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"Not Too Stubborn" - Batman - (Secret Santa for Mercury)


darkness-is-the-light

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Finally, here is your story, @Mercury. I'm not very familiar with the Batman universe, but I have watched the new Batman TellTale series video game and that helped me out tremendously. I hope you enjoy this. :) 

*

He couldn’t imagine what the city would morph into without his presence. No, he already had an idea. The years before he hid his identity were bleak and highly dangerous. If it wasn’t the brutal mobsters stealing money and killing those in need it was powered individuals who wreaked havoc on the streets. He could never sit aside and watch the city burn to the ground again. It was a promise he intended to keep: he would protect the city with all his life no matter what it came down to.

***

The night sky was darker than most other days, a thick blackness that seemed to swallow the buildings in the distance. A previous light pattering of rain gained strength and poured down in sheets, hitting windows of residents with the force of golf ball sized hail. There was certain to be something or someone roaming the streets of Gotham, searching for a group of civilians to use as bait.

*

His suit is dripping wet, soaking the frigid temperature into his bones. The already tight fabric is sticking to his skin, trapping the wetness in one area. His joints are aching for warmth to melt away the resistance of movement. He can hardly bear the weather any longer, but he needs to. There’s nothing in his promise that states he places his own selfish needs before the needs of others.

And he does stay true to his promise.

It’s nearly midnight when he returns to the manor. He’s more than exhausted, and the dull ache that he thought nothing more of has formed into a rapid pounding that begs for his attention. He won’t admit it but he’s excited to remove the wet fabric, stripping it from him chilled skin and allowing warmth to take its place. Maybe a hot shower—

“Master Wayne, you’ve returned.” He’s greeted by his butler and long-time friend, Alfred.

“I was preoccupied longer than I expected but everyone is safe and the target was captured.”

“That’ve very good, sir,” Alfred comments, then adds, “and how are you?”

“What do you mean?” Bruce asks, confusion evident in his expression.

“You’re absolutely soaked. That must not be comfortable.”

"It's nothing I haven't dealt with before," Bruce assures the other man, "besides, it's nothing a hot shower and a new set of clothes can't fix."

 

Alfred nods once, unsure of whether to accept his statement or not. He knows the younger man well enough to assess his condition and decide from there, though this situation is different. Bruce gives his usual reassuring routine without a flaw but Alfred still notices the body-wracking shiver he tries so desperately to suppress. He offers a warm smile and murmurs about heating some water for tea as he walks off. 

 

*

"... ihhh... huh-ITTSCH!" Bruce fits the lower half of his face into the crook of his arm, flinching hard with the strength of the sneeze. The earlier rapid pounding of his head has now become a steady throbbing that is slowly moving to his sinuses. 

 

"Bless you, sir," Alfred cannot hide the concern in his voice. This is the third sneeze since Bruce returned, and accompanied by his other rapidly worsening symptoms Alfred can tell it won't be the last. 

 

Bruce nods his thanks, lifting his head when he's certain the itch doesn't linger. "I'm sorry," He glances down at the dark blanket wrapped around his torso. Alfred insisted that he keep the warmth consistent with his body, considering he was in the freezing rain for hours. The empty tea cup is sitting off to the side, watching his movements after he nearly chugged the warm liquid. 

 

"Sorry for what?" 

 

He doesn't respond. His dull gaze is still on the blanket. 

 

"Bruce," Alfred softens his voice. 

 

He responds, barely audible, "I'm sorry for being a handful." 

 

"What would make you think that?"

 

"After my parents... died, you were left with a grieving child to take care of. Now you spend your nights worrying about me when I'm busy playing hero. I doubt you sleep more than a few hours every night, and it doesn't stop regardless of what day it is. I'm a handful." Bruce glances up at the other man, waiting for his response to the unusual openness. 

 

Alfred has heard bits and pieces of regret from Bruce over the years, but nothing in a full statement before. "I do this for you, Bruce," he breaks the silence, "because I made a promise to take care of you no matter what." 

 

"I'm not a child anymore," 

 

"I want to stay for you," 

 

Bruce sighs, "I understand." 

 

Alfred realizes this isn't typical behavior for the stubborn man. When would he usually confess regret and hesitate while talking about his parents? Not often. 

 

He presses the back of his hand to Bruce's forehead. It's warm. Feverishly warm. He resists the urge to frown. 

 

"Are you sure you're feeling all right?" No response. "Sir?"

 

Bruce is more than a little preoccupied. His lips are parted, inhaling soft catches of breath. His eyelids are fluttering closed with the oncoming sneeze. He remains still in this position for a mere matter of seconds before twisting away with a harsh "...hhh... huh'ISSTCH!" 

 

"Bless you," 

 

He clears his throat quietly, "Excuse me," 

 

"You don't sound well." 

 

"I feel fine,"

 

"Are you sure about that?" Alfred asks. 

 

"I'm just a little tired from earlier." he dodges the question. 

 

"Please listen to your body,"

 

"I understand your concern, Alfred, but I'm fine." he hears the throbbing in his head and the begging from his aching body. 

 

"I know you think you're fine on your own but it's okay to ask for help."

 

“I’d ask you if I needed any help.” Both men know this is a lie. Bruce hasn’t asked for help in years, and it definitely wasn’t when he didn’t feel well. He doesn’t come down with something often but when he does, Bruce hides it for as long as possible. Alfred can’t understand why.

 

“Let me help you, please.”

 

“I…” he sighs, “Okay,” He knows that Alfred won’t take no for an answer, considering his current condition. Maybe this won’t be so horrible.  

 

End.

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Naww this is perfect. I love concerned Alfred, and Bruce's feverish mumbling. I felt so sorry for him throughout the entire thing, and you nailed the beginning with his commitment to his responsibilities, and when he takes off the suit. It's really hard to believe you don't have much familiarity with the universe, you've captured it so well.

Thank you so much for this. It's wonderful :heart:

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