August 4, 2011 – Anne and the Bat
Summary: **Part of the 2011 LiveJournal’s Twisted Shorts August Fic-A-Day** series. She left LA because of a broody avenger, only to deal with a new one in Gotham.
Challenge: for the livejournal 2011 August Fic a Day Challenge
. And #6471 on TtH.
Timeline: post-season 2 ‘Blood Money’
Warning: some bad words.
Disclaimer: BtVS and AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon / Mutant Enemy. Batman characters belong to Warner Bros and DC Comics. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.
East Hills Teen Center, LA
“I wish you would change your mind,” the former assistant-now-head of the Teen Center complained.
Anne just smiled back wanly and shook her head, “No. We knew somebody would have to go to the East Coast to open up a sister center there if we received enough money. When there was a matching donation from an anonymous donor in Gotham because they thought Gotham needed us…well, that just made the decision easier.”
She sighed, brushing her blonde hair away from her face as she finished packing her things. “Besides, I’m afraid that if I stay, I’ll become the chew toy that Angel and Wolfram & Hart decide to fight over in their weird power struggle. You’ll do a much better job of not letting anyone play you,” Anne said confidently.
Sayer Gates grinned back at the small woman not afraid to get her hands dirty in the less-than-safe parts of LA. When his little brother died in Sunnydale because of some fucked up crap he got himself into, Sayer left his comparatively quiet job in Houston to find Forrest’s killer – or at least somebody to take the blame for his death – and make them pay.
After talking to Forrest’s best friends, during which time he forced them to tell him the truth, Sayer came out with a better understanding of the way the world really was. Meeting Anne was what tipped the balance for him, though. Seeing her try to make a difference made him realize that he could help people more by helping her Teen Center thrive.
“You got it, girl,” he replied, going into the character of a neighborhood punk – complete with the body language and hand gestures, “Won’t be letting no homies get up in my grill.” Then he straightened up, affected an Ivy League-educated tone and kept going, “Neither will I allow anyone else to irreparably damage the Center or its inhabitants.”
The fact he could convincingly play both parts had Anne laughing until her sides hurt…and breathing an inner sigh of relief that she was doing the right thing. “The Center is in great hands,” she repeated.
Old Gotham Teen Center, Gotham
A month later…
After stopping in Sunnydale to see her rescuer one last time, Anne kept driving across the country with all her stuff crammed in the back of the rental van. Buffy was busy with some family crisis, but they were able to talk for a few minutes; long enough to bring the Slayer up-to-date on how she had turned her life around.
The glow Anne felt from Buffy’s praise stayed with her for several states. If somebody who saved the world on a regular basis was proud of you, that meant more than all the positive TV coverage in the world – even if it didn’t help pay the bills.
So here she was, on the roof of her new center in Old Gotham; Anne deliberately picked an area rundown and basically forgotten by the rest of the city. She already made friends with a kind police officer by the name of Gordon who was concerned about her choice of location, but promised to help however he could.
The reason for her rooftop excursion was to set up wards and traps against supernatural predators. In their research of the city, she and Sayer couldn’t find many incidents of cases which reeked of vampires or other nasties, but it was better to be safe than sorry. It would be bad enough having to worry about the human variety.
She was just finishing up with the holy water sprinkler system when she heard a noise behind her. Reaching into the inside of her jacket for the stake stored there, and cursing herself for not paying closer attention to the dwindling daylight…huh? It was dusk, but there should still be enough sunlight to keep a vampire away on a roof top.
Anne spun around, ready to defend herself, when she got quite a shock. Standing in front of her was a tall…man? dressed in a black, matte costume – complete with a cape and mask. On his chest was something that looked like a bat over a yellow oval. Realization dawned as she put two and two together. “You’re that vigilante guy in the news, right? Batman or something?”
He ignored her question, possibly deeming it rhetorical, and said in his growly voice, “You should be careful; the streets of Gotham aren’t safe.”
Before she could answer, he turned and dove over the side of the building. Ehh, it was probably good he left since her reply was going to be something like, ‘No shit, Sherlock!’
Over the last few months, Anne would go up to the roof every once in a while to think; about her life, the shelter, the one she left behind in LA. She wasn’t sure how it happened, but the Old Gotham Teen Center quickly got the reputation for being the safest place in the ‘hood for scared kids. The bad guys stayed away like they were vampires and the Center was a church made with crosses and guarded by a team of Slayers. And she didn’t have to worry about money here like she did in LA; every month a new donation would show up – probably from the same anonymous donor – to cover day-to-day expenses.
Somehow, she knew her visitor had something to do with that. As soon as she heard the crunch of gravel behind her, she spoke, “Hey there, Batman. Busy night?”
It wasn’t the first time he had shown up since their first encounter, and something told her it wouldn’t be the last. He usually didn’t say much, except for warning her about how dangerous Gotham could be.
“Are you ever going to tell me why you’re so interested in me?” Anne asked, not really expecting an answer. Batman was as dark and broody-looking as Angel, and that wasn’t exactly a good thing to be in her book.
Which was why she was startled when the voice that answered her wasn’t gravelly, but clear, “Because you mean a lot to a man who has been like a father to me since my parents were killed.”
Anne whipped around and came face-to-face with her secret benefactor: Bruce Wayne, Gotham’s playboy, dressed in a suit that would pay for her electric bill for a month.
He didn’t give her a chance to say anything – not that she was able to speak at the moment anyway – and just continued, “Alfred had a daughter, who ran away from home. She had a daughter who did the same. Even when we found out about his granddaughter, it took years to track her down…mostly because she kept changing her name. We finally had a piece of good luck when she appeared on TV, talking about the Teen Center she ran in LA.”
“So this was all a bribe to get me here?” Anne demanded, narrowing her eyes in anger at being manipulated again…this time by somebody who claimed to be family.
“We didn’t necessarily expect you to be the one to set up the new Center in Gotham,” Bruce pointed out reasonably. “We hoped you would at least visit once or twice, though,” he admitted. “The choice to give you money for the shelter was the right one to make. Gotham needed this place…and I think it needed you to be the one to run it, Anne.”
His gentle, sincere speech had her reconsidering pushing him over the edge. Okay, she wouldn’t resort to murder, but maybe kicking him in the groin? Should she trust him and this Alfred guy? Well, what was life without a little risk, right?
She held out her hand finally to greet him, “Okay, I’ll meet this guy who thinks he’s my grandpa, but no promises.”
Bruce’s answering smile helped her understand why all the women of Gotham threw themselves at him. The man was gorgeous…and off limits – especially if Alfred was her grandfather – ‘cause that would make them practically family. Oh well, maybe he had some equally handsome, single friends.
A/N: Went an entirely different way than I was expecting it to.
Tomorrow’s (hopeful) fic: Anyanka/Torchwood.