Pairings/Characters: (this chapter): Clark/Bruce, Alfred, Dick, Brendan, Jackie Star, Brad Stryker
Series Notes: In the 23rd century, Earth is a technologically-advanced society that practices the ancient institution of slavery. New superheroes appear on the scene as the Abolitionist Movement gathers strength. Meanwhile, Lex gets his heart’s desire while long-held secrets begin to spill out of the Manor. Nothing will ever be the same again.
The entire series can be found here.
Genres: AU, Challenge, Drama, Slavefic
Challenge Category: Section E (Slavefic)
Rating: (this chapter): G
Summary: The Wayne Family maintains a vigil at Alfred’s bedside.
Date Of Completion (First Draft): August 21, 2009
Date Of Posting: October 22, 2010
Disclaimer: I don’t own ‘em, DC does, more’s the pity.
Word Count: 956
Feedback welcome and appreciated.
Written for my 2010 DCU Fic/Art Bondage Challenge.
Sir Elwyn Hartford
"All In Time"
Bruce gazed at the man in the hospital bed, acutely aware of how fragile Alfred looked right now. He could still breath on his own, but his breaths were rattling. The monitors were keeping close tabs on his respiration. If he needed to go on a ventilator, Bruce would give permission.
Bruce reached out and covered one of the butler’s hands with his own, sitting in an uncomfortable chair by the bedside.
Clark and Dick were also sitting in chairs, keeping vigil. Brendan came in with sodas for everyone, leaning against the wall as he sipped his drink.
Bruce felt off-kilter. It had been very bad when Dick had been kidnapped by the Joker, when Clark had been taken and raped by Edmund, and now Alfred was terribly sick.
Alfred had been there for him, always. Bruce couldn’t remember his life without Alfred in it. He had been part of the Household since before Bruce was born.
Alfred was his rock. He had kept him from slipping into insanity after the murder of his parents. Without Alfred, he would have permanently fallen into the abyss..
The grandfather clock in the library ticked loudly, an almost deafening sound in the utter silence of Wayne Manor. The detritus of the funeral reception was cleared away, everyone long gone, except for Alfred.
The butler looked in on his young charge, sadness on his austere features. He came quietly into the room, Bruce looking at him with numbed despair in his eyes that seemed suddenly old.
Alfred stood before Bruce, who sat on the couch. With those old eyes, Bruce looked at the portrait of his parents on the wall, a younger version of himself happy and loved in the painting. Raw grief was simmering at the edges, boiling down deep, but mostly he felt numb.
“Does it ever get any better, Alfred?” he whispered.
Kind, grieving eyes met his.
“It will, but for now, it will hurt.”
Bruce launched himself into his companion’s arms. This was no mere slave, but a man he knew he couldn’t lose, too.
“Don’t leave me.”
Please don’t leave me, Alfred. You’re like a father to me. I love you.
Clark leaned over and squeezed Bruce’s shoulder. Bruce smiled wearily.
He had his family with him. Alfred would be very happy.
Nurse Star checked Alfred’s vitals. The blond was doing her last check before going off-duty.
“No change, Mr. Wayne, but he’s holding steady.”
“Thank you.” He was the only one in the room, the rest of the family in the cafeteria.
Jackie smiled. “Your suite in the guest wing is ready.”
He smiled tiredly. “Best investment I ever made.”
“A very generous thing you did, sir. Building that wing enables loved ones to have a comfortable room to stay in while they wait to find out what happens. And the rooms are all free, courtesy of you.”
“Little enough I can do.”
“Ah, but your family has always been patrons of this hospital. Your father was one of this institution’s finest doctors.”
“Thank you.” Despite the pain there was pride, too.
Jackie smiled. “You can be assured that your slave will get the best of care. After all, it’s always been this hospital’s policy to be S.A.”
Bruce nodded. “I appreciate Human Resources vetting everyone so carefully.”
“If you leave your other slaves here, they won’t be bothered.”
“I expect no less.”
Jackie left the room, Bruce gazing out the window.
Dick, Clark, and Brendan came back to the room, all anxious to hear any news, but there was no change.
“We’re staying in the guest wing,” Bruce said.
“Will the guards be staying, too?” asked Dick. Stryker and his men had been nearby, taking shifts.
“Yes, them, too.” Bruce rubbed Dick’s shoulder. “Brad Stryker’s the best in the business.”
Dick smiled, his eyes sparkling as if to say, Batman and Robin are better.
Bruce smiled slightly in return.
Sleep was fitful that night, but at least the comfortable beds were light-years better than the uncomfortable chairs. In the ICU, Bruce shifted, vowing to get better chairs in this hospital for visitors.
Bruce looked up at Brad Stryker, whose pale blue eyes were always piercing.
“Is everything all right?” Bruce’s heart fluttered.
“Fine, sir.” Stryker smiled slightly. “Your Household’s safe.”
Bruce relaxed. “What is it?”
“There was an attempted break-in at the Manor.”
Bruce’s eyes grew frosty. “Who?”
“Unknown. Whoever it was, he or she vanished before we had a chance to catch them. The intruder wore black, his face covered. I’ve stepped up the patrols.”
“Good.” Bruce’s head hurt. As if he didn’t have enough worries! “Do you think it was a Caldwell operative?”
“I’d never rule that out, sir. The old man is crazy, but like a fox.”
Bruce felt his stomach clench, because Stryker was right.
“If you need more men, hire them.”
Bruce looked into the pale eyes of his Head of Security. “Edmund Caldwell will stop at nothing to hurt me.”
Bruce rose from the chair. Maybe he should try and get some sleep. It was almost midnight.
He heard a sound and looked over to the bed. “Alfred?”
“Br…Bruce?” Alfred’s voice was raspy.
Bruce grasped Alfred’s hand, squeezing gently. “How do you feel?”
“Sore.” Alfred’s eyes drifted over the room. “Gotham General?”
“Only the best for you, my friend.”
Alfred smiled. He squeezed back, Bruce leaning down and kissing his forehead.
“Welcome back, Alfred.”