In a minute...
You will make Lionel promise, and in that moment the fear will disappear from his face, and he will look at you as though he knows you again. Knows you through and through, and approves. Just before the helicopter comes to take him away, he'll lean over and say in your ear, "Now, Lex, things are really going to get interesting." You'll stare up after him, into the whirl of dust and noise.
You will keep the factory open, and save the town. People who used to turn away from your outstretched hand will smile and call you "Lex." You will sleep above the Talon and eat dinner at the Sullivans', two nights a week. You'll go to church potlucks and county fairs and bingo nights, and they'll be glad to have you there.
Business Week will run an article on "the next generation of ethical entrepreneurs," and you'll get a sidebar, right next to the fair-trade coffee grower. You'll clip the article, save it as carefully as you save the memory of those smiles in the street. Nothing will ever have been as sweet. Nothing.
But the nights in downtown Smallville will be quiet. You'll lie awake and wonder if those smiles would be the same if they knew that you'd traded your own father's life for the factory. If they knew what you were doing now, to make sure it succeeds.
You'll do anything to keep those smiles, and each time someone threatens the town, or the Kents, or your secrets, it will become easier to take care of them.
Whatever it takes.
there is time
You won't act fast enough. Too many possibilities, too many feelings, and you won't get him out of the way in time. Even though you would have.
You will hear the doctors tell you that your father will never walk again. It will take you months to believe it.
It will take Lionel longer.
You will move back to Metropolis--the business needs you, actually needs you. It's just temporary, you will think.
You will watch the physical therapists come and go. You will see your father's ferocity towards his own faithless body. Hair tossing uselessly. Clenched teeth. Sweat and twisted muscles.
You'll think of your mother, the way she tried to hold your hand with her trembling fingers near the end. And, for the first time in your life, you'll feel pity for your father.
You will stay in Metropolis. It will be very easy to get used to it again. The prince of the city, and this time it won't be a hollow title. You'll have power and influence and the grudging respect of the old lion. People will attack the company, but you'll make them regret it. Sometimes, after hard days, you'll stare at marble ceilings and wish you could be the pariah of a small town once more, but that life will become more and more unreal to you. Like the dream of flying you had after the crash. Not like the soft leather of your chair in the boardroom, the dawning respect in your competitors' eyes, the dazzling glow of four-color charts depicting the success of your plans.
When your father dies ten years later, you will be ready to take his place.
For decisions and revisions
You'll hesitate, but you'll reach for him. Then the beams will fall, and you'll think it's over, for both of you. You'll wonder if you'll get to see your mother again.
But you'll open your eyes, and you both will be in the wine cellar. Alive and unharmed, except for the lump on your skull where something--someone--hit you.
You'll be alive again, and you still won't know why.
But you'll think maybe Hamilton can help you find out. You'll lose the plant, but you'll keep your assets, and you'll throw them all into researching the meteor rocks.
Clark will ask you to stop. First jokingly, then seriously, then desperately. But you won't listen. You have to understand.
He'll tell you that there are other things more important to understand, and you'll shake your head at him. He knows his place in the universe, his reason for being. All you have are questions.
He'll storm away, and you'll see him less and less.
The rocks are even more wondrous than you'd imagined. Kryptonite, you'll call it--it holds the secrets of your destiny. The applications are the foundation for LexCorp, and suddenly you're a very wealthy man again. A man with so many plans. Especially for crushing LuthorCorp, by any means, fair or foul.
A strange man in a red-and-blue suit, a man with powers, will start to ruin those plans.
Fortunately, the kryptonite works on him, too.
You'll have a ring made to protect yourself.
The future will be bright.
which a minute will reverse
You will get him out, somehow, blind panic lending you more strength than you thought you had. You'll reach the door just as the whole ceiling caves in.
Inferior foreign workmanship, you'll think with a deranged grin as your father shakes you off.
He's on his cell phone before you've even brushed the dust off, barking orders.
"Gee, you're welcome, Dad," you'll say when he clicks off.
He'll give you a look of contempt. "Am I supposed to be grateful for your lack of nerve?"
You'll stand there for a moment, not quite believing it, then you'll realize that you should never have expected anything else.
Your father will close the plant, but you won't go back to Metropolis. You'll travel in Europe for a year, living in a haze of drugs and pretty strangers, making sure Lionel hears about it all. You'll think about staying abroad forever but there will be a postcard waiting for you in every small town, and you won't be able to forget.
When you come back, Clark will kiss you, and you'll realize that some wars are won only by refusing to fight anymore.
You'll be first in your class in medical school, and finish the Ph.D. in the fifth year. You'll take one of the top fellowships in cardiology. You'll have a lover who comes and goes at the strangest times, but is always there when you need him. The techniques you invent will save thousands of lives, and eventually even Jonathan Kent will have to shake your hand.
Your father will call you a coward. You'll call yourself happy.