Title: Inherited Business
Author: Jedi Buttercup
Disclaimer: The words are mine; the worlds are not. I claim nothing but the plot.
Summary: B:tVS, Batman Begins; 850 words. Bruce Wayne oversees new construction at the mansion. (twistedshorts LJ Challenge #13).
Spoilers: Buffy post-"Chosen" (7.22); "Batman Begins" (2005)
Feedback: It's the coin of the realm.
Notes: I'm one of those Batman fen who's never picked up a comic and didn't care much for the earlier movies, but was instantly sucked into the 'verse upon watching Batman Begins. Naturally, this affects my understanding of canon. Also-- let's pretend for a moment the Buffyverse never referenced the comics either, OK? =)
Bruce watched the members of the so-called construction crew warily as they moved steadily through the subterranean cavern, setting up equipment and shifting debris to the bottom of the elevator shaft under the south-east corner of his mansion's charred foundations. "Are you sure about this, Alfred?" he asked again, disturbed by the sight of girls half his age and weight hefting items *he* would have had trouble with under the direction of a young man wearing an eye-patch.
When Alfred had suggested improving the "Batcave" prior to the reconstruction of the ancestral Wayne home, Bruce had assumed they would be doing the work themselves, as they had the first time he'd gone down there with an eye to creating a workshop for his alter ego. It had been something of a shock to him when two dark-colored vans bearing a Giles Construction logo had arrived at the guest house that morning. Alfred had not bothered to explain their presence ahead of time, and that worried him.
"Quite sure, sir," Alfred replied, calmly. "They have their own secrets to keep; they won't be eager to expose anyone else's, and they're the absolute best in their field."
"You said that before," Bruce sighed, crossing his arms over his dark blue cable-knit sweater. "What field? I've never heard of these people before, and from the way they move-- Alfred, whatever else they are, they aren't construction workers." The months and years he'd spent working his way around the world among the dregs of society and then training his body under the demanding eye of Ra's al Ghul had taught him a great deal about reading the body language and musculature of others. Everything about these people, from the youngest teenaged girl to the distinguished-looking Englishman currently talking to the one-eyed supervisor, told him that they were very dangerous indeed, perhaps not at his level of skill but far too experienced to be mere blue-collar employees.
"I can't tell you that, sir," Alfred said. "T'isn't my secret to reveal, any more than I've told them the reason for the work they're doing. But I can tell you that they have picked up more than a bit about defensive construction along the way; you'll find no one better for the task, and it will be more quickly done than you and I could manage ourselves. Besides, I thought it would be a good opportunity for you to become acquainted with them. I can't always be there to back you up on your crazy adventures, you understand."
Bruce considered that for a moment, giving his friend and butler a searching look, then turned his gaze back on the group moving around on the opposite side of the cavern. He knew that the incident with the hallucinogenic poison, followed by the attack and arson at the mansion and Batman's ensuing near-suicidal mission to stop Ra's al Ghul from destroying the city, had shaken the older man. If Lt. Gordon was right and the criminal elite of the area escalated their operations in response to his presence, future missions as Batman might easily be even more dangerous. Considering that, it made sense to have some kind of back-up available to him. And yet-- how could he trust or depend on a group of people with mysterious secrets of their own, whose abilities and motivations he was not aware of?
"Can you at least tell me how you know them?" he asked, his gaze returning to the oldest of the group, the Giles whose name was in their logo. The man looked younger than Alfred, but not by too much, and spoke with a British accent; he seemed the likeliest point of contact.
Alfred was silent for a moment, and when Bruce glanced back at him to gauge his mood he found to his surprise that Alfred was staring not at Mr. Giles but at one of the girls, a dark-haired young woman perhaps eighteen years of age. "I had a sister once," he said quietly, then shook his head and met Bruce's eyes, a trace of old grief in his expression. "She died quite young, but she was acquainted with Mr. Giles' father, and I've kept track of the family over the years. His business is the sort that is inherited, and I thought it might prove useful to know him some day."
"I see," said Bruce, though really, he didn't-- there had to be much, much more to that story. Nevertheless, he knew when to push and when to keep his peace. Now was not the time; he'd bring it up again later. "And so it has."
"Indeed, sir," Alfred murmured, then glanced down at his watch and cleared his throat. "I'll be preparing a spot of lunch up at the guest house-- do you have any specific requests?"
Bruce took a deep breath, then shook his head and smiled. "You know best, Alfred," he said, meaning more than just the meal. "I trust your judgement."
Alfred patted him on the arm, returning the smile, then gave the work crew a final glance and left the cavern.