Pairings/Characters: Bruce, Wee!Dick, Alfred
Genres: Challenge, Holiday, Drama
Warnings: Sap alert! ;)
Summary: Old family traditions come together for a new family at Wayne Manor.
Date Of Completion: November 23, 2008
Date Of Posting: November 24, 2008
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 2135
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Author’s Notes: Happy Birthday, pervyficgirl! The theme of Dick and his importance to his new family evolved into a Thanksgiving tale, which fit the 2008 DCU Fic/Art Family Winter Holidays Challenge. Hope you enjoy it! :)
Bruce walked from the kitchen to the library through the tastefully-decorated foyer and hall. It was Thanksgiving Week, and Bruce always allowed Alfred to decorate even though he didn’t celebrate the holiday. The man needed creative outlets beyond his exquisite cooking and baking, after all.
After his parents’ deaths, Alfred had tried to make the holidays as festive as possible, with dinners and decorations and all the trimmings, but eventually the celebration of holidays had died out, due to Bruce away at college and staying for extra studies on his own during semester breaks, from his years in Europe and Asia learning his craft, and finally to his return to Gotham and his new career as a crimefighter. There just wasn’t time, and the holidays were more sad than happy for him, anyway. Alfred went back to England during Christmas to spend time with his relatives, and while Bruce missed him, he buried himself in work on Christmas Eve and Day, ignoring the professionally-decorated tree in the living room and all the other decorations.
Christmas actually wasn’t so bad. You could enter into the social whirl of Christmas parties and other fripperies, but Thanksgiving was tougher. That was pure family amongst the trappings of the traditional feast and football games, and he just couldn’t face the empty chairs around the dining room table.
He opened the grandfather clock casing and went down the stone steps to the Batcave, planning the night’s patrol with his usual efficiency. He never patrolled in the same areas at the same time. Unpredictability was the key…
He frowned as he heard a sound. It should only be the sound of the bats down here…
He heard it from the tunnels closest to the main area of the Cave and entered cautiously. There shouldn’t be anyone here, except…
Dick looked up, tears wet on his young face. “Oh, Bruce!” He quickly wiped his face with the back of his hand. “I’m sorry! I know I shouldn’t be a crybaby…”
Bruce noticed how the boy’s knees were drawn up tightly and his huddled posture. He knelt next to Dick and asked anxiously, “Are you sick? Hurt?”
Dick shook his head wordlessly, unable to meet Bruce’s eyes. Bruce took his chin and turned the tearstained face to him.
“Then what’s wrong?” he asked softly.
Dick looked ashamed and sad and heartbroken, breaking Bruce’s heart. How he hated to see his young charge upset! This child’s brightness was as much a part of him as breathing.
“I…I’m sorry…but I was thinking...this week’s Thanksgiving…and I miss…Mom and Dad.”
Yes, definitely heartbreaking.
Of course Dick would be hurting especially this year. It was his first Thanksgiving without his parents. Bruce knew that feeling well.
“I know; it’s hard.” Dick’s look of understanding re-asserted the bond between them. “I’m not going to say it’s going to get easier. Maybe in a way it does, but in another way, it hurts just as much years later. You have the right to grieve, Dick.”
Dick nodded slowly, sniffling. “I just…you can’t have Robin crying!”
Bruce smiled slightly. “Robin is for laughter, yes, and so are you, but that doesn’t mean all the time. Sometimes we just feel sad.”
Dick reached out and gripped Bruce’s arm, his eyes silently saying that he understood.
“It’s okay, Bruce. I know you don’t celebrate. I know Batman doesn’t eat Thanksgiving dinner.” He smiled slightly.
Bruce thought of his plans for patrolling on Thanksgiving night, and no special plans during the day. He hadn’t thought of Dick, and that made him ashamed.
A child, especially one missing his parents, should have a festive holiday.
“Well, I think it’s time to return to the tradition of celebrating holidays here at Wayne Manor,” Bruce said softly as he touched Dick’s face.
Dick’s blue eyes lit up and he launched himself into a hug, which Bruce returned fiercely.
Alfred hid his surprise as Bruce and Dick came up from the Cave and Bruce quietly asked if Alfred had time to plan a Thanksgiving dinner.
“Of course, sir.”
He took one look at the shining eyes of the young boy standing before him and knew why Bruce had asked the question.
So, Thanksgiving was coming back to Wayne Manor.
Bruce came home from a short day at work to hear laughter and wonderful smells drifting from the kitchen. He laid his briefcase down on the foyer endtable and walked into the kitchen.
“Ah, sir! Good to see you back. How was your day?” Alfred inquired.
“Fine. It was truncated due to it being the day before Thanksgiving. How was school, Dick?”
“Not bad. My class helped the first-graders with their Thanksgiving pageant. They had a big crowd. I helped design the costumes.”
“No spangles, I hope?”
Dick giggled. “No!” He turned back and asked, “What next, Alfred?”
“Chop this celery.”
Dick hopped up onto a stool and began chopping vigorously.
“Smells like pies baking.”
“Quite so, sir. Apple, lemon, cherry, pumpkin and mince.”
“So, what’s the rest of the menu?” Bruce asked.
“The turkey, of course, and potatoes both mashed and sweet, yams, salad, brown rice, green beans, apple chutney, squash, and cranberry sauce. Oh, and stuffing.” Alfred looked down at Dick. “Will you fetch the recipe book, please?”
Dick was off like a lightning bolt, Bruce barely stepping out of the way in time.
“I see you have an enthusiastic helper.”
Alfred grinned. “Most assuredly.”
“I thought you kept your recipe book here in the kitchen?” The apple chutney was a Pennyworth family recipe.
“This one is rather special.”
Dick was back with the book, handing it proudly to Alfred. At Bruce’s inquisitive look the boy said, “It was my mom’s.”
“Yes, most of the dishes are from your family tradition, Master Bruce, but now we have something from Master Dick’s tradition.”
Alfred carefully opened the recipe book and read the neat handwriting of Mary Grayson. Dick pointed out several recipes, and Alfred decided, “The stuffing it shall be.”
The stuffing required celery, so Dick went back to chopping.
Bruce watched him for a moment, then quietly poured a glass of cranberry juice and retired to his study to work.
Thanksgiving morning dawned bright and clear, and after breakfast Bruce and Dick went out to play touch football before Alfred would need his young apprentice. The weather was gorgeous, bright blue skies and a crispness to the air. A cold snap was predicted for the weekend, so they enjoyed the more comfortable weather today. Laughing and teasing, the makeshift game was played with enthusiasm. Dick’s inexhaustible energy kept Bruce on his toes.
“Are we watching football after dinner?” Dick asked.
Bruce threw the football to him. “Sure, why not?”
“Cool!” Dick threw it back with a nice, tight spiral.
An hour later Bruce said, “Okay, Tom Brady, let’s go inside.” He winked and Dick laughed.
Rosy-cheeked from the cold, they went back into the kitchen and Dick immediately started helping Alfred with the last-minute preparations for the feast.
“Would you like my help, Alfred?” Bruce asked.
“Er, perhaps your expertise would be best expressed setting the dining room table, if you would, sir.”
Dick giggled and Bruce pretended to be huffy, but he winked at Dick and headed for the dining room.
He paused in front of the hutch that held the fine bone china with the Wayne crest etched in gold. His heart ached. As he’d told Dick, it didn’t matter how long it had been since his parents’ deaths, he still missed them with a pain that could still surprise him.
Resolutely he shook off his fit of melancholia. Of course there would be a trace of sadness today, for both him and Dick, but the day should be upbeat. Everyone was healthy and happy, and he was thankful for that.
He opened the hutch and began taking out the china. He smiled as he handled the large Wedgwood china plate that would be used as the base for the centerpiece. It had been a prized heirloom in Alfred’s family, and after his parents had passed away, he had inherited it. Martha Wayne had insisted that Alfred use it for special occasions, and Thomas had approved.
The yellow tablecloth was already set over the table and Bruce carefully put the plate in the center. He would go out and collect the last of the fall leaves and place pumpkins and gourds as part of the arrangement, remembering how his mother used to do it.
He set the table, laying out the plates and silverware, taking out the cranberry-colored linen napkins with the stylized ‘W’ and finished with the candles, water and wineglasses.
Looking at his handiwork, he suddenly realized that something was missing. He let the thought linger as he put on his jacket and went outside to gather the leaves and acorns.
Most of the trees except for the evergreens and blue spruces were bare, and Bruce had to hunt for the best remaining leaves. They would be thrown back out at the end of the day, but they could last for a few hours at dinner.
As he picked up the best ones, his mind worked over the problem of what was missing on the table. All of the settings were from his family’s prized possessions, and there was the plate from Alfred’s family…
He straightened up. Yes, that was it!
Hurrying inside, he arranged the centerpiece, the sounds of a cheerful Alfred and Dick drifting out from the kitchen. The turkey smelled great, but it was still too early for the meal to be ready.
He had time, then.
Bruce quietly slipped upstairs.
“Time to inspect the table settings, Alfred?”
The butler smiled. “Certainly, Master Bruce.”
Dick was eager to see Bruce’s domestic skills, too, and Bruce waved them into the dining room with a flourish.
“Quite well done, sir.”
“Yeah, Bruce, I like the colors! Especially the centerpiece…wha…?”
Dick’s eyes grew wide, and he slowly approached the table.
The leaves, acorns, pumpkins and gourds were a colorful arrangement on Alfred’s exquisite plate, and ringing the decorations was an equally-colorful train of carved miniature circus trailers, animals, and performers. The carvings had been painted with bright colors and glitter had been added to look like sequins and jewels.
“My…this is my family’s heirloom set! That’s the family of acrobats Mom and Dad carved, and the trick rider and pony Grandma made, and the tiger Great-Uncle Tonio did, and the elephant…Zitka! that Dad helped me carve!”
“Yes, I found it in the boxes brought with you that are stored up in the attic.” Bruce was suddenly alarmed at the tears that appeared in Dick’s eyes. Had he done the wrong thing? Maybe it was too soon?
“I’m so happy to have this here, Bruce. We used to…used to have it on our holiday tables.”
Dick suddenly hugged Bruce hard, and Bruce had to blink rapidly as he smoothed Dick’s hair and hugged back. Even Alfred looked a little misty-eyed.
“Harumph! Very good touch, sir. Now, it is time to bring in the dinner.”
Dick’s eyes were shining through his tears. “Yeah, that turkey smells great!”
Bruce ruffled Dick’s hair and they all went to the kitchen.
As Dick started filling up a platter, Bruce said quietly, “No need for the professional decorators for the tree this year, Alfred.”
“Yes, I think we can handle it ourselves this year. With the family ornaments this time.”
Alfred never missed a beat, but Bruce could see the joy in his eyes. “Very good, sir.”
Bruce and Dick hopped to Alfred’s orders, winking as they carried in platters and tureens of steaming-hot food. Bruce poured the drinks, wine for himself and Alfred, cranberry juice for Dick. He was allowing himself the alcoholic indulgence because it was a special occasion, and no patrol tonight. Patrol was out of the question if they were going to enjoy this dinner.
As they sat down, Dick said, “The stuffing might be a little different from what you’re used to, Bruce. It has spiciness to it!”
“Yes, crushed red peppers,” Alfred smiled.
“Perfectly okay. You spice up our lives.” Bruce winked as he lifted his glass for the toast.
Dick beamed and lifted his glass, Alfred doing the same.
“I’m very thankful for the newest member of the family, who has made this family better and reminded at least one of us what the holidays mean,” Bruce said, his voice starting out strong and then ending softly.
Dick radiated happiness, and Alfred said, “I heartily agree.”
Thanksgiving dinner was once again enjoyed at Wayne Manor by a new family observing old traditions.
free hit counter (this counter installed 6/12/09)