Disclaimers etc with Part 1
I spent the following day in the office with Lois and Clark while Dawn and Willow did some sightseeing. Lois and I took lunch at the same time and it was during this hour that a bombshell was dropped.
Sam Lane released a statement on live television from the White House, that interrupted a game show Lois and I were shouting at, saying that owing to a difference of opinion he had resigned his position in the Luthor administration.
To say we were surprised is a gross understatement. Obviously Sam did some interrogating. It's kinda sad though. I mean it'd be like finding out Giles was a huge phoney and wasn't ever a Watcher. We all base our lives on certain things we believe are true. I believe Giles was and is my Watcher. Sam Lane believed that Lex Luthor was a better man than Clark. When we find out those truths aren't... the whole world seems to have fallen apart and has to be rebuilt to replace that lost information. I think I'm used to things like that happening. Angel wasn't human, Ford was using me as bait for Spike, Angelus was a bastard. There's a whole bunch of them but now my whole world doesn't crumble. Just the bit that the truth is attached to.
Well that was remarkably philosophical and involved. I'd better stop that or my image as super-strong air-head superhero will be destroyed.
"Shall we try dinner at my house again tonight?" Lois asked as she munched on a pretzel.
"How about at my place... well Bruce's place."
"Sure. We've got plenty of room. But I'd better find Willow and Dawn 'cause we'll need to get some more food."
Lois chuckled and returned to her work while I used my hi-tech equipment to tell Willow, through Oracle, that I was ready to meet with them.
I met them at the mall and we bought food to make dinner. We decided on a roast dinner to make up for the one Lois had made last night that none of us, not even Lois or Clark, had eaten.
The roast was within minutes of being done and the rest of our dinner was ready to be served when they knocked at the door. Lots of smiles and hugs were exchanged at the door as Lois and Clark entered.
"Dad came by just before we left the apartment," Lois said as she took her jacket off.
"He wanted me to extend his apologies and his condolences."
"How is he?" Willow asked.
"He seems to be sulking."
"I guess it's better than the insults," Willow said. "He was really just mean. But no one deserves to be betrayed."
Dinner went off without a hitch. We played some computer games while Superman patrolled. At about midnight he came back for Lois and took her home. We went to bed to get some rest before our journey home tomorrow.
Dawn and I will take a midday flight back to Gotham. Willow took a different flight home, the Green Lantern express direct from Bruce Waynes Metropolis penthouse to Kyle Rayner and Willow Rosenbergs apartment in New York.
The flight in Bruces jet was uneventful and Dawn and I slept most of it.
Home again, home again. I never thought I'd be so grateful for a chaffeur driven car but seeing Alfreds familiar face smiling happily at us... well that just makes it even better. I've missed the old guy. We picked up Tim on the way home but Dawn is still tired so she's sleeping, Tim's in the kitchen with Alfred and I'm watching Cartoon Network waiting for someone to visit or something to happen.
During the fifth episode of the Powerpuff Girls marathon Dawn comes downstairs and goes straight to the kitchen looking sleep ruffled and sluggish. I really don't like those bags under her eyes and the paleness of her skin.
I sigh and turn back to the TV.
"I'll get it!" I shouted toward the kitchen as I jumped the sofa and ran toward the front door to answer the doorbell. I skidded to a stop on my socked feet and swung the door open with a broad smile. I checked the peephole first of course, and saw Donna, Lian and Roy on the other side.
"Hello Buffy," Donna smiled at me. "Is Alfred out with Bruce?"
"Nah. I just beat him to the door," I grinned. "Hey Roy." The redhead nodded. "Are you ok?"
"Yeah sure. Is Dawn here?"
"In the kitchen."
Donna, Lian and I follow an obviously upset Roy as he stalks through the house and into the kitchen. "What the hell do you think you're doing Dawn?" he demands of my sister who is sitting at the kitchen table doing nothing, and I mean she's staring into nothing and she looks like she's barely breathing.
"Huh?" she asked in that dull voice of hers.
Roy grabbed her arm and yanked on it, turning it over to look at the inside of her elbow. "You think this thing you inject into yourself will make it all stop?"
"What do you know Roy Harper? You can have whatever you want. You have incredible friends, a beautiful daughter. What have I got?"
"A family who loves you Dawn," he argued.
"My daddy knows lots Dawn! He's got scars like yours," Lian shouted.
Dawn looked up at Roy and I know my expression was the same shocked one that she wore. *He* was the former junkie he'd talked about at Titans Tower. I guess that was the story he never got to tell me.
"You're coming with me. We're going to get you checked into a clinic, and maybe a few sessions with a counsellor." Roy marched Dawn out of the house without another word and left us all blinking in the kitchen.
"I didn't know who else she'd listen to..." Tim whispered.
"You did the right thing telling someone Tim... I had no idea."
"I... suspected. I'm still trying to find out who her supplier is."
"You've been very good to Dawn, Tim. Thank you."
"Dawn's my friend Buffy. I'd do anything for her."
"I'd better take Lian home," Donna said quietly.
"Dawn will be ok Buffy. My daddy knows what to do."
I smiled at Lian. She's so incredible. "I know that Lian. Thank you."
In the hour before Roy called me I paced and worried and cried to Alfred about how terrible I must be to have missed the detail of my sisters life that was Dawn taking drugs. Roy didn't say much, just an address and a room number which I was checking on the paper I held against the number on the door I now stood in front of.
I knocked timidly on the white door of the room Roy said was Dawn's. She called out 'sopen'. Hellmouth training is hard to undo. I took a deep breath and went in. "I really did fail you Dawn, didn't I? First mom and now..." I didn't mean to start that way but the nerves kick-in and start the mouth and I'm helpless to control it.
"This isn't your fault, Buffy. You can't blame yourself."
"I should have seen Roy..."
"No. She shouldn't have started. Tim spends nearly all day with her and he didn't even know that she was using. He had his suspicions but all of you knew something was wrong. Most of you put it down to her grief."
"I won't let you blame yourself Buffy. I made the decisions. It isn't your fault," Dawn said quietly but not without some confidence. "Really Buffy, this is about me. I made this mistake and I'm not so far gone that this will be very painful. Roy's right and he should know. He's lived to tell and has done a great job of getting on with his life. We have some pretty fantastic friends huh Buffy?"
I smiled at my wise little sister. "Yeah we do, Dawn."
A chime sounded. "End of visiting hours 'Stalker. We'll be back tomorrow, Dawn. Take care."
She smiled. "Can't do anything else. Later."
I hugged her. "Love you Dawn."
"Love you too Buffy. Now go and kick some bad guy butt tonight for me. Oh, and tell Willow and Babs I'm sorry that I'll be offline for a few days at least. Tell them where I am and stuff. They're my friends too."
"Ok Dawn. See you tomorrow."
I don't remember driving home but I remember seeing Alfreds sad face when I walked through the kitchen toward the living room. He didn't do anything except put the plate of roast chicken and vegetables into the oven. It'll find it's way to the fridge later.
I sat alone in the dark of night as it poured through the open, uncurtained living room windows wishing for moonlight to bathe myself in. Alfred has left the radio on a low volume in here. I'm certain he has his own agenda sometimes but right now my heart aches too much to really think about anything. Right now, all i can do is feel and I feel horrible. Dawn was right but I can't help but feel a little responsible. Who wouldn't?
The radio dj's chuckle and comment about the nicknames some people give their loved ones being weird caught my attention. Then I heard him say, "But in all seriousness folks, this next song goes out to NightStalker from Batman. He promises you won't always feel this way."
I didn't really listen until the chorus repeated.
'All of your demons will wither away
ecstasy comes and they cannot stay
you'll understand when you come my way
cause all of my demons have withered away'
I guess that's what Alfred wanted me to hear. I don't really feel any better but I suppose I will eventually but when did Bruce start listening to pop music?
I had another dream last night.
Bruce is going to force us away from him. All of us. I'll fight him every step of the way but he's going to succeed, and I'm not sure I can do anything about the reason for it either. But there will be someone that will bring everyone back together, I just hope the reason I didn't see me in the dream at that point is because I was looking through my own eyes.
Huffing, I stand up and head for the cave. Maybe there's someone on the street who's stupid enough to take on a pissed off Slayer equipped with the Bats best.