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Changing the Rules 2

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Changing the Rules 2

by Annie


Changing the Rules
2

By Annie

Rated: PG
Summary: Showdown with the First Evil
Disclaimer: Still not mine.
Spoilers: Buffy Season 7
Warning: Pre-slash
Feedback: crehnert@ptd.net

Lex walked out onto the porch into the early-morning sun and sat on a comfortable old chair there, glad for the quiet, although even out here the babble of voices reached him. He'd managed to grab a quick piece of cold toast in the midst of the over-crowded kitchen, and had retreated outside with his mug of black coffee. Lex looked at the murky liquid and wished he could pop into the Talon for just a minute. He wondered briefly how they were managing to pay what must be a grocery bill to rival the national debt, and tried to decide if offering Buffy some cash would be considered insulting. He had almost laughed when he saw the amount of food the nervous Potentials had been piling up in front of Clark. Toast, eggs, muffins, bacon, fruit, drinks, each one of them wanting just a moment of his undivided attention, the food tendered like tiny blasphemous sacrificial offerings to a savior. They knew. Somehow, they knew and respected the being that had appeared in their midst to offer help against something they feared was undefeatable. Budding Slayer senses would be responsible for that intuition, Lex assumed.

His thoughts were interrupted by the well-fed boy himself, as Clark came out onto the porch to join him.

"There you are!" Clark said unnecessarily, leaning against the porch railing easily, facing Lex, sunlight glinting in his hair and eyes, marking him for Lex, branding him Lex's, and Lex felt a stab of fear inside at the very real possibility of loss.

"I was looking all over for you," Clark complained, looking relieved that he had found Lex. Not like I'm going to go off and leave him, Lex thought. "Did you eat?"

Lex forced a smile. "Not nearly as much as I saw you eating." He declared teasingly. "They do say, the way to a man's heart..."

Clark laughed, stopping him from finishing the old clich. "There's way too much going on around here to think about that, Lex."

Lex stood abruptly, coming close enough to Clark that he could have leaned right in and kissed him. He didn't.

"We can go." Lex offered. "Right now. We'll just get in the car, drive to the airport and catch the next flight out to anywhere. Make our way back to Smallville from wherever we end up. We won't even go back in and take our things. I'll buy you new stuff. I don't want you to do this."

Clark crossed his arms in front of himself, building a barrier, and he wasn't sure it was to keep Lex away from him or to keep himself away from Lex, because he could feel the fear in Lex's heart, that fear of losing Clark that had Lex ready to drop everything, appearances be damned, and go back home.

"Lex, if we don't help, there won't be any new stuff to buy. Anyway, we promised Spike."

Lex stepped back and took a swallow of his cold coffee. He really missed the Talon. "I - we- didn't promise anybody anything. But while we're on the subject, I was talking to Spike just before dawn today. I asked him about the chip and he said it malfunctioned big time, it was going to kill him. Buffy had to call in some favors or something, and now it's out. He mentioned he did some horrible things, that his insanity was part of this First Evil's hold on his mind. Even when he was at the castle."

"That far away?" Clark asked. "But it did send the ghosts to warn us off, so I guess we shouldn't be too surprised."

Anya stuck her head out the door just then.

"You guys want to come in? Big combat briefing in a sec." She informed them, disappearing just as quickly.

Clark stood away from the railing and Lex caught his arm, stopping him from going inside. "Last chance, we're staying right? All for one and one for all, that it?"

"Last chance for everybody, the way I see it." Clark replied. "We stay."

It was a replay of the parlor meeting the night before, made different only by the addition of a white message board, with a lot of crude drawings on it. Two monstery-looking things, and, in big letters, FE, which Lex assumed was supposed to represent the First. Apparently, no one knew what it looked like, if it was even able to be seen. Buffy had said it was noncorporeal. How do you fight something you can't see? Lex wondered silently.

Buffy went right into it without any morale-raising preamble. "We have a plan. It's quick, and I know you all weren't expecting this would be happening so soon, but it is. Deal. Listen. My vision of the hordes of ubervamps leads me to believe the First is still in the network of caves where Spike was being held and tortured."

Clark and Lex exchanged a look at this, but went right back to paying attention.

"This is how it's going to go down; we're all going into the caves. Willow is going to cast an enjoining spell linking Spike, Clark and myself. Clark has a way to deal with the ubervamps, so we'll take care of them first, get them out of the picture. All of you, along with Xander, Dawn, Anya and Andrew, will be behind us, with your backs turned away from the enjoining spell, to take care of any Harbingers that may try to come at us from that direction. No Harbinger can be allowed to come anywhere near us, no matter what it takes. No matter what."

Buffy had glanced at Lex briefly as she said this, and Lex gave a slight nod to let her know he understood. If the others all had their backs to the enjoining spell, none of them would see Clark using any of his powers. This fit into her plan, and eased one of Lex's fears about the whole thing.

"Andrew, you will be given a real weapon for this, and I expect you to use it efficiently. Xander, if Andrew tries to harm anyone not connected with the First, kill him. Immediately. Clear?"

Andrew seemed to shrink a bit at the hardness in the Slayer's eyes. "Clear," Xander assured her, eyes shifting to Andrew uneasily for a second.

"That's the plan. We fight. We win. If the enjoining spell doesn't work, it's over."

"What are you having me do in all this?" Lex asked. "I'm not staying behind."

Buffy smiled grimly. "No, you're not. What you're going to do is guard Willow during the spell. If anything gets near her, harms her, interrupts the spell, that's it. Game over and we all die. Got it?"

"Sure," Lex smirked. "No pressure there."

"Okay then. Xander, weapons all around, and everybody meet out front."

They walked, at Buffy's insistence. She didn't want them separated, and it would have been necessary to make several trips in the two available cars, Xander's and Lex's. They had time to walk, she declared, and prepare themselves on the way.

Xander, Anya and Andrew walked at the head of the strange procession, with Buffy and Willow bringing up the rear, going over details. Spike and Lex walked next to each other a few feet ahead of them, and Clark walked in an assemblage of Potentials and Dawn, head and shoulders over all of them.

Lex hefted the heavy battle axe, hoping he wouldn't have to use it, but thinking he probably would. He would have preferred an old-fashioned duel with one of his fencing foils, but that would have been too easy.

Spike took a deep drag on the cigarette he had just lit, swinging a broadsword effortlessly by his side. "In case I haven't said it, Luthor, I'm glad you and the boy are here."

Lex's lips twitched in what could have almost been a sarcastic smile. "Yea, well, you're welcome. Quite a way we've come, isn't it Spike? From the desperate vampire who came to Kansas all the way to this apocalyptic little war. Amazing."

Spike shrugged. "Seen stranger stuff."

"Stranger than a bunch of people walking through town looking like a vigilante group, all armed to the teeth? In broad daylight?"

Spike sorted sardonically. "Blokes around here have seen everything. They won't even look out their windows too long, and none of them will stop and ask. Just another bloody day at the Hellmouth. Anyway, whatever happens, thanks."

Lex nodded silently, sparing Spike a long glance. "I'll see you after." Lex promised.

"Yea, after," Spike mumbled as Lex stepped a bit faster to go ahead and catch up with Clark. Spike was trying to wipe the memory of the last Apocalypse from his mind, when Buffy walked up beside him, crossbow in one hand, the other brushing his arm lightly to get his attention.

"I hope this works," she said, looking up as if she had wanted to say something else. Their eyes locked and his step faltered just the slightest.

"Yea, well, so do I," he replied, and would have said something else, but she interrupted him.

"I'll see you after, too," she told him softly.

It was all quiet at the caves, and Spike felt unbidden terror coming back at the memory of the torture he had endured there, pushed it down ruthlessly and listened to Buffy reminding everyone of their duties.

"Now, you girls, Andrew, Dawn, Anya, Xander, stay behind us. We're going to search for the uberuglies first. Stay here and guard the entrance to the cave, until I call for you."

Andrew and Xander stood at the ready in front of the girls, watchful eyes scanning the surrounding trees and brush for anything suspicious.

"Shields up." Andrew whispered.

Buffy, Willow, Spike, Clark and Lex walked cautiously into the cave, Willow handing out some small flashlights from the bag of supplies she had brought along. Clark took one, even though he didn't need it. They had gone a fair distance into the cave, hearing and seeing nothing. Clark was using his x-ray vision, and as they got a bit deeper inside, he caught sight of a huge cavern several turns ahead. What he saw there stopped him in his tracks, Lex bumping into him unexpectedly.

"I found them." He reported simply.

"Where?" Buffy wanted to know.

"Cavern, three turns away," Clark told her, and Buffy refrained from asking him how he knew.

"How many?" Lex asked.

Clark raised an eyebrow. "All of them, looks like."

Lex walked up to him so he could look into his face. "Can you handle them?" At Clark's nod, he had to ask again anyway. "Are you sure?"

Clark grabbed Lex's elbow and led him back the way they had come, getting out of earshot of the other three.

"I think I'm ready." Clark said earnestly.

"You can burn that many of them? Before they can slaughter us all?"

Clark actually smiled then, a bit cockily. "Hey, it's me, invulnerable, remember?"

"Well, you may be indestructible, Clark," Lex reminded him wryly, "But the rest of us don't have any such advantage."

Clark surprised Lex then by grabbing Lex's face, big hands holding him lightly, looking into his eyes intently. "That's not the ready I'm talking about," he said, making Lex's heart pound with a different kind of fear now. "Nothing is going to happen to me, and nothing is happening to you either. You wouldn't dare leave me now, would you, Lex?"

"Never willingly," Lex managed to get out, reaching up to pull Clark's head down and rest his lips in the lush softness of his hair. He tilted Clark's head back again so he could look at his face.

"Burn 'em up, Farmboy. Show us what you've got."

Clark grinned and turned away from Lex, striding past the three sets of raised eyebrows watching the unfolding scene, and headed for the cavern he had spotted.

The ubervamps were apparently aware of the presence of the intruders, but unaware of the fiery fate that awaited them. Clark rounded the last turn and came upon the open cavern, nothing less than a sea of undulating gray, one demon practically indistinguishable from another, they were packed so tightly. They surged up as one, heading toward Clark and the four humans behind him, standing with weapons at the ready. They met with nothing from Clark but an intense gaze that swept the entire cavern, wall to wall. Willow, Spike and Buffy watched with trepidation as Clark seemed to be simply looking for something, when suddenly, waves of intense heat appeared to erupt from his eyes, skimming across the tops of the surprised ubervamps, causing them to burst into flames. It was totally unexpected, stopping the horde of demons just long enough for the flames to dig deeper, slashing through the throng of monsters, each flaming creature setting fire to the one next to it, the washes of flame unrelenting, utter fiery desecration, smoke, eerie screeching and the smell was really horrible, but Clark didn't stop until everything in front of him was ashes, thousands of demons, incinerated before their eyes.

"Good trick," Spike remarked with barely disguised admiration, the first of the three to find his voice.

"Maybe not as good as you think," Lex said warningly, indicating the deep mounds of ashes before them. They were moving, undulating, running together to coalesce into a shape, charred remains of ubervamps merging to form a hellaciously ugly, horned, charcoal-looking creature, with burning eyes the only feature visible where its' face should have been.

"My turn," they heard, but in their heads, simultaneously, not out loud.

"The First," Buffy whispered in awe.

To be continued