Chapter 18 -- First Day
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: Parts of this chapter, including some dialog, was adapted directly from the first season premiere of Smallville. I hope you enjoy this and feedback is a lovely way to let me know if you do. Especially now that we're getting into the events of the series itself.
-== Chapter Eighteen – First Day ==-
Xander woke abruptly, sitting up with a startled gasp as his eyes snapped open. The images from his nightmarish dream still burned in his mind even as he stared around his empty, quiet room. In his dream, he’d watched helplessly as a group of high school jocks in Smallville High letterman jackets had grabbed one of their classmates and taken him out into a cornfield. They’d stripped the boy to his boxer shorts, painted a large red ‘S’ on his chest, tied him to a wooden cross like a scarecrow and left him there, alone. He’d watched as the teen hung there for hours, crying for help that never came. Finally, he’d been forced to stare in horror as the sky above the field was rent by a streak of fire and smoke as something massive fell from the sky. Xander had woken with the sound of the blast echoing in his ears, having watched the falling object strike the ground a short distance from the teen.
As his mind finally registered the growing light in his room, Xander glanced at his clock. It was shortly before 6 a.m., leaving him with a bit more than an hour and a half before the bus would run. With time to kill, his thoughts turned back to his nightmare, trying to make sense of his dream. Despite the undeniable brutality of what the boys had done, there hadn’t been any real malice…or at least not beyond that of relatively normal bullying. Of course, the fact that tying people to crosses like that had been one of the nastier methods of execution used by the Roman Empire probably hadn’t really occurred to the boys. Still the whole thing had an almost ritualistic feel to it, as if it were a sacrifice or an offering of some kind.
The real question, though, was whether or not it was just a dream. Over the weeks since his transformation into one of the Aesir, his dreams had grown increasingly vivid and disturbing while at the same time becoming far less frequent. It was beginning to feel less like he was dreaming and more like he was having visions. The things he dreamt just felt so real…
Xander sighed and climbed out of his bed. It was moments like these when he really wished he had someone he could turn to for help with his new life. Unfortunately, while even Giles had been a fairly poor substitute for Yve’s help and guidance, at this point he’d take any help he could get. Only it was far too early to try calling California.
Instead of dwelling on it any longer, the Aesir began getting dressed and ready for school. With his newly discovered super-speed, he figured he could get all of his chores done before school and still have time to look at that stone he’d found yesterday. As soon as he was dressed, Xander headed downstairs. He wasn’t surprised to find his adopted mother in the kitchen. It seemed she spent a significant part of her time in there.
“Good morning, Xander,” she greeted cheerfully. “You’re up and about early this morning…”
“Well,” he replied with a grin as he snagged an apple from a nearby fruit bowl on the counter, “Unlike Clark, I don’t seem to need to sleep 10 hours a night.” He took a big bite of the apple, chewed quickly and swallowed as he headed to the door. “I’m gonna take care of my chores and then take a look at that rock I found yesterday…since I’ve got time to kill before the bus.”
“Alright, just don’t get distracted and forget you have school,” Martha warned.
The Thunder God chuckled. “I won’t. I’ll be in the barn when I get my chores done.”
* * * * *
Xander stared intently at the yellowish stone, trying to decide how best to deal with it without damaging whatever it contained. He scratched at it with a fingernail, testing its strength, only to find that it was far too hard for that. He decided he could probably crush the stone easily enough, but certainly not without destroying whatever was embedded in it. He was only really left with one option and that meant that he needed tools.
The teen spent several moments rummaging around the barn before finding a heavy, iron chisel that seemed likely to do the trick. Chisel in hand; the Aesir began scraping it against the rock, increasing the pressure with each successive pass. After several minutes, he stopped and stared in frustration at the rock. So far, all his efforts had accomplished was wearing away a significant piece of one corner of the chisel. Apparently, the stone was much harder than iron.
On the verge of losing his temper, Xander picked the rock up and stared harder at it, studying the surface. On the bottom of the stone, or rather along the almost flat surface he’d been treating as the rock’s bottom, he noticed a tiny series of almost unnoticeable cracks. They reminded him of the way an eggshell tended to crack when it was dropped. It gave him an idea.
Grasping the object firmly in his left hand, with the cracks facing away from his palm, he slammed the rock hard against the heel of his right hand. A loud crack resounded through the barn. A closer inspection revealed that the cracks had deepened and spread slightly across the outer surface of the rock. Realizing that he was finally making some headway, the Aesir couldn’t help but grin before hitting the stone several more times. On the fifth blow, the rock broke apart in his hand with a brilliant flash of green light.
Instantly, Xander froze, waiting for something to happen. When nothing did, he carefully spread the fragments of the rock out on the table. The metallic object he’d initially noticed turned out to be a heavy duty brass washer, nothing more. However, as he stared at the fragments, he noticed that something else had been completely concealed in the rock. Judging by the impressions the object had left in the stone fragments it appeared to have been a ring of some sort. Whatever it had been, it had vanished in that flash of green light.
The Thunder God frowned. He could only hope that whatever he’d just turned loose wasn’t going to come back to bite him later.
* * * * *
Xander came back into the kitchen just as Clark came down the stairs. He couldn’t help but grin as the younger boy fished out a bottle of milk, opened it and began to drink straight from the container. The Aesir chuckled as his mother turned around, and took the bottle from the teen.
“It tastes better out of the bottle,” the Kryptonian said with a sheepish grin.
“Where’d you learn your manners?” she demanded in an exasperated tone.
“On a farm?” Clark answered jokingly.
“Well, good afternoon, sleepyhead,” Jonathan teased with a broad grin as he came through the door and saw Clark. “How is it that Xander, who’s only lived on a farm for a few weeks, consistently gets up early, while you always manage to sleep in?” The farmer asked, clapping Xander on the shoulder.
“Only on a farm would seven a.m. be considered sleeping in,” Clark complained with a smile as he pulled a slip of paper out of his pocket and shot a quick glance at Xander.
The Aesir couldn’t help but roll his eyes at his brother. Despite the fact that Jonathan had already said no to Xander’s own request to participate in sports, nothing the Thunder God had said could deter the other boy from asking to play football. He would almost admire Clark’s determination, if letting him play didn’t seem like such a colossally bad idea.
“What’s that you’ve got there, Clark?” Jonathan asked as Xander grabbed his book bag and stood by watching the impending train wreck.
“It’s a permission slip,” the teen answered hopefully. “The football team is holding try-outs after school today.”
“We’ve been over this before, son,” Jonathan began.
“I figure I’ll run like a normal human and I won’t hit anybody,” he explained quickly. “I’ll probably end up riding the bench for half the season anyway…”
“With your abilities it would be too easy to accidentally hurt someone,” his father argued. “And a lot can happen in the heat of the game.”
“I can be careful, dad,” Clark protested. “Nobody will get hurt!”
“You don’t know that, Clark,” Jonathan argued. “No matter what special gifts you have, you aren’t perfect. All it would take is one moment, one mistake.” The farmer sighed tiredly, “I’m sorry, son. I know how hard this must be, but the answer is no.”
“You have no idea how hard this is. You got to play football,” the teen countered angrily. “I just wanted to go through high school without being a total loser.” The Kryptonian stormed angrily out the door, slamming it behind him.
Instantly Jonathan’s eyes went to Xander, who promptly threw his hands up. “Don’t look at me,” he protested. “I tried to talk him out of asking to begin with. Besides, Clark has a point. He can be careful, even in the heat of the moment.”
“We can’t be sure of that!” Jonathan repeated his argument hotly.
“You don’t get it,” the Aesir said with a shake of his head. “Clark could have torn that door off the hinges as he went out it with the same effort it would take you to tear up that permission slip. But as angry as he was, he didn’t do it. I’d say that qualifies as the heat of the moment.”
“If he did make a mistake, if someone got hurt… could you live with that?” the man demanded.
“Personally, no, I wouldn’t want to take that chance,” Xander replied as he crossed the room to the front door, “but I’m not the one asking to play football either.” He headed out the door after his brother, leaving his dad to consider what he said.
“Hey,” the Thunder God called out as he caught up to Clark about halfway down the drive. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright,” Clark replied, his tone of voice clearly at odds with his words. “Dad just doesn’t get how hard it is to be so different.”
“He’s just trying to look out for you,” the older teen offered with a sigh. “He’s even got a good point. I mean, you could run through a brick wall without trying…if you hit a person like that, no amount of padding is going to save them.”
“I can be careful, Xan,” he shot back heatedly.
“I know that, Clark,” the Aesir replied. “And I tried to make dad see just how careful you are. For what it’s worth, I think it should be your choice. You’re the one who’d have to live with the consequences after all.”
“Really?” Clark asked, stopping abruptly. “I thought you said it was a bad idea.”
“I still think it’s a terrible idea,” Xander said with a shrug. “If nothing else, your powers give you an advantage that’s unfair to everyone else. Even without really using your abilities you could easily outperform the best human athletes in the world. It would be hard to hold back, especially if holding back would mean the difference between winning and losing.”
“And yet, you’d still support me going out for the team? Even though you disagree with me?” the younger teen asked in a surprised tone.
“Yeah, I would,” he answered. “We may not always agree, but it’s your life Clark. You have a right to make your own decisions.”
At that moment, both boys looked up to see the school bus drive by without even slowing down. “Great,” Xander said with a grimace. “My first day at Smallville High and I miss the bus. What a lovely way to start things off…”
“Could be worse,” Clark pointed out, “Race you to school?”
The Aesir grinned before blurring off through the fields with Clark a split-second behind him.
* * * * *
“Pete, you want to take a commercial break from the soap opera in your head?” Chloe said exasperatedly as the two teens walked up the front steps of the school. “I’ve told you repeatedly, I’m not interested in…”
“Hey Chloe,” Xander interrupted with a grin as he and Clark joined them at the top of the stairs. He figured preventing her from accidentally revealing the object of her interests, Clark, to said individual was probably not a bad idea. “Pete. How’s it going guys?”
“How’d you guys get here so fast?” Pete asked in shock.
“Took a short cut,” Clark said with a smile.
“Through what? A black hole?” Chloe shot a questioning look at Xander as she spoke.
“You’ll have to excuse our intrepid reporter, seems as though her weird-dar is on DEFCON 5. She thought something was attacking the bus,” Pete cut in before either of the Kent’s could reply.
“Okay, just because everyone else chooses to ignore the strange things that happen in this leafy little hamlet, doesn’t mean they don’t happen,” the blonde protested.
“Well, as much as we’d love to join you and Scooby in the Mystery Machine for another zany adventure, Clark and I have to turn these permission slips in before homeroom,” Pete replied with a grin as he pulled his signed slip from his pocket.
“Actually, Pete, I’m having second thoughts,” Clark said quickly, “I don’t think signing up for the team is such a good idea.”
“Clark, listen, it’s the only way!” Pete said seriously.
“Wait, you and Clark are trying out for the football team?” Chloe asked incredulously. “What is this, some sort of teen suicide pact?”
“The only way to do what?” Xander asked abruptly, wondering what his brother had left out about his desire to play football.
Pete stepped closer to Chloe and Xander and dropped his voice to a whisper, “The only way to avoid being this year’s scarecrow.”
“What are you talking about?” the reporter asked. “And why are we whispering?”
“Every year before the first game of the season,” Pete explained, “The football players pick a freshman, take him out to Reilly field, strip him to his boxers and paint an ‘S’ on his chest.”
“Then they string him up like a scarecrow,” Clark added.
Xander frowned darkly. They were describing exactly what he’d seen in his dream that morning, which was way too eerie to be a coincidence. At least it answered the question of whether or not he was having visions, clearly he was. Now if only he knew why?
“Jeez, that sounds like years of therapy waiting to happen,” Chloe said with a disgusted look on her face.
“Why do you think me and Clark are trying out for the team?” Pete asked. “We figure they won’t pick one of their own.”
Chloe frowned before shooting a look at Xander. Judging by the look on his face, clearly no one had mentioned this barbaric little ritual to the newest member of the Kent family. She was about to ask exactly why that was when she caught a slight shake of Xander’s head. Her eyes flicked back and forth from Xander to Pete for a few seconds but she held her tongue.
Clark, however, was staring intently across the school yard at someone. “I’ll see you guys in class,” he said abruptly before striding purposefully away.
The three remaining teens stared after him for a moment, looking for the object of his attention. Xander realized that Clark was walking directly toward a rather exotic looking young woman with vaguely Asian features.
Before the Aesir could say anything, Pete held up a five dollar bill, and said, “I give him ten seconds.”
“Five,” Chloe countered with a grin.
As Pete began counting, Xander narrowed his eyes, watching his brother. Clearly the other teens knew something that he didn’t. As if on cue, the moment Pete said ‘5’, Clark stumbled, spilling the books he was carrying across the sidewalk. Even at this distance, Xander felt the sudden flare of energy as Clark’s powers were drawn out toward the young woman. It was a weaker form of the very same reaction his brother had experienced to the green crystal.
“Statistical fact,” the Aesir heard Chloe declare as he walked toward the weakened teen, “Clark Kent can’t get within five feet of Lana Lang without turning into a total freak show.”
‘So this is Lana Lang,’ Xander thought, taking a moment to study the girl as he approached. ‘How very…Cordelia.’ The Aesir couldn’t deny that the girl was pretty, but that seemed to be all she was…just pretty. Everything else about her seemed so very ordinary. Her clothes, her smile, the way she carried herself, even her voice seemed to lack something. Some vital spark that might make her seem more interesting. Of course, with Buffy, Chloe and Willow as his standard for comparison, he supposed that most women might begin to seem a little boring.
“So what are you?” he heard the girl ask. “Man or Superman?”
“I haven’t figured it out yet,” Clark replied weakly as Xander bent and helped him take a seat on a nearby retaining wall.
“You okay, Clark?” the Thunder God asked, knowing full well what was wrong. Clark didn’t answer but flashed him a grateful smile for his help. Putting on his best goofy, ‘I’m new here’ grin, he turned to face Lana. “I’m sorry,” he said quickly, “Where are my manners? I’m Xander Kent.” He offered the girl his hand.
Lana took it with a polite smile. “Lana Lang,” she said, introducing herself. “Kent? Are you and Clark related?”
He bit back the sarcastic reply that immediately sprang to mind for the sake of his brother’s crush on the girl. Instead, he said, “Yeah, he’s my brother.”
“I didn’t know Clark had any brothers?” she said, her smile never wavering.
“He didn’t until about two weeks ago,” Xander said, not having to force a smile as he noticed her necklace. “His mom and dad adopted me, before that I was just his cousin,” he explained, intentionally leaving out the reason for the adoption. At this distance, he could feel the necklace drawing Clark’s power toward it. “That’s a very interesting necklace,” he said sincerely, changing the subject. “What kind of stone is that?”
“It’s a piece of one of the meteors that fell on Smallville,” she answered with an odd look. “It came from the meteor that killed my parents, actually.”
The Aesir couldn’t completely suppress the revolted shudder that passed through him at those words or the horrified expression on his face. “And you wear it?” he exclaimed in surprise, “That’s really…morbid.” It wasn’t what he really wanted to call it, but again, he also didn’t want to be really insulting. Clark was bound to have some reason for liking the girl…
The girl still managed to look terribly insulted and was about to say something when a blonde teen in a letterman jacket came over and interrupted, “Hey Lana, is everything all right?”
“It’s fine,” she said shortly, flashing the jock a smile. “Whitney, I’d like you to meet Xander Kent, Clark’s new brother.”
Whitney eyed him the way most people would look at a cockroach. The boy clearly had jealousy issues, Xander decided. The quarterback nodded to Xander before glancing at Clark. “You okay, Clark?” he asked. “You look like you’re about to be sick.” When Clark gave the boy a pained smile, Whitney turned his attention back to Lana. “Let me walk you to class, Lana,” he said with a smile.
Lana smiled back genuinely at her boyfriend. “Thanks Whitney,” she said happily. She turned back to Xander and Clark. “Nice to meet you Xander, see you around Clark.”
The couple joined hands and walked off together.
As soon as they went a few paces, the energy in the air faded and Xander looked at his brother. “You really know how to pick ‘em, Clark,” he said with a sigh.
“What do you mean?” the teen replied defensively.
“Oh, I don’t know, let me see,” Xander answered snarkily. “Sure she’s cute but she seems kind of vapid and shallow. She’s dating the star quarterback of the high school football team, which suddenly explains part of your obsession with playing football. And she’s wearing a chunk of the rock that killed her parents around her neck, how twisted is that? Never mind the fact that the meteors make you sick.” He sighed. “Do you need a flashing neon sign staying ‘Keep Away’? ‘Cause I’m thinking if I ask my cousins, I might be able to arrange something…”
“Xander,” Clark ground out in aggravation.
“Look, I know it’s none of my business,” the Thunder God said throwing his hands up defensively, “But you could do better. That girl seems like a lot of trouble for no good reason. If that’s what you really want though, I’ll keep my nose out of it.”
As Clark stood up, he considered his brother’s words. Whether he wanted to admit it or not, Xander had a point. He’d lived barely a mile away from Lana their entire lives and the most they had talked was to say hello in passing. What did he really know about her?
Still, he couldn’t help thinking that he’d like to get to know her.