New City, New Lives
Set in the Batman Begins/Dark Knight universe... This is for amusewithaview’s “Comic Hero” Challenge, where a Scooby moves to a superhero town (in this case Gotham) and adopts a masked persona.
A/N: As this is Nolan-verse Batman, the references to Superman in this story are to comics/tv shows/movies and not an actual Superman.
Disclaimer: I don’t own Batman or BTVS, if I did there’d be more capes in both ;-)
-Awesome graphic by zoev!
By: Cousin Mary
“Come on! It’ll be perfectly safe, well lit and everything!” Dawn stomped her foot, looking more six than sixteen. “When you were my age you went to the Bronze all the time!”
“It isn’t the same and you know it.” Buffy suppressed the urge to roll her eyes. Being the adult was never easy, especially when she could vividly remember having these fights with Mom herself. But Gotham wasn’t Sunnydale. Granted, Sunnydale hadn’t exactly been the safest place, but in a big city groups of sixteen year old girls could not go out at night, unless it was like a group of a hundred or something. “Either I go down there with you and pick you guys up at 11 or you don’t go.”
“That’s not fair!” Dawn yelled before stomping off. But she’d come back and accept the terms, they both knew it. Buffy sighed as she finished prying the frozen fish sticks apart and spacing them out on the cookie sheet. For all that Dawn complained about her over protectiveness, in Gotham, it was understandable. For every great museum and school there was an insane cult of aquatic bird worshippers or a ninja crime syndicate. Giles swore there was no Hellmouth under America’s biggest and most corrupt city, but sometimes you had to wonder.
After Sunnydale had become a sinkhole, and after all of the activated Slayers had lost their powers and become just resentful, sullen teenagers, the Summers girls had decided to move as far away from ex-boyfriends, ex-watchers and, most importantly, ex-slayers as they could. Why they chose Gotham, well, why Buffy had chosen Gotham, was simple; there were jobs in Gotham, jobs that paid above minimum wage.
And it wasn’t like they’d packed up and snuck out like thieves in the night. No, Giles, Xander and Willow all knew where they were and were welcome to visit... But after everything, the all singing, all dancing, all sinking end of the world, well, every Scooby seemed to need a little time to themselves.
Giles was back in Giles-land, doing something more or less tea related. Or museum related, but still, there was probably tea involved. And Willow was exploring her Bohemian side in San Francisco, apparently she’d always secretly wanted to be a painter, who knew? And Xander, Xander was on another of his never ending road trips, still fighting the good fight, and keeping everyone up to date with the occasional phone call or post card.
Buffy had taken a job as a receptionist at a non-profit called Gotham’s Guardians. A desk job wasn’t really her thing, but her background as a high school counselor had impressed her new bosses and really, her new job was nearly as noble as her old. Gotham’s Guardians was dedicated to getting girls and women off the streets. The homeless, the hookers, the girls who’d fallen through society’s cracks one way or another. Buffy felt pride in what she did and who she helped. And if every once in a while she happened to dress in black and let an exboyfriend or pimp know to back off, well, no one really even thought twice about that in a town like Gotham.
She set the timer and set about making a salad to go with dinner. The thing was, Gotham was a terrible town. Rotting, like a dying tree or something. Sometimes she wished she’d never brought her sister here, but then other times, other times she felt like she couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. For all the corruption, all the organized crime and crazies out there, there was Gotham, all the good it could represent… if you could ignore all the bad. There was something about all the humanness, the strength and the frailty that made her feel like she was actually living life rather than just waiting for something bigger and stronger to finally take down the Slayer.
Last week she’d broken up a human trafficking ring that’s been tricking girls from Eastern Europe, promising them waitressing and cleaning jobs, only to force them into prostitution. When the last of the smugglers had been hauled away, one of the women, Buffy still didn’t know how she’d spotted her, had found her and thanked her, crying as she smiled and clung to her hands. That was something that had rarely happened to her as a Slayer, a connection she hadn’t even known she’d been missing.
Buffy was still thinking about her new life as a social worker/masked vigilante when her sister came back into the kitchen. She’d probably smelled the food. Buffy swore Slayer metabolism had nothing on her sister’s; the girl could eat a horse and still be hungry.
“I guess it’d be cool if you took us down there.” Dawn didn’t make eye contact, but she started setting their tiny formica table. “I mean, as long as you don’t stick around afterwards.”
Buffy snorted, nearly offended. “Please, hang around an underage club? As if.”
“So, what’ll you do then?” Dawn looked up and arched her perfect cover model eyebrow. “Don’t tell me you’re actually going to go out and, gasp, meet a guy!”
“Maybe I will.” Buffy shrugged, hey, it hadn’t been that
long since she’d been out on a date. Plus she’d been busy, new city, new job, new black tights…
“Right,” Dawn was using that I’m-way-smarter-than-you tone of voice that Buffy hated so much, “and I supposed you’ll be hitting that party at the Gotham Hilton. Bruce Wayne’s supposed to be there and everything.”
“I don’t think they let people without six or seven zeros at the end of their paycheck go to those parties,” Buffy pointed out. “Besides, what would I say to Bruce Wayne, billionaire playboy?” She made her eyes go big and wide. “Say Brucie, how about those new solid gold yachts? I wonder how they make ‘em float?”
“I sooo dare you to find him and ask that!” Dawn laughed. “I bet he’d be polite and excuse himself before running away.”
“I don’t think the uber-rich can be polite.” When the timer dinged she took out the fish sticks and split them on to two plates. “Unless you call only nudging people with your Ferrari polite.”
“Is there any of that Crystal Light stuff left?” Dawn started rummaging in their minuscule apartment fridge, coming back with a half empty 2 liter bottle of store brand diet orange and some questionable milk.
“I don’t know what I’ll do.” Buffy picked up the milk and drained it down the sink. She brought back two glasses with ice to the table and split the semi-flat soda between them. “Maybe hit that new club, Water Raven?”
“Wanton:Crave,” Dawn corrected. “And I don’t know if that’s your kind of place.”
“Because you just called it a wet bird?” Dawn snorted, squirting mustard and teriyaki sauce over her fish sticks and salad both. “So, Suki and Bethany are meeting at the Daily Brew at 8:30 and we’ll go to the Oingo Boingo after we get caffeined up.”
“Kay.” Buffy eyed the clock, it wasn’t even 7 yet, plenty of time. The sisters planned their outfits as they finished their dinners. The traffic outside their basement apartment was worse than usual for a Friday and the sound of horns and tires was barely muffled by the thick drapes Dawn had hung. But still, it was starting to feel like home.
They only had to walk two blocks to the subway station and the Daily Brew was only one stop away, but way too much of Gotham was badly lit blind corners for Buffy to feel comfortable with Dawn going out on her own alone at night. Daytime was bad enough.
Their apartment wasn’t in a “bad” neighborhood per se, though they weren’t in what anyone would call a “good” one either. Rent was high everywhere in Gotham, except the Narrows, and no one lived there unless they had no other choice. But their small, two bedroom apartment suited them just fine. And the neighborhood wasn’t really that bad, it was just the never-ending traffic that splashed through Gotham’s seemingly never ending rain that sometimes kept the suburban girls awake at nights.
Dawn knew she still patrolled a few nights a week. They didn’t really talk about it but her little sister seemed to have made some kind of peace with what she did. It probably helped that Dawn had her own friends that were in no way involved with the night or what could be lurking there. Susan “Suki” Miller and Bethany Leroy were in two of Dawn’s Honors classes apiece; they were also just as tall and skinny as her sister and constantly trying to talk Dawnie into trying out for the East Gotham High’s Fighting Hornets basketball team. So far Dawn had resisted, but there were still six weeks before she had to make up her mind and Buffy was resigning herself to Thursday night games and the occasional way too tall slumber party.
They reached the subway station with minimal dampness creeping into their hair and scanned their token cards before boarding the C line in the general direction of downtown. The fluorescent lights were flickering and there were the expected stains across the floor and most of the seats. They chose to stand and held on to the creaking loops of hardened plastic hanging from the ceiling. The trains ran smoothly though and were almost never late… unless some yahoo hijacked one, which happened more often than the city officials liked to admit.
As they watched the tunnel lights flicker by, the sisters chatted about Dawn’s classes and Buffy’s latest boss. She’d only been at Guardians for four months and already she’d cycled through three supervisors. Sometimes people didn’t last very long in Gotham. The train pulled to a stop at 16th Street and the Summers sisters quickly passed through the newspaper strewn station. Buffy stopped at the same station every morning on her way to work, but it still made her feel uncomfortable. Too many burned out lights, too many pillars for people to hide behind, and it didn’t help that she knew the giant grates that led to the city’s vast sewer system had mostly broken locks.
But they climbed the stairs out of the station without incident and went directly into the coffee shop on the corner. The Daily Brew was a cute, little girly bakery and coffee shop that put whipped cream on everything except your receipt. It was Dawn and Buffy’s favorite. The owner was Gertie Steel, a sixty-year-old former opera singer that had a tendency to break into song if the ambient noise level of the shop dropped below deafening. Not that that happened often, not when all the nearby secretaries and high school girls flocked in for Gertie’s pink frosted scones and triple chocolate fudgaccinos.
The walls were covered in posters advertising every opera and musical Gertie had ever preformed in or seen. The tables were tiny and round and nestled between over-stuffed pink and white upholstered wingback chairs. There was usually a fire burning in the small corner potbelly stove, which was necessary to ward off the all pervasive Gotham damp.
Dawn and her friends noticed each other at the same time and let out a high pitched squeal that only dogs and teenage girls can hear.
“Oh my god, you look so cute!”
“Not as cute as you! That top is totally your color, didn’t I tell you you would look totally hot?”
“I heard from Jamal that heard from Denver that Benji is almost definitely going to be there tonight. So we’ve got to plan what to say.”
Buffy just shook her head and left the friends to make their game plan. She remembered when it had been her and her friends having almost the same conversation, only Benji had been Logan and skirts had been more important to an outfit than tops. God, she was starting to feel old.
“Hello Buffy, cold tonight hmm? What can I get you sweetie?” Gertie asked from behind the counter as Buffy wandered up.
“It’s not as bad as it was last week, but yeah, definitely of the chilly.” Buffy looked up at the menu board mostly out of habit, she always ordered the same thing. “I’ll have a fudgaccino, but just a small one please.”
“Coming right up dear.”
As Gertie went about making the super chocolaty concoction, Buffy tried to tune out the fast paced teenspeak behind her. Dawnie was starting to really come into her own in Gotham, more so than Buffy could have ever hoped for. After Mom had died, and more than ever when Sunnydale had made with its Titanic impression, her sister had started to fall into a depression that had had Giles muttering about counseling and possibly even medication. But time and the change of cities had really helped, now the sadness rarely crept into her sister’s eyes. If anything Buffy was beginning to feel like she
was the one who needed the happy pills. And it wasn’t like she wasn’t satisfied with her life. She loved her sister and she loved her job, it was just that well, maybe what she was missing was what her sister had. A social life, a chance to go out and meet guys that she wasn’t planning on beating up Slayer style.
When Gertie came back with her drink she made a decision. After she dropped the girls off she was going to go out to a grown up club and talk to grown ups. Even the thought of meeting someone started to chase away the dark clouds, or maybe it was the caffeinated-fudge going to work. Oh well, either way, Wet Bird, here she came!
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