30/30 - For a Song
by nw's chick
Disclaimers and other information in "Opening Credits."
J'onn smiled at the gruff man at the door, using a small trick of the mind to make him think the business card for a psychologist was actually an license for a Mandy Hepburn, aged 29. Eyeing the image in the glass behind the bouncer, J'onn decided that Bruce would approve.
Tugging at the short purple dress, he awkwardly flounced into the bar, taking each step slowly so as not to tumble in his six-inch spiked heels. The bar was dark, with blue and green lights casting shadows over the heavy wooden tables, the shifty-eyed clientele, and the boisterous wait staff. The only white light was over the stage, which was currently empty, decorated with only a tattered blue velvet curtain. Mandy flipped back her bleach blonde hair, and made her way to the bar.
Her head was spinning a little. This was certainly not the sort of place she would have thought that Bruce would choose for a date. It was a lot danker than Bruce's choices normally were, plus there was the whole drag cabaret thing going on that surprised her. Still though, she could almost hear Bruce say, 'Well, this is different,' so she determined to keep an open mind.
The bartender was a tired-looking guy with a droopy goatee and a whole thatch of chest hair sticking out the top of his shirt. He looked her up and down, and then grinned. "What c'n I getcha, little lady?" He leaned over the bar, giving Mandy a better look at his oily skin.
"Oh, I'll just have a vodka and cranberry juice, thanks." Mandy smiled, managing a small giggle at the end of her order, as she straightened her dress a little, pushing her small chest out.
"And I'll have a whiskey and water, thanks." An arm snaked around her waist as a hot mouth swooped down to nibble on her ear.
Mandy giggled, leaning against the body of her boyfriend suggestively. Interesting venue.
I thought you might find it a bit different. Bruce put a twenty down on the bar, picking up the drinks and turning away, earning back the regard of the bartender who obviously felt like he had been duped.
So, what's your cover tonight? Mandy sipped at her drink consciously aware of her thick lipstick as she wrapped her lips around the edge of the glass.
Bruce steered them to a table in the shadows with a good view of the stage and the side door. Well, it's a variant of Matches Malone, but I don't use it enough to have a name for him. Call me Lucky.
We'll see about that... Mandy teased, slipping into the chair Bruce held out for her with a swing of her hips. So, do I look trashy enough?
Bruce smiled, sliding his chair close to Mandy's, and placing his arm behind her. You look perfect.
"So we've never been here before, Lucky." Mandy's slightly nasal voice tickled Bruce's ear. "Do you come here often?"
"First time. What do you think?" Bruce leaned back, taking a long sip from his drink.
Mandy looked around, her eyes trailing across the mix of drag queens, badly dressed gay men, and scruffy older voyeurs. "It is different."
Bruce winked. "My sentiments exactly. There's a show, too. Should be starting soon."
Mandy leaned into the arm behind her. "You've got high hopes for this evening, don't you, Lucky?" So I guess this is why you wanted me to aim for something like a cross between Madonna and Judy Garland. Not an easy combo, by the way...
Bruce kissed Mandy's shoulder. No, but you've done your usual magnificent job. Love the dress, by the way.
"So, tell me baby, what made ya think of comin' here anyway?" Mandy put her chin on her hands, eyeing her boyfriend critically.
"Well." Bruce took another drink, which Mandy noted was a deceptively small sip given the amount of time he had the glass to his lips. "I know you appreciate the male form." He made a small gesture with his hand, as if he were displaying his body. "And I also know you appreciate the feminine graces. I thought... you might actually enjoy something like this, a chance to explore part of your psyche that you don't normally get to, at least, not with me."
Bruce shrugged as he finished his explanation, the slight curvature of his lips indicating both a self-depreciating humor and a sense of irony. He sounded sincere, and Mandy could tell that he was.
Music swelled up, and the curtain slid back, a cutout of the Eiffel Tower stood askew in stage right, and a glowing red windmill turned slowly on stage left. There was a line of dancers in sequined gowns with plenty of leg exposed in the backstage.
Center stage, a figure arose like a flower blooming. 'She' was beautiful, her smooth skin shining with a touch of glitter, and her low-cut dress highlighting her figure perfectly. 'She' wore a purple wig, that somehow managed to look natural, and she had a small beauty mark underneath her right eye.
Once 'she' was fully erect, she launched into the first number, predictably Diamonds are a Girl's Best Friend.
Mandy watched with delighted eyes as the dancers swung their legs up, and dazzled the audience. They were really very good, for a drag show in the low rent district in Gotham.
Bruce pulled Mandy a bit closer, enjoying the scent that surrounded her. He was never 100% sure if J'onn created the scent during transformation, or if it was a perfume, but whichever, it was never quite the same scent in each form, and it was always captivating.
"There's something else." Mandy sighed as she murmured in her boyfriend's ear. "You're trying to hide it from me, but that's just silly. Now spill."
Bruce sighed, bracing himself. "See the guy in the front? Long braid down his back?" He waited until Mandy's eyes were in the right spot. "That's Johnny Dionisiou. Known as Johnny the Queer, for obvious reasons. Don't underestimate him because of his size or hair. He's one of the more deadly assassins working for the Florias family."
"I didn't think that the mob would approve of homosexuals much." Mandy studied the boy Bruce had pointed out. He didn't look much older than 20, but there was something about him that suggested he was actually much older.
"They don't, but Johnny's other name is the God of Death, so people pretty much leave him to himself." Bruce nudged Mandy's chin with his cheek. "See the lead dancer? His name is Danny Giannios. Youngest son of the head of the Giannios family, age seventeen, four days ago. The Giannios family is an old rival of the Florias family, going back to Sicily. He went missing about three months ago. Family tension has been pretty high since then. Daddy Giannios doesn't know where he is, naturally wouldn't approve if he found out his baby boy was dressing like a woman and singing for a living, and he certainly wouldn't approve of who Danny is living with."
"Johnny the Queer." Mandy grinned, hiding her expression from Bruce. Bruce just never understood how anyone could enjoy this sort of thing.
"Right. But word is, Daddy knows now. Someone gave them up. See in the corner there, the scary looking guy in the trench?"
"Yeah. He's about as subtle as a strobe light."
"He's the Giannios family's best hit man, Duke."
"So who gave up the lovebirds?"
"See the skinny boy at the bar, shaggy brown hair, looks sweet and innocent, watching Johnny like he's the devil? That's Johnny's ex, Oliver. He sold out his ex-lover this afternoon for five grand."
"And they say there's nothing like a woman scorned." Mandy straightened up, affecting an insulted posture.
Bruce chuckled. "Well... I'm sorry for mixing work with pleasure, but I got a bead on this late this afternoon, and I couldn't wait... I did think that you might enjoy the show anyway..."
"It's great!" Mandy grinned at Bruce, kissing his cheek. "So, what's the plan, Lucky?"
Bruce shrugged. "Stop Duke. Warn Johnny and Danny. Live up to the name."
Mandy rolled her eyes. "Well, one can always hope..."
The next number started up, and Danny made his way off the stage and into the audience. Mandy leaned against Bruce, watching the boy slither through the crowd appreciatively. He had a way about him. He could captivate even the most beleaguered, sad drunk. His voice was half sultry, and half vixen. His eyes were pure wicked joy, and his lips were constantly twitched into a devilish grin. The boy might really be seventeen, but he was never sweet sixteen.
Bruce's eyes darted from Danny, to Johnny, to Duke, to Oliver. As the throaty strains of Danny's song wound their way around the bar, Bruce could see into each of his marks better than even J'onn. Danny was living the high life, thinking that he was invincible. He was young, beautiful, and madly in love. Nothing could stop him. Johnny was enthralled. For an assassin known for his deadly arts, he was being unforgivably sloppy tonight. His eyes never left his lover's, and he was so fully under the boy's spell, he wouldn't even notice if someone was standing right behind him.
Duke was enjoying the show. He was a man who enjoyed his work. He was looking forward to capping the great God of Death. He might even kill Danny, and tell his boss that it was unavoidable.
Oliver wanted Johnny back, and the poor boy thought that this might be the way. It was obvious from the way that the boy was watching Johnny. He was nearly obsessed. Giannios probably promised that he would get his son back, and away from Johnny. How he had managed to convince himself that Johnny would get out alive was a mystery. Probably, he believed that nothing would be able to touch his Johnny.
J'onn took a minute to sneak a glance at Bruce, appreciating the way the man was able to discern things without telepathy. It was... beautiful, really. Though J'onn would never had the words to express that to Bruce, but his ability to see into people was one of his more attractive traits.
J'onn only knew that things were heating up when Bruce went unobtrusively tense. And it wasn't just the way Danny was rubbing against Johnny. Oliver looked like he was going to break his glass, his eyes twitching with rage as he watched his ex respond to Danny's seduction.
Duke had his hand under his trench, and he looked like he was getting off on the idea of whacking them.
Mandy slid up against Bruce, letting her hand drift to his lap. Is it about to go down?
This isn't a mobster movie, you know.
No, this is much better.
Bruce shook his head. He knew that J'onn was well aware of the seriousness of the situation.
The players were all in position. Danny had plopped himself into Johnny's lap for the big finale of the song. Duke was poised, ready to move. Oliver was furious, his knuckles clenched tight as he watched.
"I'm going to the bar to get another." Bruce had somehow made the glass of whiskey and water disappear while only taking a sip or two.
Mandy batted her eyelashes. "Don't be long."
It was like watching a house of cards come tumbling down. Bruce made his way to the bar, keeping an eye on Danny and Johnny, apparently enjoying the show. Oliver was ready to leap up and throw Danny off of Johnny. Duke made his move.
Oliver jumped up, but whether he was heading for the stage or for the door was irrelevant, because Bruce stumbled into him, causing them both to stumble right into Duke. Duke yelled out, startled as Bruce twisted his body, sending them all to the floor. Johnny's head immediately flicked back to the scene behind him. As soon as he saw Duke, his eyes widened, and he jumped up, displacing Danny and halting the song.
Grabbing Danny's arm, Johnny tried to get him to go back stage, but Duke was already pushing Bruce and Oliver out of the way, a large black revolver at the end of his arm. Johnny then threw Danny to the ground, and pulled out his own piece.
Oliver screamed, realizing that Duke was pointing a gun at Johnny. He then did something so stupid, no one could ever have believed it. He pushed Bruce out of the way, and stepped in front of the gun.
Fortunately, Bruce's reflexes were better than anyone else's on the planet, and he grabbed Oliver's ankle, pulling him down.
But Duke and Johnny still had guns to each other's heads, and recognizing each other, they were ready to shoot.
That's when Batman jumped out from behind the stage. He landed on Johnny, pushing him out of the way, and sending his shot into the ceiling. Duke's shot hit the wall behind them, harmlessly excepting the plaster. Bruce then tackled Duke, wrapping his arms around Duke's waist. The Bat then pulled Johnny and Danny to their feet, disarming Johnny in the process. In a low, gravely voice, he warned them, "Your father's after you both, Daniel. I think it might be time for the honeymoon."
Bruce shook his head, but was too busy struggling with Duke to bother. Pulling the man's belt out, he hog-tied him, ignoring the string of curses spewing out of his mouth.
Batman disappeared into the shadows, and Bruce slipped out of the back door as the bar began to erupt as everyone finally was able to react to the ruckus.
Bruce found Batman already sitting in the passenger seat of his discretely parked Maserati Spyder. He sighed as he was getting in. Always different, that was life with J'onn, 'dates' or no...
"You'd better change back, before I start to have some very odd mental pictures of being with myself that will cause me to make you sleep in the guestroom for the next month." Bruce got the car started before he had finished buckling up, wanting to get as far from the scene of the crime as fast as he could.
He watched Batman melt into Mandy from the corner of his eye. For a second, he was overwhelmed. Grabbing Mandy's head with one hand, he pulled her over for a rough kiss. "Have I told you lately how amazing you are?"
"Depends on your definition of lately." Mandy smirked cheekily, getting herself comfortable a little closer to Bruce than she was before.
"I'm sorry about the date, though. I should have just canceled. I'll make it up, though."
"You don't need to apologize." Mandy put her head on Bruce's shoulder. "Would you get mad at me if I said that it was fun, and I wanted to do it again."
Bruce just grunted.
"Ok, what did I do wrong?" Mandy sighed as she chuckled, putting one hand on Bruce's thigh.
For a moment, Bruce didn't want to answer. Then, "Batman's voice isn't that gravelly. You made him sound like a smoker. He would never have said anything like 'I think it might be time for the honeymoon.' And..."
"And...?" Mandy grinned, keeping her thoughts about Batman's voice to herself.
"And... You let a murderer go free."
"It was romantic."
"It wasn't a gangster movie. Johnny the Queer has killed a dozen men this year alone."
"I think he has more on his mind these days."
Bruce was about to chastise him, and then he thought twice. Remembering that J'onn was not Dick or Tim, or even Barbara, he sighed. "I suppose that's based on more than just wishful thinking?"
"He really loves that boy, Bruce." Mandy arched her neck so that she could see Bruce's eye. "He would die for him."
"That boy is seventeen, and he was sixteen when Johnny seduced him."
"I... don't think that's how it worked. I think it was entirely the other way around. At least, from what I gathered from Danny."
Bruce mulled over this information for a moment. "All right. No harm, I suppose. I am sorry that our date was ruined. I really did think that you might enjoy a show like that, although not in such a sleazy dive. Danny was good though, wasn't he?"
Mandy's hand slipped down to Bruce's inner thigh. "Yeah, he was great. And anyway, this date... Well, it's not over yet... Lucky."
Bruce's lips twitched. He made a mental note to call Barbara and have her monitor Tim and Cass while they patrolled.
He had to finish his date.