The Beginning of the Tail
AN: Haha, I thought of a plot! :)
Just a reminder, I own nothing, and this is very loosely based on canon
Batman, mostly because my Batman knowledge is a rather loose thing...
As always, feedback... giveme!
Also, my apologies for the chapter title. I kinda like puns.
***************** New Dark Knights: Chapter One *****************
Xander tore his mask off as he exited the Batmobile wearily. He ran a hand
through his shaggy hair and made a mental note to get a trim. Aside from the
fact that Alexander Wayne was supposed to, theoretically, look presentable
at all times as the President of a global multimillion dollar company, it
was a damn nuisance with his crime fighting.
Johnson was already upstairs, doing whatever manservants did when they knew
their employer was not in the mood for British humor, but he had left a
glass of Xander’s best Scotch lying out near the main controls of the Batcave.
Not the bottle of course, Xander groused internally, because manservant or
not, Johnson still pretended to know what was best for his employer.
Probably did too, but that was besides the point.
Xander ran through some standard computations on the machine, numbly entering
the data from the night, as he sipped the Scotch and tried not to throw it
back in one long gulp. It was on nights like this that he really missed
the old man. His eye dwelled on the profile of the smugglers he had busted
Child smugglers, specializing in human slavery, God he felt tired, tired of
being part of the human race. At least the demons had some excuse, coming
from hell dimensions and all. Xander had been after this particular ring
for the last two years but tonight he had finally busted the ringleaders.
It filled him with a grim sort of satisfaction, but he knew that even if
he did drink a bottle of Scotch right now, he’d still see the kid’s faces
he rescued tonight in his dreams, asking him why he hadn’t done more, or
Ah, the dilemma that was his life.
He snorted and shut down the profiles before heading up the stairs to
Wayne Manor. Xander kept the place warmer than the old man ever had, a
remnant of his Californian years. It cost a damn bundle, the place was
draftier than a castle, but he hadn’t had to worry about money since the day
Bruce Wayne named Xander his legal heir.
He was melancholy enough that he allowed his feet to take him to the old man’s
favorite study. Things were pretty much as Bruce had left it before his death
six years previously; the same books on the end tables, a faint hint of Cuban
cigars lingering still in the air, and a copious layer of dust. Xander put
his empty Scotch glass down on one of the tables and absently studied the
portrait of Bruce Wayne that hung above the mantle.
The oil painting had been done about ten years ago, shortly after Xander had
come to live in the Manor. The artist had been an obnoxious shit, but maybe
that was the key; the painting truly captured the sardonic condescension that
characterized Bruce Wayne in his later years. Xander knew he was too much of
a pessimist not to end up in a similar position, a crotchety old man who had
seen too much of life not to laugh at it all sometimes, including himself.
If the old man had still been alive after a mission like tonight’s they would
have escaped in here, full Scotch bottle in hand, Johnson be damned, and got
quietly drunk until dawn. Bruce would have sat in the green leather chair
on the right side of the room, reading Nietzsche for philosophical kicks as
he sipped the alcohol, while Xander would have been slumped over the in the
blue overstuffed arm chair, his feet propped up on the nearby globe despite
objections, as he watched Bruce read.
He’d never become much of a reader, but it had been such a large part of his
childhood, of Willow and Giles, that it was comforting at times to watch
others read with the scent of books around him. The dustier the better.
He would have watched Bruce read until most of the Scotch was gone, and then
Bruce would have listened as Xander spilled whatever memories he had pent up
in him. Sometimes, on those kind of nights, he talked about the mission that
had brought them to the study. Oftentimes though, he spoke of a past that
he rarely let himself think about in depth. Of Sunnydale, and Cleveland,
and even more rarely, when the Scotch hit him exceptionally hard, of Maddie
and the night he left it all behind, bloody and battered in the alleyways
A sardonic smile touched his own lips. Funny how the identity of Batman
currently reigned as the biggest shock of his life. Sure, Chosen Ones and
Vampires had been a big deal, but in a way it had been a relief to suddenly
have a REASON for why his hometown sucked, and bit, and killed beyond all
reasoning. Having Bruce Wayne unmask himself, literally BY masking himself,
had taken the proverbial wind out of Xander’s sails.
Finding out who the old man expected to follow in his footsteps had been two
parts a sucker punch to the gut, and one part giddy pleasure. How often did
you get the chance to become a Superhero? Well, unless you were born super
girlie and equally super powerful.
Johnson appeared, right on cue, as Xander could feel the melancholy begin to
turn to maudlin and that, that would never do. He felt a small smile tug at
his lips as his butler and manservant appeared around the corner, lumbering
with the grace of a misshapen panther.
Gregory Johnson came from a long line of British butlers; serving was in his
blood, and he did a bloody good job of it. Gregory though, hardly fit the
stereotypical butler role. He had the cultured tones, the crisp air of
efficiency, the ability to mercilessly mock his employer within an inch of
his life, but he was also built like a lineback. At six four, three hundred
and some odd pounds of sheer mass, not all muscle, certainly not fat though,
Gregory certainly stuck out at family gatherings. He also knew his way
around most modern day weapons and, thanks to Xander’s insistence, a crossbow
and stake. All of which served Xander’s purposes splendidly.
He’d gotten used to having friends, and having those friends watch his back.
He’d come a long way from eating potato chips in graveyards, for good or ill,
but not even Batman could be everywhere at once in a fight. Especially the
odd times he got caught having a knock down drag out as Alex Wayne. Now that
the old man was laughing at Xander from his grave, Xander’s friends were few
and far between. It was nice to have someone who could give him both
friendship, protection, and still quote Monty Python when covered with blood.
It took a rare man to withstand, and challenge, Xander’s own warped sense of
Tonight though, Johnson was all solemn dignity. “Sir, I wished to ask you
about the invitation for the Millaford gala,” … and take Xander’s mind off
of the night’s events… “your RSVP is required by tomorrow at the latest.”
Xander frowned, “Do I need to go?”
Johnson’s lip curled slightly in censure, and Xander, despite himself, hid
a grin. “The gala benefits the new wing of the Gotham’s Children’s Hospital,
a cause which you donated significant amounts to during its construction
over the last two years.”
Xander stared at Johnson, calculating a way out. He hated galas, he really
did. No matter HOW expensive his suits were, they were ALWAYS uncomfortable.
You could give a bum lots of money… but you couldn’t make them dress well.
Normally Johnson would just ignore any but the most necessary social
Which meant that Xander was about to be screwed. Johnson’s mild expression
narrowed slightly as he mercilessly went in for the kill.
“I also believe that some of our underground intelligence agents have hinted
that there will likely be an attempt at kidnapping and ransom by the Robin
Yup, his doom was sealed. Johnson was really getting to know him too well.
Not much could lure Xander into a public display of his persona of Alex Wayne,
but the chance to catch, or at least mock, Robin Smuggler was one of them.
Defeated, shoulders slumped, Xander sighed. “Fine, fine, I’ll go. Make sure
one of my suits is in an acceptable condition.”
Johnson’s eyes gleamed. “The gala specifically recommends a tuxedo, tails and
“Tails!” Xander wailed.
Johnson spun and turned on his heel, showing Xander his broad back as he strode
away. “Very good Sir!”
Prudence Millaford looked around her empty bedroom before carefully flexing
her hands. They looked like her normal hands, slim and pale, manicured within
an inch of their life as most heiress’s hands were. The problem was, even
though they LOOKED the same, they didn’t FEEL the same. As of nearly two weeks
ago, she had picked up the awful habit of breaking nearly everything she
touched and she could feel the power coursing through her hands, her whole
damn body! It was like being a conduit for electricity.
She hurriedly reached for her diamond necklace as her Father’s footsteps tread
up the stairs to her bedroom. Robert Millaford knocked lightly on her open
door and walked in before she could call him in, a jaunt to his step. She
fiddled with the clasp a bit, exasperated and worried by how right she had
felt for two weeks. How right and yet, how wrong. “You look very nice,” Prue
said before he noticed her distraction and her father beamed in response as
he paused to survey his charcoal gray tuxedo, preening slightly.
At thirty-eight, he was still prone to the vanity of youth.
“Thank you, Princess.” The mirth fled his hard blue eyes as she fumbled with
and broke the clasp of the necklace that had been her fourteenth birthday
present just the week before.
“Damn!” Prue muttered as the entire necklace seemed to fall apart in her hands,
diamonds and links going in all directions. Traitorous tears filled her own
blue eyes, mostly in frustration, as she managed to break something else.
Managed to show just how wrong feeling right was.
Her Father came forward, unmindful of the precious stones he stepped on,
and chucked her under the chin, causing her to look up. His full mouth
tightened at the sight of her tears, but his hands were gentle as he wiped
them carefully away from the corners of her eyes. “Shh, Princess, you’ll
run your mascara and then we’d have hold the whole party off for your
“I’m sorry, Daddy,” she whispered.
Robert Millaford shook his head firmly. “Don’t worry Princess, these things
can be fixed. You know that. What’s prompted the tears?” Prue tried to
look away, but her Father’s fingers held her head still. “Are you worried
Prudence stared at her Father, and felt the confession that was not quite a
confession clawing at her, asking to be spoken, acknowledged. Begging to
have someone confide to about how her world had changed, and yet remained
maddeningly the same. But she was a Millaford, and some things, some
things just weren’t done.
Her spine straightened and her Father’s fingers loosened enough so that
she could nod her head. “No Sir, I’m not worried.”
He examined her for another long moment before nodding himself and backing
away. “That’s my girl.” Prue nervously smoothed the silk of her silver
ball gown until her Father shook his head in quiet approval as she remedied
her usually impeccable appearance. “You remember the plan?”
A rueful smile pulled at her lips as she rolled her eyes, carefully
squashing her doubts, and fears. “Of course, Daddy. I won’t forget.”
Robert Millaford smiled in response and rocked back on his heels. “Well
then, I stand rebuffed.” He gallantly offered her his arm and she took it
smoothly, comfortable with the ritual after years of appearing at her Father’s
side at various parties since she was old enough to walk.
They walked down the stairs together, her Father’s step light once more,
and it was only when they were getting into the waiting limousine that her
Father paused, and met her eyes again. “Whatever IS bothering you we’ll
talk about later.” Prue’s mouth tightened. “Understood?” At her silence
he squeeze one hand. “Prudence.”
“Yes Daddy,” she responded softly before gathering her hem and stepping
into the car.