by Valentine Michel Smith

Spoilers – Uncut Pilot, Metamorphosis, Kinetic
Disclaimer – Don't own SV, don't sue me.
A "first line" challenge. Thanks to Maveness for the plot bunny.

Valentine Michel Smith

No one should have to die like that.

It was the thought that first crossed Clark's mind after the Porsche bulleted into him, careening through the guardrail of Loeb Bridge, smashing him into the windshield of the soon-to-be not-so-shiny sports car and into the lake. He'd recovered quickly, spied Lex Luthor, then a stranger to him, can opened the roof of the vehicle and swum, dragging Lex with him to shore.

The CPR had been expertly rendered, motivated by Siamese drives: precision and fear.

*Don't die on me.*

It was only when Lex sputtered water and words that Clark rediscovered the rhythm of his own breathing.

At least, until he fainted, toppling oak like onto the pebble strewn mud surface of the river's edge.

Then, there was Greg, his friend, though familiarity had faded, smashed into a million (give or take) bugs under the weight of the Creekside Foundry's heavy industrial earth mover.

Now... Chloe... He'd failed her, one of his best friends, only days before.

No one should have to die like that.

Chloe didn't die. But she could've. Though substantial, her injuries would heal in time. Fortune had smiled upon both of them that day, but Clark...

Clark had failed her.

Saving Whitney from himself had been his penance.


Casualty and... payback...


Clark hadn't consciously considered the notion at the time. What he did was what he always did under circumstances like that: he moved without hesitation to protect Whitney, his *(kinda)* friend. In doing so, Clark had gotten close enough to Wade to know that the effects of the meteor rock tattoo had abated.

Still, he'd grabbed Whitney only, *a marginal "friend" at best*.

Couldn't he have saved them both? Whitney and Wade? All he had to do was knock them clear...

*No "abilities" required.*

He didn't.

A pang of guilt shot through Clark.

Had he done enough?

Had he done "his best"?

Had he let sentiment override rationality?

Ride roughshod over his humanity?

It didn't feel like it. This didn't feel like wanting to kill Phelan.

Did I?

The thought weighted him to the garage floor, as he sifted through emotions that began with contempt, migrated to OMG he's... and dead-ended at serves him right.

Clark turned to Whitney. He was fine (physically) but obviously rattled. The penance, however, had been sullied.

Clark reflected further on the event as he made his way across the body shop to join Lex. If he'd let Wade die, he hadn't felt a thing at the moment that decision clicked into place.

Before reaching Lex, before asking him what he'd told the cops, Clark vowed to pay more attention, to make sure to never let his emotions - or ignorance thereof - get in the way of doing what was right. He wasn't a vigilante, or judge, or jury, or executioner.

He was just a guy - who (said it myself) tried to do the right thing.


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