“Did you hear that?” Dick asks, tipping his head to the side in a gesture so canine-like Bruce could almost see the dark ears popping up from his eldest son’s head.
Bruce paused his typing to listen. And heard nothing but the wind and occasional screech of an irritated bat. He wondered if perhaps Dick was referring to the soft humming of the computer but why would he point that out.Damian was sitting a few feet away, meditating on the mat as quiet as a mouse.
He was about to ask what exactly was he supposed to be listening for when he heard it.
Dick’s eyebrows rose suddenly, “We don’t have mice do we?”
“In the cave? Highly unlikely.”
A soft mice-like noise made him look up from his table. Bruce ducked down to look underneath the table and then around the study. There wasn’t any sign of the rodent but he had very distinctly heard a faintly highly pitched noise that could be nothing except a mouse.
And then he heard it again, faint but definitely there.
He dropped down to all fours behind the desk and stared around the floor, wondering if perhaps he should ask Alfred to set mouse traps. Which was how Damian found him a few seconds later as he entered the room.
“Father, Grayson is…”
At the sound of his son’s voice, Bruce stood up immediately. Faint confusion and irritation quickly morphed into surprise at his sudden appearance. He hesitated for a split second before speaking in a slightly hoarse voice.
“Grayson is asking for you.”
With a stiff nod, Bruce strode out of the room.
But the strange mice-like noises followed him all the way down into the Cave.
‘I must ask Alfred to set up some mouse traps…’
The thought was insulting to his skills as a housekeeper and butler.
But Bruce and Dick had been insistent that they had heard mice around the mansion. But when Alfred had asked if they had actually caught sight of the mice in question, they both are admitted that they had not.
Alfred placed Damian’s breakfast plate in front of the boy and waited for him to start eating before turning away towards the sink. After slipping on a pair of rubber gloves, Alfred began to clean up the small pile of dirty dishes as he pondered on Bruce’s words.
“I’m not sure Alfred. I know what I heard and I definitely heard a mouse in the study. And not only there. I’ve heard it in the dining room, the cave, upstairs near the bedrooms, the library, the study. Dick’s heard it down in the garage, the training area as well. Either it’s the same mouse moving around the mansion or it’s many.”
It was ridiculous. Both the thought of a mouse traveling that far within a manor of this size as well as the mere idea that there were mice in his establishment. Preposterous. As if that was even poss-
Alfred stopped brushing a plate to listen.
A soft dry squeaking noise came to his ear and he immediately looked around his feet. He looked up towards the young boy sitting on the counter, checking to see if he had heard the noise as well.
But he had his headphones in as he quickly finished his meal.
Thoroughly bewildered, Alfred began to rethink his stance on mice in the manor.
“Okay, seriously! This is driving me nuts!” Dick exclaimed as he dropped his fork down. The metal clanged noisily against the heavy china, making Alfred direct a most disapproving look towards Dick. “Do we have an infestation?!”
Damian was giving Dick a look of his own as he spoke in a dry voice, “An infestation of what exactly?”
Alfred replied before anyone else could, “Your father and Master Richard believe that there are mice roaming about the mansion. I am sadly inclined to agree.”
If it were any other person, you could call Damian’s expression as confused. “I have not seen not a single rodent. What makes you all so sure?”
“You mean, you haven’t heard em?” Dick exclaimed in surprise.
“Not once.” Damian replied as he raised a hand up to his mouth and coughed lightly. Feeling extremely sullen that he had run out of cough drops and developed an irritatingly dry throat, Damian dropped his hand.
And looked up into three very surprised faces, including his father’s.
“What?” he snapped in a dry voice.
“It was you?!” Dick’s voice was dripping with disbelief. “You’re the one who kept making those noises?”
Damian tried to click his tongue in exasperation but wound up coughing again, “You did not just liken me to a mouse Grayson!”
“I’m sorry Master Damian but…that did sound remarkably like a mouse…”
Oh not him too. Damian slapped the table with the palm of his hand and made the dishes rattle as he yelled, “I was simply coughing!” And wound up coughing hard.
Damian stared with wide eyes at Dick who quickly slapped a hand over his mouth and smile. But he couldn’t hide the shaking of his shoulders as he tried to hold down his mirth. Even Bruce had his napkin raised to his mouth.
“Coughing, sir?” Alfred’s cool tones thankfully remained the same.
“I ran out of cough drops. My throat gets too dry without them.” Damian muttered into his peas. Which made Dick suddenly scramble out of his chair, choking out an apology. Damian turned red when he heard Dick’s laughter ringing in the hall. Bruce however, regained his composure and spoke to Alfred.
“I’d get rid of those mouse traps.”
“Very well sir. Shall I also get you some lozenges Master Damian?”
He was tempted to reply ‘Enough to last me a life time so that such an event would never happen again’ but he settled with a muttered, “In lemon and cherry flavor.”