Chapter Three: Legacy’s & Gifts
Disclaimer: Nothing belongs to me; Batman and Gotham City belong to DC comics and Bob Cain, Buffy and the Slayer-verse belongs to Joss and the great people at Mutant Enemy. I own nothing and nobody was harmed in the making of this story. When I'm done, I'll return them all, without actually changing the course of history!
A/N: While a few members of the JLA may make a guest appearance, I still own nothing and no one! Part of Tara’s dream was inspired by the story “Justice? No, Just Us” by Greywizard. Check it out, he’s great!!!!
# words # are telepathic
*words* are thoughts, internal dialog
“Never doubt that a small group of committed people can change the world, indeed it is the only thing that ever has.” ~~Margret Mead~~
Samuel T. Pennyworth was a man whose heart had been torn out of his chest. (* He should have been there; he should have followed, and he should have done something.*) But when Master Terence had given him the night off and said he was taking his wife and daughter to the fair, Sam had just curled up with a book of Shakespeare and a glass of wine.
Then the call at 10:00 had caused his blood to run cold. The voice of Commissioner Bullock had informed him that Tara was safe (*Thank god*), but that her mother and father had been killed in what appeared to be a mugging gone bad. He had walked over to the private safe in his room and removed the red leather bound journal written almost a hundred and twenty five years ago. He didn’t bother opening it, as he knew every page by heart.
Now, as the transport pulled to a stop in front of police headquarters, Sam pushed his own grief and sorrow back into the far recesses of his mind. Inside this building was a little ten year old girl who needed her Sammy; who needed him to hold her, to tell her it would be ok, and that he would always be there for her. As Sam walked up the steps of the police station, he noticed three people standing to one side, two women and a man in a black leather trench coat.
The tall stunningly beautiful woman with red hair moved to speak to him saying, “Mr. Pennyworth? I need to speak with you about Tara and what happened tonight.”
“Are you a member of the police force, or a child trauma councilor?” Sam asked, his eyes narrowing at the interruption.
“No, my name is Sandy Stone and I represent a group known as -“ She was cut off by Sam coldly informing her, “Then we have nothing to talk about! Now if you’ll excuse me, I have rather pressing business inside.” Turning away, he ran into the man.
“Hold up, Mate,” the blond man in the duster said with the accent of a London East Ender. “Please give us a ring on the Telly when you get her home, and safe. As her new guardian, there’s a couple things you should know,” he said, handing Sam a card and stepped aside to let Sam pass.
Sam watched the three closely for a few seconds then looked at the card. The words “The Council” were printed on the face along with a link number. Something tugged at Sam’s memory but he pushed it aside.
“Very well, I shall contact you at my first opportunity, Miss Stone. Now, if you’ve quite finished delaying me, I really must go!” he said and moved up the stairs without another word.
The three moved off to one side and watched him enter the police station.
# Jeeves there might be a problem, # Spike thought to the other two, starting the telepathic discussion. # I sense nothing from him but grief, sorrow, and a fierce protectiveness toward the girl, # Shannon Grey countered, looking at Sandy. # I think he’s just trying to look out for her. #
The Slayer agreed with them both and sent her own thoughts to both team members. # If he stops us from training her he’s not protecting her, he’s putting her in even greater danger.#
“Call the Council lawyers and have them start looking into ways to get custody of the girl,” Sandy said with resolve. Should it come to that, the Council had some of the best lawyers on the planet. And there was always the option of stealing her and making it look like she ran away, but that would only be considered as a last resort. *Goddess knows the kid was going to have Issues enough as it was,* she thought to herself.
Spike started to walk away, saying, “While you take care of Pin-up girl, I’ll nick on downtown and tie up a bit of loose end at hospital,” anger flashing in the blond vampire’s eyes.
Sandy’s own Irish temper started to flare at Spike’s semi-disparaging mention of her short modeling career. “And just what do you think you’re going to do Spike?”
An evil fire burned in his undead eyes as he turned to face the tall Slayer, and he simply said, “Going to make sure that punk never hurts my girl or anyone else again!”
Spike's mind flowed back to earlier that night.
He was always just a little too late. He had jumped from the door of the plane before it even stopped moving and grabbed one of the hover bikes that had been waiting for the team. Even moving at top speed through the heavy traffic, it still took nearly an hour to get across town.
Spike ditched the bike at the edge of the fair and quickly blended into the crowd of several thousand humans, his vampire senses searching for the little girl and her parents.
The whine of the pulsar gun told him he was too late, but he still moved like lightning, doubling back the way he’d come and up the street toward a teenager reloading the gun. Spike’s game face came out as he closed on the boy leveling the pistol at a little girl.
“Sorry kid, wrong place, wrong time. Can’t have any witnesses, you know,” he shrugged as his finger started to pull the trigger. The two hundred year old vampire's hand closed on his wrist with crushing force, breaking the bones and making him drop the gun. At the same time, Spike's fist made contact with the punk's face, shattering his nose, jaw, and several teeth. Spike's knee then came up, making contact with his groin and driving his victim's genitalia up to somewhere in his chest. The punk dropped like a stone and Spike kicked the gun across the street.
By now the other members of the team had arrived and were moving to put handcuffs on the kid, so Spike released the now boneless wrist and turned to check the damage.
There was clearly no hope for what was left of the two adults; over fifty rounds of needle like projectiles had torn though each body at over four thousand meters per second, turning the two humans into something one might see in a ground meat shop. The girl was covered in her parents’ blood, kneeling on the ground and looking at what was left of her family with empty, dead eyes.
Spike's unbeating heart felt like it was going to burst, and the demon in him wanted nothing more than to come out and tear the punk limb from limb.
(*Ah, bollix this; Where the bloodily hell was a railroad spike when you needed it!*) Spike thought, pulling in his game face.
The police arrived a few moments later, a female detective taking the girl away toward the ambulance, while other officers arrested the boy and began gathering statements and evidence. Spike gave them the false identity the Council had set up for him and told them a bullshite story about meeting his girlfriend at the fair and hearing the pulsar gun fire. He closed his eyes for a moment, fighting back the guilt and tears. (*Always one bloody minuet late*) and then he felt a comforting hand on his shoulder.
“If it’s any help, the medics say there's a good chance the slime ball won’t make it. You did good, saving the girl. And if he does wake up, he’ll face two counts of murder one.”
As his memories faded, Spike's anger flared.
Sandy’s voice brought him back to the present. “Let it go, Spike. I know how you feel, believe me. But it’s a human crime; let the courts take care of it. Besides, from the latest report we got from the hospital, it doesn’t look like he’ll make it out of surgery.” (*And even if he did, the shattered bone fragment that went into his brain will leave him a drooling idiot for the rest of his life.*)
Spike reached into his coat and pull out a pack of fags, lighting one up with his Zippo lighter and taking a deep drag, as he pushed his demon back into its cage. After a moment, he said, “Fine, then. I’m heading to find a pub and get tanked. Maybe recite some poetry; I’ll meet you back at the hotel before sunup.”
He then turned without another word and mounted his new hover bike, moving out of sight at breakneck speed.
Wayne Manor; 2 hours later
The sedative had worked just as the Dr. had said it would, and Sam moved the bedcover over Tara’s sleeping form. (* Maybe he’d feel better if she’d, yelled, screamed or cried. Anything would be better than that dead empty look in her eyes *) he reflected to himself s he headed back downstairs, leaving the intercom on as he left the room, so that he would know the instant Tara awoke. Something was still bothering him about the three people he’d met tonight -- something he’d read about the Council.
Then it hit him -- they were mentioned in an old file on the computer that he had read so long ago. Walking to the music conservatory in the west wing, he opened the door to the old grandfather clock and activated the lever hidden inside. The secret door opened and Sam moved down the staircase into the cave only he knew about, the door closing automatically behind him.
The computer was ancient, 40 years out of date, but still it held the only known copies of the files Sam needed, and since it wasn't connected to the internet in any manner, it was probably the most secure storage place possible for them. Setting down, he entered the words 'council' as a search term and the computer quickly pulled up the requested information.
Sam spent several moments reviewing the case (The Blood Bandits) and reading what had happened sixty years before. Four hundred pints of blood had been stolen from six different blood banks around the city, and when the thieves had finally hit the last blood bank, the Batman had been waiting for them.
But so had one Buffy Anne Summers, along with four other members of a group they referred to as 'The Council,' and in the fight that followed, Terry MacGuinness (the then-current Batman) had helped the group take down twenty vampires and still come out alive.
After the battle, Terry and the Council had gotten to know one another and become friends. Terry had learned all he could about this 'Council' and dutifully recorded it in the enormous archives. Even though Terry believed that this Buffy and her friends seemed forthright, Sam wasn’t quite so sure about the people he’d met tonight.
“Very well, let's hope for the best but be prepared for the worst,” Sam said the axiom aloud as he placed a called to the lawyers Wayne Industries kept on retainer.
After instructing the attorneys to go over Master Terrence’s Last Will and Testament with a fine toothed comb and make sure it was absolutely ironclad, Sam then called up another file, this one concerning Bruce Wayne’s most trusted friends.
It took only a few minutes to reach the man Sam needed and almost an hour to relate what had happened and what Sam feared might happen next. The man in the golden helmet assured Sam that when he was done, no person or thing would come onto to the grounds of Wayne Manner without Sam’s permission, nor would anyone be able to use magic to take Tara away without the might of the League coming down on them like the proverbial “ten tons of bricks.”
Lastly, as the sun was rising, Sam called the family's stock brokers and told them to buy up every outstanding share of Wayne Enterprises they could lay their hands on, in order to ensure that Sam had undisputed control of Tara’s family company for the foreseeable future. With that much accomplished, he then contacted the District Attorney and had restraining orders put out on all the members of the Council that he knew of, as well as general 'John Doe' restraining orders for any and all employees of the Council.
Having done everything he could think of to ensure Tara’s safety and well-being, he turned to call and set up a meeting with this Sandy Stone (Harris) and make sure she knew where he stood. As he began to dial the number off the card, a scream from the intercom immediately banished all other thoughts.
The dream had started as soon as Tara closed her eyes.
An angel (*she had to be an angel*) was giving a speech to a room full of young girls. She had shoulder length dirty blond hair and the kindest most beautifull eyes Tara had ever seen. She was smiling and talking to them about making a choice. She told the girls that her power would be their power. That her strength would be their strength, and that together, there wasn’t anything that they couldn’t beat.
The angel then turned to Tara.
“Make your choice. Are you ready to be Strong?”
“Yes!” Tara cried. “Yes I’m ready to be strong!”
Beyond the blonde, Tara saw a young woman sitting cross legged on a floor chanting, when suddenly the young woman on the floor looked up at Tara and gasped, “Oh~ my~ Goddess!” as her red hair turned snow white and the purest, whitest light she had ever seen flowed out of her and into Tara’s young body.
Strength and power like nothing Tara had ever felt or imagined suddenly filled her and she knew that she’d made the right choice, the only choice she could.
Then the dream changed.
She was a thousand different girls in a hundred different times and places, always fighting dark things that came at her from everywhere. But it didn’t matter -- she fought and fought with all her new strength and always beat the monsters back.
Then the dream changed again, taking on a different feel.
She was walking down the street, holding her mom's and dad’s hands. Tara was afraid; what was this, and why was it so dark? They had just left the fair when the monster came lifting the gun, her daddy pushing her behind him, her mom screaming, “OK, calm down, don’t shoot,” and then suddenly there was that horrible tearing whine.
Red was everywhere……………………Blood everywhere.
Abruptly, Tara was sitting up in her bed screaming, drenched in sweat, crying and shaking. And then her Sammy was there.
Sam swept her up into his arms and held her, rocking her, telling her everything would be ok; that he’d protect her. Tara cried then; a heartbreaking, soul tearing cry as she clung to the one rock left in her world.
Samuel T. Pennyworth held little ten year old Tara MacGuinness while she screamed and cried her rage, pain and sorrow to an uncaring universe, and he made a solemn oath to her and himself.
He would do anything and everything in his power to make sure nothing could ever hurt her again.
No matter what cruel fate or destiny threw at them!
Two days later Wayne Industries
The two women entered the office of the interim head of Wayne Industries for their meeting, their faces grim and unsmiling.
The last two days had not been good for Sandy’s blood pressure. Not in the least.
First, there was the fact that they had been unable to get an appointment with Mr. Pennyworth or any additional information on Tara, other than what they already knew.
And now the Council lawyers were telling them there was no way in hell to get custody of the girl, despite the fact that they had filed a petition in federal court.
After hearing those less than desirable pieces of information, Sandy had decided to look at their least attractive option. She had sent Shannon and Spike to see if there was any way to do a snatch and grab. Shannon was carried back to the hotel unconscious by a much singed and still smoking Spike six hours later.
Upon regaining consciousness, Shannon had informed Sandy that the wards around Wayne manner were unlike anything she’d ever seen and she doubted that even Willow could break them. Willow had confirmed this later, saying that it would take more power than “The Calling” spell had required to break them, and that there were only a handful of beings in all the realms that could have put such protection in place although she reassured them they were, most certainly, white magic.
After hearing that, Cristina had stated in no uncertain terms that the only option left was talking, and trying to work out a deal.
Amazingly, the next day the vice president of Wayne Industries had called and informed Sandy that she had an appointment at 2:00 pm that afternoon with the Chairman of the Board.
Now, as Sandy walked though the twin oaken doors of the board room in Wayne tower, she found herself looking at Pennyworth. The man didn’t look smug or condescending; he had just followed their every motion with a cool gaze that made Sandy feel like a gazelle on the planes of Africa being watched by a lion.
The Slayer in her didn’t like this feeling in the least, but Pennyworth was holding all the cards. At least for now, she tried to reassure herself.
Sandy took a deep breath and started the standard speech. “As you may or may not know, Mr. Pennyworth, the world is a lot older than many people believe,” she began.
Again, Sam cut Sandy off for the second time in three day saying, “I’ve been rather busy the last few days, Mrs. Harris, so please forgive me not calling sooner,” Sam said. “This time has been very hard on Miss MacGuinness and I want to make it clearly understood that nothing is ever going to hurt her again if I have anything to say about it. That being said, please express my most grateful thanks to the people the Council sent for saving Miss Tara’s life.”
A brief look crossed the old Englishman’s face that told both women that he was only inches from giving into total despair and if he lost Tara now his whole world would collapse. And then the walls had come up again and he continued, “and please, Mrs. Harris, extend my thanks to both Miss Rosenberg and your husband for their help.” He then sat back in the chair and waited for them to respond.
After a few moments, he prompted them, saying, “Now I believe the gentleman that didn’t accompany you today -- and I do hope he wasn’t too seriously injure when he tried to break the wards around the manner last night -- said there were a few thing that I needed to know about Tara and what happened the other night, so let’s just skip to the end, shall we?”
Shannon sent a thought to Sandy #He knows more about the Council than we thought. It’s hard to read him though all the grief and sorrow, but he’s done everything he can to prepare himself to fight us to keep Tara. I don’t think it would be a good idea to fight him. Perhaps if we showed him that he could stay with her, it might set his mind at ease and make this whole thing go more smoothly. #
Sandy decided to just be honest. “Tara is a Slayer. Since you know about the Council, I’m sure you know what that means. She needs training, guidance and a secure place to be protected right now. I can’t tell you how sorry we are that we didn’t arrive in time to save her mother and father from the gunman.”
After a silent prod from Shannon, Sandy added, “And the last thing we want is to separate her from the last person she might consider family.” (* She’d have to call the lawyers off as soon as the meeting was over. *)
A weight seemed to lift from the middle age man and he visibly relaxed, as he answered their statement saying, “Yes, I had deduced that when she punched a hole in the brick wall last night following yet another nightmare.”
Sam noticed the concern in the woman’s eyes and took it as a sign that she might be able to help him quiet the rage and pain in the girl. ( *Maybe they could do something about the dreams too *) and maybe just maybe help him keep his oath to Miss Tara as well.
Making his decision, Sam came to his feet and straightened his tie.
Moving around the desk he said, “Very well. If you like, I’ll send someone around later tonight to collect your things from your hotel and you may go straight over to the manner to begin Miss Tara’s training.” said Sam. It was obvious from the way he spoke and behaved that he’d in no way allow the girl to leave his supervision.
“We’ve more than sufficient room for however many people you feel you may need. Also please forward any requirements for training equipment you think you may need to Sven down in the fitness center; he’s already been instructed to provide you with anything you request.”
Lastly, he added, “The wards will now allow you two and the gentleman from last night to enter without harm, but please let me know if you wish to bring anyone else in. There’s more than enough room available, being that I’ve given all the servants holiday with pay.”
He paused in thought for a moment. “I really don’t know how much to tell the household staff and if you know any trust worthy people, I’d be more than happy to pay top salaries.”
Motioning them to come with him, he escorted them to the door saying, “Please, come with me. I-I don’t like leaving her alone any longer then necessary.”
Samuel T. Pennyworth felt good about the way things had gone -- not that they couldn’t have gone better. But with the Council now in charge of Tara’s training, he would be free to put his own plan into action; he just hoped he could help Tara before it was too late.
Maybe this small group of committed people could change the world.
And protect one little girl.
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