A/N: This is a pre-written 10-scene story. I debated between posting it as a one-shot, or in pieces. It's ~7k words total, which (to my taste) is pretty long as a one-shot, but the scenes are pretty short. So I decided to compromise. I will post one scene every day for ten days. If you'd prefer to read this as one piece, you won't have long to wait.

To Jakrar: this may not have been what you had in mind when you said you'd like to read a story where Clark's parents find out he was the scarecrow—it's closer to a head canon incorporating some of your theories than a true AU, and the discovery itself is only a small part—but I hope you and others enjoy it anyway. Sharing ideas and theories with you has been and continues to be a joy :)

Last note: This is NOT chronological, but the pieces do add up to a larger whole. The chapters are labeled by dates. The years help to place the events, but I've tried to make the situations clear from context, and the dates themselves are not particularly significant.

October 18, 2002

A year after Clark and Lex became friends, Clark sat in the passenger seat of Lex's car on a Friday afternoon in mid-fall, parked just far enough away from the cornfield that they wouldn't be noticed when the half-drunk teenagers arrived with their truck. They'd been planning today for almost the entire time they had known each other.

"Sure we got everything?" Lex asked.

Clark took a quick scan of the car. Two thermoses of hot chocolate from the mansion kitchens sat in the cup holders between them, and a bottle of soapy water with a rough sponge sat on the floor at his feet. Flannel blankets and extra clothes piled in the backseat beside a first aid kit and a small cooler with ice packs.

"Yeah," Clark said. "I think we got it."

They alternated between silence and idle chatting, but they both kept their eyes on the cornfield. They'd been sitting for less than an hour when it happened.

A beat-up red pickup truck blaring hard rock music sped around the corner. It slowed to a stop, and a half dozen guys in letter jackets jumped out of the truck bed, dragging a smaller kid toward the corn stalks. Clark and Lex were too far away to see the victim's face, but Clark thought he saw blood. The boys joked and laughed and threw beer cans into the field, and a couple of the guys doubled back to the truck to pick up the stake and the rope.

"I could deal with those guys," Lex muttered under his breath.

It was silent for a moment.

"Could make it look like an accident."

"Don't do this to yourself," Clark said softly.

"Don't do what?"

Clark took his eyes off the truck for a moment to glance over at his best friend, who wore a look Clark usually only saw when he was talking about Lionel. "If you hurt those guys, you're no better than they are."

"Bullshit."

Clark knew Lex was right. He also knew Lex. "We're not here for them."

Lex let out his breath. "I know."

The guys stumbled out of the field, laughing and exchanging high fives, and they jumped back into the pickup truck and drove away.

Clark wanted to run after them. He could do it. He could make an example of them, and maybe save some future kids, but that wasn't his job or his place. It was more likely to make things worse.

"They're gone." Lex unlocked his car door.

"Give it a minute," Clark said.

"That kid is suffering out there."

"We have to make sure the guys don't come back."

The tension was heavy, but Clark counted a full minute. Those sixty seconds felt as long as the year that had passed since Clark had been the scarecrow himself. And it had been a very, very long year.

But the minute finally passed. "Okay." Clark unlocked his car door. "You know what to do."

"Yeah." Lex smiled wryly. "This isn't my first time doing this, you know."

Clark couldn't bring himself to smile, but he nodded. "I know."