“Gah!” Xander yelled as Kendra pulled the stitches together. The wound in his side stung with the disinfectant, and it was definitely unpleasant. Shifting a bit on the table, he huffed a bit in annoyance.
“Do stop your complaining.” Kendra said, smiling a bit. She clipped the thread as she finished tying off the injury. “T’ere. All sealed up and safe. I suggest keeping bandages upon it until it be fully healed. T’would be best to change dem each day.”
He nodded. “Yes, Nurse Kendra.” He managed a somewhat mischievous grin. “If I’m real good could I see you in one of those outfits?”
She blushed, but smirked at him in return. “Perhaps.”
Growing more serious, Xander nodded. “Alright then. How are your injuries?”
Kendra lifted her shirt slightly, showing where the bullet had skitted over her ribs. The wound was already sealed over, leaving nothing but a scab. “Tis fine. De bullet did not penetrate deep, I got it out, and me Slayer healing has taken care of de worst of it. I be more concerned about ya injuries. You do nae heal as well or as quick as I do. I’d say ya should have two weeks off at least, lest ye rip your stitches.”
“Hazard of being a normal human.” Xander shrugged. “I’ll deal. Though I’ve got some suggestions for keeping the bloodsuckers out there off-balance.” Looking with a bit of regret at his torn up suit, he sighed. “I can salvage most of what I’ve got here, but the vest is a loss. The clown tore it up real good.”
Kendra nodded. “It did keep him from tearing you up, however. Better da vest den you.”
“No argument here. Still, replacing it isn’t going to be so easy. The cops are a bit more on alert now. And lifting another vest from Stein isn’t going to be happening, what with him nabbing an early retirement. Poor bastard.”
“Aye.” Kendra spoke with a wince. “I heard de rumors. Stein will nae be a happy person for a long time, methinks.” Frowning with consideration, she nodded to herself. “I can get ye a replacement set of armor, though t’would not be of much use against bullets. It would be lighter than the cobbled-together suit you have now, however.”
Xander nodded. “One like yours, you mean?”
“Aye. You be a bit bigger t’an I am, so I would have tae order it for ya size, but it would be better t’an not’ing.” She smiled mischievously. “Although I do nae t’ink I would mind dat.”
He flushed, but grinned in return. “Why Miss Young, are you flirting with me?”
Kendra nodded, smirking. “Do ya want me to?”
“I don’t think I mind...” He was silenced as her lips descended on his. They kissed warmly, gently, with an increasing amount of heat rising in both of them. Gently, he broke the kiss, caressing her cheek with his hand. “Are you sure you want this, Kendra?”
Her smile was all the answer he needed. They resumed kissing, passion and tenderness being shared between them. Need rising in both, wanting nothing more than for the moments to go on forever, they embraced each other fully. Neither got much sleep that day.
Jim Gordon smiled as he watched Barbara and John sleep, curled up together on the hotel bed. His leg felt tight from where the doctors had worked. They told him the damage wasn’t too severe, and he’d make a full recovery. All in all, he wasn’t too concerned about that. He was just glad his family was safe.
A flicker of movement caught his eye, and he saw a familiar shadow by the balcony window. Leaning on his crutch, he made his way to the door, stepping through as quietly as he could manage.
“Good to see you’re alright, Jim.” Batman spoke softly.
Gordon nodded. “It was pretty close for a minute there. The vampire got away, unfortunately, but I’m just glad my family’s safe. Your friend arrived a little late, one of the hostages was killed, but it could have been a lot uglier.”
“You be welcome.” A voice spoke from the side. Another dark, pointed-eared figure emerged from the shadows. Her costume was all black, her mask a modified version of Batman’s, her mouth and lips covered by black cloth. A cape fell lightly from her shoulders, nearly rendering her shapeless in shadow. The hilt of a katana emerged from between her shoulderblades, her cape curled around it.
With a smile, Batman spoke. “Jim Gordon, meet Batgirl. You met the other night, but her costume wasn’t ready yet.”
She bowed, and he bowed his head in return. “I owe you a lot, miss.”
Batgirl nodded. “I did what I had tae do.”
Batman spoke with a small smile. “I was a bit busy. I could have been there a bit sooner, Jim, and for that I’m sorry. But I had to do what I could to keep the Joker from blowing up half the town.”
Gordon nodded in understanding. “Had to make a choice. I’m glad you thought of sending someone, at least. Anyway, they found a lot of jugs of PCP hooked up throughout the city. We’ll be dealing with some people getting dosed with it now and again for a long while, but they’re being tracked down, one at a time. More people are buying their water in bottles now, too. It’ll be a while before we find all of them, but the major damage is past.”
“And the Joker?” Batman asked.
“Found him right where you left him. He wasn’t exactly happy about it. He’ll be tried under domestic terrorist acts.” Gordon shook his head. “If he’s found fit to stand trial at all. The psychiatrists are saying they’ve never found a mind quite as messed up as his before. To put it plainly, the guy’s got issues. Either way, he’ll be in a padded cell or a very hard one.”
Batman nodded. “Good. As long as he’s out of the picture.”
Gordon spoke softly, with a bit of worry. “What about Two-Face?”
Batman blinked. “Two-Face?”
“It’s what my son called the vampire. It’s kind of appropriate, considering the way he looks.”
“Ah.” Batman nodded as he spoke. “I’ll find him. He was an ally of mine, once. Another vampire pushed him over the edge. She’s dead now, but the damage is done. We’ll stop him, one way or another.” A deep pain filled Batman’s voice as he finished. “A good friend of mine wouldn’t want to see him like that.”
Gordon nodded. “It’s good to know even you have some friends.”
Batman smiled slightly. “A few.” He nodded to Batgirl, who nodded back. “I don’t have the luxury of many friends.”
Gordon patted Batman on the shoulder. “You’ve got one here.” He sighed. “Sorry I won’t be of much more help.”
Batman cocked his head. “What do you mean?”
Jim nodded back to the doors to the hotel room. “Our house is gone, and so is everything we made up over the years. And with the Mayor gone, government workers are in as much danger as everyone else around here. The stuff we had isn’t really important, and our insurance has given us a bit of a reprieve. If it was just me, I’d stay here in Sunnydale, but...”
Batman nodded. “You don’t want them targeted again.”
“That, and the memories of what happened here. John needs time, and hanging around here isn’t going to be good. Knowing what’s out there now, well... it would just be best for us to move on. We’re going to LA, rebuild our lives.”
Batman took Gordon’s hand and shook it gently. “Alright. Take care of yourself, Jim.”
Gordon smiled. “You too.” As Batman and Batgirl climbed up on the balcony, Gordon spoke softly. “Thank you both. If you’re ever coming my way again...”
Batman turned his head with a small smile. “I’ll look you up.”
Then they jumped and were gone.
“Breaking news from Sunnydale, California. The terrorist known as ‘The Joker’ has been caught and remains in police custody. He was turned in by an anonymous tip, which has the police and citizens of Sunnydale grateful for the actions of concerned citizens. However, the terrorist actions committed by the Joker has left this sleepy town reeling. Mayor Richard Wilkins the Third was found dead in his bomb shelter, a result of the Joker’s rampage. He had to be identified by his dental records.
“In other news from Sunnydale, Chief of Police Eric Johnson was found dead this morning, along with half the judiciary of the town. No cause of death has been released to the press as of yet. Preliminary investigations suspect it is part of the aftermath of the Joker’s activities in the city, however the investigation is still ongoing. State troopers are assisting the Sunnydale Police in their investigation of this matter, as the beleaguered police force of the city is still attempting to recover from the riots that rocked the once-sleepy town. With the local government in shambles, Senator O’Leary suggested an interm state-supported government fill in the positions until local elections could be held.
“When asked about the rumors of the mythical Batman playing a role in ending the crisis, Deputy Mayor Michael Miller had this to say: ‘There’s no evidence of this Batman here in Sunnydale. The Batman was something made up by teenagers who got too close to a gas leak in the Sunset Club. The crisis was resolved by the hardworking members of Sunnydale’s Police Department, Fire Department, Forensics unit and the actions of concerned citizens. No vigilante played a part in resolving this situation, and I would like to extend my gratitude to everyone who played a part in stopping this madman.’
“Despite the capture of the Joker, the families of Sunnydale have difficult times ahead of them. Due to the spread of drugs in the water, many homes are entering this Christmas season with family members in therapy or in the hospital. Too many won’t have family members coming home at all. It is a testament to the strength of the people of Sunnydale that they have not allowed this crisis to overwhelm them, and the city is busily rebuilding from the horror caused in these few short days.
“In other news, the Daily Planet has just turned in the clearest photo of the Metropolis Blur. True to the namesake, the photograph is blurry, but for the first time we have more than eyewitness evidence concerning the mysterious phenomenon. The incident occurred when a traffic helicopter experienced engine failure over Metropolis’ Freedom Expressway. Photographer James Olsen caught a picture of a black streak catching the helicopter before it could plow into the ground, potentially killing hundreds. Physicists in Metropolis are scratching their heads as to how something moving so quickly could prevent the helicopter from crashing, keeping the people inside safe and intact, without its speed alone destroying the helicopter in the attempt. The pilot was quoted saying this: ‘Does it really matter how it worked? I’m here and I’m alive, and whatever did it I’m grateful for it.’
“Lexcorp shares took a pounding on the stock market today, as a Los Angeles division was shut down. Former director Lucius Fox was quoted as saying: ‘It’s unfortunate, but it’s been a long time in coming, I’m afraid. I’m more concerned about the good, decent people who have been laid off in this move. They’ve got nowhere to go.’
“A spectacular fire consumed a Stay-Puft Marshmallow factory early this morning in New York....”
“And that’s about it.” Xander said. He rested his hand on the top of the gravestone. “There’s a lot left to do, and there’s too many weird things happening around here. With the Mayor gone, it’s like a shaken soda bottle around here. Too many things are crawling out of the woodwork, and I’m just one guy. Still, they’re scared of Batman, and with Batgirl adding to the rumors, we’re stemming the tide. I wish you could be here to see it. I’m just glad I’m not doing this alone.”
He chuckled to himself. “Oh, Giles prevented an apocalypse a couple days ago. By accident. The museum called him in to look at an old statue. He realized it was the remains of some old world-devouring demon thing. We scraped some cash together, went out to sea and dumped it in the world’s deepest ocean trench. If anybody finds it and uses it, they deserve to have the credit for ending the world, because they managed to go six miles down to get the bloody thing. In pitch darkness. Giles says that with a bit of luck, the trench will get filled in a few thousand years from a nice big earthquake. At least the bottom of it. Bad for the flatfish living down there, but good for hiding dead demons who can still devour a world.”
He sighed. “Giles and Miss Calendar are still on a bit of a rocky relationship. She understands he was a bit high when he said those things, but I guess it’s not easy to forget. I can understand that. I hope they get back together. They deserve a bit of happiness. Even as the thought of Giles doing anything remotely hormonal gives me the heebie-jeebies.” He shuddered.
For a moment, there was nothing but the wind. He whispered softly. “I miss you both. I should have been there when you came to my house. That’s been one of the hardest things about all this. Some part of me thinks that one morning I’ll go to the library and hear you, Buffy, complaining about the icky monsters on last night’s patrol. Part of me wants to be able to pop by your house, Joyce, and swipe some of those cookies you made when you’re not looking. Part of the reason you’re here is my fault. I know I didn’t pull the trigger, but I can’t help but feel that way. I’m not sure I’ll ever deal with it completely. I can only hope that wherever you two are, you can forgive me. I messed up that day. I can’t make up for it, but I can help people. I think you’d have wanted that.”
He sighed. “Speaking of which, nobody’s heard anything about Angel, of late. You know I never liked the guy. Not since I forced him to bring me to you on Prom Night, Buff. I tolerated him before that, but I hated him then. Still, I know you cared for him, and I owe you. I’ll try to reach him if I can, but from what I hear, he’s pretty far gone. You’d weep on seeing what he’s done, Buffy. I can understand his anger, but I don’t like how he’s expressing it. I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I preferred him when he just moped about how useless he was.”
He took a deep breath. “As for me and Kendra...well, it’s weird. I like her, a lot. We ‘play’ together and enjoy ourselves. Do I love her? I don’t know. I’ve never been in love before. I’m not quite sure she knows what it’s like either. She’s been sheltered for a lot of her life. One moment she’s this confident badass Slayer, the next she’s this shy girl butting up against her inhibitions. I’m not sure I’d have her any other way.” He smiled sadly. “I hope you can be happy for me. I don’t know where it’s going, but I’d sure like to find out.”
He reached under his coat and drew out a pair of roses, gently setting them before the pair of headstones. He paused as if listening for a moment, then nodded. “I know, I know. You both deserve a bouquet. Each. I’m sorry, but I’m on a budget here. Beating up vampires and demons is great for stress relief, but it’s not exactly a major source of income. They don’t usually keep much. It is enough to feed my twinkie addiction, though.”
He gently rubbed the top of each headstone. “Wherever you are, guys, save a spot for me. No offense, but I hope I don’t join you for a long while yet. If I see you ahead of schedule, though, I’ll try to bring something nice. How about cake? I know, I know, dead people don’t eat. Usually. But it’s the thought that counts.” He took a deep breath and let it out, letting some of his heartache go with it. “I’ll be by, once in a while. I owe both of you a lot more than I can ever repay.”
He turned and walked his way to the graveyard’s entrance, blinking away unshed tears. Kendra was waiting for him, leaning on the stone archway. She smiled softly on seeing him. “All done?”
He nodded. “Yeah. I know it’s silly doing this, but I feel like I have to.”
Kendra smiled. “Aye, tis silly. But so are most t’ings people do. It makes us human.” She hugged him gently. “Come, Giles be preparing de Christmas party. I never understood de point of celebrating it.”
Xander shrugged. “It used to be about the birth of the son of God. If he ever existed, anyway. Now? It’s about family.” He squeezed her shoulder. “That’s enough.”
She nodded. “Aye, dat be enough.” She gently took his hand and squeezed, careful of her strength. “Will ya be all right, Xander?”
“I don’t know.” He whispered. Giving her a wan smile, he kissed her cheek. “I think so, though.”
Hand in hand, Xander and Kendra reached Giles’ front door. He lightly knocked, and a few moments later Giles opened the door. He smiled warmly. “Glad you two could make it. I know we haven’t had a great deal of time to sit back and relax, of late.”
Xander nodded. “Yeah, it’s been pretty hectic. Are we late? I had an errand to run.”
Giles rose an eyebrow. “Nothing too strenuous, I hope. You’re still healing.”
Xander smiled at Giles’ concern. “Nah. Just had to lay a few demons to rest. Metaphorical ones, that is.”
Giles nodded in understanding. “I see.” He gestured to his living room. “Please.”
Willow stood a bit shakily as Xander and Kendra came in. Leaning on her cane as she walked up to him, she smiled and gently hugged him. “Good to see you, Xander.”
“You too, Wills. I know I’ve been a bit absent lately.”
She gave him a mock-stern look. “You’re damn right mister. I’ve been missing my Xander-time.”
He chuckled. “And I’ve been missing my Willow-time. I had a lot on my mind.” Xander gently patted her back. “I think now’s a good time to start anew, yeah? We’ve all made mistakes...mine admittedly bigger than most. Let’s try and turn things around. New year, new leaf?”
Kendra spoke quietly then, a hint of mischief in her tone. “Do or do not, there is no try.”
At everyone’s stares, she flushed. “What? Tis a lesson I understand well. Dat movie had a point.” She gently squeezed Xander’s hand. “And if I did not seek, I do not t’ink I would have a boyfriend today.”
Willow looked at Kendra as if seeing her for the first time. Her tone dipping dangerously, she spoke. “Boyfriend?”
Xander’s eyes widened as he backed away. “New leaf, new leaf!”
Willow rose her hands and stepped toward Xander. “How could you not tell me!?”
The house filled with Giles’ laughter as the pair started bickering, Kendra watching with a smile on her face. For today, at least, all was as it should be.
A/N: Thus ends Dark Knight, Grey Heart. There’s more tale to tell, but this is the natural end of this part of the story. It’s basically my version of Batman Begins. There will be more, but under the next part of the series. An epic fic? You betcha. But as for this, I wanted to end on a positive, if bittersweet, note. I think I hit it here. I don’t know about you, but part of me was tearing up as I wrote the part of Xander talking to the pair of graves. Stupid sentimental emotions....
Anyway, the adventures of the young Batman will continue in ‘Knights in Shadow.’ Things will depart quite a bit more from canonical Buffy, though of course there are some things in there that are just too good to pass up.
If you’re having trouble getting an image of Kendra’s Batgirl suit, think of Cassandra Cain’s Batgirl outfit. To put it simply, she’d have her League of Shadows armor on with a cowl and cape attached.
As always, questions, comments and suggestions are welcome. And don’t worry. You haven’t seen the last of Jim Gordon, Angel-Face, or Joker-Andrew. They’ll be back. They always are...