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Family Ties

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This story is No. 11 in the series "Midnight City". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: "Heart says go, spleen says stay. Insides are in disarray...don't know whom to disobey." ~Eating Me Alive by Miracles of Modern Science

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > Batman > Buffy-CenteredVashtiFR1312,484019955 Jan 135 Jan 13Yes
Title: Family Ties
Fandom: BtVS/The Dark Knight Rises
Character(s): John Blake, Sarah the OC Slayer, Buffy Summers
Rating: PG
Summary: "Heart says go, spleen says stay. Insides are in disarray...don't know whom to disobey." ~Eating Me Alive by Miracles of Modern Science
Length: ~2400 words
Disclaimer: Only the words are mine, and that’s probably up for philosophical debate. Please do check out the video for "Eating Me Alive". It's a great song, and one of the many that helped me through writing this series.

§§§

“Okay, so I’m going.”

John looked up from his box of field specimens trying to catch Sarah’s eyes as she checked her messenger bag. Taking in her jeans, sneakers and the graphic tee he knew was hiding under her wool pea coat, John shook his head and smiled.

She looked up. “What?”

“I always feel like you should have a cute little bow in your hair and a demure white skirt with knee socks.” Sarah’s horrified expression only made his smile grow.

“Never! Besides, it’s December and cold!”

John laughed. "Don’t stay out too late. We have rounds to make."

"Don’t worry, Dad. Marie’s our teacher this month, and she has to be at work at 7 every morning. I’ll probably spend more time traveling than sitting in class."

“Good luck with that. Take a water bottle with you?" John gestured toward the kitchen with his chin.

Sarah rolled her eyes. “Seriously? I’ve said this before, they don’t want us to bring water since people have a nasty habit of leaving their crap behind. There’s perfectly good water fountains there."

“Fine, fine. See if I care.”

“Blah blah blah. You so do.” She stuck her tongue out at him, then turned to go. “See you later!” she called over her shoulder.

Nose already back to the grindstone—actually a standard piece of tile that he was using to check streak and hardness—John waved though Sarah couldn’t see it.

***

Buffy’s eyes went from the printout in her hand to the building in front of her and back again. Shaking her head, she slipped her phone out of her pocket and called for reinforcements. “It’s Buffy. Put me through to Xander, please? Thanks.”

"Hey Buff. How’s Gotham treating you? Been mugged yet? See any clowns. Please, not clowns."

Buffy smiled. "No muggings or even attempts, and the clown population is down this week, or so I hear. Look, that address you gave me for John Blake..."

"It hasn’t been blown up or taken hostage, has it?"

"No, no. Nothing like that. It’s just, uh...I was kinda expecting something more slum-city? This is kinda swank."

"Hmm. Carol, pull up John Blake’s file and send it over here? Sorry about that Buffy. I know I should have sent you with Blake’s file."

"What for? I’m not hunting John, I’m hunting whatever’s nomming on college guys who take night classes."

"Yeah, well, he owes me."

Buffy’s eyebrows shot up. "How in the world does John Blake owe you?"

"For starters, I’ve never told you his first name--"

" ‘John’s not his first name?"

"—and I let him take one of my best techs. She could talk a mile a minute and had an opinion on everything, but oh how she knew her way around a SysTray."

"A what?"

Instead of a response, she listened to him shout a thank you to Carol who had, apparently, sent him John Blake’s file. "Let’s see what we have here... Uh, it would appear that your boytoy--"

"He is not my boytoy!"

"Secret identity, paramilitary training, shady past and a costume? Sounds like Buffy-candy to me. As I was saying," Xander quickly interjected before Buffy could protest, "it would appear that your b-- that Blake moved to his current location about a month ago, and that although it is in the city, the slums have been left behind. You found Sarah’s place, right?"

"Yeah. Exactly where she left it. I guess. She was out when I tried to surprise her."

"I told you to call ahead, Buff. No one likes a surprise visit from big sis."

"Whatevs. I just wanted to make sure I had the right place. I’ll call you if anything goes wrong?"

"You better. When you see Sarah, tell her we miss her up in the command center. Xander out."

"Over and." Buffy punched the END button then headed inside. After a brief incident with the doorman—he insisted on announcing her to John, totally ruining the surprise—Buffy was taking an elevator up to the third floor of John’s nifty new digs. Everything was super tasteful, reserved, and really quiet. Buffy wondered how he managed any of his extracurricular activities with so many neighbors who could mark his comings and goings. Maybe she was coming through at a particularly quiet time of evening. She doubted it.

John was standing in the doorway when she finally tracked down his apartment. "What are you doing here?"

"Hello, John. Why yes, I’m well. And you? Oh are you? Well, isn’t that fascinating. Is Sarah in?"

He hardly colored at all as he stepped aside to let her in.

Buffy grinned. "You remember! I am far more pleased than I should be. But, seriously, where’s Sarah? I ran into an intern-mate of hers and he said he hadn’t seen her since the end of their end-of-day meeting."

John sat down to a low table that someone else would probably have used for coffee related things, but John was using as a desk. An oversized textbook was lying open face down, nearly buried under printouts and hand-written notes. One whole side of the former coffee table was taken up by a large tray with rocks in little square cup-box-things. Other things whose purpose Buffy couldn’t guess offhand, like the small clear bottle and pure white tile, were haphazardly strewn between the rock tray and the papers.

"Well, it’s Wednesday," John said as he began to clean up his things. "So Sarah’s at church."

Buffy frowned. "Why? Bad things only happen on Tuesdays."

"Huh?"

"Why would Sarah need to be in a church on a Wednesday when she knows trouble prefers Tuesdays to do its troublemaking."

"Actually, in Gotham, trouble tends to prefer a long, three day weekend that starts at midnight on Thursday."

"Really?"

"But Sarah’s not in a church because of crisis. Her Bible study group meets on Wednesdays."

"Huh?"

"Yeah, she started attending a few months after we got settled."

Buffy frowned. "I didn’t know she went to church at all. I mean...okay, maybe not at all is pretty strong since lots of nasties seem to prefer places of worship, but like as a place to go? On purpose? Dude."

Shrugging as he worked, John said, "Surprised me, too, but it doesn’t interfere with our schedule so..." He shrugged again. "I can let you into Sarah’s apartment if you want."

"She’s not coming back here?"

"Probably not. I need to get out of here soon, anyway. I’m actually cutting it really close, so I’m glad you stopped by. Who knew a tray full of rocks could be so engaging."

"Uh, yeah. If you say so, buster. So where are you going?"

John grinned. "Work."

"Cool! I’ll just tag along with you. I’ve been looking forward to seeing your fancy pantsy cave ever since the team complained about how crappy it was last year. At least Sarah got your computer program fixed. Hey...what’s with the staring?"

Shaking his head, John said, "You can’t come with me, Buffy."

"What? Why not? You had 5 people all but living in there for almost a year."

"You know they didn’t stay very long and ended up working from the satellite location when they couldn’t get the cave’s tech up and running."

"My people, I might add," Buffy continued, almost talking over him. "Besides, I showed you my secret castle in Scotland."

Still shaking his head slowly, John said, "Part of what makes the cave work is its secrecy."

"You think we just advertise that Slayer Inc. is housed in that castle?"

"No one knows where Batman comes from or where he goes," John continued, as if Buffy hadn’t spoken. "It’s location has to be strictly on a need to know basis. Plus, there’s a boys’ home on top of it now. That’s way too many innocents potentially thrown into the line of fire."

"You are not saying that I’m going to actively get a bunch of kids killed."

"I’m not. What I’m saying is that every person who knows about the cave that doesn’t need to makes a situation like that more likely. That house was burned to the ground once by people trying to get at Batman. It didn’t matter so much when it was just some rich socialite’s place, but now it’s a orphanage. I can’t take that risk. I won’t."

"Look, Blake--"

“I agree with John.”

***

Buffy and John swung around to find Sarah standing just in the door. She waved her fingers at Buffy before hitching her messenger bag higher up on her shoulder.

John rose and stepped around the coffee table. "What are you doing here? Why aren’t you at your class?"

"One of Marie’s kids had to go to the hospital with chest pains, so we broke extra early." She slowly made her way into the living room. "I guess we’ll get to the daughters of Zelophehad next week. Hey, Buffy. What’re you doing here? We weren’t expecting you." She looked to John. "Were we expecting Buffy?"

"You weren’t," Buffy answered instead, earning a frown from John. "I’m here looking for you. It was going to be a surprise. And you agree with John? What’s that about?”

“I…I do. I know it sounds crazy, but I really don’t think you should come to the cave,” she said in a small, hesitant voice. “The fewer people who know about it, the better. And, y’know, John did a lot of DIY here, so it’s pretty secure and soundproof. Except for the door, John. I was able to hear most of the conversation standing in the hallway."

John filed the information away for later as he watched Buffy gape. “You—You can’t seriously think I’d blab about your secret hideout?" she said. "Hello! Castle in Scotland. And I have been secret girl for, like, ever.”

Sarah seemed to shrink in on herself. “I know.” John took another step toward her.

“And fellow slayer.”

“I know.”

The Slayer, in fact. If we can’t trust each other, who can we trust?”

Buffy’s ego was bruised, but it was clear that Sarah’s pain was more visceral. John continued his approach as she shook her head slowly. “It’s just…”

“What, are you not a slayer anymore?”

“What? No! Never that! I am a slayer, but…” She squeezed her eyes shut, bowing her head. Tears spilled out from under her lashes. “But it’s not what I do anymore.” She sniffed and ran a hand under her nose. Bringing her head up, she locked eyes with her sister-slayer, her jaw trembling. “Please don’t make me choose between you and Gotham. Please.”

Sarah’s shoulders began to shake.

Her own face crumbling, Buffy drew the younger woman into a fierce hug which was desperately returned. “Oh sweetie,” she said into Sarah’s hair. “When my strain of foot-in-mouth disease strikes it is always highly, highly severe. And sometimes I think I don’t have an ego, and yet there it is, waiting to roll back down that hill and crush me. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I’ve been the Chosen One for a long time and I just…I forget how hard this was when I was eighteen.”

“Twenty. And I love Gotham," Sarah said into her shoulder, eyes squeezed tight, "but I’ve missed you guys so much. I’ve been wanting slayers here so bad. I’m sorry about the cave. I wish you could see it.”

John looked on, anger and male consternation keeping him from “rescuing” Sarah from Buffy as she sobbed against the woman’s shoulder. As close as he was, he could hear their conversation clearly.

“Hey,” Buffy said, smoothing Sarah’s hair and drawing the young woman away from her body but not out of the circle of her arms. “Hey, this is your territory and you take protecting it seriously. Isn’t that what we’ve been training the minis for all this time? Don’t mind me just because I sometimes think I’m entitled to special privileges because I’m the oldest. Ask Dawn. She shoots me down all the time.”

“I know.”

“What?” Buffy frowned, but didn’t say anything further as she drew Sarah close again. “Does big brother keep ice cream or chocolate or other lady-friendly snacks in the house?” She said it to Sarah, but she was eying John standing just out of reach.

He cleared his throat. “There’s a pint of chocolate caramel swirl in there.”

“And cookies,” Sarah murmured.

“Yeah, and cookies," John agreed, begrudgingly.

Nodding, Buffy said, “Lead the way.” She ignored his glare as she walked Sarah, arms now looped loosely around her waist and her head on the Slayer’s shoulder, into the small kitchen.

Touching her shoulder, John asked Sarah if she was okay. She pulled away from Buffy and nodded. "Yeah. I...I’m sorry for turning into a big blubber ball all of the sudden. I know, you asked for slayers and they sent you girls."

John smiled, swiping her tear tracks with his thumb. "Don’t worry about it. But I’ve really got to get out of here. Meroni’s been getting his smuggling ring back together and there’s a shipment tonight--"

"At 9! I forgot." She shifted as if to leave Buffy. "I’m so sorry."

"Don’t worry about it. That’s my job. You and Buffy talk, or do whatever it is girls like to do when guys aren’t watching."

Sarah stopped moving. "But what about patrol?"

"It might as well wait until Lucius can find that suit he wants you to have. And you don’t have to be." He ruffled her hair. She batted his hand away.

The look he leveled on the Slayer was far less friendly. "I’m sure you’re here with a purpose. We’ll discuss it in the morning. In the meantime, play nice."

He ignored Sarah’s hissy "John!" and the way she reached for his hand. He was, however, pleased when Buffy’s jaw clenched reflexively.

"So..." he heard Buffy say as he left them to get his coat, "it looks like you might have a demon problem."

"Really? That could be fun! What kind?"

Fin[ite]



Author's Note: The story of the Daughters of Zelophehad can be found in the Bible, in the Book of Numbers ch 27 verses 1-11. I know that looks like a lot, but it's actually a pretty fast read, especially if in the Message version. (Which can be found at a site like BibleGateway.com) I've always liked it, thought I've also always felt bad for Hoglah because, y'know, Hoglah...
AN2: I’d originally written the last scene with Sarah confrontation to go with "You Don’t Know Sarah", but it fits in with the overarching plot better when placed here. Opinions?

The End

You have reached the end of "Family Ties". This story is complete.

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