Smallville and all of its related elements are copyright © 2001 - 2007 Tollin-Robbins Productions, WB Television and DC Comics. Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster.
Buffy the vampire slayer and all of its related elements belong to Fox, the WB and Joss Whedon.
Chapter One 5648
Buffy ran. It wasn't something that she loved to do—she even felt a little bit ashamed for having spun away from her opponent as she had—but it was something that she was good at. Even in her trendy Italian heels she could fly, and it wasn't like the vampire was chasing her. He was probably still limp against that wall; he was probably more shocked than she had been.
Despite the lateness of the hour she still had to push through the crowds, the cobblestone roads tripping her up every so often; the large stone in her pocket crashing against her leg every other step.
It wasn't possible: she knew it, and the vampire had known it. It went against the rules that Buffy had lived with since she had been called: when a wooden stake goes through a vampire's heart, it turns into dust and ceases to exist. She was sure that the rule wasn't, had never been, put the stake through the vampire's heart and the hole will seal itself up again.
The only other time she had seen something like that had been when Spike had been wearing the Gem of Amara, that green, shining ring—
She stopped running, her eyes widening as she reached into her pocket. Giles had given her the rock earlier that day, not as a gift, as such a pretty glowing stone might have been, but as a project.
I've no idea what it is or what it does, he might as well have been saying, so you figure it out. She had dropped the rock into her pocket and essentially forgotten about it, excluding when it occasionally accosted her thigh. She pulled it into the open and studied it—it was green and ridged, like it had been blown away from the rest of the stone.
She remembered the gem that Spike had worn; how it had glittered in the sun, how cocky and untouchable he had been with it on his finger. She remembered driving the stake home; it had punctured his sternum, and, instead of the feeling of relief rushing through her as he turned to dust, there was a feeling of dread as he smiled.
He had grabbed her hand and smirked. "Oh, do it again," he had said. "It tickles."
For the period of time she had stood there, the crowd around her had parted. The vampire, an attractive Italian boy, had followed her, swaggering like he ruled the world.
"Mi amour," he hissed. "I cannot be killed." He sounded astonished and proud, as if he had accomplished something that all others could not.
Before he had a chance to get any closer, before he could leech of the power from the stone, she drew a stake from her purse and threw it, barely taking time to aim. She ran again, this time faster, more urgently. She heard the people gasp in unison as the vampire turned to dust, and she ran faster. The gem of Amara had been the size of a pea and it had allowed the vampire wearing it to be unstoppable. The rock she now held in her hand was larger than her fist. She had to find out where it had come from.
She had to find out if there was more.
Smallville was often a dangerous town to live in. Since the first meteor shower, Smallville was known for its insane righteous killers, all of them convinced they were in the right, and most of them with strange abilities. Clark was therefore not shocked to hear screams coming from the alley outside the Talon. He had been helping his mother to close up, as only one with superhuman speed could, when the screams had breached the silence of the night.
As he sped around the corner it saw that it was not a usual dark-alley crime—it was not a mugging, a rape or a murder—it was a tall man, holding up the limp body of a woman, with his teeth sunk deeply into her neck.
Clark tore him away from her, throwing him against the wall of the building, before deftly catching the girl's flaccid body. He scooped up her legs, making sure that she was breathing, and trying to stop the blood flowing from her neck.
The man was standing again, and it was then that Clark was able to get a look at him. His brows were strangely furrowed, disfigured even, curving downward in a wrinkly, angry grimace. His lips were covered in blood, and protruding from under the stretched lips were sharp, jagged teeth.
A word escaped Clark's lips before he could stop himself. "Vampire…"
This one wasn't the same as Lana had been. At least, Lana's face hadn't twisted and contorted when she had drunk from Chloe. He turned away from it, wanting to get the girl to a hospital, but before he could move the vampire had thrown himself onto Clark's neck.
The vampire's scream was deafening in Clark's ear. It pulled away, continuing to scream, and Clark stared as its face shifted, becoming more human.
It was only later, when he was at the hospital waiting to hear how the girl was doing, that he felt something fall from the collar of his shirt.
It was a blood-covered fang.
"Giles," Buffy said as she pushed open his hotel room door, "the last time you showed me a pretty rock I got all sick and weak and then you sent a starving steroid-filled vampire at me."
"I did, I, I, rather, apologized and Buffy, I," Giles stuttered, pulling his glasses off and cleaning them nervously. "I did quit the council after that, and, rather…"
"All I'm saying," Buffy interrupted, "is that I should have known better than to take another rock from you." She let the green rock come crashing to the table. "Where did you get it from?" she demanded.
"An American friend of mine sent it to me," he said. "He said it had rather, interesting properties. He insisted that it weakened some rather bothersome creatures."
"If by weaken, you mean make un-slayable, then yeah," Buffy said. "Weaken."
Giles put his glasses back on. His brow furrowed, and he stuttered a bit before letting Buffy continue.
"Do you remember the gem of Amara?" Buffy asked. "I'm guessing that this is a big jagged-y stone of Amara. If there's more of it, and if word gets out to the vampire community that there's more of it… well let's just say even the whole bunch of Slayers-in-training we have at our school isn't going to be much help killing things that can't be killed."
"Oh dear," Giles replied. "I'll call the friend who sent it to me. He's an old friend of mine from when, well, my rather rebellious days."
Buffy took this time to call Willow, Dawn and Xander from their respective rooms—they were all, except for Giles, staying at the school that they had founded for training Slayers. It had been built on the location where the Watcher's Council had been, and been funded almost completely by an American company that was interested in the Slayer powers for analytical use.
They arrived together; all had been clearly surprised by Buffy's serious tone. Since Willow's spell and the destruction of the Sunnydale Hellmouth, they had all been on the down-low, not worrying about the world ending or excessive vampires roaming the streets. There were over fifty girls currently training at their school, and about fifty more doing field work with Faith around the world. The good-vs.-evil balance seemed to be seriously tipping in their favour, and they had all expected that it would keep up.
"We have a situation," Buffy said, as they entered. "So, we're going home."
"Home?" Dawn shrieked. "I just started university. That's not fair!"
Buffy winced. "I know, Dawn. I just started school too, remember? If you'd let me explain…"
"Yeah, sure, go ahead," Dawn said, flippantly. "Tell me why you're ruining my life."
"You all remember when Spike found the gem of Amara," Buffy started.
"My ribs never quite recovered," Xander said. "But Spike's not exactly a problem anymore."
Buffy flinched. "You didn't like him, I know," she retorted, "but he gave his life for us. He saved the world."
"There's lots of tension-y badness here," Willow intervened. "Maybe we could get to the second part of that sentence: the part about the ring that makes vampires resistant to sun, stakes and all that is holy."
"Giles gave this to me today," Buffy said, pointing to the green rock. "It might have been coincidence, but when I staked a vampire that was close to it, there was a really gross 'shloomp-ing' noise, and no dusty vamp, just a really damn cocky vamp."
Willow picked up the rock. She turned it all around, looking at every ridge, before muttering in Latin under her breath. "There's no magic on this rock. How do you know it had to do with the rock? Couldn't it have been something that the vampire did?"
"Long range stake-age dusted it."
Willow nodded and placed the rock on the desk. "It's not of any element that I immediately recognize, but I can have some tests done on it."
Dawn cleared her throat. "Can we get back to the part where you tear me away from all my friends? It's not like we can go back to Sunnydale, unless you're planning to pitch a tent in the crater."
"By home, I meant the great United States of America. That's where the rock came from, so that's where we're going. We can't risk any other vampires getting their hands on this."
Giles reentered the room. "I've just gotten off the phone with Morgan. The stone is a meteor rock from a town called Smallville, in Kansas. I'm afraid that there's a problem, rather, a, um, 'Big Bad', so to speak."
Several pictures, wet ink still glistening were placed on the table, next to the meteor rock. They were mostly dark shots of a dance club, with one face showing up in every one. The face looked amused, and Buffy wondered what the joke was.
There were a few others. One showed the same guy in a telephone booth, his shirt hanging open, and a scar covering his entire torso glowing an angry red. The last one was the boy sleeping, silk blue sheets all around him, the scar no longer radiating, just normal twisted flesh.
"His name is Kal," Giles said. "Morgan says that he is very dangerous. He briefly resided in Metropolis, the city where Morgan lives, and lived a life of crime. According to Morgan, this boy almost killed him. He's something more than human: stronger and faster; guns are harmless to him. The meteor rock," Giles nodded toward the rock, "weakens him immensely. Morgan suggests that we proceed with caution. He's offered to send his jet over to bring us to the Metropolis airport. We're leaving tomorrow."
Lex Luthor sat at his immense desk, and gazed at the European project files. In it was data on twenty or so girls: information about their strength, speed and agility, tests that had been run on their blood, brain waves and healing capabilities. Once again he read through the verdict of the tests, it was one that was impossible, yet it had been verified by countless of the leading scientists in the field.
These girls were several times faster and stronger than any normal human. He had watched on as they had lifted weight that trained men couldn't have lifted. Their strength increased exponentially when adrenaline was added to their systems.
Their immune systems were much more resilient than normal. They healed at a rate not humanly possible. Yet every single test agreed: they were human, and nothing more. Their DNA was disappointingly normal. Their blood tests came back clean: no drugs in their systems, no mutations in their DNA; even their white blood counts were exactly average.
He had to close the project. These girls could be trained assassins, body guards, or professional thieves with their skills, but they offered no scientific merit. Whatever made them abnormal, whatever made them extraordinary was not physical in nature. It was clear that their advanced abilities could offer no use to society. The more money he put into this project, into funding research and into backing their training school, the more money he lost.
Every project that the girls tackled, they did it with amazing force and efficiency. However, they also did it pro-bono, which gave Lex little to grapple with. If he couldn't make money from a project, then he would have to cut his losses and put his money into a more profitable front.
He had never been so close to a breakthrough before, and it made him sick that there was nowhere to go from here.
Just as he was about to dial the double doors of his office swung open and Clark walked through. Inwardly, Lex rolled his eyes; Clark always was one to make an entrance.
"Project 1138," he said, as way of greeting.
"We dealt with that," Lex said, his frustration making its way into his voice.
"A girl was attacked," Clark explained, "just outside the Talon. She was bitten. She's in the hospital."
"And she's manifesting the same symptoms that those infected with the virus did?"
Clark looked away, shifting his feet awkwardly. "No. She's responding well to the blood transfusions. But what other explanation is there?"
"With the exception of the existence of real, otherworldly vampires," Lex said, sounding amused, "there is none. I'll have some of my people on the lookout. Did you happen to get a look at him?"
"Male, early twenties, blond curly hair… skeletal looking; as if he were starving."
"Before you leave, you better take some of the serum with you. You have a strange habit of finding the bad guy before we do."
As Clark turned to leave, Lex called out, "You seem upset Clark. Is there something else you want to tell me?"
Clark tilted his head towards Lex, his body still facing away, his stance slightly hostile. "I'm just tired of seeing people get hurt," he replied. He turned his face towards Lex. "You can understand that, can't you?"
Clark was drawn back to the hospital; he couldn't get the picture of that girl, ashen and pale, out of his mind. Her skin had been so hold on his arms, and he couldn't imagine that it was possible for doctors to bring the life back into her.
It was still dark out, so Clark raced comfortably in the cloak of darkness, slowing only a few yards in front of the hospital before walking in.
As he approached the girl's room he realized that there was a voice from within, and stopped before the door. He sharpened his hearing, not wanting to walk in on a family member.
"I don't know if you're sleeping, or in a coma… I just had to come here. To apologize, you know. It's a painful thing, having this pounding, whispering thing inside of me, telling me that I'm wrong, that I'm bad; that I should suffer. So I kept away from humans, so I wouldn't feel their hearts beating, and no money to bribe a butcher, so I ate vermin."
Brow furrowed in worry, Clark looked through the walls. It was the monster that had attacked the girl, and he was sitting there, near the windows, as far away from her bed as was possible in the small hospital room.
"Pathetic, I know. As pathetic as Angel, with his brooding and guilt. I stayed away as best as I could, didn't I? But there were whispers among the demon world. Whispers of a stone like the one I found. I came here, to a city, and even at night, when I thought I could be alone, the hunger found me. It can cause a man to go a bit bonkers.
"And you were standing there, all alone, your little heart racing, but I never meant to hurt you. If that bloke hadn't come along, I still would have stopped, because I never could have lived with myself if I hadn't. Price of a soul then, isn't it? Paid quite a price for a woman who could never love me… didn't I?"
Clark flinched as the man stood up, but it looked like he was just heading toward the door.
"I'm sorry. I'm just doing what any murderer with a sudden soul would do… I'm looking for forgiveness."
Patrolling a new city always gave Buffy a new sense of purpose. The enemy didn't know she was here, so she had an extra element of surprise. The vampires always started to pile up in cities that she'd never been to, and big cities like Metropolis were often the worst.
She stared up at the humungous globe atop of the Daily Planet building, mesmerized by its shiny spinning gold-ness. It was then, concentrating on the orb above her, that she allowed all the nighttime city noises to fall away, and found herself focusing on a single, human sound nearby.
It was a scream.
Buffy ran around the side of the building, away from the brightly lit entrance, and into the darkened alleys. She advanced on the screamer: a dark-haired girl who was struggling against a bumpy-browed foe.
"Hey," Buffy yelled, slowing to a more collected pace. "Aren't boys supposed to like blondes better?"
The vampire looked up from the girl's neck. He hadn't bitten yet, and snarled at the intrusion. "Blondes not your thing?" Buffy asked. She was close now, her fingers curled tightly around the stake in her purse. "Maybe you'd like to at least earn your meal."
The vampire pushed the other girl away and punched at Buffy. She blocked his punch and countered with a kick to his head. A few well placed punches later Buffy had him pinned against a wall.
"It's not nice to prey upon little girls," Buffy hissed. She spun the stake in her fingers before grasping it deftly and plunging it into his chest. The dust fell around her like the aftermath of an explosion.
"Oh God," the girl said. She was sitting on the ground, just below Buffy, and she was shaking. Buffy offered her a hand.
"Are you hurt?" Buffy asked. She never enjoyed the end bit of saving people, which is why she preferred to patrol cemeteries. She could pick the vampires off like flies and never having to worry about accepting thanks from the helpless victims.
"No," the girl said, shaking her head. "No, but, God… it all seems so… familiar."
"It was a vampire," Buffy said. "You've seen one before?"
"Seen one… no, I was one."
Buffy laughed. "Was, like past tense?"
"Yeah, but I was cured."
"No, you see, being vamped isn't something you can be cured of. It's kind of… eternal-y."
The girl looked at Buffy with slanted brown eyes. "How did it just… turn into ashes like that? How did you fight it like that?"
"I'm the Slayer—a Slayer, I mean. Killing vampires is kinda what I do."
"This vampire… the one you just killed, it wasn't like the kind that I was."
"I'm thinking not."
The girl looked at her for a while longer, her eyes questioning. Buffy was starting to get impatient. She didn't save people to have conversations with them. She imagined herself, briefly, able to disappear into the night like Batman could. However, though she was strong and fast, she couldn't fly.
"My name's Lana Lang."
"Buffy. Buffy Summers. I'll walk you home if you'd feel safer. Then, you can explain to me exactly what kind of vampire you were."
Lana nodded. "I can tell you what I know, but I can't remember much. After having that thing attack me though, I feel suddenly very grateful that it's all a blur. I can't imagine the terror I must have caused people."
Buffy looked up, and just over the towering building she could see the globe. She remembered the time that she had tied up her friends and almost left them for dead. "We all have that feeling, sometimes."
As Spike exited the room, he felt a sudden rush of relief. If he couldn't see the girl anymore, if he didn't force himself to look at the damage he had caused, then he didn't need to think about it. He could let himself lapse back into that desperate insanity that he had been enjoying since he had left Las Angeles over a year ago.
"Hey," he heard, and an arm grabbed him from behind. Immediately, Spike made to strike, but despite his recent meal, he was still weak from his prolonged starvation. He stumbled, and looked up to see big green eyes in an angel's face.
"It's okay," the boy was saying. Spike could barely focus on him, his vision was becoming hazy; all the lights were too bright in the background. "Listen, we can cure you."
"Cure…" Spike muttered. "No, I can't be cured."
"You can be. I have the cure; I can make you human again."
Spike's eyes opened wide. "Human? You're… you're the Shanshu?"
The boy frowned, but he was reaching into his jacket pocket, and for a hallucinogenic moment Spike saw a magic, glowing wand, ready to put the humanity back into him. Surely, he deserved it. Angel had signed away his Shanshu, and Spike was the only ensouled vampire left.
And then it was plunged into his chest, and Spike screamed in pain. He could feel the sharp metal all the way into his heart, and the skin and tissue around it swelled. He could feel himself getting stronger, the wounds in his mouth healing; his shaking quelled. He had felt this powerful only once before: the brief time that he had worn the gem of Amara. It was liberating, it felt wonderful… but it did not feel human.
The feeling was gone as quickly as it had come, and he was left, feeling frightened and disoriented. He pulled the needle out of his chest and stumbled away. The boy, the one that had promised him Shanshu, he did not follow.
Twenty young women stared up at her. They were violent, rebellious and skeptical, just like Buffy had been when she had been younger. They were itching for action, and Buffy didn't doubt that they'd find it here.
"Only once before have we encountered something with these properties," Buffy began. "It was a ring that was dug out of the ground and worn by the vampire called William the Bloody, or Spike. I'm sure you've all read about him.
"When Spike wore that ring, he was impossible to slay. The sunlight didn't affect him. When staked, he healed back up instantly. We thought that the gem of Amara was the only one of its kind, but it turns out we were gravely mistaken."
She pulled out the meteor rock and held it up to them.
"The gem was a fraction of this size. And, according to Morgan Edge, there is a lot more of it. Two meteor showers worth, all of it in Smallville; this is where we're headed.
"I want half of you to stay here in Metropolis. There are no other towns on any other sides of Smallville, so the vampires will need to pass through here in order to get to the town. I want you on nightly patrols to thin the flow of vampires into the actual town itself.
"Giles' friend, Morgan Edge, will be providing you with hotel rooms. Once a week we'll meet to make sure that everything is going smoothly."
Buffy turned around to face the bulletin board she had set up earlier. On it was pictures of the biggest danger that they had to face: the demon Kal.
"He's supposed to be in Smallville now, but he's been known to be here, in Metropolis. He's the kind of demon that when you see him, you run. His skin is impenetrable, even by bullets, and he can move faster and stronger than you can imagine. It's unverified, but it's also believed that he can somehow channel fire. His one weakness is, ironically enough, the meteor rock."
Buffy exchanged glances with Willow, who stepped forward. "I've been studying the rock, and it appears that whatever powers the rocks have, they can be muted, or even extinguished, by a lead covering. Now, I went to the store and bought these cute little lead cases. You can break up that rock into little pieces and keep it with you when you patrol. This way, the vamps still die, but if the Big Bad comes a-knockin' you can whip out your secret weapon."
"Giles rented us a couple cars," Buffy said. "Those of you that are continuing to Smallville should get packed up and ready to go in a few hours. Dawn? We're leaving earlier with Xander and Willow so that we can get everything set up for us at Central Kansas University. The rest of the girls will squish into a van with Giles."
As soon as it was clear that Buffy was done, the girls broke into conversation, all of them up and moving around, antsy from being in one small hotel room for the morning. They all grabbed for pictures of the demon, as well as the lead boxes, and they took it upon themselves to start smashing up the meteor rock.
Giles arrived shortly after and let them know that he had rented them a house in Smallville, using the residual funds from the American company that had been sponsoring their school.
During the three hour drive from Metropolis to Smallville Dawn had time to look over the pictures that Buffy had given her. She couldn't get over how gorgeous he was, and after careful speculation, decided that it was the bad in him that made him so attractive to her. She thought of Angel and Spike, both of whom had been murdering soulless monsters before she knew them. If looks correlated with the extent of badness, Dawn thought, then this demon, this Kal, must be the worst of all of them.
The campus of Central Kansas University was hardly impressive when compared to the University of Ferrara, the school that Buffy and Dawn had been attending in Italy. Buffy had gotten as far away from Dawn as possible, clearly embarrassed to be starting school in the same year as her baby sister, and so Dawn was left to find her classes herself.
She carried the campus map and the folded picture of Kal, armed with the little lead case in her pocket. She was terrified that she'd be eaten by the demon, but somehow reassured by the academic surroundings: surely this was the last place a demon would—
She stared. Hands shaking, she pulled the picture out from under the map and studied it, and then looked up at the boy in front of her. He was sitting on a bench, reading a textbook in a decidedly non-evil way. He looked up briefly, saw her map-holding nervousness, and started walking towards her.
"Are you lost?" he asked, smiling reassuringly. She could barely think, he was advancing on her, he was going to kill her, right here on campus, her free hand darted into her pocket—he was even more pretty in person. She folded the picture, doing her best to utilize her fingers with the lead case held firmly in her palm.
"Well," Dawn said, doing her best to smile, "yeah. It's my first day; I just transferred from Ferrara U."
"I haven't heard of that University; is it around here?" he asked, and he sounded so genuinely curious.
She shook her head. "Italy. No offence, but Kansas is less exciting," she lied. This was the most excitement she'd had since Sunnydale had become a crater; here she was, making small talk with a demon. She looked at his skin—it looked so normal; it was sneaky, not letting anyone know for a minute that bullets would ricochet off.
"I've heard that before," he said. "I'm Clark." He held out his hand. Nervously, Dawn shuffled the lead case into the same hand as the map, and she shook his hand.
"Where are you trying to get to, Dawn?" he asked.
"Freshman history," she said.
He smiled. "I'm going there too. I'll show you the way."
"Awesome," she replied, her voice squeaking. "I just need to make a phone call. I'll only be a minute."
When Clark had noticed the girl staring at him, it had shocked him how scared she looked. He stood up and moved toward her, and thought of something to say that wasn't as obvious as, "Is the world about to end?" He offered to show her to class, and when she moved away to make a phone call, he couldn't help but be curious.
"Buffy?" she said into the phone, her voice betraying her anxiety. "Buffy, I found him."
"You found him," another voice replied, "Kal?" Clark eyes widened as he heard his Kryptonian name. "Listen, stay where you are. Are you hurt?"
"No, no, I'm fine," Dawn assured her. "He's not like that guy said at all. He's so… normal. Nice, friendly, I mean, he offered to show me to my class."
"Stay away from him, Donny," the other girl, Buffy, said. "Giles said he was dangerous; murderous even. I don't want you risking—"
"Buffy, I'm letting him show me to class," Dawn interrupted. "I'm going to history; it's at Lymman's Hall. He'll be there too, so you can meet me there. I don't want you storming in; you can't ruin my first day of class, again."
"That was years ago, Dawn; I had good reason—"
"Okay, Buffy, bye!"
Clark was on the verge of panic. His father's words circled in his head: Stay calm, act normal, betray nothing. So he showed her to class, flinching at her nervous laugher, and wondering how her and the other girl could have gotten the idea that he was a dangerous murderer, but most of all, terrified of where they had learned his name.
Buffy couldn't concentrate on what her professor was saying. She was nervous for Dawn, and was worried about the confrontation that would doubtless occur after class. She hoped that they didn't have to fight, because she somehow didn't believe that her limited weapon resources would be effective against a guy that a ton of machine guns couldn't beat.
So she started out peacefully, and hoped that it would progress positively from there. She waited outside the classroom, and as Dawn passed, she slipped Buffy the bit of meteor rock.
Clark watched this transaction and squinted at the box, trying to see what was inside. Whatever the box hid, it hid it completely: the box was made of lead. Dawn continued walking; glancing behind her a few times before she disappeared around the corner. Clark tried not to make eye contact with the short blonde girl, but she stepped directly into his path.
"We need to talk," she said.
They retreated into an empty classroom, both stony faced, revealing nothing.
She spoke first. "It's Kal, right?"
Clark stiffened. "How do you know that name?"
Buffy put her bag down on a table and pulled a pile of paper out of it. "A friend of a friend told me that if I came to Smallville, you'd be the one to try to stop me. He took these pictures."
Clark stared; the pictures were of him while he had been in Metropolis, in vivid colour: him in the phone booth, face bunched with pain, shirt torn open and chest glowing; him sleeping in his 8,000 threat count silk sheets; him with an anonymous girl in a club. "It was Morgan Edge," he said, looking up at her. She looked tense. She didn't look threatening.
"What do you want from me?" he asked, revealing some of his tension in his voice.
She looked shocked. She shook her head, looking incredulous. "Nothing."
There was a brief silence, and Buffy looked at this boy, this demon, with confused disbelief. She didn't see any threat in his eyes. She couldn't imagine someone looking so… scared, if anything.
"You said that I'd try to stop you," he finally said. "Stop you from what?"
Looking from the photos to the boy in front of her, she tried to piece this together. It was like looking at two completely different sides of the same person. She gathered the photos and put them back in her bag.
"Saving the world," she answered. She hesitated before continuing. "It's what I do."
She turned to leave, keeping her head turned so that she could see him from the corner of her eye. "So… so you're good, now?"
Clark raised his gaze from the table, where the incriminating pictures had been, to the blonde girl. He looked sad, like his guilt was weighing heavy on his conscience. Buffy had seen that look before—in Angel.
"Yes," he said softly. "I'm good."
"I've heard legends about your power," she said quietly, "and power corrupts; the possibilities eat away at you. There's not one person that I know that has been blessed with power, who hasn't tried to destroy the world at some point." She twisted back toward him, and met his eyes for a moment before she said, "Forgiveness comes with time. That includes forgiving yourself."
Clark's face remained unyielding, but for one second, when she saw guilt wash down his face.
"I guess I'll see you around, then," she said, and Clark watched her walk away, her words reverberating in the empty room.