Title: Thread of Failure
Author: Kate
Author email: bwbaby007@aol.com
Genre:  Het/Drama/AU/Original character
Pairing: Lex/Original Character
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Anything related to Smallville I do not own and am not making any profit from. Ditto with song lyrics and quotes. The song is called "Hallelujah", and is originally by Leonard Cohen (although my favorite version is by Jeff Buckley). Don't sue, I'm in college and don't have anything anyway. Well, some philosophy books, but they only sell back for like 50 cents.
Summary: A hard lesson for anyone to learn: you can't save everyone. Predominantly a Lex fic, but includes the whole cast.
Notes: Internal thoughts are denoted with < > around them. This story is a SV A/U fic since it has an original character. This isn't a song-fic, though one is incorporated into the beginning





Chapter 1: A Tragic Bond



He who fights with monsters might take care lest he thereby become a monster. And if you gaze for long into an abyss, the abyss gazes also into you."
Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche


"I heard there was a secret chord that David played and it pleased

the Lord, but you don't really care for music, do you?
It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, the major
lift, the baffled King composing hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah"

Her soft voice swelled on the refrain, and the emotion radiated outward to envelope her whole being. Her eyes focused somewhere on the ceiling of the tent, and it billowed as if it couldn't contain what they emitted.

Your faith was strong but you needed proof, you saw her bathing on
the roof, her beauty in the moonlight overthrew you
She tied you to a kitchen chair, she broke your throne, she cut your
hair, and from your lips she drew the hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah"

There was slight shushing from the crowd as parents tried to keep the overactive children from displaying end of the night impatience. Of course, every event here had to be family oriented. Some people, however, were too riveted to give the ankle-biters too much attention.

"Baby I've been here before, I know this room, I've walked this
floor, I used to live alone before I knew you I've seen your flag

on the marble arch, love is not a victory march, it's a cold and
it's a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah

A hand gently lay on his shoulder, and he instinctively tensed. He heard a voice next to him whisper, "Mom met her today. Guilted her into performing when Nell dropped out. Great voice, isn't it?"

Lex Luthor shrugged, eyes remaining focused ahead on the slanted, makeshift stage. "It's not bad." He could feel Clark Kent brewing a protest, so he smiled and cut him off. "It's a performance, Clark.  The voice isn't everything. What counts most is the deliverance."

"Sorry, I didn't realize you had added performance critic to your resume." Clark responded dryly.

Lex let the friendly gibe roll off of him. "Well, I needed something to pad it." He then afforded Clark a glance. "Either way, it's not bad. I've seen worse."

There was a time you let me know what's real and going on below,

but now you never show it to me, do you?

And remember when I moved in you,

the holy dark was moving, too,

and every breath we drew was hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah"

Clark's tone was amused. "Well, for such lukewarm reviews, you seem interested." He let the insinuation dangle for a moment before clarifying, "I mean, you seem entertained."

His half-smile revealing nothing, Lex simply said, "It's something." He turned back to the stage, responding in the same neutral tone to Clark's inquiry about his attendance at the festival party later that evening. "We'll see."

Maybe there's a God above and all I ever learned from love was
how to shoot at someone who outdrew you And it's not a cry you can
hear at night, it's not somebody who's seen the light, it's a
cold and it's a broken hallelujah

Hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah, hallelujah…

The voice trailed off, leaving behind a haunting weight that hung around the tent filling the air.

She sped through the crowd, bumping into various people with her oversized bag slung over her shoulder. The amateur benefit concert had ended, and now the tent bustled as younger members were escorted out and refreshments were brought in. He lost her several times, since she was a good deal shorter than average and the tent was packed. Frustration was setting in until he saw two angry looks shot at the tight exit. He pushed through, wiping the sweat that had accumulated on his brow from the stifling heat under the tent.

Outside the moon lit the vacant field where everyone had parked. Lost in the sea of muddied vehicles he paused for a moment to take a deep breath and enjoy the solitude of the night. He stood still, letting his eyes scan around him, straining his ears until he heard and indistinct voice. He crossed the ground silently, pausing when she came into view.

She was standing up brushing herself off, apparently having fallen. She cursed, talking to herself under her breath. " Of course I'd trip. Why should I have the coordination to be able to walk in a straight line on a flat surface?" Her sandal had come off behind her and she spun around, landing facing Lex only a few feet away. She started, and then looked down as she slid her shoe back on, adding, "And of course I'd have an audience."

"I do that all the time." At that she looked up at him, and he gave her a neutral half-smile.

Mirroring his smile, she replied, "No you don't."

"No, I don't." He watched her heave her duffle onto her shoulder again. "Why are you heading out so early?"

Her small smile tightened perceptively. In a soft but unwavering voice she said, "I can't take it in there." Her gaze left the tent and made a direct lock onto his face. "I'm not a good people person." She made the statement simply, and in her open stance before him he saw wetness on her eyes that made them shine.

He stepped toward her, leaning one hand on the hood of a car. Lightly drumming his fingers on the cool surface, he causally said, "Fair enough. But I bet if you went back in there and danced, you could at least prove that you aren't a total klutz."

She glanced down and hugged herself, a mirthless smile widening her face. "I don't dance."

He bent his head, waiting to catch her eye and follow her gaze back up. "Well. You sang beautifully in there."

"Thank you. If I ever meet the person who did that, I'll be sure to tell her someone enjoyed it." She let his puzzlement hang as she fetched a CD out of her bag. "Here. It was lip-synched." She handed it to him, adding, "I can't sing worth anything."

He gave a noncommittal, "Huh. Well, it was performed well, which is more important." He handed the CD back to her, adding, "There's a buffet. You can eat and drink I assume?"

Glancing at him over her bag, she said shortly, "Actually, I'm very prone to spilling on my shirt."

He paused watching her for a moment. "Not high on self-confidence are you?"

She gave a single, slow shake of her head. In a composed voice, she answered, "No." Laughing humorlessly, she added with a controlled flip of her hand, "I just don't care anymore." Her self-possession countered her responses.

Intrigued more by her incomprehensibility than the corn-party going on behind him, Lex edged closer. Careful not to block the moonlight that illuminated the animation on her face, he asked, "About what?"

She countered his movement, leaving one third of her face in shadows. "Trying to impress anyone." Her eyes looked past him, withdrawing into herself. "Least of all myself. "

Lex followed her gaze inward. For a moment. "I know that feeling."

At that she snapped back. Drawing herself up, she began to turn. "Yeah, well, cry me a river, right?"

He began to reach for her, and then pulled back, calling out, "Where are you heading?"

She stopped, shrugging over her shoulder to him, "I don't know."

"Ah, I know that place. I think it's on my way." He slowly approached her, again stopping a car's width from her. "I'm Lex."

Again a small twitch curled up her lips and never met her eyes. The mournful glow they radiated belied her otherwise stoic façade.  "Nice to meet you." Then she turned and again began hefting her bag down the dirt road.

He followed her with his eyes, weighing his decision before asking, "Aren't you going to tell me your name?"

She was now so far she was only a silhouette. A pause hung between them till her calm voice traveled to him. "I don't like my name."

Internally he was still lost about her, yet something in that caused a desire for him to continue. In the same unaffected voice he always used when unsure about where he was treading, he offered, "Why don't you change it?"

Again, only her voice floated back to him. "There didn't seem to be a need to. I haven't had many requests for it in awhile." He visualized her eyes and felt a pang of recognition.

"Well, I'd like to know it." It made it easier to talk in the dark. But he rarely liked things easy.

He heard her amusement. "Just call me whatever you want." Apparently, she didn't feel the same about not seeing him. She made no motion to move closer. But, it was worthy to note that she didn't move further away, either.

He remained unmoved as well, both from not being willing to be the one to move forward again, and the oddity of her response. "Make up a name for you?"

The mild derogation in his voice must have struck her, since she came up to his sightline to make her point. However, the anger he expected could not be read. There in her face lay only a benignity that went several layers deep. Her words were those of telling, not teaching. "Why not? I mean, we all label people. Internally. How we perceive them. In a way, labeling means more than a name. We don't have a say in our names, usually." She seemed to be
fighting to keep guardedness from freezing up her face. Her fists clenched, but her eyes still kept the appearance of sea-gray streams. "For some of
our actions, we might deserve to be branded. It might even be more accurate."

Instinct made him edge to her, but he kept his cool eyes intensely running over her before settling in her gaze. In a voice more to himself he heard, "How about Lily." It didn't even sound like a question when he heard it pass his lips.

Her brow furrowed for an instant, caution thinly veiled in her voice as she asked, "Why Lily?"

Recoiling inside, he half-smiled, giving her nothing to read. "I have my reasons." He let his finger barely trace a design on her blouse. "There's one on your shirt."

"That's not a lily." Her eyes didn't drop to follow his finger.

Undaunted, he finished his trace before folding his arms behind him in a display of ease. "It looks like one. My mistake."

In perfect opposition to him, her arms folded protectively around her, her eyes dropping down and shutting him out. "Listen, I can't do this."

Immediately his guard crept up over his curiosity. "Do what?" He wasn't sure where she was going, and that uncertainty reinforced his edginess.

He knew it took something for her to face him, but on top of the frailty radiated a foundation of some strength. "Anything. Right now I am not up for anything. So please just tell me why you are talking to me." There was a simple and straightforward directness in her latter statement that made him feel she would respond better to his honest answer.

He paused momentarily, carefully planning his next wording. "On the stage you had a look on your face. I know that look. I can't describe it, but I recognized it."

She searched him piercingly, softening when she didn't detect any mocking from him. "I can't describe it either. But it you know it, then I'm sorry."

Uncomfortable, Lex shrugged, forcing an easy smirk. "Don't be.  It's not that familiar to me. I've only seen it on one other woman." At that, internally he shoved himself into a closet, cursing. His father's words sprang into his mind. <You're too emotional, Lex. It causes you to make mistakes>. Quickly he covered, joking, "Not much to go on to create a psychological profile."

Her eyes narrowed. Lex's heartbeat quickened when she blatantly recognized his cover, but calmed when she gracefully slid the attention off him. "Actually, I lied. I do think I know something about the look. Utter self-loathing and a wish that it didn't mostly come from me." Her soft words trailing off contradicted the hard line of her jaw and tightness of her stance. She had an elasticity of being that sprang back to reserve. "Anyway, I have to go."

She began backing up. Still grateful to her, Lex asked, "Where are you staying?"

She paused as if to give it some thought. "Wherever I stop walking." An evident flush warmed her face as she added in self-deprecation, "I know that sounds very "On The Road," but…I guess eventually I'll make it back to New York. Hey, at least I have a direction in my life." On the hand that held her bag over her shoulder, she extended an index finger upward, giving him another small grin. "North." Her mouth collapsed, and she looked him over once more before cocking her head and saying, "Bye, Lex. I hope you don't see that look anymore."

Then she turned and began down the dirt path. Lex watched, saying to her trail, "You too." He stood there trying to decide whether to go after her, to offer her a ride. She had the hard-weary edge of a previous lifetime never touched in Smallville. It drummed up a connection to his past. That familiarity didn't bring about any warm memories, but rather a cold clench. But still…

Lex felt himself flung backwards, slamming into something cool and hard. He slid to the ground, hands trembling as his head swam. A throbbing pain raced down his spine, intensifying with each gasp. He gagged, retching on the dirt next to him as the nausea followed. He crawled forward, unable to stand yet. Voices and vision sank back in to comprehension, and he saw that he was no longer alone. People were streaming out of the tent, almost trampling him as they raced to a steaming site a few yards from him. He grasped onto the object he had flown into, which he could now identify as a truck, and began to pull
himself up straight. At that moment he noticed Whitney Fordman standing next to him, looking at the truck in hysteria.

"My truck! It's smashed again! My insurance won't keep covering this…" He continued ranting but his words became inaudible as Lex tuned him out. Random shouts could be heard, which he also let slip over him as he tried and remembered how to breathe.

"It's another meteor!"

"NO! Don't go close to it!"

"It's not a meteor…"

Somebody get the police!"

All the voices overlapped, until one broke through. "Get back!  Somebody was hit!" At that panicked note, both Lex and Whitney spun toward the smoking site. They both rushed towards it, Lex grimacing as his back spasmed. Some members of the police force that were at the festival had already created a line of protection. Lex waiting until he saw Clark coming out of the smoke, burnt and dirty, carrying a small, unmoving form. Clark's eyes finally glanced out at the sea of onlookers as he gently lay the body down. "Somebody get an ambulance."



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