Yayyy. All done. Although, I have ideas for more of this series. Not soon,
but at some point. Clearly, I need professional help of some kind.

Runaway Trains at 3 A.M. (7/7)
by CLK
copyright 2002

There was half an hour left until sunrise when Lex walked into the 20th
Avenue bus station, which was exactly the sort of place he usually made an
effort to never know existed. Typical of Clark, to get him into a
run-down urban hole like this without even trying. If it hadn't been for genuine
worry --- and the opportunity to earn both the Kents' gratitude and Jonathan
Kent's annoyance --- he never would have bothered searching for him, not
when it lead to low-class stops like this. Clark might be fifteen but he
wasn't stupid; if he'd felt the need to flee his depressingly rural hometown
after a stressful week, Lex would have just put it down to heretofore unseen
evidence of sanity.

Except that Clark hadn't left a note, hadn't planned his trip, hadn't
taken any money with him or done any of a million other smart things that any
normal runaway would do. Which was his friend all over, in a way that made Lex
want to shake him as much as it made him laugh: impulse control wasn't
exactly Clark's middle name. Then again, if it had been, Lex would be dead.
It was annoying how hard Clark made it to be mad at him, sometimes.

Like now.

"Look, why don't I call first? It's later in Smallville, and you can think
of what you're going to tell your sister while I talk to my parents."

Clark had his back to Lex, his hand on the receiver of a payphone in front of
the ticket counter as he spoke to a girl about his own age, or possibly a
little younger. She was glaring at Clark half-heartedly, shifting her weight
from foot to foot, a defiant look in her eyes that Lex was pretty sure Clark was
ignoring, judging by the patient tone of his voice. "You can listen to them yell
at me and ground me for the rest of my natural life when I tell them I'm coming
home, and get up the nerve to turn yourself in."

"I don't need to get up my nerve. I'm fine."

"Uh-hunh."

"I am! I'm going to call her! Right now, okay?" The other teen reached for
the phone, then let her hand drop away as she crossed her arms. "Except, um,
it is pretty early there; she might not be awake yet. If I wake her up,
she'll be mad...."

"You could call someone else...." Clark lifted the receiver and held it out
to her.

"No! I mean, no. That would make it worse, if I called one of the Scoobies
before I called her. I just--- I have to---" She made a frustrated sound, then
grabbed the receiver and hung it up. "What am I going to say? How am I going
to explain this?"

"Look, just watch me, and then do what I do. Or, well, not. It kind of
depends on how this goes." Clark lifted the receiver again and Lex decided
that was his cue.

"You know something, Clark? You are the most *pathetic* fugitive I
have ever seen."

Clark whirled around, the receiver slipping through his hands as his eyes
widened in shock and growing relief. "Lex? Lex! How did you--- what are
you-- Uh... Hi!"

"Hi. Lousy job of running away, Kent." He shook his head mock-sadly as
Clark's sheepishness became more pronounced. "Did you call your parents from
*every* truck stop you passed, or just the ones where you could beg enough
change for the phone?"

"I didn't want them to worry..."

"I don't think you gave them time for that. Between the phone calls, and the way
you make new friends in every city you stop in, I've had investigators less
than six hours behind you since you left Wichita. Word to the wise, Clark:
you are not cut out for a life of crime. Don't even think about it as a
career choice. You suck at the getaway." He turned to Clark's newest friend,
who had been watching this exchange with fascinated blue eyes, and smiled
charmingly. "I don't think we've been introduced. Lex Luthor."

"Dawn Summers. Hi. You're friends with Clark?" The girl cocked her head
questioningly, glancing at a steadily reddening Clark, then back to Lex. "How
did you find him so fast?"

"It wasn't hard. With the judicious application of monetary compensation and
a certain knowledge of telephone databases, you can find anyone in the
continental U.S."

"You hacked the phone system and bribed some guys," she translated,
smirking.

He grinned back at her. "If you want to put it like that."

"But what are you doing *here*?" Clark cut in, recovering from his surprise
and rejoining the conversation. "I mean, not that I'm not really glad to see
you--- and, um, if you could help me out in paying off the change to my bus
ticket, I'd really appreciate it. I'll pay you back as soon as I can ---
but I know how busy you are, Lex. You could've just sent someone---"

Lex glared at him. "And have you give them the slip again? I don't think so.
Besides, I wanted to kick your ass in person. What were you *thinking*? Do
you have any idea how nuts your parents are going? As well as your
friends. It was everything I could do to keep Chloe Sullivan from stowing
away on the jet. If you were going to run away, the least you could've done
was take some money with you, or talked to me first about hiding out
somewhere for a while---"

Clark ducked his head in his trademark gesture of embarrassment, flushing red
again, but it was Dawn who leapt in to defend him, taking a furious step
forward and scowling. "It wouldn't have been running away if he told anybody
about it, and you don't even know *why* he did it, so you should just stop
yelling him! He's had a really long night and hasn't had any sleep so he
can't defend himself, and who says he's going back with you *anyway*, and
did you say you have a jet? A real jet?"

"Uh, yeah."

"Hunh. Cool." The Luthor name must not have clicked with her, or she
wouldn't have been asking. She considered the possession of the jet for a
second, then shrugged and went back to glaring. Evidently she was going to work
out some of her own issues on him, in lieu of whoever *she* was running away
from. "Whatever. That's still no excuse for yelling at him! Why should he want
to go home if you're going to be like that? And you're not his
dad, so you should just wait until he's already been grounded before you
give him a hard time, and what would you know about running away, you---"

"Dawn. Dawn! Thank you, I can handle this!" Clark hadn't raised his voice
very much but there was a definite warning in there, which amazingly (and
much to Lex's amusement) the irate girl immediately responded to. She shot
him one last sullen look before tossing her dark head and affecting a
studied nonchalance as if she hadn't been ranting like a harpy two seconds
before.

"Your way with women continues to floor me, Kent. How do you do it?" What had
Clark done, to get her on his side so fast? Probably just been Clark. Possibly
saved her life. With Clark, it was hard to tell which would have more impact
on the female of the species.

"Shut up, Lex," Clark muttered back to him. He waited a second, eyeing Dawn
for signs of another explosion; when she remained silent and glaring, he sighed
and turned back to Lex. "So, um... did you already tell my folks where I am?"

"No, I thought I'd leave that to you."

Clark grimaced. "Thanks. So much."

Lex clapped him on the shoulder. "What are friends for? And forget about the
bus ticket, you're going back on the jet. Might as well get one last thrill
before you're under indefinite house arrest." Clark's expression darkened,
and Lex's gaze sharpened on his face. "You *are* going back, aren't you? I'm
not going to force you to, but I believe that was what I overheard you
talking about a few minutes ago. If you're not, you could hide out at one
of my family's places in Metropolis until you're ready to deal---"

"Oh. No. I mean, I don't think..." His friend sighed heavily, not meeting
his eyes. "Are the reporters gone?"

That had him narrowing his eyes, watching Clark closely. "Most of them." The
kid was the world's lousiest liar, but the best keeper of secrets Lex had
ever met. The trick was getting him to talk, then sifting out what he said
from what he very carefully *didn't* say. "Why do I get the feeling your
taking off had something to do with them?"

"It's nothing." Big, glaringly obvious lie. Lex let his expression remain
dubious, and Clark caved. Clearly this had been bugging him. "It's just... One
of them found out I was adopted. And she was talking about doing a background
story on me, maybe finding out who my real parents were..."

"And you didn't like the idea."

"I don't---" Clark pushed a hand through his hair, shaking his head
vehemently. "The Kents are my family, Lex. I don't *want* to know who my
other parents are. I don't want anyone making me leave my mom and dad---"

"So you freaked out and left first?"

"That does kind of sound stupid, when you put it like that."

"I've heard worse." Everything was scary and world-shatteringly important
when you were fifteen; even he'd had to go through that. At least Clark had
a place to go back to where he'd feel safe, afterwards.

"It was just the last straw, kind of ..."

"If you don't want to deal with it, you don't have to. I can explain to
your folks." And make a few enquiries about which reporter needed to be
reassigned to Tierra del Fuego. If anyone was going to find out about
Clark's background--- and possibly what the hell he was hiding from
everyone --- it wasn't going to be some stringer for Newsweek. Lex had first
dibs on finding out the truth, he'd been here first.

"No, I definitely want to go home. Just... not looking forward to facing
them, is all."

"Clark, get real. They're *your* parents. Adopted or not. They adore you.
The worst you're going to get is a grounding. I think your dad was even
talking about skipping the lecture if you'd just show up soon." He managed to
keep the envy out of his voice as he said this, remembering Lionel's reaction to
his own excursion from boarding school at sixteen. Then again, Clark hadn't
actually left the country....

"He was kidding. There's always a lecture." Clark rolled his eyes in
resignation, and straightened. "Right. I can do this. Pick up the phone. Call
them. Tell them I'm coming home. Get chewed out and grounded and deal." He
turned to the now more-subdued Dawn suddenly, his expression troubled. "You
know, if you want... you could come back with me, if you really don't want to go
back to Sunnydale yet. I know my mom wouldn't mind---"

Lex wasn't so sure about that, but Dawn didn't have a chance to do more than
bite her lip, indecision written plain on her face, before an acid voice
broke into their conversation.

"Right. Not a chance. Road trip's over, Niblet. Get your things and get in
the car."



Spike had to give her credit, Dawn didn't even look surprised; she just turned
around to give him her best offended glare. "Why would I be going *anywhere*
with you? And how long have you been following me? And who said
you could?"

"In order: because you're busted, 'bit; ever since Los Angeles; and I don't
need anyone's bleeding permission to make sure you don't get killed in the
glorious heartland of America. You've had your fun, now it's time to face
the funeral march. Let's go." He'd been willing to let her hang about with
the kid --- he was too much of a puppy to try anything--- but the new guy
was too old and too cocky; she couldn't handle both of them. So it was
definitely time to go.

If only she'd listen, for once in her stubborn-as-all-hell existence.

"I won't!" Bleeding lovely. She had to have learned that look from her mum,
all she needed was an axe to make it perfect.

Spike glowered at her threateningly enough to have the pup she'd been
palling about with take a step forward to defend her. The other bloke just
looked entertained, which didn't do a damn thing for his attitude. He held
up a hand to stop the kid without turning his gaze away from Dawn. "You won't?
Fine. Then we'll leave your pack and I'll throw you over my shoulder before
I stuff you in the trunk of the DeSoto! I am not kidding around here, three
days on the soddin' highway without a decent rest stop anywhere haven't
exactly been a good time for me, Niblet. I let you run far enough to satisfy
anyone---"

Dawn's face turned blotchy with rage, the way it did when she was
over-the-edge upset, and Spike braced himself for the sonic-range shrieking
that was about to commence. "Let me? *Let* me! Who do you think you are, my
father? You don't get to *let* me do anything---"

"No, 'cause if I was your father, you'd bloody well have been back in
Sunnydale before you crossed the state line. Hell, I'd've locked you in the
attic before you could try this stunt---"

"I did just *fine* on my own, I don't need you to watch over me, and it's
not as if you really care what happens to me---"

"What the hell are you talking about, I don't care what happens to you? Do
you think I took this trip for my health? 'Cause I didn't, 'bit, I haven't
had a decent meal since Death Valley and that moronic tourist trap out in
the desert---"

"Fine, then turn around and go home and pretend you didn't find me, it's not
like they'll notice---"

"Too late for that. Anya knows, and if I don't drag you back in the next
day and a half, she'll sic the worst of her old pals after us for the money
you stole out of the Magic Box."

"I didn't steal it! I just borrowed it! I was going to give it back!"

"You think that's going to matter to Demon Girl? Don't be stupid. Buffy
doesn't know you're missing yet. Get in the damn car, stop being such a drama
queen, and we can get back before she knows you ditched your campout." Spike
glared at the kid, who was watching the two of them argue like he was at a
tennis match, and his pal, who had a hand over his mouth, probably hiding a
smirk.

"Why do *you* care?" Dawn's lip was quivering, her big eyes filling up with
tears. Anyone who wasn't a monster would've felt sorry for her. Fortunately
he didn't have that problem. "You act like you're my older brother or
something, but it's all a lie, a big fake lie, why don't you just *stop*!"
She stamped her foot, and Spike took a step back in surprise and unexpected
hurt.

"Here now! What the hell did I do---"

"You're only doing this to get points with Buffy! If it weren't for her,
you'd have let me keep going until I reached New York City!"

Spike stilled, took a slow breath. Why the hell should he care what she
said. Even if she did have it all wrong, why should he bother arguing it?
"That's not true, and you know it. Stop being a git."

"Isn't it?" She sniffed, turning away from him and letting her hair hang in
her face like she did when she was too hurt to look at anyone. "I guess it's
not your fault, really. And it's not Buffy's. It's just the way it is. She
likes a guy. She boinks a guy. Then they get all weird and leave and it's
never the same, ever..."

"What?" That was not a squeak. William the Bloody did not squeak. Certainly
not because of anything some brat teenage Key would ever say. "What are you
on about? I didn't--- Buffy and me, we haven't---"

Dawn's eyes nearly rolled back into her head with derision. "Oh, please.
Talk about *lame*. I heard you and Buffy arguing about what the two of you
did. Before Thanksgiving? In the house you wrecked? With the boinking?"

"Ummm..." The bald guy was definitely smothering chuckles, while the kid was
just standing there riveted by the little domestic theatre Dawn was staging.
Bloody, bloody hell. Why *had* he followed the chit this far? Why didn't he
ambush her and drag her back when he had the chance in Las Vegas? "That's
not exactly.... what did she tell you about it?"

"She didn't tell me *anything*," Dawn snorted. "She never does. But I know
what I heard. Boink, boink, boink. Boink! You two were boinking! And she's
all freaked and weird now, and that's going to make you weird, and then
you're going to *leave*, and it's not fair that every guy Buffy loves has to
go away, just like Dad left Mom, just like Angel---"

"HEY! No comparing me to spineless Pouf-Boy! I am *not* him, damnit! And I'm
not your deadbeat paternal waste-of-space, neither!" Christ, he needed a
cigarette. He dug into the pockets of his duster for the pack and his
lighter, too furious to think straight. "I hung around when she didn't like
me, wouldn't give me the time of day, hated my guts --- then I stayed after
she was... gone, all this summer--- looked after you, after what happened
back in May, you all torn up and me a sodding mess..... Kept your bloody
secrets about the shoplifting and the sneaking out, and this is the thanks I
get?"

He finally got the cigarettes out and lit one with fast, angry
gestures and took a drag, inhaling hard enough to choke if he'd been human.
"You really think I'm going to take off in some friggin' black helicopter
like Captain Cardboard? Do you think I don't love her enough to stick around
until she figures out what the hell she wants?"

Dawn sniffed, staring at the floor, scuffing the tiles with one toe. "I..."

"And as for you, missy, maybe I *should* have let you get yourself kidnapped
and your throat slit and your body left in a ditch! Maybe you'd listen to me
for once if there wasn't anyone there to look out for you! All the sense of
a bloody pea-hen, you have, going off with this tall goof of a scarecrow---"
He gestured with the cigarette at the kid, who glared at him and crossed his
arms; Spike sneered at the posturing and turned back to Dawn. "--when you know
damn-all about him and what he's like, just skip off to break into a stadium
with him when you don't know if he'll watch your back---"

"You broke into a stadium? Which one?" The bald guy asked, raising an
eyebrow at the boy.

"Umm... sort of... Coors Field, it's just down the block...." The kid was
blushing again, but Dawn was studying Spike carefully.

"You followed us?"

"Damn straight I followed you, why do you think the guards let you alone?
Gave them a good bit of a chase, convinced them you weren't there, and do
you even say thank you? Hell no. And after all this, it's go away, Spike, I
don't need your help?" He snarled. "Fine, then. Be like that. But you are
*bloody* well coming back to Sunnydale with me, because I'm not going to let
you scare your sister to death -- again -- because you've got 'issues'! You're
stuck with me, 'bit. I told her I'd look out for you and I'm going to, even
if she never looks at me again. You *don't* get to die on my watch, and
that's all there is to it."

He took another drag off his cigarette and gave her his most ferocious screw-
you-don't-care-what-you-think scowl. Dawn met his eyes solemnly, the fury burned
out of her, and then she slowly nodded.

"Okay."

"Okay?" He rolled his eyes. "Is this what it takes to get you to listen to
sense? I have to throw a tantrum to match yours every time you get a glitch
in what you laughingly call your brain? 'Cause if it is, next time I'm just
knocking you out."

"There won't be a next time."

"Sure, pet, tell me another. There's *always* gonna be a next time with
you."

Dawn smiled guiltily and gave a tiny shrug. "Sorry?"

"Is that a question or an apology?"

"Apology." Her expression had melted back into seriousness. "I'm sorry,
Spike. I know you're not like... the others. I do." She lunged forward and
hugged him, shocking him into immobility, then just as suddenly disentangled
herself and stepped away, trying to look blase'. "Thanks for coming after
me."

"Yeah. Well," he muttered, avoiding her eyes and taking another drag off the
cig, forcing his hand not to shake. "Don't make me do it again. You won't
like what happens. Got it?"

"Got it." She looked back at the pup, all big-eyed and sad, and Spike
restrained a groan. The kid was staring back at her with a drowned-kitten
expression, and any second now they'd be into round two of the histrionics.
Screw that.

"Right. So can we *go* already?"

The bald git coughed to (badly) cover up a chuckle, and stepped away from
the kid. "Why don't we give them a chance to say their good-byes. I believe
my driver has a ten-year-old scotch in the limo?"

"Scotch?" Spike sighed in defeat, and threw his cigarette on the floor,
grinding it out with the heel of his boot. "Any chance he's got tequila?"

"A fairly good one, actually. Clark?" The pup's head came up, all innocence
and so much freaking wholesomeness that Spike would be heaving if he spent
another minute around him. "Take your time."

Spike glared at the git, then turned back to Dawn. "Five minutes. Make it
snappy, Niblet. Daylight'll be burning pretty damn soon."

"Okay." Big blue eyes of assurance again, and why, why, *why* did he ever
tell Buffy he'd protect her baby sis? Why didn't he see where that was going
to lead? When the hell was he going to be off the hook? And why didn't the
idea piss him off like it should have any more?

"Right. Cuervo time," he muttered under his breath, turning to follow the
kid's watch dog to his limo. A *limo*. Some wankers had all the luck.

"Watching her give you a hard time---"

"Yeah?" he growled.

"Makes me grateful I only have to deal with Clark." The rich git flashed him
a wicked smile, and Spike toyed with the idea of punching him in the nose,
no matter how much it would hurt. Then again, he was sharing the booze.

"Laugh it up, rich boy. If Dawn spends much more time with him, yours won't be
so easy to deal with either."



Dawn waited until Lex and Spike were out the door, then turned back to Clark
with a shrug. "That was Spike."

"I guessed that." Clark's smile was doing the lurky thing again. Dawn
restrained the urge to give him a whap and grinned back at him.

"He's a little...." She searched for a word, then gave up. Spike was pretty
much indefinable, even if you'd known him for a while. "But he's okay,
underneath."

"I could tell."

"Yeah?"

"He came looking for you, right?"

"Yeah," she agreed softly. "He did, didn't he."

"And he didn't kill you for telling the entire bus station that he had sex
with your sister," Clark added with a straight face. Dawn didn't restrain the
impulse to whap him that time, and got him a quick one on the head. "Ow!
You're the one that said it, not me!"

"Oh, that didn't hurt. Big baby. And nobody but me gets to say it at all!
It's weird enough that it's happening." She sighed, and leaned against him.
It wasn't fair. She wanted to take him home with her. Why did he have to
live in stupid Kansas, anyway? "Guess we have to go back now. No escape."

"Guess so. It's too bad." His arms went around her, and she lifted hers to
circle him in return. "It would've been cool to see the eskimos."

"Yeah. Or the Space Shuttle."

"Mexico. The beaches, maybe."

"But not L.A. That would never have worked."

"Definitely not L.A." She could hear the smile in his voice and she closed
her eyes, memorizing the warmth of the hug and the safe feeling settling
along her spine. "Not until next time."

"Yeah. Next time."



Lex and Spike were actually outside in the limo for ten minutes, but Clark
could tell that the blond man's patience was definitely gone by the time
they got back. "One more minute," Dawn called to them, frantically writing
down her e-mail address in the notebook she'd laid on Clark's back. "Almost
done!"

"Make it march, Niblet. Haven't got all day," Spike called.

"You never even have *part* of the day," Dawn muttered, as she finished what she
was writing with a flourish and ripped the page out of the book. Clark
stood up and took the sheet from her, folding it carefully and tucking it
into his breast pocket. Dawn already had his home address, phone number, and
e-mail tucked into the outside pocket of her backpack.

There should have been something profound or significant he could say to
Dawn right now, walking over to Lex to take the limo to the airport.

Something about how he wouldn't forget her, or how much it meant to have her
as his friend, even if it had been only for a little while. Something about
her being special, even if she didn't feel like it sometimes, or about
trusting her not to tell anyone what she knew about him. Nothing was coming
to mind: for a guy who wanted to be a reporter, he was having a bad case of
mental block.

"We're parked in back, Niblet. Out the other door. Say your last good-bye
now."

Dawn turned to Clark and smiled brightly, lifting her shoulders in a rueful
shrug. "Guess this is it."

"Yeah." He just stood there, feeling awkward and regretful until Spike
cleared his throat, loudly. Dawn rolled her eyes and Clark managed to
stick out his hand to her. "It's been great knowing you, Dawn. Merry
Christmas."

She grabbed his hand and squeezed it, nodding in acknowledgement, probably
as self-conscious as he was with Lex and Spike watching them. "You too.
Happy New Year. Good luck back home."

"Ditto," he said dryly, and she laughed, dropping his hand and turning away.

It was really silly that saying good-bye hurt this much. He'd only known her a
couple hours....

Spike glared at him as Dawn joined him at the opposite door, and Clark
resisted the impulse to either make an incredibly rude gesture or give him
an equally evil stare back. Dawn was almost through the door when she
suddenly stopped and spun on her heel. "I forgot!"

"Dawn!" Spike threw his hands up in disgust as she ran back toward Clark,
who remained frozen in surprise, a curious Lex leaning on the door going to
the parking lot behind him.

"The pictures, the ones from the insta-photo-mat," she gabbled frantically,
searching through her jacket pockets. "You should get half, I forgot to give
'em to you---"

"That's okay---"

"No, wait, I've got them!" She held up the strip of photos with a triumphant
look, then carefully tore it in half, giving him the lower two pictures.
"Are those okay? Do you want the other ones?"

"No, it's great." Him and Dawn in sunglasses, looking very Blues Brothers; him
and Dawn laughing insanely, unable to come up with a final silly pose. He
smiled gratefully at her, and she ducked her head a second, hiding behind
her hair again. "Thanks, Dawn."

"Yeah." Her voice sounded strangled. "Oh, man. I'm going to regret this, I
think."

"Wha---" He could've reacted faster, maybe. If he hadn't been so surprised.
Then again, maybe not. He would've had to *want* to avoid her.

Dawn's lips tasted of raspberry lip gloss and cherry Slurpee, with just a
hint of chocolate. It wasn't a long kiss, or a deep kiss; but it was warm
and sweet and *exactly* what he hadn't been brave enough to do himself.

She pulled away almost as quickly as she'd yanked him in, smoothed his
shirt, and backed up a step, blushing tomato-red as she met his eyes. "Bye,"
she squeaked, turning to run across the lobby.

"Dawn!"

She stopped and turned around, her face still red and her eyes scared.
"Yeah?"

He stuck his hands in his jeans pockets and cleared his throat. Lex was
snickering behind him and he could feel the tide of heat rising up to his
hairline. "Uh. Thanks." He grinned. "And I still think you're crazy!"

Dawn's slow smile was only a little bit smug. "That's why you like me!" She
flipped her hair over her shoulder one last time and sauntered back over to
Spike, who was shooting Clark an even blacker look than before. Clark smiled
at him extremely cheerfully in response.

"C'mon, let's go, what's the hold up, Peroxide-Man?"

"Awful full of yourself for someone who won't be leaving the house 'til
she's thirty...."

Clark watched them until they turned the corner to the back parking lot,
then turned back to Lex. Who was shaking his head in wonder.

"Unbelievable."

"Not. One. Word."

"Oh, I have several words, but they won't be anything compared to the words
your parents will have. Or, say, Lana...."

"You wouldn't."

"Why wouldn't I?"

"Lex...."

****

TO: ckentrun@ks.metro.net
FROM: auroragrrrl@hotmail.com
Subject: Did you survive?

Hey, Clark!

We got back before anyone told Buffy I wasn't at the campout. Anya nearly
ripped my head off, but Spike helped me pay back the money I took out of the
cash-box. She *still* has me working weekends for free for the next six
weeks, for 'mental cruelty' and not telling on me. How'd you make out? Extra
chores? Do you have to sleep with the cows?

Spike's keeping me kind of grounded too--- he won't let me sneak out any
more. It really sucks, because the tension here is kind of thick for a lot
of reasons and I'd like to go to the Bronze (local club) when Buffy's on
patrol, but he's made it pretty clear he'll kick my ass if I try. Not that I
couldn't kick *his* ass (long story), but since his ass-kicking would include
telling Buffy what I did, I've decided to be good. For now. Until I figure
something out.

School's the same (I hate Algebra with the fiery passion of a thousand
exploding Death Stars), Anya's insane (getting ready for a wedding) and
Willow's kind of leveling out, which is good, 'cause she cooks when she
feels guilty. Now that she feels calmer we have about a million Channukah
and Solstice (but not Christmas, she objects on principle) cookies and
sweetrolls (maybe I'll send you some) around. I'm trying to get Buffy to
mellow out and eat some, but it's an uphill battle. When she's really,
really stressed, she forgets that food exists. Tara's been by and she's
helping, making soup and stuff to fill her up. Xander won't let Buffy leave
the Magic Shop or our house until she eats, sometimes. They don't know
what's wrong (about the boinking), but they're watching out for her. Things
are starting to look up.

I still miss my mom something horrible. And Giles. Last Christmas we were
all together and we thought my mom was going to be okay, but now.... It's
all different. Makes me wish we could be somewhere else for the holidays.

And I wish you could be here too. Or, well, somewhere. With snow! :}
Too bad the elves lost our reservations for the Arctic Circle.

Thanks for hanging out with me in Denver. I don't know if I said it then,
but it really helped me get my head on straight.

Wishing you the best of the Season (and as many blue Slurpees as you can
drink),

Your friend
Dawn

****
TO: auroragrrrl@hotmail.com
FROM: ckentrun@ks.metro.net
Subject: RE: Did you survive?

Hey, Dawn,

Yeah, they let me live. After a two and a half hour lecture on all the stuff
that could've happened to me out there, and why I should always come to them
first, and how worried they were about me, and...

Sorry, my eyes started glazing over there.

Seriously, they weren't as mad as I thought they'd be. Mostly I think they
were scared, and they know I'm sorry I freaked them out. I am grounded until
New Year's (my friend Pete's having a getting-out-of-the-hospital party and
they decided I could go to that) but not beyond. I'm not sleeping with the cows
(we didn't want to upset the cows, Crazy One. Otherwise, maybe I would be).
The chores didn't increase, but I'm completely without phone privileges for a
month --- if you want to talk, it'll have to be after January 22. You are
getting off *so* easy, you know that? Even if Spike is watching you like a
hawk.

Pete and Chloe gave me a harder time than my parents did. Chloe chewed me out
for being a dork, being an idiot, and being male, then made me promise that if I
ran away again I'd take her with me. Pete just guilt-tripped me into doing most
of his homework and taping the playoff games while he's in the hospital. Lex
didn't join in the lectures but he's been teasing me about my "lack of planning
skills" ever since we got back.

I'm glad your sister and your friends are dealing better, and I'm sorry your
Christmas isn't as happy as it was last year. I wish you could be here too.
You could go on the hayride I'm going to miss tomorrow (which sucks) and
skate on the pond behind Lex's house (it's way too big for him, you have to
come visit so you can see it). And you could see *snow* again, I know how
you crave it. Since the elves didn't come through for us, I'm making the
best of what I've got. And oh yeah, shoveling the driveway. Again.

I had a great time in Denver too. And you helped me when I was pretty confused.
I'm really grateful. And glad we're friends.

Happy New Year (and a giant cherry Slurpee) and best wishes from
Your friend

Clark

~*~

Chris Kiki Chaos }|{
kikimariposa@prodigy.net

~*~
Thanks again to everyone who's commented---
Zekkers, I couldn't get the chip out, but hey, Lex and Spike probably bitched
about dealing with teenagers in the limo.
Ped, you got your wish.
Chaney, you might get yours. No guarantees, though.
And for everyone who said that they don't usually like crossovers, but liked
this one-cool. And muchas gracias.

[The follow-up to this is being posted to the "Smallville" category, under
the title "Lines of Communication.]

CLK
01/02