Disclaimer: I do not own BtVS nor any Marvel character or world. They belong to their respective owners and I don't get anything from this but my own personal amusement and the occasional case of giggles.
A/N: So this has been kicking around in my head for nearly three years with massive chunks of notes, dialogue, ect scattered among about a dozen notebooks. I had hoped to have the entirety of this story done to celebrate my 5 year anniversary here at TTH but alas I'm still not finished yet nor did I get the chance to post it when I wanted to.
I'm posting this now to see if I get a response. If this is something people want to see. If not, oh well. If yes, well then, yay. Either way..here's the first chapter of something that's been chewing at me for way way too long.
May 22, 2010 Sunnydale California 3:07 AM.
Blink and it's there. Blink and it's real.
Blink and it's there. Blink and there's fire and blood and ashes and dust and it can't be real. It can't be.
Breathe and she can smell it, taste it. Fire and ashes and dust and blood and it's real. It can't be real. It can't be.
But her body, it refuses to do what she wants. She never wanted any of this. She never wanted...
And she blinks.
It's real. The explosion, the heat of it. The fire and blood and sound and she's gone.
Her mother is gone.
Gone. Gone. Gone.
Ashes and blood and fire and dust.
If she does it comes back. Her mother is gone. Dead. A hole cut through her. She wonders if anyone can see through her it feels so big.
If she does it comes back. The things she did. She pain she inflicted. The look on Angelus and Drusilla and Spike's faces as she cut parts of them off with her own hands. As she sliced and burned, holes cut right through them. As she watched it heal and then started again in other ways. Blood, blood everywhere.
And all the while he'd smiled at her. All the while he'd thought he'd won in his own twisted and fucked up way. Maybe he had. She'd cut them and burned them and made them scream and scream and scream because she couldn't. Until she ended it. Until there was nothing left but ashes and dust and fire and blood.
She can still smell the blood. It's been hours since Xander found her standing among the ashes that had once been her home and she can still smell the blood. Taste the ash. Feel the fire. Take no satisfaction in seeing them turn to dust. Angelus took her mother. He took everything.
She took his life. She can't take her mother back. She can't take the last three days back.
Blood and ashes and fire and dust.
It's all blood and ashes and fire and dust in her. Her mother is gone. Angel is gone.
And it's her fault.
There's nothing left. It's her fault.
May 22, 2010 Malibu California 10:33 AM
The screen in front of her held a picture. A picture of a girl. Pretty and blonde and maybe fifteen at the time it was taken. And it was causing severe cognitive dissonance.
It wasn't the picture itself that was causing it. The picture was fairly innocuous. She'd have never looked at it twice if she'd seen it in the original newspaper article about a young woman that had burned down her high school gym.
But she wasn't looking at the original. She was looking at a file full of pictures, it just happened that the one before her was the most recent. No, it was the name on the file that kept her still, kept her silent and her mind going a million miles and hour. Kept it going around and around and around in circles.
Elizabeth Anne Reynolds Stark
Tony had a daughter.
Tony had a seventeen year old daughter.
And if....the thought stalled, didn't want to come. She blinked, she was not going to cry. She was not going to have a meltdown. She was not going to give in to the urge to scream or laugh hysterically even if she really really wanted to.
No, she wasn't going to.
She was going to keep it together. Rhodes was going to find Tony and then...
Then she was going to possibly punch him in the nose for not telling her he had a daughter. Right after she punched him for getting taken and maybe killed. For leaving her with the fallout of having the CEO of Stark Industries go missing and no one able to keep things from falling apart but herself and Obadiah.
Her eyes went back to the screen. To the picture. And then she closed her eyes, shook her head and tried to make her mind focus. To stop running in circles. If she could handle all the insanity causing messes and personality quirks Tony had dumped into her lap for over a decade she could handle this.
She would have never known if Jarvis hadn't alerted her. Never have known if the Tony hadn't decided years ago to dump all his messes into her lap when he didn't feel like dealing with them. And since Tony was.....missing. Not dead, they hadn't found a body. Jarvis had let her know.
She was sure if the computer system wasn't aware that Tony was missing she'd have never been given access to the file Tony had labeled Legacy. She'd have never known. From the looks of it no one had ever known except Tony and the girl's, Buffy she was called, mother Joyce.
But the way things were....Tony was missing and now, Joyce Summers, formerly Joyce Reynolds was dead. Which meant that Elizabeth Anne Reynolds Stark who had been living her life as Buffy Summers was now without anyone to take care of her.
And Tony was her father. If she hadn't seen the birth certificate with that scrawled signature she'd have known anywhere she'd have never believed it.
“Jarvis.” she opened her eyes, looked at the picture of the girl again. Buffy, she guessed. She was no stranger to nicknames.
“Yes, Miss Potts?”
“Get me the legal department. And then make arrangements for me to go to Sunnydale.” Tony had a daughter.
“Going to retrieve Miss Stark I take it.” of course she was going. It was never a question of if. Tony had a daughter. A teenage daughter who had just lost her mother in a gas explosion. She closed her eyes and fought the urge to scream or laugh or cry again. Tony wasn't even there, was missing and maybe dead and he could still leave her like this.
Tony was a father. She shook her head. She'd have never known, never believed it unless she'd seen it with her own eyes. More than that. He was a father that had been keeping track of a daughter that didn't even know he existed her entire life.
May 22, 2010 Sunnydale California 8:12 PM
“No, she still hasn't said anything Giles. I'm worried.” her eyes went back to the utterly still form of Buffy laying on her bed. The blonde hadn't moved unless someone told her to do something, hadn't spoken a word and had barely blinked since Xander had brought her over more than twelve hours before.
Brought her over covered in blood and ashes and dust. She shuddered and focused on what Giles was saying on the other end of the phone. About funeral arrangements and attorneys and police and fire departments and clothing and other things.
Giles was very obviously avoiding talking about the big pink elephant in the room. The thing none of them had it in them to talk about. That none of them wanted to really consider. Mrs. Summers had died three days ago. Xander had finally found Buffy early in the morning. Completely covered in blood and ashes and dust. She'd had to burn the clothes Buffy'd had on in the fireplace just to get rid of the smell. Three days Buffy had been...just missing.
They were all avoiding the big pink elephant. Because none of them had it in them really cope with what they knew and so wished they didn't know. Angelus had killed Mrs. Summers. He'd blown up Buffy's home with her mother in it.
And she and Oz had found it just hours after they'd heard on the news about the explosion. The raging flames engulfing the warehouse Angelus, Drusilla and Spike had been using as a lair.
Angelus was dust, she had no doubt. So were Spike and Drusilla. But Buffy....she'd been soaked in blood.
And that, it wasn't her best friend. Buffy was the Slayer. She was good. She fought evil with a capital E. She saved people. She saved the world.
“Ok, Giles.” everything was just so wrong. So horribly wrong. And there was nothing she could do to fix it.
There was nothing anyone could ever do to fix it. Buffy's mom was dead and her best friend was....broken.
May 24, 2010 Sunnydale California. 9:44 AM
In the ground.
Her mother was going into the ground.
It wasn't right.
Her mother belonged in the sun, smiling and laughing and so very very alive. Her mother didn't belong in a box. Wasn't supposed to be lifeless and breathless and in the ground.
Everything was wrong.
Everything that mattered was gone.
It wasn't supposed to be this way.
It wasn't supposed to be fire and ashes and dust and blood and her mother in the ground.
There were people there, lots of them. Some spoke to her, some looked at her with pity. Acknowledging any of them would have meant admitting that it was real. And it couldn't be. It was a nightmare, the worst nightmare she'd ever had.
Only it wasn't, ashes and blood and fire and dust and she just wants to crawl into the ground too. Crawl in and never come back out. Her mother's gone.
And her dad, she doesn't even know if he knows. She hadn't bothered to ask.
Hadn't bothered to say anything really. What is there to say?
Sorry isn't enough. She's already gotten angry. Already taken bloody and hollow vengeance. It didn't help. Her mother is still in the ground.
There's nothing left. Nothing to say. Nothing to do. Nothing to slay. Not enough tears. Nothing to fill the hole that's there.
There's just ashes and blood and fire and dust.
May 24, 2010 Sunnydale California 3:02 PM
Her eyes kept going to the door of Mr. William's office. Kept going back at every sound that was made outside the door, all her usual calm hanging by a thread. Tony had a daughter and she was...
She didn't want to admit it but the young woman she'd seen at the funeral of Joyce Summers looked broken, vacant. Buffy Summers had stood still, almost frighteningly still, though the entire service. She'd never moved, never spoken, never shed a single tear. The girl was in shock, numb. And from the look of dark circles under her eyes she hadn't slept since her mother's death.
She internally reconsidered her choice to come get Tony's daughter. Buffy was in shock, traumatized by her mother's death, and what was she about to do? Drag a seventeen year old girl into the insanity that was a constant with Tony. To tell her that the man she'd always known as her father wasn't actually her blood. That the billionaire king of a weapons empire that acted more like a teenage boy most of the time was her real father.
And then she was going to put Buffy in the middle of that world. A world of paparazzi, of tabloids, of fake people and shallow lives. Of cut throat business and too much money and not enough morals and things a seventeen year old girl shouldn't have to deal with even in the best of circumstances.
Which they very much weren't with Tony missing.
At least she'd managed to cut some of potential insanity down to a minim. Counting Mrs. Summer's attorney, Mr. Williams, there were only four people in the whole world besides Tony himself that knew who Buffy really was. She knew she didn't have to worry about Happy and the attorney she'd contacted from Stark Industries had signed a non disclosure agreement that looked thick enough to be a college textbook.
Tony had clearly wanted to keep his daughter a secret. A secret that she'd learned after spending the last two hours talking with Mr. Williams discussing the details of, that had been Joyce's wish and Tony, who always did exactly what he wanted, had agreed to. She'd seen the very cut and dry legal documents about it too. Buffy was to have a life away from Tony until she was eighteen and then she'd have been told the truth. After that it would have been up to Buffy to decide if she wanted to know her biological father or not.
Only now, Joyce Summers was dead and Hank Summers had never legally adopted Buffy as per the stipulation in the agreement between Joyce and Tony. And the law was clear. Tony was now Buffy's only legal parent. Not that it mattered, Hank Summers hadn't even attended the funeral of his ex wife.
She wasn't even sure what Tony's reaction would be. How he'd have handled it if he wasn't missing.
But he was missing and she'd do what she always did, she'd handle the situation. One way or another .
A sound and then the door opened. She felt her whole body tense and forced herself to remain calm. If she could handle Tony Stark for over a decade with composure then she could handle anything. The first figure through the door was an older gentleman, in his late forties or early fifties. He was easy enough to assess and she'd seen him at the funeral. From what little she'd heard on the way back to the car his name was Rupert Giles, the high school librarian and something of a mentor to several students. The same students if she had to guess that had been in a tight group around Buffy all during the funeral. She met his gaze as he looked at her though wire rimmed glasses and saw the intelligence there. He was well educated and clearly cared for the students he'd taken under his wing.
But the way he assessed her, from the top of her head to her shoes, gave her a creeping feeling of unease. Like he could see so much more than what was on the surface. Like he could read her like a book he just plucked from one of the shelves from the library that was his domain. And then his gaze turned to Buffy and it switched, that look. One second it was there and the next, he had to look of, to be honest, a concerned parent for his child. He didn't have a wedding ring on, and it was possible that he'd taken to caring for his students as though they were his own children if he didn't have any of his own. She'd been lucky enough to have a teacher like that and still kept in touch with her.
Buffy followed him in and she felt a frown cross her face. She'd seen Tony's daughter from a distance at the funeral and noticed that the black dress she was wearing was too big and the dark circles under the girl's eyes but up close....
She looked small, tiny even. She'd realized that Buffy favored Joyce more than Tony from the pictures in the file but up close, she had Tony's nose and lips and eyebrows. A subtle, highly feminine copy of Tony's features but they were there. And that she'd have been almost breathtakingly beautiful if she hadn't looked like she hadn't eaten or slept in a week. The fact that Buffy's clear green eyes looked completely vacant didn't help either. In truth she looked more like a broken doll that a teenage girl.
And then Mr. Williams cleared his throat and she felt the tension in her begin to rise again.
Gone. Gone. Gone. Gone.
Her mother was gone. And the nightmare, it hadn't ended yet. Because it would never end. Not until she was in the ground too. Only it wasn't that easy. She hadn't stopped blinking, stopped breathing. Because her body didn't agree. There was a hole right through her and her mother was gone and it hadn't stopped yet.
Because nothing was ever that easy.
And now, the nightmare just kept going.
She could hear Giles and the two people taking, another man Giles' age and a woman that was younger than them both. They were discussing insurance and money like it didn't matter that her mother was gone. That everything was ashes and dust and blood and fire.
That her mother was in the ground and all she wanted was for it all to go away.
She registered the words but didn't care. Couldn't. It didn't matter. Nothing mattered anymore.
Her mother was gone gone gone gone gone. And what she'd done after.
Ashes and blood and fire and dust.
And then Giles' voice and her name and a letter, sealed and with writing she'd have known if she were blind placed in her lap.
“We'll give you some time Miss St....Summers. We'll be in the conference room just through this door.” and then she could hear them moving and a door closing. She didn't care. Because all she could see was the letter in her hand. The slope of the letters of her name. Her mother's handwriting.
And she wanted to cry.
Ashes and blood and fire and dust and the tears wouldn't come.
Breaths. Heartbeats. A hundred? A thousand? She couldn't count them because they all hurt. All she hand left of her mother was in her hands and it burned.
She opened the letter. Her mother's last words to her.
Mr. Giles stood with his back to them, only feet from the door that led into Mr. William's office, and stared at the door as though he could make it disappear by sheer will. Which, honestly, was better than the long and very intense stare he'd given her after their discussion about Buffy's true paternity and who had legal custody of the seventeen year old. A well educated mild mannered Englishman was what he appeared on the surface but she was more than half certain Rupert Giles had the potential to be very frightening when he chose to.
And she had no doubts now, he saw Buffy as a surrogate daughter. One he felt was being placed in a situation that was not good for her welfare. Which they had discussed, at length.
The look in his eyes when Mr. Williams had shown him the documentation about Buffy that Joyce and Tony had drawn up had said as much. Only she was certain it was because Buffy had been kept in the dark her whole life about Tony and that a student he clearly cared about was in the process of receiving another life altering shock.
And now, he was staring at the door, and had been for the better part of an hour. Buffy hadn't left Mr. William's office, they'd checked with his secretary, but they hadn't heard a sound come from inside either. For over two hours.
And she was beginning to worry.
“Maybe one of us should...” it was cut off as the door opened and Buffy stood there. She blinked. Those big green eyes were still expressionless, the face still blank but the lost look was gone. She couldn't properly put words to it. Buffy didn't so much resemble a broken doll in expression now but more a soldier waiting for orders.
“Buffy, dear girl, are you alright?” Mr. Giles looked concerned, worried. She was too honestly.
Buffy looked at him, blinked. “Call Kendra, Giles. Tell her the game is all hers now.”
She couldn't see the Englishman's face but his back stiffened. “Buffy, you can't...”
He was cut off. “I'm going.” the tone was, it was resolute. An order. A command. Given by someone who sounded used to giving them. And then those green eyes settled on her and she had to fight the urge to shrink back a bit. “He sent you to get me.” it wasn't a question. A deep breath and she found her nerve again. Broken seventeen year old girls should not make her want to shrink back. Shouldn't have eyes like that. Shouldn't be able to sound so old or jaded or like they'd been giving orders since before they could walk and talk.
“Tony, your father, he's...out of the country right now.”
A blank look but one that had something behind it, something she couldn't read and wasn't sure she wanted to. “You mean he's missing.” a turn of the head to Mr. Giles. “Willow had the news on.”
A glance down. “Yes” and then she looked up and met those green eyes again. And in them. Intelligence and an understanding of all the real issues going on. Of all the layers upon layers of things she'd been worrying about, trying to find ways to deal with, since Tony and his military escort and been attacked. She saw the complete understanding about all of them in those eyes.
Which made her think that, despite the school records she'd seen that Tony had somehow managed to get ahold of, Buffy was a lot more intelligent than she'd thought. “We can leave as soon as you're ready.” which would be an inconvenience as far as trying to keep Stark Industries running like normal in Tony's absence but she could handle it from a distance as long as she needed to.
“We can go now.” she blinked. Now?
“Buffy, you can't honestly mean to...” Buffy turned to look at Mr. Giles and the words died.
“She's gone, Giles. She's gone and I'm done, gone. Call Kendra.” and then Buffy turned, walked out the door, back through Mr. Williams office and out the other door into the lobby. She heard the secretary call Buffy's name but she had the feeling the blonde didn't stop or look back.
She let out a breath she hadn't even known she was holding. How could one tiny teenage girl make her feel so small and almost afraid where some of the most powerful men and women in the world didn't make her bat an eyelash? She wasn't sure and that worried her.
“I'll make arrangements for the funds from the sale of Mrs. Summers art gallery, home insurance payment and her life insurance to be placed into Miss, Stark's savings account as soon as the paperwork is finished.” Mr. Williams held out an envelope. “This is the originals of all the paperwork for Miss. Stark along with a new debit card for her savings account. You'll need to contact her school about transferring her to a private school. She's been expelled from the entire Los Angeles school district after the fire incident.”
She collected herself, she was Pepper Potts, if Tony Stark couldn't get the best of her his teenage daughter wasn't. “That shouldn't be an issue.” She'd have to contact Sunnydale High School about allowing Buffy to finish the last two weeks of classes from a distance and then look into which private schools would be best and willing to accept Buffy in the fall. Though she doubted it'd be an issue considering who Buffy was even with a colorful high school record.
Bright and shining and she hated it. Hated it and needed it. Ashes and fire and dust and blood.
It was all a lie.
All of it.
Everything was ashes and dust and fire and blood and why shouldn't the one thing she thought she could still hold on to be a lie?
She wasn't Buffy Summers, daughter of Joyce and Hank. She wasn't the Slayer, the one girl who fought evil. She wasn't good or right and she hadn't saved the one life in the world that mattered most to her.
No, she was Elizabeth Reynolds Stark. Even her name was a lie. Her father was a lie. And she wasn't the one girl any more. She hadn't been for a while. And she wasn't good. The things she'd done to Angelus and Spike and Drusilla.
Ashes and fire and blood and dust.
And it was over.
It was gone gone gone gone.
All that mattered was gone. All that she was, gone.
So what did it matter now?
Take it all away and what was left? Take her mother. Her name. Her calling. All that she was or had ever been. Take it all and what remained?
****I've never written a teenage Buffy before so this is new territory for me. And yes, BTVS will be veering off cannon quite a bit later on. The Marvel Movie Verse will too a bit. As for timeline. I've adjusted the BTVS timeline obviously. Buffy was born in 1993. And as far as BTVS timeline this is set right after the Series 2 ep Go Fish.
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