1: Home Sweet Home
Chapter One: Home Sweet Home
The darkness that surrounded her was fathomless. Even with her palm touching her nose, she could not see far enough to make out her hand. No matter what direction she turned, there was absolutely nothing to be seen.
But she was not alone. Her senses told her that. There was something else in the darkness with her, circling her, stalking her, watching her every move. Yes, watching her. She wondered how it was that she could not see, her Slayer sight non existence in this place, but whatever was here with her could see, and see very well.
“Who are you?” She asked. She was turning around in a circle, turning faster and faster as she felt more frantic. “WHO ARE YOU?” She screamed.
“They will come, Slayer.” The voice was one she knew, but had not heard in a long time. It was the voice of the first Slayer.
“Who will come?” Buffy asked, calming slightly, but not much. She still felt danger here.
“Those who seek your daughter,” was the answer. “Her blood is power, more so than even yours or the father’s. Blood with this much power is too much for them to resist. They will come for her.”
“We can protect her. We will protect her,” Buffy exclaimed to the darkness.
“She should never have been born,” the first Slayer whispered, farther away than she had been. “Such is the way of things.”
“No!” Buffy screamed.
Over her shoulder came the sound of many footfalls, as if an army was marching upon her. And she knew. She knew they were all demons and they were coming. They were coming for her daughter.
“No!” The word escaped her as Buffy sat up straight in bed. For a few moments she was disoriented, unsure where she was. She looked around: there was light here, from outside. The city was alive around her, and she took a calming breath.
She was in the Penthouse. In Gotham. She looked to her left, at the empty space in the bed there, and then she glanced over to the clock: 3:43 A.M. Sighing, she placed a hand over her still racing heart, wanting to remember the dream, but then again, wishing she could just forget it.
The dream! Throwing the covers off, she jumped out of the bed and ran over to the crib where her daughter slept. The baby was asleep, safe and sound. Buffy sighed in relief, but reached out and touched the softer than velvet skin of her daughter’s cheek. The baby did not stir at the touch, except to clench her little fist.
“The dream again.” Not a question, but a statement. Buffy looked up and nodded. Bruce was fresh from a night of patrolling. Regular, human bad guys were always an issue, but the demony kind had been keeping a low profile so far. To Buffy, it was just the calm before the storm.
“I didn’t ask her for her opinion,” Buffy stated, speaking of the first slayer. “And I do not appreciate being told that our daughter should not have been born. Like…she is a…mistake, or something.”
“Sshhh,” Bruce warned her when her voice rose in anger. He pointed to the sleeping bundle, and Buffy clamped a hand over her mouth. He came to stand behind her, putting his arms around her stomach, and kissed her behind her ear. “Marti is not a mistake. Far from it. Remember what Willow said?”
“She said that the first moment she saw her, she could tell that Marti had a destiny greater than yours or mine,” Buffy stated, placing her hands over his and leaning her head back on his shoulder. “I just wish I would stop having this dream. Slayer prolific ability number whatever: dreams and visions, no explanation forth coming.” She sighed, pulling away from him and going to sit on the bed. “I wish that after a certain amount of time, a Slayer automatically lost her powers and they passed onto another, and that it happened to me. The ‘lost powers’ part.”
Bruce sat down beside her, pulling her into his arms once again. “I know how you feel. It would have been so easy to just let Faith take over all of it. She asked, but…” He trailed off, rubbing Buffy’s back with slow circular motions. “Such is the burden we have been given.”
Buffy snorted, an amused sound. “Listen to you, getting all wise, and stuff.” She pulled back to look him in the eyes. “Did you get hit in the head or something tonight?”
“No, well, not tonight,” he answered, earning a poke in the sternum. Not a very hard one, but enough to let him know she meant business. “Listen, the point is that we take what we are given –“
“Though some people give it to themselves,” she said singsongy.
“- and we do what we can with it.” He brushed her hair out of her face. “And I may believe that I made those decisions all on my own, but according to Willow, it was the fact that I am a Varishi that actually did it. So, one way or another, I would have been Batman. It was preordained, at least according to her and Giles.”
“Huh? Go figure,” Buffy commented. The innocent look on her face was just that: a look. He knew from vast experience that she was up to something. He found out what when her hands slipped under his shirt, her fingernails tickling his flesh. “So, I guess that we are one of a kind. A pair of kindred spirits destined to fight evil and blah blah blah. You know the rest.”
“Mrs. Wayne,” he told her in a voice that sounded quite serious. But she knew him as well as he knew her. “I would advise you to restrain yourself. There is a child present in the room.”
Buffy glanced over her shoulder. “Oh! You mean Marti.” She shook her head, noticing that in spite of what he had said, he did not offer any resistance when she pulled his shirt over his head and tossed it away. “Well, Mr. Wayne, she is sound asleep and will be for another hour or so. I should know. I fed her and then went to sleep again, having that stupid-” She huffed. “I don’t even want to think about it anymore.”
She had to admit that it was strange going from being called ‘Miss Summers’ to ‘Mrs. Wayne’. The newspapers were having a field day with it. They made it a habit almost daily to state that no one had known about the wedding except a select few until several days after it had taken place. Many of the high society people that Bruce knew, that Buffy vaguely remembered having met at some point or another, were subtle in their complaint about Bruce Wayne, Prince of Gotham, not having a ceremony worthy of his name and social status. So far, no one had said anything about him marrying below that social status, at least not where he could hear them.
They had gotten married on the yacht. It had just been him and her, plus Richard, Faith, Willow, Xander, Giles, Alfred, and Lucius. And of course Marti who had been a little over a month old at the time. As soon as Buffy and Bruce had returned to Gotham from Romania, they taken everyone out for the weekend, and had a nice, quiet ceremony. She had gotten to wear white; more like a summer dress really, nothing fancy. The judge who had married them had even come onboard via a speedboat just to perform the wedding. He had been sworn to secrecy and had kept his word.
It was two weeks later that Bruce made the announcement at a party he threw just for the heck of it. All those looks of surprise had been worth it. And then they had brought out little Martha Joyce, and people had really been shocked.
Bruce had made sure that everyone understood that he and Buffy had married because they loved one another: not because she had gotten pregnant. They both knew that there were some who would never believe that, but they really didn’t care.
Most were just happy that he had finally settled down. It had been a topic of much speculation and even more uncertainty over the years.
Buffy still had to remember that it was her they were talking to when she went into any store in the city when addressed as “Mrs. Wayne.” But she was getting used to it.
“Well, it was a slow night tonight,” he told her, his breath on her neck, his hands traveling over her thighs to her hips. “It isn’t like I am tired or anything…”
Marti chose at that moment to wake up, her shrill cry filling the penthouse.
“Not again,” Buffy mumbled, throwing herself down on the bed and covering her face with her hands. “Why does this always happen? How did I manage to get pregnant in the first place with how much we were interrupted?”
Bruce just laughed, standing up and going to the crib. He reached down and effortlessly, and with much care, picked his daughter up and cradled her to his chest. She stopped crying almost immediately and looked up at him with her big green eyes. His big green eyes. Not her mother’s big green eyes. Buffy peered over out through her fingers. It amazed her that a man who fought criminals and demons every night, who was feared throughout Gotham, could be so gentle when handling such a small person with such great care. Not only that, but he had taken to holding her, changing her, bathing her, and giving her a bottle like an old pro. And he was so good with her. He could quiet her down with little effort.
“You do that so easy,” Buffy told him, sitting up and folding her legs underneath her. “I’m jealous.”
Bruce laughed, returning to his seat on the bed, Marti still tucked against him. The baby decided it would be fun to kick and swing her little arms back and forth. She was stronger than any other baby in the world, but he had been hit harder.
“Pretty soon we are going to have to start training her. She kicks like a mule already.”
“Can we at least wait until we are done training Richard?” Buffy asked, leaning over and kissing her baby on the cheek, avoiding the punches and kicks, and then kissing her other baby on the lips, loving the smile that was on them.
“Okay. But the boy is a prodigy. An absolute wonder, really. Soon we are going to run out of things to teach him. He’s incredible.” Bruce leaned back against the headboard. “It was like he was born to do this. It is rather disconcerting at times.”
Buffy nodded. “I know. He has an agility I can’t even duplicate. And he’s quick. Very quick for a nine year old boy. Maybe we should have Willow look into it. Maybe he is a Varishi also.”
“Wouldn’t surprise me to learn that he was,” Bruce stated, smoothing his hand over Marti’s head, and the layer of dark hair there. Again: his, not Buffy’s. The baby gurgled happily. “Maybe someday he will take up the mantle.”