Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville or any of the characters from those series present in this story. I also do not own any of the movies, music or other media referenced in the following story.
Clark sprang up out of his bed as he heard the sound of rapid footsteps. They were coming from maybe a block away, approaching fast. If Clark had been a human, he certainly wouldn't have heard them.
He could hear the feet hitting the ground with bone shattering force. No human made a noise like that when running. There was too much power in those steps, the kind of strength that would create unbelievable speed.
Clark raced to his window and pulled the curtains back. A small white shape shot along the road outside his house. Had he been a human, he would not have been able to make it out, would not even have seen it in the dark of night.
Seen her, rather. The shape was a woman. Shorter than average, long blonde hair, beautiful. The moonlight on her white gown made her seem ethereal, something out of a fever dream. She shot right past his house and further down the street.
Clark blinked. That woman was moving faster than any human could move. The only other person Clark knew that could move at speeds like that was himself. Could it be possible then? Had Clark finally found another of his own species?
Clark darted to his window and yanked it open, wincing as he almost destroyed the frame. He stepped out, balancing effortlessly on the windowsill. He twisted to close the window behind him, more gently now. A quick step and he dropped from his second story window onto the ground below.
He took the impact without flinching. His inhuman ears took in the sounds of the night. No one around to see.
His bare feet push against the ground and suddenly he's off. The houses hurdle past him as each stride shoots him forward. He pushes himself but he can't seem to gain on her.
A few houses ahead, a porch light goes on. Crap. Clark slams his feet down. The pavement screeches and Clark fights to keep his balance as his momentum carries him forward, feet burning two long dark streaks into the sidewalk. Double crap.
The porch door opens and an elderly gentleman steps out. Clark starts walking forward, but he can hear the woman's footsteps getting fainter and fainter. Soon they're gone. He'd lost her. Clark groaned, ignoring the strange, suspicious looks the old man was giving him.
Now what? He could keep going in the direction she'd been headed. He might be able to follow her trail. Her steps on the pavement had left their mark, the glowing thermal print visible only to the eyes of Clark and certain special cameras. Though, perhaps now there was another who could see them. With the rush of the chase fading, Clark's other emotions all tried shouting over each other.
He'd always wondered if there were others like him, other aliens living on the planet Earth. Fear and excitement, hope and dread all warred within him. What should he do?
A long, shaky breath of cool California air calmed him. He could go now, try and follow her, but who knew where that would lead or how long it would take? Better to go home, regroup, look for her again another time when he could move carefully and methodically.
Clark grit his teeth as he stared down Sunnydale's Wilkins Road, questioning himself, wondering if he was making the right move. His hesitation might cost him his chance forever. Who knew if he could find this woman again, later. He might be losing his one chance to learn who he was and where he came from to his lifelong paranoia.
Clark shook his doubts off. He should move carefully, there was still a lot he didn't know. To begin with, that woman might not actually be one of his kind.
Socrates is a man, but not all men are Socrates.
Just because that woman had displayed powers like his didn't automatically mean she had them because she was like him. There was too much he didn't know. He couldn't go rushing off.
Decision made, but feeling deflated, Clark made his walk back at human speeds. The same distance he had run in about a minute took him nearly twenty to walk. At least it was nice and cool out, the smell of freshly cut suburban lawns and the sound of crickets filled the air.
To keep his mind from going in circles, Clark indulged in a particular bad habit of his, eavesdropping. His acute hearing could easily pick up even small noises from the houses he was walking by. The more he focused, the more he could make out. But there wasn't much to listen to at this time of night. Technically, it was early morning, though not even the earliest early birds were up and about.
Still, there were some people watching tv, one house party where people were playing a game of drunk charades, and of course even at this hour there were inevitably people doing the chromosomal crossover. Clark tried his best to just block them out.
He knew listening in on people wasn't exactly good behavior, but it wasn't like he could turn his ears off.
It's not like I'm really eavesdropping, I just happened to overhear… He told himself for the billionth time. It was technically true, usually. Clark overheard a lot, even when he didn't want to.
Clark reached his house. Still only a few weeks after the move, it was hard to think of it as home. He should probably make an effort for his parent's sake though, at least around them. The front door would be locked, which meant the only way in would be up. Clark listened in again. No one around. With one powerful push he leapt straight up to his bedroom window and landed on the window sill, balancing on the narrow ledge by the tips of his toes. He slid the window open, crept in, and slid it closed.
He could hear the steady breaths of his sleeping parents from their room down the hall, none the wiser. Clark fell back onto his bed and pulled the book out from under him. He found the place he had last left off. It was a treatise by a fringy-er scientist about the possibility of alien visitation to Earth. Clark wasn't really sold on the man's theories, but it was entertaining in the way that only really awful things could be.
He read the book in the total darkness of the room until the sun came up. He read it through, and he absorbed the words, but his mind was barely there. His thoughts were full of the odd blond woman. He had to be in school soon. Would he be able to focus? Thank god for Fridays.
Dawn Summers opened her eyes to her explosively pink room in the morning sun. For a while she simply lay there, head turned to stare at the red glow of her alarm clock sitting on the bedside nightstand. Another hour before the alarm went off. Why did she have to wake up now?
She'd been dreaming of her sister, Buffy. Those were always hard. Not the dreams themselves, but the waking. In her dreams, Dawn saved Buffy. A hundred ways, a hundred times, usually with superpowers, Dawn stopped her sister's death.
And when she woke up from those dreams, for a few moments, she'd forget. In her heart her sister would still be alive. But then came full wakefulness, and she would remember. That couldn't have waited another hour?
Dawn threw off her thick covers and sat up. No point trying to get back that hour. The dream was gone. Buffy was gone. Dawn was here.
There were bad days and marginally-less-bad days. This one wasn't off to a great start. Dawn's feet touched the soft carpet.
All was quiet. Willow and Tara must still be asleep. They'd had patrol the night before, must've gotten in late.
Dawn stood and stretched. Suddenly, an idea came to her. Why not make them breakfast for a change? It couldn't be that hard. It might even make her feel better.
She opened her door and stepped out into the upstairs hall, turning and heading toward the bathroom, eyelids heavy.
She passed another bedroom, door ajar. She turned to look inside and her throat became tight. There on her sister's old bed was the Buffybot. The grotesque mockery of her sister lay disassembled on the bed awaiting repairs.
"Still not feeling well, huh?" Dawn's eyes traveled up to the robot's face, but she couldn't hold them for more than a few seconds. It really was an incredible likeness.
Dawn made herself keep walking. She went into the bathroom and splashed her face with cold water from the sink. She stared herself in the mirror, water dripping from her face.
She remembered her sister's voice. "The hardest thing to do in this world is to live in it."
"Hey, now. No moping." Dawn had heard that if you smiled when you were sad, even if there wasn't much to smile about, it helped. Just the act of trying to be happy made you happier.
Dawn tried a smile.
Not quite right. Fake smiles always looked wrong. Dawn took a deep breath and closed her eyes. New tactic. She thought back to Monty Python and the Holy Grail the week before with all the Scoobies.
"'Tis but a scratch!"
She looked into the mirror again. Now there was an actual smile, she'd be damned if she wasn't feeling a bit better too.
"Make them proud," she whispered. Her mantra.
Make them proud.
She thought of her mother and her sister. Water dripped off of her. She toweled her face dry. Time to face another day.
Have I healed any more? Am I done yet? How much longer?
For a second the thought of waking up like this, of an endless series of mornings like this, threatened to swallow her. She stepped out of the bathroom and tried to leave her dark cloud behind.
One foot in front of the other.
It's how she survived.
She made her way downstairs into the kitchen. The sun shone through the window over the sink, making the tiles sparkle. It was looking like it'd be a beautiful day.
She hated it a little.
What to make? Her culinary experience included being able to layer sandwich ingredients between pieces of bread, and being able to pour both milk and cereal into a bowl simultaneously.
How about eggs? And pancakes?
Those should be easy enough. She'd seen them made a thousand times.
A few minutes later, she was proven wrong. The smoke alarm went off. Her hands dripped with butter and yolk. She thrust a sizzling frying pan under the faucet and watched the water run in clear and run out charcoal black.
She winced when she heard hurried footsteps down the stairs. Tara and Willow burst into the kitchen.
"Dawnie?" Tara was looking around at the mess on the kitchen counters.
"I, uh…" Dawn said, speaking up to be heard over the incessant screech of the smoke alarm. "tried to make breakfast for you guys. It didn't go exactly as planned?"
Willow and Tara stared at her, and then they smiled.
"Well," Willow said, "it's the thought that counts."
Dawn felt an almost painful surge of affection in her chest for the two women who had moved in to look after her following Buffy's death.
Willow pulled a checkered dishcloth off the oven handle and started waving it in front of the smoke alarm.
Dawn turned to the faucet, still running, and washed off her failed attempt at breakfast. She turned around to see Tara staring at the ceiling, splattered with viscous gobs of goo that occasionally dripped to the floor.
"Oh," Dawn said, "they really should put a warning on the whisk. Why does it even need a setting that high?"
Willow grunted in frustration as the smoke alarm continued to chirp tauntingly. Willow stretched her arm towards it, fingers contorted in a strange shape. She spoke a word and the alarm abruptly sparked and went silent.
Dawn saw Tara frown and turn to Willow. A familiar pit opened up in Dawn's stomach. She felt a fight coming. She'd gotten more than enough of that with her mother and father, thank you very much.
"So, how was patrol?" Dawn asked as Willow turned back around.
"Oh,it was a rough one." Willow's hand went to her side automatically and she winced.
Dawn saw Tara's face morph from annoyance to concern.
"Does it still hurt, baby?" Tara walked over to Willow and placed a hand on her shoulder.
"Nothing some ice and some kisses won't fix." Willow gave Tara a sultry smile and they leaned into each other.
That was more like it.
"Rough patrol huh? Lot of vamps?"
Willow and Tara gave Dawn a pensive look and then looked at each other.
"A few," Willow said.
"But you guys got them all, right?" Dawn prompted.
"Yeah." Tara's eyes kept shifting.
"It's okay, you know?" Dawn said. "Buffy never let me go on patrol, but she could still talk about it."
Sometimes...usually so I'd stop bugging her about it.
"We know." Willow said.
"This whole week must've been hard," Dawn continued, "with the Buffybot out of commission."
Dawn saw their faces become pensive. They were onto her.
"I'm just waiting for a few specialty parts to come in, she should be up and running again soon." Willow said.
Dawn swallowed to steady the hammering of her chest. Now or never.
"Still, we don't know how long that'll take...I could probably, you know, help out."
Tara sighed. "Oh, sweetie. You know we can't let you do that."
"Why not? Guys, I'm fifteen now. That's how old Buffy was when she was Called, and she, Xander and Willow were only a year older when they started fighting monsters."
Tara opened her mouth to speak again, but Dawn charged through.
"It wouldn't have to be up on the front lines. I could provide support from the back. Like, logistics stuff, or research, or coordinating...things. Guys, I can help!"
I need to help.
"Dawn," Willow said.
From her tone, from that look full of compassion and understanding, Dawn knew it was over. She'd failed again. They trotted out the usual parade of half-apologetic excuses and reasonings. Dawn wasn't really paying attention.
"Fine," she said.
Tara's soft smile was breaking her heart. "Come on sweetie, why don't you go get ready for school. I'll make us all some pancakes and you'll feel better after that."
Dawn looked around the kitchen. "Xander'll be here soon. Let me help you guys clean up my mess and then I'll go get ready."
Dawn left the kitchen, trying not to show her hurt on her face. They didn't deserve that. They just wanted to protect her, she knew that. But trouble always seemed to find her anyway, and if they wouldn't let her help them, she could at least get out of the way.
Now that she thought about it, she was pretty sure there was going to be a quiz today in math that she hadn't really studied for. They were like, two weeks into the school year, who quizzes this early?
This day was starting off just super-fantastic. Thank god for Fridays.
Or, as Willow insisted, more accurately, since Friday came from the goddess Frig-
Thank goddess for fridays.