Identity CrisisBy AngelfirenzeDisclaimer:
DC and Dark Horse Comics, respectively; Heel and Toe; Warner Bros.; Whedon, et al. own all. Summary:
"After all, some of this is already an act, is it not? You can't be the Vampire Slayer every minute of every day."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 and very specifically
during 'No Reason'.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 III: Shock"Buffy, was Angel a vampire?"
Buffy froze before standing, and backed away from Bruce, her face hard and deadly now. "How do you know about that?"
Bruce managed not to sigh and did Buffy the courtesy of looking her in the eye. "When Bernard found your ring, he brought it to me. We -- Barbara and I didn't know anything about it, whether it had come from Tim at any point or something of that sort. We did some research about it and found it about its origins in Ireland."
Bruce did sigh this time, not seeing any way out of this part. "There's also the fact that we've been monitoring your friends Willow and Daniel for quite a while. Contrary to what you probably believe, I would rather have them employed in my company than turned over to the authorities. It would be safer for them, as well, considering the corruption in the Gotham police force and the ineptitude we found regarding the Sunnydale police force, as well.
"Right now, since Ms. Rosenberg and Mr. Osbourne are in high school, though Mr. Osbourne is a senior and of legal age, it would be more prudent to hire them as interns. However, their ties to you and -- by distant association -- Tim, led us to investigate them on more than a cursory glance. I am just as impressed with Mr. Osbourne's test scores as I am yours and your friends' grades, though his grades, themselves, are weak."
Buffy fought the urge to defend Oz. She'd only known him for a little while, but Willow was head over heels -- that much was obvious -- so he was given her consideration. "He says he just tests well. He's a musician. That's what he spends most of his time doing when he's not doing stuff with Wills in our computer classes. But, yeah, he's really smart, too."
"And repeating his senior year," Bruce said calmly, watching Buffy's expression, which -- he was interested -- betrayed nothing. "I assume his interest in music is paramount to anything else?"
Buffy sighed, "You're trying to distract me from my question and I don't really appreciate it. You gave me enough of a plausible answer to make me think you'd answered it, but then you went completely off-track."
Bruce blinked before chuckling and glancing down, a very slight blush coming to his face. "I'm curious if you would be offended if I compared you favorably to your father, though Bernard did tell me that irks you right now since you still haven't met Tim yet. He was able to tell things about myself and Dick -- still is, I should say -- that we tried our hardest to hide, or couldn't tell ourselves at certain times. He's actually used that ability to protect us from ourselves and it's...well, jarring is still the word that comes to mind."
Buffy raised an eyebrow, still slightly miffed that they kept mentioning her dad when she hadn't even seen him yet, but accepted this as a compliment rather than a point of amusement. "It's okay. I'd like to get around to that meeting part soon, if it's okay with anyone here? I don't mean to sound like a jerk, but I came here for answers, not more allusions and questions." Buffy paused. "And, I do not
sound like myself. I've only been out of California for four days! This was supposed to take longer!"
Bruce smothered a grin and shrugged. "You're extremely intelligent, you're resourceful, I see no reason to speak to you any differently than I would anyone else I know. Perhaps you've merely decided that, yourself. Subconsciously.
"After all, some of this is already an act, is it not? You can't be the Vampire Slayer every minute of every day."
Buffy nodded and waved a hand dismissively. "True. Now, can you answer my question? Why do you know Angel's a vampire?"
Bruce nodded and continued, "Well -- and I know this will probably bother you, but your friend Willow actually made this rather easier -- Barbara, herself, is a hacker, you see -- when we began to do research, we not only looked up the origin of the ring you wear, but things about Sunnydale, itself. Rather odd things, like a disproportionate number of churches and cemeteries, as well as weekly obituaries filled with names of high school students. Odd occurrences, things of the like."
Bruce scowled slightly, "To be honest, I'm rather horrified by what I saw. When we attempted to get specific names, dates, and other things, we found the same ludicrous causes of death over and over -- wild dogs, barbecue forks...when faced with the corruption of the Gotham City Police Department, this was simply ridiculous."
Buffy snorted and raised an eyebrow in Bruce's direction, who gave her an apologetic smile. "Forgive me, I know I'm having a difficult time expressing all of this...Barbara was able to follow your friend Willow's trail through the internet through something she calls an 'ISP' -- "
"Internet service provider," Buffy rattled off, making an effort not to roll her eyes before freezing again and then sighing. "Mr. Wayne -- "
"Bruce. The point. It's sharp, actually kind of hard to miss."
Bruce paused, actually feeling rushed for the first time in a very long time. "Well. Alright. Barbara found archives of ancient books that had been, she said, scanned into the high school's computer database. Books on very arcane knowledge.
"Your friends use this database very often and quite a lot of it had to do with vampires. Most recently, it had to do with one line of them than any other and, in particular, one vampire more than any other..."
"Angelus," Buffy said tonelessly, fingering the cross around her neck. "Well, I guess that makes sense. So," and here Buffy shot Bruce a combination of irritation and deadpan, "Going to give me the talk about how it's bad to make nice with the enemy? Let alone that
Bruce sighed, his brow furrowing. "Why would I do that? It's obvious to anyone here that you hardly need more guilt heaped upon you. Say nothing of the fact that until Angelus lost his soul again, he did nothing that we can find at all to harm the population anywhere. Say nothing of the fact that anyone who had seen you only moments ago would have to be an absolute bastard to rub salt in your already gaping wounds."
Buffy's eyes widened again, tears coming to them once more, but she managed to blink them back. "He's a good man," she whispered. "He's not the demon...the demon was the thing that killed him."
Bruce paused again, "My apologies. Angel. He's gone by that name for at least a century, correct?" At Buffy's nod, Bruce nodded back. "There was research done by either Willow or Daniel about something called the Mouth of Acathla. Care to enlighten me?"
Buffy felt the tears that had threatened before spill over, but managed not to lose it again. "It's a statue, actually. Angelus was going to suck the world into Hell -- uh, the Hell in Acathla's mouth. He had to pull the sword out. He was the only one that could.
"His blood opens the portal and only his blood could close it because he's a master vampire and head of his line. He was, even when he had -- had his soul, but he would never have done that back then. Anyway...he opened the portal and I had to close it, but I didn't...Willow was trying to help me -- us, Angel and I -- and I didn't know it -- at least, I can only guess it was her. She's the only logical guess. She put his soul back, right...right..."
Buffy shook her head, tears spilling again as she jumped up and ran away from Bruce, not stopping until she reached her new room again and falling onto the bed, crying until she felt like all her insides had been drained of everything.
Bruce didn't follow her, it'd be useless.
Bruce sat in the dining hall, staring upward at the stairwell Buffy had run up, her speed and agility completely apparent in her distress. He didn't want to go the direction he had with their conversation but neither of them could allow it to hang in the air, that much had been obvious the longer they spoke to one another.
Knowing it'd be better if Cass were the one to find her, Bruce slowly rose to his feet and returned to the Cave, the familiar flutter of thousands of bats barely audible to him after all this time. Barbara, who had likely been listening through the door he'd left open, cast a distressed look in his direction before turning around completely as he sat down.
"I think it'd be best if Cass went to sit with her," he explained and she nodded, running her hands along the wheels of her chair before gesturing once more at the stacks of printed information they'd retrieved on Buffy's previous location.
"I don't know how this town is still standing," she said tiredly and Bruce gave her a sardonic smile.
"Well, some would say the same for Gotham, wouldn't they?"
Barbara conceded his point before glancing concernedly at the screen before her. "I've been trying to reach Tim. I've tried all of his numbers -- even the unlisted cellphone Dick gave him the last time he was here. No answers at all."
Bruce frowned in worry and then turned to the screen, trying to decide which command to use before Barbara chose for him and hacked into the computer in Tim's office.
It's there that they find Tim's fellows grouped around his body on the floor, his whiteboard having fallen over, all of them too busy with a heavily bleeding Tim to notice the screen of his computer coming on.
"Oh, God," Bruce is all can say. He doesn't have to say anything else.