SPECIAL THANKS to Eliz for letting me borrow her... and thanks and apologies for not saying thanks sooner, to Jaz for his appearnace in HelLex III and for letting me borrow his 'establishment'.
"I like Kyle," I continued.
"He's a great guy," Babs said, re-joining us.
"So do we wait here for them to return?" Tim asked.
"What did Alfred want?" I asked him. "Is everything ok?"
"Just to make sure I was behaving myself."
"Did you tell him the truth?" Willow's voice asked from somewhere in the garden.
"It's the Wicca version of hide and seek Buffy. Follow my voice or don't. It may lead you away from me."
I chuckled. "I thought you didn't wanna play games. We could have just tried to make Dick dance the funky chicken."
Laughing she appeared at my side.
"Stop that! When did you master teleportation? Last time you talked about it you could only move small stuff."
"I haven't. I just snuck up behind you all."
"How embarrassing," I laughed. "Nevermind. Shall we go and see what food Alfred has arranged for this little gathering?"
Well there was a lot. Everything from vegetarian snacks to snacks made entirely of meat. There was no fish on the table and I figured that was out of deference to Garth and Atlantis.
The only thing there was more of than food was conversation. I like Jim Gordon. He's a good man. He's intelligent and seems interested in everyone's opinion regardless of his own. I spent much of the evening discussing legal ethics and other things like that with him. His personal views are skewed a little by his experience. His daughter crippled by a madman, the same madman then killed his wife but for all of that I think he's remarkably stable and shows good judgement. Not that I'm very good at judging such things but I know that Bruce holds him in high esteem and that's enough for me.
Everyone that was leaving was gone by two a.m. Dick took Tim home to the younger mans father's house before midnight. Babs and Cassandra had left with Jim at midnight. Wally vanished into the night seconds before two a.m. and called us moments later to tell us he'd returned home safely. Garth had simply dived off the cliff and into the ocean and disappeared.
When we were alone again in the manor, Willow sat on the sofa in the living room curled up beside Kyle who was staying over night and would return to New York much later that day. Bruce sat in an armchair staring at nothing. I was sitting on Dick's lap in the armchair opposite Bruce.
"It's mindnumbing isn't it Bruce?"
"Parties with these vacuous people. It's mindnumbing," Willow repeated.
"For the most part."
"Then why do you do it?"
"It's expected of me."
"So? It's also expected that you'll get married," she pointed out.
"Very true. There are some sacrifices I am prepared to make to maintain some privacy and divert peoples attention from the truth."
Alfred has been standing silently behind the sofa for about a minute now... Looks like he's going to speak. "Master Kyle. There is a call for you from someone claiming to be your assistant."
"Great. Wonder what could be such a problem..." Kyle stood up and followed Alfred to the phone.
"The truth?" Willow asked.
"The truth that I am Batman."
Well! I wasn't expecting him to be so casual about it, and that explains Alfred's hesitation.
She was silent for a full minute as she stared at the millionaire relaxed into an overly large leather armchair with his closed eyes cast toward the ceiling. "Ha!" she said finally without humour. "I figured you were smarter than you allowed everyone to think but that... that's wow!"
A tiny almost smile played across Bruce's face.
"That would make Dick Nightwing, Tim Robin, Cassandra Batgirl. Right?"
"But Kyle doesn't know does he?"
"No. We share a career with him but he doesn't know."
"And I can't tell anyone."
"That's not unusual. This is very cool. So where is the cave?"
"Under the house. We'll show you all of that tomorrow."
Kyle returned then, followed by Alfred. "Well that phone call was a waste of time. I'm in need of sleep. I had no idea a party could be so exhausting."
"It is a bit strange huh? It's not like we did any dancing or anything. I think I'll go to bed too," Willow said, standing up.
Alfred appeared again and escorted them both upstairs.
I stared at Bruce.
"You were remarkably casual about telling her."
"She already knows about secret identities and I think she's smart enough to realise the sort of secret involved with that information."
"So it's a trust thing then?"
"I trust you. I can trust Willow because of her association with you."
"Uh huh. Well it is also sleepy time for little Slayers so I shall say nightienight, don't let the vampires bite, and see you in the morning." Dick stood up with me. I don't know if it was by design or coincidence but my room was next door to Dicks old room, kept just for him when he came to visit, which was opposite Bruce's room.
"Sleep well Buffy."
Well wouldn't you know it. I didn't. Strange flashes of my mother, green hair and a bald head. On the prophetic and strange dream vagueness scale of one to ten it was an eleven. I shook off the feelings that always follow a dream that makes no sense and glanced at the clock. It was nearly 8:30 a.m. I pulled on my dressing gown and stumbled down the stairs and into the lounge room. I barely noticed the television was on and curled up on the end of the sofa opposite Bruce, dressed for work in his suit. Rubbing my eyes sleepily I stared at the tv.
"The Powerpuff Girls?"
Bruce shrugged. "Life is serious enough," he said as if that explained it.
While Alfred took Bruce to the office I made my breakfast.
Later that day, Alfred drove Willow and I into Gotham City where we met Cassandra for more shopping and lunch. Bruce called to make sure everything was all right and admitted to being a bit bored. We decided Bruce needed interrupting and went to his office to invite him to lunch with us.
The guys at the security desk glanced at us as we came in and said good day to Cassandra. She nodded at them and led us straight past them and to the elevators. We got out on the top floor where Bruce's office lived. I lost the round of paper, scissors, rock and left Willow and Cassandra playing amateur art critics to speak to the secretary. "Um hi. Are you Bruce Wayne's secretary?"
"Hello. Yes I'm Mr Wayne's assistant. My name is Elizabeth. How can I help you?"
"Can you please tell Mr Wayne that Bubbles, Blossom and Buttercup are here to take him to lunch." She looked confused but picked up the phone and relayed my message.
The office door opened, Bruce looked out and laughed. "So they are. Lucius, can this wait until after lunch?"
"Uh... sure Bruce."
"You must be Lucius Fox," I said approaching the men and shaking Mr. Fox's hand. "I've heard a lot about you," I smiled.
"Lucius, this is Dick's girlfriend Buffy Summers."
He smiled. "Miss Summers. I've heard a lot about you too."
"I'm sure it's not all favourable. Would you like to join us for lunch?" I figured I could be interested and it was practice. I'd need to schmooze if I worked for the Daily Planet after college.
"That's a nice offer but I have work that needs doing."
"Have you eaten? It's not healthy to skip a meal and the work will still be there in an hour," I pressed.
"I don't like it," Willow was saying as she and Cassandra crossed the room.
"You don't like what Willow?" Bruce asked.
"That painting," she said, indicating the one on the wall behind her.
"What about the one in here?" Bruce indicated she should come into his office.
"Would you prefer we order sandwiches? We can eat in the office..."
Lucius smiled. "You aren't going to give up are you?"
"It took you this long to notice?" I smiled.
He chuckled. "How about Chinese?"
Cassandra nodded enthusiastically. Willow and Bruce agreed. "Sounds great. Do you want us to call you when it arrives?"
"Thank you." He walked away.
"...I do. This one makes sense."
"I thought you'd like it," Bruce smirked. "Kyle painted it."
Willow blushed. "Alright. I like him. Leave me alone," she mumbled as she dropped into a chair.