Vegas Knights- Chapter 3
Disclaimer: DC owns the characters, the Mob owns the hotels (just a joke), and I don't own zip.
Slash: Officially yes. Although right now they'd settle for dinner. Still, Hornet Universe.
"Where to." The driver asked as 'Gregor Scaforzie' and 'Thomas Malone' settled back into their 'gift' limo.
"Someplace with dinner." Dick leaned back into the soft leather upholstery.
The man gave a careful look, taking in his passenger's flawlessly tailored dinner suits. "Venetian's is supposed to have the 'class' market."
"Somewhere has to." Bruce muttered to Dick. "I am never letting you talk me into an adventure like that again!"
"Does that means you wont be hitting the pool tournament at the Solitary Cyclist ?"
"Please." Bruce growled. "We get more respect at Jimmy's so-called leather joint then we did here."
"That's cause they all want to play with your cue."
"Not a chance. Only you get to play with my cue."
"Yeh?" Dick drawled."Then why is Bob always offering to rack your balls?"
"I never once took him up on the offer."
"I should hope not."
"Gents?" The driver looked back. "I need an address?"
"OK." Dick answered, giving the man the thumbs up. "The V it is."
"You're finished for the night." Dick slipped the limo driver a very large tip as the man held the door for his passengers.
"Our hotel." Dick fibbed. That was the one answer guaranteed to get no argument. Bruce was clearly not enjoying the 'luxury' - or rather the attention it attracted. Dick couldn't care less how they got around town, but he did care about his plans for enjoying Bruce Wayne. Plans that did not work well with Bruce hungry and grumpy. And who knew?, Dick added mentally. There was always the possibility he could be telling the truth.
The entrance to the Venetian was the usual garish expanse of neon and glass, although some designer had obviously tried to move 'upscale' by adding bits of concrete 'sculpture' and wrought iron to the supposed Piazza. It was pretty, but hardly enough to lead even the most obtuse to confuse the rows of blinking slot machines for the twisting alleys of old Italy.
As the two men strolled through the mock-gothic lobby, Dick's eye was caught by the bobbing gondolas moored by the rather Disneyesque canal.
"Do you think?" He asked, making 'puppy-dog-eyes' at his companion.
"OK, brat." Bruce capitulated instantly. "As long as it goes to a restaurant."
"Taxi?" Dick quipped as he slipped the gondolier a hundred dollar bill. "To the food - and step on it." He grinned at Bruce, who was now sprawled on the cushions in the other end. "So much closer to home then the real thing."
Bruce patted the seat beside him and moved over, indicating Dick should join him. "It smells better too."
After a short ride through 'Venice', the gondolier let them off at Postrio's. The fashionable cafe's brick-floored patio thrust out over the 'Grand Canal', with tables tucked carefully among the faux foliage well designed for people watching on the waterway below. Dick checked over the room as they walked around to the entrance. It was getting late, but the elegant establishment was still packed. This was Vegas, after all - the town that never sleeps.
"Do you gentlemen have reservations?" The young lady at the podium asked with a telling glance at the line of waiting diners. Dick simply produced another bill.
"Oh, yes, I see your names now."
"Do you think you could find a quiet table?" Bruce asked. " Somewhere we won't be disturbed?"
"Why.." she made a show of checking her list. "Yes Sir, that's exactly where I had you booked."
The pair were quickly seated at a comfortable table for two shielded by potted trees. An efficient waitress had brought their drinks and taken their orders, and they were finally beginning to relax in the atmosphere of casual luxury the restaurant has been so carefully designed to convey. Dick was inventing elaborate and increasingly improbable histories for the more 'interesting' tourists that passed below them on the gondolas. Bruce was countering that with equally wild, and quite probably true, observations on the dinners at the other tables. Neither paid any real attention to the cocktail waitress and her cart until she actually stopped at their table.
"Mr. Wayne?" The scantly-clad young lady asked, holding up the bottle of champagne. "A gift from the gentlemen at table six."
As she spoke a man at the indicated table stood and started to make his way over. He was tall, blond, and frankly handsome in an open-faced middle-American way,
Bruce shook his head and moaned "Not again."
"Mr. Wayne? Bruce Wayne?" The young man said, holding out his hand. "I'm Tom Campbell? Of the Campbell Radio Group?" As the man spoke, his rolling tones became increasingly familiar.
Bruce extended his own hand, and as he did so the blonde man's identity snapped into focus. "Coast-to-Coast Evening News?"
"Exactly." The popular newscaster said, smiling wide enough to show off an impressive display of orthodontia. " I knew I recognized you. We spoke last June"
"Yes, I remember, The Radio and Television Broadcasters Association Convention and Trade Show."
"Exactly. My colleagues and myself just wanted to welcome you to the Coast City Broadcasting Family. Now that you own a station in our area....."
"Not ownership." Bruce Wayne demurred. "Merely an interest."
"A major interest." The young man corrected. "Which we welcome. We have a major interest in quality broadcasting for the entire Coast City area, as I'm sure you do, and now that you're one of us.....well, we wanted to take this chance to say hello. Get acquainted. Welcome you to the neighborhood, as it were..."
"Thank you" Bruce interrupted the flow of words. "That's very kind. Now..."
"Perhaps we could spend some time going over the Coast broadcast issues." Campbell picked up, apparently without a breath. "Tomorrow, perhaps? I could take you out for lunch, and..."
Bruce held up his hand. "A wonderful idea but I'm afraid I'm only in town for the one night."
"No problem." The blond man smiled, reaching for a chair. "We can talk now. My guests will understand."
"So kind of you." Bruce clamped the chair back in a grip of iron, holding it motionless. "But I fear my guest will not."
Tom Campbell gave Dick Grayson his most ingratiating look. He might as well have been scowling, for all the softening effect it had on the younger mans granite countenance.
"Oh well, then perhaps..."
Dick added more ice to his glare.
"You have a card?" Bruce mercifully intervened.
Campbell fumbled a bit, but produced one.
"Thank you." Bruce said, plucking the card from now-nervous fingers. "I'll give you a call. We'll set a date the next time as I get to the Coast."
The blond man gave Dick one last careful look, then stuttered. "Sure, Mr.Wayne. Let's do that."
"Really, Bruce." Dick short a last look at the blond intruders departing back. "I can't take you anywhere."
"Maybe we should just to go home."
"Do you think so?"
As Bruce was reaching for his wallet the waitress came up with a tray - and two plates. As she placed them on the table, the odor of mozzarella and basil reminded the pair just how long it had been since lunch.
Eyes locked, they answered in unison. "After dinner!"
They had just taken their first satisfying bites when a heavy-set man in sharp-collared pin-stripes strode up to their table.
"Wayne. Bruce Wayne."
"Roco Moronne. Hello. "
"Shreck mentioned that he thought youse was in town, so when I saw you, I figured this might be a good time to get together ...."
"Have you meet Mr. Gregor Scaforzie."
"Scaforzie... yeh." Moronne held out one beefy hand "I remember you. Flyer. Had a show back a while."
"Mr. Moronne." Dick answered politely, rising to accept the handshake.
"Glad to see you too. I was just last week talking to Angelo about some new shows, and your name come up. I was thinking we should get together."
Dick reclaimed his seat as Moronne gave the pair a calculating look. "I own the Bigtop-Bigtop, here in town, and I was thinking we should get together sometime. Now I'm thinking maybe even like all three of us.
"I don't know that Mr. Wayne...."
"Seein' you two together....? There were rumors, but.... I thought that was just Talk. Still, Wayne, if youse are goin' to use your Haley's connection to set up a prime time Circus special? I'm thinking the Big-Top ought to be in on it."
"A prime time Circus special?" Bruce smiled blandly. "What ever gave you that idea?"
"I ain't blind, Wayne. Scaforzie here is all the sudden back here in Vegas. Two hours back he was with the tiger guys. Then he vanishes, and they're seen talking to Copperfield. Now he's here with you - the newest station owner on the Coast - and that Campbell fellow. And the chickie at the desk said how you asked for a quiet table." Moronne gave the pair a smug look. "What else is there to think?"
"But of course. We ask for a quiet table. Alone. We must have a secret business deal." Bruce shrugged. "What other motivation could we possibly have?"
"Exactly!" Moronne nodded. " So, what do youse guys have to say?"
"I am impressed, Mr. Moronne." Bruce answered slowly. " I admit, I had not considered that anyone would reach your.....conclusions."
"Hey, I may not be one of dem Ivy League fancy types, but I know my town. So." Moronne pulled up a chair. "Are ya going to deal me in?"
"On a Big Top-Big Top/ Haley's Television special?" Bruce looked at Dick, who shrugged why not? "Well." Bruce stroked his chin. "I would have to consult with my partner... but..."
"Don't give me dat partner bit. Haley's the art.. Everyone knows you're da money man."
"Really?" Bruce smiled politely. "As I was saying....I can see where, with you backing it, a prime time Circus special could work."
"Good, I was thinking...."
Desperation lurking deep in his eyes, Bruce stealthily reached down and set off the audible buzzer on his phone.
Snatching the cell phone from his pocket, he flipped open the case and pretended to listen intently. "Sorry, Moronne. Emergency call. From my Japanese commodities broker. You understand. We'll have to deal with this later."
"Sure thing, Wayne. But give me a call."
"Absolutely." Bruce said as he rose quickly to his feet. "I swear, I wont forget this meeting for a minute."
End Part Three