Tracey Claybon

This story is a "combined canon" story - it draws from the WB series Smallville, a bit from the Lois and Clark - The Adventures of Superman series, and a _whole_ lot from the comics.

This is another one of my "... it started out in someone's else's viewpoint and the character reached up and grabbed my muse and wouldn't let go..." stories...

Spoilers - year one and two, Smallville; Superman comics - just past OWAW. This is set in MY version of the future. This is all in Luthor's viewpoint

--- it is our fiftieth anniversary today. Fifty years and what seems like so many lifetimes ago, today, you and I met when you jumped off a bridge and saved me from drowning. We became the closest of friends at the time, with all the innocence and trust of youthful idealism. You and I had not become the Cain and Abel of our later years yet. I knew you had your secrets; at the time, I also had secrets that at the time seemed so very important, but looking back at those secrets from the from of half a century away, I can see that they really weren't worth the loss of my . dearest friend. Real and true friends were probably the most precious thing I had, treasures beyond all the gold and silver and diamonds I have in my vaults now - but I didn't really realize what I'd lost until it was far beyond the point of no return.

I should have allowed you to keep your secrets. I see that now. I . . . was wrong - but it's way too late to admit that.

The strangest part is that when we first met, your father really *was* wrong about me - I was not the monster my father was. I honestly believed in playing fair, and wanted to do anything and everything I could to avoid ever become anything like my father - ruthless, petty, concerned only with advancing the family legacy. I actually surpassed him in every way - he didn't become President of the United States. I did.

The worst part is that I look back on my life since our friendship disintegrated - and now when I look in the mirror, I see not only my father's face, but also a mirror image of my father in personality, beliefs and especially soul - I see everything I was so very determined not to become.

I believe now that you and I are a true example that both nature and nurture have a hand in shaping what a man becomes; you are - and were, when we were younger - the very best man existing, because of the love and guidance of your parents, the Kents. I, also am a direct result of the "guidance" of my family - and my father's - legacy - and I learned the lesson he had to teach me well; but, every once in a while, I wonder what kind of man I would have become if Jonathan Kent had raised _me_ instead.

I also think back to the seer, Cassandra, and remember the look of horror on her face just before it relaxed into the serenity and peaceful repose of death - but, now when I look back on the things I have become, have done and said, on our anniversary - I no longer wonder what she saw in my future that frightened her so much - nor do I question what your father feared so much about me so very long ago.

I became everything they feared I would - and more.

But now, at this half-century mark of time, I am looking back at it all honestly - our times together in Smallville, Lana, Chloe, Whitney and Pete: Jon and Martha Kent, and my father - but in particular the honest and true friendship I threw away; I regret the loss of the golden opportunity to make a real difference for the good of humanity that would have had the world praising *both* of our names for generations to come, and also the good we could have done together.

You, Clark, are my oldest and dearest . . . enemy and opponent. . . no, not really enemy or opponent - you are my most respected adversary.

Now, the chasm between us is deeper than the Grand Canyon and wider than the Milky Way, and even if we could talk in the same room together now, I really don't think you'd believe that I find myself regretting the loss of my friendship with my old friend Clark - and I wouldn't blame you for it at all.

But it's true. I *do* regret it. Every day, I regret it more as the Reaper comes closer and closer to me and I look at the great Empire I have built - and there is no one with whom I can share my triumphs and fears, not like 50 years ago when there were those around me I trusted without reservations.

You, on the other hand, have all of that and more - rumor has it that even the Batman, who is not known for having anything other than barely tolerated allies on his territory - he is said to consider *you* as close as is possible to a friend as that one will *ever* have. You have the love of a woman who is your match in every way, and Lois would walk through fire for you. Your name as Superman is spoken with joy and laughter in any and all languages - while my own is more and more often spoken with loathing.

I have the physical wealth to bankrupt kingdoms - but, somehow, I think that in the end - you ended up as the richer man.