When Lex was nine, the sky fell on his head. The memories that followed that moment were for the most part a hazy blur of nurses and doctors and hospitals, but one scene stands out crystal sharp. His dad is holding him in the front seat of a truck and there's a man and a woman and a smiling little boy who reaches out and strokes his face, as though to say "everything's going to be okay." For some reason, Lex believes him.

When he was ten, on the anniversary of the day his life changed forever, he asks his mom about this memory. She tells him that some farmers gave him a ride to the hospital after the accident, but that's all she knows. When he asks his Father, Lionel is initially dismissive but finally relents enough to say "I think their name was Kent or something. Now run along son, I'm busy."

When he was eleven, Lex was being bullied by some of the cool kids at school when Oliver Queen walked by. Lex looked at him beseechingly because, even though they didn't hang out any more, they used to play all the time when they were little and they were friends right? Oliver darted his eyes back and forth between Lex and the other kids before firmly striding up to Lex and… pushing him down. "What are you looking at, freak?"

When he was twelve, Lex('s mom) killed Julian. That was the day his dad stopped loving him.

When he was thirteen, Lillian died. Then, while Lex was still reeling with the blow of that, Pamela left. That was when Lex became sure there was no one left in the world that cared about him.

When he was fourteen, Lex had his same nightmare about the meteor shower, but this one ended with a mischievous grin and a stroke to the face. He woke with a start, then walked over to his desk at two in the morning and wrote a very belated thank-you letter to people who, at one point, had actually cared if he lived or died. He had never been more surprised than he was when he received the elegantly scripted return letter from Martha, with the name Jonathan scrawled on as an after-thought, and a scattered and sloppily written message signed "your friend Clark."

When he was fifteen, among the piles of Christmas cards for Lionel from his business associates and his business associates there was an envelope addressed to Lex. Inside there was a picture of an idyllically happy family and a card that read "Merry Christmas, from Martha, Jonathan, and Clark."

When he was sixteen, Lex sat down with a pen, some paper, and no other thought than he had to tell someone who cared. When he finally came to his senses he looked down to see a tear-stained page with the words "I killed him" written over and over and over. He threw the paper away and started over, writing a letter saying that his best friend had just died and the whole thing was very upsetting, but he was okay and coping. He put it in an envelope and sent it off to Smallville, deciding that only one teardrop in the corner of the page where it would likely go unnoticed counted as a success.

When he was seventeen, Lex bought a third copy of Warrior Angel #1, #114, and #73, and sent them all to Clark for his birthday. One because it was the first, of course, one-fourteen because it was Lex's personal favorite, and seventy-three because it was the rarest. In fact, a copy of Warrior Angel #73 typically sold for thousands of dollars, something that Lex tactfully left out of his card.

When he was eighteen, Lex got a box in the mail which turned out to be a carefully wrapped pie in congratulations for having graduated from high school. Lex had been to five-star restaurants on multiple occasions with his father, but he had never tasted anything quite as good as Martha Kent's apple pie.

When he was nineteen, Lex discovered there was no greater thrill than pissing off his father, as much and as obviously as he could. His vindictive triumph in his tabloid appearances, however, only lasted until the three letters came. It would have been hard to say which shamed him more, Martha's gentle chastisements, Jonathan's stern admonishments or Clark's curious inquiries, because no one will tell him what Lex did. Lex resolved to stop acting out immediately, a resolution that only lasted until the next time Lionel lectured him on all his short-comings.

When he was twenty, Lex got an e-mail from Clark. It rambled, as Clark was wont to do, saying he had gotten Lex's e-mail address off his letter-head and he hadn't heard from Lex in a while and he was worried about him and was Lex avoiding them because he was doing those things that had upset Mom and Dad so much because really they were just worried about Lex too, but then maybe Lex had found something better to do than talk to a family of farmers in the middle of nowhere, in which case he's really sorry he bothered Lex and Lex can just ignore this e-mail, he was just worried and hopes that Lex will write back, but if not that's okay too. Feeling like the worst person on the face of the planet, Lex canceled all his plans for that evening to write Clark a sufficiently long and apologetic reply.

When he was twenty-one, Lionel banished Lex to Smallville, taking a vicious sort of glee in sending Lex to the same town as "that little family of farmers you're so fond of." "Let's see how much they like you when they come face-to-face with who you really are."

Lips against his, forcing the air into his water-logged lungs.

"Come on Lex, wake up. Please, wake up."

Rhythmic pounding on his chest.

Lex coughed, expelling the river water from inside him. He blinked his eyes open and looked up at his savior.

"Clark," he rasped, and it was Clark, looking wet and terrified, but wonderfully and marvelously whole. "I could have sworn I hit you."

Clark shook his head, though whether it's in negation of Lex's statement or the worry behind it, Lex wasn't sure. "I'm fine. But you – Lex you were dead."

Suddenly Clark launched himself at Lex and wrapped his arms around him in a hug so tight that it was hard for Lex to breathe again. He's pretty sure this was the kind of behavior doctors would advise against right after a near drowning, but Clark was warm and caring and Lex didn't give a fuck what doctors think anyway.

"What are you doing in Smallville Lex?" Clark asked once he pulls back. From anyone else Lex was sure that question would be sarcastic or belligerent, but Clark only seemed honestly and innocently curious.

"I'm managing the plant," Lex told him, mourning the loss of the warmth. "I live in Smallville now."

"Really?" It's been twelve years since the first time he saw it, but Clark's smile was still like distilled sunshine. "Why didn't you tell me?"

"I wanted to surprise you," said Lex.

"Well, mission accomplished," Clark responded and Lex let out a low laugh.

After that Clark managed to flag down another driver, who called the paramedics and Clark's parents for them. The ambulance and the sheriff arrived first, and Jonathan showed up not ten minutes later.

The man headed unerringly toward his son, not even noticing Lex's presence. "Clark! Son, are you alright?"

"Yeah, I'm okay," Clark replied, every inch the exasperated and fussed over teen.

"Who's the maniac that was driving that car?" Jonathan demanded angrily and Lex froze. He had screwed this all up; he knew nothing ended affection like killing a man's son. And even if Clark wasn't dead, it was so close that Lex even hated himself for it a little.

Clark though, broke out into a smile at Jonathan's question and said, "You'll never guess."

Jonathan looked confused at his son's response and Lex steeled himself, figuring that that was his cue. "Hello Mr. Kent."

"Lex?" Jonathan said in disbelief. "That was your car?"

"Yes sir," Lex told him, waiting for the ax to fall.

"What the hell are you doing driving like that?" Lex winced and hoped that maybe Clark, at least, would still want to be his friend. "You could have gotten yourself killed!" And suddenly Lex found himself pulled into an embrace for the second time that day, this one rough and paternal.

"It's good to see you again, son." Jonathan's smile was genuine, like he really was glad to have Lex there.

"Lex is moving to Smallville," Clark offered, buzzing excitedly beside them. "His dad put him in charge of the factory."

Jonathan looked at Lex uncertainly and Lex gave a hesitant smile in agreement with Clark's assertion. "That's a big responsibility, Lex." He said finally. "Make sure you live up to it."

"I will Mr. Kent," Lex assured.

"It's Jonathan," the other man corrected. Then he turned and asked, "Are you finished with these two, Officer?"

"Sure thing Jonathan," the deputy responded. "We'll call if we have any more questions, but this seems to be pretty clearly an accident."

"Alright," Jonathan said, nodding in agreement. Then he slings one arm around Clark and Lex each. "Come on boys, let's go home."