Chapter 1. *͊͊IGNITION*͊͊
The rhythmic pounding of shoes against pavement was clearly audible to the lone, masked crusader followed shortly by a near silent cry of fear following shortly after.
"STOP! Please don't hurt me." An elderly man curled towards the bricks of the building clutching what appeared to be a wine bottle pleaded.
A round of nasally laughter broken the nights music, "Ain't gonna happen ya ol' bastard!" snickered a roughened youth standing behind the burlier few, "tonight you're gonna be the entertainment." A nasty smirk appearing on his pock marked face.
It was time to try out his newly attained skills; he would defend the man and bring justice to Gotham one thug at a time….
3 hours later….
That had not gone to plan, places on his body he never even knew existed ached and throbbed with the beating he had been given, no the thugs hadn't lost to him they had merely looked at his smaller stature with a grin and began bashing him along with the old man disregarding his masked features. After all, he was as much entertainment if not more, seeing as he'd planned at being a hero and ended up having his ass kicked. Even the fates hated him, after the thuds had finished with beating him they moved him away from the old man, and tossing him into the very alley that he had witnessed the murder of his parents. Life SUCKED!
Dazed from the pain, he pulled the black ski mask from over his head tossing it a few feet away, his range of motion not even meeting that of his ability before his training. Despite the pain that caused his ears to ring, he heard it, a slight popping sound. Glancing around trying to find what caused the noise Bruce noticed a black ball with tufts of what looked like hair coming from it. Checking his surrounding he stood up from his prone position and walked over towards the dumpster. Peering around it, he couldn't contain his gasp at the sight in front. There was a child that could not be more than 6 bleeding from a wound to the neck and various other injuries. The dimly lit alley did little to hide the fact that right in front of him there was a child that appeared to be dying from blood loss. It was a good thing the child was unconscious otherwise they would panic or be in excruciating pain from the torture. It WAS torture there was no other explanation that could or would convince Bruce that what looked like letters carved on the child's throat could be from.
Maybe the fates didn't hate him quite as much as he'd previously thought he had been beaten enough to have a seriously wounded pride by he'd only just begun, he was slightly optimistic he'd do better next time it he could- A whimper drew his thoughts away from his escapade from earlier, he had more important things to do than to wallow in self-pity, reaching for his phone, which the thugs hadn't thought to remove from his person he hit speed dial to the one number in his phone. One of his hands was practically glued to the child's throat to apply pressure to stop the bleeding the other held the phone close to his ear. God, he hoped Alfred, his butler, would answer his phone on the first ring, the kid would die in his arms if he didn't get the child to the hospital as soon as possible.
So somebody up there either really hated him or really loved him, Alfred answered, "Alfred, you have to come to the alley, you know the one. Now!" The agitation in his voice must have been audible to the man, as his ward he'd been with Alfred since his birth… except for when he was away for the last six years because of the anger against the crime within Gotham that killed his parents, Alfred had changed very little but recently since coming back he'd taken to watching him with some suspicion and pity clear in his eyes. "Right away sir."
Snapping his phone shut with a little more vigor than necessary, Bruce looked worriedly down at the kid within his arms, he had no idea if it were a boy or a girl, the hair said girl but the age since they looked so young Bruce couldn't tell for the life of him without doing something that may be take very inappropriately had the child been awake. Leaning down over the chest Bruce listen attentively and heard what he was looking for, a heartbeat, it was weakening, but it was there.
"Hold on, please don't die. Not in my arms, please don't die here."
Bruce knew the anatomy very well from his studies but he hadn't thought to learn any medical care besides fixing the odd bullet wound or lesion, he couldn't watch this child die, not here, not in this alley that had cost him his family, the only thing he had worth living for now was revenge on the criminal that killed his parents and bringing justice to the city ravaged by crime. His desperately spoken plea must have held some significance since the eyes of the child below him opened, perhaps not consciously, but they were beautiful. He didn't want to be the only one to see them close for the last time. If there was a god, he had turned away when his parents had been murdered, but for this child he would pray.
The eyes had been such a vibrant green, he could have been looking at a gemstone had it not been for the lack of life or that spark of wonder that should have filled them. They were filled with such pain it was heartbreaking, the eyes closed as quickly as they'd been opened. If Bruce lost this child he would give up, nothing should have happened to the child in his arms, the world too sick a place that he could make any difference to the scheme of things, if this child died today he would follow.
"Master Bruce- "Alfred's eyes widened, "you didn't do this, you wouldn't hurt a child?"
It was spoken softly like it wasn't a question but a statement.
Though quiet, Bruce heard it clearly like he'd been stabbed with an icicle, he felt chilled to the bone, the one man he thought would believe in him, trust him, take his word before casting judgement… thought that he, Bruce Wayne could inflict such damage, such hurt to something so innocent like a child, they must seriously think him a monster. Not removing his gaze from the bleeding form in his arms, "No. It was not me, I found them like this." His voice was monotone lacking the warmth usually accompanied his speech when talking with Alfred. "Take us to the hospital. Immediately! I don't care if we get a fine for speeding his life is on the line." Repositioning himself he swept the child up into his arms carrying them bridal style, wincing at the tremor that passed through the brutalized frame. Without another spoken word, the Rolls Royce sped through the night heading towards Gotham General no police car even tried to pull them over, they were there within minutes.
They were attended to so swiftly, he felt like he'd been teleported, the child was removed from his arms gently and placed on stretcher trolley that dwarfed the child even more. He was so pale against the black fabric. Everything happened so quickly the child was brought to surgery and for the next 15 hours Bruce waited outside the emergency room.
His phone rang, and diving for it he'd answered in his posh British accent, or he would have if he'd been able to get one word in. Young master Bruce had called him, something was off in his tone and the rush to arrive in the alley of his parent's murder made it apparent something was wrong. What had happened to his young master, he'd known about him studying criminology, forensics, and criminal psychology, even how Bruce had sought out bounty hunters in order to learn their skills, mastering all known martial arts as well as some less noble methods of fighting, but something wasn't right about that call. Worry clouding his mind he jumped from his comfortable spot in front of the fire.
Grabbing his coat he had lying next to him on the sofa, he ran to the car, his dignified walking took a back seat to his worry for his ward, he'd watched over the Wayne family for so long he wasn't about to lose his young master to a fit of adolescent angst. Sitting behind the wheel of the car he took off from the estate, speeding didn't amount anything more than a fine and he would not be caught, he was going far too fast for a police car to catch even in a city they knew well, Alfred knew it better.
Screeching to a halt at the mouth of the alley, he saw something that froze him where he stood.
"Master Bruce—, "his eyes widened, "you didn't do this, you wouldn't hurt a child?"
His own voice didn't sound like his own, he hoped the young master would just say something, deny the subtle accusation, but there was a dark pause between his question and Bruce's response.
"No. It was not me, I found them like this." His voice was monotone lacking the warmth usually accompanied it when speaking to him. "Take us to the hospital. Immediately! I don't care if we get a fine for speeding his life is on the line." The tone of voice had struck him dumb. He couldn't say anything his tongue felt too wide for his mouth.
His eyes followed his young master's movements, the careful repositioning and the worried gazed taking everything in about the child in his arms. Bruce carried the child as though if anyone that tried to remove the precious bundle from his arms they would know intimately how good a fighter he was.
Alfred's voice was frozen from the hurt that he'd read in his young master's eyes when he'd questioned him, so he merely opened the car door and shut it before speeding towards Gotham General.
If he hadn't been so attuned to his master's voice he may not have heard him speak.
"Don't die, please. Please, don't die."
Checking his rear view mirror Alfred saw something he hadn't seen for more than six years, tears were falling from his wards eyes. The monumental effect the child, in the arms of his young ward, must have was amazing. Bruce had not cried since the night of his parents murder all those years ago. His grief had turned to anger and his anger had turned into hate against the criminals of Gotham.
Returning his attention to the roads before him Alfred took shortcuts he'd only just thought of, making it to the hospital in a little less than ten minutes.
Taking charge was a simple matter of making it known he had the Wayne heir with him in need of assistance. Perhaps making the medical staff believe that the injured child was Bruce Wayne was a little but too much, seeing as his ward was fourteen and the child looked about six, either way the child was given immediate attention of the best and brightest there at the ER. The stretcher trolley had a wheel with a wobble on the left side and the ones pushing it all had new patches of blood covering them from when they had lifted the child out of his wards arms.
Turning to look at his ward he noticed how covered in blood he was, the entire upper portion of his body was stained, the once black ensemble now looked like a burnt red ad there were splatters against his wards face. Bruce was covered with blood and his hands were clenched so hard his knuckles were white.
"Young master, perhaps we can get you a shower and some new clothes?"
His question had fallen on deaf ears, his wards eyes were focused on the wall that kept him from being next to the child he'd found in the alley. He felt slightly unnerved that his master was so attached to a child whose name he didn't even know, nor heard speak. Perhaps this was what Master Bruce needed to distract from his poisonous ambition of killing his parent's murderer under a vengeful influence. His thoughts started to drift away from his ward, to the few moments ago when the demeanor towards him changed when he had found his ward kneeling in the alley with the child in his arms, as he drew his ward towards some waiting chairs sitting in front of them against the wall opposite of the surgery taking place.
Sitting down he blanked out, getting slightly lost in his thoughts and analysis of his very, very short conversation with the young master.
"Bollocks, I've certainly done it now, accuse my young master of mutilating a child, that for all appearances could not have been more than six. Stupid, Alfred, that is what you are. How could I have implied that I thought he could do something so wrong. The child I raised from a babe, cared for when he was lost in his grief from losing his only family in the world. Damn it!"
Images of his time with Bruce Wayne flashed through his eyes: when he'd entered the world a squalling babe, changing those hazardous waste filled diapers, picking dandelions and blowing them to make a wish, riding the bike for the first time and so many others.
Time passed. 15 hours 25 minutes and 56 seconds to be exact.
Doctor Goodman walked out of the ER looking at the elderly gentleman who sat next to a teen covered with blood, likely the same blood that covered him, he thought amusedly. The eyes of the teen were open but they stared blankly, but those of the gentleman watched him from below a black top hat.
"Sir, thank you for waiting here after bringing in the boy I have in the ER surgery room. We have stabilized him and he is in no danger of dying now."
A sigh of relief escaped Alfred, had the boy died Bruce may have followed seeing as he'd seemed so attached, very strange it was.
Awareness flickered back into Bruce's eyes.
"Doctor, when can we see him?" Bruce had found his voice and was very much aware of everything going on around him.
"Well, personally I would prefer you at least took a shower before seeing him," Dr. Goodman said sardonically glancing first at Bruce and then at himself.
Bruce felt slightly embarrassed, he looked at himself and he was filthy, covered in blood and grime from the beating he'd received prior to finding the boy. Tilting his head towards Alfred, fearing what he would see, only saw the gentle kindness that was always present. Without even opening his mouth, Alfred nodded acknowledging his wards question about his need for a shower and presentable clothing.
"Once we're all cleaned up we'll move the boy to a room where he can recuperate and we can go over the injuries to his person. Does this suit you?"
"Doctor, could you give him everything to make his stay more comfortable, private room the whole shebang; I am willing to pay for it."
Doctor Goodman's eyes moved from the teen in front of him and swept toward the gentleman standing behind and slightly to the right of the teen, expecting that he would be the one to truly pay for the expenses.
"Sir, I believe you must be confused, he truly is the one who will be paying."
Doctor Goodman flushed a little thinking that it must be a method of teaching the teen the value of money.
"Once again sir, you are incorrect, this is the Heir of Wayne Industries he has more than enough money to live without working for the rest of his life.
His eyebrow started twitching, "What the HELL is up with this man, can he read my fucking mind?!"
"Are you a mind-reader?!" Doctor Goodman practically yelled at Alfred who was looking as serene as normal with his distinguished Englishman vibe emanating from him.
"I'm sorry sir, but it is impossible to read the human mind, it is nothing like a book. If I have made you uncomfortable I apologize." Alfred smiled. Bruce just stood there watching Alfred tease the Doctor with a hidden smile of amusement.
"You're lying, what am I thinking?" Doctor Goodman challenged, "YOU STUPID BRIT, I think you're scary and a bit weird. SO THERE!"
"Really sir, there is no need to be belligerent. I cannot read your mind. If you would like to get to know this weird, scary Englishman further to find out if I truly am as irritatingly vapid as I appear," Alfred winked, "I would be delighted. Young master Bruce, I think it's time for us to take our leave." Spinning on his heel Alfred grabbed Bruce's shoulder as he led him towards the car.
Doctor Goodman stood there staring after the butler and the teen sputtering. He'd heard what sounded like exactly what he'd thought when he challenged the man, though worded differently and changed into a veiled flirtatious comment. Doctor Goodman felt stupid, that Brit can read minds and denied it while still proving he could. His face turned a cherry-red as he stood in a stupor watching the doors slide shut behind the man and his charge.
His yell was heard by the one who caused it; chuckling Alfred kept walking, ignoring the amused eyes of young master Bruce that were watching him closely.
Doctor Goodman glared at all the nurses and patients that had popped their heads into the hallway at his abrupt loss of composure. Stalking of to finalize his patients move to a private room with the best view from the window and best equipment. Damn it, he couldn't mistreat the patient by giving him anything less than what was asked for since it wasn't professional. He didn't feel very professional at the moment he felt a bit like a five year old wanting to throw a tantrum because of the gentleman that had flirted with him so blatantly… or not so blatantly as he hadn't caught on until the last comment. They would be back probably in the next hour so he had best get a move on so he could feel clean and get the child to the room.