BY: Ann of Midnight
DISCLAIMER: You know these aren't mine in any way, right?
SPOILERS: This is a post season 1 Smallville and post season 6 Buffy fic.
His aunt had let him go wash up before dinner and he was scrubbing with all his might. He should have run, he thought, thinking back to the horrible bus rides he had had to endure. He had been grappling with super smell and hearing, and being confined in a bus for two days was the worst experience of his young life. He had hoped for any excuse to leave the bus but he had had no such luck. The super boy from Kansas had to sit it out just like everyone else.
His parents had thought it best that he disappear for awhile, after everything that had happened in his life and that of his friends that year. So Clark Jerome Kent set off under the guise of helping his uncle and aunt, who owned a construction company. He was told he's be working on a new office building for a growing packaging business in a small California town called Sunnydale.
Chloe had left for Metropolis and the Daily Planet right out of their last exam. Pete's dream of a leisurely summer crumbled when got roped into helping his mother at the courthouse. Lex was probably the busiest of all, trying to secure the future of the Smallville plant and his own before his father was strong enough to fight back.
Clark hadn't protested the summer gig. The normal teenager in him didn't find being away from his parents and Kansas a horrible idea. Luckily, and thanks to Lex, his parents had enough money to hire the farm hands they would need in his absence. Still, he wasn't sure if this was the right thing to do.
His aunt had immediately urged him to get out and meet people, but he felt awkward. He couldn't just walk up to people and introduce himself. His longtime friend Pete had latched onto him in Grade School. Chloe had latched onto their group in High School. Lana he had to talk to because he got caught in the cemetery at night and Lex crashed into him with his car. He was profoundly grateful that all of these people had seen something in him, because it might have taken him forever to make the first move. Still, Lex had helped him feel more comfortable with himself.
He went to bed early, he had to work in the morning.
"I'm a little nervous, I usually work alone."
"Well, your aunt says you're very strong and you take direction well, so I don't foresee any problems." said the older man, handing Clark a yellow hard hat and eying a clip board.
"Great. Um. Mr. Harris?"
"Xander, please, Mr. Harris is the horrible bastard that calls himself my father," the man joked, his smile slightly sad.
"Xander, I know my aunt kind of made you give me this job, and I want you to know that if I don't work out..."
"You'll do fine kid, besides, you're wearing flannel, you'll blend."
"And, it says here on this form that you're 16, so can you give me your date of birth again."
"It's right. I am 16."
Xander laughed. "You're funny. We'll work this out later, we should get out there."
Clark was sitting at a makeshift table outside the work area, his packed lunch in front of him. "So, Kent, what did you think of this morning?" Asked his boss, pulling up a hunk of wood to sit on. He pulled an insane amount of food out of his backpack.
"Well, the guys are..." Searching for the right word.
"Just a tad unrefined, I know, but they work hard." The man eyed Clark's rabbit food, then opened a big bag of chips and set them in front of the boy who dug in instantly.
"The work's easy enough to get used to, though, kinda like on a farm. Carry this out, put that there, hold this, get out of the way, go fetch-"
"Roll over, play dead...Yeah, so since we'll be putting in the wiring next, my best advice is: don't get electrocuted."
"Are you concerned for me or are you afraid of my aunt?"
"Well one, death by electrocution is not as glamorous as it may seem, and two... I hate to say it bro, but your aunt can be one scary lady. We had to push back the schedule because of a recent ... earthquake..." His face fell, he stopped chewing and he looked sad for a moment. He couldn't shake it off completely and when he spoke again, he was practically whispering. "Let's just say I don't want to let her down again. So keep metal objects away from any outlet."
"I'll do that."
"So, first time in Sunnydale?"
"Yep. It seems like and awfully religious town, I must have counted 15 churches just from the bus station to the house."
"Yeah, there are a lot. Did you count the cemeteries?"
"I saw 2 pretty large ones. It's strange having them in the middle of town, isn't it?"
"You know there are like, 14 of them."
Clark wasn't sure what the appropriate response was. "That seems a bit excessive."
Xander laughed knowingly. "Yeah. Anyway, stay away from them. And try not to go out after dark."
"I really don't have any reason to. I don't know anyone here, so I might walk around a little when we're done but that's about it."
"Well, I notice you didn't break a sweat this morning, and I through out my back a few days ago..." Clark verified the statement with his ex-ray vision. "Anyway, if you're interested, the earthquake banged up my ex's store, and I foolishly volunteered to fix everything."
Clark smiled brightly.
"I mean, there wouldn't be much in the way of pay, you might be able to get one, maybe two jelly donuts a night..."
Clark felt at ease with his boss. The guy was young, funny and he reminded him of the way his friends talk back home. If this after work thing panned out, his aunt and uncle wouldn't have to worry about him too much and it would be much less awkward.
NEARING the MAGIC BOX
"A magic store? You mean for magicians?"
"Not quite. We have an occult book research section, supplies for spells, statues, and jewelry... That said, whatever you do, if you see a medallion with an inscription on it, don't read it out loud... not unless you like singing and dancing. And ask if you want to read any of the books. Just trust me."
"Okay." Clark asked, looking funnily at Xander.
They stepped into the Magic Box. A short redhead girl was stepping over a pile of books to get to a door. Upon seeing them, she put her water bottle down and came to greet them. She had a lovely bright hair and not a stitch of makeup on. She was dressed casually, all in black, and looked so very tired. She smiled.
She hugged him warmly, but didn't let go after several seconds. She just shifted in her hug to be able to face Clark.
"Clark is a co-worker. He's going to be helping me patch this place up."
"Hi. I'm Willow."
"Pleased to meet you."
"Where are the girls?" Asked Xander.
"We haven't seen Anya. She disappeared a while ago, so I think she may have gotten an 'assignment'. Dawn and Buffy are training in the back. I was just getting them some water."
"So, how are you holding up?" His boss whispered, walking her down to the middle of the store.
"Well, I got up, I ate something, I took a shower and I'm here right now. I think I'll be okay, today."
"Do we need anything at home?"
"Kleenex, toilet paper, soap, milk, cereal, sandwich meats, mustard, lettuce and detergent... I made a list like you asked."
"So we'll make a stop at the grocery store on the way back."
"Clark, come down here. I'll introduce you to the rest of my family."
Clark cautiously sidestepped whatever was in the way and met Willow and Xander at the back of the store.
Two girls were fighting with quarterstaffs. One was clearly instructing the other.
"That's good Dawnie, but if I were attacking you'd be in trouble."
"Then attack me so I can know what I'm doing wrong."
Buffy started going faster and lightly hitting Dawn's sides whenever she could.
"Don't be afraid to hit me."
Dawn picked up her concentration. As they pivoted around each other Dawn saw they had an audience. She also saw how utterly scrumptious Clark was and she stopped abruptly. Then Buffy turned to see what was up and accidentally hit her sister hard enough to send her crashing to the floor a few feet away.
"Ow, you cow! What the hell?"
Buffy hurried to help her up.
"Sorry Dawn. I didn't mean it."
Willow, who was still snuggled up to Xander, put the water bottle on the vaulting horse.
"I got your water, Dawnie."
Dawn was too busy undoing her braid and checking herself out in the mirror to respond.
"So who have you brought me here, Xander?"
"Buffy, this is Clark Kent from Kansas, he's in town for the summer, he works with me. He offered to help out."
"Okay, I bribed him with the thought of a few luscious pastries."
"Then we better get two dozen. Hi, I'm Dawn, I'm Buffy's sister."
"Nice to meet you," Clark said, extending his hand to shake hers.
"Buffy's underage sister," Buffy pointed out.
Clark didn't say anything.
"You know Buff, according to his papers, he's 16."
"Shut up!" exclaimed Dawn, looking totally infatuated.
"No way. You huge, huge liar." Buffy lightheartedly teased Clark, dragging Dawn aside. "Dawn, do not go thinking anything, he is not 16. No sixteen year old looks like that."
"No one looks like that," stated the younger Summers, not taking her eyes off the new arrival.
Buffy herself checked him out throughoutly. "You're right, it should be illegal," she concluded.
"Yeah." Dawn said dreamily.
"I wonder what they put in the water in Kansas...No touching till we know what's the what. Wait, what am I saying? No touching at all."
"Hey, I'm aloud to date. You're just saying that 'cause you want him for yourself."
"No I don't... I don't-"
"Fine, just looking. Do you think he'll take his shirt off to work?"
"I think we deserve a break, let's hang out for a bit before going on the donut run..."
Clark was blushing furiously, having heard every word from across the room. He tried to avoid eye contact as the sisters walked back towards them. He turned to the other man.
"Xander, tell me what to do."
Buffy smiled and poked Xander in the ribs. "Now that's not something you hear very often."