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Hero Worship

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This story is No. 12 in the series "Midnight City". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: "Vampires are easier."

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > Batman > Buffy-CenteredVashtiFR1512,643021,1905 Jan 135 Jan 13Yes
Title: Hero Worship
Fandom: BtVS/The Dark Knight Rises
Character(s): Buffy Summers, Sarah the OC Slayer
Rating: PG-13
Summary: "Vampires are easier."
Length: ~2645 words
Disclaimer: Only the words are mine, and that’s probably up for philosophical debate.

§§§

Buffy and Sarah gave John some time to clear out before leaving his apartment after him.

“Technically,” Sarah said as she pulled on a scarf she’d dug out of her messenger bag, “it’s a condo.”

Looking up at the midrise building behind them, Buffy frowned. “How’d big brother swing that on a cop’s salary?”

“He’s not even a cop anymore,” Sarah reminded her. “And don’t call him that.”

“Call him what? Big brother?” Sarah’s nod made Buffy smile. “Sweetie…he has such a big brother complex, it’s ridiculous.”

Sarah shrugged. “It’s because he used to be a cop, and I’m short. Practically pocket-sized.”

“Be that as it may…” It was true that Sarah, at about 5’ even, was smaller even than Buffy though more sturdily built. “I’m getting more than ‘to serve and protect’ vibes coming from him. I hope you haven’t tried to bring any guys home.”

“Ha! No.” But Sarah was flushing and trying to hide her cheeks in the folds of her scarf.

Buffy laughed. “We can dish about Mr. Wonderful over lattes, whoever he is. My treat.”

“Oh! No, let me. The stipend I get from being an intern for Wayne Enterprises is, like, amazing. I’m starting to feel bad for lying to them about, y’know, being a college student and all.”

Shrugging, Buffy said, “Think of it less as never being a college student and more as your real life experience put to good work!”

Sarah laughed, ducking further into the scarf.

“So, about the condo…” Buffy prompted.

“Oh, yeah, that. That grant from Mr. Wayne’s estate? For spelunking? It covers college expenses if he pursues a specific degree—“

“Is that where the rocks come from?”

Sarah nodded. “And there’s a housing grant. Which is, like, ridiculous. John thinks Wayne did it to keep up his dippy playboy façade even after he was dead, to protect John, but I think it was just to give him access…uh…” Sarah faltered.

“What?” Buffy glanced at the mini-slayer. “Access to what?”

“Stuff, I guess.” She shrugged. “Since he doesn’t have the mansion anymore, y’know. Maybe set up a remote base of operations?”

Buffy nodded. “An idea. That Wayne…always thinking.” The words were flip, but Buffy said them softly, reverently—one sacrificed hero to another. “It sucks that none of us ever got to meet him before he died.”

“Seriously. He was…amazing. Willow and I—“

“Oh, I know.” Buffy nodded. “It’s all Willow can talk about for hours after you two are done with one of your sessions.” She left out the very small caveat of ‘when we talk’. It wasn’t important. Besides, she still had a case of foot-in-mouth disease to make up for.

“Anyway, so John totally sat on the housing portion of the stipend—“

“Lots of stipends.”

Sarah nodded, but never broke stride as she said, “—until the Wayne lawyer started hounding him about it. The first place, we totally rejected. Way too ostentatious, way too big…so not us.”

“Ha! Us! He is such your big brother.”

Sarah blushed, but ignored the comment. “So John found out from the guy that he could, in fact, live anywhere in Gotham so long as he used a good chunk of the housing stipend…grant…thing.” She rolled her eyes. “He found this place, I approved of its ability to let us climb onto things, and we got the ball rolling. We’d probably still be trying to clear things with the bank, let alone the condo’s board, if not for the Wayne lawyers. Scar-y.”

Turning to walk backwards, Buffy asked, very seriously, “You ever heard of Wolfram & Hart?”

“Don’t worry, I totally checked the guy out. He’s got a love affair with Botox that is way too strong, but otherwise he’s totally human. And not too slimy either.”

“No way.”

“I know, right? Apparently when you pay the really big bucks you can get the really clean lawyers.”

Chuckling, Buffy righted herself and slipped an arm through Sarah’s. The girl beamed up at her. “So, Xander said to tell you that they miss you at the command center.”

Sarah’s eyes began to fill. She sniffed. “Really?”

“Omigod, I wouldn’t have told you if I knew it’d make you cry.” Panicking, Buffy pulled her arm back so she could search her pockets for tissue.

“I’m sorry.” Sarah swiped at her eyes with the tail of her scarf. “It’s just…it’s getting closer to Christmas, and I’ve already spent Thanksgiving away from every one, and since my family’s been gone I…” She sniffed again. “I’m kinda a complete mess. Don’t tell John.”

“You miss not having something to kill, huh?”

“A little.”

Buffy sighed, tugging Sarah’s hand out of her coat pocket and through the loop of her arm. “Weird isn’t it?”

Sarah nodded. “Very.”

"I should have let Faith come with."

***

Sitting down to lattes and decadently expensive (considering the size) brownies that Sarah had insisted on paying for, Buffy explained her reason for being in Gotham. "You don’t think this should wait until morning so I can hash this out with big brother present? I don’t want to get in more trouble than I’m already in."

Sarah rolled her eyes. "First of all, no matter what he feels about me, John so does not have filial feelings towards you."

Buffy’s eyes widened, but her smile was a pleased one.

"Second of all, he and I have already been fighting over this, like, so much. I mean, in for a penny in for a pound, right?"

"I don’t know, Sarah. An argument is one thing. Actually going against what he said he wants to do--"

"Too late! Already done! I went down to the main police precinct and gave them half of all the information I had."

"Which I take it John was against doing."

Sarah nodded, breaking off a tiny corner of her brownie. "He thinks its a case for, y’know, the night watchman, but the truth is there’s only one of him. Even though our resources are plain old better, there are just more cops. Period. I mean, like tonight for instance? Right now he’s taking care of Meroni, but we also have a human trafficker on our radar, some funky money laundering thing, and we’re both pretty convinced that one of them is linked to Meroni’s smuggling."

"Or both," Buffy added, frowning.

"Exactly. But he can’t be across town spying on the human traffickers or at HQ researching paper trails for stolen art goods and still stop Meroni’s smuggling. Even that guy with the blue suit only goes to one place at a time. Just really fast."

Buffy shrugged. "I dunno. There was once three of me."

"Yeah, but that’s different. You’re...what you are."

Buffy chuckled as Sarah struggled to find a non-explicit way of calling her the Slayer. "Hey, so what’s with the church thing?"

"Huh?"

"John said you were at Bible study tonight? I don’t remember you doing much in the way of churchy goodness in the Czech Republic."

Sarah colored, scrunching down in her seat. "Um, it’s nothing really. No, I mean..." She flushed more. "It’s something. But it’s not...big? Like, John and I never talk about it. Not really, though he comes with me sometimes on Sunday. And I did go to church in the Czech Republic. That’s how I learned Czech."

"Oh." Buffy sipped her latte thoughtfully. "I just don’t really have a memory of it is all."

"Well, I go more now." Sarah shrugged. "I did a lot of praying all those nights sitting alone in the ca—HQ, listening to John do his rounds. I mean a lot. It was awful—it is awful listening to him get in trouble and feeling like there's nothing I can do about it.

"One day I sorta decided, hey if I’m doing all this praying to make sure he’s okay, maybe I should know who I’m praying to and if I’m doing it right. So I, like, looked up a couple of churches and totally lucked out with the first one I tried. I thought it’d be a class or two, or maybe one really windy discussion on souls and stuff, but the one class wasn’t bad so I decided to try another. And since the teachers rotate, even when you do get a bad one you know it’s only for a few weeks." Sarah squirmed in her seat, looking at Buffy through the fringe of her red-brown hair. "That answer your question?"

"I guess so."

Sarah slumped. "Oh good."

"I just think it’s a little weird."

Sarah groaned.

Buffy waved a hand. "No, I mean, weird that I didn’t notice before."

"I’m just a mini. You don’t have to know the daily comings and goings of my life. That’s, like, not your job at all. And you had John to train."

"Ugh, what a pain that was. Please don’t remind me."

"Aww, that sucks, because I like to remind him all the time."

"Do you?"

Grinning, Sarah nodded. "Oh! You’ll love this. So, like, based on what I’ve heard over the radio and from Gordon and in the news and stuff, it would seem that Batman’s a lot stronger and faster than he used to be. They wonder why." She popped brownie corner in her mouth.

Buffy brightened considerably. "Is that so?"

Sarah nodded again, reaching for her latte. "How cool are you?"

"Hey, you’re the one keeping up the hard work. So after this you wanna work off the extra poundage with patrol?"

Sarah beamed.

***

"Sorry there isn’t much in the way of demonic life here in Gotham. Our humans seem to have cornered the market on evil," Sarah said apologetically as they wended their way through the Narrows.

Buffy placed a hand on her shoulder. "Sweetie, there are worse problems. Trust me."

"I guess so."

"So what’s this about you going out on the town with John? Don’t think I missed that."

Sarah bounced on the balls of her feet. "Lucius is making me a suit or modifying a suit so I don’t have to wear John’s hand-me-downs, awkward as that’d be since, y’know, height difference. And John said--"

"Uh, who’s this Luscious fellow?"

"Lucius Fox. He’s technically the CEO of Wayne Enterprises, but since they’ve got a board an’ all who make the big decisions, and all these other C-letter-letter guys to deal with the daily stuff, Mr. Fox still gets to be the head of R&D and make nifty little gadgets. He’s my fave exec to work for." Biting her lower lip, Sarah added, "He used to be Mr. Wayne’s friend. Before he died, of course.

"Of course. So John’s gonna trust you on the wild streets--"

"Hand them over, ladies. Whatever ya got, less you wanna try breathing through the holes I’ll put ya chests."

Turning to face their would-be assailant, a heavy man who might have once had the bulk of muscles, Buffy said, "Is this what you meant by evil of the human variety?"

Dumbfounded, the guy shook his head at both women’s distinct lack of fear. "Hey, this isn’t a game, ladies. Gimme what ya got and I let you go. Don’t, an’ I take a little more than what you’d wanna give me."

Sarah had also turned. "More or less. He’s kinda bottom of the barrel as these things go. This would be my territory. John doesn’t want me to start at the top and maybe do something stupid. Not in the beginning."

"Like what?" Buffy asked "This?"

In two eye-blinks, the guy’s gun was clattering to the pavement and Buffy’s low-heeled boot was in the the joint where his shoulder and arm met.

Sarah’s face dropped. "Buffy!"

"What? He’s a toadstool!" She yanked on his arm for emphasis. He howled.

"Buffy! You’ll just attract more attention!"

Sighing, Buffy loosened her grip, though she didn’t release him. "You don’t have anything to tie him up with, do you?"

"Actually..." Sarah swung her messenger around, routed in it until she found a bundle of zip strips. "It’s sick how cheap you can buy these for."

Buffy grunted in response, taking a pair of zip strips then dragging their would-be assailant to the nearest sturdy object: a much painted wrought iron fence that kept strangers from accidentally falling into the building’s basement. Once properly trussed, she dusted off her hands and went back to Sarah. "So nothing like that."

"Not at all! I’d never hear the end of it from Jo--" She frowned. Head turning back in the direction from which they’d originally come.

Nodding, Buffy said, "I heard it, too. C’mon."

The two women dashed off down the street, leaping over obstacles as they followed the sound of a fight. Sarah tightened her messenger bag as they went.

Five streets over from where they’d started, they found the source of the sound. Four guys of various sizes and degree of apparent intellect were off the sidewalk, taking potshots at a young man. His messenger bag and its contents were strewn across the street as if it had been ripped from him and discarded. His coat was torn and his right arm was hanging unnaturally loose by his side. His face was white with fear.

Gesturing with one hand for Sarah to circle around them, Buffy swaggered forward. "Aw, you guys started without me. I am seriously disappointed. I flew all this way for a good time, and now look."

"Who’re you?"

Smiling, she said, "You have no idea how nice it is to be a total mystery to someone."

And then she struck. As if that had been the cue, Sarah attacked the men she’d sidled up behind. The fight was over in moments. They weren’t professionals, whoever they were, although it was obvious this was exactly the kind of thing they did for a living. They’d had no problem trying to take out Buffy and Sarah. Once they got over the shock of being attacked at all, they didn’t even seem surprised to be fighting two petite women.

Buffy took zip-strip duty again as Sarah approached the victim. He’d sat down hard on the pavement once all the attention was off him, and he was still there. Sarah crouched in front of him. "Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt anywhere?"

"How...how did you do that?"

"What? Rescue you just now? Um, self-defense courses. And, you know, two of us."

"I’ve taken self-defense," he said, voice breathy and full of wonder. "I could barely keep them off me."

Sarah made a mental note to come up with a better excuse next time (if there was one). "Um, well, y’know...two of us. So, uh, are you hurt anywhere? Any idea why those guys wanted you?"

He shook his head and winced. He raised his hand, the one not attached to his apparently dislocated arm, to the back of his head. "Well, my other arm is...bad. And I wasn’t doing anything special, just walking home from the train after class. It’s pretty far but I do it all the time. I’ve lived in this section of the Narrows since last year." When he brought his hand back around, it was bloody.

"You’re a college student," Sarah asked, looking at his hand.

"Yeah."

Buffy returned. "Looks like someone needs to go to Emergency. Can you stand?"

"Sure."

Buffy grasped the bicep of his good arm, ignoring the blood he was getting on her when he held on as she hauled him up. Then caught him as he passed out.

She sighed. "Vampires are easier. Your cell phone wouldn’t happen to be handy, would it, Sarah?"

Fin[ite]

The End

You have reached the end of "Hero Worship". This story is complete.

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