Identity CrisisBy AngelfirenzeDisclaimer:
DC and Dark Horse Comics, respectively; Heel and Toe; Warner Bros.; Whedon, et al. own all but those unrecognized. The Decemberists. "O Valencia.". Hush, Rough Trade, 2006.Summary:
"I need help getting to the ground
, brat! You already did your part, obviously, with the getting around. I need to make some arrangements before I leave. I'm pissed I forgot."Notes:
Written with marag
's blessing; I got this idea and had to run with it, but you know the other stuff by now...Timelines:
Batman: post-Batman Begins/The Dark Knight
, 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
, 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 VII: Consequences
"Stop, we have to stop," Tim said no sooner than five minutes after they were airborne.
"You're crazy," Dick complained, throwing him a dirty look from the cockpit but Tim just rolled his eyes. "I wanted to get away from the testing, yeah, but I've got some other stuff I have to do -- stop -- " Tim pointed to the large open expanse of a rooftop through the darkness.
"That's one of the academic buildings."
"You don't think anyone will notice the landing of a personal jet on top of a -- "
At Tim's impatient glare, plus Bruce's 'please humor him' expression, Dick sighed and landed the plane, ignoring the few students who were still out at this hour and heading back to dorms and such.
"Lisbet, you come with," Tim ordered, and Elizabeth raised an eyebrow before shrugging and unbuckling herself. "I need you to get me down to the ground without grappling hooks or anything and if anyone can do it, it's the Slayer."
Elizabeth frowned, "Did I mention how irritating it is that everyone knows -- "
"You knew I was Robin," Tim interjected and Elizabeth gritted her teeth before flinging her hands upward and standing, stretching before walking over and scooping her father up into her arms, much to his very loud dismay and everyone else's amusement.
"Put me the hell down!" Tim snapped but Elizabeth gave him her best innocent Valley Girl look.
"But you need help getting around and I thought -- "
"I need help getting to the ground
, brat! You already did your part, obviously, with the getting around. I need to make some arrangements before I leave. I'm pissed I forgot."
"You did just have a stroke and major, life-threatening surgery," Selina reminded him but knew Tim wouldn't buy it.
"Genius," he pointed at himself before scowling and striding to the hatch, shoving it open and stepping out in the deep darkness.
There was a slight breeze and Tim felt...amazing. He couldn't even begin to describe it. He wanted to start doing calisthenics, but that would be undignified, he decided, so -- instead, he simply stretched his arms out to either side of himself and twirled around until he got dizzy.
"Oh, God," he could hear faintly from the plane, but didn't particularly care who it was. When he stopped, he saw Elizabeth grinning brightly at him, a laugh just behind her eyes.
"You're welcome!" she giggled and Tim was tempted to be irritated except that she wasn't mocking him or being facetious, nor was she in the wrong. Deciding to do so before he chickened out, Tim grabbed Elizabeth in a hug and kissed the top of her head. Less than a few seconds went by before she started sniffling and he had a suspicion she was crying. He tipped her head upward and wiped her tears away with his thumb.
"None of that. This is 'happy time'. Maybe not 'Race Dad' time, but definitely 'Spelunk Dad to the bottom of this building so he can get to his car and then get the title to his apartment changed'."
"You're giving it to Dr. Wilson?"
At this Tim snorted loudly, fighting incredulity. "He can pay for another apartment. Or a house, even. It's a long story and nothing you need to hear. Don't worry about it, just get me to my current home so I can get back to my real one."
Elizabeth sighed, but nodded, picking her father up again before running and jumping swiftly downward and both immediately flashed back to Tim's hallucination and Buffy's dream where he'd done something of the sort. When they reached the bottom, Buffy landed far too easily for a girl of her size carrying a man of his. Tim forced himself not to make a comment, but instead wrapped his arm around her neck once more and kissed the top of her head again in thanks.
Elizabeth gave a watery smile, "Are these going to be a habit because I could totally get used to being a Daddy's Girl again."
Tim did something between a laugh and a snicker and they began dashing across the campus and through Princeton, only stopping for good when they'd reached Tim's apartment eight miles away.
"What the hell is your blood made of, gasoline?" He asked in amazement, noting his heart was only slightly fast. Elizabeth shrugged and Tim looked across the street and noticed a thick, overhanging branch.
"Dad, we can do this later!"
"Says the girl who gets to do this kind of stuff all the time."
Elizabeth rolled her eyes and then yelled, "Tick tock, Dad!"
"Yeah, yeah," Tim muttered before quickly judging the distance, running, and jumping straight upward onto the branch.
Elizabeth fought a grin, "There, satisfied? You're the one who has stuff to do, you know."
"It's...been a long time and you know it -- this might not last," Tim said to himself, but somehow he knew Buffy heard him because she immediately softened, choosing instead to keep an eye out for passerby and engaging in distraction.
She couldn't say she blamed him.
It was only a few more seconds, though, before Dad jumped back down and started walking along like they'd been doing nothing out of the ordinary at all. Elizabeth bit her lip to keep from smiling, even as more tears managed to wend their way down her cheeks.
***Two Hours Later, Western Standard Time
Giles was infuriated. He'd finally managed to gather both Willow and Xander, as well as Oz, to try and move the Statue of Acathla out of the mansion on Crawford Street when he'd found several thick chains locking the gates before it shut, the property proclaimed having been SOLD
with a large Wayne Enterprises emblem emblazoned at the top.
Turning away from the decrepit building and balling his fists, clenching his eyes shut before cursing in frustration, "How the bloody hell could this have happened?"
Willow bit the inside of her cheek as Oz took gentle hold of her hand. They'd made sure she wouldn't be doing anything more than standing for a short while -- Xander and Oz, along with Giles were supposed to be the ones doing the heavy lifting -- but now everything seemed for naught -- as far as Giles and Xander were concerned.
It was mostly Oz's hand in hers that reminded Willow that Xander had lied
, to Buffy and in her own name. She owed him nothing at the moment. Giles, she wasn't quite so sure about, but she knew
Giles. Once he found Buffy, he'd try to drag her back to Sunnydale with guilt and recriminations about her sacred duty
, like she couldn't perform it anywhere else.
They'd discussed it at length during the day while Xander kept calling again
, before finally deciding possibly dropping by might be a good idea.
Elizabeth -- Buffy had decided and Willow and, surprisingly, Oz could understand that she hadn't wanted to keep the name she'd been using all this time when, very technically, it was a lie and it certainly wasn't who she was anymore. She was still The Slayer, yes, but her stepfather and her mother had both hurt her terribly and right now she couldn't bear using the names that tied her to a place and, especially, Hank Summers -- both of which had brought her nothing but heartache since before her mother and stepfather had divorced.
But, more importantly, Bu -- Elizabeth had found a true connection to who she was. Willow wasn't going to ruin that for her if she could just force herself to keep quiet. Oz definitely seemed to be helping with that and she, in turn, was surprisingly okay with that.
She didn't know what to think about Xander's anger at Buffy leaving right now and didn't really want to. She didn't want to think about him lying to her about Buffy or any of it for long because every time she did, it caused a horrible pain to go ricocheting through her skull. She could wait. In the meantime, however, she had nothing to say to him, even if she could think of anything.
She didn't want to cry again because that hurt almost as bad as being angry. The sobs would eventually come in huge, heaving wails and she couldn't control them and she knew that if she were powerful enough, the strength of her emotions would start to power spells. But, for now, it just felt like her heart had been ripped out and that was awful enough.
"You know these rich types," Xander was sniping when she tuned in again. "Think they can buy up the whole world if it looks pretty or cool enough."
"Xander, this is not a laughing matter!" Giles snapped, ripping off his glasses and cleaning them angrily.
"I wasn't joking," Xander said darkly and Willow suppressed the urge to frown angrily at him with another squeeze of Oz's hand. She looked at him, completely at a loss for what to do, but he managed to say everything with just expressions.Don't worry. I'll call Elizabeth at her new place tonight. We'll talk.
Willow sighed and squeezed his hand back. Okay.
Tim sat in the office of his lawyer, filling out form after form. If he didn't think it was absolutely necessary, he'd've chucked all this crap and just sold Chase the place outright. But he figured that since Chase was currently living just above a cardboard box thanks to his jackass (Tim was trying to be nice) father, it wouldn't do much good to stick him with the homeowner's insurance, too.
Sure, Chase would be getting a hefty raise once Cuddy figured out that Tim wanted Chase to replace him for a probationary period until Tim, himself, felt Chase was fully ready to step up.
It wouldn't take much longer, he knew -- Chase had made a complete turnaround over the last year, so much that Tim was just short of astonished. But the kid had done it and Tim felt he deserved a reward. Even if Chase could never go back to the way they'd both been raised like Tim was doing, it didn't mean he had to be a pauper, either.
He wasn't going to hand Chase everything on a silver platter -- an inheritance outside of his department or anything like that -- but at least a decent apartment with enough room for his stuff and one which was already paid for. Chase had a car now, too, at least. Now he'd have a roof that didn't leak, too.
Signing off the final line with a flourish, Tim forked over the paperwork and took the lock box with his apartment keys, deed, insurance papers, the title to his Corvette, and several cash installments of what amounted to the first year's payment on the insurance before shaking hands with his lawyer -- both herself and him rolling their eyes at each other and Elizabeth giggling in response -- and leaving with the woman's blessing and congratulations on getting well. She was looking forward to hearing from House from Gotham when he completed his move, as well as meeting Dr. Chase.
"Hey, just because I brought you a new client doesn't mean you don't still owe me a date!"
"You were lying and you know it," Retner snarked back and Tim pouted at her. "Besides, I don't date my clients and if I did suddenly misplace my ethics, I wouldn't start with you. I'd make you wait, you deserve as much -- all those damned parking tickets and patient complaints, my God
. If I had children, I'd charge you overtime. I thought your hair was brown."
"Dye. God, will anyone leave that alone?"
"No," Retner and Elizabeth said together. Then Tim could have kicked himself.
"Damn it. Erica Retner, this is my daughter Elizabeth. My ex and I sort of drifted apart so I didn't know she existed. She won't want to hear this, but she's not stupid so if anything happens to me whatever's in my trust fund in Gotham gets forked over to her and added to the one Bruce has doubtlessly set up in her own name since a week ago."
At Buffy's objections and stammers, her face pale, Tim lifted a finger. "Ah-bu-but -- you know as well as I do why it's necessary. And if you stop needing it, you can give it to whomever you want -- NO, NOT RIGHT NOW. You're not even allowed to touch it until you're eighteen because the same rules apply to you that did to me and don't give me that look."
Sure enough, Elizabeth had been on the verge of giving Tim her, 'If I even make it' look before pausing at his words.
"Even if you ever do
go back to Sunnyhell, it's for you to do the usual stuff with -- buy a home, a car, college, all that crap. Hell, if you want to come back here and marry Chase and -- "
"Dad, stop!" Elizabeth rolled her eyes. Chase was cute and all, but no way. She showed him her Claddagh ring and frowned, "I'll explain it to you once we're in the air."
Tim raised an eyebrow, but didn't comment further. They spent another hour setting up Retner's knowledge of the escrow Elizabeth's spanking new trust fund before finally bidding Retner adieu and more or less racing back to Bruce's jet while Tim could still take advantage of it because he was getting just a bit paranoid about it even if he didn't let anyone know that.
By morning, they were back in Gotham and the sun was just rising. Tim stood on the lawn, his stomach tossing with the confusion of the feelings hurling their way through him. It was bad enough when Cass had asked him how it felt to be back. He hadn't lied then.
So what did feeling like...like he was home
now make him?
Around him, Kon, Bart, Dick, Clark, Elizabeth -- he really had to come up with a nickname for her soon -- and Cass were carrying his things from his apartment into the mansion and his new bedroom. The only exceptions would be his stereo, record player, and his piano, which would all go into an unused room that Bruce was going to have lined with insulation so he could play anything he wanted when he pleased. He knew Bart and Kon would be giving in and digging through his records before the hour was up, but somehow he didn't care.
Eventually he found himself sitting on his bed, the previous one he hadn't picked out being placed in another room. Bruce had informed him that he was having Tim's things from his office shipped as soon as Tim tendered his resignation. Whether or not he wanted to do that from the Batcave was up to him.
Tim sat him from where he'd been lying on his bed staring at the ceiling and something occurred to him. Bruce had said something on the plane about having made an acquisition in and from Sunnydale while they were in Princeton. Something called the Statue of Acathla, which he'd asked Bart, Wally, Clark, and Kon to retrieve in the most convenient and expedient way possible and which would end up in the Cave.
Odds were, Elizabeth still didn't know about it. Bruce had likely been more worried about who Lisbet -- huh, where'd that come from? Well, if she answered to it, then he'd call her that, courtesy of him -- had belonged to (in a manner of speaking) than explaining more about their alter-egos. But since it seemed everyone here knew she was the Slayer and she knew he was Robin once, Tim figured he didn't have much to lose....You wait by the car and we'll go, we'll go...
Bruce sat before the console, his hands steepled beneath his chin, watching Dr. Cuddy (the woman he knew Tim was in love with, but that didn't save her from his anger) attempt to explain why she'd ignored Tim's demands not to be tested on so extensively or at all.
Finally, after trying and failing to start for nearly five minutes, Dr. Cuddy sank into her chair and bit her lip, tears trailing down her cheeks. "You probably don't understand my reasoning for it, Mr. Wayne -- I don't expect you to. But the last time...I...I didn't test enough, we
didn't test thoroughly enough. I g -- I didn't want to make that mistake again and I got carried away."
Bruce sighed inwardly, not betraying his own understanding. He loved Tim so fiercely he didn't know how to articulate it and that failure had cost him thirty years of the love and company of one of the two he felt sons. "You realize, however, that in this process, you violated his rights as a patient and as a human being."
Dr. Cuddy winced hard, her hands coming up in fists to press into her forehead. When she pulled them away, her mascara had begun to run, but Bruce courteously disregarded that. "Yes, I do."
He was impressed that her voice didn't waver. "You realize that regaining Greg's trust is going to be an uphill battle, one both yourself and Dr. Wilson will have to make -- he went right along with you and you both seem to go into schemes against him together too often for my liking, much less his."
Dr. Cuddy's eyes clenched shut, but she forced them back open even though it obviously burned and nodded. "Yes, Mr. Wayne, I do. I...I don't presume to know your relationship with Greg, but it was very obvious you love him very much."And he, you,
Bruce thought, though outwardly he only nodded. "I do. I have two sons and he's the younger of them."
Dr. Cuddy's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open for half a second before she stammered, "I-I'm sorry, I never -- Greg never..."
"Believe me, Dr. Cuddy, that's no one's fault but mine. Which is why I'm asking you personally, yourself and Dr. Wilson -- may I see him, please?"
Dr. Cuddy paled and jumped slightly before training the computer's camera onto a wide-eyed James.
"I'm asking yourself, James, and Dr. Cuddy to refrain from pretending Greg
-- " and here Bruce's voice hardened, knowing James would understand that Bruce really meant Tim. "Is not a human man with feelings and sensations and who has experienced things neither of you could begin to comprehend. I understand it was an idea you had, Dr. Wilson, to deprive Greg of his medication on a dare
and that you used Dr. Cuddy to carry it out."
James paled so sharply that Bruce was afraid he might actually pass out. "I -- it was -- "
"Medically dangerous, reckless, pointless, and stupid, Dr. Wilson."
"He's ad -- " Wilson managed to clamp his mouth shut, but his face told Bruce everything he needed to know.
"Greg is -- was dependent on his medication. I'm led to believe that long-term use of any narcotic medication, no matter the circumstance, tends to lead to withdrawal effects in the vast majority of patients. His pain, was it imaginary?"
"I -- "
"Please answer my very simple question, Doctor," Bruce said, his voice becoming slightly harsher.
"I don't know," Wilson said truthfully, his head dipping in shame. "There wasn't -- isn't any way to prove whether his pain was physical or psychosomatic."
"Is it your business to discern such a distinction so long as Greg was doing his job, competently, ably, and without putting the lives of others in danger? Was it necessary to prove your -- by admission -- baseless accusation?"
"It wasn't an accusation!" Wilson burst out before actually clapping his hands over his mouth.
"You only just said it was impossible to prove one way or the other. By your own admission, Greg's pain could have been completely, legitimately real and you put him through a week of detoxification from a schedule two narcotic pain medication for no more reason than your baseless suspicion that Greg was addicted to hydrocodone -- a medication, I'm told, he was placed on without his consent, much less for the vast majority of his care at that time.
"Dr. Cuddy admits that she didn't give him an X-Ray, but -- in her defense -- by then, were they not only trying to keep Greg, who was very close to death, alive? What was your excuse not to investigate Greg's complaints thoroughly before simply labeling him a drug addict and taking his life into your hands for no valid medical reason?"
Wilson didn't even try to respond this time, his forehand instead in his hands. "I was only trying to help," Bruce heard him moan, though he was absolutely certain that Wilson didn't know it.
"Dr. Wilson," Bruce snapped and Wilson looked up, his reddened eyes wide as he remembered Bruce was talking to him. "You owe Greg an apology, to say the least. If he were the vindictive type, which he isn't usually, he would have sued you and could still do so. You're lucky he has no such inclination. You're lucky he views you as such a good friend."
Then Bruce's voice hardened even further and Wilson actually shuddered, "But, make no mistake, with Greg having left Princeton to recuperate, he will be under the care of doctors here in Gotham. If he does return to Princeton, I won't stop him from requesting that you be his physician again, but I sincerely hope you decline."
Bruce knew Tim was going to be angry with him for that part, but the very image of Greg going through withdrawal from Vicodin because this ass had something to prove to no one made Bruce himself sick to his stomach.
"I'm well aware Tim won't be happy with what I've said to you, that he'll say it was his life. Be prepared that I will remind him that it was his life
you so carelessly dangled on the line for no other reason than to satisfy your own curi -- I'm talking."
James had been on the verge of interrupting, Bruce knew and with a glower aimed specifically at rendering the other man speechless.
"To satisfy your own curiosity. My son
is not your toy to break. If you decided this careless stunt wasn't enough and did something further -- you could kill him." Bruce took a deep breath and let all emotion leave his face and voice. "If you ever caused him any more harm, I would come to take retribution from your hide and Dr. Cuddy's hospital, make no mistake."
James' face was the very picture of terror and Bruce knew why. This man knew who he was, whom he had been -- what he was still capable of.
How much he loved Tim.
Bruce sighed inwardly, "I won't retract my donations from this hospital as Greg threatened, but I ask you both to remember that simply because your intentions are good does not mean that the outcome will be the same. The world doesn't work that way and you're both well old enough to know it."
Bruce frowned slightly before adding, "I'm sure Tim will contact you both as soon as he feels up to it. He did quite a lot of running around today, taking advantage of his newfound freedom however long it may last. I should hope the rest of his life, but God doesn't make promises or grant favor anymore. Though, as it currently stands, he does have resting to do and other things to take care of. Kindly be patient with him."
Bruce watched as Drs. Wilson and Cuddy both nodded morosely before bidding them goodnight and ending the transmission before turning around to see not only a fuming Tim, but a partially mesmerized Buffy, who -- while still shooting vicious glances at the screen before her -- was staring in awe at the Batcave and its many trophies from Gotham's Rogues Gallery.
"You had no right," Tim snapped, wishing he had one of his canes to whack on the console to bring his point home.
Bruce didn't budge, "He
had no right and you know it. No, I don't intend to interfere in your quite-independent life, I assure you, Tim, but serious bodily harm for curiosity's sake? You expected me to ignore that?"
Tim fumed a bit more before exhaling sharply, "No. No, not at all. You did exactly what I thought you would if you ever found out. I...I didn't want to get you this angry. You've been started on Digoxin since Pamela's little hijinks."
Bruce relaxed, unable to decide between a small smile or a frown, and trailed his right hand along the armrest. "I should have known you'd know that -- your intensivist prescribed it."
Tim nodded, again wishing he had a cane to play with. "It's derived from foxglove, you know. By all rights, it should kill you."
Bruce rolled his eyes. "If that were the case, it wouldn't be on the market, now would it?"
"Yeah, well, just keep taking it. We're not a type match, so I can't go auctioning myself off to the highest bidder like Little Miss Deathwish, here."
Elizabeth made a liberally mocking face before poking her father in the side and reveling in his wince. "You're alive and damned well kicking so shut up."
Tim was on the verge of a retort when Bart's voice rang out, "Head's up!" and he came speeding down the Bat Cave stairwell with an object that Buffy never thought she'd have the misfortune of ever seeing again.
"No, no -- oh, God -- no..." she whispered, backing away, her eyes widening and tears forming as she watched Bart settle the statue of Acathla in its apparent new home.
"What the hell is that?" Tim asked, tilting his head trying to see if it was prettier in another direction. "I wasn't aware you were into Art Deco...Gothic...Impressionism, Bruce."
"It's a very dangerous artifact, one I felt completely uncomfortable leaving around civilians and other unfortunate people who might stumble across it."
"Like my Watcher
?" Buffy bit out, glaring at Bruce, who -- to his credit -- looked completely unhappy with her change in disposition.
"If he sees you as merely a tool, Elizabeth, then yes."
"I..." Buffy started to stretch her hand out toward the statue before snatching it back and covering her mouth instead, forcing a sob not to emerge.
"What the hell did you do?" Tim asked, glaring at Bruce and wrapping his arm around Lisbet, pulling her into his side and kissing the top of her head again as she started to cry.
"That's a discussion that you and your daughter need to have, Tim. She and I already had it the morning we found out you'd been shot."
Tim went to make a snarky comment when he was surprised as Lisbet yanked herself out of his embrace and, clenching her fists, slowly knelt down in front of the statue.
"That's not some kind of creepy religious -- "
"Nothing of the sort, now hush," Bruce said sharply and Tim and Bart each glanced at one another in curiosity and worry as Elizabeth knelt in front of the statue and slowly turned the ring around her finger before taking it off.
She seemed to be arguing with herself about both the ring and the statue, but not in any obvious way. It was more her body language, which Tim could
read, it was so loud and clear to him.
Finally, Elizabeth came to a decision, it seemed, because she removed the ring and set it down in front of the statue again before jumping up and turning to run out of the Cave, her sobs evident no matter how she tried to muffle them.
Without warning, however, a dark red light flashed and the naked form of a man fell out of thin air and landed on top of the ring, startling Elizabeth into turning back around, her eyes widening once she saw who it was.
"Oh, my God," she whispered, her eyes widened completely as she stared at Angel's seemingly unconscious form.
Then, without warning, Angel lunged upward, growling ferally, and ran straight for Bruce.