Bristol Institute of Private Education (WIP)
Disclaimer: I do not own Batman, or Christian Bale, or anything related to either them or DC comics! I am not making any money off of this! It's merely for my own entertainment, and hopefully to entertain others in the process! Thank you!...|| January 23, 1985. Just outside Gotham Colosseum, Gotham City, Gotham ||..."What's wrong, Bruce?"
"No, no it was me!" Bruce's father responded to his wife's question. "I needed some air."
"Wallets, jewelry. Come on, fast!"
Thomas Wayne froze mid-step, the laughter falling immediately from his features when he was suddenly faced with an undoubtedly loaded gun. Slowly, he moved further in front of his wife and son, a subconscious effort to shield his family from the danger now confronting them. "That's fine," Thomas attempted to console the burglar as he slowly reached for his checkbook inside his jacket pocket.
"Take it easy," Thomas replied. "Here you go." Barely had Thomas pulled the wallet from his coat did the mugger wrench it from his grip. Thomas brought his arms up in gentle supplication. Bruce's father's voice was steady, calm and soothing as he spoke to the dangerous mugger. His exterior cool and collected, showing great courage in a fearful situation. Martha on the other hand, was panicking behind him, gripping onto Thomas' jacket with a near death grip, keeping Bruce huddled against her side. Thomas tried to calm his wife, "It's fine... It's fine. Now just take it and go." He directed that last part towards the mugger.
"I said jewelry!" The man viciously grabbed for Martha's brand new pearl necklace and Thomas shouted before jumping in the way. There was screaming and a brief struggle before several shots rang out through the theatre alley.
Bruce flinched violently as the images flashed in his mind. He was now kneeling on the ground, staring down at his father's wide eyes, "It's alright Bruce." He said in a calm voice, betraying the situation which was far from calm. "Don't be afraid."
Those words started echoing in his mind as Bruce's world began to spin out of control.
"Don't be afraid..." Faster and faster the images collided together, spinning and swirling, making him feel sick.
"Don't be afraid..." There was a flash, and the world suddenly stopped as Bruce found himself encompassed by total darkness.
"Don't..." The phrase paused before finishing on an ominous note,
As if on cue, a horde of flying black creatures came swarming from the darkness, all glowing red eyes and screeching sirens....|| May 5, 1990 Wayne Manor, Gotham City ||...
Bruce awoke with a start, panting heavily. His now broken alarm clock went scattering to the floor. Bruce swiped at his sweat and tear stained face with the sleeve of his night shirt. He then swallowed hard before checking himself and his surroundings just to make sure he was really awake.
Nightmares like that always left him feeling small, stupid and insignificant. It had been almost six years since his parents' murders, and longer since the incident with the bats, yet here he was; still scared like some silly child.
He couldn't brood about any of it for that long however, as there was a sudden rap on his bedroom door. "Come in, Alfred," he spoke.
After opening the door wide, Alfred stepped in. "Ah good, you're awake then. Breakfast is prepared and waiting for you downstairs, Master Bruce. The young Miss Dawes has also stopped in this morning and I took the liberty of inviting her to join you."
Bruce didn't say anything, he just nodded and threw the sheets away and swung his feet over the side of the bed before stepping over to his closet. His features were down trodden, and Alfred noticed the sweat staining his shirt around the neck, down his back and arms.
"Is everything alright, Master Bruce?" Alfred inquired worriedly.
"I'm fine, Alfred." Bruce's tone was curt and abrupt, leaving no room for further inquiry. "Tell Rachel, I'll be down in a minute."
Alfred nodded, "Very well, Master Bruce." The faithful butler disappeared behind the door, trying his hardest not to be hurt by Bruce's tone. Alfred hated seeing his charge suffer, but clearly he did not wish to speak about whatever was bothering him. Though Alfred had a pretty good idea what it could be about, he would not press Bruce on the issue.
Back downstairs Alfred served up a plate of pancakes, eggs and sausage for the young and leggy brunette sitting at the kitchen bar.
"Thanks Alfred," Rachel chimed up with a smile just as cheerful as her voice.
Alfred smiled back, though it didn't quite reach his eyes that still showed worry for his young charge, "My pleasure, Miss Rachel." He then turned and began serving up a similar, but slightly fuller plate for Bruce.
"Hey, Bruce! G'morning!" Rachel piped in around a mouthful of buttermilk pancake
"Hey Rach," Bruce responded though nowhere near as happy sounding as his best friend. Bruce was never really one for mornings these past years, especially not after a night like he'd just had.
"Are you ready for finals week?" Rachel asked as Bruce hoisted himself into a chair. Alfred set the plate down on the counter in front of him.
Bruce just shrugged and made a non-committal grunt. He then fervently dug into his breakfast, not leaving much more room for conversation.
It never failed. Bruce always felt starved after a bad nightmare, and judging by the larger portions Alfred had served him without his asking, that meant the old man just might know what had Bruce upset. He mentally thanked his guardian for that. Alfred definitely seemed to understand Bruce better than he did himself sometimes.
As Bruce took another shovel of eggs into his mouth, making Rachel giggle at him, the phone started to ring. Alfred threw the bar-towel over his shoulder and set down the spatula he'd been using to flip a couple more pancakes. He moved the pan off the stove and turned the burner off. Alfred stepped over to the kitchen phone and used the towel on his shoulder to wipe his hands before answering it.
"Wayne Residence," he answered. The person on the other side responded and a smile spread on Alfred's face. "Good morning, Doctor Leclair. What a pleasant surprise." There was another pause on Alfred's end. "I hope everything finds you well. Let me guess, Marjory's finally broken your nerves and you're asking me to come and collect her, eh?" Alfred joked, then broke out into a grin at something the caller said.
There was another long pause before Alfred spoke again, "Well, yes, of course, sir. Allow me just a moment." Alfred pushed a button on the phone base then placed it back in it's cradle. He then turned to the two teens sitting at the bar top. "If you will excuse me Master Wayne, Miss Rachel. If you do not require anything further, I should like to take this in the study."
"Sure, Alfred. We'll be fine," Bruce responded off-handily.
Each of them nodded towards the other before Alfred set the towel down by the stove and disappeared from the kitchen towards the direction of the private study.
Bruce listened for the soft muttering sounds which would indicate Alfred had continued his phone call, before turning to Rachel, "What do you think that's all about?"
Rachel just shrugged her shoulders, "Sounded like it might be an old friend or something?"
"Yeah it did sound that way, didn't it." It was a rhetorical question. Bruce paused, thinking. "So they could be talking for quite a while then?"
Another shrug from Rachel, "Yeah I suppose so." Then she noticed the scheming, mischievous look on Bruce's face and she narrowed her eyes calculatingly, "What are you up to, Bruce?"
Bruce's grin only widened as he stepped down from the bar chair and indicated for Rachel to follow him. "I think I saw which shelf Alfred hid it on this time." Rachel's eyes widened as the realization to what exactly Bruce was referring to dawned on her. A giggle escaped her as she followed Bruce towards the large walk-in pantry.
One detailed phone call and fifteen minutes later, Alfred entered the kitchen to a couple giggling teens who seemed far more suspicious looking than normal. "What have you two been up to?"
Both of the teens shared a knowing look where Rachel giggled, while Bruce bit back his own chuckle, "Nothing, Alfred. Honest."
Alfred narrowed his eyes at both teens, but only shook his head. He didn't rightly care what they were up to, as long as they stayed out of trouble. Besides, whatever hijinx they had performed, it had brought a smile to Bruce's face, and Alfred couldn't complain about that. In fact he hoped Bruce's mood only improved throughout the day because the faithful butler had a feeling the young master may not be so keen about the news Alfred just received. But deep down, he knew that what his old friend had requested just might do some good for Bruce and all parties involved.
Alfred went about collecting their dishes and cleaning up after breakfast. "Oh dear me, look at the hour!" Alfred cried. "You both best hurry if I'm to get you to school on time! Run along and change into your uniforms!" Both children groaned. "Quickly, now!" Alfred ignored their groans of protest as he hurriedly shooed them away.
After tidying up the kitchen from breakfast, Alfred met them both at the large front door with their school bags waiting. "Hurry along now you two! No more dilly-dallying!" He called down as they both made their way down the stairs. A turtle would win in a race against them at this point.
They donned similar uniforms; navy blue blazers with the school emblem on the pocket and blue and black plaid neck-ties with matching sweater vests. The only major difference was Rachel wore a skirt that matched the vest, where as Bruce wore black slacks. It had been Thomas and Martha's idea to help fund Rachel's private education, and Alfred had seen to it their wishes had been carried out. It was also very fortunate for Bruce's sake that his best friend attended the same school as he did.
Alfred held the door for them as he ushered them both to the parked Rolls waiting by the curb. After locking the door behind them, Alfred hurried to reach the car before them where he once again held the car door open for the children to climb in. Securing his driving hat firmly on his head, Alfred moved around to slide into the driver's seat where he buckled his belt before starting the car. Slowly the rolls departed down the long gravel driveway.
There were several moments of passing silence where Mozart's symphony No. 40 in G minor played in the background, until Bruce spoke, "Alfred?"
"Hm? Yes Master Bruce?" Alfred replied, glancing at Bruce through the rear-view mirror.
"What was all that business on the phone this morning?" Most calls to the manor had to do with Bruce, or Wayne Enterprises or something along those lines, and Bruce was usually privy to the conversation. He remembered something about a doctor, and Alfred very rarely took private calls in the study, so it had Bruce very curious as to what it could have been about.
Alfred grinned, "That was Doctor Renald Leclair. A very old friend. Not only is my sister his personal Housemaid, but Doctor Leclair was one of your father's favorite instructors at University. They were colleagues and friends for many years." Alfred paused where he looked at Bruce in the mirror again before speaking, "You might remember the Leclairs, Master Bruce. Your parents brought you to their daughter Adeline's funeral in Marseilles when you were a very small boy."
Bruce shrugged his shoulders, before giving Alfred a look, "I can barely remember Marseilles, Alfred, let alone who the Leclairs are."
Alfred paused a moment trying to think how he could bring them to Bruce's mind. The only thing he could think of might be a sad and tender memory for Bruce, but it would do, "Well they were both at your parents funeral. Dr. Leclair was the gentleman with the shaggy blonde hair and large bulbous nose? I remember quite clearly him shaking your hand at the end. Do you remember what he told you?" At Bruce's shrug and unknowing stare, Alfred continued, "He said 'No matter the hardships we all face, we never forget those that truly matter. It is through our actions and the actions of others that we leave our marks on this world, and as long as you remember that, your parents and everything they stand for will never be forgotten.' "
" 'will never be forgotten.' " Bruce finished the quote at the same time as Alfred. He remembered Renald Leclair now.
"So you do remember, then?"
Bruce nodded. "Yeah, I remember." Those words from long ago had once been able to reach something deep inside him. Something both very sad, but very encouraging at the same time. However, Bruce's own bitterness, guilt and rage has overpowered everything for so long, that he had forgotten how to feel forgiveness and purpose. Scornful and vengeful were so much easier to feel than reflective and forgiving. "If he was a friend of my father's what would he be calling you
Bruce was gazing out the window at the landscape he'd seen hundreds of times, so he missed the reprimanding look Alfred gave him through the mirror. "Doctor Leclair had a few questions about our plans for this summer."
That made him look up, "Why? What about this summer?"
The car slowed as Alfred leisurely pulled into the school drop off, "We can discuss it later, Master Bruce." Bruce looked as though to argue. If it was some minor thing, Alfred would have told him. Which led Bruce to believe that the phone call from that morning had a lot more to do with him than he originally thought. Then to think his summer may be on the line because of it? Well, he wanted to know more and he wanted to know now. Alfred was already out of the car, however, so Bruce was momentarily unable to press the issue.
The butler stepped around to open Bruce's door and once again it looked as though he would inquire further, but Alfred simply spoke before Bruce had the chance, "It appears we have arrived just in time for the first morning bell, sir." Bruce looked out across the school ground where, sure enough, his fellow students were dashing all over the place in order to get to their classes before the tardy bell. "You best hurry," Alfred finished.
"Come on, Bruce, or we're gonna be late!" Rachel urged as she pulled at his hand. Bruce allowed her to pull him along but he kept his eyes on Alfred, trying to will him to answer his questions.
Alfred simply smiled and waved them off, "Have a good day, Master Bruce. Oh, and good luck on the Finals!"
Bruce groaned. Finals?! With all the excitement from this morning, he'd almost forgotten about them. But now they were all he could think about. He knew today was going to suck big time, and sometimes he hated being right.
When Bruce and Rachel had disappeared through the large school doors, Alfred put his hat back on and moved around the car to slide back into the driver's seat. As he drove out of the drop-off zone, he couldn't help but reflect upon the events of the morning. He wanted to explain his phone call to Bruce but that sort of information was best left to tell when there was time to explain everything correctly, and when the young master's nerves could be properly assuaged. The day had started off a bit rocky and for some reason Alfred suspected come nightfall he might be standing on a mountain.
There was no doubt in his mind that agreeing to Renald's request would be beneficial to all party's involved, Bruce and himself included. He did, however, have serious doubts that the hot-headed and at times arrogant young master would see it that way. The Butler would have to wait until this afternoon to find out. In the meantime he'd do what his mother always told him was best when faced with tense situations... Bake.