Identity CrisisBy AngelfirenzeDisclaimer:
DC and Dark Horse Comics, respectively; Heel and Toe; Warner Bros.; Whedon, et al. own all but those unrecognized. The Decemberists. "Summersong.". Hush, Rough Trade, 2006. The Decemberists. "The Wanting Comes in Waves/Repaid." Hush, Rough Trade, 2009.Summary:
Neither of them voiced the concern that by the time House came back, if he did, that any trust he had in them would be gone forever.Notes:
Written with marag
's blessing; I got this idea and had to run with it, but you know the other stuff by now...Notes, cont'd.
Before anyone else asks, despite the one cited being my favorite prayer, I haven't the slightest clue what it is in English, as opposed to Hebrew. Yes, it's my favorite prayer and I don't know what it means. Adoxerella
was incredulous. ('How can you have a favorite prayer if you don't know what it means?')
I don't care, it's a long story. Sort of. Anyway.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
, 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 VIII: ControlRamblin', where to begin...
They sat in stunned, ashamed silence. Neither dared speak until...
"Did...Wilson, did you know...about House and Bruce Wayne?"
Wilson blinked in classic deer-in-headlight fashion. Could only stare at her, his mouth trying to open and failing spectacularly, and eventually Cuddy just held up her hand in silent acquiescence. Wilson sank back into his chair in obvious relief.
Cuddy favored him with a wry, if sad smile, "Violation of the 'Bro Code'?"
Wilson laughed convulsively and coughed, "Ah, uh, no. More like the 'I'll kick your ass if you tell anyone about this' code. Or 'I could also just get my big brother to do it for me.' That's also a very handy code."
Cuddy raised an eyebrow, "House is a little old to be that dependent on his big brother, wouldn't you say? Say nothing of the fact that -- Dick has to be, what, in his fifties by now?"
Wilson fervently nodded, wanting terribly to tell her that that wouldn't mean a damned thing. If she'd been paying proper attention at the party, she would have seen Bruce, who had practically raised at least three of them, kicking goon ass all over the place -- heart medication, or no.
Wilson never thought he'd be relieved that Cuddy was too distracted to notice something involving House. Tim. House told him his full birth name when they'd returned. Timothy Jackson Drake.
Wilson ran his hands over his hair and stared downward at the floor again, silence once again enveloping the office until Wilson sat back up straight, looking at Cuddy in confusion, "What would make you...Why would you automatically think I knew that?"
Cuddy scoffed through the last remains of the tears in her eyes, wiping them away swiftly before saying simply, "He tells you everything, Even if you refuse to return the favor."
Wilson, alarmed, looked over at Cuddy, fumbling for words, at which Cuddy smiled sadly. "Wilson, stop before you asphixiate. You're his best friend. I'm just...his boss."
Wilson paused, then, tilting his head to the side and frowning reprovingly, "That, I know for a fact, is not true. Cuddy. Lisa. You know House. He's not going to just -- do you know the fishing expeditions
I have to go on to get an iota of anything out of him that isn't layers of 'I made this up so people won't see who I really am?'"
Cuddy's eyes widened and she threw her hands up, "That's just it! At least you have that! He won't even do that for me. It always dissolves into a bunch of sexual innuendo and in the end I don't know anything more than I started with."
Wilson let his frown lessen a bit, but made it a point to show that it was still there, "Lisa, the problem with that is that you let him. You let him push you away. I was talking to House's friends in Gotham while we were at Mr. Wayne's party -- " Cuddy tried to interject but Wilson wouldn't let her.
"Yes. We were at House's foster father's birthday party and you had no idea. I get that. But we both know he wasn't obligated to tell you. He wasn't even obligated to tell me. The only reason he did, I bet, was because while we were there one of them..."
Wilson kicked himself for walking himself right into a trap. "You know Cass -- the woman who doesn't talk very much?" Cuddy nodded, a reluctantly smug grin coming to her face now. Wilson made a face but forced himself to continue.
"She kissed me."
Cuddy's eyes widened and her mouth dropped open, but then she started to visibly restrain herself from laughing and Wilson huffed, rolling his eyes. "You like
her, don't you?" Cuddy taunted gleefully and Wilson scowled.
"I...that's not that point."
Cuddy snorted daintily, "Oh, bull, Wilson. You like her and would love to see her again, even to go on a date."
Wilson's eyes widened comically then, "Uh, no -- not even entertaining that. Do you know that not only House would kill me, but Bruce Wayne, and House's -- probably a dozen or more so friends would all kill me after that. One of them practices voodoo, I'm sure she could probably bring me back to life or something just so they could all have a crack at my already broken body!"
Cuddy sucked her teeth and rolled her eyes, "I think you're being a drama queen."
Wilson ran his hand over his face, itching to tell her how wrong she really was but managing not to.
"That's not the point, though. The point is that we...we messed up. But...we both know House'll forgive us. Maybe..." Wilson sighed dejectedly. "Maybe that's been the problem. Maybe he needs a little time away from -- well, me, at least. Mr. Wayne was right."
Cuddy stared at him, then, wide-eyed, but Wilson forced himself to continue despite wanting to curl up into a ball on the floor and disappear again.
"I could have killed him cutting off his Vicodin and not supervising him or anything and I had no right to do it. And I used..."
Wilson gritted his teeth and then forced himself to look at Cuddy, who was staring back at him, her mouth slightly open. "I'm...so sorry I used you like that. You've only ever had the best of intentions when it comes to House and...and I can't even say that much. I don't even know if I can really admit that without trying to reverse what I said later. I've done that before, especially to House.
"House, at least, has a really good reason for being the way he is. I don't even know why I do the things I do. Mr. Wayne asked me and -- and I couldn't answer because I don't know
Wilson kicked his heel back against the chair he was sitting in, ran his hand through his hair, and then stared at the floor again before he said, "I think I'm jealous of...House. My family...my family kind of fell apart after my brother -- lost himself. We're really good at pretending by now, that we're scions of society, the very bastion of what a normal family should be.
"But...we're not a family. And I think I'm jealous because House has suddenly got family popping out all over the place and maybe they're not normal, but they don't care about that."
Wilson blew out a breath, wondering if all of this pouring out of him had been waiting for years to do so. "My parents...I'm perpetually on thin ice with them because of my ex-wives and alimonies. In reality, I think they should have gotten a divorce decades ago...but they don't want to let go of what they had before...before Danny, just..."
Wilson sniffed hard and sighed, "They want what we had back then and I want the same thing. The only thing we really do is send each other cards on the High Holidays. I...House does
have more of a family than I do because they're actually willing to welcome him back into the fold -- even, forgive. We don't do that in my family, I don't think."
Wilson didn't look at Cuddy, sure she was crying again. He didn't need to see it again.
"You called him the prodigal son
and said Bruce would kill a fatted calf in his honor. There's no need for that. A daughter he didn't even know he had gave half the blood now in his body because she wanted a parent. And if I know House like I think I do, he's never going to stop trying to pay that back."
Wilson was crying, too, now, but he couldn't stop talking. He tried not to care, but he couldn't not do that, either.
"At the party, I was talking to -- ah, I think their names are Bartholomew, Kon -- K-O-N, I'm not sure what it's short for -- Narcissa, Greta, Cassandra -- because there's two Cassandras, actually -- one's Cassie -- and the second they mentioned the fact that House hadn't wanted to talk to them all this time, Bart said, 'water under the bridge'."
Wilson steadfastly examined his shoes while he said all this. There were drops from his tears landing on the shined leather and he busied himself with wiping them away with his thumb so he didn't have to look at Cuddy and consciously realize he was speaking to anyone at all.
"I couldn't imagine House just running away like he did -- like Danny did -- and...I cou - I can't say 'water under the bridge'. I don't know what kind of person that makes me. That I can't forgive my brother. That we can't. Our family is in shambles, only we haven't fallen yet. We should have a long time ago."
Cuddy listened to Wilson talk and found herself blinking in astonishment. She knew Wilson had some baggage -- his ex-wives had attested to that much, but...she honestly didn't know what to think about what he was saying. Come to think of it, she wasn't quite sure he
knew what he was saying.
"Wi -- James. Just because you don't have that right now doesn't mean you never will. I mean -- really, look at who we're talking about. House shut his life in Gotham out for thirty years
, but he has it all, and more, back again. There's nothing saying you can't."
Wilson scoffed lightly, wiping his eyes with the back of his hand, and then sighed, looking up at the ceiling. "Cuddy, you know the prayer for when you're doing something you haven't done in a long time? Which -- look at us, such good Jews."
Cuddy managed not to roll her eyes and simply answered his question, the words coming to her even as she thought about it. (Barukh atah Adonai Eloheinu melekh ha olam, she hehiyanu v'kiy'manu v'higi'anu la z'man ha zeh...
) "Yes -- of course, but...wait, is House Jewish?"
Wilson chuckled. "I don't think so. That's not what I meant, though. And even if it was, I doubt House would surrender enough to say it. That would imply trust and despite what his brother says, I doubt he has very much."
Cuddy's eyes widened again and she asked, "You met House's older brother?" Wilson forced himself not to say anything about falling into the Bat Cave and instead just nodded. "He said House had changed a lot since they'd known him. The kid he'd known wouldn't have let anybody sneak up on him. He said House trusts us with his life."
Cuddy felt her breath rush into her lungs and balled her fists again. "Bruce Wayne just said the same thing," she whispered, her voice loud in the silent office. "Maybe it's better that he's back in Gotham, like you said. He can...we can't take advantage of that trust."
Neither of them voiced the concern that by the time House came back, if he did, that any trust he had in them would be gone forever....In deep, far beneath all the dead sailors slowly slipping to sleep...
Angel was dashing toward Bruce, a loud growl emanating from his mouth, and Tim and Bart, now joined by Kon, Clark, and Wally all went to stand in front of the older man when Elizabeth's voice rang out loud and clear, "ANGEL!"
Angel halted, turning slowly and staring somewhere between emptiness and confusion. Elizabeth held her ground. "Angel, come here. Come back to me. He has nothing to do with anyone who's tried to hurt me. Come back to me."
Tim wanted very much to object to everything his daughter was saying, but found himself unable to say anything as Angel slowly turned and moved on all fours back to where the statue was, a slow, but steady growl emanating from his mouth, but his body language clearly showing submission, of all things.
"Come back to me," Elizabeth whispered over and over, tears beginning to slide out of her eyes, and finally Angel stared upward at Elizabeth, sniffing her as she knelt down before him.
Running a hand over his hair, Elizabeth wiped her cheeks before an idea told her to hold her tear-stained hand in front of Angel and see if he could recognize her by scent.
Angel pressed his face into Elizabeth's hand and then actually nuzzled it, pulling a giggle out of Elizabeth before she could stop herself.
She didn't care if her new family were staring at her like she really did belong in Arkham now, all she cared about was focusing on Angel and trying to bring him out of the hellish mentality he was stuck in.
Thinking quickly, Elizabeth balled her fists, pressing her fingernails through her skin until a little blood ran down her palm. She held this hand up to Angel now, allowing him to smell that, as well.
"You know who I am. You know me like I know you. You know how I smell, who I am. I may be a Slayer, but you know me more than that. Just like I know you're more than a monster. Come back to me, baby."
Angel shuddered as the scent of Elizabeth's blood hit his nose and he lurched forward, but Elizabeth pushed back firmly on his chin, holding his head very still.
"No," she said quietly, firmly. "Listen to me. You know who I am, like I know you're more than a monster. You know I'm more than blood. You know my blood because I know you've wanted it, but you didn't let yourself because you loved me more. Just like..."
Fresh tears came to Elizabeth's eyes as she resisted the urge to glance at her family. "Just like I love you enough to have followed you into Hell if I could have."
She ignored what had to be her father stumbling backward and Clark speaking quietly to him. It was just her and Angel. "You loved me enough to close your eyes and you know I'd do the same if you asked me to.
"I told you once that when you kissed me I wanted to die. Remember, Angel? Remember that time at the Bronze after you staked Darla because she tried to kill me -- all, Let's start with the knee caps. No fun dancing without them?
Skanky, evil bitch. I told her she needed a little work around the eyes. Four hundred years takes a toll, after all..."
A tiny smile had come to Elizabeth's face and the rest of her new family watched in wretched fascination as she descibed what sounded like a horror movie, but appeared to have been her life, in a shaky, yet light and humorous tone. "What did you tell her when she came to see you that night and you sent her away? Didn't she remind you what I am? Why didn't you care?"
Elizabeth kept asking questions she honestly wanted answers to in hope of getting Angel to at least come to the present. "Remember that night on the docks before Spike and Dru's cronies attacked us? Remember how you told me goodbye and gave me your ring?"
Elizabeth stroked Angel's matted and filthy hair again, overcome with the idea of just being able to see him again, let alone touch him.
"I know what that ring means, baby. I know you're my husband and I'm your wife." Elizabeth took hold of Angel in a tight hug and stroked his hair as he growled quietly but didn't move away or try to attack her.
"I'm going to get you back. I promise you that. You're going to have to stay down here for a while, though. You're in my new granddad's house -- well, the big cave under it. He's the big guy -- the one in the chair, anyway -- that you almost ate over there, which -- hey, I don't appreciate and neither does my dad or any of my new aunts and uncles. My new grandma certainly won't be happy you tried to munch on her boyfriend. Very, very rude."
Bart leaned over toward a shocked and mostly horrified Tim and whispered, "Is Lizzie honestly having a conversation with the feral vampire who just tried to kill Bruce and could probably massacre everyone in this house literally without a thought?"
"Shut up, Bart," Elizabeth said plainly without taking her eyes away from Angel and Bart froze before standing straight and staring in just as much horror as Tim. "And I told you to find a new one but, at this point, you probably won't."
Elizabeth started talking to Angel again, "You're not going to eat any of my new family, are you? Because we're all good guys and good guys don't do that to one another."
Elizabeth glanced up to where Kon had been given the sedative that Bruce and Barbara had prepared in the absence of Tim's senses and nodded. Before Angel could so much as turn, Kon was behind him and injected the etorphine into Angel's jugular vein.
Within moments, the vampire was unconscious and Elizabeth was sobbing again, holding him to her and crying into his shoulder as Barbara, now before them both, carefully wrapped a blanket around him so that Clark could go get Angel some borrowed clothes.
She was still in exactly the same position when the Man of Steel returned. They slowly pried Angel from Buffy's grasp, but she refused to let go, instead insisting on helping get him dressed in a set of sweats and lying him on the blankets Wally had returned with.
It was only then that Tim managed to snap out of his stupor and stomped over to where Elizabeth and Angel, now curled up beside her, sat with her back to the wall, and more tears still trailing down her cheeks.
Then Elizabeth looked upward at him in muted joy and any objection Tim had prepared died on his lips.Remember when I found you, the miseries that hounded you...