Chapter 4 – One Night in Metropolis
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, 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…
-== Chapter Four – One Night in Metropolis ==-
“What happened last night in Metropolis, Xander?” Jonathan asked bluntly.
“My bus got in late, I missed the last connection to Smallville and spent the night in a cheap motel,” the teen answered. Strictly speaking, it was the truth. It just wasn’t everything that had happened. Xander didn’t think that the Kents would be overly pleased with some of the extracurricular activities he’d been involved in while in Metropolis. After all, how do you explain that you went out to slay vampires to people who don’t even know that vampires really exist?
“That doesn’t explain how your name got into a police report about a mugging or why Wolfram and Hart want to talk to you about your involvement,” Jonathan’s frown spoke volumes about how unhappy he was about having this conversation.
“Oh,” Xander wasn’t sure which surprised him more, the fact that they somehow found out about that police report or the fact that Wolfram and Hart were involved. He’d sincerely thought that he’d be out of easy reach for the evil law firm in Smallville, but apparently he was mistaken.
The events of the incident played through his memory as he tried to decide what he could safely tell them about.
* * * * * Flashback * * * * *
Xander strolled casually down the night-time street. After spending so much time on the bus over the past couple of days, he just wasn’t quite ready to go back to being cooped up in a sleazy motel room yet. A quick shower and fresh clothes had completely revitalized him, so now he was walking the dark, unfamiliar streets of Metropolis. If he were anything remotely resembling a typical fifteen year old, this would probably qualify as crazy if not outright suicidal, but he was hardly normal.
The Metropolis Greyhound station wasn’t exactly in a great part town, in fact it was only a handful of blocks away from the area most of the locals called suicide slums. Given what the teen had been able to find out about the area’s rather unsavory reputation, he actually expected it to have a sizeable vampire population. Surprisingly though, he hadn’t encountered a single fang-face so far, a fact he found pretty disappointing.
All the classic signs of an area plagued by the undead were there: the streets were mostly empty, the people who were out and about were traveling in groups, and everyone eyed the solitary young man suspiciously. As he passed a group of homeless people, one man spoke up, calling out to him, “Hey, kid. It’s not safe to be out here alone. Folks disappear and don’ come back.”
“Thanks for the warning, but I can take care of myself,” he answered with a warm smile.
“Suit yourself,” the man mumbled back almost inaudibly, “It’s your funeral.”
Unfortunately, the man’s warning seemed to be the most excitement he was destined to have. He’d finally given up and headed back toward his motel without encountering a single vampire. He was just crossing out of the slums when he heard a woman scream nearby. He didn’t hesitate, bolting off toward the sound at top speed. He quickly rounded a corner into a blind alley and was confronted with six vampires in game face. Two of the thuggish looking vamps were dragging a now unconscious woman toward a man in an expensive looking suit.
“Let her go,” Xander ordered with a shout.
“Well, what have we here,” the well-dressed man asked in a distinctly Slavic accent. “A white knight riding in to rescue the damsel in distress?” he sneered at Xander. “You’re in over your head boy. Walk away while I’m feeling generous enough to let you live through this.”
“Really?” Xander asked, feigning surprise. “You mean you aren’t just six walking corpses and guy in a suit? I have a better offer for you. Let the lady go and I’ll give you a ten second head start on running for your lives. Some of you might even get away,” he gave a goofy grin, “probably not though.”
“How very droll,” the man in the suit commented. “Kill him.”
The four vampires who didn’t have their hands full with the unconscious woman immediately rushed at the teen. The Aesir drew back and punched the lead vampire hard, sending the demon flying into the brick wall at the end of the alley with tremendous force. Unfortunately for the vampire, the wall was more solid than he was and the sickening crunch of nearly every bone in the creature’s body breaking was heard clearly throughout the alleyway.
Xander quickly produced a stake that had been concealed in the sleeve of the unbuttoned, long-sleeved shirt he wore over his t-shirt. He turned sideways and jammed the stake into one of the oncoming vampires with his left hand before spinning the back of his right fist into a third vampire. The strike caught the vampire squarely in the face and sent the blood-sucker head-first into the sidewall of the alley. The demon’s head splattered against the brick like an overripe melon, dusting it instantly. The final vampire slammed his ham-like fist solidly into Xander’s ribs before letting out an ungodly screech of pain as his hand was pulverized by the impact.
The teen let out a grunt from the hit. This vampire was just powerful enough that Xander actually felt the demon’s punch. Flipping the stake over in his hand, he thrust it forward into the injured vampire’s heart. Xander smiled as the creature crumbled to dust, leaving only the two minions holding the woman and the guy in the suit to face him.
“Did I forget to mention I’m from Sunnydale and know all about how to slay vampires?” he asked.
He locked eyes with the well-dressed man for a long moment. What he saw there surprised him, whatever this guy was, he was no vampire. His eyes glowed with a pale blue-white luminance for an instant as he spoke. “I will rip out your spine and take your skull as a trophy, boy,” he threatened in an inhuman growl.
The Aesir whipped the stake through the air at the man and willed Mjolnir to his hand. As the hammer magically appeared, the air in the alley began to move, whipped into an instant frenzy by Xander’s emotions. The man held up a hand and the stake exploded into dust several feet from its target.
“Nice trick,” Xander commented with a grin. “But can you stop lightning?”
The words had scarcely left his mouth when he thrust the hammer into the air over his head. An arc of brilliant white fire struck the weapon and jumped across the gap to smash into the man in the suit, throwing him backward into the brick wall. The remaining minions dropped the girl and fled. Unfortunately for them, the only way out of the alley on foot was past Xander. As they stepped within arm’s reach, he swung Mjolnir in a great, sweeping arc, leading with the hammer’s maul like back edge. The two vampires collapsed into dust as their heads rolled free from their necks.
The man in the suit fell forward onto his hands and knees in the wake of the lightning bolt. Smoke rose heavily off of his clothes where the lightning had burned them. “So,” he gasped before pushing himself up to his knees and looking Xander in the eye once more. “Thor truly has returned… and you’re just as meddlesome and tiring as the original.”
“Yep,” the young Aesir confirmed with a grin, “and those are some of my better qualities.” As the man rose to his feet, Xander braced himself for a return attack.
“You have no idea what you’re interfering with, god-ling,” he said with a sneer. “You’ll regret this day, make no mistake about it.”
“Nice,” Xander shot back with a smile. “You want to throw around any more tired old clichés or can we make with the fighting now?” Inside, however, he was less than completely confident that he could handle this. The lightning seemed to have hurt him, but if this guy knew who and what he really was and still wanted to tussle… well that just couldn’t be a good thing.
“Oh, I think not,” his foe replied and Xander had to suppress a sigh of relief. “Fighting you now profits me nothing, but I assure you, we will meet again.” A flash of blue-white light engulfed the man and he vanished.
“I’m so looking forward to it,” Xander replied sarcastically, wondering what he’d gotten himself into this time.
* * * * *
He’d managed to find the woman’s cell phone and call 911 after dispatching the final, gravely wounded vampire. He hadn’t really wanted to stick around and deal with the cops, but he could hardly leave an unconscious woman alone in an alley at night. So he’d stayed and made up a story about interrupting a mugging and chasing away the bad-guys. The police had initially seemed somewhat skeptical of Xander’s story, until they found a large wooden cross in his pocket and the victim described her attackers as having something wrong with their faces. While no one had come right out and said anything, he got the distinct impression that at least the lead detective had a clue about what went bump in the night. In the end, he’d gotten a stern warning about those kinds of heroics getting people killed and was escorted back to his motel.
“It wasn’t really a big deal, Uncle Jonathan,” Xander said finally. “I was walking back to my motel room after getting a bite to eat and I heard a woman scream. I ran to help, found her unconscious and chased off a couple of thugs who were up to no good. I called 911 and then got lectured by the cops about how stupid it was to play the hero.”
“They’re right, Xander,” his uncle said sternly, despite the fact that he seemed somewhat relieved by the nature of Xander’s involvement. “What if they’d been armed? You could have been seriously hurt or even killed.”
“I couldn’t ignore it and do nothing!” the teen immediately protested, precisely the way he had when the cops had said the same the thing to him. “That would have been the same as helping them or hurting her myself.”
“We’re not saying that you shouldn’t have helped,” his aunt said immediately, “but you should have called the police and let them handle it.”
“If I hadn’t helped, there’s no telling what those guys might have done before the cops showed up!” he replied agitatedly. “She could’ve been robbed or raped or even killed in the fifteen minutes it took the police to show up after I called.”
Jonathan sighed. A part of him agreed with Xander’s sentiments and if it had been Clark that had done this, he probably wouldn’t have been nearly as upset. The difference was that Clark’s special abilities helped keep him safe, abilities that Xander just didn’t have. “I’m proud of you for wanting to help like that Xander, but you have to be more careful. If anything had happened to you…”
“I know, Uncle Jonathan,” the Aesir cut in, “but if something bad had happened to her and I’d done nothing, I wouldn’t have been able to live with myself.” He put on a goofy grin, “Besides, I had no idea where the nearest pay phone was, I could’ve spent hours looking for one.”
“You don’t have a cell phone?” his Aunt Martha asked, clearly surprised by that revelation.
“Nope,” he said simply. “Mom and dad certainly weren’t going to spend money on a phone for me. I ended up having to use the victim’s phone to call the cops.”
Jonathan frowned again, “That still doesn’t explain Wolfram and Hart’s involvement in all of this…”
“Yeah, that’s sort of surprising. I didn’t even realize they had an office in Metropolis,” Xander said thoughtfully, wondering if perhaps the mysterious guy in the suit had gotten the evil lawyers involved or if it had been the woman he saved.
“You know about Wolfram and Hart?” his uncle asked.
“A little,” the teen answered with a grimace. “They have an office in L.A. and the lawyer that the mayor hired for me in Sunnydale worked for them. They’re bad news, though I didn’t find that out until later. They’re kind of the embodiment of every bad lawyer joke you’ve ever heard.” Xander frowned before addressing one of his bigger concerns about this entire discussion thus far. “How’d you guys find out about all of this anyway?”
“I talked to our attorney earlier today to see if he could help us find you,” his aunt replied. “He called back and told us about it after he found out.”
“Jim is going to contact this person at Wolfram and Hart and find out what they want with you, Xander,” his uncle said flatly. “Then we’ll have to decide what to do next.”
‘Great,’ the teen thought, frustrated by this recent turn of events. ‘Guess I couldn’t keep Wolfram and Hart away from the Kents after all.’
* * * * *
Xander stayed fairly busy over the next several days. His Aunt Martha seemed to get him up early and keep him off the farm until nearly lunchtime every day. They visited Jim Taylor’s office several times, both as part of establishing the Kent’s as Xander’s legal guardians and to complete the insurance settlements. They also enrolled Xander as a freshman at Smallville High, only to have Principal Kwan insist that he complete a series of sessions with the school counselor before classes started. Apparently, the principal was concerned about how the teen was adjusting after his parent’s death, especially with his already colorful records from his year at Sunnydale High.
Of course, Xander couldn’t really blame him there. His record at Sunnydale High would only have gotten more colorful as time went on, he was sure. He wasn’t particularly pleased with the idea of having to go through the process of dealing with a counselor, but he didn’t exactly have much of a choice. Thanks to the extensive, very negative commentary that little troll Snyder had put in his permanent record, Kwan could probably keep Xander out of the public high school if he refused counseling. In his first session, the teen quickly realized that the entire process was going to be made incredibly complicated by the fact that he could hardly tell the woman the truth about life in Sunnydale or the deaths of his parents. Despite the difficulties inherent in the process, he did do his best to be as honest as he could in an effort to make a fresh start.
His Aunt also took him shopping for clothes and the other necessities that he sorely lacked. Xander and his uncle both had reservations about using the money the city of Sunnydale had given him, though for significantly different reasons. Xander, knowing the real source of the money, had loathed the idea of taking anything else from his parents’ killer. Jonathan, on the other hand, had objected to taking what he perceived as hush money. A payoff simply intended to keep his nephew quiet about the role of the city of Sunnydale in the deaths of Anthony and Jessica Harris. Eventually, however, Martha managed to over come their objections. The Aesir had quickly decided that it was nice to be able to buy actual new clothes that even fit properly, rather than shopping the local goodwill for the cheapest stuff he could find.
By the end of his first week in Smallville, the topics of his night in Metropolis and Wolfram and Hart seemed to be all but forgotten.
* * * * *
Clark breathed a sigh of relief as he watched the truck drive off. His mother and cousin were heading into town, taking Xander to his second mandatory counseling session. It wasn’t that he didn’t like having his cousin around, but keeping his powers a secret from the other boy did make farm work somewhat more difficult. So his mom and dad conspired to keep Xander busy elsewhere while Clark did his daily chores. It hadn’t been too difficult so far, but he wasn’t sure how much longer they could keep it up without making Xan suspicious.
Once the truck was sufficiently far away, Clark exploded into motion. Ever since that day when his Uncle Tony hurt Xander, he’d be been able to move faster than the eye could see. It was definitely a useful skill since combined with his strength it allowed him to easily do the work of a couple of full-time farmhands in a matter of minutes each day. As he raced from task to task, he wondered if he’d ever convince his dad to let him tell Xander the truth.
Of course, there was always hope that his cousin would remember seeing a six-year-old Clark pick up the rear end of a tractor and hold it over his head. Unfortunately, if Xan had remembered anything strange like that, he was keeping it to himself. Not that anyone would really blame him, who would want to admit to seeing something as crazy as that seemed.
What really bothered Clark, though, was the way Xander seemed to just close up some times. They’d be talking about something or swapping stories about their best friends and he’d get this weird look on his face and suddenly change the subject. So far he hadn’t tried to press his cousin about it, instead just letting the excuses go. He certainly couldn’t accuse the other boy of keeping secrets without being more than a little hypocritical. Plus, Clark was pretty sure his secret was bound to be a little harder to deal with than Xander’s was.
“Hey dad, I pulled up that stump you wanted rid of on the south range,” Clark announced as he approached Jonathan after finishing his routine chores.
“Thanks, Clark,” the elder Kent said with a smile. “I don’t know how we’d keep this place going without you.”
“What do you think about Xander so far?” the teen asked a moment later.
“I think you’re probably right about him, Clark,” Jonathan admitted after a moment. “I don’t think he’s anything like his father, but I’m still not sure it’ll be safe to tell him your secret.”
That didn’t come as a surprise the teen, but his own thoughts certainly did as he spoke them aloud. “I’m not so sure either. I think Xander is hiding something.” Clark considered his next words carefully as he continued, “I guess I can’t really blame him though. He’s been through a lot and I don’t think he’s really sure he can trust us yet.”
“Is there something specific on your mind, son?” Jonathan asked, stopping what he was doing and looking at his son.
“I’m kind of worried about him, dad,” he admitted, looking his father in the eye. “When he was here the first time, Xander was an open book about everything except the way his parents treated him. This time he doesn’t seem to be opening up to anyone, except the counselor Kwan’s forcing him to see.” Clark sighed. “I don’t think he’s nearly as close to being over his parents’ deaths as he wants us to believe he is.”
“Losing a parent is never easy, Clark,” his father said a few moments later, recalling how he’d handled his own parents’ passing. “And in Xander’s case, it happened very suddenly and without any warning. It’s going to take him a while to get over it enough to even talk about it. The best thing we can do is be there for him when he’s ready.”
Clark nodded distractedly as he heard the sound of unfamiliar tires on the drive. His father caught the noise as well and the two walked over to the barn door. There they found a shiny, black luxury car pulling to a stop. The Kent men exchanged a puzzled glance as the door opened and a man in a suit got out of the car.
“Can I help you?” Jonathan asked, approaching the stranger cautiously.
“I certainly hope so,” the man answered with a smile. “Are you Jonathan Kent?” When the farmer nodded in response, the man continued, “My name is Lindsey McDonald, I’m an attorney with Wolfram and Hart. I need to speak with your nephew, Alexander Harris.”