The Many Colors of True Heroes
Author's notes: This is a Buffy/Lois and Clark crossover. I'll be posting the chapters over the next few weeks as I complete some edits on them.
This is set post-Chosen and it's Spuffy later.
Both Lois and Clark and Buffy have canon alternate universes. I thought it would be interesting to find out what would happen if Lois and Clark's Superman ended up in the Buffyverse ... (of course, the Buffyverse has to have its own Kal-el and Lois as well!) Clark has a very different set of ethics from Buffy and I thought it would be interesting to contrast and compare the two characters.
To the RuroKen fans who are probably going, "But, but, but, what about Walk Not Alone?" this is NOT being written in the place of Walk Not. It was written months ago and I'm just now getting around to fixing a few things and putting it up. :)
The city in summer was nastily hot, lacking in any sort of cooling breeze, and stiflingly humid. The elevator to Lois's fourth-floor apartment smelled like a locker room. Buffy reflected that she missed Sunnydale, where air conditioning was considered a necessity of life. Metropolis, by contrast, was a typical Eastern seaboard city, which meant most of the buildings had been built before central air conditioning was invented.
"If this weather gets any hotter the vampires will just poof into ashes all on their own," Willow observed as they stepped out of the elevator on the fourth floor.Willow's red hair was damp with sweat; Giles, on the other side of her, was flushed and breathing heavily. He mopped at his face with a handkerchief; idly, Buffy wondered what it would take to get him to give up his tweed. An act of a God, probably.
Apartment 410, Lois's apartment, was at the end of the hall. As they approached Buffy noted the multiple locks on the door with mild amusement. Lois didn't have much to worry about as far as bad guys went. And anything that would be a threat to Lois wouldn't be stopped by a few (dozen) locks on a door. But she supposed old habits died hard.
Buffy knocked on the door, after another glance at her companions. Giles' jaw was set in what she recognized as his stiff-upper-lip mode; Willow was unreadable. Giles didn't like Lois much, but 'not liking Lois's described half of Slayer Central. The other half, including Willow, just hadn't met her yet.
As for herself, Buffy figured there were people she'd rather be fighting with, but this was Lois's city and she could deal with her. She'd worked with far worse.
The locks rattled and clicked and then the door opened. A gust of blessedly cold air swirled out around them. Lois was shorter than Buffy -- which was saying something, because Buffy wasn't exactly tall. Brown eyes, straight black hair cut short, and a mouth that was set in a frown of displeasure. "Buffy, you're here -- is anyone else coming?"
Her tone of voice indicated, Finally.
"We came as soon as you called," Giles said, "But the flight was delayed in New York. We'll call for more reinforcements if we need them."
"Come ..." in, Lois started to say.
"Ah!" Willow cut her off, making Lois blink in surprise and look mildly offended. "Never invite anyone in. Just open the door and see if they walk through it."
"Vampires. Right." Lois sounded annoyed at the reminder. She held the door wide, and the three walked into the apartment. It was neat, except for stacks of books and paperwork on Lois's coffee table. Some of the books were old, some glossy and new. There were also several empty coffee cups, half a cold pizza, and two empty two liter bottles of diet coke.
"Research?" Giles said, picking up a book. He frowned at it. It was a history of Metropolis.
"For my novel. Which, I might add, is due next week." Lois sounded downright angry. She claimed the book back from Giles. "If we can't deal with this vampire problem in the next couple of days I'm going to miss deadline. Then we can forget about some random boogeyman in a dark alley killing me; my editor will do the job himself."
"Killing vampires ..." Giles started to give what Buffy recognized as the infamous 'your Chosen duty is sacred' speech.
Buffy cut him off. Lois also recognized the speech by the look in her eyes; she had undoubtedly heard it before. If not from Giles, then from Faith or Andrew. Buffy spoke up to forestall an argument. She pointed out, "Killing vampires doesn't pay the bills, Giles."
Lois made a face. "Not on the salary you people give me. As grateful as I am for this apartment I need to make this deadline."
Buffy grinned, trying to put the other Slayer at ease. Lois was giving off unmistakably irritated vibes. Lois always seemed like one of those little tropical blowfish to Buffy -- annoy them and they puffed up and blundered around with spines sticking out. "I hear you there. I had to take a job at the Double Meat Palace to make ends meet a few years back. Then, I didn't get any wages at all for Slaying because Slaying was our 'sacred chosen duty'."
"How did you work a day job around your Slaying duties?" Lois asked, curiously. Lois-the-Blowfish had deflated, Buffy noted with relief. Lois walked over to her computer and started shutting it down. "At least with writing, I can drop everything and go kill what needs killing."
"She didn't," Willow said, with a laugh. Buffy and Giles both grinned, too, at the shared memory. "She got fired."
Lois said, eyes widening a bit, "Really?"
"Really." Buffy said, ruefully. She sobered. "So what are we facing?"
"The usual," Lois said. She was grumpy again. "A potentially world-ending apocalypse."
"Gee, almost makes you wish that the bad guys would try something else for some variety," Buffy said, voice laden with sarcasm.
"The bad guys are vampires, they've stolen some kind of magic book, and it had instructions in it to open a portal to a hell dimension. It's safe to say that they're going to pull something very nasty through," Lois snapped. She obviously failed to see what Buffy found amusing and her spines had come out again. Buffy chalked that up to Lois being a newbie. If she survived long enough, she, too, would learn to snark at the end of the world. Also, she'd learn that 'magic book' and 'portal to a hell dimension' were fairly minor problems, all things considered. Lois continued, "The vamp running the whole ring's got some pretty major mojo; he's nearly killed me twice."
"You were smart to call us," Giles said, giving her a smile. She didn't return it, and the warm expression slipped off his face. His eyes narrowed at her, and Buffy shot him a worried glance. She didn't need friction between Lois and Giles to escalate beyond mutual cold shoulders. Lois turned her attention back to Buffy, without acknowledging Giles' scowl.
"The stakes are too high on this one to risk losing. So I called you guys. I was expecting more people, frankly." Lois sounded displeased that a small army hadn't shown up at her beck and call.
Willow and Buffy exchanged a look. Buffy said, with a small smile, "I think the three of us can handle a few vampires, mojo or not. Giles will help with any research we need ... Andrew has some of the other girls on standby in Cleveland if we need backup, but they're needed more there, really."
"Hellmouth acting up again?" Lois asked, with an obvious attempt at polite conversation.
Buffy shrugged. "Just the usual. Nothing new. We're still trying to find a way to close it ... without a big mess this time."
"I heard you lost some people when you closed the Hellmouth in Sunnydale," Lois said, quietly. She sounded more human now and less brittle; Buffy looked sharply at her, noting the change in her voice. So there was someone human under that prickly exterior! "Faith told me a bit about what happened, when she found me last year."
Faith had found Lois hunting demons on her own, without ever having heard the title "Slayer." Lois had followed her instincts into dark alleys all on her lonesome. The impressive part, Faith had said, was that Lois had been killing vampires before Willow's spell had turned every Potential in the world into a Slayer. The woman was apparently quite the martial arts expert. When she'd become a Slayer, about four years ago, she'd simply gotten more effective at demon killing.
Buffy nodded briefly. She didn't really want to talk about Sunnydale, and she was conscious of Willow who had gone silent and still beside her. Giles was unusually stiff-upper-lippish as well. None of them liked to think of the last days of Sunnydale. "We lost some good people in that fight. Hopefully, Cleveland will go better. Also, less hole-in-the-groundish. We're trying to be discrete this time. At any rate -- let's go kill some vampires."
"Willow, you take out the baddy with the magic. Lois and I will clean up the rest of them," Buffy said, voice low. The three women were crouched behind some anonymous crates in an anonymous warehouse. A train whistle blew somewhere close by; the vampires paused briefly in their incantation until the sound lessened.
Willow nodded, and wiped sweat from her eyes. Though the sun had set half an hour ago it was still stifling hot. As far as the fight went, this was going to be strictly bush league stuff. Lois was outclassed but Willow smugly thought that her own powers would be overkill in this fight.
There were six vampires; the vampire warlock was the tallest, and by far the most ugly. He was old, and his features showed it. He no longer looked human as he had cloven fingers and a misshapen face. He reminded her of the Master and once upon a time that would have been enough to give even Buffy a good case of the wiggins. Not anymore -- and, Willow thought with quiet pride, that was at least partially because she was here.
The remaining five vampires were younger, though they moved around the pentagram on the floor with confidence that spoke of a certain amount of experience. No challenge for two Slayers.
A human girl was bound and gagged on the floor next to the vampires. Her eyes were huge, and she was sporadically struggling to escape.
Willow whispered back at the Slayers, "They'll need blood spilled in the circle to get things going with the spell. It's a pretty basic portal spell, but it takes some talent to fire it up ..."
She squinted at it, and added after a moment, "Very basic, actually. It's an anonymous call for 'great evil' from another dimension. But it is potent; they'll probably pull through something pretty apocalyptically icky if we don't stop them. And they're getting close to finishing the spell."
"What are we waiting for?" Buffy murmured, then stood up and said, "Hey! Ugly! Did you forget to invite us to your party!"
The warlock promptly fired off a bolt of energy in Buffy's direction, without any apparent hesitation or comment. Willow had been waiting for that and flung up a defensive shield; energy scattered in ten directions at once. She was surprised at the vampire's power; vampires normally weren't bright enough or motivated enough to be potent magic users. This vamp was obviously one of the exceptions.
She reached into the bones of the earth and turned the earth's heat into a gout of flame around the vampire, intending to end this quickly. He was ancient and therefore dangerous and she didn't want to give him time to think about doing anything unusually nasty. He countered with a force field of some sort that turned the fire back at her; she ducked behind the crates with a squeak of surprise. The crates started burning. The vampire didn't, which astonished her. That spell always worked against vampires -- even ancient ones.
Dimly, she was aware of the two Slayers fighting with the other vampires. The vampires who were holding their own. They were old, and moreover, they knew how to fight. It had been a very long time since she'd seen Buffy even slowed down by mere vamps.
Willow mentally flipped through magical options that might work to defeat the vampire. He wasn't nearly as powerful as she was, but his age made her very wary of prolonging this fight. Lightning, maybe ... she reached into the atmosphere, swirled together a charge from a starry night sky, and slammed it through the roof of the warehouse -- and to her disgust, she missed. The vampire deflected the charge at the last minute and it hit a window high on the wall. Glass rained down on all of them; the vampire's captive yelped in pain around her gag.
Buffy was fighting three-on-one with the master vampire's followers. Lois killed one; Willow didn't see the other and assumed it was dusted. Lois ran to the captive and cut her loose from her bonds, and gave her a shove in the direction of the exit.
Willow saw that the pentagram lay between the exit and the captive. She shouted, "No!" too late, too late ...
The girl stumbled into the circle and fell. And she was bleeding from the glass ... blood dripped onto the ground in the middle of the circle. Green fire roared around her, killing her instantly. The portal was open. Willow's stomach turned over in nauseated horror as the stench of burning flesh, smoke, and brimstone filled the air.
The vampire warlock shouted a hoot of triumph. "Now you'll all die!"
"Gotcha!" Willow levitated one of the burning crates at him, at freight train speed. He smacked into the wall, crunched by burning wood, and poofed out of existence. Sometimes brute force was all it took.
"Idiot," she muttered, turning her attention to the portal. Now she had to figure out a way to close it before the nasty they'd summoned came through.
"Willow!" Buffy said, "Look out!"
She ducked, as the fifth vampire -- apparently not dead yet as she'd assumed -- swung at her with a board. And now she could feel something ominous coming through the portal. Something she really didn't want to fight with, unprepared as she was. She ducked another swing from the vampire, and came up with a fast and dirty solution to the portal.
She bolted towards the spell circle, and hastily erased several runes with her foot while dodging attempts by the vampire to catch her. Thank you for using chalk, Willow thought at the late vampire master. The spell hiccupped, sparks arced around the rafters of the warehouse, and she felt raw energy building ... now it was going to simply blow like a nuclear bomb if she didn't give that energy an outlet. The vampire grabbed for her; she ducked, levitated him airborne, and pitched him over her head into the fire roaring around the portal opening. He poofed.
She reached in her pocket, found a bit of chalk, and penciled in three new runes, standing for "bring great good."
Now the spell was set to snag them a force of great good. Much better, she hoped, than a force of great evil. Though the force of great good was undoubtedly in for a surprise.
A vibration started, from within the earth, but she didn't have time to stop and watch what came through the portal. Lois was in trouble, fighting two on one -- Willow incinerated one, and simply tripped the other, and Lois managed to stake him when he stumbled towards her. Two down, two to go.
One of the vampires that Buffy was fighting was very good. With a pang of memory, Willow realized his fighting style was very similar to Spike's. He'd obviously studied and internalized multiple disciplines; he was giving Buffy a real challenge. The other vampire charged at Lois.
"I'll get him! See to the spell! Shut it down!" Lois shouted at Willow.
"I can't!" Willow protested. "It'll go blooey! But I fixed it ..."
The noise died down, the fire faded, and with a whuff of displaced air, a man appeared in the center of the pentagram. Willow stared, fighting mild disbelief. She'd been expecting an angel, or some kind of minor godling for the force of good.
This was ... she stepped closer to him, brow wrinkling in confusion. This was a man. He looked human, though he couldn't possibly be mortal. He sat on a desk chair that had come through with him, looking a bit befuddled. His hands were raised as if he'd been typing on a keyboard when summoned. He had on glasses that were several years out of style and he wore a brown suit, also several years out of style, and a loud tie, and a badge hanging off his lapel that said "Press" in bold black letters. Mussed dark hair fell forward in his eyes, which were puppy-dog brown.
He stood up, moving with startling athleticism for someone who'd just been yanked across dimensions. He was surprised, but apparently not particularly disoriented. The guy had broad shoulders and the suit fit him very, very well. Willow realized he was quite attractive -- and not her type, but she fully expected a couple of slayers were going to be very impressed when they mopped up after the vampires.
He looked at her, wordlessly. Then he turned his attention to the Slayers, who had cornered the vampires against the wall and were beating at them with bits of splintered crates, trying to get killing blows in. Both vampires were looking the worse for wear.
The man glanced down, noted the charred dead body -- the girl they'd been unsuccessful in saving -- at his feet, and went several shades of pale. Suddenly, he moved, running with impressive speed. To Willow's horror, he grabbed both Slayers by the backs of their shirts and yanked them off the vampires. He jumped between the vampires and the Slayers, a hand held out towards each group in a "stop" motion.
"Just what is going on here?" He growled, staring first at the vampires -- who were in full game face -- and then at the Slayers. There was authority in his voice.
And then he froze, wavering, staring at ... Lois? Willow thought she saw the man mouth Lois's name with an expression of shock on his face.
"Out of the way!" Lois yelled at him, "Are you insane!"
The vampires did the predictable thing, which was attack him. He obviously didn't know anything about vampires, because one easily got past his startled attempt at defense and bit him.
"My fangs!" The vampire recoiled with a howl. The vampire was bleeding from the mouth. From the vampire's pained expression, the blood was not the stranger's.
"He bit me!" The stranger said, sounding more astonished than frightened. Belatedly, he added, "Ow!" He clapped a hand over his neck. There was no blood on his skin.
Buffy shoved him aside, and impatiently dusted both vampires. The man continued to stare at Lois, with brief glances towards Willow, the pentagram on the ground, and the dead body. His expression was more confused now than when he'd come through the portal.
"Hi," Willow said, walking over. "I'm Willow Rosenburg. This is Buffy Summers. And that's ..."
"Lois Lane," the man breathed out. He blinked, shook his head, and straightened up, shoulders squaring. "I'm Clark Kent. And I take it this is another dimension, correct?"
Willow raised an eyebrow at him. "Exactly right."
"Gee, what was the giveaway?" Buffy grumbled, picking a stake up off the ground and shoving it in her pocket. "Willow, do we need to slay this guy too? Because he's awfully cute."
"You ... d-don't know me?" Clark said, in an odd tone of voice, to Lois. He was staring at her like she had grown a second head.
Lois tilted her head sideways, studying him for a moment. "Nope. I'd remember a face like yours anywhere."
Clark smiled, though it looked like a strained smile.
"No, don't kill him," Willow said. "I changed the spell. It pulled through a force for great good, not a force for evil. Umm. I think."
"Wil, he's a reporter," Buffy pointed out, with some consternation. She pointed at Clark's badge, hanging from his suit lapel. "You snagged a reporter with that spell. See? It says 'Press.'"
"Oh." Clark unclipped the badge from his suit and stuck it in his pocket. "Yeah. I was covering a political rally in Metropolis; they wanted all the reporters to wear badges. I work for the Metropolis Daily Planet."
"The who?" Lois said, blinking. "Must be a small paper."
"... and I take that to mean it doesn't exist in this universe." Clark scratched his head and adjusted his glasses. His hand had a wedding ring on it. "Umm, can I ask what's going on here? And what were those creatures?"
"Vampires," Willow said, helpfully. "We just stopped them from creating an apocalypse."
"... You were fighting vampires." He stated, doubtfully.
"Vampires," Willow said. "Lois and Buffy are Slayers. I'm a witch. And don't worry, we'll get you home again, but I'll need to do a bit of research to figure out how."
"... Slayers." He was staring at Lois again, a frown on his face. "Slayers fight vampires."
"Vampire Slayers, that's us," Buffy said.
Somewhere nearby a police siren sounded. Willow winced. "Ack, the cops are on the way. We were a bit noisy fighting those guys. Let's get out of here!"
"Shouldn't you give a statement?" The man started to protest.
"Are you nuts?" Buffy grabbed his elbow and propelled him towards the door. Willow saw her muscles bunch; apparently the man was stronger than he looked, because he was resisting her efforts to hustle him away. His eyes widened, perhaps in reaction to Buffy's strength -- Willow suspected from her stance that she was putting considerable muscle into shoving him along. Normally, that much Slayer-strength would have sent the man flying into the nearest wall. "The vampires' spell killed that girl and now there are no vampires; the cops are going to pick the easiest explanation, which is that we did it! Go!"
The man moved, then. Willow got the distinct impression that he decided to allow Buffy to shove him along. They ran for the door and down the dark industrial street. Willow noted that the man had no problems keeping up with two Slayers; Willow's own lungs felt like they were about to burst before they reached the safety of a dark alley a mile away. He wasn't even winded.
Not human, she concluded, as she watched him. He wasn't even sweating despite the sweltering temperatures. She could feel trickles of perspiration running down her own face, and her shirt stuck uncomfortably to her back. I don't know what you are, buddy, but I doubt that spell would have chosen a human man. You're something Other.
"Willow, are you okay?" He asked her, brows knit in concern, when they stopped. The Slayers were obviously fine, but she had a stitch in her side and she was dying of the heat and humidity and she wasn't bothering to hide it.
"Yeah, I'm fine," Willow grumbled, hands propped on her knees and breath harsh in her throat. "I'm just not a Slayer. I'm a witch. 100 human."
"You're a magic user," he said, carefully. His brow was furrowed in doubt and dismay.
"Strictly on the side of the light, these days," Willow said, in what she hoped was a reassuring tone. She grinned at him, and was rewarded by a flash of a smile that lit his face up. Whatever he was, he wasn't particularly alarmed by being yanked through a portal and deposited in the middle of a fight with vampires and three women -- none of whom were normal women. "C'mon with us and we'll fill you in on the whole story and figure out how we're going to get you home."