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Christmas Present

Part Five

by Darklady

Disclaimer: "Twas the Night before Christmas, and all through the House........" Darklady don't own nuttin' - except for her mouse. (And keyboard, and...)

Rated: A for Angst

"Master Bruce. I will need to be out for an hour or so. If you can spare me?"

I look up from the R&D report I am trying to read.

"Of course, Alfred."

Well, that caps it. Christmas Eve and Gotham's most popular playboy is down to zip. Not that I didn't have invitations. Some even from people I knew.

I shouldn't be so cynical. I do have friends. Clark and Lois always let me know I'd be welcome in Kansas. Caroling and a sleigh ride, he said. It honestly sounds like fun. Any other time I'd be tempted to accept. But tonight? The last thing I need is to see other peoples families having fun.

Lucias Fox and his wife invited me for dinner and church services. Delightful people. I went three years ago. I had a wonderful time. Two days after New Years their minister came by and asked me to rebuild the school library. I did it, but... now I don't go there any more.

Barbara invited me over. No. This time is for her and her father. They've been through so much lately. And besides... while Gordon knows he officially doesn't know - which somewhat kills the conversation.

I suppose I could join Leslie at the clinic. That's where Jean-Paul is. No. He is sufficient security. More personnel would only be in the way. And tonight - somehow the whole 'service to others' thing doesn't give me the warm feeling I'm told it should.

Perhaps I will join him and Helena later for Midnight Mass. I don't quite share their faith, but at least it would be something to so.

Perhaps afterwards we can go on patrol.

I look at the tree. It's not as spectacular as the one in the main hall, but the library tree has always been 'ours'. The one we decorate ourselves, rather than leaving it to the floral service.

I always used the main tree. Until Dick came.

I remember Dick at ten, rushing down to tear open boxes under Alfred's disapproving eyes. Dick at fourteen with his first Vespa scooter. Dick at sixteen with his first Harley.

I remember cookies and coca and terrible movies. The way he'd sit on the couch and read Christmas cards out loud. The rude remarks and bad puns that always made me laugh.

I remember ties, and books, and a cherished string of really tacky t-shirts. That's the blue box, I'm sure. Dick would never let me go without an unwearable t-shirt. And I would never fail to wear it.

Dick will be by. If not tonight, then tomorrow. Whenever he can get off.

I though about asking Gordon if he can get some relief for Bludhaven, but he's short too. No one wants to work the holidays. The supplement where they can with whichever reserve officers are willing. Seventh-day Adventists, Jews, the occasional good-natured atheist. But it's never enough.

And people with families get the first shot at relief.

I suppose that's fair. I remember liking Christmas when I had parents. I suppose other people's children must like them too.

Isn't what they say? The holidays are for children. They sure as hell aren't for me.

Still not the End

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