Author: Kat Lee
Character/Pairing: Bruce/Cat, Alfred
Challenge/Prompt: beattheblackdog #39: Black
Word Count: 1,660
Date Written: 28 October 2016
Disclaimer: All characters within belong to DC Comics, not the author, and are used without permission.
Trick or treating is a custom to which Alfred has always both looked forward to and dreaded a little. He likes seeing the costumes and the children's big grins, but kids are getting steadily pushier. Why, just two years ago, he ran out of candy prematurely, and Thomas and Martha Wayne both had a chuckle at the expense of the children Alfred caught trying to roll the Manor in toilet paper! Martha, being a kind soul, had offered to hand out dollars, but Alfred had quickly warned the lady that if they started handing out money, the little brats would expect it from then on out!
He turns from the latest batch of trick or treaters, two of whom he wanted to refuse candy to due to their lack of costumes, and is just about to step back inside when he catches a flicker of movement out of the corner of his eye. He turns quickly back around, one hand reaching for the pistol he keeps hidden in his waistcoat these days but relaxes when he sees it's only a certain cat who's decided to cross their paths this evening. "We hardly need any more bad luck," he begins to droll.
Selina hops onto the steps in plain view, shooting him a cocky grin as she does so. "Who said anything about bad luck, Alfred? You're from England. You know some people consider a black cat crossing their paths to be good luck. You had to admit it was when Galavan had Bruce."
"I admit nothing," Alfred returns calmly even as he wonders how she knows about British superstitions. The girl is full of surprises, but very few of them are good. She may have helped his young charge that one night, but she doesn't belong here or in Bruce's life for that matter.
"You know," she continues, watching him as she cocks her head to one side, "they'd like money more."
"Well, jolly good for them, but it's called treats, not riches."
"Greens are the best treats. What are you handing out any way?" she asks, peering at the large, orange bowl he holds. "I told a girl I know that this would be the place to hit tonight." At the glower that settles onto his face, she adds, "Don't worry. I was talking about hitting for treats, not hitting to knock you guys over. You know I'm not going to let anything happen to Bruce."
"Do I? I hardly say your assistance for a single evening has done little to garner a considerate amount of faith -- "
She pops an eyebrow up at him. "One evening?" she repeats, her stance switching. She's on the defense suddenly, as well she might, but it won't do her any good. He's on to her secrets and her true reasons for helping his charge. The list of girls from whom he has to protect young Master Wayne seems to be ever growing. "Do I have to remind you that I've saved his life -- "
"You did not save his life the other night. You merely assisted -- "
"Yeah, so I wasn't working alone that night. You're so hot about Reggie, but if I hadn't offed him -- "
They both freeze at the sound of young Bruce's voice. Alfred's heart pinches as he hearts the hope in the child's voice. Bruce walks through the foyer to come closer to them as he calls, "Is that you?"
Selina steps pass Alfred and into the light, blinking once as her eyes quickly adjust. Alfred has to admit that she has the soft and silent footsteps of the cat for which she's named. "Yeah, it's me."
"I didn't know you were coming by this evening -- "
Her smile both silences Bruce and warms his heart. He fumbles for words. What would he have done if he had known she was coming? It wouldn't have changed anything. After all, he's offered her everything in his possession to give, and she's refused it all.
"I -- Are you trick or treating?" He winces visibly, realizing how lame that sounds. Selina probably hasn't trick or treated in years. She's far too serious for what she undoubtedly considers a kid's game. He's suddenly glad that she doesn't know he was reflecting about the activity and missing partaking in it since his parents' deaths earlier that night.
He reaches a hand up into Alfred's bowl before his butler can stop him, grabs a hand full of chocolates, and offers the candies to her. "Would you like some candy?"
She hesitates, but seeing the glower on Alfred's face and the hopeful expression in Bruce's eyes, she reaches for the candy.
"Those are for the trick or treaters, Master Bruce -- "
"We have plenty of more in the cabinets, Alfred. You always over buy."
Selina lifts a miniature candy bar from Bruce's palm, letting her fingers linger against his soft skin for just a moment. The softness of his flesh always surprises her. He's not bruised and calloused like all the other people she's ever known. They gaze into each other's eyes, and it's only when Selina hears Alfred pointedly clearing his throat that she whips the candy bar away, out of its wrapper, and into her hot mouth. "Mmm. Delish," she says just to annoy Alfred at first, but then as the chocolate begins to melt, she actually tastes it sugary sweetness and begins to savor it.
Another group of trick or treaters arrives, and while Alfred's distracted with them, Selina takes the opportunity to lead Bruce into his living room. She glances around the spacious room, remembering the games they used to play. They'd play for hours while she was here before. She glances again at him out of the corner of her eyes, thinking again how cute he is and knowing, deep down, that he brings out a side of her that no one else ever has or will.
"So, hum, why did you stop by?" Bruce asks. A smile trembles over his lips. She presses her lips together to rein in her impulse of wanting to kiss him. "Not that I'm not thankful. I, hum, I like to see you."
She always enjoys the way he blushes. "I like to see you, too," she agrees, looking into his blue eyes and enjoying the way his soft skin darkens even more. She glances toward the foyer as she hears the main door shut. Knowing they won't have long before Alfred's back, she grows serious once more and tells him the true reason for her visit, "I saw Silver today."
"So?" Bruce asks, trying to put on the mask he's been working on developing to hide his emotions. It might fool other people, but it doesn't work on her.
"I know you'd want to know she's okay."
"Why should I care?"
Selina grins. In the near distance, she hears Alfred being pulled away by another group of trick or treaters. "You shouldn't, but I know you do."
"Why?" Bruce puzzles aloud.
She shrugs. "Because you're you," she answers sincerely. "She's with Tabitha, so she's not alone. She'll be just fine." She hopes she doesn't need to tell him to stay away from her, but from the look in his eyes, she knows he now knows better than to trust the spoiled, rich brat.
She keeps gazing into his eyes, not wanting to look away from him, and finds herself moving closer. "And," she whispers, "I wanted to give you a little bit of luck. Black cat crossing your path on Halloween and all that." Their lips are inches apart as she whispers the last. She turns quickly and kisses his cheek, pulling back again just as Alfred enters.
"I really must insist, Selina, that you be on your way!"
"Alfred!" Bruce chides sharply, the heat that flushed his face from her kiss still going down. "Selina is my guest! She is welcome here any time -- "
"Like Miss Saint Cloud?" Alfred reminds the boy.
Bruce whirls on him. "She is nothing like Silver Saint Cloud!"
"They'll both use you, Bruce, to get what they want -- "
"Selina has saved my life! Twice! And one of those times was from your friend!"
Alfred's face falls. "I . . . I never meant to allow Reggie to harm you, you know, Master Bruce." And he truly had not believed that Reggie could have done anything to deserve being killed. Yet, in the face of Bruce's anger, he thinks for the first time that perhaps, just perhaps, Cat had done the right thing after all. If it had been the only way she could save Bruce --
"That's okay, Alfred," Bruce says, and Alfred is happy for the retreat from his own thoughts. "But simply know that she is welcome here any time and for any reason. If she ever needs our help, we will give it and give it gladly, and if she wants to stop by for any other reason . . . " He turns to look at her, but she's already gone, slipping out the window into the dark night as quickly and quietly as the Cat she is. " . . . she's always welcome," he finishes quietly, feeling the pang of disappointment. He wishes she would stay longer with him, here or elsewhere, but he fears she never will.
"Very well, Master Bruce," Alfred returns humbly. "As you wish it." Hearing the doorbell again, he goes to answer more trick or treaters.
Bruce walks alone to the open window and looks out just in time to see the shadow he knows is Cat slipping across the grounds. He sighs, feeling more alone now than he has all Halloween. His cheek tingles. His fingers raise to the spot where she kissed him most recently but don't make contact. She kissed him, his smile grows as he reflects knowingly, and she will be back. And he'll be waiting.