Title: Unstoppable
Authors: Lex's Lady & Mistress Ace
E-mail: winter@sapphire-dragon.net & rosewood@inreach.com
Feedback: It's the icing on the cake. We write because the story demands to be told. Feedback lets us know if we struck a chord with you.
Distribution: Our website, of course, www.fandomwriters.com. The list archives are welcome to it also. Anyone else, please ask first. We'd like to know where our fic is going.
Rating: NC-17 (eventually or maybe quickly depending on the whim of the muses)
Category: Crossover, Romance, Angst
Spoilers: All of season 1 of Smallville and season 6 of Buffy: The Vampire Slayer
Pairings: Buffy/Clark/Lex, m/f, m/m
Disclaimer: We don't own the characters at all (however much we might wish we did). Buffy and all references to BTVS are property of the great god Joss Whedon, et al. Clark, Lex and the Smallville storyline belong to Miller-Gough et al. We're just borrowing them for a while. We promise to put them back unharmed and perhaps a little happier.
Notes: ** denotes internal thought, * = italics.
Summary: What if the Summers girls moved to Smallville? What if Buffy discovered that Clark had a secret and thought he could use a confidant?
Dedications: From Em: To Ace, for her never-ending support and her willingness to work on this with me. She writes both Clark and Lex in a way I could never hope to achieve, and I couldn't possibly have done this on my own.
From Ace: To Em for reminding me why I love Buffy. To Beth for being my Smallville watching partner even when the scripts were awful. To the whole Clark/Lex list for opening my eyes to the potential here. And finally to Christina for her great story; Runaway Trains at 3 A.M. which was part of our inspiration. You can find it at: this site.

Chapter 23

Buffy bit her lip and spent a long moment debating whether or not she should answer him. Finally, in the interests of honesty and openness, she decided that she should. "Riley saved me. He..." She broke off and sighed. There was no easy way to talk about him. How do you talk to your current lovers about your ex? It was, like, against the rules or something. Especially when what they want to know puts the ex in a positive light.

"You remember earlier, I mentioned I was dating one of the Marines who chipped Spike? That was him. His team was fighting demons, just like me, which is how we found out about each other. When we started dating, he backed me up as much as he could. But things fell apart... and he left. He had to." Her voice got very soft, near the end. She knew he'd had to leave... for the sake of his life and his sanity, he had to. She knew that.

But it hurt. It still hurt. He'd left her... and without him to lean on, she fell apart when her mother died.

That was a name that hadn't come up. Somewhere around the third bottle Spike had mentioned a rival, a boyfriend but he'd never given a name. Riley must have been that boyfriend. One man's loss is another man's gain... or in this case, two men's gain.

"You loved him?" The words had been on the tip of Lex's tongue but it was Clark who asked. The hand on her cheek moved down to her shoulder, petting gently. He waited patiently, watching Buffy as well as Lex, who had a really thoughtful look on his face.

"Yes," Buffy answered after a moment of silence. She closed her eyes, relaxing a little as Clark petted her softly... it was comforting. "But part of why he left was because he thought I didn't. I was never able to tell him... too traumatized by my past, I guess. It seems like a facile excuse, but I was just... just so afraid that the moment I admitted how I felt, it would crash around me. Because that was my experience with love."

She sighed again, her eyes still closed. Unwilling to open them for fear of what she'd see. She wasn't crying... there were no tears hiding behind her closed eyelids. Just... sad. Resigned. Defeated, especially considering the next time he showed up he was married. Not that she wanted him anymore... How could she possibly when everything that she'd ever wanted or needed was wrapped up in the two men in front of her? Or, well, on in front and one behind.

The two men who'd given her back her life, her self. She needed nothing more.

His father's idea of a toy had been a miniature of the Battle of Troy, complete with the Trojan horse. His mother's had been jigsaw puzzles; each one getting progressively harder until the placing of a single piece was a triumph. Until recently, Smallville had been his Troy - a place where battles were won and lost in the blink of an eye. Agamemnon had never been his favorite Greek and Lex couldn't imagine launching a thousand ships for the love and loss of one woman, considering the only one he'd had since coming here was Victoria....

Now Achilles was a different story - strong, invincible but for his heel - Clark was Achilles with the meteor rocks being his inherent flaw.

With Buffy here, Smallville had ceased to be Troy. Instead it was a landscape or a lush panoramic view of some exotic clime with a few pieces missing. One of those pieces had just fallen into place, sliding through his mind to fill in a nagging gap. This was where the abandonment issues had come from.

Not so much the loss of her parents, although her mother had been a true tragedy, but more so the loss of her lovers. Angel, one of the pieces she'd placed in his hands earlier, had walked away. So had the other...

That was not going to happen again.

Leaning forward over her shoulder, Lex captured her mouth in a kiss even as Clark was apologizing. Guilt was Clark's venue; action was Lex's. Words were cheap. Platitudes meant nothing. Promises could be made until the world turned to ice. The only thing that would help Buffy would be time. Time, and he and Clark remaining at her side.

Taken by surprise, it took Buffy a moment to realize she was being kissed before she began to kiss back. She wrapped an arm around Lex's neck, a little awkwardly because he was leaning over her shoulder, but she didn't care. Her other hand found Clark's and squeezed gently. She'd heard his apology, but it wasn't necessary. It certainly wasn't his fault.

Clark hadn't even known she existed, a week ago... how could the events of the last year or six have anything to do with him?

But both the words and the kiss made her relax, and when Lex finished with her lips, she opened her eyes. Unafraid to look at them, again. Because all she could see was a mix of compassion and caring and determination... and part of her began to hope that maybe the past wouldn't repeat itself, this time.

Lex's kiss was followed by one from Clark, who employed everything he'd learned over the course of the day. While Buffy was sufficiently distracted, Lex braced himself on the arms of the chair and slowly slid out of her. He paused, hating the feeling of being alone again in his own skin.

But dinner was growing cold and there was still the issue of Clark calling home and Buffy checking up on her sister. All things that needed to done to forestall this idyll from grinding down to its inevitable conclusion. Or in the case of the Kents, to keep them from showing up on his doorstep looking for their wayward son.

Buffy sighed softly when Lex drew away from her and just stayed where she was while she kissed Clark for long moments. Then, with an apologetic smile, she followed Lex's lead and gently pulled herself away from Clark. Her body felt emptier than she could ever remember it feeling, but it was necessary. She needed a break, big-time; even if she wasn't really tired, her body was worn out.

Very definitely worn out, she realized when a moment of vertigo took hold upon getting to her feet. She closed her eyes and waited for the feeling to pass, swaying on her feet for a minute. When she felt steadier, she opened her eyes again and caught sight of Clark already on his feet beside her and Lex was standing in front of his wardrobe looking for something.

She looked pale and tired. Clark reached out to steady Buffy and when she opened her mouth to probably tell him that she was all right, he shook his head. "You look dizzy. Hang on." Carefully he lifted her into his arms and carried her back over to the couch.

Lex looked up from his perusal of the wardrobe in time to see Buffy's waiver and Clark's understated rescue. Concern for her was paramount as he abandoned the search for suitable clothing. "Buffy, are you all right?"

"I'm fine," she replied lightly. "Momentary vertigo. I probably stood up too fast, that's all." She smiled and shrugged, not terribly concerned. Three strong orgasms in a short span of time would wear anyone out, even her. True that she'd recover faster, but it wasn't instantaneous.

"You can't tell me that you didn't think I'd be a little worn-out after all of everything we just did. Can you?" One eyebrow raised in question, she leaned her head against Clark and just smiled again.

The concern melted into a chuckle as Lex turned his attention back to rack after rack of clothes. "I think all of us are. A break is definitely in order." Reaching in, he stripped three robes off their hangers. Buffy would end up swimming in one of his but fortunately there was an over-sized one he'd purchased on a whim.

Not that he'd been optimistic about it getting used but there was always a chance Clark would end up showing up during a torrential rain and need some dry clothing. Or a snow-storm... or any other myriad of natural disaster that left him wet and shivering on Lex's doorstep.

Daydreaming had filled a lot of his free time since moving here. There wasn't much else to do other than study the effects of meteor rocks and... God.

Hamilton.

Phone calls. There were phone calls he needed to make as well as his own personal confessions to Clark. Where to start?

Grinning up at Buffy, Clark stretched a little before relaxing. "I think I could probably keep going." He wasn't really tired. In fact he never got tired. But he understood if everyone else wanted to take a break.

"Okay, so our super-boy lover has super-stamina to go along with everything else," Buffy replied with a light laugh. "But the human body can only take so much, baby, and Lex and I need a break even if you don't."

She leaned down to kiss Clark gently, a kiss meant to let them connect, to reassure, but she really wasn't up for another round right now. Her body felt blissfully languid and she felt like just lounging around for a while. Eating, talking, whatever worked. Her mind was still functioning, but her body wanted a rest. And to eat, probably... she'd start to be hungry again in a bit. But there was food on the coffee table, so that was fine.

Soft kiss, followed by a soft sigh and Buffy settling down even further in his arms. It was then that Clark realized that Lex had gone perfectly silent. Looking over his shoulder, he spotted their lover standing by the bed. On the rumpled coverlet were two robes and Lex was pulling a third one on. "Lex? Everything okay?"

"Yeah, Clark, everything's fine. The sun's almost down and it's going to get colder in here." He scooped up the robes, palmed his cell phone and ambled over to the couch. "Dinner's probably cold too."

Buffy shrugged, disinclined to move. "Wouldn't be the first time, won't be the last. Dinner is still edible cold. I ought to know." She gave them another smile. And even though she didn't want to move, she did accept the robe and slid her arms into the sleeves. Settling it fully around her would require getting up, and she really didn't feel like doing that.

Besides, the robe must belong to Lex because it was far too large for her. She wasn't entirely sure that she wouldn't step on it if she did stand up. She felt like a little kid wearing mom's clothes, for just a moment. But the image of a woman wearing her lover's clothes was a nicer one, and she liked it much better.

The dark purple suited her much better than the pallid sweater she'd been wearing earlier. Lex liked it on her, liked the look of his clothes draped over her tiny frame. Lex pulled his own robe all the way closed and belted it before taking a seat next to Clark. Who easily and graciously relinquished his claim on Buffy by transferring her to Lex's lap. "I'll check on dinner. Lex, did you... you know... clean up already?"

Nothing should surprise him about Clark. Nothing at all. Generous to a fault and concerned about everyone around him. He really did have all the makings of a super-hero. Smiling more to himself than anyone else, Lex nodded.

"Guess I should do the same. I'll be back in a minute." Clark pushed himself up off the couch and as Lex watched, he disappeared. He didn't walk away, he was just gone in the blink of an eye.

"That's going to take some getting used to." Lex's dry comment was enough to evoke a few tired giggles from Buffy.

Buffy nodded, still giggling softly. "It's kinda neat, though. I'm fast, but not that fast. Not enough faster than normal to do more than startle someone. So moving at normal speeds isn't a conscious effort, like I think it must be for Clark," she answered softly. "He copes with it well, though. Better than I did, I think. But, then, he's been living with it most of his life."

It was definitely odd for her to not be the strong one all the time. That twist would take as much getting used to as the rest of it. Sometimes she really liked it because it made her feel normal like she hadn't since Riley, and Clark was so earnest about taking care of them when he needed to. But if he ever tried to protect her from something she needed to do, there would be problems.

The flickering firelight bent and Clark was with them again. He knelt beside the divan with a washcloth and a towel in one hand and the robe Lex had brought him in the other. "I thought you might want to..."

Lex sincerely hoped that the blushing wasn't going to stop anytime soon. It was interesting watching Clark Kent shift from deep bronze to near rust as he held the washcloth out to Buffy.

Buffy nodded and took the washcloth from Clark with a smile. "Thank you, love. I appreciate the thought... I'm still not sure I want to get up yet." She used the washcloth to clean herself up, blushing lightly when she noticed them watching her. Never mind that they'd both explored her body intimately, being watched while she cleaned up still felt strange.

Again, it had been a long time since anybody cared enough about her to be around for the clean-up part. Or anyone that she would've let stay and watch her, for that matter.

When she was done, Clark handed her the towel and disappeared again. This time he was back much faster with the robe belted securely in place. It fit perfectly across his shoulders, the rich indigo silk changing his eyes from hazel to almost blue. Lex definitely approved.

Clark ran one hand down the front of the robe before looking at Lex. The smile was a dead give-away. This wasn't Lex's robe... it was his. Lex was smaller than he was, smaller across the shoulder and narrower through the body and... damn the sleeves were long enough. Wow.

"I know what you're thinking, Kent. And you're right." Lex's smile revealed nothing and everything at once. It confirmed that he had the robe made for Clark without spilling the fantasies that went along with it. Or the nights he'd spent running each of them through his head while his hand provided relief.

Buffy studied Clark for a moment and nodded. "You have really good taste in guy's clothes, Lex. It looks really good on him," she said after a moment. The dark fabric made golden skin appear to glow even more, and it turned Clark's eyes bluer. Sexy in silk; the thought suited them both. She couldn't imagine a more gorgeous image than Clark and Lex in their silk robes.

For herself, Buffy loved the deep violet color of the robe Lex had lent her. It was too big by far, but the silk slid over her skin in a sensual caress. It felt lovely and she wished she actually owned a robe like it. Unfortunately, she didn't. But hey, a girl could dream.

"It certainly does," the lazy, contented tone in Lex's voice was almost enough to make Clark shiver. Especially when Lex leaned over to straighten the hem and his fingertips brushed the back of Clark's knee. He'd never heard Lex sound so relaxed.

Which was why it surprised him when Lex handed him the cell phone. They were settling down to eat dinner and Lex was handing him a phone. All of Clark's questions were cleared up when Lex stated quietly, "You've been here for hours, Clark. Time to check in."

Oh man. He'd told his folks they were going for a walk and Lex said the sun had gone down. Clark started to dial when Lex leaned over, cleared the display and hit speed-dial 2. Clark felt his heart flip over in his chest, Lex had him on his speed-dial.

Buffy smiled, also noticing that Clark's number was on speed-dial. Very sweet, really. "When he's done, I probably should try to call Dawn. Let her know I'll be late," she murmured softly to Lex. She was keeping quiet, so she wouldn't be heard over the phone line by whoever picked up. The absolute last thing any of them needed was Clark in trouble. Granted that the Kents knew he was with her when they'd left but parents could be odd like that.

Thankful to whoever watched over alien boys who'd just lost their virginity in spectacular ways, Clark signed in relief when his mom answered the phone. And he did not just think about losing his virginity and his mom at the same time. He did not. "Mom... No, everything's okay. No new... well, nothing new to worry about."

Trying not to laugh, Lex turned his head to nuzzle Buffy's neck. He was still able to observe Clark from that position and it was quite the sight. Clark had pulled one knee up to his chest with his left arm hooked around it. The robe fell open perfectly, revealing an inch or two of that wonderful cock and Clark was totally unaware of it as he continued to talk to his mom.

"We ended up over at Lex's. Yeah, I know but Buffy was kinda curious about the castle. Un-huh... un-huh... Yeah, he's here. He got home early from Metropolis and invited us to stay." His mom was being really good about it, expressing her concern about how long the walk was and stressing that he shouldn't go into Lex's without him there, but she didn't sound worried.

Buffy sighed happily and let her head fall to the side, baring her neck to Lex again. Half-lidded eyes occasionally moved from Clark to Lex or back again as she alternated which one of them she watched. Clark, with his unconscious innocence, was fun to watch. He was blissfully unaware of exposing himself, at the moment, and that was fine with her.

But it was just as amusing to watch Lex's reactions to Clark, with sexual overtones visible in his expression. Overtones which would probably embarrass the hell out of Clark, should he actually notice them while still on the phone with his mom. For most people, herself included, the words 'mom' and 'sex' did not belong in the same train of thought.

"Hmmm? Yeah, they seem to be getting along okay." Clark shot both of them a look and, to Lex's complete amusement, rolled his eyes. Laughter was getting a lot harder to control. Lex liked Martha... liked and respected her and it wouldn't do to burst into laughter because her son just made a joke that she would never understand.

It was time to bury his face in Buffy's hair and nibble on her neck to keep from losing his composure. She leaned into those kisses while Clark continued to talk. "Yeah, she is nice. Really nice... Mom, my chores are all done and would it be okay if we stayed a little longer? Dinner... un-huh... chicken Kiev and yes, I'll ask about that. Movie maybe?"

Clark had to keep from bouncing when his mom agreed for them to stay. He didn't like lying to her but he wasn't really lying. As long as she didn't ask any questions about nakedness or all the rest of what they'd done, he was probably home free.

"Great... I'll make sure you get a chance to talk to her when we get back. Yeah, Dawn's really nice too... Huh? No, Mom, I'm not..." There was the blush again. Lex caught it as he looked up from Buffy's neck and Clark was beet red. "Dawn's nice but she's... yeah, she's not Lana. Okay. 9:00? Thanks, Mom."

Buffy managed to wait until Clark hung up the phone before the laughter escaped. "Dawn? Oh, geez... not that it wouldn't make sense, to a mother's mind, but God. I'd hate to have to hurt my own sister," Buffy teased between giggles.

Right now, feeling the way she did, Buffy knew Dawn wasn't a threat to the relationship she found herself in. True that Dawn was beautiful, and the right age for Clark... but her little sister wouldn't likely be able to handle anything like this. Especially not the multiple lovers thing. It was outside her limited - very limited - experience. Dawn had memories of growing up, but the actual experience she had was much less.

"Well, she is my age and Mom keeps telling me the door is closed where Lana's concerned... She just doesn't know how closed that door is." Clark's blush was fading as he handed the phone back to Lex, who ran a finger down the center of Clark's palm as he accepted it. That simple touch was enough to set off a whole body shiver.

"It had better be closed, Kent." The tone was one of unsubtle warning. Lex liked Lana, in small doses, but he had no intention of sharing with her. At least not something as precious as Clark.

"It's closed, Lex. I made a promise to Whitney and... Lana's just a friend now. The crush is long gone, okay?" Having someone be jealous over him was interesting but there was no need. He'd come to terms with his hopeless crush, recognized it for what it was and moved on. It was Lana who was doing the clinging now.

After he saved her from the tornado, she called almost every night or showed up at the loft. Just to talk. Clark kept his distance, sitting over by the telescope or on the trunk rather than next to her on the couch. Occasionally he caught her giving him a longing look but Clark always changed the subject or moved further away.

A promise was a promise. His saving Lana had screwed things up with Chloe and Clark didn't want to add to that. No matter what Lana wanted.

Buffy decided to stay out of the middle of this particular topic. While she very much understood how Lex was feeling - felt it herself, even - she didn't want to upset Clark by implying that they didn't believe in him. Maybe she worried too much, really, but she just didn't want any hurt feelings after how incredible the day had been.

Instead, she asked Lex, "Can I use your phone to call my sister, please?" She really did need to call Dawn. But... would her sister even be home yet? She had no way to tell, but all she could do was try. Or maybe Lex had a phone book somewhere and she could look up the phone number. She did, briefly, consider asking Clark if he knew the number but that might cause more problems than it was worth right now.

"Of course," Lex handed Buffy the phone, leaning over to kiss her as he did so. A tender touch of lips before raising his head to fix Clark with a look. This argument was far from over. "You're a better man than I am, Clark Kent. Keeping a promise made to someone who strung you up in a cornfield."

The look Clark gave him was lot more mature than Lex had ever seen. There was a rueful smile and a shake of Clark's head before he leaned forward, wrapping his hand around the base of Lex's skull. "Lex... I love you. I love Buffy. I'm not going to cheat on either of you with Lana so stop worrying about it."

The jealousy evaporated the minute Clark's hand came in contact with his skin. Lex moved further into that touch, letting Clark pull him in for a kiss. He believed Clark, believed him completely.

Clark would never stray. But if Ms. Lang decided to step up to the plate and take a shot at him, she'd find herself in a world of hurt.

Buffy smiled when she felt Lex relax; she was very glad that little altercation was over. While her lovers were occupied with each other, she quickly dialed the number to her apartment. The phone rang ten times before she gave up with a sigh. Looked like she'd have to ask for the number after all. Or for a phone book. But she could wait until they were done kissing each other.

As she watched, she mused that Clark really was older at times than anyone gave him credit for being. Part of it was probably the shyness... if he kept quiet, except for when he was upset over something, then no one would ever really have a chance to see his maturity. There were times when Clark looked his age, and times when he looked much older. Another similarity, she supposed.

This was something he could do for hours on end. Simply lose himself in the wonder that was Clark's mouth. Soft lips and agile tongue and damn if Clark hadn't absorbed every single thing they'd taught him today. Light flick at each corner of his mouth followed by a long, slow suck on his lower lip and Lex was ready to drag both of them back to bed. Even after coming five... or was it six times at this point.

It was Clark who noticed that Buffy wasn't talking. He pulled back from Lex, trying not to smile as Lex followed him blindly for a moment before opening his eyes. Which were dazed and dark, the blue having receded into a tiny rim around an ocean of black.

"Buffy, is everything okay?" Quiet question, followed by a touch on her elbow. Clark's entire attention was on her and after a moment, Lex's shifted to her as well.

Buffy nodded slowly, blushing lightly. "Yeah, I was just watching you guys. There's no answer at home, though. I think Dawn must still be at Lana's, but I don't know the phone number," she explained with a small shrug. "It's written down at home, but we haven't been here long enough for me to learn the numbers for Dawn's friends yet."

Back in Sunnydale, she'd had a list of phone numbers for Dawn's friends. The ones Dawn spent a lot of time with, Buffy memorized their numbers. It was just easier. But she didn't have all the phone numbers here, yet, let alone know them.

"Oh... I can fix that." Clark reached for the phone and punched in Nell's phone number. His having that number memorized wasn't that big of a deal. He had everyone's number memorized; his house, Pete's, Judge Ross' chambers, Chloe's home, cell and the Torch fax number... Lex's home, office, cell, the mansion in Metropolis, Lex's private apartment... all of them.

Before it started to ring, he handed the phone to Buffy. His talking to Lana after discussing her with Lex was not a good idea. Clark got up of the divan and knelt by the coffee table, checking on dinner. It was a little cold but probably still good.

Buffy shook her head and kept quiet about the phone number. She wasn't too surprised when Nell answered, saying, "Hi Ms. Potter, this is Buffy Summers. Is Dawn still over there? May I speak with her, please?" It only took a moment for Dawn to get to the phone. "Hey Dawnie, it's me." Dawn's cheerful greeting could be heard loud and clear by not just Buffy but anyone within three feet of the cell phone. Teenagers.

"Is Ms. Potter still going to be able to take you home tonight?" Buffy asked. She waited quietly while Dawn checked and was relieved to hear an affirmative. "Okay, great. Remember not to stay out too late, but I probably won't be there when you get home. I've made some... some friends, and I'll probably do a quick sweep before I come home, okay?"

Dawn agreed easily enough, and Buffy's heart went out to her sister when Dawn quietly asked to be woken up when Buffy got home. "I'll wake you up, Dawnie, I promise. You have a good evening with your friends, and I'll see you tonight. Okay. Bye."

During the conversation, Lex remained quiet, managing not to wince when an exuberant teenaged voice came so loudly over the line. He stroked Buffy's back, took the phone from her and shut it off once the call was done. There were a few questions he had as well as his own confessions yet to be made. Lex opted to start with the simplest. "I take it that Dawn is Clark's age? You didn't specify."

"Yeah, she is. Same grade and everything," Buffy said with a nod. "It's a little strange sometimes, though. In my mind, I remember mom bringing her home from the hospital, and I remember teaching her to tie her shoes and coordinate outfits. But I know that none of that really happened. So... it's a little strange."

"I can only imagine," smooth, urbane tone although the hunger was back in his gaze. Strange the times when Julian and the loss of him came up. Even though Buffy's memories were false, apparently implanted when Dawn arrived on her doorstep... at least she had them.

Julian had barely been a footnote in the terms of Lex's existence but he felt the void every single day. He'd woken up the morning of Julian's christening, hurrying to the nursery and leaning over the crib. Holding Julian was one of the highlights of his day, holding him and talking to him about how together they were going to conquer the world.

But that morning... that morning he'd reached for Julian and instead of being warm his little brother was cold. Cold and stiff and as Lex looked closer, he saw that Julian's lips were blue. All his plans, all his hopes to have someone who would stand shoulder to shoulder with him when he rose up against their father were dashed in that one instant in time.

Julian was lost... and his mother followed less than two years later, leaving Lex alone with the lion. Left alone to be molded into the monster that his father wanted instead of a son...

Buffy tilted her head, studying Lex's expression for a long minute. Finally she decided to take the comment at face value and shrugged. "It has its moments. But I don't think I'd give them up for anything. I've already died to save her once, and I wouldn't hesitate to do it again if it were my only choice." She brushed Lex's cheek with her fingertips, gently. "And Dawn's not the only one I would die for, anymore," she added very softly.

"Though I hope to god that I never have to." Buffy didn't want to die. Not anymore, when she suddenly had so much more to live for. But it was her destiny, and if that's what it came to she would do it again. But only if there were no other options at all.

"You won't," Lex said as he kissed her fingertips. Her calling was dangerous but from what he'd been able to discover, vampires and demons hadn't made their way here to Smallville. The town did have its share of mutants but Clark had apparently been able to make short work of most of them.

"No dying allowed," came the quiet comment from over their shoulders. Clark had moved back from the table and was waiting patiently for them to notice. He had a plate in one hand and a bottle of water in the other. "We'll keep you safe, Buffy. I promise."

Buffy smiled and nodded slowly. "I believe you, baby. But you really have no idea what we may be up against." She sighed and rubbed her temples with her fingertips for just a moment. "Just because there are no demons in Smallville now doesn't mean that there won't ever be. I have a reputation, after all, and there are a lot of hot-shots who come looking for me to try to kill me. For the fame of taking down one of the longest-lived Slayers ever."

It was a harsh reality, and Buffy knew that she probably should've stayed in Sunnydale. If nothing else, the residents were used to the crazy things that happened there. Because the vamps and demons would follow her. If they wanted to take out a Slayer, she was the most available as Faith was in jail. And as long as Faith was in jail, there'd be no active Slayer with Buffy dead.

She almost said more, but decided against it. That was enough of reality for now.

Forestalling Clark's response with a raised hand, Lex looked up at Buffy. "Let them come," he said quietly. Steel in his tone and even harder steel in his eyes.

Gone was their gentle lover, leaving behind what he truly was. Lionel Luthor's son. Ruthless and cunning, trained in every twist and turn in the human psyche and quite capable of understanding the non-human as well.

Also trained in the physical side of the arena. Though he couldn't hope to rival her strength and Clark's... well, Clark was an alien and so far off the scale that any comparison would be ludicrous, Lex was no weakling. He could box and fence and he'd gotten really good with a stake during his tenure in L.A. Whatever came to Smallville would find him to be an implacable enemy and damned hard to kill.

Buffy smiled and nodded again. Maybe she really did have a chance to beat the Slayer curse. She wasn't alone anymore. She had not one but two lovers determined to keep her alive, one of whom was an alien with strength off the scale and abilities humans didn't have. They knew about her, knew what her world was like, and didn't let that stop them from wanting to be with her. And that counted for a lot. A lot.

"Okay. Let them come," she echoed. Soft though her voice was, the steel in it reflected Lex's and her eyes lit with a flare of fierce determination and a will to fight that she hadn't had in years. If her Scooby gang could see her now, they'd have recognized the Slayer and known that she was back in the full swing of things again. The Fighter had re-emerged.

In one's life there were defining moments. Split seconds in time where one's destiny was chosen and the course of a lifetime changed. Destiny had been forged here today. A destiny that linked the three of them together and whether the other two were aware of it, Lex recognized it.

Recognized it and embraced it. For the first time since he'd held Julian's lifeless body and watched his dreams crumble to dust, he was not alone. For the first time since he'd laid a white orchid on his mother's coffin and watched as it was lowered into the ground, he was loved. For the first time since he'd woken to the harsh reality of being a madman's son, Lex was... whole.

Not a monster, not any more.

He was a man.

*****

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