Author's Note: Okay, so I know that in Smallville, Clark doesn't have his 'aura vision' thing...I actually took that out of Superman: Birthright

Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Smallville, or any of the characters.

Clark stepped into the motel after another night's patrol and nodded to the receptionist, who was watching the news on a Spanish channel. It was amazing that that guy always seemed to be there whenever Clark got back. Clark had actually taken to wondering if the man was atomically fused to the chair behind the reception desk. His thoughts were interrupted by the news broadcast:

"Lex Luthor cheats death once again."

Clark had learned a long time ago that, using a combination of super-speed and his apparently eidetic memory, he could learn large quantities of information at a time. Considering that L.A. had a much more multilingual population than Smallville, he had decided to learn Spanish and some other languages, going to libraries and memorizing entire dictionaries in minutes. For the largest part of his life his powers had been his anathema, separating him from everyone else, but he had to admit that sometimes they could be pretty cool.

Clark didn't pause to watch the news broadcast, instead moving along to his room and listening to the story about how an unidentified sniper had taken a shot at Lex while he was standing in a parking lot. He shut his door behind him and felt the same old illogical anger build up. He knew that he couldn't be everywhere, couldn't protect everyone. Hell, he could barely keep everyone in one city safe. How could he possibly protect Lex when he was in another state?

But some part of him, the part that would tell him that the meteor shower was his fault, the one that blamed him for the death of Lana's parents and all the other horrible things, still said, 'you should've been there; you should've done something'. Clark spent the next five minutes trying to convince himself of what a bad idea it was and that it couldn't possibly end well, but soon enough he was out the door and on his way to Smallville.

Clark realized that he was becoming disturbingly good at the whole "unseen stalker in the shadows" deal. He had managed to spy on Lex and pretty much everyone else in town without anyone noticing his presence.

Apparently, this sniper guy had been using Chloe's "Wall of Weird" to identify potential meteor freaks and kill them. It was Smallville's own unique brand of hate crime.

Clark had found the sniper without much difficulty. It was rare in Smallville to hear the sound of gunshots, and Clark had gotten there in time to stop another death. Clark heard the shot and had started running while the bullet was still barely out of the barrel. He had plucked the tiny piece of lead out of the air, and then he came up behind the sniper and knocked him unconscious.

After leaving the guy, gun and all, at the sheriff's office, Clark had gone snooping around outside the castle. Lex seemed oddly calm for someone who had almost been assassinated, but then, that was Lex. Clark had been very tempted to go to Lex and speak to him. He figured Lex would probably not tell his parents about the encounter; Clark recalled Lex offering a place where they could stay when Clark had first been infected by Red Kryptonite and had gone to him and told him of his great escape plan. Lex had grown up in the city, if anyone could help Clark get his head back on straight, it would probably be Lex. Maybe he could even tell him about what had happened to Morgan Edge...maybe Lex would be able to forgive him.

'What difference would forgiveness make? Would it undo the thing you did? Would it make it any less bad?' came the persistent, self-loathing voice in the back of Clark's head.

I can't take this. I'm going to go crazy if I don't tell someone.

Now you're just being selfish, forcing someone else to carry the burden of your mistake.

Clark sighed and left.

Clark found Lana and Chloe in the Talon, recognizing them by nothing more than their skeletons. It was hard to hear their voices again. He missed them both tremendously.

Lana was blaming herself, thinking she hadn't done enough for him and just being generally miserable. Chloe was trying to reassure her, tell her that he had changed, and whatever his damage was, if he couldn't deal that was his problem. Clark could tell she was lying, that she didn't really believe it, even if it was the truth. He wished he could go in there and reassure them that this didn't have anything to do with them...but he couldn't, so he just watched them until Chloe left, and then he watched Lana's petite skeleton move about the coffee house serving drinks to all her skeleton patrons for the better part of an hour. It was two parts grim, one part comical. Clark wished he could see her face and not just her skeleton, but he knew if he did that, it would just make leaving more difficult.

He finally managed to pull himself away and went to look for Pete. He found his oldest friend talking to a pretty blonde girl outside a store. Clark smiled and turned away, feeling voyeuristic.

His feet inevitably led him home, but he didn't know if he was relieved or disappointed to find that his folks weren't there. The gate wasn't locked, and the truck wasn't in the driveway. They might've gone to market; he could look for them, but decided against it.

He strode through the open gateway with a new appreciation of the faith it took in your neighbors, and people in general, to just leave a gate open like that, inviting anyone to come in. In big cities everyone walked with their head down, just hoping that the next person to pass them on the street wouldn't pull a gun on them. There everything was locked, bolted, and had electric barbed wire around it, including some of the people.

Clark soon found himself up in his loft, marveling at how much quieter it was in the country. He didn't hear any screams, cries, screeching tires, or gunshots. His good mood vanished as he got to thinking about how many people had died in L.A. since he had left. How many people had died in the much closer Metropolis, or in other cities all over the world? So many people dying, and here he stood, not able to do anything, not even really wanting to. It was so much easier to remain aloof from the world's troubles out here, so far from them.

'I want to help people, but even I'm not strong enough to save everyone. I understand that, but I still get angry with myself for not being strong enough. Then I get angry with myself, for getting angry with myself. It's a vicious cycle.' Clark thought.

"What the hell is wrong with me?" he asked aloud, knowing no answer would come.

Clark's nostalgia trip eventually led him to the Kawatchee cave. He had always felt a sense of peace here and had spent a great deal of time looking at the pictographs, looking for a connection to his origins. He had often wondered about the first Kryptonian who had visited this place, nearly four hundred years ago. How had he known Clark would come to earth? Was Clark even really the one the pictures were talking about? Then a voice echoed through the cave - the voice that had been the bane of Clark's existence for three years.

"Welcome, Kal-El."

"You!" Clark yelled. He had thought he'd be rid of Jor-El when he'd destroyed the ship. This had to be Karma.

"I just can't win, can I?"

Clark sat down on a large rock and put his head in his hands.

"What is wrong, Kal-El?"

Clark laughed, but there was no humor. It was the frustrated, angry laugh of those who laugh to keep from screaming.

"You want to know what's wrong, do you?! I'll tell you what's wrong; I'm going crazy!" Clark stood up and began pacing.

"I killed someone. It was an accident, and he was a bad guy, but it doesn't matter, he was still a person. Everything that had been piling up on me finally weighed too much. The meteor shower, I guess I'd always considered it my meteor shower, mom's baby, then Morgan Edge. It was too much, I figured they'd be better off without me. But since then I've seen a much darker side to people and learned of the existence of demons. I want to help people, but I don't know how anymore. Things used to be much clearer, black and white. Now, it's all muddled." Clark collapsed back onto the rock, his voice much quieter now.

"Do you seek forgiveness?" came the voice of Jor-El.

"I'm sure everyone would forgive me. But I couldn't forgive myself. And I don't think I ever will. Besides, I couldn't risk...It was an accident the first time, accidents happen. That's exactly what I'm afraid of...what if another accident happens, only this time it isn't some crime lord, but someone I love?"

"Then perhaps you shouldn't forgive yourself." Jor-El responded. "Do not forgive yourself, but learn from this experience. You have taken a life, Kal-El, and you have found it distasteful. Hold on to that memory, and use it to prevent you from ever doing it again."

Clark was silent for a moment, wondering. Was this another ploy of Jor-El's? Was he trying to make Clark trust him so he'd be easier to manipulate?

"Why are you doing this? Why are you helping me?" Clark finally asked.

"Because you are my son, Kal-El."

"Could've fooled me." Clark's retort was met with silence.

"I know you have seen my actions as extreme, Kal-El, but I have always done what I thought best for you...try to see things from my perspective. You are Krypton's last son, my son. Our whole world was ending, and though I fought it, your mother and I both knew it was inevitable."

"My mother?"

"Yes, Lara was her name. She was abrilliant woman, and had a heart which shone more intensely than even the sun on this Earth. We knew it was too late for Krypton, but we could still save you. But I was afraid, Kal-El."

"Afraid? Afraid of what?"

"I was afraid for you, Kal-El; I knew you would grow up in this world with powers that would make you like a god. Your difference would alienate you. I knew you would feel a solitude and sadness I could not imagine. You would be all alone in a world full of violence and pain, full of people who would want to exploit you, and people who would fear and try to destroy you. That is why I sent you to the Kents."

Clark looked up in shock. "What do you mean sent?"

"That you were found by Jonathan Kent was no accident, Kal-El. I myself have been to Earth before. There I encountered the father of Jonathan Kent, and found him to be a man of great moral fortitude. I hoped that if the son were at all like the father, then that family could love and watch over you as your mother and I could not. I wanted, above all else, to ensure your survival, Kal-El. Nothing else mattered. I was harsh, and I brought you much adversity, because it would make you stronger. I myself could not be there to protect you, guide you, teach you...Rao, I'm not even truly your father. I am simply a machine with his memories. So I let the Kents tend to your heart and spirit, while I provided obstacles for you to overcome, obstacles that I hoped would make you strong enough to survive whatever path you chose to take. You will never know how much it hurt me to play the villain in your life, my son."

The cave became filled with meditative silence. Clark didn't think he'd ever heard Jor-El speak so much, or ever about himself. This was the first time Clark had ever considered that Jor-El had once been a person, not just a god-like, disembodied voice, hell-bent on having him take over the world.

Once, Jor-El had been alive. Once, he had laughed, and loved, and hated, and feared, just like Clark and everyone else.

"This wasn't the way, Jor-El." Clark finally spoke up. "If you wanted me to embrace my Kryptonian heritage, you shouldn't have antagonized me to it. How could I possibly be proud of my Kryptonian side, when all I've seen of it has been you, and your behavior?" Clark stood up and, lacking a face to direct his words to, addressed the ceiling. "I think maybe I get it. You were scared, scared of what would happen to me. You wanted to prepare me for the world the best way you knew how. But you're not infallible, Jor-El, and you made a mistake. But it isn't too late for us to reverse all this. I still want to know about who I am, where I come from, but you need to accept that you can't force me to learn. I'll come into it in my own time."

"I have underestimated you, my son. Jonathan Kent has raised you well. You are wise beyond your years."

"Thank you, father."

"Now, Kal-El, tell me of these demons."

Clark had started pacing again. "I always thought they were just myths, you know, stories people made up. But I discovered recently that humans aren't the only sentient species on this planet. So far, pretty much all the ones I've encountered have been trying to harm humans. I couldn't bring myself to kill them, so I've been locking them up."

"What has prevented you from killing them?"

Clark was a little taken aback. "They're living things; I can't just...kill them."

"Yet do they not harm humans?"

"Well yes, but, some of them can't help it. For some of them, humans are their natural food source. But I can't just let people die!" Clark ran a hand through his hair and exhaled slowly as he tried to order his thoughts. "I can't kill these things because they're different because, well, it's wrong. But for some of these creatures, the only way they can survive is by killing humans, and if I stop them, it would essentially be condemning them to death. I feel like I would be playing god, making choices about who can live and who can die."

"There is something that you must come to understand, Kal-El: Morality is not as subjective as you believe. Perception of morality is, but make no mistake, Kal-El, Evil does exist. There are beings in this universe that exist on solely one side of the moral compass. They do not have the freedom of humans and Kryptonians and other sentient creatures to choose to commit evil; it is simply what they are. These creatures need to be destroyed, there is no way around it, for they are beyond redemption. I can show you how to find true Evil, so you never need worry about whether you kill unjustly. But, honoring our agreement, I can only show you, if you are ready to learn."

Clark hesitated for a moment, then his resolve returned stronger than he had felt it in a long time. "Show me."

Clark Kent's world had become a haze of color. Clark understood that many of his powers were underdeveloped, because he had always been afraid of pushing them to their limits. Now Jor-El had shown him how to fully open his sight and see far beyond his simple x-ray vision. He could freely toggle his sight between any of the many wavelengths of the electromagnetic spectrum or even perceive them all at the same time. He walked through the fields of Smallville in a daze, seeing everything awash in background radiation and light waves invisible to the human eye.

He saw colors he would make names for, if it weren't for the fact that he was the only one that could see them. He could see radio transmissions and signals from satellites. He had learned to control his x-ray vision; no longer was he limited to seeing skeletons, but could see through objects in full Technicolor like he had the first time the power awakened and he had gotten a peek at the girls' locker room.

He could stand in the middle of a field and count the scratches on a bolt in the plating of a satellite. He could see each individual cell on the leaves of plants, could see inside them, watching the organelles go about their business preparing for mitosis.

Yet that was not the most bizarre thing. No, the strangest aspect of his new sight was that Clark could see life. At least, that's what he thought it was. All living things now had this glow about them, a halo of colors, some completely unknown to humans. Clark didn't know if this was the soul or an aura or what, but he knew that it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen, and when it was gone, it left in its wake something dark and empty, something that filled Clark with anguish to look at.

Clark didn't know if his new vision had some direct link to the emotional processing centers of his brain, or if his ability to truly perceive how beautiful and fragile life was had simply overwhelmed him. He had seen death before, and it had unnerved him, but now, it was even worse.

Jor-El had told him that his "Soul-Vision" would help him resolve his inner turmoil. So Clark headed back to the cave in the Rockies, almost afraid to open the entrance. When he looked at the vampires and demons with his new eyes, he recoiled. They were shrouded in a writhing darkness that twisted and coiled in a frightening way.

He didn't think colors could cause such a powerful emotional reaction, and briefly wondered again if it were some biological thing. Clark knew that what he was seeing now was true Evil, unmasked and undiluted. Yet beneath the shroud of undulating dark, he could see the familiar aura of the soul, struggling within the darkness, like an animal trapped in a tar pit.

Clark knew that these were human souls that had been trapped in limbo by their demonic hosts, and the only way to really free them was to destroy the vampire. Yet still Clark hesitated. He knew what he needed to do, but to just kill them all here, like this, it was an execution. Clark steeled himself, and nearly a hundred demons went up in flames.

Clark swallowed hard, the dust of the dead vampires and the smell of burning demon flesh causing his eyes to water and his head to spin. Clark hadn't been expecting them to scream like that. He stumbled out of the cave entrance, trying to escape the smell of burning flesh. Unfortunately, his nose was also super sensitive.

When the vampires had been destroyed, he had seen the souls within them flash brilliantly, finally free, before disappearing. Clark knew he had done the right thing, but sometimes logic, no matter how powerful, takes a back seat to emotion. He couldn't stay in that place any longer and returned to L.A., not feeling nearly as decisive as he would have liked.

Clark stood outside the front gate of the Hyperion Hotel, trying to force the somersaulting dolphins in his stomach to sit still. He hadn't really thought of what he was going to say when he finally did get here. He had checked out of the motel that night, knowing he wouldn't have enough money to stay any longer, and even if he got a job, he wouldn't get paid in time. So he had found himself here. Clark wanted to help people, but he knew how out of his element he was. He needed direction and had come here for help.

'Standing here punishing myself isn't helping anything. I may not deserve to be forgiven for what happened to Morgan Edge, but I can do everything in my power to make sure it doesn't happen to anyone else. I want to help people, but how do I convince them of that?'

"Hi, sorry about running out on you earlier. Look, I'm a total stranger who you've already identified as inhuman, and you have no idea about my powers or motives whatsoever…so, I was wondering if you'd be willing to put me up for the night." Yeah, not likely. But Clark's dilemma was put to rest when he noticed a sign hanging from the doorway of the hotel. When he zoomed in on the sign, what he saw forced a chuckle out of him. The sign read:

"GONE TO VEGAS BI-ATCHES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Clark sat down on the steps in front of the door, wondering what he was going to do now. He had gotten all excited about his whole "I'm going to help people and make the world a safer place!" mentality shift, and now here he was with nowhere to go while the heroes were on vacation.

He briefly remembered the words of Chuck the vampire. Apparently in the town of Sunnydale, California, there was all sorts of trouble brewing. It was located on some sort of portal to a hell dimension or something, called a Hellmouth. All the other demons he had interrogated had agreed that something big was going down in that little town.

"Sunnydale?" Clark asked out loud, and then he pulled a map of California out of his backpack. It wasn't very far away at all.

The town of Sunnydale, California was not really much bigger than Smallville. Despite the two towns' similarities, Sunnydale somehow seemed much more metropolitan to Clark. There were a larger variety of stores, and many more franchises, but most were mom and pop stores like in Smallville.

There also seemed to be a lot more people, and teenagers specifically, roaming around at night than in Smallville. Back home, there wasn't really anything to do after dark, but this place had a few bars and even a club called the Bronze. But Clark had a bad feeling about the place he just couldn't shake. Clark's own research had revealed that this town had the highest per-capita death rate in the U.S., higher even than Smallville's. Clark also heard a great deal more footsteps in the town than heart beats.

Clark had learned to make the vast arrays of sounds he could now perceive fade into a sort of background static, which he could process subliminally. This kept all the noises from overwhelming him, yet he could still become alert to certain sounds.

Like most people, he had a knack for picking out his own name even amongst a jumble of noises, which could be annoying whenever anyone was talking to a Clark that wasn't him, but fortunately there weren't too many in L.A. Other noises broke out of the background to him, such as gunshots, tire screeches, and fear.

Different emotions caused the voice to change in different ways, and Clark had learned to tell in an instant whether someone talking was angry, jealous, sad, or afraid. He could pull scared voices out of the jumble of noise he heard instantly, like right then.

"No! Stop!" a young woman screamed. Clark focused in on where he thought the sound was coming from while simultaneously ducking into an alley to shift to super-speed. Clark heard a sound like someone moving rocks, and then laughter. He could tell it wasn't human laughter, because the tone and the pitch were strange.

"No way out now...noooooo way out." The strange voice sent chills up Clark's spine. It was like something out of a horror movie.

"Protect me, Goddess, in thy name I supplicate myself. Take the powers from my enemy, lay him lower than the lowest field." Was that woman praying?

"Gnarl loves spells! He keeps them as pets, and they leave him alone." The creepy voice again. Wait, Clark thought, did it say...spells?

"You may be immune to magic, but I got more than that. You want a fight?" Clark was in the woods now somewhere, and getting frustrated. It seemed like things were about to get dicey. The sound made Clark think of the acoustics in a cavern, all echoey and reverberating. It made the sounds fainter, but Clark could still hear them. Unfortunately, he was having more difficulty pinpointing the exact location.

"They left you here. No one comes to save you! They wanted me to have you. Did they leave you as a gifty for me? Are you a tasty little gifty?" The voice was eerily singsong, and it would drag out vowels like a snake drags out ss.

"Stop it."

"Wouldn't they just throw you away?"

"Were they here? Were my friends really here? I heard something. Ah!" the woman cried out.

Clark decided to throw caution to the wind. Aiming for the general area Clark thought the sound was coming from, he took a leap high up into the air. He switched then to x-ray vision, searching for the person in danger.

He saw two people running through the woods, carrying a young girl between them. She seemed paralyzed. Then Clark saw a cliff and spied two figures inside it. One was a woman, and the other was...humanoid.

The woman was lying supine on the ground, and the creature was bent over her. Clark was frustrated by the time it took for him to slow down enough to actually start descending, and took off in a hurry as soon as he hit the ground, snapping a sapling in half as he accidentally brushed it with his shoulder.

He came to the entrance of the cave and saw that it was sealed. He simply burst through the rocks at the entrance and found his personal image of what the Boogeyman should look like. The creature was bent over a young, redheaded woman. Clark was on the thing before it even knew what was happening, grabbing it by the shoulder and tossing it into a wall away from the woman.

It was a very lean thing, and very boney. Clark could see its ribs clearly through its pale, yellowish flesh. It was totally bald, with long, pointed ears and a long hooked nose. Its fingers ended in menacing talons, and its eyes were an unnatural shade of yellow.

Clark switched to soul-vision, and couldn't help but quickly avert his gaze from the creature's malignant aura. Clark switched to normal vision and then blasted the creature with his heat rays, boring a hole clear through its head. It slumped to the ground, dead.

The woman behind him gasped as if she had been holding her breath and groaned in pain. He looked down at her and she crawled backward quickly before grimacing and touching the side of her stomach.

"Are you okay?" Clark asked. She looked up at him, hesitant. Clark could rationalize her fear easily enough. He had appeared out of nowhere and blasted a hole in the demon's skull; as far as she knew, he could be even worse than that creature. That didn't mean her fear didn't sting a little.

"Yeah, I'm..." she started, but another grimace cut her off.

"I'll take you to a hospital," Clark offered, but the woman shook her head.

"No, it's not that bad. They'll ask too many questions." She looked up at him again and seemed calmer.

"So...who are you?" she asked as she tried to drag herself into a sitting position. Clark looked away, but his gaze accidentally wandered over the demon corpse, which he found hard to look at, so he stared at the floor.

"Kal," he said. It was something of an impulse, but he didn't feel comfortable telling her his real name. Besides, there was a sense of power and confidence in that name.

The woman sat herself upright and began breathing deeply, her fists clenching and unclenching in pain. Clark zoomed in on the wound. The creature had left two long gashes on her stomach, and it looked like it had actually started peeling her skin off.

"Is there somewhere else I can take you?" Clark asked.

"Umm...I don't know." She looked at him as if she were trying to decide something.

"I had these friends...have. They were supposed to pick me up from the airport, but I haven't seen them in a day."

"Do you want me to take you to them?"

"No, I mean...I don't know." She looked scared.

"Is something wrong?"

"I just... I don't know if they'd, if they'd want to see me." She had said the second part under her breath, but Clark could hear her loud and clear.

"You're hurt. I'm sure whatever issue your friends might have, if they're really your friends, they'll make an exception this time."

"Yeah, maybe." She said

"That bad?" Clark asked

"I....they...something happened." She looked away, and Clark thought he recognized the weight of guilt on her. Clark knew he should get her to a hospital or something, but some other instinct told him she would be okay. She was already handling the wound better than most people. So he sat down next to her.

"What happened?" Clark asked.

She looked up at him and he could practically see the wheel in her head turning (although, if he wanted, he could've looked inside her head and seen synapses firing). They say sometimes it's easier to talk to a stranger than a friend; now must have been one of those times.

"Just, a lot of stuff went wrong. Everyone was in a real bad place and Tara, she..." The woman started crying, and it seemed to hurt her, but she couldn't stop. "She was shot, and I was just so angry. I tried to bring her back...but I couldn't and...I wanted revenge, I wanted to find Warren. The power was too much for me, I couldn't control it. Oh god..." she sobbed harder now. "I killed him! I ripped the skin right off his body!"

Clark was stunned. He cycled through reactions like a roulette wheel. Shock, anger, horror, but he heard something in her voice, guilt, remorse, and Clark felt that maybe, he understood.

"Who is Tara?" he asked when her sobs had softened.

"The love of my life," she sniffled.

"How long ago was this?"

"A few months ago, almost half a year."

"So, you killed this guy, then what?"

"I tried to destroy the world."

There was a pause in the conversation as Clark was taken completely by surprise. He certainly hadn't been expecting that.

"Wow," he turned and looked her in the eyes. "Why?"

"I had gotten a whole bunch of power from connected me, to everything. At first it was incredible, I'd never felt such a rush. But then it turned bad, I could feel everyone's pain, and their fear, and their sorrow. I guess, in my warped head, I figured I'd be doing everyone a favor by ending it."

"But you didn't, otherwise I think I'd know."

"My friend showed up in time to talk me out of must think I'm horrible."

"Not really," Clark said.

She just snorted, like she didn't believe him.

"I have very good ears. I can hear pretty much everything that's happening in an entire city. When I first got that power, I was overwhelmed. I could hear everyone crying for help, screaming in pain, just being all around miserable. I thought I was going to go crazy. I had something too, something that made me feel strong, that made me make decisions I wouldn't ever normally make. It was so hard not to fall back on that thing, to just make myself stop caring."

The woman looked at him. " But you didn't try to end the world, did you?"

"No," Clark admitted. He smiled at her, and she smiled a bit in return. "Okay, so you tried to destroy the world. Your friend came and managed to convince you not to. Then what happened?" Clark asked.

"I went to England with Giles, he's a sort of mentor to me and my friends, to help me learn to control my powers. I was over there for the summer, and just got back yesterday. They were supposed to meet me, but I couldn't find them. Then this thing killed someone and I had to go looking for it and, here we are. Thanks for saving me by the did you-"

"It's just something I can do," Clark noncommittally replied. Changing the subject quickly, he added, "I could probably find your friends for you and take you there."

"I don't know if that's a good idea."

"You're scared?"

She nodded at him. "I mean, what if they won't take me back? What if..."

"What if you don't deserve to be taken back?" Clark finished. The woman's eyes shifted downward. Clark felt that he and this woman were on very similar wavelengths, and he wanted to help her. Yet he wasn't exactly the poster child for emotional stability. What advice could he possibly give? Jor-El's words came back to him and he said, "So, even if your friends forgive you, you can't really forgive yourself?"

She nodded.

"Then, don't." Clark continued.

She looked at him, clearly not expecting that.

"You know what you did was wrong, and you feel bad about that. Let that help keep you on the right path. If you feel yourself falling back, just remember how you feel now, and maybe it'll help. As for your friends... you can't really know how things will turn out until you go see them, can you? I know you're scared, and it's tempting to not face your problems, but how long can you just leave things up in the air like this?"

"I guess you have a point..."

"Besides, they seem pretty worried about you to me." He smiled at her confused look.

"They're coming, to rescue you."

"They are? How do you know?"

Clark pointed at his ears.

"I told you, really good ears." He got up.

"Wait, where are you going?"

"You'll be fine now, don't worry." As he headed to the exit, he heard her call after him.

"My name is Willow, by the way, Rosenberg."

Clark turned to her. "Nice to meet you, Willow Rosenberg." Then he was gone.

Clark stuck around long enough to watch the girl's friends, who he had seen carting another, much younger girl through the woods before, show up. It turned out that some sort of magical thing had prevented Willow and her friends from perceiving each other. Magic…Clark couldn't help but shake his head at the insanity he had stumbled into.

'Then again, I'm an alien,' he thought. Once he was sure the situation was secure, Clark sped away.

Near the outskirts of the town, Clark found an old, abandoned church and figured it would be a good place to spend the night. He even found a touch of humorous irony in his choice for lodgings; after all, the name Clark, French in origin, ment clergyman.

Clark stretched himself out on a pew, using his backpack as a pillow. He had saved lots of people in his life, but tonight with that woman had been different. He hadn't simply shown up, pulled her out of the metaphorical (though occasionally literal) fire, then sped off. He had helped her find courage, and helped her help herself. He hadn't just saved her life, he had given her hope. Clark felt better at that moment than he had in a long, long, time (Red K influence not included). Then, he saw something out of the corner of his eye but when he turned to look, there was nothing there. He eventually drifted to sleep, convinced his mind was playing tricks on him...but for a second, he was sure he had heard Morgan Edge's voice saying, "Don't get too comfortable kid...we're only getting started.