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I Scratch Your Back...

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Summary: Alfred knew they were going to need help rebuilding Wayne Manor, so he called in a favor. Written for the Fic A Day challenge.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
DC Universe > Batman > Xander-CenteredgrundyFR1311,4756187,37710 Aug 0910 Aug 09Yes
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer was created by Joss Whedon. I'm not clear who gets credit for the Nolan movie incarnation of Batman, but the Bat belongs to DC Comics. I'm just borrowing other people's characters.


Xander looked around the site and let out a low whistle. It was one thing to know a building the size of Wayne Manor had been literally burnt to the ground. It was still something else to see it. And now that he had-

“No wonder Giles thought you guys could use a hand,” he told Alfred.

Giles had been vague on how exactly he knew Alfred. When he’d met him in person, a few subtle things in Alfred’s behavior had clued Xander in that the man had at some point been a commando. That made Bruce Wayne’s parents naming him guardian of their young son a lot more understandable, but opened up a whole new line of questions for Giles. He couldn’t see Giles ever having been involved in the military, but the old Council…

“Most of it can be handled by our usual contractors, sir,” Alfred replied. “But Master Wayne would probably prefer for you to be the man in charge, as it were, in addition to overseeing the special arrangements.”

Xander nodded. That was what Giles had sent him here to do. He had yet to see the famous Bruce Wayne at all, but at least Alfred had come around. When Xander had first showed up in Gotham, the man had tried his hardest to put him off.

---

“Xander, there’s a job I think you might be interested in,” Giles said.

It was late afternoon, and they’d been winding down official business for the day. Pretty much all the Watchers currently in residence at Headquarters also had active Slayers to look after, so the Council part of their working day only ran from noon to around four. Evenings were for Watcher duties, mornings for sleeping- that had been Xander’s idea, his gift to the reconstituted Watcher’s Council.

Besides being common sense, having mornings as official sleep time went well with Buffy’s insistence that no Watcher could achieve Senior Council status without having worked with an active Slayer. Given the reduction in Watchers the First’s minions had achieved, that meant that virtually all the current Senior Council were pulling double duty, either as active Watcher, active Slayer, active Witch, or, in Xander’s case, active Xander.

He’d be a Watcher some day. Right now, his position defied official description. It had a little bit of everything. On paper, because the accountants needed a title or preferably titles to go with the generous salary Giles had awarded him, he was Head of Facilities and Vice of Slayer Recruitment and Training. (Vice what hadn’t yet been defined. Faith was the actual head honcho of Training.)

“Another one, Giles? I’m pretty swamped as it is.”

“It’s not with the Council, dear boy. It’s unofficial, and I daresay it will be quite boring measured by your usual standards.”

“If by ‘boring’, you mean not involving tantrums from baby Slayers and nothing trying to kill me, I’m all ears.”

“An acquaintance of mine, a Mr. Alfred Pennyworth, lives in Gotham City. He’s butler to a young man named Bruce Wayne.”

Xander had been seriously impressed by that understatement. Bruce Wayne wasn’t just a young man, he was one of the world’s wealthiest young men.

“Mr. Wayne’s manor was recently destroyed, and I have it on good intelligence that it was not a drunken mishap as the papers say.”

Xander was definitely interested now.

“Furthermore, I understand that the rebuilding of Mr. Wayne’s home will include some rather…interesting and non-public projects.”

“You’re saying that Wayne’s got something like Council Headquarters in his house?”

“Along similar but less formal lines, from what I gather,” Giles replied. “As I owe Mr. Pennyworth a favor, I wondered if you would consider offering your services for Mr. Wayne’s rebuilding effort? Your experience with unusual building jobs would be invaluable, hard to come by as it is.”

Xander nodded.

“Is there any other Council business you need me to look at in Gotham?”

Giles shook his head.

“Only this. And only because it might be useful down the line. Otherwise I would certainly expect you to be compensated in line with your experience and value to the Council.”

“So I’m not getting paid for this?”

“Not beyond the normal going rate for a contractor, I shouldn’t think. You will, of course, continue to draw your normal Council salary while you are on assignment.”

Xander sighed in mock resignation.

“You make it sound so rough. Will there at least be donuts?”

“As to that, you will have to ask Mr. Pennyworth or Mr. Wayne.”

---

His first meeting with Alfred had been tense. The man had sized him up with a cool look that clearly showed he found Xander lacking.

“I had been expecting someone a little older, Mr. Harris. That eye patch may make you look dashing, but it doesn’t make you look older.”

Xander shrugged.

“Sorry, Mr. Pennyworth. Maybe Giles didn’t mention that we lost a significant number of senior staff in what I believe the British press called an ‘unfortunate incident’ a few years back.”

“I recall reading about the bombing, but I hadn’t realized the losses were so extensive,” the butler replied stiffly.

“Look, Mr. Pennyworth, if it’s just experience, I may be young, but I’ve been working with Mr. Giles for over a decade now, and while I wasn’t officially a builder for that entire time, I doubt you’re going to find many others with the background or skills to do the work you’re looking for.”

And the ones you do find will want a minor mint to keep quiet about it. You’ll also never be sure they haven’t sold your secrets to someone else who paid more. Which is why you called in this favor in the first place.

“Alfred, please, Mr. Harris.”

There seemed to have been a marginal unbending on the older man’s part, as if he’d made up his mind about something.

“In that case, Alfred, you can drop the Mr. Harris and make it Xander.”

“Xander, then, sir. I think we can consider you hired, pending Master Wayne’s approval, of course.”

“Great, how about I get a look at the site, and then you can tell me what you had before and what you have in mind now.”

“If you’ll follow me to the car, sir.”

---

Now that he was actually on-site, Xander thought he might owe Giles one. This job promised to be more than just interesting, it promised to be fun. The sketches Alfred had shown him for the secret level had been rudimentary, only slightly more elaborate than the rigged-up cave they’d had before. One look had told Xander that they could easily do better. Especially with the budget Wayne was apparently willing to allocate this little project.

It still blew Xander’s mind a little to know that Bruce Wayne was Gotham’s infamous- and secretive- masked vigilante. Alfred had let him in on the secret as gently as possible on the drive to the Wayne Estate. He’d been obviously relieved that Xander had taken it so well. Xander hadn’t had the heart to tell him that after all he’d seen as a Scooby, a wealthy playboy dressing up as a giant bat to fight crime barely registered on the scale of weird.

The Bat Cave, as Xander had started calling it, was pretty impressive even in its improvised- and slightly fire damaged- state. But it could easily be made into a state of the art facility that would give Mr. Wayne the kind of control center he needed, complete with secret access to the manor above.

The only problem was going to be that he would be doing most of the work himself, with whatever help Alfred and Wayne could give him when they had time. The contractors he would be overseeing would do only the basic structural work above the cave as part of rebuilding the manor- ideally, they wouldn’t even know the cave existed. Xander wondered what Alfred would say if he suggested turning to the Council for some extra manpower. Well, womanpower, actually. Slayers would be a huge help.

“It’s good to see someone who has such enthusiasm for the project.”

Xander jumped about a mile. Alfred could move really quietly. How he’d managed to not only sneak up on him, but also get a tray of coffee and donuts down here without Xander noticing, Xander had no idea. And it smelled like it was good coffee…

Alfred peered down at the changes Xander had been making to Master Wayne’s original sketches. It was already far more efficient and well thought out. Part of the benefit of bringing on someone whose thinking wasn’t limited by what the secret cave had been, Alfred decided.

“I have a feeling you and Master Wayne are going to get on like a house on fire,” he told the one-eyed carpenter.

The End

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