by superfrodo

Please read and rate!
Thanks to Al Gough and Miles Millar, Mark Verheiden and Drew Greenberg, Greg Beeman and James Marshall, Joseph Cross, John Glover, Tom Welling, Michael Rosenbaum, and everyone who helped make "Hereafter" such an excellent episode!
Also, special thanks to my father, who gave me the idea for this story, and to superj, who renewed my interest in fan fiction!
And thanks to the betas, and to everyone who takes the time to read and rate this fic!

"For if the sinewy thread my brain lets fall Through every part
Can tie those parts, and make me one of all, Those hairs, which upward grew, and strength and art Have from a better brain,
Can better do't: except she meant that I By this should know my pain,
As prisoners then are manacled, when they're condemned to die."

Chapter 1

Jordan Cross ran so quickly that he nearly tripped over every step. Each of his senses was sharp and alert. He felt the chill air pressing against his pale face as he sprinted forward. He felt the salt of his tears burn his flushed cheeks with a hellish fire. He heard the sound of his sneakers pounding violently on the hard cement. He heard the sleeves of his jacket rustle against his sides as he swung his arms to and fro. Those tearing noises didn't do much to relieve the throbbing in his head. He had seen someone die - a young girl, innocent - but he had seen the future, and he had a chance to stop it from actually happening.

His mind unexpectedly ventured back to the day he met Clark Kent. It was his first day at a regular school, and Clark had been assigned as his mentor. That same day, after a refreshing run through a woodland trail near the school, Jordan had encountered the track coach and saw the unsettling foreshadowing of his death - he stood before a speeding car, his arms spread out, as if he were waiting for something. Later that day, a swerving car sped through the parking lot of Smallville High, and Coach Altman threw himself in front of it. But before it struck him, a miracle occurred. Clark Kent raced out into the street and pushed Coach Altman out of the way seconds before impact. Jordan had stared at him in wonder and awe, as if searching his being for some impossible answer.

You see, it was strange. No one had ever stopped any of Jordan's visions from coming true before. Clark changed the future...

There was something different about Clark, Jordan knew. It was like he didn't have an end. Like he would just go on forever. It was puzzling, disturbing - incomprehensible. But, if Clark changed the future once, couldn't he do it again?

Jordan had seen the fate of Lana's friend Megan earlier in the parking lot at school - she was tied down with ropes, surrounded by flames, suffocating! He told Clark about what he had seen, and they walked to Megan's home together, only to find everything quiet and in order. Jordan's father arrived at the house shortly afterwards, and he tried to take him away. But Jordan had to find Megan! She was in danger! So he turned his back on his dad and on Clark and started to run. He headed for Smallville High.

Chapter 2

Jordan's tears began to cloud his vision. But when he tried to blink them away, a loud thundering resounded in his head. He was worried. And he was scared. Why did he run away from Clark?! He was the only one who could save Megan! His shameful thoughts dealt yet another harsh blow to his pained mind. "Stupid! Stupid! Stupid!" he thought to himself as he lowered his head and shook it violently with angry regret.

His nimble legs continued to move swiftly. He was almost there. He was just outside of Smallville Medical Center when he finally looked up to see where he was going. He suddenly got an eerie feeling in the pit of his stomach. He felt himself slow gradually. Walking out of the Medical Center, with a grimace redolent of anguish and disgust, was Lionel Luthor, his long, brown mane glinting in the sunlight, as if those proud locks were being reflected off the shine of his finely polished Italian leather shoes. His gaze was lowered, his lips curled, and his ego undeniably damaged. He was distanced from the world around him, paying no attention to the distressed teenage boy hurtling towards him. Jordan glanced down and saw his feet moving quickly towards the tall tyrant. He screamed inside himself to stop, but by then it was too late.

He plunged into Lionel Luthor and collapsed onto the cold ground, blinded by a vivid flash of white light. He screeched in agony and pressed two fingers against his left temple. He felt Lionel's powerful gaze fixed awkwardly upon him. But he could not escape his curse. His eyes moved within their sockets, but he saw nothing but a faint golden glow. He suddenly found himself inside of Smallville Medical Center, walking briskly down a corridor. He was following someone - someone much larger in stature than himself. He recognized the blue denim and the worn brown boots. It was Clark Kent.

In his heart, Jordan gave a sigh of relief. "This couldn't be a normal vision - Clark must be here to save someone!" he thought to himself. Clark stopped near a dimly lit room. Even from the outside it smelled of ammonia and bandages, with the faint scent of lilies to grace the obnoxious odor. Someone was coughing loudly on the inside. Clark stood in the doorway. "Hello, Clark," said a familiar voice, though in a much softer and raspier tone than seemed usual. "I never expected to see you here." A man lay there in a hospital bed, his head propped comfortably against several pillows. He kept a beard, neatly trimmed, but winced with every word. Jordan's hopes fell - it was Lionel Luthor, the man he had just touched moments before.

But something was different about him. He looked sick and feeble, and he seemed peculiarly vulnerable. What's more, his long locks were gone. All that remained on his bowed head were a few miniscule hairs cropped closely to his scalp. He looked over at Clark.

Clark clenched his jaw and stepped into the room. "I didn't come here for you. I came for Lex. Where is he?" Clark replied fiercely.

Lionel's eyes drifted for a moment, as if he were reminiscing about a past life, long forsaken. "Lex is...he's gone," Lionel replied. A slight grin crossed his face. His tone changed into an almost joking one. "Funny, isn't it?" he continued, "how you are by my, at my deathbed...and my only son gone." He let out a light chuckle, but it was interrupted by a hoarse cough.

Clark was not amused by his change in tone. He looked down at Lionel sternly. "You pushed him away," he told him.

Lionel moved his lower jaw around in a circular motion, tensing his lips and lifting his tired eyes in contemplation. "I know I wasn't the best father," he struggled on remorsefully, "and I am incredibly sorry for that now." He coughed again and then continued, "I know what you must think, but...I truly love my son. I always have. But Lex...Lex changed on that cold October day in 1989...the day of the meteors..." he hesitated briefly. "The day you came into Smallville...he was never the same after that," Lionel rasped.

Clark's eyes were frozen wide with an intoxicating mixture of fear and worry. He tried to shrug the accusation off casually. "What are you talking about?" he asked.

Lionel grinned. "Clark," he began throatily, "I always knew that you were - different - from the rest of us. You're're kind and good and...and strong!"

Clark gritted his teeth in fury. His face grew firm and flooded red. "Is that why you investigated me?!" he pressed accusingly. He threw his hands in the air in frustration. "Is that why you constantly sought to tear apart my life and the people I love?!" He lowered both of his hands and pointed a finger directly at Lionel. "You were always the weak one, Lionel! Not Lex! You were always afraid...afraid to die! You wanted to use me!"

Just beside the entryway into Lionel's private room was a wide window. Lex was walking down the corridor when he heard Clark's muffled voice. He had come back to see his father. When he saw Clark and Lionel together, he stopped dead outside of the window and looked on silently and intently. He could hear very little, but he could see everything. After hearing Clark's hurtful allegation, Lionel's head jerked away from the pillows as he rushed to grasp the hand that Clark had so quickly raised at him. He held Clark's fingers firmly in his palm, as if he were deathly afraid to let him turn and walk away.

"NO! Clark!" he cried out, "Listen to me!" Clark let out a deep breath and tightened his chin. Lionel continued, "I learned a long time ago that nothing could ever save me. No amount amount of...of power in the world could ever me." He sighed, still gripping Clark's steely hand. Lionel looked up at him intently, with bright eyes. "But I kept searching to find you out," he beamed, "To find your secret!" He pulled Clark closer to him as he leaned back into his bed with a long sigh. Neither of the two men had noticed Lex watching through the nearby window. Lionel coughed harshly before persisting. "Because I thought that maybe...just could save my son."

Clark's jaw dropped and his wide eyes glazed over with shock. He felt Lionel's firm grip begin to loosen as his breaths grew slower and further apart. Lionel looked into Clark's eyes one last time. "Lex...Clark, please save Lex..." Then he gently turned his head, and his hand went abruptly limp. He was dead.

Clark stood in a quiet still, his breathing heavy and his eyes fixed straight ahead as if he were in some sort of traumatized daze. Lex still looked on, staring unbelievably at his father's hand resting motionless upon Clark's own. He took a deep, trembling breath as his eyes filled with grave tears. He looked at his father's limp hand one last time, and then he turned and walked away, shaken with rueful grief.

Jordan saw another bright flash, and then the startled face of the living Lionel Luthor staring directly at him. "AAAHH!" Jordan let out a short scream, confused by the seemingly healthy face of the man he had just envisioned dead. It was one of the most dramatic visions he had ever seen. Lionel's chauffer stepped out of the limousine and knelt by Jordan's side.

"Are you alright?" Lionel inquired, gripping Jordan's shoulder, as if to hastily help him up so that he could hurry away to some vital business meeting. He sounded insulted.

Jordan's face was ghost white and streaked with tears. His eyes were pink and bloodshot. He rose quickly, brushing the dirt from his backside. Lionel stood up with him, waiting attentively for a polite answer to his question. "Yes, sir, I'm fine. And I'm sorry, but I really have to go!" Jordan cried apologetically.

"I can take you to wherever it is, if you'd like," the driver offered.

"No, thanks," Jordan replied as he broke into a hard run. Lionel whipped his mane around and gawkily watched Jordan dash away. The accident had caught him off guard, and it left him even more taken aback than he had been upon his exit from the hospital. He slid into the backseat of his limousine and irritably slammed the door shut. What had that boy seen that troubled him so? He turned to glance at Jordan through the back window, but the boy was already long gone. Lionel shook his head with a grumble, and his limousine hastened away in the opposite direction.

Jordan stretched on, his legs painfully pumping back and forth, faster than ever. His skull still pounded, his mind reeling with the disquieting premonitions. Worry struck him like a fatal blow to the head.

He needed to get back to the school as soon as possible, but he wondered if he should wait for Clark. He needed to talk to him. He thought of what he had just seen - about Lex and Lionel.

Clark was wrong about them both.


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