HelLex VI: StarBat: SB-1
by cHarley

Part 10

"Lieutenant Finn!" Jack shouted as we came over the hill. Riley came running and offered another crisp salute. "We're taking these people back to earth now. Continue with your mission."

"Yes sir." Riley spared me a glance before heading back to the camp.

I walked with Bruce as he escorted Talia back to the gate.

"What about our son?" she whispered to him. "What will you tell him when I am sent to prison?"

"You've shown me no son, given me no indication there is a child," he hissed as he tightens his hold on Talia's arm.

"Bruce please no! My father is old and cannot survive without the Lazarus pit. He will die in jail."

"He has cost millions their lives with his attempts to cleanse the earth. He must pay for his crimes."

"He's her family. Remember Selena," I said quietly, carefully resting a hand on the hand that held Talia.

Bruce kept walking. The others had already gone through the gate with the exception of Daniel by the time we caught up. Bruce gave Talia a not-quite gentle shove through the gate before following her. I sighed then followed Daniel.

The gate room was relatively quiet. Ra's, Talia and Ethan were being led away while Dick gave instructions for containing Angel without killing him. Jack was reporting to General Hammond. Willow was summoned and I went with her.

The General didn't seem to like the idea of explaining the use of the Green Lantern ring as the method of captured.

"So we'll come up with something more believable," Jack offered with a shrug.

We were escorted home by Jack, Sam, Daniel and Teal'c, who goes by the name Murray in the world outside the mountain complex. I believe that the stoic man let Jack give him the name and now regrets it. That was Wednesday. It's Saturday now and I'm in Bludhaven. Dick and I spent this afternoon in Gotham, having lunch and going to the movies. Tonight he's got a shift with the police and will do a quick tour of the city a la Nightwing before coming back here to his apartment. He's in the shower now and I'm channel surfing. Dawn is in New York again with Lian and Roy.

She and I had a chat on Thursday. She's concerned that Metropolis is too far away from Tim for their relationship to progress beyond friends. She thinks it would be better for them to focus on family, school and crime-fighting in that order and that means they can't waste time travelling back and forth to see each other. She told him that on Friday. He didn't seem to agree with her reasoning but agreed that maybe it was better things stayed the way they were for the time being. That doesn't stop them being on the phone every night for at least ninety minutes.

So now I'm stretched out on this decaying piece of foam masquerading as a sofa when the computer in Dick's bedroom dinged, waking me from my impromptu nap only seconds before Bab's voice nearly blasted into the room. I dove for the speakers volume button as she was saying, "Buffy. Something's wrong with Bruce."

"What is it Babs?" It's four a.m. and I'm actually asleep. This must be urgent for her to wake me up.

"Bruce invited Dinah out on a date!"

I blink at her a few times. "And that's bad? I agree it's somewhat out of character but..."

Babs stared at me through the wires and satellites as if I'd grown another limb or eye or something. "Bruce doesn't date women he works with or women with measurable intelligence."

I giggle at that but stop quickly as the stare turns into a glare. "Sorry. What do you want me to do?"

She shrugs. "I don't know. It's just kinda freaky don't you think?"

I shrug this time. "I guess. I'll go by and see him tomorrow though. I have to get a couple of things from my room before I go back to Metropolis and Kal is providing the Superman Express for me and my bags at around ten."

"Sorry I woke you."

"'Sok. If you aren't asleep why should anyone else be?" I grin. Babs chuckles. "Well your sister is still awake and so is your fiancée so why should you be asleep?"

I poke my tongue out and finally sit at the computer desk. "So why Dinah?"

"I have absolutely no idea. Maybe he figures she's the forgiving type or something."

"I wouldn't have thought Dinah was the doormat type."

"Oh, that's right. You don't know much about Ollie."

"Who's Ollie?"

"The original Green Arrow. He's the father of the most recent Green Arrow, suspected to be Cissie's father and he raised Roy."

"Oh! *That* Ollie. He and Dinah had a thing?"

"A very serious and complicated thing. From what I've pieced together, cause Dinah kinda keeps that part of her life to herself. It was all really great in the beginning but things changed and eventually Ollie... well Roy's reputation pales in comparison."

"And Dinah didn't beat him to death?" I asked, stunned.

"Dinah has changed a bit in the last few years. You know, her superhero uniform used to involve a blonde wig, a black corset and fishnets?"

"I know. Very scary!"

"Do you think Bruce will ask that Major-Doctor woman out?"

"Sam Carter? I don't know. She's really smart but I think she and her CO have a non-thing."

"A non-thing?"

"Well the military doesn't permit relationships between it's officers or something and certainly not between two people in the same group yeah? So they really like each other and I think I heard Daniel telling Willow about Sam and Jack being together in other timelines but she wasn't military in those realities... Anyway it's a non-thing. They won't get together and they won't get with anyone else either. It's kinda sad really..."

"Sounds a bit like Bruce and Selena only less legal." Babs smiles at me. Nightwing arrives about an hour later dragging himself toward his room, calling my name as he does. He finds Babs and I in hysterical fits of laughter. My sister is a very funny girl and I think Babs and I both need sleep. Over-tired Buffy equals easily amused Buffy. I tell my sister to get out of the cave and go to bed, which Alfred wholey agrees with and says goodnight.

I leave Dick asleep the next morning, do a spot of cleaning in the apartment and discover the bath is in fact blue, not green--eww much? Good thing he has a separate shower stall that's white!--have a small breakfast and decide to go shopping later, maybe bring Alfred back here with me before leaving for Wayne Manor.

The gates slid open as I approach them. I turn my music down early expecting to see Alfred standing in the open doorway.

"Alfred?" I call as I enter the house through the open front door. I wandered through the eerily quiet house, from kitchen to garden toward Alfreds room where I found the older man packing his bags. "Alfred! No!"

"He fired me Miss. I will not remain in this house a moment longer." I know better than to argue with that stiff body language. "Where will you go?"

"Your sister needs a tutor."

"I could always use help..." I'm a bit confused but if Bruce is going to be stupid and stubborn...

Alfred nods and I think I can see tears in his eyes. He closes his suitcase, the last drawer and looks around the now empty and lifeless room. He picks up the two suitcases and begins to walk out of the room.

I place a hand on his arm as he passes by me. "Alfred. Why?"

Alfred straightened himself to his full height and I saw something in him that I'd never really paid much attention to, though what name to give it I don't know. "Because I dared to question his sanity. I told him that his quest had become a crusade, that he was fighting his own vendetta and not the worlds anymore," he said quietly.

"Do you want help putting your bags into my car?"

He shakes his head slowly. "I shall wait for you by the vehicle."

"Ok Alfred. I shouldn't be very long. Just have to grab a few things," I say as he walks out. As I walk out of the room I mutter, "And a stubborn and stupid man to beat some sense into."

I had planned for Superman to act as transport and leaving my car here at the Manor but plans can change and Alfred needs me so I grab the things I've come for from my room, a couple of computer discs then march through the suddenly lonely and forbidding house and down the stairs concealed by the grandfather clock. "You're an idiot Bruce Wayne," I begin without preamble.

"I thought you'd approve of my..."

"I'm not talking about Dinah. It's time to bury Selena. Seriously. It's not healthy, neither physically nor psychologically to keep her down here. It's kinda skanky actually. She isn't the sort of trophy you can keep Bruce. But my real reason for coming down here is to kick your ass. Alfred is leaving, Bruce."

He's silent and still and his eyes slowly rise from the keyboard to meet mine. "I know," he says quietly. "It's different now Buffy. You shouldn't be here. None of you should have come to me..."

"Hey! I am the Slayer. That has absolutely nothing to do with you and I can tell you from personal experience that the only reason I am here in mortal body is because of the people who stubbornly stayed by my side. Literally and without any training or weaponry. You have no reason to fear for any of us. We do what we do because... well it's who each of us is." Suddenly it occurred to me, "You think that someone somewhere with an enormous amount of power has decided that you have to live your life in solitude don't you? You think that because some psycho took your parents from you when you were a child that you don't deserve to have anyone around you! You are determined to be sad and lonely Bruce Wayne just to spite us. You can't Bruce. We won't let you and even if you do somehow succeed in pushing us all away, one day someone will force you to take them in. You can't help yourself. You try to push us away but we flock to you because we identify with you, because we love you but you just can't let that be enough and trust each of us to know what has to be done and do it." I'm angry and just shouting whatever I'm feeling at him now and he's taking it all in with a sad acceptance in his eyes, as if this is what he expects. "Well you know what Bruce Wayne? I won't let you. I'll fight you. I can't let you do this to yourself."

An alarm sounds on the computer. Without looking away from me Bruce hits a key and Superman's face at my bedroom window here in the manor fills the computer screen. "And neither will he. Alfred hasn't abandoned you." Superman taps at the window and calls my name. "You know where we are. This isn't goodbye Bruce." I see the familiar beginnings of a marathon brood on Bruce and smile slightly. "Don't make me send Cordelia over. Angel tells me she's a force to be reckoned with."

He almost chuckles. "Thank you Buffy. I'll take what you've said into consideration..."

"You'd better decide I'm right mister or I'll move back into this house full time and bring Dawn, Willow and Cassandra with me."

He does chuckle this time. "You'd better go before he tries to justify breaking and entering."

I pull him into a hug. "See you later Bruce." But I know that each time I see him from today he'll be just that little bit more withdrawn, and I have no idea what to do.

'My mother was taken from me by a demon of a different sort to those I report about in this column. A demon of the human variety. Whether there is life on other planets or not should not be our primary concern. What we do here and now with and on our own planet, with our fellow earth-bound citizens, with our own relationships and lives is what really matters.'
Excerpt - ‘Life?’ Buffy Summers, The Daily Planet, 15 Aug. 2002.

-END HelLex VI

Yes, there will be a HelLex VII.... Want to see something happen or an explanation? Send me an email :)

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