Lois was at the Kent farm, helping Martha with paperwork. The papers covered the kitchen table. "Did you get an invitation to Lionel's dinner party at the Luthor mansion, Mrs. Kent?"

"Yes," she answered in a distracted tone as she signed her name to a document.

"Are you going?"

"I suppose. Are you?"

"Yeah, you never know when a Luthor event might become newsworthy. Oliver was invited too."

"So was Clark, but I'm still trying to talk him into going."

"Why doesn't he want to go?" Lois asked curiously.

"Because of the outfit that came with the invitation," said Martha with a small smile.

"The costumes are pretty bad, but if it gets a good story, I'd wear a chicken suit. Oliver's is an ugly green suit with pinstripes, and I have a skimpy, red evening gown."

"Mine's a maid's outfit, and Clark has—"

Clark came into the room. "Are you talking about those silly costumes?"

"What costume did you get, Smallville?"

"What does it matter? I'm not going," he said, pouring himself a glass of milk.

"You have to," Lois insisted. "It could be a very interesting night. Come on. Everyone knows billionaires are eccentric and you only have to wear it one night. Please? I'll keep bugging you until you give in."

"I'll show you the costume and maybe then you'll understand," he said, setting his milk down and going to get it. He brought it back in the box it had come in. He pulled out a purple, velvet suit with gold spectacles in the pocket.

Lois choked back her laughter and said in as serious a voice as she could muster, "There's nothing wrong with that suit."

"Yeah, right," he said.

"You never wear anything but blue and red. It'll be nice to see you in another color. The ladies will be all over you. Everybody likes a man in purple, and it's not like it's pink. You can't let your mom go alone."

Clark sighed. "I guess not," he said, responding to the last part. "I'll come."

Martha stood up and hugged him. "It'll be fun. You don't get out enough."

"Listen to your mother, Clarkie. I have to go and start getting ready for the party. See you guys there."

sss

"Lex, tell me again why I have to wear this thing?"

"You look pretty in blue, honey."

"I have a feather in my hair."

"If I can wear a yellow colonel's uniform, you can wear a feather. My father never throws a party without a reason. I want to see what he's up to. Let's go to the dining room. The other guests are already here."

They took their places in the dining room. Lex, Lana, and Martha were on the right side and Oliver, Lois, and Clark were on the left side in that order. Lionel was the last one to come in. He walked over to his place at the head of the table. He didn't sit down but announced, "Welcome, everyone. I see you all have sat down in your assigned seats. Pick up your name cards and read the backs. I think you'll be surprised.

Everyone picked up their name cards and began to read silently.

Lex,
I know you have been participating in illegal activities. I have the proof.

Lana,
I know you're pregnant and furthermore that Lex isn't the father. Someone travels outside of town to visit their old friend Pete.

Martha,
You have no secrets, love. I respect that. That's why I shall tell you one of mine. I am partly to blame for your husband's heart attack. I was trying to reason with him in the barn that night. Please, forgive me.

Oliver,
I know you are the Green Arrow. I shall make it public.

Lois,
I expected that if I did a little digging, I would find dirt. You don't seem to be the most ethical person. I didn't give you enough credit. You're a law abiding citizen, but I am afraid your sister isn't. She has made many illegal transactions with money. It's a shame she fell in with the wrong crowd. I could expose Lucy and put her away for life.

Clark,
You are already aware that I know of your powers and heritage. I could tell the world at any time.

"Now that you're all finished reading, you can give the name cards to me, and I will destroy them. Wouldn't want others peeking, would you?"

Lionel collected them and ripped them into tiny pieces before casting them in the fire.

"What do you want from us, Dad?" Lex asked.

"I simply want to remind you all that I have power over you, and there's nothing any of you can do about it."

The lights went out, and the room was plunged into total darkness. The sound of rain splattered on the roof.

"Don't worry," came Lex's voice from somewhere in the dark, "the backup generator should be on any minute."

After a few minutes, the lights were back on. All 6 guests were still seated at the table, but Lionel was gone.

"Lionel must've had to run to the bathroom," Lois said, trying to keep her voice calm.

"He's dead," Clark said, "and someone here killed him."