He sneezed for the first time in his life at breakfast.

By lunch, he was in the hospital.

At 6:30 p.m., Clark Kent was pronounced dead.

Four days later, his body was lowered into the ground.

Eight hours after that, Lex Luthor dug him up and performed the autopsy refused previously by the Kents.

Dawn was breaking when Lex stormed into the Kent home, screen door slamming behind him. He threw the photographs on the table in front of a sleepless-looking Jonathan and Martha. "Why?" he snarled, jaw set in rage. "He wasn't human. I hit him with my car head on and he didn't die. He was invulnerable. I hit him with my goddamned car at sixty miles-per-hour and he didn't die! Why. Did. He. Die?!"

"Lex--," Martha began, rising from her seat. Lex cut her off.

"Did you know what I found in his bloodstream? Do you know what officially killed him? Bacterial mycoses. He died from a cold."

Lex swiped at his burning eyes. He felt a hand come to rest on his shoulder, and he flinched away. "Don't touch me!" His voice was a sliver of a scream. He turned his back to the Kents and pressed a thumb and forefinger to his eyes.

When he spoke again, his tone was scratchy, raw, "He was my friend. I needed him."

"You're right, he wasn't human," Jonathan said slowly, agonizingly. "Somehow, between the lightning strike and the meteor rock, Cla--" He choked on the name, but continued. "--Clark's special abilities transferred to Eric Summers. I guess that included whatever protected his ali-- non-human body from human disease."

Lex dropped his hand to his side and lifted his gaze. His eyes skittered quickly away from a photo of Clark on the sideboard. "Thank you," he whispered, and left without another word.

He never saw the Kents again.


"Sir, your car is standing by to take you to the meeting with the Prime Minister."

"Thank you, Elise," Lex addressed the smartly dressed woman he saw reflected in the window. "I'll be there in a moment."

"Very good, Mr. President."

Elise left, the door hissing shut behind her. Lex shifted his focus beyond the window to the room below and the unmoving male curled in the corner. Around the man, the Smallville meteor rocks pulsed continuously green.

After another minute, Lex turned and strode from the observation room. The lights automatically shut off, save for the dim bar illuminating the small plaque on the windowsill.

In loving memory of Clark Kent.


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