Author: Kain

Title: Bright Lights

Disclaimer: I own nothing. The character's of Buffy, Angel, and any other show that are unfortunate enough to be used here belong to other people.

Spoilers: Anything and everything is fair game as far as I'm concerned. After the end of Buffy, Angel, and Roswell, between season three and four of Smallville, and a slight alteration to the end of Spider-Man 2.

Summary: Peter left New York before Mary Jane's arrival at the end of the movie heading someplace quite and peaceful where he won't be tempted to use his powers and draw attention to himself. The Roswell gang, after dealing - permanently - with the F.B.I.'s special unit come to Smallville to investigate the alien script that has been cropping up all over the town. Oh yeah, Lex has a mildly psychotic little sister named Faith, that he just aimed at Daddy dearest.

Pairings: Unknown. Haven't thought that far ahead.

Rating: PG-13. Language, violence... blah, blah, blah.

Feed Back: Is always appreciated. Just try to keep it constructive.

Archive: If you like it that much, sure. Just Be sure to let me know where it's going, and give me the credit, good or bad, for my work.

Chapter One: Somewhere I Belong

Her heart pounded in her chest as she raced up the creaking stairs of the run down tenement house. They groaned alarmingly under her slight weight, but managed to hold her. How she didn't know, nor did she give the fact an abundance of thought.

Fifteen minutes ago she had almost made the biggest mistake of her life. At least it felt like it would have been the biggest mistake of her life. If she had gone through with wedding she just knew the "what ifs" would have haunted her the rest of her days.

Standing in the Cathedral s dressing chamber, waiting for the wedding march to play, it had all become so clear. Like a light had been flipped on, or a bell had suddenly tolled marking the hour.

Quite simply it was an epiphany.

And she just knew what was right for her.

It wasn't a wedding. It wasn't a marriage to a man she more then liked. but didn't love.

She just knew it.

So she ran. She took a cab. She did what ever was necessary to get here. She hadn't even bothered to change out the white wedding dress she was wearing.

And here she was. Standing in front of the door that opened the apartment of the man she loved. Has loved for as long as she can remember.

Chest heaving.

Lungs burning, laboring for breath.

Hand poised to knock on the frail looking piece of wood standing before her.

"If you're looking for Parker," a bitter, nasal voice with a deep middle European accent said, cutting through the air. "He's already gone."

Mary Jane blinked rapidly as she whirled around to face the voice that had spoken. "What?" She blinked again, dismay written on her face, confusion in her voice. "What did you say?"

The landlord had already began moving away. He stopped at her question, twisting his stooped back around to look at her. "Parker," he started as the rest of his body followed his head around. "Shipped out of here..." he paused for a moment "...not more then half an hour gone by now. What s the matter? Something wrong with your hearing. Pretty girl like you. What d you want with Parker anyway?"

A thousand thoughts rushed through her mind between one heartbeat and the next. Though only one stuck in her head, "Peter's gone? How can Peter Be gone?"

He shrugged. "What do I look like, information?" The snap in his voice was there more form habit. "He paid his rent, then he tells me he has to get out of the city. Something about the girl he loved marrying some other fellow and needing to give her, her space. Nonsense if you ask me. Stalked is more like it, and she finally got tired of it."

Mary Jane gasped softly, giving a start, her hand going to her mouth as she stumbled back.

Peter had left because of her

The very thought made her tremble. Her heart shattering into a thousand shards at the very thought.

Her back hit the wall with a soft thud. Hot tears streamed down her cheeks as she slid down the dingy wall. Dark dirt stained the back of her white dress as she sunk to the floor.

The landlord, seemed to have finally caught a clue, said, "hey you wouldn't happen to Be that girl Parker was talking about?" His words fell upon deaf ears.

The only words Mary Jane can hear at the moment are the ones running riot in her head.

Why?

Why did I wait so long?

Why did it take so long to realize that Peter was the only man I've ever loved? Even half an hour. Better yet, last week. Right after he saved me from Dr Otto Octavian... Dr Octopus.

Why did I wait so very, very long.

The landlord gazed at the crying girl with hard uncaring eyes for a moment. A sour breath escaped her lips as his dark eyes softened with something akin to sympathy. Without really thinking about it, he climbed the old stairs unconcerned with either the creaking or the groaning. Placing an gnarled hand on her shoulder he gave it a reassuring squeeze. "Hey now, why you waste good tears on a no account lout like Parker for. If he wasn't smarter enough to hold on to a girl like you, then he doesn't deserve a girl like you. He doesn't deserve the tears you shed for him."

His voice continued to drone on and on. An odd counterpoint to Mary Jane's soft mournful sobs.

Peter curled his toes in his plain white sneakers. The had pack dirt road under his feet still felt alien to him; a city boy whose closest contact to the great outdoors was Central Park. A haven for the homeless, derelicts, and dregs that hovered constantly on the periphery of society.

Everyone knew they were there, but nobody ever saw them.

Never before has Peter stood on the ground and seen so much openness. Not even when he was swinging between towering skyscrapers. No matter how much open space was below him, he was surrounded by an ever changing landscape of glass, steel, and concrete. The one time when he was at the shore and looked out over the ocean and there was nothing but that great expanse of blue stretching from horizon to horizon, reaching on and on forever. Not just outwards but up into the sky as well, everything was just blue. This was similar, but it was a sea of grass that just went on as far as the eye could see.

Checking the help wanted ad in the paper again Peter made sure he was at the right address. The wooden sign, creaking softly as it swung back and forth, was worn with age, but confirmed he was at the Kent farm.

Carelessly folding the day old paper he shoved it into the old, but well cared for, supple brown leather back pack. Picking it up Peter slung it over his left shoulder. It had been Uncle Ben s, from back when he had been a young man. He had bought it a few days before his twenty-fourth birthday, just before his discharge from the navy. Even though he hadn't used it in the years just prior to his death Uncle Ben had kept the worked leather in the best condition possible.

That was simply his way.

As he began the trek up the long driveway Peter couldn't help but miss Uncle Ben's strong, compassionate, and guiding hand. Has missed ever since he allowed it to ripped away. He could imagine all the different paths his life might have taken if he had done that one thing different. If he simply stopped that petty crook when the opportunity had first presented itself.

but he hadn't . He had made a choice to get even with a sleazy promoter and Uncle Ben paid the price. Paid with his life.

He imagined, but it didn't change anything. The world was the way it was and he had to live in it. Which included the fact that Mary Jane was now married to J. Jonah Jamison's son, Jack.

Just one more thing he had to deal with; get over and move on from.

That's why, even though he read the paper everyday - the classifieds mostly - he has yet to peruse the society pages. He felt no need to torture himself by reading about what a beautiful ceremony had taken place last week. He didn't need to read about the gala event to know it was a spectacle that would be written, talked, and gossiped about for months, if not years.

There was also the million dollar bounty Harry had on his head, on Spider-Man's head. Just because he wasn't advertising the fact didn't mean Harry wasn't putting the word out as to who the web-swinger really is. The man ran a multi-hundred million dollar company, if his fingers hadn't dipped into a few dirty pies since taking over OsCorp, Peter would be very surprised.

It was the reason why Peter was going under a false name, a name he doubted anybody would object to him using. Benjamin Reilly. Aunt May's maiden name combined with Uncle Ben s first name. Hopefully nobody would put the two together and track him down.

He supposed it didn't really matter if anyone found him or not. He was going back to New York a week or so before his classes resumed. Until then he needed to earn some cold hard cash. Which meant he was in desperate need of a job, maybe even two.

He knew it would have been easier to find a job in Metropolis, but large metropolitan areas were places he was trying to avoid right now. The temptation to use his power would too great, there would be too many people in need of his help, and he wouldn't be able to stand by, doing nothing. He would help. Then word would leak back to Harry, who had made it abundantly clear the only reason the world didn't know who Spider-Man was, was Aunt May. While Aunt May was alive his secret was safe. No matter how much Harry hated Spider-Man, and by extension Peter, he still cared far too much for Aunt May to destroy her with the news that her beloved nephew was nothing more then a cold blooded murderer.

For that, at least, Peter was extremely grateful. Not for himself, but for Aunt May. He could take whatever Harry, the world could throw at him, even a life prison sentence if it came to that. Not that he thought it would. Norman Osborne was the Green Goblin. If it came to it, Harry would find out exactly who is father had been, and his promise to an insane sociopath be damned.

He had never worked on a farm before and had no idea what the work would entail. Assuming he got the job. but Peter figured if he could swing through the city on a thin strand of webbing and fight madmen like the Green Goblin and Doc. Oc. Then he should be able the muck out stalls and chuck bails of hay.

He thought he could anyway.

"Hey there." A booming voice called out from the back of the house breaking him out of his walking musings. Lifting his head from the ground he had been watching, without seeing, Peter easily spotted the older man standing at the corner of the house. Despite the cane he was using to provide a little support, he still looked capable of accomplishing anything he set his mind to.

His dark blonde, soft brown hair was cut short, but its heavy curls gave it a wild untamed appearance. His face still possessed the features of a man still in the prime of his life. It was sun dark from spending long hours outdoors, with light gray, sometimes blues eyes - depending on the sun - but very intelligent, looking the world over. Keen, Peter would have called them. "Something I can help you with?"

Peter smiled broadly, engagingly so, as he eyed the fence. It wasn't extremely high, and even without his powers he could probably still clear. As long as I used a hoist. With his powers he could clear it by a dozen yards or so.

"I sure hope so!" The exuberance in his voice carried all the way to Jonathan. With a couple of quick steps, but not too quick, he reached the fence. His left hand grabbing gold of the rough post and easily vaults over the top rail. Landing with ease he continued his slow jog up the small embankment. "I saw the ad for summer help you posted in the Daily Planet..."

A sad smile touched Jonathan's eyes at the mention of the ad. A You probably should've called before coming all the way out here." Jonathan ran an appraising eye over the young man. He was definitely on the small side, at a little bit over five and a half feet tall and a hundred and sixty pounds soaking wet.

Peter lifted his shoulders in an indifferent shrug. "Probably," he agreed in a friendly voice.

"No offense, but you're a bit small for farm work." Jonathan tried to place the boys age, but had a hard time. His face was young, maybe no more then a junior or senior; seventeen at most. His eyes - clear, steel blue eyes - were older. There was pain buried not to deep in those eyes. There was also the wisdom of age. As if he had experienced more then a man twice his age.

Jonathan extended his right hand and Peter took it. "No offense taken," he responded tightening his grip on Jonathan's larger, work calloused hand.

His eyes widened slightly at the strength the young man was exerting with no real effort. "That's some grip you've got there?"

"I'm stronger then I look Mr..." Peter stopped not knowing who he was talking to. He let go of Jonathan's hand as if he just remembered he was holding it.

"Kent. Jonathan Kent." Swiveling his head as far around as it will go from left to right, he takes in as much of his land as he can before letting his eyes return to Peter. "This is my farm."

"Look, Mr. Kent... I'm not the biggest guy around, and I've never seen grass taller then the bottom of my shoes before; but I'm smart, a hard worker, a fast learner, and I'm not afraid of getting my hands dirty or doing the lowest most repugnant job you can think of." He paused taking a short breath before finishing with, "and I'm not above begging if I have to."

Jonathan can't help but smile at the boy's earnest approach. "Where are you from? Metropolis?"

"New York City." His answer was filled with a mix of emotions.

"New York," Jonathan said as his eyes widened a little hearing the answer. "You've come a long way to find a job," he added as he studied him once more. He wasn't able to decipher anything new. "What brings you all the way out to the middle of Kansas?"

He looked down at the ground. After just a few short minutes of talking to Jonathan Kent, Peter didn't want to lie to the man. There was a strength, a sturdiness to him that reminded Peter of Uncle Ben. but telling him the truth, "Hi, I'm Spider-Man, and I had to leave New York because the woman I love is married to another man, and my best friend hates my guts and wants me dead because he thinks I killed his father, who was really my arch nemesis, the Green Goblin, but he doesn't know that and I made a promise not to tell, so my life is a royal mess right now," wasn't going to go over all that well.

Maybe some vague version of the truth. "I fell in love."

"And she didn't love you back?"

Peter gave his head a little shake as he murmured, "no." Then in a stronger voice he went on saying, "she loved me back. Only I spent so much time sabotaging our relationship that she married another man..."

"So you decided to get out of town," Jonathan supplied. "You know, you can't run away from your problems."

Peter gave a small nod saying, "its not really running away. Its just going to be until the fall semester starts back up. I wanted to give her some time without me there as a distraction."

It made sense to Jonathan, in a morbid, self sacrificing way that reminded him of Clark and Lana. The secrets Clark kept from the girl of his dreams, that kept him from the woman he loved. "If you're going to working here I'm going to need to know what to call you."

As casually as possible Peter said, "Benjamin Reilly. Everyone calls me Ben," as he held out his right hand.

He took Peter's hand giving it a solid squeeze. "Welcome aboard Ben. Why don't you stow your pack in the front hall and I'll see what I can do about introducing you to everyone else."

A soft puddle of warm sunlight pooled around the Talon's entrance as the glass door swung shut behind the enigmatic Lex Luther. There were still three days to go before his father's trail and still there had been no attempts on his, or his friends' lives. Lionel Luther wasn't known as a man to take things lying down. He also wasn't a man who waited until after the fact before extracting retribution. He was very proactive when it came to making sure people got exactly what he felt they deserved.

Those facts had Lex on edge. Plus knowing that being around him put his friends in even more danger had Lex looking over his shoulder constantly.

Figuratively speaking anyway.

At this point it didn't matter if his father did manage to kill him. Arrangements had already been made and if he didn't make a very specific phone call, by a certain time each day, events would be put in motion that he didn't think God himself would be able to stop.

And no matter what Lionel Luther thought of himself, he certainly wasn't God.

He felt guilty in a way he wasn't use to. A way that made him feel dirty inside.

He simply pushed it down, someplace deep inside of himself. It was the one lesson Lionel Luther had managed to teach him. How to ignore his conscious when it served his purpose.

Lana was busy talking with two young women; either in their late teens, or early twenties. The strawberry blonde was a little taller and had a slimmer build then her raven haired companion. Her hair was cut short, but was still long enough to have a semi spiked, partially mused look to it. She possessed a world wary, cynical quality. A guardedness about her eyes that took just a little away from her overall beauty. None the less she was still a highly attractive young woman.

The brunette had a fresher, more innocent look. A naiveté. Her long, nearly pure black hair hung to her waist. Even though she was older then Lana, she seemed younger.

"Hey," Chloe greeted him buoyantly as she came up beside him completely unnoticed.

Lex smiled faintly as he turned to face the intrepid reporter. "How are you holding up Chloe?"

The tiny blonde shrugged indifferently. "One days pretty much like the one before. How about you?" She glanced towards Lana and the two women she was talking to. before Lex can answer she noted, "I see you were checking out the Talon's new owners."

Lex blinked in surprise. Unless they had somebody backing them Lex didn't think either one possessed the resources to buy the Talon outright, which would mean they had gotten financing that he didn't know about. Since all the local banks had been encouraged to keep him appraised of transactions concerning the Talon he would know if that was the case.

A rakish smirk slid over Chloe's lips as she watched Lex gazing at the two women. The young Luther always had a reputation as a lady s man, and from the look in his eyes he had already set his sights on his next target. A before you let your heart go all a flutter. Check out their ring fingers and the wedding bands."

Lex twisted his body back around to glance at Chloe with a rather blank expression dominating his features. For a brief moment he had no idea what Chloe was talking about. Then it clicked in his head and a wisp of an indulgent smile settled on his face.

By that time Chloe had already started talking again. "I figured they must be one of these new age couples. Got themselves a civil union, or maybe hopped the border with our northern neighbor and tied the knot."

"Or," Lex began forcefully, because he knew that was the only way to stop Chloe once she got on a roll. "Their husbands could be at work, on their way to pick them up. Any number of plausible explanations." He stopped as if he found something amusing. "New owners aside... I stopped in to make sure you were all right."

"Doing great," a sarcastically cheerful tilt in her voice. "Nothing like the specter of constant death hanging over your head to make you realize how much you haven t done. You seem to be holding up fairly well."

Lex shrugged, a small lifting of his right shoulder. "Let's just say when Lionel Luther is your father , you learn... quite young, that there are worse fates then death."

Chloe's eyes fill with the sadness and pity she knows Lex won't allow himself to feel, especially for himself. She continually forgets just how much turmoil the young man standing in front of her has survived and overcome during his life. That despite all the pressure, and Lionel Luther's influence, Lex has still become his own; strong willed, resourceful - and above all else - decent man.

"Hey guys," Lana greeted cutting into Chloe s inner musings. Her voice practically bubbled over with exuberance. "I'd like to introduce you to the Talon's new owners; Maria Guerin and Elizabeth Parker Evens..." she continued introducing the blonde and brunette respectively as they all shook hands. "...these are a couple of my closest friends; Chloe Sullivan and Lex Luther. Liz's parents owned a restaurant..."

"More of a greasy spoon... light on the spoon, heavy on the grease." Maria dead panned.

Liz rolled her eyes skyward as Lana paused for a moment. Sensing that Maria was done, for the time being at least, she picked right up where she had left off. "...in Roswell, called the Crash Down."

"Roswell," Chloe murmured as the word piqued her curiosity. "That wouldn't be New Mexico? Would it?" Something was tugging at the back of her mind. She made a mental note, reminding herself to go through her files and see what she had on Roswell. Smallville wasn't the only town that catered to the strange or the unusual.

"Yes," Liz answered as her soft brown, doe like eyes met Lex's intense gaze.

"And just to get it out of the way... Neither of us have ever seen a space ship or any little green men. Unless you count the time..." Her voice trailed off as a soft rose colored blush bloomed in her cheeks as she realized everyone's attention had settled on her. She coughed lightly, a little gasp as she said, "which really isn't important anyway."

Chloe's eyes lit up as she sensed an incredibly embarrassing, funny story just waiting to be soaked up. "Please go on."

"Don't mind Chloe," Lana put in with a friendly smile. "She the local busy body. She also runs the school newspaper, The Torch, which kind of makes the busy body part an occupational hazard."

"Hey," Chloe hissed with a fake snarl.

"Not to offend either of you," Lex began mildly, "but I'm a little curious about how a pair of young girls, such as yourselves, came up with the financing to purchase the Talon?"

"Don't look at me," Maria said with a shrug. "I'm terrible when it comes to finances, barely balance my checkbook kind of girl right here. Now Liz's hobby, Max... He's a real wizard with money. Sometimes, I swear to God... it seems like he can pull it out of thin air."

The little inside joke earned a chuckle from everyone present. Even Liz, who shoots her best friend a scathing glare. "Not to be rude Mr. Luther, but I don't see where that information is any business of yours." Liz said with iron in her voice.

Lex quickly reevaluated his opinion of Liz. She might seem soft and innocent to the casual observer, but there was steel underneath the surface. Not very far under the surface either.

"Actually Lex is my partner," Lana informed them haltingly. Not that she was ashamed of Lex being her partner, but that she hadn't told them to begin with. Only that was the way Lex wanted things.

"I'm sorry Mr. Luther, but we're not looking for a partner," Liz informed him.

"Lex, Mr. Luther happens to be my father. Not a very pleasant person, hence the impending prison sentence. And don't worry, I'm not looking for a partner either. My only interest in the Talon is helping a friend... same as now. You buy Lana out, you buy me out."

Liz held Lex's gaze for a few seconds. With a sharp nod she moved to the side a little and pulled out a chair as she said, "fair enough."

Maria sat down across from Liz, on the seat Lex had just vacated less then a minute earlier, once he was satisfied with her financial records. Liz slid the portfolio back into the soft leather satchel.

before asking, "what was it?" Maria had made sure that there was nobody close enough to overhear them. After nearly three years of training Liz had refined control of her abilities, as had Kyle, and while she didn't always see something when she touched an object - whether it was living or inanimate - most time she did. When it was bad she always became defensively aggressive.

Like she had today.

With a casually look around Liz made sure nobody was paying the slightest attention to them. A year and a half evading the F.B.I.'s special unit had taught them all how to read, not just a room, but the people occupying it as well.

That was before a bold raid on the unit's headquarters had them scattered to the remotest, most isolated locals on the planet. With no data to back them up - and altered personal records - the ones that didn't wind up dead or institutionalized, went were their orders sent them without so much as a whimper.

Knowing what Max, Liz, and the others were capable of sometimes sent a cold shiver down Maria's spine - even though she knew they would never use their powers to harm anyone - and remembering how callously she had been treated when she had fallen into the Special Unit's hands still turned her stomach inside out, probably would until the day she died. They made the Skins seem warm and cuddly, and Maria found she had a hard time summoning up any sympathy for them.

Liz's voice is nothing more then a whisper as she rushed her words together. "Lana's going to be back from Paris by the time school starts." Her gaze continued to lazily sweep the room, never resting in one place. Over the years she had trained her mind so she was able to manipulate her visions; slow motion, freeze frame, rewind - it was like having an incredibly sophisticated video editing setup, hardwired directly into her brain - allowing her to pick out details she would have missed a few years ago. "Lana was here, waiting tables... the calendar was turned to August, students were doing homework."

As far as Maria was concerned Liz kept too much inside, and she knew Liz well enough to recognize an evasive answer when her best friend gave one and she wasn't about to let Liz duck her. She smiled pleasantly and said, "that's all well and good Liz, but it really doesn't explain mean, hostile girl you turned into."

With a soft exhalation Liz felt some of the tension she had been holding drain away. "I can always count on you." Taking a sharp breath her gaze fell on Lex's back as he talked to Lana. He had apparently bought her story about Max winning a large sum of money in Las Vegas, and then how he managed to turn those winnings into a small fortune in the stock market. All the paperwork was legitimate so there wasn't any reason not to believe it. "It was strange... Lex was in a hospital bed hooked up to machines. He was in some kind of coma." She wiped moisture from the corner of her eye with the back of her hand as the images brought back memories of when her Grandmother passed away five years ago.

"That doesn't sound that different."

"That wasn't the strange part." Liz glanced back at Lex for a short instant then refocused her attention back on Maria. "The vision split. In one Lex died, I watched his funeral..." She had been surprised that there hadn't been more people in attendance, less then a dozen and several of them seemed enthused by the event.

"In the other?"

"Lex lived." Her voice held the cold hand of doom and she shuddered visibly. Not the reaction Maria had expected. But then Maria hadn't seen what Liz had. She hadn't witness Lex rise to the American Presidency. Didn't watch as Lex lead the world over the edge and into the abyss; see the corpses stacked in numberless heaps, the blasted ruins of cities around the world, the suffocating cloud of nuclear winter as it choke the life out of Earth.

As if the George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Tom Clancy aspects of her life weren't enough, somebody up there had to throw an all too healthy dash of Stephen King into the pot. At least there wasn't any Anne Rice or Raymond E. Fiest bubbling around in the stew that was her life. The last thing she wanted in her live were vampires, immortal humans, a family of incestuous witches, or all kinds of nearly omnipotent entities popping up in her life. Not that they wouldn't have added all kinds of spice to an otherwise uneventful existence.

"Have a good day ladies," Lex called out with a smile as he walked past.

"Take care of yourself Lex," Liz responded as he began to slip his sunglasses on.

Lex felt as if Liz had been warning him. As if she knew something was going to happen to him. This was Smallville, were weirdness and strange occurrences were the norm, not the exception. With a careless, but not all together carefree shrug Lex finished settling his glasses on his nose as he pulled open the door. The vague thought filed away, waiting for more data to be acquired before coming to any conclusions.

Wooden splinters covered the somber blue carpet all the way to the far end of the corridor where it t's out. The heavy oak door, that had once been a proper barricade to Giles Office, hung askew from its top hinge, its top screw.

Buffy gave the destruction an appreciative whistle. Her green eyes latched on to a large splinter that jutted out of the dark wood paneling even with the hollow of her throat. It was the size of a pen knife, small enough to fit in the palm of her hand.

Five minutes ago Giles had called her. He was rather frantic as he urged her to get down to his office with the utmost haste. His imperious tone alone was all the tiny blonde needed to make her drag her heels, but Faith had blown into her office. Figuratively speaking anyway. It looked as if it might have been literal in Giles' case though.

In the year since the destruction of Sunnydale the two oldest slayer had formed a friendship, of sorts. It was actually more of an alliance against the pest more commonly referred to as, the teenage slayers. They infested the Council Headquarters and training facilities like cockroaches, and while they weren't evil... they were teenagers.

It was a conspiracy of the highest order, or just the boundless efficiency of text messaging. If either of them became bogged down, or had managed to get themselves cornered by badgering adolescence, with their never ending questions; the other would swoop in, or maybe just phone, with urgent business that only they could deal with. Which mainly consisted of either lunch, possibly a brunch, or if it was night a light sweep of London.

She still found it amazing that her reputation alone could cause so many demons to relocate. It made a little more sense once Giles pointed out that she had; killed the Master, survived Spike, destroyed the Judge, averted Acathla from opening, prevented the Mayor's ascension, thwarted the Initiative and destroyed Adam, defeated Glory - the mad hellgod - while simultaneously turning Spike to the side of good, and finally stopping - at least for the time being - the First Evil.

Instead of holding a conversation, Faith simply stood in her office, fidgeting nervously as she practically strangled a thick sheaf of official looking documents. She didn't say anything and Buffy hadn't asked, but Faith looked intense. Like she was going to explode any second.

Looking at the hall Buffy was fairly sure she had. Disregarding the debris littering the carpet the tiny blonde took a casual stroll down the short corridor to Giles office.

Faith had left as suddenly as she had entered, and without the destruction she had obviously visited upon Giles sanctum. Buffy had known Faith wanted to talk, and for the first time their tentative, often strained friendship picked up right where it disintegrated nearly five years ago. She really hated the unspoken, "don't ask," policy that existed between them.

They could hang out, talk, have a good time so long neither one of them pushed that bond. Buffy found it amazing. She figured after five years the two of them would have learnt from the mistakes they made so long ago.

Obviously they hadn't .

As Buffy entered Giles libraresque office, she vowed all of that was going to change. She was going to sit the girl down and have a good long heart to heart with her about reaching out and helping a friend when you know they're in trouble.

Giles glanced up as Buffy gingerly opened the door and entered. "Ah, Buffy." Rising he moved around the massive, antique, hand carved mahogany desk that was loaded down with ancients books, large unrolled scrolls, and volumes of aged parchments.

She recognized almost the entire collection. Most dealt with the immortal, a being now residing deep in the bowls of the Watcher Council's rebuilt headquarters. Enscrolled with the strongest enchantments, bound with mystical chains, encased in a form fitted concrete casket, and lock inside an impregnable vault. Buffy didn't like it, but it wasn't like there were a lot of options when dealing with someone as amoral and vile as Angelus, as determined as Spike, and impossible to kill; hence the title, The Immortal.

"You wanted to see me?" She commented casually as she looked around the room. Aside from the door nothing appeared to be damaged. "Something to do with Faith, judging by the state she was..." she stopped, face going pale as she gasp, "oh god. I sound British. I so need to get out of this country."

A tiny wisp of a smile slipped onto Giles' face. While their relationship was nowhere close to what it had been in the past he was glad they were working things out. He expected it would never be what it had been prior to her death and resurrection, but at least that cold disdain she held him in after the destruction of Sunnydale had finally begun to thaw. It was a hefty chunk of work, especially on his part, but it was well worth it. So he worked at it, they both did.

He answered her question with a small nod as he picked up a folded piece of expensive paper. "Faith was here when this letter arrived for her," he said handing the sheet of paper to Buffy.

Reaching out she took the letter from Giles as she asked, "what does it say?"

"Its probably best if you read it for yourself." He stepped back giving Buffy a little more space. Giles didn't know if the letter held any validity or not, but it was better to read it for oneself, rather then hear as second hand news. It held more of an impact.

With a touch of trepidation Buffy eyed the paper warily - as if live vipers were somehow contained within - before flipping the piece of parchment open. The handwriting was crisp and clean and easily legible.

Faith,

You don't know me anymore then I know you. An extremely tragic turn of events that I had hoped to rectify, in person, with all possible haste, but sadly, if you are reading this then that most likely will never happen.

I should explain who I am, who I am to you, before I continue. If you aren't sitting down I suggest you do so. What I am about to tell you, while it may sound beyond belief, I assure you it is all true.

My name is Alexander Luther. Everyone calls me Lex though.

Since there is no easy way to say what I have to, I'm just going to go ahead and say it. I am your brother,

Buffy's head snapped up, her eyes instantly locking on Giles' face. "Is this true?"

The old man shrugged tiredly. "I don't know. The Council had never been able to trace Faith's linage. Her mother passed away when she was four years old. Faith herself almost died that same day. Some type of gas leak." Sliding his hands into his pant's pockets he gave his head a sad, rueful shake as he continued, "I don't even know if Faith remembered her birth mother or not. Considering her reaction to the documentation that came with that letter, I'd have to say yes."

Giles' voice was nothing more then a distant murmur to Buffy as she had returned her attention to the letter in her hand. She easily picked out the spot she had left off at.

half brother actually.

There's documentation enclosed that will verify the story I'm about to tell you. There is also I signed and notarized consent form that will allow you to run blood and DNA test between us.

What I'm about to tell you is a story as old as man, played out through history time and time again, so I'm just going to stick to the facts.

Twenty-two years ago, Lionel Luther, our father, had a five month long affair with one of his numerous and quite often, extremely beautiful, executives assistants, Taylor Wells. Your mother.

It wasn't his first such affair, and you're not unique as the only child to be produced by such an event.

The affair ended when Taylor told Lionel about the pregnancy, who of course wanted absolutely nothing to do with a second illegitimate child. It just wouldn't work with the empire he was cultivating.

Just like that Taylor was shipped off, given a hefty severance check each month for the next five years.

I don't know what changed. Maybe somebody was getting to close to the truth. He never did like the idea of an axe being held over his head.

Whatever the reason he felt it was time to remove the thorn from his side.

I'm sorry to have to be the one to tell you this, but it was your father that had your mother killed. I don't know why he spared your life.

Maybe he is human after all. I had never seen any signs of it before, but...

I suppose anything is possible.

Its hard to believe since he's now facing a life prison sentence for the murder of his own parents.

I really would have loved to have meet you, gotten to know you. If you're reading this though then there is every possibility that I'm dead.

Dad never was forgiving with the people he felt betrayed him.

I'm sorry that we'll never get the opportunity to meet. I don't know if we would have gotten along or even been able to stand each other. It would have been something finding out though.

Your brother,

Lex.

"Son of a bitch," Buffy growled despising this supposed brother for what he had just set in motion. "I've got to find her," she announced with a sense of dread settling in the pit of her stomach. She had an extremely bad feeling about this letter, as if it were the catalyst for some horrible, catastrophic.

"Dawn has already run a search on Lex Luther."

"Smallville," Buffy said as she re-scanned the letter.

Giles' eyes widen fractionally. He hadn't expected her to know that. And let her know as much when he asked, "how did you know that?"

"I do happen to watch the news Giles," she said with a playful smile. "You get information from it faster then a book. Lex Luther, son of Lionel Luther, is in a coma. Apparently he was poisoned a few hours after his father was convicted of murder. A young man, Clark Kent, disappeared after testifying against and Chloe Sullivan, another witness against Lionel Luther died in a mysterious explosion." She put extra emphasis on the word mysterious indicating she didn't think it was all that mysterious. She looked up seeing the look of amazement plastered on Giles' face. "I do watch the news."