Title: Unstoppable
Authors: Lex's Lady & Mistress Ace
E-mail: vicedragonv@msn.com & 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 9

Buffy very gently pulled herself out of Clark's arms. She turned to kiss him softly, lovingly, then moved out from between them. She sat back, by the headboard, and stayed out of the way to watch. And listen. This was an admission that had been a long time in coming for both of them, and she certainly wouldn't get in the way of it happening. It was too important... for both Clark and Lex.

"You what?" He hadn't had an asthma attack since the meteors first landed but the tightness in his chest felt like one. Lex couldn't breathe, all he could do was stare at Clark and pray this wasn't a dream. Pray that he wasn't going to wake up in a puddle of his own semen only to bury his face in his pillows and try to will himself back to sleep.

"I love you. Not as a friend. Not as a brother... As a lover. I want this to go beyond the moment, beyond today." Clark reached out, cupping Lex's face as he continued to speak. "You are my best friend. And we do have a destiny together, Lex." The pieces were all falling into place, clicking along like a long row of domino tiles.

"Our friendship will be the stuff of legend. And this..." Clark leaned forward and placed a kiss on Lex's mouth, which was half-open as he stared at Clark. "What we have here will also be the stuff of legends. In this room... in this bed..."

Who had taken his shy, bumbling friend and replaced him with this eloquent, sensual stranger? Lex blinked and got another kiss. His hands found their way into Clark's hair and when Clark would have pulled back Lex hung on. He ravaged Clark's mouth, stealing away his breath and everything else as he poured the last year of frustration and fear and pain into a single kiss.

When their mouths parted, Lex was the one talking. "I love you. Oh Christ, I've tried so hard not to. Your dad's gonna want me dead because I'm never letting you leave my side again. I don't care about your secrets, I just don't care. I need you, Clark. You're the only one who keeps me sane, who keeps me from being the monster my father wants me to be."

Another kiss, this one deeper and even more desperate. There were tears now, sliding down Lex's face but he didn't notice them. And they didn't make him any less of a man. "You save people every day, Clark. I need you to save me... Will you?"

"Always," was the reply and it was given with absolute confidence. The shy kid was gone and what was left was a glimpse of the man he would be someday soon. "I'll always save you, Lex. No matter what."

Buffy got up and joined them again. She moved behind Lex and wrapped her arms around him gently. "And so will I," she added softly. "I might not be Clark, but I save lives in my own way. We'll keep you safe, and keep each other safe." Buffy just closed her eyes and fell silent again. Let them work things out for themselves out. Then, she knew, the questions would come. And she would answer.

Lex leaned back into Buffy's embrace and his eyes closed. He felt the tickle of her hair on his skin and didn't hold back his moan of delight. Marriage, an island of her own and he'd name a new element after her if he ever discovered one. She was the catalyst behind this. If she hadn't come over with Clark... if his father hadn't taken that jaunt to Stockholm, none of this would have happened.

"God... you are the perfect woman." He murmured to Buffy, relaxing in her arms in ways he hadn't been able to since his mother died. The proposal was right on the tip of his tongue. 'Marry me and be the mother of our children. Save me from the stream of debutantes that my father keeps laying at my feet hoping I'll take a liking to one long enough to forget to wear a condom.'

It would be so easy to give in and ask.

She was smart and she was beautiful and she'd probably make an excellent mother. Plus she didn't mind the fact that he loved Clark. That he loved to suck Clark's cock and probably wouldn't mind her watching when he let Clark fuck him. Because that was going to happen... Maybe not today but it was going to happen soon.

"He's right. You are." Clark leaned past Lex, his soft curls tickling his lover's chin as he kissed Buffy. Slow and gentle and loving, their lips meeting and parting and meeting again. "I wish I was older. I'd..." the blush was rising and he couldn't stop it, not that he wanted to. "If I was older, I'd marry you."

Buffy blushed, ducking her head. Embarrassed, pleased, flattered... a million words could be used to describe her reaction to both being called perfect by both her lovers and to the declaration that Clark wanted to marry her. "I'd marry you both, if I could," she answered softly. But she shook her head slightly. "But even though Smallville is safer than Sunnydale, there's no way to be sure I'd live that long." God, it hurt to say it.

But she had to. She had no choice.

"I've been dead twice already, Clark. I've outlived my expected life span by a few years. Sure, I'm good... but..." She broke off as tears spilled from her eyes. She let go of Lex to wipe them away and just asked softly, "Can we just leave that idea for later, please?" Tears under control, she wrapped her arms around herself and leaned back against the bedpost.

"Buffy, you don't have to do this by yourself. I can help. Nothing can touch me, remember?" Clark followed her across the bed, reaching out for her. Behind him Lex looked confused for a minute and then that confusion melted into anger.

"Who hurt you? Buffy, tell me who's after you and I'll make them disappear." He didn't have to back it up with any other threats. Lex was already making contingency plans. He had people in the FBI, the CIA and the Secret Service. Not to mention a few Marines that he'd never divulge to anyone why they owed him favors. "Give me names and they're gone."

"I can't. I don't even know if they all have names," Buffy answered with a soft sigh as she allowed Clark to fold her into his arms. "Calm down, Lex. It's a very long story and I was going to tell you anyway. It's the main thing that I mentioned earlier that we need to talk about. But before I can give you the whole story, I need you to promise me that you won't tell anyone about it. It's a secret, and a big one."

She probably also ought to ask him to try to suspend disbelief for her sake. She'd prove it to him later, if he would believe it. And part of her thought that he would.

"All right." His voice was perfectly calm and perfectly controlled. The mask wasn't in place yet so his natural curiosity was in clear evidence. "You have my word. Clark can tell you that I'll do anything for my friends and I consider you to be a friend."

Clark held onto Buffy, trying to keep from burying his face in her hair. After Buffy finished telling her story, he was going to tell his. Under his hands, Clark felt Buffy's stomach rumble. "Are you sure you want to do this right away? You're hungry, Buffy... I can hear it. How long has it been since you last ate?"

Buffy was taken aback by Clark's question and paused to think about it. "Um... you mean like an actual meal? Since mid-afternoon yesterday, maybe? I'm not entirely sure..." Her voice was quiet, relatively certain that that answer wasn't going to go over well. But she was used to not eating, and since she wasn't working yet Buffy was feeding Dawn and sending her to school with lunches or money.

"Lex... food first. We can do the explanations while we eat." Clark wasn't going to take no for an answer. He lifted Buffy into his arms easily and slid off the edge of the bed. Lex followed along while Clark carried Buffy over to the funny-looking couch by the fireplace.

Lex watched as Clark settled down on the divan with Buffy still in his arms. She was curled up easily against him, totally trusting that he wouldn't drop her. Considering that the girl might weigh 110 lbs. soaking weight, Clark's ability to carry her with such ease was not a surprise.

Taking the cover off the tray, Lex handed each of them a sandwich. Buffy's was piled high with honey-cured ham and havarti cheese and avocado while Clark's was pure roast beef, layer upon layer of trimmed meat. There were also cookies, fresh fruit, three bottles of water and a carafe of wine. Ever the perfect host, Lex opened their bottles and set them down on the floor beside the divan.

He sat next to Clark, completely at ease with his own nudity while he snagged the remaining sandwich - thinly sliced turkey breast with Dijon mustard and avocado. Healthy for him and Buffy and heavily nutritious for Clark. His lover was a growing boy, after all.

Buffy didn't give a thought to her state of undress. Her mind was on her history and how to get Lex to believe her. She settled herself comfortably in Clark's arms and began to eat, slowly. She had enough practice to know that bolting her food, no matter how hungry she was, would only make her sick. Besides, her mom had raised her with table manners. Even if there wasn't a dining table in front of her.

"Okay, I guess we start at the beginning," she said between bites. "Lex, do you believe in the supernatural?"

"Depends on what you're talking about. Ghosts... no. Vampires? Definitely." At Clark's cough and sputter, Lex gave him a small smile. "You wouldn't believe some of the things I've run into in the club scenes. Especially in L.A."

Lex handed Clark his water, then thought better of it and instead he held the bottle to the boy's lips so he could take a drink without having to let go of Buffy or his sandwich. "Where did you say you were from, Buffy? Sunnydale?... I knew that sounded familiar. I had a run-in once with a vampire from there. Blond, probably not natural and he's got a scar right here." Lex ran his fingertip along one eyebrow. "Permanently stuck in the punk era... He looked a little like Billy Idol."

Buffy paled visibly as her mind flashed back to Spike and the damage he'd done to her. "Oh, dear god... you know Spike?" Barely able to articulate the question, she put her sandwich down immediately and put her face in her hands. Not quickly enough to hide the pain, though. "I knew I should've killed him years ago... but God, who knew?"

A sudden strike of realization burned through him. "Oh my God..." Lex set his sandwich back down on the tray. He stared at her, his mouth open in disbelief. "Buffy Summers. I knew the name sounded familiar. You're the Slayer."

Clark had always suspected that Lex knew everything there was to know in the world. Now he had proof. "You know what a Slayer is?" His voice did not squeak or at least he hoped his voice didn't squeak. How was it Lex knew and he'd never heard a word of this before today?

"Yes, Clark, I know. For as long as there have been vampires, there's been the Slayer. One girl in all the world, a Chosen One. She will stand alone against the forces of darkness... That's the way the speech goes, doesn't it, Buffy?" Lex watched her intently, his hands loose over his knees as he waited for her to respond.

"More or less. 'Into each generation is born a Chosen One. She alone has the strength to fight the vampires and creatures of the darkness.' Except that they don't tell you that most Slayers only manage to survive for one or two years, most of them are anywhere between thirteen and eighteen, and that I'm one of the oldest Slayers in history." She sighed and looked up, having managed to control her memories.

"Still, if you know and you believe, then you know the biggest of my secrets. And you know why you can't go after most of the creatures that hurt me... aside from the fact that I killed most of them myself."

"I know and I believe. I barely got out of there with my life. Probably one of the worst things I ever encountered... Believe me, Clark, the Smallville mutants have got nothing on vampires." Lex rubbed his thumb along the scar on his upper lip. "It was the only situation I couldn't talk my way out off. If that guy with the axe hadn't shown up, I would never have lived to see my twenty-first birthday."

"Guy with the axe? Describe him for me, would you please?" She was morbidly curious if Lex had ever seen or met Angel. If he knew Spike and had been in LA in the past few years... it was possible. Anything was possible. "Oh, and if you've only ever met vampires then you really don't want to go to Sunnydale. Or some of the darker parts of LA, for that matter. At least not without taking me with you."

"Not as tall as Clark. Dark hair, spiked, and his eyes looked dead. Almost like he was a vampire himself. There was a girl with him, long curly hair... pretty and sharp. She handled a crossbow like a pro." Lex shuddered as he remembered that night. High out of his mind, talking to this guy with a harsh British accent and cheekbones from Hell.

He'd followed the guy into the back, expecting a quick fuck and ended up with his face pressed against the wall and there were teeth and claws. An argument broke out between the Brit and someone else and the next thing he knew, he was up against the wall again but the Brit was gone and Lex knew he was going to die.

"Oh, hell." Buffy took a deep breath and let it out slowly. "The guy with the dark hair... that was Angel. The girl was Cordelia. Cordy and I went to high school together in Sunnydale. Angel... he's a vampire with a soul. So, like me, he fights evil. Kills vampires to keep people safe. And..." Did she even want to tell them about her history with Angel? Did she have a choice? They needed to know... her traumas went deep.

And keeping it from Riley had destroyed their relationship. They needed to know. But she'd seen Lex react to the thought of her being hurt, and she was relatively sure he'd want Angel dead if she told him the whole story...

Angel, she'd mentioned that name before, several times. When they'd been standing in the hallway and she was trying to convince him to kiss Clark. Could it be the same Angel? Or was the name that common in California?

"A vampire with a soul? Now that I find hard to believe but... it fits. It explains why his eyes were so cold. I liked her... she gave him hell through the whole fight." Once he'd gotten up from the ground and wiped the dust out of his eyes, Lex had grabbed the nearest weapon, part of a packing crate. He punched one of the things, almost breaking his hand when the girl yelled at him, telling him to aim for the heart. So Lex did and his opponent crumbled into dust before his very eyes. From then on, he was a believer.

Clark's eyes just kept getting wider and wider, his sandwich forgotten in his hand. Gently, Lex took it from him and set it down on the plate. "I told you there were things in my past that I wasn't proud of. Those months in L.A. are right at the top of the list."

"It's not pretty, Clark. But that's been my life for the past six years." She shrugged slightly and continued. "Cordy gives everyone hell like that, Lex, all the time. Last I heard, they're still at it, too. And Angel is a truly unique situation. He was a monster until a little over a hundred years ago. He killed the favorite daughter of a gypsy clan, and they cursed him with the return of his soul."

The story was getting told a little out of order... but it was being told. And it helped immensely that Lex already understood. She'd been afraid that he would be difficult to convince. "He watched my back for me when I was first Called. We patrolled together sometimes, for most of high school. Except for the second half of junior year. But... well, I don't know if you even want to hear about it."

"That year did a lot of damage and honestly, it's a wonder that I survived it." Her voice was calm, too calm. But maybe that was good. If she could get through this explanation without screaming or crying, it would be a good thing indeed.

Lex nodded; some of this he knew. When he'd sobered up, he spent a few days researching the phenomena, trying to figure out a scientific way to explain what he'd seen. When that failed, he hit the occult bookstores and had his eyes opened. There were rumors about the vampire with a soul but he only met Angel the one time. Spike... different story.

Spike, he ran into two or three times. The first two times were pretty much the same, Spike was easy on the eyes and Lex didn't recognize him up until he flashed a bit of fang. Then he plied the vampire with good whiskey and heard the tale about the Slayer.

Who was now sitting on his divan... actually she was sitting on his lover. His underage lover, whose innocence was being blown all to hell by this conversation. "I heard some of this from Spike. Did you know..." He stopped when Buffy dropped her head in her hands.

"You did. He couldn't stop talking about you and about the chip that a bunch of Marines put into his head." Lex moved closer, wanting to hold her close. Every time he mentioned Spike, she flinched.

Buffy took another deep breath and tried to hang onto the calm that she'd kept thus far. She saw Lex shift closer, and she moved from Clark's lap to sit between them. Lunch was forgotten... she wasn't hungry anymore. "Yeah, I knew. I was dating one of those Marines when it happened. It was a few years ago, back when I started college. You... you want to know what he did to me, don't you?"

She looked up at Lex, knew for sure that he'd seen her reaction to mentioning Spike. Figured he'd want to know... but it wasn't going to be pretty.

"I think I've got it figured out but... yes, I want to know." The cold, controlled tone was back although he softened it by taking her hand in his. Lex wasn't a toucher, he didn't like to be touched by anyone other than Clark but he did understand the comfort that came from being touched. So he breached his walls and held onto her hand... even though he would have preferred to have her in his lap.

Clark was quiet beside them, lost in his own thoughts. He had the feeling that what Buffy was going to say was going to make Lex angry and it was going to make him angry too. He couldn't change her past though. The only thing Clark could do was help shape her future, use his powers to keep her alive and with them for as long as he possibly could.

Buffy shook her head. He might think he knew... but he didn't. Not really. With another soft sigh, Buffy turned her attention to Clark; he'd been awfully quiet through most of this. "Are you sure you want to hear about this, Clark? Even if I don't get graphic... it's a dark, ugly story..."

She studied him, trying to gauge his reaction. "Most of my history as the Slayer is much the same... but I'll leave the full-blown history for another time, I think. Not because I don't want you to know, but because I'm not sure how much I can handle in one sitting."

"Buffy... I watched one of my oldest friends turn into a bug and try to mate with someone else I cared about... I can handle this. But I don't want you to push yourself. If you don't want to talk about it, I understand... and if you do, I'm here to listen." Clark gave her a tiny smile, one that was a mere fraction of his usually sunny grin.

"A bug?" Lex asked, almost as surprised as they were when he spoke. He hadn't meant to ask it, he didn't want to change the subject. Not when Buffy was about to confirm what a lovesick vampire had told him while blitzed out of his mind of some very expensive whiskey. "Never mind, you can tell me about it later, Clark."

"Sounds like we all have interesting stories to tell. Maybe not fun stories, but things worth hearing about... keep us a step ahead of the baddies." Buffy took a deep breath, then another before she began. "I'll give you the brief version of the back-story, if what happened between me and Spike is the important part." She waited to see them nod and then went on.

"My freshman year at college, there was this group of military-sponsored scientists doing experiments on demons. One of these was a microchip implant that prevented vampires from feeding on or hurting any living person. It gave them migraines if they even tried it. Spike has one of those chips in his head, and it rendered him more or less harmless. Maybe I'm too moralistic, but I couldn't kill him when he was helpless. It keeps me from becoming a bad person... rogue Slayers are as dangerous as the demons they should be fighting."

She paused for breath, then continued, "Anyway, so we kind of took him in and he actually helped us later on. He... he thought he was in love with me, so he helped. Did things that I would like in attempt to get me to see him as a man and not a monster. He protected my sister when I was fighting a hell-god who wanted to open the gates between dimensions and return to hell."

"But that would have allowed Hell to emerge into our world as well, as the barriers between dimensions broke down. We won the fight, in the end... but it killed me. Literally. My sister's blood was the key to opening the gates because of a spell... but her blood and mine is identical. So instead of letting her die to save the world, I did. I jumped into the gate and it closed behind me. That was about a year ago."

"I remember this. He told me about the gate and you jumping through it, which is why I didn't make the connection because the last time I saw Spike... you were dead. He was mourning your loss and you were dead." Lex's hand tightened around hers although he maintained that detached tone. He sounded like a man who was reciting the events of a dream. "He kept saying that he failed you and the only reason why he didn't walk out into the sun was because he'd promised to look after your sister.... Dawn."

His focus returned to Clark, eyes narrowing. "Who you know from school. She's an inter-dimensional Key but she's human too."

Clark swallowed hard and nodded. The thought that Dawn - chatty, pushy, cute Dawn - who he'd been working up to having a crush on was something other than human gave him pause. The whole crush thing was passe, he'd be lucky if he could look her in eye Monday morning considering everything he'd done with and felt about her sister.

Buffy's eyes went wide. "Spike told you all that? God, who else did he tell, I wonder?" She shook her head. "Yeah, I was dead. For a couple of months... 147 days, Spike said. But... I had some friends, a few of whom were heavily into magic. They reasoned that since I'd died closing a Hell-gate, that I must be trapped in Hell. So they did a spell to bring me back... rescue me. Only... only I wasn't in Hell..."

Buffy closed her eyes tightly, unable to control the tremors that suddenly shook her body. The memory of pain flashed through her body, then an echo of the panic she'd felt upon waking up inside a coffin, buried underground. The pure terror, one of her worst nightmares turned real. And in her mind, she relived it... it all came back as she tried to talk about it for the first time ever.

The girl was trembling and Lex couldn't stand it. He lifted her up into his arms, holding her against his chest. While he understood why her friends would want to bring her back from the dead, he wouldn't wish that on anyone. When his mother died it was a blessing and whenever Pam was going to be able to let go, it would be a blessing too.

Heaven, she'd been in Heaven. That was the only choice other than Hell. His analogy of calling her an angel in his head hadn't been that far off. She was one. An angel who'd fallen back to Earth to suffer the torments that life lay on her doorstep. "Enough..." Lex said quietly, "You don't have to go on..."

Buffy shook her head. "I haven't even gotten to the part you wanted to know about, Lex. Maybe... maybe I'll skip ahead, though. I don't remember a lot about the time immediately after that... it's a blur. But I went into a sort of a tailspin. Depressive, moody, dark... almost, but not quite, suicidal. I tried to live again for Dawn, because she needed me. I was the only family she had left. But it wasn't quite enough."

"No one understood what I was going through. Not Dawn, not my Watcher, not my closest friends. My friends... they were so proud of themselves for having rescued me, and I couldn't bring myself to tell them otherwise. Only Spike knew... he guessed, but he was the only one who paid enough attention to me to even notice. And even though I didn't trust him, I knew he was still evil at heart... he was the only support I had."

Tears were hovering in her voice and in her eyes as she forced the last of it out. "And I turned to him because without some kind of support, I was falling apart on the inside. Dying a little more every day, but never where it showed."

Lex knew where this was going even though Buffy hadn't put it into words yet. It wasn't going to shock him because he understood it. Understood the need to lose your sorrows in some warm, willing body. Or in Buffy's case - some cold, willing body that professed to love you when you knew it wasn't possible for it to love anything.

Hell, he toyed with the idea himself. Spike was stunningly attractive and under the tight t-shirt he wore, Lex knew there was a body that rivaled many of the ones that had graced his bed. Spike wasn't on a par with Clark but no one, living or dead, was on a par with Clark. His lover... his love was in a class all by himself.

While Lex held Buffy he watched Clark, trying to decide if he should put a stop to this confession. Clark didn't need to hear the ugliness that marked the human condition. He would find out about on his own soon enough but until that time, Lex was determined to protect him from it. He wanted to keep everything that tainted his own soul separate from Clark.

For his own part, Clark only looked a little confused as he tried to make sense of what she was saying. Being raised from the dead was weird enough. He thought he caught a glimmer of what that type of depression was like. Ever since the day his dad showed him the ship he fell to earth in Clark had been dealing with the sense that he didn't belong... Mainly because he really didn't.

Buffy curled up against Lex, drawing comfort from the fact that he actually cared. She caught the look in his eyes when he switched his gaze to Clark; he'd begun to look protective, and she could certainly understand the desire to preserve some of Clark's innocence.

So instead of continuing, she finished quietly, "I can see that you know where this is going, Lex, so I'll stop there. But there was one more little twist. When I... came back... I came back different. There's nothing wrong with me that anyone can tell... but I was just different enough that Spike's chip didn't work with me, anymore."

With that last confession, Buffy closed her eyes and her mouth. She'd talked enough for one day, and she was on the edge of tears again anyway. Much more talking about this, and she would get upset... more so than she already was.

"Jesus..." One word spoken under his breath and in her ear as Lex curled protectively around her. The movement was instinctual, to protect a loved one with your own body. There was a vampire out there that had hurt her. A vampire who'd been kept on a leash for almost two years and that leash snapped. 'Cry havoc and let slip the dogs of war.' Truer words had never been written.

What made it worse was that he knew Spike. That one would have taken his frustrations out of her. First with his fists and hopefully Buffy had enough warning to protect herself from the physical attack.

But that left the emotional one. Spike had loved her with the single-minded focus of a Pavlovian trained mongrel. Given the ability to beat her again and his own history as the only vampire to kill two Slayers... The bastard would have beaten her into unconsciousness, then raped her until she bled and started it all over again the moment she stirred.

Lex had no illusions where Spike was concerned. If Spike hadn't been tamed when Lex met him, he probably would have suffered the same fate... only with a lot less tenderness. Spike was an animal in a cage, raging to get out. "Jesus... I'm sorry. I should've... He wouldn't have been the first one of them I staked."

Buffy shook her head slowly, giving him a small smile. It was a sweet sentiment, but it wouldn't be fair at all to let Lex feel guilty about anything that had happened to her. "Don't be... I've never been able to kill him, and I fought him for years before the whole chip-thing. He's still out there, somewhere, though... and I just hope to God that I never see him again."

"He shows up here in Smallville and he'll regret it." Not an idle threat. Lex didn't waste his time on idle threats. He delivered. And this one he'd take care of.... personally.

Next to them, Clark stirred. He'd pieced everything together, everything... what they were saying and what they weren't and he didn't like the conclusions that he'd come too. This was probably one of those discussions that his parents thought he was too young for. And maybe he was because all he wanted to do was hunt this guy Spike down and break him in half.

Literally.

Buffy watched Clark hesitantly. He hadn't said a thing in a while, and she was entirely unsure of his reaction. How much of his innocence had she shocked away? Did he hate her now for what had happened, what she'd become? Lex understood, at least. Had his own shady past that, while not much like hers, at least gave him a basis for understanding. He could draw his own conclusions about the rest. But Clark..?

Buffy didn't know, and was almost afraid to find out. She hated herself a lot of the time... and so she saw no reason why he shouldn't, as well...

Still speechless, Clark studied his hands for a minute before he turned his attention back to Buffy and Lex. Who were both watching him. Buffy looked scared and resigned while Lex... Lex was unreadable except for a tiny glimmer in his eyes. On second inspection, Clark decided that Lex looked deadly - cold and determined and focused.

He'd seen that look before. It was the look Lex got on his face when he talked about his father. Or people who'd hurt his friends. If this Spike guy blew into town it would be a serious toss up to see who got to him first. For Spike's sake, Clark was sure he'd be better off with him instead of Lex.

"Buffy..." Clark began, looking back down at his hands. "Everybody makes mistakes. And when you're hurting... when you're scared then you tend to make worse ones. Your past is your past and I can't change it." He took her hand in hers, holding onto it. "All I can do is make sure you have a future."

Buffy relaxed and smiled, soft and sweet but no less real because of that. "Thank you for being so understanding." She squeezed Clark's hand gently. "I love you, Clark. And I love you, too, Lex." She kissed them each in turn and closed her eyes in attempt to relax. She didn't expect an answer to her declarations of love. She already knew Clark loved her.

And Lex... Lex loved Clark. Maybe he could come to love her in time, but for now it was enough that he accepted her. That he wanted her in their lives.

"I love you, Buffy," Clark said quietly after she kissed him. He rubbed his nose along her cheek and moved as close as he could with her still cuddled in Lex's lap. He really wanted to pull her into his own lap but didn't want to come across like a little kid reaching for his favorite toy. Especially since Lex never touched anyone and here he was holding Buffy, cradling her and murmuring into her ear.

Not exactly words more like soothing sounds. Lex didn't love lightly; he couldn't afford it. His father had spent years trying to burn the emotion out of him and while he hadn't precisely failed, he had taught Lex how to build walls. How to keep everything in and hidden from sight.

He didn't love Buffy. Not yet. But he could come to love her very easily. Lex understood why Clark was able to; the boy had been raised with love and in the presence of love. He cared deeply and strongly for everyone in his life... even those who didn't deserve that affection. Which made him all the more precious and solidified Lex's need to protect him from everyone that would abuse his naively open nature.

If he could, he'd lock Clark away. Or, at the very least, guard him jealousy and faithfully. Not let anyone close enough to cause hurt in those incredible eyes or cause that mouth to turn down at the corners.

But he couldn't lock Clark away. All he could do was be his friend and help guide him along. Be his lover and offer him shelter and what little warmth he could muster and all the sex Clark could ever possibly want.

Buffy closed her eyes and let their closeness and the sound of Lex's murmurs soothe her. She gradually relaxed, emotionally worn out but content enough with her life for the moment. She began to dismiss thoughts of her past and allowed the memories to fade until all that was left was the here and now.

Day to day was how she usually lived and coped with life, and she would continue to live that way. Never taking anything for granted: not people or feelings or anything else. Too many things could happen, and Buffy worked hard to avoid assuming that things would remain as they were. But that was her life, and she was used to it at least. The reality of the situation was something she lived with and could work around. Facts of life didn't upset her emotional stability unless she dwelled on them.

And all she wanted to dwell on right now was the feel of Lex's arms around her and Clark's gentle presence right beside them both.

And maybe lunch.

*****

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