Identity CrisisBy AngelfirenzeDisclaimer:
DC Comics; Heel and Toe; Warner Bros.; Whedon, et al. own all.Summary:
Her figurative 'grandfather', as it were, was the closest chance she had of finding Timothy Drake, now known as Dr. Gregory House, and that had to be her main focus.Notes:
Written with marag
's blessing; I got this idea and had to run with it...
Also, Fibromuscular dysplasia
is a logical diagnosis for what happened to House during 'Three Stories' (House, MD, 1.22).Timelines:
Buffy, post-'Becoming, Part II'; general storyverse, post-Acquainted with the Night by marag
, which is encompassed in its own wonderful universe where Gregory House was once our dear Timothy Drake...Spoilers:
Buffy the Vampire Slayer, House, M.D., seasons one and two; the above masterpieces. Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
.Part I: MissionSeveral Months Earlier...
"Buffy, are you sure you want to do this?" Willow's voice was cautious and probing, prompting Buffy to sigh and again shake off the vestiges of the nightmare she'd lived through when Billy Palmer's comatose world had spilled out into the real one.
She'd known since before the divorce that Hank wasn't her biological father, but it had still cut sharply to hear her deepest fear spelled out so plainly.
Buffy frowned, then, shoving the memory away once and for all and faced Willow and her computer.
"I just...I just want to know where I really come from. Mom told me a few things about him, but she didn't know a lot anymore. She said he disappeared a little while later. I get the feeling she thinks he's dead or missing. She said one of the reasons she left Gotham in the first place was because it was so dangerous."
Upon Willow's askance expression, Buffy snorted, "Yes, bask in that
irony for a moment, won't you? Anyway, yeah, she's from Gotham, they both were -- she said his name was 'Tim'. Timothy Drake. She got all -- you know, like, 'I really wish I weren't telling you this, but I think you deserve the truth so I'll ignore the way my face is burning like a four-alarm fire and just tell you -- '"
And here Buffy brightened superficially, trilling, "You're a bastard, sweetheart!" before darkening again.
At Willow's subsequent frown, she amended, "Okay, she didn't say it like that or with those words, but I'm kind of bitter, okay? Working through the bitter, here. The point is that you're the best, Wills, and so
much better with computers than I am, or Xand. And, of course, Giles thinks they should be cast into the fires of the Hellmouth, itself, so -- "
"Okay, okay, I get your point!" Willow cut in, now glowing with both embarrassment and pride. "Alright, so first we'll go on your mom's hunch and check the morgues, just to make sure..."
Buffy sighed and unfolded the print-out Willow had given her for what had to be the thousandth time. Timothy Drake, at age sixteen -- his last known photograph anywhere in Gotham. She'd sat in the bus terminal just staring at it, remembering all the scholarly and other accolades and awards he'd gotten that had been listed under his name and the huge red 'MISSING' notation before that.
It had annoyed her slightly, seeing he was only five-foot-six then, when her stepfather had been almost four inches taller at the same age. Now
she knew where she'd gotten her stupid shortness from, it seemed.
The photograph in the print-out was in the same kind of primitive color that several of her mother's family photos had been in when they'd looked through the album together and what struck her most were his blue eyes, staring back out of the photograph along with a huge smile that said his whole world was all-but-perfect. She hoped he still felt that way, wherever he was.
Glancing down at the address for information, it had read Wayne Manor, care of Bruce Wayne. Willow had brightened instantly after Career Day, remembering that WayneTech Corporation had been the ones scouting out herself and another boy named Oz that she'd obviously been interested in -- she'd only mentioned him six more times before the conversation was over, actually having him win out over computers.
Buffy had been amused, to say the least.
But now it was almost enough to make her stomach churn. Bruce Wayne had been her biological father's benefactor in some way, leading a corporation major enough to personally scout out the two best computer tech students in their school, and he had a deep connection, it seemed, with her missing father. She wondered what their story was, but needed to find him first to figure out what was the what.
The question was how to do that. If Gotham was so dangerous that Mom had felt L.A. was a viable alternative, what on earth was someone so upstanding as Bruce Wayne still doing here after all this time? Buffy groaned irritably before pausing and forcing herself to stop thinking and simply act
Agonizing over what was going to happen wasn't going to help her. She was here now. The only thing she could do was ask around.
At best, she'd find what she was looking for -- at worst, she'd still be able to make a fresh start. She was still a Slayer, after all, and a few dozen human baddies weren't enough to deter her. She could kick their asses one-handed.
...So what the hell was she so afraid of?
Bruce frowned deeply, reading over the printouts Barbara had given him after he'd asked for more in-depth information about who had been looking into them, much less hacked into the Bat Cave's computer system and figured out their basic location.
This Willow Rosenberg was only a teenager yet, from the look of her grades, she'd've given Tim a run for his money back in the day.
The same went for Daniel Osbourne, but since he hadn't looked into them, it was more of them stumbling upon him once they'd worked together on a project of some sort. He'd sent WayneTech representatives to Sunnydale, California with the goal of gaining information on these two children, as well as possibly recruit them into his company later in their lives or possibly before they graduated if they were good enough, which it appeared they were. He'd have to keep an eye on them for the foreseeable future.
But the main thing of importance was that they were looking into Tim's background and trying to find where he was now. He wasn't particularly
worried, knowing Tim had covered his own tracks very well -- he never thought that that might bring him comfort, but if anyone meant Tim any harm -- if Hush
ever found Tim -- Bruce and the rest of their family would rain Hell down on them as swiftly as possible.
As it was, it was an understatement -- to say the least -- when Bernard entered the Cave personally to tell him that a young girl was at the door of the manor, the poor thing soaked and miserable from the rain, her main insistence being that she was looking for a Timothy Drake, including carrying a now-runny print-out of him, and saying (as though she expected to be thrown into Arkham any moment) that he was her father and whether Bruce Wayne or anyone else Timothy had known possibly had even the slightest clue where he was.
Bruce had met her at the foyer himself, gratified that Bernard had wrapped her in an extra bathrobe and brought out chairs for each of them.
Bruce was forcing himself to breathe past the astonishment he felt. He could see that, despite her what would ordinarily be a far-fetched tale under normal circumstances (ones which none in the room lived under, though neither party truly knew it), she was telling the truth.
He could see the shape of Tim's face at her age in her own, though their eyes were different, as was their hair, it was other little things -- even the ravenous way she put away enough food for two or more people once Bruce and Bernard had situated her in the dining room and plied her with food.
The way she had moved, ever gracefully even loaded down with a pack and the sopping wet clothing Bernard had immediately exchanged with Cassandra for dry, clean pajamas upon allowing her a shower and finally seating her at the table -- it all but screamed 'Tim' to everyone present who had known him.
She moved like a fighter, taking in her every surroundings, her balance perfect and ready to strike even as she forced herself not to shovel food down her throat.
It was obvious she hadn't eaten or slept in at least a day and Bruce simply sat back and studied her, easily lining up the time period and Tim's actions after he'd gone after Black Mask in his head.
When the girl had finally sat back, sated and exhausted, Bruce had merely asked, "What's your name?"
Buffy startled slightly, her lip trembling as tears came back to her eyes yet again. She tried to smile and failed miserably. "I...w-when I was born, my mother named me Elizabeth but no one ever calls me that. I've always been Buffy, ever since I could remember. I found -- well, no, my friend Wills and I found a copy of my original birth certificate. I'd had no idea Elizabeth Jamison was my original legal name. But then again..."
Buffy gave another watery smile, "I always thought I was born in L.A., but it turns out my mother, Joyce Jamison
only moved there a little after I was born because she didn't want me to be -- she said my -- biological father, your Timothy Drake, had been in a lot of danger -- she'd been caught in a little of it and that was actually how they met. She didn't give me any of those details. But she didn't want me to grow up..."
Buffy looked up at the ceiling, her eyes widening and her mouth tipping open slightly as she realized just how high it went.
Seconds later, she mastered herself with an immediacy that Bruce rather admired. "She didn't want me to grow up -- here, I guess -- in a place she felt was so dangerous -- I guess this was after h-he -- " Buffy gestured to the unfolded printout that sat before Bruce, Tim's smiling young face looking hauntingly up from the once white paper.
"She said after she and my stepfather divorced that she thought he -- Tim Drake -- was dead. She'd tried a few times to find him and couldn't and -- " Buffy sniffled, which surprised Bruce, given that she'd never known Tim, much less gained an attachment to him.
"But I just need to know if he's alive or not. I'm not going back to Sunnydale, even if he's not. But Gotham is my only lead."
Buffy frowned then, locking eyes on Bruce in a way he honestly didn't expect. "You're my only lead. He's from here, my mother and aunts are from here -- everything we could find said that you took care of him once. I just want to know if he's dead or not. Then I have to move on."
Bruce considered her words for a moment before asking, as delicately as he could, "Is your mother still living?"
He didn't expect the harsh chuckle received in return. Even without looking, he could tell that Bernard, too, was startled.
"Yes, she is. I'm the one that's dead to her, it seems," was all the answer Buffy would give.
Knowing he shouldn't pry any further than that, Bruce nodded before rising and calmly asking Cass to show Buffy to a room.
Buffy was surprised when Bruce's final words to her that evening were for her to make herself at home.