The Justice Leaguer and a Carpenter
A/N: This is a sequel to “The League of Extraordinary Women”. It will make a lot more sense if you read that first.
Disclaimer: None of these characters belong to me. If you want details on ownership and all that jazz, you’ll want to read the appropriate intros in “The League of Extraordinary Women”.
Bruce was enjoying a quiet dinner at home. Selina had convinced Alfred to prepare a French dinner, and Alfred had been able to procure a couple properly dressed and hung pheasants, so they were enjoying a superb faisan aux champignons
. Dick and Barbara had been able to make it. Tim and Cassandra had joined them too, even if Tim was nervous about accompanying Cassie on a ‘date’ and Cassie was uncomfortable with all the tableware. So Selina was telling Cassie stories about how she learned to use fine tableware properly when she was younger.
Bruce refrained from pointing out that Selina’s assorted faux pas
had occurred not when she was Cassie’s age, but when she was in elementary school. Or younger.
Dick looked at him with that expression. The one which meant that Dick was about to attempt to tease him. “Hmm, it looks like there’s a Batman copycat in Los Angeles. Or have you been flying out there without telling us?”
Bruce calmly asked, “Why would you say that?”
Barbara said, “I saw it in the crime statistics for central Los Angeles, and I looked into the police records. A vigilante. Apparently male, mid twenties, white, a little over six feet, muscular. Looking at the reports, I’d say he’s not a meta, just a strong baseline with a background as a street brawler. He targets street crime mostly, at night, and he’s scared the tar out of some of these guys.”
Bruce started to let the topic drop, when something clicked. “Does he have a name? A theme?”
Dick admitted, “Well, no, it doesn’t look like it.”
Bruce insisted, “Then he’s not copying me.”
Barbara said, “But he does have a nickname.”
Bruce exhaled slowly. “Let me guess. He’s known as the White Knight.”
Dick and Barbara exchanged looks. Barbara asked, “If you had already looked into this guy, why did you string us along?”
Selina dropped her napkin. “Are you telling me this is our world’s Xander Harris
Bruce said, “I haven’t looked into this. And yes, I think it could be Harris.”
Barbara asked, “Is this why you asked me to look up Alexander Lavelle Harris for you?”
Selina said, “We told you about my trip to another dimension. The Wiccan and the Vampire Slayer brought two partners in for the final battle. Another Vampire Slayer, and a norm. A guy who had been fighting vampires and demons since he was fifteen.”
Dick said, “No one normal fights vampires and demons starting at age fifteen, and survives for long. He’s a meta of some kind.”
Selina said, “Apparently not. Although Buffy and Willow did refer to him as ‘the demon magnet’. It seems that his first girlfriend, his first teacher crush, his fiancée, and several other of his dates were all demons who could pass as attractive women. According to Willow, his other girlfriends and dates and encounters included a witch, a woman who became a part-demon seer, and the last two Chosen Ones. In their world, he’s known as the Slayer’s White Knight, and also The One Who Sees.”
Barbara said, “I pulled up the guy’s records. He moved to Los Angeles after graduating from high school in Santa Barbara. His two childhood friends, Willow Rosenberg and Jesse McNally, were killed in front of him by a two-time loser driving a stolen car while fleeing police pursuit.” She stopped and thought. “And… the first incident the police have connected with the White Knight was roughly fourteen months after he moved to L.A. and started working construction there.”
He said, “I need you to go through the police casefiles for assaults on criminals.”
Tim said, “Or pursuits of criminals that ended surprisingly easily.”
Cassie said, “Crooks leave town.”
Barbara nodded, “Right, Cassie. If he scared a criminal into leaving L.A., it wouldn’t show up on the city crime records. It would show up on some other city’s crime statistics.”
Bruce said, “Good. Both of you.” Cassie ducked her head and blushed.
Dick said, “If he’s effective and staying off the police radar, there may be a decrease in certain types of violent crimes with a corresponding increase in attempts at the same crimes. Attempted murder instead of murder. Attempted robbery instead of completed robbery.”
Barbara said, “I’ll get on this as soon as we get home. It may take me a while to search all the possible permutations on the crime statistics.”
Dick groaned softly at that. He asked Bruce, “Want a partner on your patrol tonight?”
It took two more evenings before Batman was ready to appear in Los Angeles. He needed to let Oracle do all of her research. He needed to set things up so Gotham City was adequately patrolled while he was gone, and he needed to plan things out in case this took him multiple nights. He needed to arrange with the Watchtower to use their transport technology, so he wouldn’t waste undue amounts of time getting to Los Angeles.
He transported from the Batcave to the Watchtower, and from there to the JLA auxiliary site in downtown L.A. But he was still miles from his targeted destinations, so he was going to have to use the jetpack he had brought along. And he was going to have to persuade Nightwing to stop calling it the Bat-jetpack. He didn’t think it would be possible to make Selina stop calling it the Batpack, but he would work on that problem at a later date.
The closest to a superhero in Los Angeles was Manhunter, who wasn’t speaking to the Justice League at the moment, so he wasn’t going to go ask her for favors. But the JLA auxiliary site was maintained by the LAPD in case of a supervillain strike or an invasion that required JLA assistance. It really wasn’t anything more than a small amount of space on the top floor of the County Courthouse with enough room for the hardware and a platform big enough for seven Leaguers to teleport in. But that was all he needed for the evening.
He quickly moved to the courthouse roof and made sure the jetpack was secure and fully charged. Then he dove off the roof and fired the engines.
He really preferred using his grapple and swinging from building to building. But Los Angeles didn’t have enough skyscrapers close enough together. Oh, there were lots of tall buildings, but they tended to be spread out, except in three relatively small areas that weren’t going to do him any good tonight.
He flew over the Wayne Tech building and gave the LuthorCorp building a wide berth, just in case Luthor had anti-hero defenses up and running tonight. And he headed for the worse parts of the sprawling city.
Oracle had managed to turn up a number of interesting data points, some of which she couldn’t prove were really connected to the White Knight. But it looked like the LAPD was wrong about the first appearance of the White Knight. It had taken someone like Oracle to find the connection, but with his knowledge of Xander Harris, she had been able to find the assault that Batman was confident was the first big move Xander Harris had made against Los Angeles crime.
Batman moved up another three hundred feet and triggered a monocular scanner over his left eye. It gave him the equivalent of a 10X telescope, so he could study the streets below him. The first three areas on Oracle’s list looked unpromising, so he kept moving. It would be nice if he could really find Harris in one night, but he knew this might take a dozen or more visits to L.A. to find the White Knight. And the jetpack didn’t have an unlimited energy supply, either.
The fourth area was the turf of a street gang. One of the local Crips gang divisions, which was trying to attract the attention of bigger players by pulling bigger crimes. But their murder rate had gone down while their attempted murder rate had jumped. And their armed robbery rate had gone down, while their attempted theft rate had jumped. Also, gang members kept ending up in local hospitals and clinics with assorted injuries that required treatment, most of which were broken legs and broken arms, instead of anything potentially life-threatening. It was almost as if someone was subtly interfering with the gang’s attempts to convince Intergang that they were worth investing in. Oracle had managed to uncover that Intergang’s agents had already written these guys off as incompetent and not worth their money. The gangbangers just hadn’t gotten the word yet. Or maybe they didn’t want to believe it.
This site looked more promising. There were half a dozen Crips scattered around a three block by three block area, all of them armed with machine pistols or automatic rifles, and all of them on top of flat roofs, checking the streets for… something. Batman had a good idea what they might be looking for. He began circling the area at five hundred feet up, mentally marking the location of each of the Crips.
There were three potential sites for the White Knight to hit. Batman chose the best one as his key location. Several drug dealers were moving into an old building that looked like their distribution point where they would return to hand cash over to a ‘treasurer’ and pick up new loads of drugs to sell on the streets. There were two armed Crips on rooftops overlooking the front and back of the building.
And there was the White Knight, wearing a black trenchcoat and a black hat over a gray outfit. The outfit probably looked white under the right lighting. Or maybe the codename was more related to his behavior.
The trenchcoat and hat went into a bag while the White Knight stood in an alley across from the front of the building, and a smokebomb went flying through one of the front-facing picture windows. As the smoke billowed out into the street, the gangbanger with the rifle on the roof across the street waited for his shot.
Batman set the jetpack’s controls on ‘glide’ so he could move in silently. He didn’t want to leave a batarang behind, so tonight he was using ordinary steel disks that anyone could have machined. He hurled one and caught the gangbanger in the back of the head, dropping the thug with hardly a sound.
The White Knight sprinted into the smoke, and there was the unmistakable sound of a solid door being smashed open. Batman continued to glide around the building, finding two armed gunmen outside who were rushing to get inside and stop the intruder. Both had swift, painful meetings with a steel disk, and dropped unconscious to the street. Before he dropped to the street, he soared behind the building and took out the other rooftop gunman with a ‘beanbag’ blaster to the gut.
Batman moved to where he could get a glimpse through a window, even if the jetpack made ordinary movements unwieldy and more complex. The view wasn’t that good, because of the teargas bombs and the smokebombs that had been unleashed. That is, unless you had infrared vision, which he did with the right equipment positioned over his eyes. The White Knight was tearing through the coughing, screaming drug dealers, and he was wielding… an aluminum baseball bat. That would explain the injuries Oracle had noted.
Then the White Knight suddenly stopped and ran for the front door. Batman picked up the police bands, and realized that the White Knight had called the police, and had waited until the police were on their way before ending his attack. The drug dealers would come struggling out of the building right into a police cordon, and the evidence would be lying untouched on tables inside.
Batman moved swiftly down the side street and launched his jetpack again. The White Knight sprinted out of the front door, grabbed his sack off the ground of the alley across the way, and ran onward. Batman swiftly soared over the roof and moved ahead of the vigilante, since at least two of the Crips rooftop gunners would have a shot at the White Knight if he kept moving on the same route.
Yes, there was the alignment. One White Knight sprinting across a street into an alley, and one gunman aiming at said vigilante’s back. Another steel disk stopped that threat. Batman flew onward and dealt with two other Crips on the rooftops just in case. After all, the rooftops were his domain, not the crooks’.
The White Knight came out of the alley four blocks further along, and his mask was gone. His bat was stuffed into his bag, and he was wearing the trenchcoat, so his costume wasn’t showing. He looked like one more guy rushing for an old car in a bad part of town.
It was definitely Xander Harris.
Harris jumped into a beat-up old Ford pickup that not even a desperate car thief would bother to touch. He drove off, carefully sticking to the traffic laws, and in under an hour he was home.
But Batman already knew all of that. Oracle knew where Xander lived. Who had built his apartment building, what the blueprints looked like, and what the stock hardware for the doors and windows was. What furniture he had bought with his credit card, and what furniture he had listed with the rental agency on his rental agreement. What locks he had bought for his front door. Oracle knew more about Xander Harris and his apartment than Harris’ mother, or his girlfriend, one Amy Madison from his hometown, who had also moved to Los Angeles but had not yet moved in with Harris. Ms. Madison was sharing the rental of an apartment with two other young women, one an aspiring actress and one a college undergraduate. And Selina had provided some information that could possibly be relevant about Miss Madison.
Xander Harris slipped into his apartment building and took the back stairs instead of the elevator, because he was still wearing his ‘uniform’ under his trenchcoat. He really didn’t want to have to make up some lame explanation if he didn’t have to. At least he hadn’t gotten stabbed this time. That had been a huge problem. Amy was still upset about it. He wasn’t sure if he was going to lose her over the whole White Knight business, but he couldn’t bring himself to stop.
He unlocked his door, slipped inside, and hung up his coat and hat. Then he started toward his bedroom to get out of his costume and hide the thing. He froze when the shadow moved in the living room. His hand slid down toward his bag.
A gravely voice said, “That won’t be necessary, Mister Harris. Or should I call you ‘White Knight’ instead?”
Xander watched as the shadow moved forward… and a costumed figure in a black and gray suit with a black cloak stepped out. He looked at the bat logo on the chest and the bat ears on the cowl, and he said, “I hate to break it to ya, but that look is already taken, and from what I hear, that Batman guy gets pretty cranky about impostors.”
“I am the Batman,” Gravel Larynx snapped. “I came all the way from Gotham City to talk to you.”
Xander rolled his eyes. “Oh, sure. A big-time Justice League superhero takes time out of his busy schedule to come here. I mean, I’m just a glorified bricklayer.”
“You’re not a mason.”
Xander said, “Fine, be that way, I’m just a glorified whittler.”
Batman said, “You’re the vigilante known as the White Knight. You’ve been fighting crime in Los Angeles ever since you saw an attempted mugging of a mother with two children, one black-haired boy and one red-haired daughter, on the anniversary of the deaths of Willow Rosenberg and Jesse McNally because of a two-time loser fleeing police pursuit in a stolen Honda Accord. You didn’t put together a costume until after that, when you realized you could not sit back and let one more child die because of some criminal who couldn’t care less what happened to everyone except him.”
Xander swallowed hard. Had he told anybody
about this stuff? He’d finally admitted to Amy that he was the White Knight when he’d needed her help to deal with that knife gash on his back. But who could have known about Willow and Jesse? And who could have known about that first crime-busting effort after he got here?
He carefully said, “I’ve heard the Justice League has mind readers. And people who can do magic. Real magic. Is that where you heard this stuff? Which I am absolutely not admitting to because it’s totally bogus.”
Batman said, “Something completely different. I was in another dimension fighting a hellgod intent on taking over the multiverse, and I met… you. A Xander Harris who had seen evil in his dimension and decided he couldn’t sit back and wait for someone else to face it, once his friend Jesse died and his friend Willow almost died. That Xander Harris fought as the sidekick of a supernaturally powered girl, and faced vampires and demons and dark witches. Based on the courage and responsibility and determination I saw in that Xander, I realized that a similar Xander in this dimension could be a great hero.”
Xander shrugged, “I’m not a great hero. I’m just a guy.”
Batman insisted, “No, you’re more than Joe Average. Granted, you’re not Superman or the Flash or Green Lantern. But you don’t have to be the most powerful being on Earth to be a hero.”
Xander stared at him for several seconds. “I think I really need to know if you’re the real Batman, or at least not a supervillain. And I think I need to know if that White Knight guy – which I am absolutely not admitting to being – is going to be arrested for a bunch of felony assault charges.”
Batman growled, “Second point first. There are no wants or warrants out for the White Knight. Yet. There are, however, a lot of gangstas who are gunning for you. I had to take out half a dozen of them who were lurking on rooftops waiting to get a shot at you with heavy automatic weaponry.” Xander nodded uncomfortably. “And there had better not be any available way to prove that I am Batman or to identify me.”
“Well, how about one of those bat-things you throw?”
Batman pulled one out and handed it to Harris. “Careful, it has a razor-sharp edge along the wing, and a heavy core around the head.”
Harris checked it out. “Man, this thing is milled to within an inch of its life. Perfect balance… you could knock someone out with this part… so you could throw it one way to cut stuff and another way to knock guys out. Impressive. This must’ve taken someone a long time to design and build and test. But someone could have stolen one of the things after the real Batman threw it at a crook.”
Batman nodded, “Right. I have agents who buy them up when they turn up on Craigslist and eBay and SuperAuction. But there are still seven of them out there, unaccounted for. So let me tell you what else Batman would know. I got into your apartment because I know who built this building, and when. I know that they used stock hardware for the apartment doors. I know that you bought a Masterlock 670 from an Ace Hardware store in El Monte when you moved in and upgraded the door yourself. I know that all Masterlock 670s bought by Ace Hardware within two months before your purchase were of the 5890 series, and could be opened with the right skeleton key, of which there were twenty-two possible keys to try. I know that you mailed in the rebate, so that the company has your purchase on file, and has you listed as owning one of the 5891a locks, which cut down the number of possible skeleton keys to try all the way down to four. And I have all four. It took me five seconds to unlock your front door.”
Xander grinned, “Wow. That makes you either Batman or The Riddler, I guess.”
Batman decided to press, before Xander Harris led the conversation off on another tangent. “Does your girlfriend Amy Madison know you’re the White Knight?”
Xander winced. “Yeah, and she’s still mad about it. I got slashed in the back with a knife a couple weeks ago, and I had to ask her to help me patch it up because I couldn’t reach it.”
Batman said, “That’s good. Because your girlfriend needs to be checked to see if she has metahuman abilities.”
Batman suppressed the smile that wanted to bubble up. He had finally broken through Xander’s façade. He said, “The Amy Madison of that other dimension had magical powers, and eventually became a serious threat. Your Amy Madison may have magical abilities too. She could benefit from a good mentor. The Justice League could help with that. As we could help with a better uniform that has some body armor and other capabilities.” He flicked a business card at Xander, who snatched it out of the air. “That’s a direct link to a Justice League contact. Use the codeword ‘Rosenberg’ so we’ll know it’s you.”
“Wait!” Xander gasped. “You said Jesse died but Willow almost
died. Is… is my Willow alive in that other world? Is she… okay?”
Batman nodded, “Yes and yes. In that other world, Willow Rosenberg is alive and well and happy. She’s a magic user. She is perhaps the most powerful force for good on her planet. She is possibly the only being in her world powerful enough to directly fight someone like Wonder Woman or Superman or Doctor Fate. And she and her Xander Harris are still the best of friends, after all this time.”
It looked like Xander’s eyes were misting up. Time to leave. He stepped to the window he had already unlocked and checked. He lifted it and leapt out into the night.
Xander saw the Batman leap out the window, so he sprinted to the window in time to see the guy fire a grappling hook at the roof of the building and expertly swing around, with something reeling him in so he shot upward with the line.
Xander sprinted down the hall, up the stairs, and out onto his roof. He got there in time to see Batman flying off toward downtown L.A. with some kind of jetpack strapped to his back.
He looked at the business card still in his hand. The card had a 1-900 number, and nothing else. He watched the guy fly off through the night, and he thought.
He decided. He didn’t know about himself, but he was going to make sure Amy got that testing from someone trustworthy. Even if she was still mondo mad at him, he was going to watch out for her. And if it turned out his Amy had superpowers too…
Well, even if he didn’t go the Justice League route, maybe the White Knight could use a partner.