12: Things Best Left Unknown
Chapter Twelve: Things Best Left Unknown
“Giles says that Ra’s al Ghul had a connection with Richard’s ancestors in the past,” Buffy stated, pacing back and forth at the foot of the bed. “He thinks that he might even have been there during the time that they cursed Angelus with a soul. He might even have been the one that gave them the power to do so.”
“So he has been keeping track of the clan for all this time,” Bruce said, his eyes fixed on the city lights outside of the window. “But why?”
“Giles thinks it was for a sign. A sign that the power would come back around.” Buffy sat down on the bed suddenly, running her hands through her hair anxiously.
“And this sign would be…?” Bruce let the question hang in the air, and then answered it himself: “Richard’s abilities.”
“He can see things. He knows things. Giles said that he is connected,” she stated. “Almost like Cordelia was.” This last part she said in a whisper.
“Cordelia? You have talked about her before. She worked with Angel.”
Buffy was proud of herself for no longer flinching when she heard Angel’s name, especially when her husband said it. She also loved the way he said the name, not worried at all about her past with the man…vampire…guy.
“She was his connection to the Powers That Be. She had visions of things, what Angel was supposed to do, or who he was supposed to help. But her visions were not pleasant when she had them. Mind numbing, skull splitting pain.” She turned on the bed to find Bruce watching her intently, almost Batman-like. “Willow thinks that Richard is in tune with that conduit, as she called it, but it was not a gift he was given. It was one he was born with.”
Bruce sighed, glancing once again out the window. He stood there for a few moments, hands in his pockets, deep in thought, before finally shaking his head and stepping away.
“I will take him with me to Arkham, but he will stay in the Tumbler at all times. Willow and Giles are trying to figure this entire issue out, and you need to be here for Marti, I will look after Richard.” As he walked by, he stopped, reaching a hand up to caress her cheek, and then he bent over and kissed her on top of the head. “Everything will be fine.”
“What about the party?” Buffy asked, hoping beyond hope that he would tell her that they were going to gracefully get out of having to go. She was certainly not in a partying mood, especially with someone they thought had something to do with a cursed object that controlled Templar skeletons.
“I have to go to Arkham first, and then, if I am not back in time, I will meet you there,” He told her, smiling. He knew she didn’t want to go, but they had to know what this Cobblepot was up to, and what it had to do with the Joker. Bruce was worried about what he had found in that building. Kennedy’s dead body. The Joker was not the sentimental type, but there had seemed to be some kind of deep connection between him and Kennedy. Of course, she had been just as insane as he was so, it could have all been in her head, but it was better to take in all aspects, and deal with them appropriately. The Joker might be seeking revenge on whoever had robbed him of such a loyal follower, if, again, he saw her as something more than just another lackey.
Ra’s al Ghul was definitely up to something, but Bruce did not see him and the Joker being buddy-buddy. Sure, both wanted o destroy Gotham, but for different reasons. They could tear this city apart, if it came to that, if it came to all out war between the two of them, and considering that the Joker was no longer completely human, as Willow said, then the battle between him and Ra’s al Ghul would be catastrophic.
And in order to stop those two, he was going to need Buffy’s help. He was going to need her Slayer strength to keep all that they held dear safe.
“In a week, we will be moving back into the manor. If we must we can lock that place down like a fort.”
Buffy shook her head, jumping to her feet. She only stood up to his shoulder. “And that is well and good. I will like being back out there. The seclusion and the upgrade to security will be great, but what are we going to do until then? How can we make the Penthouse safer?”
Bruce took her by the arms, bent down, and kissed her deeply. “We can keep a sword in the elevator,” he said, releasing her, and turning to leave the room. “Maybe an axe in the bathroom,” he stated over his shoulder.
Buffy harrumphed, shaking her head. Then she cocked an eyebrow. Would keeping an axe in the bathroom really be a bad thing?
Bruce took Richard with him to Wayne Enterprises once again, giving Buffy, Willow, Giles, and Alfred a chance to talk things out more. The last thing Buffy wanted was for Richard to hear them talking about him and his connection to Ra’s al Ghul. He may know a lot of things, but for some reason, one no one could even begin to fathom, whatever power he was connected to apparently had decided it was not time for him to know that certain fact. At least, at this time.
“I believe it is safe to assume that Ra’s al Ghul knows much more than we do on this subject,” Giles offered at length. He was holding a cup of hot tea in his hand, the steam rising up in his face. He had yet to take a sip.
“I spoke to Angel,” Willow stated. She said his name as if it were something that she wasn’t supposed to. As if it were bad to say the name of a man Buffy had once loved in the place she now shared with her husband. Buffy chose to ignore it for the time being. There were much more important things to deal with right now. “He said he would ask around. See what he could find out. He and Spike both know the Immortal, from back when he was all about terrorizing the countryside as Angelus. And I mean ‘the whole of Europe’ when I say countryside. He said that the Immortal was human, that much was for sure, but he talked about things well before his time, as if he were there. Angelus looked up to the man, in a way.”
“Well, that doesn’t make me feel any better,” Buffy stated. “If Angelus admired someone, it was because they were as bloodthirsty as he was.”
“Or more so,” Giles pointed out. He finally took a sip of his tea, and then sat the cup down in the saucer. “And ‘bloodthirsty’ does not necessarily mean cutting the throats of one’s victims. Ra’s al Ghul is too… supercilious for that. Getting his hands dirty is beneath him. He may lead the way and make certain things possible to get what he wants done, but he has others to do his dirty work for him.”
“So, this plant woman and the ice guy: do you think they are working for him or the Joker?” Buffy asked. It was bad enough having one major bad guy in town. But the current rise in the crazies was just ridiculously annoying, and worrisome.
“I am not sure, but I do agree with Bruce on this subject. Ra’s al Ghul and the Joker are not going to see eye-to-eye. Yes, both want to destroy the city, but now that there is a Hellmouth to be brought into play, controlling it is something that al Ghul is going to want more than anything, and he is not going to stand for anyone else beating him to the punch, as they say.” Giles took another sip of tea, his mouth curving into a smile briefly. It was very good tea.
“But the Joker can’t do that, right?” Willow piped up, her hands worrying a once neatly folded napkin. “While I am not sure what exactly he is, or how he came to be what he is, he is still just a vessel of some kind, or at least I think he is. I am not really sure exactly…Oh! I said that already.” She leaned back in her chair, napkin still in hand, a look of disappointment on her face. It bothered her that she hadn’t been able to learn anything else about the Joker. How he had survived being broken and flambéed was still a mystery she hadn’t solved.
Alfred entered then carrying a tray of cookies, scones, and brownies that he sat down on the table. “Way to cover the spread there, Al,” Buffy commented with a smile. Alfred did not like to be called ‘Al’, but she knew she could get away with it once-in-a-while. Besides, without Faith around there was no one to call him ‘Al’, and Buffy was sure on some level he missed that. Maybe.
“My pleasure, Mistress Wayne,” he said, stressing the last part. If she called him ‘Al’, then he would call her ‘Mistress Wayne’.
“Hey, Will,” Buffy stated, shaking her friend gently to make sure she had her attention. “You eat.” She held up a chocolate chip cookie to her friend. “Willow, meet cookie. Cookie, Willow.” The witch took the cookie, smiling slightly, though her eyes were still troubled, and scarped the cookie down in three bites.
“If you would allow me a moment,” Alfred began, hovering over them. “This Ra’s al Ghul tried to destroy Gotham before. Why did he not try to open the Hellmouth then? Why go to all the trouble he went to with the weaponized hallucinogen if he could have just opened up the Hellmouth and been done with it?”
They all thought on that for a moment.
“There has to be something that we are missing,” Giles said. He pulled his glasses from his face and cleaned them on a napkin. “There has to be more going on here than what we know. This man, or whatever he is, is over 600 years old as far as we know. The Watcher diaries say so very little about him, and I have searched through them all very thoroughly, and I can find nothing that tells us what he is or how he has lived so long.”
“Could he be human?” Buffy asked, her brow furrowing in thought. “When I came face to face with him in Rome, he didn’t tingle my spider sense. I knew who he was, I felt it, that he was the Immortal, but it was not like when I know someone is a demon or a vampire. He gave a totally different vibe than the baddies I usually fight.”
“If he is human, than how has he lived so long?” Willow pondered, taking another cookie. It was actually her third. “Has he got some kind of fountain of youth or something?”
Just then Marti began to cry from upstairs. Buffy smiled, stuffing the last of the brownie in her mouth, and stood from the table. “That’s my cue. I am so out of this conversation. I was never very good at the ‘whys.’ All I am good at are the ‘huhs’ and the ‘wha’s.” She departed up the stairs to attend to her child.
“Well, I am sure whatever it is, we will find out one way or another soon enough,” Giles said, signaling that he was done for the night. He thanked Alfred, shaking his hand, and then left for his apartment nearer to the museum.
“I am sure everything will be fine, Miss Willow,” Alfred told her, laying a reassuring hand on her shoulder, patting it gently. Willow smiled up at him. Alfred was like a kindly grandfather, full of wisdom. At least, that was how she saw him.
“Thanks, Alfred.” She stood up, pushed her chair in, and then hugged him. “We will figure this out. I know we will.” She said goodnight, going to the elevator. When it arrived, having been down on the bottom floor because of Giles, she stepped in, and waved at Alfred as the doors closed.
Alfred, alone in the kitchen, sighed. He cleared away the table, and put up the leftovers of the sugary treats. He turned off the light, and for a moment, stood in the dark, the only light from the city outside.
“I pray that you are right,” he whispered. “With all my might, I do.”
In the dream, he saw a pool. Not an ordinary pool. It was pretty, hypnotizing in a way, and for a moment, he wanted to go to the pool and touch the strange, glowing water.
“NO!” A voice shouted, and he turned to find that voice, but there was no one there with him. The voice was familiar to him, one that he had not heard in so long, and he heeded it’s warning, suddenly very afraid to go near the bizarre pool.
He wanted to get as far away from it as he could, so he ran and he ran and he ran. Down corridors and tunnels.
But no matter which way he ran, the pool was always there, waiting for him.
And it was laughing.