Disclaimer: Smallville and Buffy belong to Joss Whedon, DC comics and other people I'm not even aware of.
His body convulsing, Clark screamed as the crowd cheered. Gasping for breath, he glared up at Eric, who had found a metal pole and was jabbing it into his side.
"Why isn't this working?" Eric gritted out. Turning to the young teenager in the hoodie, he said, "Hit us again, stronger."
"Dude, you want me to kill him?"
"I don't care, as long as I get his powers," Eric said. "Do it!"
The boy held his hand out and lightning hit Clark again. The meteor rock necklace around his neck sparked, but nothing happened.
It had only been two weeks since an accidental lightning strike had given Eric Summers Clark's powers, aided by meteor rocks. Now it seemed Eric wanted them back.
The crowd cheered again. They were ignoring the unconscious body of Ben, which was being carried into the house by the strange men in brown robes.
Eric dropped the metal bar, the smell of burnt flesh rising from his palms and from Clark's side.
He fell to his knees, then gritted his teeth. "Again!"
From the look in his eyes, Clark knew that Eric would kill them both before he was willing to give up.
He screamed again as his muscles convulsed from electricity.
"So if this girl Dawn bleeds, all of reality is going to break down," Lex said. "Killing everybody on the planet."
"More than that," Anya said. "There are an effectively infinite number of alternate universes out there; a lot of them are inhabited by humans. When the barriers come down, it won't just be this world that goes to hell....it'll be all of them."
With these kind of stakes, they'd allowed this girl to be captured. It boggled Lex's mind that it hadn't occurred to someone that killing the girl before she could be used in the ritual would be the one solution that might save the world.
"If she bleeds, somebody will have to stop it from opening," Lex said.
"Giles thinks that's the best option, but Buffy refuses to listen." Anya was staring at the monitor, and Lex found that he couldn't take his eyes off her.
"What do you think?" he asked.
"I like Dawn, when she isn't trying to shoplift everything that isn't nailed down," Anya said. She hesitated for a long moment and didn't look at him as she said "But I'd really like to live through all this."
His mind racing, Lex said, "Would you watch the computer? I need to make a few telephone calls."
Fumbling for the telephone, Willow briefly wondered if it would hurt her reputation as a powerful witch if she threw up in the floorboard of Jonathan Kent's pickup truck. Jonathan Kent drove like a madman, and Willow closed her eyes for a moment. It didn't help.
She flipped the telephone open and tried not to think about the state of her stomach.
"Willow," she heard. It was Anya's voice. "You'd better hurry. It looks like they are torturing him out in the front of the mansion.
"Where's Glory?" she asked shortly.
"She turned into a guy. You'll never guess who she turned into...Ben!"
"Ben is at the mansion?" Willow asked, confused.
Anya paused. "I guess so. I m not sure why he's there, but he's dressed up like a woman."
"That bitch! Glory must have dressed him up as a woman to torture him."
"High heels can be murder," Anya said. "But I think Glory has graduated to literal murder. There's a head in the Kent freezer to prove it."
"Did you see where Glory went?" Willow asked again. She felt confused and disoriented, and she wasn't sure it was just Jonathan Kent's driving.
"No. I've checked all the rooms,"Anya said."You know what would be good?"
"If we could figure out who her mortal form is...we could kill him."
Willow was silent for a moment. A week ago, and th idea of killing an innocent man would have horrified her. Tonight, it was starting to seem more and more attractive.
Anya was silent on the other end of the line, then she said, "The Buffybot says that Ben is Glory."
"Ben is Glory's prisoner, we've already established that," Willow said.
"She says Ben is Glory," Anya said doubtfully. "You'd think we'd know by this point."
"The Buffybot is an idiot."
She clicked the telephone hut as Jonathan Kent shouted "Look alive, we're here"
Sniffing around the outskirts of the crowd, the eyeless mutant lifted his head, sniffing. He smelled a familiar scent, one that had maddeningly gotten away the last time before he'd had a chance to truly taste it.
He turned, and although he couldn't see, he could hear the sound of the approaching pickup truck. None of the others were paying attention, as they were too engrossed in what was happening.
As the sound became louder, he wondered why it wasn't slowing. The vehicles always slowed; it was how he'd obtained his prey the first time around.
He dodged to the side and grabbed for the door, ripping it off with meteor powered strength.
He could smell the sweet meat inside, and he was drooling.
The troll hammer that smashed him in the face sent him spinning into the crowd, knocking down almost a dozen of the men. Consciousness fled.
Pushing the crowd aside would have been easier had she been able to tap into Tara's power, but Willow pulled deep into the well of her power and managed it, throwing the entire group to the ground except for the three men in the center of the crowd.
The kid in the hoodie couldn't have been more than thirteen and he stared up at them like he was going to wet himself.
The boy with the metal pipe stared at Buffy and screamed. He fell to the ground and began having a seizure, and Buffy ignored him.
She reached Clark and ripped the necklace off his neck and threw it back in the direction of the truck. The wound on Clark's side began to heal almost immediately, but the mutants were already getting up, and Willow was already feeling exhausted.
For all her power, she didn't have the stamina to be really effective against the big bads.
She could see hands glowing with fire and lighting and light and other hands changing and morphing into things that weren't quite human.
Buffy picked Clark up and began to run for the truck, even as the fireballs began to fly.
"We can't leave the necklace for them to use later," Jonathan pointed out. He cocked his shotgun and stepping out of the pickup for a moment, he pointed his shotgun at the mutant nearest to Buffy.
The blast knocked at least three of the mutants back, and Jonathan slipped back in his his seat as Buff reached the truck and leaped into the bed of the pick up with the larger body of Clark Kent in her Arms along with the troll hammer.
Willow stretched her hand out, and the meteor rock necklace flew into her hand even as Jonathan Kent slipped the truck into drive and slammed his foot on the accelerator. In the back, Clark moaned.
"Stick it in the box under the seat," Jonathan said. "It's made of lead."
Willow didn't speak for a moment; she simply held the necklace in her hand and stared at it. There was power there, power that she could reach if only she knew how.
She pulled within herself and a moment later it came flooding into her; power renewed. The fatigue and weakness she'd suffered before vanished, and she felt full and more ready for battled than she ever had.
With this kind of power, Glory didn't stand a chance.
"The box!" Jonathan shouted. Willow looked down at the necklace in her hand and blinked as she realized that the stones had turned transparent and clear.
She reached down and found the heavy lead box, opening it she found another piece of meteor rock inside. Ignoring the twitching in her fingers, she slipped the clear necklace in beside it and closed the lid.
"What the hell happened to your face?" Jonathan asked, glancing at her.
Willow moved her head a little and stared into the rear view mirror in the center of the window. Green veins had popped up in her face, and the whites of her eyes had turned a vibrant color of green.
"Cool," she said.
"It's not cool," Buffy said.
The veins had eventually vanished and her skin had turned its normal color. Staring into the mirror, Willow would never have known her face had changed if she hadn't already seen it.
"It'll give me the boost I need for tonight," Willow said. "I've got the power to help, but I always run out of energy too fast."
"This stuff makes people crazy," Buffy said. "Look at what it already did to your face!"
"What if this is the only thing that gives me enough energy to help Dawn?" Willow turned to stare at her. "Do you really want to tie one hand behind my back when we're going to need everything we have?"
"I worry about you," Buffy said. "About the power."
"You don't like not being the big gun," Willow said. "But in the end, this isn't about you or me, it's about the future of the world."
"And if it hurts Clark?" Buffy asked.
"I'm not going to be anywhere near Clark," Willow said. "Besides, I drain this stuff of power when I use it. I'll actually be making Clark safer. I already tried the necklace on Clark, and it didn't bother him at all."
For a moment Willow wished that Lex were here. He'd left sometimes before they'd arrived back at the Kent mansion. He would have understood why she had to use any means necessary to get the job done.
If she sometimes dozed off and had dreams about girls falling to their death, that was the price she had to pay to keep the world safe.
If the face of the girl who was falling in her dream was sometimes that of Dawn, it wasn't something she was ever going to share with Buffy.
"Listen," Buffy said. "We aren't all going to make it out of this, even with Clark."
"I always expected to go out fighting, Slayer." Spike said. The Kent household didn't have the variety of weapons the Summers house had, so he was hammering long nails into a baseball bat so that the long nails came out the other side. The points of the nails stuck out in every direction.
"I'm talking about me," Buffy said. "If I don't make it..."
"You'll make it," Spike said. "With the boy scout helping? This isn't like it would have been if we'd had to do it alone."
If they'd had to do this alone they wouldn't have been facing an army of psychotic superhuman teenagers.
"Can you even hurt the mutants?" she asked, staring at the spiked baseball bat.
"I pinched Chloe on the bum earlier," Spike said. "Hard. I didn't even get a twinge."
"Meteor freak in training," Spike said, nodding. "Scent's still kind of faint. If I can pinch her, I can kill them."
"We don't kill humans," Buffy said flatly.
"Chip says they aren't,' Spike said. "And weren't you the one that came down from the top of the motor home with blood all over your sword?"
"That was your blood," she said shortly.
He tapped his nose, "I beg to differ."
The color drained from Buffy's face and she closed her eyes for a moment. After the commotion she and the others had made when Faith had accidentally killed a man, Spike wasn't surprised. Buffy had decided that she didn't kill humans, and she'd been ignoring the fact that she already had, more than once if Spike's suspicions were correct.
"We don't kill humans unless absolutely necessary," Buffy said finally, after a long pause. She stared at the floor. "We just don't do that."
"Look, Slayer. I'm a monster. I know that. You treated me like a man, and that means...everything."
She didn't say anything.
"But you weren't the only one who treated me that way. The little Bit...she was good to me. So was your mum."
Glancing up at him, Buffy let out a deep breath. "Spike..."
"You want me to protect her," Spike said. "If I make it and you don't."
Buffy nodded mutely.
"I don't expect that will happen," he said. "But I'll promise you this. If the worse happens, I'll protect your sister till the end of the world."
"Chloe has agreed to stay here and monitor the computers," Buffy said. "She'll contact Willow and Willow will contact the rest of you telepathically. Hopefully that'll give us an edge and we won't get any nasty surprises."
She saw Spike nodding in approval. She felt herself flush a little and chose to ignore it. He was a monster, as she'd had to keep reminding herself and she was about to unleash him against a group of people who weren't protected by his chip.
Yet he was her monster, and that made all the difference.
She looked out at the sea of faces in front of her. Willow, Tara, Anya, Xander, Giles, Spike, Chloe, Martha, Jonathan, the Buffybot, Clark; they were all depending on her leadership.
Lana Lang was already dead and she wondered how many more were going to have to die before this was all over.
Glancing out the window, she saw that the sun was just dropping below the horizon.
Turning to the others she sighed. "It's time."