There is no Dolphin!!!! :)
Garth came into the kitchen then and smiled at me. "Hello Buffy."
"Hey there Atlantean Prince. You know, I have yet to meet the elusive King Orin, also known as the JLA's Aquaman."
"He's a busy man."
"I'll bet he is. Ruling an underwater kingdom... or is it a bottom of the ocean kingdom cause underwater wouldn't mean in the water... I'll stop now," I say when I notice his smile.
"You're move to Metropolis is complete?"
"Yeah," I exhale as I sit on a stool facing him. "I like Gotham and I love Sunnydale and stuff... not that there's anything wrong with Metropolis..."
"It's not where you consider home to be," he concluded for me.
I nodded. "But on the upside there is working with Lois and Clark, and no secret identity to make me need to learn how to disappear."
"Indeed. I have often been grateful for the lack of separation in my duties."
I smiled at him. "It takes some talent to maintain that balancing act."
"But those of us who know them know how little of it is really hidden."
I laughed out loud. "You've never been to a party with Bruce Wayne have you? He's a complete airhead you know!"
Garth chuckled. "I have seen it, but wouldn't dare mention it in front of *him*."
"He is a little scary... and he's in the room for some reason. Heya Bats."
He growled at me as he exited the only shadow in the room. He can be so much like Angel sometimes that it's freaky.
"It's not very impressive when you've heard a vampire growl and been unintimidated." I watched Garths face as Batman's posture shifts and he begins to speak to me, asking me for my help in Gotham that night, vanishing as quickly as he had arrived once he received my answer.
"He doesn't even try to intimidate you," Garth said with more than a little awe in his voice.
I grinned. "Only because he knows it doesn't work and that I can kick his butt and hurt him."
Garth considered this as he nibbled on his salad.
"Hey Garth?" I asked as I started to stretch out the muscles in my legs.
"Hmm?" he asked looking away from the silent images flashing across the large tv screen on the other side of the room.
"As prince of all Atlantis, does that mean you get access to all that sunken treasure?"
"M-hmm," he nodded.
"That's pretty cool."
He shrugged. "I suppose. I've never really thought about it."
"I suppose you don't." I continued to stretch and contemplate happy non-thoughts.
"How did you deal with it?" Garth asked quietly after about five minutes of silence.
"Huh?" I responded eloquently.
"Angel, Angelus. When you had to send Angel to hell, how did you deal with it?"
"I didn't," I said as I stood up and moved back to the kitchen island. "I ran away and spent a whole summer hiding out in LA. I ran into a girl I had saved in Sunnydale and... stuff happened to her boyfriend and I was forced to... reassert myself as the Slayer. I realised then that life went on and there was nothing I could do to stop that but I *could* do something and that I should have been doing it." I paused for a moment. "He came back and it just re-affirmed what we'd both already realised and wanted desperately to ignore--that we couldn't be together, no matter how much we wanted it. We both moved on."
I shrugged. "Life happens. You deal or you don't but it will always make an impression either way."
"I know," I grinned as I stole a lettuce leaf from his plate. "Well, now that you're here I can get back to Gotham and see what Brucie-boy needs my help with. Later Garth."
"Take care Buffy."
I walked down the hall to find Dawn sitting with Lian at the monitor while Roy pretended not to see any of it. "Hey Dawn? Batman wants me in Gotham. You wanna stay here and I'll get you tomorrow or you wanna come with?"
"I could bring her to Metropolis tomorrow," Roy suggested.
Lian squealed and bounced when Dawn nodded in agreement.
I waved farewell to them and left the Tower, riding the pontoon thingie back to the mainland. I have a car, thanks to the inexhausable funds of one Dick Grayson. It's a lovely shade of black and it's fast but that's about all I know about it. Cars just don't do anything for me. Drive back to Gotham belting out all the songs on the radio as I drove, even American Pie. Mom loved that song. As I drive it occurs to me that Dawn needs to sort out a school in Metropolis.
Alfred is waiting for me on the doorstep of Wayne Manor, front door open and shaking his head at what I instinctively know is the volume of my music. I grin at him as I turn it down before getting out of the car. "Hey Alfred! How is the broody one?"
"I believe you will find Master Bruce downstairs Miss."
I smile but am interrupted by Babs' voice through my fancy communication device. "Buffy?"
"Babs, what is it?"
"Closed communication," she said briefly.
"Be right there." I dashed through the house to my room and needlessly closed the door behind me. "Go ahead Babs."
"Dawn just intercepted the message I've sent you from a secret project of the Governments at the Cheyenne Mountain military complex. It involves you." I pick up the papers coming through the printer/fax and skim through the document and the images as she speaks. "They have this device called a Stargate that allows travel from one planet to another that has a Stargate. Something seems to have used the gate without authorization and they believe you hold the answers. I would suggest you always have someone with you because they're coming for you Buffy and I'm not entirely sure it's a good thing."
"You don't have any more information on these people?"
"We're looking into it." A considerable effort then. Two of the worlds greatest information gatherers aka hackers, and one on her way up. They're impressive when they work together. I hope Willow's ok to be doing this. She's had a busy day.
"How long have I got?"
"Considering your high profile status, I'd say less than twenty-four hours."
"Ok. Dick and I will go and get Willow and bring her back to Metropolis tomorrow as planned."
"We'll try to have more by then. Oracle out."
I haven't seen Bruce yet. A quick glance out the window tells me I only have a few minutes to get downstairs to see him before he leaves for the night. It's nearly dinner time for me so I figure Robin the First is in the kitchen with Alfred in the hopes that the immaculate man will drop a crumb on his equally immaculate kitchen floor.
"What's that smell?" I ask as I enter the cave.
"It's gross. Hang on. Isn't that the stuff they use to preserve body parts in jars? Bruce you're sick. Really. Bury her. I'm sure Alfred wouldn't mind you digging up some of the rosebushes..."
He fixes me with the glare that should intimidate. It doesn't but I do bite my tongue. This is something he has to work through. I'd suggest he talk to Spike about loss but that would be very bad. He's determined to play Dr. Frankenstein here.
He changes gloves and pulls the cowl on, with a final warning glare at me. Don't touch Selena--yuk!--and don't follow. I sigh as he leaves and wonder what on earth I can do to make him feel less hopeless. I'm vehemently not wanted in Gotham this evening after all. I let Bruce have time to think and he's changed his mind. I guess I'll head back to NY tonight and stay at the Tower.
This is a very long drive and I hate doing it twice in the same day. I call Willow and tell her what's happened, knowing she'll relay it to Babs and Dawn.
Long drive. Pontoon ride. Short walk. Bed. Sounds good in theory but guess what? I can't sleep. I'm really worried about Bruce. He really is mentally unstable. I just don't understand what it is about Selena's death that is causing him to take it so hard. We really should be trying to find the guy Spike's vamp friend was working for. The vampire is dust. I believe Spike when he says that. He doesn't get to commit much violence these days so he revels in what he can do.
We have several hundred channels on our huge tv here in the Tower and I've even got a dvd in but I'm still channel surfing. There's nothing on! I think I'm hypnotised by the pretty colours and don't notice Donna come to sit beside me until she speaks.
"I don't usually."
"Of course. Do you miss Sunnydale?"
"I suppose. I miss my friends who are still there. Still feel stupid putting on a costume to do my duty. You guys made a choice somewhere along the way. I know that I could choose not to do this but... I tried that and it was a bad decision. Why are you up so late?" I ask.
"Couldn't sleep. That wasn't the first time you've dealt with vampires wearing familiar faces was it?"
I shake my head sadly.
She takes a deep breath. "It was mine and it was disturbing."
"I don't really know if I can offer any comfort Donna except that in this instance, they weren't the people you knew. She wasn't you."
"Buffy I'm not the person that these people grew up with."
I freely admit my confusion.
She smiles sadly and begins. "I was created to be a playmate of Diana's, of Wonder Womans. I was a mirror copy, literally but things happened and I won't bore you with the details now. I managed to become the younger one and then... I was erased from this reality. No one remembered me except Wally who was in the stream of the Speed Force at the time and wasn't affected by the magics that erased me. I was created from those memories. I can't be certain that she wasn't me."
"Ok. Stop there. Even if she was you Donna, or you from a time in your past it doesn't matter. Sometimes there isn't room for emotion in this work. Sometimes you just have to let it go. I can't think about it. Because Willow and Xander were friendly toward me they got dragged into this darkness that I'm a part of and I bear that burden. I haven't always been silent about it. There have been times when I couldn't cope but I know that decisions have to be made and often I'm the only one equipped to make the decision. There have been so many faces that have been familiar. People I passed at the mall or in school... I couldn't dwell and grief was counter-productive. I learned to be grateful for the people around me. For the familiar faces who remain close. I suppose that's why I don't make many friends." We're both quiet for a stretched out moment before I chuckle softly.
"What is it?" she asks me.
"Just an abstract-ish thought... Roy would be happy to comfort you."
"I'm sure he would," she says dryly. "Thanks Buffy. I'll think about what you've said. I'm going to try to sleep."
"Good luck and I hope I've helped in some way."
"You've helped in more ways than you'll ever know I'm sure," she smiles.
The soft sound of indistinct voices tumble across the room to me.
"Hey," I reply quietly.
"Everyone is a little rattled by todays visitors and we're all really grateful you were here..."
"If I hadn't been here it wouldn't have happened."
"You can't be sure. If you hadn't been here and it had happened we wouldn't have known what to do. Buffy, we're grateful for your clear-headedness in thinking about the Tower, no one more than Roy."
"It's an old and futile argument Dick. So many faces..." I sob, suddenly bursting into tears. He pulls me close to his side and holds me. I'm vaguely aware of several sets of footsteps and some soft voices.
I hear Dick telling the others that I'm ok. That I'll be alright. I'm aware of Dawn sitting beside me to hug me and Willow crouched in front of me. I fall asleep with Dawn and Dick on either side of me and Willow with her head on my knees.