AN: My first Batman story! I saw the movie a few days ago, and I really enjoyed it. However, I hated how Bruce and Alfred parted ways. It took place over three minutes, and while I get that they were both hurting, still, Alfred had raised Bruce. For them to part ways so abruptly, it just didn't fit right. So, this is a future-fict that will, hopefully, fix some of that. I hope you like it! :)
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman. DC does.
Finally reaching his table at the little cafe, it was with a long, slow sigh that Alfred allowed himself to relax in his chair. Turning his head so that he could look out over the scenery that luckily hadn't changed in the years since he had been to visit, it was with a slight, sad smile that he began to peruse his thoughts, his mind wandering from one to another without effort at all. It truly had been far too long.
He was glad that, after a ten year absence, kept away by his health and certain events he had no wish to remember, he had been able to come to his little cafe in Paris. For, from what he could tell by his flesh and his bones, it would be the last visit he ever took.
For a long while, Alfred continued to gaze out over the city, his mind barely noticing as he ordered his usual from the waitress that had come up besides him, the young girl slipping away once again before he could even full register that she had been there. Whenever the urge to look at the people sitting around him became too strong, he forced himself to focus on a miniscule detail of the world before him, to gaze at a flower or leaf until the desire began to fade. It had been ten years since he had last come, and even though he longed to check, Alfred knew that what he wished most to see wouldn't be there. Perhaps, if it had only been a year or two of missed vacations, he could still have hoped, but an entire decade was far too long to expect someone to be waiting.
He had at least seen Bruce once, seeming to enjoy the company of the beautiful Selina Kyle, and so that would have to be enough for him.
So intent was he to forget about the people behind him, it took Alfred a couple of minutes to realize that he, in fact, was being watched, and by someone who was standing far too close for comfort. Turning, it was with a slight surprise that he found himself staring into a pair of steely blue eyes, eyes that belonged to a child of perhaps no more then six, who was watching him intently from besides his chair. For quite some time, the two just sat or stood there, watching and examining each other as they tried to come to some unspoken conclusion. Seeing that this was not to be, for obviously the child wanted something, it was with a slight sigh that Alfred broke the silence and put on a kind smile.
"Is there something you need little one," Alfred asked gently, his voice soft and soothing in case the child was lost or scared. Seeming to take this as an open invitation, the child quickly pulled himself into the chair, his wiggling ways eventually finding him sitting happily in Alfred's lap, the top of his head resting against Alfred's chest as he craned his neck to look at the older man while still facing forward. Shocked into silence by the child's audacity, there was once again a period of silence before the boy himself shattered it.
"I knew you'd come back Grandpa, I just knew it. Daddy knew it too, even if he didn't say, but now I can finally get to meet you. Daddy's told me all about you, and even though he said not to, I really wanted to talk to you Grandpa, so I ran away so that I could. So hi Grandpa," the child said swiftly, untilting his head and twisting his body so that he could properly face Alfred. Reaching up, he wrapped his arms around the man's and pulled him into a hug, his face nestled into the crook of Alfred's neck as he continued to talk, his words becoming too muffled to hear. Pulling away slightly, worried that the boy might have become confused and mistaken him for someone else, it was again with a kind and gentle voice that he spoke to the child.
"What is your name little one," he asked quietly, hoping that, with enough information, he would be able to return the child to his parents.
"My name is Richard, but you can call me Dick if you like Grandpa," the child said happily, bouncing slightly in Alfred's lap. "I have two little brothers, Jason and Tim, and Mommy said that I would have a little sister named Stephanie soon, but I'm not sure if I want one, since girls can be weird. But Daddy said I had to be nice and..." A realization dawning on him, the only explanation as to why the child was calling him 'Grandpa' and why no parents had yet come to retrieve him, Alfred finally allowed himself to turn and examine the people inside the cafe.
And there he was.
Even after ten years, Bruce Wayne was still sitting at the exact same table, a smile on his face as he watched his eldest son talk to him. As if he had sent out a signal, the entire family rose and, grabbing chairs as they went along, came to settled themselves around him.
"It's good to see you again Alfred," Selina said softly as she placed a kiss on his cheek before settling herself into a chair, her considerable stomach and swollen ankles keeping her from standing for very long. Even after the passage of so much time-which had been kind to her- and almost due with her fourth child-which had left her with a more motherly, but still appealing, figure-Alfred could easily and honestly say that she was still the most beautiful woman he had ever met, if but for the joy and sincere happiness that shone in her eyes.
"Hi Grawpa," a second child, about four in age, said happily as he wrapped his arms around his knees, leaning his head against Alfred's leg as he stared up at him with shining eyes. "Hi Grawpa, hi."
"Why, hello to you too," Alfred said with a smile, causing the young boy to shyly hide his face into the fabric of his pants. "And Selina, you look wonderful my dear," he said as he turned to her, his smile growing as he saw the almost protective way her hands had fallen over her protruding stomach. "It's good to see you too."
With that having been said, Alfred turned to meet the last two members of the family, both of whom had stood back to watch the reunion.
"It's good to see you Alfred," Bruce said after he had placed the sleeping two year old into a chair, carefully arranging him so that he wouldn't fall from the seat to the ground below. Kneeling so that he was eye level with the man that had raised him from his youngest days, it was with a smile that he took the old man's hand between his own, squeezing it for comfort. "It's really, really good to see you. I had though..." Letting his words fade into silence, it was with a sigh of relief that Alfred shook his head and returned the squeeze.
"No, Master Bruce, the worse has not happened to me yet. My health has been failing, and combined with volunteering to stitch up another young masked vigilante, one who just doesn't seem to understand the fact that, if he's going to try to hide in the shadows to remain unseen, dressing like a stop light is not the best way to go about it, I have been unable to come."
It was the peal of laughter that surprised him the most, for it showed just how much the young master he had raised had changed in the last ten years.
"And 'Grandpa,'" Alfred asked once the laughter had stopped.
"As far as I'm concerned," Bruce said with a true smile, "there are two men that I can consider my 'father.' And you, Alfred, are one of them."
For a long while, the six of them stayed at that cafe and talked, allowing the mid-morning to quickly slip into late afternoon as they explored each other's lives that they had been living for so long without the other. Finally, as the children were beginning to fade and Selina decided that it was time to go home, Bruce made his offer that Alfred, for all he felt that he should, couldn't resist.
"Would you like to come home with us Alfred," Bruce asked, his arm around a smiling and nodding Selina to help her support herself. "We could continue to talk some more, to catch up with each other in a place that isn't quite as public." The look in his eyes said the rest, told the older man that he was sorry for the way they had parted, and that he would like to rebuild the relationship that had been so badly damaged.
How could Alfred say no?
In the end, Alfred's flesh and bones were right. That was the last trip he ever took to Paris.
Because, in the end, he never left.