"All is in readiness?" asks Tom.
"Jim and Leslie are ready to take him," assures Alfred.
"He is still shook up from the fall," murmurs Martha.
"This is be done for his own safety," reminds Tom.
"You both grew up in the shadow of the Regime."
"The war didn't end with Normandy."
"It continues as long as they are on our shores."
Leslie enters with her medical kit and carrying a sedative at Tom's request. The boy would not leave the house of his own volition; of this much the four were certain. Jim had his very pregnant wife to worry about yet he is one of many who realize that personalities like the Waynes are vital to the Resistance. However it is still not the time to strike against the oppressors even though they had been occupying cities such as Gotham for over a quarter of century. The four like others in hiding throughout the nation aspire to the ideal that if not their children, then their grandchildren might one day be free of the Regime, and the legacy of Vandal Savage.
"Those very sentiments are why they after you two tonight," quips Leslie.
"They have never been too particular about whom they kill, but they do with such irregularity that few ever take notice for long," comments Jim.
The phone on Tom's desk rings. Alfred picks it up and does his usual glib. The caller asks for Gordon and so Alfred passes the phone to Jim. Jim talks to the caller and it is someone asking to speak to Tom so the phone receivers get yet another hand off to Tom. Tom takes it from Jim and turns away from everyone else. The lightning flash outside the window catches Tom's horrified grimace. Martha covers her mouth. The caller is Matt and it is the worst possible news to be getting a t time like this aside from knowing that Tom's latest oratory had put him higher on the dissident hit list.
"Thank you Matt. Just be careful that Rupert doesn't know you have been talking to me for your own safety," says Tom.
He hangs up the phone.
"We are going to have to move sooner than I thought. Prepare the sedative Les, we don't have much time. The Colonel is leading the storm troopers tonight and you best get the car ready Jim."
"I'm going upstairs with Leslie. Alfred go keep a lookout for their approach," interjects Martha.
"The only thing that matters is the boy's safety and I am on my way," replies Alfred.
Martha and Leslie head up to the boy's bedroom. Jim goes to the garage and warms up the car. Alfred remains near the window in the foyer as it gives him a clear view of the winding road that leads up to the circle drive path outside the house's oak front doors. Tom takes the time to pen a letter for the boy though realizes no matter how much or little he writes, nothing will make the future without them any easier. Tom and Martha had their parents growing up, but now they were about to pass their son off to those they trust to keep him safe even though it means growing up in a world without them… his parents.
Tom pockets the envelope that contains the letter and heads to join Alfred in the foyer.
"They are coming up the road Master Wayne," says Alfred.
"Keep this letter for the boy. Bruce deserves some kind of an explanation if we are unable to escape with you and Leslie. Jim cannot afford to leave Gotham and he risks much by helping the escape tonight," remarks Tom.
Martha and Leslie arrive downstairs yet without Bruce.
"Where is he?" asks Tom.
"He wasn't in his room," answers Martha.
"This complicates things," continues Tom.
"I know Tom," fumes Martha.
"Where could he be?" comments Leslie.
"Come out from behind the curtain Master Bruce," insists Alfred.
Bruce with tears in his eyes appears from his hiding spot.
"It is alright Bruce, come here," whispers Martha.
Bruce dashes over into Martha's arms and Tom walks over slowly to join them.
The front doors burst open from the impact of a battering ram. The raindrops spill onto the expensive carpeting that covers the foyer.
"What a touching family moment and so nice of you all to appear together, makes this assignment quicker than I thought, but it works for me," admits Josef.
"I am the one you want. Leave my wife and my son out of this," implores Tom.
"It is as they say a package deal. The Wayne family line ends with all three of you dead."
"Even you can't be so heartless Chill."
"Think what you will Herr Wayne, but this is the end for the Waynes."
Tom remains in front of Martha and Bruce. Tom falls backwards into Martha's arms. He is dead within minutes of being laid down on the carpet. Josef advances on Martha though she pushes against his attempt to pull her up. The tug against snaps the pearl necklace she is wearing and the beads resound against the floor as they land in a pool of Tom's blood. Martha falls back down and bleeds out as well. Bruce sinks to his knees expecting to die along with them yet at that moment Alfred clubs Josef with the coat rack, which snaps it in two.
His parents' murderer lies unconscious before him and the squad of storm troopers that had came with him are now facing Jim's allies from the Resistance. A gunfight ensues while Leslie jabs Bruce with the sedative syringe and tears cease as he slumps onto her lap. Alfred takes a moment to pull a curtain down to cover their bodies. He casts a one further parting look before remembering a recent portrait down of the Waynes and decides to take it with him.
He puts it in the backseat while Leslie keeps Bruce with her in the front. Alfred takes over the driver's seat from Jim while he goes over to assist his Resistance allies. They drive off into the dark rainy night and wonder inwardly could any good come from all this tragedy especially for the orphaned boy now in their care. Only time would tell from here, but someday the boy would return to Gotham except as a man looking to liberate it from those who took his parents from him.
Until then the boy must be kept hidden because Colonel Chill's superiors did not take kindly to leaving orders incomplete though as for how Chill would survive the backlash of failing to kill Bruce after slaying his parents, is a question best left alone. The butler would have a hard enough time explaining why all this happen because in his mind no explanation would suffice or ease the emotional toll for the boy. As for Jim, he hopes that the Samaritan policeman survives this and his family makes it through more than just tonight.
The Resistance spares a car to act as a diversion to assist their passage through the checkpoint and the first of many safe houses awaits them in the less opulent sections of Bludhaven. An old friend of Martha's agreed to shelter them for a day or two once they made the move to leave Gotham. It is not a departure that the Waynes took lightly as the family had been a pillar to the pre-Regime Gotham. Alfred redirects his attention to driving despite the knowledge that his duty to Waynes now rests solely with the survival of a heart broken eight year old who only sleeps because of a sedative. Hopefully they reach the Lance household without encountering any Regime patrols.
"Alfred?" whispers Leslie.
"What is it Leslie?" murmurs Alfred.
"It is not your fault."
"All that matters right now is him."
"I know, but you…"
"Yes I know I look like a failure or at least feel it."
"He is going to need both of us. You especially, you're the last link to his parents."
"I'd imagine he would be furious with me when he wakes up."
"It will be one of a million or more things to deal with, but kids usually outlive their parents."
"Usually we tend to expect to be adults when a parent dies."
"I have to get this car to the Lances and off these streets."
They start down the block that leads towards the Lances after over an hour of driving around and dodging searchlights. Larry is out on the porch and Dinah is likely inside resting as they a daughter of their own to look after. Larry dashes towards the garage and opens it off then hand signals Alfred to hurry the car inside. Alfred drives in, turns off the car, and slowly gets out facing Larry Lance.
"Where are Martha and Tom?" asks Larry.
"They are dead. Shot point blank by the Colonel," replies Alfred.
Alfred leans his head downward and rubs his fingers against his forehead. Leslie walks out from the other side with the sleepy Bruce still in his arms.
"I doubt he slept through gunshots," comments Larry.
"He saw the whole thing. Tom and I had already planned to sedate him before the five of us were to flee here. Chill's appearance took us almost by surprise if not for Matt's warning," says Leslie.
"Let's get you three inside. I'll lock up the garage," continues Larry.
Alfred could hear Larry slam the garage door down. If the English butler were not so trying to refrain from visual displays he would be likewise ready to lash out an inanimate thing like a garage door to vent some of his anger, frustration, and of guilt. Dinah Lance was there to meet at the door as the sound of Larry slamming the garage door had driven her from her bed in order to check on their sleeping daughter. It is lucky that little girl did not wake from her sleep despite the loudness though it is brief enough that only someone awake or mostly awake would hear it. The appearance of Alfred and Leslie with only Bruce is a shake up as she had been expecting Martha as well as Tom to be with them though from the look of the three, it told her enough to know that not all went according to the plan.
Dinah heads off towards one of the guest rooms to prepare a bed for Bruce while Alfred heads for the kitchen in search of food as well as a means to brew tea. Larry comes back inside; he locks all the doors then the windows, and lastly closes the blinds. He then slumps into a recliner with a spot of brandy. Dinah reappears and directs Leslie to the guest room. Dinah almost glares at her husband, but understands in a way as Larry and Tom were best friends. She just hopes he does not go and do something rash to make them targets too though she knows by giving refuge to Bruce, she risks their lives too.
Alfred reappears with a steaming kettle and Dinah takes the tray of teacups, which she rarely used herself though could understand that some habits are necessary even for this particular butler. Pennyworth is as Martha told her, an irreplaceable fixture of our family, but in many ways he would now have to be a surrogate father to the little boy she had seen Leslie put under the covers only moments before. She knows he is in good hands, but she could tell even Pennyworth would rather have Tom and Martha here instead of taking up the duty that was now his until his death. Dinah like Larry, Tom, Martha, Leslie, and even Matt had known little of what this country was like before the Regime, but then that is the dream that the Resistance pursues… the dream of liberating this land from the Regime.
It is a dream she seeks to have for her namesake, her little Dinah, but then the liberation would not come during the childhood of either Bruce or Dinah. However in Bruce's case, a childhood's end had come for him when Chill shot his parents in front of him. She could imagine nothing quite as horrifying or shattering as witnessing that, for she would not want that upon little Dinah. She sits next to Leslie while Alfred pours out four cups of tea despite noticing Larry still nursing a brandy. The women and Alfred sip the tea in silence before Larry elects to drink the tea if only to give some semblance of a ritual anchor to Pennyworth.
"Have either of you had supper yet?" asks Alfred.
"We ate earlier, but I am sure we have plenty you could whip into something. It is rare to get cooking like yours. I will help you orient to the kitchen if you would like," offers Dinah.
"That would be helpful Missus Lance."
"Right this way Alfred."
He is about to take the tray with the empty cups back, but Leslie instead takes them for him. He weakly smiles and then goes back to listening to Dinah ramble off about the kitchen layout. As for Larry, he goes to look in on Bruce then turns his attention back to his own daughter. The dream of driving the Regime from these shores would not die with Thomas and Martha Wayne, but their only son become the one to lead the charge, only time would tell in the case of the son who becomes an orphan by gunshots. Two bullets were all it took to change everything for that kid.
Larry looks down at his wife's namesake, the precocious Dinah Laurel Lance, and he firmly prays that she begin a family in a land free of this specter that had hung over his entire life so far. The only measures of happiness for him was meeting Dinah, marrying her, and having this bundle of joy with her. Little Dinah yawns and coos in her sleep then Larry checks the lock on the bedroom windows before heading back downstairs where Alfred is busy cooking as another way to hold onto his skills as a chef. Larry and Dinah both understood why Tom and Martha held the kindly Mr. Pennyworth in such high esteem.
It had more to do what he had given them rather than what they had given him for that is the service of a man of faith. Larry would make certain that he is at least tell Alfred what he felt Tom would believe Pennyworth needs to hear right now.
"If there is anything I know Tom would say right now. It would be this, that you have done more than you know, and you always will because he… because Martha… entrust to you their most precious possession… that little boy sleeping in that guest room down the hall," says Larry.
"Thank you Master Lance," answers Alfred.
"Just call me Larry, but if makes you feel better call me what you will," continues Larry.
"Master Wayne often said similar things when I kept calling them Master and Missus."
"I bet Tom did. He always was an informal type despite having inheritance."
"He was such a presence during little Dinah's birth. He had more than just the hands of a surgeon. He the soul and the bedside manner to go with it," interjects Dinah.
"Bet Martha would agree to that in a heartbeat," comments Larry.
"She would for a fact," remarks Leslie.
The four eventually settle down for a light dinner in a somewhat cramped kitchen, but the space did not matter, only the people as well as the two they were trying to honor in words despite all the intensity that would flood this house if the intensity was water.
One minor consolation is that sedative had kept Bruce asleep for hours except when he would cry or lash out in his sleep. Alfred and Leslie took turns to keep watch, but even so, they could no more shield him from nightmares than they could from his parents' death.
Bruce can be found sitting by the window sill the following morning except little Dinah is also there with him. She might be only three, but she could tell a lot from the sour look on his face. He couldn't really explain what happen to his parents to her, but he did welcome her attempt to cheer him up as well as a hug from her. The older Dinah and diligent Alfred saw the scene for a moment before going to kitchen to ready for breakfast as the trio would have to be on the move again before tonight.
The Lances did their best to create an atmosphere to the breakfast table and even little Dinah is eager to show Bruce where to sit, which happens to be next to her. It is instinct to her to be friendly and warm to him especially when she could tell he needs company. However as much as anyone could do to brighten the room, the nightmares would last, but for that would be his burden to bear through the nights ahead of him. He had read his father letter to him earlier yet it did little to lighten his disposition yet like few things his parents had given him, he would treasure until he could return for them… to them.
The orphan's departure would continue and from there his exile would last only so long as necessary before he could return to finish his parents' work as he understood it, but then to lead a liberation he would need much more than the dreams of the past.
A/N 1: The idea for this story comes from the brief backstory given by the alternate Batman about his parents' death. It bears a resemblance to how they die in regular continuity except instead of an alleyway, it happens in their own home. A plan is made though as to be expected not all goes according to plan forcing Alfred and Leslie to get Bruce away from the scene.
A/N 2: The recast of Joe Chill as Colonel Josef Chill is based on the killer's contrary personal circumstances. The juxtaposition idea comes from Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment and Allen's Match Point. The situation reversal implies that personal circumstances are not necessarily the sole motivation to commit a crime, especially murder.
A/N 3: The moment where Chill shoots them takes cues from several versions of how the Waynes are killed while Bruce watches paralyzed by fear among other emotions/feelings.
A/N 4: The Lances are based on their comic book counterparts to some degree. As for Little Dinah, she's not quite Black Canary yet. Essentially I'm casting recognizable characters into the unseen past of the alternate Batman before the events of The Savage Time.