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Bleeding Kansas

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I

HARVEST MOON

The Harvest Moon
Shines down upon
Hard-stubbled fields,
Celebrating the last
Of the growing season
As the wind whispers
In the trees,
“Time to welcome
The ghosts and witches.”


Anna Wickersham
"All Hallows’ Eve"
1856 C.E.


October 31, 1856

The Harvest Moon hung low in the night sky, streams of silver illuminating the frost-sprinkled fields and towering woods of the Kansas countryside.

Two pairs of feet pounded on the dirt road that stretched between the fields, one young man dressed in simple brown homespun, the knees of his breeches torn and dark blood staining the back of his baggy peasant blouse. Bright, shaggy hair fell into blue eyes as he reached over and grabbed his companion’s hand, the other man dressed in a more expensive white shirt and black breeches, his stockings torn. Red hair glinted in the moonlight as green eyes searched frantically for something.

“Come on, Jaz!” the blond pleaded breathlessly. “They’re getting closer!”

The baying of hound dogs punctuated his statement as Jaz stumbled.

“We have got to get to my place, Cal! We can be safe there.”

Cal shivered as the hounds bayed again. He looked very young in the moonlight.

Jaz squeezed his hand. “We can use the tunnel.”

Cal’s eyes lit up. “Yeah!” He looked behind them. “We have to hurry. I can see their torches!”

Jaz could see them, too. They began running again, the redhead gasping, “I don’t know the way from here!”

“It will be all right. I know the area like the back of my hand. We can cut through the woods.”

Suddenly a shot rang out, the slender Jaz staggering as he clutched his side.

“Jaz!” Cal grabbed him. “Where are you hit?”

“My…ribs.” Jaz’ voice was laced with pain.

Cal was bigger, his muscles honed by years of farm work. He started to sweep his companion up into his arms.

“No!” Jaz squirmed out of his grasp. “You will be slowed down way too much.”

“If you think I am going to leave you here, hurt and alone, then I am insulted!”

Jaz coughed, wincing as the pain radiated up his side. Cal urged him onward, desperation helping Jaz move with alacrity.

The sound of the hounds was growing closer. Lungs bursting, Cal and Jaz kept running, Cal’s foot hitting a loose stone just before they reached the woods. He cried out as his ankle twisted, sending them both to the ground, Jaz groaning and Cal’s breath coming out with a whoosh of air.

“Cal,” Jaz said desperately.

Fresh blood seeped through the back of the farmboy’s shirt. Jaz winced as he saw the deep welts and stripes crossing the broad back, his shirt in tatters.

“It is all right, my friend. We will get out of this,” Cal said.

Jaz smiled quickly. “Up and at ‘em, then.”

Cal struggled to get up and Jaz helped him. They staggered to their feet and headed for the woods, the hounds’ baying growing louder.

Moments after they had disappeared into the woods, a gang of a dozen men appeared down the road, carrying torches and shotguns and keeping the straining hounds on leashes.

“Jebediah, the hounds say this way,” said a grizzled old man to the leader, a broad-shouldered man dressed in an expensive broadcloth coat and silk breeches. A slovenly man with stringy gray hair and cheap, ragged clothing was at Jebediah’s elbow. The ragamuffin’s gray eyes glowed with messianic fervor, lips whispering in the leader’s ear.

“We’ve got ‘em,” Jebediah growled, curling his fingers around a long-handled pistol.

With shouts of excitement, the men followed their leader into the woods.

Moments later came the sounds of screams and finally, two gunshots. Silence, then wisps of smoke began to curl up from the trees. They developed into full-blown fire as the flames snapped and popped, red-yellow fingers of heat reaching up toward the starry night sky as the hounds bayed mournfully and the wind carried the scent of sweet smoke on the breeze.


II


FIELD OF DREAMS


The past
Is always with us,
Tucked away
In musty corners,
Waiting for someone
To appreciate it
Again.


James Adams
"The Past Is Prologue"
1861 C.E.


September 8, 2002

Smallville’s Henry Harrison Public Library was a small, old-fashioned building built in 1892 during the wave of Andrew Carnegie’s generosity for establishing libraries across America. The brick structure was two stories tall with white columns at the entrance, and two stone lions perched on either side of the porch.

Inside, the high vaulted ceiling was painted in gold and blue, with stars and moons set in constellations of the solar system, though Chloe had always said they were random. Stained-glass windows allowed sunlight to stream inside as rainbow colors, creating diamond patterns shining on the hardwood floor.

The Circulation Desk was made of sturdy oak, with reserve shelves arranged behind it, and the Reference Desk was set by one wall, in between two windows. There were several tables and chairs on this floor for reading, and a small area with computers. The stacks were at the end of the room and continued into the next, and there were more stacks upstairs.

Clark had always liked this library. He liked the feeling of venerable age, combined with 21st-century modernism. He liked the quiet, and the musty smell of the older books, the stern bust of founder Jebediah Small in the downstairs Reading Room, and the huge 19th-century atlas with its maps of the solar system.

Chloe’s chandelier earrings jangled softly as she walked to the adjoining Reading Room.

“We’d better bring our books upstairs. The older section is up there.”

“So do you have any idea what to do for your history project?” Clark asked as they ascended the wide staircase, the newels smelling faintly of Lemon Pledge..

“No, I’m hoping to get some inspiration from some of the old books.”

“Me, too.”

Upstairs were rows upon rows of stacks, with long tables and chairs wedged between them. There was an area by a wide plate-glass window filled with a couch and two overstuffed chairs. The view was of the town and the surrounding woods.

“Well, guess we’d better start digging,” Chloe said.

“Shouldn’t we look through the card catalog?” Clark asked.

“Both terminals are in use downstairs. We can use the old-fashioned cards.” Chloe went to the wide wooden cabinet that held the pale yellow index cards in small drawers. “Good thing they keep this updated.” She laughed. “Pretty high-tech, huh?”

Clark grinned. The computer system had only been established in the Smallville library since 1990, and many of the older patrons still preferred to use them.

They were both silent as they flipped through cards, but Clark was not finding anything of interest. He decided to look through the stacks.

As Chloe continued searching through the cards, Clark disappeared into the stacks. The really ancient books were kept under lock-and-key and brought out only after a written request, but there were some old volumes allowed out in the regular stacks.

Clark pulled out books at random, hoping something would strike him. This history paper was one-third of their grade. Their teacher, Malcolm Atterby, was the toughest teacher on the faculty, demanding the most from his Advanced American History students. Clark liked the challenge. If he could ace this course, it would shine on his transcript.

He felt dizzy for a minute and his hand rested on a book to steady himself. Once the odd feeling had passed, he pulled out the book, glancing around automatically for meteor rocks. Feeling foolish, he returned his attention to the book.

It was an old brown leather-bound volume with the words My Journal stamped in gold letters on the cover. Clark carefully opened it, the musty smell strong.

On the frontispiece was scrawled bold handwriting. The name Calvin Kent was inked in fading blue on the cream paper, yellowed with age.

“Kent,” Clark murmured, excited. He turned the page and saw the words, This journal was gifted to me by my mother and father, December 25, 1855. On the next page, the first entry read,

& & & & & &

January 1, 1856

I am very excited to have this journal. Ma and Pa know my dream and are supporting me. Someday I hope to be the greatest journalist in America.

& & & & & &

Clark nearly laughed out loud. This ancestor of his nurtured a similar ambition, though as for himself, he doubted he would be the greatest journalist ever. He doubted he would ever be the greatest anything.

This journal could help with his paper. It would be extra interesting to do it with an ancestor as the subject.

He returned to the table, reading more. Calvin was a farmer’s son, and he wrote about weather and planning for spring planting.

Maybe this journal won’t be interesting, but if Calvin wrote about details of daily life, this will be a great resource.

Clark decided to read the entire journal before making a decision on his topic.

Chloe came to their table and set down a pile of books. “That’s all you’ve got?”

“Yeah.” Clark showed her the frontispiece. “Check it out.”

“Calvin Kent?”

“Yeah, isn’t it cool?”

Chloe laughed. “The coolest! Must be an ancestor of yours.”

“I’ll have to ask Mom and Dad if they’re familiar with him.”

“Should be interesting reading, at any rate.” Chloe sat down and began sorting through her books.

“Yeah, I…what’s this?”

Something had fallen out of the journal.

“Looks like a pressed flower,” Chloe said. “Pretty.”

“It’s a lilac.” Clark picked it up. “Still smells a little.” He felt dizzy again. Disturbed, he put the lilac back into the book.

& & & & & &

That night, he dreamed of fields of lilacs, and a castle in the distance.


III


WARM CHERRY PIE


Nothing says happiness
Like a warm pie.


Charlene Schultz
"Happiness Is…"
1976 C.E.


September 8, 2002

Clark hurried home and was greeted by his mother as he entered the kitchen. He could smell the tantalizing aroma of cherry pie baking in the oven.

“Mmm, pie!”

Martha laughed. “That’s right, dear. Did you decide on a topic for your paper?”

“Not yet, but I found something interesting.” Clark presented the journal.

“What is this?”

“Calvin Kent’s journal.”

“What?” Martha opened the book. “Was this in the library?”

“Yes.” Clark’s mouth was watering for that pie.

“I don’t remember Jonathan mentioning a Calvin Kent, but he’s got ancestors up the wazoo.”

Clark laughed. “Guess so.”

The oven timer rang. “Oh, good, the pie’s done.” She smiled. “Sit down, honey. Time for a snack.”

“Yes!”

Martha laughed, using oven mitts to take out the pie plate. She did not bother to set it out to cool. Cutting a large piece of pie, she handed it to her son on a plate and poured glasses of apple cider, before cutting herself a slice. Sitting down at the table, Martha asked, “Unless Calvin Kent is a boring writer; you should find plenty of material for your paper. Primary sources are always gold in history papers.”

“I sure hope so.” Clark took a bite of the warm cherry pie. “Mmm, Mom, absolute heaven.”

Martha smiled. She had to admit that she baked one mean pie. “So what will be your theme?”

“I’m not sure yet. I thought I’d read the journal first and decide.”

Jonathan came in from the barn. “Hi, son.”

“Hi, Dad.”

Jonathan washed his hands at the sink. “How was school today?”

“We got our assignment in history class, so Chloe and I went to the library to look up topics.”

“Clark found this journal, dear. Does the name Calvin Kent ring any bells?”

“Hmm, it does sound vaguely familiar.” Jonathan cut himself a piece of pie and sat down, picking up the journal. “1856, huh? That would be at the height of Bleeding Kansas, if I remember my history right.”

“That’s right.” Martha sipped her cider. “Both pro-and-anti-slavery settlers went at each other in the decade before the Civil War, because Kansas had the chance to come into the Union either free or slave.” She smiled. “I’m an expert on that period, because my family came here during that decade, too,” Martha said. “Though they were newspaper editors and lawyers, not farmers.”

“Right. My ancestors settled here as anti-slavery people.” Jonathan smiled slightly. “Grandpa Kent told us kids plenty of stories he got from his father and grandfather. It was a real struggle to establish and keep a farm going when the pro-slavery faction shot cattle and burned houses and barns, and then the Free Staters retaliated.”

“Sounds like both sides were pretty violent,” Clark said.

“They were, but the decade before the War saw a lot of trouble. You might find events connected to the political troubles in that journal.”

Clark nodded, and after his snack continued reading up in his bedroom.

& & & & & &
January 6, 1856

The snow last night blanketed everything. In a way it is a relief. I tire of the Border Ruffians and their constant attacks. The New England Emigrant Aid Society financed our move here two years ago, but they are not the ones living here and facing the dangers on a daily basis.

So, with this blizzard, we only have to fight Nature.

& & & & & &
Clark wondered what it would be like to live with danger all around you on a daily basis.

Though I suppose the meteor mutants provide danger on a frequent basis.

Clark gazed out the window of his bedroom as he sat on the window seat. The stars twinkled in the Kansas sky, endlessly fascinating. He wondered if Calvin Kent had looked out at the sky from this very bedroom.

He liked the idea of being connected to the past. He had no idea who his birth parents were, but he was part of the Kent and Clark families. He was loved, and that was the best thing.

His thoughts turned to Lex. He had a biological father but from what Clark had been able to read between the lines, had not enjoyed a happy childhood and things had not improved now that Lex was an adult.

He shuddered at the thought of Lionel as a father. Lex really needed a friend, and Clark hoped that he could fill that role.

He shut the journal and went to bed.


IV


OATMEAL RAISIN COOKIES AND APPLE CIDER

Sunlight slanting
On an autumn afternoon
Is Nature’s peace.


Quiet times
Are good
For the soul.


Sir Alan Emerson
"Sunlight Slanting"
1922 C.E.

Clark lived a very ordinary existence the next day, going to school and doing his chores before and after, but the journal was on his mind. If the events of Bleeding Kansas were going to play a big part, then he needed more background. He had his family’s stories that he had heard growing up and the general knowledge he had picked up in school, but he wanted to read more scholarly works on the subject. Mr. Atterby liked the scholarly stuff, and Clark admitted that he liked sinking his teeth into some of the complex writings.

It also gave him a good excuse to visit Lex.

He smiled to himself as he thought of his friend. He really enjoyed spending time with him. And there were the daydreams he had about him…

This time Clark blushed, glad that he was walking alone on his way home.

Once he reached home he did his chores and then asked permission to go over to the mansion. Martha said it was fine as long as he was home in time for supper.

Clark walked at a normal human pace as he headed for what some grandly called Castle Luthor. He knew that he was attracted to Lex and had been ever since he had saved him from drowning that day on the bridge, their calamitous first meeting.

He had been interested in Lana for a long time, but ever since meeting Lex, his hormones had been focused on the young billionaire. Despite having to keep his Secret, he felt more like himself with Lex than with anyone besides his parents.

Lex was brilliant, a boy genius, they said, and another reason that Clark wanted to read scholarly works. Lex devoured treatises and dissertations before breakfast. He liked smart people around him.

Luckily, Clark had a good I.Q., but he still felt woefully inadequate next to Lex. That was why he had to expand his knowledge and be able to converse intelligently with him.

He blushed as he wished that he could be a companion in other ways, too.

Well, he would take what he could get. He saw the mansion through the trees and was soon ringing the front doorbell.

The door was opened and the butler, Jenson, smiled at him. “Master Clark, good to see you.”

“Thank you, Jenson.”

Clark followed the middle-aged man down the hall. Jenson was tall and had a noticeable limp. Clark was glad that Lex kept him on. He knew that Lionel wanted his son to get rid of the butler due to his ‘imperfection’, as Lionel called it, but Lex refused, which scored him a bunch of brownie points with Clark.

“You can go right on in. Master Lex said that you require no announcement.”

Pleased, Clark went on into the library. “Hi, Lex.”

“Hi, Clark.” Lex’s genuine smile of welcome always warmed Clark. “To what do I owe this pleasure?”

“Well, I’ve got a history project and thought I might find something I could use here.”

Lex waved his hand toward the walls of books. “My home is yours.”

Clark smiled. “Thanks. Lex.” He moved over to the books, trying to distract himself from how good his friend looked in a deep-purple shirt and gray pants.

Focus on your paper. It’s safer that way.

He could feel Lex’s gaze on him. Lex’s hints of interest kept his fantasies going, though sometimes he thought it was just his imagination. Surely someone as sophisticated as Lex would not be interested in an awkward country boy like him.

He sighed as he scanned the titles. One book looked especially promising.

“So what’s your topic?” asked Lex.

“Bleeding Kansas.”

“Hmm, that’s a good one. I assume you have family history to draw on?” Lex opened his laptop as he sat at his desk.

Clark nodded. “Dad told me some stuff. Mom’s family has stories to tell, too. Her ancestors were involved in the New England Abolitionist Society and when they formed the Emigrant Aid Society, the Clarks came West.”

“Interesting.” Lex rang a little silver bell and Jenson appeared.

“Yes, sir?”

“Would you bring refreshments, please?”

“Certainly, sir.”

Clark chose two other books and spread them all out on the coffee table. He took out his notebook and began taking notes.

Gradually Clark ended up sitting on the floor as he used the coffee table as a desk, and Lex sat on the couch working on his laptop. Each one had plates of oatmeal raisin cookies and glasses of apple cider readily available.

The ticking of the antique clock on the mantel was the only sound in the room except for the soft snick of the laptop keys and the scratching of Clark’s pen on paper.

Clark felt very happy as he worked in the peace of the mansion’s library. He felt perfectly relaxed, pleased that the silence between him and Lex was comfortable instead of awkward. A robin sang outside the window, and the afternoon sunlight began to slant across the floor, forming diamond patterns on the hardwood. He took a bite of cookie and wrote quickly.

When it was time to go home, Lex allowed him to take the books until he did not need them anymore.

“Will I be seeing you at the game Friday night?” Clark asked as he gathered his things.

“I’ll be there,” Lex promised. “Are you sure you still want to move our Friday Movie Nights to Saturdays?”

“Sure, during football season.”

“Don’t you want to keep Saturdays open for dates?”

“I’m happy with it. What about you?”

“Me? My clubbing days are over, at least in Smallville.” He grinned.

Clark laughed. "Considering that there are no clubs in Smallville, I can see why. Metropolis must miss you.”

“They’ll live.”

Clark smiled. “Thanks for the books, Lex. See you this Friday.”

“See you then.”

Clark smiled all the way home.


V


SADNESS

Sadness
Is borne
On the wind.


The faint smell
Of smoke
Still clinging
To the ruins.


Fire cleanses
And burns away.


Mabel Conway
"Ashes-To-Ashes"
1926 C.E.


September 11, 2002
Clark shivered. Why was he here?

The old foundation was grown over, the chimney crumbling after well over a century of exposure to the elements. The woods surrounded the small clearing as Clark sat on a tree stump, wind whispering through the branches, as if the trees were heaving a great sigh.

He had never felt quite comfortable here on Stone Hill. Even when playing here with Pete as kids, he had felt sad.

He was feeling that now. The blackened stone of the chimney indicated the fire that had burned down the house here in the 19th century. Burned timber had long ago rotted into dust, and there was nothing else to indicate anyone had ever lived here, thieves taking away what was valuable long ago. His super-senses thought that they could still detect the smell of smoke, even centuries gone.

Tears prickled Clark’s eyes. The great sadness pressed down on him like a cascade of woe. He rubbed his face, watching the dappled patterns of sunlight play along the ground, a breeze rippling the patterns.

He had come up here, taking a walk after a stressful day at school. He had not been here in years, his mind on the journal as he walked until he had found himself here.

Maybe he was just feeling melancholy as it was the first anniversary of the events of 9/11. Sighing, he pulled the journal out of his backpack and carefully opened it.

& & & & & &
January 16, 1856

Pa and I thought we saw someone lurking around the barn last night. We checked right away. We cannot afford to have people snooping around. We are a stop on the Underground Railroad, after all.

Pa and Ma are all right with me writing this down. I hide it in a very good spot away from prying eyes. Ma and Pa want a record of our activities, since they say it will be very important to history.

I agree with that. There is nothing more important than helping people achieve freedom. The courage these escaped slaves show shames me when I complain of our danger.

If this journal can help inspire someone else, it will be worth writing.

& & & & & &
Clark felt pride in his ancestors. He might be adopted, but the Kents and Clarks were his family.

Ironic that they had a big Secret, too.

The sadness was clinging to him like silk on skin. He did not understand why he had come up here after all these years.

Sighing, Clark stood, but heard a noise. He whirled, suddenly nervous.

“Who’s there?”

This was silly. He did not have to be afraid of anyone. Still, meteor mutants were plentiful in Smallville, and some had been capable of harming him, powers or not. He frowned as he smelled a faint scent of lilacs.

“Show yourself!”

The wind whistled through the trees, Clark shivering. He pulled his light jacket closer around himself, and he clutched the journal against his chest, almost like a shield.

He thought that he could hear a wail as if someone was in pain. Tucking the journal in his backpack, he cautiously entered the surrounding woods. Using telescopic vision, he searched far ahead but saw nothing.

He spent twenty minutes searching, trying to be thorough, but heard no more wailing or other noises except for birds and small animals. Relieved, Clark headed for home.

He missed the shimmer next to the blackened chimney.


VI


FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS

"Friday nights are football’s time. Friday nights are spent under the lights."

Sally Strong
"Friday Night Lights
In Small-Town America"
2000 C.E.


September 12, 2002
Clark eagerly scanned the stands. Spotting Lex, he said, “Right over there!” An amused Martha and Jonathan followed their son to the row where Lex was sitting.

Lex looked up and saw them, smiling in greeting. He stood up and shook hands with Jonathan, and escorted Martha to her spot on the bleacher. Clark sat next to Lex with Martha on his friend’s other side, and Jonathan sitting next to Martha. Jonathan tucked the blanket they had brought around her, and she smiled.

Clark unscrewed the lid of the Thermos he held and offered Lex a drink.

“What is it?”

“Hot chocolate.”

Lex picked up a cup he had set by his feet. “Pour.”

Clark poured, Lex’s gloved hand steady as he held the cup. He was wearing a pearl-gray coat and dark-purple gloves and scarf. Clark and Jonathan were wearing lumberjack coats, and Martha a Kelly-green jacket. She had put on her gloves, too.

It was a cold night, typical for Kansas in September. The stands were packed, everyone eager to watch the first game of Smallville High’s season.

Clark always felt a pang watching football.

At least I have memories of being the quarterback for awhile.

The Smallville Crows took the field to the cheers of the home crowd, even Lex joining in.

Clark was totally absorbed in the game, but was also very aware of Lex’s presence beside him.

“Hmm, looks like Mason’s hot tonight.” Lex sipped his hot chocolate.

“He is. He’s a good quarterback.”

“Pete’s his favorite target tonight.”

“Yeah, he’s got three catches so far.”

“He was your favorite wide receiver when you played, wasn’t he?”

“Yeah.” Clark took a sip of hot chocolate. He was grateful that Lex did not ask him why he was no longer the Q.B.

Lex smirked. “They should run a naked bootleg.”

“Aren’t you the football expert?” Clark asked wryly.

“Hey, I know America’s game.”

Clark laughed.

& & & & & &
Jonathan saw the grin on Clark’s face, brighter than the lights illuminating the stadium. He felt irked but kept his emotion off his face.

He knew that he was being unfair to Lex, but he could not help it. The kid was a Luthor, and Luthors could not be trusted.

He sighed as he took a sip of hot chocolate. His distrust was mostly aimed at Lionel.

Maybe I should give the kid a break.

Jonathan was well aware that Clark had gotten very chummy with the younger Luthor, but that was the way of things right now. He hated being at loggerheads with Clark.

He jumped up with everyone else as Pete Ross scored a touchdown for the Crows.

& & & & & &
Lex let himself into the mansion. He had told his staff to leave at their usual time. He could make himself a late-night snack if he needed one. Unlike his father, he treated his servants as people, not just mere appendages to be used.

It did mean that the mansion was empty, his footsteps echoing as he walked to the library. Discarding his coat and scarf, he looked at his desk and the work piled up there, but decided to go to bed early instead.

He had enjoyed the time with the Kents. Even Jonathan seemed to be warming to him, he thought with a smirk.

He looked out at the formal gardens and decided that he would have to talk to the gardener tomorrow. He wanted to see about putting a statue in the northeast corner. He liked the statues in the center of the garden: Alexander and Hephaestion locking arms in a gesture of friendship, both dressed for battle.

He had felt like part of a family, even if only for a few hours. Spending time with Clark always made him feel good.

Careful, Alexander, or Jonathan will be getting out the shotgun again, Lex thought wryly.

But since the moment that he had first laid eyes on Clark while he gasped for breath after being pulled out of the river by the teen, he had known that Clark was special. He was sweet, innocent and gorgeous with those green eyes and kissable lips, but he would not make a move, at least not until Clark graduated from high school.

In the meantime, being Clark’s friend was important to him. He was learning about the simple joys of friendship and did not want to complicate things. He needed simplicity in his life, not more Byzantine machinations.

He glanced at the brandy decanter but decided against drinking.

No, bedtime for you.

As he started to turn away from the window he thought he saw a light in the woods surrounding the estate. Curious, Lex opened the window.

He shivered, and not just from the cold. An unearthly wail drifted over the slight breeze as the trees swayed, the faint scent of lilacs carried on the wind.

He shut the window. He had enough experience with meteor mutants to know that this could mean trouble. He opened his desk drawer and took out a pearl-handled pistol.

He kept watch, tension knotting his shoulders, but ten minutes went by without any more noises or strange lights. Satisfied, Lex went upstairs to bed, missing the ribbons of sparkling gold lights that seeped out from the trees and caressed the Greek statues with luminous fingers.


VII


FATEFUL MEETING

Destiny
Always draws
Fated lovers
Together.


Will Whitmire
"When Lilacs Last
In The Door-yard Bloom’d"
1865 C.E.

September 19, 2002
Smallville citizens went about their business as the leaves began to turn and the final harvest came in. The light grew more golden, especially in the afternoons as the sun set earlier than in summer. Squirrels scurried in a frenzied search-and-carry for acorns while birds flew majestically in V-formation as they headed south.

Clark was busy with school, working on projects with deadlines sooner than the end of the semester. He was making headway with his ancestor’s journal, though preferring to read secondary sources first, setting up the background.

“So have you decided on the topic for your paper?” Chloe asked one day at lunch.

“Yeah, I want to show the events of Bleeding Kansas through a primary source and contrast that with the secondary sources.”

“That’s pretty ambitious.” Chloe took a bite of her pizza.

“But a surefire ‘A’ if I do it right.”

“Well, you up for a study session at the library? Lana and I are going right after school.”

“Sure. I can stay for about an hour, but then I have to get home for chores.”

“Yeah, since the Crows are away at Granville, Lana and I thought we’d take advantage of a nearly-empty library.”

“Sounds good.”

It was just right, Clark thought. He could get some studying done, do some chores, then head over to the mansion for his Movie Night with Lex.

Perfect.

& & & & & &
Clark met Chloe and Lana at the entrance of the library and they went inside. It was nearly empty, and Chloe and Lana went into the next room to choose a table. Clark had brought the journal with him and went over to the Circulation Desk.

Evelyn Kendall smiled at Clark’s approach. She was middle-aged with shoulder-length reddish-blond hair, blue eyes sparkling behind her wire-rim glasses.

“What can I do for you, Clark?” She tugged on the sleeve of her mustard-colored cardigan sweater.

“Could I keep this out all semester?” He held out the journal.

“I don’t see why not.” Her pearls clacked as she turned to consult her computer. “Since you’re listed as a patron, not staff, I’ll have to ask you to renew it on the 8th of each month.”

“I can do that.”

“It hasn’t been checked out in years, so I doubt anyone will want it.” She looked at the back of the book and saw the old stamped dates, the most recent 1963.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Clark took the journal back and headed for the table where Chloe and Lana were sitting. He saw Lana cup Chloe’s cheek, the two of them gazing into each other’s eyes. Surprised, Clark deliberately bumped into a table to make noises, and Lana took her hand away.

“Got your journal all set?” asked Chloe.

“Yeah. Ms. Kendall said I could keep it all semester as long as I renewed it every month.” Clark took the seat next to Chloe.

Lana’s hazel eyes danced. “That’s so cool, finding a journal written by an ancestor! Aunt Nell has some old family journals. I should read through some of them.”

“So, what’s your topic?” Clark asked.

“I’m not sure yet. I’m thinking of doing something on the Nouveau Art Movement at the turn-of-the-century. The last century, that is.”

“That sounds interesting,” said Chloe.

“How’s your research going into William Randolph Hearst?” Clark asked, opening his journal.

“Good. I figured doing a study of his newspaper methods and how they impacted 20th-century journalism would be right up my alley.”

The girls talked about other possible topics for Lana as Clark began reading.

& & & & & &
February 14, 1856

I saw Jaz today. He was in town to order some flowers for spring planting. He said that even though where he is living now is temporary, it is going to take time to start the building of the new house, so he might as well have something pretty to look at. He wants to plant more lilacs, adding more white and deep purple to the light purple.

Jax’s parents gave him this project to keep him out of trouble, he says. He winked at me and said he was a little too well-known in the taverns of Metropolis.

His family is prominent in the anti-slavery movement, and they have decided to make their presence known here in Kansas. Admirable.

Jaz is older than me by six years. He is far more sophisticated, for certain. Sometimes I feel like a country bumpkin next to him.

& & & & & &
Clark paused in his reading. It was exactly the way he felt sometimes when he compared himself to Lex. He was immediately intrigued by this Jaz person. He resumed reading, hoping to learn more.
& & & & & &
Jaz is a real gentleman. He wears frock coats and spats, and kid gloves. His top hat is always of the finest silk. He looks out of place here in Smallville, and I suspect he was lonely. When we first met on the bridge over the Loeb River, he invited me for an ice.
& & & & & &
Clark’s eyes widened. The bridge over the Loeb River! That was where Lex had run his Porsche into him, and Clark had saved him from drowning.

Hand shaking slightly, he went back to reading as he turned the page.

& & & & & &
Of course I had to demur as we were both soaking wet at the time. He had nearly run me off the bridge with his horse! He was going too fast and he went sailing into the pond after swerving to avoid me, Bucephalus stopping short, and he was gone into the watery depths until I dragged him out, silly rich boy.
& & & & & &
“Clark? You all right?”

“Huh?”

“You look a little pale,” said Chloe, looking at her friend in concern. Lana also looked a little worried.

“Oh, I’m fine! Really, I think it was something I ate for lunch.”

“Can’t blame you if you ate the cafeteria meatloaf.”

“No, I stay away from that.”

“Good idea.” Chloe smiled. She patted her stomach. “I like meatloaf, but not the kind Smallville High serves.”

“Uh, yeah.”

Clark set the journal aside. He opened another book, trying to focus.

Was it coincidence that my ancestor and his rich friend from Metroopolis met on the same bridge that Lex and I did, and as a result of an accident because of reckless speed?

Coincidence, or just another typically weird day in Smallville?


VIII


MOVIE NIGHT

Bright lights,
Clear nights,
Strange plights,
Mystery delights.


Jeanette Golden
"Mysterious Nights"
1999 C.E.


September 19, 2002
Clark arrived at the mansion promptly at seven. Jenson smiled as he answered the door. His uniform was crisply-pressed as he tugged on the coat, leading Clark to the library.

“Go right on in.”

Clark smiled his thanks and went inside.

“Hello, Clark.”

“Hi, Lex.”

“I’ll be done in a minute.” Lex tapped the keys of his laptop as he sat at his desk.

Clark nodded, going over to the window by Lex’s desk. He looked out at the garden, smiling at the statues. Alexander had shoulder-length hair, Hephaestion’s shorter. Both were dressed in similar tunics and battle armor, short broadswords and longer swords attached to their belts.

The gesture of friendship particularly intrigued Clark. They were clasping each other’s arms in an almost Romanesque style. The level of devotion they projected in their expressions was something that attracted Clark. He loved tales of legendary friendships and the devotion between men.

He blushed, checking to see if Lex noticed, but the older man was absorbed in his laptop. Clark returned his gaze to the garden.

Dusk was falling, and stars were beginning to come out in the violet sky. Fireflies twinkled in the woods, putting on a show.

“Ready?”

Clark startled. “What?”

Lex smiled. “Didn’t mean to startle you. Want to go into the den now?”

“Sure thing.” Clark turned away from the window, missing the increased glow in the woods, and followed his friend down the hall and into the lavish den, which doubled as the entertainment center. The widescreen TV was set up in front of a comfortable couch. A state-of-the-art stereo system was located against one wall, Lex’s collection of vintage records stacked in an old-fashioned rack. A pool table, twin to the one in the library, was set in the other part of the room.

Clark smiled at the bowl of popcorn and glasses of Coke set out on the coffee table in front of the couch. Each of them had an empty bowl to fill.

Lex put in the movie and they both sat on the couch, Clark pleased that there was little space between them. If he moved just right, he could brush his thigh against his companion’s.

The movie was a bad action flick, prompting plenty of snark from Clark and Lex, and as they noshed on the popcorn and drank their Cokes they groaned at bad dialogue and cheesy special effects.

Clark was calming down with the familiar Friday night routine. He did not know why he was so reluctant to tell Lex about the journal and what he had read earlier that day, considering that his friend was now accustomed to Smallville weirdness, but he just was, for no clear reason, as far as he could tell.

Lex would understand.

Or would he? It was one thing to be friends with a teenager, and learn about friendship, Clark saddened at Lex’s lack of experience, and quite another thing for said teenager to be in love with him.

I’m hopeless.

Clark sighed. Being a teenager sucked.

“You okay, Clark?”

“Oh, yeah. Just a little tired, I guess.”

“Do you want to go home?”

“Oh, no, I’m having a great time. It’s just really been a stressful week.”

“I can identify with that.” Lex smiled.

“I’ll bet you can.” Clark grinned.

Lex ate a handful of popcorn. “Just relax, Clark. More where this came from.”

Clark laughed. “You know me too well.”

“You’re a growing boy,” Lex smirked.

Clark hid his blush by leaning over to get more popcorn.

They enjoyed the rest of the movie, and when the end credits rolled on the screen, Clark yawned and said regretfully, “Guess I better get home.”

“It’s late. Let me give you a ride home.” Lex set his bowl on the coffee table.

“It’s okay, Lex, I don’t want to put you out.”

“It’s no trouble, Clark. It’s cold this time of year.”

Clark could have made it home in seconds with super-speed, and the cold did not bother him, but a ride meant spending more time with Lex. And the Porsche was cool, too.

Once they got in the car, Lex pulled them out of the driveway and down the road. Clark luxuriated in the ambience of the Porsche, enjoying the smooth, quiet ride that did not rattle your bones like his dad’s old truck.

Lex was smiling as he drove as if aware of Clark’s thoughts. Accustomed to luxury, he nevertheless liked to share the wealth. He drove at a reasonable speed, a miracle in itself, Clark thought with a smirk.

As they rode in comfortable silence, Clark noticed a glow in the cornfields next to the road. “Lex, what is that?”

“What?”

“That glow.”

Lex took a look. “I don’t know.” He slowed the car down. “I saw something like that the other night.”

Clark bit his lip. “I hope it isn’t a meteor mutation.”

“Anything goes in Smallville, right?”

Clark laughed at Lex’s rueful expression. “Guess so.”

Lex parked the Porsche on the side of the road. “Should we investigate?”

Clark hesitated. If he needed to use his powers, things could get sticky, yet there was no way Lex was going to stay behind while Clark went alone.

“We’d better.”

Lex nodded, shutting the engine off. Pocketing the keys, he followed Clark into the cornfield.

Clark used his telescopic vision to check ahead, but he only saw the glow. There did not appear to be any people, mutated or otherwise, around.

It took him and Lex five minutes to get even close to the glow. Both were on alert for anything, stopping short as an eerie wail made their hearts race and their limbs shiver.

“What the hell is that?” Lex hissed.

“I wish I knew,” Clark said grimly.

The unearthly wailing started gain, chilling Clark’s blood. The mournful sound touched his heart, as if someone was calling from the grave.

Lex clutched Clark’s arm. “I don’t think that’s a meteor mutant.”

Inexplicably, a great sadness washed over Clark. “No.”

Lex looked at his young friend closely. “Let’s get out of here.”

“What?”

“Come on.” Lex tugged on Clark’s arm, the clouded green eyes trying to focus on him.

Clark felt as if he was trying to slog through mud. The sadness was just so heavy…

“Clark!”

“Lex?”

They were standing by the Porsche, Clark shaking his head to clear it. Lex was gripping his shoulders.

“Are you all right?” Concerned blue-gray eyes were looking intently at him.

“What…what happened?” Clark blinked. “The glow!” He whirled.

“It’s gone.” Lex squeezed his friend’s shoulders. “You kinda zoned out there on me.”

Clark touched his temple. “I remember feeling so sad.”

“You did?” At Clark’s nod, Lex frowned. “I did, too, but apparently not as deeply as you.”

Clark kept staring out at the cornfield. “I’ve never felt anything like that.”

“Just another Friday night in Smallville.”

Clark smiled. “Guess so.”

“Let’s get you home.”

Clark was more than happy to get back into Lex’s Porsche, unable to suppress a shiver.

What had just happened in that cornfield?


IX


ENDLESS SORROW

The wail upon the wind
Spoke of endless sorrow.
I felt as if the cry
Mourned for our tomrrows.


Laurie Middleton
"Strangeness"
1856 C.E.

March 17, 1856

I am going to meet Jaz later today. First, however, we received new travelers last night.

The Negro family in our barn is tired and frightened, but we will get them to freedom.

The mother is named Hetty, the father is Sam, and the daughters are Addie and Jolene. The girls are really sweet. They all have decent clothes, courtesy of their last stop. Ma fed them with a feast. They are so grateful, and with the grace of Providence, shall find travel by the North Star and be free.

Sad to say, the Miller farm was hit last night by the Border Ruffians. They are growing bolder.

I really cannot wait to see Jaz. I know I should resist, but can no more do that than the sun will refuse to rise.

& & & & & &


September 27, 2002
Clark felt the same way about Lex. He would see him tonight at the mansion, since last night the Crows had been in town.

Clark was sitting at his desk in his Fortress of Solitude, better known as the barn loft. He was caught up with all his assignments except for his Advanced American History paper. He still had months before it was due, but he was having a hard time focusing.

The encounter in Miller’s cornfield the week before had shaken him up. He had not told his parents about the weirdness, probably a mistake, but he just felt for some reason that he should keep it to himself.

He resumed reading.

& & & & & &
This deep emotion I feel is like wine in my veins. I never felt this way before I met Jaz. He makes me feel special, as if I were worth something on this earth.

Of course Ma and Pa make me feel this way, but it is different with Jaz. He stirs feelings within me that most would say is a sin, but I cannot stop.

I think I am in love with Jaz.

& & & & & &
Clark stared at the words in fading blue ink across the yellowing page. His ancestor had been in love with another man? He sat back in his chair.

As problematic as being in love with Lex was in 2002, it was a thousand times worse in 1856. Clark shuddered as he thought of what might befall Cal if his true feelings were discovered.

He read the next few entries, but there was no mention of Jax, almost as if Cal had shocked himself and was afraid to write any more about his feelings in his own journal.

The next entry with Jaz’s name in it was almost a month later:

& & & & & &
April 6, 1856

I have tried and tried to deny my feelings, thinking perhaps that I was merely in the throes of spring fever, but I do not think that is the case.

Dear God, I am in love with Jaz.

There is no way around it.

What do I do now?

& & & & & &
“I sympathize with ya, Cal.” Clark murmured. He gazed out the large window over the fields, wondering what it would have been like to have lived way back then and know your love was hopeless.

At least I have a chance.

Well, a slim one, anyway.

He sighed and continued reading.

& & & & & &
April 8, 1856

I am not sure what to do. I have thought about it but have no solutions. Certainly this is something I cannot go to my parents about.

Why am I cursed with these feelings? Why cannot I just fall in love with Sally Hawkins and marry and have a thriving brood? Why must I always be different?

& & & & & &
“Again, I sympathize with you, Cal.”

Clark sighed. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately.

He glanced at his watch. Time for some chores and then to get over to Lex’s place. He placed the journal in his desk and hurried downstairs.

& & & & & &
Lex had been in Metropolis most of the week so Clark was especially eager to see him. They had kept in contact via e-mal, but Clark had seen or heard nothing unusual, even visiting the cornfield again.

Lex opened the door himself. “I let Jenson off early,” he said with a smile.

“Got popcorn?” Clark asked with a wink.

Lex laughed. “Come on in.”

They walked to the den, Clark grinning as he saw the popcorn and Cokes.

Never fails.

“I’ve got some imported chocolates, both Belgian and Canadian, that I’d like to share.”

“Sounds great to me.”

“I know your palate’s more used to American chocolate like Hershey’s, but…”

“…other chocolates are better.” Clark’s green eyes sparkled.

& & & & & &
Lex could never resist those green eyes.

Far gone, Luthor, far gone.

He had missed seeing Clark all week. Usually he was able to see him almost daily, if not here at the mansion, then in town at The Beanery or on the street.

Metropolis was sophisticated, exciting, and leagues above sleepy little Smallville when you did not count the meteor mutants. It had high finance, museums, the clubs, and anything else to amuse and entertain.

Yet Lex found himself missing the bucolic charm of Smallville’s Main Street, The Beanery, The Bluebird Diner, but most of all, Clark. Coming back to Smallville had felt like coming home.

Clark eagerly sampled the dark chocolates, his expression blissful. “Mmm, Lex, they are good. Heavenly, in fact.”

“Glad you enjoy them. Bring home both boxes so your parents can enjoy them, too.”

“Thanks, Lex.”

“You’re more than welcome.” Lex sipped his ice-cold Coke. He knew how domesticated he had become when he was drinking more Coke than Scotch lately. “I’m glad you didn’t see that candidate for Chloe’s Wall of Weird.”

Clark laughed. “Maybe whatever it was is gone.”

“We can only hope.” Lex stood. “I’ll put in the movie.”

He settled back down on the couch, pleased that he was enjoying some relaxation with Clark, whose presence could be anything but relaxing, in a good sort of way.

Oh, the ironies of life: a Luthor brought down by an apple-cheeked farmboy.

“What are you smiling about?” Clark asked.

“Hmm? Oh, the dialogue. Not bad this week.”

Clark smiled and returned his attention to the movie and Lex relaxed.

Good save, Lex.

& & & & & &
After the movie, Lex drove Clark home, laden with his boxes of chocolates, both of them tensing as they passed Miller’s cornfield, but they saw nothing. Clark remembered being saved by Lex in that cornfield not so long ago, and wondered if that field was slated to be a nexus of weirdness in every way, though getting rescued by Lex made for some wonderful fantasies.

At the farmhouse, two relieved friends parted for the night, Lex driving a little faster on the way. He drove the Porsche into the garage at the mansion and started walking toward it when something flickered in the garden.

Lex hesitated. Should he investigate alone? Wasn’t that always the trope that had you yelling at the screen when a character blithely went off alone to investigate things in a horror movie?

His scientific curiosity won out and he walked toward the garden, the night air whistling through the trees.

He wondered if he should reconsider his decision. The mansion loomed dark and empty, and Lex could feel his skin prickling. He looked around, unable to see anything out of the ordinary.

I am definitely losing it. Must be the Smallville Effect, though honestly, it’s probably the opposite, just taking weirdness in stride.

Lex shook his head, resting his hand on the stone thigh of Alexander, preparing to return to the house when he felt a great melancholy sweep over him as the statues began to glow.

We need to be together. Do not leave us. We have to be together!

The sadness filled him like water filling up a Grecian urn, endless and eternal, the abyss of eternity yawning out before him, endless as the sea.

Yearning and sorrow filled him and tears spilled down his cheeks as the wind blew, cold and unforgiving.

Endless sorrow…

& & & & & &
When he awoke the next morning in his own bed, Lex was not sure whether he had dreamed his endless sorrow or not.

Just another day in Smallville.


X


CONFRONTATION

Smalltown blues,
Pay your dues,
Smalltown-born,
Children of the corn.


Arlo Gantry
"Smalltown Blues"
RCA Records
1969 C.E.


October 4, 2002
Autumn had come to Smallville, people busy getting in the last of the harvest and decorating their homes and businesses in the spirit of the season.

At the Kent Farm, Clark helped his mother decorate the front porch, twining strands of red, yellow, and orange leaves around the columns, and placing a giant pumpkin on each side of the doorframe. Martha strung tiny pumpkin lights along the railing, and framed the windows with other sets.

“Pumpkin lights,” Jonathan said as he shook his head. Martha and Clark laughed.

“Halloween is the best holiday of the year, right, Clark?” Martha smiled.

“That’s right, Mom.”

Jonathan rolled his eyes. “Listen, you two, every day is Halloween in Smallville.”

Martha and Clark laughed again. They put the Witch cut-out on the door’s window.

“The pumpkin harvest is good this year,” aid Martha. “Hmm, I wonder if I should carve or paint faces this year?”

“Why not do both?” suggested Clark.

“That’s a good idea, honey.”

Jonathan shook his head again.

Clark smirked as he helped his mother decorate the inside of the house with small pumpkins in the windows and changing of knickknacks in the living room and kitchen.

“Do you think that Lex would like to come over to help with carving and painting?” asked Martha.

“I’ll ask him tonight.” Clark was pleased that his mother thought so often of including Lex in family activities lately.

“Are you still meeting Chloe and Lana at the library?”

“Yeah, we’re got that joint Social Studies project due at the end of the week so we thought we’d dig in for a couple of hours.”

& & & & & &
Chloe and Lana had several good ideas, Clark tossing in a few of his own, and they got to work.

Lana’s charm bracelet jangled as she touched Chloe’s arm. Clark could hear a snicker and looked up.

Three boys from their Social Studies class were at the next table. Clark frowned. He recognized the two burly football players, Charlie Dineen and Carl Simpson, and the third one was Mitch Clemmons, a troublemaker of the first water, as his mother would say.

Lana smiled at Chloe, who ducked her head shyly with a smile.

“Isn’t that sweet?”

Both girls looked over at Mitch, who was smirking. His mop of brown curls framed a sharp-angled face.

“What are you looking at, Clemmons?” Chloe asked.

“A couple of hot lezzie chicks.”

Chloe rolled her eyes while Lana and Clark frowned.

“Ignore the peanut gallery,” said Chloe.

“You’re pretty mouthy for a lesbian.”

“Hey, why don’t you mind your own business?” Clark said.

Mitch snorted. “So wimpy Kent speaks.”

Clark began to retort when Chloe put a hand on his arm. “Ignore him. We’ve got work to do.”

Mitch reached out and touched Lana’s hair. “Pretty. How about I show you a real time, Princess?” He smacked his lips as she pulled away.

This time Clark stood, scraping his chair back. Evelyn Kendall looked up from the Reference Desk and frowned.

“Whattaya gonna do, Kent? Beat me and my posse up?”

Both of his ‘posse’ smirked. Charlie was nearly as wide as he was tall, a stalwart offensive lineman, and Carl’s gray eyes were small and mean. He played outside linebacker and was known for bone-crunching hits, some of which were dirty.

Clark kept his anger in check. All he needed was to have wayward heat vision! But he could not let these three get away with treating Lana and Chloe this way.

Mitch and his friends began to get to their feet when Evelyn asked, “What’s going on here?” as she came over to the tables.

“Nothing, Ms. Kendall.” Mitch smiled charmingly. Clark had a sudden vision of Eddie Haskell.

“Good. Are you boys ready to leave?”

Mitch never faltered. “Yes, Ms. Kendall.” He and Charlie and Carl gathered their books and left.

“Sorry about that, Ms. Kendall,” said Clark.

“It’s all right, Clark. I’d be willing to bet that it wasn’t your fault.”

“It wasn’t,” Chloe said tartly. After Evelyn returned to her desk, she said, “You didn’t have to play Sir Galahad, you know. Lana and I aren’t damsels-in-distress. We can take care of ourselves.”

“Who are you, Liberty Belle and Hawkgirl?” Clark retorted as he sat back down.

The girls smirked. “We would be honored to be two of the Justice Society, even if they are long retired.” Chloe’s earrings jangled as she tossed her head.

Lana’s smile faded. “Seriously, Clark, you should be more careful. Those three gorillas could have pounded you!”

“Hey, I was on the football team, you know. I can handle those knuckle-draggers. And Mitch isn’t that big.”

The girls giggled. “Okay, but…Chloe and I…” Lana looked uncomfortable.

Clark held up a hand. “Whatever you girls are into, I’m good with it.” Like I should talk.

His friends beamed. “Okay, let’s get back to work,” Chloe said. “You’ve got a date with Lex, after all.”

Lana giggled as Clark dropped his pencil.



(Click to enlarge)

Chapter Text

(Click to enlarge)

XI

HANDS TOUCHED

The first time
I touched your hand,
I knew that
My heart was true.


Annie Pratt
"The First Time"
1888 C.E.

October 4, 2002

“Are you sure you’re all right, Lex?”

He and Clark were sitting on the couch in the den at the mansion.

“I told you, I’m fine.” Lex smiled. “It was almost dream-like. I woke up in my own bed.”

“But it wasn’t a dream.”

“No, I don’t think so.”

“So you remember feeling sad?”

Lex nodded. “It pressed down on me like something physical.”

“And you heard a voice?”

“Yes.” Lex frowned. “Something about wanting to be together. I have no idea who, though.”

“I’ve felt sadness, too.”

“When?”

“When I’m up at the ruins on Stone Hill, I feel a terrible sadness, but I’ve always felt that.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, Pete and I would play up there sometimes when we were kids, and I would always feel that melancholy.”

Interest sparked in Lex’s eyes. “Hand me my laptop, will you?” Clark did as requested and Lex worked the keyboard. “Do you know the story of the ruins?”

“Just that there was a fire there sometime in the 19th century.”

Lex kept searching and then said, “The house burned on October 31, 1856. It was the house of the Stone family, who had sent their son to build a fine house as they were ardent Abolitionists and wanted to make Kansas their base.”

Clark remembered an entry in Cal’s journal. His eyes were very green. “What was the son’s name?”

Lex scrolled down. “Jasper Stone.”

“Jaz,” Clark whispered.

“Jazz? They didn’t have jazz back then.”

“No, Jaz with one ‘z’. The nickname Cal uses for his friend in his journal.”

“May I read that journal?”

“Yeah. In fact, I have it with me. I came directly from the library, so I still have my books.” Clark went to the hall table where he had put his backpack.

When he returned, Clark handed the journal to Lex, who took it with interest.

“What, no popcorn?” Clark teased.

“I’m sorry. Let me get some.”

“No need. I know where the kitchen is.”

Clark left the room and Lex began reading.

& & & & & &
Clark easily found the boxes of popcorn, using his X-ray vision, and got out the drinks while the popcorn popped. When the food was ready, he brought it all into the den.

“So your ancestors were a stop on the Underground Railroad?”

“Yeah.” Clark set the food and drinks on the coffee table. “Pretty cool, huh?”

Lex smiled. “Yeah, considering mine were probably slaveowners.”

“Well, a lot of people were back then.”

As Lex read, his eyebrow rose. “It appears he had another secret.”

Clark looked down at his bowl of popcorn. “Um, yeah.”

Lex smiled fondly at his young friend. “Well it was pretty rough back then, loving someone of the same sex.”

“Not much better today,” Clark muttered.

“What do you mean? Have you had trouble?”

Clark sighed and recounted what had happened that afternoon at the library. Lex’s expression darkened.

“Sounds like behavior I encountered at Excelsior.”

“Your boarding school?”

“Yes.”

Clark frowned. He was not thrilled with the thought of Lex running up against bullies at the snooty boarding school. No doubt a child bold and brilliant had been a target, drawing the bullies like magnets. Clark had always hated the tendency in the human heart to despise and fear those who were different.

“You took care of them?” Lex asked.

“Actually, Ms. Kendall did.”

Lex lifted an eyebrow. “Good.” He set the journal on an endtable next to the couch. “This Calvin Kent and his parents were brave people.”

“Very brave.”

“I admire people like that.” Lex ate a handful of popcorn. “Though I suppose living in this town qualifies as being eligible for combat pay.”

Clark laughed. “I would say you’re right.”

“Well, let’s start the movie.”

& & & & & &
Lex drove Clark home, and Clark made him promise not to investigate any strange phenomena on his way home. Lex readily agreed.

Clark talked with his parents for awhile, Martha asking, “How’s Lex, dear?”

“He’s fine.” Clark set his books down on the coffee table. Jonathan was watching TV but listening to the conversation. “Everything quiet here?”

“There a reason it shouldn’t be?” Jonathan asked.

“No, just curious. You know how crazy it can get around here.”

Martha laughed. “Tell me about it.” She sipped her tea. “Did you thank Lex for the chocolates?”

“Yes, ma’am.”

She smiled. “How’s the Social Studies project coming?”

“We’ll be finished by the end of the week.”

“Good.” Martha glanced at the T.V.

“Well, I’m going to do a little studying, and then turn in.”

“Okay. Good night, honey.”

“Good night, son,” said Jonathan.

Clark went upstairs with his books. Sitting on the windowseat, he opened the journal.

& & & & & &
April 12, 1856

I learned a lot from our fugitive family. Sam and Hetty were extremely protective of their girls, understandably so. I would listen to their Southern-accented voices and wish things could be different. A world where slavery exists does not seem like a world fit to live in.

Addie and Jolene were sweet girls. I hate to think of them as slaves. Or their parents, either.

I hate to think of anyone as slaves. It is injustice at its worst.

& & & & & &
Clark wholeheartedly agreed with that sentiment. He anxiously went to the next entry, taking great care with the aged paper.
& & & & & &
April 14, 1856

I saw Jaz at his place, the lilacs in full bloom in the dooryard, and we spent an amiable evening playing cards and drinking ale. It was butter rum, the finest available in the country. Jaz had it shipped in from New England.

We talked about abolition, though of course I kept quiet about my family’s involvement with the Underground Railroad. Some secrets have to be kept, even though I really wished that I could tell my best friend.

Still, we could discuss the issue. The Reverend Ezra Perkins is railing with much fire and brimstone against abolition, but of course we do not attend that church. We have our own.

Jaz said that the Reverend Perkins was full of it. Not gentlemanly words, to be sure, but then, neither is the ‘good’ reverend. He would have gleefully returned Sam and Hetty’s family into slavery.

So the night went well, and I kept my yearnings to myself, prepared to go home unfulfilled when our hands touched reaching for the deck of cards.

Our eyes met, and I had to remember to breathe.

& & & & & &
The entry ended there, frustrating but understandable. In fact, Clark wondered how this journal ended up in the town library and not even in the special collection, locked away. Anybody could read this. He wondered what his father would think of all this.

He accepts me as an alien, but I wonder if he would so readily accept me being gay. And in love with a Luthor, no less!

Suddenly tired, Clark went to bed, dreaming of Lex in a yard filled with lilacs as he slowly floated toward the ceiling.

XII

LIPS MET
The first time
Our lips met,
I knew that
Our love was forever.

Annie Pratt
"The First Time"
1888 C.E.

October 8, 2002
Clark was in Parker’s Feed Store when he overheard a conversation between two farmers that chilled him.

Ed Beckley was a grizzled farmer who was not one to scare easily. His wispy gray hair barely covered his shining pate as he scratched his head. “Durnedst thing, Al,” he said. “I heard some awful caterwaulin’ and moanin’ last night out in the cornfield.”

“Ya did?” Al Mason was dressed in overalls like Ed. His blond crewcut framed a weatherbeaten face. “Could be just kids this close to Halloween.”

“Or one of ‘em meteor freaks.”

“Lawdy, I hope not. We get enough of those.”

“Thing is, the wailin’ sounds more sad than menacin’.”

Al sighed. “Well, jus’ be careful out your way, Ed. You know what them freaks are like. If they’re not doin’ weird stuff, they’re flippin’ out! Every danged one of ‘em is loonier than a ‘toon.”

“Well, ya got that right.”

Clark paused in his hauling of feed sacks. So he and Lex were no longer the only ones to hear the strange wailing. Maybe he should do a search tonight. He finished loading the sacks on the truck and drove home.

After unloading the truck he went inside the house, looking forward to supper.

“Honey, Lex called,” Martha said. She was stirring a pot on the stove, the smell of onions and potatoes simmering with leeks and carrots. Freshly-baked bread warmed in the oven.

“Thanks, Mom.” Clark dialed the familiar number. “Hi, Lex. Mom said you called.”

“That’s right. Can you come over tonight?”

“Well, it is a school night, but I’m caught up with my homework. Let me see.” Clark turned to Martha. “Mom, can I go over to Lex’s after supper?”

“You said your homework’s done.”

“Yes, ma’am.”

“All right. Don’t stay too long.”

“I won’t. Thanks, Mom.” He let Lex know.

After hanging up, Clark enjoyed supper with his parents, helped clean up, and then donned his red jacket and walked briskly to the mansion, keeping his eyes open for anything strange, his super-hearing also keyed in.

He reached the grounds of the castle without incident, expecting to go up to the front door, but Lex was waiting for him at the entrance to the garden. It was already dark, and the outside lights were on.

“What’s up?” Clark asked, a little apprehensive.

“This way.”

Clark obediently followed, noticing the strain in his friend’s voice. He glanced around but saw nothing unusual.

“See anything unusual?” Lex asked, echoing Clark’s thoughts.

Clark looked around at the flowers and trees, beautifully-cultivated by Lex’s gardeners. He saw splashes of purple, orange, and red as he surveyed the garden.

“I don’t…” His gaze fell on the Greek statues. Alexander and Hephaestion were no longer embracing in the way of warriors.

They were kissing.

Clark wondered if his eyes could get any bigger. He was stunned.

“Lex…”

“I know.” Lex looked slightly befuddled, amazed, and even a tad hysterical. “I ordered a new statue for this garden, but this is the old set of statues.”

“I know that Alexander and Hephaestion were rather friendly, but this is ridiculous!”

Lex had to laugh. “Never change, Clark.”

Clark flashed a smile. “I can say the same.” He was proud of Lex’s near-unflappability.

“Well, I’d say we’re dealing with meteor mutant powers. Whoever it was rearranged stone.”

Clark had to admit that it was amazing as well as disturbing. He touched the thigh of the Alexander statue, snatching his hand away.

“What’s the matter?” Lex asked anxiously.

“There’s some kind of energy in that statue!”

Lex touched Hephaestion’s leg and pulled his hand away like Clark had done. “That’s some spark!”

Clark looked at the statues with his X-ray vision but saw nothing. Lex was busy examining the statues so missed the intense look to Clark’s relief. Lex was already mildly suspicious of his abilities.

“You saw the glow around the statues before, right?” Clark asked.

“Yeah.” Lex crossed his arms, amusement playing around his lips as he surveyed the statues’ amorous positions. “Well, at least we’ll be entertained, anyway.”

Clark laughed, but suggested, “You should come home with me. It’s too dangerous for you here.”

Lex’s smile was fond. “First of all, I have plenty of security around here, and secondly, what would your parents say if you brought me home to sleep in your guest room?”

Clark looked uncomfortable. “We’ll tell ‘em the truth.”

“Which you haven’t told them yet.”

Clark looked down. “No.” He tensed. He was already feeling guilty about keeping his Secret from Lex, and now he was doing the same thing to his parents.

“I don’t think they would be too rattled, considering their experiences here in Smallville.”

Clark looked up and saw no condemnation in Lex’s eyes, just curiosity. He moistened his lips, cursing his dry mouth, missing the expression that flashed over his friend’s face.

“I guess this phenomenon is not going to be just limited to us.”

“No, it won’t.” Lex frowned. “Has anyone else seen or heard anything?”

“A couple of farmers. I overheard them in Parker’s Feed Store.”

“I’m surprised they don’t have the torches and pitchforks out.”

“Lex!”

Lex grinned. “Okay, so I’m painting with a broad brush.”

“Some people have that attitude but not everybody.” Frowning, Clark looked down at his shoes. “Though I suppose small towns aren’t known for open-mindedness.”

Lex smiled. “Believe me, Clark, the people of cities like Metropolis and Gotham think they’re all sophisticated, but they can be just as ignorant and venal despite their veneer of that sophistication.”

“I suppose. I know big city folk do look down on us, though.” Clark looked at Lex. “You must have felt like you were exiled to Siberia when you were first sent here.”

“Oh, I’ll admit that I wasn’t happy but I’ve grown to appreciate small-town living.”

Clark felt warmth spread through him at the look that Lex gave him. He thought of the statues in the garden and wished that for once in his life, he could be bold.

“How are you going to explain those statues?”

Les grinned. “It’s Smallville.”

Clark laughed.

XIII

AUTUMN’S BREEZE
As autumn’s breeze
Swings and swirls,
Leaves blow ‘round,
In dips and curls.

All Hallows’ Eve
Is coming.

Sarah Jean O’Reilly
"Victorian Holidays"
1867 C.E.

October 9, 2002
The leaves drifted down from the trees, a shower of lemon-gold, scarlet, and burnt-orange. The days and nights grew colder as more houses and businesses were decorated for the coming holiday.

Pumpkin was literally the flavor of the month. The local bakery, Maria’s, was offering pumpkin muffins, cakes, cupcakes, and pies for a special price. The Beanery was featuring pumpkin-flavored lattes and shakes while Martha Kent baked up a storm, filling the farmhouse with the wonderful smells of pumpkin bread and other goodies.

Lex was invited over and helped with carving and painting the pumpkins. He was amused by the tradition and happy to be a part of it. He even proved to be creative.

“A very convincing Witch,” Martha said approvingly as she studied the painted pumpkin of Lex’s.

Clark put the finishing touched on his carved pumpkin, cutting out the last whisker. “Nice kitty,” he said, a twinkle in his eyes.

Lex laughed. “Every Witch should have her familiar.”

Clark grinned as he put his cat pumpkin next to Lex’s Witch pumpkin.

“They go together like peanut butter and chocolate,” Lex said with a twinkle of his own.

“Will you stay for pumpkin bread, Lex?” Martha asked.

“Martha Kent pumpkin bread? How can I resist?”

“Oh, darling, you’re a charmer.”

Lex smiled, Clark shaking his head fondly. He followed his mother and best friend inside the house while his father put the carving tools away.

Martha served the pumpkin bread with rich cream and a maraschino cherry on top.

“Absolutely delicious, Mrs. Kent.”

“Thank you, dear. “ Martha poured freshly-squeezed lemonade into glasses. “Everything’s pumpkin lately.”

Clark and Lex grinned. “And lucky for us,” Lex said with a laugh.

Martha smiled. “A definite charmer.”

Lex blushed slightly as Jonathan entered the kitchen. He took a seat and said, “Thanks for helping out with the pumpkins, Lex.”

Lex looked mildly surprised at Jonathan’s approval but quickly said, “Glad to do it, Mr. Kent.”

“How’s everything over at your place?” Jonathan asked as he poured himself a glass of lemonade.

Lex started minutely, but Clark was certain that he was the only one to notice.

“Everything’s fine. The staff has done a great job decorating the place.”

Clark felt a little sad that the decorating at the castle was by staff and not family, but somehow he doubted that Lionel was into painting faces on pumpkins. The carving of pumpkins, he could see, he thought with a shudder.

“I’ve found the celebration of Halloween here in America fascinating. Canada and the U.S. celebrate this version of the holiday, as Mexico celebrates the Day of the Dead,” said Lex.

“Yes, different cultures celebrate different ways.” Martha ate a piece of bread, “Though I thought I read that countries like France and Japan were adapting the holiday.”

“That’s right.” Lex smiled at her. “France set out Jack O’Lanterns on the Champs Elysees, and Japan is huge on the costumes.”

“Doesn’t Japan celebrate Valentine’s Day, too?” Clark asked.

“It does, though differently. The women give the men chocolates on that day, and receive presents from the men a month later on White Day.”

“That’s fascinating,” Martha said.

“Love always finds a way,” said Lex with a smile.

Clark felt his stomach flutter.

I wish I could.

After the snack, Lex had to get back to the castle, Clark walking him to his car.

“You be careful,” he said.

Lex smiled. “I’d say the same to you.” He got into his Porsche and drove away, tires squealing on the gravel.

Clark went up to the loft. He watched Lex’s progress with his telescopic vision, satisfied that his friend was safe as he went into the mansion.

Clark sat down at the desk, opening the journal.

& & & & & &
April 19, 1856

I cannot believe how fortunate I am: Jaz loves me, too! I have been trying to savor the thought, my memories of the night I spent with him invading my waking hours. I am like a schoolgirl as of late. Oh, happy day!

& & & & & &
Clark had to smile. It was wonderful to read about such joy.
& & & & & &
April 22, 1856

I have found more and more excuses to spend time with Jaz. He brought over a porcelain vase full of lilacs yesterday, ostensibly for Ma, but I knew they were for me. I do not think my parents suspect anything. I usually tell them everything, but I doubt this is the kind of thing you speak of over dinner.

& & & & & &
Clark had to laugh. He could certainly agree with that last sentence. He enjoyed reading several entries written by a man in the first bloom of love, interspersed with entries detailing the family’s work on the Underground Railroad. One was particularly disturbing.
& & & & & &
April 30, 1856

Word came to us that the Kendall farm was burned last night. It was said that the raiders suspected that it was a stop on the Underground Railroad. Pa said that we have to be even more careful than ever.

The attacks are coming more frequently throughout the state. There was a murder over in Granville by the Border Ruffians last month, and another burning in Missouri, right across the border.

I fear for my country. We are heading toward a conflagration, and Kansas is right in the middle of it all.

We received The Daily Star today and the lawyer for the Metropolis Abolitionist Society, Hiram Clark, says that the attacks must stop; otherwise we are all doomed. He may be right.

& & & & & &
Clark perked up at the name of the lawyer. He knew that his mother’s family had also settled here in the 19th century. They had been active in the Abolitionist Movement, one ancestor a newspaper editor of an Abolitionist paper until a pro-slavery crowd had dumped his printing press in the river and shot him dead as Andrew Clark tried to stop them.
& & & & & &
Clark read through more entries, alternating between the trouble in Kansas and Cal’s private romance.
& & & & & &
May 2, 1856

Jaz and I spent a happy afternoon at the swimming hole. It is secluded, much more private than Miller’s Pond. We enjoyed each other’s company, talking of many things, including Jaz saying that he wanted to take the Grand Tour of Europe and bring me with him.

I was stunned into silence. To see Europe has always been a dream of mine. I wanted very desperately to say yes, but how could we do it? It would be one thing if I was his betrothed or new bride, but as just a friend? Dubious at best.

Jaz laughed and said, “There is always a way.”

& & & & & &
Clark wondered what it would be like to tour Europe with Lex. It would be a great adventure.

He rested his chin on the palm of his hand as he stared out the barn window. Fireflies flickered in the growing dusk. The smell of roast chicken, baked potatoes, and carrots wafted up from the kitchen.

It was Smallville at its best, idyllic and peaceful, though any resident knew that could change lightning-quick.
He resumed reading the journal as the breeze picked up.

& & & & & &
May 21, 1856

By the end of the day news had come to Smallville: a group of Border Ruffians poured into Free-State settlement Lawrence where they burned the hotel, ransacked homes and stores, and destroyed two newspaper offices and their printing presses. Pa says the pro-slavers are growing bolder, and we must be ready for anything.

& & & & & &
May 22, 1856

The telegraph once again brought us dire news: Senator Charles Sumner of Massachusetts, an advocate for our Cause, was brutally attacked in the very Senate itself by Preston Smith Brooks, Congressman from that rebellious state of South Carolina. There is no word of Senator Sumner’s injuries, but Brooks used his cane to attack the Senator about the head, so the worst is feared.

Word spread like wildfire throughout town, and men and women have rifles at the ready, though I cannot help but think that the world has gone mad. What an abomination to occur on the floor of the U.S. Senate!

Will Kansas Territory go up in flames?

& & & & & &
May 25, 1856

John Brown, that most ardent of Abolitionists, attacked pro-slavery settlers last night at Pottawattomie Creek with a group of men that included four of his sons. They killed seven men and have tasted blood now.

Heaven help us!

& & & & & &
Clark saw a flicker of light out of the corer of his eyes, a voice whispering in his ear, borne on the wind. He set aside the journal and hurried downstairs, using his super-speed to go to the source of the light.

The whispers kept drawing him forward, the cornfields whizzing by in ribbons of gold and green. The smell of lilacs was strong.

When he stopped, he was standing in the ruins of Stone Hill.

XIV

FIREFLIES
Fireflies flit
Through the dark,
Like stars in the sky,
Quiet and glorious.

Hark!
Watch their magic..

Enos Holloway
"Summer Days
And Nights"
1981 C.E.

October 9, 2002
Lex gazed up at the Greek statues, admiring the form and flair of the artwork. It was a kiss worthy of the Guiness Book of World Records for longevity alone.

He was surprised that none of his staff had noticed, or maybe they just thought his new statues had arrived.

Or they might not have noticed. People do tend not to notice familiar things, simply taking them for grated. Either it's being unobservant or discreet.

Lex noticed the ardor with which the two legendary lovers embraced. He began to daydream, seeing him and Clark in place of Alexander and Hephaestion. He could imagine feeling that warm body pressed close to him, lush and ripe and delicious.

And if I keep this up, I'll be in trouble. He smirked. Or at least my pants will be.

He pulled his jacket tighter around himself. October was in full swing, the days cool and the evenings cold. There was a purity in the country he could not experience in the city.

Could this place, this Smallville, be a place where I can find my heart's desire?

The wind blew, leaves scattering around the garden. He frowned as he thought he heard whispers, but everyone was in bed or gone home if they lived in town. He could smell lilacs, which spooked him as they were long past blooming.

"Who's there?" he asked sharply. If someone was having a late-night tryst, fine, but he wanted to find out just what was going on. At the continued silence, he said, "You won't get in trouble. Just show yourself." Only the wind answered him.

Lex moved deeper into the garden, unaware of the sparkling glow surrounding the Greek statues. He made a systemic sweep but found no one.

Suddenly, the whispers drifted on the wind again, and the glow appeared several yards away. Lex immediately walked toward it.

He followed and followed, unaware of the passing of time and place, until he reached Stone Hill.

His heart dropped into his shoes as he saw Clark standing in the middle of the ruins, the glow surrounding him, caressing him as if he was a lover.

Lex tried to say Clark's name but his throat was constricted, his limbs heavy as he tried to reach out to his friend.

Clark looked mesmerized, his green eyes glassy. He was staring ahead, but seeing nothing. Lex tried speaking again.

"Clark," he managed to rasp out.

Clark made no response. He remained in the center of the golden glow, the sparkles like fireflies, and Lex thought he looked beautiful, but he was afraid for him. Smallville weirdness could be dangerous.

The whispers grew louder and intelligible.

"We must be together. We have waited so long."

Fear seeped into Lex's bones. More than one entity was behind all this.

"Clark," he said in a stronger voice, fueled by desperation.

Clark's eyes flickered, and he seemed to be listening. Lex pushed himself forward.

"Come on, Clark, use some of those meteor powers of yours and break out of this spell or whatever it is."

There, he had said it. His suspicions were no longer unspoken, but none of that mattered now. What was important was keeping Clark safe. Nothing was more important.

Clark's hand moved and Lex pleaded. "Come on now." Shaking, he tried to get past the sparkling barrier.

Suddenly Clark pushed out of the golden aura and fell into Lex's arms.

"Together," came the agonized whisper as Clark mumbled, "Get me out of here, Lex."

Lex's limbs felt back to normal as he brought Clark away from the ruins, both of them staggering.

Finally they were back in the castle garden, Lex helping Clark sit on a stone bench.

"Are you all right?" Lex asked anxiously.

"I...I think so." Clark rubbed his forehead. “What happened?"

Lex twisted his mouth and explained. Confused, Clark looked at him. "You saved me."

Lex smiled a little. "I guess I did."

Clark put a hand over the one of Lex's that gripped his shoulder. "Thanks, Lex."

Lex smiled, suddenly overwhelmed.

This crazy place will kill us both.

He couldn't stand it any more. He leaned forward and kissed Clark.

Clark was surprised but was suddenly kissing Lex back, grabbing onto his jacket like he would never let go.

Clark was inexperienced but enthusiastic, Lex knowing that there was promise in that youthful ardor. When they separated, Lex murmured, "I shouldn't have done that. You're too young." His hand cupped Clark's cheek.

Clark grabbed his hand. "I'm old enough to know my heart, Lex."

"Your father will get his shotgun out."

Clark laughed, kissing the palm of his friend's hand. "You're got good reflexes. I'm sure you'll be fine." He did not let go of Lex's hand.

Lex felt a jumble of emotions but mostly was happy that his love was reciprocated. He had hoped and dreamed for so long...

"Lex?"

"Yes?"

"You really love me?"

Lex smiled. "Yes, Clark, I do."

Clark's smile was brilliant, like the sun coming out on a cloudy day, warming Lex's lonely heart. He reached out and brushed glossy bangs back from his young friend's brow.

"You really are beautiful."

Clark blushed, ducking his head shyly. "Aww, Lex."

Lex grinned. "Let's get inside."

Clark nodded, letting Lex help him up. He was still a little wobbly, Lex noted.

Inside, he brought Clark to the kitchen. He poured him a glass of apple cider, wishing that he could have the hard version. He settled for soft cider, too.

"Do you think that you ought to tell your parents?"

Clark sighed. "I suppose so. It's getting too weird now."

"Want me there when you do?"

Clark shook his head. "I don't want them thinking that you knew everything before they did. Dad would say that you should've said something."

"Maybe I should."

Clark shrugged. "Like you say, this is Smallville."

"Well, I'd better drive you home. It's really dark."

"I'll be fine walking."

"No way am I letting you walk the dark roads after that."

"Looks like I've got no choice." Clark smiled.

& & & & & &
When they reached the foot of the Kent driveway, Clark changed his mind and asked Lex to come with him. Lex was more than happy to oblige and turned the Porsche into the driveway.

He had made some decisions on the quiet ride over: if this thing with Clark was going to work, he had to win over his parents. He was doing better with them, and Martha was close to full acceptance, but he resolved not to keep any more secrets from the family.

Okay, I know Clark's a meteor mutant and would love to study his powers, because unlike the rest of them, he seems to have more than one power. He keeps lying to me about it, but considering people's fear of mutants, I can understand it.

As Lex pulled up and shut off the engine, he was a little hurt that Clark did not trust him enough to admit to him his condition, but he was determined to prove that he could be trusted. Maybe someday Clark would feel able to tell him the truth.

The lights were on in the living room as Clark led Lex onto the porch, the Witch cut-out shimmering in the light of the tiny pumpkin lights framing the door. Someone had added little black bat cut-outs flying around the Witch. The Jack O'Lanterns flickered, sending little tongues of flame dancing crazily on the walls. Crickets chirped as a breeze blew, the windchimes at the end of the porch tinkling merrily.

Lex pulled his coat around himself tighter. Smallville did not need to get any spookier!

Footsteps sounded and the door was yanked open. The lights flickered eerily across Jonathan's worried face.

"Clark, where have you been?" He frowned at Lex.

"I'll explain, Dad."

Martha appeared at the entrance to the kitchen. "Oh, honey, are you all right?"

"I'm fine, Mom, thanks to Lex."

"Let's get settled," Jonathan said.

Everyone took seats in the living room, Jonathan and Martha sitting in their favorite chairs and Clark and Lex taking the couch. The coziness of the farmhouse calmed Lex's nerves. It was going to be all right.

Clark related the strange occurrences to his parents, who were understandably concerned.

"Thank you, Lex," Martha said.

Lex nodded, accepting her heartfelt gratitude graciously.

"These lights and voices...you've heard them, too?" Jonathan asked.

Lex nodded. "I was drawn by those lights and voices to Stone Hill."

"Stone Hill's always been a strange place. " Clark shuddered. Lex put a hand on his friend's arm, realizing too late how it might look, but he kept his eyes on Clark. "I've always felt so sad there." Lex squeezed his arm. "I keep smelling lilacs."

Martha frowned. "They're long past blooming." She leaned forward. "Stone Hill is just a ruin, honey."

"Yeah, it burned over 150 years ago," Jonathan said.

"A man named Jasper Stone lived there," Lex said. "He was mentioned in your ancestor's journals."

"I heard stories while growing up that the Stones were prominent Abolitionists."

"But only Jasper lived here."

"Yeah, his parents were still in Boston," Clark said.

"And he was building a new home so that his parents would join him," Lex continued.

"Did they ever find out how the fire started?" Martha asked.

"Not that I ever heard," Jonathan replied.

"Hmm," Lex mused.

"What is it?" Clark asked.

"It's just that Stone Hill seems to be the focal point."

"But I’ve always felt depressed there. That's nothing new."

"But the lights and voices are."

Jonathan frowned. "You think there's a link?"

"There could be."

The wind blew, the windchimes singing their song as the Kents and Lex sat in silence.

XV

WHISPERS
Sibilant whispers
Swirl around me.
Harsh gazes
Fall upon me.
Why am I
Shunned and despised?

Andrew Moore
"Whispers"
1859 C.E.

October 11, 2002
Clark could still go over to the mansion but his parents insisted on driving him, or Lex came and picked him up. As irritating as it was, he had to admit that it made sense.

He was sitting in his loft, feeling a lot like Calvin Kent after he and Jasper Stone had realized their feelings for each other.

So, tonight he would be going over to the mansion for Movie Night, and Jonathan was driving him over.

First, though, he wanted to finish reading the journal. Not only did he want to start work on his paper, he felt anxious to read the remaining entries.

Opening the journal he read the next entry:

& & & & & &
May 30, 1856

Jaz and I have been getting together when we can. Another slave family arrived last night, and they are hidden in the barn. I have to stay around, but Jaz came to the farm today. He bought some corn, liking the freshness of the ears.

I knew it was an excuse to see me, and I was happy for his subterfuge. We stole a kiss in the cornfields and headed back to the house.

That night Ma, Pa and I thought we heard riders, but luckily that was not true, or at least the riders were not Border Ruffians. Pa and I will still have to keep watch.

& & & & & &
June 6, 1856

I have not had time to write very much. We had to get the slaves off to the next stop, and it was a perilous week. Ma thought she had heard someone around the barn a few nights ago, but no one was there. Still, it meant that we got the slaves out ahead of schedule.

& & & & & &
Clark read the next several entries that covered more liaisons with Jaz, and more slaves arriving and departing. The next entry was disturbing.
& & & & & &
July 4, 1856

Smallville does itself grand with the Fourth of July. There were games and wrestling matches and horse races. We played base ball and ate wonderful food like corn-on-the-cob and cherry pie and fried chicken.

Jaz and I met while watching one of the wrestling matches. We stood shoulder-to-shoulder as we cheered on Junior Carter against Malcolm Britt. We both had bets on Junior.

The Reverend Ezra Perkins was giving us the evil eye, as Mrs. Rossetti would say, but at the time I really took little notice. He does the same to everyone.

Ma won two blue ribbons, one for her cherry pie and one for her strawberry preserves, both well-deserved. I got second place in the horse race, and my real prize was spending time with Jaz.

Later, during a break in the fireworks, Ma and Pa left in the wagon for home, and I was going to ride Strawberry home.

That was a mistake.

& & & & & &
Clark shuddered. His hand trembled as he turned the page.
& & & & & &
We were enjoying the fireworks when a voice said in my ear, “Sodomites.”

I turned and saw Melchior Ames, a big, raw-boned boy with three of his equally large or disreputable friends close by.

I scowled and pretended great outrage. “You had better watch your mouth, Melchior.”

He sneered and said, “Or what? You think you can thrash me, nancy-boy?”

Jaz heard this and added his own two cents. It was chilling to hear him say, “Listen and listen good. You Neanderthals can threaten all you want, but I will crush you like the bugs you are. Money always talks.”

Melchior and his cohorts were taken aback, but he continued to bluster. Jaz and I walked away cool as cucumbers, hiding the fact that we were shaken.

Had someone seen us? We had been so careful!

& & & & & &
Clark felt nauseous. He could only imagine how shaken that he would feel if either of his Secrets were discovered!

He sat there for awhile as twilight began to fall, tiny stars beginning to show in a violet sky.

Mentally girding himself, he continued reading.

& & & & & &
July 5, 1856

Somehow we had been found out. Jaz and I discussed our situation. We resolved to keep living our lives, but more carefully.

& & & & & &
Clark read about a new slave with the name of Charlie arriving at the farm, and how Cal and Jaz continued to meet but with almost paranoid caution. He could not blame them for that paranoia.

Throughout the rest of July, they continued their romance while Charlie came down with what Sara Kent diagnosed as ague, delaying his journey.

It was also increasing their danger.

& & & & & &
July 29, 1856

As Charlie was still sick, he could not be moved, and tonight the Border Ruffians set fire to our fields. Pa, Ma, and I worked hard to put it out, neighbors coming to help once they saw the flames. Jaz came, too.

Ma checked on Charlie, who had been scared to death. I really cannot blame him. I was scared, too.

If the Border Ruffians keep watch on us, how will we get Charlie out of here?

& & & & & &
August 2, 1856

Jaz came up with a plan. He came with a wagon and loaded corn on it with my help, and Charlie was hidden in the wagon. Pa and I had not seen any signs of spies, so we took the chance. My heart was in my mouth as Jaz drove away.

Fortunately, Providence was with us. Jaz rode back on his stallion, Bucephalus, and told us that Charlie had gotten away safely. We were happy that both Jaz and Charlie were safe.

Pa sent word that we would have to be taken off the Railroad stops, at least for a time.

& & & & & &
Clark quickly read through the August entries, mostly centered around Cal and Jaz, and the September entries went into more detail about their romance.
& & & & & &
September 27, 1856

Jaz and I spent a glorious day together. The light was as golden as the leaves, and we made love at the swimming hole, our hearts united.

Jaz says that I can come with him next summer to Europe. He will employ me as his secretary and will hire a crew of field hands to help my parents with the farm while I am gone.

I am sure they will let me go. It is an opportunity I could only dream of, to see London and Paris and Rome, and the great museums and cathedras and other grand places.

Such thoughts will keep me warm this winter.

& & & & & &
Several entries later, Clark’s blood chilled.
& & & & & &
October 31, 1856

October has been a strange month. I have enjoyed great happiness with Jaz, but the attacks on anti-slavery people have grown. Our side fights back, but the violence is escalating and the blood running freely into the soil of Kansas.

Several times when I have been in town, Ezra Perkins has been watching me. Today he approached me as I loaded the wagon up with supplies. He always makes my skin crawl. His eyes are lit with messianic fervor, and zealots always make me nervous.

“You are full of sin, boy,” he hissed at me.

“We are all sinners, Reverend,” I answered.

“Some are worse than others.”

“Perhaps.” I continued loading, hoping that he would go away. No such fortune, alas.

He came closer. I could smell his sweat. “You are doomed, Calvin Kent. You and your sodomite lover.”

He turned away, leaving me trembling. I was both frightened and enraged.

As I turned away, I saw Jedediah Milbank talking to Perkins. That man was not to be trusted. A leading citizen of Smallville, he was nonetheless a scurvy type. Suddenly, I wanted to get out of town as quickly as possible and get back to the farm.

Once home, Pa helped me unload the wagon. We had to stay alert tonight. It was All Hallows’ Eve, the Night of Mischief.

I was very uneasy as I took up my post by the cornfield.

Something was going to happen tonight.

& & & & & &
Clark turned the page and frowned. It was blank. He checked the other pages. They were blank, too.

Why had this been Cal’s final entry?

XVI

STARING UP AT THE STARS
Strange things
Go bump
In the night.

Edward Simpson
"Halloween Tales"
1869 C.E.

October 11, 2002
Clark thanked his father as he got out of the truck, carrying the journal. He watched Jonathan drive away, his father satisfied that he was safe. He rang the doorbell and Lex answered it.

“I see you made it in one piece.”

Clark laughed. “I was chauffeured.”

“Good.” Lex smiled. “Come on in.”

“Are Alexander and Hephaestion still making out?”

It was Lex’s turn to laugh. “The boys are having a good time.”

“Glad to hear it.”

They settled in the den and Clark handed the journal to Lex. “The entries end abruptly on October 31st.”

“Halloween?”

Clark nodded. “Cal wrote that he and his father had to keep an eye out because it was a night for mischief.”

Lex read the final entry. “A rather ominous ending.”

“I’ll go back to the library and see if there’s another journal.”

“I’ve been doing some more research.” Lex offered Clark the bowl of fresh popcorn. Clark grinned and filled a smaller bowl with the treat. Lex’s smile was fondly affectionate.

“So what did you find out?”

“That Jasper Stone stopped building the house for his family.”

“When?”

“Well, the record I found was dated January of 1857. It said that the orders for building materials had been cancelled.”

“Hmm, that’s strange. He seemed so determined to get it built.”

“Well, plans change. Even though his family were Free-Staters, maybe the escalating violence made them think twice. I’ve done a lot of searching, but haven’t come up with much, except that the site for the new house was this one.”

“Wow.” Clark ate a handful of popcorn. “You said you did a lot of searching? On-line, you mean?”

Lex nodded. “And you hadn’t heard about the history of Stone Hill before?”

“No.” Clark opened a bottle of Diet Coke and poured glasses for himself and Lex. “Just that it had burned down. No one seems to know the details.” He crunched another handful of popcorn. “Y’know, since there’s not much on-line, maybe we should check out the library and the Historical Society. Cal’s journal was languishing in obscurity until I found it on the shelves.”

“You’re right, sometimes the old-fashioned way is the best.”

The rest of the evening was spent enjoying a very bad action movie, both men throwing buckets of snark at the screen.

They smiled at each other and Clark shyly took Lex’s hand. Lex squeezed it and they continued commenting, but both were wearing silly grins on their faces.

Clark felt butterflies in his stomach, grateful that his hand was not sweaty. He did feel like he was on his first date.

Though I think Lex and I have been dating for awhile now; we just haven’t known it.

When the movie finished, Lex got his keys, ready to drive Clark home. He went to the garage and got the Porsche out. When he could not find his friend, he called his name.

“I’m out here!”

Lex found Clark out in the garden, gazing up at the kissing statues.

“Has anyone commented on these two?” Clark asked.

“Oddly, no. Or maybe people just chalk it up to Smallville weirdness.”

They both laughed, and Clark smiled at Lex, whose eyes softened as he gazed at his young friend.

Suddenly Clark felt a surge of emotion, reaching out and drawing Lex to him, kissing him gently.

Lex responded, putting his arms around Clark and slipping his tongue inside his lover’s mouth. Clark whimpered as he pressed Lex closer.

Suddenly, the sound of hounds baying could be heard in the distance as Clark felt dizzy. Lilacs’ scent was strong, and the breeze sprang up, rattling the trees as the leaves swirled down in a shower of gold and ruby.

As he and Lex parted, Clark could see flickering lights in the distance, but they were not the sparkling lights he and Lex had been seeing. They flickered like torches.

He winced as his back began to burn, and now he could see the sparkling lights in front of his eyes. Even though his limbs felt like lead, he grabbed Lex’s arm as fear surged through him.

“We have to get out of here!”

Lex did not protest as he ran with Clark. The hounds sounded closer, and Clark could smell the burning torches. They ran wildly, bypassing the mansion and heading for the road, a part of Clark’s mind decrying the illogic but unable to stop his blind panic.

Lex stumbled and Clark helped him up. They kept running, Clark’s back burning even worse. Just as he felt that his lungs would burst, the headlights of an approaching car caused Clark to push Lex off the road, gasping as they rolled into a ditch.

Clark stared up at the stars, his chest heaving as he still tightly gripped Lex’s hand. He could hear shouts and felt himself being lifted up, the smell of the earth clinging to him.

He could not stop staring up at the stars.

XVII

HOT VEGETABLE SOUP
"There’s nothing like hot vegetable soup on a cold autumn night."

Jonathan Kent
1996 C.E.

October 11, 2002
Lana nervously nibbled on a nail as she sat on the couch in the Kent living room. Chloe grasped her hand and her charm bracelet jangled as she squeezed Lana’s hand. Her chandelier earrings swayed as her blue eyes were clouded with concern.

“Do you think Clark will be all right?” Lana asked.

“He’s strong. A lot more than Smallville weirdness is needed to get him down.”

Lana attempted to answer Chloe’s smile. She certainly hoped that Chloe was right.

Jonathan came down the stairs and the girls stood.

“How is he?” Chloe asked.

“Doing all right.” Jonathan wearily sat in his chair while Chloe and Lana sat back down on the couch. “He’s at least aware of his surroundings now.” He looked solemnly at the two of them. “You girls helped save him from further injury.”

“How’s Lex?” asked Lana.

“Worried about Clark, but he seems all right otherwise.”

Chloe and Lana exchanged a little smile that was missed by Jonathan, who ran a hand through his blond hair.

“Mr. Kent, what’s going on? Do I have something new for my Wall of Weird?” asked Chloe.

Jonathan smiled grimly. “I’m afraid you do.” He glanced upstairs. “We might as well tell you. You’re in this with us now.”

Chloe and Lana leaned forward. Jonathan almost laughed at their eagerness. He began the whole story as Martha came down the stairs.

“He’s sleeping. Lex is with him.” She went into the kitchen and emerged a few minutes late with apple cider and oatmeal raisin cookies. She offered the girls both and sat down in her chair, drinking her cider. Jonathan had snagged a glass and sipped it, then related the rest of the tale.

Lana supposed that she ought to be more shaken, but she was a Smallville native. The weird and unusual was just par-for-the-course.

“What can we do to help?” she asked, warmed by the looks of approval given to her by the Kents.

“Keep your eyes open for these strange manifestations. It appears that Lex is affected by them, too.”

Lana was pleasantly surprised to hear the note of concern in Jonathan’s voice. She knew that he loathed Lionel and mistrusted Lex, or at least had mistrusted him. She knew that the hostility had upset Clark, because he considered Lex his best friend, though he diplomatically kept that to himself around Pete. Chloe vacillated between mistrust and acceptance, her journalistic instincts always seeking ulterior motives, and Luthors always had those, according to her.

Lana liked Lex and knew that he was good for Clark in ways she never could be, just as Chloe was better for her than Clark had been.

It all works out.

“We’ll keep an eye on them, Mr. Kent,” Chloe promised.

& & & & & &
Lex sat by Clark’s bed, anxiously keeping vigil. He was greatly relieved that both he and Clark had managed to break out from whatever spell they had been under. He shivered at the memory of the baying hounds and the flickering torches.

Like Frankenstein’s Monster being hunted down by the pitchfork-wielding villagers.

His heart constricted. He knew that Clark was afraid of being found out as a meteor freak, but Lex would protect him with everything he had, and he had a lot.

He brushed back a wayward strand of hair off Clark’s forehead. The tenderness he felt scared him. He had never felt this way before. His fingers ghosted over Clark’s lips.

“We’ll always be together, Clark.”

He drew his hand away as footsteps sounded on the stairs and Martha came into the bedroom.

“Come on downstairs, Lex. You need something to eat, and then you’ll be spending the night in the spare room.”

“Mrs. Kent, I…”

“No backtalk, young man.” Martha smiled. “Clark will sleep. Come with me.”

Lex took one last look at Clark and rose from his chair, following Martha out.

Downstairs he was plied with hot vegetable soup and a mug of hot chocolate. He described his strange experience to Chloe and Lana, who were now sitting at the kitchen table along with the Kents.

In the warmth of the kitchen, surrounded by love and concern, Lex had to admit that he was glad he was not returning to the cold, empty castle tonight.

After Chloe and Lana left, Lex spent some time talking things over with Martha and Jonathan before sitting with Clark until Martha packed him off to the spare room, handing him a borrowed set of Clark’s pajamas.

Lex put on the bright blue pajamas, shivering as the cotton slid along his skin. Clark had worn these pajamas.

Shaking his head over his mooning, Lex climbed into bed and pulled up the covers, including a beautiful quilt handmade by Jonathan’s mother. Relaxing, he fell asleep and dreamed of fields of lilacs.

(Click to enlarge)

Chapter Text

(Click to enlarge)

XVIII

QUILTS

"Friends are life’s gold."


Sarah Jean O’Reilly
1906 C.E.

October 12, 2002

The first thing that Clark was aware of was that he was tired.

No, make that exhausted.

He could hear the cows lowing and his mother downstairs in the kitchen making breakfast. He opened his eyes and saw his room. Frowning, he wondered why he felt so drained.

Suddenly, memories flooded him and his heart constricted in pain.

Lex!

He jumped out of bed and frantically ran out to the hall, ready to yell for his parents when he noticed the spare room door was closed. Heart pounding, he quietly opened the door and saw Lex burrowed under the quilt. He felt light-headed with relief.

As he began to close the door, Lex stirred. “Clark?” he mumbled.

“Yes, Lex?”

Lex propped himself up on his elbows. “What are you doing out of bed?”

“I woke up and remembered.”

“Ah, yes. A crazy night.”

Clark chuckled. “A little.” He clutched the doorframe.

Lex was immediately out of bed and by Clark’s side. “Get back to bed.”

“I’m fine.” Clark smiled but it was not convincing. Lex firmly escorted Clark back across the hall.

“Back to bed.”

“Really, Lex, I’m fine. I’m hungry,” Clark whined.

Lex smirked. “All right, let’s get down to breakfast.”

Lex grabbed a robe from the spare room closet, and Clark put on his own robe. He leaned on Lex as they went down the stairs, glad for the support.

Martha looked up from the waffle iron. “Clark! Are you all right?”

“Just a little tired, Mom.”

“Come sit down. Once you eat, you’ll feel better.” Martha poured batter into her waffle iron. “How are you feeling, Lex?”

“Fine, thank you, Mrs. Kent.”

Lex helped Clark to sit, taking a chair himself. Martha poured glasses of cranberry juice and started another set of waffles.

Jonathan came in from the barn. “I see breakfast is almost ready. How are you, Clark?”

“Better, Dad.”

“Good.” Jonathan washed his hands at the sink and took a seat.

Martha served everyone their waffles and took her own seat. A pitcher of Vermont maple syrup and a bowl of strawberries were passed around the table. Everyone enjoyed breakfast, and Clark felt happy. He was with the people he loved most in this world.

As breakfast began to wind down, Jonathan finished his juice and got up to pour himself a fresh cup of coffee. “What do we do now?”

No one had to ask what he was talking about. Clark sighed.

“I guess just live our lives as usual while taking precautions just as we do when there’s a meteor mutant running around.”

“I agree,” said Martha. “So, Lex, you’ll move in here for now.”

Startled, Clark and Lex looked at her with wide eyes.

“That’s a generous offer, Mrs. Kent, but I’m fine, really.”

Martha shook her head. “Whatever this phenomenon is, it’s targeted you, too.”

“But that wouldn’t be living our lives as usual.”

Clark had the feeling that Lex was thinking, I can just imagine what Dad would say, abandoning the mansion to hide out on the Kent farm.

He had to admit that Lex had a point. Lionel was of the ‘tough guy school’, and had bludgeoned his son with the necessity of not showing weakness, though Clark knew that it was not weak to ask for help from friends.

“Besides, what would I tell my staff? It’s not a long distance from here to the mansion, so I can’t say I’m stuck here.”

Martha looked thoughtful. “Tell them you’re going to Metropolis for awhile and you’re giving them the time off. Then just stay here, or at least until Halloween is over. I have a feeling that after that, things will settle down.”

Lex still looked dubious but Clark smiled. “Come on, Lex, it’s a good idea.” He put a hand on his friend’s arm and squeezed.

Lex looked at Clark. “All right.” He finished his juice. “I’ll go right home and pack. The staff is mostly off on Sunday, anyway. I’ll have Jenson call them and tell them they’ve got until the Monday after Halloween, with pay, of course.”

“Excellent,” Martha said. “The spare room is yours until this is resolved.”

Lex stood. “I won’t be long.”

“I’ll go with you,” Clark said, starting to get up, stopped by Lex’s hand on his arm.

“I think it’s better if I go alone. You with me would negate my Metropolis excuse.”

Clark blushed. “Of course. It’s just that…be careful, okay?”

Lex smiled. “Okay.” He left the kitchen through the back door, and the roar of the Porsche’s powerful engine could be heard seconds later, courtesy of Chloe and Lana, who had driven the car over last night.

“Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad.”

Martha and Jonathan smiled. Jonathan stood. “Well, let’s get ready for church.”

& & & & & &

When Lex returned, suitcase and laptop in hand, he saw the Kents off.

“See you when we get back,” Clark said, and hurried out to join his parents in the truck, and they rattled down the driveway.

Lex unpacked in the spare room and wandered over to Clark’s room, noting the Smallville Crows and Metropolis Sharks pennants on the walls. The maple dresser was neatly arranged with a blue comb and brush, a bottle of spray cologne, a gold-framed photograph of Clark and his parents, and one of him and Lex.

Lex touched the photograph’s frame. He had not noticed it before, but he had been too focused on Clark to notice his surroundings.

He looked around the room, a handmade quilt neatly folded at the end of the bed, made by Martha, a hooked rug on the hardwood floor, the red-yellow-and-blue colors matching the quilt, the rocking chair that he had sat in while holding vigil tucked away in the corner.

He looked at the bed and smiled, touching the blanket. He wandered over to the window, seeing the view that Clark had known his whole life.

He was going to enjoy his time here.


XIX


SUNDAY DINNER


Sunday is the day for best,
Sunday is the day for rest,
Put down your cares and strife,
Time to kick back and enjoy life.


Marion Jones
"Sunday Dinner"
1919 C.E.


October 12, 2002

When the Kents returned from church, they found Lex busy working on his laptop as he sat on the couch in the living room.

“All settled in, Lex?” asked Martha as she took off her coat.

“Yes, ma’am.”

Jonathan put the Sunday paper on the coffee table. “I know you probably read newspapers on-line, but you’re welcome to share the paper.”

“Thank you, sir.”

The Kents went upstairs to change out of their Sunday best. Martha was first down, going into the kitchen.

“Do you need help, Mrs. Kent?”

“No, thank you, dear. Jonathan will help me.”

Clark was down next, dressed in a red flannel shirt and blue jeans. He took the sports and opinion sections of the paper and sat next to Lex.

“The Daily Planet puts out a thick Sunday edition,” observed Lex.

“Yeah. Generally we don’t have much time to read the paper during the week, but we have more time on Sunday.”

Jonathan came down the stairs and went into the kitchen. Soon the delicious smells of roast beef, potatoes, and carrots filled the house.

“You don’t have K.P.?” Lex asked in amusement.

“Usually, but I’ll do clean-up today.”

“I’ll help.”

“You’re a guest.”

“I still want to help.”

Clark smiled. “Okay.”

As dinner cooked, Jonathan came in to read, Martha taking sections of the paper and going back into the kitchen. Clark set the dining room table and returned to his place on the couch. Lex closed his laptop and deliberately bypassed the financial section, choosing the comics instead. Clark smiled as he saw the Warrior Angel strip read first.

Dinner was delicious, the roast beef incredibly tender, and Lex enjoyed eating in the dining room. He helped Clark clean up and did his share of the chores, changing his Italian loafers to sneakers when he helped muck out the stalls in the barn.

He settled back on the couch with Clark to watch the football game on TV with Jonathan and Martha, and as the afternoon waned, Jonathan started a fire in the fireplace and Martha brought in popcorn and Diet Coke, and Lex realized that he had never known such peace.

He was able to enjoy conversations with Clark and his parents, not forced to be constantly on guard, or constantly belittled. He could enjoy reading the Sunday papers, eat Sunday dinner, and watch a football game without hidden agendas or wondering if every room in the house was bugged or not.

Lex knew that quiet Sundays were not what he needed every week, but it was what he needed right now.

He daydreamed of invitations to Sunday dinners with his beautiful young lover, though he was getting way ahead of himself.

Still, it was the visionary men who got what they wanted in this life.

He felt pleasantly tired when the Kents retired, and he and Clark cleaned up.

“How’d you like your quiet Sunday?” Clark asked with a smile as they washed out the glasses and popcorn bowls.

“I liked it fine.” Lex glanced up the stairs and then leaned in and kissed Clark, whose eyes sparkled as he returned the kiss.

They went upstairs together, Lex squeezing Clark’s hand as they parted ways in the hall.

As Lex closed the spare room door behind him, he only regretted that Clark was not joining him.


XX


LIFE ON THE FARM


Life on the farm
Does you no harm.
Like the corn and the hay
You will make your way.


Roger Good
"The American Way Of Life"
1886 C.E.


October 12, 2002

“Aunt Nell, where are those journals we talked about the other day?”

Nell called from the kitchen, “The family journals?”

“Yes.”

“Up in the attic.”

“Thanks.”

Lana went up to the attic, coughing as she brushed cobwebs aside. The attic was filled with boxes, bags, a steamer trunk, a dressmaker’s dummy, and a full-length mirror. She had fond memories of standing in front of that mirror and wearing the old clothes from the trunk as a little girl.

She bypassed the trunk for the box labeled Journals in a neat handwriting. She picked it up and brought it down to her room.

& & & & & &

October 15, 2002

Lex made his final offer, hitting ‘Send’ and stretching his arms over his head. He was sitting on the tattered couch in the loft, legs stretched out to rest, and Clark was at his desk, books scattered around as he worked on his history paper.

“You sure you don’t want to use my laptop?”

“Thanks, Lex, but I like to work things out on paper first. It’ll take you up on that offer, though, when I’m ready to type.”

“You sure you don’t want me to get you a new one?”

“I’d love it, but you know I can’t accept it.”

Lex sighed. “Country morality.”

“When we get engaged, you can give it to me as a wedding present,” Clark joked.

Lex laughed but was excited by the thought.

A shame that we’ll never see gay marriage in our lifetimes.

He was getting used to the routine of staying at the Kent farm. Clark and Jonathan milked the cows in the morning and Martha prepared breakfast. Lex helped out Clark and his father and mucked out stalls during the day in between doing his work on the laptop. He joined Clark to help with his chores when the teenager got home from school.

The Kents lived quiet but happy lives, and though Lex was not cut out to be a farmer, he would have been happy living here while still running the plant and, ultimately, LuthorCorp.

Though I’m sure dear old Dad would bust a gut laughing at my bucolic fantasy.

“So, are you interested?”

“Hmm?”

“Leeex,” Clark whined. “I was talking to you.”

Lex smiled. “Sorry. What were you talking about?”

“After the kids trick-or-treat, we’re gong to Lana’s party. Well, her Aunt Nell’s, but it’s Lana’s, too.”

“Oh, yes. Lana did invite me last week.”

“You’re going, aren’t you?” Clark’s expression was hopeful.

“Of course.”

Clark’s smile was worth anything. “You’ll have to get a costume.”

“We could go as Alexander and Hephaestion,” Lex smirked.

Clark blushed. He looked down at his paper. “I know! We could go as Cal and Jaz!”

“No one would know who they are.”

“We would. Otherwise we could be generic Victorian gentlemen.”

Lex rubbed his chin. “That’s a thought.”

Clark’s smile grew brighter. He rose and walked over to the couch, leaning down to kiss Lex. Lex cupped his face after they parted.

Footsteps sounded downstairs. “Boys! Supper!” called Martha.

Still looking into Lex’s eyes, Clark answered, “Coming, Mom!”

Lex smiled and pulled Clark down for another kiss.

Out in the cornfields, a glow shimmered in the night.


XXI


THE PAST IS PROLOGUE


"Digging into the past is archeology for the mind."


Elba Quinn
"Historical Research Methods"
1961 C.E.


October 20, 2002

“Clark.”

“Yes, Mr. Atterby?”

The rest of the students filed out of the classroom, intent on catching the school bus or getting into their cars to get to afterschool jobs or go out with friends or head home. Clark walked home, so had no bus to catch.

“How’s your term paper coming along?” Malcolm Atterby was graying at the temples, his brown hair still thick and wavy. Quite a few girls (and a few boys) had a crush on him, and he rubbed one broad shoulder, trying to ease tightness after a day of teaching.

“Pretty well, sir. I have five pages written and will have five more by next week.”

“Good, good.” Malcolm absently patted his pockets as if looking for his pipe, though he was not allowed to smoke on school grounds. “You have your topic and an outline, and do you have a conclusion?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve focused on my ancestor’s journal as my primary source and am contrasting it to secondary sources about the Underground Railroad.”

“Very ambitious, Clark.” Malcolm riffled through some papers on his desk. “You’re one of my best students. I expect you’ll impress me with this paper, but if you need help, just ask. That’s what I’m here for.”

“Yes, sir.” Clark hefted his books. “Um, Mr. Atterby, do you know if the cause of the Stone Hill fire was ever discovered?”

“Stone Hill?” Malcolm found his pipe and the rich smell of tobacco tickled Clark’s nose. “I don’t know off-hand. You should check at the library. Evelyn Kendall is a fount of information. She’s very good at her job. And I can check at the Historical Society, easy for me since I’m a member.”

“I will, sir. Thank you!” Clark left the classroom, going to a phone in the hall to call home about his intent to visit the library.

& & & & & &

Evelyn Kendall liked her job. It was not the most exciting career in the world, but she made a decent living and was able to indulge her love of history as part of her work. She also could research under the guise of work for her romance novels. Little did the populace of Smallville know that their proper, middle-aged librarian wrote steamy romances on the side.

Guess my years of writing fanfic finally paid off.

She saw Clark Kent enter the library. She was glad to see him. He was a beautiful young man with his green eyes and glossy black hair, and polite to boot.

She knew that he was friends with Lex Luthor, who had just made a sizeable donation to the library with the note, In special recognition of the services of Ms. Evelyn Kendall, which puzzled her. She could not recall seeing Lex in here for quite some time. Well, she would not turn away a donation, and neither would the director.

Clark came over to the Reference Desk. “Ms. Kendall, do you know anything about Stone Hill?”

“Stone Hill? Hmm, I do know that the house up there burned down in the 1850s.”

“Do you know the cause of the fire?”

“Let’s see.”

Evelyn went to the map cabinet and pulled out a drawer containing a large book with gold edges, the title stamped in gold on the cover: A History Of Smallville, Kansas, 1836-1906 by Hezekial Henson. She carefully opened the leatherbound volume and consulted the table of contents. She turned to the page.

“Hmm, this is odd. Hansen writes about the fire but the details are very sketchy. Apparently the Stone family declined to move here after their house burned down.”

“Did it say what happened to their son, Jasper Stone? He was here in Smallville, supervising the construction of a new house.”

Evelyn looked over the old-fashioned type. “I don’t see a mention of Jasper Stone. He must have returned to Boston.”

“I guess so.” Clark looked uneasy.

“Why so interested in Jasper Stone?” She replaced the drawer in the cabinet.

“He was mentioned in Calvin Kent’s journal.”

“I see. Well, there are some old newspapers on microfiche. We don’t have the budget to scan them onto the computer yet.”

“I’ve used microfiche before.” Clark smiled.

“All right, I’ll get you the spools.”

& & & & & &

Clark sat at one of the microfiche machines and threaded the spool in once Evelyn had given it to him. He started clicking through the film, reading The Smallville Gazette from October of 1856. He quickly paged to the October 31st edition, but of course there would be no report of the fire. He checked the November 1st edition.

Yes! There it is.

& & & & & &

FIRE DESTROYS STONE HOUSE ON HALLOWE’EN

The house on Stone Hill burned down last night in a terrible conflagration. Witnesses reported seeing the glow for miles around.

Very little of the house was left. The chimney still stands, though not untouched.

Sheriff Carstairs is investigating the cause of the fire.

& & & & & &

Clark looked for more articles but there was nothing further in this issue or in the following issues. Frustrated, he scanned at super-speed, noting stories about Ezra Perkins’ new church building planned for the spring of 1857, and Eben Kent resigning the presidency of the local Grange on November 10, 1856.

Discouraged, Clark packed away the spools and returned them to Evelyn.

“Find what you were looking for?” she asked.

“No, but thanks for your help.”

Clark left the library, leaves rustling as the wind blew. He began walking home, feeling sadder by the minute.

He found himself at the entrance to the town cemetery, blinking as he looked at the iron gates. He touched them and they opened with a rusty squeak, Clark passing into the grounds.

He walked through the grounds, passing the headstones, walking to the oldest section of the cemetery. The moonlight shimmered on the stones, tree branches bowing gently in the wind, sighing softly as Clark shivered, still dazed. He stopped in front of a weathered headstone, the names and dates barely legible. He knelt to get a better look and read,

& & & & & &


EBEN KENT 1816-1865


SARAH KENT, BELOVED WIFE AND MOTHER, 1818-1918


CALVIN KENT, BELOVED SON, 1838-

& & & & & &

Where was the date of death for Cal?

Tears began to run down Clark’s face as the wind picked up, leaves swirling madly around his shuddering body.


XXII


BOSTON CREAM PIE


"Boston lives and breathes history."


Sarah Hancock Adams
"A History Of Boston, 1620-1906"
1906 C.E.


October 25, 2002

“Can you take me to Boston?”

Lex looked up at his friend standing in the doorway of the spare room as he rubbed the sleep out of his eyes.

“Sure.”

& & & & & &

Clark was pensive as Lex drove them to Metropolis, going straight to the airport once they had gotten permission from the Kents to take this little trip. They had remained mostly silent on the two-hour drive, and Lex decided to wait until Clark was ready to speak.

They flew comfortably in Lex’s private jet, and reached Boston’s Logan Airport by late morning. They disembarked into the chaos of a major airport and decided to take the shuttle into the city, carrying nothing but their wallets. They had brought light traveling bags in case they stayed over, but Clark seemed to be on a mission. Lex followed him through the narrow streets.

Boston was a smaller city than Metropolis or New York. The past was strong here, but not as dark as in Gotham. Its new buildings did not gleam like the City of Tomorrow’s, but were still modern and up-and-coming.

As they walked on brick sidewalks, Lex noticed the brilliant color of the trees and the bright blue sky. The air was crisp, prompting people to walk briskly. It was a perfect New England autumn day, but Clark did not seem to notice.

They reached Tremont Street and the entrance to the Granary Burial Ground. Clark walked right in with Lex following him. As he followed Clark he noticed how old the headstones were, weatherbeaten granite nearly unreadable by now as the dates went back to the 17th and 18th centuries.

He noticed the names of John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Thomas Paine and Paul Revere. This was the cream of the Revolutionary crop.

Clark went to an impressive headstone, which was a marker, tall and etched with many names. The monument was topped by a serene angel, gazing down at Lex and Clark.

Clark swiftly read the names, his fingers reaching out to touch a name. “See, here, the name of Jasper Stone’s father, and here, of his mother.”

“Yes?”

“So here’s Jaz’s name, but with no date of death.”

“He was buried somewhere else then.”

“I suppose they wouldn’t put the death date here if he was buried somewhere else.”

“Probably in Smallville.”

Clark shook his head. “No. And it’s the same on the Kent headstone. No death date for Cal.”

“Maybe they took that Grand Tour and stayed in Europe.”

“Maybe.” Clark stared at the marker. Suddenly he shook his head. “No, something’s not right.”

Lex gently laid a hand on Clark’s arm. “Where do you want to go next?”

Clark looked at him. “The Boston Athenaeum.” He pointed. “It’s right here.”

On their way to the entrance, Clark explained that the information he wanted on the Stone family was located in the Athenaeum archives.

“I called ahead and they assured me that I could see it.”

“Oh? I thought the Athenaeum restricted access to its collection to scholars.”

“Well, Ms. Kendall knows the director.”

“Ah.”

The Boston Athenaeum was a venerable building of Patterson sandstone in a unique style; Lex could immediately feel the quiet elegance of the place with its 17th-century paintings, some by John Singleton Copley, and the marble busts of Greek philosophers and playwrights lining the halls.

A silver-haired gentleman of fifty or so appeared, dressed immaculately in a dark suit with a pearl-gray silk tie. Lex approved of the man’s style.

“Clark Kent, Mr. Bradelton.” Clark held out his hand and Ken Bradelton shook it. “This is Lex Luthor.”

Bradelton never missed a beat as he shook Lex’s hand, another point in his favor. “This way, gentlemen,” he said, turning to walk down the green-carpeted hall.

Lex was equally impressed by the understate elegance of the Athenaeum. He guessed that the organization had been put together in the 19th century. It had been a ‘thing to do’, as High Society would always say. Scholarly High Society had practically been invented in Boston.

In a large, airy room with a floor-length window, Bradelton went to the stacks and pulled out a large leatherbound volume.

“This is the Stone family history. I hope you find what you’re looking for.”

“Thank you, Mr. Bradelton.”

Clark sat at the long table and Lex joined him as the director left the room, saying that if they needed him, he would be downstairs.

Clark had become an expert on handling old books, carefully turning the pages.

“What do you hope to find, Clark?”

“Something about Jaz. I’d really like to know what happened to him.”

Lex had to admit that he was curious, too. Once he had read about how Cal and Jaz had first met, he had been even more intrigued by the duo.

Clark paused, looking a little pale.

“What is it?”

“It says that Jasper Stone disappeared in Smallville.”

A flutter went through Lex. “When?”

“October 31, 1856.”

They both looked at each other with wide eyes.

It was the date of the last entry by Cal Kent in his journal.

& & & & & &

Clark looked around the restaurant with interest. The Omni Parker House was the oldest continuously-operated restaurant in the United States, established in 1855. Boston cream pie had first been whipped up here, and Parker House rolls were famous.

“Thanks for bringing me here, Lex. It’s really nice.”

“You’re welcome, Clark.” The quiet elegance of the place had always pleased Lex, from the gold-rimmed white bone china to the butter-gold flocked wallpaper. The service was efficient and discreet, just the way he liked it. “Order whatever you like.”

Clark smiled and studied the menu. Lex could tell that something was off with his friend.

The waiter came by and they ordered, Clark requesting roast chicken, snow peas, and red bliss smashed potatoes, and Lex ordered sirloin steak, baked potato with chives and sour cream, and a julienned vegetable medley.

After the waiter left, Lex sipped his icewater, appreciating the added slice of fresh lemon.

“What is it, Clark?”

The younger man sighed. “There’s just something odd about all this. Jaz disappears in Smallville? There were no meteor mutants back then. It just sounds fishy, especially when no one in town knows about it.”

“It’s not that surprising. Most people don’t know their local history.”

Clark smiled wryly. “You don’t know Smallville that well yet. Everybody knows everything, not only about everybody in the here-and-now, but for generations past. This Jasper Stone disappearance should be local legend.”

“Do you suppose he was killed in the fire?”

The waiter brought a basket of warm Parker House rolls. Lex took one and passed the basket to Clark.

“I doubt it. Even without advanced forensics they would have been able to tell if there was a body in the ashes.”

Lex nodded as Clark took a roll and split it open, applying creamy butter from a small dish.

“Do you think Cal Kent met the same fate?”

Clark was about to bite into his roll and paused. “I think so.” He took a bite. .”Wow, these are really good!”

Lex enjoyed the meal, happy to spoil his friend. Clark’s legendary appetite did justice to the food, and Lex dreamed of the day when he could spoil this beautiful young man every day.

The light from the window backlit Clark, and he was like an angel in a painting by an Old Master, pure and ethereal, though Lex was fully aware of Clark’s humanity.

When Clark declared that he was going to have the Boston cream pie, Lex laughed in sheer joy.


XXIII


"TRICK-OR-TREAT!"


Tiny feet
Scurrying along,
Whispers and giggles
Coming up the drive.


‘Tis the night
Of trick-or-treat!


Jeannette O’Reilly
"Modern American Holidays"
1959 C.E.


October 31, 2002

Halloween came to Smallville as it always did, with a last burst of color and a hint of snow in the air. The children of Smallville were excited as they went to school in costume and chattered about the candy they would get tonight. The adults put the finishing touches on their own costumes to accompany the children trick-or-treating and to attend Nell Potter’s party.

Lex packed his suitcase and went back to the mansion, since he planned to attend the party with the Kents. He had to show his face at the mansion even though he had called Jenson and told him the staff should return on Monday.

Once there, he unpacked his suitcase and made some business calls. He was taking his costume back to the farm and was staying overnight, figuring that it would be all right for one night instead of staying at an empty mansion. He had left a travel bag with pajamas and a change of clothes back at the farm, and a few other essentials like cologne. He kept the toothbrush the Kents had given him.

His footsteps echoed on the stone floor as he walked to the library. It was almost eerily quiet.

He went over to his desk and was just about to start working on his laptop when the phone rang.

“Hello?”

“Hello, son. Happy Halloween.”

Lex stifled a sigh. The arch, ironic tone was recognizable even in his sleep. “Hello, Dad. Same to you. How was Europe?”

“Dazzling, as usual. I hear you’ve been in Metropolis.”

“Actually, I haven’t.”

“Oh?”

“I had a sweet deal going on and just told people that’s where I was going.”

A pause, then Lionel said, “I like it.”

Lex smirked. Of course his father would approve of duplicity.

“So were are you now?”

“The penthouse. I’ll need to discuss the latest merger with you.”

“Fine, but I can’t talk long. I have to take part in smalltown revelry.”

Amusement laced Lionel’s voice. “Good to keep in good with the locals, son.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

They discussed business for the next hour, then Lionel said, “Well, have fun bobbing for apples tonight.”

“Right. See you later.”

Lex was grateful to be able to hang up. There were days when sparring with his father was stimulating, and other days when it was exhausting.

Today it was just annoying.

He had things to do! Smiling, he got to work.

& & & & & &

“Aren’t you pretty?” Clark asked, dropping candy into the bag of a fairy princess. She squealed happily and her older sister laughed.

“That’s a really clever Witch costume,” Clark said with a smile to the older girl.

“Thanks. The hat is traditional but the jewelry comes from my mom.” Bracelets clacked as she held out her bag. Clark cropped Hersey miniatures into it. “Thanks, Clark!”

“You bet, Jen.”

The Princess and the Witch scurried down the driveway.

Lex watched the ritual with interest. He had never taken part as a child or given away treats as an adult.

“Next groups is yours,” Clark said with a smile as he closed the door.

All the Jack O’Lanterns in the windows and on the porch were lot by candles, their light flickering eerily, and the pumpkin lights were all lit.

“Oh? Don’t think I can handle a bunch of trick-or-treaters?”

Clark laughed. “I’m sure you can handle anything you set your mind to.”

Warmed by Clark’s faith, Lex answered the doorbell. “Well, what have we here? The Gray Ghost and Warrior Angel!” Delighted, Lex answered the chorus of “Trick-or-treat!” with candy.

“Thanks, Mister!” the children chorused and ran down the driveway.

“You’re a natural,” Clark teased.

Lex smirked and popped a small Milky War bar into his mouth.

After the last of the trick-or-treaters, Clark and Lex changed into costume. They came downstairs together, Clark in a simple brown Victorian suit, and Lex’s a more expensive suit with a fake diamond stickpin on his pearl-gray cravat. He could have substituted a real one for the fake that had come with the costume, but decided to keep the fake.

Both men wore vests, Clarks a light gold and Lex’s a pale blue to complement his black coat and pants.

“You look fine,” Lex said, reaching out to adjust Clark’s tie.

“Thanks, Lex.” Clark grinned. “So do you.”

“You boys look wonderful,” said Martha as she descended the stairs in her dark-green dress with a hoopskirt. Her red hair was done up in ringlets with a green velvet bow.

“Thanks, Mom.”

“You make a very lovely Sarah Kent, Mrs. Kent.”

“Oh, Lex, you are a flatterer.”

Jonathan appeared next in a suit similar to Clark’s. “Looks like we make a fine Victorian family.”

“So we do, Eben, so we do,” said Martha.

“C’mon, Sarah, let’s hitch up the wagon.”

“Oh, it’ll do quite nicely,” said Martha.

After checking to see that all the candles were extinguished and the lights turned off, the Kents and Lex left for the party.


XXIV


COLD CUTS AND COLD WINDS


When the wind blows,
The heart knows.


Cecilia Simmons
"Rose-Scented
(Romance Poetry)"
1899 C.E.


October 31, 2002

The Potter house was decked out with grinning Jack O’Lanterns, pumpkin lights, Witch and ghost cut-outs, fake cobwebs, and a genuine black cat that was curled up on the front porch railing.

Music played and the guests mingled. The Kents and Lex had donned domino masks in the car.

“Welcome!” said Nell, dressed in a Roaring Twenties flapper outfit, complete with a long string of pearls and beaded headband.

“Thank you for the invitation, m’lady,” Jonathan said with a sweep of his hat.

Nell giggled and swept her arm out in a matching gesture. “The buffet’s over there.” She did an impromptu cha-cha step. “Enjoy!”

The Kents and Lex headed over to the buffet table, approving the delicious array of food: assorted cold cuts and three kinds of rolls; wheat and onion and pumpernickel; finger rolls of turkey, egg salad, and tuna, Swedish meatballs, eggplant, pickled beets, potato salad, pasta salad, tomatoes, cucumbers, dill pickles, pumpkin bread and muffins, cranberry bread and muffins, and pumpkin pie. Coffee and soft drinks were available, and Clark sighed happily.

“Looks great,” said Lex, fondly regarding his young friend, whose appetite was legendary. He chose to make a turkey sandwich with mustard, and pickled beets and dill pickles on the side. While Martha and Jonathan filled their plates, Clark eyed the buffet and began loading up: eggplant, pasta salad, turkey and tuna rolls, tomatoes, cucumbers and a cranberry muffin. He and Lex picked up a Sprite and ginger ale and took seats on the couch.

People-watching was a skill that Lex had cultivated at an early age, and he used it to good advantage. Clark was doing the same thing as he ate with relish. Families with excited children arrived, the kids comparing their hauls of candy. The guest list was composed of those families, the elderly, the single folks, and teenagers. Nell always managed to get the generations together.

A slender Witch in traditional pointed hat and dress sauntered over, her hazel eyes sparkling through the holes in her black domino mask.

“Hello, boys. Enjoying the party?”

“Yes, Lana,” Clark grinned

Lex carefully watched Clark’s reaction to his old crush, but he seemed to just regard her as a friend.

“I was reading my old family journals and came upon mention of your ancestor, Clark.”

“Oh?”

Lana nodded. “Apparently Calvin Kent disappeared on Halloween of 1856. His friend Jasper Stone did, too.”

Lex suppressed a shiver. He asked, “So did they ever find out what happened to them?” He could feel Clark tense beside him.

She shook her head, her hat nearly falling off. “Well, enjoy the party, guys. I have to go help Aunt Nell.”

Clark chewed his cranberry muffin thoughtfully. “Something happened that Halloween and Stone Hill holds the answers.”

Lex sipped his Sprite and had to agree.

& & & & & &

Lex discovered that he was accepted as a citizen of Smallville as he mingled, people passing along tidbits of gossip and asking his opinion about town-related matters. He knew that he could be here twenty years and would never truly be a native, but the level of acceptance he was getting pleased him.

He heard snatches of conversation as he made a circuit of the room.

“An awful wailing…”

“Maisie Wilkes says that the fair will be bigger this year.”

“I saw a glow in the cornfield last night.”

“The temperature dropped about twenty degrees in ten minutes!”

“I think it’ll rain.”

Lex ended up by a window, a Jack O’Lantern on the sill, its candle flickering.

Suddenly he felt a cold gust of air, even through the closed window, and the Jack O’Lantern’s flame guttered, nearly winking out.

& & & & & &

Across the room, Clark talked with Chloe and Pete.

“Boy, I’m glad this is our bye week,” Pete said. “It would bum me out to miss Halloween.”

Chloe grinned. She was dressed in a Morticia Addams outfit, complete with long, black wig.

“I ran into the Reverend Shanley today,” Pete said as he balanced his plate of food.

“Oh, great. I suppose he’s running the fundie House of Horrors tonight,” Chloe grumbled.

Clark shuddered. “Those houses are awful, saying that people who have sex outside of marriage and abortions are going to hell.”

“Don’t forget gays getting AIDS,” Pete added.

“How can people bring their children to such a place, showing all that blood and brimstone?” Clark asked, feeling upset.

Chloe sighed. “People who are into extremist religions don’t think rationally. They think that they’re saving the kids’ souls.”

“Traumatizing them is more like it,” Pete said in disgust.

“I had an encounter with the reverend last night,” Clark said.

& & & & & &

October 30, 2002

Clark stood in front of the cemetery gates, fingers curling around the iron gates. It was growing dark as he debated whether or not to go in.

“Clark Kent.”

Clark startled, wondering how his senses had not detected the preacher’s approach. The sibilant whisper unnerved him, along with the wild brown eyes staring at him with a messianic light.

Roger Shanley was a tall, thin man with a permanent stoop. His shaggy brown hair was wild, and his brown suit was rumpled.

“Are you planning to celebrate the devil’s holiday, boy?”

“I don’t celebrate any devil’s holiday, Reverend.”

“You do by celebrating cursed Halloween! You and this supposed God-fearing town! It’s a Pagan thing!”

Clark backed away, the reverend following him. Clark fought down rising panic. This man unnerved him.

“Come with me! Come to Hell House and scare the children into righteousness and save their souls!”

& & & & & &

“Man, that’s creepy,” Pete shuddered.

“The creepiest,” Clark agreed.

He finished his muffin and went back to the buffet table. As he stood by the window, he felt a cold draft. Numbed, the room began to gray out as he smelled lilacs just before he blacked out.

& & & & & &

“Clark! Clark!”

Clark blinked. “Lex?”

“Yeah, where were you? You were staring off into space.”

Clark looked around with a wan grin at the Lang living room. No one had noticed his lapse.

“Sorry.”

“Can you come to the mansion with me? I got a call from my Security Chief that there’s been some vandalism.”

“Sure.”

“Great. We can come back for your parents but I need to take care of this.”

Lex drove them back to the mansion and they headed for the house when Clark said, “Look! The glow!” They ran to the gardens but everything was normal. The kissing statues were just part of the scenery by now.

Clark shook his head as he and Lex stood by the statues. “I guess I was seeing things.”

“Well, considering everything lately…”

A flash of light surrounded the statues and enveloped Clark and Lex. When it winked out, only the statues remained.

& & & & & &

Clark looked up at the sky. He was lying on his back in the road, Lex beside him.

“Lex?” He reached over and was hugely relieved to find a pulse. Lex groaned as he came to awareness.

“Where are we?”

“Somewhere on Standish Road.” Clark frowned. It was quiet. Too quiet. His super-hearing detected no cars on the distant highway. Looking up, he saw stars in the clear night sky looking more brilliant than ever. “The 9:06 is late,” he mumbled.

“What?” Lex asked, brushing off his pants.

“The Metropolis-to-Gotham flight is always at 9:06. It’s 9:15. There are no planes in the sky.”

Anywhere, he realized, his hearing picking up no sounds of planes for miles around.

He suddenly felt dizzy and slumped into unconsciousness as Lex hurriedly grasped his arms while frantically calling his name.


XXV


STING OF THE WHIP


The smell of blood
And whistle of the whip
Means the mob rules
In hateful joy.


Sam Cullen
"A Slave’s Journey"
1866 C.E.


October 31,…

Pain.

Clark could feel it radiate down his back in waves, his shoulders aching as his eyes slowly opened.

Torchlights shimmered and blurred along with jeering faces. Confused, for a moment Clark wondered if he was strung up on the scarecrow pole again in Miller’s cornfield.

The whip whistled through the air as it struck Clark’s back and his body jerked, his flesh tearing as he bit back a scream. He was spread-eagled between two poles, rough rope jabbing at his wrists and ankles. A burly man held the leash of a pack of hounds who whimpered and growled.

“Sodomite!” thundered the voice of the whip-wielder.

“Stop it!” Lex demanded from somewhere close by.

Clark turned his head and saw a bruised Lex held by two men as he struggled to break free.

“May you burn in hell!” came the voice again.

The whip tore at him again, and Clark sagged in his bonds. His shirt was tattered by now. Where were his powers?

“Let him go!”

Lex’s cry was cut off as a fist was driven into his stomach.

“Lex!” Clark’s voice was drenched with pain, but it hurt worse to see Lex hurt. Gasping, he pleaded, “Let him go!”

“You two are so devoted to each other,” sneered a tall man in a broadcloth coat and silk breeches.

“They love each other, Jebediah,” laughed a grizzled man in homespun. “Eben and Sarah will throw you a wedding.”

Mocking laughter assaulted Clark’s ears as the whip came down harder than ever. This time he screamed, the laughter growing louder. He felt close to passing out as tiny stars danced in front of his eyes.

His wrists and ankles were untied and a surge of adrenaline allowed him to bowl over his attackers. For a moment he thought that he had his powers back but realized he was still without them. Grabbing Lex’s hand they somehow eluded the mob. Lex threw something at a small fire the villagers had built and it exploded, causing confusion as he and Clark escaped.

“What was that?” Clark asked as they pounded down the road.

“A small smoke bomb. Never leave home without it,” Lex panted. He limped and Clark noticed the bruises on his leg. His own back still burned and his chest hurt. He looked down to see lash marks there, too. How long had they been whipping him?

“Is this some kind of crazy Smallville Halloween prank?” Lex asked as they ran.

“No, but everyone was sure dressed up in costume.” Clark bit his lip. “Lex, I didn’t recognize anyone.” He suddenly stopped short, Lex pulling up.

“What is it?”

“Eben and Sarah…those were the names of Cal’s parents.”

Lex’s eyes widened as he remembered the names, too. “You said that there were no planes in the sky. And you’re right; it’s awfully quiet.” Lex took a deep breath. “We couldn’t be in…”

“…1856?” they both chorused.

Lex shook his head as if to clear it. “This is crazy, Clark! I know Smallville is weird, but time travel?”

Clark shrugged. “Is it really crazier than anything else that’s happened?”

“I suppose not.” Lex grasped his friend’s arm. “How’s your back?”

“It stings, but that’s the least of our worries.” Clark grimaced. “If this is Halloween night like it is in our time, it’s the night that Cal and Jaz disappeared.”

“I think we know why now.” Lex swallowed. “Apparently their secret was discovered for certain and the villagers took exception.”

Clark nodded gravely. “Lex…”

The sound of hounds baying cut him off. Lex squeezed his arm. “Come on! They’ll be on us soon!” A glow in the woods underscored the urgency as the mob and their torches grew closer.

“We can’t stay on the main road. Up this way!” Clark said. He headed toward the woods when a shot rang out and Lex staggered, clutching his side. Clark yelled as he grabbed his arm, “Lex! Where are you hit?”

“My…ribs.”

“Come on!”

“You’ll be slowed down staying with me.”

“If you think I’m going to leave you here, hurt and alone, then I’m insulted!”

Clark helped Lex but suddenly stumbled, cursing as he twisted his ankle. Lex helped him up and they crashed into the woods. The hounds’ baying was growing louder, and the shouts of the mob could be heard.

“It’s all right; we’ll get out of this,” Clark said.

Lex pushed away his hands. “I can walk, probably better than you.”

“Lex!”

“We go together, Clark.”

Clark looked at his companion for a moment, then nodded.

He and Lex managed to make it through the woods, grateful for the light of the moon, when Clark cried out in dismay.

“What is it?” Lex asked.

“It’s Stone Hill,” Clark moaned just before the old, familiar sadness crashed over him.


XXVI


JUSTICE NO LONGER DENIED


Time waits
For every man,
Because
In the end
It always wins.


Jericho Waters
"Eternity"
1863 C.E.


October 31, 1856

Clark did not know why he had led Lex here to Stone Hill, but he could barely think at all. He felt like he was swimming through molasses, his muscles slow and his thought processes even slower. He could see Lex was affected, too.

We cannot go through eternity separated!

The sad voice filled Clark’s mind. He clutched his head, the house on Stone Hill in all its glory, but not for long. Lilac bushes swayed gently in the breeze in the backyard.

“L…Lex,” he gasped.

Lex reached out for him just as the mob arrived, howling and out for blood. Clark saw a nimbus of light around Lex’s body, and his own skin radiated a glow. Clark felt the sadness turning to rage, and the voice in his head spewed forth, “We will not be separated again! You will not keep us apart!”

Howls of hatred filled the clearing as torches set the house afire. The flames began to eat at the wood, leaping up to consume more timbers as the mob grabbed Clark and Lex.

Lex’s eyes burned with rage. “We will not be denied! We have waited 146 years! No more!”

A scruffy-looking man in shabby clothes aimed a shotgun at Clark while Jebediah aimed one at Lex.

“No!” Clark shouted. “You will not throw us into the fire!” Lex was at his side, their shoulders brushing.

“Plug ‘em, Ezra!” yelled a portly man.

Ezra Perkins tightened his finger on the trigger. “May you burn in the fires of Gehenna, filthy sodomites!”

Sparks flew out from the house and landed on the lilac bushes, wisps of smoke curling up as the leaves began to curl and blacken. Flames leaped up high into the sky from the house as the roof crashed in.

Two shotguns discharged and the bullets passed through the two intended victims. The hounds howled and the mob recoiled, their faces contorted in terror. The flames crackled, spewing off heat as the light illuminated the mob’s fear.

Four voices thundered, “Our love will be the stuff of legends. You will not bury us like some dirty little secret!”

The mob began to run, Ezra Perkins screaming, “Stop, you ignorant bumpkins! Don’t let these demons chase you away!”

Jebediah Milbank was at the edge of the clearing, undecided whether to go or stay, when Perkins turned back to Clark and Lex and spewed, “Your evil will not be tolerated on this Devil’s Night!”

Perkins lunged at the two lovers and howled as he fell into the flames. He screamed the last of his hate as he was consumed.

Clark felt a surge of emotions as he looked at Lex. His hand reached out, and as they touched, the light between them flared.

Cal smiled. “Jaz,” he breathed softly.

Jaz smiled and he drew Cal into a kiss.

Clark could feel himself blacking out.

& & & & & &

Clark’s heart pounded as he felt cool air brush against his skin. The wind moaned through the trees and his eyes fluttered open.

He was in the castle garden, lying by the base of the statues of Alexander and Hephaestion.

Suddenly the memories came crashing down on him and he cried, “Lex!” He saw his friend next to him on the ground. He touched his shoulder. “Are you all right?” he asked fearfully.

Lex groaned as he came back to consciousness, holding his head. “Where are we?”

“In your garden.”

Lex looked at Clark, “Are you all right?”

Clark nodded, relieved that his back and chest no longer hurt. His shirt was still in tatters but there was not a mark on him. Lex seemed fine, too, even with torn pants and rumpled shirt.

“Our coats.” Clark picked up the discarded coats and Lex gratefully put his on. The night was cold, befitting Halloween. The stars twinkled in the sky, a line of light climbing high as the 10:36 flight from Metropolis to Boston cleaved the air.

They looked at each other, trying to understand what had happened. Lex glanced up and grabbed Clark’s arm. Clark looked at the statues.

They were back in their original positions except that the mere suggestion of smiles that had been sculpted were now radiant smiles.

XXVII

FINALLY, AT PEACE


At long last,


Time to rest.


Errol Atchison
"The Long Road"
1869 C.E.


November 1, 2002

Clark and Lex watched the digging as Malcolm Atterby, and some of the archeology students from Metropolis University dug in the ruins of Stone Hill.

The day after Halloween was always a little forlorn, Clark thought. The decorations looked a little ragged, the Jack O'Lanterns starting to soften, the candy already half-eaten. Thoughts would turn to Thanksgiving and Christmas, and then it would be the New Year.

The day was mellow, a perfect Saturday in November. Despite their experience of the night before, Clark had been able to contact Malcolm Atterby and get this expedition set up right away. He and Lex were not sure how long their unerring instincts would last.

Malcom leaned into the pit they had dug. "Yes"

The students crowded around while Lex smiled. "Jaz is found."

Clark nodded. "On to Miller's Pond."

Sheriff Adams took a long look. "We'll have to do some testing of these bones, but considering the location, chances are real good this is Jasper Stone." She looked at Clark. "You say Calvin Kent is in Miller's Pond?"

"Yes, ma'am."

Nancy Adams nodded. A veteran of the Smallville Police Department, she found nothing strange. After lunch the group moved to Miller's Pond. Police divers went in on Clark's directions.

"This is amazing, Clark," said Malcolm as he watched the operation beside his student. "Your research was meticulous."

"Thank you, Mr. Atterby."

Malcolm clapped a hand on Clark's shoulder. "I think you get an 'A' even before I see your paper." He moved closer to the edge of the water.

Lex smiled and bumped shoulders with Clark. They shared a smile just as a diver popped up."We've got him!"

& & & & & &

The sun was beginning to set as Clark opened the barn shutters to reveal the panoramic view. Lex was seated on the couch, a half-smile on his face. Clark came over to sit right to him.

"It was a great day," Clark said in satisfaction.

"It was." Lex grasped Clark's hand and squeezed. "Their entire story can be told now."

"That's good. The veil of mystery is lifted. What happened to them should be known."

Lex looked at Clark. "Will everything be told?"

Clark nodded slowly. He looked down at their joined hands.

"Do you think the town is ready to know everything?" Lex asked gently.

Clark looked up to meet Lex's eyes, his own eyes a deep green. "They'll have to be."

Lex pulled Clark to him, Clark resting his head on his friend's shoulder.

& & & & & &


November 22, 2002

The leaves were mostly underfoot instead of on the trees now. Clark and Lex stood in front of the Kent headstone in the Smallville cemetery, the last of the people attending the re-internment ceremony, including descendants of Jasper Stone, passing through the gates. Jonathan and Martha stopped outside the gates to wait.

"They're at peace now," Clark said softly.

Lex took his hand and squeezed it. "Yes."

They turned to leave, the newly-carved names of Calvin Kent and Jasper Stone shining in the late morning sunlight.

& & & & & &

In the Luthor castle garden, the statues of Alexander and Hephaestion glowed briefly, then all returned to normal as the last of the leaves blew through the garden, a faint scent of lilacs on the wind.




(Click to enlarge)