On this particular day, the knee-jerk reaction Jason had upon waking up was to roll over, pull his thin blanket more securely over his body, and stay cocooned in his bed until a full twenty-four hours had passed. However, when his alarm clock went off a full half hour before sunrise, Jason forced himself to untangle his limbs from his sheets with a modicum of cursing.

"Why the hell am I doing this?" he muttered to himself. "Fucking mental... Fucking family... Don't need them... They don't need me... Should just go back to sleep..."

He dragged himself sluggishly into the bathroom and took a quick shower. "Shouldn't even bother with this, damn it," Jason grumbled around his toothbrush as he brushed his teeth.

The frustrated swearing only got worse as he rummaged through his closet looking for a clean shirt and pants. "No... No... Hell no... Fuck no! Damn it all! Where the fuck is—Oh... This'll work."

By the time Jason, dressed and groomed as presentably as he could managed, made his way out of his apartment, the sun was already halfway over the horizon. He glanced at his watch. "They should be getting ready to make the rounds," he said to himself as he straddled his motorcycle and brought it to life. "I've got three hours."

It took only ten minutes to get to his destination. That destination was a small treasure of a 24-hour diner known for having good food and even better coffee. Jason had hoped he could get there first this year. However, when he stepped into the diner and turned his gaze to his favorite table, a lone figure was already sitting there. He sighed and sauntered his way past the other tables and patrons.

"One of these days, I will beat you here," Jason said as he took on the opposite side of the table.

Alfred Pennyworth kept his eyes on the article he was reading in his newspaper. "I look forward to seeing the pigs take to the air on that morning. Shall we place a bet on whether they'll have wings or jet packs?"

Jason grinned and shook his head. A waitress came over and delivered two mugs of hot coffee, just the way both men liked theirs. Soon as she was gone, Jason looked at Alfred curiously. "Why do you do it?"

The elderly man took a sip from his coffee after he folded his newspaper down neatly. "Do what?"

"Make it a point to get here before me?" Jason frowned. "Every year, I try to get here before you do. But it seems like no matter how early I get up and out the door, you've already been here a good ten to fifteen minutes when I walk through the door."

Alfred gave Jason a kindly, reassuring smile, the same one the younger man could remember receiving when he was a child living with him and Bruce at Wayne Manor all those years ago. "That's because I don't want you to spend any time waiting for me to arrive," he said simply. "If I allowed that, you'd just agitate yourself wondering if I was actually going to show up this year or not."

Jason frowned. "But then don't you do the same thing when you get here before me? Don't you wonder if maybe this will be the year I don't show up?"


"Why not?"

The old man looked at Jason. "Because despite everything you've done in your life, despite the conflicts you have with Bruce and your brothers, despite the actions you take every other day of the year, you've never broken a promise made to me, yet." Alfred turned his attention back to his menu. "And you promised to have breakfast with me here every Father's Day while the others are busy visiting their fathers."

Jason smiled at Alfred across the table before taking up his own menu. As much as he, the black sheep of Bruce Wayne's brood, would constantly say that he didn't want anything to do with any part of the rest of his adopted family, he couldn't deny the fact that he made a very large exception for the man who had always been more a grandfather to him than a servant.

Jason loved Alfred, and spending Father's Day with him was one of the few guaranteed highlights of his entire year.

For his part, even though Father's Day would always be a more somber occasion for Bruce and his other boys, Alfred cherished these few hours as well. One day, the old man hoped he could ask Jason to promise him one family meal together a year, all the boys and girls together around one table, perhaps for Thanksgiving or Christmas. However, he knew that it was still too soon to make that kind of request, even though Alfred knew that if he pressed the issue he could guilt Jason into making the promise. He didn't want to use guilt, though, to make Jason say yes.

One day, Alfred wanted to be able to make the request and know that when his wayward young man said yes, it was because he genuinely wanted to.