Chapter 2: I Just Suck at Undercover
Dear Buffy and Dawn,
It’s nice to hear from you. Glad to see that things are going well, and that you're getting some well-deserved rest.
No bads, big or otherwise, have been seen recently, except for those fledges Spike killed before leaving. Xander did try bribing Willy, but he didn't have any information on new threats either.
Tara is still insane, despite my best efforts to find a cure. I've looked through dozens of books, and I can't find any plausible solution. If I can get Tara close to Glory long enough, I may be able to pull the sanity back into her, but I don't exactly see Glory being too excited about this plan, even if we knew where she was.
After a long Scooby meeting, Giles decided to head back to England. While he promised to return immediately if needed, he can help us from within the Watcher's Council. The Council has a much larger collection of resources needed for research, etc., and without you here, there's not much to tie him to Sunnydale. He'll send a message once he arrives in London.
Anya has taken over the shop, with which she is quite jubilant about. (Can you think of any more pronounced adjectives? Jubilant really isn't strong enough) Giles has become (in his words) a 'silent, overseas partner,' while Anya has been spending most of her time trying to find a new employee to help her. Since both Xander and I declined, she'll have to resort to finding a non-Scooby.
On your end, it might be a good idea to look into distance-education, or 'home-schooling,' for Dawn. It will provide flexibility, and Dawn won't need to interrupt her studies if you need to move again. Also, I expect Dawn could speed through her work much faster if she wasn't tied to an institution's timetable. If you take this course, however, you may need to provide oversight.
Feel free to ask if you need help with anything else. We hope to see you soon.
I Just Suck at Undercover
On a scale of one-to-ten, Gotham sat at about two. To those unfamiliar with the supernatural world, however, Gotham was as close to ten as could reasonably be attained.
While the city was filled with wealth and prosperity, it had more than enough unemployment, homelessness, crime, and vice to make up for it. Gotham was a thriving hub of vermin, and not only in the literal sense.
True, if the well-being of Gotham City was averaged, then it would probably be no different than any other city. But this city didn't sit upon the median line. It aimed for both extremes, and late at night, it was the poorer and more corrupt extreme that was visible to those wandering the city.
After stumbling upon more than the usual amount of homeless people, pimps, hoodlums, vandals, and even the occasional thieves and criminals, Buffy began to understand why so many people were terrified of this city's nightlife.
Personally, though, she was mourning the absence of the other, generally much scarier, type of nightlife. At the moment, Buffy was wishing to break her 'non-humans only' rule, and detain some criminals just for the excitement.
And really, why was such a big, thriving city, with so many happy-meal humans walking around, a demon-free area?
While it was true that Buffy had spent most of her time in Sunnydale, which was just crawling with the supernatural, due to the mystical forces emitted from the Hellmouth, most cities of any size had at least a small demon and vampire population.
Willow's brief research into Gotham's history had revealed that, while demons had inhabited the city in droves, they had performed a mass exodus several decades ago. The combined skills of the Scooby Gang's research division hadn't been able to discover why.
Intellectually, Buffy realized that it was actually quite a good thing that Gotham was a demon ghost town. Thirty million people were safe from the supernatural. Subconsciously, however, Buffy couldn't help but feel irritated that there weren't a few weakling vampires to take out her stress on.
Breathing the umpteenth sigh of irritation, Buffy turned into yet another alleyway, and jogged down the darkened street.
Some people have said that there is nothing worse than walking through Gotham City after dark. Fueled by boredom, Buffy had already conjured quite a list of worse situations.
Apart from the obvious, such as being disemboweled by a giant pterodactyl while standing naked in Antarctica, Buffy had thought of several dozen worse things in the space of only a couple of minutes. But the most applicable was, while walking through this city after dark may be bad, it was nothing compared to doing so without a map.
Because, as Buffy had come to realize, the appropriate adjective to describe her situation was 'lost.'
Buffy had traipsed throughout Sunnydale for years, but it was such a small town that she hadn't ever had trouble getting home. Guided by habit, she hadn't even thought to watch where she was going, despite the fact that she was in a new city.
Buffy jogged through another street, glancing at signposts and dark structures on both sides, trying to find something familiar, through which she could remember her way back to the apartment.
She paused at the intersection, and glanced around quickly. Failing to see anything interesting down the perpendicular roads, she continued in the same direction. If all else failed, she could continue to run in the same direction until she found herself out of this neighbourhood. From there, she could probably manage to find a way back.
Ten minutes later, while running down another darkened street, she noticed a poster sticking to the wall. The poster announced, in large letters, a mutant community meeting, with the words 'No Humans Allowed' written in bold underneath.
Her curiosity piqued, Buffy read the sign, and quickly followed the directions to the event.
Strictly speaking, Buffy was a human. Buffy had been in hospital (grudgingly) several times, and had appeared perfectly normal, save for the fact that she healed unusually fast. Being a slayer had no effect on the human genome, or the physical appearance of a person.
However, when Buffy had first learned of her destiny, she had been quick to look for reasonable explanations, rather than believe that vampires and other such creatures were real. Once her watcher, Merrick, had shown, by throwing a knife at her head, Buffy her abilities, her first refuge argument was that she was a mutant.
After all, mutants tended to show some useful, or just unusual, abilities. It would have been an understandable explanation for her newfound abilities, gifts, without the need to believe in the supernatural. Because even though mutant powers sometimes achieved what was, to scientists, never believed possible, it was strictly, at least, when science caught up, a natural phenomena.
Now, Buffy realized that she wasn't technically a mutant, but also realized that her powers enabled her to blend in with them, if needed. After all, how many short, human girls can kick an army commando across a training room?
For the first time, Buffy decided to put this to use. With no supernatural presence able to be found within the city, she decided to look into the most interesting thing she could find. Besides, apart from Marcie Ross, the teenager who had turned invisible, Buffy had never met a mutant within Sunnydale, and she was curious about them.
Several city blocks later, she came upon an flat plot of land, surrounded by numerous multi-story structures. The area was crowded with mutants, some of which appeared remarkably similar to some demons that Buffy had killed in the past. Of course, unlike those demons, these people weren't attempting to kill everyone nearby.
From what Buffy could gather, the majority of the mutants had rather minor, unuseful, or just plain ineffective powers. From what she remembered from hearing Willow talk about mutants, while quite a few people had the gene, only very few of them had the sort of power that had become feared by events such as the recent Liberty Island incident.
However, the fear, often turned into discrimination, against the mutants, combined with the superiority complexes possessed by many, had began to form a mutant subculture, populated by those fortunate, or otherwise, enough to have the genetic changes.
On the other hand, however, some of the more well-off, or more discreet, mutants were able to pass between the mutant and outside worlds with ease, fitting in wherever they went, whether due to understanding friends, or the fact that nobody knew who they really were. Therefore, while some disliked those who did not go out of their way to identify with their subculture, it was not unheard of, nor was it unusual.
Buffy hoped to appear like such a person, and she approached the edge of the group, and leaned against an adjacent structure, pleased that she had gotten a good view of whatever would be happening.
"What are you doing here?" A male voice asked.
Buffy turned, to see a thickly-built teenaged boy. He appeared human, with olive skin and extremely dark hair, but the frown on his face, and the very deadly knife tucked into his belt, made it clear that he was not pleased with Buffy's presence.
"Oh, I came for the freebies." Buffy said, "I hear they give away chocolate at these things."
For a moment, a smile graced the corners of his mouth, before he reasserted himself. "Humans aren't allowed at these meetings, and she," he gestured to a woman leaning against a street lamp, staring over at them, "says you're not a mutant."
The realization struck Buffy. In a city with so many mutants, it wasn't at all surprising that at least one of them had a method for detecting other mutants. Which of course meant that, because Buffy was not a mutant, but the slayer, she would seem human.
"Are you sure she's not out of order?" Buffy asked innocently, while trying to think of an explanation for why she did not appear on the woman's radar.
The teenager shook his head, "As opposed to another human trying to get past me to satisfy their curiosity? She's never been wrong before."
"Well, the curiosity part is pretty much right." Buffy said, "Just wandering around, trying to get myself unlost, and I saw the posters. As for human, well, I didn't know it was perfectly normal for humans to bend metal rifles with their bare hands."
"So, you've got super-strength" he said, "Prove it."
Before he could say anything else, Buffy swept the feet from underneath him. She then put her foot upon his chest, pinning him to the ground.
"I could continue, and break all your bones." Buffy said, "But I don't think we'd be great friends after that."
The boy laughed. After being released from the ground, he stood up, and dusting himself down, said, "You know, I like you. They call my Lysis."
"Mutant name or real?" Lysis asked.
"It's weird enough to be both." Buffy said
"Never got a mutant name?"
"I've mostly lived in a small town, and the only mutant I ever met was kind-of attempting to murder people. Not really much chance to get into the mutant community."
He smiled. "Let me introduce you to a few people. Most of these mutant gatherings are a waste of time. But some people here aren't bad"
Waving to the young woman leaning against the street lamp, Lysis called out, "Hey, Gene. You'll want to meet this person."
Raising her eyebrows, Gene stared at them for several moments, before trotting over. "You know," she called out, "I've never seen anybody drop him like that."
"Would saying that I'm drop dead gorgeous be too corny?" Buffy asked.
"She's definitely not normal," Lysis said, rubbing his sore arm for emphasis, "Are you sure she doesn't have some sort of shield against your power."
Turning back to Buffy, he explained, "Gene can kinda see, in a less-than-fully-detailed way, the genetic code of others. Usually it's only good in detecting mutants."
"I don't know," Gene said uncertainly, "Are you sure she's not just super fit? I can see her DNA, and she hasn't got even a hint of mutant in her."
"Could it be that it's not a normal mutation," Buffy asked, trying to sound uncertain. Explaining herself, even if in a vague, nonexplanatory way, may be able to cut off the inquisition. "What if it's like, radioactive spiders or gamma radiation or something?"
Gene shrugged, "That's beyond me. Besides, he's the bouncer, so if he lets you in, I'm not gonna stop him."
"So," Buffy asked, turning back to Lysis, "You never told me what your power was."
"Tactile Paralysis." he said, "Which is a fancy way for saying that I can freeze people in place with a touch. Luckily for me, I can control it."
"What about you?" Gene asked, "Have you got any secondary powers?"
"Oh, a few small things," Buffy commented, "You know, awesome fashion sense, extremely good looks, that sort of thing."
A couple of hours later, after finally remembering to ask her new friends for directions, Buffy entered the front door of her apartment. Sitting at the kitchen table, a sleepy-eyed Dawn was sitting, assimilating all the knowledge she could from the library book.
"Find any ego-driven, surprisingly weak demons tonight?" Dawn asked, as Buffy closed the door behind her.
"Spent most of the time pretending to be a mutant, actually. But it didn't help that they had somebody who could see that I didn't have the gene."
"So they caught you? Again, sucky at undercover."
"Actually, I just knocked one of them on the ground, and they let me into their uber-secret meeting. Then I spent the rest of the time talking to random people. Do you know I found a mutant who can change the colour of her fingernails?"
Dawn winced, "Imagine how annoyed she would be. She gets to be a mutant, but she gets one of the least-useful abilities possible."
"Are you kidding?" Buffy retorted, "Imagine the fashion statements you could make."
Dawn laughed, "You know, for someone who hasn't been in the popular groups for years, you can sure talk about fashion."
Buffy shrugged, "I guess it's just the L.A. Buff coming out."
"Hey, I don't mind." Dawn said, "I'm just glad to see you being happy again. Grumpiness really doesn't suit you."
"So, how's the book. Learn any completely useless stuff?" Buffy asked.
"It's pretty awesome." Dawn commented, "Did you know they've created stuff like cigarrette guns? Not to mention really cool stuff like battery-less surveillance bugs."
Buffy scrunched up her face, "How'd they do that?"
"Oh, they had this thing on the wall, with a metal rod inside it. Then they bounced a wave of ..."
"You know," Buffy interrupted, "Spare me the technobabble. I really don't care how they did it."
"Anyway, are you convinced that no evil demons are going to attack us here in Gotham?"
"I couldn't find anything unusual, except for a really ugly dog. I think we might just be safe."
"Ooh, be careful." Dawn cautioned, "You know the risks of accidental jinxes."
"Honestly, I'm starting to crave a little excitement. Gotham is so boring."
"Cancel that," Dawn amended, "I think we have to worry about purposeful jinxes."
Buffy just grinned, "Anyway, shouldn't you be in bed. It's almost midnight."
"Ah yes, the 'I can't defeat her reasoning, I'll just send her to bed' argument. It really is unfair, you know, that you're my guardian. When we were younger, you couldn't just escape what I was saying."
"What's fair got to do with anything?" Buffy grinned
Dawn made a show of rolling her eyes, before she stood up, grabbing the movie guide from the table, to use it as a bookmark. "Well, goodnight, I guess."
A tip for all writers: Don't start a new story just before university exams. For those three people who are tracking me, sorry about the wait.
One thing, though. I've only read a few X-men or Batman comics, so any crossovers will be with the movieverse (or Nolanverse, in the case of Batman). I apologize if I make any stupid errors due to lack of knowledge of the comic-universe.
And, no, I don't intend to make these OC mutants a large part of the story. I'm merely trying to set up the background, to make it clear what the world is like, before getting much into the storyline.