Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Smallville, or any of the characters.
Clark nudged the petite blonde whose head was leaned on his arm. Chloe jumped in her bus seat.
"Wha - ?" She started.
Clark chuckled at her and she glared at him.
"We're here Chloe."
Chloe rubbed the remnants of sleep from her eyes and stretched her arms to either side, pushing Clark's head playfully with one. Everyone on the bus had started to rise, but Clark and Chloe remained seated.
"Let's wait 'till everyone else gets off." Chloe yawned.
Clark gave her a questioning look. "Really? You were so eager to get here." He teased.
"Hey, I'm still kind of sleepy and I haven't had any caffeine in forever." She leaned her head against his arm again and Clark turned to look out the window.
He had seen several trees with the changing leaves of autumn on the bus ride through California. Clark had never left Smallville much, but he had always figured a place like California wouldn't have changing leaves.
It was surprisingly cool too, about 79 degrees. True, this was far hotter than the temperature in Smallville right about now, but Clark had expected it to be 90 or something.
Once everyone else had gotten off, Clark and Chloe got out of their seats, taking an extra moment to enjoy the stretching of their legs after the many long hours on several busses.
They stepped off the bus with Clark carrying the bags.
"Welcome to Sunnydale, California Clark." Chloe smiled, feeling refreshed and awake.
"I have no idea how you managed to get Principle Kwan to approve this trip." Clark said.
"Well Clark, I managed to convince our good Principle that it would be beneficial for the students of Smallville to get a look at how small towns from other parts of the country compare to Smallville."
"Yeah right, he was probably just looking for an excuse to get rid of you for a while." Clark laughed as Chloe slapped his arm, looking indignant. Chloe's penchant for the inexplicable had often gotten her a lecture from principle Kwan about "responsible journalism."
"Lex thought it was a good idea. He wouldn't have financed the thing if he didn't" Chloe huffed.
"True." Clark said, though he was himself a bit confused as to why Lex had paid for Chloe's little field trip and couldn't help but wonder if it had something to do with him. Clark had saved Lex's life, and Lex felt indebted, constantly trying to repay Clark in surreptitious ways, since Clark would never accept an outright gift. It hardly seemed implausible for Lex to agree to fund the trip if Chloe had told him that she would be taking Clark.
"So, why did you pick Sunnydale, Chloe?" Clark asked as they both walked down a busy street lined with shops and restaurants.
"Well, I wanted to pick a place way away from Smallville, and it's too cold out in New England, so – "
"No, seriously," Clark interrupted "did something weird happen here?"
"Hey, I resent that! I don't only investigate strange things. I truly think that I will be able to learn an interesting perspective here…yeah okay, you got me." Chloe admitted.
Clark smiled triumphantly. "Knew it, so, what's going on?"
"Well, this tiny, apparently idyllic hamlet has the highest per capita death rate in the whole country."
Clark stopped in the middle of the sidewalk and Chloe walked about 10 feet ahead of him before realizing that he wasn't following her.
"Why on earth would that make you want to come here?" Clark asked.
"Listen Clark, I still have no clue why you're so skeptical, considering all the strange things you know are happening in Smallville."
"Yeah, but Chloe, there wasn't any meteor shower in Sunnydale."
"I know, but I think what we're dealing with here is something else entirely."
Chloe hesitated a moment, looking around as if to see if anyone was listening. "Let's talk about it at the hotel Clark." She turned and kept walking, Clark right behind her, shaking his head. He could practically smell the trouble brewing.
Clark set the luggage down on the carpeted floor of one of the adjoining rooms where he and Chloe would be stating the three days of the field trip.
"Guess all that work on the farm paid off huh?" Chloe said, and Clark shrugged.
If he had wanted to, he could've carried the bus and everyone's luggage all the way over here and shaved several hours off the trip, but he didn't tell her that.
"So, Chloe, what's the story here?" Clark asked, sitting down on the bed.
Chloe stood in front of him with a manila file folder in her hands, which she handed him, before going into full debrief mode.
"Okay Clark, how do vampires sound to you?"
"What?" Clark asked, a little bewildered. He opened the folder and his eyes widened. They were autopsy reports with victims that had two small puncture wounds on the neck. The causes of death were listed as exsanguinations, loss of blood. They were all from Sunnydale.
Clark looked back up at Chloe, now understanding her train of thought.
"You've got to be kidding…"
"Look Clark, I know how it sounds but the M.O. matches."
"Chloe, vampires? Really? They don't exist Chloe." Clark saw an irritated look come over Chloe's face and sighed mentally. She was becoming defensive, and Clark knew that her stubbornness knew no bounds.
"Clark how is it any weirder than the coach who can start fires with his mind!
"That's different." Clark said.
Clark wasn't really sure. When he broke it down, he couldn't come up with a convincing answer aside from: "Vampires aren't real". Maybe it was because he had seen the pyrokinetic coach with his own eyes, and had a way to explain it: the meteor rocks.
Vampires on the other hand, seemed too far out there. Clark had sometimes found it ironic how down to earth he was, considering his…unearthly origins.
"Chloe," He started, trying to compromise "Even if vampires did exist, what are you going to do about it? Get an interview?"
""Ha-ha, Mr. Kent has finished unpacking his sense of humor. Didn't know you were into Anne Rice, Clark. If there are vampires out there, people need to know! And yes, if I can get an interview I will."
"Chloe, if vampires did hypothetically exist, which I still think is crazy, then they've clearly done a good job keeping themselves off the grid for a while. What makes you think you will be able to expose them?"
"Clark Kent, you're impossible! Fine, I'll do this without you!" Chloe huffed before storming out of the room.
Clark sighed, already guilty. He had made her mad. He hadn't been trying to belittle her, or question her skills as a journalist; he had just been trying to make her see reason.
Clark figured he would let her cool off a bit, then he would apologize. Chloe could be incredibly stubborn when she got an idea in her head, and it could get her into trouble from time to time.
Clark stood and headed for the door. After all, what was the point of going on a trip if you weren't going to see the sights?
After walking for a good half hour, Clark went by some of Chloe's usual hangouts (coffee shops) in the hopes of running into her. He didn't see her, but had a muffin and some coffee as breakfast.
The town reminded him of Smallville, but with a lot more stores and chains. He even passed by one particularly interesting store called The Magic Box. He stopped there and decided he would buy Chloe a peace offering.
There wasn't a closed sign anywhere, and through the open blinds Clark could see some people inside, so he opened the door.
A tiny bell sounded as he entered, everyone turned to look at him and Clark suddenly felt very awkward and guessed that he had interrupted something important. There were eight people in the store, and the one closest to him, a young blonde woman, looked close to tears.
"Are you guys not open yet?" Clark began apologizing "Sorry I'll just…"
"Sorry, we're kind of busy right now. Can you come back later?" Asked a redheaded woman.
"Oh, and since you're already over there and I don't want to get up, can you put the closed sign in the window?" Asked another blonde woman sitting on a table next to an older man with glasses.
"Anya!" cried out the redheaded woman.
"No, it's okay, really." Clark interjected, putting the sign in the window.
'Again, I'm really, really, sorry." Clark said as he walked to the door. Then he, and everyone else, suddenly lost consciousness and toppled to the ground.