PART #: Part 1/10
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.
RATING: a very dull PG.
SUMMARY: Buffy/Batman/JLA (Justice League of America) X-Over. The happy news and the aftermath of Joyce's death.
SPOILERS: Some Season 4 and 5 BtVS, Season 1 Angel.
DEDICATED: To cHeWtOy as always. To Firebird and Lee for reading and beta'ing, and to Logan for graduating :)
FEEDBACK: Do I really need to ask? ok I will... PLEASE???
NOTES: Using Thomas, his fathers name, as Bruce's middle name a little later, as that seems to be the most commonly known...
I choose to start this story now...
It's the end of the college year and the beginning of summer and while Dawn and I settled into Wayne Manor, Willow packed up her computer and moved from Sunnydale into Kyle's apartment in New York.
I'll be moving to Metropolis soon so I can begin work at the Daily Planet. I'm not entirely sure what Perry has in mind for me to do. I'm still writing my demons article each week and answering the letter column. I miss Willow's constant companionship terribly but she'll be much closer in New York than in Sunnydale and it's not like we can't contact each other. I see her through the computer screen everyday and I still have Robin the First to keep me company.
I have two weeks holiday in Gotham before I move into Bruce's penthouse in Metropolis with Dawn. Not entirely happy with Bruce's strong-arm tactics to get me to use the apartment but he is at least letting my pay him some rent for the use of it. No where near the amount it's worth i'm sure but I feel a little less like a charity case now. I suggested to Dawn that she could stay in Gotham with Babs, who offered Dawn a place to stay when I moved to Metropolis so she wouldn't have to change schools again but Dawn's insisting on coming with me and I won't refuse her.
It's a month since mom was buried. Bruce managed to get Sunnydale University's Dean and my professors to agree to allow to me to complete what tiny amounts of my courses were left by correspondence because i was too grieved to return to Sunnydale. I finished it from here in Gotham early and now I'm just biding my time till the two exams over summer to get my diploma or whatever.
None of it really matters now.
Everyday is a struggle to get Dawn to respond. She seems to react to Tim but that's not the same as a response is it? She's so quiet it scares me. Her eyes are dull and her skin is pale.
We are so different. I've thrown myself into whatever I can to distract me from my grief. Dawn seems to be wallowing in it and I just don't know what to do. Alfred does his best. I can imagine the same sad compassion and affection in his expression when he looks at Dawn is the same one he wore when Bruce was young and still obviously grieving for his own parents.
Dawn's home from school all day now because it's holidays and I see her everyday as she physically drifts through the days the same way I mentally drift, and despite Bruce's protestations that I'm doing just fine with Dawn... I don't think I am. Dawn is drifting further away each day.
On a happier note, today is one year since I met Dick Grayson at that fundraiser in Metropolis.
I look up from the carrot I haven't actually cut yet for the soup Alfred began teaching me to make an hour ago and see him looking at me with a thoughtful look and I sigh. I seem to sigh a lot these days. "I'm sorry Alfred. Once again I'm lost in my thoughts."
"You have a lot to think about Miss."
"But it shouldn't rule my life or I'll end up thinking things to death like my honey and his mentor do," I smiled.
Alfred smiled back. "Would be that so terrible Miss?"
"I'm an impulsive sort, a bit more like Tim I think. I prefer to just get in and do it. It's the nature of my birthright," I shrugged.
"It's the nature of your person Miss. Your birthright has not dictated your personality."
"No. I guess it hasn't." He's right. Alfred is always right. It's why none of us, not even Batman argue with him. "Alfred?"
"Am I doing ok? I mean, with Dawn and everything? I've tried everything I can think of but she's so... withdrawn still."
Alfred put down the vegetables he'd just washed and looked at me. "...Buffy, everyone deals with grief their own way. You must allow Dawn to deal with her mothers passing as she needs to. You cannot force her through this."
"I know that... I know..." More sighing.
"You are doing a good job. She knows you care and that she has a place with you. She has friends who care. We all love her and she knows that too. I think she will be ok."
"Thank you Alfred." I begin slicing the carrot then began on the other vegetables. We get the chicken and vegetable soup bubbling before I follow Alfred upstairs to help him, despite his protestations, with the washing and folding.
"Was Bruce so quiet when his parents died?" I asked as I helped fold a king size bed sheet.
"When he was small Master Bruce was a happy little boy. It was almost impossible to stop him from getting into anything. When his parents died... He watched them bleed to death Miss. I can not imagine how that must torment him. He was quiet and dedicated. Obsessive in maintaining what he could of his parents presence in this house. The quake took all of that away from him. But I suppose by that time he'd come to some reconciliation within himself." Alfred fell silent as he contemplated the man he had raised from tragedy into Gothams triumphant and shadowy protector.
Two years or so ago Gotham City was declared a No Mans Land by the US Congress because it would have cost too much to repair after it suffered several natural disasters. Many people refused to leave, including the Bat family which included Alfred and Dr. Leslie Thompkins. From what little I've managed to find out from Oracles heavily guarded files on that year I know that it must have been devastating.
I had gone with Alfred to pick Willow up earlier this same morning, at the same time we had dropped Dawn and Tim at his fathers house. They had plans together. Nothing unusual there. Willow has come to visit for the weekend from New York to discuss computers and procedure stuff for what is now being dubbed the Oracle Collective but for lunch we're just going to chat. It's a girl thing but we like it. Then tomorrow Willow and I are off to Metropolis to see a man about a job... well ok so it's Perry about my terms of employment, but it sounds better the other way. At the moment though, Willow is upstairs resting. The long nights of computer duty coupled with the flight from New York have tired her out for once in her life. Dick is also home for the weekend, currently putting his bags in his room. Happy Buffy. Both her bestfriends under the same roof as she.
Weekends are good. I like weekends though I miss Dawns company. She usually spends all day every day of the weekend out with Tim and their friends and sometimes Tim's family.
Bruce is home from his day job but is down in the cave of course and Babs and Cass have arrived for lunch with Willow and I so I unveiled my soup. It's nice to eat with friends and watch their faces to know that they do in fact like what I've made. Dick is due back from his room upstairs any moment which is why we didn't wait for him.
Raised voices drew us from our lighthearted, kitchen-based chat over lunch and into the living room.
"...You're not normal. You're a rich kid playing at vigilantism. How are you any better than what you profess to stop?" Angel was shouting.
"And you're using what to determine if I'm normal? You're a vampire. You are also a concerned former boyfriend Angel. Buffy worked out who I am. I didn't tell her. She's a very smart and intelligent woman. I love her. I wouldn't, can't hurt her. She's survived so much. She' beautiful and strong. Buffy chose to put on the suit and mask. We didn't ask her to..."
"She is in enough danger without..."
"Danger you know intimately considering you once were the cause of it. That suit she wears is better protection than a leather jacket and you can't just barge into her life whenever you feel like it. She's..." Dick spoke without anger though I know his words stung Angel. They stung me to hear them, well except for the part where he said he loves me.
Angel's fist interrupted the final phrase of the sentence. Dick saw it coming and deflected it past his shoulder. "I don't want to do this Angel. I'll fight you if you continue but when I win, you walk out of here and really let Buffy live her life."
"Deal," Angel grunted aiming a low kick at Dick's feet. Dick back-flipped away, ending on his feet in a fighting stance.
"ANGEL! What the hell do you think you're doing? You have no rights, no claims here!" I shouted as he tried to attack Dick again. This time Dick landed a punch to Angels face and another to his solar plexus as he avoided the anger driven attack of my stupid, self-righteous ex-honey. I watched Dick toy with Angel like a cat would with a mouse. Babs, beside me, watched with unamused disinterest. Cass and Wills watched, almost silently cheering Dick on, which made me smile.
A sudden, unexpected blow to the back of the head with clenched fists sent Angel stumbling across the room and to the floor unconscious.
"Well that was quick," I commented, hurrying to Dick's side.
"He's a jerk you know," he said, smiling wanely.
"I know. Sit. Rest. I have a few choice words for that... being," I said pointing at Angel.
I grabbed Angel by the collar and dragged him outside to the driveway. I smacked his face a couple of times to wake him up.
"Don't. Say. One. Word. You will NEVER interfere like that again. I love him and he loves me. *You* left *me* remember? It was part of your plan to give me a normal life. I'm the Slayer. This is as normal as it gets."
Alfred stepped out of Angels car, of which he had taken the liberty of turning the ignition on, and dropped the keys on the ground beside Angel. "Sir will not be staying for dinner?"
"*Sir* is just leaving Alfred. Sir's invitation has been revoked. Thank you for your continued assistance Angel. I look forward to a professional relationship in the future. Good evening." Alfred followed me into the house.
"A fine performance Miss. Worthy of the Mistress of this house," Alfred smiled at me.
"When did I become Mistress of this house?"
"When you started dating Dick. I have no wife. He is the heir. You are his girlfriend. You are Mistress of Wayne Manor," Bruce explained as he emerged from behind the Grandfather clock. Does he live down there? "An out-dated system but we like it."
I shrugged. "As long as it doesn't get me kidnapped or killed it's cool. I'd better check on Dick."
"Angel got over-protective then got his ass whooped." I looked Dick over with a practiced eye.
"Do I pass Doc?" he grinned lopsidedly at me.
"For human? Maybe for another day," I said deadpan.
"You didn't burn that bridge did you?" he asked concerned.
"Hmm? No. I thanked him for his continued help and told him that I looked forward to a professional relationship in the future but that his invitation was revoked. Willow, could you take care of that?"
"Sure. I'll just get the herbs." She went upstairs to her room.
"Thank you for not hurting him more," I said quietly as I sat sideways on the sofa beside Dick.
"He's your friend, an acquaintance at the very least." Dick shrugged. "You told me he ended it. He should have the decency and the respect to let you make your own decisions."
"What happened?" Bruce growled.
"Angel attacked Dick. Dick knocked him out," Cassandra explained excitedly. "It was about Buffy."
"And they, Miss Buffy and Master Dick, both handled the situation Sir. I dare say it won't happen again."
"Put the Bat away Bruce. Did we leave any cookies in the kitchen? I'm hungry," Babs said to Alfred.
"Me too," I agreed.
"Stinky herbs and bad Latin... the revocation is complete. Did someone mention cookies?" Willow asked, leading the way back to the kitchen.
I giggled when I saw the we-aren't-looking-at-each-other looks between Bruce and Babs before turning back to Dick. Seriously I said to him, "I'm here with you Dick. I choose you. Not him." I turned again to follow everyone to the kitchen and the cookie bounty waiting us.
Dick's hand on my wrist made me look at him again. He looked up at me from his study of the carpet then stood beside me. Everything seemed to slow down as he kissed me. I love the feel of arms stronger than my own around me. He held me after he kissed me. I'm avoiding Mills and Boon descriptions but wow! This was... wow! He released me then he led me to the kitchen by the hand. I'm not entirely sure what the affectionate display in the living room was for but I'm definitely not complaining.