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Patricia de Lioncourt [userpic]

Fic: The Funny Thing About Keys (20/25)

Author Name: Patriciatepes (Patricia de Lioncourt )

Fandom: Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Batman: the Animated Series

Rating: PG-13

Characters: Dawn Summers, The Joker, Nightwing/Dick Grayson, Batman, Giles, Willow, Xander, Buffy Summers, OCs, several minor scenes with major characters

Pairing: Dawn/Nightwing (Dick Grayson)

Chapter Links: Prev | Next

Warnings: (for all chapters) Torture, swearing

Summary: When Buffy is poisoned and dying, Dawn is left no choice but to go to Gotham for the cure that she is told is too dangerous to retrieve. Time is on her side... too bad the universe isn't.

Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy, Batman, or any related characters. They belong to Whedon, DC Comics, and WB. No money made here.

Author's Notes: Art by the wonderful 20thcenturyvole. I started this story long, long ago, and decided to finish it for the wipbigbang.  I do author's notes every chapter on fanfiction (dot) net, but I'll only copy the relevant ones here.

Chapter 20- I Can't Decide

Honestly, how many abandoned warehouses were there in this godforsaken city? In a matter of what seemed like mere minutes, Joker had driven Dawn, still unconscious Nightwing, and himself to another empty, darkened warehouse several blocks—if not farther—away. Nightwing had been trussed up and tossed in the trunk of the car Joker was using now, while Dawn was once again in the front passenger seat, gun trained on her. She wondered what it meant for her, mentally, that she felt not one ounce of anxiety at this situation—gun pointed at her—that it felt almost normal to her.

Joker brought the car to a stop by a side entrance to the old brick building with a small screech of the tires. The clown put his full attention on Dawn now and gestured toward her door with a single shake of the gun's barrel.

"Out, by the trunk. And don't even think of running, Dawnie girl," he said.

Dawn sighed, nodding. "Gotcha," she muttered, pulling the silver car door handle and pushing open the door.

She met Joker by the trunk, which opened just a tad with a small pop. The Clown Prince opened it up all the way, and Dawn was more than a little disappointed to find that Nightwing was still very much out. She had to fight groaning. How hard had he hit that stupid beam? She'd known Giles to be conscious faster than this, and he was easily years older than Nightwing.

Joker grabbed the hero up by the back of his costume, pulling him roughly to the asphalt behind their feet. Without any instruction, Dawn took up one of Nightwing's arms, and Joker took up the other with a laugh.

"My, we must be getting into a rut," Joker commented as the three of them entered the warehouse.

There were a few small, yellowed lights on, clinging to their last bits of life on the ceiling high above them. It didn't provide much illumination, but it was enough to make their way to the center of the warehouse, where there was, once again, furniture (particularly metal office chairs) abandoned. On top of wondering how many warehouses were left abandoned in Gotham (and what this meant about the city's economy), Dawn also wondered why so many of them had bits and pieces of equipment and furniture left behind. Were all the previous owners forced out by gunpoint or something?

Dawn took a moment to glance at Joker as they came to a stop just before one of the sturdier chairs. Now that she thought about it, perhaps all the previous owners of the warehouses were forced out in that way. After all, that's how she was entering this place.

"In the chair," Joker ordered, and Dawn helped him heft Nightwing into the chair before them. Once they were sure he was not going to slide out, the maniac nodded toward a similar chair just off to Dawn's right. "Now sit there and be a good girl."

Dawn rolled her eyes but did as she was told, crossing her arms like a petulant child as she did. Joker made quick work of finding some rope and binding Nightwing to his chair, arms tied to the arms of the chair, legs to legs, and then one more bit of rope around the hero's chest just to be sure. When he was done, he turned to Dawn, laughing.

"You know, girly, you have to be the most difficult hostage I have ever taken. Also, you seem to be just a perpetual hostage at that. Cane's come for you, Wingy here has come for you… and yet, here you are, still in my custody. You know, I'm beginning to think that you and Superman's squeeze should hang out some. You'd probably have a lot in common."

"Ha, ha," Dawn muttered.

Joker let out a cackle, retrieving more rope from a nearby storage container. His laughter reduced to giggles, he brandished the rope at Dawn.

"Your turn," he said.

Dawn sat up a bit straighter, her arms going to her sides to grip the arms of the chair.

"What? No! Don't you remember our deal? Why would you tie me up? You need me to help you stop Cane from making you look like a fool!" she argued.

Joker tsked, shaking his head. "Ah, yes. But, if I'm not mistaken, you decided to make a break for it—thus terminating our contract as it were—the moment trouble started."

Dawn gaped at him. "Well... you would too if you were the hostage of a homicidal clown who kept threatening your life with guns and crap!"

Joker arched a brow. "You know, I'm just not quite sure how to respond to that."

Dawn sighed. "Joker… you need me. You don't know how to fight someone like Cane. I do. You've gotta face facts. I've got the job experience here. You don't."

"Lean back, Dawnie, and I'll try to make sure these ropes don't pinch… too much."

Time was running out on the proverbial hourglass of their deal much faster than Dawn could have ever guessed. She could feel her breathing growing faster, and she let her eyes dart over to Nightwing, praying he would wake. After hours of dealing with Batman's most dangerous enemy alone, she could use a little backup. But Nightwing's head remained slumped forward, and Dawn suddenly found herself feeling a little like a kid again, wishing Buffy would crash through the door any second to save her. But Buffy was the one who needed saving, and Dawn was failing, epically, at this task.

"Our deal's not broken," Dawn said quietly as Joker began to bind her to the chair. "We both still need Cane dead. We both want the same things. We can salvage this."

Trying to reason with an insane clown-man. She was really pulling a wild card here. But she was growing desperate. She had to do something. Joker was done tying her up, not having to go to the extent he had bound Nightwing. He had been careful to bind Dawn's hands to the arms of the chair, leaving her legs free. Joker was not stupid, Dawn had learned that much. He knew that she was more liable to cast spells with free hands. She was honestly beginning to wonder if Joker had dealt with magical beings before.

"Oh, Dawnie, the deal is broken. It's not you, my dear Key, it's me… well, actually, no, it is you. I don't handle rejection well," Joker said. "The moment Nightwing came to save you, you ran off. The moment that noise sounded in the warehouse, you knew, didn't you? You knew Wingy here had come to save you."

He moved to stand over Nightwing, leaning on the back of the chair with one elbow propped up on the hero's shoulder. Dawn shook her head.

"No, I didn't. I swear. And Nightwing didn't cause that noise, Cane did. It's all been Cane. Don't you see that?"

She had no idea if this was actually true or not. Nightwing could've, indeed, caused the noise that caused Joker to run off to investigate. But, from what she had read on Batman and his team, this didn't seem their style. So she was willing to make as safe bet that what she had said to Joker was the truth.

"You need me, Joker. You need the magic I know, and the knowledge I have of everything else. We can still make this work. Untie me. Please!" Dawn argued.

Joker seemed to mull these words over, moving them around in his mind just like he would move a fine wine around his mouth for a tasting. The moment of silence that followed as he did this seemed to last forever, and Dawn could feel her heartbeat in her ears now. Maybe he had understood. Maybe the pros were working out in Dawn's favor. However, when Joker pulled his gun out once more, she knew that this was definitely not the case.

"Maybe you're right. Maybe I do need you alive. But I don't need Nightwing here," he said, leveling the gun at the back of the hero's head.

Dick, Dawn thought desperately. She shook her head.

"No! No, don't! If you kill him, I'll never help you! Cane will kill you, and he'll kill me too, and you'll be just a big patsy and played for a fool. Kill Nightwing, and you're shit out of luck!" Dawn shouted.

Joker stood with the gun still leveled at Nightwing. "Oh, really? You'd let yourself die, thus letting sister dearest die, just to save a complete stranger? How would your sister feel about that?"

Dawn grinned in grim satisfaction. She didn't even have to think about it.

"You obviously don't know Buffy. This would be exactly what she would want me to do."

Another tense moment passed, gun still aimed at Nightwing. Finally, Joker huffed out a laugh, letting the gun drop to his side.

"You hero types. You always give yourself away. Fine. Wingy can live… as bait. Cross me again, Dawnie, and we'll be painting the walls red and gray matter. Got me?"

Dawn nodded. "Got it."

Joker put the gun away, and Dawn fought hard to make her relieved sigh inaudible. The clown stretched, yawning.

"I'm starving. I'm going for Chinese. Now, don't get any ideas, girl. I won't be far. Toodles! I'll bring you back a fortune cookie," he said, turning and disappearing in the shadows.

Dawn rested her head against the back of her chair, sighing. Her eyes slid shut, and she did nothing but listen to the sound of her own breathing for a moment, trying to let some semblance of peace come over her. Her heartbeat was just now beginning to slow to normal when a groan caused her eyes to snap open.

Nightwing's head was lifting off his chest, and Dawn was ready to thank any and every deity she could think of. They might both be the Joker's hostages at the moment, but Dawn just liked to think that she stood some sort of chance of an advantage with a person more experienced than her in dealing with the clown. Nightwing's eyes opened, and Dawn was flooded with joy. But it didn't last long as the hero's gaze turned to her and she remembered whose eyes were really hidden behind that mask.

"Hi, Dick," she said, but not before glancing around as best she could to make sure Joker was indeed gone.

Nightwing blinked at her. "What?"

"I know who you are!" she whispered. "Your mask broke when you smacked your face into that beam. I fixed it before Joker showed up, so don't even worry about that."

Now Nightwing seemed to be weighing some things in his mind. Finally, he nodded.

"Yeah, okay. I'm Nightwing. Where are we? What's happened?"

Dawn blinked. "Really? Really? That's it? 'I'm Nightwing' and then it's all okay! You're a damned vigilante, and you didn't think to mention it!"

"That's rich," Nightwing snapped. "I suppose you mean that I didn't think to mention it the same way you didn't think to mention the whole vampire slayer sister, dying of a mystical poison thing either, right?"

Dawn blinked. She pursed her lips and let out a tiny growl of annoyance. "Touché."

Nightwing sighed. "What have I missed? Tell me everything, from the moment you were kidnapped."

And Dawn did just that, sure to include every single detail, even about Cane deliberately poisoning Buffy and disguising himself as Alisha. When Dawn mentioned the head orderly, she watched Nightwing's eyes widen.

"Some of your friends—Willow, Xander, and a man named Giles—are here, and Willow mentioned Alisha finding her taking one of the Joker's suits. We've all been played," the hero muttered.

"I know. I saw you on the news, briefly. But that's not all. Joker knows I'm the Key, and he's been trying to find out more information on what I can do."

Nightwing shook his head. "That's not good."

"Understatement of the century."

Nightwing let out a humorless chuckle. "Maybe. So… I have every confidence in Batman finding us or something. How about your friends?"

Dawn grinned. "You have no idea how much ass will be kicked by them, especially Willow."

Nightwing grinned. "Fair enough. So we should just have to survive. Simple enough."

Dawn shook her head. Yeah, it was "simple" all right. Good thing Buffy had decided to teach Dawn how to survive in just such a situation… sort of. At the thought of her sister, Dawn felt her heart skip a beat. Nightwing had mentioned Buffy, and the fact that she had been poisoned. Xander, Willow, and Giles must have said something.

"Di… uh, Nightwing… my sister? How is she? Did they say, my friends?"

Nightwing's lips tightened into a thin line. Dawn felt her heart sink. She nodded once, grimly.

"Yeah, that's what I thought."

End Notes: Lots of talk in this chapter. But, you know what? I actually love dialogue chapters every once in a while.

Fun Fact: Last chapter's title was inspired by "Closer" by Lacuna Coil.


Posted by: twisted_slinky (twisted_slinky)
Posted at: September 27th, 2015 05:26 am (UTC)

And the Joker's running out for potstickers, heehee. I just pictured this gif after his tied them up and took off:

Loved the conversation between Dick and Dawn.

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