DISTRIBUTION: At my site www.harley-quinn.co.uk. If you want it just ask.
DISCLAIMER: Buffy and her cohorts belong to Warner Bros, Mutant Enemy, Fox etc. Batman and associates and the JLA all belong to DC Comics (which incidently, belongs to WarnerBros too). I own none of the characters but the thin thread of plot is mine and I cling to this like a life line. It's mine! I tell you and I gain no money from it but the immense satisfaction of turning the characters into whatever I see fit.
SUMMARY: Buffy/Batman/JLA (Justice League of America) X-Over. Summaries of the groups preceeded part 1 of the story so there's no need to not read it just because you don't know who they are. I have provided! :) Buffy goes to Metropolis for her summer job at the Daily Planet. Nothing works out the way you think when you come from the Hellmouth. Buffy's POV.
SPOILERS: Some Season 4 and 5 BtVS, Season 1 and 2 Angel. (No WW this fic is not for you-sowwy.) DC spoilers are up to Jan2001 comics.
DEDICATED: To cHeWtOy as always. To Panthera and Susie for beta'ing and Panthera for giving me the idea in the first place, and to Soul, angelsbitch, Melissa, Eliz (esp. for her US ettiquette advice) and anyone I might have forgotten who had to hear about this and the word counts over the three and a half days that I spent writing it (incidently the total fic weighs in at just over 22300 words, just the fic, without the headers.)

Part 13
by cHarley

I went with my Sunnydale friends back to the airport. They insisted on returning immediately to Sunnydale and LA, all of them having work to do.

I returned to my apartment and discovered I was not alone. My first clue was the open sliding doors. The second clue was Nightwing flicking channels on the TV.

"I can't stay. Superman is coming by later to make sure your safe and on your own, but I figured that because I know who you are, you should have the opportunity to see that you were right." I sat beside him on the sofa and raised my hand to gently stroke his face.

Then with his hand over mine I removed the mask.

I rested on the eighth day... sort of. I was called into the office. Lois said she was re-writing the article with the new information.

"Hello heroes mine," I grinned at Dick, Bruce and Tim.

"Heroine supreme, we come bearing sad news. We have to return to Gotham, but I'm hoping to visit you if you don't mind..."

"We all are," Tim said.

"I would love to see you all. It's a shame you have to go though."

"Don't forget you'll be coming to Gotham for New Years too," Bruce reminded me.

"How could I forget? I've been promised accommodation at Wayne Manor."

Someone came running past then and bumped into Clark. I watched him push his glasses up his nose in a way that I suppose is supposed to be clumsy but it just reminded me of Giles. But I know something only a handful of people know about Clark.

When Superman came by last night I asked him a question that had been bothering me for a few days. Guess who now knows Supermans secret identity.

"If we come to Sunnydale, we don't have to meet that Spike guy do we? He was weird."

"He's a vampire," I whispered to Tim who gave me a 'yeah I know. so?' look.

"He's just worried that Spike likes him."

"Like you like Buffy?" Tim taunted Dick, and they began to do that brothers-hitting-each-other bonding thing that I will never understand.

Laughing I answered the phone. "Daily Planet Metropolis. Buffy Summers speaking..." Angels voice on the other end startled me. "Bruce Wayne paid for your dry cleaning..?" I looked over at Bruce who shrugged, "He's here if you want to thank him directly... Sure I can tell him. That's not a problem... Oh, well he knew because I told him about how you all helped me to save Metropolis from becoming the newest Sunnydale. Thank you for helping Angel. I couldn't have done it without all of you. It means a lot that you were there... I know but it took my needing you to realise that you were... Well I just wanted to thank all of you... Ok. Bye."

Clark beat me to it. "You paid for their dry-cleaning?"

"You saw the mess Cordelia's clothes were in..." he stammered, "And Angel's coat... It was the least I could do to thank them..."

"They're very grateful. Thank you Bruce."

"Well it was Dicks idea so I can't take all the credit."

"Thank you Dick," I smiled.

"It was the least we could do for the friends who came to our aid."

"When do you have to leave?"

"We have to go today. Bruce was called back for an emergency."

"But... No..." I protested. "I have to work."

"We're leaving tonight Buffy. If you want to we can pick you up on the way but you'd have to get a taxi home."

"I'll take care of it," Clark said. "We'll make sure she's ok. Buffy's going to be the next star of the Daily Planet."

I blushed and tried to blink away the tears. Alone again in a strange city. Maybe not so alone I thought looking up at Clark who looked a lot like Superman from this angle. It's a wonder no one else has seen it.

The highlight of what could have been a truly awful day was that Perry loved the article and approved my name to be added in slightly smaller print below Lois and Clark’s.

I watched them from the tarmac as they flew away and on the way home I cried. I missed them already. They let me be normal and now they had gone. Clark and Lois reminded me that Dick and Tim had promised to visit in less than a week and that in the meantime I had them and the Daily Planet. I tried to grasp onto the energies and feel the happiness I had so recently found there but even they had gone. For now, I was no longer needed.

I took a deep breath and decided a pep talk was in order.

I was alive. Everyone else involved was alive, even Lex dammit. Remarkably, there had been no deaths at the hands of demons in Metropolis during the outbreak. I had wonderful new friends and a good job, even if it was only for the summer, but even Perry had told me I had potential and that meant something to me.

Lois and Clark took me out to dinner and offered me a bed at their place for the night. I thanked them but said no, I wanted to sleep in my own place. They took me home and walked me to the door putting their phone numbers in my cell phone. Lois made me promise that I would scream for Superman if I needed him. After all, he never failed her.

I smiled and promised to feel better. The phone began to ring the instant I shut the door. "Hello..?" My smile must have reached my ears, "Of course I'm glad to hear from you but you must have only just gotten home. Aren't you tired? ...Even superheroes get tired Dick..."

My remaining time with the Daily Planet was relatively quiet. Superman helped me with my nightly patrols, cleaning up Metropolis' streets of the few remaining demons and vampires. Sometimes even a JLA-er or two came to help as well. Bruce, Dick and Tim had occasionally made the trip to Metropolis, together and separately to visit me and help us.

Then the big day came and I was leaving Metropolis.

And I didn't want to. Perry had let me write a couple of small articles. Gap fillers and I was so excited I didn't care about the occasional 50-word limit. At least I was in there. I even got the front page once. Not just 150 words, the whole front page, picture and headline. Turns out Lex's mystical pal was the head of a trading ring in humans for spell sacrifice. The only downside of the story was that Perry wouldn't let me include that he worked for Wolfram and Hart. The little weasel just happened to get lucky casting that spell that night and opened a temporary Hellmouth. Unfortunately for him, the Slayer was in Metropolis.

I like being me.

Tim, Dick, Lois and Clark stood with me at the airport by gate 12. Dick was holding my hand. It was really more of a grip than a simple hold. Good thing Riley and I weren't Riley and I anymore. I really, REALLY like Dick. I don't even have to hold back when I'm training with him. He's been training since forever and that makes up for my extra strength.

"We're sorry your Dad couldn't make it," Lois said as she hugged me and handed me a package. "A memento of Metropolis. Autographed and all."

I opened the package and began laughing. "Thank you." I was now the proud owner of an autographed 11" Superman doll. "Hey it's no big deal about my dad Lois. He didn't meet me when I arrived either." Dad had come back to Metropolis for business again. I'm not sure how Lex is going to treat him this time though, after the little 'episode' on the roof of LexCorp Towers. Bruce had come back to Metropolis for the same reason.

"You didn't come with him?" Dick asked.

"Nah. Doesn't matter though. He doesn't like flying and complains the whole way," I smiled weakly. "If any of you are ever in Sunnydale and in need of somewhere less than 5 star to stay, look me up," I smiled.

"Wait Buffy!" Bruce ran down the corridor towards us, knocking people over in his haste. If I didn't know that he was Batman I would never have guessed. Bruce is so clumsy, where Batman is graceful. But like me, in his mind he is his warrior self, not this shell that protects us and our families from those who would hurt them or us. "I'm so sorry I'm late. I'd blame Alfred's driving but it was Lex complaining about a girl named Buffy from Sunnydale who, more than 2 months ago broke his nose and ruined his presidential photoshoot." My grin matched Bruce’s'. "Nice right hook by the way."

"It's only pretty when you haven't seen it rushing toward your face," Dick muttered.

"You volunteered and I tried to warn you."

He grinned and kissed my forehead. "I didn't mind so much. I learned a few things... and then some."

"Hey! Stop that. I'll get into trouble and Brucie over there will take away your allowance."

"That's never stopped him before. Oh, I have this for you."

"Can you hold Superman for me Dick?"

He looked at Clark then at me. "Do I have to?"

"Not that one." I handed him the doll and took the parcel from Bruce.

"It's a good thing they don't have interstate customs anymore," Bruce commented.

I looked at him over the bunched wrapping in my hand before opening the large leather case. I gaped at its contents.

"Though I didn't mean to break it, I figured I should replace it anyway."

"How come I never got a crossbow like that before I went anywhere?" Dick asked.

"You don't fight hellspawn demons and vampires every night. Besides you never had one for me to break, not that I meant to break it," he said quickly.

"Bruce it's ok. I told you that and this... this is beyond beautiful. Thank you." I hugged him. "Thank you," I said again looking at the polished wood and shiny metal.

"Share the wealth and all that," he said flippantly. I chuckled and put the case and the doll in my carryon bag.

"Well you've got enough," Lois remarked. "That's your plane Buffy. Oh, here comes Perry."

"Just wanted to send you off with a memento of the Daily Planet." He thrust a large flat package wrapped in brown paper at me and stuck out his hand. "Good luck and see you next term break."

"Really?" He nodded. I squealed but refrained from hugging him. I shook his hand excitedly. "Thank you! Ah. My plane. I have to go, but I'll be back... whether that's a good thing or not, I'm not sure. Bye."

Dick followed me as far as he could and kissed me goodbye. I was definitely going to Gotham City and Bludhaven. I had to find out who this Oracle was so it'd be a business trip too. "Dick! I forgot to give this back to Bruce..." I held out the wristband communicator.

"Keep it. He owns the company."

I found my seat by the window half way down the plane and looked out the window at the tarmac. Because the seat beside me was empty I'd been able to keep Perry's gift with me. I ripped open the brown paper and swatted the tears that formed in my eyes. It was a framed full-size copy of my frontpage, and I didn't get to thank him. I'll call him when I get back to Sunnydale. Sleep time now. I'm so tired.


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