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See You in the Funny Pages

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THEMYSCIRA

TWO MONTHS AGO

 

Wonder Woman and Buffy are there on the shore, along the incoming and receding ocean water. Wonder Woman’s calm, Buffy’s not, pacing.

BUFFY: Do I have to bow?

WONDER WOMAN: Only during formal ceremony.

BUFFY: Maybe we should have one. I never met a queen before, and when else am I going to? Wanna be respectful. Overly if I hafta.

WONDER WOMAN: There’s nothing to be afraid of. It won’t take my mother long to see what I see--that you’re selfless, brave, and just. Her midday ride should take her this way soon.

Buffy’s completely missing that complimentary reassurance.

BUFFY: And that’s another thing. You get to call her “mom.” What about me? “Highness?” “Majesty?” What if I mess up? She isn’t one of those “off with her head” queens, is she?

WONDER WOMAN: The Queen of the Amazons does not order beheadings. {beat} Except once. Though I’ve hardly seen her that angry since.

There’s a mischievous look in her eye. Buffy stops pacing, sees it, and scowls.

BUFFY: Diana! {beat} I liked you better when we were fake-dating, and you were fake-liking me.

WONDER WOMAN {puzzled}: I was never faking.

BUFFY {also puzzled}: Never faking what?

They’re interrupted by a pleasantly surprised HIPPOLYTA riding up on white horseback, looking quite regal in her long toga and golden crown. She brings the horse to a stop, and Wonder Woman starts over.

HIPPOLYTA: Diana?

She dismounts, and mother and daughter hug. Buffy hangs back, watching.

WONDER WOMAN: Hello, Mother.

HIPPOLYTA: Welcome home. It’s been too long. Have you eaten? {looks past her daughter} Who is your guest?

They both walk back near Buffy.

WONDER WOMAN: Forgive me. This is Buffy Summers. She...

She’s distracted by Buffy’s face. Her first thought is of the panic from moments ago, but then she notices the pooling tears, and how much Buffy’s fighting not to break. Little by little, cracks appear. It hurts to watch.

WONDER WOMAN {cursing herself}: Hades.

HIPPOLYTA {quietly}: Is she all right?

WONDER WOMAN: Her mother...passed into Elysium several years ago. I didn’t consider how...

Hippolyta gently touches her daughter’s arm, then steps closer to Buffy, who’s barely holding together.

HIPPOLYTA: Come here, child.

Buffy takes heavy steps toward the Amazon Queen. When she’s taken into strong arms, she loses it and sobs into white cloth. She hugs Hippolyta’s waist as the woman lowers them both to the sand. There’s nothing like a mother’s embrace, and she doesn’t want it to end.

But embarrassment causes her to try to pull away. She meets the resistance of Hippolyta who, after a moment, lets her go. She wipes at her tears.

BUFFY {apologetic}: That wasn’t part of the plan. I had a great first impression ninety percent memorized, and all I did was soak your toga. I’m s--

HIPPOLYTA: Hush. It will dry.

BUFFY: Shouldn’t have to. I don’t...do that. Not for a while anyway.

HIPPOLYTA: You loved her very much--I fail to see the shame in that. Do not worry. We’ll have time to talk more during our meal, as both you and my daughter seem a little thin. {smiles} Help an old woman to her feet?

BUFFY: Oh, uh, of course. Your Highness.

She scrambles up and offers Hippolyta her hands.

HIPPOLYTA {brushing herself off}: Thank you.

BUFFY {smiles}: That oughta be my line.

Wonder Woman’s joined them, and the three walk back to Hippolyta’s horse, which she mounts. Then she looks down at Buffy.

HIPPOLYTA: May I ask your mother’s name?

BUFFY: “Joyce.”

HIPPOLYTA: Was she of Amazonian blood? That hold was quite strong for someone of your stature.

Buffy fights hard to not see if Wonder Woman is grinning.

BUFFY: She was of the traditional kind. Doesn’t mean she wasn’t the strongest person I’ve ever known, because she was.

HIPPOLYTA: I’m sure she’s honored to hear you saying so. {lightly kicks the horse, starts it trotting} Food will be waiting.

She goes off in the direction of the city.

WONDER WOMAN {still feeling bad}: Buffy, I--

BUFFY: Thanks. For bringing me with.

______

 

UPPER MANHATTAN HOSPITAL

PRESENT

 

Buffy comes out of her brief slumber in the small, lounge area thanks to Diana’s gentle nudging.

DIANA {softly}: Buffy. Buffy...

BUFFY: I’m wakened, I’m wakened.

She grins sleepily. Diana good-naturedly smirks back.

DIANA: You aren’t the only one.

BUFFY: S’ been an hour?

DIANA: Half. The boy’s mother went to get a cup of coffee from the cafeteria, and then she’ll speak with us. We should thank that nurse again.

Buffy sits up quickly and tries to comb with her hands.

BUFFY: Do I have “lap hair”?

DIANA {smiles}: I’m not bothered.

Buffy’s eyes bug. This only makes her comb more frantically. But she stops when Diana’s thumb rubs at her cheek.

DIANA: Was the dream upsetting? {sees Buffy’s confusion} You were crying in your sleep.

Buffy’s eyes bug again.

DIANA: Silently.

BUFFY: Oh. Nah. Not upsetting.

DIANA: I don’t understand. What made you...?

BUFFY: Good one was starting.

______

 

OUTSIDE THE BERGMAN FAMILY’S APARTMENT BUILDING

FIFTEEN MINUTES AGO

 

Boooooooooom! Slayers and random passersby on the sidewalk below hear the explosion, and then see it, as a big hole is made in the side of the building. They scatter from falling chunks of wall.

Through the thick, escaping smoke comes a bat-shaped grapple, hooking itself around a streetlight. Batman swings down, Willow underarm. The slayers begin to crowd as he retracts the grapple and lays her down. His cape is frayed, his suit burned and torn.

Willow is unconscious. He removes his cape and smothers the flames eating at her dress. Her face is blackened.

BATMAN: Get her to a hospital.

The squad’s leader, VIOLET, is the only one brave enough to speak to him.

VIOLET: What’re you gonna do?

BATMAN: I’m going back inside.

She sees people, non-slayers, noticing who he is.

VIOLET: Uh, you sure that’s a good--?

BATMAN {intensely}: The building wasn’t empty.

And he’s gone.

______

 

CASTLE COMMAND CENTRAL

SCOTLAND SLAYER HQ

 

Xander’s heard every word. He’s standing by the mystics.

XANDER: Why aren’t I beamed already? Work the mojo. Now. {calling behind} Renee, you’ve got the Bridge.

______

 

OUTSIDE THE BERGMAN FAMILY’S APARTMENT BUILDING

 

Xander “zaps” in, startling everyone present. After losing the contents of his stomach, he pushes past the girls and kneels over his best friend.

XANDER: Will! Willow! Can you hear me? Ya gotta wake up, Will.

He feels a hand on his shoulder. It’s Batgirl. She and Supergirl heard every word, too.

BATGIRL: Xander...let Kara take her.

XANDER: Wha...?

As he turns his head, Supergirl’s already walking past him and scooping Willow into her arms.

VIOLET: Take her to Mercy Hill. It’s on 77th. We know a doctor there.

SUPERGIRL: Got it.

WHOOSH! She’s nothing more than a streak in the sky. Xander doesn’t see it. He stands up, a faraway look in his eye. What snaps him back is feeling Batgirl’s hand gripping his.

BATGIRL: She’ll be okay.

VIOLET: Mickie, drive Xander. And say hi to your mom for us.

BATGIRL {to Xander}: Go. We’ll help Batman.

He squeezes her hand, then points to his eye.

XANDER: Next half-gander, don’t...be dead, okay?

BATGIRL: Hey, this is what I do for a living. {impulsively kisses his cheek} Dork.

Everybody goes about their tasks. The civilians that have been witness to all this are a bit shell-shocked. Including a HUSBAND, WIFE and their young daughter.

HUSBAND: Fuck me.

WIFE: Daddy didn’t say that, sweetheart. Daddy also better remember who he has to go home with.

______

 

UPPER MANHATTAN HOSPITAL

PRESENT

 

Buffy and Diana are in the doorway of Tim’s room with TIM’S MOTHER, headed out. They’ve gotten what information they can. It hurt him to talk.

BUFFY: Here’s my cell number.

She fishes a scrap of paper from her jacket pocket, and hands it over. Her number’s already scribbled onto it.

BUFFY: Call me, let me know how he is? Can’t say “thank you” and “sorry” enough. My “thank yous” are sorry.

TIM’S MOTHER: You’re going after that freak, aren’t you?

BUFFY {hesitant}: Yeah.

Tim’s mother looks at Diana.

TIM’S MOTHER: And you’re--

Diana and Buffy exchange glances.

DIANA: Yes.

TIM’S MOTHER: {beat} He could’ve killed my baby. {looks back at her son in bed} Make him sorry.

DIANA: We intend to, Miss Bergman.

BUFFY {nods}: Count on it.

When they’re clear of the door, the woman closes it, and they see Supergirl marching up to them.

SUPERGIRL: Where have you guys been? Do you know how many walls I wish I hadn’t just looked through? {winces} Was that that kid’s mom? Oooh, is she gonna be piss--

BUFFY {whispering}: Kara, ssshh!

Both she and Diana pull her over to the elevators.

Same moment, over at the station...

NURSE: This is the last nightshift. They wanna fire me, they can fire me.

SUPERGIRL: Why didn’t you keep your {points to her ear} things on?

BUFFY: Same “why” my cell’s not on.

The girl, however super, doesn’t get it.

BUFFY: Hospital?

SUPERGIRL {feeling dumb}: Knew that.

Buffy tries to block her from sight.

BUFFY: You’re costumed. People’ll see.

SUPERGIRL: Too late.

DIANA: What’s happened?

SUPERGIRL: Willow’s...

Buffy’s running for the stairwell and turning her “thing” on before she finishes.

SUPERGIRL: ...down in the ER.

______

 

WILLOW’S HOSPITAL ROOM

 

It’s past visiting. There’re no Manhattan slayers, no Justice Leaguers, no Barbara/Batgirl. Buffy and Xander have sat at their friend’s bedside for several hours, hospital rules be damned.

BUFFY: So Vi’s got a contact here? Handy. 

XANDER: Mickie’s mom’s a doctor, yeah. Seems cool about our whole deal. They don’t have the medical setup we do, so...

BUFFY: I can’t get away from moms today. Wakened or sleepened.

They lapse into another, increasingly common silence, staring at the unmoving Willow. Every time they do, his foot starts nervously tapping the floor.

XANDER: What if she’s got brain damage?

BUFFY: She had a lobotomy and bounced back. She’ll make it.

XANDER: When she was awake. To do that voodoo that she--

BUFFY {snaps at him}: She’ll make it, Xander.

She pushes the chair back, stands up, walks away from him and takes a deep breath.

BUFFY: Sorry. I just...hate hospitals. And I really hate having déjà vu in one.

They’re both thinking about junior year of high school. And about Willow in a similar state.

XANDER: No, you’re right, Buf. Some thoughts shouldn’t get thunk. I’m just used to “Mega Wicca Action Willow.” Who can handle anything. Been a while, y’know?

Buffy walks up to the bed, and puts her hand on Willow’s.

BUFFY: Yeah. It has.

After a moment, she smiles, but doesn’t look up from Willow.

BUFFY: What’s the deal with you and Barbara? Are you finally? Don’t tell me I was imagining all the touching.

WILLOW’S MIND: I don’t voodoo! And, where touching?

She’s communicating telepathically. Her eyes are still closed.

XANDER AND BUFFY: Will!

He goes to stand next to Buffy.

WILLOW’S MIND: You better shoosh. Hospital and all. Use your “inside my head” voices.

XANDER’S AND BUFFY’S MINDS : Whoops. Are you--?

BUFFY’S MIND : Enough stereo.

XANDER’S MIND : Superladies first.

BUFFY’S MIND : Are you okay? Why aren’t your eyes open?

WILLOW’S MIND : Gimmie a minute.

While she heals herself, she begins humming the Joke-in-the-Box tune. Then, in almost exactly a minute, the cuts that were on her face vanish, and her eyes open. First she smiles, but quickly looks worried.

WILLOW: My head’s not big, is it?

XANDER {smiling}: We talking physically big, or...?

She makes a face at him. 

Grabbing the bed remote, Xander brings her to a sitting position, allowing him to crush her in a hug. Buffy just watches.

XANDER: Don’t go scarin’ us like that again.

WILLOW: Um, I’m probably gonna have to. ‘Cause I’m pretty sure we fight evil more always than most, uh, non-league people.

XANDER: Fine. But no more bomb-shielding, young lady.

WILLOW: Bruce! Is he...?

XANDER: Barb said he was all right. Bat-Suit? Not so much.

WILLOW {relieved sigh}: Good. {beat} Hey, let’s leave.

XANDER: Yeahbutno. Somebody’s stuck here ‘til morning.

WILLOW {frowns}: Fudge. {realizes Buffy’s been crying} Don’t cry, Buffy. I have all my pieces. And they’re together, see? I didn’t Humpty-Dumpty.

BUFFY {sniffing}: Can’t get away from this today, either.

Xander moves toward the door, wanting them to have privacy.

XANDER: Think I’ll, uh, check out just how well-locked the gift shop is. If I’m not back in ten minutes...

BUFFY: I’ll come save you.

XANDER: Before the night sticks come out, right?

He waits for an answer that doesn’t come, and then slowly opens the door. But something stops him.

XANDER: Hey Will, what was that humming about?

WILLOW: {shrugs} Heard it before the kaboom.

XANDER: Feel like I oughta know it. {frustrated beat} Gah. Damn. Thanks a lot.

When he leaves, Willow and Buffy have a “silence lapse” of their own. Then--

WILLOW: Did Tim tell you anything?

BUFFY: Just that the Joker was real-estate shopping.

WILLOW: Guess he would.

BUFFY: Didn’t see where, though. You think tomorrow you could do your “insta-heal” spell on him?

WILLOW: {nods} Already planned to. But it’s not insta...

BUFFY: I want us to be good, Will. You coulda died, and we wouldn’t’ve been. I know I made some calls you aren’t a fan of, but I had to, and can’t take them back. Yunno, Diana--who’s way better than me--had to steal once. This guy turned her mom to stone, so...

She shakes her head, stops trying to defend herself. This isn’t what she wanted to say.

BUFFY {sincere}: I wanna tell you everything, and I wanna hear your everything, and I really, really miss you, so can we please be good?

Willow’s crying now, which gets Buffy going again, and they have their long overdue hug, crying becoming laughter. Buffy climbs onto the bed. Willow scooches over.

WILLOW: I out “really, really” ‘d you.

BUFFY: Did not.

WILLOW: Did too.

BUFFY: Is this “good”? Are we good?

WILLOW {grinning}: After more story. About you and your girrrrlfriend.

BUFFY {eyes narrowed}: Willow!

Willow giggles, Buffy looks grumpy.

WILLOW: Nope, we are. But, please?

BUFFY: Only ‘cause you were blown up.

______

 

THEMYSCIRA

TWO MONTHS AGO

 

It’s night. Diana and Buffy have both dressed down into simple, white togas that stop at their knees. They’re barefoot on a grassy hill behind the guest quarters that Hippolyta has allowed Buffy to use during her stay.

There’s a fire going. It glows off their faces as they move around each other, lightly sparring.

DIANA: Antiope was impressed by your skill with a bow. She doesn’t impress easily.

She throws a punch, which Buffy blocks.

BUFFY: That’s why the nine years of vampire slayage--to impress her. {rolls eyes} How come I’m picking up...

She throws her hips back so Diana’s next punch misses her stomach, and before Diana can retract, Buffy grabs her wrist. She moves behind her quickly, bringing the arm with and pinning it behind the Amazon’s back.

BUFFY: ...that they don’t...

She pushes Diana forward while releasing her arm, and just as her foot comes up and kicks, Diana drops into a forward roll, dodging.

BUFFY: ...like my job much?

Diana’s back to her feet almost immediately, moving her hair out of her face.

BUFFY: Damn it.

DIANA: They... {heavy breath} understand its importance, but... {heavy breath} they believe combating demons who hide in the dead is beneath you. And that there’re better ways to spend a night. My choices they’ll never understand. Including why I continue to live among...outsiders.

BUFFY: You so wanted to say “men.” Speaking of...

DIANA: I’ve moved past it.

Buffy doesn’t buy that.

DIANA: I took the rejection personally, when the truth is, Bruce refuses to let anyone in. Even in friendship. It doesn’t matter how many battles we’ve fought at each other’s side. He's always distant.

She gets lost in her thoughts a moment.

DIANA: Losing another person he cares for would destroy him. That fear drives his every choice--whether he’s behind Batman’s mask or not. {sighs sadly} Hera help him.

BUFFY: Can’t he just be a jackass?

She gets lost now also, because Diana could’ve been describing her. The idea that she could turn into Batman, at least emotionally, scares her enough to have it show. That’s the last thing she wants.

When she comes back, Diana’s right in front of her, the sparring forgotten.

DIANA: Where were you just now?

BUFFY: Nowhere fun. {beat} What about you? Think slaying’s beneath me?

DIANA: Absolutely not. Protecting your home, helping hundreds like you realize their strength...that’s something everyone here would honor you for if you’d let us. Do I think it’s unfair that a group of arrogant, elder men burdened you so young? Yes. They may not have valued your life, but you should. Experience all you can, Buffy, because you deserve it.

BUFFY {not so sure}: You deserve too. More than deserve. But...how didn’t I burden the same way the Watchers did?

DIANA: There’s a difference between giving power, and wanting to control those that have it. Not every woman touched by your friend’s spell is a slayer. You allowed them the freedom to decide.

BUFFY: Dunno if I believe that. The girls that didn’t sign up, the power’s still gonna nag, Diana. If they sixth-sense a vampire, they won’t be able to pretend he isn’t there...I know. Which means they’ll fight, and they won’t be trained, and they’ll die. Or some could be...not good.

DIANA:  True, and it would be terrible, I can’t argue that. But try looking beyond the risks. What if some become police officers? Firefighters? Rescue workers? What if they build homes, or teach self-defense? They can still use what they’ve been given positively.

Buffy smiles bashfully and ducks her head. After a second, she looks back up.

BUFFY: Are you impressed too?

DIANA: Almost.

This throws the slayer.

DIANA {soon-to-be patented, “innocent but not” voice}: Perhaps if you started trying...

Buffy doesn’t even react. With speed that’d make Flash take notice, she drops low to the ground, and sweeping her leg, sends Diana onto her back. Diana is not stunned, though. She reaches for Buffy’s ankle and pulls, bringing Buffy collapsing on top of her.

They lay there, Buffy above, Diana below, face-to-face.

BUFFY: Never?

DIANA: Well, if I was lying to anyone those first few days, it was myself. Were you faking?

BUFFY: Thought I was. Being your fake-girlfriend...I was happy. Happier than most times I was being a real girlfriend. Forgot how it--

She’s cut off by Diana pulling her head down so their mouths meet. Vigorously. By the time they’re done, they’ve rolled over on the grass, reversing positions. Their cheeks are hotter than the fire.

BUFFY: People are gonna say you’re way too tall and good-looking for me.

DIANA: Let them.

BUFFY: Willow’s gonna wig.

DIANA: Knowing Wally, he’ll say something inappropriate.

BUFFY: We don’t tell him and Xander at the same time.

DIANA: Agreed.

BUFFY: Are we really doing this?

DIANA: We’re obviously attracted to one another, our interests are similar...and it’s, comforting, having you close. Also, according to your sister, we talk disgustingly too often when you can’t be. Why shouldn’t this happen?

BUFFY: With you on the comforting. And we’ve got kissing down. Number one compatibility test? Passed.

DIANA {grins}: I’d like to be sure.

BUFFY: I’ve been “guys only” since I thought I had to pick. Even after two roommates who really weren’t, and slayer-pretending I couldn’t slayer-overhear them, never did the “what if” thing...then we had lunch. God, if this is what it was like for Will, she didn’t have a lotta choice. Or any, which makes sense now.

She grins back.

BUFFY: You’re like the best woman to all suddenly wake up gay for one day.

At this, she eagerly obliges her fellow superheroine and (very not fake) girlfriend.

______

 

WILLOW’S HOSPITAL ROOM

PRESENT

 

It’s past midnight, she can’t sleep. Buffy’s been gone, story’s been over, and Xander’s been in a cot. He has no problem with sleeping.

BATMAN: I told you to run.

Once again he steps out of the shadows on her, looking no better than he had earlier.

WILLOW {resolve face}: You’re welcome.

She thinks she sees something resembling a near-smile, cracking his “resolve face.” Or, “resolve jaw.” Possibly.

WILLOW: We figured out where the Joker is. Uh, sorta.

BATMAN: Tomorrow. Get some rest.

WILLOW: Only if you promise to too. I could give you a magickal Band-Aid!

BATMAN:  I heal fine on my own.

Then he melts back into the darkness, leaving her and the snoring Xander be.

WILLOW: But why would you want to? And can’t you ever stop doing that?