Notes: This is for "The Alfred Challenge" over on the YJ Fanfiction Challenges forum. I encourage all to go and check it out!
Standard Disclaimer(s) Apply
Shortly after Dick had moved into the Manor, he had convinced Bruce to allow him to have a pet. The conversation had gone a little like this:
"Bruce, can I have a pet?"
"Only if you take care of it."
And that had been that. Four years later, and Rambo the Beta Fish was still a part of the family. Or, at least he was until this morning.
Dick was staring down at the fish bowl with a frown on his face. Alfred put a comforting hand on his shoulder.
"Would you like to talk about it, Master Dick?"
The frown on the boy's face increased in severity as he shrugged off Alfred's hand and crossed his arms.
"He was just a fish."
"Well, if you'd like to talk about it, I'm here."
"I've got to go to school. Just flush him down the toilet," Dick said brusquely, walking past Alfred, out of his room and down the stairs.
This would by no means do.
When Dick arrived home from school, he was surprised to find both Alfred and Bruce waiting for him.
"Is there trouble?" Dick asked, directed at Bruce.
"No. Just follow us out to the flower garden," Bruce replied.
Dick looked at the two with suspicion, but followed them out regardless. Walking out past the fountain and following the red brick trail to the garden, the trio stopped in front of a small six-and-a-half inch deep hole in front of the petunias.
"What are we doing here?"
"I have been with the Wayne family for many years, and as such have seen the deaths of many a family pet, all of which are buried here. I feel that Rambo deserves a spot among the others," Alfred answered, producing a small white box from the pocket of his over-coat and handing it to Dick.
"Look, Alfred, he was just a stupid beta fish," Dick began, fidgeting as he tried to avoid the gaze of the butler.
"But he was a Wayne beta fish."
Dick shuffled some more, resigned to his fate, "Alright. How do you want to do this then?"
"Excellent. Place him in the hole," Alfred instructed.
Dick bent down, being careful not to get any dirt on the trousers of his uniform, and plopped the box in the hole.
Dick looked up, as if to say 'Now what?'
"Cover it up."
Dick stood up and nudged the dirt over the hole with his shoe, entombing Rambo. He tapped the place with his shoe twice, patting down the soft dirt.
"Okay. Can I go now?"
"No, Master Dick. You have to say something."
"Like what?" What could one say about a beta fish?
"I'll start then. Rambo was a very nice fish. Now you, Master Bruce."
Bruce, who appeared to know the drill, fired off, "I never had to feed him."
Dick was still at a loss for words. Alfred was staring at him expectantly though, so he quickly said what first came to mind.
"He lived up to his name. Whenever I put an eraser to his jar he always went crazy and tried attacking it," Dick was surprised to find that after those initial words, he couldn't stop talking, "He was the first pet that I had full responsibility over. At the circus I got to help take care of some of the animals, but their survival never fully depended on me. Rambo was always swimming around, carefree, and I used to tell him everything I did after a night of crime fighting. He was my best-friend."
Dick swallowed. Alfred put a hand on his shoulder.
"There. Now isn't that better?"
A small, grateful smile crossed the boy's face, "Thanks, Alfred."
"It was no problem, Master Dick. No problem at all."
With that, Alfred took his leave. Dick and Bruce stayed beside the grave a little longer.
"How did Alfred know that would work?"
"Years of practice-he did the same for me when Pete the Parakeet died."
Dick tried to suppress a laugh and failed.
"What?" Bruce looked a little affronted.
"Pete the Parakeet? Seriously?"
"As if Rambo the Beta Fish is any better."
Dick just snickered, and happily moved along the path.