Darkest Knight (btvs/batman)
Sequel to A Long Buffy Halloween Pairing- C/X angst, B/angst. W/O...surprisingly no angst Summary-the aftermath of Halloween had far reaching consequences for the future of the Scooby gang. Three members of the Scooby gang will face their greatest challenge. One will lose their mind. One will lose their heart and finally, one will lose their soul...AU Surprise/Innocence
Malcolm the minion squatted in the alley around the corner from the one Starbucks in Sunnydale. He and his buddy Weezer were feeding on a chick Weezer had found there and convinced to share a cigarette in the alley. She was an out of towner so she bought the ploy. No one that dumb survived in Sunnydale long.
“You hear about the new player in town?” Mal wiped the red warmth from his mouth and burped a little.
Weezer just shook his head. It was hard to care about hellmouth goings-on while he was fat and high off the caffeinated blood from a beautiful woman.
“I heard there’s this new dude in town. Think’s he’s Batman.”
Weezer laughed. “And this guy is supposed to be scary how?”
“I heard some weird stuffy ‘bout this guy.” Mal looked a little freaked out and looked around. “Ya know that nest on Daisy Street?”
“Slayer got that one.”
Malcolm shook his head vigorously. “No, it wasn’t. I heard from a vamp that knows a demon, which knows another vamp that used to hang out there, it was this bat guy. Went in through one of the windows and used this thing that made fog that burned vamps. Dusted, like, the whole nest in like nothin’ flat while they were wandering around all blind and shit.”
“Well since you have it on such good authority, how can I not believe you?” Weezer just shook his head and snorted. “Next you’ll be telling me he wears a cape and has the bat signal in the high school bell tower.”
“Actually, I decided against the cape. It’s kind of passé.” A patch of darkness melted from the shadows and resolved itself into man garbed in black.
Malcolm and Weezer were shocked. This guy, if that’s what he was, wore clothes that looked like something out of a comic book. But it didn’t look stupid. It looked terrifying.
The figure wore a black suit that molded to his body and highlighted muscles that rippled as he glided forward. A small emblem across his chest resembled the classic comic book Batman sigil. Attached to the body suit was a gray belt that had a number of gadgets and gewgaws dangling from it. He wore a cowl that covered the upper part of his face and tapered to a pair of points like the ears of a bat. Completing the bizarre costume was a dark long coat with scalloped edges that swirled around the figure and blended with the shadows.
With a wordless shout Weezer charged the man in black. Malcolm had seen Weezer fight and knew he was good. Weezer had spent his mortal youth growing up in the Irish ghettos of New York at the turn of the century. He was strong and fast, a scrapper, whose abilities were only heightened by the introduction of the demon and a century of experience.
The man in black spun around and used the edges of his coat to blind and disorient the charging vampire. Spinning behind Weezer, batman clocked him in the back of the head, sending the vampire stumbling into the alley wall. The dark garbed figure sent a series of punishing blows flying into Weezer’s ribs, shattering them. The brutalized vampire dropped heavily to the ground. Popping a stake from a single armored gauntlet, Batman swiftly put the vampire out of his misery.
Spinning around, the man in black smiled and started walking forward to finish off Malcolm when mysteriously he stumbled. His limbs started to shake spastically and his jaw line throbbed. He sagged against the alley wall as a grand mal seizure struck and incapacitated him
Malcolm wasted no time. Rather than finishing off the man in black, he decided to just get the hell out of there. He ran down the alley without looking back.
“Oh no you don’t.” The man in black concentrated on holding his arm steady and threw the stake in his hand with frightening accuracy.
Malcolm was dust before he hit the end of the alley.
Xander Harris groaned and crawled back into the shadows as he tried to get his twitching limbs back under his control.
“It’s getting worse,” he realized grimly.
Cordelia chase curled up on her expensive silken sheets as she tried to not hear her parents arguing about money. Again.
She snuggled deeper into her pillows and let out a soft purr. She’d started doing that a lot lately. The purring, the languid stretching, the recently discovered obsession with cats, all have started happening with greater frequency. Plus there were the dreams. Dreams of thievery and pulse pounding chases, dreams of dancing along rooftops with the only man who could keep up with her, dreams of forgotten nights spent in passion with the man she loved yet never seemed to stay with.
Unlike Xander, who seemed to get all of the skills and talents without the emotional baggage, Cordelia got all of the baggage with her talents. She could remember things that happened to Selina as if they had happened to her. She could walk into any comic book store, flip through the stacks and be able to remember what had really happened during that issue. It was like there were no barriers between her and Selina in her mind. Their thoughts mingled together in a confusing mush that left the rich girl acting out of character sometimes. It was worse when she was tired. It wasn’t possession. She had snuck into the library and read up on the subject. It was both more and less than that. It was more of a mingling. Cordelia was in control, but Catwoman filled in the gaps of her mind, changed her just enough to really be different while essentially remaining Cordelia. When she was tired, more of Catwoman bled over.
If Cordelia was being honest with herself, and she always was, it wasn’t a bad thing.
Before her change, Cordelia was a spoiled, self-aware socialite with the marketable skills of a lemming. The change left her with something. It found a home within the girl and gave her talents she could use. It was all good.
Well, all except for those damn dreams.
They were distracting, dammit! It was because of those dreams that she overhead her parents arguing about money one night. The only way to avoid dreaming about certain things was to exhaust herself. So, one night, she had been sneaking out her window to get some night exercise when she heard them talking.
Apparently the IRS was suing them. And they had decided to keep Cordelia out of the loop for ‘her own good’.
The thought made her snort. And worried her. Cordelia Chase liked money. She liked the status and power it brought. She likes the things it let her buy. One easy as pie B & E later, and a cursory check on the electronic records from her parents accounting firm told her everything she needed to know.
They were as guilty as sin.
Her parents would probably lose everything. The houses, the cars, the villa in Greece, HER trust fund, everything.
Well that was fine for her parents but not for her. She wasn’t born to be poor. A short glimpse through the memories of Selina disabused her of any romantic notions of living the simple life. So over the last several weeks she’d been moving most of the money in her savings to off shore accounts. She’d also been drawing on her credit line for cash and socking that away. Along with selling some of the less valuable pieces of her jewelry and she was building herself a nice little nest egg. Of course it wouldn’t last long but she knew she could do something about that.
After all, it would be a shame to put the skills and memories of one the world’s greatest cat burglars to waste.
Bru-Xander, she corrected savagely to herself. Xander wouldn’t like what she was willing to do to keep herself living the lifestyle she wanted. Sometimes the thoughts that floated into her mind frightened her. Sometimes she couldn’t tell where her thoughts ended and Selina’s began. Sometimes.
Most of the time she had difficulty caring.
The next day Xander walked through the school with a smile on his face. He met with Cordelia near her locker.
Cordy was leaning against her locker talking to Larry. He had his arm up and leaned forward whispering in her ear. The dark haired burglar laughed at whatever inanity Larry was spouting, but you didn’t have to be an expert at body language to know that he was seriously irritating her.
“Hey Cor,” Xander said as he walked up the pair. “Larry.” He nodded to the football player.
“Scram Harris. I’m talking to CC.” The large teenager tried to use his large size to crowd Xander, but the smaller teenager just ignored to posturing. Cordelia rolled her eyes at the hated nickname.
“Xander.” Cordelia looked at the new arrival with definitely unamused eyes. “Larry was just asking me out. Again.”
“Lar, I don’t appreciate it when people ask out my girlfriend. Why don’t you take that sloping brow of yours and get out of here.” Xander spoke mildly, but the football player stepped back anyway. An aura of menace seemed to cling to the teenager.
Larry blinked in surprise and with more than a little dimness. “She’s your girl. Since when?”
Cordelia took Xander’s arm. “For a while now. I just don’t advertise who I date anymore Larry. Those games are Harmony’s gig now. Not mine
The jock wouldn’t let up. He pinned the girl to the lockers and growled. “I think you should dump that loser, and go with me.”
Xander stepped forward to intercede, but Cordelia warned him off with a glance that told him she was more than capable of handling the football player.
“Larry,” she crooned sweetly, “If you don’t move off me right now, you’re not going to have a very long football season.”
The aggressive football player shook his head. “I want you on my arm for the winter formal.”
“Okay, you asked for it.” Cordelia Chase slammed her knee into Larry’s groin. The athlete clutched his midsection. As he doubled over, she slammed her spiked heel into his foot. Slipping around Larry, she grabbed his head and slammed him into the locker she had been leaning up against. The brunet thief delicately stepped over the football player as he slid to the ground, prone, and grabbed the arm of her boyfriend. The two took off down the wall.
“That wasn’t very nice CC.” Xander mimicked Larry’s voice.
Cordy slapped Xander in the back. “Don’t call me that.” Then she looked around and when she saw no one was watching them, pulled out a leather wallet and started thumbing through it.
“You took that off Larry?” Xander said in disbelief.
Cordelia nodded as she poked through Larry’s billfold. “You can tell a lot about a person by what they have in their wallet.” Xander nodded. She didn’t have to explain deduction to the dark knight detective. Thumbing through the wallet, she sighed. “God, he doesn’t even have a library card, let alone a Visa.” She grabbed all the bills in the wallet and stuffed them in her purse. After a short pause, she also grabbed his Starbucks card and dropped that in too.
“Remember we talked about you not stealing. It makes the superhero in my head irritable.”
“Whatever.” came the bored reply
Xander watched Cordelia with more than a little worry. She had been stealing a lot lately. Unlike Xander himself, Cordelia seemed to take on more than a few of the uglier personality traits of Catwoman along with the skills she acquired from Halloween. Among the traits was a disturbing lack of concern for the personal property of others.
“Let’s go find Buffy and wish her a happy birthday.” Xander suggested.
Cordelia merely nodded and flexed her hands.
Buffy stared at the math problem in front of her, while her thoughts drifted a million miles away. Sighing she pushed the paper aside and kicked her feet up on the library table, after taking a quick look around to make sure Giles wasn’t around.
She couldn’t concentrate on the lame-o math problems she should have been working on. Instead her thoughts continued to swirl around two of the men in her life. Her relationship with Angel was becoming more intense. They exchanged I love you’s during patrol last night and Buffy was seriously considering moving to the next step with her vampire boyfriend.
If her relationship with Angel was confusing, her friendship with Xander was becoming equally distracting. Xander only recently revealed that he remembered everything about being Batman after what happened during Halloween.
She still could not believe that he had managed to hide what had happened until Angel had been grabbed by Spike and Drusilla in order heal the insane vampiress. Of course after he had admitted what happened, a lot of little changes Buffy noticed suddenly had an explanation. As she contemplated the changes, the Scooby and his girlfriend strolled through the library doors.
“Buffy,” Xander shouted. “Slayer of my heart, happy birthday.”
He had packed on weight, all of it muscle. Before Halloween, he had had a thin form, reminiscent of a swimmer. But now he possessed the dense muscular form of a male gymnast and moved with a smooth rolling grace that had been foreign to the previously clumsy Scooby. Like a warrior born and bred.
The changes in his mind were as great, if not greater, than the changes in his body. After six weeks, Xander’s grades have shot up to near the top of his class and he’s joined all of Willow’s AP classes. His mind has become almost frightening in its deviousness, evidenced by his new mastery of chess. It only took him about one hour and a map of Sunnydale to totally revamp Buffy’s patrol schedule and shave about two hours off of her nightly routine.
When her gaze shifted to Cordelia, she frowned. Xander wasn’t the only one to change. Immediately after Halloween Cordelia ditched Harmony and all her sheep for the scoobies. She started dressing in stylish dark leathers and began dating Xander. She never mentioned it but Buffy had the suspicion that Cordelia also remembered becoming Catwoman on Halloween. There was a new predatory darkness that surrounded Cordelia that had prevented her former group from trying anything against the socialite. Buffy was really uncomfortable around the brunet and she could not put her finger on my. Something about her just tickled her slayer senses.
But Xander seemed happy with his new girlfriend, so she let it go.
“So how was your patrol?” Buffy stared concerned at Xander. “Everything went well, right? No glitches?”
Xander held out his arms and spun around. “The xandman is glitch free.”
Flashback- Three days after Halloween
Xander Harris looked around the computer room nervously. He saw that he and the computer teacher were the only people there.
“Willow’s not here. I think she’s in the library.” Jenny calendar watched Xander. He seemed uncomfortable and embarrassed.
“I’m, not here for Willow. I...uh...need to talk to you.”
“Halloween,” Xander answered gravely. “The thing is...I remember everything from when I dressed up as batman. The skills, memories, technical know how, everything.” Then he held out his hand. It was spasming. The veins and muscles stood out in sharp relief as his fingers twitched painfully.
“I was doing a kata this morning when this started happening. My hand has been doing this off and on all day.”
As Xander told his story, Jenny Calendar began to pale. “You dressed up as batman for Halloween.”
“This is bad. Very, very bad.” The computer teacher-pagan sat down at her desk, hard, and began to rub her temples. “Xander, I don’t know how your keeping those skills. I’ve heard of people keeping abilities and/or memories for an hour or a day...but this, this is unprecedented.”
“I’m scared,” the teenager said to her quietly. “I thought this was going to be so cool. I could really, you know, start to help with the slaying, instead of just being the guy with the quips and the painful bruises.” He held out his hand. “But this scares me.”
“It should Xander,” the techno-pagan told to the youth. “You dressed up as an archetypal being. If you had just dressed up as a real person then it might be a little safer, but Batman is a conglomerate of every comic, cartoon, TV show, and movie that’s ever born his name. It exists in the hearts and minds of people all over this world. What the spell did was transfer the whole archetype in your mind.”
“In English please. Bad student here.” Xander thumped his chest lightly.
Jenny rubbed her head as she closed her eyes and thought. “Everything anyone has ever thought about the character of batman is distilled into the primal form of who he is. It’s as much Adam West as Tim Burton. It’s Frank Millar and Batman Beyond. It’s everything. No human mind or body is capable of absorbing all of it. At least not using any method I know. The skills and memories are literally hard wired into your mind. Keep in mind,” she warned, “I’m just guessing, but I think that your new skills sitting in your mind are like a psychic tumor. As long as you keep using the skills it’s only going to get worse. You’re tapping into something that literally doesn’t belong in your body.”
Xander sighed. “How long?”
“I don’t know.” Jenny saw the look in his eyes and just knew that nothing was going to make him give up. She sighed. “Magic always has consequences, Xander. If it were so easy to be imbued with skills through that spell, why don’t I cast it for everyone? Turn Buffy into Xena or Willow into sorceress from a book or something.” She shook her head. “Nothing in life is free, especially when magic is involved.” She stared hard at the teenager. “You could get permanent brain damage, or maybe even die if you keep using these abilities.”
“If I can save any of them even once, it’ll be worth it.” Xander looked down. “Buffy, willow...the others, they all matter more than me. I can use this thing to save them. For as long as I can.”
Jenny Calendar shook her head; sadly, as she thought about how low the boy’s self esteem must be in order for him to truly believe that. “First of all Xander, you do matter as much as everyone else. Secondly, I can’t let you endanger yourself like that. I’m going to tell Rupert.”
Xander smiled darkly. “No, you’re not...Janna Kalderesh...”
“I’m telling you Buff. Everything went fine.” Xander looked a little angry with the blond slayer. “Don’t you trust me?”
“You know I do.” Buffy bit her bottom lip and shot that ‘I’m just so worried about you’ look at Xander, that look always got through his defenses. “This thing could, you know, fade or something, and then you’d be stuck out there with no back up.”
“You know why I patrol by myself. My skills are best suited to working solo.” Xander sighed. He’d had this talk with Buffy almost every day since he told her that he was going to start patrolling. He knew she was just worried about him, but it felt like she didn’t trust him.
She smiled. “You don’t have to do this. You aren’t the chosen anything Xander.”
“Do you really think that I could look at myself in the mirror if I didn’t do everything I could to help? Especially after I got a superhero bouncing around in my empty head.” He tapped his skull. “Face it Buff. You’re just going to have to accept the fact that you can’t stop me from helping.”
Buffy laughed softly. “I guess not.”
That Night on the Waterfront
Xander carefully stretched his muscles, as he lay hidden on the rooftop of a warehouse in the docks area of Sunnydale. He frowned as he saw half dozen vampires unloading a small box from a freighter that had just come in. He had been on his way to Buffy’s birthday party at the Bronze when Willy called to tell him that something big was coming in tonight, although he didn’t know what.
After Xander had absorbed the memories and skills of Batman, he realized that he was going to need money in order to create or buy the gadgets that he suddenly knew how to build. Using his skills he ‘relieved’ several wealthy vampire nests of their cash. Some of that money went into off shore accounts for college, most went to outfitting himself and the Scooby’s with some batman style gadgets, and he gave several hundred dollars a month to Willy for information, so they wouldn’t get caught with their pants down again like they had been with the whole Du Lac Cross/Terakan debacle.
It was still going to take a while to gather enough money to build several of the advanced gadgets that he could only guess came from Batman Beyond era Batman. The suit alone was going to cost about 1.2 billion dollars to make. Luckily some advanced computer tech was also in his head and as soon as he got out of school he was going to be able to build and market several very advanced pieces of technology.
He just had to live that long.
Which was the reason why he was here and not with his girlfriend celebrating the seventeenth birthday of one of his best friends, and meeting Willow’s new guy.
His relationship with Willow had become strained thanks to his new relationship with Cordelia. The redhead could not forgive the socialite for the nearly two decades of slights that had been slung her way, with only Xander to shield her. He understood Willow’s perspective, but it still hurt that they weren’t as close as they had been.
Forcing his mind back to the matter at hand, Xander reached into his pockets, and took a quick assessment of equipment. Several flash pellets, a holy water mist grenade, and a stake. Not quite A-list material for the killing of vampires but it would do.
Xander shifted into fight mode, and Batman walked to the edge of the warehouse and dropped over the side like a wraith in the night.
Buffy looked around the bronze worriedly. Willow was standing by the punch bowl with her date, Oz, who was engaged in a heated debate with Giles over the some band from the seventies. Meanwhile Jenny Calendar seemed to be instructing the young hacker in some arcane lesson.
Cordy sat in the corner wearing a black leather dress and dark panty hose looking distinctly bored.
“Penny for your thoughts.” Angel’s deep voice shook Buffy from her reverie. He smiled down at the birthday girl.
Buffy look up at Angel, and her stomach clenched as it always did when the vampire trained his soulful gaze on her. “I’m worried about Xander; he should have been here already. He knows how Cordy gets when she’s left alone.”
“He can take care of himself.”
Angel grimaced as he spoke the words. He never thought he would ever say that about Harris but it was true. Xander could take care of himself now. Angel kept his ear to the ground and he heard the rumblings about the new hunter that had been stalking the street s of Sunnydale. It was hard to reconcile the formidable reputation he’d gathered in a few weeks with the goofy teenager.
“I know, but I worry.”
“Sorry for being late guys, but I ran into some friends who needed to be introduced to mister stakey.” Xander walked into the bronze dust coating his dress shirt and tie, carry a slightly rumbled package in one hand and a three foot iron box balanced on his opposite shoulder.
“It’s about time you got here geek.” Cordelia reproached her boyfriend, no malice in her voice.
Xander gave her a quick kiss and flashed her a grin. “Miss me?”
Xander rolled his eyes and dropped the iron box on the table. “I took this from some vampires down at the docks,” he said, ignoring willows frantic hand waving. “They seemed a little less than eager to give it up.”
“Xander,” Buffy hissed sharply. “Oz is HERE!”
Xander turned to Oz. “I know this will shock you but vampires are real. They like the environment here since the high school was built on the mouth of hell.”
“Explains a lot.” Oz replied flatly.
Xander looked surprised. “You’re taking this better than I thought.”
Buffy turned her attention to the box. “You sure to know what to get a girl for her birthday, Xan.”
Giles cleared his throat. “These don’t look like runes designed to protect the box from being opened. It should be perfectly safe.” He looked at Buffy. “Would you like to do the honors?”
Buffy nodded and broke open the box with a swift display of strength. The box creaked open and a blue-black arm leapt out and latched onto her neck.
As the slayer fell back gagging, only two people snapped into action. Working like a team, Angel tore the arm off Buffy’s throat and threw it into the box. Xander meanwhile snapped the box shut. After another moment or two of struggle the arm stopped moving.
“I think I’m going to return your present, Xander.” Buffy rasped as she rubbed her neck, a bluish bruise already starting to show.
“What is that thing Giles?” Buffy stared at the closed box, absently rubbing her neck.
“I’m not entirely sure, but I believe that may be a piece of the Judge.”
“If the other pieces are already in Sunnydale we need to move this one as far away as possible.” Angel interjected. “Like Nepal.”
Buffy held out her hands, “whoa, what pieces? Why Nepal? What the heck is going on?” Her gaze switched between the two occult experts.
“Judge is a nearly unkillable demon. He was divided into many pieces and hidden to make sure he was never recreated.” Giles caught the gaze of the souled vampire. “I agree with angel. We need to get this arm out of Sunnydale.”
Jenny calendar quickly spoke up. “You have to do it angel.” At Buffy’s pained glance she clarified. “You’re all too young and Rupert and I need to stay here. He’s the only one that can be spared.”
Xander looked at Jenny Calendar for a moment, reading her body language. She was terrified about something. Xander shook his head, remembering their conversation. It would kill Buffy, but it was probably for the best.
“I agree,” he quickly added. At Buffy’s look of betrayal, “she’s right. He is the only one we can spare.”
“I’ll go tonight.” Angel said. “I can hitch a ride on an outgoing freighter. Won’t be the first time I’ve done that,” he added ruefully.
“I’ll walk you to the Harbor.” Buffy said tearfully.
“I’ll visit Willy to see if he knows anything about the judge and if the other parts are in town.” Xander added. “Wanna come with, Cordy?”
His girlfriend nodded gleefully.
“The rest of us can get to the library and do research.” Giles said. He rubbed the bridge of his nose as he psyched himself up for a long night.
Willow turned to Oz and asked hopefully, “You want to help us research a horrible demon?”
Oz smiled lightly. “Library time with you? I can’t think of anything better.”
A shadow passed overhead.
Willy the Bartender jerked his head up and around, as he dumped his bar’s trash in the Alley. Even for him, hanging out in an alley smack dab in the middle of the Hellmouth was hardly a safe activity. And this new player, who happened to pay him for a heads up, scared the snitch. There was something ominous about the big dark figure that had thrown a wad of bills at his feet and gave him a voice mail number instructing him to leave a message when something new and dangerous rolled into town. And Willy knew ominous. He did after all live on the mouth of hell.
Willy sighed. The shadow was nothing. Imagination.
Willy kicked a beer can at a cat that perched on the stone wall of the alley. The cat arched its back and hissed at the rodent-like bartender.
“I wouldn’t do that,” a voice called out of the darkness. His deep baritone seemed to echo from all directions. Willy spun around, feebly trying to find the voice’s source.
“My companion takes a dim view of animal abusers,” came the amused voice.
A figure appeared at the end of the alley. Tall and curved like a woman, the form stayed within the shadows.
“Willy,” came a soft pur. A voice of honey and steel. “You should treat cats better.” A flash of steel and the figure raked her hand along the wall, sending up a shower of sparks. “You never know when they’ll show their claws.”
“Down girl,” said the deeper voice, laced with amusement.
“What do you want?” Willy asked with a surprising strong voice. “I told you about the docks.” Willy suddenly felt himself lifted up off the ground. He could feel the squeak of gloved hands as they jerked him up.
“I want to know who want pieces of the judge, and where are they staying.” The voice cracked like a whip.
“I don’t know.” Came the squeaky reply.
“Try again, Willy.”
Willy closed his eyes. This is not happening. “I don’t know,” he whined. “People don’t tell me stuff like they used to. They know the slayer likes to pump me for information.”
Willy’s stomach sank as he dropped suddenly about a foot.
“Alright,” he shrieked. “Spike and Dru. They’re the ones.”
“They’re dead. The abandoned church on Carson street fell on them.”
Willy shook his head furiously. “They survived. Dru got healthy from the Du Lac Cross and something happened to Spike. She’s been doing all his huntin’ lately.” He tried to turn his head around. “You the one who put the hurt on William the Bloody?”
“Maybe,” came the terse reply. There was a long pause, then, “how many pieces of the judge are in Sunnydale right now?”
“I don’t know.” Willy started to drop again. “I really don’t know. I never heard nothin’ about the Judge until tonight. Some vamps came in here talkin’ ‘bout how they used the docks, as hunting grounds and Dru wanted them to keep an eye out for a package.”
Willy closed his eyes and prayed that was going to be the last question. He could feel a hand whistle by his ears and he braced himself for pain, when he felt some bills get dumped into his front pocket.
“Hey, tha-,” Willy started to say...right before he was thrown into a dumpster. The snitch pulled himself out of the dumpster and looked around.
The shadows were gone.