Title: Good Company
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Angel the Series belongs to Joss Whedon and David Greenwalt. Batman belongs to DC Comics.
A/N: Reviews are Good. This has been a subtle hint from the author - Please return to your regularly scheduled reading.
A/N 2: Decided to do a FFA, it was really fun. Sorry for any problems with Batman information, I never read the comics - I've only ever seen movies, cartoons, and read stuff on wikipedia. I rather picked and choose from my memory of all that as I was writing.
There seem to be a lot more people in the mansion since she appeared.
And Bruce understands the curiosity, a girl from an alternate dimension would peak anyone’s interest. But it seems to be more than that, it seems to be because it is her
There is nothing outwardly notable about Winifred – wavy brown hair, slender, brown eyes. She has the uncanny (and useful) ability to hide in plain sight if she wants to – to look utterly defenseless.
The thing he has noticed though is that she isn’t. Fred, as she prefers to be called, has no powers. Has no real training even – although he suspects from some of her movements when startled and offhand comments that she can use several weapons. And
that someone taught her rudimentary street fighting at some point.
But mostly, she is a survivor.
There is a look in her large doe eyes, one that he can’t help but respect. Fred has been through much more than anyone should – that is just how life goes as he has seen way too many times in Gotham. But she is not spiraling down, she is not catatonic, she is not railing against the world.
She has accepted.
At first he thought it was a trick. A mask to hide real pain, real anger (both of which she is completely justified to). But soon he saw that despite the fact that there was
pain and anger there (there were tears in her room and sad conversations with Alfred), it wasn’t out of control. She
had it under control.
But it worried him that, despite this, Fred had no inclination to leave his mansion. She seemed entirely comfortable be surrounded by such a large house with so many empty rooms. Said it made her feel like home.
Honestly, they rarely interacted after he first questioned her. She didn’t seem inclined to hide anything. Told him straight out that she wasn’t entirely sure what happened herself. That she had been stupid, careless, and touched something. Was sure she was going to die, had
been dying, but then…..
“I don’t know how magic works in your dimension, but where I come from sometimes what it comes down to is intent and power. And Illyria didn’t necessarily want to kill, she didn’t set out to kill
me – she wasn’t being malicious. I don’t think there were any
real emotions towards me. She was like a virus of sorts, I suppose,” the woman bit her lip. “She just needed my body as - as a shell. As for power,” Fred laughed bitterly. “Well, I don’t think they go around callin’ beings ‘God-King of the Primordial’ just for kicks.”
“So when she set up shop, I think I was pushed
out. It hurt,” she whispered staring straight ahead, “dying hurts. My insides liquidating. And I didn’t want to go. All my friends - my boys. Wesley...,” she trailed off.
“But I guess I was pushed pretty far, huh?” Fred said snapping back to herself with an actual sharp tic of her head. “This isn’t heaven and this isn’t home, but it’s better than hell. And I’ve adjusted to worse places,” she gave a tremulous smile before taking a deep breath and getting herself back under control. “At least no one here’s tryin’ to make me a cow.”
And he continued to watch her closely. Surprisingly she didn’t seem all that interested in Bruce the playboy or
Batman the superhero. Not that she had any fear of him.
Even from the beginning, when he had found her in nothing but her glasses on the top of one of the dirtiest apartment buildings seemingly made out of blue light.
When the light had settled he had stood tall and menacing as the Batman and demanded to know who she was and what she was doing in his city. She had turned over, still lying on the roof of the building where the light show had happened and blinked at him mildly.
The first thing she had said was, “Your voice-synthesizer sounds funny.”
Then she had paused with a frown. “Or is that how everyone talks here? If so I guess my accent is gonna stick out somethin’ fierce…..” she had trailed off her eyes going wide and her body curling in on itself.
“Wesley…..,” she whispered, not crying but totally ignoring him as she remembered. As she let pain roll over her.
The first few days she stayed in the room he put her in and Alfred brought her food. Perhaps that is why she latched on to him so heavily. Because after that she seemed to follow his butler around everywhere.
She would follow him around the house keeping up a constant stream of chatter as he cleaned. Would sit in the kitchen and talk while he prepared meals. Sometimes would even go with him into town to pick up things.
At first Bruce had thought Alfred was just humoring the girl. Just being kind and having the patience of a saint he had always known the man possessed to put up with him
all these years. But, he came to slowly realize that Alfred seemed to get just as much out of these interaction as Fred did. He was much more subtle about it, naturally. But, to Batman's highly trained eye, the fondness that had developed between the two was obvious.
And it wasn’t just Alfred that had latched on to his guest. Lucius Fox, once he had run into her dropping off blue-prints at the mansion seemed to make appearances much more than strictly necessary for work. He would then stick around to chat with Fred afterwards – since he was there of course. Eventually he even dropped those pretenses and simply started coming just to see her.
Bruce really didn’t mind this. If he had to be honest, although he would never show it, he was rather excited whenever Fred and Fox huddled together talking rapidly over notebooks full of equations and diagrams. It meant modifications for his equipment or new inventions.
Fred had quite a mind for coming up with new inventions and didn’t mind having to scale things down to fit either in his suit or in his car. She muttered something about if she could scavenge parts from old toasters and medieval weapons for a catapult device than she could certainly come up with a way to have different types of explosive charges in his air-powered charging-rifle so it wouldn’t take up more space in his utility belt.
Bruce could handle Alfred and Fox, but then others started coming.
He could understand the other JLA members’ curiosity, but the excuses they made to come back after what should be a perfunctory introduction started to irritate him.
, it made perfect sense
for Flash to run three states to give him some paperwork that he could just as easily have sent
him through the Watchtowers’ computers. And of course
the speedster would have to wait around so he could read it over – that just made sense. Of course.
He would have to remind the man that saying things really fast didn’t make them more believable.
Though, out of everyone, her interactions with J’onn surprised him. He would have thought, given what he knew of her past, that she would be wary of anyone who appeared non-human. He did not expect to walk into his study one day to find the Martian in his natural green form listening intently while Fred told him about a karaoke bar.
Diana didn’t even bother with excuses - she really wasn’t the type too. She just showed up and went straight to Fred’s room. They would talk and laugh long into the night, discussing history and customs of different peoples (and not-quite-peoples). Alfred later told him offhandedly that before she switched to physics, Fred had been majoring in history.
Didn’t they all understand though? The closer they got to her, the more likely it was she would be hurt. The chances were already way too high as it was since she was living here and practically working for him.
That’s why he tried to talk to her calmly about it – explain to her the dangers of this life. He sat with her in the library and it hit him suddenly that for all his observations, this was probably going to be the first real conversation they had ever had (if you don’t count his initial questioning that probably pushed more on the side of interrogation).
“Heroes don’t bother me,” Fred grinned after he had said his piece. “I was surrounded by them in my past life as well.”
He noted that it seemed that it was getting easier for her to talk about it.
“But I’m not a hero, not really. I know that. I'm just Fred. I just… help out,” she continued with a little shrug not being self-deprecating, just stating facts how she saw them.
“You could still get hurt,” he warned. “You will be a target.”
She laughed hard even going so far as to slap her leg, “I'm sorry, but do you remember who you’re talkin’ to? I know what can happen. I died doing this last time - doesn’t mean I’m goin’ to stop. Doesn’t mean just because you all dress up in weird suits that helpin’ you it isn’t the right thing to do – what I’m good at doin’.”
“But-,” he started.
“I don’t plan on picking up a crossbow this go around, Bruce. I don’t want to be a superhero or a sidekick. I’m support staff,” she gave a grin and pushed up her glasses. “And I’m in good company.”
As if hearing his name Alfred came in the room with tea and Fred immediately got up to help him, even though he fussed at her and tried to shoo her back to sitting (as much as anyone as dignified as Alfred ever shooed anyone). She ended up pouring anyway and the older man smiled indulgently.
Bruce watched them and couldn’t help but feel as if he had lost an argument.