19: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Notes: Finally getting to some action. Sorry it took so long. I love reviews. I own nothing. DC, Warner Brothers, Marvel, Paramount, and Disney do. And who owns Buffy? Fox? Whedon? Who?
Chapter Nineteen: Something Wicked This Way Comes
“So, this is what we have so far,” Willow began. Everyone was seated around the dining room table. Now that they were settled once again in the manor, it was time to get back on track. So far, everything had been quiet, but Buffy, as well as Bruce and even Tony, knew that this was just the calm before the storm.
“The Riddler suggested that I look into something called the Lazarus Pit. It wasn’t easy, let me tell you. Giles finally discovered something about it.”
“Yes, in the Watcher Diaries,” Giles said. He had insisted on staying at the museum just in case, and Buffy had expressed her extreme dislike of this idea, but he would not budge on the matter. He took an old book out of his satchel and sat it on the table. “According to this book, the Lazarus Pit has the ability to bestow upon anyone who submerges themselves into it with incredibly long life.”
“So that is how Ra’s al Ghul has been alive for all these years,” Buffy stated.
“Yes, but as with all things of such nature, there is a drawback. In this case, there are two.” Giles glanced around, making sure he had everyone’s undivided attention before he continued. “The first is that the pool can only be used so many times before it disappears and reappears at a new location. The second is that whoever uses the Lazarus Pit, in this case Ra’s al Ghul, has to use it again within a certain amount of time or face dire consequences.”
“Such as?” Alfred asked.
“The years catch up with him,” Tony piped in. “Literally.” He gave the impression he was not paying attention, but he was which was good. Bruce had told him everything that had gone on in the past year or so, and he had taken it all in stride. He had also agreed to stick around, which Buffy was sure was a good thing. It didn’t take a lot of brain power to figure out that the Iron Man armor gave Tony much more strength than even she as a Slayer had, and that would come in handy, she was sure. It also hadn’t taken much to convince Bruce of this either.
“So, if he doesn’t get back to the Pit, he becomes a 600 year old…corpse,” Willow said, smiling. “Great. So all we have to do is find this pit and destroy it. Easy-peasy.”
“The Pit cannot be destroyed,” Giles stated in the oh so familiar grave tone he reserved for such news. Willow’s smile disappeared instantly. “It is immortality itself. It can be buried because it will stay where it is until it has been used the designated times that it has to be before relocation.”
“And I take it that just the act of finding it is not going to be so simple either.” Bruce was shaking his head, his gaze drifting to the open windows. Night was soon to come, and he, like his wife, had a feeling that something was close to happening.
“Against what I first believed, the Pit was not created with black magic or any other kind of magic. It is a mystical occurrence, by all accounts, natural in nature.” Giles was studying the book as he spoke, though he had read it several times all ready.
“I might be able to home in on it. With a spell, I mean.” Willow moved to where she could see the book also.
“Get on it,” Buffy stated, jumping from her chair. She had an itch to patrol. Something was pulling at her Slayer senses with some major strength. It was making her anxious and twitchy. “We’ve got to get out there. Something’s gonna happen.”
Bruce stood and so did Tony.
“What are you doing?” Bruce asked him.
“If you think that I am going to sit here and let you two go out after everything you’ve told me, you’ve got another thing comin’.”
“I need you to stay here,” Bruce argued. Everyone was sitting still, waiting to see where this was leading. More than likely it was leading to a fight.
“I didn’t come here to babysit. No offense,” he said to all at the table. “I have the security on this place tighter than NORAD and if J.A.R.V.I.S. detects the slightest thing, I can be back here in seconds. And besides,” he said flippantly. “I can get my armor on with just a word, so I really don’t think you can stop me from going.”
Bruce drew in a deep breath and let it out slowly. “Alright. Fine.”
“Don’t remember asking your permission, but thanks just the same,” Tony snapped back.
Buffy followed Bruce as he followed Tony to the piano room. Tony had done more than fixed the elevator to the cave: he had installed a new one behind the bookcases closer to the windows, a much larger and sturdier one. And quieter also. He had left the shaft for the other one since Richard had so much fun ‘monkeying down it’, as he put it.
Once down in the cave, Bruce went to his bat armor, while Buffy got her weapon of choice, her axe, and Tony sat on a table, tapping a tune out while he waited.
“You really need something that offers better protection than a turtleneck sweater and leather pants,” he told Buffy.
“I had something. Lucius made it for me, but it wasn’t my thing, so I loaned it to Faith.” She shrugged and then swung her axe around a couple of times. “I have survived this long without armor. I’ll keep on.”
She noticed the shift in Tony’s eyes. It hadn’t taken her long to figure out when he was joking and when he was not. It was difficult at times, but she also learned that when he had something important to say, he didn’t beat around the bush. Hell, she thought, he just blasted his way through the bush.
“What?” She asked.
“He doesn’t want you out there,” he told her in a whisper. She realized that he was not telling her this to cause trouble: he really was concerned. She also realized that he agreed with Bruce. “This place is fortified, don’t get me wrong, but –“
He sighed and then looked her straight in the eyes. “I know what you are and what you feel you have to do, but look at it from his point of view. This is Ra’s al Ghul, the man he studied under, trained under, to become the Batman. A man that betrayed him and tried to destroy Gotham. All other things aside, this is his fight, not yours. Not the Slayer’s.”
“It isn’t Iron Man’s fight either,” she argued.
“No, but Iron Man doesn’t have a baby to protect. Or another on the way.”
Buffy could not hide her surprise. “How? How do you know that?”
“I have J.A.R.V.I.S. set up all through this place, above and below. He hears and sees. And he was monitoring, not spying.” Tony slid off the table. He motioned vaguely at Bruce, never taking his eyes off of Buffy. “He has enough to agonize over without worrying about you being out there getting hurt, or something happening to cause you to lose that baby.”
“But he expects me to stay here and worry about something happening to him?” Her argument was weak, but she had to make it.
“That is what I am going to be out there for. Trust me when I say this, Buffy: I will not let anything happen to him.”
She did trust him and she knew that, as bad as she wanted to, her job as a Slayer was not needed, at least for now.
Bruce, or better yet Batman, approached them, eyeing them warily. “Something wrong?”
“I am going to stay here,” Buffy said, placing her axe down on the table. “As fortified as this place is, why leave it to chance. You never know. And I would feel better knowing that Marti and the others are safe and that is best done with me being here, with them.”
She saw the almost nonexistent relief that he allowed to flash in his eyes, before he just nodded curtly and went to the Tumbler. Buffy heard Tony sigh behind her.
“I am glad I don’t become someone different when I am Iron Man,” he mumbled. “J.A.R.V.I.S. Deploy.”
Buffy turned just in time to see the floor open up and mechanical arms and gizmos as they flew out. As he walked over the area, the armor was placed on him expertly and with a precision and speed that was amazing to behold.
“Show off,” she heard the Bat comment before taking his seat in the Tumbler. His eyes met hers briefly, relaying so much more between them than words ever could.
“I love you,” she whispered anyway. His mouth turned up into a smile ever so slightly, and then the Tumbler was tightly sealed and as it made its flight through the waterfall, Iron Man flying along above it, she had the horrible feeling that she would not see her husband again.
Richard sat up with a start. He fumbled for the light beside his bed, noticing on the clock near the lamp that it was just a few minutes after 9 o’clock. He had been ushered off to bed just an hour before so the adults could have their meeting.
He really didn’t mind being treated like a child, because he was a child, and he had a feeling he didn’t really want to know what was going on anyway. There were times when he just knew, as he seemed to know so many things that he shouldn’t, that this was the one time when he should just stay at home and pretend he was a normal boy, and that none of this concerned him.
What had waked him up? It had been the feeling that someone had come into his room. And, as he gazed around, he saw that he was alone in the room, but he knew that he truly wasn’t. There was a presence here with him. One of evil and corruption and he wanted to flee. He wanted to run screaming out of the room and down the hall for Ruh Baba or Ruh Anna to come and help him. To chase it away.
“Keep your tongue, boy,” a voice said, and Richard froze. Try as he might, he could not move. Out of the dark corner of the room where the lamp’s light did not reach emerged a man. He was dressed in a carefully tailored suit and had short graying hair and facial hair.
“Ra’s al Ghul,” Richard stated barely over a whisper. His breath came out in huffs as if he were standing out in the cold.
The man nodded, smiling pleasantly, disarmingly, even though Richard knew better. “Yes, that is I. And I have come to tell you that if you do not come to me, alone, I will harm those that you love.” He lifted his chin and seemed to be studying something. “There is a baby in the next room. I would hate to have to harm her, and I could. Do not force my hand, boy.”
Richard nodded slowly, and climbed from the bed. He had on his pajamas, and he slipped his feet into his tennis shoes near the foot of the bed. Wanting to cry, but managing to hold back the tears, he reached his hand toward Ra’s al Ghul.
“Good boy,” the man said, clasping Richard’s hand in his gently. And as gentle as a breeze, they were gone leaving the room empty.