Disclaimer: The characters of Batman belong to DC Comics, etc. The characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to J. Whedon, etc. All are used here without permission. No copyright infringement is intended.
Characters: Buffy, Dawn, Dick, Alfred.
Rating: PG-13 just to be safe
Notes/Warnings: I'm not a devotee of canon. Dawn here is how I picture a tolerable Dawn being. Buffy canon has been twisted a bit - no Spike fun, Buffy's not quite as far gone as she was in the show the summer after her return, Giles and Willow are off rehabbing, Anya and Xander are engaged and in Sunnydale. For the Batman side of things, I don't hold to any particular incarnation or canon, just pulling the bits and pieces I like and adding my own to create a Gotham and Batman that work for the story. There may be some Dick/Buffy flirting, but there's a whole huge trust thing that's not there for the characters as well as the whole plot thing in the way, but if there's ever a follow-up, I wanted to leave that door open. That means no unrequited love hanging about for Buffy/Angel or Dick/Barbara. But I need to finish up this story before looking further into it. - I don't know anything about what a DNA/paternity report would look like, so I made up what seemed logical to me.
Special note: Merry Christmas!Bat BratBy Beriaearwen
Gleaming eyes shown bright in the gloom of the dingy apartment. Paper crinkled before the sound of a knife slipping through an envelope sounded.
The eyes skimmed the contents, gleamed brighter in their insanity and were soon joined by white teeth. In the darkness, the grin looked almost like the Cheshire cat's smile, floating in the air as the gray light washed away the face's features.
"This will do. This will do quite well," the voice said, laughter bubbling just beneath the voice.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
"Someone robbed the dead letter office?" Robin asked, baffled by such an odd theft. In the grand scheme of things, it might not seem like much of a crime, but, since it was the post office, that made it a federal offense.
Nightwing shrugged. "People send a lot of money at Christmas time, maybe they didn't realize it was the dead letter office."
"It doesn't matter," Batman said, cutting off the conversation. "We have more urgent issues. Two-Face is on the loose again."~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~Two weeks later – Sunnydale, California
Buffy's eyes flew open and all her senses were immediately alert.
Extending her senses, she couldn't feel any threat nearby.
Grabbing a knife and her stake, she cautiously headed out of her room and out the door.
Her eyes already adjusted to the dark, it was easy for Buffy to make her way down the stairs, senses remaining at high alert.
Making her way through the darkened house, she found nothing.
Moving to the front window she peered out. Not spying any movement, she quickly made her way through the house, checking the doors and windows, making sure nothing had been disturbed.
Everything seemed just as she'd left it a few hours before. The chain was off the front door, but it wouldn't be the first time Buffy had forgotten to lock it after patrol.
Still, she couldn't shake the feeling that someone, or something had paid them a visit.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~One week later – Sunnydale, California
Buffy opened the door and flipped through the mail, hearing the television babble in the background. The mention of late-breaking news caught her attention.
“Reports from Gotham indicate that billionaire Bruce Wayne disappeared sometime between last night and this morning on his way home from a charity benefit. His driver, Alfred Pennyworth, is said to be in serious but stable condition...”
“Buffy!” Dawn cried, stomping down the stairs, distracting the blonde from the news. “Where's that old shirt of Riley's? I need to finish painting my bedroom today.”
“Is all your homework done?” Buffy asked absently, heading toward the basement, Dawn following behind.
“Yes. That's why I thought I could finish painting today,” Dawn clarified. “And since you were the last one to wear the shirt...”
“It has a small tear in it,” Buffy muttered as she headed toward the large pile of clean laundry waiting to be folded.
“You wore it on patrol?” Dawn asked, huffing in frustration.
Buffy shrugged. “I had to face a K'lash'i demon or something and they're always messy.”
“Just so long as the blood came out.”
“It's not here.”
“Are you sure you washed it?”
Leaning her hip against the dryer, Buffy tried to remember the night. “Went on patrol. Found the demon. Vamp got in a good swipe while I was fighting the demon – that would be the tear. Bled a little, beheaded the demon and vamp. Finished patrol, came home, came down and dropped the shirt on the washing machine thinking I'd rinse it out in the morning.”
“You know dried bloodstains are impossible, Buffy!” Dawn whined, her bottom lip slipping into a pout.
Buffy shrugged. She'd seen more than her fair share of bloodstains over the years couldn't find the energy to be worked up about them, especially when they appeared on old clothes.
“So, did you rinse it out?”
“Ye...” Buffy hesitated. Her eyes narrowed slightly in thought. “No. Later I thought someone had broken in and came to check it out, but everything was fine. The next morning I didn't even think about the shirt as I put a load in the washer. It wasn't there.”
“Who would want to steal an old shirt with paint on it?” Dawn wondered before her eyes got wide. “And blood – your blood.”
Buffy met her sister's eyes, worry showing in hers. They both knew nothing good could come of someone having their blood. Deciding to try and lighten the mood, Buffy teased, “If we suddenly end up with a little brother or sister, we'll know.”
“Hey!” Dawn protested, slapping Buffy on the arm lightly, unable to stop a smile from forming on her face.
“Come on,” Buffy said, motioning up the stairs. “I think I have one of Angel's old shirts in the back of my closet.
“From his skinny days?”
“Yeah.”~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~Same Day – Gotham
“Any sign of the trackers?” Robin asked, stepping up behind Nightwing who was working on the computer with Oracle.
A frustrated sigh sounded. “Nothing.” Seeing the worry in the teenager's eyes, Nightwing forced a smile onto his face. “He'll find a way. He always does.”~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~Same day - Sunnydale
Picking up her sword of choice for the evening, Buffy slipped it into her spine sheath and prepared to go out.
“Hey Buffy, what's this?” Dawn asked, holding up an envelope.
Buffy walked over and took the mail from her sister. Most of it was bills she wasn't sure how she would pay, but this looked different. It was completely blank except for her name and address written on the outside of the envelope – no return address, though the postmark indicated Gotham. “Weird. We don't know anyone in Gotham do we?”
Dawn shook her head and shivered slightly. “Not that I know of and not that I want to know of. Sunnydale seems safe compared to that place. At least here our evil isn't nuts.”
“Can't disagree with you there,” Buffy murmured, pulling out a dagger and slicing open the envelope. She felt Dawn move around to stand behind her and read over her shoulder.
The envelope contained five pieces of paper. The first was a chart of some sort. The top read 'Sample A'. There were a bunch of little lines, some of which were circled. The second page looked much the same and was labeled 'Sample B'.
Flipping to the third page, Buffy blinked several times. There were a few lines of explanation she sort-of understood and one conclusion that stood out: 'relationship: parent-child'.
“You have a son I don't know about,” Dawn teased.
“Oh, ha-ha. I can't imagine why Dad would have this done and where would they get my blood...” The sister's eyes met and understanding passed between them. They got Buffy's blood from the shirt. The lab and the postmark were from Gotham. Hank Summers was in Spain.
“Mom was keeping secrets,” Dawn whispered.
Looking at the forth page, they both stiffened as they read the cut-out letters pasted to form words.
If you want to meet Daddy dearest, come to Gotham for a game of hide and seek.
Remember: Finders keepers, losers orphans.
Dawn took a step back and shook her head, denying the insanity of this whole thing. “They can't be serious. I mean, how would they know? And we don't even know who we'd be looking for,” the younger Summers babbled.
“Yes we do,” Buffy said softly, staring at the final page included in the envelope.
Stepping forward, Dawn glanced at the page before her eyes widened and met Buffy's.
The fifth and final page included were e-tickets for a flight from Los Angeles to Gotham in the names of Dawn Summers and Buffy Wayne Summers.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~That night – undisclosed location
Bruce shifted as consciousness began to return. Something felt wrong and he struggled to clear his mind and figure out what it was.
His hand twitched and he felt a pull on his wrist.
Opening his eyes as widely as possible, he realized he was strapped down to a hospital bed. But he knew he wasn't in a hospital. The walls were gray cinder blocks and he could hear water dripping in a corner.
He recalled being at yet another charity function. Memories of leaving the function and getting in the back of the car ran through his mind. He and Alfred had been discussing whether he needed to patrol or not since Robin, Nightwing and Batgirl would just be finishing their own patrols by the time they reached the mansion.
There had been a loud bang.
The door opened.
A sharp pain in his neck.
Obviously he'd been hit by a tranquilizer.
Relaxing his body as best he could, he tried to recall anything else. He vaguely recalled coming to once or twice, but a prick in his arm indicated they were keeping him drugged – whoever they were. He had the oddest notion that at one of the time he surfaced into the conscious world, someone had a swab in his mouth, but that couldn't be right.
He tried to figure out how long he'd been held captive, but time didn't have much meaning to him at the moment.
He needed to escape.
The others would be looking for him and the police since Bruce was kidnapped, but he needed to escape.
Before he could begin to put that idea into action, he heard a door open behind him.
He tried to look, but he couldn't turn quite that far.
The face that appeared above him didn't look familiar, but the prick on his arm he knew all too well.
He tried to maintain his consciousness and find out who had him, why he was here, but fell unconscious before his mouth could form the words.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~Next day – Gotham
Two young women stepped off the airplane and into Gotham airport.
They kept their eyes peeled for anyone looking out of place or watching them. Before leaving Sunnydale, they had shared with Xander and Anya what they were doing. Though Xander wanted to go with them and Anya's eyes practically turned into dollar signs discovering Buffy might be related to one of the richest men in America, neither could take the time away from their jobs, though Anya did agree to watch their house for them.
Not seeing anyone out of the ordinary, the two young women made their way through the crowd and hailed a cab.
They didn't have much money to spend, but, hopefully they wouldn't need much.
After much debate on the flight out, they decided on their course of action and hoped it was the correct one.
Armed with the paperwork they had, Buffy gave the address, “Wayne Manor, please.”~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Stepping out from behind the clock, Dick made his way across the study and toward the front room where Alfred was supposed to be resting.
The long-time family friend had used the intercom to call him up from the cave to analyze and view the special delivery package that arrived.
Taking a moment to make sure Alfred was resting comfortably, Dick picked up the delivery envelope and paused.
“Gloves are in the usual place, Master Dick. I would like you to open it here with me.”
Dick met the older man's eyes and saw the emotions there. Despite the attempt to stick strictly to their roles, Alfred was, in many ways, more family to both him and Bruce than anyone else ever had been, sometimes more than each other. Nodding his agreement, Dick stepped out of the room for a moment before returning with two pairs of gloves, knowing Alfred would want to see everything as well.
Pulling the tear-strip, Dick carefully opened the cardboard envelope and pulled out a sheaf of papers.
The first paper was a hand-written letter dated approximately twenty-two years ago, the envelope paper clipped to it.
As he read the looping script, Dick's eyes grew wide and his mouth gaped for a moment before a subtle cough from Alfred drew his attention back to the present. He handed over the letter and looked at the pages beneath, not wanting to believe what he saw, but knowing that it must be true. There were no names typed on the pages, but cut-out newspaper letters had been pasted on the first and second, one read Buffy, the other read Bruce. On the third, the “parent-child” relationship had been crossed out and replaced with the pasted words: father-daughter.
Dick numbly passed the lab reports to Alfred as he looked at the final pages. One was a picture of an unconscious and strapped down Bruce, the other was of a pretty blonde walking across what must be a college campus.
On the final page, four words had been pasted: Let the games begin.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Buffy paid the driver as she and Dawn stepped out of the cab. He offered to stay, but Buffy assured him they would be fine and would call the company if they needed a lift.
Waving at the two young women the taxi drove off.
Taking a deep breath, Buffy and Dawn turned to face the large wrought-iron gates.
“Guess we should ring the bell.”
Dawn smiled at her sister, every bit as nervous as the blonde, but knowing she needed to at least appear calm. Reaching out, she pressed the button.
A few moments later a voice sounded. “Yes?”
Taking a deep breath, Buffy grabbed Dawn's hand and pressed the talk button. “Hi. I'm Buffy Summers and I'm here with my sister Dawn...”
Before she could continue, the gate buzzed.
The startled sisters looked at each other before picking up their bags and stepping inside, closing the gate behind them.
As they walked up the long drive toward the door, Dawn took Buffy's hand.
Buffy smiled at her and gently squeezed the teen's hand. Thankful to have her sister with her.
Reaching the front door, the Summers sisters blinked in surprise as it was thrown open by a man not much older than Buffy.
Buffy met the man's penetrating stare with one of her own. He seemed purely human and therefore no threat, but this whole scenario had her on edge. The look in his eyes didn't help either. He was definitely sizing her up.
Dawn shifting her feet and letting out a small cough seemed to break the stalemate.
“Come in,” Dick offered, stepping aside. “We have a lot to discuss.”
The two Summers girls stiffened and exchanged a look at the welcome. It just didn't seem natural to have someone invite them into a house. Still, they grabbed their bags and entered the mansion.
They followed the young man into a sitting room where an older gentleman rested.
“Please, don't get up,” Dawn quickly demanded when she saw him trying to do so.
Buffy had unconsciously moved into a position where she could cover the majority of the room and protect Dawn.
Dick and Alfred noticed this and exchanged a quick glance as Dick took a similar position near Alfred.
“Please have a seat,” Dick said.
Dawn quickly acquiesced, but Buffy remained standing, shifting on her feet in her nervousness.
Deciding someone needed to start things rolling, Dawn began the introductions. “I'm Dawn Summers. This is my sister Buffy. Yesterday we got some very interesting information in the mail about a possible connection to Bruce Wayne. When we discovered he'd been kidnapped, we both felt a need to be here.”
The speech was exactly what they discussed on the plane. The story itself was completely true, but didn't reveal any details. They especially didn't want to reveal anything to people they didn't know.
“I'm Dick Grayson. Bruce took me in when my parents died. He raised me. He's currently mentoring another young man, Tim Drake, you may see him around. This is Alfred Pennyworth. He's been with the Wayne family since before Bruce was born. He takes care of the house and us.” Taking a deep breath, he held out his hand, knowing that Alfred had hidden that papers they just received. When he had the delivery envelope in hand, he pulled out the papers. “And your possible connection is that Buffy is Bruce's biological daughter. As for the kidnapping, perhaps you can shed a little light on this.” So saying, he set out the last sheet of paper.
Dick noticed that neither Buffy nor Dawn seemed particularly shocked by the message or the way it was written.
Buffy reached into her bag and pulled out a similar delivery envelope. She pulled out one of the pages and set it next to the one on the table.
Looking up, she locked eyes with Dick. What she found there caused her to take a chance on revealing a bit more than she originally intended. She focused on why she and Dawn had crossed a country to be here. “I don't know if this DNA thing is true or not. It doesn't really matter. I won't let someone be hurt because of me. This isn't my town and the things we've heard about Gotham, neither of us feels particularly safe being here. We don't know who to trust to help us find him. You grew up here. Hopefully you do.”
Arms folded across his chest, Dick thought over her words. A part of him almost smiled at her speech. She sounded so much like Bruce, like him, like all of them. He wondered how much of that sort of determination, that sort of view of things was from experience and how much was just from being a Wayne. Whatever it happened to be, he had a feeling Buffy Summers would be a force to be reckoned with. He would take her to Commissioner Gordon and then arrange a meeting with Robin. He'd have Robin bring her back to the Batcave for a meeting with Nightwing. Right now he needed to get them settled in rooms so he could contact Oracle about this information and do some fingerprint tests on the papers before turning them over to the police.
“You're welcome to stay here,” he offered. “I'll show you to your rooms and then we can see about taking all this to Commissioner Gordon. What do you think you're doing, Alfred?”
The older man paused. “I need to make sure the rooms are prepared appropriately for the young ladies.”
“But you're injured,” Dawn protested.
“I'm sure the rooms will be find so long as there are beds in them. If it's easier, we can even share a room...” Buffy deflected.
“Don't worry, ladies, Alfred's just a perfectionist.” Looking down at the older man, sternly, he said, “Your only job right now is to heal and feel better.”
“And get ready to spill the dirt on Buffy's dad and Dick here,” Dawn threw in, an impish smile on her face. Leaning forward, she stage-whispered, “I'll spill some on Buffy too, don't worry.”
“Hey!” the blonde protested, causing small smiles to appear on Dick and Alfred's faces.
The two men exchanged another look before Dick ushered the girls out of the room.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Buffy set her bag down on the bed in the room she'd been given. Looking around, she couldn't help but shake her head. "The rich do live differently," she murmured running her hand along the ridiculously soft bedspread.
She wandered to the window and looked outside. Barely taking in the view, she frowned when she realized there would be no easy way for her to leave the building, not to mention the distance between Wayne Manor and Gotham would take quite some time to cover - even with Slayer speed.
On the other hand, Dawn would be safe here.
"This is going to make it harder, isn't it?"
Buffy turned and offered her sister a small smile. "But not impossible. You'll need..."
"To cover as necessary, patch you up if needed and distract." The sisters exchanged smiles before a thoughtful look crossed Dawn's face. "What if you asked to rent a car so you could get yourself around..."
"Even in this place, the sound of a motor would probably carry."
"This would have been easier if we'd stayed in a hotel like we planned.”
"But not quite so normal." Seeing the question on her sister's face, Buffy sighed. "If we were normal people who got that information, what would they do."
"Go to the cops. And if the cops couldn't help, they'd ask his family," Dawn replied, knowing the answer. "You know they're going to ask about enemies and they'll find out about..."
"I know," Buffy said. "But there's nothing I can do about that."
"What bout Batman and the rest?"
"We'll deal with that as it comes."
"What about Dick and Alfred?"
Buffy shrugged. "They're Bruce's family. They know him, we don't."
"Do you think they blame you?"
"I don't know," Buffy sighed. "It wouldn't surprise me if they did once it registers that I'm the cause of his kidnapping."
"Ladies," Dick said from the doorway, startling the sisters. "Are you ready to talk to Commissioner Gordon?"
Buffy nodded grabbed her purse.
Placing a hand on her sister's arm, Dawn asked, "Do you want me to go with you?"
Buffy hesitated, her eyes flicking over to Dick before returning to her sister. "Maybe you should stay here. I'm not sure I want you in the police station. There's no telling who will be there."
"That's a good idea," Dick stated. "Gotham's station is better than Bludhaven's but it's really no place for a young lady. Besides, if you could help keep Alfred from doing too much, it would be greatly appreciated." He followed up the suggestion with a brilliant smile that left the sisters blinking.
"Oh! Maybe I can make dinner," Dawn offered, please to be of use.
"No!" Buffy denied quickly. "Absolutely not."
"Buffy, I'm perfectly capable of..."
"Cinnamon and nutmeg encrusted sardines in marinara sauce over chocolate noodles."
"We'll pick something up on the way back," Dick quickly interjected, looking slightly green.
Buffy offered a bright smile of her own which seemed to momentarily dazzle Dick, while Dawn's bottom lip fell into a pout.
"No one understands good food anymore," the teen grumbled.
"We should get going," Dick recommended, ushering them out of the room.
He shuddered once they had passed him and Buffy could hear the horror in his voice as he whispered, "Definitely take-out."~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Buffy looked around the police station and inched closer to Dick. She really hated these places. Of course, most of her interaction with the police had been less than friendly.
The leers she was getting from some of the thugs in handcuffs didn't help her either.
Glancing at her escort, she noticed he seemed a little on edge himself, though she felt fairly certain that few others could tell. She took in her surroundings and, despite the feeling of danger that seemed to permeate most of Gotham, didn't feel personally threatened by the people, but the obvious display of guns made her uncomfortable. She could do a lot with her slayer gifts, but dodging bullets wasn't one of them.
“You OK?” Dick asked, concern showing on his face and sounding in his voice.
Buffy hesitated for a moment as she looked into his eyes. The voice and expression, even the body language spoke of concern, but his eyes showed something else. She wasn't sure what – knowledge, expectation, caution, evaluation. What ever it was, at that moment she knew that somehow Dick Grayson had discovered her past with the police. He'd only been out of her sight for a few minutes which meant that he worked fast, or had someone working for him. Her records shouldn't have been that easy to access for a normal person. “Fine. Can we just find somewhere less leer-filled to be?”
Dick looked around the station, as if noticing it for the first time. The look in his eyes darkened and hardened as he took in the looks being directed at Buffy. When he met Buffy's eyes again, the knowledge they'd held before had been replaced with offense on her behalf. “Sure,” he said, moving beside her and putting an arm over her shoulders.
The slayer in her rebelled at this action, knowing she had the skill and strength to take care of herself. The woman in her, still hurting from being ripped out of Heaven and the year following, needed this protection. She would be strong; she had to be. But for just a moment, it was a relief to be nothing more than a young woman.
Before long, they were in the elevator on their way to the Commissioner's office, acceptable space once more between them.
“Do you know him well?” Buffy asked, more to distract herself from the small, enclosed space than anything else.
“Who? The Commissioner?” Dick asked. When Buffy nodded he shrugged. “He's one of the reasons I decided to be a police detective.”
Buffy stiffened slightly at this news before relaxing once more. If nothing else, that would explain how he could access her files so quickly. She would have to be even more careful than she thought, detectives outside Sunnydale noticed things.
“Here we are,” Dick said, guiding her out of the elevator to the door of the Commissioner's office. Buffy took a deep breath and stepped inside.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Bruce bit back a groan and did his best to still himself as he fought the drug-induced haze.
His drug-fogged mind struggled to make sense of what he'd heard, but he knew without context, he would be unable to comprehend it. Listening closely, he didn't hear anyone around him – no one shifting on their feet, no sound of cloth brushing cloth, not even the sound of breathing other than his own.
Twisting his wrist, he thought the bindings were a little looser.
He opened his eyes slightly and turned his head.
A man suddenly appeared before him and Bruce's eyes widened in surprise. Someone that close, he should have felt them or heard them. The drugs were affecting him more than he thought.
“Can't have you awake now, can we?”
Before he could protest, a needle was slipped into the crook of his arm and soon darkness descended once more.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Buffy's hands shook slightly as she looked down at the paper. Sure there were the tests, but that didn't make it real. Lifting a hand, she caressed the writing on it before taking a deep breath and looking up. "Yes, that's my mother's writing."
"Is it possible to have another sample sent?" the Commissioner asked.
"I can call Anya and have her send an old check or something."
"You didn't think it was real?" Dick asked, puzzled.
A bark of laughter escaped the young woman. "I frankly didn't care if it was real or not. I don't exactly have the best luck with father figures."
The two men exchanged a look at that comment, but let it pass. "Do you know how they got a hold of your DNA?" the Commissioner asked.
"I cut myself at work and used an old shirt to stop the blood. I left it on the washer to soak the next day, but when I went to do that it was gone."
Comissioner Gordon made a few notes before setting down his pen and folding his hands. He met and held her eyes. "From the notes here, it appears they aren't targeting Bruce, just using him as bait. You're the one their after, this whole thing is designed to get at you. Do you have any ideas who could be behind this?"
Buffy tensed, she'd known this question was coming and she couldn't answer it honestly. She chose to go with avoidance. "Commissioner, a year ago I found out my mother had a brain tumor. She died shortly after that. Hank Summers couldn't be bothered to come to her funeral, stopped sending child support for Dawn and sent me papers abdicating his parental rights to Dawn, naming me her guardian. I work two part-time jobs to try and ensure there's a roof over our head and food on the table. When would I have made an enemy like this and what would they want?"
The two men stared at her, after her explanation. She couldn't tell if realized she hadn't answered their question. When their eyes flicked to each other, she knew they'd noticed.
"Miss Summers," Commissioner Gordan began. Seeing the look on her face, he quickly changed to, "Buffy. We have done some preliminary background checks on you..."
"And you found out about the high-school gym and the murder accusation," she finished, wondering if she looked as defeated as she felt. She really needed to look into having her juvenile records sealed. Taking a deep breath, she began the lie she'd practiced so carefully the past few years. "The gym was not my fault. Some decorations caught on fire and I happened to be standing next to them. Since I'd changed a bit after starting to date Pike, everyone blamed me. In order to avoid being charged, my parents... my parents sent me away to get treatment. The murder accusation was just that, an accusation by a man who set out to make my life miserable and get me out of his school by any means possible. Yes I was found standing over the body, but I'd just walked into the room and went to see if she was ..." She felt the color drain from her face as the image of Kendra's empty eyes came to the forefront of her thoughts. A warm hand settling on her arm drew her back to the present. "Sorry," she mumbled.
Taking a deep breath, she decided to get things back on track. "I know it's not normal to share these things, but was there anything unusual where he was taken, any sort of clue?"
Jim Gordon sat back in his chair and sighed. "You're right, we don't normally share this information, but since you are our only real lead and we're all just waiting for the next clue to arrive, I suppose it can't hurt, especially since we haven't been able to identify it.” Pulling a piece of paper from the folder he looked at it before passing it to Buffy. “Mr. Pennyworth, the other victim of the attack, saw this mark on the assailant before he passed out. So far we haven't been able to identify it.”
Unable to control her reaction to the symbol on the paper, Buffy stiffened as her hand not holding the paper tightened into a fist.
“You know what this is,” Dick stated, no doubt in his voice.
Look up, she saw the certainty in both their eyes and knew she would have to tell them something. Even as she realized this, though, her mind raced through the implications of what this symbol meant. There were only three other people she knew who could wear this symbol. “I need somewhere private and I need to make a couple of phone calls.” She sighed at the frowns on the two faces, uncertain how much she should share. “Please, let me make the phone calls and then I'll tell you what I can.”
“What you can?” Commissioner Gordon repeated, sounding unhappy.
Buffy winced at the tone and couldn't believe she was about to say this. “It indirectly involves a highly classified government program. I need to ask a few questions before I'll know for sure what to share. On the plus side, if things went really, really, wrong, I'll have a name for you.” Seeing their confused look, she sighed. “Just... I need a private room and a secure line. The conversation can't be recorded.”
“National security,” she stated, her voice not allowing argument.
With a sigh, Jim stood and indicated the second phone behind his desk. “You can use this phone. We'll wait outside.”
“Thank you,” Buffy said sincerely. “I'm not trying to cause problems, but I have to do this right and you need facts, not guesses and suspicions.”
The older man nodded his head in understanding. He still wasn't happy, but he did need facts. And if giving her a few minutes alone to make phone calls would help this, then he would allow it.
As the two men reached the door, Buffy called out, “Oh, do I need to dial 9 or something?”
“No, it's not connected through the station system,” Gordon assured.
“Cool. And it's OK if I make an international call, right?”~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Dawn shifted uncomfortably in her chair again and sighed. Looking up, she saw it was close to four o'clock. “Do you want some tea or something?” she asked Alfred who had been resting and reading his own book.
He glanced at the clock before slowly maneuvering himself to stand. “Certainly. I'd be happy to make you some.”
“No. No. You stay there. Just tell me where to find everything and I'll make it up. Don't get up. You aren't supposed to do that much and...”
“It's quite all right, Miss Dawn,” Alfred assured, cutting off the young woman's ramble. A smile appeared on his face, he did enjoy spending time with youngsters. “If I don't move every now and then, my muscles stiffen.” Levering himself into a standing position, he continued, “Now, just wait here and I'll...”
Dawn saw him sway on his feet and was instantly by his side. She'd seen too many wounds and injuries over the years, even before she knew about the supernatural world. “Whoa. OK. I'll tell you what. You tell me how to get to the kitchen and you can supervise from the table while I do the work.” Seeing him hesitate she sighed and rolled her eyes. “I know Buffy's tales of my cooking scared you, but tea is something you don't mess with. I learned how to make it from a very proper British gentleman, so you have no worries.” Leaning forward she stage-whispered, “I even know enough to warm the teapot first.”
Alfred let out a soft chuckle before wincing at the pain in his ribs. “Very well. I will direct and supervise.”
“Great!” Dawn agreed, beaming at him, before taking his arm so they could slowly make their way to the kitchen. “Now, about that dinner thing. Buffy totally exaggerated...”~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Dick leaned against the wall outside Commissioner Gordon's office. He remained silent and tried to hear and understand what Buffy was saying inside. Unfortunately, he couldn't hear much more than the murmur of her voice. He really wished he'd thought to plant a bug in there.
“I don't remember anything in her files about government work,” Gordon said from his position across the hall.
“There isn't much in her file at all after the murder charge. It's perfectly clean,” Dick confirmed.
Gordon nodded. “I don't like this,” he admitted. “There's too much that isn't adding up and if government secrets are involved they may take us right off this case.” After a brief pause, he sighed, “I hate to do this in such a high profile case, but if the government does step in, we may need to involve the Batman in this as well. He doesn't have the same restrictions we cops do.”
Dick controlled his reaction to those words. He knew Batman couldn't become involved, but couldn't very well tell Gordon why. If the bat-signal did appear, he would have to go as Nightwing along with Robin.
Before his thoughts could proceed further along those lines, the door opened and Buffy poked her head out, her face serious and closed-off. “Please come back in.”
Stepping into the room, they each resumed their seat.
Dick watched her closely, taking in her facial expression and her body language. She wasn't happy with the information she had and she wasn't overly happy about sharing it. Still, he would hopefully, finally have some leads.
“What I am about to share with you is sensitive information. It can not go beyond this room and you will most likely both be receiving visits from a government official in order to sign some non-disclosure agreement or another.”
Dick felt himself tense. He knew right now he would be sharing this information with Robin, Batgirl and Oracle. He wouldn't work without them, not when it was Bruce's life on the line. He also began sorting through different scenarios with regard to how their costumed counterparts would meet up with Buffy and see what additional information they could get through her. He relegated those thoughts to the back of his mind, however, when Buffy continued.
“In Gotham you've seen some of the worst nightmares man can create. What I'm going to ask you to believe, and I know exactly how fantastic this sounds, is that there is another type of threat in this world, another source of nightmares – the mystical.”
Dick couldn't stop the look of disbelief he knew crossed his face. He also knew that the mystical world existed and was very real, but he honestly had very little contact with it and liked it that way. He had enough problems with the world of men.
Buffy sighed. “I know, it's hard to believe, but just trust me on this. Magic, demons, all the stuff of nightmares really exist in this world. The symbol you showed me is called the mark of Eyghon. It's part of a ceremony used to allow the spirit of a demon to possess the worshipers. It's not commonly known and even among those who do know of it, it is not popular.”
Dick wasn't sure if he should take this seriously or not. Demon worship wasn't something he faced. Still, he would take this information and hope Oracle would be able to do something with it.
“The reason it's not popular is two-fold. First, it's among the darkest of dark magic. Second, the price Eghon required is the life of every person who wears his symbol.”
“Why would anyone choose that,” Gordon asked.
Buffy shrugged. “Power. Feelings of freedom. Rebellion. Revenge. Why does anyone ever turn to the darkness. As for forfeiting their life, perhaps they thought they could avoid paying that price or have someone else pay it for them.”
Dick noted that her hand twitched slightly as she said this last and her shoulder muscles tensed momentarily. An interesting response and quite telling. Buffy obviously had first-hand experience with this Eghon. He would have to have Oracle dig really deep and in directions they didn't normally take. They would need all the pieces of the puzzle they could get a hold of if they were going to save Bruce.
“So these people, these Eghon worshipers...”
The rest of his question was cut off as the phone Buffy had used earlier rang.
“That would be for me,” Buffy said, rising from her seat and walking to phone. “Buffy Summers.”
Dick listened, but couldn't make out any of the words on the other end. For her part, Buffy said nothing, though her face turned grim and tension stiffened her body.
“Thanks,” she said hanging up. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath and then another. Turning to the two men in the room, she met their eyes and moved to sit in her chair once more.
“What did you just find out,” Dick prompted.
Buffy breathed in and out once in a very controlled manner. “Ethan Rayne,” she said.
Both men perked up at this. The Commissioner reached for his phone ready to have his people start researching.
“Don't call anyone yet,” Buffy commanded. “You won't be able to find out anything about him. Someone from the federal government will be here in a few hours with what information they can release as well as non-disclosure agreements for both of you to sign. In the meantime, I'll begin filling you in on what I know about Ethan.”
“The files will have his description and all the vital statistics, but here's what they probably won't tell you. Ethan Rayne is a chaos mage – a worshiper of the Roman god Janus. He and a mentor of mine had been friends as youth, but my mentor left when the first person in their Eghon worshipping circle died. Ethan didn't take it too well. Over the years, Ethan came to Sunnydale to create whatever chaos he could. ~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Alfred watched Dawn as she cleaned the plates and cups from their afternoon tea. When they first read the information in the envelope, he'd been stunned by the young woman in the picture. He could see traces of Bruce in her, but more than that, she looked very much like Bruce's mother. There were definite differences and characteristics that must have come from her own mother, but the young woman in the pictures could be none other than Bruce Wayne's daughter.
Seeing the young lady in person had driven that home, for while her looks were very like her grandmother's her personality seemed very much like Master Bruce's. What stunned him, though, was the younger sister – Miss Dawn.
He could see traces of his charge in her appearance as well as the way she moved and even the way she laughed. He knew for a fact that Master Bruce had been out of the country for two years already and would not be returning for another during the time Miss Dawn must have been conceived. Still, if he were the betting sort of man, he would bet on the younger sister also belonging to Master Bruce.
“All done!” Dawn chirped, having set the final dish in the drying rack.
Alfred shook off his thoughts and smiled at her. “Excellent, Miss Dawn.”~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~
Looking at the sleeping man a small voice of reason worried over keeping the man sedated for so long, but the doctor had assured Ethan that no lasting harm would happen to the man.
He'd carefully thought out every aspect of this plan and knew it would work, knew that Janus would return him to his former state. The plan would be absolutely perfect. One couldn't create chaos without order existing first. Gotham, while a strong area of chaos - almost too strong - had recently begun to be far more ordered. Still, as a chaos mage, Ethan could use the inherent chaos in the area to help restore his magic while putting his non-magical, non-mystical plan into action.
"And what a plan it is," he murmured to himself.
After escaping that place where Ripper abandoned him - without harming the army blokes, thank you very much - he'd taken to hitchhiking, wondering at the number of people willing to give a lift to a less-than-savory looking person.
He'd been naturally drawn to Gotham and its chaos. Once here, it had been a struggle to get a new identity set up. Fortunately, he'd been able to trade a favor or two in order to get set up and left alone. For shelter, he had his pick. Abandoned buildings abounded in this city.
He couldn't take full credit for the idea of the break-in at the dead letter office, but the idea must have come from Janus himself. It was so simple, so easy and there was so much potential just sitting there waiting to be accessed.
The fact that he came across a letter from Buffy's mother to Bruce Wayne caused all the pieces to fall into place.
It would be the perfect offering - chaos, order, new beginnings... Yes it would please Janus.
There were two particularly sticky points in all this that Ethan knew could go particularly wrong.
The first would be the capture of Bruce Wayne. He would need assistance with that, which meant hiring some thugs. Unfortunately, that also meant there would be a chance of dead bodies and injuries. Thugs in Gotham had no restraint what-so-ever when it came to violence.
The next part that would be tricky would be having Buffy Summers find her father without injuring or killing him. Provided he could escape her, Ethan knew he would have no trouble setting himself up elsewhere.
Of course, he thought as he fingered the copy of the letter and DNA results in front of him, releasing the letter to the newspapers would be a lot of fun.
After all, no one said he had to make Buffy's job easy.~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~!~TBC eventually