Title: Dark Knight in Denver
A/N: Takes place in the Mag 7ATF AU. Doesn't follow the Batman timeline in the comics. Dick is still in college, and Babs has become Oracle.
1"So Travis didn't tell you why he wanted to see us all?"
"I've already told you he didn't, JD," Chris replied as they walked toward the DA's office.
The DA's secretary smiled at them. "He's expecting you. Go right on in."
As soon as they entered the room they noticed a man facing away from them, looking out the large picture window. He was tall, and had black hair. Ezra guessed the perfectly tailored suit to have a price tag in the thousands.
Travis stood up and smiled. "Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet and old friend of mine, Bruce Wayne."
The man turned from the window, an easy smile on his lips. Ezra and Josiah both noticed that the smile didn't reach the man's striking blue eyes. "Hello. Orin's told me a lot about you gentlemen," Bruce said as he walked toward them. He'd also done his own research on them before coming to Denver and knew a great deal about each man. As he greeted each man his detail oriented mind filled in what he knew about them.
Chris stepped forward first. "Chris Larabee." As they looked in each other's eyes both felt a sort of connection. They each saw the soul-deep pain, and loss, in the other man's eyes that they usually saw in the mirror. Chris had lost his wife and son to a car bomb five years ago, Bruce recalled. He was the team leader, and a former Navy SEAL.
Bruce then looked at the man on Chris's right. "Buck Wilmington," Buck said as he held out his hand. Buck was known as a ladies man, and had been with the Denver PD. He was also Chris's best friend, and had been for years.
Bruce then looked to Chris's left. "Name's Vin Tanner." The teams sharpshooter, and a former Army Ranger, and martial arts expert. From what Orin had said Chris considered Vin a younger brother.
"Josiah Sanchez,"the profiler introduced himself.
"I've read some of your work on profiling. I look forward to discussing it if there's time."
"I'll look forward to it," Josiah responded, surprised Bruce would know of his work.
Looking at the man beside Josiah, Bruce noticed that he was dressed almost as expensively as himself.
"Ezra P. Standish, at your service. It is a pleasure, Sir."
"Likewise. I've met your mother," Bruce admitted. Thanks to his mother Ezra was independently wealthy. He'd been with the FBI, and did the Undercover work for the team, from what Orin had told him.
"You have my sympathy," Ezra said, a wry smile on his face as he thought of how Maude would be around a man as rich as Bruce Wayne.
"And you mine," Bruce replied with a wry smile of his own.
Bruce stepped back to the other side of the group.
Bruce had known that JD was the youngest member, but was still a bit surprised to see he was no older than his own son, Dick. But the boy was a computer expert, and had a genius IQ. Orin had mentioned that Buck treated JD as his younger brother.
"I'm Nathan Jackson," the last of the team said. The Team's medic, Bruce recalled.
"So what brings you to Denver?" asked Ezra.
"The Gun Control Conference. I'm going to be speaking at it," Bruce replied. "And it's always good to see Orin."
"I went to University with Bruce's father. Then he went to Medical School and I left for Law School, but we stayed in touch," Travis supplied.
"Why the interest in gun control?" Josiah asked, curious.
The pleasant smile disappeared from Bruce's face as if it had never been. The look in his blue eyes was very intense, and very remote, as if seeing something no one else in the room did. And in truth he was again seeing the image of his parents dead on the sidewalk. When he spoke his voice had slipped down octaves into a tone usually only heard from beneath the cowl of Batman. "My parents were shot by a mugger."
No one knew what to say and the room fell silent. They were saved by Travis's phone ringing. "Why don't you guys show Bruce around the Team Seven offices," Travis suggested before picking up his phone. "I'll see you for dinner Bruce."
"See you then," Bruce agreed before following the others out.
"So I take it you're in favor of gun control?" asked Buck as they walked down the hall.
"To a degree. I have no problem with citizens legally owning guns. I have a problem with how easily criminals can get guns illegally," Bruce replied.
"I think that's about how we all feel," Buck said.
After a brief tour, Bruce and Josiah began a conversation about profiling. Josiah was amazed at Bruce's knowledge of the subject. While Bruce never mentioned any profiles he'd done Josiah felt sure that the younger man had worked up a great many of them.
Bruce then got into a conversation with Ezra regarding investing and managing money. While Ezra had heard that Lucious Fox ran Wayne Enterprises, by the end of the conversation he didn't believe Bruce wasn't making some of the decisions. The man clearly had a very good business acumen.
After talking with Ezra Bruce wandered over to where JD was working on one of the computers. Before long JD was sure that Bruce knew his way around computers. Sure, there were experts who knew computers better, but Bruce was better than any average person. A lot better, JD decided.
Eventually Bruce left, and the Seven gathered together.
"So what do you think, Josiah?" asked Chris.
"He has the reputation of a shallow playboy, but there's a lot more to him than that. While he was talking to Ezra I did a little checking. His parents were killed by a mugger. . . and he was there. Saw everything. Just a child at the time. That kind of trauma at that age is going to have some lasting effects. It certainly explains his interest in gun control. He never actually admitted it, even tried to hide it, but he's a master profiler."
"He also knows his way around computers. More than a guy with the technical support staff Bruce must have would need to know," JD reported.
"They say his right hand man runs Wayne Enterprises, but Bruce could easily run it. He has the knowledge and ability. I have a feeling it simply isn't his main interest," Ezra reported.
"I was watching him. The way he moves, and holds himself, I'm thinking he knows martial arts. And not just someone who took a few classes as a kid," Vin added. "I'm talking someone I wouldn't want to go up against. His solid build is solid muscle, so he'd have a height/weight and strength advantage against most guys as well."
The others were al a bit shocked by that. Vin was a very good fighter, trained by the military and in martial arts. He'd gone up against guys larger and stronger than himself and won. If he didn't want to go against someone. . . That was all they needed to know.
"That pleasant charm is a mask," Buck said. Chris sent him a look that said 'takes one to know one'. Buck gave a slight grin in acknowledgment.
The next day was the Gun Control Conference. Bruce's speech was short, but well received. While he didn't specifically mention his own childhood trauma he did point out that many children had their childhood innocence cut short by violence from guns. He then spoke about how the selling of illegal guns was a business, a very profitable business. Next he suggested that if the fines and punishments were raised enough it would become unprofitable, and that if a business wasn't profitable it didn't last.
Everyone in the audience liked the idea of much higher fines, and longer prison terms, for anyone selling guns illegally. The Seven each thought of men they had arrested, who payed fines that were small compared to the amount of money they made from illegal gun sales. They'd seen the men walk free with probation rather than jail time. They also knew that the threat of mandatory jail time and high fines would give them more leverage to get the small time players to flip on the big time players.
Once the conference was over the members of Team 7 met DA Travis who was talking to Bruce.
"We're going out to get some drinks, want to join us?" invited Buck.
"I'd better get home to my wife," replied Travis.
Bruce decided to join them.
"This may not be the kind of place you're used to," Ezra warned as the group walked towards the doors of Inez's bar.
Bruce didn't say anything, but a half smile formed on his lips. From the outside, the bar looked like it was somewhere between the high-class private clubs Bruce Wayne would be seen at and the seedy dives he haunted in the guise of 'Matches' Malone.
Once inside Bruce quickly scanned the building. Vin and Chris both noticed. They each would have bet cash that Bruce could have diagramed the layout of the place down to the last electrical outlet. He probably could have spelled out detailed descriptions of everyone present, too. They'd both learned that ability, that habit, in the military and wondered where Bruce had learned it.
Inez came to greet the men and noticed they had an extra person. "And who is. . . Bruce Wayne?" she asked as she recognized their guest.
"So they tell me," Bruce replied with his most charming smile.
"Bruce, allow me introduce Miss Inez Recillos. She owns this establishment," Ezra said.
"We'll just take out usual table," Chris told her.
Once they were seated Inez looked at Bruce. "What can I get for you?"
"I'll have bourbon, Purcell's if you've got it," he told her.
"I do. It's Ezra's favorite as well."
Bruce then looked at the others. "Drinks are on me tonight."
They Seven ended up having a few rounds each, but Chris and Josiah both noted that Bruce just sipped the bourbon he'd ordered, never ordering another.
Eventually Chris and Bruce were alone at the table.
Chris spoke first. "You don't drink?"
"No. I prefer to remain in control," Bruce answered candidly.
"A lot of times I've preferred to forget."
"Did you forget?"
"No," Chris admitted. He gave a slight nod to say he saw Bruce's point. Bruce didn't drink to forget, because for them it wouldn't work. What they wanted to forget, they couldn't forget.
"You lost your parents, right?"
"Yes. I understand you lost your son and wife." As Bruce spoke he thought of his own son, Dick, away at college. He decided he'd have to call Dick tomorrow. For no other reason than that it had been too long since they had talked. It would also surprise Dick ,which wasn't an easy thing to do.
"Yeah," Chris answered and downed another drink. "Every day I wish it had been me instead of them," Chris admitted, thinking the man across from him would understand that wish.
Bruce took a sip of his drink as he thought about his response. "Would you want your son to go through the Hell you've been through?"
Chris's eyes blazed. "Never," he shot back in a harsh whisper, not bothering to deny that he'd been through Hell.
"Then quit wishing it had been you and not him."
Chris forced himself to calm down enough to consider the other man's words. Bruce was clearly speaking from his experience as the child-survivor. Because of that Chris accepted his point of view as he would not have anyone else's. He'd seen in Bruce's eyes the pain he still felt after all these years, and realized he'd never wish that for Adam.
After a moment he gave a nod to indicate he had gotten Bruce's message. "So you've never wished it had been you instead of them?"
"No. In my dreams I am either able to stop the mugger and no one is shot, or there are three shots."
"Sounds more like nightmares," Chris noted.
"The nightmare is when there are only two shots."
The nightmare that had been the reality, Chris thought. Just like his worst nightmare was the reality of what had happened.
"How'd you survive it?"
"Alfred and Leslie, two close family friends, were my guardians. They took care of me and got me though it. But I was really just surviving until I took in Dick as my ward, my son. He gave me a reason to live. A reason to smile again. A reason to hope. You?"
"Buck kept me from self destructing. Then I got the Team, my new family. Dysfunctional as we tend to be," Chris added.
"They seem like good men," Bruce said.
They fell quiet for several minutes, then Bruce spoke. "Did you ever find out who did it?"
Chris's voice was hard and cold when he spoke. "Yeah. A former lover of mine. She wanted them out of the way so that I'd come back to her. Unfortunately she slipped away before we could prove anything. You?"
Again Bruce's voice slipped down octaves, to the voice most criminals in Gotham would identify as Batman's. "No. Like most criminals he was a coward. He hid his face." His blue eyes were darker than usual, as if bruised from the pain they held.
Before either spoke again Inez announced that the bar would be closing soon.