Alfred prepared the tray, leaving the spotless kitchen and emerging out into the backyard.
‘Backyard’, of course, was a relative term when applying it to Wayne Manor. The formal gardens were close by, shimmering with rainbow diamonds, and his own kitchen garden with vegetables for their use was bigger than any he had planted in England.
The morning was quite spectacular, the Atlantic sparkling under a clear blue sky; fat, puffy clouds drifting across and not a rain cloud in sight. Quite unlike England most mornings. A red-and-white striped sailboat bobbed on the waves as a freighter chugged on the horizon from Gotham Harbor. Seagulls screeched and circled high above looking for food as robins and bluebirds sang in the huge trees around the Manor.
Seated at the white-painted round table close to the seawall, Masters Bruce and Clark were shaded by the yellow umbrella, though of course Master Clark preferred the sunshine. It was out of deference to his companion that he sat in the shade.
Master Bruce drank strong black coffee from a white china cup with a gold rim and etching of the Wayne family crest while Master Clark ate golden-crisp waffles with delectable Vermont maple syrup on a matching plate, cutlery flashing in the sunlight. Fresh, juicy strawberries half-filled a gold-rimmed white bowl in the center of the table. Master Bruce put down his cup and took a bite of his waffle.
Young Master Dick sparkled on the seawall, sitting cross-legged and happily eating his waffles, dark hair ruffled by the strong breeze off the sea. All were dressed casually, and as Alfred came closer, he noticed the rested look on Master Bruce’s face.
Usually if he had arisen this early, he would be tired and irritable, but apparently his companion was conducive to restful sleep.
After a fashion.
The tray bearing a basket of fresh blueberry muffins and creamy butter was greeted enthusiastically, even Master Bruce’s eyes lighting up. Alfred placed the basket, butter dish and gold knife on the yellow tablecloth.
There was a flurry of activity, Master Dick hopping off the wall and vigorously buttering a muffin (the boy did everything with enthusiasm) and perching back on the stone like his namesake, eyes as bright as a robin’s as he watched his mentors laugh over grabbing the same muffin and playfully fighting over it.
Master Bruce’s laughter touched a place deep inside Alfred. When young Dick had been brought home, the laughter had started again after years of disuse, rusty-sounding at first but improving as it was used more often.
And when Clark Kent had been brought home to meet him?
The laughter continued deep into the night, his child’s grumpiness easily handled by his new companion, and said companion would put his head together with the other ray of sunshine and plot ways to hear that laughter again.
Alfred picked up the coffeepot and promised to bring it back out immediately with fresh coffee. Master Bruce flashed him a smile, and Master Clark’s eyes were soft with affection as he watched. Alfred caught Master Dick’s eye and they exchanged winks.
As Alfred walked back to the house, conversation about the day’s plans drifted back to his ears, of a summer vacation’s free day and an article expected by the inestimable Perry White, and a board meeting at Wayne Enterprises.
“Can you make lunch?” Master Bruce asked.
“I’m free as a bird,” chirped Master Dick, eyes brilliant with mischief and Master Clark barely holding in his laughter.
“I can make it in the wink of an eye,” Master Clark answered with amusement.
“Show-offs,” his child grumbled.
Alfred smiled as he entered the house to fetch the coffee.