Disclaimer: Theirs, not mine. Sigh.
“Bit hypocritical of you,” Spike said. “This whole worrying about the kid being fifteen.”
Giles sat in the front of the darkened car with Spike in the driver’s seat. Xander, Anya and Willow were in the other car.
“He’s just mad because this Kent guy accidentally hit him in the head with a piece of shrapnel when he was beating on the electrical guy,” Dawn said. “Willow told me.”
Buffy shook her head. They didn’t get it at all. It wasn’t his age that had frightened Giles. It was the sudden realization of the fact that had made Buffy decide to run in the first place.
Glory had been playing with them all along. Given the kinds of speed she had, she could have shredded Buffy before Buffy would have even had a chance to raise a stake. At full speed there was no force on earth that could match her, and add strength and invulnerability to the mix and she was as unstoppable as a hurricane.
“You wankers have been sending girls younger than that to save the world on a nightly basis for thousands of years,” Spike said. “What makes any of them any different than this kid?”
“Slayers haven’t been unstoppable since bullets went supersonic,” Giles said quietly. “One of them goes rogue, and the council had a team that would take care of the problem.”
She’d have been dead before she’d heard the crack of the bullet, he meant.
“Vampire slayers know from the moment they are called that their time is limited. Even so, they have watchers to guide them in the use of their abilities. What has this boy had?”
“Parents,” Spike said. “And MTV.”
“God help us all.”
“They were there one minute, and gone the next,” Clark said. “I looked for them, but couldn’t find them before the police showed up.”
He was standing in the kitchen, unable to conceal his agitation. His parents were standing on the other side of the kitchen table.
“And she could clearly identify you,” his father asked.
“She stopped me,” Clark said. “She lifted her hand and her eyes turned black, and it was like I was moving through thick mud.”
“So she’s another mutant,” his mother said. “It wounds as though she has secrets of her own.”
“It’s just…according to Chloe, she hasn’t even been in Smallville before. Where would she have been exposed?”
“I’m sure some of the rocks have been carried out of town,” his mother said. “Used for research or jewelry, like Lana’s locket.”
Clark scowled. “Chloe did some research on her friend. Buffy Summers was wanted for murdering a Jamaican national on school property. She was expelled from school in Las Angeles for burning down her high school gym. Her school in Sunnydale mysteriously exploded on graduation day.”
“You think she’s some kind of terrorist?”
“Chloe seems to think she was put in a psychiatric hospital in California when she was my age. She hasn’t been able to find out much about it.”
“So you have a meteor freak who is friends with a psychotic woman who may be a terrorist,” his father said flatly. “Haven’t we told you to be more careful?”
“They were all going to get out!” Clark said. “I had to do something.”
“With any luck, they’ll be long gone by now,” his mother said.
The front doorbell rang.
Clark froze, as did his parents. With his stomach knotting, he stepped out of the kitchen toward the front of the house.
Opening the door, he relaxed as he realized it was Lana.
The familiar feeling of pleasure rolled over him at the sight of her.
“I hope this isn’t a bad time,” she said.
“No,” he said. “Come in.”
“Actually, I was heading toward the cemetery,” she said. “I was hoping you’d join me.”
Hesitating only a moment, he turned to his parents, who had followed him. It wasn’t the best of timing, but he’d never been able to resist Lana.
He smiled briefly for a moment, and then said, “I’ll get my coat.”
Anyone watching would have thought the glazed look in his eyes was simple infatuation.
“It’s ten in the evening,” Giles said. “If we don’t go soon, we may be waking them out of a sound sleep.”
“Plus, more time for Glory to send another tracking snake or have her minions drive around town looking for us.” Xander said.
They were gathered together in a field within sight of the Kent household, the two cars parked close together with the windows down.
“So do we go as a group, or send one person, or what?” Xander asked. “Because I’m thinking, eight people at the door isn’t exactly going to make ma and pa feel comfortable about letting us all in.”
“Do they even know what he is?” Anya asked. “If they don’t and we tell them, it might make him angry.”
She leaned forward in her seat and called out the window. “I don’t think we’d like him when he was angry.”
“I’ll go,” Buffy said. “Willow and Spike will stay back to protect Dawn.”
“I should go,” Giles said.
“Not until we’re sure it’s safe,” Buffy said. “Besides, bleeding head wound? Confidence inducing? Not much.”
With that she pushed the rear door opened and stepped out into the night air. She leaned down and looked into the opened driver’s side window.
“If I die, get Dawn out,” She murmured to Spike. “Get her as far away from here as you possibly can and take Willow with you.”
“You can trust me,” Spike said.
“Don’t try to save me,” she said.
He was silent for a long moment, the only movement in the darkness the sudden light from his lighter.
“I’ll protect the bit until the end of the world,” he said.
She nodded and then began to walk down the street toward the simple farmhouse where the man who was going to either save them all of destroy them staying.
The knock at the door was rather sudden, only a few minutes after Clark had already left. Martha hesitated, and then opened the door.
The young blonde on the other side of the door smiled brightly and said “Is Clark here?”
“It’s a little late,” Martha said. Her heart began pounding. Clark had been talking about a dangerous blonde woman and suddenly one had appeared at her door. Behind the door, she gestured toward her husband, who stiffened.
“It’s important that I speak with him,” she said. “I don’t know if you’d believe me, but it’s a matter of life or death.”
“Perhaps tomorrow morning would be a better time,” Martha said, and attempted to close the door.
The blonde stuck her foot in the door and said, “Tomorrow might be too late.”
Telling the woman Clark wasn’t here obviously wasn’t the wisest thing to do. Whatever she needed Clark for couldn’t be of the good.
“Open the door,” Jonathan said, and Martha complied.
Shotgun held in front of him, Jonathan Kent said, “We’ve asked you nicely to leave.”
The girl stared at the muzzle of the barrel and for a moment it seemed as though she didn’t recognize what it was. She didn’t seem afraid of it at all, and there was a look in her eyes that worried Martha.
It almost looked as though she craved it. It was a look Martha had seen before once, in a classmate who had taken her own life. .
Martha glanced back at her husband to see if he’d seen it. From his tenseness she could see that he had.
The girl looked as though she was going to continue to push the point, but instead she said, “If Clark doesn’t help me, my sister is going to die.”
Jonathan was silent for a moment, and then slowly lowered his shotgun.
“Why don’t you come in and tell us about it.”
“There’s a crazy woman who wants to kill my sister,” Buffy said quietly, sipping the tea Martha had handed her. “She’s not…normal.”
Sitting on the opposite side of the table from her, she didn’t look like a psychotic criminal, but giving her a chance to tell her story would buy them time for Clark to return, and might give them an idea of what she was going through.
“She can do things,” Buffy said. “Things nobody else can do.”
“That’s not so unbelievable around here,” Martha said quietly.
“I think she’s the strongest thing in the entire world,” Buffy said. “I’ve seen her get up from being hit by a bus and walk away like nothing happened.”
Martha glanced at her husband, who had chosen to sit on a barstool out of reach, his shotgun held casually in his lap.
“What’s that got to do with our son?” Jonathan asked.
The girl took a deep breath, looked up at them and said, “I think you know.”
“No, we don’t.”
“You’ve been acting way too suspicious and on edge for people who didn’t know what your son was capable of.”
So it was blackmail after all. Martha felt her stomach clench.
“This woman is already in town, and she’s going to start hurting people while she’s looking for my sister. I’m guessing some of them might even be people you know.” Buffy said.
“Is that a threat?” Jonathan asked. From the corner of her eye Martha could see his hands tense on the shotgun.
“I’ll try to stop it,” Buffy said. “But I’m not nearly strong enough, and if I fail things are going to get really ugly really fast.”
“I keep thinking that you aren’t really into this,” Lana said. “Sometimes it seems like you really aren’t focused on me like you should be.”
Any other woman’s voice pitched that way would have sounded whiney, but there was something about Lana’s voice that was like music.
“I’ve got things on my mind,” he admitted.
“Like what?” she demanded. “Enough with the secrets.”
The urge to tell her was almost overwhelming, as it was every time that she demanded he tell her. Despite the fact that they weren’t even dating, it seemed she considered him his.
“Nothing important,” he said. “Chloe met some people at school who seemed a little suspicious.”
He hadn’t meant to tell her even that much.
“Like they weren’t supposed to be there.”
He’d had a feeling in his gut since leaving the house, one he’d learned not to ignore. Those women had been seeking him out and he’d left his parents alone and undefended at home.
They were almost to the cemetery when Clark said, “I’m getting a little cold. I need to go back and get my jacket.”
“You aren’t ever cold,” Lana said. “What’s going on really?”
Shaking his head, Clark turned. “Let’s go back.”
The petulant look on her face was somehow cute, when on any other woman it would have looked childish.
“We’re almost there,” she protested.
“It’ll only take a minute,” Clark said. “I can get my blanket from the loft and we can sit and talk.”
“Fine,” she said after a moment of silence.
Leaving Lana at the end of the drive hadn’t been easy. She’d been impatient and wanted to go and so Clark had said he was just going to grab their things and hurry back.
Opening the door, Clark saw his father sitting with the shotgun and on the other side of the table was Buffy Summers.
His stomach knotted suddenly. She’d come into his home, threatening his parents. He could tell by his father’s body language that his father was afraid.
It was his every nightmare come true. People finding out his secret and then using it against him, to hurt the people that he loved. Lana, his parents, Chloe and Pete…all of them were potential victims just waiting for him to slip up.
The fact that she was sitting at his kitchen table like she belong there, that she was there at all was a clear threat to everything.
Clark saw red.