences, but that just couldn't happen. I had to move those events forward in time, so I made them an epilogue - which is really what they are in the play anyway, I think.

Weird scene numbering:

Shakespeare didn't actually number the scenes; I'm not sure he even separated them. I've generally followed the "traditional" scene numbering for the convenience of readers who feel like nit-picking me and comparing my story to the text of the play. Where you see scenes with half-numbers (2.5 in Act I, 1.5 in Act II, et cetera), that indicates that either my sources didn't agree on the scene numbering, or that I had to move the action for my own nefarious purposes.

Notes for Nit-pickers:

If you are a serious nit-picker, you can entertain yourself by naming all the other plays from which I borrowed! I'll give you the sonnet as a freebie: Lex's speech to Pete at the end of II.ii is Sonnet 124.

Sources:

Text:
Enotes.com
http://www.enotes.com/romeo/3373

History:
The Yale Shakespeare, edited by Wilbur L Cross and Tucker Brooke Published under the direction of the Department of English, Yale University 1993 by Barnes & Noble Books

More history:
Sparknotes.com
http://www.sparknotes.com/shakespeare/romeojuliet/context.html Also available in paperback:
Romeo and Juliet (SparkNotes)
Spark Publishing, January 2002

Inspiration:
Sung in Shadow by Tanith Lee
Published in 1983 by DAW Books, Inc

Asimov's Guide to Shakespeare: A Guide to Understanding and Enjoying the Works of Shakespeare, by Isaac Asimov Gramercy; Reissue edition, September 2, 2003 (I read this 20 years ago, but I assume it influenced the way I read the play.)

Lyrics:

"Somewhere" lyrics obtained at Reelclassics: http://www.reelclassics.com/Musicals/Westside/westside-somewhere.htm

"Fifteen Minute Intermission" credits from Goodnewsmusic: http://www.goodnewsmusic.com/piano/cat7/1703277.html



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