Buffy's Real Family(ies)

Summary: **The 'Real Family' Part of the 2013 LiveJournal's Twisted Shorts FaD ** series. Sitting in the mental hospital, Buffy waits for her real dad.

Timeline: pre-series for BtVS; post-series for TIH.

Challenge: for the livejournal 2013 August Fic-a-Day Challenge.

Warning: Not terribly friendly towards Hank or Joyce.

A/N: This year, I thought I'd do three collections for FaD. This one is the YARFF (Yet Another Real Family Fic). If you have any suggestions for family members, please let me know.

Disclaimer: BtVS/AtS characters belong to Joss Whedon/Mutant Enemy. The Incredible Hulk was based on characters by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby; the executive producer was Kenneth Johnson. I claim no rights to any copyrighted material. Please do not copy or take this story without my permission.

Chapter 1: August 1, 2013 – Buffy's Real Family – Bruce

Southern California Mental 'Retreat'

Buffy sat back in her chair, drumming her fingertips on the armrest while she waited. Apparently her dad had a change of heart and was coming to take her out of the nutfarm. Somehow she seriously doubted that, though. Hank Summers seemed pretty adamant about how disappointed that his 'princess' suddenly went crazy and started to believe in vampires and that she was destined to protect humanity from them.

More likely, he was getting grief about her being so close to home so he was going to ship her out of the state – or maybe the country so people could forget she ever was born.

That, or there was another Merrick-type guy coming to take over her training. If that was the case, she wasn't sure whether she should be grateful they finally showed up or be pissed that they took so long…or if she should just ignore him and hope that she really was delusional and that vampires really didn't exist.

In the end, it wasn't either of those things.

Route 66, middle of nowhere, Arizona

"So how did you find out about me?" Buffy asked her real father once they got away from California.

"After a lab accident I had a long time ago, I wasn't able to care for an infant, and I had legal papers drawn up so my sister-in-law could raise you as her own," he replied, leaving out the fact that those legal papers had been his will and that he was technically dead in the eyes of the law.

The only reason Joyce knew he was really alive was because he saved her and her husband a few years back. Once she realized that the 'monster' who rescued them was her supposedly dead brother-in-law, she made him leave without seeing his daughter. The most he could get from her was that if Buffy ever needed him, Joyce would put an ad in the LA Times, asking for him to come.

He never expected that Joyce would place that ad in hopes that he would get his mentally-unstable daughter out of her shallow society-centered life. His beloved Laura must be rolling over in her grave at the callousness of her sister.

As for the reason Buffy was in the hospital…well, Bruce knew that vampires were real, and if Buffy thought she was this Slayer person, he'd give her a chance to prove it to him before he made any judgments. He told her that she had two choices: either go to a publicly-run hospital – since her adoptive parents wouldn't pay for the private one anymore and he couldn't afford to – or go on the road with him. It saddened him that she didn't even hesitate to choose his life.

Now that he thought about it a bit more, he knew he'd have to tell her the whole truth.

"Let's take a seat in that rest area so we can talk," he said reluctantly. Once he was sure there wasn't anyone within earshot, he started with the car accident that killed his wife and her mother, almost killing her as well. By the time he told her about Dr. Marks' death and his supposed death, Buffy was fighting her tears, but couldn't stop herself from grabbing him in a hug…a hug that would have hurt a lot more if he wasn't who he was.

"God, our lives suck beyond the telling of it!" she exclaimed when she finally pulled away. "You have this sort of split personality deal going on and I'm destined to fight vampires until I die. But I suppose the good news is that I don't have to worry about vampires using you to get to me." Buffy started to giggle as the mental image she came up with crystallized. "Your alter-ego could probably just twist their heads off."

Bruce blushed and cleared his throat embarrassedly. "It's happened a couple times before," he said before she could ask the question. Her sunny laughter made him smile, too. Although it wasn't the best lifestyle for her, maybe this wouldn't be too bad, after all.

A/N: I'm not entirely sure if I will build on this for my next YARFF or if they'll be standalones.