Cornfields, Coffee and Conciliation

Author: Bastard Snow <mamille5[at]>

Rating: PG-13

Disclaimer: I don't own any of this stuff.

Author's Note: Okay, my muse is leading me in many different directions these days. This is a follow up to my story "Three Coffee's and a Destiny To Go." Thanks to Drake for Beta'ing.

Author's Note 2: I do not watch Smallville, so all my characterizations rely on the 3 episodes I've seen (from the first season) and Drake. This does not take place in or after any particular season so far as I know. And fair warning, Clark and Lana are a couple, and Lana knows his secret. I think that's all you need to know.

Chapter 1

"You're kidding, right?" Xander asked. He was sitting on bed across from his long-time best friend, in the hotel room they were sharing with Buffy.

"No," Willow said. "I'm being completely serious."

"You mean he just picked him up, threw him into a big crowd, and now he's in the hospital?"

"That's what happened," Willow said. "Apparently some of the people in the crowd were holding some things, and he got stabbed in the side, and had to be taken off in an ambulance."

"Wow," Xander said, as he turned back to the television. "The things that happen in the world of professional wrestling when you miss one week."

"Hey guys, new assignment," Buffy said as she walked into the room.

Willow and Xander groaned.

"Where now?" Xander asked as he flopped backwards on the bed. "Somewhere that's more exciting sounding than Smallville, Kansas, right?"

"Uh, actually, no," Buffy said. "We're going to Smallville."

"What?" Willow asked. "I thought Robin was taking that one."

"He was," Buffy said. "He did, actually."

"And?" Xander asked, leaning up on his elbows.

"And, he got injured."

"Injured?" Willow asked. "Is he okay?"

"Yeah," Buffy said. "Or, he will be, once his leg is no longer broken. And a couple of his ribs. And his nose." She paused. "And his concussion goes away"

"What?" Xander asked, sitting back up completely. "Did that girl beat the crap out of him or something?"

"No," Buffy said, sitting down next to Xander.

"So what did?" asked Willow.

"Giles didn't say, only that it wasn't this girl, uh Lana. Apparently Wood wasn't exactly with it when he got in contact. Anyway, we're flying out there tomorrow morning. Faith is flying in, too."

"Really?" Xander asked. "Flying? G-man must be worried, spending all that money."

"Yeah. He said he's closer to figuring out how to get a hold of the Council money, but nothing yet," said Buffy. "I don't know why he's sending Faith, though. I mean, Kennedy usuaoh. Sorry."

"It's okay," Willow said. "It wasn't right between us. I'm better having realized that."

Xander smiled over at her, switched beds and wrapped the redhead in a big friendly hug, which the young woman happily returned.

"You do seem happier, overall," Buffy said.

"I am," Willow said. "But, I'm glad I was with her she kinda got me through stuff."

"For which we are grateful," Xander said, flopping down on Willow's bed now.

"Nuh uh, mister," Willow said. "It's my turn to single-bed it."

"Yeah, but come on. I get to say I slept with a hot lesbian," Xander said. "How is that not fun?"

Xander then raised his arms to block the pillows that were flung by Buffy and swung by Willow at him.

"Geez," Xander muttered, grabbing the pillows and retreating back to the other bed. "At least I called you hot this time. Did you guys ever regret offering to share one room between the three of us?"

"No," Buffy said. "It saves some money, and plus, we all get to spend more time together, which was a big part of the draw of this thing anyway."

"Yeah," Willow said. "Why, did you?"

"No," said Xander. "I was a little worried at first, you know but hey, what sane guy is gonna pass up the chance to sleep with a couple of hotties every night?"

"What time is our flight?" Willow asked, rolling her eyes.

Buffy told them. They both groaned.


8 AM the next day, Tweed-New Haven Airport.

"This is an ungodly hour," Buffy said from behind her sunglasses and coffee.

"And we've been up for over an hour," Xander said, hefting his backpack off the security check-point's conveyor belt and limping towards where Willow waited for them. "That was an even un-godlier hour."

"Ugh," Willow said. "And I slept horribly, too."

Buffy and Xander turned to glare at her.

"What?" she asked.

"Consider yourself lucky," Xander said. "You didn't get kicked in the middle of the night by the Chosen One-of-Many. And she's strong. Real strong."

"And you weren't almost shoved out of bed by Mr. Cyclops," Buffy said.

"Not afraid to emphasize the strong," Xander continued.

"But my neck is all" Willow trailed off and withered under their glares. "And anyway, we'll all have single beds until this thing is over, right? Giles is getting us two rooms."

"Oh yeah, that's right," Xander said as he limped along after them. Buffy really was very strong. "Say, which one of you is rooming with Faith?" he asked.

They turned and looked at him. "One of us?" Buffy asked. "Why not you?"

"Me, Faith, hotel room," Xander said, bringing his hands to his throat. "Bad associations."

"Ohhh," they said in unison.

"I'll do it," Buffy said. "We're getting along better, I guess."

"That's good," Willow said. "Wouldn't do to have our two oldest- living Slayers hating each other."

"Nah," Xander said. "And hey, Buffy and Faith together? Not a bad picture in my head."

"Xander!" Buffy and Willow scolded.

Xander smirked for a second, waiting for the inevitable reaction.

"Actually" Willow said, looking off into space.

Buffy looked at her incredulously.

"Sorry, sorry," Willow said.

The trio resumed their journey to their gate.


Eight hours later, outside of Wichita Airport.

"Jesus," Xander said as he dropped his and Willow's bags into the trunk of car they had rented, using a bit of Willow's magic to pretend Xander was 25 years old. "You know they never really tell you how tiring flying is."

"I think part of it's the lay-over," said Willow, who dragged herself into the car. "And stress."

"And confined spaces," Buffy said she hefted her own bags into the car. "Confined spaces are no good for a Slayer. Too much energy. Being cooped up like that drains it out of me."

"Did you call Giles?" Xander asked.

"Uh huh," Willow said. "He said Faith's already checked in at a motel, got the rooms and everything. We just have to meet her there, and check the town out."

"We've still got a couple hours to drive," Xander said, flopping down into the driver's seat. "So we're not doing that checking the town out thing until tomorrow, right?"

"Uh huh," Willow said, curling up in the passenger seat.

Buffy lay down in the back seat. "Home, James," she said, haughtily. "And take the long way."

Xander grunted and put the car in gear, quickly made his way North out of Wichita.

Five hours later, after a couple of wrong turns, and multiple map consultations, for which he had to wake a bleary-eyed Willow, Xander pulled into the motel's parking lot. Quietly, he looked for the rooms Faith had checked into. Seeing the light on in one of the rooms, Xander knocked, and was greeted by Faith, wearing a too-tight tank top and white cotton panties.

"Hey, y'all finally made it," she said, leaving the door open and moving back into the room.

"Yeah, long drive," he said. "Also, Connecticut with a lay-over in St. Louis is farther than direct from Cleveland."

"Pays to stay in the middle of the country," Faith said, with a smirk. She handed him a couple of keys. "First two are for the other room, right next door, other one's for this. Who's crashin' where?"

"Me and Will are next door," he said. "Buffy'll crash with you. If that's cool, I mean."

"Hey, whatever," she said. "I'm flexible."

Xander nodded. "I'll wake the girls and bring 'em in."

Faith smiled. "You're good at that, ain't ya?"

Xander raised an eyebrow, confused. "Moving people into hotel rooms?"

"Nah. Takin' care of 'em."

"Oh," he said. "Yeah, I guess."

"Need help with the bags?"

"I got it."

Faith nodded and sat back down on the bed to watch TV.

Xander went back to the car and moved everybody's bags inside, before attempting to wake the girls, and then eventually giving up and carrying them inside. After laying Buffy down on her bed, Xander brushed some hair off her face, kissed her on the forehead and made his way out of the room.

"Hey, hold up," Faith said, hopping up off the bed. "You got a sec?"

"Faith, I'm really tired, and "

"It won't take long," she said. "Promise."

Xander sighed. "Fine."

Faith grabbed her cigarettes from the table and followed Xander outside. Lighting up, she hopped onto the hood of Xander's rental car, not having put on any more clothes than before.

"What's up?" Xander asked.

Faith looked at him for a second. "Listen. I pretty much already straightened up with everyone else. Not that we're all peachy or whatever, but well, I never talked to you."

Xander waited.

"Anyway, I know it don't take it back and whatever, but for what it's worth, I'm sorry. For you know trying to kill you. I get you were trying to help me and I appreciate it you know, now. But well, sorry."

Xander looked at Faith and nodded. "Okay," he said, before turning and walking towards his room.

"That's it?" Faith asked. "A frikkin 'okay'?"

"What do you want?" Xander asked. "Do you want me to forgive you? Done. You're forgiven. Good job."

"What's with you?" Faith asked. "I'm tryin' to do something here, tryin' to make it better."

"You want to make it better?" Xander asked, walking back to her. "Fine. Then don't make it about the past. Be sorry for what you did, sure, but make things better in the future. I can take care of myself. Make sure the new slayers don't have to go through what you and Buffy did. That's what we're out here for. To find these girls and give them a better chance than you guys, or Kendra had. Make it better for them."

"I will," Faith said. "But look, I was trying to make things better between us. I mean you're civil and all, and that's great, but I uh crap."

Xander waited as Faith finished off her cigarette and tossed it on the ground.

"Look," she said, looking at the ground. "I just I wanted to be friends."

"Friends?" he asked, confused. "With me?"

"Well, yeah, Xander, Jesus," Faith said. "I sit around and hear the way Dawn talks about you, and Andrew kind of adores you from afar, which is kind of funny, really. And then I see Giles trusting you with these two girls he loves like daughters, and I see the way you are with them, and I don't know. I guess I just wanted in on it."

Xander stood there, jaw hanging out below the rest of his head.

"Whatever," Faith said, hopping off the car. "Just forget I said anything."

"No, Faith, hold on," Xander said, grabbing her by the arm. "Listen. Friendships especially post-death attempt friendships, they take a lot of work. You can't just decide to be friends."

"I get it," she said, wrenching her arm away from him. "I'll just "

"But!" Xander said, causing Faith to pause once more. "I'm willing to try, if you are. I'm willing to work."

Faith's head sagged on her shoulders. "Yeah," she said. "I'd like that."

Faith walked back into her room and shut the door. She turned off the light and hopped on the bed.

"How much did you hear?" she asked.

She was met with silence, and let the subject lie.

A few moments later, Buffy spoke. "It's worth it," she said. "Take it from someone who knows."

Faith silently nodded to herself, then turned over and went to sleep.


Chapter 2

Xander woke up and felt a pressure across his stomach. Recognizing said pressure, he was confused. He hadn't woken up being straddled in over a year. Xander opened his eyes to see the face of his best friend, who was holding a cup of coffee.

"Morning, sleepyhead!" she said, all too cheerily.

Xander groaned.

"Oh come on," Willow said. "You've been asleep for nearly nine hours!"

"Yeah," Xander croaked out. "That means you've been asleep for…" he paused, doing math in his head. "Uhh… longer," he finished.

Willow leaned over and gave Xander a quick peck on the forehead. "You know, you're very cute when you're a sleepyhead. If I weren't a hot lesbian…"

"You'd be a hot straight girl," Xander said. "And I would be a much, much happier man right now."

"Come on," Willow said, de-straddling her friend. "Buffy and Faith are waiting for us at the continental breakfast, which includes bagels, donuts, coffee, juice… even a small assortment of cereals."

Xander grunted. "Fine," he said. "I'll be down in a few."

"And take a shower first," Willow said before walking out of the room. "You stink."

Xander grumbled for a second before rolling out of bed. Ten minutes later, he joined the girls in the motel lobby with shaggy, wet hair and sat down to breakfast with a bagel topped with cream cheese and a glass of orange juice.

"No, I just prefer tampons," Buffy said as Xander sat.

Xander stood back up and walked away shaking his head. He took his plate and headed back to the room, leaving behind a group of laughing young women, and one young man who looked at him like he was crazy for leaving a table filled with women who looked like that.

Fifteen minutes later, Buffy knocked on his door.

"It's open!" Xander yelled.

"Hey," Buffy said, entering the room. "You about ready?"

"Yeah," Xander said, turning off the television. "Just lemme get my shoes on. What's first on our itinerary?"

"Go see Robin," Buffy said. "See how he's doing, ask him what happened, all that stuff. And while you and I are doing that, Willow and Faith will be checkin' out the town in Faith's car."

"She doesn't wanna see him?" Xander asked.

"Still a little sore," Buffy said. "After he kind of promised to 'surprise' her and then got all wrapped up… yeah. 'Bitter' I believe is the word."

"Well, she's entitled," Xander said as he slipped his shoes on. "He was a dick, a subject I myself am familiar, lest we forget the not-wedding of my fairly recent past."

"Yeah, but you were afraid," Buffy said, smiling at him as they walked out to the car. "Robin just kind of decided that she wasn't worth dealing with."

Xander grunted and started up the engine.

"Something I notice you didn't do last night."

Xander turned his head to the blonde slayer. "Doing a little eavesdropping, Ms. Summers?"

Buffy smiled demurely at him. "I think it's sweet," she said.

Xander shook his head and turned left out of the lot. He then backed up into the lot again, turned right and headed off, following the directions Buffy had gotten from the hotel clerk. Twenty minutes later the pair reached the hospital, and quickly found the room Robin was assigned to.

"Hey," Robin said when they entered. "I was wondering who was going to show up, and when."

"Well, here we are," Xander said as he and Buffy sat in the chairs.

"I got this single room and everything," Robin said with a smile.

"What happened to you?" Buffy asked.

Robin nodded at the door, and Xander got up and closed it.

"So, this wasn't the Slayer?" Buffy asked.

"No, it was her boyfriend," Robin said. "Man was I not expecting that."

"Her *boyfriend* did this to you?" Buffy asked. "What is he, Iron Man? And why'd he do this, anyway?"

"Well," Robin said, "I might have been coming on a little… strong. You know… to convince her that she needed to come to the school."

"How much is a little?" Xander asked.

"It's possible I grabbed her arm," Robin muttered.

"You did *what*!?" the Sunnydalers yelled.

"She was being unreasonable, she wouldn't –"

"Robin, I thought we all agreed," Xander said. "We don't force them to come with us."

"No, *you* all agreed. I was merely there," he said.

"Yeah, and see what you got now? Some guy laid you up with a bunch of broken bones and a concussion," Buffy said. "What'd he do anyway, hit you with his car?"

"Felt like it," Robin said. "No, actually, he punched me into a wall. Hardest punch I ever felt."

"You're kidding," Xander said.

"Yes, I'm kidding. I'm actually not sitting here in this bed feeling useless, describing to my co-workers how I got my ass handed to me by some punk high-schooler. The kid took me with one hit. I flew into the wall – which, by the way, was no fewer than six feet away, and when I say flew, I mean *flew*– and got all these other injuries."

"What'd you tell the doctors?" Buffy asked.

Robin mumbled something under his breath.

"What was that?" Xander asked.

"I said, I told them I fell down some stairs," Robin said, glaring at the younger man.

"Okay," Buffy said. "We'll do the cautious approach on this one. What's this girl's name and description?"

"Lana Lang," Robin said. "Kinda short, asian. Real pretty girl."

"Boyfriend a big guy?" Xander asked.

"Not as big as his punch, but yeah. He's taller than you, say, maybe three inches? White guy, dark hair… kind of a… cut jawline. Real All-American looking kid, you know? Didn't catch his name."

"Okay," Xander said. "Well, we'll see what we can do. When are you being released?"

"Later today," Robin said. "I talked to Rupert today, and he said he doesn't think it's a good idea for me to stick around here. I'll be going to Cleveland for a while to heal up before I head back out on the road."

"Sounds like a good idea," Buffy said. "Well, give us a call before you head out."

"Sure," Robin said.

"Well, feel better, man," Xander said as he and Buffy stood to leave.

"Hey, you guys be careful," Robin said. "Remember, hardest I've ever been hit. And I've been hit by a lot."

"We will," Buffy said. "Take care, Robin."


"This is a small town," Willow said as she looked down the main street.

"Yup," Faith replied.

"I mean, I grew up in a small town. I know from small towns, and as small towns go? This one is, well…"

"Small?" Faith asked.

"It's just such an appropriate word."

"Where should we start out?" Faith asked.

"Ooh, coffee," Willow said, eyeing a small shop called The Talon.

Faith laughed and followed the redhead into the shop.

After seating themselves in the fairly empty coffee shop, Willow and Faith were approached by a young girl wearing an apron.

"Hi," she said. "What can I get you guys to drink?"

Willow and Faith placed their orders, and sat back in their chairs.

"See anything?" Willow asked.

"Oh, definitely," Faith said, her eyes locked in one place.

Willow turned to see what she was looking at, and saw a tall young man sitting alone at a table reading a book. She turned back to Faith.

"What?" Faith asked.

"Faith, we're here to find the girl, not to hook up or whatever," Willow said.

"Hey, I'm just appreciatin' the eye candy, Red. Some of us around here still drive stick."

Willow rolled her eyes and searched the room for any girls who looked super strong. Unfortunately, she quickly realized that it's hard to pick out super strength when people are sitting at tables, talking. A crash sounded out from behind the counter.

"Damn it, that's the third cup today!" shouted a young woman from behind the counter..

Willow and Faith both turned.

"Lana, why don't you take the rest of the day off?" asked a young bald man in a sport coat.

"Yeah. I guess I probably should. I'm still pretty jittery from… well, yesterday," Lana said.

"It's all right. I'll just take over. Why don't you just finish making this one order, and then go home?"

"Okay," Lana said.

Willow and Faith turned back to the table and continued looking around the coffee shop for a minute.

"Here you go, ladies," Lex said as he approached the table. "Sorry about the wait, we've just had a little bit of an accident in the back."

"Oh, that's fine," Willow said. "But actually, we have a lot less time than we thought. Could we get those to go?"

"Of course," he said. He turned and saw Lana holding her head in her hands, then turned around. "Clark," he said. Nobody responded. "Clark!"

He pointed to the magazine on the table. "Are either of you reading this?"

Willow and Faith shook their heads.

"Thanks," said Lex, smiling. He picked the magazine up, rolled it in a tube and smacked the young man Faith had been watching on the back of the head.

"Ow!" he said, rubbing the back of his head. "What?"

Lex pointed over his shoulder, and Clark looked to where Lana was standing. "Oh, right," he said.

Clark stood and walked over to the girl and spoke to her for a moment before throwing his arm over her shoulders. She looked up at him and smiled, and they walked out of the shop together.

"Uh…" Faith started as the waitress walked away.

"Go," Willow said. "I'll get the drinks."

"Right," Faith said.

Faith hopped up from her seat and followed the pair outside.

"You guys new to town?" Lex asked Willow when he brought the drinks back in to-go cups.

"Yeah," Willow said.

"You should be careful," he said. "Guy showed up in town yesterday, and today he's in the hospital. This town's dangerous." He tossed her his best charming smile. "Of course I'm sure nothing like that will happen to you."

"I hope not," Willow said, not noticing his attempt at gaining her attention because she was watching the door. "But, well, my home town was kind of dangerous, too."

"Well, I'm sure you'll be fine," said Lex.

Willow looked up at him and smiled, then thanked him, paid for the drinks and left. When she reached the street, neither Faith nor the couple she was following where anywhere to be seen.

Willow sighed, wandered back up towards their car, sat down on the curb and waited.

Chapter 3

Faith turned the corner to find the young couple vanished. She looked down the street.

"Nuh uh," she muttered under her breath, eyeing the two alleys and single turn off. "Ain't nobody that fast."

"But some people are that quiet."

"Jesus!" Faith yelled, jumping back from the voice. The pair she had been following stepped out of a shop door alcove.

"No, Clark," he said. "But I'm guessing you already knew that. Some reason you were following us?"

"Uh, no, I wasn't following you," Faith lied. "I was just looking for –"

"Don't bother," Lana said. "What with that creep yesterday, I'm just tired of people—"

"Creep?" Faith asked.

"Look," Clark said calmly. "Just leave us alone, please?"

"Hey, I'd love to," Faith said, raising her hands. The pair walked off down the street past her towards a truck.

"Thank you," Lana said as they passed.

"But just cuz I want to, doesn't mean it should happen," Faith called after them. "More are gonna come looking for you."

They stopped and turned around.

"Look, Lana, right?" Faith asked as she jogged back up to them. "Something's changed with you, in the past few months. Strength and speed you can't explain, don't know what's going on, but you've had dreams. Dreams where you were another girl, like you, only she was fighting people, and monsters. Some of the people, though, they had weird faces, like, disfigured."

"How did –"

"And whenever she killed them, they turned to dust, right?" Faith asked.

"Look, whoever you are, just leave her alone," Clark said.

"You're in danger, Lana," Faith said. "More than you know. And I'm not asking you to do anything except listen."

"That's not true," Lana said. "That guy yesterday was trying to tell me I need to go to some school… like I have a defect or something."

"Who, Robin?" Faith asked. "He's a dick. Trust me, I've wanted to hit him a time or two myself… although I probably would have stopped before tossing him into a wall."

"That was actually… me," Clark said, as he ducked his head, shamefully.

"Yeah, I guessed. Surprised you could get the drop on him like that, though. Robin's a pretty good fighter."

"It wasn't much of a fight," Clark said.

"Yeah, well, don't sweat it," Faith said. "No permanent damage. Anyway, Lana, what you have is in no way a defect… although, if history is anything to go by, you will hate it sometimes. Please, could you just come talk to me and my friends? I swear we're not going to force you to do anything."

"If you know what I am, what's going on with me," Lana said, "you know that it's going to be pretty hard to force me to do anything."

"The reason I know what you are, what's going on with you," Faith said, "is because it's the same thing that's going on with me."

Lana's eyebrows shot up.


"Are you okay?"

Willow looked up and saw the man who had given her the coffee. "Huh?" she said.

"I asked if you were okay," he said.

"Oh, yeah," Willow said. "Just waiting for my friend. Friends, really."

"I thought you had somewhere to be," he said, smiling at her.

"I do," Willow said pouting, and finding the smile cuter than she thought she should. "But I don't have the keys, and that tends to be a problem."

"Understandable," he said. He reached out a hand. "Lex Luthor."

"Willow Rosenberg," Willow said shaking his hand. "You know, you've got the same name as…" she trailed off as she got a better look at him as he sat, uninvited, on the curb next to her. "O-or you actually are him."

"Don't let it get to you," he said, smiling. "I try not to."

"Yeah," Willow said. "I should not let it get to me that the guy I just bought coffee from could have bought my hometown and not flinched. I see that happening. Speaking of which, don't you have customers?"

"Oh, yeah. I didn't feel like working, so I gave the waitress a raise."


"No," he said. "But from here I can see if anybody goes in, and it's not like we're that busy."

"I guess that's true," Willow said. She sipped her coffee.

"So what are you in town for?" Lex asked.

"Oh, we're from a private school in Cleveland, and we're here on a recruitment drive," Willow said. "There's a girl here we're interested in."

"Really," Lex said. "Cleveland. How big are you?"

"Well, we don't actually have many students yet. We're kind of just starting up. Still needing, you know, teachers, funding… students, like I said."

"Do you specialize in anything?" Lex asked.

"Well we're kind of a –"

"Hey, Will."

Willow and Lex looked up and saw Xander and Buffy standing there, smiling at their friend.

"Oh, hey," Willow said, as she and Lex stood up and wiped off dirt off their respective butts..

"Hey, there," Xander said. "Who's your friend?"

"Oh right. Uh, Buffy, Xander, this is Lex Luthor. You know, *the* Lex Luthor."

"Nice to meet you," Lex said, shaking hands with both of them.

"How's Robin?" Willow asked.

"He's all right," Xander said. "A little worse for wear, but…"

"You guys know the man who was hospitalized yesterday?" Lex asked, one eyebrow raised.

"He's a colleague," Buffy said.


"Hey, where's Faith?" Xander asked.

"Uh…" Willow said.

"I think that's probably her over there," Lex said, pointing over Xander's shoulder.

Everybody turned to look, and saw Faith approaching the group with Clark and Lana following behind her.

"Hey," Faith said when she reached the group.

"Faith, this is Lex Luthor, as in –"

"Whatever," Faith said, waving off Willow. "This is our girl, Lana, and her beau, Clark. Kids, meet Buffy, Xander and Willow. They're our 'A' team for this kinda stuff."

"What kind of stuff?" Lex asked.

"Oh, recruitment stuff," Willow said. "Um, Mr. Luthor –"

"Please, call me Lex," he said, flashing another dazzling smile at her.

Willow blushed a little, drawing an interested gaze from Xander. "Well, anyway, the uh… school… private school, like I said, well, it's kind of… do you think we could have some privacy?"

"Of course," Lex said. "I'm intruding. I need to get back to the shop anyway. Nice meeting you all. Clark, Lana, I'll see you two around."

A chorus of goodbye's and waves followed him.

They all turned back to Lana and Clark. "Is there somewhere we can talk?" Xander asked.

"We can go to my house," Clark said. "My parents are at a farmers market in another town, won't be back till late."

"Do you want us to drive, or…" Xander asked.

"My truck's around the corner," Clark said. "You can follow me."


"So what I really want to know," Lana said, "is what's going on with me? Why am I like this all of a sudden? You said this happened to you, too, right?" She looked pleadingly at Faith.

"That's right," Faith said. "About five years ago, this happened to me. I was seventeen."

"I was fifteen," Buffy said. "Three years before it happened to Faith, it happened to me."

"Is… this sort of thing common?" Lana asked. "I mean, what I want to know… is it like a disease, or a genetic mutation or something?"

"We're not really sure what it is, what causes it," Willow said. "It is not common. In fact, until just recently, there were only two girls in the entire world who could do what you can."

"And that's us," Faith said, indicating herself and Buffy.

"We suspect," Willow said, "that somewhere back along the line, literally thousands of years ago, all the girls who this happens to share an ancestor. A girl in Africa, who was the first of your line."

"So there were only two girls, ever?" Lana asked.

"No," Buffy said. "There have been a lot of us. For a long time, it was one girl at a time, and the power would pass on to the next as soon as the first died. About seven years ago, I died, but was resuscitated by Xander – he's the guy outside with your boyfriend. So the power passed on to another girl named Kendra, but it also stayed with me. Kendra died, and now we have Faith."

"So," Lana said to Faith, "did you die?"

"Nah," Faith said. "That's B's gig. Look, you heard about Sunnydale?"

"I remember," Lana said. "It fell into a hole, for some reason, but was never really explained."

"That's the one," Faith said. "Anyway, there was this evil thing we were fighting, and Red here did some mojo that made all the girls who could have this power actually have it. So now you've got it."

"Mojo?" Lana asked.

"Magic," Willow said. "I'm a witch."

Lana was silent, looking at the table. "Um, could you guys excuse me for a minute?," she said. "I… have to use the bathroom."

"Of course," said Buffy. "We'll just wait here."

Lana smiled at them, then walked further into the house, and upstairs to Clark's room. She sat on his bed, thinking for a few minutes, then quietly called out "Clark."

She waited.


"So," Xander said. "She's your girlfriend?"

"Yeah," said Clark.

"Pretty girl," said Xander.

"You're not exactly traveling in ugly company."

Xander smiled. "No, that I am not."

The two men sat on the porch outside of Clark's house. They had opted to give the girls some room to talk. They were both nodding slowly, as men will tend to do when they have nothing to say, but feel that saying nothing is not an option. Xander got tired of waiting.

"So, you've got abilities you hide from most people, huh?" he asked.

"Excuse me?" Clark asked. "I don't know what you –"

"Don't bother," Xander said. "I can tell. I've dated enough demons and known enough super powerful chicks, killed enough vampires and had them almost kill me. I know power when I see it. Even without my left eye."

"I have no idea –"

"Ah, don't worry," Xander said. "I'm also real good at keeping secrets. So, I know you're really strong, cuz you knocked Robin into a wall from at least six feet. You've probably got at least a bit of speed, since he's pretty good at what he does. What else?"

"Listen, I don't know what you think you know, but I don't have any powers or anything. I'm strong because I grew up on the farm."

"Okay," Xander said. "If you say so."

"I do," Clark said.

Xander nodded. "But, I mean, you're going to know what's going on with all my friends as soon as Lana tells you. I already know what's going on with your girl. All I'm saying is, sometimes it's nice to tell somebody your secret. I've been in the sidekick business for years. I know how to listen. That's all I'm saying."

Clark sighed. "You're right about the strength, and I'm probably faster than you'd guess. Other than that… I'm not really comfortable saying."

"Fair enough," Xander said. They sat, silent, for a while longer.

"I got it!" Xander yelled, snapping his fingers. "There was that weird meteor shower here! That's where I've heard the name."

Clark nodded. "Yeah," he said. "That was years ago. We're still digging up meteor rocks all the time."

"That the source of your powers?" Xander asked.

"Don't think so," Clark said.

"Why not?"

"I'd rather not say."

Xander nodded, and rotated in his seat. "I wonder if the girls are done," he said.

Clark shook his head. "Lana went upstairs, your friends are just talking quietly."

Xander perked up, interested, and looked for a reflective surface that might show him what was going on inside. Finding nothing he looked at Clark. "Hearing, too, huh?"

"Oh," Clark said. "Uh. Yeah."

Xander nodded and looked up at the sky. "Nice day."

Clark nodded. "Yup. Can you excuse me for a minute? I have to use the bathroom."

"Sure," Xander said. Clark went back inside, nodding to the girls as he passed them, and headed upstairs to see Lana. Buffy, Willow and Faith slipped out to confer with Xander.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"Boy is wicked hot," Faith announced. "That girl didn't have him, I'd take him on for a round or two."

Nobody understood why Xander was laughing so hard.


Clark stepped into his bedroom, and stumbled a little as he moved to embrace Lana. When she looked up at him, he was blushing.

"What?" she asked.

Clark shook his head. "One of the girls said something. It doesn't matter. How are you?"

"Okay," she said. "Freaked, a little. You'd think I wouldn't be, with all the stuff that goes on around here. You'd think I'd be used to things like this."

"Well, most things around here don't happen to you," he said. "And this isn't exactly a light load they're talking about."

"I know," Lana said. "Demons, magic and vampires. It all sounds so surreal." She smiled softly. "Almost like a town that was hit by a meteor and produced a guy who can run faster than I can drive, or who can toss around farm equipment like it's a football."

"Not quite like a football," Clark said. "The tractor's more awkward to hold."

"What do you think Chloe would make of all this?" Lana asked. "I bet she'd be looking into their back story, finding out who they really are. Doing some sort of investigative thing."

"I can call her," Clark offered, pointing to his phone. "Have her look up the school. She's used to me asking weird things of her all the time. A private school probably won't even register."

"That's okay," Lana said, laughing a little. "I think they're on the level. They seem to know what they're talking about. And with all we've had here… it's not even that big of a stretch to believe. I just have to wonder…"

"Why you?" Clark asked. Lana nodded. "I do that all the time. Why me? Why am I the one who this happened to, you know? Why is it me that got saved out of everyone on an entire planet?"

"Do you ever come up with anything?"

"I kind of get stuck after 'dumb luck.'"

Lana laughed.

"So what are you going to do?" Clark asked.

"Listen, I guess. What else is there? I mean, how much would you have given to have somebody who could explain to you… what you are? What you can do? What your purpose is? To let you know how things work?"

Clark nodded. "That would have been nice. But don't let them tell you what to do. I mean, you're still your own person, even if you are a bit stronger, and faster, now."

"A bit?" she asked. "Clark, I can bench press a cow."

He smiled. "Okay," he said. "A lot stronger. But you're still you."

"I know," she said. Clark smiled at her and kissed her on the forehead.

"Come on," he said. "Shouldn't keep our guests waiting."

Chapter 4

"She seemed promising," Xander said as he drove Buffy back towards the motel. Faith and Willow were in the car behind them, and Xander, looking through the rear-view mirror, was more than a little surprised to see them both singing and dancing in their seats to a song on the radio.

"Yeah," Buffy said. "That was probably the easiest sell we've ever had."

"Except for that girl back in Des Moines whose mom was a witch," Xander reminded.

"Right, except for her. Do you think she'll take up with the school?"

"I wouldn't be too surprised," Xander said. "Cleveland… okay, well, it's still pretty far from Kansas, but you never know. And if not, I think she'll do okay. Her boyfriend seems like a good, solid kid."

Buffy nodded, then smiled at him and patted his hand. "It's always important to have a solid support team."

Xander turned and smiled back at her.

"Xan, I didn't mind you doing that when you could watch the road with one eye…"

"Right, sorry," he said. He turned back to the road. "Think we should have talked to her aunt?"

"I trust her judgement on this one," Buffy said. "She knows the woman better. You think she'll be okay?"

"Yeah," Xander said, as he pulled into the motel parking lot. "I think she'll be fine."

They got out of the car as Faith and Willow pulled up. Jessica Simpson's latest hit was blaring from the car, and neither Buffy nor Xander could stop themselves from laughing.

Faith quickly shut off the engine, embarrassed to have known the words to the song.

"Not a damn word," she muttered, as she brushed past the laughing pair.

"Didn't say anything," Xander said.

Willow bounced out of the car and hopped over to her friends.

"Good mood much?" Buffy asked.

"Yup! Girl got told, didn't ruin her life, didn't even overly freak her out, her boyfriend is a nice boy who will be helpful, and we got coffee on the way out of town and saw Lex Luthor… like *the* Lex Luthor, again. All in all, it was a good day."

"You tell 'em, Will," Xander said. The redhead smiled at him.

"Now pony up the key, mister," she said. "This witch has gotta go!"

"Don't you have your own?" he asked, as he fished the key out of his pocket.

"It's in my purse and I don't have time to find it, now move!" Willow grabbed the key from Xander and sprinted into the room, headed straight for the bathroom.

"That… was interesting," Xander said.

"Uh huh," said Buffy. "Well, I'm gonna nap. Catch you guys for dinner?"

Xander nodded and went to his room.


Somebody, somewhere, was pounding on something. Xander was not happy. Disgruntled, he swung his legs – still fully dressed – off of his bed, glancing quickly over to see Willow pulling a pillow over her head to ward off the noise.

Xander reached the source of the noise, realized it was a door and flung it open. "What?" he said, gruffly.

The door bounced off the rubber stop on the wall and made as if to slam shut again, but Faith held it open.

"Uh. B asked me to get you guys for dinner," she said, looking at him cock-eyed.

Xander blinked at her, then turned and looked at the clock-radio. Seeing that it was nearly 8 pm, he grunted again.

"You guys be ready in five?" she asked.

Xander nodded tiredly as he walked to the other side of the room. He held up a finger, indicating Faith should wait. Xander walked into the bathroom, turned the light on and splashed some water on his face to wake himself up. He walked back into the room and over to Willow's bed

"Um…" Faith said. "Are you sure five's enough time? With Red still asleep? I seem to recall her taking a while to…"

Faith trailed off as Xander climbed onto Willow's bed and leaned over her now pillow less head. Xander turned his head to Faith, grinned evilly, and held a single finger to his lips. Faith watched, intrigued.

Xander leaned even closer to Willow, his lips mere centimeters from her ear. From his throat came the most realistic impression of a frog Faith had ever heard. Much to Faith's surprise, Willow screamed, and Xander nimbly avoided her flailing arm as the redheaded witch waved around in terror.

Willow looked up, saw Xander above her, and lunged at him, arms wide. Faith started, as though to save Xander's life from what was sure to be an extremely irate and powerful witch, but stopped when she saw what was actually happening. Willow embraced Xander in a chest-crushing hug, which he returned, full force.

"Oh, Xander!" Willow said. "I dreamed… the frogs, they were everywhere, they… they were hopping, and I couldn't, they wouldn't leave, and I- I- I was so scared!"

"Shhh. It's okay, Will, honey," Xander soothed, stroking her hair to calm her down. "It was just a dream. There are no frogs here to get you. You're safe."

"You promise?" Willow asked.

"I promise, Will. I will never let the frogs get you."

Willow sat back on her bed, breathing heavily.

"As long as you're up," Xander said, "why don't you get ready for dinner? We'll be leaving in a few minutes."

Willow nodded, still a bit bewildered. "Okay," she said. "Would you –"

"I was just in the bathroom, Will," Xander said, smiling at her. "There are no frogs in there."

Willow opened her mouth to protest, but then closed it, smiled and nodded at him graciously. She slowly got up and made her way into the bathroom. Xander turned to Faith, who was standing, dumbstruck, at the door. He slipped on his shoes, grabbed the key from the bedside table and walked outside next to a still-shocked Faith, shutting the door as he went. Then he bust out laughing.

"Oh, God, I never get tired of that," he said.

"I thought she was gonna fry your ass!" Faith said. "When she went at you, I thought for sure you were dead!"

Xander took a deep breath, and smiled up at the Slayer. "I've been doing that for years, and it's always the same reaction. Geez, that's fun."

"Don't you ever feel guilty?"

"You should see some of the things she does to me," he said.

"But you know about those."

"Or at least I think I do. I can be pretty dense, you never know when I'm overlooking something. She probably has half a dozen things she does to me that I don't even know about," Xander said.

"I guess," Faith said. "But I wouldn't wanna play games like that with her."

"Well, you're not me," Xander said. "Oh, and one more thing. There are very few people who know about that trick. If –"

"Hey, I'm not gonna tell her," Faith interrupted. "She'd kill you."

Xander cocked his head to one side, and looked at Faith oddly, then shrugged. "I left my wallet inside," he said. "I'll be back in a minute."

Xander went back in his room, leaving Faith alone outside.

"It's not about you telling her," Buffy said, causing Faith to jump two feet in the air.

"Jesus, B!" Faith said, grasping her heart as she turned to the other Slayer. "When the hell did you get so quiet?"

"I've been practicing," said Buffy.

Faith shook her head and leaned against the wall. "What's not about me telling who?"

"What Xander just said. He wasn't threatening you into silence about the frog thing."

"You know about that, too?"

Buffy nodded, and walked over to the rental car and leaned on it. "For a few years, yeah," she said. "Anyway, Xander wasn't warning you not to tell her about it."

"Are ya sure? Cuz it sounded like –"

"Like you cut him off before he could finish," said Buffy. "I can count on one hand the number of people who know about that. You don't even fill up the hand. Get it?"

"Uh… not really."

Buffy sighed. "He's trusting you with something," she explained. "Something that's not dangerous, but is important to him."

"Not dangerous?" Faith asked. "Willow would –"

"Willow would get mad at him for maybe a day. She'd hit him repeatedly, flailing her fists like she does, then pout for a while, until he did something… well, something Xander-y, and then they'd be fine again, except that he'd have one less thing from his childhood to make him happy."

"Oh," Faith said.

"Yeah," said Buffy. "Oh."

"So it's like…"

"A big deal. That I will not hesitate to beat the ever-loving crap out of you for if you let it slip."

"But I thought –"

"Xander wasn't warning you. I am."

Faith opened her mouth to respond, but the door to Willow and Xander's room opened, revealing the pair to the Slayers. Faith closed her mouth and nodded at Buffy.

"We ready?" Xander asked. "I wants me some grub."

"Worms?" Buffy asked.

"Grub. As in food. Chow. Not night crawlers or maggots."

"You're gross," Willow said to Buffy. The blonde responded with an extended tongue.

"So, where to for dinner?" Xander asked.

"There's a diner I saw, just down the road," Faith said.

"Sounds good to me," said Xander. "And you get to drive. I claim poor one-eyed night vision, and excessive driver's butt."

"Driver's butt?" Willow asked.

"Because you two femme's don't drive, my ass gets molded to the seat," he complained. "Just once I want to sit in the backseat."

"I think we can arrange that," said Buffy.

Xander smiled at her, and the group piled into Faith's rental car.

"Hey, how did you rent this?" Xander asked. "You're not 25 and you didn't have Willow to magic you up a free pass."

"Fake I.D.," said Faith. "Nerdboy hooked me up. Kid's annoying, but he's got a sweet computer set up."



Buffy walked into Willow and Xander's room the next morning an hour after breakfast. Faith had left a few minutes earlier, muttering about having to drive back to the airport with 'that dickhead' in the car. Despite his injuries, Robin Wood would not get a comfortable ride home.

"What'd he say?" asked Willow.

Buffy looked confused. "He… well, we need to go back to Connecticut to get the car, first."

"And then?" Xander asked.

"Drive south," Buffy said.




Buffy looked at him. "Check into the Watergate Hotel under the name 'Alexander Dumas' and wait."

Willow and Xander looked at her in surprise.

"Uh… assumed name?" Willow asked. "How come?"

"Because," said Buffy. "Giles just got a house call from the Secret Service."

The End