Disclaimers etc with Prologue and previous stories, which can be found at www.harley-quinn.co.uk/tgi in the Fic Demons and Plot Bunnies section.
After some last minutes checks and a few minor edits last night (this story has not been Beta'd so all mistakes are my own), I have noticed that there are some parts of this story that will need warnings and explanations with the indiviual part so...
DANGER! DANGER WILL ROBINSON!! In this part there is a minor characters death. Some of you may hate me for it but it's crucial to this and the next 3 HelLex stories (I'm stopping at HelLex X and I will not be convinced otherwise ::GRIN:: maybe :)). The story also vaguely deals with extreme grief and some rather questionable though not illegal (as far I'm aware) behaviour as a result. Just thought I'd warn you.
Also, it was pointed out to me after I posted teh prologue that the italics didn't show so for this and in the last part, the newspaper clips are begun and ended with '//'.
Ooh, and last thing, if I mention something or someone that you don't know, please email me and ask :) I tend to forget that not everyone is a complete tv/movie/comic junkie like myself :)
And remember... it will actually all make sense in the end. ;)
//'Many of the letters I receive from you, the reader, ask about my theories, thoughts and understandings regarding life beyond humanity as we know it within our universe, and even beyond.
'Is there such a thing as life on other planets? Not other realities of our own earth or other dimensions but other, separate planetary entities co-existing in the universe with our own humble planet. I haven't seen it but that doesn't mean that humanity is it for intelligent life in the known cosmos, and beyond. Quite frankly the thought that we might be it for intelligent life scares me. My interest and resources for astronomy are more limited than those I have access to for the Occult, mythology and demonology, which I have studied and examined in the hopes of finding something worse than our own warlike species on our own planet.
'I'm still looking.'//
Excerpt - ‘Life?’ Buffy Summers, The Daily Planet, 15 Aug. 2002.
It was my turn for monitor duty at Titans Tower earlier today and now as the night falls Roy and I have party plans that are why I find myself swinging across the New York night. Things have been pretty quiet lately so I should be worried but I'm not. Lex has gone to ground during the on-going investigation into my mom's death. The Joker is likewise out of the loop. It's not the right time of year for a Hellmouth explosion and I've already lost someone important to me this cycle around the sun. I'm not gonna even think 'what next' cause I don't wanna find out but I know I will find out soon, much sooner than I would like I dare say. I spy Roy crouching in the shadows of a rooftop and redirect myself in his direction. "Buffy. I need you to return to Sunnydale immediately," interrupts my reflection.
"Ah how I love your manners Giles," I quietly quip as I swing onto the building where Arsenal waits. He looks over his shoulder at me and chuckles throatily as I roll my eyes good naturedly at the distressed voice of my Watcher. "What's up? I'm kinda in the middle of something here," I say as I move further away from Roy so I don't reveal our position to the drug dealers below.
"Apparently Batman found a... catwoman in Gotham, nearly drained. I've only been able to decipher a little of Batman's accusations but it seems that she was making incoherent remarks about a platinum blond, British Vampire and Sunnydale."
That gets my attention. "Spike?"
"It would appear so."
"Or a groupie."
"Buffy. I'm concerned that Batman is behaving... irrationally. We can't force him to do anything and for some reason we think we should do something to save Spike," my mentor and friend sighs and I think I hear a bone break and a groan of pain in the background.
She sighed before beginning to answer. "Batman has been incommunicado for about three hours. His signal is indeed coming from Sunnydale. I can send Azrael to Sunnydale if you'd prefer. I didn't want to call you off your current case until I knew what was happening."
"Stalker?" Roy whispers.
"Emergency of the psycho Bat variety," I shrug slightly as feet land softly behind me.
"Hey Wingster, Donna."
"I'll take over for you," Donna smiled.
"Thanks. I have no idea why I'm riding to Spike's rescue," I mumble as I step closer to Nightwing.
Smiling I respond to the soft voice of my best girl friend at my ear, "Yeah Sage?"
"I uh..." she cleared her throat, "pulled a few strings with the JLA-er on monitor duty. You can use the transporters. J'onn told me they'd completed the one in LA and the other in Sunnydale earlier this week." "I'm not asking," I heard Oracle's voice mumble and Seer's answering chuckle to Sage's innocent 'What?'
We, Nightwing and I, find ourselves back at the Tower quickly and at the transporter thingie. Ok so I don't know technical terms. If I'm completely honest these things give me the heebie-jeebies. I wonder if anyone has ever been turned inside out by one. With a deep breath I step inside, blink and find myself looking at a smiling Green Lantern. He winks before hitting another button and we find ourselves in the back room of The Magic Box in Sunnydale.
I can see Batman standing over Spike’s bloody body. "Back off Batman."
"Why are you protecting this demon?" he snarls without turning to look at me.
I refrain from sighing as I carefully weigh the situation. Batman is twice my height and several times my weight without all the heavy armour. How I ever managed to best him in combat, training or otherwise I will never know. I do know though that he is acting purely on emotion here. This person Spike is supposed to have killed meant a lot to Bruce. That in itself is a rare thing. This complete lack of control frightens me. Bruce is the most in control person I know and now I get to battle the storm. Oh joy... not! Taking a deep breath I reply, "I don't really know but if you stopped to think about this for a nanosecond with that reputedly large and clever brain of yours you'd realise that Spike couldn't have done what you're vaguely accusing him of and made it back to Sunnydale before you did *just* so you could beat him closer to senselessness."
Batman turned slightly to glare at me, his chest heaving with the effort of breathing as he fought his emotions. I instinctively knew the moment he gave into them and beat Nightwing to the stake in Batman's swiftly lowering right arm. Nightwing got Spike clear as I took out Batman in a crash tackle. I slammed my right fist into his face once as I shouted, "Don't you EVER do that again." I sat back on his chest and looked at his bloody lip. "This is still my town."
"I found this on him," he says as if that explains his behaviour. If this were me or one of the plethora of superheroes in the world in *his* city... we wouldn't have just a fat and bleeding lip to take home. "I don't know what it is Slayer," Spike said as he scrambled toward the door keeping Nightwing between himself and Batman. He swiped at his own bleeding lip with the back of his hand and grimaced before beginning a careful check of the rest of his body, managing to keep his eyes on Batman at the same time.
"It's kinda pathetic that you had to chase after a vampire who can't hit back," I comment as I take the green object from his gloved hand and examine it. It's familiar.
"How do you *know* he can't hit back?"
"D'you honestly think he'd still be here, that we'd all still be alive if he could," Xander finally spoke up, gesturing to himself and my other friends.
"The Demon is still a living entity," Giles adds with some consternation at his own efforts to protect Spike.
"He isn't human," the Dark Knight growls.
I look up from my inspection of the faintly glowing green ring. "You're no better than he is, " I say with some disgust. "I do not in anyway condone what he does... did, but Spike killed humans mostly because he needed the blood to survive. There was some torture involved but usually it served the same end--dinner."
"She's dead Buffy."
I hear Dick's intake of breath at the same time a bell rings in the shop. "Oh. Money. I mean, a customer." Anya quickly left the room in her pursuit of cash.
I make the assumption that he means this catwoman Giles told me about and say quietly, "So is my mother but killing the Joker or Luthor isn't going to bring her back. Let's go back to Gotham and you can explain yourself there." I stand up, still holding the ring and offer my empty hand to the weary looking Batman. He takes the hand and stands, moving toward the teleporter thingamajig and leaving before Nightwing and I.
"Are you alright Spike? How did you get this ring?"
He grunts at me. "I suppose. He needs a shorter leash Slayer," he says with faint concern. "I know mentally unstable and he's it. As for the ring, I ran into an old chum. Killed 'im and took the ring cause it looked like the one the witches friend wears. I didn't know it was so important. If I had I'd've kept it hidden," he grumbles as he wipes at the blood from his mouth again. He grins at me as he asks, "Tell Cassandra I said hello will you Slayer?"
"Ok. I'll call you tomorrow Giles."
"Buffy," Xander calls to me. "Be careful."
I smile. "I will Xand-man. You do the same," I say and hug him before joining Dick in the transporter.
I'm somehow aware of white light around us as we are teleported into the Batcave and have to wait a full minute before I can properly orient myself in the darkness of the cave. "Bruce?" I call softly into the unusual, forbidding darkness, leading Dick toward the only source of light using an innate sense of light and dark to not fall from the pathways. We find ourselves at the edge of a medical looking area. Shelves of equipment and jars in a circle around a large space, an unadorned metal cot its focal point. I see Bruce standing at the head of the cot holding his cowl as he stares at the uncovered face of the woman on the cot. I don't know her, I've never seen her face but I know that she's dead. Never to awaken.
"This was, is, was Selena Kyle. She was the Catwoman. Someone framed your pet demon," Bruce said softly.
Above the pale blue sheet on the small amount of her shoulders I see the beginnings of gaping wounds that I assume were caused by railway spikes embedded in her body.
Don't be mistaken. My own detachment disgusts me but I don't seem to the able to understand all of this. There is more being unspoken here. "Someone framed Spike?"
"Selena committed a robbery this evening. By the time I tracked her to the dockside warehouse, she... they'd left her."
The 'for dead' doesn't need saying and I don't think he'd be able to say it even if he wanted to. Bruce has yet to learn to deal with personal loss without blaming himself. I'm not exactly the best at it either but at least I understand it as a concept.
"She was pinned to a wall with those," he says, hiking a thumb at one of the benches where two railway spikes lay. "She confessed that she had been paid to find and collect a jade lantern. She also took a jade cat and an original copy of 'The Cat in the Hat' but I couldn't find any of the items. She told me her employer was a bleach blond vampire. Smoked. British and that they thought she was already dead when they said they had to catch a red-eye to Sunnydale."
"I can understand your leap to blame Spike," I sigh.
"A jade lantern?" Nightwing asks.
"She was in Alan Scott's apartment here in Gotham."
"Who is Alan Scott?" I ask. I guess he's a superhero or a socialite. They're the mostly likely type of associates in this instance. I'm leaning toward superhero though. Socialites aren't likely to need a jade lantern or a jade ring that looks a lot like Kyle's Green Lantern ring.
"He was the first Green Lantern and that jade lantern was his rings power battery."
"You mean he's one of Kyles predecessors and his ring needed a power source?"
I retrieve the green jewellery from one of the pouches on my belt. "Could that battery have been used to create this ring? I can't imagine Kyle simply losing his."
"Yes," Batman repeats, taking the ring from me to examine it. "We need to find the battery."
"Alan needs to know what's happened. He's in New York with Jade at the moment," Dick began.
"No he's not. I felt the batteries disappearance."
"You must be Alan Scott," I say to the blonde man as he approaches from the teleporter. He's tall and slim and a little older than Bruce. He looks like he's been doing this forever though his body doesn't say that. It's in his eyes.
"You must be NightStalker," he nods.
I nod in return and offer a tight smile. "Are you also able to trace the whereabouts of the battery, uhm, lantern? I mean, it's great that a ring can be recreated from the power source but I *really* don't want a horde of vampires loose on the world with one of those each."
"I have already retrieved the abandoned lantern NightStalker." Bruce reached out to hand Alan the ring. "It's not mine," Alan said. "You need to decide what to do with it but I'd suggest Kyle, as the current and official Green Lantern of earth should be permitted to decide what to do with it." The man turned and walked away.
Bruce descended into a brooding marathon and Dick and I potter around the cave. Sometimes we use the training equipment, sometimes we chat to Babs or Willow or my sister at the Tower, all in an effort to show Bruce some support which I'm sure he'll say he doesn't need but will feel grateful for all the same.
Dick returns to Bludhaven for an early shift and I patrol with Batman before dawn. We stop three gang brawls, six muggings, two knifings, one rape and four robberies before a personal check-in with a close friend.
Gotham City's Clock Tower. Current resident--one Barbara Gordon, aka The Oracle, information source and co-ordinator for the world's superheroes, and former superhero herself. Once upon a time, Babs was Batgirl.
The Joker took my mother. He took Babs' legs and I know that that is what Batman is thinking about as he contemplates the green jewellery he holds in his hand. We're waiting for Babs to finish relaying some information to Black Canary in Tokyo. When she finishes she turns to face us and Batman opens his mouth to speak.
"It's not up to you to choose the wearer of the ring," she interrupts him. "It's Kyle's right, and the rings choice."
Batman nodded and closed his fingers over the emerald ring. We return to the Batcave where Bruce settles in front of the Crays and will not be persuaded to move. With a sad sigh and a shared dismay with Alfred I go upstairs to bed. Tomorrow, though it's a Saturday, will be trying in its' own way.