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Title: Where the heart is.
Rating: PG
Characters: Jason, Alfred, Dick and the rest of the Batclan.
Disclaimer: No ownership, no profit and no offence meant. Everyone is of the age of consent in their country and period of history
Author’s notes: 100% organic. May contain minor flaws and imperfections that beta-treated slash wouldn’t.

Summary: A simple gesture becomes a routine. Sequel to Homeward. Written for and inspired by kyrdwyn.


It became a regular thing for them, a ritual of kinds. Once a fortnight, on the day he did the manor’s groceries, Alfred would leave a little paper bag on the stoop of Jason’s place. A single strap of liquorice. And that night, Jason would let himself in the window of the manor’s kitchen with the bag tucked safe in his pocket to sit at the scrubbed wooden table and talk as they shared the treat.

Alfred never pushed him to come home or to give up the life of a criminal and in exchange, Jason never spoke of his anger, his hate or his hunger for vengeance. They talked of times passed, of the city and her strange ways and one bad night when the walls seemed to crowd in on Jason, they didn’t talk at all. Alfred simply held him as the tears ran in silvery tracks down his cheeks.

It was Dick who worked it out. The world’s greatest detective was too lost in his own anger, grief and guilt to see the signs but his first protégé saw.

The extra mug – washed and dried and returned to the shelf but still warm.
The cool of the room where a window has so recently been opened.
The lingering scent of liquorice, leather and smoke at the kitchen table.
The way Alfred’s grief lifted and he smiled to himself in moments of absent thought.

Dick saw and understood.

But it wasn’t till that night he acted on what he knew. There had been a fight, a livewire cut by a blade or batarang, an explosion that neither side had truly caused it or expected. Batman had gone to one knee, shielding Robin beneath his cape but Nightwing was up high, he saw; saw the man who had once been his brother thrown into the harbour by the blast. Batman has searched but there’s been no sign of Red Hood afterward.

Dick pulled Alfred aside as soon as he got home, his face still black with smoke. “He needs you.” Dick said simply, “Please, you’re the only one.”

The next morning, Alfred asked for leave to attend the funeral of a childhood friend. It wasn't the first time he’d lied to the man he’d raised from a boy but he felt no guilt in this.

He found Jason collapsed on the stained mattress he used for a bed, already weak with fever.

“What are you doing here?” Jason growled, his voice was rough with pain and slurred with sickness. But his eyes asked a different question. ‘Please help me? I didn’t think you’d come.

Alfred rolled up his sleeves and did what he had always done for the family he loved. He cleaned and stitched, salved and bandaged. Jason’s body was riddled with shrapnel and the filthy water of the harbour had made the wounds angry with infection. He sat at Jason’s bedside day and night in that decrepit slum and held the young man’s hand, a cool flannel on his brow as he waited for the fever to break.

When Jason woke after days of burning, the worst finally passed, he found Alfred asleep in the chair at his side. The old man looked so tired and yet so peaceful Jason was loathed to wake him. He wrapped a blanket around Alfred’s shoulder and limped towards what passed for a bathroom.

Alfred mumbled something in his sleep and as Jason turned back to check on him, he saw the brown paper bag on the windowsill and caught a fleeting glance of Nightwing’s colours.

“Fine,” Jason muttered, throwing the window open to let Dick in and snatching up the bag. “But I’m not sharing this with you.”


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