This is a missing scene from the Batman comic storyline "Venom". I'm not sure where Dick was at the time, or even at what age he was when the story was written, so the timeline is a bit iffy. I wrote it, however, to fit the timeline I wanted. Therefore, Dick is a police officer in Bludhaven when Bruce becomes addicted to the drug Venom. The detox scene is taken from the comic, although the comic doesn't include Dick.

by DC Lady

Alfred had been listening to the screams of his surrogate son over the intercom, wondering, as he often had through the years, if he was doing the right thing. Then there'd been silence. For an hour now, he'd pressed his ear to the intercom listening, waiting, regretting—his only connection to Bruce at the moment. The only connection Bruce would allow. It'd been three days, with another twenty-seven to go. And he'd promised he wouldn't let Bruce out of the cave until the appointed time. Which meant he couldn't comfort Bruce either. He couldn't be there for him except at this station in the kitchen, listening to Bruce's ordeal.

"Where is he, Alfred?"

Alfred jumped. He wasn't expecting anyone, especially not Dick. He'd hoped Dick wouldn't have heard the rumors. But like his father, Dick kept his ear to the ground not only in his adopted home of Bludhaven, but Gotham as well.

Alfred took a breath. "Master Dick, you startled me. It is rude to do such a thing to a man my age."

"The fact that I startled you at all tells me something's wrong. Now where's Bruce? What's going on?"

"I'm afraid I haven't the slightest clue as to what you are talking about." Alfred moved to the sink, picked up a dish and a towel. "As for Master Bruce, he is indisposed at the moment."

"You know exactly what I'm talking about. He's been vicious out there, Alfred. When he is out there anymore. That's not Bruce's M.O. That's not Bruce."

"Everything is fine, Master Dick. You must have received incorrect information."

Dick moved closer and placed his hand over Alfred's, stopping Alfred from wiping a dish that had long been dry. "What is it?"

Alfred cursed himself for not being stronger. But dammit, they were family. And Bruce needed his family. Alfred sat heavily into a chair, placed his hands atop the table as if the sturdy wood would give him the support he so desperately craved for himself—for Bruce.

Dick sat next to him and whispered, "Where is he?"

A muffled scream. Alfred had forgotten to turn off the speaker. He shut his eyes tight against the sound.

Dick bolted upright. "Was that Bruce?" Dick grabbed Alfred by the shoulders, shook him. "What's happened?"

Dick was frightened. More frightened than Alfred ever remembered seeing his surrogate grandson.

Dick turned to make a run for the cave, but Alfred stopped him. "Wait."

"Wait? He needs help."

"He does not want our help."

The sound of grunts and rustlings could be easily heard.

Dick shook himself out of Alfred's grasp. "He needs help!"

Alfred caught up with Dick in the study, held him back from positioning the hands of the clock to unlock the secret passage. "He wants to be alone."

"What?" Dick was confused, and Alfred wasn't sure how to explain what had happened to Bruce.

"Master Bruce is going through detoxification."

"Detox? What are you saying?"

"I'm saying that he has been taking a drug. A very strong drug called Venom."

"Bruce doesn't do drugs."

"This Venom made him strong. He felt it would enable him to be more effective in his mission."

Dick shook his head. "Bruce wouldn't do that."

"A child died because he wasn't strong enough to save her. He's been taking the drug for a while now. And it changed him."

Dick reached for the hands of the clock again, but Alfred wouldn't let him open the cave. "Let me go to him."

"He wants to be alone."

"Alfred, please. I promised him he'd never be alone again."

A promised Alfred knew Dick had made as a boy. A promise Alfred suspected Dick would never break. Alfred was suddenly ashamed of the many promises he'd made to Bruce all these years. Promises that would ultimately leave Bruce alone—just like he'd done two days ago when Bruce locked himself up in the cave and Alfred stood with his ear to the intercom, listening, waiting, and unwilling to go back on his word. Had he betrayed Bruce all these years by doing what he was told instead of what he knew to be right? By not taking Bruce into his arms like the father he should have become, instead of the friend and servant he prided himself in being? Alfred didn't want to betray Thomas Wayne's place in Bruce's life. But in doing so, had he ultimately betrayed Bruce?

Alfred stepped aside and followed Dick down the cave's stairs, promising never to leave Bruce alone again.