Word Count: about 1457
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters and I write completely for fun and not for profit!
Beta: A thank you to youngjusticefanatic for the edit!
Summary: Alfred watched as Dick grew. Continuation of "Old" and "Aged"
Author's Note: This is not what I promised you guys, and the actual story involving the team realizing just how old Robin is, is still in the works. But this idea came, so I went with it.
Alfred wasn't there
Alfred wasn't at the circus when the child's parents fell, and he wasn't there when Bruce visited the Juvenile Hall.
Then he was.
He was there when Dick first arrived at the manor. A teary-eyed child, who clutched a duffle bag in his arms, followed Bruce into the manor from the garage. Neither one spoke and Bruce looked unsure of himself. To the elder man's surprise, Dick's expression was blank, but no one could ignore the pain in the child's bright blue eyes. Dick might have been the size of an eight-year-old boy, but his eyes held more pain and wisdom than Alfred had ever seen.
That was when Alfred knew, Dick was growing too fast.
If he was honest, and he is, Alfred would admit he wasn't surprised in the least when they found Dick in the Batcave. The elderly man knew it would have been sooner or later that his youngest charge figured out the secret. He wasn't angry either, at least not because Dick found the cave. No, he was angry because he knew what was coming next. The butler lectured his youngest ward about the importance of not snooping where, little boys shouldn't be. He could see Bruce nodding along, but he wasn't paying attention. Alfred knew the clogs were already moving in his older charges mind, and it was too late.
Two hours later, Alfred disappeared up the stairs for a late night snack. The man paused at the top of the stairs, and watched Bruce pull the boy into his lap and whisper something into his ear. The butler sighed and passed through the clock to grab a tray of cookies and milk.
The next day, Dick began training and Robin was born.
Alfred knew heroes grew up fast, especially a vigilante working in a place like Gotham. The butler wanted to keep Dick away from that life. He wanted to keep both his wards away from the violent life of crime fighting. But as he watched the Batsignal flash in the night sky, he knew it was too late to stop them.
For the last four years, he watched his charges, sacrifice their safety to protect Gotham from its insane locals. Alfred watched as they came home bruised, drugged and bleeding. He sewed up bullet wounds and scars; He iced brakes and bruises; he covered his charges with a blanket and wished that just for once the villains would stay in Arkham.
Sometimes they were victorious-
Sometimes they came home unharmed-
Alfred was wiping down this silver tray for the third time when the sound of the Batmobile echoed off the cave walls. The elderly man straightened himself and waited for the car to come to a complete stop. A blur of red and yellow burst out and vaulted across to the room, ranting about how "awesome things went". It wasn't until he had a good look at both Batman and Robin, did Alfred finally let out the breath he was holding.
Sometimes they were-
He had gotten a call from Bruce a few minutes ago, informing the elderly man the extent of the situation. Alfred had a blanket ready and the tub was full of room temperature water, in cave's infirmary. Hot chocolate was warming on the stove up stairs, and he had already pulled the marshmallows from the pantry.
Then the duo lost-
Physical pain –
Alfred worked as fast as he could. When one cut was stitched, another seemed to appear and the blood didn't stop. Even unconscious, Dick still whimpered when they pressed down on the cuts. Alfred didn't have time for tears, but every moan was another hit to his heart.
Mental torment –
Dick had finally fallen asleep. The fear gas finally worked its way out of the boy's body, and he collapsed into a deep sleep. Bruce clutched the lad to his chest; dried tears were on both their faces. Alfred placed a blanket over his two charges, and disappeared up the stairs. In the safety of his kitchen, with the knowledge that they were finally okay, he let the tears slowly fall.
And a mix of both –
Alfred stood in his youngest wards doorway, as Bruce woke Dick from yet another nightmare. With a jolt, the acrobat sat up in bed and flinched away from his adopted father. It took the boy a few seconds to release who it was, then tackled Bruce in a hug. Alfred disappeared from view and made his way to the kitchen. A steaming pot of coffee already sat in the pot. The elderly man sighed and pored himself a small cup. Obviously Dick wasn't the only one haunted by the marks left by the Joker and his crowbar.
Robin had grown to fast
Alfred knew both Batman and Robin went through more in the young heroes first two years of crime fighting than most heroes did in a life time.
Robin had a chance to stop growing, or at least slow down.
The moment Alfred found out about Dick wanting to be on a team of young heroes he was in full support of the idea. The butler placed a cup of coffee next to the Dark Knight before clearing his throat. "Master Bruce?"
All he got was a grunt in response.
Alfred picked up his serving tray and stared at Bruce for a few seconds. "Let the young master have his team."
The typing stopped almost instantly, and Bruce's head snapped around to face the elderly man.
The man ignored the staring, and began walking towards the staircase. "It is for the best, Master Bruce."
Both men knew that was the end of the discussion, and Batman sent out a message to the league, informing them of the new formation of the Young Justice.
They didn't know Robin had grown far past his years.
Robin had more experience than the whole team plus Roy combined.
Alfred hid his smile when Bruce would rant about how the team treated Robin like a child.
He was thrilled when Robin "Acted his age"
Alfred silently chuckled at the antics of his youngest ward when he pulled pranks on the team.
But at the end of the day Alfred would wonder through the manor with a cup of tea in one hand and sneak a glance into his wards' rooms. Dick was curled up with a in his bed surrounded by too many pillows. Bruce was asleep in a chair at his wards side, a normal habit for the Dark Knight when he can't sleep. His legs propped up on the bed and a stuffed elephant tucked under his arm. Alfred let out a small chuckle and placed his tea on the corner of Dick's desk before fetching another blanket.
Alfred smiled at the dynamic duo. Dick's stuffed animal tucked under his father's arm, while Bruce watched over his sleeping son.
Dick was growing up too fast.
Bruce was already well beyond his years.
Alfred didn't think about himself.