Wayne Manor was only a small blip on the massive estate on the outskirts of Gotham City. It was a mansion, of course, large enough where anyone could live there and not see any other inhabitants. Luckily, this was not the case. The small number of people that were usually in said mansion normally got along well enough. On the downside, so few people normally meant a lot of silence, especially when everyone else was out.
Alfred Pennyworth, the butler of Wayne Manor, was a master at his job. He was beyond effective at keeping order, keeping the inhabitants fed and watered (they would forget, after all), was a shoulder to cry on, a person to complain to and was perhaps the only person that could calm Bruce Wayne down when he was angry.
Like now. The normally attractive man was sick. Very sick, and unfortunately he was very stubborn. And to add to this, Bruce Wayne was too intelligent for his own good. Unfortunately for any individuals who might think that he would be perfect to live with happily ever after, he was also the Batman, vigilante protector of Gotham City, and married to his mission to keep it as safe as possible.
"I'm fine," Bruce was arguing this to Alfred. Well, attempting to argue. His voice was similar to a frog's croak, if a frog could manage half a croak. Bruce's voice was fading in and out, since it was obvious he was losing his voice. But he was determined and nothing helps a stubborn man be determined more than his intellect and simple denial.
"Sir, you are most clearly not fine. Asking how I cloned myself three times means you're seeing things."
"I can patrol. I'll make something..." but what he would make to assist him in patrolling despite the obvious illness was unknown because he threw up on the floor next to the bed. And if one was curious, this also happened to be the exact location of Alfred's feet.
"Yes villains beware, the Dark Knight will vomit on you. And if you're clever, keep a sample so you can finally learn who he is due to DNA evidence." Alfred looked at the mess on his shoes, somehow still looking dignified despite vomit on his person.
The retort from the man in the bed was a growl reminiscent of an angry bear.
"I shall find someone to patrol for you, Master Bruce. Please put your energy into feeling better instead of arguing with me about tonight's patrol."
"There isn't anyone else," Bruce attempted to retort, before he retched again. This time the place where he retched was a small ice bucket that Alfred had quickly put in front of him.
"I shall find someone."
"Everyone is busy-" Bruce tried once more to protest and make Alfred see logic. He felt like a little boy again, especially with Alfred being patient.
"Rest Master Bruce, or I shall be forced to use a sedative."
Bruce Wayne, the Batman, legend of Gotham and feared by villains and heroes alike, glared at Alfred but said nothing. Alfred probably would use a sedative on him if he thought it was necessary. Bruce didn't like the idea of someone patrolling his city just because he was stupid and weak enough to fall ill. Fortunately, Alfred had never disappointed him in the past, and the older man was normally wise enough to know best.
Bruce didn't have to like it, though. And he wasn't going to give in without a fight. "I can do it." He attempted to rise and almost whimpered with the pain. Alfred was fast once more with the ice bucket and Bruce shut his eyes, hating how pathetic he felt. A straw soon found its way to his lips and he sipped gratefully at the orange-flavored drink. He could taste the chemical that would probably make him sleep until morning, but he could also taste the anti-nausea medicine in it. Alfred was not trying to trick him, but he stopped sipping and glowered at the butler.
"Master Bruce, you are ill. Use this for future knowledge: if a villain has put odd drugs into the water near Gotham, hiding in it for hours to find a lair is not a good idea. You not only stayed in the water with these chemicals for hours, you went on patrol afterwards. The cold night air did not help you and neither did staying in damp clothing and armor." The older man gave Bruce a pointed look.
Bruce simply grunted, before sighing, "You'll find someone?"
"..." It was obvious Bruce didn't like it, but he knew that arguing would get nowhere and Alfred was right. He finished drinking his medicine. Soon, Alfred gently pushing the hair from his face, reminding Bruce very much of being young once more, he drifted to sleep.
Alfred waited patiently before cleaning everything in the room up, leaving the door and a few devices to monitor Bruce before leaving to clean himself up. He did all of this quickly and efficiently, looking as if all were normal within the manor. Finally, after checking that Bruce was sleeping... a peaceful sleep, which was surprising. That wasn't really normal, but perhaps his illness, the medicine, and his exhaustion had helped with that.
The elderly butler made sure all was organized and clean before he entered the cave. It had been dubbed the "Batcave," but Alfred simply thought of it as another part of the manor. There were wings and rooms and thus this was simply the cave, another aspect of the house. While in there, he logged onto the massive computer that allowed Batman to see most of Gotham City and even other places, looking for someone that could possibly patrol Gotham.
The Justice League... all busy? Alfred shook his head. Apparently there was a galactic threat a few thousand light years away... fun. He looked up the Titans. And they too were busy, on Starfire's planet. He chuckled, remembering the many, many times young Dick Grayson had mentioned her.
Then there were the younger heroes, the Teen Titans, and even they were all busy keeping one of their members safe from her father. Apparently she could be possessed and supposedly would bring about the end of the world due to it, but it hadn't happened yet, and the girl was stronger than she knew.
Unfortunately, even people like Azrael and Batwoman were busy. One was trying to regain his routes, to learn that killing to solve crime wasn't right. Batwoman was in Bludhaven, which wouldn't help for this night.
Alfred glanced at the clock. He knew that Bruce would be asleep until roughly five in the morning.
He had said he would find someone to patrol Gotham City. Alfred had been the butler of the Wayne family for decades, long before Gotham City even had a Batman. He had served to the best of his ability and had never failed them, had never disappointed his employers.
He would not start now.
He found some of the suits that were rather old and began to quickly, with the accumulation he had due to years of experience, tailor it to fit him.
Yes, he was not young. But Alfred was not inexperienced. He had fought wars back in his youth, and keeping the heroes outfitted and ready today was not easy. He kept in shape because the Manor and estate had had people attempt to break in before. He was old, but not a feeble weakling.
And it was only for the one night.
It took a bit longer to get ready, since Alfred wanted to be sure this was truly the only way. However, he had been right-there was no other person to watch his young master's city.
He had heard Bruce speak as Batman for years, and he had studied theater himself. He had helped Bruce with some of his many disguises as well.
And so a few moments later, the Batmobile was on the streets.
But in the Batcave, a warning flashed on the screen where no one could see it.
Code AB1:Joker. Repeat: AB1, Joker
And of course, if anyone had seen the warning, they would have known that meant the Joker had just escaped from Arkham Asylum.