Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Summary: Bruce is sick and Alfred is nostalgic. Father/son fluff.
Author's Note: My apologies if Bruce or Alfred is somewhat or completely out of character. I am a fluff addict and just feeling some (surrogate) father/son fluff. Enjoy :D
Also, note: This isn't based on a specific Batman universe. It's just a very generic Alfred and Bruce father/son kind of thing.
"It's time to rise and shine, Master Wayne," chirped the annoyingly cheerful butler, pulling back the curtains from the windows to let the early morning sunlight stream in.
His employer, Bruce Wayne himself, groaned while shielding his head with a pillow. He was acting like he did when he was a child and didn't want to get out of bed. The butler allowed himself a smile at the sight, knowing Master Bruce couldn't see it. "G'way, and stop—" he paused for a moment, as if trying to catch his breath but then he continued, "—smirkin', Alfred."
Well, or so he thought he couldn't see it.
Bruce grunted to show he was listening, but he pulled the blankets closer to his chin, snuggling deeper into his bed.
A muffled sound.
Alfred was getting tired of the lack of response. He knew Master Bruce had been out late last night but that didn't entitle him to such bad show of manners so early in the morning.
"Master Wayne! You get out of bed this instant! I understand you were on patrol last night but for God's sake, you could always come home at a decent—was that a cough I just heard, Master Wayne?" He suddenly shouted, breaking off his scolding at the sound coming from underneath the covers that did indeed sound suspiciously like a cough.
Alfred's "mother-hen" senses, as Master Bruce would surely describe it as, were tingling and he instantly knew something was up. He had raised Bruce after the tragedy of his parents' deaths and in turn became very in-tune with everything about Master Bruce. He knew all of his likes and dislikes, his interests, what his facial expressions meant, and most importantly how to tell if he was sick.
Ever since a child, Master Bruce had not been fond of medical care. When it had come to shots or medicine to be taken during the young master's childhood, he'd take them all right—kicking and screaming, that is. As he got older he didn't kick or scream as much but he did put up a fuss. Once reaching teenage years and early adulthood, he'd go so far as to try to hide his illnesses. Alfred had never taken kindly to that.
At least, he supposed, Master Bruce would take his medical care rather well after getting thoroughly bruised and battered after a fight as Batman. He usually sat quietly as Alfred tended to his wounds, but being sick was different than being injured. Being sick didn't wound his body, but instead it wounded his defenses. Master Bruce was more prone to emotional breakdowns and whinging when bedridden from an illness.
Annoyed by not receiving an answer to his question, Alfred took a fistful of the coverlet in each hand and ripped it straight off of the bed and threw it on the floor.
"Alfred!" Whined—er, maturely exclaimed—Bruce, curling into a ball to keep some warmth in his body now that he was without his duvet.
The butler snorted. Master Bruce was most definitely sick if he was griping like a child like this. "How long?" he demanded.
"Hmm?" hummed the billionaire absentmindedly while trying to find a comfortable spot on the bed to nestle in to.
"How long?" he repeated, slower this time.
"Um… for what?" Though Master Bruce's question was believable enough, Alfred knew him better then to be so easily deceived; however even if he didn't know him so well, a sudden coughing fit betrayed the man's attempt at pretending he was anything but sick.
"'For what', indeed, Master Bruce," the older man chided, though not unkindly while he pottered over to lightly tap the billionaire's back to help rid him of the coughing, "and this is why we don't try to trick our all-knowing butlers, hm?"
"No," he breathed in denial. "You don't know all."
The words stirred a memory inside him, a memory long since forgotten of a certain young boy telling him the exact same thing once upon a time…
A crash sounded from above. He was running up the stairs faster than he thought possible, hoping beyond hope that nothing bad had transpired—what if there was a burglar? A kidnapper? Master Bruce was far too sick to sit up in bed, much less attempt to fight off a kidnapper.
He reached the boy's room in no time, a ladle in his hand. Ladle? Not the ideal weapon to fight off an intruder but he had been fixing Master Bruce chicken soup and it hadn't occurred to him to put it down.
He was fully prepared to inflict proper Alfred Pennyworth rage upon whoever had dared disturb the young master's slumber, but stopped in his tracks when he saw said master on his stomach on the floor, his blankets swabbing his body in disarray, and some portable electronic video game or another lying next to him.
"Master Bruce? Are you quite all right?"
The young boy sniffled, his face pressed against the floor as he nodded, refusing to look up at his butler. "F-fine."
"What are you doing on the floor, young master?"
He could tell Master Bruce didn't have an answer to that. He fidgeted ever so slightly, but Alfred could still see it. There was no wool to be pulled over this butler's eyes. "Master Bruce," he started, "did you fall out of your bed while playing video games instead of resting like I told you to?"
"No?" Bruce tried. He glanced back at the older man and took in his expression: full of doubt and touch of sternness. "Maybe?"
"'Maybe', indeed, Master Bruce." He sighed, leaning down and picking the small boy and mess of blankets off of the floor and placed both parties on the bed. He fluffed the young man's pillow, and then pointed to it once he was done. "Lie down."
"Alfred," he whined.
"Go on, now."
Reluctantly, the small boy did as he was told. "Can I at least have my game back?"
"I know you, Master Bruce, and I know the moment I give you that ridiculous toy back, you are going to play some violent game instead of rest and you'll just end up lying on the floor again."
"I will not," he muttered petulantly.
"Yes, you will."
"Nuh-uh," he denied.
"Yes," he said, tucking the coverlet around Master Bruce's small body.
"I wanna play, Alfred," he insisted, giving the older man his most pleading pair of innocent eyes.
"Can I?" He asked hopefully, sitting up.
He gently but firmly pressed him against the pillows. "No."
"You're sick, Master Bruce, and you need rest. Sleep. You can play once you are feeling better."
"Fine." Clearly, from his expression, it was not 'fine' and he was planning something. In order to stop the scheme that the small boy was surely thinking up, he pulled Bruce's desk chair out to sit next to the bed.
"Would you like a story?"
Bruce looked horrified. "Alfred, I'm ten! I don't need a story."
"Perhaps not, but you are also sick. It's okay to have a story if you're sick."
"How would you know?"
"Because I am an all-knowing butler," he said easily.
"You don't know everything, Alfred."
"Keep thinking that, Master Bruce. Now, shall I tell a story or shall I read one?"
"Hmm?" he murmured absentmindedly. Remembering where he was and what he was doing, he brought himself back to the present. "Oh. Yes, Master Bruce?"
"I said, 'you don't know all'."
He grinned. "Yes, well. You keep thinking that, Master Bruce. Now—"
"If you're about to ask if I want you to either tell me a story or read one, don't even think about it."
Ah. There was the Bruce he recognized, and apparently Alfred hadn't been the only one reflecting on that specific memory. He'll be back to himself in no time, the butler thought. And while sometimes he wished that Bruce could be this way forever, without a mask and without defenses and frankly childlike again, he couldn't ask something so selfish of the young man before him. He would just have to treasure these rare moments while he had them.
"All right, I won't," Alfred agreed. "I'll be in the kitchen making you chicken soup. You rest." He patted the billionaire's knee, grabbed the blankets off the floor and covered him with them again. He then strode towards the door, foregoing the tucking in he had done so many years ago. He didn't think Bruce would take kindly to that at his age. The butler stepped out of the room, but before closing the door he popped his head back in, a smirk on his face.
"Oh, and Master Bruce? Do indeed rest and not play video games this time."
The only response he received was a scowl and a pillow tossed half-heartedly in the direction of the closing door.