Changing The Rules 1
Changing the Rules
Summary: California and Kansas get together and come up with a Plan. Disclaimer: Not mine, still, hard as I might wish. Spoilers: Buffy Season 7; General Smallville Feedback: firstname.lastname@example.org
Lex hadn't anticipated trying to get any paperwork done on this trip, and spent the hours being appropriately sympathetic to Clark's dread of the flight. Lex had forgotten that Clark had a fear of flying, and wanted him to be at ease when they finally arrived in Sunnydale. The lie Lex had told Martha Kent about looking into buying a chain of under-twenty-one clubs in California, and wanting Clark to render a teen's opinion, had rolled off his tongue much more easily than it would have coming from Clark. The Kents had grudgingly given their permission, specifying three days only.
Lex hoped whatever they found in Sunnydale could be taken care of in three days, otherwise, Spike was on his own.
Clark had refused the window seat, and Lex studied the clouds beneath them in silence. Every once in a while, Clark would ask a plane-related question, and Lex almost wished he could have plied the boy with Scotch before they boarded. After about his hundredth question regarding air travel safety, Lex looked him directly in the eye.
"Clark, nothing is going to happen to us on this plane. Trust me, I know this."
Clark raised an eyebrow. "How can you be so sure? Did you make the pilot promise not to crash into anything?"
Lex smiled softly. "Nothing so mundane, Clark." He replied, nonchalantly brushing his fingers across the back of Clark's hand, briefly, so no one saw. "Nothing can happen to you, and nothing will happen to me, with you here."
Clark looked at him seriously. "I hope you're right, Lex. I really do."
Lex pulled the rental car to a halt directly in front of 1630 Revello Drive. The house looked quiet enough, didn't look like there was any crisis going on, but he had already steeled himself for the worst. Whatever the problem was here in the Hellmouth, it must be worse than the last time, when the Slayer had plunged to her short-lived demise. Having seen one Apocalypse, he wasn't in a hurry to ever see any more.
He looked over at Clark expectantly. "Ready?" he asked.
"Have to be, I guess," Clark remarked, opening his door and stepping out into the early evening light. Lex popped the trunk so they could retrieve their bags.
The door was answered by a teen-aged girl with long brown hair, who took one look at their overnight bags and turned back into the house, yelling to the nether regions somewhere.
"Buffy! Aren't all the Potentials supposed to be girls? You better get out here!" She turned back to them curiously. "Which country are you from?" she asked, and then stopped talking, as she actually looked at the two men on her doorstep. She frowned, pointing impolitely at Lex. "I know you from somewhere." She moved the offending finger in Clark's direction, and on closer inspection of the stranger, blushed furiously, right to the roots of her hair. "But I don't know you. You definitely don't go to Sunnydale High. I would have seen you."
Clark was shaking his head and Lex interrupted. "We're here to see Spike. Is he here?" he asked, just as the Slayer herself came briskly down the stairs with, of all things, a sword in her hand. At the same time, an unimaginable number of people started to congregate in or near the hallway, trying to catch a glimpse of the newcomers.
"Back," Buffy said shortly, and, amazingly, everyone listened.
"Lex Luthor." She said in greeting, causing the younger girl's jaw to drop. "Is there something we can do for you?" Buffy asked, eying the bags in their hands.
"Ms. Summers. Spike asked us here. This is Clark Kent. Clark, Buffy Summers, as for the rest, I have no idea. Oh, Anya!" Lex raised a hand in greeting to the ex-demon trying to make her way through a throng of teens.
"Mr. Luthor," she was almost gushing, until Buffy turned and silenced her with a look.
"Spike told you to come here." She repeated doubtfully.
"He did, really, Miss Summers," Clark interjected shyly, wilting slightly under the looks and whispers riffling through what Lex estimated as about two dozen young girls.
Buffy turned to the girl who had opened the door. "Dawn, find Spike."
As Dawn went running, Anya reached out to grab Lex's arm. "Come in, come in. Aren't you going to ask them in, Buffy? You're being very rude. Did you read any headlines about Lex Luthor being assassinated or anything? He's real!"
Buffy turned her attention to Anya, who was blatantly looking Clark up and down, still holding onto Lex's arm.
"Anya, it's nice to see you again," Lex stated lightly, pulling his arm away pointedly. Clark had looked away briefly, and Lex knew he was snickering, wanted to kick him on the ankle but squelched the urge.
"I know he's real, Anya." Buffy said firmly. "But I want to know why Spike wants him here before he sets foot in the house."
Dawn came running back onto the scene, with the vampire right on her heels. He stopped short just before the spot where the light from the setting sun illuminated the floor.
"Buffy, let them in." He insisted quietly. "They're here to help."
Bags set aside on the floor in the hallway, Spike proceeded to introduce the two of them to everyone in the house, which took a few long minutes. Xander Harris and another man, a nervous, delicate-looking guy named Andrew, had joined them by now. Lex and Clark didn't even try to remember the names of all the girls. The little guy, Andrew, was bouncing excitedly, and had grabbed Xander's elbow. "Xander! That's Lex Luthor! Lex Luthor! I can't believe he's right here, in this house! Hey, doesn't he look like Warrior Angel? Especially in issue # 83, when Warrior Angel and Devilicus had to join forces temporarily to defeat the evil Overlord from Planet LV426?"
Xander looked delighted. "Hey, you're right! I have two copies of that issue, they had two different collectible covers....." He trailed off as Buffy held up a hand for silence.
"Introductions - over! Everyone, go practice weapons or something!"
Lex raised an eyebrow at that, and looked at Clark meaningfully. Buffy spun on her heel to face the three men still standing near the front door. "Spike, you two - with me! Dawn, put this away, please."
Handing the heavy sword to her sister, Buffy led the way into a small room that used to be a den but was now apparently a haven for sleeping bags, blankets and pillows. Buffy closed the door and faced them squarely.
"Now, what's going on here?"
Lex and Spike started to speak at the same time, but Buffy shook her head. "One at a time. Spike, you first."
"I had an idea, Buffy. An idea that might really work. You said we needed all the help we can get. You say it all the time. Farmboy, there, he is all the help we can get."
"Wait a minute," Clark spoke up. "Spike, I can't just go around telling everybody...all kinds of stuff. We thought we were just meeting up with you."
"Clark is right," Lex agreed. "With all these people here, we can't do anything for you. My main concern here is to protect Clark. You never said he'd be helping in front of the general public. You know how I feel about this, Spike."
"Wait," Buffy said. "Protect Clark? You have no idea what's going on around here, do you?"
"Buffy," Spike interrupted her gently. "This idea of mine might be the only thing we have left. Hear me out."
Lex sighed. "Yes, please hear him out. I'd like to hear this last-ditch effort idea myself. But first, I want to know what's going on here."
"Fine," Buffy relented, if only to get this meeting over with and send the two of them packing. "Long ago..."
"Um, Buffy. Can I do this part?" Spike asked. "I know how he likes it."
She rolled her eyes and motioned to the two newcomers. "Please. Be my guest."
"Okay," Spike said, "Nutshell version: Original manifestation of pure evil, first one ever, about to take over the entire world. Can't be reasoned with, can't be bargained with, Terminator Evil, got it?" Spike didn't wait for more than a nod before he went on. "Army of unbelievably ugly, practically unkillable ubervamps that need to be destroyed before we can take on the First, who can't be killed by anything we've come up with so far. Also has a bunch of recruits with no faces, that are kind of mean."
Lex and Clark digested this for a moment. "Sounds like a Tuesday night in Smallville," Lex remarked dryly. "And how exactly can we help?"
"Just what I'd like to know." Buffy added. "Spike?"
Spike looked at Lex and Clark expectantly. "Can I tell her?"
"It's up to you, Clark." Lex decided. "If you think we can trust her."
"You can," Spike interjected. "She'd never tell anyone."
"Tell anyone what!" Buffy asked, getting aggravated. "Time is too short for this run-around, Spike!"
"He has powers!" Spike blurted out. "He's incredibly strong, and I thought we could use him to help us fight the ubervamps. And then I thought we could get Red to cast an enjoining spell."
"Spike!" Lex objected, and Clark just groaned inwardly. There had been too much revelation lately in his life as it was, and he didn't know any of these people.
Buffy stared. "You what?" she asked quietly.
"Just listen, Buffy," Spike insisted. "You refused the demon strength they tried to give you, like they gave the First Slayer. If we did an enjoining spell, the three of us, we'd have your Slayer powers and know-how, my demon and his strength, all together. Willow did it before, she can do it again. Maybe it'll be enough." He turned to Clark and Lex. "We won't tell anyone about Kent. We'll just tell the others he knows some stuff about the First and that's why we're using him. And you'll be good fighting the ubervamps anyway, strong as you are."
Clark was shaking his head doubtfully. "I don't know."
Lex stood stiffly, closer to Clark now. "You cannot even begin to imagine how opposed I am to this idea. We could all be killed. We've even been warned. I don't want Clark exposed to any black magic, or whatever this enjoining spell is."
"You've been warned?" Buffy asked. "Let me guess. You saw dead people."
Clark started. "We did. Lex saw his Mom and I saw a friend of mine who died a while ago. They both told us not to come here."
Buffy nodded. "It's the First. Spike should have warned you. The First isn't corporeal, but it can take the image of anyone who has been dead. It can look like Spike and me, too, so we have to be extra careful. As for the magic, it isn't black magic, not the way you're thinking. We've used the enjoining spell before, when we needed to destroy a particularly resistant creature. Spike may be right. That might work on the First, but we'd have to get to it, and according to my vision, there are thousands of ubervamps to deal with on the way."
"Don't say 'we'," Lex reminded her. "I don't think we're staying for the show. I don't want to risk it."
"The spell can't hurt me, right?" Clark asked, and at Buffy's negative shake of her head, he turned to Lex. "We don't even know if magic affects me, Lex. It may not work anyway. And I don't have to play commando with the uber-whatevers, either." He looked at Buffy and Spike excitedly. "Does fire affect them, these uberthings?"
Buffy shrugged. "It should, we haven't had the chance to try it out."
"What did you have in mind?" Spike inquired curiously, wondering what he may have missed while he was in Kansas.
Clark turned back to Lex. "I can burn them all up. They won't get anywhere near us."
"Clark," Lex was beginning to object again, and Clark leaned in closer to his face. "Lex, what if this is why I'm here?"
"Save the world, Clark?" Lex questioned softly, feeling his heartbeat speed up at the thought that Clark was going to do this thing, was going to risk his life, and Lex would have to be there to watch. "I thought you were doing that one person at a time. Starting with me."
"I'll always be here to save you, Lex." Clark assured him, reaching down to squeeze Lex's hand. "We can do this. We can help."
Clark turned back to the Slayer and the vampire. "First thing, no one out of this room can know about me. Whoever this Red is, she only gets exactly the information she needs to do this spell. Though I should tell you, I have another gift that might come in handy for the enjoining."
Spike raised an eyebrow questioningly.
"Invulnerability," Lex answered for Clark. "If you can enjoin that, you can win. That is, if the magic can affect Clark."
Buffy opened the door and called down the hall. "Willow!"
"We'll see about that right now," she decided.
It was a simple enough thing to prove; Willow cast a spell to make Clark's nose bleed, and it didn't work. She couldn't hurt him physically. Then she asked him to request something, and at his suggestion, turned his hair purple, then back to black. The magic worked on him if he allowed it.
Willow nodded in satisfaction, then turned to her friend. "I think it'll work, Buffy. He's agreeable to the enjoining spell, so he'll be able to participate, and it looks like he can repel any magic that might damage him." She studied Clark curiously for a moment. "I don't know how you do it, but you might be the one person capable of coming through this in one piece."
"Nobody's dying," Clark vowed, uneasy with the barely-disguised dismay in Lex's eyes.
"All right, Will, get everybody together. Might as well get this show on the road."
They crowded into the parlor; two dozen twittery, nervous teens, Andrew, Clark, Lex, Anya, Xander and Spike, standing on the sidelines, crammed onto furniture and crushed together on the floor. Buffy stood in the doorway so she could see everyone.
"What's the deal, Buff?" Xander asked. "We have a plan?"
"The deal," Buffy told them, "Is that Clark and Lex have come to offer their, expertise, I guess you'd call it, to help us defeat the First. We'll all be working together on this."
"Buffy," Xander interrupted her. "We don't usually work with outsiders. No offense guys," He said, looking toward the corner where Clark and Lex were leaning unobtrusively against the wall. "How do we know we can trust them?"
Buffy was unyielding. "I know what you're saying Xander, and you're right. But Spike says we can trust them, and I think we can. The rules are changing as we go here, and this time, we fight with outsiders."
"But, Giles," Anya started, and Buffy shook her head firmly.
"We have no idea when Giles will get back from Indonesia with the last Potential. We're not waiting. We move tomorrow. Everybody try to get some sleep. I'll have a plan in the morning." She looked to the two visitors. "If you two would like to have some sandwiches or something, the kitchen's that way," she told them, pointing. "There are extra sleeping bags in the storeroom, just grab two and find some place to sleep. Spike and Xander usually bunk in the basement, to stay away from the chatter." She smiled encouragingly. "I'll see you in the morning," she said, heading for the stairs.
Clark looked at Lex. "I don't know about you, but I'm starving!" he laughed, and headed the way Buffy had pointed, Lex following despite the lack of an appetite.
The Potentials started getting their own things ready for bed, calling dibs on the bathroom and generally scattering throughout the house. Willow, Xander, Anya and Andrew went into the dining room to try to fathom what Buffy's plan could entail, leaving Spike and Dawn in the parlor. Spike pulled himself away from the wall he had been leaning against, intending to go outside to have a smoke. He smiled to himself, a bit sadly, as he watched Dawn's eyes following the retreating form of Clark Kent as he made his way to the kitchen, faithful millionaire shadow close on his heels.
"Interesting turn of events, wouldn't you say?" Spike asked her, already fishing a cigarette out of the pack, feeling a small pull of sympathy at the look on her face.
She sighed, so softly he wouldn't have heard it without vampiric senses. "He's perfect." She whispered, as if she were entrusting Spike with a great secret. He squatted down in front of her, catching her gaze, and Dawn had almost forgotten how blue those eyes really were.
"No, you're perfect, Niblet," he assured her quietly, warming her heart with the name he had stopped using for such a long time. "Don't beat yourself up. He's kind of taken. I don't want you hurt." Spike touched her hand briefly. He stood then, and started to leave the room, heading for the front door. "If Buffy wants me, I'll be on the porch."
Lex barely slept in the sleeping bag on the basement floor, and knew by the breathing he could hear around him that no one else was really sleeping either. Nothing like being well-rested for a fight he thought wryly, senses reaching out for the warmth of the body in the other sleeping bag a few feet away. Xander was across the room, and Spike was sitting on his cot in the dark, smoking one cigarette after another. Lex really needed a drink.
Tomorrow was coming far too quickly.
To be continued