Rating: mild PG for some scenes of violence
Pairing: Season 4 ensemble featuring Clark and Lex, with background Lana/Jason
Summary: Getting through white water requires training and timing – and a little help from your friends.
Author’s Note: This story is based on an alternative ending of Transference – Lionel is not cured of his liver disease and has a life expectancy of only a few months at that point. See also the end notes.
Special thanks to nicnac918 for the wonderful beta, as well as fruitbat00 for help with the story outline.
Artwork by ctbn60
Created for the 2013 Smallville Big Bang smallvillebbang
Chapter 1 - Turbulence
Chapter 2 - Obstruction
Chapter 3 - Rapids
Chapter 4 - Running West
Chapter 5 - Anasazi
[White water] is formed in a rapid, when a river's gradient increases enough to disturb its laminar flow and create turbulence, i.e. form a bubbly, or aerated and unstable current; the frothy water appears white… On any given rapid there can be a multitude of different features which arise from the interplay between the shape of the riverbed and the velocity of the water in the stream.
November 2004 (alternate ending to Bound[i])
The room was small and dingy, even by prison hospital standards. There was a sharp stink of ammonia, unsuccessfully masking other, even less appetizing odors. The lighting had an odd greenish hue, accentuating the jaundiced color of Lionel Luthor's face. The room was private though, an unexpected blessing.
Lionel coughed and winced in pain, but waved the nurse out of the room. He wanted no pain medication, not for this meeting. A few signs of physical weakness could be permitted, might even aid his cause, but there must be no doubt that he was in full command of his faculties. Lionel leaned back in the hospital bed and waited.
Abruptly, Lex Luthor strode into the room, his body language purposeful, arrogant, his face a frozen mask. But Lionel could, as always, see the telltale signs that revealed a complex mixture of emotions: wariness, anger, fear, and – deeply buried – concern. Despite everything, Lex still loved him. He had much to be grateful for.
Lex began angrily. "I understand you helped vindicate me, dad. There's just no telling the influence you seem to have from behind these bars."
Lionel sat up on the bed and spoke softly. "I pointed your friend, Clark, in the right direction, that's all I did. You still believe I had something to do with this, don't you?"
"No. I just assume you must want something in return."
"Yes." Lionel gave a brief laugh. "Yes, I do."
"I'm not helping you get released." Lex was implacable.
"I understand. I know that I deserve to be here, in this terrible place. I have no one to blame but myself."
Lex sighed, and gave an exasperated laugh in return. "I'm in a generous mood, dad, so… Let's say I believe that." He sat in the chair by Lionel's bed and stared intently into Lionel's eyes. "What do you want from me?"
"I want to be your father, Lex. If you'll let me."
Lex was silent, considering. Lionel saw his chance and proceeded, "I don't ask for your forgiveness. I don't expect that. I killed your grandparents, and I tried to kill you. I've hurt many people because they were in my way. I had this… overwhelming need for power and status and now… it means nothing." He paused. "Son, I'm dying."
Softly, Lex replied, "I know."
"I'm dying and I've done everything in my power to keep you in the dark about what it all means."
"It?" Lex looked up, curiosity glittering from his eyes.
"It." Lionel waved his hands expansively. "The Kawatche Caves, the Stones of Knowledge, a secret society, a message from the stars, why we came to Smallville all those years ago – it's all connected. Your friend, Clark, is the key. Help him, Lex. Put aside the distrust I've instilled in you over all these years. Reach out. Let yourself believe in the goodness of others."
Lex twisted his lips in a half smile, half sneer. "That's a lot to be asking for, dad."
Lionel leaned back in the hospital bed with an exhausted sigh. "I understand your cynicism, son. And yet, I see things so much more clearly now. Clark is an extraordinary young man. So are you. I fear what may come to pass if… I see this darkness in you, Lex."
Lex stood up abruptly and walked away, obviously stung by the words. Lionel cried out, "Lex, please, stop. Listen, please. I only meant… I know you want to be a great man. I think you might even want to be a good man. But it's not easy to be both, and I… I decided long ago that it wasn't worth trying." Uncharacteristically, Lionel fumbled for words. "But then… I tried using the stone, and even though I can't remember what happened… Something changed. Everything changed."
"Everything except the part where you tried to kill me. Where you locked me in an asylum and sent 10,000 volts through my brain. Am I supposed to forget that?"
Lionel summoned his dwindling energy for one last try to break through his son's defenses. "I don't expect you to believe me but I truly am a changed man. And what is the value of my sinful life unless I use it as an example to shepherd my fellow sinners. To lead them away from the allures of hedonism, and mistrust, and greed. To follow a better way.[ii]"
Lex sneered, "So now I'm just a member of your flock. Is that all you think of me, dad?"
"No, Lex, that's not what I'm trying to say to you. I want you to see the importance of being good – of doing the right thing, not just the expedient thing. But it's not easy to, especially when you have the type of power that you'll inherit when I die. You have to commit yourself to that path with all your heart. You have to want it. And you have to realize that you're the only one responsible for your own choices."
Lex stood facing the door for what felt to Lionel like an eternity. Then with a sigh, Lex returned to his seat by Lionel's side. Finally Lex demanded, "Skip the sermon, dad." He paused again. "But tell me more. About 'it'."
Lionel closed his eyes and took a deep, thankful breath. There was still a chance.
"Then let me tell you about the Teagues, and something called Veritas…"
[i] To refresh, Bound is the episode where Lex is accused of murdering a one-night stand, with Lionel giving Clark tips that help establish Lex's innocence. But since Lionel is still dying in this AU, Lex is more disposed to listen to his advice at the end (whereas in canon Bound, Lex walks out the prison door pretty quickly.) The loft scene from canon Bound where Lex tells Clark about the darkness inside him does not take place in this AU.