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Meanwhile, in Smallville...

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Clark was not having a really great day.

In fact, he was having a pretty lousy day.

He'd just gotten done with dealing with Jimmy (not his idea of a good time), and while he was relieved that Olsen had bought the whole 'Oliver-as-the-Good-Samaritan' thing, he wasn't exactly happy about it.

One, Chloe had thought it up and pulled it off, sure -- but he never would've been caught in the first place if she didn't keep insisting that he do vigilante work in the city. It was her fault that he'd gotten caught, and her fault that she wasn't keeping Jimmy out of trouble enough that he didn't have to keep getting involved and rescuing the two of them from stupid stuff like psycho wedding planners and whatnot.

Couldn't she at least distract him enough to make sure he didn't see anything suspicious when she did practically force Clark into helping out? Didn't the whole grab-them-by-the-lapels-and-kiss-them-senseless thing work on other guys, too?

Two, he was pretty sure that Davis was the serial killer. His gut had told him that, his instincts had told him that, and the evidence had all pointed to that. Yes, he'd run into Randy in that alleyway. But when he'd thought about it after the fact, after Chloe had demanded an apology for him 'being wrong about Davis,' when he'd only been going around and doing the police's job for them because she'd demanded he do it... well, he'd just gotten fed up and dug in his heels finally.

Case in point: how many times had he been right about people she liked in the past who had turned out to be psycho killers? A lot more than the other way around, that was for sure. And there was no reason to think that there might've been only one killer. Because when Clark got stubborn, and sat down, and started looking at what a court case would try to nail down as evidence, he'd realized that Randy had a couple alibis for at least one of the most brutal murders and a lot of the other disappearances. The early disappearances.

So, if Randy had come second, who had come first?

Clark scrubbed a hand over his face. He wasn't even sure if he could go to J'onn -- who was working in the police department now, because he wanted to be there to help Clark whenever he was needed for his vigilante work in the city, and was happy to pick up the slack. Unfortunately, that probably meant that Chloe and J'onn had been talking behind his back about things, so if he went to J'onn with his suspicions, Chloe would hear them, and he'd be on the end of another 'you don't trust me' lecture. Clark rolled his eyes at the thought.

Well, the heck with all of them. If trying to help him keep his secret was such a chore when he was sticking his neck out for them -- especially when he didn't want to be doing this! people didn't need him, that was what the police were for, and J'onn was already helping them out from the inside -- then maybe they could stick to their thing and he'd just stick to his.

He could do research on his own. He didn't need their help. He'd just never liked having to do it alone.

It was just easier to let Chloe do the hard thinking for him. At least when they had been agreeing on things.

Metropolis had Oliver as the Green Arrow and J'onn as... well, a phased-invisible superpowered vigilante who had been a bounty hunter for Jor-El for decades, and a Martian Manhunter long before that. He was a lot more experienced and qualified than Clark was, wouldn't get seen or caught, and just all around better at it. Heck, he'd saved Clark a handful of times already. Metropolis didn't need two superpowered vigilantes running around, and they sure didn't need one who didn't know what the heck he was doing.

To be honest, Clark knew that he hadn't even done a great job of it with the meteor-infected freaks in Smallville, let alone all the Kryptonian stuff.

--And where the heck did Chloe get off, thinking that it was safe to keep that BrainIAC stuff in her head like that! Just because the Fortress could probably(?!?) clean her out if it started getting bad was not an excuse for her to use it as much as possible before she had to have major alien-Fortress neurosurgery, or whatever.

Clark didn't trust it not to mess with his own brain (it had tried to brainwash him more than once already, and had actually pulled it off once and he wasn't about to repeat the experience anytime soon, thanks). He sure as heck didn't trust it not to mess with Chloe's. But try to tell Chloe this, and warn her about how it had killed the fake-Kara in the caves, just disintegrated her like nothing, or remind her how it had nearly tried to freeze her to death the first time it had met her?

Was it possible that the BrainIAC stuff was making her just not listen? Should he force her up there to get her brain cleaned out, anyway?

But he still didn't trust the Fortress not to mess with her and do it right. He couldn't force Chloe in good conscience unless it was really a last resort, Chloe knew that, and it burned him that she was using that to her advantage.

And he didn't even want to get started on Lana.

Or Tess Mercer. Ugh.

Or the fact that practically everybody in the league knew he was an alien now. He sure as heck hadn't told Oliver that. The only person who'd known that had been Chloe. Some secret-keeper. She kept everybody's secrets except his own.

Clark picked up the newspaper and glowered at it, and the picture of Oliver in it. "Maybe you should try a cape" my--

And that was when Lex, who'd been missing for six months, doing who-knew-what after disappearing off the face of the earth to look for new and dangerous Kryptonian artifacts to hurt, kill, and/or mindcontrol Kal-El (a.k.a. him), popped into being across the kitchen table from him.

What the--?!?


At first, Clark thought it had to be BrainIAC, with the way he'd appeared out of nowhere, because he knew now that BrainIAC could change bodies -- Chloe had told him about how he'd looked like Kara, and after that...

But a Lex who looked like that?!

A Lex with long wavy red hair, tied back in a ponytail, carrying around a broom, and wearing pilgrim-clothing that looked like it had been both worn- and lived-in?

On Halloween. Right. ...Like BrainIAC would celebrate Halloween.

But when he started talking, Clark was torn between being completely freaked out and utterly confused, because could BrainIAC really sound that much like Lex?

It was when he said, not-so-innocently at all, afer having scared him half-to-death, "You didn't see me come in?" that Clark realized that, yes, this was totally Lex, all right.

The jerk.

Why was he even here? And where had he been? And if he had been around, then why hadn't he done something about--



"Did you do this?" Clark demanded, pointing at the Metropolis serial killer research he'd been compiling. Because, seriously, if Lex was around, there was no way that he would've let that go on without getting involved -- not unless he'd had something to do with it.

"Probably not," said Lex.

Gkk! "Probably not?" Clark sputtered. Since when was Lex ever not completely sure about something? Was he just messing with him?

"Well, did you do it?" Lex asked, like that was somehow a reasonable thing to ask him.

"NO!!" Lex was so messing with him, the jerk!


That's it.

"--Get out of my house!!"

"If you insist," Lex said, like he didn't even care one way or the other about it. Shouldn't he at least be mad about the rudeness??

Clark wanted to punch him.

He watched Lex pick up his broom and head for the door.

Clark tried not to twitch when Lex paused at Clark's side.

"Oh, and Clark?" he said oh-so-sweetly, looking up at him, and Clark braced for the whatever-it-was Kryptonian-mind-control thing which he probably couldn't do anything about.

"What," Clark ground out, glaring down at him. You better hope it works the first time, 'cause if it doesn't I'm going to let you have it. He had a lot of anger and irritation to work out, with Lex gone for six months and leaving Tess Mercer to run things in his place, and Chloe on his case constantly about not tracking down the rumored Veritas stuff that could control him that he couldn't find, and Lex being gone right after Lionel's funeral, almost like what had happened with the island, only worse. He'd been worrying about Lex and whether it was all actually a trap or not or whether he should even be worrying about him, or for him, or about what he'd do once he was back, or if he was even alive or stuck someplace and probably being tortured, when it turned out that Lex was clearly totally fine after all and he shouldn't've have been wasting his time worrying or thinking about him at all.

And now he was probably going to get mind-blasted and stuck in a Kryptonite cage, with Lex finishing what Lionel had started a little over six months ago.

Really. Very. Lousy day.

Lex leaned towards him.

"Happy Halloween."

And then Lex grinned up at him widely and vanished.




Wait. That was it?

Clark looked around.

No Lex.


And the front door was closed.


That was it.


...What the hell?


"Chloe, I'm telling you, he was just here!"

"And dressed like a witch."

"Yes. --No. --His hat wasn't pointy, it was more of a--"

"Uh huh."

Why did Chloe sound amused. This was not amusing.

"Chloe, this is serious. Lex is back."

"Uh huh. For Halloween."

"Yes!" Thanks, I know what today is, Chloe!

"With a long, red ponytail--" and it sounded like Chloe had broken down into snickers. "Honestly, Clark -- tell Bart Happy Halloween for me, and maybe lay off the sugar a bit. The prank calls are a funny 'trick', but totally unrealistic, even by Smallville standards."

What the-- "Chloe, Bart isn't here and this isn't a prank! Lex is really-- back." He was talking to a dial tone.



Do not throw the cell phone into the wall, it costs a lot and you don't have enough money to replace it right now, and then you will have to repair the wall, too.

He took a couple deep breaths, then got up from the couch, where he'd collapsed earlier, after his knees had given out a couple minutes post-Lex's exit. His at-least-as-fast-as-Bart-could-run exit, and was Lex a speedster now? Was that a red-haired thing? --He could sneak up on Clark anytime he wanted with green Kryptonite, no warning, and drop him, and Clark couldn't do anything about it.

And Lex was human, and smart, which meant he could probably be a lot more creatively nasty than BrainIAC ever had been if he really put his mind to it, and they were not friends anymore. Probably the only thing Clark had going for him right now was that Lex probably didn't know he was Kal-El, yet, so he wouldn't know that Clark was who he should be spending all of his time gunning for.


Clark stared at the phone in his hand and set it down. Because if Chloe wouldn't help him...

Fine. Lex was back, and he was on his own. Again.

What else was new.

...And here he'd thought life would get better after BrainIAC was gone.

No. Apparently it just meant that he was free to do things like realize the fact that it wasn't just today that had been really lousy, it had been the last three years.


Chapter Text



Clark kept his head down for the next week. He worked the farm, only leaving it for deliveries, and didn't go in to Metropolis at all.

Anytime Chloe called, he let it go to voicemail.

He did not fail to notice that Chloe never swung by the farm to check up on him, even though she was still living in town, sharing the apartment over the Talon with Lois. She hadn't moved in with Jimmy yet.

Lois, however, did stop by.

He didn't really want the company, but Lois was kind of like a force of nature. And she was sort of starting to grow on him.

Or he as getting used to her particular brand of annoying, to the point that it was dulling his responses. One of those. Probably the second one.

So when Lex showed up for the second time in a week, Clark wasn't alone.

Unfortunately, neither was Lex.


"Bwahahah!" Lois bent over laughing by the front door. "Oh man... --Smallville! C'mere! You've gotta see this!"

Clark, who was curled up on the couch around a pillow, and who had been trying very hard to ignore Lois without ignoring her for most of the evening, closed his eyes and stayed put. He was feeling gloomy today, and she should respect that.

But he was off the couch like a shot when the next thing he heard was a snide, "Nice hair. --So, you're starting a 'coven'?"

Clark grabbed her and pulled her away from the door, and then promptly shut and locked it in Lex's -- and the other witch's -- face.

"Smallville--" Lois complained as Clark dragged her into the living room. "What the hell--"

"Magic is real, witches suck, and you really do not want to piss them off," Clak told her, as a start.

"Right, Clark," Lois said, rolling her eyes as she yanked her arms loose (he let her). "And slamming a door in somebody's face totally won't piss them off."

Oh, shit.

Clark made a beeline for the kitchen.

"Smallville," she said with exasperation. "What are you doing?"

"Looking for salt," he said, searching frantically. He had to have a full container he could use somewhere, right? "I think salt works." Maybe. he wasn't sure. --Oh god, why hadn't he figured this out before? Hadn't a year of Isobel been enough?

...except then he'd been sidetracked alost immediately by the Black Ship and murdering Kryptonian soldiers, and Zod. And BrainIAC and more Zod. Stupid Kryptonians.

"Really? I thought that was water?"

"Then get a bucket!" he told Lois, as he found the container of salt and grabbed a knife to cut off the whole circle across the top.

He didn't hear Lois moving. Why wasn't she moving?

What he did hear was the front door click open.

"Smallville, magic isn't real," she told him.

Oh, for the love of-- "Didn't Chloe tell you about Isobel and how you all got possessed that Halloween?" Clark said with exasperation as he sliced the top off of the canister for full access. He dropped the knife down on the counter and looked up. "Get over here before--"

--and now he had witches in his house. Or a witch and Lex. Who was dressed more like a witch than the witch.


"Smallville," she said, tapping a cigarette out of a pack. "Honestly. Water. Kansas. Y'know, Wizard of O-o-waa--ohmygodfff--AAAAGH!!" she yelped as a cascade of water materialized out of nowhere and doused her from above, and then it happened again, while Clark could do nothing more than stare.

"I. Am a magician," the woman in fishnet stocking declared. "Not a witch."

"...I might be a witch," Lex offered, standing there with his broom, eyeing the magician sideways like he thought she was being the unreasonable one.

"And I got the reference the first time around. I hope the second time was a lot colder," the magician ended, looking smug.

"Were those freaking ice cubes?!?" Lois yelled out. "What the hell!!!" She rounded on the pair of them.

Clark slowly set the open container of salt down on the counter. He was pretty sure it wasn't gonna cut it, anyway.

"No smoking indoors!" the magician said brightly.

"Zee," Lex groaned.

"What?" 'Zee' responded.

Lex literally visibly sighed, then waved a hand and with a mutter the water and ice chips evaporated.

...Well, what was on the floor, anyway. Lois was still drenched.

Okay. If Lex was being the reasonable one? Clark was probably in big trouble.

"Hi!" the magician said, turning towards him. Oh no. "You're Clark, right?" she told him, walking into the kitchen. "I'm Zatanna! You're pretty cute," erk, "and I hear you can cook. What's for dinner?"

Clark stared down at 'Zee' Zatanna the crazy non-smoking magician, who was staring up at him wide-eyed and expectantly, all-smiles.

"...Is pasta okay?" he asked weakly.


"Zee! Don't be rude!"

Oh god. Lex was being the reasonable one.

And then Lex his magician friend were bickering at each other in his kitchen, while Lois was cursing under her breath and squishing up the stairs for a towel before her blouse got any more see-through, and now Clark was probably stuck with making pasta for dinner.

...How is this my life?