Chapter 8 – Revelations, Reactions, & Retaliation
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…
-== Chapter Eight – Revelations, Reactions, and Retaliation ==-
“Oops?” The word hung heavily in the air between the two boys. Clark stared in complete surprise at the tree his cousin had just accidentally taken out. It looked like the rock that Xander had thrown had cracked the trunk pretty severely, essentially snapping the tree like a twig. Clearly the other teen was strong…superhumanly strong, very much like Clark was himself. How was that even possible?
The Kansas farm-boy turned to look back at the other teen. When he saw the pained looking, tentative grin on cousin’s face, he smiled gently. He, of all people, could imagine what Xander must be thinking and feeling at the point. “Xander, you just assassinated a tree…I’m not sure ‘oops’ really covers it,” there was a distinctly amused curiosity in his voice as he asked, “How did you do that?”
It took a moment for Clark’s reaction to penetrate the panicked flurry in the young Aesir’s mind as he desperately wracked his brain for a way to explain this away without sounding completely insane. “Uh, there’s a perfectly rational explanation for this…” he stammered out automatically before pausing to try one last time to come up with just such an explanation. Which is when it hit him, Clark wasn’t reacting at all the way he had expected. “You aren’t freaking out,” he said bluntly. “You should be freaked out by this, Clark, why aren’t you freaked out?” He was rambling and he knew it, but he couldn’t help it at this point.
Clark chuckled softly, “You still haven’t remembered the secret I told you the last time you came to Smallville?” The teen’s smile never faltered. “When I showed you what I could do?”
“Secret?” Xander repeated, thinking hard for a moment. For just a moment an image of a six-year old Clark holding a farm tractor over his head flashed through his memory. “Holy Crap!” he exclaimed, completely shocked by the revelation. “That was real?”
Clark nodded, and a relieved look flashed over the Aesir’s face. “Oh God! I always thought that was just something that I dreamed up after my injury. I spent years wanting to ask you about it before I finally convinced myself it was impossible…”
This time Clark’s jaw dropped open, “You remembered all along?”
“Well, yeah…” his cousin replied with an apologetic grin. “I just didn’t think it really happened. So you’re really that strong?”
“Yeah,” Clark said, smiling again, “And really fast now too. That’s something I didn’t learn I could do until the day you got hurt.”
“Fast?” Xander repeated with a slowly widening grin. “How fast are we talking? Like Olympic athlete fast?”
This time it was Clark’s turn to grimace slightly. “More like supersonic jet fast…” he admitted.
“Wow! Really?” The older teen was clearly shocked. “Show me?” he asked with an expectant smile.
Clark grinned before moving away so fast that Xander could only just barely see him move. A very literal second later, Clark was back holding a book that he hadn’t had a moment before. It was an astronomy book that Xander knew the other boy kept near his telescope in the barn loft. In a single second, Clark had run all the way back to the barn, grabbed the book and run back, a round trip distance that must have been more than two-thirds of a mile.
“Alright,” Xander acknowledged, “you’re definitely super-fast, no doubt about it. It must suck to race against you in gym class.”
The younger boy’s smile seemed more than slightly embarrassed as he chuckled, “I wish, but I don’t use my abilities like that. I try to hold back and not draw attention to myself, you know: come across as an average guy.”
Xander nodded looking out across the field at the remains of the tree. “I get that,” he conceded softly. “Being different can be hard and being Joe Normal when one of your friends is special isn’t exactly easy either. How do Chloe and the rest of your friends deal with your abilities?”
“They don’t,” Clark said with an unhappy frown. “Other than my mom and dad, you’re the only one who knows my secret.”
“You’re kidding?” the Aesir exclaimed softly. “You’ve been carrying around a secret like this for your entire school life and you haven’t found anyone you trust enough to share it with?”
“It’s not a matter of trusting them, Xander” the other boy countered. “If my secret got out… I don’t know what would happen. As much as I want to tell Chloe and Pete, I can’t. It’s just not safe.”
“How do you manage to keep it a secret?” Xander asked softly.
“It’s not easy,” Clark admitted sadly. “Sometimes I have to lie to my best friends to keep my secret. I hate it, but I can’t take that risk. I mean what if they freaked out and couldn’t handle it?”
“It sounds like a really lonely way to live,” the young God said with a sad smile as he looked his cousin in the eye. “They’re your friends and they care about you a lot, Clark. I think they might surprise you with what they can handle. I knew a girl back in Sunnydale who tried to keep a secret kind of like yours. Me and my friend Willow ended up learning it before we even got to know her.” At Clark’s strange look the Aesir shrugged, “It was a bad situation. She used her special abilities to save Willow’s life. She went on to become one of our best friends and we spent the rest of our time together helping her and keeping her secret. I don’t know if we made her life any easier per se, but we made it a lot less lonely over the past year.”
“What about you?” the farm boy asked, changing the subject. “You tell anyone your secret?”
“Yep,” he answered succinctly. “I told the librarian at Sunnydale High School the morning after I got my abilities. He was kind of a father-figure for me and my friends. I decided not to tell my other friends before I left because I couldn’t be there to help protect them anymore.”
“You mean you haven’t always been this strong?” Clark asked.
“Nope, I sure haven’t,” he explained with a grin. “I only became a member of the super-humans club a few weeks ago. I’m still getting a handle on what I can do.”
“What can you do?” the younger teen asked with a grin.
“You mean besides killing trees with my impressive rock-throwing abilities?” the Aesir asked with a chuckle. “I’m really strong, as you’ve already seen, and I can control the weather. Well, sort of, anyway…I’m still working on getting the hang of that. I’m also pretty hard to hurt, heat and cold don’t have any effect on me, and when I do get hurt I heal really, really fast.”
“What happened? How’d you get your powers?” Clark’s grin remained steadfast as Xander described what he could do. For the very first time since he could remember, he wasn’t alone anymore. He finally had someone that he could share his secret with, someone who understood what it was like to be different.
“I, uh, found this artifact,” Xander said, his voice carefully neutral as he told his cousin the short version of how he got his powers. “When I accidentally activated it, it changed me and gave me these abilities.” Much like the version of the events in Metropolis he’d told his Aunt and Uncle about, it was technically the truth, or at least most of the truth. The rest of it: what he really was, demons, magick, ancient Gods… that part he wasn’t entirely sure he was ready to go into with anyone yet. Especially the part where he was now essentially one of those ancient Gods...that might be a little hard for anyone to believe without a hell of a lot more proof than he could provide. “What about you? Where’d your abilities come from?” he asked, casually shifting the focus of the conversation away from things he didn’t want to discuss.
“I was born this way I think,” his cousin replied. “Ever since mom and dad adopted me, I was really strong.” His grin slipped just a little bit. “That’s not really the whole story about what happened to you is it, Xan?”
Xander swallowed hard. Given how oblivious his cousin had been to Chloe’s fairly obvious feelings for him, he hadn’t really expected Clark to be this perceptive. He sighed and decided to come clean, “It’s the truth, Clark, but you’re right it’s not the whole truth. In fact, it’s not even remotely close to being the whole story. The unabridged version is a lot more complicated, harder to believe, and frankly sounds crazy as hell, even to me…and I lived through it.”
“Try me, Xander,” Clark said with a reassuring smile.
The two boys locked eyes for a long moment as the Aesir considered the teen’s words. “Okay,” he agreed, “on two conditions. First, you keep an open mind, because it’s a really bizarre story. And second, I get to be the one who decides how much of the whole story we tell your mom and dad.”
Clark hesitated for a long moment, considering Xander’s conditions. It was hard to imagine keeping a secret like this from his mom and dad, but if it was the only way to get Xander to really open up… He finally nodded his agreement.
“Alright, let’s head back up to the loft,” Xander suggested. “This isn’t exactly going to be a short story and at least up there we can be comfortable while we talk.”
“Okay,” Clark agreed, leading the way back toward the house. As they walked together, a strangely comfortable silence filled the air.
They’d barely gone a few yards when a strange ripple of energy raised the hairs on the back of Xander’s neck. Clark stopped abruptly, a puzzled look on his face. “Did you just feel something weird, Xan?” the younger boy asked.
“Magick,” the Aesir replied cryptically, his voice tensing as he realized what direction it came from. “Where are your mom and dad?”
“They headed back into town to talk to Jim Taylor again after your meeting with the lawyer this afternoon. They’d left before I came to find you, but they should be back any minute,” his cousin replied. “Why and what do you mean ‘magick’?”
Xander’s face was set in a grim mask. Without answering, he broke into a short run and leapt hard. His jump was far from perfect, but it carried him in a high arc and let him cover a considerable distance much faster than he could run it. Somehow, he could feel a group of demons approaching the farm, and they felt really powerful. Their sudden appearance only hours after he’d turned down Wolfram and Hart’s offer could only mean trouble.
Clark watched wide-eyed as his cousin seemed to explode off the ground, covering the entire quarter-mile or more back to the house in a single bound. Something was clearly wrong, and while he wasn’t sure what, he wasn’t about to let Xander face it alone. Blurring into motion, he raced to his cousin’s side as fast as he could.
Focusing, Xander managed to land properly, if somewhat gracelessly. Rising to his feet from the crouching position his landing left him in, he turned to confront five large, horned demons with red, rocklike skin and cloven hooves for feet. Each step the monsters took scorched the ground beneath their feet. Clark seemed to materialize next to him from nowhere almost instantly.
“Xander, what are those?” Clark asked quickly, pointing to the strange creatures that stood at the far end of the drive.
“Those are demons, Clark,” the Aesir answered bluntly. “And I don’t think they’re here to chat…” He willed Mjolnir to his hand, savoring the surge of power that raced through him as it appeared in his gauntleted fist.
“Thunderer!” one of the demons, apparently the leader of the group, shouted in a raspy voice. “You die first. Then we’re going to destroy this place and slaughter your family. You’ll all be in Valhalla before the sun sets.” The demons stood motionless at the end of the driveway as their leader spoke, some 30 or so yards from the boys.
“Nope,” the Thunder God muttered, just loud enough for Clark to hear him, “definitely not here to chat.” Then he raised his voice and shouted back to the demons, “I don’t know you. Why are you doing this?”
“Thor slew many of our kind. You claimed his legacy, so you die for his crimes and vengeance is served,” an evil looking smile spread over the leader’s face as he spoke. “Only a true immortal can kill us god-ling, and the lawyers said you were born human. You’ll die knowing that you failed your family again.”
“Get out of here, Clark,” Xander ordered instantly. “This isn’t your fight.” He eyed his opponents and tightened his grip on the hammer. The gauntlets Hermes had given him tingled with power. Even with the ability to kill them, five-to-one odds weren’t good, especially if they were as smart as the leader managed to sound.
The young God surged into motion, hurling Mjolnir at the leader with all of his might. His best hope was to surprise them by quickly killing one or two of them and hope that the others would panic and flee. The hammer struck the surprised creature squarely in the face with tremendous force. The impact caved the demon’s head in, causing a red, gelatinous slime to spatter all over the remaining monsters. As the stone-fleshed behemoth tumbled backward in seeming slow motion, his compatriots stared at it in utter shock. By the time the body hit the ground a fraction of a second later, it had turned to a viscous red-ooze that splattered over the ground as though someone had dumped the contents of a bucket of paint. As one, the four remaining demons turned back to the boys.
“Would ya look at that?” Xander asked, feigning shock as he hefted Mjolnir with a broad smile. “I guess I can kill you…what a surprise.”
Four roars of rage from four throats told Xander that they were neither amused nor particularly inclined to run away. Three of the monsters charged at the boys, two heading for Xander while one went for Clark, all of them moving much faster than anyone would have expected. Clark blurred into motion, meeting his demon head-on and punching the creature with a simple, but powerful, blow. A resounding crack echoed from the impact and the beast went flying backward more than a hundred yards into the cornfield across the road from the farm. The demon struck the ground hard, digging up a wide, furrowed trench in the ground.
“Arrgh,” Clark grunted out, grasping his hand in pain. A quick glance down at his hand revealed that the beast’s stone skin had torn the skin from his knuckles and that even that brief moment of contact had been enough to sear bright red marks into his remaining skin. “Watch out!” he shouted to Xander, “Their skin burns!”
Much to Xander’s surprise, the world had seemed to slow down around him as he’d watched Clark move. He’d watched in horror as his cousin ran straight at the monster and punched it with all the skill and style of a schoolyard bully hitting a scared child. He was shocked that Clark hadn’t hurt himself any worse than scraping his knuckles and burning his hand.
Xander jumped at his two adversaries, surprising the demons as he threw out his arms to catch them both across the chest in a flying double clothesline. Searing pain raced over his flesh as he slammed into them, the magical heat from their skin hurting much worse than the fires of the elemental or giant he’d faced in Sunnydale. But it had accomplished what he intended, taking both demons off their feet. “Clark,” he shouted, “I said get out of here before you get hurt!”
“No!” his cousin shouted back. “I can’t leave you to face them alone!” The teen moved again, blurring toward the stationary demon. As his clumsy, second punch came at the monster, it grinned, stepping aside and grabbing Clark’s wrist. With a deft move and a sharp twist, the creature turned the boy’s own, considerable strength against him. Before Clark could react, the demon sent him flying through the air and slammed him into the ground. The move drove Clark down hard enough to create a six-inch deep, body-shaped crater in the hard-packed earth.
Xander rolled to his feet, whirling around with the hammer raised to deliver a deathblow to one of the demons he’d felled. Hearing his cousin’s sudden cry of pain and feeling something hitting the ground hard, he quickly extended his hundred and eighty degree spin to a full three-hundred and sixty degrees, throwing his hammer at Clark’s attacker. The demon in question was standing above the other boy, one cloven-hoof raised above Clark’s head as he prepared to stomp down and crush the teen’s head like an empty soda can.
Mjolnir hit hard, but was off-target from the abruptly extended spin. It clipped the creature’s shoulder spinning it wildly as it flew several yards through the air. Before he could even call the hammer back to his hand, he felt the excruciating pain of one of the demons’ hands wrapping around his ankle. Xander cursed loudly as the beast jerked his leg out from under him, sending him falling face-first toward the ground.
As he surged to his feet, his entire body feeling mildly bruised from the impact, Clark noticed the rapidly darkening sky for the second time that day. The world slowed to a near stop as he watched the large hammer Xander had thrown vanish midair and reappear in Xander’s hand. Moving fast, he zipped over to his cousin and pulled him away from the demon, helping the older boy back to his feet a short distance away.
Suddenly finding himself on his feet, rather than about to eat dirt, a hard expression fixed itself on Xander’s face. “Okay, play time is over,” he shouted angrily, thrusting the hammer skyward.
Clark winced and looked away as three powerful, blindingly bright bolts of lightning slammed down from the heavens to hit the three demons. An electrical tingle and the sharp scent of ozone filled the air around them, the static energy raising goose-bumps on the teen. Unlike normal lightning, however, this didn’t merely strike and instantly fade away. Instead it persisted in obvious defiance of every known law of physics. The hoarse rasping screams of the demons as the energy assaulted them quickly turned to piercing shrieks followed by a series of three wet pops and finally, silence.
It was only after the air fell quiet that the lightning vanished. There, on the ground, they found three slimy red stains where demons had lain a few moments before. Xander dropped the hammer back to his side with a heavy sigh. “I’m so gonna have words with Wolfram and Hart about this,” he growled out angrily.
“Clark! Xander!” they heard Jonathan Kent shout from behind them, near the road. The two teens turned to see Jonathan and Martha getting out of the truck with relieved expressions on their faces. The two adults were completely oblivious to the fact that the forgotten fourth demon, the one Clark punched, was charging toward Jonathan from behind. The creature’s fist was drawn back and both boys knew it could easily kill the senior Kent in a single blow.
“Clark!” Xander gasped out, hurling his hammer hard straight at his uncle, or more specifically at the monster standing directly behind his uncle. He trusted Clark to do the rest.
Everything slowed down to extreme slow motion as the younger teen raced across the intervening distance, grabbing his father and tackling him out of the path of both the demon’s punch and the God’s hammer. As time exploded back to normal speed, both Kent men rolled just in time to watch the creature catch Xander’s hammer squarely in the chest. A thunderous crack sounded as the hammer tore through the demon’s body like it were made of tissue paper. Instantly, a mass of red slime was hurtling through the air in the hammer’s wake as the monster’s body collapsed the same way the other’s had.
A split-second later, all three of the Kents were staring at Xander. The Aesir was standing in their driveway with Mjolnir back in his hand. Before their very eyes they watched as the angry red burn marks on the boy’s bare arms faded away to the natural, pale pink color of undamaged skin. Tiny lightning bolts danced over the hammer in Xander’s hand, completely unnoticed by the teenager. A grim, tired expression settled on his face as he spoke, “Uncle Jonathan? Aunt Martha?” he asked calmly. “Are you guys alright?”
Exchanging a quick glance with his wife, Jonathan spoke up a moment later. “Fine, thanks to you and Clark,” he said from his position on the ground next to his son. “Would somebody mind telling me what’s going on here and what the heck that was?”
Xander let out another long sigh. This was shaping up to be a really, really long day.