Title: Unstoppable 1/?
Authors: Lex's Lady & Mistress Ace
E-mail: LexsLady@aol.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, m/m/f)
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 1

Buffy walked slowly through the house one last time. It was empty, almost desolate; most of what she and Dawn were taking with them had been shipped on Friday. Yesterday, the things they wanted to keep but couldn't take had been put into storage. Today, they were leaving. And their possessions should meet them in Smallville on Wednesday sometime.

She sighed softly and walked down the steps for probably the last time ever. Dawn met her in the downstairs hallway with a sad smile and, together, they picked up their suitcases and walked outside. Buffy turned to lock the door then slid the key into the agreed-upon hiding place. The new owners already had the main keys, and now Buffy was leaving them the spare.

Suitcases were quickly and quietly loaded into the Jeep. The vehicle had also been sold, but the nice woman who'd bought it agreed to meet them at the airport this morning to turn over the car and the keys. Probably half the town knew about the trouble the Summers girls had been through and were happy to do what they could to help them get a 'new start'.

Their closest friends were all gone. Giles had taken Willow with him when he went back to England; after the blow-up over Warren and Tara's death, Wills had agreed to enter a magic rehabilitation facility there in order to get herself back under control. Her little power trip over the nerd trio had done one good thing, at least: the Hellmouth had been drained of all its power. Buffy was free to leave, and had chosen to do so.

Chosen to find a safe place for Dawn to finish growing up. A place where the demon underworld would have to spend a lot of time just determining the whereabouts of the Slayer.

Hopefully they would be safe, for a while.

Xander and Anya had made up not long thereafter and disappeared. Eloped, Buffy learned later. Xander had sent her an e-mail from Las Vegas. God only knew where Spike had disappeared to, but Buffy was happier about that than not. The disappearance of the vampire had upset Dawn, though, and Buffy couldn't bring herself to tell her sister what had happened before he left.

All in all... Sunnydale had become a lonely place for both girls, but mostly for Buffy. At least Dawn still had her school friends around.

"Ready, Dawnie?" Buffy asked quietly; they sat in the Jeep just looking at the home they'd lived in for the past six years. The house where their mom had died, a memory perhaps better left behind.

"Yeah. Yeah, Buffy, let's go." Dawn looked nervous and resigned. Buffy nodded and started the Jeep. They rolled out of the driveway and pulled away from the house that had once been theirs. They only looked back once... then, they looked ahead. To the future.


Thursday morning, in Smallville

"Dawn!" Buffy called from the living room of their apartment, "Hurry up! You're going to be late for school!" She had her coat on, keys in one hand and Dawn's lunch in the other.

"I'm coming!" came the reply from the back bedroom. Dawn emerged a moment later, clean, dressed and ready to go, her backpack in tow. She took her lunch bag from Buffy and followed her sister out to the car.

The ride to the high school was short; this town was similar in size to Sunnydale. Most places weren't very far from anywhere else, with the exception of the farms that surrounded the main part of the town. After living her whole life in California, driving through and past fields of corn growing was more than a little strange. As was the cold weather: it was chilly for May, and the California-bred girls both wore their heaviest coats out into the spring morning.

Buffy dropped Dawn off at school and drove slowly back into town. She struggled to find the energy to spend another day unpacking rather than going back to bed. Her sleepiness almost won out until she drove past the Talon. The idea of a mocha latte perked her up and she parked the car on the street.

It had been a long time since Buffy had been in a store other than the Magic Box that had an old-fashioned bell on the door, but the Talon did. It was rather cute, Buffy decided. She stepped up to the counter and ordered her mocha in a tired voice.

"Would you like a piece of fresh apple pie with that, miss?" the waitress asked.

"Sure, why not?" Buffy decided to indulge herself just this once. Money would be tight until she got her first paycheck, but maybe a treat would perk her up. She paid for the piece of pie and took her coffee to one of the tables to wait for it to come.

Hazel eyes widened and her whole face lit up at the first taste of pie. It was incredible, just like her mom used to make. Buffy wished she could take a whole pie home for Dawn, but a glance at the price decided that one for her. But... maybe she could find out where the pies came from...

"Excuse me," she called out to the waitress as she started to walk past.

"Can I help you, miss?"

"I... I just wondered if you could tell me who made the pies? They're incredible," Buffy asked with a smile.

"Oh, sure. Everybody knows anyway," came the answer. "They're made by Martha Kent, out on the Kent Farm. When I see Mrs. Kent again, I'll let her know that you like them."

"Thank you." Buffy finished her pie and her mocha then got up to leave. The boxes had arrived early, which was fortunate, but they wouldn't unpack themselves. She had a lot to get done before she started work a week from Monday...


The following week, Sunday, late morning

Buffy pulled her car carefully into the driveway at the Kent Farm. She'd gotten directions from Lana, a new friend of Dawn's and a sweet girl to all appearances. Lana also worked at the coffee shop where Buffy had first tasted Mrs. Kent's pies. Buffy hoped to both be able to take home a pie today and possibly talk Mrs. Kent into teaching her how to make them. Mrs. Kent's pies tasted just like her mom's, and it would mean so much to Dawn if the sisters could make one together...

Unfortunately, a knock on the front door yielded no answer. Buffy tried the back door, with similar response. Namely, none. With a sigh, she looked around. Hers was the only vehicle in sight, but that didn't necessarily mean anything. Her eyes lit upon a barn not too far away. Maybe she could try there?

She trotted over to the barn. A knock on the door went unanswered, but it was standing open so she crept inside. "Hello?" she called. "Is anybody home? Mrs. Kent?" She looked around as she took a few steps further in. Wow... so this was what a real, in-use-as-a-barn barn looked like...

The sound of a voice startled Clark. His folks were in town for a few minutes and Lex was in Metropolis and Chloe... well, Chloe wasn't speaking to him right now. She hadn't been since he'd left her standing in the gym because he had to rescue Lana. The cold shoulder hurt but he was learning to deal with it. Having powers wasn't easy. There were hard choices to make and Chloe ended up being on the losing side that time. "Hang on. I'll be right there."

He set his homework aside and walked over to the railing. The voice wasn't familiar at all and when he spotted the girl downstairs, she wasn't familiar either. Blonde, small and slender. When she looked up at him, he felt his heart skip a beat. Pretty, really, really pretty. "Hi. Can I help you?"

Buffy's eyes followed the sound of the voice; upwards and further into the barn. What she saw gave her pause for a minute. Cute guy. No, more like gorgeous guy. And kinda familiar gorgeous guy...

In her mind's eye, she flashed back to the one patrol in the past week and a half that had seen any activity at all. She'd been on the outskirts of town and heard the sounds of a fight... she'd arrived just in time to get a glimpse of a gorgeous guy knocking out a teenager who was either part demon or on something. He disappeared in a flash, though - faster than even her sharp vision could follow. He hadn't seen her, she didn't think.

Upon closer inspection, the unconscious kid appeared to be human - he had a heartbeat and he breathed and lacked any visible demon attributes. The next day she'd heard murmurs about odd mutations from the kids Dawn hung out with after school. Maybe that's what it was. But if the kid was a mutant... what was the guy who fought him and was this him?

Finally Buffy managed to find her voice and replied, "Hi. Um, my name is Buffy Summers and I was looking for Mrs. Kent?" This must be a son. She knew that one of Dawn's classmates was from the Kent family. Maybe this was his older brother?

That last name at least was familiar. Summers. Dawn, the new girl in his class, the one who'd been hanging out with Chloe all week, and this had to be her sister. Her older sister, a fact Dawn had been happy to point out the first day. The information he'd gotten from Pete was that the older sister was around Lex's age and very pretty.

Clark had to disagree with Pete on this one.

She wasn't pretty.

She was beautiful.

"Mom and Dad have gone into town for a bit. They should be back soon." Clark leaned further out and smiled at her. The answering smile warmed him down to his toes. Yep, definitely beautiful and way too old for him. Shoot.

Her hand was on the lower rail and her foot on the bottom step as she looked up at him. Clark was more than willing to meet her halfway as he loped down a few stairs. "If you want, we can wait in the house for them. Or you could come up here? I'm Clark. Clark Kent."

Clark Kent. That was the boy Dawn had been gushing about after school the first day she went. Damn. Damn, damn, damn. That meant he was a high school freshman... Dawn's age. But even so, she felt... drawn to him. Pulled towards him in a way she hadn't felt with anyone since her fascination with Angel.

Something about him just... called to her.

"It's nice to meet you Clark," Buffy said politely. Accepting his invitation, she climbed up the steps, stopping when she was level with him. But she still had to look up at him. God, was he tall.

"I didn't mean to intrude or anything. Please, don't feel obliged to entertain me..." Even as she said it, though, she was hoping that he would disagree with her. She didn't want to leave... she needed to get to know him. In some ways, he reminded her of herself, in a way that made her want to protect the innocence in his eyes. Innocence that she'd lost far too early in the battle to keep the world safe. Even though she barely knew him, something in her wanted to protect him from what she'd been through.

"No, It's okay. I was pretty much done. Do you want to have a seat?" Clark glanced over at the couch before walking over to dust it off and pick up his things. Once the books and papers were in a neat pile, he patted the couch and grimaced when a cloud of dust rose from it. "I'm sorry. It's not much. We really could go in the house."

The Fortress was great for getting away without being out of touch with his folks but it wasn't the easiest place to keep clean. Which was normal, given it being in a barn and all but still... not very impressive where pretty girls were concerned. Or beautiful women.

"I don't mind," Buffy reassured him easily. She'd been in much worse places than this. "It's rather cozy, really. Kinda makes me wish I'd had a place like this of my own, when I was younger." She sat on the couch comfortably and tipped her head back to look up at him. He was even taller when she was sitting down...

Catching the tilt of her head, he figured it out pretty quick. Clark took a seat on the chest in front of the couch, which was a little lower so she wouldn't have to crane her neck. "Dad and I put this place together. He calls it my Fortress of Solitude... it's where I go to think. There's a lot of strange things that happen around here and sometimes... I just need time and space to think them out. Um, did you want some water? I think I've got some around here."

And he was stumbling over his words. Even repeating himself. Chloe would have a field day with this... so would Lex. Only Lex would be nicer about it. Maybe frame it with a joke or a story and then shake his head because his best friend was such a dork. Clark covered his nervousness by looking down at his hands. Which were really big in comparison to... everything about her.

While she continued to study him, Buffy wondered why he needed a place to escape to. Was it just normal teenager stuff? Somehow, Buffy doubted it. He had the air of someone who bore the weight of the world... a look she'd seen in the mirror more than once, over the years. And if he could move so fast that even she couldn't see him... there had to be a lot more to him than was obvious.

"No, thank you, I'm fine." She smiled lightly at him. He seemed nervous, and she could certainly understand that. She did it too, sometimes, and had really done it when she was younger. Like, his age. "Strange things happen sometimes, though. I know I haven't lived here long, but the things I've heard lead me to believe that Smallville is one of those places."

Buffy hesitated, then added gently, "The town where I used to live, Sunnydale, was a place like that too." His shoulders had slumped a little and he was looking at his hands like they held the secrets to the universe or belonged to someone else entirely. Buffy knew how that felt, on both counts. She paused again and studied him for a minute, then offered, "If you ever want to talk about them, feel free to come find me. Maybe I can help... and I certainly can keep a secret. I know what it's like."

Clark's head snapped up and he looked at her.

Really looked at her.

Oh God.

Four days ago, Glenn Higgins, one of the kids from school got exposed to meteor fragments in a lab explosion and just snapped. He tore up parts of downtown, including one of the main windows for the Talon, hurt one of the waitresses pretty badly and almost got Lana in the process. It took awhile but Clark tracked Glenn down and knocked him out before he could hurt anyone else.

Pretty typical night in Smallville. Except for the fact someone had seen him do it. Clark caught a glimpse of someone in the shadows and instead of calling the police right away, he took off. Somebody seeing him was the worst thing that could happen.

That someone had been small and definitely a girl. Nobody he recognized... until now.

Buffy watched Clark's expression go from stunned to alarmed and she held up her hands in front of her. "Listen, I'm not entirely sure what I saw. But you're not the only person with secrets, Clark. I've seen a lot of things you probably wouldn't believe. And, like you so obviously are, I'm fairly defensive of what I know. So we're even on that score. Okay?"

She sighed and shook her head. "Even if I did actually see what I think I saw, it still doesn't compare with other things that I know I've seen. But if I make you uncomfortable, I don't have to stay," she offered gently. Buffy knew she'd put her foot in it when she oh-so unsubtly mentioned that she knew strange things happened and that she could keep a secret. But teenagers were remarkably unsubtle.

And she had gotten the reaction she was looking for.

She'd seen him. Oh God, she'd seen him. But she wasn't freaking out and there weren't any guys in black coming to take him away. At least he didn't think so.

Clark looked over his shoulder and concentrated. The outer wall of the barn disappeared, fading from sight as his X-ray vision kicked in. The only unfamiliar thing in the yard was an older car. There weren't any people milling around or film crews waiting to photograph the alien so maybe it was going to be okay.

Besides, since she did know something, it probably wouldn't hurt to figure out how much she knew. "You don't have to go. Just... did you come out here to meet my mom or to check up on me?"

"To meet your mom," Buffy answered honestly. "Seeking the source of those pies at the Talon. And really, I had no idea who I was seeing, the other night. I didn't know where you were from, or if you were even real. I really didn't get that good a look at you - just enough to know you're tall and gorgeous." She smiled as she said that last part and, predictably, he blushed. And God, he was even hot when he blushed like that.

But even more than being dead-sexy, Clark radiated innocence and she wondered how he could possibly have retained such innocence if he routinely fought with mutants or whatever they were. Unless perhaps he hadn't been doing it for very long...

Gorgeous? He probably had that deer-in-the-headlights look right now because his brain had totally shut down. She thought he was gorgeous... This girl was the gorgeous one here, not him.

Blonde and tiny and he could probably pick her up with one hand. Actually, Lex could probably pick her up with one hand because... well, super-strength and all. Lifting a girl with one hand was a snap for someone who could bench-press a tractor. She had the prettiest mouth and eyes - all soft and full and kind of sad.

And he had to start thinking with his brain. **Any time now, Clark. Feel free to jump in with something smarter than just staring at her.**

"Pies?" His voice didn't just break, did it? Clark cleared his throat and tried again. "Mom does make the best pies in the world. So, someone from the Talon sent you out here? Why didn't you just buy one there?"

Buffy bit her lip and dropped her eyes, unable to meet his gaze as a wave of sadness and embarrassment washed over her. "The lady at the Talon told me that your mom makes them. But money is kind of an issue right now, so I thought I would come to the source. They're cheaper that way." She took a deep breath to calm herself, then another. "Dawn and I live alone, Clark, and it's hard for me to support us both. So I have to be careful what I spend money on."

She had no idea if he'd understand that kind of issue; as a teenager, her mother had supplied everything she needed and while money wasn't prevalent after the divorce, it wasn't an issue either. So she just hadn't ever thought about it much.

That was pretty rude of him to bring up money. Clark reached out and took her hand in his, rubbing his thumb across the back of it. "I'm sorry. Dawn mentioned something about your mom being... and I'm just making it worse." He understood about money being tight. It was a fact of life on the Kent Farm and was probably part of why his dad hated Lex so much.

"It's all right, Clark," Buffy said lightly with a small shrug. "Like most people, I'm sure you assumed that our father was still around. It happens. No big deal. But... yeah. So I thought I'd come see your mom about the pies, because I know the Talon raises the prices so they make money too. That's the way of business." She shrugged again and tried to think of something else to talk about. She did not want to think about Mom at the moment.

Back in control of herself, finally, she lifted her head again and studied the young man sitting in front of her. She puzzled over her reactions to him and decided that it was really was more than just his looks that drew her. He seemed to need someone to talk to... someone to understand the impossible. But she had no idea how to broach it again without startling him back into that 'fight-or-flight' reaction. Maybe she could come at it sideways?

Not that she was good at that sort of thing... but maybe... "Whatever happened to that kid, by the way? Is he going to be okay?" she asked in a hesitant voice. "I know the police picked him up, but..."

"He's going to be okay. The effect seems to be wearing off and the doctors think he can go home by the end of the week." Her hand was still in his and Clark squeezed it lightly. The return squeeze was a lot stronger than he expected. A whole lot stronger. He looked up into her eyes and squeezed again. Harder this time.

Buffy managed to not roll her eyes and squeezed back a little harder. He wasn't going to hurt her, she had full confidence in that. It took demons to even bruise her hands, these days. "Good, I'm glad to hear he'll get better. Do they know what caused the problem?" She was genuinely curious about it; if it was wearing off, it definitely wasn't demonic in nature.

He couldn't hide the smile. Dawn and Chloe were becoming fast friends and he was pretty sure that Chloe had already sprung the Wall of Weird on the new kid in town. Sort of her civic duty; protect the innocent, expose corruption and all that. "Depends on who you listen too. My dad'll blame it on the fertilizer plant. But that's not what caused it. Glenn was fooling around with some meteor fragments and they blew up. He got caught in the explosion."

Buffy nodded slowly, her head canted to the side as she thought. "One of Dawn's friends mentioned something about mutants and the meteor shower. It makes a certain amount of sense, if you think about it. And that *would* be a fairly logical explanation for Smallville being a focus for strange events. I suppose meteors would be just as difficult to explain scientifically as... as other things," she finished awkwardly.

If they weren't discussing secrets, she had to watch what she said. She'd been thinking that meteor mutations would be as difficult to prove scientifically as supernatural occurrences or magic. But just because you couldn't prove them didn't mean they didn't happen...

Clark's eyes narrowed at both her hesitation and what she was saying. She'd mentioned something about Sunnydale earlier. About it being one of the places that drew strange things. And Dawn had said something passing about having moved to another version of Weirdsville. Which probably meant...

"Do you have mutants where you lived? Or was it something else?" He studied their clasped hands for a minute and then looked up at Buffy. There was a pleading tone in his voice and in his eyes as he let go of her hand. **Please, don't tell me the meteors hit where you lived too. I couldn't take it. How much destruction am I responsible for anyway?**

Buffy shook her head in immediate denial. "No, not mutants." She looked at him, unsure of how much he would really want to know. There was only one way to find out. "Do you believe in magic? Supernatural creatures? Like, oh, vampires and werewolves and such?"

"Magic? You mean like Harry Potter stuff? Or are we talking Anne Rice, 'cause that's pretty out there." Clark rubbed the back of his neck, feeling how cold it had gotten as he thought about the book Chloe gave him to read. It gave him nightmares for weeks. Not that he really thought a vampire could bite him but still... pretty creepy stuff.

"I mean any or all of it. There's a good side and a bad side to everything, and magic is one of them." She shook her head and sighed. She didn't really think he was buying it. "Okay, we'll stick to the easy, easy version. The town I lived in was built on top of a mystical convergence point called a Hellmouth. Makes for a dangerous town. A little bit of everything showed up there."

"Oh..." Lex was always telling him that he was too gullible, too trusting but Clark thought he was a good judge of character. He looked her straight in the eye and there wasn't a flinch or a look away that usually was a dead giveaway when somebody lied. Lex was the only person Clark knew who could look you right in the eye and lie his head off so he was pretty sure here. The whole Lex lying thing, Clark got. His friend said it was the only way to deal with his dad and after meeting Lionel, Clark agreed with him.

He shuddered; the images from Chloe's book combined with the spring air were enough to send a chill down his spine. No wonder Dawn refused to read it when Chloe offered. Reality had skewed itself again, just like it had when his dad showed him the ship and Clark spoke before he thought things through. "So that stuff is real? Jeez and you still lived there? I thought dealing with rocks that make me sick was bad."

Clark reached out and took her hand between his again. Such small, delicate fingers, but when she tightened them, he could feel her strength. He squeezed back... a little more this time and all she did was smile. She was freakishly strong, which didn't make any sense at all but it was comforting. Maybe this was somebody he could touch without being afraid of breaking them.

"Rocks that make you sick?" she asked, not acknowledging his curiosity about her for the moment. It wasn't like she'd had a choice about living on the Hellmouth to begin with, but he didn't really need to hear all of that. And she could tell from his grip that he was very strong - stronger than her, she guessed - and that he was surprised at the amount of strength in her grip as well. Even though she wasn't holding as tightly as she could.

Aware he'd said something he shouldn't, Clark looked away quickly and murmured. "The meteors, they make me sick." The open mouth insert foot routine was going full blast. It was like he couldn't stop talking.

There was something about her that really made him want to trust Buffy, that kindred spirit thing he felt with only a few people. Mainly Ryan, Lana and... Lex. But his folks told him time and time again he couldn't tell anybody. If he did, the government might take him away and... well, the idea of being the subject of an alien autopsy wasn't on his list of favorite things to think about.

Buffy tilted her head and looked at him thoughtfully for a few minutes. "I won't ask what you're hiding, Clark. I can see it's too important to you. But it also means that you can keep a secret, so if you promise to keep it to yourself, I will tell you a little bit about my secret. And maybe it will give you a reason to want to talk about yours. If you think you can agree to that, I mean. I'd never push you into it."

"Okay. You tell me yours and..." He swallowed heavily, looking up into her eyes again before nodding. He'd already spilled a ton of stuff and she had seen him dealing with Glenn so why not go for broke? Maybe he could blame it on heat-stroke, even though it was still pretty cold, or tell her he was just joking or something if she turned out to be a crazy person, "and I'll tell you mine."

"Okay," Buffy nodded and looked back at him calmly. This was the speech she knew by heart after all. "Vampires, demons, and monsters in general are real. Magic is real. Hell is real. And in every generation, there is a Chosen One. One girl in all the world with the strength and skills to fight the darkness. When one dies, another is called. I was Called when I was fifteen, Clark, and I've been fighting ever since."

"I have supernatural strength, endurance, coordination, and healing abilities. I can demonstrate if you need me to... though we'd have to find a safe way to do it. I really wouldn't want to break anything in here accidentally." Her things had been broken enough when fights followed her home - she couldn't even think about doing damage to someone else's place, especially for a simple demonstration.

"Wow... Ummm, wow." Clark got to his feet and tried to take everything in that she'd just said. And it was a lot to take in. His dad would've tossed her off the property by now and Lex would've humored her, drawing out a longer confession before ripping the whole thing to shreds. And yeah, okay, so maybe she was crazy or maybe *he* was crazy because he just wanted to believe her. He wanted to not be the only person in the world who wasn't, you know, normal.

Being an alien and being so different from everyone else was awful. All he ever wanted to be was normal and here was someone else confessing that they weren't normal and it'd be great to have someone besides his folks who understood a little of what he was going through. He walked over to the window and looked out over the fields for a few moments before the decision was made.

He believed her. She was just too sincere about it and there was the strength thing and with her offering a demonstration and yeah, this was crazy but he was going to do it anyway. He was tired of lying, so tired of it. Not alone, he was not alone and that was so cool. After the demonstration, he'd tell her everything, absolutely everything.

But they couldn't do it here, there was too much stuff that could get broken. And doing it out in the open wasn't a good idea, so that left only one relatively safe place. Indoors, private and big enough that nothing could get broken no matter how rough things got. Clark turned back around with his usual sunny smile firmly in place. Turning on the Kent charm that Chloe claimed could melt any girl's knees. Not that he believed Chloe when she said that.

Yeah, they'd go there and he would find out if his instincts about Buffy were as good as he thought. When Clark walked back over to the couch, he was practically bouncing on his toes. The whole this-is-so-cool factor was rapidly outweighing the fear of exposure. "We could go over to Lex's place. He's got this really cool gym and you could show me... We don't have to worry about getting caught cause Lex's in Metropolis on business but I got a key."

"That sounds perfect," Buffy agreed. His bright smile was contagious. Any minute now she expected him to start laughing or dancing. He looked that happy. "You're in an incredible mood all of a sudden. Was it something I said?" she teased lightly.

Cool, so cool, almost like having Ryan around again except Buffy was a lot prettier. Ryan had pulled the stuff out of his mom's head and it had been great having somebody closer to his own age to share things with. Maybe Buffy played basketball too. Though probably not considering how little she was.

Distracted by far too many things, Clark's mouth kept working without input from his brain. "It's just the thought that there's someone like me... at least a little like me. I can run really fast... 0-300 in about 30 seconds kind of fast and I can lift things. Umm... cars and tractors and stuff like that."

Clark led the way down that stairs and stopped halfway down, his eyes wide as he realized what he'd spilled to her. He'd meant to wait until after seeing what she could do and here he was running off at the mouth. His dad was going to kill him. His dad... his mom... oh no. "God... Please don't tell anyone. I don't want anybody to take me away from my folks." That was the worst thing he could imagine. Life without his parents would be impossible.

Buffy shook her head and smiled. She put her hands on his shoulders, able to reach them from her place two steps higher. "I promise, Clark. I won't say a word to anyone. I understand what it's like to have to hide. I have it a little easier, I think... my sister and closest friends know about me, and they help when they can. You have your parents at least, though. I swear, I would never say anything that would cause you problems."

Impulsively, she hugged him gently, responding to the look of total terror on his face. "But you're not alone, Clark. I understand. And you can always talk to me."

Clark sniffled, which was embarrassing enough on its own but at least he wasn't crying. He pulled back to wipe his nose with the sleeve of his flannel shirt. He couldn't believe he'd just blurted all that out. Maybe there meteors somewhere around because he was feeling pretty awful. Never tell anyone, Clark, not anyone. His mom and dad drilled that into his head from the minute he started understanding English.

"Hey, now. It's okay." God, he was so young. Poor kid, trying to cope with the craziness. Was this what she'd been like when she first got Called? "Has life always been like this, for you? Being afraid of being found out?"

"Uh-huh. Mom and Dad are so worried and they try to protect me. I'm... I'm adopted, Buffy. They found me in a field the day the meteors came." Clark tucked his hands in his pockets and shuffled his feet. She was going to find out anyway so why not tell her now? The horse was already out of the barn as it was. He stared down at the floor as he mumbled. "I kinda came with them."

"Oh, honey," Buffy murmured. That was a lot more than what she was expecting, but being the Slayer meant accepting the unusual and unexpected. If there were demons and vampires in the world, then why not? It wasn't as if he was the first alien she'd met, and at least Clark looked human. Better than human. And he wasn't trying to kill her like the Queller did, which was always a bonus in her book.

She lifted his chin with gentle fingers until he looked at her again. "That's got to be such a huge thing to try to keep secret from everyone. Especially since there are likely to be people curious about where you came from, who your birth parents were." She bit her lip and tilted her head slightly. "If your parents worry so much, do you think it would be easier on them if they knew about me? Could I trust them to keep my secret, too? I can see that knowing has already helped you..."

"You can trust them. And yeah, I'd think they'd like to know there's someone else out there who's a little like me. Right now... all we have is comic books to go on." Pity she was so much older than him. Clark could definitely get used to having a strong girlfriend but Buffy was Dawn's sister and it was kinda strange to have thoughts like the ones he'd been having since he first spotted her. Buffy was Lex's age; he had to keep remembering that. She was too old for him.

"Well, tell you what. Let's go have some fun in this gym of your friend's, and when we come back we can talk to your parents. Sound like a plan?" Stepping to one side of him, she jumped down a couple of steps to the landing, then turned to look up at him with a smile. "I could use some exercise. There haven't been any demons in this little town of yours for me to fight since I arrived!"

It really was too bad that he was only Dawn's age. He was awfully cute, very sweet and handsome. He did remind her of Riley, which wasn't a bad thing either. But he was at least five years younger than she was, which was not only illegal but kind of weird at the least. Well, not really, when she compared that to the age difference between her and Angel, when she'd been Clark's age. But he went to school with her little sister!

"Sure. Lex's place is about ten miles from here. We can either go in your car or..." He ducked his head again then gave her that infectious grin. And yep, she stumbled a little. Maybe there was something to the Kent charm. "I could carry you." Showing off, he was showing off and it felt good.

Buffy blinked at his suggestion, then began to chuckle. "You'd really get a kick out of that, wouldn't you? Sure, go for it. Let's see what you can do." This was going to be interesting. Other than being thrown around by demons, which didn't count, Buffy hadn't been picked up and carried by anyone since Riley...

"Hang on a minute." Clark raced down the stairs and then shot her another smile before disappearing out of the barn. A minute or two later, he reappeared at the door holding a heavy coat. "Here, put this on... It's a little chilly out. Mom and Dad are back but I told them we're going for a walk. You can ask Mom about the pies when we get back?"

Buffy nodded as she joined him by the door. She slipped on the coat with a smile, grateful for its warmth. "Thank you. It's a lot colder here than I thought it would be. I'll have to take my sister shopping for warmer clothes, once I'm settled into my new job. It almost never gets this cold in Sunnydale." There were things that she would miss about California. Warm weather being one of them.

But this seemed like so much better a place for Dawn to finish growing up. Even with the possibility of mutants, Buffy felt it was worth the move.

"Where are you working?" He asked as she finished buttoning up the heavy coat. Clark slid his hand between her neck and the coat, freeing her ponytail from where it had been trapped. And discovered something really interesting about Buffy. Touching her there was like touching lightning; it made his breath catch in his throat and his skin tingled. **Okay, bad thoughts. Dawn's sister. Dawn's older sister. Keep that straight in your head, Kent.**

"Some place called LuthorCorp. I start Monday. It's something my father managed to find for me so I could bring my sister here. Sunnydale was getting too rough... I want her to be able to enjoy what's left of her pre-adulthood." She shook her head, trying to shake the tingling sensation that zipped down her spine when he touched her neck. **Bad, bad Buffy. He's just a kid...** "But anyway, it's just an office job. Secretary sort of deal."

"LuthorCorp... oh man. You're at the fertilizer plant, right? Who's your boss?" If it was Chloe's dad, then she had it made. Sure, he made stupid jokes and embarrassed the hell out of Chloe but Mr. Sullivan was a nice guy. Clark led the way out of the barn and he waved toward the house where his parents were standing on the front porch. They waved back, their arms around one another as they watched their son walk down the road with his new friend.

Buffy smiled at the exchange between Clark and his parents. If only her own family life had ever been that perfect. If only.

Smothering a sigh, she turned her mind to his question. "I guess I am, if that's where the address goes, but I don't think I'm actually in the plant... does the plant have an office? And I work for Mr. Luthor directly, according to my dad. Have you seen him? Is he supposed to be a nice guy?"

She was going to be working for Lex. Okay, the whole cool thing just went right through the roof. "Oh man... Buffy, he's the best. He's Lex... You know, the guy with the gym. My best friend in the world." They walked quickly along the driveway, then past the fields before he started laughing. "You're gonna love Lex. He's smart and he's funny and he's richer than God... And he's 21. Like you, right?"

It was then he remembered that you never talked about a lady's age. It was impolite. All he could do now was apologize and hope she wasn't offended. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have said that. Dawn just mentioned you were older and Pete thought you were around that age... And I'm just digging myself in deeper."

Buffy shook her head with a soft chuckle. "No, it's okay. If we'd been in LA, no one would've thought twice about you asking me that. Except maybe you." She patted his shoulder gently before stuffing her hands back into her pockets to keep them warm. "Yes, I'm 21. So Lex is a great guy. That's nice to know. Tell me about him, please? Will he like me? Does he have that attitude that rich people always have, like they're better than anyone else?"

She looked up at him, really up from her place standing beside him. "And why are you so tall?" she teased with another laugh.

"Mom's home cooking. Although maybe where I come from people end up seven feet or more... hard to tell." Clark gave her a blinding smile again before he looked back toward the house. Which was no longer visible. Good, they wouldn't see when he picked Buffy up and went racing towards the castle. "Lex doesn't act like that at all. He'd give you the shirt off his back if he thought it might help."

Or give you a truck that your dad won't let you keep. And that still stung, especially since Lex had kept the truck.

"And... he's kinda the reason why my powers kicked in. See, I was out on the bridge... the one over the river?" When Buffy nodded, he smiled again. It felt good to talk about this. He'd pictured this with Lex a bunch of times. Just the two of them walking down a road somewhere and him telling Lex his secrets.

And Lex not running away in terror or turning him away because he was a freak. "I was thinking about... well, football cause my dad wouldn't let me play and feeling like a total loser. Then I heard this pop and I looked over and this car was coming straight for me."

"Oh, right, no team sports. Might hurt someone. I had to be seriously careful in gym class, myself, and I didn't make the cheerleading squad because I threw a girl a little too hard during tryouts and she hit the wall..." Buffy looked sheepish and guilty about that, but dismissed it a moment later. "So, car coming straight for you. Were you able to avoid it, or did he hit you? You don't appear to be, or ever have been, in traction... so I'm guessing that either being hit didn't hurt you, or that you heal the way I do..."

"He hit me. Really hard but it didn't hurt. I went flying though and ended up in the river along with his car. All I could think about was getting him out, that he was gonna drown." Clark looked off in the distance, memory taking over as he thought about rising to the surface for a gulp of air and then diving back down. "I could always run fast and I was strong. Not lift the tractor kind of strong... that came later. But when I saw him through the shattered windshield... I just grabbed the roof and peeled it back."

"Just like that?" Buffy was impressed. She could bend metal, possibly rip a seam if it was already weakened, but he talked about it like it was tearing cardboard. "Wow, you're one up even on me, then. If I'd gotten hit by a car, I'd have been in major pain. Probably wouldn't have killed me, and I heal at an amazing speed, but I can be hurt. Just not as easily as normal people." She shook her head and offered him another encouraging smile.

"So you saved his life and the two of you became friends. Though if your parents are anything like my mom was, they don't like you being friends with him because he could've killed you. Am I close?" She kept on talking to show that, even though he was different, she wasn't afraid and wasn't going to treat him like a freak. God knew she'd gotten enough of that in her life to never, ever treat another person that way.

"Yeah. Plus he's really, really smart. He had the crash investigated because he was sure he hit me. Dad doesn't trust him because Lex's dad did some awful stuff here in Smallville and he's afraid Lex'll turn me over to a lab somewhere. But he wouldn't. He's my friend and he wouldn't do that." Clark's jaw tightened as he stared out over the fields, every muscle in his body tensed. His dad was hard on Lex because he hated Lionel and Lex was trying so hard not to turn into that same kind of guy as Lionel Luthor.

Buffy moved quickly in front of Clark, stepping so that she faced him when she stopped. She put her hands on his chest and looked up at him. "No, he wouldn't. If he's truly your friend, he would never do anything like that. I understand your father's suspicions, though why I do is a very long story. But I believe in you, and if you say Lex wouldn't do anything to hurt you then I believe it. Okay?"

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