Chapter 14 -- Surprises
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the Mythology that I am about to mangle to suit my own twisted purposes. Frankly, if you recognize it, I don’t own it. This work may not be sold or used for profit in any way shape or form for that very reason. Please don’t sue me because I don’t have anything worth taking…
Author's Note: Thanks again for all the wonderful feedback I've been getting on this story. You folks have made this one of the most reviewed fics on the site, a fact which is just amazing to me. I truly appreciate all of you taking the time to review and let me know what you think of my work.
-== Chapter Fourteen – Surprises ==-
Xander woke with the sunrise the next morning, as he had most mornings since his arrival on the Kent Farm. Yve had told him that in time he would no longer feel a need to sleep, but so far that hadn’t happened yet. Admittedly, he slept much less than he used to without feeling physically tired afterward, but it still allowed him to shut off his conscious mind for a while.
Unfortunately, his dreams had been growing increasingly vivid and powerful. Worse yet, they’d grown to be dominated by images of the strange man that he’d encountered on his first night in Metropolis. Somehow, he doubted it was coincidence. It was moments like these when he really wished he had someone to discuss these things with…another Aesir or an Olympian that could help him adjust to his still evolving abilities. So far, however, wishing hadn’t gotten him anywhere.
He slipped quietly out of his bed and walked over to his room’s window, smiling as he watched the sun rise. Yesterday had easily been one of the worst he’d had since the day his parents died, but by the end it had all worked out okay. Sometime today he would talk to Chloe and explain to her what he was, what he could do… but compared to the discussion with his uncle after his visit to Wolfram and Hart last night, talking to Chloe would be a piece of cake. He knew that his aunt and uncle didn’t really approve of his decision to tell her the truth, but they had at least conceded that it was his decision to make. Deep down, Xander would have preferred to tell her in his own time, after getting to know her better, but he still had no doubt whatsoever that she would keep his secret.
As the early morning sun glistened off the rain-wet grass, the Thunder God frowned. He could only hope that his intense and disturbing dreams hadn’t triggered a storm. A quick glance at his nightstand revealed the amulet-sized Mjolnir and the Hands of Thor lying precisely where he’d left them the previous night. With a thought, the necklace vanished from the table to re-appear around his neck. He spent a long moment considering the gauntlets. Unlike his hammer, if he was caught by an enemy without them, he couldn’t merely will them onto his hands. By the same token though, he would only need the Hands of Thor against his most powerful foes…or possibly to fly.
He had yet to even attempt flying without the added power of the hammer and gauntlets. His innate ability to control the weather had manifested within the space of a single day after he first used it, so maybe his ability to fly would do the same. He really wouldn’t know until he tried.
Closing his eyes, he took a deep breath and willed himself into the air, slowly. A surge of elation flooded through him as he felt the forces of gravity weaken under the power of his will. A brief moment later his elation faded as his feet remained firmly on the ground. Without the gauntlets and hammer he didn’t have enough power to defy gravity entirely yet. He sighed and crossed the room to don the gauntlets. At least his ability to fly would reduce his reliance on his aunt to chauffer him around Smallville…provided he could find secluded places to take of and land, which shouldn’t be too difficult all told.
Slipping a pair of sweatpants on over the boxer shorts he slept in and pulling a t-shirt over his head, the teen crept out of his room and padded barefoot down the stairs. He heard the sounds of his aunt and uncle getting ready to begin their day and couldn’t help but smile. Typically Jonathan and Martha were up even before he was in the morning without any need for an alarm clock, but they seemed to have slept in, by their standards at least, after the previous day’s excitement. As he quietly as he could, he went out through the kitchen door and stood on the damp grass.
The cool, wet, ground felt slick beneath his feet as he took up a starting position. He closed his eyes and began breathing in slow, deep breaths. He tensed his body as his pulled his arms up into position slowly, using his own muscles to provide resistance as he moved. As he worked his way slowly through the movements, Xander’s world seemed to close in on itself, to narrow down to a singular point of focus. With every move, he worked his incredibly powerful muscle groups against each other, forcing them to push against their limits the way Yve had taught him. It was an ancient form of martial art, predating most mortal forms by hundreds of millennia, developed by the warrior gods to strengthen and tone muscles already capable of moving mountains.
During his brief time training with Yve before her death, she had continually stressed that he could not grow complacent. Mastery of his powers, of his divine birthright, required effort and discipline from him, two things that he hadn’t been able to put into his training since he arrived in Smallville. Falling quickly into the meditative state the form induced, Xander began to push his powers outward, forcing them against their own limits. A gentle breeze built, flowing, whirling and shifting until it moved in perfect unison with his motions. Once he’d asserted his mental mastery over the wind, he slowly began to add other elements, forming a dense, electrically charged cloud and forcing it to drift with perfect precision on his breeze. Small, focused changes such as these required far more power, far greater control than the larger more sweeping alterations he’d been making.
Shifting his focus again, he pushed his abilities farther, adding a final layer of complexity to his exercises. He pushed against the bounds of gravity, splitting his attention between both of his powers. He rose up on the balls of his feet as he continued repeating the moves of the form, pushing himself in search of his physical and metaphysical limits. Tiny beads of sweat began to form on his brow as the strain of maintaining his exercises began to show. Time lost all meaning as he pushed ever harder against the limits of his power.
Somewhere, in the deeper reaches of his mind, Xander smiled. Yve would have been proud of his efforts.
* * * * *
Martha Kent stared awestruck out her kitchen window at her nephew. The teen was moving with a slow, stately grace that belied the power behind each move. The heavy black rain-cloud swirled into the shape of a dust devil, a miniature tornado that moved in perfect unison with Xander as he directed it through a series of precise positions. It was amazing to behold and chased away any lingering doubts she may have had about Xander’s powers.
Martha had often been afraid for her son over the years, scared of what might happen if the world learned what Clark really was. Now she found herself fearing for Xander as well. He seemed so young to have been thrust into the roles of demon hunter and protector, and yet he was so determined to use his powers to help people. Unlike Clark, Xander had these powers thrust on him, ripping him from a human life and shoving him into something else entirely. Clark had at least grown up knowing he was different, even if he didn’t really know why.
So why was it that Xander seemed so much more at peace with what he could do? While Clark seemed to almost hate his powers and despise being so different from his friends, Xander appeared to have accepted what he’d become in a remarkably short time. Why was it so much more difficult for Clark?
It was at that moment that Martha came to a conclusion that she had often considered over the last few years. It was time to tell Clark the truth about what he was and where he came from. Maybe that knowledge would help her son find the peace with being different. She could only hope that together her family could help one another through the trying times she was sure were yet to come.
* * * * *
Clark was dreaming.
In the confines of his mind, he looped and whirled, sailing through the bright blue Kansas skies. He felt free and powerful, untouched by the distant forces of gravity. It was an amazing sensation. He raced over the town, watching the familiar streets and buildings of Smallville whiz past beneath him.
Within moments he flew in through an open window in a familiar farmhouse just a mile from his own home. Instantly, he found himself hovering, face down, a few feet above the room’s sole occupant: one Lana Lang. She lay sleeping peacefully in her bed, completely unaware of Clark’s presence.
Clark smiled, studying the familiar lines of her face. He and Lana barely knew each other, even though they were practically neighbors by Smallville standards, yet he had idolized her ever since he first started being attracted to girls. She was, to Clark’s mind at least, the most beautiful girl he’d ever seen. The fact that she was a cheerleader and dating Whitney Fordman, the starting quarterback for the Smallville High Varsity football team, didn’t diminish he unrequited love in the least. Neither did the fact that he made a fool of himself every time he tried to talk to her.
Suddenly, the girl of his dreams opened her eyes and stared right at him with a half-smile that would have made the Mona Lisa proud. Her lips moved as she spoke his name. “Clark!” she called out…in his mother’s voice?
A puzzled expression crossed his face. Why on earth would Lana sound like his mother?
“Clark!” he heard his mother call again and his eyes snapped open as the sound jarred him from his dream. He fell with a loud crash into his bed from where he’d been floating, near the ceiling of his bedroom. The dead weight of his landing broke something in his bed frame, slamming the box-spring into the floor loudly.
The startled teen practically sprang to his feet and stared at his demolished bed in unabated shock. He’d been floating just like in his dream. How was that even possible?
“Clark, are you alright up there?” he heard his mother call out again.
He had a feeling it was going to be a long, weird day.
* * * * *
Xander frowned slightly as he stepped through the kitchen door after his morning workout. It didn’t take a psychologist to recognize the somewhat strained silence between his aunt and uncle. “Is everything okay?” he asked gently, worried that the unusual tensions between them might be his fault somehow.
“Everything’s fine, Xander,” his aunt reassured him with a warm smile. “Your uncle and I were just having a little disagreement, that’s all, nothing for you to worry about.” She didn’t even hesitate before moving on and changing the subject. “What was that you were doing this morning?”
“Oh…it’s a form of martial arts developed by the Aesir,” he replied with a smile. “Tai-chi is actually based on a similar form. It uses your own muscles against each other to build strength without needing external weights. It’s pretty useful since I can bench-press a locomotive.”
“And you’re trying to get stronger?” his uncle asked incredulously. “If you can already lift a locomotive, why work out?”
“I’m still a growing boy, Uncle Jonathan,” he answered with a wide grin as he took a bottle of milk out of the fridge. “My powers and abilities are still developing and working out like that helps them develop and lets me gain better control.”
Jonathan smiled ruefully, watching Xander pour and drink down a tall glass of milk as he considered his nephew’s words. “I guess it’s hard to grasp that you could become even more powerful than you already are,” he admitted thoughtfully. “Is that something you’re going to teach Clark?”
“If he wants to learn it and it’s okay with you, then yeah,” Xander said with a shrug. “I’m not sure if it’ll help or not, since we don’t know if Clark’s powers are fully developed, but it couldn’t hurt. Plus, it’ll force him to learn better balance and focus.” He swallowed hard before broaching what he expected to be a sensitive subject, “Did Clark mention wanting me to teach him anything?”
“No, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he wants to learn that…assuming he ever gets up early enough to see you do it,” Jonathan admitted with a wry grin.
Martha smiled and took that as her cue to wake up their still sleeping son and yelled up the stairs at him, “Clark!”
The young Thunder God nodded in response and let the subject drop. He’d already told his cousin in no uncertain terms that Clark had to get Uncle Jonathan’s approval before he would teach him how to fight and was quite content to leave that argument between father and son. Besides, they probably had weeks if not months before the trainer that Hermes had mentioned arrived, which should be plenty of time to convince his dad to let him train.
As his Aunt yelled again, a loud, crash echoed from the upstairs, startling everyone. Xander immediately tensed, looking around for signs of a threat as his burgeoning warrior instincts kicked in.
“Clark, are you alright up there?” Martha called out again, concerned by the noise.
A moment later a rather embarrassed-sounding Clark yelled back, “I’m okay! I’m up!” His words and their awkward tone drew a relieved chuckle from the kitchen’s occupants. A short while later, Clark came down the stairs, fully dressed and ready to start his day despite the chagrinned look on his face.
“What was that bang, son?” Jonathan asked as the boy pulled up a chair and began to pour himself a bowl of cereal.
“I, uh, fell,” the teen admitted.
“Out of bed?” Xander asked, a wicked smirk forming on his face at the idea, as he scooped up his glass to take another swig of milk.
“Onto the bed, actually,” Clark replied with a frown. “I was floating up near the ceiling when I woke up…”
The choked snort that Clark’s words drove from the older teen quickly turned into a hacking, choking cough as he attempted to breathe the milk rather than drink it. Even his mostly Asgardian physiology couldn’t quite handle liquid in the lungs without some discomfort.
“You were floating near the ceiling?” his mother echoed dumbfounded as Clark pounded roughly on his cousin’s back, trying to stop his choking.
“Yeah…” Clark answered. “I dreamed that I was flying all around Smallville and woke up floating over my bed. As soon as I realized what was going on, I fell hard.”
“I hate to tell you this, Clark,” Xander said when his coughing abruptly subsided, “but it sounds like you can fly. You just need to figure out how to control it consciously.”
The younger teen turned slightly green at the prospect. “Or I could just pretend it didn’t happen.”
“Sure. But what if the next time it happens you wake up and fall 10,000 feet instead of five or six?” the Aesir countered. “You’re not indestructible, Clark. Even as strong as you are, a fall like that would probably kill you. Besides, maybe I can help you figure it out…if your ability works anything like mine.”
“How does your ability to fly work?” his uncle asked curiously.
The Thunder God paused for a moment, trying to decide how best to explain it. “For me, flying is an act of will. My powers make it so that gravity can only affect me if I allow it to,” he chuckled at the wide-eyed expressions on the remainder of the Kent family. “Except that I’m not powerful enough to do it on my own yet, I need the power boost provided by my hammer and gauntlets to overcome gravity entirely.”
“So you can just ignore gravity?” Martha asked, awed by the idea of what her nephew was saying.
“Yeah,” he confirmed with a nod. “But that wasn’y the biggest hurdle I had to get past. I had to believe that I could do it, had to discard my fears and doubts and accept what the ability to fly meant.”
“What do you mean, Xan?” Clark asked curiously.
Xander looked Clark in the eye. He knew that what he was about to say wouldn’t exactly reassure his cousin. “It meant that I had to accept what I am, Clark. I’m not a human being anymore. I may look human and sound human and feel very human emotions, but I’m not one. I’m an Aesir and I had to come to terms with that in order to fly.”
“But I am human!” Clark protested, looking to his father for reassurance. It was only then that he noticed the unhappy, almost guilty expression on Jonathan’s face.
“Actually, Clark,” his mother began gently, stopping when her son spun to look at her. The hurt, lost, look in the boy’s eyes sapping her will to tell him the truth.
A moment later, Jonathan spoke up, “What your mother is trying to say, Clark, is that your parents weren’t from anywhere near here.” He met his son gaze as the teen slowly turned back to face his him. “They weren’t from anywhere near this planet.”
“What are you saying, dad? That I’m some kind of alien?” He stopped, waiting for some kind of denial, some sort of answer that wouldn’t destroy everything he believed about himself and his world. His incredulous disbelief wavered as he continued, “And I suppose you’ve got my spaceship stashed up in the attic somewhere?”
“Not exactly,” his father answered with a sigh. “It’s in the storm cellar.”
* * * * *
Xander wisely held his tongue as his uncle led Clark to the storm cellar, choosing instead to stay behind with his aunt. As soon as the Kent men were out of earshot, he spoke, “This is what you were arguing about earlier, isn’t it?” he asked with quiet certainty.
“It was time he knew the truth, but Jonathan wasn’t ready to tell him,” his aunt confirmed with a nod.
The Aesir stood up and turned to walk away, “I’m going to go get dressed. I figure Clark is going to take off somewhere after this, but he shouldn’t be alone. I’ll go after him and try to talk to him.”
“What makes you think that?” she asked.
“Because, if I hadn’t had Giles to talk to when this happened to me, it’s what I would have done,” he answered simply. “He doesn’t have anyone that he can talk to about this except you and Uncle Jonathan, and he’s going to be pretty upset at you guys. He’ll be looking for some space to mull things over.”
“You’re wrong, Xander, he has you too,” she corrected softly, not denying what her nephew was saying.
“I’ll do what I can, Aunt Martha, but you guys shouldn’t have kept this from him. He deserved to know the truth,” the Thunder God hurried up the stairs and quickly traded his sweats for jeans and a clean t-shirt before pulling on socks and shoes. He ran back down the stairs and out the kitchen door in mere minutes, emerging just in time to see his cousin blur out of storm cellar and away from the farm.
With a sigh, Xander flew after him, staying slightly behind the angry teen as he followed along. He could only hope that when the time came, he would actually know what to say…
* * * * *
“This is how you came into our life, son,” Jonathan said sadly as he pulled the tarp back from the wedge like alien vehicle that had carried Clark to Earth. “It was the day of the meteor shower.”
“So you, what?” the young Kryptonian asked bitterly, “Found me on the side of the road afterwards?”
“You found us, Clark. Your mother and I were driving back from town when the meteors started falling,” he explained softly. “One of the meteors hit the road ahead of us and I couldn’t stop the truck in time. We slid into the crater, flipped the truck upside down and totaled it. When we came to after the crash, you were standing outside the truck, looking in at us with this smile.” The raw emotion of recalling Clark’s appearance that day threatened to choke the farmer up, but he swallowed it back before continuing. “We found your ship just as it closed up. I tried everything that I could to open it back up over the years, but I never could.”
Clark stared at the ship in silence for several long minutes, his mind racing as he took in what his father was telling him. “Why didn’t you tell me?” he asked finally, the hurt in his voice as clear as a bell.
“We wanted to protect you, son. If anyone had ever found out what you were, what you could do… They would have taken you away from us,” the pain in Jonathan’s voice mirrored Clark’s. “Who knows what they would have done to you? We decided to wait and tell you when you were older…when you would understand.”
“You should have told me!” Clark shouted angrily at his father. “I had a right to know the truth. All those times I asked about my birth parents, all that time I spent wondering why I was different. You had the answers and kept them from me!”
The teen turned angrily toward the exit and blurred into motion. He needed to get away from this place, from all the lies and deceit. He ran away as fast as he could, fast enough to keep everyone from following him. Almost.
* * * * *
Clark slid to a stop some time later in a small clearing where he and Pete sometimes camped. He sank to his knees on the soft ground, his mind whirling as he tried to make sense of what his dad had told him. He was so caught up in his thoughts and the emotional turmoil they brought with them that he didn’t hear, or even feel, the soft whoosh of air as Xander landed beside him.
“Hey Clark,” the Aesir said softly, causing the other boy’s eyes to snap up from the ground and meet his own. “How’re you holding up?”
“I’m an alien, Xan!” he snapped at his cousin. “How do you think I’m holding up?” Clark clenched his fists angrily. “My entire life has been a lie!”
Xander frowned. “How do you figure?”
“Which part of being an alien did you miss?” he shot back.
“The part where it changed everything about your life,” the Thunder God replied calmly. “So you’re an alien, big deal. It doesn’t change who you are. It doesn’t change the fact that you have great friends and an amazing family with parents who love you.”
“Parents that have lied to me for the last eleven years!” he countered, interrupting Xander.
The older boy shrugged in response. “People do a lot of crazy things when they’re trying to protect the ones they love, or did you forget my whole ‘Dirty Harry’ moment last night?” He sighed, sinking to the ground across from the upset alien. “The point is that everyone has some things that they keep secret and they always at least think they have a good reason for it at the time.”
Clark fell silent, considering his cousin’s words, before replying suddenly, “They should have told me, Xander.”
“Never said that they shouldn’t have,” the Aesir confirmed, smiling as he heard the anger draining out of Clark’s voice, “but they thought they were doing the right thing. They didn’t do it to hurt you.”
“I know they didn’t mean to hurt me,” Clark said bitterly. “I even sort of understand why they did it, but it still hurts. They didn’t feel like they could trust me with the truth about where I came from. And now it feels like everything I knew about myself is a lie, like my life was supposed be something different than this.”
“You’re life is going to be what you make of it, Clark,” the Thunder God said gently. “This doesn’t change who you are, it just explains why you have these powers. You’re still Clark Kent. Martha and Jonathan are still the only parents you’ve ever known and they still love you more than anything else.” He stopped, quietly considering his next words. “Did finding out that I’m not human anymore change the way you saw me?”
“No, but…” the alien teen began to protest.
“It’s not any different. What I am, what I’ve become isn’t even native to this dimension. I’m every bit as alien as you are, if not more,” the older teen pointed out.
“But you weren’t always, you were born human!” the Kryptonian argued.
“And you were raised as a human, by two people who are much better examples of everything that’s good about humanity than my parents ever were. Up until an hour ago, you were convinced that you were as human as the next guy, so where’s the difference?” Xander countered. “Your mom and dad have always loved you and they’ve known the truth all along. I’m not human either, so it would be pretty hypocritical for me to think any less of you for being from another planet. The only other person who knows is you, so the only thing that’s really changed is now we know why you’re different.”
“But it does change things! All these questions I’ve always had: questions about who my real parents are, where I came from, why they didn’t want me…” the younger teen began, “Suddenly the answers are so far away that I may never find them…”
“Yes, you will,” the Thunder God said solemnly. “And I’ll be there to help you along every step of the way. That’s what family is for, remember?” Xander smiled at his cousin. “I stopped believing in coincidence a long time ago. You’re here for a reason, Clark. We’ll go to the ends of the universe to figure it out if we have to but you’ll never have to do it alone.”
“You’re really taking this big brother thing to heart aren’t you?” Clark said with a feeble grin, his eyes widening at Xander’s confused look. “Mom and dad didn’t tell you yet?”
“Didn’t tell me what?” the Aesir asked, sounding as lost as he suddenly felt.
“When mom and dad went to Jim Taylor’s office yesterday, they filed papers to legally adopt you, Xander,” Clark said with a soft smile. “The custody papers contained a clause in them that’ll make it a really simple process, in a couple of weeks, you’ll be Xander Kent.”
Xander’s jaw dropped open in shock.