Jesse punched up the cameras that would show us the danger. Yet another coloured lumbering mass. This one was a little larger and black.
"Show time," Argent said.
"Can we amend the 'late' to 'very late'?" Jesse asked.
"It's in the name of justice. Surely that's a good excuse," Roy smiled, handing Lian to the live-in sitter as we left the Tower.
Did I say a little larger? This guy is HUGE!! At least half the size again of the others and twice as strong. We were all tiring quickly. Big black used his tail more than the smaller guys and I'd made a few slices in it as it passed me but nothing that could be called damage. It seemed to sense me and narrowed its attack attempts to my immediate vicinity. Claws narrowly missed shreding my skin but did catch the costume. In my distraction it grabbed me by the top of the head and raised me off the ground. An arrow to the head from Arsenal and a well placed bolt of whatever that was that Argent controlled forced it to drop me.
I'd grabbed the sword on my way out of the complex and was trying to work out how to get at him when Nightwing tried to somersault over the sweeping tail again but the demon was expecting it and knocked him flying.
"BUFFY!" Arsenal called out, pointing behind me making me turn away from where Dick had fallen.
"Slayer..." the demon stared as he struck downward with a knife that seemed to materialise at will to the spot where I had been standing.
I leapt into the air and pushed down on his clenched hands, driving the knife into the ground.
"You killed my brothers..." Big Black hissed.
"Spare me. You killed more humans just trying to draw me out than we both have fingers and toes to count. I don't care for your attitude. You damaged my costume. You injured my boyfriend. You messed my hair and smudged my makeup." I drove my sword into his heart. "Revenge is a bitch."
"So are you," the demon gurgled.
"Your point?" the massive body convulsed then relaxed. "Guess you didn't have one," I mumbled as I waved the black mist away.
"Guess you do know what you're doing."
"Is that grudging respect from the Atlantean?" I smiled.
"Nightstalker," a new voice growled.
"Now I'm in trouble," I muttered. I looked over at Batman. Well what I could see of him standing in the shadows of a side street. Its daytime. I'm surprised he doesn't melt or something. "Being stalked isn't a turn-on Batman."
"We need to talk."
"I'm not ready and don't try to force me to come with you cause you know how it'll end and with the Joker on the loose I think you need the use of all of your limbs."
"Did Batman just say... 'please'?" Roy asked, looking at Donna for confirmation. She nodded.
"Say what you have to." I saw his jaw clench and unclench when I made no move toward him, choosing to kneel with my back to him beside Nightwing's unconcious body. "It's not serious. Maybe a couple of ribs. I told him no heroics." I kicked out at Batman as he walked up behind me, and sent him flying backwards. He only stopped because of the wall. I heard the others gasp in surprise. "I didn't ask you to come closer."
"I read the file. Don't turn into her now."
"Funny thing about me is that I've always been her. All of that rage and self-directed doubt and fear and the questioning. The only difference is that I let myself be loved and accepted. I am capable of murder, just like her. I am capable of the schemes and the lies and the alliances but you know what? Being the Slayer means something different to me than it does to her. We are the two who survived what should have been a short life expectancy and we survived in very different ways. Faith knows she did wrong and she's making up for it now while I finally get the life that this calling denied me. I shouldn't have survived my encounter with The Master. In fact I didn't. It was only Xander's stubbornness in following me that meant I lived. I certainly shouldn't have survived my eighteenth birthday present from the council. But I did. There is nothing that any of you can devise that I can't survive."
"I know. Giles forwarded some files to me. I know all of it."
"He didn't send my diaries did he? Cause that's kinda personal," I asked hopefully.
"No. No diaries." I swear that he almost smiled. He hadn't moved from where he had landed.
"I understand why you did it. I would have too. There is too much power, too many lives at risk... When you relinquish goodness, all of those strong emotions like anger, and the lack of conscience makes you more powerful but it doesn't make you stronger. I'm frightened for my family and friends. I'm frightened that something I don't know how to handle will appear and take it all away."
"Not gonna happen. It has to go through us," Argent said.
"And us," Batman said.
"Uh, thanks guys. It's kinda weird having superheroes promising to help. Thanks," I said quietly. "Hey Nightwing. If you don't wake up in the next thirty seconds I'm going to seek comfort from Roy."
Roy began chanting, "Don't wake up, don't wake up, don't wake up" to no avail. Nightwing groaned and turned what I think was a glare on him.
"Donna isn't enough for you?" Dick mumbled.
"Of course she is," he said placing a possessive arm around Donna's waist. "But I'm greedy," he grinned. All it got him was a punch in the arm from Donna which looked like it hurt a lot.
I stayed one more day at the tower and when we were sure there were no more demon siblings to deal with Nightwing and I returned to Gotham City.
~ Gotham City, Wayne Manor, the Batcave. ~
Teaching Batman a few 'tricks of the trade' that he managed to miss when he travelled the world learning everything he could. Somehow in all of that training he missed Vampires, Demons and Zombies 101.
And the coolest thing is I just kicked his butt. Big time. He's been sitting against the wall for about five minutes just staring at me. I think shocked is what it's called.
"I would have thought you'd know not to underestimate your opponents," I said, relaxing my stance a little.
"He underestimates the fairer sex Miss. Master Bruce is too chivalrous to consider that women have muscle also."
Alfred's the coolest. He is the best part of Wayne Manor, beside this way beyond cool cave.
"Thank you Alfred. Is there a reason you were here to witness my defeat?"
"I'd call it a humiliation Sir but yes I am here for a reason. A phone call for Miss Buffy."
"Will you just call me Buffy already?" He smiled at me and held out the phone. I think he takes perverse pleasure in calling everyone Miss or Master. "I take that as a no. Hello?... No! Giles... We'll... I'll get-I don't know. I'll call you back." My shaky hand replaced the phone in its cradle. "Get Willow. I don't care how you get her here but make it quick." I sat down heavily in the seat and cradled my head in my hands. I was too shocked to cry.
I think Alfred tried to give me food and I know that Batman took the Batwing to get Willow from New York. Alfred must have called Dick because he arrived and sat beside me trying to get me to talk. Then Tim arrived and he looked as shocked as I did.
"Dawn called," was all he said.
"What?" Dick asked.
"Please Dick I don't want to have to tell more than once. It's hard enough to even think it."
He was confused and hurt but he said, "Ok Buffy. I can wait."
"I really don't want to have to explain more than once."
His hurt and confusion faded to concern and he took me into his arms and held me close. I suggested he go and change, which resulted in him removing his shirt and trousers to reveal the suit. He pulled me up out of the seat and held me again, softly kissing my face.
Tim changed into his costume then took my former seat at the computer.
The Batwing returned.
"Buffy?" Willow squeaked.
Nightwing and I slowly pulled apart, though I held onto him. "Uh... Ooh boy... Hey Willow. I guess..."
"Naughty Buffy. What *will* Dick think?" Willow giggled, jumping to a conclusion.
"You two shouldn't be left alone in the same room," Batman grumbled.
"That isn't Dick under there?" Willow asked, confused.
"Stop scaring Willow or you'll find out just how strong I am Bat Boy. Yes it is Dick, Wills. I'm a good girl. Promise."
Dick took off the mask and scratched the back of his head sheepishly.
"See this is the problem with secret identities..." Willow started then shrugged and turned away to look around the Bat Cave and I pulled my sweater and skirt off leaving me wearing the Nightstalker costume.
"Oh. I meant to ask you, does Giles know?"
"Not yet. Waiting for the Bat seal of approval to tell."
"Ah. So what's the emergency?"
"The Joker has kidnapped my mom."