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Identity Crisis

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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.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > Batman > Buffy-Centered
Television > House, M.D. > Buffy-Centered
AngelfirenzeFR181247,21047932,9103 Apr 1014 Aug 10No

Belief

Identity Crisis
By Angelfirenze

Disclaimer: DC and Dark Horse Comics, respectively; Heel and Toe; Warner Bros.; Whedon, et al. own all. Interpol. "The Scale.". Capitol, Parlophone, Matador, 2007.

Summary: "Timothy Drake, if this girl is your daughter -- and I think she most certainly is -- do you really think she could have been stopped? She saved your life, she was insistent upon it -- by all accounts, you're the only parent she has left. She wants you for her family and if you complain, the second you can take it, I'm going to knock you stupid."

Notes: Written with marag's blessing; I got this idea and had to run with it, but you know the other stuff by now...

Unit 731 was a front for the biological torture and inhumane experimentation on human subjects by the Japanese Imperial Army during World War II.

Timelines: Batman: post-Heart of Hush; 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 by marag, which is encompassed in its own wonderful universe where Gregory House was once our dear Timothy Drake...

House, M.D., 'No Reason' -- AU after that.

Part VI: Belief

Tim blinked upward, halfway expecting that he was hallucinating again, but -- he had said that he'd needed to depend on a girl and everything in him said that she was it. He was surprised by the state of her hands, the hardness and calluses on her palms. He wondered who the hell she'd ever had to fight and when he could kick their ass in revenge.

Elizabeth sighed and gripped her father's hand more tightly, ignoring the fact that Dr. Wilson was maneuvering her back onto her bed. She wasn't letting him go no matter what anyone here wanted. Reluctantly, Buffy huffed and sat down on her bed, leaning forward so that her hand didn't leave her dad's.

"You have black hair," Dr. Wilson said suddenly, staring back and forth between herself and Dad. Buffy was tempted to kick Dr. Wilson in the side. "Well, yes. I'm sure you noticed my dye job -- and Dad's, it seems, fading...I was going to touch up my roots last week, but -- again -- to hell with it."

Dr. Wilson dithered, "I -- I mean...God, House, you have black hair. I thought it was brown all this time. It's been brown all this time. That was dye?"

Buffy tried her hardest not to roll her eyes again. Really, honest, she did.

Bruce was smiling again. "Tim has black hair and blue eyes, yes. It seems that Elizabeth has black hair like him, but inherited her mother's eyes. I'm told that's how genealogy usually works, with the child inheriting their eye and hair color from the opposite parent regarding whichever trait -- with the exception of homozygous genes."

Wilson was going to reply, he really was. But then Buffy leaned over and ran her hand over her scalp, revealing jet black hair at her roots, which were now almost an inch and a half long. "If I felt like the hassle, I'd go all G.I. Jane and just lop it all off. It's not like I need to fit in anymore. But, seriously -- " And here she adopted a thoughtful pose and looked over at Bruce. "Think I should get a pair of fake glasses?"

Bruce snorted. "I doubt that'll be necessary, Elizabeth. Though, again, as I said earlier, Cassie, Greta, and Anita -- Selina, as well, as a matter of fact -- would love to take you shopping."

Elizabeth grinned wickedly, stage-whispering, "Selina's your girlfriend, isn't she?"

At Dick's hastily stifled cackle, she had her answer. "Yay, a Grammy!"

Elizabeth glanced back at Bruce to find him instead staring at Dad, who was now staring at Bruce while trying to keep his eyes open. "Dad, sleep. Everybody wants you all spry and complaining when they come see you tomorrow. Clark, Bart, and Kon looked really worried."

Tim tried really hard to look like he didn't care, was annoyed even, but the morphine was making him too sleepy to even look at Bruce in any expression other than exhausted blankness. He was asleep before he realized Bruce had lay a hand on his shoulder and given it a soft squeeze.

Bernard, Bart, Kon, and Cass were grouped around Tim's bed the next time he regained consciousness. Buffy had been discharged only an hour before but was taken shopping for clothing before she could protest leaving her father's side.

They left that extremely important task up to Cassie, Greta, Anita, and Selina, all of whom had taken to her like they'd known her forever. Or so said the letter Wilson had made certain to read aloud to Tim as he regained enough awareness to realize he wasn't hungry.

It was only then that he'd peeked underneath his blankets and sheets to find not only a catheter but a PICC line, leaving him rather annoyed he wouldn't get any solid food, but also glad he wouldn't have to worry about vomit anymore.

He hadn't said anything, but he figured they'd all realized it once he was laid in his bed and the scale told them how much weight he'd managed to lose.

Cass walked up to his bed and ran a hand over his hair before giving him a sisterly kiss on his temple. I love you, she hadn't had to say.

It was clear in every facet of her bearing and he hated himself for forcing himself not to see it.

Bart, Bernard, and Kon were even worse. He wanted to apologize for...everything, but he still couldn't talk. His voice was far too raw.

"Don't talk," Bart said lightly but with a definite scolding tone. "They said they accidentally scraped the back of your throat. They actually suctioned out your nose earlier because it kept getting blocked shut with blood. Elizabeth -- that's your daughter, by the way -- kept getting freaked out, so the girls and Selina distracted her with clothes. Imagine that -- your daughter likes shopping. You hate it."

Tim wanted to be annoyed at the fact that everyone was acting like the fact that he'd snatched a daughter out of thin air was okay.

Tim let his eyes drift up to the ceiling before thinking of something. He looked over at Cass, hoping she'd figure out what he was trying to say.

"Behave," she told him again. "No Batarangs."

Tim scowled. He wasn't going to throw it at anyone. He...God, how to explain what he felt. He tried his hardest to make a fist with his right hand, but failed, so he tried with his left and managed to rub his fingers together.

Cass gave him a comforting smile. "Weapon, not teddy bear." Tim pointedly ignored Kon forcing himself not to laugh aloud but was satisfied when Cass, Bernard, and Bart glared him into submission.

Sighing in acquiescence, Cass reached into her bag and pulled one of the plastic prototypes she had been working on improving with Bruce and Dick before handing it to Tim, who stared at it half in awe, half in irritation at it not being the real thing.

"Come on, Tim, would Cass be able to get the real thing through the metal detectors Dr. Cuddy's had installed over the past two days?"

Tim stared in awe. It had been two days? Cuddy had installed metal detectors? He thought that was kind of paranoid, even for her.

He blinked. His face crumpled before he could stop it and he was crying but he didn't know why.

Grappling and fumbling clumsily, Tim tried to ask for his chart, but since his eyes were completely blurred and his hands were largely out of his control, it was very difficult.

Eventually, he managed to gesture toward the end of the bed and Bart dashed down toward it, picking up his chart and showing it to Tim, who gasped through his tears and was able to nod, if only slightly.

Bart handed the chart to him while Cass wiped his face, ignoring his growls in protest. He'd had a minor heart attack, four minor strokes, and the diagnosis of Fibromuscular Dysplasia, which accounted -- it seemed for the mysterious pains he'd suffered in places other than his leg. His arteries were all but mangled.

He felt more tears sliding down his face. There was an answer? Everything...God, there was an answer? He breathed out, coughing on the mucus gathering inside him.

"I'll get you a nurse," Kon muttered, still not sparing himself or Tim running his hand over Tim's shaved scalp.

"We love you," the jackass who'd put Tim to shame in all the time they'd known one another in regard to joking (not that Kon knew that) whispered before striding quickly out the door to take care of him. Tim clamped his eyes shut, but the tears still came.

Tim took as deep a breath as he was able, managing to lift his left arm and make a thumbs-up before pointing at himself and then dragging his hand painstakingly across his neck.

Why? He asked, frowning lopsidedly at Bart, who watched him closely, trying discern what Tim was miming.

"Why aren't you dead?" Bart guessed and Tim relaxed. Bart chuckled, running his hand through his own familiarly chin-length hair. "Well, uh, Tim...have you ever heard of the Vampire Slayer?"

Tim frowned again, his gaze drawn inadvertently toward the door when Kon returned with a nurse, who asked him how he was feeling before talking his vitals and generally acting as though he could talk. It would have annoyed Tim if he'd had the energy.

When she'd finished clearing out his nasal passages and administered a new morphine drip she left them again and Tim tried to pull his face into an approximation of his usual thinking pose, but failed utterly.

Bart, Kon, and Cass stayed silent, waiting for the fact of the matter to hit him like it always did, albeit more slowly this time.

Oh...my God, Tim mouthed with difficulty, his left eye widening in horror and amazement. My... he forced himself to mouth her name, each syllable coming independently of the others. El...iz..a...beth? Sl...a...yer?

His friends all nodded, unsure as to how to feel.

***

Summers Home
1630 Revello Drive
Sunnydale, California
8:19 pm

Joyce knew it was her fault, that she'd driven Buffy away, she knew that she was the adult in this situation and Buffy her child, but something in her couldn't help being angry and she wasn't sure why.

It wasn't like with Hank or Tim. She'd given Buffy an ultimatum and assumed that Buffy's sense of allegiance to their small family would keep her in Sunnydale, here at home.

But Joyce had been wrong.

And Buffy had never been safe or sound, not for years.

And Joyce had merely turned a blind eye.

She didn't know how to think of it. All those years in Gotham, her family's run-ins with Batman and his crew...Joyce had firmly decided she hadn't wanted to be a part of that.

Part of the reason she'd fallen in love with Tim Drake in the first place had been because he wasn't part of that -- all the fighting and money-laundering and corruption.

He'd been just a normal boy with the normal life she'd so desperately wanted. But then he'd disappeared and Joyce hadn't had much of a choice.

She'd been pregnant by then -- she'd never told Tim, hadn't even considered it.

Her father had pressured her to abort the child, but Joyce had refused. And so she'd disappeared, too. And now, she supposed, her rashness was the piper getting paid because she'd lost her family, her child anyway.

Joyce lowered her undrunk cup of tea and continued to stare outside at the night sky, hoping against hope that when she finally went upstairs, Buffy might be tucked in her bed, asleep -- covers askew as usual, but...there.

And she wouldn't have made the biggest mistake of her life.

***

Rosenberg Residence
WIllow's Bedroom
11:12 pm

Willow had endeavored to fight back tears as Oz lowered her carefully into her computer chair at home, finally, once she'd been released from the hospital after everything that had gone on.

The first thing she did was check her email, Oz's hand clutched in hers, him willingly riding out the hard gripping of her hand on his when the pain decided nice shards of invisible glass should pop up to stick her sides and other places every now and then.

She scrolled through the usual nonsense, deleting spam, and then her mouth fell open to find an email from Giles, of all people, marked EMERGENCY!!!!!!!!

Okay, um, emergency aside, she was going to have to teach him about surpluses of exclamatory punctuation and CAPSLOCK and how rude that was and -- but then she opened the email and saw Giles' carefully plucked out, yet typo-ridden spiel about how Buffy was missing and needing herself, Oz, Xander, and Cordelia to help find her as fast as possible.

The fact that he was even willing to USE a computer spoke to how upset and worried he was. Giles had gone over to Angelus' mansion to find no one there, just the statue of the monster Acathla with the sword removed. His greatest fear, Giles had typed, was that not only had Angelus been sucked into Acathla's mouth, but Buffy, as well.

Willow sighed. Now that she thought about it, she thinks she and Buffy really should have told Giles about Buffy's biological father and her wanting to know more about him. It probably would have saved her the trouble of needing to ask Oz to pick up her phone and hand it to her now so she could call Buffy's mom and see if she was there first.

"Oz," Willow sighed, upset but too tired and in too much pain to do anything about it, asked and her boyfriend immediately kissed her temple.

"You need something?"

"I need my bed," Willow admitted reluctantly. Oz picked her up as gently as he could and transferred her to her bed, tucking the covers around her. If Willow hadn't been so preoccupied, she would have kissed him. "And the phone. I need to call Buffy's mom and then Giles after I check something out."

Oz nodded and handed her the phone. Willow dialed Buffy's home number as fast as she could and was greeted with a harried Joyce Summers.

"He -- um, n-no, Mrs. Summers, Buffy isn't here. I -- you...you...Oh, my God."

Willow placed a hand over Joyce's frantic explanation and, her eyes wide, told Oz, "Mrs. Summers kicked Buffy out a few days ago when she went to go fight Angelus. If Giles hasn't seen her since and thinks she's dead, then she hasn't spoken to either of them. I have..."

Willow breathed like Buffy and Xander had taught her to, then continued, mildly bothered by Oz's affectionate smile. She was tempted to stick her tongue out just to see him smile back but she hurt too much and Buffy -- well, she had a suspicion where Buffy was.

"Um, okay, Mrs. Summers? Buffy's not here, but I'll tell Mr. Giles and Xander and we'll start looking for her."

Willow nodded to Oz and opened a notepad file before typing, BUFFY WENT TO FIND HER REAL FATHER. WE RESEARCHED HIM A FEW MONTHS AGO. IF SHE STOPPED ANGELUS AFTER HE GOT HIS SOUL BACK, THEN SHE WOULDN'T HAVE STAYED HERE, ESPECIALLY AFTER HER MOM THREW HER OUT. SHE'S EITHER IN PRINCETON OR GOTHAM CITY. DON'T TELL GILES OR XANDER, PLEASE?

"Huh," was Oz's only response.

***

The next time Tim awoke, he found Selina Kyle giving him a small smile. "I remember you used to hold your own when we fought. I have to say, you were brilliant."

Tim winced, sighing as he tried to open his eyes further. "I...co-ould-nn't..." It was so difficult to talk with one side of his mouth out of commission, but he forced himself to. "Sa-aaay t-t-the s-s-sa-m-m-e."

Selina nodded, seemingly getting at what he was talking about. "Crazy Cat Lady, why thank you."

Tim felt a burst of air leave him in a pitiful imitation of a laugh, but Selina's own rich laughter more than made up for it.

Then she gave Tim's hand a small squeeze. "I suppose you're just dying to make a stepmother joke. Then again, you've had one already, haven't you?"

Tim wanted to frown, he really did, but at the same time, he knew she didn't mean any harm. It was the truth, after all.

And if there was anything anyone in Gotham treasured, it was the truth. There was so little of it, after all.

Tim sighed and continued to watch her, unable to do much else. Selina stretched, though, in that undeniably feline way she couldn't seem to ever shake, and then gave him a smile. "Did I tell you I had a run-in with Hush while you were gone?"

Tim's eyes widened, his heart monitor beeping wildly and Selina blinked before taking hold of his hand and rubbing it in a circular motion until he'd calmed back down.

"Sorry, sorry -- I forgot. You and Bruce, the two of you always worried that Hush is going to come after one of you. Look, I'll give it to you straight: it was hard, it was a tough fight -- bastard actually stole my heart and forced Bruce to find it before I died, but before you have another episode, obviously things turned out alright.

"Even better news: I took every cent that son of a bitch had. Every. Last. Godforsaken. Penny. Wherever he washed up after he hit his head on the Batplane, he's got nothing. And true to that, we haven't seen or heard from him since. It's been nearly two decades, Robbie."

Tim wanted to sigh at Selina choosing now to implement him with a nickname for his alias, but discarded it in favor of letting her finish. "I wish I could say we saw him dead with our own eyes, because God knows Bruce deserves not to have to worry about that bastard anymore. He worries most about Hush getting to you. You were the last thing Bruce had that Hush hadn't, you know. But, I suppose that since you're coming home -- or so Elizabeth says -- and speaking of which, someone was naughty and forgot what a condom was...but anyway, since you're coming home, Bruce can keep both eyes on you and his heart thanks you for it."

Tim scowled as best as he could before narrowing his eyes, "W-whe-n-n d-d-d-i-id s-s-sh -- "

Selina nodded, taking a guess as to what he was asking, and giving Tim's hand another rub. "Bruce says Elizabeth, though in California they apparently know her as Buffy -- her mother changed her name so that she'd fit in better -- got to Gotham almost a week ago. Apparently, her mother threw her out."

"S-s-sl-a-y-yer," Tim gasped, beginning to run out of breath and Selina frowned, rubbing his chest. "Okay, stop. You need to breathe right now. She'll be back, for one, and two, she had Bruce debrief us all on the plane ride here. Yes, the Vampire Slayer is not a myth, yes, your daughter was Chosen.

"She also wants to take your surname since her mother disowned her for what she couldn't handle and her stepfather hasn't seen fit to live up to the title in quite a while. She doesn't want that name anymore. She wanted to know if that was okay with you, since you'd changed your own name when you were hiding from everyone. She said 'Buffy House' is tacky, whereas 'Elizabeth Drake' sounds so much better."

Tim blinked, not quite sure what to say -- or try to anyway. Finally, he breathed again and something occurred to him, "Wh -- "

"Why am I telling you all this and not her?" Tim nodded as succinctly as he could and Selina raised an eyebrow.

"Well, Bart and Kon took her to the cafeteria a while ago, but haven't been seen since. This was apparently on Bernard's instruction because she hasn't eaten solid food since before we got here and since she gave you tons of her blood, apparently -- " Selina silenced Tim's burgeoning objection with a finger.

"Timothy Drake, if this girl is your daughter -- and I think she most certainly is -- do you really think she could have been stopped? She saved your life, she was insistent upon it -- by all accounts, you're the only parent she has left. She wants you for her family and if you complain, the second you can take it, I'm going to knock you stupid."

Selina exhaled delicately. "As for her eating habits, Bruce and Bernard both say she really puts you to shame. Maybe it's the fact that she's your daughter, maybe it's the fact that she's a Slayer, but the girl eats more in one sitting than I do in three. She said her Watcher used to supply her with food because she couldn't just eat her mother out of house and home and apparently the Watcher's Council keeps a budget for the Slayer's grocery bill or what have you.

"Though, according to Buffy, she's extremely annoyed that they don't also have one for her ruined clothes." And here Selina grinned and cackled aloud. "Do you know how much your daughter loves shopping? Because I know how much you don't!"

Tim scowled crookedly again, but Selina ignored it only gazing down at him with her cat-like eyes and giving him a fond smile.

"The point is that yes, she gave you her blood, which is the only reason you're not dead, according to every nurse and doctor in this place who really don't know how to shut up about you. Your reputation's worse than mine!"

Selina snorted and Tim would have rolled his eyes if he could have.

He frowned, "P-p-a-p -- "

Selina nodded and jumped up, grabbing a dry erase board and handing it to Tim, who managed to scrawl semi-legibly, They're dicks. Non sequitor, not intended. I want to talk to Elizabeth, but first I want to try something. It has to do with her blood and what it's done to me.

I need to see something and I need you to follow my instructions to the letter or you'll get thrown out of here and I'll get slapped into restraints. Plus, I think you owe me a few favors,
Catwoman.


Selina rolled her eyes, but nodded, carefully shutting the door and closing the blinds.

Good. Now. Go to that cabinet and remove the following things: cotton balls, bandage wrap, alcohol swabs, and an IV kit.

Tim," Selina said hesitantly, but he frowned and rolled his eyes.

Fine, damn it.

He erased the whiteboard one last time before using his weakest hand to grip it and throw it onto the floor. Trying not to be too astonished with this initial success, Tim reached up, peeled back the medical tape, clasped the butterfly wings and pulled the needle out of his hand.

Using his blanket to staunch the flow of blood, Tim gasped, immediately feeling the morphine flood out of his body with the blood that was leaving him.

"Tim," Selina said again, but this time more urgently. Tim tried to keep his eyes from rolling back into his head as for the briefest of moments fiery pain engulfed him before it was just...gone.

The heart monitor, which he'd purposely left on his index finger had begun beeping wildly and he could hear a code being called in front of his door.

Suddenly, though, his heart stabilized as if on a dime into normal sinus rhythm and where it had crashed into the tens, it was suddenly back up to a normal supine beat of 78 beats per minute.

Within moments, Foreman, Chase, Cameron, Cuddy, Wilson, and at least three nurses were crashing into his room, forming a bottleneck until Selina, who'd regained her sense of calm pushed them all backward and they entered one at a time.

"Oh, my God," Wilson said, glancing back and forth between Tim, Selina, and the blood on Tim's blankets and sheets.

"God, House, what the hell did you think you were doing?" Cuddy asked, running over to the pulse oximeter and clipping it onto a different finger only to get the same reading.

Foreman was busy printing the readout of Tim's heart monitor while Cameron was fussing with the nurses and getting his sheets and scrubs changed.

Finally, after everything had calmed down -- relatively, Bruce, Dick, Elizabeth, Bart, Kon, and Bernard had all appeared in the doorway and when Cuddy went to close the blinds, Tim yelled, "Don't do that!"

***

One Day Prior...

Xander frowned as he got a busy signal at Willow's yet again. It was the third time today alone. He hadn't been able to reach her for three days straight and it was worrying him. She had only just gotten out of the hospital, after all.

His father had commandeered him, all of a sudden, to clean out the garage and he was trying to do it as fast as possible, but still managed to take short breaks to call Wills and at least see what was the what.

"Xander, where are you, I need yourself and Willow to drop whatever you're doing and get h-here promptly," Giles said in his 'oh, my God, the world may end' slight stammer.

Xander sighed before scowling deeply at the garage around him. "Well, unfortunately, Tony's decided that today of all days is the one where if I don't clean the garage, it's my ass. So unless it's world saveage, even the fact that I can't get a hold of Willow or Buffy missing has to be postponed because I can't do very much with my ass in a sling, now can I?"

Xander heard Giles swear on the other line and was rather impressed, "Wow. That's a new one -- well, I mean, not a new one, but a 'wow, Giles hasn't used those letters in quite that particular combo before."

"Xander, the billionaire Bruce Wayne is apparently preparing to buy the mansion on Crawford Street and that includes everything inside it. Can you think of anything we might not want falling into an innocent civilian's hands?"

Xander frowned, "Yeah, I can, and I'll just chalk your slightly patronizing tone -- " Xander slammed a box of crap down on the ground before stacking another on top of it, lest Tony decide that he wasn't working hard enough.

He hated to use the Hyena to his advantage or even his disadvantage, but Tony was a drunk and forgot things pretty easily. And Giles, well, Giles was the only one who knew the Hyena was still there at all. Xander'd rather that, well, a lot of things, really, about him and his head stayed a secret. Probably less hypocritical that way.

"Down to stress and just say I'll be there as fast as I possibly can."

Giles exhaled sharply and then they said their goodbyes. Xander reigned in the urge to hurl a particularly heavy box at the far wall on the emptiest side of the garage and just kept working. At least this crap wasn't too heavy anymore.

***

Buffy had excused herself from the decimated smorgasbord Bruce had bought her to make up for missing six meals and having a gallon of blood drained in the meantime.

Finally feeling full after two whole days, Buffy had felt her cell phone vibrate and checked the caller ID.

She'd been ignoring most of her calls and deleting the by and large majority of her voicemails because she knew they were from either her mother, calling to say she didn't really mean it, or Giles wondering where she'd run off to and why she would so suddenly abandon her duty as a Slayer.

If he honestly didn't know, then she wasn't going to spell it out for him. Elizabeth.

Elizabeth froze and exhaled slowly. It was amazing how just thinking about California made her think of herself as who she used to be.

But she wasn't going to be that person anymore. The Slayer, yes, Buffy Summers, no. As far as she was concerned, Buffy Summers died --

Elizabeth forced that thought to stop in its tracks.

There was no way she was going to break down, certainly not in the middle of a hospital lobby surrounded by near strangers, even if the ones closest to her both in range and potential alliance and friendship meant her no harm.

Elizabeth shut her eyes for a moment, forcing herself to concentrate. She'd missed the call and looked down at the screen, seeing it was Willow that had called -- though it was possible that one of the others had used her phone for whatever reason. Enough, Elizabeth ordered herself, flipping her phone open and listening to Willow's message to find it really was her.

Slightly heartened, Buffy actually bothered to return the call, apparently finding Willow to be at home and out of the hospital. "Hello, Willow," she said as calmly as she could, pushing the burgeoning anger she felt down for the time being.

"BUFFY! HI, I -- Oz and I have been so worried! When your mom called me saying she'd kicked you out, I mean, I had -- Buffy, where are you?"

Elizabeth found it slightly odd that Willow would say that she and Oz had been the worried ones. Not a word about Xander or Giles.

"Princeton, New Jersey," she forced herself to say calmly, listening to Willow's response. Surprisingly, for a moment, there wasn't one.

"Willow?"

"...You found him, didn't you?"

Elizabeth considered telling a half-truth but didn't see the point and, anyway, it seemed that the utter honesty in the family embracing her was starting to rub off.

"I did. I had a dream, some guy walked into his office and shot him and then he fought with himself about what he really wanted. He wanted to see the man he considers his father in every way but blood. He wanted to see his foster brother and I guess he wanted to see me because his younger self definitely said I wanted to see him."

"Which was true," Willow said quietly, her breathing labored, and Elizabeth could tell she was in pain but trying to keep from taking anything so she could talk to her. She did appreciate the gesture.

"Yes, it turned out to be true. He's really banged up and they even checked me over for a bunch of stuff because I gave so much blood to him and I guess it was like giving a car a jump because they keep saying he would have died..."

No, not that conversation, either!

Elizabeth forced herself to breathe and then changed the topic. "So, how are you? You seem a lot better, what with the whole not being in the hospital anymore thing."

"Yeah, I -- they released me yesterday. Oz is here taking care of me. Buffy...did Xander make it in time?"

And here Elizabeth couldn't hold in the venom in her voice as she snapped, "Why so he could tell me what you said -- I believe it was something along the lines of 'kick his ass'?"

Dead silence on the other end.

"Hello?" Elizabeth snapped and when Willow answered, she was crying, "I didn't...I didn't say that. I never...I would never say that..."

And suddenly Elizabeth froze, her eyes wide, Xander's gasping voice echoing in her mind.

"What did you say?" she asked calmly, after waiting for Willow's quiet sobs to abate.

"I-I t-t-told him to t-tell you I was -- I was tr-trying the sp-spell again," Willow whispered, her voice heavy with grief. "He l-l-lied t-to you."

Elizabeth took a deep breath, "Yeah, Wills, he did. I-I'm sorry -- you wouldn't say anything like that. I should have...God, you wouldn't..." She took another deep breath. "But he would."

Elizabeth then said flatly, "Between you and I, who here can think of any reasons as to why Xander would do something like that? Get me to...my boyfriend, my -- God, Will, I never got to tell you. On my birthday, Angel gave me a ring that basically symbolizes marriage for his people. Well, I mean, the Celtic Irish, but his people. His ancestors."

Elizabeth did another of the deep breathing exercises Cass had made her do when she got upset because they wouldn't let her see her dad again so soon because it meant too much movement after losing so much blood.

Shoving the resentful expression off her face, Buffy continued, "He gave me a wedding ring."

Carefully holding the phone away from her sensitive ears, Buffy listened to Willow's happy shriek and hoped she didn't dislocate something in the process. Then reality set back in and Willow started to cry once more. "Oh, my God, Buffy...Xander, he..."

Elizabeth bit her own lip and echoed Willow's words in a deadened voice, "Yeah, Will. Oh, my God. And, before that, my mother kicked me out.

I...I didn't know I still had anyone to say goodbye to. I'm so sorry," she offered, a tear finally falling down and she wiped it away.

"But I found him -- my dad -- well, I went to Gotham first. It turns out my dad's foster dad still lives there and all his friends from when he was a kid. God, there's so many of them and they adore him, you come here to Princeton and everyone says he's a complete troll."

"Not a Snyder!troll, right -- like, a good troll, like with jewels in their bellies?" Willow asked and Elizabeth laughed for the first time in months.

"Nope, the under the bridge kind. Uncle Dick -- um, my dad's older foster brother -- he says it's a façade. Dad wanted them to leave him alone so that no one back home could find him."

She could just hear Willow's brow furrowing and then, "Well, why? I mean, he's -- "

"Exactly like me in more ways than I could possibly explain over the phone? Yeah. Long story. But everything's cool now, with them, I think. Dad looked really...he was happy to see them."

"That's good," Willow said tiredly and Elizabeth wanted to let her sleep, too.

"I should let you rest. Oh, hey, Will -- what's the Hebrew form of Elizabeth?"

After a few moments, Willow's tired voice said, "Elišéva," before yawning. "Sorry, I took my meds while we were talking and I...I think they come get me before...I'm ready, on purpose. Why?"

Elizabeth sighed, "I'll let you know when you're sober and once I've figured it out. I've got to think some more. Just...you remember my birth certificate?"

"Mm-hmm," Willow said fuzzily and Elizabeth forced herself not to smile. "I'm going by that now. I'll remind you when you're conscious and of this world again."

"Mm'kay. 'M glad you're okay, Blizabeth..."

Elizabeth couldn't help giggling as she hung up.

Turning back to everyone she rolled her eyes, "Okay, I know you bunch of stalkers were listening. That was my best friend whom I'm totally happy to be wrong about. Now who wants to help me sneak up to Dad's room?" she asked more quietly and immediately Dick raised his hand.

Elizabeth giggled again.

***

"What the hell kind of blood is this?" Foreman asked, forcing Tim to go through basic neurological tests to the point where he got pissed off and said the alphabet backward at rapid-fire pace, in Greek, which Chase recognized in shock.

That was when they dragged him down to Radiology and hadn't let him out since. They'd even taken the bloody sheets and blanket from his bed and practically distilled the damned things to test the blood in it. Analytical freaks.

"Can I GO NOW?" Tim bellowed at the top of his lungs after being stuck in an MRI tube for over an hour as they examined each and every fucking inch of him. "No," Cuddy snapped through the microphone. They were ignoring him pressing the distress button. He should have them sued.

"If you don't let me out of this fucking thing, I'm suing the whole lot of you. And I'm sure Bruce will be all too happy to pull every cent he's donated out of this place if you're going to use it to turn into Unit 731, you rat bastards!"

Before he knew it, Tim was out in the hall, marveling at the lack of air he needed to keep running. Not to mention the fact that he was running at all. He wished they hadn't locked his cane up, he could have used it as a weapon.

Skipping the elevators, Tim headed for the stairs, glad they'd at least given him scrubs since he was now running his ass off. He didn't stop until he got to the cafeteria. It was mostly empty, which suited him well. It looked like everyone was getting ready to go back up to his room.

"Screw that, we're out of here. Everyone keeps trying to turn me into some kind of guinea pig."

Without questioning him further, his family and friends got up and Bart rushed him over to the bathroom on the side of the room so he could change his clothes.

Within another few minutes they were outdoors again and Tim was dashing toward Bruce's jet for the first time in decades.

...Under a molten sky, beyond the road, we lie in wait...You think they know us now...Wait 'til the stars come out...You'll see that...

...TBC...
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