All characters belong to DC comics. I don't own any of this.
Terry's Quest for Tea Cakes
By Marie Nomad
"I hate trying to get a billionaire recluse presents." Terry moaned. He sagged at on the bench exhausted. He felt like he had been at the mall for days but it had only been a couple hours.
"Sounds tough. What about one of those cute Batman dolls I saw at Retro?" Dana suggested as she began to rub his shoulders.
Terry smiled at the suggestion and the shoulder rub. It was only a few months ago that Dana didn't even know about his nightlife. She seemed to be taking the whole thing very well.
"I gave him that for Christmas. He used that for target practice."
Dana winced as she glanced at the bag with the toy Batmobile. She spent so much money on that too.
"What about a nice day at the spa, let him relax for at least five seconds?" Max offered.
"Wayne? Relax? The only times he actually relaxed was he was injured or sick. I don't even remember the last time I saw him sleep. Besides, they all told me 'no spas'."
"They?" Max raised an eyebrow.
"He has friends?" Terry wasn't sure how it was possible but Bruce did have some friends. At least, he think they are friends.
"Well, former coworkers. That's not important. Anyway, the last time, Bruce sent Alfred - his butler- to a health spa and he ended up being turned into a tree."
The two stared at him. "Turned into a tree." Dana repeated making sure she heard that right.
Dana pondered and said, "I think I am starting to understand why Mr. Wayne hates people."
"Anyway, his birthday is in a couple of months and I can't think of anything." Terry was frustrated. He was hoping a trip to the mall could spark some inspiration. All he got was some sore feet.
"Why don't you just bake him a cake? Even Mr. Wayne has to eat." Dana said.
"That's a good idea."
"Commissioner Gordon here?"
"Hey, Commish, this is Terry."
Barbara sighed as she rubbed her eyes. "Look, I will send the list by the bat-email. Don't call me unless it's important."
"It is important. I need to know what is Bruce's favorite type of cake. I am making a cake for his birthday."
"Bruce Wayne doesn't celebrate his birthday."
"Of course, you do. Reminds me of Alfred, he had to force Bruce to celebrate the fact that birthdays exist. Can you cook?"
"I can cook."
"All right, I know something that you can do. Tea cakes."
"No offense, but I was thinking of something that has frosting and candles."
"I know. But, he won't eat anything like that. We tried."
Barbara walked in the Batcave dressed in nothing but an apron while carrying a cake. Bruce was busy working on a new batsuit. "Oh, Bruce, today's your birthday."
Bruce grunted. Barbara sighed. Ever since Alfred died, Bruce had been even more closed off. "Come on, I made this by hand. Try it."
Bruce waved his hand.
"Look at me." The woman dared and Bruce glanced up.
"You are going to get a cold dressed like that." Bruce said as he looked back at his work.
Barbara scowled and dumped the cake right on his head. "Jerk." She huffed off.
"Oh, how I tried." The commissioner reminisced.
The older woman cleared her throat. "The only thing sweet that Bruce even bites are tea cakes. Alfred had made these wonderful tea cakes that Bruce had never been able to replicate."
Terry paused. "Can't Bruce just figure out the recipe?"
"No. Bruce may be skilled at all martial arts, knows how many languages, including Kryptonian, but cooking is one thing he has not mastered."
"That explains all those insta meals he has." Terry sighed. "Any clues on how to find the recipe?"
"Alfred kept the recipes hidden from Bruce for years. I don't know where they may be. He may have written them down so they won't be lost."
"Why didn't he just give Bruce the recipes if he didn't want them to be lost?"
"While he was Batman, Bruce tried to make some chicken soup, and ended up destroying the kitchen."
Terry winced. "Alfred did the right thing."
"I was hoping for just a simple birthday cake."
"Sorry, kid. When it comes to Bruce, nothing is ever simple."
"Thanks for the help. I have a lot of work to do, bye."
Barbara turned off the video. She smiled slightly. Bruce really knew how to pick them.
"I don't see anything that looks like a cookbook or a bunch of recipes. It's not in the cave but Bruce knows every square inch of that place. He would have found it there." Superman said as he used his x-ray vision on the manor. He and Terry were up on a tree on the estate where Bruce's cameras won't see them. It also helped that Bruce was away in India on business.
"Slag. Er..." Terry moaned as he held his head. "Oops."
"It's okay to curse in front of me." Clark excused. This new Batman had warmed up to him. The kid has great potential. He's not identical to Bruce, Terry's more open to new ideas. Terry also asks him for advice and help. Although, that help is mostly restricted to helping him with Bruce and the rigors of having a secret identity. Neo-Gotham is still Batman's city and he respects the authority. Clark felt more like an uncle to the young hero.
"I already looked all over library and the other unlocked rooms. Do you know how hard it is to keep anything from Bruce?"
"Everything set?" Clark asked as he floated near the ceiling. The bats were screeching in his ear as they flew off.
"The teams are in place. All teleporters ready." J'onn replied.
"Good. Remember, he will be expecting something that's why we're going in early. Agent 0060 has dismantled the alarms. The target is going to be here in two minutes and thirty sec-"
"I'm here." Bruce said as he appeared behind Clark. He was hanging on to a rope and acting fairly normal.
Clark nearly went through the ceiling and into the living room. "How?"
"I'll be waiting on the floor." Bruce lowered herself as Clark stared.
Reluctantly, Clark tapped on his communicator. "The target has spotted us. He knows about the party."
He could hear every Justice League member around the world moaned in disappointment.
"I still can't figure out how he did that." Clark sighed.
"Huh?" Terry asked.
"Okay. So, you knew Alfred, where would he keep his recipes?"
"Not here. He loves Bruce like a son, but he can't trust Bruce with the kitchen."
"I heard that he couldn't make a tuna sandwich."
"He got better after Alfred's death. He had to replace a few kitchens though." Clark winced as he remembered the incident involving Shayera and a batch of experimental super yeast Bruce made for his bread. It took the woman weeks to replace all of the missing feathers. "He could have given it to someone else."
"Exactly. Why are you so determined to find those recipes?"
"Bruce's birthday is coming up soon. I want to give him something nice. I thought that if I can replicate some tea cakes that Alfred made, he would like it."
"Bruce's birthday? Oh, I forgot!" Superman cursed himself. He made it a point to remember every leaguers birthday. But he had been so forgetful since the Starro incident and he was getting older. "Bruce was never much of a birthday person."
"I heard. Are you going to give him something?"
"Yes, I will. Of course. I'm going to tell some of the old leaguers too."
"Schway. I already asked Drake so Alfred might give it to Dick. He's one of Bruce's partners right?"
"More than that, Dick was Bruce's son."
"His son?! Why the he- heck didn't Bruce tell me?! Powers nearly had him committed to a psych ward because no one else could take care of him. I was a minor and an assistant. I couldn't help him. It was a miracle that he was let back home after I broke him out. Why didn't Dick help him?"
" Bruce was never really an open person. I don't know what really happened between them. I did my best to not interfere. Bruce was mad at me enough when he found out that I kept on listening to his heart to make sure that he didn't suffer a heart attack in battle."
"Sounds like him. The Commish told me a little about him but she didn't tell me that Dick was his son."
"Officially, Bruce adopted him. Anyway, I tried to tell Bruce to talk to Dick. He didn't listen. I tried to talk to Dick. He didn't listen either. They are both as stubborn as rocks. But, if Alfred wanted them to talk, he could have given the recipes to Dick and hope that Bruce would come to him or that Dick would go to Bruce."
Terry frowned. "It didn't work. Yet."
Soon it will be dark. Dick Grayson, retired officer and current owner of Haley's Circus stared out of the windows like he always does. Even after all this time, he still feel the most alive at night. His kids joked that they could never sneak in after curfew because Dick would be up. He didn't mind it. He closed the curtains and went to the couch. He poured himself his usual drink. He wasn't an alcoholic but it helps him keep the urge off.
The doorbell rang. Dick put down his drink and answered the door. Standing there was a young teenager that he had seen on the Net. This was the young punk who had somehow made his way into the dark batcave.
"I was wondering when you would show up."
"You know who I am."
Dick slammed the door. He put his hand over his eyes and rubbed them. He turned around to see Terry sitting on the stairs. "Cute."
"I'm not leaving until we talk."
"I'm not in a mood to talk, least of all, you." Dick grabbed a cane, and swung at him. Terry jumped out of the way.
The young man smirked. "You know, Bruce is pretty good with a cane himself."
"I'm nothing like him." Dick separated the cane into two pieces and went into position. This boy was starting to bother him. He couldn't place why. He thought of himself as a pretty laid back old man. It wasn't because that kid had just broke into his place. "Now, get out." He ran up and swung at Terry again.
Terry dodged the blows and quipped, "This reminds me of the time that I first went into the Batcave. Bruce was really mad too."
Dick gritted his teeth. Terry's voice, his eyes, something made him want to smack him into the next universe. "Stop it."
"I stole his suit, beat up some gang members, and fought my first villain. After that, he gave me a job." He smiled at him.
The old man felt a stab in his heart. "He was using you. Like he uses all of us!" Dick said as his breathing became harder. "He feels nothing but vengeance, he sees nothing but the night, he is nothing but Batman!"
"I am Batman." Terry countered.
"You are not Batman! You don't deserve to be Batman!" Dick screamed as he lunged at him.
The teenager dodged again. "Hey! Why are you so upset? You wanted to wear the cape and cowl?"
Why was he so mad? Dick tried to clear his head. There was a time when he had to become Batman. He felt different as Batman. "Bruce Wayne is nothing but a mask."
"He's real. He's just as real as you and me. And I want to help Bruce Wayne. He cares about you."
"Did he ever talk about me?" Dick's voice started to tense up. Why was he started to feel like hugging him now? What was it about Terry that made him feel like jumping off of a roof and run down the street?
"No, and that's proof that he cares about you. The less he talks about something, the more it hurts him to even bring it up. That's the way he is. He misses you."
"Then, he should have come here. He knows where I live. He is a stubborn old fool." Dick realized that Terry was getting him emotional. This boy was making him think about him, feel about him, he was chipping away at the wall surrounding his heart. "Get out!"
"Not until I get the tea cakes."
Dick stood there. He couldn't figure out what that meant. "Tea cakes?"
"It's in a bunch of recipes that Alfred gave you. Bruce's birthday is coming up and I wanted to do something to make him happy."
The older man snorted. "Happy?"
"I know but I owe the Old Man to at least try. I was a teenager with no real direction. Being Batman, it helped give my life purpose. He had done so much. I want him to spend what's left of his life knowing that he was loved."
Dick lowered his weapons and went to kitchen. "Wait there." He looked into the cabinet and carefully took out the box. Many years ago, Alfred came and gave it to him. "I had the entire thing copied onto my computer. You don't have to return it."
"Thanks." Terry accepted it. "By the way, are you going to visit Bruce?"
"Why should I?"
"Because, he's your father."
Dick glared at him. "My real father died years ago."
"So was mine."
That was when Dick felt like a heel. He knew that Terry had a mother and a brother but he had forgotten that he has lost a father. Bruce knew what it was like to lose family. "I'm sorry."
Terry still looked angry. "The last thing I did was yell at him. I could never take that back. Not like you."
"I know." Dick looked out of the window. "I'm sorry for snapping at you. It's just... you look so much like him. It's freaky. I think I'm a little-" He looked back to see the kid was gone. "Typical."
Bruce glared at the packages in front of him. They started appearing a few days ago and kept on trickling in until they become a huge pile that took up a good part of the cave. He didn't remember the last time he had so many presents. "This is your fault." He told Terry who was holding a silver tray with cover on it.
"Hey, all I did was ask Superman what's he's getting you. I didn't know he's going to blab to every superhero on the planet about your birthday. I thought you mellowed out about being old."
"I do. I just don't want other people to shove it in my face."
"Anyway, here's your present." Terry put the covered dish on the table.
"If it's pheasant..." Bruce promptly uncovered the dish to reveal a pile of tea cakes. "Tea cakes?"
"Go ahead, try one."
Bruce shrugged and bit into it. His eyes widened and he turned towards Terry. "Did you travel back in time to get Alfred to cook these?!" He asked with deadly seriousness. For years, he had examined and experimented to find the proper recipe of the tea cakes but he could never get the taste right. Now, Terry had just somehow found out how to cook them.
"No, I cook them myself. I found Alfred's collection of recipes."
Bruce's jaw dropped as he stared at the tea cake. "I was looking for that thing for years. How did you find it?"
Bruce waited for a further explanation but there was none. He let himself smile slightly. The kid could keep a secret. He let it slide since it wasn't life or death. He could find out later. "I see." Bruce said as he munched on a couple more.
Bruce went to his chair with the tea cakes and sat down. He never felt so enthusiastic about food before Alfred died. There was one time with Barbara and the cake but he won't go there. He heard a snicker and Bruce glanced up. Terry was watching him. "Aren't you supposed to go on patrol?"
"I'm curious about what the League got you for your birthday." Terry looked at the pile of presents.
"I don't trust them."
Terry shook his head. "Don't worry, I checked all of them for viruses, bombs, and anything that could hurt you."
"I'm not talking about that." Bruce crossed his arms. He stared at Terry who just kept on looking at the presents. "If you are so curious, you open them."
"But they are your presents." Terry picked a small box from the pile and handed it to him. "I'm not going to patrol until you open at least one present."
Bruce had to shake his head at his protégé's attitude. He haven't felt excited about any sort of presents for years. But the kid was young enough to actually be excited for other people. "One present and you go on patrol." Bruce opened the present and frowned. In it was a stuffed kitten with a little bat in its mouth. "Selina."
"Looks like she's alive. And look, there's a phone number in the card. Are you going to-?"
"No." Bruce looked away. He remembered the last time he saw her. His heart pounded at just the thought of her whip and her leather clad form.
"You're the same age."
"And it's not like that she is married. Is she?"
"She's not and the last time she dated was three years, six months, and five days ago." Bruce calculated effortlessly. Terry glanced at him. The old man refused to acknowledge that look. He had a feeling that Terry was feeling very sorry for him and he won't let him know that he knows.
All of a sudden, the Manor's alarm system activated. "Great." Bruce grunted as he turned on the monitor to see Dick Grayson standing at the Manor's door. "Dick."
"He did came."
"Did you talk to him?" Bruce suddenly had a feeling where Terry got that recipe.
"Maybe, but the important thing is are you going to let him in?"
Bruce sighed as he stared at the image. Dick looked so old. He could still remember the time when Dick was that cute little kid who swings on the chandelier and makes bad puns to criminals. Where did the years went?
"I'm going to patrol. Just, remember he won't wait forever." Terry said as he put on his mask and went to the Batmobile. The car flew out of the cave and Bruce just pondered.
The old man looked at the monitor and then clenched his fists. "What the hell. Ace, chair." Bruce ordered his dog. Ace jumped into the chair and Bruce went up the stairs to speak to his son.