Smallville and all of its related elements are copyright © 2001 - 2007 Tollin-Robbins Productions, WB Television and DC Comics. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Buffy the vampire slayer and all of its related elements belong to Fox, the WB and Joss Whedon.
The music pounded deep into Buffy’s chest, obliterating any sense of self she might have had left. Suddenly, she was a part of a throbbing crowd; strong hands wrapped around her waist pulled her closer, and she opened her eyes, letting the darkly contrasting colours of the club wash over her. She looked up into the large, heavily lined eyes of her dance partner, and was comforted by the girl’s lipstick smile.
“Do you feel better?” those lips said into her ear.
Buffy couldn’t help but smile. “The club scene isn’t really me,” she protested, “but it takes me away from… everything.”
Closing her eyes, Buffy let Faith’s hands guide her hips to the beat of the music. Her and Faith had enjoyed a connection that Buffy could never remember having with any of her other friends—they were two of a kind; they had been the Slayers against the world.
Despite Faith’s stray from the side of the light, her transgressions against Angel, and her part in the mutiny during the battle against the first… they fit well together.
Throwing away her inhibitions like this, dancing like the world might not be ending—it was exciting; new. It wasn’t perfect; it wasn’t beautiful, but it was primal.
“Faith,” she called out. She stilled Faith’s hips and managed to catch her eye. “I thought we came here to hunt.”
“Nuh huh, B,” Faith replied, wagging her finger and winking. “I said that we were going to blow off some steam. You’ve been killing vampires by the boatload; a hunt isn’t what you need.”
She brought their bodies together again, and Buffy let herself be guided by the beat and she surrendered—she let her hands find their way into the air above her head, didn’t shake off the boy dancing close behind her, and pretended that the music was all that existed in the world.
They continued to move together, part of the mob, before Buffy pulled away. “They’re here,” she whispered. They were on the upper level of the club, and Buffy grabbed Faith’s hand, pulling her toward the balcony. Buffy’s arm stretched out and pointed toward the bar. There was a group of boys there, looking, like most of the guys in the club, like they were predators. These boys though, weren’t looking for a quick lay—they were out for blood.
Another boy, looking rather drunk, stumbled into their midst. Buffy watched this boy with curiosity, because, though the presence of the ten or so vampires below was almost overwhelming, this boy felt different—inhuman.
One of the vampires grabbed his arm, and in one smooth motion he spun, pulling a sharpened wooden stick from his pocket and plunged it deep into the guy’s heart. From there, his movement became almost untraceable to a normal human eye and Buffy watched, her curiosity overwhelming the need to fight, as this boy staked two more of the vamps.
“He moves like we do,” Faith said into her ear.
“Not quite,” Buffy replied. “He can’t tell which ones are vampires. He’s fighting blind.”
“How can you tell?” Faith asked. Buffy didn’t answer, but instead lifted herself onto the banister and launched herself over. She landed in the empty circle that had formed around the fighting men and pressed her back against the boy’s. He stopped moving and glanced over his shoulder.
A moment later, Faith landed beside her, a grin spreading across her face in anticipation of the fight.
Without speaking, Buffy reached over and took his stake, keeping her eyes fixed on the people forming the circle around them. There were still seven or eight that were vampires, and Buffy threw both stakes, dropping two of them.
“Why did you do that?” he yelled.
“There’s too many of them,” she replied.
“So, what?” he yelled back. “We’re going to run?”
She smiled smugly at the snarling vampires. “Three against them? The odds are in our favour, now.” They turned towards each other, and without hesitating, Buffy grabbed a bar stool and smashed the seat on the ground. The stool splintered, and Faith grabbed two pieces of wood. She threw one to the boy and then raised her own, ready to do some damage.
Their backs came together again, and they rotated around the circle.
“The one with the blue top,” Buffy said softly, “and the guys on either side of him.”
They moved, then, and Buffy took the four in her view, moving efficiently and managing to dust two of them before they had a chance to move. She kicked one of the other ones, knocking him to the ground, and threw one stool leg at the other before falling to one knee in front of the fallen one and plunging her makeshift stake into his chest.
When she looked up, she saw that Faith had finished off the vamps she had taken on, and that the boy had done just as well as they had. The crowd, having no evidence of a fight, was starting to fill in the gap they had created. He moved toward her, and took a seat on a remaining bar stool.
“You’re the Slayer,” he said, signaling for the bar tender to come over.
“Slayers,” she corrected, gesturing to Faith. “Do you do this often?”
“Every night,” he replied.
“You’re a little bit young to be fighting demons full-time,” she said, refusing the offer of a drink.
“I’m a contractor full-time,” he said. “This is just a hobby.”
Buffy nodded, impressed. The boy had a pointed face, and wide eyes, with his long, dusty coloured hair falling in greasy clumps around his face. His features didn’t strike her as familiar, but there was something, maybe the dark, haunted look of his eyes, that reminded her of someone.
“I’ve always wanted to meet the Slayer,” he said. He frowned. “My dad dated a Slayer, once.”
“There are a lot of us, now,” she said. “But I’m, like, the real, real Slayer. Like, the actual Chosen One.” She looked up, nervously, but Faith had disappeared into the crowd, apparently disinterested in the boy that moved like a Slayer.
He scrunched his face up, like he was trying hard to remember a fact for a test. “Buffy?” he asked, as he sipped on what looked like an Apple-tini, and looked up at her through his thick bangs.
Buffy nodded; unsurprised that someone in the field of demon killing would know her name. She hesitated, because she knew how offensive this question could be. “What are you?”
“Not entirely sure myself,” he admitted. “My parents, I think, were vampires.”
Buffy flinched. “That’s not possible.” The boy took another sip of his feminine drink, and offered his hand.
“I know,” he said. “I’m Connor.”
There was movement from the ground floor of the barn, and Clark sat up from where he had been dozing on the couch. There was only one person who would be visiting him this late: someone who lived in a house where no one slept.
“Dawn?” he called.
“Yea,” she replied. “It’s just me.”
“You want to crash on my couch?” he asked. Since Buffy had left, the girls across the road had been restless. They had stopped keeping a schedule for patrolling, and often didn’t sleep, staying up to train, sometimes collapsing from exhaustion. Dawn, being a normal human who needed six to eight hours a night, was looking more drawn and ragged with every passing day.
She stumbled on the stairs, and Clark rushed forward and caught her. “That super speed thing does come in handy, doesn’t it?” she asked. He shrugged modestly and picked her up, placing her gently on his couch.
“You can have my bed, you know,” he said. She shook her head.
“The quiet of your loft is more than enough.”
“It’s cold out here,” Clark protested.
“I really don’t want to intrude.”
They fell silent for a moment, before Clark said, haltingly, “Have you heard from Buffy?”
Dawn looked down at her hands. “She ran away like this before, you know,” she said, softly. “After she killed Angel.”
To Clark, that name was vaguely familiar—perhaps he had been mentioned by one of the Slayers when he had visited; and he thought that, through his pain, he had heard the vampire, Drusilla, mention him, when he had been kidnapped by her.
“She had to kill Giles?” Clark asked. Though Dawn had come over, looking for a respite from the bustle of Slayer life, and despite the fact that they had both recently lost father figures in their lives, they rarely talked about anything more serious than their classes at college.
“She didn’t kill him,” Dawn said. “He was already dead. She just destroyed the demon that took over his body.”
“It must have been hard, though,” Clark replied. “She said he was like a father to her.”
“It was hard for her to stick around,” Dawn said. “I think I understand this time, I really do. All these girls are her students, and she’s really tried to infuse into them the knowledge that sometimes you have to do whatever’s necessary to save the world.” Dawn closed her eyes, and she could see it again—Buffy standing close to her, holding her shoulders steady, and her soft, urgent words pierced her heart. “Dawnie, I have to…”
“She’d sacrifice everything for us,” Dawn whispered. She looked up, angry suddenly. “The girls don’t know how to look at her anymore,” she said. “Like she’s some sort of machine that doesn’t feel. They’re wrong, though. They’re so wrong.”
Clark knew what Dawn was talking about; he’d heard the girls talking the few times that he’d come over. They were mourning the loss of Giles and there had been rumours about the way that he’d died; that Buffy had marched into the basement and loped off his head, execution style; that she’d set her jaw and plunged the stake into his heart before running off, thirsty for a fight, to kill Drusilla.
He knew that it wasn’t true. In the short time that he’d known Buffy, he’d seen first hand her empathy; he’d experienced her desire to help, her inability to let someone in danger remain so.
“Buffy’s a good person,” he replied. “She’ll come back to you.”
“I hope so,” Dawn whispered.
It was difficult, Willow thought, not to be angry at her.
The last time Buffy had left, Willow had taken it the hardest. She was just a girl whose best friend up and left her without explanation. It had hurt, but she had learned to forgive. Buffy had her own rules—she was the Slayer, at the time, the one and only. No one could be expected to understand what she was going through.
Now, though, there were thousands of Slayers around the world. It was Buffy’s job to find them, to train them, and she wasn’t a child anymore, either. She knew that Buffy had taken Giles’ death harder than the rest of them, but they had all loved Giles. And sure, the girls were talking about her, as if she were cruel, apathetic and unable to hear their mutters.
But Buffy had to grow up.
Xander was dying. The cancer was spreading throughout his body. He was so high on morphine that most of the time he couldn’t even tell who she was. The cancer pushing up against his optic nerve had taken away all this remaining vision, supernatural or otherwise.
He had muttered to her, a few weeks ago, that he’d rather be blind than see everyone he loved die. It was a strange side effect of his meteor-rock infused eye transplant that gave him the ability to place on a relative timeline when people were going to die. It came at a grievous price, though—his normal vision faded away and left him with nothing but skeletons and dust.
Willow couldn’t make herself to leave the hospital. She slept next to him on a chair when she could get away with it, and she set up her laptop, her only link to the outside world. She immersed herself in her work, not thinking about Xander, or Buffy, or how Dawn would look at her with those tragic doe eyes. She didn’t think about the friends she had alienated, Chloe, and the Slayers that she’d gotten friendly with.
They’d all stopped coming by. A month of watching a friend die was too much for them to handle; a month of watching Willow rot away next to him, as if her life was being drained too, seemed wasteful.
It was then that she heard a familiar voice—not familiar in the way she’d come to expect, the same doctors and nurses each day, calling out to each other in the same tired tone of voice, but friendly familiar. This was a concerned, confused voice; it was Clark.
“Lois,” he called, “where’s Chloe? Is she alright?”
At the sound of Chloe’s name, Willow sat up straighter. She saw Clark talking to a woman and a man, about Chloe. Apparently she’d hurt herself, and Willow started walking down the hall, glancing in hospital rooms until she found Chloe, looking drained, but alive.
“Chloe,” she said, rushing forward. “Are you alright?”
“Willow,” Chloe said, sounding surprised. “You look terrible.”
“You’re the one in the hospital bed,” Willow pointed out.
“Yeah,” Chloe said, laughing softly, “but I’m pretty sure you’ve been camped out on a hospital chair, and those are worse.”
Chloe looked down, wanting to avoid Willow’s gaze, but when she saw the bandages on her wrists she flinched and looked up again. “I don’t know,” she said. “I mean, I can’t remember.”
Clark walked in then, and Willow skittered away from him—the last time she’d seen him, he had pushed her up against a wall and threatened to kill her. “Willow,” he said. “Sorry.” He stood awkwardly near the door, and then moved away from it, giving Willow an escape route. She took it graciously and waited outside.
After Clark left, Chloe was surprised to hear him and Willow conversing in hushed tones outside her door. She expected them to be saying things about her supposed suicide attempt, but to her surprise, they breached a different topic entirely.
“I need Buffy to come home,” Willow said. “She wouldn’t have left if it wasn’t for you.”
“What do you mean?” Clark asked, sounding confused, but guilty too, as if he’d had his suspicions.
“She couldn’t deal with having feelings for someone that she couldn’t have,” Willow replied reluctantly, “again. She didn’t want to risk breaking up you and Lana. If it wasn’t for that, she might have stayed, might have let someone in. Probably she wanted it to be you comforting her, and she didn’t want it to lead to something else.”
She paused, and Chloe could imagine Willow’s eyes dark with anger. “I need her to come home.”
Clark was silent for a long while before he replied. “I’ll find her.”
“What exactly is the problem? It’s a coffin shipping a body. I want to be the one breaking that seal, and only when the box is safely in a Luthorcorp laboratory. Get it done, or it will be your body being shipped home in a box.”
Lex held the phone away from his head when he saw her walk around the corner. “Lana,” he said, sounding surprised. She opened her mouth, like she was about to speak, but then paused.
“What’s wrong?” he asked. He listened as she portrayed the story of Chloe’s illness, how she had tried to kill herself, how she now appeared to be hallucinating. He listened, trying not to show how eager he was to help her, to prove himself.
“There’s something else,” she said, hesitating again.
“What is it?” he asked. The look in her eyes changed from hopeful to accusatory, and he knew that she had gotten his promise of goodwill toward Chloe before approaching this subject for a reason.
“When I was at the hospital, I spoke to a friend of Chloe’s, Willow. She told me that her friend, Alexander Harris, was in the hospital, dying, because of an experimental procedure that was done on him. Lex, she said that the doctors that had performed his surgery were working for Luthorcorp, and that you’d endorsed the surgery personally.”
Lex’s lips tightened at the accusation. He tried to use his money and influence to help the people that he cared about, but, more often than not, those same people would come back to him, speaking of betrayal and blasphemy.
“Mr. Harris is a former employee of mine, who is dying of cancer. I assure you, I did nothing to promote rogue cell growth in his body.”
“Cancer?” Lana repeated, sounding surprised. “She said something about an organ transplant.”
“This Willow is clearly mistaken. I suggest that you inspect the source more thoroughly before making unfound accusations.”
“Lex,” Lana said, regret apparent in her voice.
“Lana, I’ll make sure that Chloe gets the help she needs,” Lex interrupted. He returned to his work, and Lana left the room, feeling slightly ashamed for having jumped to the wrong conclusion about Lex, again.
Perhaps he was underwater, he mused. Pursing his dried out lips, he contemplated the idea for a couple of minutes. His thoughts began to blur, as if his mind was going out of focus. He shook his head slightly, trying to form some real coherent thought, so he forced himself to study the situation again.
Perhaps he was underwater.
He remembered the last time he’d been underwater, locked in a box. He had been able to hear the currents passing him and sometimes he’d been able to see the sun.
The world was silent now. He wasn’t underwater.
He let himself slip into fantasy for a few moments, before pulling himself out. The colours, the touch of his loved ones, they had been comforting, but he couldn’t let himself tumble into madness. It was much too difficult to find himself again, once he’d been lost like that.
So he focused on the pain, the hunger, the overwhelming feeling of being lost and abandoned. He wished that his head would throb, because then the pain would be anything but constant. And he imagined warm, human blood pouring into his trembling lips—then he was back in this box.
He wondered how long he’d been in here, trapped like canned fish, starved; deprived of light and company. It could have been mere days, but it felt like months.
He’d been trapped like this before; he didn’t know who trapped him now, but then… then it had been Connor.