Identity CrisisBy AngelfirenzeDisclaimer:
DC and Dark Horse Comics, respectively; Heel and Toe; Warner Bros.; Whedon, et al. own all. Summary:
Bruce began rubbing circles in Buffy's back. "You don't have to explain anything."
"I kind of...do. I...I had dreams about...about Dad
, when he was a kid, here, with his brother, Dick -- "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) and has continued to plague him into seasons beyond, though -- again -- this takes place in HMD, S2.Special Note to Everyone:
Yeah, that lingering grammatical flubb-up? I was quite aware of how odd my correction sounded. I simply was too tired to screw around with it any longer. This is now not the case (only moderately tired), so I'm fixing it. *nods*Timelines:
Buffy, (including the following comics) post-Viva Las Buffy
, Slayer, Interrupted
, and A Stake to the Heart
; post-'Becoming, Part II'; general storyverse, post-Acquainted with the Night
, which is encompassed in its own wonderful universe
where Gregory House was once our dear Timothy Drake...Part II: Terms
When Buffy first awoke, she was surprised to find herself in a bed at least three times larger than herself, say nothing of how freaking comfortable it was, only second to her Yummy Sushi pajamas for their familiarity. Someone had been nice enough to pull Mr. Gordo out of her bag and set him on the bed next to her. Laughing sadly, she fingered one of his ears as the days and nights before came back to her and reminded her where she was.
Bruce Wayne's manor. A woman named Cass who hadn't spoken very much had led her to a room and gently shooed her into it, wordlessly (but not unkindly so) helping Buffy unpack and put what few clothes she'd salvaged away in the chest of drawers, and then gave her a small smile goodnight before leaving. Cass had had a strangely saddened expression on her face, but hadn't said anything and Buffy hadn't been in a talking mood, herself so she'd let it go.
Having been exhausted, Buffy had promptly climbed into bed and didn't remember much beyond that with the exception of a few clips of dreams she'd had.A young boy swinging on the chandelier, fearlessly flipping through the air...Another boy dressed in a tuxedo, his mouth stuffed practically the brim with cake while standing on a lawn in front of a huge house...
-- she vaguely remembered waking up at this point, but couldn't say for certain.
Sighing, Buffy stood and stretched to find her laundered clothes sitting in a neat stack on the chair in the far corner.
Dressing quietly, Buffy peeked out the door into the hall around her to find no one in the hall, which made her rather nervous. What if she wasn't supposed to be in the hall at all? What if she was first up and it'd be rude and stuff to go walking around like she owned the place.
She faintly remembered Bruce Wayne telling her to make herself at home, but she couldn't just --STOP.
Buffy forced herself to breathe and simply went down the hall to a wide set of stairs, another odd flash from her dreams coming back to her of the two boys -- one of whom was now much larger than the other -- sliding down the banisters on either side of her on their feet, their faces full of glee and competition as they tried to race one another to the bottom.
A stern voice echoing up from the dining room, telling 'Masters Richard and Timothy -- ' the latter gave Buffy pause, causing her to grip the closest of the two banisters as she realized she'd dreamed of her father and...uncle?...in their childhood and teenage years -- 'to please retrieve their manners from wherever they'd so suddenly abandoned them and abscond from the rails this instant, using the stairs themselves like civilized young men'.
Richard Grayson and Timothy Drake -- Dick and Tim
, her heart told her -- both rolling their eyes slightly, sighing and jumping down onto the staircase she now stood upon. They both had looked so happy.
Buffy now fought the urge to cry again, memories of patrolling with Willow and Xander invading so suddenly as to force her to bite her lip, and stood for...she didn't know how long...before finally finding herself able to finish the trek to the dining room, finding not the first Butler!Guy, of course, but the one who'd introduced himself as 'Bernard' the night before.
He smiled at her, showing her to a seat and gently maneuvering her into it before placing a warm, damp towel in her hands and asking her what she would like from the amazing spread Buffy now noticed before her. Not knowing what to choose, Buffy dithered, wiping her hands thoroughly with the towel before just pointing to something, which turned out to be a tureen of oatmeal.
Buffy almost made a face at the fact that it was plain, but she caught herself at the last moment. Bernard, however, chuckled and placed both syrup and coffee creamer before her, which brightened Buffy's face before she'd realized it so that he'd chuckled in a conspiratorial manner.
Buffy would have asked what was so funny, but was too busy doctoring her oatmeal and picking other things, watching Bernard heap them on plates before her.
Finally, she decided that she had enough and started eating. She distinctly, however, heard Bernard mutter on his way out of the room, "...Just like her father..."
Bruce examined the ring Buffy had forgotten in one of her pockets the night before. Bernard had retrieved it when washing her clothes and he'd immediately researched it in the database, only to find nothing. Barbara had suggested using the actual internet and they'd immediately come across an encyclopedia of sorts that told him it was called a Claddagh ring and was traditionally a sign of devotion and even marriage in Ireland.
From what he knew about Tim, he wasn't Irish, but they weren't quite certain. Tim's birth parents hadn't seen their other family members very often and from Barbara's own research into Buffy's mother and stepfather, they hadn't been Irish, either.
He wouldn't ask Buffy where the ring had come from when he returned it to her, opting instead to simply watch her reaction. He preferred that Cass be there, as well, because out of all of them, she was the best at reading people and their body language.
The only thing he could say for certain was that someone either Irish or of Irish decent had given her the ring, possibly someone she'd engaged in a romantic relationship with.
He would wait for an explanation. For now, Bruce felt it was important that Tim know that he quite probably had a daughter here waiting for him who, if nothing else, wanted to know he was alive, if not meet him.
And given Tim's own feelings on the subject of family, Bruce knew that even his own antipathy toward Gotham wouldn't keep him from wanting to see her. If he wanted to meet her there, however, that could be arranged, if Tim was willing to see either Clark, Kon, Wally, or Bart -- or Bruce, himself, if they decided to take his jet.
Then again, it was also a matter of how Buffy, herself, felt -- as Tim, himself had put it -- 'about capes and spandex...'
Buffy sat back, plates empty before her, finally sated once more, and slightly annoyed at the way Bernard had seemed practically on the verge of giggles
the entire time she'd eaten.
Sitting back up, she shot him an annoyed look, which seemed only to spur further amusement.
"Okay, look, I heard that little observation that I'm just like my birth dad, so apparently we can both put away some food. Okay. Big deal."
Bernard stopped restraining his smile and gave her a wide, bright grin, at which Buffy rolled her eyes. "Oh, God, this is never going to end, is it? Not until I meet him? So -- " she gestured uselessly. "So how do we arrange that? You guys seem to know where he is, after all."
Bernard sighed and his smile lessened considerably. "Your father is in Princeton, New Jersey. He was here several months ago under great duress to attend a dinner party that we were throwing for Master Wayne's birthday. I imagine that if you decide to stay here in Gotham, as you have stated is your wish, you may just end up attending a few, yourself. Tim's female friends would be delighted to both meet you, as well as take you shopping for dresses and other -- "
At Buffy's wide-eyed, delighted expression at the mere mention of shopping, Bernard chuckled again. "And here, you are not
like your father, who absolutely hates shopping and will wear the same clothing for at least a decade, if his friend Dr. Wilson is to be believed. The lone
exception being t-shirts, it seems..."
Buffy faked an affronted expression. "What? I'm a girl -- a girl from California! Me and shopping are at one with each other!"
Bernard only smiled again and began clearing the dishes. When Buffy tried to get up to help, he gently pressed her shoulder downward to sit her back into her chair. "You'll sit right here until Master Wayne comes up to greet you. I believe he has some things he would like to ask you -- mainly the origin of the ring you had on your person when you arrived?"
Buffy's eyes widened as she suddenly realized she'd forgotten all about Angel's ring. How could she even do that? Why
would she even do that?
Ignoring Bernard's earlier admonishment, Buffy pushed back her chair and jumped to her feet, immediately beginning to pace around the hall.
"How do I get wherever Mr. Wayne is? I-I need my ring, I need it back -- please?" Buffy found herself on the verge of tears again and Bernard was obviously taken aback.
"No need to worry, Miss, I'll simply have him called up if you'll please
just sit back down. I assure you, nothing has happened to it. It's perfectly fine."
Buffy nodded, wiping her eyes as she grudgingly allowed Bernard to lead her back to her seat and forced herself to sit there, wringing her hands as she watched Bernard leave the room again, this time down a different hallway.
An eternity later (really, only ten or so minutes) Mr. Wayne strode gracefully into the dining room, just like the night before, and Buffy found herself wondering vaguely how he was still so fit as a fiddle at -- she forced herself to stop that line of thinking, as well, and watched as he sat down in the chair closest to her before reaching into an inner pocket of his suit jacket and removing her Claddagh ring, which he gently held out to her and didn't object to her accidentally snatching it out of his hands, tears finally cascading down her face.
"I take it whomever gave that to you, you loved a great deal and he in return?"
Buffy bit her lip, blinking steadily through the burn of the tears that refused to abate yet again as she slid it onto her right ring finger with the crown facing inward.
"He...I..." Buffy tried not to break down again, but it was so difficult getting the words out. Mr. Wayne was watching her, deep concern on his face as he watched her try to master herself as she had done the night before, but this time failing utterly.
She cried this time and clearly couldn't help it.
Bruce bit his lip before bringing up his closest hand and stroking some of the tears away from her face. Buffy watched him, hitching as she tried to stop crying again, but he didn't say anything until, finally, she'd seemed to have spent them all for the time being.
He sighed and wrapped his, for all intents and purposes, granddaughter in a hug.
Buffy sank into Bruce's arms, tired of having to be the strong one, tired of never letting anything get to her. "I...I loved him so much. And he loved me. He told me about the ways of his people...so long ago...that he was devoted to me, just like the heart...Spike said we couldn't be friends like the hands mean, but the crown...God, Angel was so loyal to me..."
Bruce found himself frowning at this new knowledge of someone else causing Buffy grief. "Spike?"
Buffy gave a small, hard laugh. "His name was William, actually. 'Spike's' just a nickname. Whatever. He said, 'You're not friends, you'll never be
friends -- you'll both be in love until it kills you both!' And, oh, God, he's so right. I...I can't...it's so hard to explain!"
Bruce began rubbing circles in Buffy's back. "You don't have to explain anything."
"I kind of...do. I...I had dreams about...about Dad
, when he was a kid, here, with his brother, Dick -- "
Bruce stiffened before forcing himself to relax. "You're clairvoyant?"
Buffy chuckled before sighing and sitting back in her chair again, "I...sort of. I don't really know how to explain it. But I'm so tired of hiding. Mom and my stepdad decided I was crazy once -- locked me away and everything, but they still don't know what happened there.
"I guess it doesn't matter, I beat the Big Bad, so whatever. The ones I told, my friends, they took it well -- after a bit. See, they expect you to keep it to yourself forever and no one can know. Well, people knowing has kept me alive. And I don't know if all of you will just do what Mom did and throw me out -- "
Bruce sat abruptly backward, a sharp expression on his face, "No matter what you tell us, no matter what happens to you, you have a home here. Always."
Buffy felt her mouth drop open, tears trying valiantly to come back again, but she forced herself to take a deep breath and clenched her eyes shut for a moment. She had to do this before she lost her nerve. If she was going to be honest, if they were going to truly know her, they had to accept everything.
She had to give them a chance to do so. Another flash of
Dad, this time dressed in an outfit, with a mask and an 'R' on the left side of his breastplate...
Buffy almost laughed.
"I'm the Vampire Slayer."
Bruce's own eyes widened and, somehow, he managed to keep his mouth from falling open. "Really?" He'd once read about the Vampire Slayer when he was young and traveling the world, learning fighting styles, but he'd never seen actual proof, and if he had ever met one before now, he had no way of knowing. What Buffy said beforehand was true, they did encourage the utmost secrecy. He'd rather felt like his family and friends had all but waved billboard signs in comparison, especially with the lamp...but...
Bruce forced himself to focus. Buffy was watching him now, a small, yet sardonic smile on her face. "I suppose you want proof?"
Bruce gave a small laugh, himself, "I'd be a hypocrite if I asked for it, but I'm absolutely certain now that Tim and his friends will just love you. Your father will want proof because he'll be angry you were Chosen for such a horrible duty. He'll want to call up whomever's in charge of all of that and spout expletives that will annoy me deeply, but how can I object?
"I allowed him to take on the mantle of Robin because I felt he'd earned it. He did, he was the best, by far. I've always been so proud of him and, doubtless, he'll be the same of you."
Buffy tried to say something, anything, but found she couldn't. Her gaze dropped to her lap, where she played with Angel's ring, instead, but Bruce continued as if she were still watching him.
"He'll know you're a precious gift and feel as though you've already been stolen from him before he ever got a chance to really know you. I suppose we can't say Slayers are an urban legend anymore -- not that we did, because that would be hypocritical in the extreme, but even the legend says they -- you have short lifespans. Your father will be extremely angry that you're in such danger."
," Buffy somehow managed not to taunt. "Oh, boy, I can't wait
Bruce sighed again, "Tim hasn't been Robin for a very long time. He left the mantle because I made a terrible mistake that cost him one of his dearest friends, someone whom he loved. It's my fault he's in Princeton and doesn't want to be here. But I hope I've made it clear he will always have a home here, just as you do."
Buffy sniffled, managing to look up. "Willow -- she's my friend who hacked you -- " At the knowing look on Bruce's face, she amended. "Right, so you totally know about that and I'm really hoping
you're not planning to turn her in or anything because we were just trying to figure who he was and it didn't fit right that Dr. Gregory House's life only started twenty-something years ago from everything we could find."
Bruce gave Buffy a small smile again. "Well, it seems that Tim's passed that intellect of his right on."
Buffy's eyes widened, "Wait, what -- oh, no, no, no, no, no. I'm -- not -- Willow's, like, totally smarter than me and Xander -- um, Alexander -- uh, he doesn't answer to that. But she's like the best in our class."
"Are yourself and Xander in the same classes as Willow?"
"Yeah, but we don't get her grades. I get, like B minuses and stuff and I think Xander gets Cs."
Bruce had to resist the urge to smile. It was very difficult. "But you do realize you're in Advanced Placement classes, yes?"
Buffy's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open and Bruce couldn't contain his smile any longer. "Yes, it's true. If you were in normal classes, every one of you would be A and A plus students."
Bruce honestly had to hold back laughter at Buffy's expression at this apparent revelation. "If it makes you feel any better, your father is the only diagnostician on the planet. When his fellows become diagnosticians, themselves, they'll have to take the exams for board certification that Tim, himself, helped write. There wasn't a test for it before he became one. There wasn't even a department for what he does -- Dr. Lisa Cuddy personally created it for him because no one else does what he can do. And, from the looks of it, he's given all that brilliance to you, even if you didn't realize it.
"You may be a Slayer, but you've lived longer than any other. There's no telling what your future's going to be like. You can do as you please. If nothing else, Buffy, remember that. Tim wasn't Robin forever, none of us can ever keep a mantle forever -- not even Clark or Kon-El will be able to continue indefinitely. They do age, as I have. There's always a future to be had, so why not plan for it? Never mind what the legend has insisted, because you've already outdone that. Tell me, what did you want to be before you found out about any of this?"
Buffy blushed furiously then, but forced herself to say, "An ice skater."
Bruce found himself amused at her bashfulness. "Is there something wrong
with being an ice skater?"
"There is when your dad's a world-famous doctor
!" Buffy managed to squeak. At this Bruce snorted lightly.
"Oh, pish tosh. Your father wasn't actually interested
in his homework, he just did it. His heart lay in succeeding myself and his brother one day. Unfortunately, that never came to pass, but he found something else to replace it and he loves what he does. That's all that matters, Buffy -- that you love what you do."
Buffy fingered her Claddagh again, thinking of some of the things Angel had told her here and there about his family, even his father when he'd found out Hank
hadn't cared to stay in her life any longer.
"Angel -- my boyfriend, that's his nickname, I -- hearing his real name was always really hard for him. His mother named him and she died when he was really little. He barely remembers her and it still hurts him so much. But his father...Angel wanted to be an artist when he was a kid and he's so good, he's an artist -- but his dad expected him to take over their family business and was angry because Angel didn't want to.
They fought all the time and Angel...I get the feeling there's more to it, but his family was also really, really religious and I don't think his dad realized how much he hurt him. You said I'm..."
"Yeah -- um, Angel's -- he's
the one. It's freaky sometimes, but he can see what other -- people -- are doing sometimes and he dreams about it, like, in detail. I think his dad thought he was evil. He's not evil. He was such a good man. I don't know how his dad didn't see that. But he told me once that he got it from his mother, even though his dad thought he and his little sister, um, they were half-brother and sister, but he didn't care, he adores her -- he says she was normal -- got it from him, that he'd committed some kind of horrible sin.
"He never realized that Angel was just as religious as he was, but that from everything his father told him, God hated him. But Angel tried so hard to forget that it felt like his dad hated him, that he felt like he was damned before he could have done anything about it. He drank a lot back then because he wanted to forget what his dad thought of him. But he never has. That -- the junk his dad said -- hurt more than his mother's death."
Bruce sat back in his chair and considered what Buffy was telling him. She had switched back and forth between saying Angel was alive and speaking of him in the past-tense and though that was normal for someone who had just suffered the death of someone, it rankled at him, saying there was something else at play here.
Angel had given her a ring that was an ancient Irish custom. His family had been extremely religious...
He didn't want to put her through any more turmoil, but there was only one way to be certain. Barbara's research had taken them many places and not all of it was enjoyable. The mere fact that he now knew Buffy to be the Vampire Slayer spoke volumes, in and of itself.
None of their research said anything about Angel or Angelus being a Seer of any kind, but if she had known him personally, if she had loved him and he her in return, then she would be a better source than anything they could find elsewhere.
He tried to ask as gently as he could, but knew he'd jar her no matter what he did.
"Buffy, was Angel a vampire?"