Author: Marc D.
Title: An Apprentice Of The Knight
Disclaimer: I own nothing. Please Don't Sue
AN: I wrote this because an incessant plot bunny would not leave me alone after I saw the Batman Begins movie. If you have yet to see the movie, be warned: THIS FIC CONTAINS SPOILERS FOR BATMAN BEGINS
Xander stared morosely out of the window of the chartered jet while trying to ignore the other occupants of the small plane. How did he get himself into these situations? Ruefully shaking his head, he remembered.
He had just started, officially/unofficially, dating Cordelia Chase not even three days ago. Not that anyone, other than the Scooby gang, would ever find out. Not if Cordelia had her way. But, in the end, there was something about being with her. It was something that ran far deeper than her enchanting beauty. Rarely was there a spark of the true Cordelia Chase. Though, when they were alone, be it at her house or locked up in a broom/janitorial closet, it was there. Beyond the passion, physical or otherwise, there was something almost indescribable about her. And at times, he wanted nothing more than to bring that part of her to the surface. But now, riding in a small plane with her and her parents, he wanted nothing more than to throw himself out of the plane.
It wasn't really her fault. It was her parents. What was it with parents? Had it not been for Jesse's parents when growing up, and now Joyce Summers, Xander would have sworn that all parents were either evil or just plain negligent. This seemed to be the case here.
He sighed to himself. There could have been a way to get out of this. He was sure of it. When Cordelia had come to him this very morning, asking, almost begging him to go with her to some rich big shot's birthday party, he had wanted to say no. But he couldn't look into her eyes and deny her what she wanted. Even when she told him he would need to dig out his suit for the event. It was a cheap suit that, unfortunately, had gotten quite a bit of use attending funerals for friends and acquaintances.
He still couldn't say no, even when she told him where they were going, and that they would be flying by jet, and by they, she meant him, herself, and her parents. Xander had heard about the Chase adults, and he wasn't too enthused about finding out with any amount of certainty if the rumors were true.
Apparently, they were. Cordelia's mom, Lillith Chase, would have fit right in with the Harris couple. He seriously doubted that she had experienced a sober moment since Cordelia was born, if not before then. The woman seemed to instantly look down upon him, much like his own parents. And to this very minute, he could hear her constantly complaining to Cordelia about how disappointed she was that her own flesh and blood would even be associated with low born trash like him. Even over the roar of the engine, he was pretty sure the people back in Sunnydale could hear her.
Cordelia's father, David Chase, was actually the more favored of the two. At least that was the case in Xander's opinion. It seemed that with Mr. Chase, beyond the obligatory handshake, he refused to admit Xander still existed. Though, to be fair, the man seemed to do the same with both Cordelia and his wife. Just being around Mrs. Chase for however long it had been; Xander could definitely understand the need to block certain people out. He may not like that he was also doing it to Cordelia, but Xander could understand it on some level. Besides, Xander didn't even receive a handshake from his parents anymore; they just refuse to acknowledge his existence, unless of course they want to make his life a living hell in one of their drunken stupors.
Xander brought himself out of his musings and brought his attention to the area around him. 'Yep, she's still bitching. I have no idea how Cordelia puts up with it, but I now know where she gets her 'Queen C' persona, though she had, thankfully, brought it down about a thousand notches from what her mother is capable of.' Xander shook his head once more as he let him mind travel outwards, no longer paying attention to the voices within the plane, or more like the voice complaining within the plane.
He was somewhat excited to be going to this birthday party. He had never been outside of Sunnydale and was looking forward to spending a day or two in Gotham. He vaguely recalled hearing about an orphaned millionaire, or billionaire, named Bruce Wayne.
Xander had been perhaps 9 or 10 when the 'Prince of Gotham' had suddenly dropped off the face of the earth and had been presumed dead. It had made national news when it was discovered that the man was still very much alive. Add to the fact that there was quite a mystery, and scandal, as to his whereabouts for the past 7 years, now most of the world knew who Bruce Wayne was.
Xander still wasn't quite sure how, but from what he had been told, Mr. Chase was good friends with the man who ran Wayne Enterprises, not to mention that the two had been doing business together since before Cordelia had been born. And because of that, Xander found himself accompanying the Chase family across the country to a birthday party for someone he had never met. Although, meeting Bruce Wayne would be cool, he just hoped it was worth this aggravation.
Xander was bored out of his skull.
They had finally arrived in Gotham. They had quickly gone to the hotel, and thankfully he had a room to himself. The Chase family, more likely the mother, had been quite adamant about him having a room to himself that had no connection to their daughter's room. At this point, he wasn't complaining. After a quick shower and changing into their evening wear, the group head out to Wayne Manor. And now, Xander found himself in his current state of extreme boredom.
Cordelia's mother was quick to separate them. Leading Cordelia around to mingle with the other guests, he was left on his own. While it was nice to see the apologetic glances shot his way, it didn't really combat the feeling of being completely out of place.
He had no idea where Cordelia was, and it seemed that the word had been spread by Mrs. Chase to not associate with him. At least, that's what he figured. It must have taken a conscious effort for just about every single person to avoid him. Perhaps it was his suit.
He shook his head ruefully before finishing off his small glass of soda. Perhaps it was just rich people in general that seemed to try to avoid him like the plague. And the worst part of all of this, it had been god knows how long, and the birthday boy himself, Bruce Wayne, had yet to make an appearance. Xander had been aware of the term 'fashionably late,' but come on!
Xander couldn't help but feel to be in enemy territory. And, perhaps to pass the time, he treated it as such. He wasn't sure how much of it was from living the paranoid life that living on a Hellmouth tends to provide, or perhaps it was the fleeting memories and sensations of 'Soldier Boy' that seemed to present itself in times of duress, but the task of casing the place, and the people inside, felt almost as thought it was second nature.
Most of the people there exuded the 'haughty taughty' attitude and seemed not to pose too much of a threat. Though, that wasn't true for everyone. There were a few tough looking individuals, along with a man of Japanese descent who he had heard introduced as Ra's Al Ghul.
There had been one other man. It was someone who he had not heard any introduction given. In fact he had almost bypassed the man, standing at roughly 6'4." It was when their eyes met for a brief instance that a mutual understanding passed. And for the life of him, Xander wasn't sure what the hell it was. Though, from the brief and subtle changes in the man's expression, he was both surprised, and slightly amused by it.
Since Cordelia seemed to be nowhere in sight and none of the other guests wanted to approach him, Xander decided to take a small peek around the large manor.
The place was massive, with more rooms than anyone would know what to do with. He was currently standing in a room that was adorned with various types of armor and weaponry. Every footstep he took within the room was echoed off the bare marble floor. The room was enormous, and had an almost lethally beautiful appeal to it.
He was staring intently at a piece of armor that had once belonged to a knight long ago. His mind began to loose focus on the metal armor in front of him as feelings familiar to those he would associate with Sunnydale began to course through his body.
Slowly, and deliberately, he turned around. It was to his own shock, and the other man's delight, that Xander showed no surprise at the other man's presence in the room, just a few feet away.
Xander glanced down at the man's shoes. There didn't seem to be anything extraordinary about them. But, how did the man make it all the way into the room without making a sound? There had been no echoing footsteps, no warnings that the man was within striking distance. Only whatever 'spidey-sense' that Xander had picked up from his war against the 'night life' had shown any indication that there was anyone else in the room with him.
Catching his quick glance down, the man gave him an amused and knowing smirk.
"I apologize if I startled you." Xander did not like that man's smirk.
"I see. So, what is it that brought you to this part of Wayne Manor?"
Xander shrugged nonchalantly. "I guess I don't really mix well with the people in there."
The man chuckled slightly. "So I noticed." He then bowed slightly. "Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Henri Ducard."
Xander wasn't sure who started it, but suddenly they were circling each other, sizing each other up. With a slight smile on his face, Xander responded. "Xander." Henri looked at him questioningly. Xander smirked in response. "It's short for Alexander."
Ducard nodded. "I see." He then paused mid-step. "Yet, I wonder…"
Without any warning the man advanced on him. The speed Henri possessed was phenomenal. Perhaps not quite as fast as a vampire, yet it could be close. It was only the fact that Xander had been constantly fighting in a war with such creatures that were abnormally fast and strong, that allowed him to side step and pivot out of the way of Henri's open palm faced strike to his chest.
"What the hell are you doing?"
Henri glanced at Xander's position and nodded slightly.
"Impressive." With that, he made another lighting fast move. Xander tried to sidestep it once again, but Henri's foot lashed out of nowhere. Xander could feel himself falling backwards. He braced himself to roll with the fall when his sudden downward momentum was halted. Xander opened his eyes to see Henri smirking at him again. "But not entirely so."
Once Xander was straightened again he glared at the man. "What the hell were you doing? This is a party, not a fight!"
The man's smirk turned into what appeared to be a genuine smile. "No harm was done here. I was merely trying to ascertain something." He seemed to go within himself for a moment. "You reaction timing is far greater than I would have expected, yet you don't seem to have any knowledge of martial arts training. Your defensive moves seemed more…instinctual, and primitive."
Xander straightened and glared at him. "I wasn't exactly trying to hurt you. I was more trying to find out why the crazy man seemed intent on fighting me."
Ducard chuckled. "You think you can harm me?"
Xander stared him straight in the eyes. "Can I beat you? I don't know. Can I get in a few punches of my own? I'd like to think so." Suddenly Xander found himself smirking at the other man. It was a smirk that was quickly returned. "And knowing my luck, I'd get into trouble, and Cordelia would skin me alive."
The man let out a bark of laughter before positioning himself between Xander and the exit.
"I'll tell you what. If you think you can do it, do it."
Xander shook his head. "I don't want to hurt you."
Ducard tilted his head to the side and shrugged. "Who said anything about hurting me? Just lay a hand on me. That's all it'll take." Seeing that Xander was about to protest again, he grinned at the kid. "It's the only way you're getting to the door."
Xander looked at him incredulously. Then he glanced at the open doorway on the other side of the man. Suddenly, he realized the man wasn't fooling around. Xander couldn't help but to sigh to himself in defeat.
"I just have to make contact?"
As the man began to nod his consent, Xander moved.
Xander truly didn't want to harm this crazy man. And, as such, he held back as he threw his first attack. That was a mistake. As he found that, along with every other punch, kick, elbow he threw at the man, effortlessly blocked or outright avoided. On quite a few occasions, Xander found himself hitting nothing but air.
Xander stopped himself from his next attack. The two men stared at each other, and at the same time nodded. And with that, Xander stepped up his pace.
Henri had to admit that for someone of his youth, Xander had excellent speed and stamina. But, the kid wasn't making any sense. Someone with the abilities the kid was showing should show some discipline of martial arts. Sure, there were some forms thrown in there. But he knew that nothing was being done on the conscious level. If the kid had any training to go along with the abilities he already possessed, well then this 'Xander' would make an extremely deadly soldier. Perhaps someone fit to lead the League of Shadows.
But as it stood now, the kid lacked anything that resembled training. And for the moment, would do him no good. Perhaps he had found himself a new protégé. That was something to consider, after he had taken care of Bruce. He was brought out of his thoughts by an indignant screech.
Both men stopped in mid motion. Xander hadn't been able to break through the man's defenses. And what was worse, both men knew that it was unlikely he ever would have. This Henri Ducard was so far above him, it was staggering to see in a 'normal person.'
But that train of thought was cut off as Cordelia's harsh voice echoed throughout the room, if not the manor.
"Alexander Lavelle Harris, what in the HELL do you think you are doing?"
Both men glanced at each other. Xander gulped in terror. Ducard chuckled inwardly. 'Ah, young love. Well, I guess we know what fears he will have to face once he is to take charge of the League of Shadows.'
Henri smiled at the two young people before looking back at Xander with an amused expression. 'What better time to start training that now.'
"Well, that was bracing Xander. It was a pleasure to meet you." He then began to head out of the room with a gawking Xander staring after him incredulously after him.
Xander's eyes resembled those of a deer caught in headlights. Very slowly he turned his gaze toward an outraged Cordy.
While shaking his head, he pled. "I swear Cordy, he attacked me. And he wouldn't let me out unless I was able to..."
"I don't want to hear it." With that she turned on her heel and marched out of the room.
Slowly, like a man marching to his death, Xander walked out of the room, intent on going after his girlfriend. As he slowly made his way down the hallway, voices he couldn't place could be heard. Cautiously he made his way and peaked through an open doorway that looked into a room with a large bookshelf.
There were odds and ends in the room. A small television, along with a mirror, many books, and a piano that faced the bookcase decorated the room. Xander thought that the room looked a little mismatched, yet, somehow, wouldn't have changed the decor himself. With all of the mismatched items, it almost reminded him of his room.
He was brought out of his musings by an English voice, handing out an admonishment with a tinge of wry amusement.
"Really, Master Bruce, I thought we weren't going to be bringing attention to ourselves."
A younger voice, no traces of an English accent spoke up. "I have no idea what you mean."
"Oh, and what do you call this then?" The English man, who was either a close relative, or perhaps a servant, Xander wasn't quite sure why, but both seemed to fit as the man fussed about 'Master Bruce' while pointing to the television. The television was currently replaying a high speed chase, with what appeared to be a really cool cross between a tank and a sports car.
"Damn good television!"
Xander couldn't help but to let out a snort of laughter at the response. It was something that he immediately regretted doing as soon as both pairs of eyes turned in his direction.
He gulped and took a step back as they both glanced at each other before looking back at him.
Xander gave them a shy smile and a quick wave.
"Uh, Hi. So, anything good on?"