The gravel crunched and jumped as Jason drove his motorcycle up the Manor driveway. The sun glared into the visor of his helmet as he pulled up to the garage and did a quick spin and burnout to let Bruce know he was here today in an extremely obnoxious way. Smirking as he pulled off his helmet and shook the sweat out of his hair before placing his helmet on the saddle and reaching into the saddle bags. Stepping into the back door and scraping his boots on the rug in the mud room, Jason made his way to the main kitchen with his groceries in one hand and a duffle bag in the other.
It was Thursday and if there was one thing he would not take for granted in this fucking after-death-life shitshow is having lunch with the only person he cared about and who actually cared about him in turn. “Good afternoon, Alfred.”
There was the barest hint of a grin on the old gentleman’s lips as he looked up from where he was kneading some dough. “Hello, Master Jason. How do you fare today?”
“I’m well, thank you. How are you?” Jason knew Alfred always appreciated it when his charges spoke as if they had actually learned the etiquette Alfred had spent hours teaching them. Not that Jason wouldn’t let his roots show with his Crime Alley accent and vocabulary but he wanted to show Alfred his lessons weren’t wasted on Jason.
“Marvelously in good health. Your father-“ Jason scowled and stiffened as Alfred raised his eyebrows in silent acknowledgment of Jason’s displeasure before barreling on- “is in the cave working. He will be preoccpied for many hours yet.”
Smiling, Jason translated Alfred’s message in his head as he put the groceries on the counter and stashed the duffle under the table for the time. “It will still just be you and I, you won’t have to see Bruce.” “Thanks, Alfie. I hope you’re hungry! I’ve got a meal that may just get one over you.”
Alfred grinned ever so slightly as he amused himself with his grandson’s enthusiasm at trying to out cook him. Of all his charges, Jason was the only one ever to show any aptitude and appreciation for cooking. The thought sobered the old butler as he began cutting chunks of dough off and forming them into loaves. Of course Jason would show the most enthusiasm with food given his background. Dick would come the closest but even then, he’d never had to fend for himself as Jason had to.
“Alfie, will you need the stove any time soon?”
Pulled from his retrospection, Alfred shook his head as he line the baking sheet with linen. “By all means, Master Jason. I will be using the ovens exclusively for the time.”
Jason’s smile warmed Alfred’s old bones as he began pulling out an impressive array of ingredients. “I love your French baguettes and it will pair well with one of the dishes I’m making.”
The kitchen dissolved into the sounds of knives cutting, water boiling, and bread smacking.
Walking up the stairs, Bruce continued reading the case file absentmindedly. The shipping manifestos suggested that as the trucks passed through the Bowery, parts of the cargo would go seemingly missing without any vehicles making any stops according to the GPS and timing. He mulled his options over as he stepped through the clock. If he wanted to investigate the Bowery, he’d have to ask Oracle to message Red Hood for him. Tensions were still high between his second son and-
A peculiar smell catches his attention. It tickles his memory faintly and pulls his attention out of the case folder. The smell catches him offguard and has him suddenly running in to the faint murmuring in the Manor. Laying the folder on a nearby desk, Bruce walked towards the sounds. As he gets closer to the kitchen, the smells become stronger and the scent memory seems to sharpen more but the picture is still blurry. It’s not until he’s on the cusp of the door does he focus his hearing.
“They have the alpaca yarn in the back of the store?”
Bruce’s heart clenched but his feet froze him in place. Not wanting to shatter the moment, Bruce didn’t move and barely dared to breath.
“Indeed, simply inquire with the clerk at the register and someone will escort you to the back room. You’ll find an exquisite assortment of threads and yarns they wish to control with more scrutiny.”
“Huh, I’ll definitely check next time. It would be much better to give out to kids without worrying about a wool allergy."
"Quite so, young master," came Alfred's voice once more followed by the light scraping of a utensil against fine china."
"Would you like anymore blossoms, Alfie? Some dolmadas or another helping of soup?”
“I’m quite satisfied at the moment, Master Jason. Thank you, I must say this was indeed a very impressive meal.”
"You're welcome," came Jason' subdued response. Bruce knew there was most likely a small blush on Jason's face when Alfred praised his efforts, even as a boy. "I walked by this little place called "Elysium Fields" and it had some awesome fresh Greek produce and foods. I had some recipes I wanted to try and the owner gave me some pointers."
"I'd say these were a rousing success, Master Jason."
“Oh wow, I need to get going Alfie. It’s much later than we had planned.”
“Goodness, it is rather late isn’t it? I’ll have to start dinner immediately.”
“Just serve them what we had Alfie, I did make plenty.”
There was a moment of silence as Bruce knew Alfred was thinking. “It is all vegetarian so Master Damian would have no problems with anything and Master Bruce doesn’t care what I serve, for the most part at least.”
A soft chuckle had Bruce pining painfully for his estranged son. “Yeah, breakfast is pretty specific, huh?”
A slight sniff sounded before a chair scraped. “I don’t know what you mean, young man.”
“Sure, Alfred. I won’t mention the missing waffle iron.”
“Indeed.” Silence engulfed Bruce as he strained to hear. The shuffling of clothes on leather had him curious. “Until next week, Master Jason.”
“Until next week, Alfred,” Jason’s voice was muffled, most likely buried in Alfred’s shoulder. Bruce felt his body tense and fight itself. Part of him wanted to run in and engulf his wayward and estranged son but another held him back, knowing the attention and affection would be unwelcome. Bruce was snapped out of his internal tug of war when the door to the mud room shut, a moment later the distinct roar of a motorcycle revving up and then growling away.
“You may come in now Master Bruce.” Bruce started a bit before sheepishly walking into the kitchen. The exotic smell was stronger than ever but he still couldn’t quite place it. On the table sat a pile duffle bag full of yarn balls, two sets of knitting needles, and a beautifully knit blanket. Alfred was just beginning to rinse a few plates. “If you would like me to serve you early, please let me know and I will fix you a plate.”
Taking a tentive step to a large pot, still steaming with a wonderful aroma with plates of green logs and something fried on the sides. “What did Jay make?”
“A wonderful lentil soup, hand made dolmades, and delicious stuffed zucchini blossoms. I must say it’s been quite a long time since I’ve had such Greek food. Your mother had a friend named Celia that cooked such recipes.”
Bruce gently ran his hands over the folded blanket, thinking of his father on quiet rainy nights. “I would like some early dinner, please.”
Alfred ladled some soup into a bowl and placed a few fried blossoms and dolmadas onto a plate. Bruce popped one blossom into his mouth and his sense memory threw him back to a dinner with his mother.