Xander’s cell phone rang twice before falling silent. A quick check showed an unfamiliar number, and the area code wasn’t Smallville or Metropolis. When he tried calling back, it just rang and rang.
Shoving the matter out of his head, Xander focused on the books he’d brought home last night. He still needed to improve his Sumerian, and he had a training session with Spike scheduled for once the sun went down. Maybe Clark would call again after dinner. Or maybe Xander would call Clark. After the call yesterday, he was a bit worried about his cousin.
Which is probably why he should have been less surprised when he identified the person knocking on his door fifteen minutes later as Clark.
“It only took twenty minutes this time,” the young man said, words coming out almost as fast as his legs could move. “Except the small stop. I tried to call, but the payphone I found cut off, and I figured this would be better face to face. That’s what Dad seemed to think. Not that he knows I’m here, or mentioning this. He’d never approve of me saying anything. But you have no idea. Today… today….” Clark’s voice finally trailed off. He shrank into a full defensive hunch.
Xander locked the door and came closer, impressed. Clark usually couldn’t out babble Willow, but that last speech came close. He touched Clark’s shoulder, but before he could get a word out—
“I’m an alien.” The words slammed out of Clark with a force that rocked his whole body.
Shocked, and without words to comfort, Xander drew Clark into a hug. Over the young man’s (young alien’s?) shoulder, he spotted Spike peering out of the second bedroom. Wincing, Xander glared until the vampire retreated. He’d deal with that later. With a wooden stake if he had to.
“What makes you think so?” Xander finally asked once Clark stopped shaking so much.
“You’re going to have to give me a little more than that, Clark.”
“It’s all my fault.”
Well that clarified everything. Not. “What is?”
“Lana’s parents. The cows. Sasha getting stung. Tina’s shape shifting.”
That was enough to find the commonality. “The meteors.”
Clark pulled back, almost threatening Xander’s arms before he let go. The young man started pacing up and down the living room. “They found me in a cornfield. Kept my ship in the storm cellar. That’s why… why everything. Everyone gets hurt. I get strong.” While not terribly coherent, every word got a little louder, and finally Xander had to come close and try and calm Clark down.
“Hey,” Xander said, catching Clark’s cheeks between his hands. Clark froze at the touch. “Now you know. You’re not part demon.”
“Or a meteor mutant.” The words were reflex, from the many, many conversations between the two cousins over the last year plus.
Xander smiled, but Clark didn’t join him.
“I’m not sure this is better.”
Taking a deep breath, Xander considered a moment. Clark had a point. “Today, no, it’s not. But give it some time. You’ve got answers now. Just one, but it’s a start. And you’re still you.”
“Who am I?” Clark whimpered.
“Clark Kent. Adopted son of Jonathan and Martha Kent. Farmboy. Friend of Pete and Chloe and Tina and Lana. Cousin of Xander. Savior of half of Smallville, including this Lex you keep mentioning.”
“One facet of many,” Xander insisted.
Finally, Clark let out a big sigh and settled into the couch. “You really don’t care.”
Xander cheered inside, because that was a statement. Not a question. “No, I don’t care.”
Clark took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment. When he opened them, he met Xander’s eyes for the first time since he arrived. “Thanks. I think I needed to hear that.”
Xander smiled, and this time Clark smiled back. “My pleasure.”
Letting out a chuckle, Clark rolled his eyes. “I’m sorry. I bet you didn’t expect to be dragged back into the teen angst after escaping high school. Especially not on this level.”
“Teen angst was never at a normal level for me anyway. And if you think I escaped at home after high school you’re dumber than you look. I came back to Buffy’s boy troubles, then Willow’s, and more for Buffy, and Willow’s girl troubles. Then the commandos invaded. Honestly, Clark, you’re a breath of fresh air.”
This time Clark honestly laughed, though it was still a touch strained. “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
Xander didn’t reply. What reply could he make? He just hugged his cousin tight until the younger man wiggled away.
“I should head back.” Clark said it, but his head was down and his shoulder’s hunched.
“You ready to face your family again?”
“No,” Clark admitted. “But I should try and get ready somewhere closer to home.”
“Fair enough. But call if you need anything. Even a friendly voice.”
“I will,” Clark promised as he escorted himself out. “Thanks again, Xander.”
As soon as Clark was on his way, Xander leaned back against the closed door and took a deep breath. An alien. Clark’s an alien.
Well that explains a lot. Including the degree of paranoia the Kents lived with.
Which Xander now lived with. And he had to do something about a particular potential leak.
“Spike,” Xander called, striding firmly towards the second bedroom. The vampire appeared in the doorway fully dressed, a state he rarely reached before sunset on a normal day. Sunset wasn’t for another couple of hours.
“You heard all that?” It wasn’t really a question. With vampire hearing there was pretty much no way Spike didn’t hear. But this kind of thing required a certain procedure.
“Yep,” Spike drawled, popping the final ‘p’.
“Let me make something very clear then.” Xander strode forward until he was chest to chest with Spike. The vampire actually took a step backward before he stiffened his spine. “If you ever mention anything you learned tonight to anyone, in Sunnydale or out, tomorrow or in a decade, I will destroy you.”
Spike snorted, but his eyes were wary.
“Oh, I know I’m a zeppo.” Xander smirked. “But I do have friends. Like Willow, who would happily shove a soul into you before I killed you, just so both of you could suffer all the more. Or like Anya, who still has an amazing selection of friends from back in the day. I bet I could wish you into a state where you’d suffer for an eternity before you died and suffered in hell. And if you come after me first, I’ll see to it you come with me.
“So you will keep your mouth shut about what you learned today.” Xander ended on a growl, and wondered if his eyes flashed green. The hyena hadn’t really been around since the banishment spell back in sophomore year, but sometimes, when the urge to protect the pack became strong, it seemed like it was almost there.
Spike didn’t speak in the silence after Xander finished, and the man studied the vampire carefully. There was a hint of yellow in Spike’s eyes, and his head almost seemed tilted a bit, like he was exposing his neck.
Frowning, Xander snapped, “You hear me, Spike?”
That snapped the pose Spike had taken. He took a deep breath and backed up a full two steps, his legs hitting the bed behind him. “Yeah, I hear you, Xander. I tell anyone your cousin is an alien and I suffer. Point made.” Those blue eyes vanished as Spike’s head dipped and the vampire pushed past Xander. If the man hadn’t followed so quickly, he might not have heard Spike’s last, near silent words.
“Wouldn’t have said anything anyway. If anyone’d know about ending up in a lab it’d be me.”
Startled, Xander froze in the doorway. Sure, he knew Spike knew about being in a lab. He’d used Spike as an example to Clark last year. But there was something more in the Vampire’s tone. That line had not come from the big bad, or the depressed and suicidal vampire of last winter. Something had changed.