He Who Darns My Socks
By The Seitz

"Will there be anything else Sir?"

"No Alfred, that's all," I tell him. Without a word he turns around and leaves, heading up the cave stairs to his room. We've worked it down to a science, the evening dismissal. Every night, "Will there be anything else Sir?" he will ask.

"No Alfred, that's all." I'll tell him, and then he'll go up the stairs.

We don't even say goodnight to each other anymore.

Part of me doesn't like that. We've been through so much together, and he's always been there for me, and whether I knew it or not, he's always tried to do what's best for me. But we've let our relationship dwindle to a routine, let it deteriorate to the point where it's okay that I've stopped even with common courtesies to him, my oldest friend and surrogate father.

My hero.

Hero?

Where did that come from? I've never thought of Alfred as my hero before. He's been my keeper, my confidant, my friend and my most trusted ally. But my hero? Is it so strange?

I know I'm the hero of several. Dick loves me as his father and hero. Tim respects and cares for me as a hero, not to the level he gives Dick but I know I'm a close second. Cassandra. . .cares for Batman very deeply, worships him as her own personal hero and savior, but doesn't really know Bruce Wayne. Barbara stays with me out of some strange mixture of frustration and loyalty, but secretly she admires me as a hero.

But Alfred? The kids all worship him as their own personal hero. I'm never really looked at him like that. When I really think about it, he's done so much for me, saved my life so many times and brought me back from the brink of darkness, acting as my personal beacon of light.

My hero.

He's been a wealth of support and information, he was the one who showed me that I didn't need to hide my torn uniforms from him, he showed me they could be fixed, and it started out almost so innocently.

*****
"Master Bruce?"

"Yes."

"You know you needn't hide your socks from me when you tear them. I know the wool is extra thick but it can be repaired easily enough."

"Alfred I real don't have time for . . .really?"

"Yes Sir."

"Oh. Thank you."

"You're most welcome Sir."

*****

And he's taught me many things. How to become "Brucie," How to become Batman. He's been my everything, my safety, my light.

My hero.

Looking back at the computer I resolve to change what has happened between us. Tomorrow I will wish him a good night as he heads off to sleep. I realize I have to take advantage of this rare opportunity I've been given.

After all, how many people can say that they get to wish their heroes a good night?

fin