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 44

Jonathan held the door open for Dawn and waited until she was settled in the back seat before doing the same for Martha. It wasn't that his wife couldn't open the door for herself but when you took a girl out for ice cream, you treated her right. He caught sight of Buffy standing in the doorway and waved to her before sliding in behind the wheel. Even though Clark was interested in Buffy, Buffy had made it more than clear that what she felt for Clark was sisterly affection.

Lord knows these two girls needed all the family they could get. Mother dead and father basically absent.

He steered the car towards town, turning on the radio and smiling when Dawn made a face in the mirror at the country and western station that came up. "So, Miss Dawn, what type of ice cream do you want?"

Dawn smiled, and the smile was audible in her voice as she answered, "With pie, Buffy and I both like butter almond ice cream. So I think that's what I want. If we weren't having pie, I'd probably want peanut-butter fudge ice cream." Dawn was chattering and she knew it, but she didn't care. She felt too relaxed to care. But there was one thing... "Um... do you think that maybe we could change the radio station, though? Please?"

Dawn smiled again when Mr. Kent shot her an indulgent smile and reached for the radio dial...

****

Up in his room, Clark grabbed his English Lit book and laid it aside. He considered going back downstairs and actually doing his homework but rejected that out of hand. There was no possible way to concentrate as long as Buffy was in the house. So instead of racing back downstairs, Clark did the only thing he could think of.

He started to get undressed. Fifteen minutes into town and fifteen minutes back. Maybe ten minutes in the store to pick out flavors. That didn't leave a lot of time.

When the car was out of the driveway, Buffy shut the door and locked it. She dashed up the stairs and paused there briefly. It only took a moment of listening to figure out which room Clark currently occupied, and she crossed over to the door and tapped lightly on it.

"Clark?" she called softly. She had no idea what to expect; she knew what she wanted, suspected that Clark wanted it to... But would they actually do anything about it?

His shirt was already on the chair and his jeans undone when Clark opened the door. Buffy was on the other side, looking up at him and then at his bed. The covers were a little mussed but not too badly. "They won't be gone that long," he said, trying to explain why he was partially undressed.

Buffy nodded her understanding and stepped into Clark's room, kicked the door closed behind her. "We don't have much time," she agreed. She stepped into his personal space and pushed his jeans down off his hips to pool on the floor. She pulled her sweater off over her head and shimmied out of her jeans so he could take a moment to see her other outfit.

The silver threads in the black material caught the light and sparkled as she stood up. She smiled a bit at the appreciation in Clark's eyes and asked lightly, "You like?"

"I like... I like a lot. But I like you better." Clark swept her up into his arms, holding her close as he stepped out of his discarded jeans. No kisses, not yet. Bed first, boxers off and then they could kiss.

The only regret he had was that Lex wasn't there to share. Holding Buffy close, Clark made it to the bed without hitting anything. He knelt, laying her down in the place where he slept every night. There was something incredibly erotic about that thought.

Buffy smiled at that comment. "Really?" she asked softly, her eyes wide as she looked up at him. "Thank you." She waited until Clark stripped out of his boxers, then held her arms out to him. She scooted over on the bed to make room for him to join her and her eyes devoured him while she waited.

There really wasn't a lot of room in his bed. Clark slid in beside Buffy and wrapped his arms around her, breathing in her scent. Dinner had been torture. Not just the heavy flirting on Dawn's part which he was going to have to discuss with Buffy, but also not being able to touch her or kiss her or anything.

He couldn't imagine what the work day had been like for Buffy and Lex. Of course he had found them in bed so maybe it hadn't been that bad. Clark turned his head and found Buffy waiting for him. Mouths touching, lips and tongue and melting into each other.

Buffy's body molded against Clark's, pressed as close as she possibly could be. When their mouths parted, hers kissed along his jaw. She paused just in front of his ear and whispered, "Today has been one of the hardest days in a long time. Sometimes secrets are very hard to keep... but we managed." Her mouth continued on, then. Down his neck, along his shoulder and further down.

When she paused again, Buffy lifted her head until she could meet Clark's eyes. "I know we don't have much time. Tell me what you want, baby. Anything at all."

"You. I want to be in you. I don't care how." Foreplay wasn't going to be possible, not much of it anyway given that they could be caught at any time. But that was part of the appeal with what they were doing. Necking in his bed, right next door to his parents' room. Clark skimmed a hand down her back, curving the palm around one hip as he pulled Buffy in even closer.

His heart was pounding so loud Clark was sure Buffy could hear it. Every sense he had was in full force as he listened for the familiar sound of his mom's car. Clark knew he'd hear it when they pulled into the long drive. Hopefully it would give them enough time to scramble into clothes and be downstairs.

Buffy pulled away long enough to scramble out of her teddy, then pressed close to Clark again. She pushed him onto his back and straddled him; she leaned over and when her mouth found his, her hips pressed downward and he slid into her body.

Her eyes closed and her body shivered; he felt so good, so deep inside her, and she'd been wanting this all evening. They had to be fast, she knew, but she didn't care. She needed him that badly anyway.

Clark arched up into her, his hips rising and falling to match the pace Buffy was setting. Her breasts fit perfectly into the palms of his hands, rubbing against his skin with every thrust. The bed shook a little but no sound escaped other than their own quiet cries and moans.

It had only been a few hours since they'd been like this. Bodies entwined with one another, each reaching to bring the other pleasure. Clark watched as Buffy moved over him, her head thrown back, her throat an elegant line that he followed with his hands and then his mouth as he sat up to pull her even closer. "I love you," he murmured, nipping at soft skin, always careful not to bite too hard.

A soft cry echoed in the room, then Buffy's head fell forward as she wrapped her arms around Clark's neck. "I love you too, Clark," she murmured back. "Always. Forever. You have my heart." Driven by need and the frenzied passion that pressed them harder as time passed, her hips moved faster. Thrust harder. Pushed them both closer to the brink as they held each other tightly.

She tipped his head up with one hand and her lips caught his in another deep kiss. She kissed him until she saw stars behind her closed eyelids from lack of oxygen, then she pulled back for a breath and kissed him again.

All higher brain functions were shutting down, leaving him with the most basic of senses and thoughts. Heat, wet and tight heat surrounding him, cradling him. Softness against his cheek and when he turned that softness filled his mouth. Clark suckled, pulling gently while his body continued to move. Continued to follow the biological imperative to get deeper and deeper.

There were hands in his hair and a soft voice crooning in his ear. Not really words, just encouragement and need that echoed his own. His eyes closed, the scent of olives filled the air and it was all Clark could do not to slide back into the world they'd created earlier in the day.

Buffy's eyes closed as well, and just for a moment she could feel heavy bands circling her wrists and hear sounds that belonged to another world and another time. But this time she fought it. Fought to stay in the here and now because they had so little time. Not enough time to follow the fantasy again.

Instead she opened her eyes, and crooned Clark's name. His name, not Hephaestion's. And perhaps that awareness would be enough to keep them here together. Them, not their counterparts.

Buffy was getting closer to her peak, though. She'd been strung-out since dinner, and it wasn't going to take long to push her over. Not with Clark's mouth on her breast and his cock deep inside her.

Clark's hands locked around her shoulders and he tried something that Lex had done. Rising up from the bed, Clark swiveled his hips and ground against her. The resulting cry from Buffy and the way she tightened around him was encouragement enough to try the same move again.

Buffy's eyes closed again and her head fell back. Her hair brushed over Clark's hands, on her shoulders, and she cried out, "Oh, goddess, Clark..." Mixing of worlds, as she had once before... earlier, after they came out of their 'play' session. She was barely aware that she was doing it, but it didn't matter. She was lost in the sensations, and what her lover was doing felt incredible.

With him doing that, it didn't matter if she was Buffy or Cyrene - she just was, and he was with her, and her body began to tremble in his arms.

Pleasure, sharp and strong and too soon for his taste came boiling up. Clark opened his eyes and tried to hold back but it was useless. His body knew what it wanted and what it wanted was so simple. Climax - white-hot and just this side of painful.

Silk surrounded them. Alexander's smooth chest behind him and the insistent prod of his lover's cock digging in as he held onto both of them. Hephaestion and Cyrene - Clark and Buffy... names didn't matter... they were who they were and who they had been and Alexander was with them.

Maybe it was the olives with dinner that triggered it. Lex couldn't be sure. One minute he was discussing a merger with one of his father's old rivals and the next minute he was reaching for a napkin to hide a hard-on that wouldn't quit. There were voices in his head, something he hadn't experienced for years.

He closed his eyes for a second and the heat coming off his skin was more than he could take. "Gentlemen, if you'll excuse me for a minute." Lex didn't wait for an answer. Nor did he look back. The men's room was his sole and solitary goal. That and a locking stall...

The images in her mind's eye were vivid, and Buffy felt herself moving to kiss someone who wasn't there. And she almost felt a mouth under hers, a hand cupping her head.

Strange... very strange. But she didn't have much time to think about it. Between the ghostly sensations and the real ones, her body was beginning to lock up. She keened softly and her body arched in Clark's arms as she went over the edge. And even though she knew it was just the two of them, she could have sworn that she felt a third presence and a second pair of hands cradling her.

Coming, she was coming and nothing in the world was as beautiful as she was in that very moment. Clark held onto Buffy, clinging to her while she rose into an invisible kiss. Olives and dust and heat swirled around them. The faint sound of a stream trickled off to their left and a strong, broad-fingered hand gripped his hair while he continued to move up and into Buffy.

A mouth on his, soft and pliant and not really there even though Lex could almost taste her. He barely got into the stall and his pants opened before he was coming. Hard and fast and without anyone touching him at all. One hand on the flat metal of the stall and the other around his cock while he gasped in stunned surprise.

Warm spill in the center of his back and Hephaestion turned his head to claim Alexander's next kiss. To muffle the sounds of his joy and make them his own. Cyrene above him and Alexander behind and life was perfect.

Cyrene shivered as she came down from the heights, and her body continued to rock against Hephaestion's body. He had yet to come, though she and Alexander both had. So she pushed herself, kept going even though all she wanted was to collapse into gentle arms. But she couldn't. Wouldn't allow herself to stop until he came too.

Tumbling over was simple. All it took was looking into her eyes and Clark was coming. Filling her, clinging to her... Buffy, his friend and his lover. Cyrene, the only person he ever shared Alexander with willingly. Whatever name she chose, he was hers and she was his.

Now and forever.

Leaning against the stall door, Lex tried to catch his breath. Nothing like this had ever happened to him. Not even during his heaviest bouts of drug and sexual abuse. Something was wrong.

Very wrong.

He wiped his hand clean and fumbled for his cell. Speed dial was a wonderful thing. Now if he could only come up with a logical excuse as to why he was calling Clark in case Jonathan answered the phone.

Buffy started to reach out to Lex mentally, an instinct she followed though she didn't know where it came from. When the phone began to ring, she knew it was him. God only knew how, but she knew. "Is there a phone up here, baby?" she asked softly in a breathless tone. "That's Lex..."

"In the hall." Clark was already in motion, lifting Buffy on his lap as the same conclusion came to him. He stopped long enough to kiss her before racing into the hall. The phone even felt warm as he held it to his ear. "Lex?"

"Clark, are you okay?" Just hearing his lover's rather breathless voice was comforting. It never occurred to Lex to ask how Clark knew it was him on the phone. "Where's Buffy?"

"I'm fine, Lex. We're both fine. Hang on." The upstairs phone was a cordless, which was turning out to be a blessing. Clark really didn't want to get caught in the hall by his folks while... you know, naked.

"My folks went out for ice cream and took Dawn with them... so we were... taking advantage of it." He was blushing a little when he made it back into his bedroom where Buffy was kneeling on the bed. Clark handed the phone to her and settled back onto the bed, opening his arms in a clear invitation for a cuddle.

They could both talk to him if they got close enough. Clark had the feeling that Lex needed to hear their voices or maybe he wanted to bawl them out. It was hard to tell.

Buffy settled into Clark's arms as she held the phone to her ear. Sitting on Clark's lap put her head near enough to his for them to both be able to hear Lex. Probably, anyway.

"Hey, love," she said softly into the phone. "Are you okay? We didn't realize that we'd pull you in, like that..." She was pretty certain that she'd felt him join in, when their minds drifted to their Greek counterparts.

Funny... Buffy couldn't recall when she'd stopped thinking of them as characters...

Well, that explained a lot. Both what Clark said and what Buffy added. It wasn't just the olives in the sauce. Lex tilted his head back, listening for possible company in the bathroom. When silence greeted him, he murmured, "I'm... on one level very confused. On the other... incredibly turned on. I hope you realize what's going to happen when I see you again."

Clark nudged Buffy and she held the phone up for him to answer. "Does it involve whipped cream or just whips?" And if he blushed any harder, Clark was certain his face would explode. But the laugh he got from Lex was worth the embarrassment.

"Whips and chains, lover." Lex's voice dropped to a whisper that even Clark had to strain to hear. "I'm going to tie you to the bed and fuck you until you can't walk. No matter how long it takes..." Which would be adequate payback for almost coming in his pants in the middle of a meeting.

Okay, he shouldn't be getting hard again. Not with his folks only - Clark craned his neck so he could see the clock - 15 minutes from home. "Promise?" Another laugh, deep and rich and oh yeah, hard again. Clark handed Buffy the phone while he tried to figure out any excuse for them to head to the castle for the rest of the night.

"Promise, Atticus, and I always keep my promises." Lex tucked his cock back into his pants and waited for a response on the other end of the line. He was going to have to cut this short before someone sent in a search party. But it was so much fun bantering with Clark... Lex would never have suspected under all that flannel lurked a natural born flirt.

Buffy rolled her eyes and shook her head at the exchange between the two. "Lex, you really shouldn't tease him like that on a school night," she scolded, her voice gently amused. They could both tell that she didn't mean it, though. "How is he supposed to sleep with images like that in his head? Come to think of it, how am I?" she teased. She managed not to laugh, but just barely.

It was fun teasing her lovers. She hadn't felt this comfortable teasing anyone in a sexual manner for as long as she could remember. This was a first for her, and it definitely said something about her comfort level with them. Lots of somethings, really.

"You won't be sleeping much, Beauty, trust me. And tell Clark it's only fair considering how quickly I had to duck in here." Fully dressed again and the mess cleared away, Lex unlocked the stall door. He washed his hands in the sink with the phone tucked in between shoulder and ear. "I'm lucky I made it in time. I don't think this merger would have been helped by my coming in my pants."

Buffy grinned and shook her head, even though she knew Lex couldn't see her. "No, I don't suppose it would have. And it's probably a good thing that I can function on minimal sleep for extended periods of time, hmm? I don't recall sleeping much last night, either." Too worried about what would happen when he found out she worked for him, but she'd only admit that if one of them asked. It had kept her up for most of the night.

"No? I must be losing my touch." Lex wiped his hands, reluctant to terminate the call but he did have a meeting to finish. "I love you. Both of you."

Clark kissed the top of Buffy's head, concerned himself by her admission about no sleep. He hadn't had that kind of problem. Once her car left the farm and he could no longer hear it, he was out like a light.

"We love you too, Lex. And you're not losing your touch, honest. Now go finish your meeting, and I'll see you later. Okay?" Buffy snuggled closer to Clark and sighed softly. She kinda figured that one or the other of them would ask her about her bout of insomnia, but maybe she could handle them one at a time.

She and Clark needed to get dressed soon, anyway. They had only a few more minutes before his parents should be home.

"Fine. Kiss him for me." Without saying goodbye or even listening for her response, Lex clicked the phone off. He slid it into his pocket, straightened his jacket as well as his shoulders and went out to do battle. Mahoney & Sons would never know what hit them.

Buffy disconnected the phone and set it on the bed. She twisted in Clark's arms and kissed him, long and deep. When she broke away, she whispered, "That's from Lex, love." She kissed him again, similarly, and whispered, "That one's from me."

With a soft sigh, she gently pulled out of his arms and, with a glance at the clock, she began to locate her clothes. The teddy was easy enough to find and get into. The trick was to get into the rest of her clothes while wearing it.

"Buffy, hold up for a minute." There was just enough time for this and probably not much more. Clark zipped into the bathroom and zipped back with a warm damp cloth. While Buffy stood in front of him with her hands on his shoulders, Clark cleaned her up.

He leaned down for a quick kiss or three but stopped before it could get serious again. Ice cream and parents and her younger sister were all imminent. He grabbed his own clothes and pulled them on while Buffy dressed.

Buffy sighed softly when her clothes were smoothed, and so was her hair. It was far too easy to hide the evidence of their love, and that sucked. Majorly. She turned and pressed herself into Clark's arms, once he was fully dressed as well. She felt his arms wrap around her and closed her eyes. Absorbed the feeling of being cared for while she could.

"I love you, Clark. You know that, right?" she whispered softly.

"I know. I love you too." He kissed the top of her head, holding her close. They were going to have to open his windows or his mom would know immediately what they'd been doing in his room. "Can you do me a favor? Your sister... I think she's got a crush on me."

"I think you're right, baby. What do you want me to do?" There wasn't a whole lot that she could do... but she might be able to get Dawn to back off a little, at least. Dawn could be stubborn, but she generally listened to reason.

Buffy pulled gently away and went to the window, opening it wide. She leaned out into the cool night air, then returned to Clark's arms. He was warm, and the night was cold.

"Tell her... I've got a girlfriend that I love. Completely. You just don't have to tell her who." Clark lifted her chin so he could kiss her. It was then that he heard his mother's car turn into the long drive. "Uh-oh... They're back. We better get downstairs."

Buffy nodded. "Grab your books, baby," she instructed gently. "I'm going to run to the bathroom, the downstairs one. I'll join you in a minute, okay?"

He nodded in agreement and gathered up his books. Clark ran a hand through his hair, then tossed the washcloth under his bed. He'd come back for that later. The last item to be dealt with was the phone, which Clark grabbed on the way out.

By the time his parents came in the door with their arms loaded down with grocery bags and with Dawn chatting away, Clark was seated at the dining room table. His English Lit book was propped up while he mouthed the words of the sonnets earmarked for class. Thankful that he'd let his hair dry naturally, Clark tilted his head to one side in apparent rapt concentration. Buffy was leaning over his right shoulder, pointing to one of the stanzas.

Innocence personified. Both of them. Despite the fact that his room was still airing out and there was a washcloth under his bed that he'd get hung for if his mom ever found it.

Buffy looked up with a small smile when Dawn bounced into the dining room. She turned her attention back to Clark and corrected his timing on one particular line. Then she stood up and went to take one of the bags from Mrs. Kent to carry into the kitchen.

"Goodness, guys, I thought you were just going to the store for ice cream!" she exclaimed when she peeked into the bag. "Look at all this!" There was ice cream, sure. And sprinkles, and caramel sauce, and nuts, and God only knew what else!

"Well, we got a little carried away, maybe. And since no two of us agree on ice cream flavors, we got more than one," Martha said with a smile. "It's not something we do often, but once in a while it's okay."

"With Clark in the house it won't go to waste," Jonathan's dry comment garnered an embarrassed shrug and mumble of apology from Clark. His son did have a prodigious appetite, especially during the last summer when he shot up almost a foot overnight. It was still strange to actually look Clark squarely in the eye when only a year ago Jonathan had to stoop a little to make eye contact.

"I'll help too!" Dawn said eagerly. She was bouncing on her toes again as she helped pull items out of the bags and set them on the table. She didn't know where they went, other than the ice cream into the freezer, so she just unpacked.

"I'm sure you will, Dawnie," Buffy said with a giggle. "And so will I. I still eat like a teenager sometimes."

"Do you?" Martha said with a smile. "High metabolism?" She nodded when Buffy did. It made sense, especially considering what the girl was.

Clark stayed at the table as he tried to keep up the illusion of study. At least he'd managed to get his shirt back on right side out, which was how Pete's mom caught him one night. Hiding stuff from his parents wasn't easy but if he wanted the relationship to continue, he had to hide it.

His son was being unusually quiet. Jonathan abandoned the kitchen to the women and eased in behind Clark's chair to read over his shoulder. When he leaned closer, Jonathan caught a whiff of perfume. Vanilla, nice and light and exactly what he'd smelled when he hugged Buffy earlier.

Which made sense. Buffy had been close to Clark. Her hand had been on his shoulder when they walked in. Nothing to worry about.

Nothing at all.

Buffy went back into the dining area and stood on Clark's other side with a smile for Jonathan. "Ready for a break, Clark, or did you want me to bring you something?" she asked gently. She knew that he did need to study, but she didn't want to blow the idea that he'd been studying for the last 45 minutes. So she asked, rather than assuming anything.

In the kitchen, Dawn was following Martha's directions to find small plates and utensils for pie and ice cream while Martha cut slices of pie. Buffy was glad that Dawn was helping out here, though a small part of her mind wished her sister would help out a little more at home sometimes too.

She was really good at this hiding thing; Clark had to admit as he took a cue from Buffy. "Some pie would be great. A break sounds good too." He leaned back in the chair and caught his dad mouthing the words of the sonnet he'd been studying. "Shakespeare's a little hard but I like it. How about you, Dad?"

"One of my favorites, Clark." He'd read that particular sonnet to Martha on their third date. Even managed to surprise her by not stumbling over the words. Looking up at his wife, Jonathan felt a swell of pride and love. She was still the most beautiful woman in the county... and she was his.

Martha caught Jonathan's look in her direction and smiled back at him. Love shone in her eyes, and as she slid pieces of pie onto the plates Dawn brought her, she once again mused over just how lucky she'd been to have not just met but married him.

And now, in a manner of speaking, she had the family she'd always wanted. Three children to look after, two girls who desperately needed the love of a family in addition to her beloved Clark.

Dawn stood at Mrs. Kent's elbow, an ice cream scoop in one hand, containers of ice cream in front of her, and a smile on her face. Martha was absently telling her who liked what kind of ice cream and she was dutifully putting scoops of the various kinds onto the plates. Dawn couldn't remember being this... well, content, in a really long time. Like, a really long time. Since her mom died, probably. Maybe longer.

Even with Dawn having a crush on him, it felt good to have both her and Buffy there. It felt... right. Like they were filling a hole that Clark never realized was there before. His dad was smiling a lot more and his mom was practically glowing.

Getting up from his place at the table, Clark brushed by his father on his way into the kitchen. He grabbed a plate with a slice of warm apple pie and plain vanilla right before Dawn was going to heap sprinkles on top of it. "This smells great, mom."

Rather than move back into the dining room, dessert was eaten around the center island. Clark and Jonathan had seconds, both of them going for the vanilla ice cream. True to form, Clark was finished before anybody else and he took a minute to look outside. "It's getting kinda dark. How about I show you the garden next time? I can get some flowers for you to take home if you want though."

"Sure, Clark. That sounds wonderful, if you'd like to go do that," Buffy agreed with a smile. Dawn looked a little disappointed, but Buffy glanced at her watch and her sister subsided without any more fuss. "Thank you."

Dawn licked the last of the caramel sauce off her spoon with a satisfied smile. "Thank you so much for the pie and ice cream." The expression of satiated bliss on the younger girl's face was thanks in itself, too, and the Kents smiled at her.

"You're quite welcome," Martha said with another smile. She leaned against Jonathan with a contented glow and just watched as the girls took their dishes to the sink.

Once he got his boots on it only took a few minutes to gather up a handful of early roses and a branch or two of lilacs. Clark added a few more flowers to the bundle before hurrying back into the house where Buffy and Dawn were giggling about some joke his dad had just made. His mom was leaning against the counter with a cup of tea in her hand and the smile on her face was probably the most carefree Clark had seen in years.

On impulse, Clark hugged her tight, almost upsetting her cup. "I love you, Mom," he whispered in her ear.

After recovering from the surprise of his sudden hug, Martha wrapped an arm around her son and smiled at him. "I love you too, sweetheart," she whispered back. She couldn't help but notice the envious expression on Dawn's face, so she set down her cup and held her other arm out to the girl. "Come here, Dawn. There are plenty of hugs for everyone."

Encouraged, Dawn almost threw herself into Mrs. Kent's arms. She hugged Clark's mother tightly and whispered, "Thank you, Mrs. Kent. I know it's not the same, but you do remind me of my mom. And I miss her a lot."

"Shh, honey," Martha murmured back. "It's okay. I'm always here if you need me. We all are."

Clark glanced at Buffy and then at his dad who was pushing off from the counter. Jonathan's arms slipped around Buffy, pulling her in for a quick hug as well so she wouldn't feel left out. "You sure you two can't stay? There's a good movie on tonight."

It was right on the tip of his tongue to protest, to tell his dad that Buffy and Dawn had to go because they were meeting Lex but Clark bit the words off before they escaped. It wasn't his place to tell. Especially since his dad was in such a good mood and the whole Buffy-working-for-Lex issue had gotten glossed over so easily.

Buffy hugged Mr. Kent back carefully and tipped her head back to look up at him. Geez, he was tall. Amazing that he and Clark weren't actually related. "I wish we could, but Dawn and I have some things to do tonight," she said with true regret in her voice. "Maybe another time, though? We brought mom's video collection with us from Sunnydale... maybe we could bring movies over some evening? Or maybe you could all come have dinner with us?"

Dawn sighed softly at Buffy's reply, but she nodded her agreement anyway. They did have plans made the night before, and it would be kinda rude to cancel them now. But she brightened when Buffy mentioned having the Kents over sometime, or doing a movie night. Maybe on a weekend, when she and Clark wouldn't have school the next day...

"We'll be out of town this weekend but after we get back that should be fine. Either dinner or movies." Jonathan released Buffy after one more gentle squeeze and ended up with an armful of Dawn next.

Clark filled the waiting vase with flowers and wondered if he should chance hugging Buffy. She was about to leave and he wouldn't be seeing her for awhile. Unless he made it to school when she dropped Dawn off but that sort of a break in his routine would only result in questions from his parents and probably Dawn.

Buffy hugged Mrs. Kent while Dawn hugged Mr. Kent. She whispered another thank you into Martha's ear and smiled a little when gentle fingers brushed a strand of hair from her eyes. "My mom used to do that, too. I think all mothers everywhere must be a little alike." They smiled at each other once more, then Buffy turned to see Dawn enthusiastically hugging Clark, too.

And Clark looked most uncomfortable, but it was just the opening she needed. With everyone trading hugs, it would be stranger for Buffy to not hug Clark than for her to hug him. They'd just have to play nice.

Clark hugged Dawn lightly. He really didn't want her to get the wrong idea. When she let him go, he ducked his head down and looked at Buffy out from under his bangs. Two awkward steps forward and she was in his arms, her scent surrounding him. It was all he could do to keep from moaning or burying his face in her hair.

He didn't want to let her go, even though she was going off to be with Lex. Clark closed his eyes, leaning a little into the hug but not kissing her. Not even a brush across her temple or her chin.

With Clark leaning over her the way he was, Buffy was able to whisper in his ear, "Call me tomorrow." No one else could have possibly heard her, and she didn't wait for a reply before she began to pull away. She couldn't afford to push 'sisterly' much further, and tempting herself was not a good idea.

She glanced at her watch and said with a soft sigh, "I'm afraid we'd better get going. Hopefully we'll see you soon, though." She bit her lip lightly for a moment, then added, "And if we don't see you before then, I hope you have a good weekend and a safe trip to wherever you're going."

"We will," Jonathan replied as he brought out coats for the two girls. "Clark's staying to keep an eye on the place." He caught his son's attention over the top of Buffy's head. There was a small smile on Clark's face that disappeared almost immediately as Jonathan shook his head.

There was not going to be a repeat of their last trip out of town. No parties... and Buffy could make sure of that. "We'd appreciate it if you checked up on him while we're gone."

Buffy tilted her head slightly, then smiled and nodded. "Sure, I can definitely do that. And if he needs anything, he can call me," Buffy agreed. This would make it so much easier... if she was supposed to be checking up on him, she had an excuse to be with him. "Do you have a piece of paper and a pen? I'll leave you our phone number."

"Sure," Martha said as she handed Buffy a notepad and pen. She took the page with the phone number on it and attached it to the fridge with a magnet. "There. That way we can all find it."

It was time for them to leave. Clark handed Buffy the flowers with a smile and a touch of his hand on hers. "Guess I'll see you then, huh? And I'll see you at school tomorrow, Dawn. Thanks for coming over. It was fun."

The Kents walked both girls to the door and then out onto the porch. There was another short flurry of hugs before Buffy and Dawn made their way down the steps. During that round of hugs and under the cover of darkness, Clark chanced a kiss on Buffy's neck and a murmured, "I love you."

"Love you," she murmured back as she hugged him back. Then she and Dawn reluctantly pulled back and headed towards the car. Dawn held the flowers in her lap while they buckled their seatbelts, and both girls waved before the car backed out of the driveway.

"That was nice," Dawn said with a contented sigh a few minutes later. The farm was out of sight behind them, but the warm feeling stayed with her. With them both, really, since Buffy still looked pretty happy too. Okay, so maybe Clark had been right. Maybe part of the glowy thing had come from being accepted by the Kents. God knew she was probably glowing a little now, herself.

"Yeah," Buffy agreed softly. "Yeah, it was."

****

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