Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon, while DC Comics belongs to themselves (and Warner Brothers by extension). I don't own them; I'm just borrowing the characters within for a story or two.
Somehow, Buffy pictured college differently. She was supposed to walk on campus and immediately know where to go, who to befriend, and most importantly, which classes to take. It was supposed to be High School 2.0, but bigger and better! With hotter guys and more booze! Which also sounded incredibly shallow now that she thought about it, but she'd pictured the opening scenes to her new life - and they weren't even remotely close to reality.
She must've stared at the map a million times before she held it up to the light and nearly gave up on life, then and there. Where was Willow and Oz when a girl needed them? Knowing them, the lovebirds had probably snuck off to make out. She could deal without them! She didn't need her friends for every single little thing. The second she noticed how long she'd stared guiltily at the phone, Buffy knew she had it bad. She couldn't just admit defeat to Giles on her first day of college! She'd never live it down. So she stuffed her map in her pocket and turned on her heels. If she got angry enough, maybe she'd blaze her own path to stupid Stevenson Hall!
She was so furious, in fact, that she barely noticed the tall, towering boy in her path until she'd walked straight into him. Ow! She winced, rubbing her forehead as she stepped back. "Sorry about that."
"It's okay," The boy laughed, flashing her a small smile. "Happens to the best of us."
Now that she got a better look at him, he was actually kinda cute. Yeah, he was insanely tall like Angel, with muscular shoulders to boot, but his eyes were bluer, his hair was a dark jet-black, and he had a farmer's tan (his sleeves made it obvious). He pushed his sunglasses up the bridge of his nose before he gave her a polite nod. "You're a freshman, right?"
She blushed, trying not to look as embarrassed as she felt. "Yeah, actually. Was it that obvious?"
"Your map's sticking out." He grinned, reaching for it before he neatly folded it into its tiny pamphlet form. "I don't know most of the campus myself, but between the two of us, we could probably figure out where we need to go."
"Oh?" She raised an eyebrow at him as she accepted her map. "Then you're a freshman too?"
"That I am." He held out his hand. "I'm Dick, by the way."
It took all of Buffy's energy to keep from laughing at him. "Seriously?" She finally managed to say, her wide grin all but betraying her true mood as she shook his hand quickly. "That's... wow, um. Okay Dick, it's nice to meet you. I'm Buffy."
He rolled his eyes at her. "I get that a lot. It's really not that bad." Dick had to live with his nickname every day, so she supposed he could handle it if he said so. "So Buffy, where're we heading?"
"Stevenson Hall." She gave him a wry smile. "I already checked in for my classes, but I can't seem to find my way back to my dorm."
"Luckily for you, Miss Buffy, I was just down there earlier today." Dick stuffed his hands in his pockets before he casually motioned for her to follow him. "One of my friends from... ah, summer camp? He also lives there. On the third floor, I think?"
For someone who seemed familiar with the campus, Dick didn't seem entirely familiar with Sunnydale's local fauna and flora. "I take it you're not from around here?"
Dick shook his head. "I'm from Gotham, but I've heard amazing things about your school's Linguistics program."
Linguistics, huh? He didn't strike her as the kind of person to intimately study the inner workings of language in general, much less multiple foreign ones! Buffy couldn't quite wipe the smile off her face as she followed him, taking care to push and shove her way through the crowds. She wanted to reach for his hand - just in case she got lost again - but her mind furiously shut down that idea fast. Dick was also a total stranger! Even if he was a freshman, there were just certain moves she couldn't make without him noticing. The last thing she wanted was for him to label her "Creepy Buffy" before the first day of classes even began!
He tilted her head at her. "What about you? Have you thought about what you're going to study?"
She shook her head. "Not really. I'll take some intro classes and see where that heads - though I am
enrolled in Professor Walsh's Psych class."
"Oh, I hear she's pretty good." Again with the smiles! Was this guy ever upset? "You'll have a good time in her class."
"I hope so. I'm not exactly amazing at this book-learning-thing."
He stared up at the sky for a moment, as if debating on asking her something, before he finally spoke, "Buff? Has anyone ever told you that your mastery of the English language is something else altogether?"
She rolled her eyes at him. "If you mean everyone I meet, then yes, yes I have."
"It's not a bad thing," Dick quickly noted, narrowly dodging some sorority girls who were a little TOO into him. "I played with the language a lot when I was a kid. Kinda why I'm interested in Linguistics as a major now, you know?"
Before she'd realized it, they'd reached Stevenson Hall. Buffy stared up at the sign and the familiar doors, before she glanced over at her new-found friend. "Hey, thanks for showing me the way."
"No problem." Dick turned to leave, before quickly bounding back with his outstretched arm and a ballpoint pen. "Hey, gimme your number, will you? My friends and I might be interested in getting together with yours sometime."
Buffy couldn't help admiring Dick's enthusiasm. He'd probably found a lot of friends already! It wouldn't surprise her, what with his enthusiastic attitude and ability to charm nearly everyone they came across. Taking his pen into her hands, Buffy carefully wrote her new phone number on his wrist - and then, before she could take it back, she added her first and last name.
"There," she said triumphantly, capping the pen and handing it back. "Now you've got no excuse to forget."
He flashed her that trademark grin. "Like I could ever forget your face. I'll see you soon," he called, just before he disappeared into the crowds. Just like that, her mysterious guide had left her as quietly and stealthily as he had appeared in the first place.
"You're going on a date? With someone who isn't... you know who?"
Xander's suspicion about the whole ordeal made Buffy feel slightly more at-home. Good ol' Xander, always distrusting her boyfriends! Buffy couldn't help smiling as she shook her head. "Not a date
date, just me hanging out with his friends. I got to meet one of them, actually - her name was Barbara! She seemed sweet."
"Uh-huh." Xander folded his arms. "And did Barbara say she'd be there, or did all of his friends mysteriously bail on him at the last minute? Because guys do that a lot, you know."
Buffy was half-tempted to throw something at him. "Xander! No, of course not. Willow and I sat down with Dick, Barbara, and a couple of guys from our Psych class. It was a good group lunch. We talked about the weather, life, class... normal stuff. No demon-fighting, no mysterious vampires, not even the Hellmouth."
She laughed, glancing over at Giles' kitchen. "I felt like a normal college kid. It was... it was kinda nice."
"It sounds like you had a good time," Giles called, looking up from his boiling tea kettle. "Buffy, do you want one lump or two?"
"Two!" She beamed. "See, Xander? Giles didn't think it was weird."
"Giles also thinks that I need a life." Xander retorted, flopping onto the couch and staring idly at the (blank) TV screen. "I'm disinclined to believe it until I meet Dick for myself. He might be a demon in disguise or some vampire and you'd feel really bad when you had to slay them---"
"I met him in broad daylight. Somehow, I suspect that if he were a vampire, he would've gone POOF! before he could say hello."
Giles couldn't help shooting Buffy a sympathetic look as he handed her a teacup. "You should bring Richard by sometime. I can't say we could keep him away from all your Slaying duties, but he sounds like a nice enough young man."
Approval from Giles? Score! Buffy nodded. "I kinda need normal. My life's kinda crazy enough without it."
"Amen to that." Xander rose to his feet and took the extra teacup from Giles' hands. "Say, where's Willow? I thought she'd be coming with you."
"She has a late meeting," Buffy explained, blowing on her tea before she took that first sip. Mm, Giles still had the magic touch with black tea! It was especially yummy with his special cube sugar. "She said she'd come by afterwards, but not to hold our breath either." Part of Buffy felt bad about letting Xander down this way, but there wasn't much she could do about Willow and her new Wicca group. For a group of wannabe blesseds, they certainly kept odd hours.
"Fair enough." Xander then leaned forward, as if he'd just thought of something brilliant. "That reminds me! I just got a job as your new campus bartender. Maybe you should bring Dick by sometime?"
She smiled faintly. Any olive branch from Xander was one she was willing to take, especially concerning boyfriends. "I think I will. Thanks."
Except she never did. Before she could invite Dick, he'd been called back to his hometown (Gotham) abruptly, and even though he promised it wouldn't take long, a couple of days turned into a week... and Buffy had promptly drowned her sorrows in beer until Xander cut her off. Which had been a good thing, because she faintly remembered her brain working funny and her sense of humor had significantly decreased for the next 48 hours.
Willow hadn't let her forget it either! Buffy didn't know which was more embarrassing: Willow walking in on Buffy and Dick's make-out session prior to his disappearing act, or Willow consistently reminding Buffy about her short run as Cavegirl, complete with giant stick.
"On the upside," Xander had pointed out (after he'd quit his job), "You were a pretty Cavegirl. Did you see the guys you were hanging out with? They looked ridiculous." As usual, her best friends had their priorities straight.
When Dick returned to campus, she'd hugged him so tightly that she thought - she feared - that Dick would label her "Creepy Buffy" and promptly break up with her over a phone call. He never did. Instead, he lifted her into the air and gently kissed her on the lips, in that tender way she'd only imagined in romance novels.
She didn't let go of him. "Hey yourself. How was Gotham?"
"It was good. Not as good as being here, though."
That... was kind of a moot point, as far as Buffy was concerned. Both Gotham and Sunnydale were home to Hellmouths; Sunnydale's was just the active one. (The Hellmouth did explain a LOT about Gotham, like its caped crusaders and the mess that had become Arkham Asylum.) Yet she also recognized the inherent romanticism in his lines, so she returned his kiss. "I bet. Gotham's sorta-kinda got this Buffy-free gig on right now."
"Yeah, and I kinda-sorta hate Buffy-free towns. They don't use the English language as nicely."
Just when she tried to let go of him, Dick pulled her back in. "I'm just saying. So we were going to meet Mr. Giles tonight? I already made reservations at this place downtown."
"You want to go to a fancy restaurant to meet Giles?" Buffy wrinkled her nose. "Couldn't we just have coffee?"
Dick gave her that slow, exasperated smile. (Buffy half-wondered if he ever got irritated with her, simply because she didn't quite see the world the same way he did.) "I've gotta make a good impression on him, right? He's pretty close to you, so I figured it'd be the polite thing to do."
"Polite works. Giles likes polite." She nodded sagely. "So how formal're we talking here?"
"Not too formal - if you've got a dress, that'd work." He leaned in and casually intertwined his fingers with hers as they walked back towards his dorm room. At this point of the day, campus wasn't too crowded. "So how crazy did things get when I had to leave for a couple of weeks? Hopefully the world didn't end?"
Buffy laughed nervously. Dick had no clue how dangerously close the world had come to ending! If it weren't the creepy Gentlemen, then it had been the 4-inch-tall Fear Demon that haunted the frat house, and then she'd singlehandedly taken down a vampire gang that haunted UC Sunnydale in its spare time. The world tried to end often, and she could only do so much before the world tried to implode upon itself again! As much as she loved Earth, she really wished it could learn to love itself too.
As they passed the bulletin board announcing various events, Buffy finally managed to plaster on a smile. "Nope, no worlds ending! Just an empty place in my heart where you're supposed to be." She laughed, this time more genuinely as they started to walk up the stairs. Just before they could, an all-too familiar face stepped before them.
Buffy hadn't seen her in eight months, but she couldn't mistake that face, that Cheshire Cat grin, and that sense of style anywhere. Buffy's face paled as she squeezed Dick's hand for dear life ("BUFFY!"). She winced, apologizing quickly before she let go of him and folded her arms. "Faith."
"Aww B, I thought I was supposed to have that empty place in your heart."
"You were also supposed to be easier to find. Do you know how long I've been searching for you?"
Faith held out her arms in exasperation. "I was in a hospital for eight months, B. Clearly you weren't looking hard enough." Ignoring Buffy's death glare, she continued, "You know, that's the funny thing about being in a coma. It makes you well-rested and ready for revenge. You put me in that stupid coma because you cared so much for Angel, and now I see that you've moved past him completely? You're snogging with some new guy and he's the light of your life even though Angel? Your sweet precious Angel? He's not there for you, is he?"
Buffy raised her fists in rage. She didn't care if they were on private school property, she was going to attack and it was going to be---Dick had placed his hands squarely on top of hers.
"She's not worth it, Buff."
Faith raised an eyebrow. "Oh? I'm not worth it, New Guy? Who're you to say otherwise?"
"I'm not really in any position to judge," Dick admitted, stepping forward and completely blocking Buffy from Faith's path. If it weren't such a stupid move, Buffy would've found it romantic. Yet, he continued, "But I do
know that you're on school grounds and you'd get arrested for assault if you continued...."
Police sirens wailed in the distance. Faith took one nervous look at the cars speeding ahead before she gave Buffy a playful salute, "Catch you later!" Before they could ask her just what they meant, she disappeared into the nearby woods.
Dick shot Buffy a glance. "You sure keep strange company."
"Speak for yourself," Buffy huffed, though she wasn't really in the mood to elaborate. "Your friend from Missouri? That Wally kid? I think I saw him devour a buffet table whole."
She thought she and Faith had been big eaters, but that summer camp kid could beat them both with his eyes blindfolded - and he still wouldn't have gained a single pound. Boys! Sometimes she wished she had their metabolism (though Slayer powers had made her life relatively easy in that regard too).
"Devouring a buffet table and seeking revenge are two completely different things." Dick's face took on this mask of unreadability, something Buffy had never seen in the few months they'd been dating. "What did she do to you? She said you put her in a coma..."
"It's a really, really
Dick held onto her hand, just before she could make her break and escape. "I'm from Gotham. I flew four hours to come back to you - I think I can sit through a story or two."
She cringed. Of course he'd pull that card on her. Just like him to go and play sneaky underhanded tactics when he needed to! For someone so upbeat, he sure had his moments of seriousness. It was a little strange, if she thought about it. Dick was supposed to be the normal boyfriend, but he surprised her with the little things he knew every now and then.
"I... alright," she said, resigning herself to the inevitable. "After we meet Giles, okay? I don't want our dinner marred by a Faith-hunt."
He sighed, running a hand through his hair. "... Fine. I'll wait." Judging from his stone cold expression, he wasn't fine. He'd have to be fine, Buffy supposed, because she sure wasn't telling him any sooner than she had to.
Dinner with Giles had been fine, if somewhat awkward. As usual, Dick had managed to charm the pants off Giles, what with Dick's ability to discuss the difference between American and British slang for a good half-hour. Dick'd also brought up current world events, the news, and he'd even gone to the trouble of finding a gift card for the used bookstore in town that Giles liked so much.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say he'd run some kind of background check or something," Giles had confided in her just before he'd headed back to his apartment. Honestly, he might've not been very far off - Dick always noticed things that no one else had. He'd immediately seen through Buffy's excuses about slaying, just as he'd pointed out Xander's loneliness (and that maybe Buffy should help him out).
Still, she had promised him the story about her and Faith. She'd just gotten through the entire thing (she'd been careful to omit the parts with magic, Angel, and slaying - which made her long story rather short, if somewhat nonsensical) when Faith had stormed into her house and had activated that bodyswitching device. Figures: one minute she's fighting Faith in her own house, and the next, she's experiencing life through Faith's point of view. Buffy had to admit, Faith certainly had her reasons, as crooked and twisted as some of them had been. Maybe she should've reached out more to Faith, acted like a better Slayer mentor. Buffy knew relationships were two-way streets... maybe she could've paved her side of the road better.
The awkward part? When she'd managed to regain her body, she hadn't expected Dick to work in cahoots with the Scoobies! They were her gang; why was he one of them? When had he joined? More importantly, why did he join? Didn't he have more important things to do with his time?
Buffy didn't even try to hide her skeptical look as she walked into Giles' apartment. "Dick? What's going on?"
"Willow and Tara said you'd switched bodies with Faith, and I wanted to see if I could help." Here Dick was, talking about bodyswitching as if it were the most normal thing in the world. "My ex-girlfriend was a witch, so I'm kinda familiar with..."
Oh my god. Did she just have a giant neon sign on her head that said 'normal boyfriends need not apply?' Dick may lack powers like Xander, but he'd dated a witch? Plus he seemed to have some knowledge about magic and bodyswitching? Most normal guys shouldn't know anything about the supernatural, not beyond what they'd read in books and watched in movie theaters!
Dick's brows furrowed as he stared at her intently. "Buff, you're staring at me funny."
Buffy bit her upper lip and tried her hardest not to frown at him. "I thought you were normal."
"That's what we thought too, don't worry," Xander called from the other room, coming back with a big bowl of popcorn for them to share. "But then he comes in Giles' apartment and asks us if Buffy's ever been into super-kinky stuff and we're like, 'we don't think we're supposed to know that'--"
"So Tara gets the idea to check your aural energy," Willow interrupted, looking rather proud of her new friend's ability. "She already had the idea, and we'd done the spell, but Dick and Xander had pretty much confirmed it on their own."
Glancing at Dick again, Buffy tried to determine his mood. She'd expected him to freak out at Tara's ability to perform magic, but if his ex-girlfriend had been a witch, he wouldn't react abnormally. She'd also kind of expected him to actually make out with Faith when she was inhabiting Buffy's body, since well... Dick shouldn't know the difference. Yet somehow he'd been able to tell, because Faith had acted super kinky? (What, was she unable to give him dark fantasies now?)
"I..." Buffy pressed her lips together. "I guess I owe you a longer version of the Faith story now, don't I?"
Dick snorted. "Might be a good idea. This time, don't leave out the supernatural stuff. I think I can handle it, being from Gotham and all."
"Yes well, Gotham's Hellmouth is a completely different breed altogether," Giles pointed out, calmly sipping his tea. "Sunnydale doesn't quite have your monopoly on insanity and caped crusaders."
The words 'caped crusaders' made Dick involuntarily flinch. In fact, every time the Gang had brought up superheroes in any shape, Dick grew uncomfortable. Was his ex-girlfriend the witch also a superhero? It would certainly explain his behavior, as well as why he was incredibly eager to move that part of his past behind him.
"That's probably a good thing," Dick said after a moment, plastering on a smile in a way Buffy recognized all too well. "I don't think we could handle two Gothams - or two Sunnydales."
Everyone laughed, including Buffy, but she couldn't help casting him odd glances every now and then. Something about Dick now felt incredibly off, and she'd be darned if she couldn't figure it out. First, though, came tea. After that, maybe she could decipher the hidden puzzle that had become her (also incredibly handsome) college boyfriend.
Six months later, Buffy received a simple letter and photograph from L.A. In Faith's scribbled handwriting, the note said:I knew your new boyfriend couldn't be normal! You owe me a couple of drinks, B.
The photograph, tucked behind the letter, was of a famous superhero. Faith had labeled the drawing 'Nightwing from Bludhaven' and had even gone to the trouble of providing an official Justice League biography on him! Or that might've been Angel; the return address had simply been his office.
Picking up the photo, Buffy smiled widely as she traced over the edges. She'd willed herself to believe that she had a normal boyfriend for so long that she'd simply failed to notice the truth. Nightwing's costume didn't hide much, not when she knew what to look for.The second she saw Nightwing's smile, and the way his arms curled when he held that escrima stick, she knew she'd never had a normal boyfriend.
When she showed Dick the photograph along with Faith's letter, Dick could only chuckle before he swooped in to kiss Buffy on the lips. "You mean you never figured it out?"
"Never bothered to, you mean." She insisted, pulling him onto the bed so she could kiss him better. "Sometimes denial's a healthy thing!"
"Somehow I don't think that applies to this situation."
"Hey, you didn't want to think that you were dating the Vampire Slayer, so I think we're even."
Dick rolled his eyes before he barely managed to pull himself free from his girlfriend's grasp. "Maybe. Or maybe you should just accept my invitation to join the Team. I know M'gann's really wanted another girl for gossip..." He knew that she didn't really want to join, and yet she knew that part of her contemplated the thought every so often. What would life as a superhero be like? Would it really be so different from her current life as Secret Identity Gal? The spandex might be hard to negotiate, but she could pull it off.
"She'll just have to deal with the new kids," Buffy insisted, rising up and following him towards the door. Just before he left, she leaned in and gently kissed his cheek. "Go get 'em, Birdboy."
Dick could only shake his head as he put on his sunglasses and headed out. "One of these days, we're going to work on that nickname-thing..." He paused, staring at her with an incredible smile. "Now you've got me saying it!"
"What can I say?" Buffy shrugged, though her smile never left her face. "My language's contagious."
"The price I've gotta pay for having a normal girlfriend, I suppose."
When he let go, Buffy watched him leave before she turned back to her room and stared up at the ceiling. So maybe Dick was no Angel, but this year hadn't been nearly as bad as it could've been. Thanks to Dick's connections, Professor Walsh's creation - Adam - had been successfully turned off by alien creatures called 'the Reach.' (Or more accurately, Adam killed about 30 of them before the Reach retaliated, killed Adam, and called Earth a lost cause.)
As Dick would've put it later, "If I'd known that Adam was all it took for the Reach? I would've sent them to him months ago."
So maybe she kind of put a wrench in all of his careful planning, and maybe he kind of put a wrench in her carefree Slaying lifestyle, but they worked well together. Funny how things like that worked out. If she weren't careful, he'd show up one day with a wedding ring, and Buffy would end up calling herself Mrs. Grayson... On the upside, at least her second love hadn't been a vampire.
Buffy'd never pictured the closing scenes to her freshman year of college, but honestly? Even if she had, she couldn't have pictured a better ending. After all, some things really were best left to reality.Author's Notes
You may have noticed this, but this story takes place in an amalgam universe of BtVS and Young Justice; for Buffy, this takes place throughout S4, while this is an AU story for S2 of Young Justice. Buffy met Dick that fateful day instead of Eddie (and so of course, she starts dating Dick instead of Parker, which then leads to my next point - Buffy & Riley do meet and interact, but they don't end updating).
Dick being a Linguistics major is a reference to his S1 personality, where he'd frequently play with words ("whelmed, feeling the aster, etc") - I don't think he'd stay a Linguistics major, but it would've piqued his curiosity. Dick's ex-girlfriend being a witch is also canon for Young Justice; he briefly dated Zatanna Zatara (and broke up with her) sometime between S1 and S2.
Gotham being a Hellmouth is NOT canon to my knowledge - I just think it'd make a lot of sense, considering the worlds we're talking about (and I'd like to think that said Hellmouth is located in the basement of Arkham Asylum, explaining all the craziness and madness that occurs there).
Finally, some scenes were taken from S4 (namely the scene with Faith) - however, I didn't have a script to view them, so the actual dialogue/action may have changed from canon. The story as a whole was envisioned as a "what if Dick attended college with Buffy and that was how they met?" kind of scenario, because while I like the idea of them meeting as heroes and equals in the battlefield, I also liked the idea of them both desperately pretending that they were normal, and thus they too should be normal around their girlfriends.
Thanks for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it!