Martha Wayne had many favorite things, but the top of her list included her men, music, and meddling-not necessarily in that order. Her men consisted of her husband Thomas, her son Bruce, and her butler Alfred. Her music, on the other hand, was varied and eclectic. It drove Thomas batty sometimes, but he tolerated it because true love was a thing.
Alfred wasn’t hers in the same manner that Thomas was. No, Thomas Wayne owned her heart lock stock and barrel. Alfred was hers in the sense that he was one of her people. Martha couldn’t afford to trust many. She had been burned in the past, and she was cautious of the people she let close to her. Alfred had always been Thomas’ man. They had known each other before they knew her, but after she had Bruce, his attitude had changed toward her. Martha didn’t understand why, but there was a shift in the dynamic of their relationship that she readily accepted. He cared for her, and she cared for him. It was why she considered him one of hers.
It was also why she hired the maid.
It only took a glance for Martha to know that she was a foreigner. She had come looking for a job. It was something that generally Alfred took care of, but the woman arrived while he was out and Martha saw no harm in talking to her. Hard times had come upon the woman, and while Martha felt compassion, she did not see the need to hire her until Alfred had walked into the room.
He had returned home earlier than she expected from his errands and he had taken one look at the woman and frozen. Martha hadn’t noticed that immediately. First, she had noted the way the lady had looked at Alfred with hungry eyes. She looked like she wanted to swallow the man whole.
Now, it wasn’t the first time that Martha had seen a woman eyeing Alfred speculatively. Not only was Alfred was an attractive man he was also an eligible bachelor. The thing was that he never noticed the women who looked until the day he saw her.
His gaze didn’t linger long, but it paused just long enough for Martha to note the peculiarity. She hired her on the spot.
Alfred hadn’t been happy that she usurped his authority, but it was her house. She could do what she wanted.
On that same note, Martha had no problem eavesdropping in her home. There was no such thing as privacy unless she wanted you to have it. Her staff knew that and sometimes they aided and abetted her. That was why two weeks after the arrival of the maid-Sakura was her name, one of the help came to her and told her she saw the newest addition to her home crying in the kitchen.
Martha thought about giving Sakura time to compose herself, but deftly changed her mind. She strode toward the kitchen. When she peeked inside, it was to find Sakura sitting in a chair in the corner. Her legs were drawn up to her chest with her arms wrapped around them. A radio was playing in the background, and as the chords of the song continued to play on, the harder she cried. When the song ended she reached out, rewound it and played it again.
The action made Martha listen carefully to the lyrics being sung. When she heard the words, she became suspicious. Did Sakura know Alfred? Was that why Alfred had taken note of her presence? An old love, perhaps?
Decision made, Martha walked into the kitchen and crouched before Sakura. As soon as Sakura realized she was no longer alone, Sakura began to scrub at her face and rose to her feet.
“Mistress Wayne. Is there something that I—“Her voice caught for a moment before she continued, “I can help you with?”
“Yes, you can tell me how you know Alfred.”
Her face blanked. If Martha didn’t see her tear-stained cheeks, she would swear she hadn’t been crying moments before.
“I don’t know what you mean.”
Martha stared at the woman and said coolly, “I have no love for liars.”
“Then feel free to ask him if you don’t believe me. I’m sure he’ll confirm my words.”
Martha felt that meant one of two things. Either Alfred honestly didn’t know this woman, or he did, and it wasn’t something he wanted anyone else to know. Either way, she would approach him immediately and ask him if he wanted her to fire the woman.
Alfred wasn’t in his quarters. He was in the nursery holding Bruce in his arms. The sight made Martha smile. She suspected that Alfred would be a good father if given the opportunity, but she shook her head so she wouldn’t get distracted.
Martha moved closer to Bruce to see him slumbering peacefully. She placed a gentle kiss on his forehead before she gestured for Alfred to let the boy sleep and follow her.
They were both utterly silent on their journey to Thomas’ study, although she could sense Alfred’s curiosity. She didn’t typically interrupt the time he spent with Bruce since it was evident that he loved the child so much.
When she entered, Thomas raised his head, and his curiosity mirrored Alfred’s. She seated herself, and Alfred followed suit.
“Is there something that I can help you with, Mistress?”
“Yes,” Martha said promptly. “You can tell me your thoughts on the new maid.”
Thomas groaned. She may or may not have told him that she had matchmaking on the brain regarding the two and he had urged her to let it be, but she hadn’t listened. Martha knew a good thing when she saw it. She wasn’t going to let Alfred waste an opportunity unless she had to.
“She’s a hard worker-not lazy like the one she replaced.”
Alfred didn’t say anything more. Martha shared a glance with Thomas because they knew Alfred well enough to know there was more.
“Would you like me to fire her?”
“Excuse the language ma’am, but why the bloody hell would you do that?”
Martha was at a loss for words, but thankfully, Thomas, her dear husband, helped her out.
“Martha has been concerned because she hired her without talking to you first. We can get her a position in another household if you want…”
“Nonsense. Why would we send a perfectly good worker elsewhere when we need the help?”
Martha leaned forward. “Are you certain Alfred? Because it wouldn’t be a problem.”
Alfred arched a brow. “I’m not the sort of man to say I am sure when I am not.”
That was the end of that.
After that, the maid avoided her. Martha couldn’t readily say she blamed her. Especially after Alfred’s departure and Thomas had read her the riot act. The gist of the whole conversation was ‘mind your business, Martha.’
She didn’t understand why Thomas didn’t see yet that everything that happened in her house was her business.
So because the maid disappeared, Martha decided to use dirty tactics to get what she wanted. Sakura was taken with Alfred. So she told Alfred to fetch her, knowing if Alfred came her way the last thing she would do was run in the opposite direction. It was diabolical but, Martha Wayne had no problem using underhanded tactics to get what she wanted.
When Sakura showed up in her Thomas’ office sans Thomas, she could tell that woman knew exactly what she had done.
“I apologize.” Sakura looked stunned, and Martha almost chuckled. “I don’t have a problem admitting when I’m wrong. I attacked you at a vulnerable moment, and I shouldn’t have. I hope I can have your forgiveness. Call me, Martha.”
Sakura laughed. “Oh, no, ma’am, I couldn’t do that.”
“Why ever not?”
“Because Alfred would have my hide.”
Martha couldn’t deny the truth of those words. “When we’re in private, then.”
Still, Sakura shook her head. “It would only make it easier to slip up later.” Martha quietly pouted. “I can see you’re very protective of him. I don’t mean him any harm. I can promise you that.”
“Am I right in my assumption that you want him then?”
Sakura paused and weighed her words. “Yes.” She finally settled on. “However, that does me little good when he doesn’t even notice I’m alive unless you bring me to his attention.” Sakura gave Martha a piercing stare to which she smiled benevolently.
“Oh, he notices you. Why do you think I hired you?” Sakura’s lips parted slightly. “However, if you break his heart, I’ll break your legs.”
Sakura smiled slightly and said, “I’d deserve it.”
Martha dismissed Sakura.
“Mistress Wayne!” Martha looked up from the babe in her arms and looked at the maid inquiringly. “The kitchens!”
She heard Thomas sigh. She moved to her husband, dropped a kiss on his forehead, and Bruce’s depositing the baby in his arms then said, “I’ll be right back.”
“Martha, let it be.”
“If you’d just come with me you’d understand why this is so important.”
“You do realize that Alfred can kill a man with his finger? I’m too young to die.”
“Fiddlesticks! Alfred wouldn’t harm a hair on your head.”
Thomas snorted. “It’s like you don’t know Alfred at all.” Martha waved him off and rushed to the kitchen.
She peeked into the kitchen to see Alfred standing deathly still with a vein throbbing in his head. The kitchen was engulfed in music, and the lyrics made Martha grin. It was a favorite of hers. Sakura was dancing as she prepared dinner.
“Miss Sakura, what do you think you’re doing?”
Sakura turned and looked at Alfred innocently. “Preparing dinner.”
“And is all this ruckus necessary?” Alfred gestured to the radio.
“They say music is the window to the soul. Maybe mine has a song to sing, and I need to dance to its tune.”
“Perhaps, but that thing you were doing is not dancing.”
Sakura tossed back her head and laughed. “It is where I’m from.”
“And you’re from a place full of ill-bred hooligans?”
Sakura’s laughter was like tinkling bells.
Martha watched as Alfred went to the radio and removed the tape that Sakura had playing. Martha saw a scowl begin to form on Sakura’s face before she realized that her music was being replaced. Alfred returned and held out a hand to her.
“Let me show you what dancing is.” Sakura only hesitated briefly before placing her hand in his. “I trust you can follow my lead.”
Sakura scoffed. “Of course.”
What followed were some of the most beautiful, graceful movements that Martha had ever had the privilege to see up close. The tango. Alfred knew how to tango. The thought was mind-boggling from the stiff British man that she knew.
Don’t get Martha wrong; Alfred was a good man but…this wasn’t the one she knew.
Sakura hid it well, she knew Alfred hadn’t noticed, but Martha did. The desire rolled off her in waves.
When the dance ended, Alfred pulled away from the smaller woman and asked, “Who are you?”
Sakura parted her lips and replied boldly. “I could be yours if it were something you desired.”
Alfred blinked and took a few steps back.
“That was inappropriate.”
“Maybe it was, but you shouldn’t ask a question if you aren’t prepared to hear the answer.”
“That wasn’t an answer. It was an evasion.”
“It was an answer. You aren’t ready to hear it.” Sakura paused, studying him carefully, “Or are you? Should I answer directly?”
Alfred’s reply was to turn and walk away.
Martha watched Sakura as she looked at Alfred’s treating back. She heard her say softly, “I’m yours, Alfred. Just yours.”
Martha didn’t like to meddle…okay she did. She thrived on it.
Her minions…er employees, arranged it so that Sakura brought her tea for the day. Tea, that dreadful thing that Alfred started that she had come to adore.
When Sakura entered the room, she was immediately suspicious. Martha didn’t bother to hide her smile.
“Have a seat.”
“Ma’am, I have duties to attend to.”
“I assure you they can wait. Sit.” Sakura sat. “You’re pushing him too hard.”
Sakura snorted. “I can push Alfred all I want. If he doesn’t want to be moved, it doesn’t matter.”
Martha huffed. “You’re exasperating.”
“Why do you care so much?”
“I would have thought the answer was obvious. I want Alfred to be happy.”
“And how do you know I’ll make him happy?”
Martha threw a sardonic look Sakura’s way. “I think we both know damn well that you’d do anything to see that man smile.” The woman blushed and looked away. “You have an ally in me if you tell me the truth.”
“What am I lying about?” Sakura’s tone was curious.
“You know him.”
“You were there the first time Alfred saw me.”
Martha chuckled. “You like to play with words. That’s nice.”
Sakura shook her head, and Martha heard her murmur. “So that’s where he gets it from.”
“Are you sure you want to know?”
“Otherwise I wouldn’t have asked.”
Sakura leaned back and studied her briefly before saying, “And if I answer, can I trust you to keep my secrets to yourself?”
“You think I have loose lips?”
“No, I think you’ll believe me mad and have me locked away. I prefer my freedom.” Martha sensed a story-a good one. She just wasn’t sure she wanted to hear it. Still….
“You have my silence.”
Sakura nodded, believing her readily. Martha wondered why that was.
“The first time I met Alfred, I was trying to pick his pocket. He caught me red-handed.” Martha covered her mouth with her hand. “You see, I was in a strange place trying to make it on my own. I had no family or friends. I couldn’t get a job.” Sakura laughed softly. “After my husband died, it was like the color had faded from the world. I took one look at Alfred, and he was so…” Sakura bit her bottom lip and Martha would swear if she were an animal she would have growled. “A glance, and he distracted me from what I was doing. He caught me in more ways than one that day. I wanted him then. I want him now. That’s pretty much all there is to it.”
“You didn’t come here for a job.”
Sakura inclined her head slightly. “I have many reasons for coming. But yes, I came for him.”
“You mean to take him away from us.”
Sakura snorted. “I’d like to meet the person that would succeed in such an act. No. This is his home. If he lets me, I’ll stay by his side. If he wants me, I’ll hold him tight.”
“And if he wants you to go?”
Sakura sighed. “We both know it’s his right to refuse me.”
“I yearn for him, and I’m so lonely without him.”
There was more to the story. Martha knew it, but she let it go. She figured, at this point, she owed the woman that. She could always harass her later. When Martha looked at Sakura again, the barely contained grief had disappeared only to be replaced by wariness. It was like the woman knew her. Martha liked her.
Sakura knew Martha Wayne was trouble as soon as she walked in.
Sakura knew Martha Wayne was trouble as soon as she walked in. Her blue eyes were piercing, just like Bruce’s. The Kunoichi foolishly assumed that because she had a handle on Bruce she’d be easily able to do the same with his mother.
Sakura knew she was out of time the second she opened her eyes on the streets of Gotham and saw people walking around dressed nothing like she was accustomed. Thankfully, she was near a dark alley and was able to disguise herself before people realized that one of these things is not like the other.
A newspaper told her that the year was wrong, and she silently cursed Superman under her breath. This was all his fault, and if Bruce didn’t kill him, she would. How many times did they have to tell that man to stay out of Gotham before he listened?
When Sakura took a second to pause in her mental rant the year resounded in her mind. She stopped breathing, which was decidedly not healthy. When she finally gulped in the air, she knew she had to go to Wayne Manor. She had to get a glimpse of him because he was alive. She could see him again. She could hear the voice that she had missed so much.
Without a second thought, Sakura was skulking about the grounds of Wayne Manor. She arrived in time to see Alfred step outside. It stunned her for a moment to see him so young. A noise came from her throat unwittingly, and she had to hide when he turned and looked in her direction.
As Sakura hid and waited for his departure, her heart racing wildly, she knew she couldn’t have just a peek at Alfred from a distance in a bush. It wasn’t enough.
When Sakura got the gumption to make her way to the front doors of the Manor, she knew what she was doing was incredibly stupid. Her actions could change the timeline. If she met Alfred now, would he even look twice at her when she met him in the future? She knew he wasn't the man now that he was then. He could hate her.
Sakura was wringing her hands together when the door finally opened. The woman who opened the door was younger than Sakura, but most people were and didn’t know it. Sakura hid her age well.
“You must be here for the maid position! Come, I’ll take you to Mistress Wayne.”
“Wait.” But the girl didn’t wait. She latched onto Sakura’s arm with a surprisingly firm grip. Sakura glanced around the halls and noted that things were pretty much the same except it seemed livelier in the Manor. The staff…there were so many people.
Before Sakura knew it, the woman had stopped and placed her hands on her shoulders. “You’re in luck. Mr. Pennyworth has left to perform a few errands. It’s a lot easier to convince the Mistress to give you a job than it is him. Just remember, stand tall and proud but be humble. She’s a sucker for that.”
Sakura opened her mouth to reply, but the woman opened the door and pushed her inside.
Sakura knew without a doubt that she was looking at Martha Wayne. She had seen her pictures scattered about Wayne Manor. The woman was as lovely in person as she was in her photos.
“And what is your name?”
“And your surname?”
“It’s just Sakura.” Sakura didn’t know how smart it would be to give out her last name. Martha chuckled.
“You and I both know it’s not.”
Sakura grinned. “It could be. There are orphans in the world.”
“And are you an orphan?”
“I’m definitely all alone in the world.”
Martha just shook her head. “Have you had any experience as a maid? Any references you can give me?”
“I have the experience but not the references. Unfortunately, I’m not from around here.”
“And where are you from?”
Sakura opened her mouth to give a glib answer when the door opened. Sakura turned slightly to see Alfred in the doorway. Sakura’s breath caught. She had thought that he was striking as an older man, but as a younger one, her heart nearly leaped out of her chest and prostrated itself at his feet.
He looked away from her far too quickly for Sakura’s taste. Sakura slowly returned her attention to Martha Wayne—not wholly. She didn’t think it was possible for her ever to dismiss Alfred’s presence. She noticed a secret smile on the woman’s lips as she said, “You’re hired.”
Sakura wasn’t one to look a gift horse in the mouth. “Thank you, ma’am. You won’t regret this.”
“See that I don’t Sakura. Alfred, will you take her to her room and explain her duties?”
Alfred arched a brow at the home’s Mistress but said, “Of course.”
When he strode out of the room, Sakura found herself practically floating as she followed him.
“You will assist in helping keep the West Wing in order.”
“Isn’t their assistance needed in the kitchen?”
Alfred paused in mid-step and looked at her. “You cook?”
“Yes,” Sakura answered because she knew the best way to get closer to Alfred was to work in the kitchens. She knew her oversaw the entire home, but she remembered from past conversations that if she wanted to see Alfred, she needed to be there.
“Thank you, Mr. Pennyworth.”
“And who, pray tell, told you my name was Pennyworth?”
Sakura, who readily had an answer to that, grinned. “The maid that let me in.”
It was torture being so close to Alfred and not being able to touch him, talk to him, and love him. She was a masochist. She had to be because instead of trying to figure out how to get home, all she was doing was trying to find a way to stay and get closer to this man she had loved and lost.
It didn’t help that she couldn’t stop herself from flirting outrageously with the man. When she tended to do so, he looked through her as if she had done nothing of importance. It made her wonder how the hell she had won him over the first time. She felt like she had done everything short of showing up in his chambers without a stitch of clothing on.
She knew she was creating quite the stir in the household. They were gossiping about her one-sided love for the man. Some giggled and occasionally cheered her on. Others looked at her sadly knowing her plight was doomed.
Eventually, Alfred let her into the kitchens—but this was only late in the evenings to clean after the others had cooked. It ensured that she probably wouldn’t see the man as often as she’d hoped. There was a girl there helping her out, but Sakura sent her to her room assuring her that she could get the job done alone.
Sakura turned on the radio, letting music distract her from her musing. Eventually, she tuned in to the radio and felt tears sting her eyes, but she wiped them away distractedly. She was almost finished when she raised her head and saw that she was no longer alone.
The girl who was to assist her was there staring at her in amazement. Sakura looked around and realized that she had finished the kitchen. She took a moment to be proud of her work before she felt that pang in her heart return.
“You really like him, don’t you?”
Sakura smiled wanly. “Is it that obvious?”
“Honey, every woman in this place has had a crush on that man at one point or another, but we got over it very quickly. He’s a cold fish.”
“He is. I heard that he had his heart broken once. Something about a woman named Esme. He’s never let a woman close since.” Sakura hadn’t heard of an Esme. When they were together, Alfred had never mentioned her. It made her frown. “I know you’ve got your heart set on him, but you should have a good cry and let it go. It’s a battle you can’t win.”
Sakura looked down. “I can’t. I have to try.”
The woman shoved something in her hand. “Have that cry anyway. This song helped me when my relationship with my sweetie didn’t work out. Maybe it’ll help you too.”
Sakura nodded and watched as she quickly retreated before she grabbed one of the kitchen chairs and dragged it closer to the radio. She put the tape inside and hit play. It wasn’t long before she was crying her heart out.
Sakura awakened the next morning feeling like death warmed over. When she looked in the mirror, her eyes were red and puffy, and her hair was a fright. Her head was pounding from a headache she had developed, and she was slightly angry that she didn’t have alcohol to thank for it.
She heard a sharp knock on her door and dragged herself over to it. She expected it to be the woman who had lent her the tape the previous night but when she opened the door it was only to find that it wasn’t. It was Alfred.
He looked taken aback by her appearance, and Sakura inwardly groaned. She gets Alfred to come to her chambers, and she doesn’t look like a seductress. She looked like a wildebeest.
“Are you alright?”
Sakura shrugged. “Define, alright.” When Alfred opened his mouth, Sakura shook her head. “It’s fine. I’ll start work soon.”
“Miss Sakura, I asked you a question. I expect an answer.”
At the firm tone, Sakura felt tears prick the back of her eyes again. She would have thought she was all cried out but apparently not. She valiantly tried to blink back her tears but failed. She thought she saw his fingers twitch but dismissed the notion as ridiculous.
“No. I’m not.”
“Is there anything I can do to help?”
Sakura thought about that. Then she looked down and laughed mirthlessly. There was a lot he could do to help her, but there was little that he’d be willing to do.
“No. There isn’t.”
“You are relieved of your duties today.”
At his words, Sakura’s head snapped up. “No, Alfred. Don’t make me stay alone. I can’t—“ Sakura paused, catching her blunder. He hadn’t given her permission to use his given name. “I’m sorry.”
“I see no reason for you to be sorry. Rest. I’ll check on you later.”
Sakura nodded. When he exited her room, she looked at her bed with distaste. She needed to find a way to get home and stop daydreaming about a life with Alfred that she’d never have. Someone somewhere was having a good hard laugh at her expense.
Sakura threw herself upon her bed and buried her face in her pillow, not realizing when she had fallen asleep. Two sharp knocks on the door pulled her back to the surface. She stumbled to the door and threw it open.
Once again, she faced with Alfred, but this time he has a tray in his hands.
“What?” The confused question slipped by her lips and was ignored.
“Get back in the bed, Miss Sakura.”
“But I’m not—“
“You will not tell me you’re not hungry after you’ve slept the day away.”
Sakura frowned at looked at the clock. It was four in the afternoon. Slowly, Sakura moved back to the bed eyeing Alfred the entire time. She climbed on the bed and watched in awe as he placed a tray over her lap.
Sakura expected him to leave after delivering the tray, but he didn’t. He sat in a nearby chair quietly. Sakura didn’t know what to expect or what to do so she just ate. When she completed her meal, Alfred rose to his feet.
“Are you feeling better?” She was, but Sakura just nodded. “Then I’ll take my leave.”
That was something Sakura didn’t want. “Wait.” Alfred paused and looked at her. “Do you mind sitting with me a while longer? If you have time, that is. I know you’re busy.”
Alfred moved closer to her bed and removed the tray that he had delivered to her and sat it on the floor. He then returned to his seat.
Sakura had never been more nervous in her life. It wasn’t like this was the first man she had ever desired. It was just the opportunity that was being presented to her. It was the one she had strove for with Gaara. She had wanted to go back in time and save her husband from an early death, but that hadn’t been in the cards for her.
Now, she had the real chance she wanted with Gaara with Alfred. How could she not take it?
“Thank you, Mr. Pennyworth.”
“Pennyworth? Are we back to that then? Just this morning I was Alfred.”
Sakura stifled a giggle. “It’s alright then, to call you that? Everyone else calls you—“
“It’s fine as long as you get well soon.”
Sakura wasn’t going anywhere near Martha Wayne unless she had to. She had hidden from the Master of Wayne Manor once in her lifetime. She was sure she could hide from the Mistress too.
After their encounter in the kitchen, Sakura was confident that the woman was going to have her tossed out on her ear. When it didn’t happen, she sought to make sure it wouldn’t.
Sakura noticed a difference in Alfred. He never sought her out, but he was more cordial with her when their paths did cross. A polite nod from the man put a bounce in her step that she couldn’t control.
Mary, the maid who loaned her the tape, came rushing to Sakura one evening. “Sakura, Mr. Pennyworth is looking for you.”
Sakura’s heart stopped. Alfred, like some unspoken rule, rarely came looking for her. Sakura reached out and clutched Mary’s hand.
“Did he say what he wanted?’
Mary shook her head. “No.”
Sakura immediately stood up straighter and smoothed out her uniform. “How do I look?”
Mary’s lip twitched. “Like you’re working.”
Sakura snorted. “Of course.”
“Good luck.” Sakura figured she’d need it.
When Alfred found her and requested that she see Mistress Wayne Sakura had to force herself not to let out a slew of expletives. It was a battle she nearly lost.
When Sakura met with the woman, her duplicity was written all over her face. She fought not to scowl. Using Alfred as a weapon—was brilliant. Sakura was ashamed to say that it was a tactic that would probably work again. She’d never run from Alfred.
Martha Wayne’s first words surprised her. Getting her blessing in her pursuit of Alfred surprised her more.
Thomas Wayne was a big man. When he stood over Sakura, her mind didn’t immediately come up with the word ‘threat,’ but she wondered if it should have. After all, the man was friends with Alfred. She didn’t care if he was a physician. She was a prime example that someone acquainted with the healing arts could be dangerous.
“I’m sorry for my wife.”
He had come and hunted her down in the West Wing where she was working. She knew that wasn’t an easy task because she tended to fade in with the shadows when she could.
“Your wife is delightful Master Wayne.”
Thomas grinned. “That she is, but I know she’s been giving you a hard time lately about Alfred.”
Sakura automatically shook her head. “I have no problem with people caring about Alfred’s well-being.”
Thomas paused. “She thinks you really care for him.” Sakura made a noncommittal noise. “I don’t know how that could be when you haven’t been here long enough to know him.”
Sakura grinned. “Master Wayne, are you telling me you aren’t a believer in love at first sight?”
Thomas shrugged. “Doesn’t seem very likely.”
“It doesn’t. It’s important to know a man’s character before you throw your lot in with him. And I could, of course, be mistaken about Alfred’s character. He could be a dour evil man who cares nothing for anyone but himself.” Thomas scowled at Sakura, and she considered it a win. “You have nothing to worry about Master Wayne. Alfred barely knows I’m alive.”
“He brought you a meal when you were ill.” There was nothing that was a secret in the Wayne household. Sakura was sure that if she sneezed twice, the whole house would know before she had finished the task.
“I’m sure he does that for everyone.”
“He doesn’t. Don’t get me wrong. He’s always aware that there’s a problem. He just makes sure someone else takes care of it. He doesn’t go himself if it isn’t a member of my family.” Sakura paused and took in those words before deciding not to put too much stock in them. “Look, all I’m saying is that Alfred doesn’t love easily and when he does, he loves hard. Forever. If you’re not going to stick around then just leave the man alone.”
Sakura worried her bottom lip. She didn’t know if she’d be staying forever. The League was bound to be looking for her. Eventually, someone would come.
“I don’t know if I can do it forever. I could be dead tomorrow. I might have to leave. Any number of things could happen. Is it wrong to love him as much as I can right now at this moment? Should I deny myself that because of what could happen? Because it might end ?” Thomas didn’t say anything. “I appreciate your concern Master Wayne, but ultimately it’s my decision and its Alfred’s, and as of right now his decision is ‘no,’ and that’s fine.” It wasn’t, but that wasn’t his business. He didn’t need to know how she was dealing with being cellophane to Alfred. “So, you shouldn’t worry so much. I’m sure it will all work out for the best in the end.”
“You’re right. Still, my wife…”
“Has given me her blessings.” Thomas's eyes widened, and it was clear that he hadn’t known. “And really, being Alfred’s friend maybe you should be talking to him.” Sakura looked at Master Wayne pointedly.
“Miss Sakura as I told my wife—I like living. I’m too young to die.” Sakura barely held back a flinch at his words. They held too much foreshadowing for her, and it made her think.
If she stayed, she could stop it. Martha and Thomas didn’t have to die in an alleyway. It wasn’t something Bruce had to witness. The possibility of change was at her fingertips. She could protect Bruce from this. But would he want her to? What right did she have to make that type of decision?
Then again she was a part of the Justice League now. True, she was a part-time member, but her actions saved lives all the time. How was this any different?
But then…if she stopped the Wayne’s from dying would she have ever met Alfred in the first place? Would he have been there for her to pick his pocket? Or would he have sent one of the staff on the errand he had to run?
Or would it matter if she just stayed here, in this world? He may never love or want her, but she’d be able to be at his side.
Until she did something stupid enough to get fired over.
“That you are Master Wayne.”
It was Sakura’s first weekend off. She hadn’t gotten that opportunity when it was just her, Bruce, and Alfred. It was nice to not have duties. It was not fun trying to figure out what to do with herself. She figured she’d go look around Gotham. It seemed more peaceful now than the time she was from. She had just made it two the gates when she saw two men standing there looking as if they were about to go in.
The first was a tall black man who took a step in Sakura’s direction. “Excuse me, Miss.” He began. Sakura let her gaze darted over the shorter white male with him before glancing back.
“Is this where Alfred Pennyworth stays?”
Sakura let her gaze harden. She didn’t know these men, and she didn’t know if they were here to start trouble. “Who wants to know?”
“I’m Bazza,” He gestured and the man at his side, “And this is Dave Boy. We’ve come to visit him.”
“Didn’t know butlers lived fancy like this.” Dave Boy muttered, and Bazza elbowed him.
“If it wouldn’t be too much trouble could you tell him we’re here?”
The men were dangerous and were terrible at hiding it. Sakura folded her arms across her chest. “If you’re actually Alfred’s friends then tell me something only a friend would know.
“Esme was the love of his life.” Dave Boy automatically replied, and Bazza smacked him on the head.
“You know he doesn’t talk about that. Why would you tell a stranger? If she tells anyone—“
“She’s not going to tell anyone. If she’s staying here long enough to question our motives, she has to be someone who cares about him.”
Bazza narrowed his eyes but didn’t reply. Instead, he turned back to Sakura.
“Is that proof enough?”
Sakura was having a hard time breathing. The love of his life? Was that why…?
“Ma’am, are you alright?”
“Yes, I’m fine.” Sakura shook her head, trying to clear it of her thoughts. “Yes, it’s proof enough.” Not that Sakura didn’t have any intention of watching both men like hawks. “But Alfred is pretty busy this morning. I would be happy to entertain you until he is available.”
Danny Boy said, “Entertain us? How?”
The Wayne’s didn’t discourage their live-in staff from having guests. In fact, they had a whole section of their home just for that purpose. They didn’t want large crowds, because those could bring people potentially dangerous to them but for the most part, they were lackadaisical.
It made her understand certain parts of Alfred’s behavior with the staff.
So it was easy to get Bazza and Dave Boy in the house. It wasn’t easy making it so that no one noticed because like the Mistress of the home, the staff was nosey. Still, Sakura managed it to make it all the way to the staff parlor without incident.
Sakura heard a low whistle come from behind her.
“He weren’t kidding when he said they were bloody rich.”
Sakura turned around and narrowed her eyes. “They’re also well protected. So, if you have any ill-advised plans on hurting the Wayne’s I’d think twice about it.”
Danny Boy opened his mouth, but Bazza spoke first. “We honestly don’t mean anyone harm. We’re true friends of Alfred’s. We just want to visit.”
“Mmm,” Sakura replied. “Have a seat gentlemen. I’ll get the entertainment—and don’t wander. I’ll know if you do.”
The two men exchanged a look but said nothing.
Her plan involved alcohol and cards. It was something that they did in the League when a mission ran long, and they were bored out of their minds. The Green Lantern started the tradition. Batman never played, but Sakura always did. Because of that, she had been labeled the fun bat. Bruce had never done more than narrow his eyes at the quip.
Bruce. She had been forcing herself not to think about him. She hadn’t the courage to go look a baby, Bruce.
What was she doing? Was this wrong? How could it not be right?
Sakura reentered the parlor with booze and cards, and Danny Boy swore his love for her on the spot. “Are you gentlemen familiar with strip poker?”
The game ended when Danny Boy passed out. Sakura wouldn’t say the man couldn’t hold his liquor. He matched her shot for shot. But the fact that he tried…said a lot. When he slumped over, she shared a look with Bazza. “We can’t leave him here.”
“Where do you propose we put him?”
There was only one place that she could think of. She really didn’t want to do it but…the things she did for Alfred.
“We’ll take him to my bedroom.”
Sakura rose to her feet and made to help Bazza pick the man up, but he had already hoisted Danny Boy over his shoulder. Sakura was impressed but merely lead the way.
They left him in her bed, exiting the room behind them quietly. Sakura was going to take Bazza back to the parlor but paused.
“What’s wrong with him?” She saw Bazza stiffen. “Look, you don’t have to tell me if you don’t want to, but I can help if you give me a chance.”
“You’re a head doctor?”
Sakura smiled and shook her head. “No, not exactly.”
“Then what is it you plan to do?” Sakura wasn’t about to explain anything, so she just waited. “He’s my mate. I can’t let you harm him.”
“I won’t. I understand your concern. I don’t know who you are, and you don’t know me either. But I took a chance letting you into the home of my Master and Mistress. Take a chance on me.”
She didn’t say Alfred’s home. It would reveal entirely too much.
“It was the war.” Bazza turned his head and looked at the door. “He hasn’t been right since we came back.”
“And drinking. Other things.”
Sakura nodded. “I can help with the nightmares-temporarily. The drinking…he has to want to stop that on his own. Although, it’s possible that after the nightmares are gone, he’ll find he doesn’t need the drink anymore.”
“What do you plan on doing?”
Sakura smiled. “I’m planning on asking you to stay out here while I go help your friend. I should wake him and get his consent.”
“Don’t.” Sakura arched a brow. “I’ll take the heat for it if it comes to that. If you can help him, then do it. But if you hurt him—“
“If you truly are one of Alfred’s friends. I wouldn’t dare.”
Sakura slipped into the room and locked the door behind her before Bazza could reply.
When she returned over an hour later, she was tired. She wanted to push Danny Boy out of her bed and just sleep. When she exited her room, Bazza was still there looking at her expectantly.
“Now we wait for him to sleep it off.”
“What did you do?”
Sakura shrugged. “The best way to explain it is that I protected his mind from the dreams. His sleep will be dreamless for a few years at best, but he will need to seek professional help by, or preferably before, the end of it. The dreams will return.”
Bazza let out a breath. “How will I know it worked?”
“He’ll have the best sleep he’s probably had in years.” Sakura looked at her door, mournfully. “I doubt he’ll be waking up anytime soon.” Bazza took a step forward.
“Can I go in?”
“Of course. I’ll go fetch Alfred.”
Alfred was in the kitchen. He was giving instructions to Amerie about something but Sakura was too tired to focus on his words. Instead, she just watched him with probably a silly smile on her face. Sakura wasn’t sure when he noticed her presence, but when he was done, he approached her.
“Today is your off day.”
Sakura nodded. “Yes. I just came to tell you that you have guests.” Alfred arched a brow. “Two men. They go by the names Bazza and Danny Boy. Should I throw them out?”
Alfred looked shocked by her words before quickly asking, “Where are they?”
Sakura turned and walked away. In her exhaustion, she missed the shock and disappointment that crossed Alfred’s face.
When Alfred made it to Sakura’s room, Bazza wasn’t inside. Dave Boy was. He was asleep in Sakura’s bed, and he hadn’t any clothes on. Alfred’s jaw clenched as he slipped out and shut the door. When he turned around, he wasn’t alone.
Bazza stood behind him. “I was looking for her.”
“Sakura.” Alfred supplied. “I don’t know where she is.”
He knew he was curt. He was glad to see his friends he just…
Bazza clasped a hand on his shoulder. “Come, Danny Boy’s not waking up anytime soon let’s catch up.” Alfred walked with his friend back to the parlor and saw they had made use of it. He was sure that most of the mess was gone. Sakura had probably come through and cleaned up, but the smell of alcohol lingered in the air.
They sat down, and Alfred asked, “What are you doing here?”
“Not here to start trouble. We just wanted to visit, see how you were getting on.”
“And carry on with the staff while you were here.” The words slipped out, and Alfred wished he could recall them, but they were out there.
“She’s a woman who can handle her liquor. She drank Danny Bony under the table and didn’t even look inebriated when she was done. It was impressive.”
Alfred’s jaw clenched.
“And you let him take her to bed.”
Bazza held up his hands. “Woah, Alfred. I think you have the wrong idea.”
“He was in her bed naked.”
“Yeah, but you know how he is. There’s nothing going on there. We wouldn’t move in on your lady friend.”
Bazza started laughing. “When did you become a man that lived in denial?” Alfred said nothing. “Besides, it’s obvious she cares for you, and you alone. On her own, she had the wherewithal to incapacitate one of us and keep a sharp eye on the other. All the while, a part of her still believed we were lying when we called ourselves your friends. After that, she separated us and waited to see what I would do. I have no doubt that she had some way of watching me the entire time.”
Bazza shrugged. “Old houses like this? There’s always someone around listening in ways they have no business.”
“There’s nothing like that in Sakura’s room. I would know of it.”
“Unless she made it herself.” Alfred frowned. “She’s smart. She could do something like that in a way, no one would notice.”
“And you got all of this from a single conversation with the woman?”
“I’m surprised you didn’t. Your head is up in the clouds Alfie. Living like this is making you soft.”
When Sakura returned to the Manor later that evening it was to see Alfred leaving her bedroom. He was pushing a cart with her sheets inside of it. She peeked in her room to see that the bed had been freshly made. It made her smile.
“I could have done that Alfred.”
“What’s done is done.”
Sakura nodded. He started walking away but paused briefly. “Thank you for taking care of my friends.”
Sakura let out a little sigh. “You’re very welcome, Alfred.”
Sakura's so lovesick. lol.
“It’s an effin’ miracle I tell you. Alfie! I’m moving in.”
It was mid-Sunday morning when Danny boy finally awakened. Alfie had been worried that he wouldn’t ever wake up and that they needed to take him to the hospital, but Bazza had made him wait. An odd expression came across his face as he asked Alfred to let it play out.
Alfred knew Bazza well enough to know that he would never let Danny boy die, so he relented.
“You’re not moving in.”
“The hell I’m not! Get me one of them fancy outfits of yours. I’m never leaving this place. I haven’t slept this well since…”
Danny boy trailed off, failing to come up with an answer.
“I don’t think it was the house, Danny Boy.” Bazza inserted before the man got the chance to go on. “The lady from yesterday. I think she helped you a little.”
Alfred frowned. “Helped him how?”
Bazza shrugged. “I don’t know. She said she’d help with the nightmares. I thought she was lying so that she could separate us…but maybe not.”
“Ah, then I don’t have to stay. I’ll just marry the woman and take her back home with me.”
“The hell you will!” Alfred registered Bazza covering his mouth to hide a smile, but he ignored it. Bazza and Danny Boy shared a look that made a smile creep onto the faces of pair.
“I did not see a ring on her finger, Alfie. That means she fair pickings.”
“You will not harass my staff.”
Danny chuckled. “Is it harassment if she likes it?”
Bazza could no longer hold it together. He laughed uproariously at Danny Boy’s teasing, especially since it looked like Alfred was seconds away from cardiac arrest. Danny soon joined in.
“Alfie, you should see your face!”
“It was the most priceless thing I’ve ever seen!”
Alfred let them have their fun for a while before waving them off. “Fine. Fine. Joke’s over. You’ve had your fun.”
“No, but seriously, Alfie, if you don’t want her I have no problem—“
“Shut up, Danny boy. Tossers, both of you.”
Alfred was on her mind. He had moved her to work in the kitchen with the other ladies. She liked to come a little early to get some of the prep work done so things could move a little easier. Sakura was developing a fondness for playing music. Some of the others told her it was probably because the Mistress was an avid music lover, and it was catching.
I put a spell on you was playing, and before Sakura knew it, her hips were swaying to the music. She became lost in a world of her own until Alfred pulled her back.
“Miss Sakura, what do you think you’re doing?”
Sakura’s eyes snapped open, and she felt her cheeks flush. She couldn’t believe she had let him sneak up on her like that and she hoped that he didn’t call attention to her dancing.
Alfred’s eyes narrowed as he took a step closer to her. “And is all this ruckus necessary?”
Sakura’s lips twitched. The simple answer would be to say yes, but she didn’t.
“They say music is the window to the soul. Maybe mine has a song to sing, and I need to dance to its tune.” She wondered if he was listening. She didn’t think he was because he did the one thing she hadn’t wanted her to.
“Perhaps, but that thing you were doing is not dancing.”
All Sakura could do was laugh. “It is where I’m from.”
“And you’re from a place full of ill-bred hooligans?”
Alfred was hilarious. In the past, she had always thought it was on purpose. Now, she wasn’t so sure.
“Let me show you what dancing is.” Sakura didn’t know if he were serious or not, but she wasn’t about to miss the opportunity to be held in his arms. “I trust you can follow my lead.”
Sakura scoffed. “Of course.”
She was on fire. Every movement every touch was torture of the sweetest kind. As they moved, she had been certain several times that he was going to kiss her. Her heart yearned for it, but Alfred never made that move, and she couldn’t make herself close that last bit of distance.
He lifted her in the air as if she were nothing making Sakura’s brain stutter to a halt several times. When the dance ended, he asked, “Who are you?” More softly, he said, “Why are you here?”
Sakura just as softly answered the second question. “I’m here for you.” She cleared her throat slightly and said, “I could be yours if it were something you desired.”
He moved away from her as if she had burned him and that hurt more than she cared to admit.
When he turned and walked away, it wasn’t long after she got a visitor of her own.
Sakura had been surprised that out of everyone they would send him. But she shouldn’t have been. Bruce wasn’t going to leave Gotham, and she’d raise hell if he left Dick for her. Still, she when he appeared in the gardens where she was taking a break, her first impulse was to strike him.
She didn’t. Oh but the temptation.
“Sakura,” He began and took a step in her direction.
“Clark, give me one good reason I shouldn’t kill you.”
He gave her that boyish grin that won people over constantly-even her sometimes.
“You don’t have Kryptonite.” Yeah, she was going to murder the guy. “And Bruce is first in line.” Sakura scowled because that seemed accurate. “Ready to come home?”
Sakura laughed to herself. “No.” The shock on Superman’s face was priceless. “I’m staying here.”
“No, Sakura you can’t stay here. What are you planning?”
He advanced on her quickly and placed his hands on her shoulders, shaking her gently. “You’re not going to…” Clark’s voice drifted off, and he stared at Wayne Manor.
“Let me go, Clark.”
“Sakura, come on, you know better than this.”
“Let me go.” She said a bit more forcefully, and they were interrupted soon after that.
“I believe the lady told you to remove your hands from her person.”
Sakura nearly melted at the sound of Alfred’s voice. Clark pulled his hands away from her reluctantly. Alfred walked to her side and stood close enough for Sakura to feel his body heat. Sakura wanted to reach for his hand. She hated that she had good impulse control.
Clark looked back and forth between the two of them.
“Sakura, we need you to come home.” Sakura shook her head.
“I am at home.”
Clark glanced at Alfred, sighed, and then backed away slowly, “I’ll be back.”
“I’m sure you will be, but my answer will be the same.”
Alfred and Sakura quietly watched as Clark walked out of the gardens.
“Who was that?” Alfred asked when he thought Clark was safely out of hearing range. “A friend?”
“Sometimes. Sometimes he’s a pain in my ass.”
“And he wants you to come home.” Sakura sighed despondently. “Are you going?”
“Do you want me to?”
Alfred doesn’t respond, and Sakura hadn’t expected him to. “He doesn’t seem like the type to give up.”
“He isn’t,” Sakura confirmed.
“What will you do?”
She didn’t know. She thought she’d have more time to make that decision.
“I will head to the kitchen and resume my duties.” Sakura moved to take a step away, but Alfred reached out and grabbed her arm, halting her movement. He let go quickly, and Sakura looked up into his eyes. She could tell he wanted to say something, but he was hesitating. “Ask me to stay, and I’ll never leave your side even if you want me as nothing more than a friend. I’ll stay.”
“You don’t know me. Why would you do something so foolish?”
“I know enough, and I thought I made myself clear. I’d do it if you asked me to.”
“I don’t understand why. Can’t you bloody see that I need to know your motives? I have people I need to protect.”
“I know. I would never betray you like that.”
“But you’ll betray me in other ways.”
Sakura, near tears, said, “There are things I can’t tell you.”
“Like what you did to help Danny boy.” Sakura didn’t answer. “You are the most exasperating woman I’ve ever met.”
“I’m a dangerous woman, Alfred. I can understand if you’d want no part of that. My secrets have secrets. But I tell you honestly, if you tell me to go I’ll go.”
“Damn you,” Alfred whispered before he walked away, leaving her alone in the garden with her tears.
Martha Wayne stared at the door Sakura had just exited for a long while. She had just talked to her about how hard she was pushing Alfred, but she hadn’t been willing to listen. She also had given her a cockamamie story about how she and Alfred had met. Although, she was starting to believe the girl’s words as truth, but she was missing something, an important detail.
She knew the girl had secrets. She hadn’t realized the girl was otherworldly. She had watched hidden in the gardens as a man appeared out of thin air in front of Sakura. He was a good looking fella, and she could sense that there was chemistry between the two.
By Sakura’s scowl, though, that chemistry was explosive. She heard only snippets of the conversation, but she knew that the man wanted Sakura to return with him.
Martha shivered as she thought about the man. For a moment she could have sworn he looked directly at her like he had known she was there. Maybe he had if he could appear and disappear at will. If he could do that, did that mean that Sakura had special abilities that she was hiding?
She wondered if she should tell Thomas about what had discovered. Martha chuckled. No, she wouldn’t do that. It wouldn’t do to make her darling worry over nothing. Sakura was harmless to everyone except Alfred.
Should she tell Alfred what she had discovered?
Probably but even she knew that that would be too much meddling. In the end, she decided to wait a little while longer to see how things developed between the pair before acting.
Alfred was avoiding her, and she was tired of just letting it happen. She wasn’t a fool. There was something between them. There was always something there, and once again, they were fighting against it.
She had a choice. Either she could fight for them, or she could go back home to the life she had already built.
There was only one answer.
Sakura went to Alfred’s room late one evening and knocked on his door before she could talk herself out of it. When he opened the door, he didn’t look surprised to see her there. She supposed it had been inevitable.
Surprisingly, he let her in, and when he looked like he was about to question her, she held up a hand, knowing she had to speak first.
“I loved you in another lifetime. You don’t remember it. You may never.”
“I know, and now you have an inkling of why I can’t tell you everything.”
Alfred fell silent, and Sakura was relieved to see that he hadn’t rejected her outright.
“Things didn’t end well, did they?” Sakura’s breath caught in her throat, so she shook her head. “I died.” His deduction was swift and decisive. The man was brilliant. He always had been.
That day washed over her. She remembered holding his lifeless body in her arms. She had never felt so helpless. The pain and the rage still simmered beneath the surface sometimes. It made her want to howl at the unfairness of the world. “I’d fallen asleep. You—“
Alfred held up a hand. “Don’t say anything more. I don’t need to know.”
“You had your reasons for keeping your secrets. I’ll let you keep them.” Alfred drew her deeper into his room and Sakura breathed in his scent that permeated the room. “Sit.”
Sakura did as he bid and was surprised when he got down on one knee. It brought back to mind a time when he had done that once before, and she almost smiled. Alfred slipped her shoes off her feet.
“What are you doing?”
Alfred arched a brow. “Removing your shoes.”
“Quite inquisitive, aren’t you, for one who doesn’t like to answer questions.”
Sakura pursed her lips petulantly, and Alfred chuckled when she called him a bastard. When Alfred started kneading her feet, she let out a groan. She hadn’t realized just how much she’d been on her feet lately.
“You don’t believe me, do you?”
Alfred hesitated briefly. “I believe you want to be with me. I think you have talents that I know nothing of. I know you have feelings for me.”
“But you don’t believe that in every life I live that I’d be willing to love you?”
“I don’t think I’m the man you think I am.”
Sakura laughed. “How many ways can you kill a man, Alfie?” Alfred didn’t respond. “Yeah, you’re exactly the man I think you are and it may be too soon for you to hear it, but I love every inch of you.” Alfred paused and looked up, and Sakura groaned. “Nooo, don’t stop.” Alfred continued his ministrations.
“Love…is a bit much.”
Sakura touched his shoulder. “I’m not asking you to love me, Alfred. I’m requesting that you let me love you. That’s enough for now.”
“Alright.” His hands started to move up her calves, and Sakura bit her lip to keep from begging for more. “Will you be staying the night?”
She shouldn’t. She really shouldn’t.
Sakura awakened the next morning with a frown on her face. She felt the gentle press of lips on her neck.
“That bad?” Alfred murmured and rolled her on top of his chest. He was warm, and Sakura wished she could get closer to him than what she was. “I assure you I can do much better.”
Sakura didn’t think she could take better. The previous night…Sakura had made love to Alfred before; she had never been displeased by anything they did together. It was just that a younger Alfred was a bit more adventurous. Sakura shuddered as memories of pleasure rushed over her. “No, I was just thinking.”
“Well, that assures me that I wasn’t up to snuff if you can do that.”
Sakura laughed when Alfred rocked his hips beneath her a little. She could help but place a small peck on his lips. “Oh, don’t pretend you need my praise, Alfred Pennyworth. You know you’re a good lover.”
“As good as your friend who came here for you?”
Sakura blanched. That was not the type of pillow talk she was used to. “You think Clark and I? No! Our relationship has never been like that.”
“He was rather handsy.” Sakura snorted. She could imagine the expression on Clark’s face if someone told him that. He’d be horrified. Sakura was delighted, and when he returned, because Clark would, she’d make sure she mentioned it.
“He has a tactile nature. You should see him with some of our other friends.”
“And will I meet them? Your other friends?” Sakura fell silent and buried her face in Alfred’s throat. She gave him a light nip hoping it would distract him. “Sakura, is there something you’re not telling me—other than the usual, that is. Was last night a goodbye?”
Sakura kissed Alfred again more passionately than previously. “No. It wasn’t goodbye.”
“A prelude to a goodbye, then?”
He wasn’t going to stop fishing unless she told him outright to stop, which she wouldn’t.
“I have a life elsewhere. Common sense tells me I should return to it.”
“What did that life consist of?”
Sakura thought about nights in Gotham fighting the criminal underworld with Bruce and Dick by her side. She thought about the citizens that screamed for help from Scarecrow’s gas. She recalled Two Face’s henchmen and the Penguins birds.
“You want to rest.” He seemed like he understood and could identify with that concept, but that wasn’t an accurate assessment for her. She could rest when she died.
Sakura shook her head. “No. I chose this life because it was the one I wanted to lead.”
“Come on now Sakura, tell me what’s going on in that head of yours.”
Sakura raised her head and decided to tell the truth. “There’s someone else.” Sakura felt Alfred’s entire body stiffen. “Alfred, let me explain.”
“Listen to you explain how you want to keep me as your man on the side?”
Alfred slid Sakura off the top of his body. She sat up quickly and reached for him, but he wouldn’t allow her touch.
“No, Alfred. That would only be the case if I had any intention of going back to him. I’ll say it a million times if it takes. I only want you.”
“Then you need to go back and tell him that.”
“If I go back, they won’t let me return.”
“And who are they? Are you a part of some government organization? Do they have you on some leash?”
“I am a part of an organization, but I wouldn’t say they keep me on a leash. I’m not full-time. I opted out of that.”
“Bloody hell, Sakura. Who are you?”
Sakura chuckled darkly and muttered under her breath, “Time’s captive.”
“But, Thomas they're ridiculous.”
“It’s not our business.”
“But they’re so unhappy.”
“And sometimes that’s just the course of things, dear.”
Martha scowled at Thomas. “We should all go out to dinner.”
“But Thomas, loooovvvvvee.”
Thomas sighed. He loved this woman so much. He shouldn’t fall under the spell of her pretty blue eyes as he was wont to do.
“Come with us; it’ll be fun.”
“With all due respect, sir, no.”
“Maybe if the two of you had a mediator—“
“It is none of your business, sir.”
Thomas sighed. “Neither Martha nor I enjoy seeing you unhappy. Can’t you see you’re going to lose her, man?”
Alfred paused before saying, “I never had her in the first place.”
Sakura found herself forcibly dragged out of the kitchen by her hair. It sparked a lot of laughter among her compatriots, but Sakura endured it. She was surprised the Wayne Mistress lasted as long as she had. Her and Alfred had been on the outs for weeks.
When they were finally alone, Martha shouted, “Just tell him you’re not from this world!”
Sakura’s mouth dropped open then it snapped shut when she realized whose mother she was dealing with. Of course, she had deduced some of her secrets even if it was only through the sheer power of her nosiness. It was something Bruce had in common with her. The things that man had dug up on members of the League….
“I kind of am, from this world.”
Martha placed her hands on her hips.
“Sakura whatever your last name is, it’s time you explain yourself.”
“Subaku. My name is Sakura Subaku.”
Sakura was tired of fighting it. She collapsed into a nearby chair, forgetting the protocol that Alfred insisted on and threw her head back. “I’m a time-traveling, dimension-hopping, fountain of youth finding ninja.”
Martha tapped her chin briefly before going, “Huh, I would’ve thought you were an alien.”
Sakura snorted. “No, that’s my friend.”
“And did you lie to me about how you and Alfred met?”
Sakura smiled a little brokenly. “No. I tried to pick his pocket. It just didn’t happen in the past. It happened in the future.”
Martha rolled her eyes. “I need a drink.”
“That can be arranged.”
Thomas and Alfred peeked in at the two women who were currently having an alcohol-fueled man-bashing conversation. He looked at Alfred and said, “This is your fault. I told you we should have just taken them to dinner. I’m disappearing tomorrow morning and leaving you with both of them.”
Thomas was not a man to make idle threats. He did disappear the next day because of ‘work.’
Later, after both women had seemingly fallen unconscious, both men returned and carried the women to bed. Alfred jostled Sakura a bit, causing her to open her eyes and peer at him blearily.
“Sleep, Sakura. We’ll talk in the morning.”
“No. You’ll no doubt regret your endeavors this night and wish not to speak at all, but I’ll be there when you’re ready.”
Martha woke up in the middle of the night, remembering Sakura’s words.
“Holy shit, Tommy, she knows our son!”
“Go back to sleep, Martha.”
Sakura was well aware that she made poor life choices. She raised a chakra laced hand to burn some of the alcohol off her liver when a voice cleared their throat.
“And what, precisely, does that do?”
Sakura snapped her head to the side and instantly regretted it. She cradled her head in her hands. “What are you—“ She stopped the question because she remembered his words from the previous night. He’d be waiting for her. He said they’d talk.
Sakura felt a glass of water pushed into her hands as well as some aspirin. Gratefully, Sakura took the offering.
“Are you human?”
Sakura sighed. “The consensus is yes.”
“The con…” Alfred shook his head.
“Clark, my friend that you met, he’s not human. My makeup is very similar to people on Earth. Bruce and I discovered that after several tests.”
“Wayne.” Sakura finished. “I run the Wayne Household in the future.”
“And you met me in this future?”
Sakura reached out and opened a drawer near her bed and pulled out an object. She looked at it briefly before she handed it to him.
Alfred looked down at the ring in shock. “We were married?” Sakura’s face crumbled at the question.
Carefully, with no inflection in her tone, she corrected, “Engaged.”
“And you still carry the ring with you—even through time.” Sakura glanced at the ring that to this day, she still thought was one of the most beautiful pieces of jewelry that she had ever seen.
“Alfred, the only reason I’m not wearing it now is that it would give people the wrong idea.”
“So even when you were with…”
“He knew you and how much you meant to me. He cared for you too. I sometimes think your death drove us together—not that I don’t care for him. It’s just that I when I lost you it wasn’t a good time Alfred. I’m not proud of my behavior. You would have been ashamed.”
“It was the young Master, wasn’t it? That you moved on with.”
Sakura nodded. Alfred sighed. “How did you end up out of time?”
Sakura scowled and afterward came a rant about Boy Scout aliens who don’t listen. Who foolishly brought his problems to Gotham when they had told him time and again to stay the fuck out.
Despite the subject matter, Sakura could tell that he was amused by her righteous indignation. He said nothing when she took the ring and slid it where it belonged.
“Alright, then, tell me about this bloke you moved on with after I died.”
Sakura curled on her side and looked at Alfred. “He’s a lot like you.”
Alfred snorted. “You expect me to think that a child of the Wayne’s is anything like me?”
“Well, he is your son.”
It was Alfred’s turn to laugh. “I’ve been around the block a time or two, but I’ve never been around that block if you get my meaning.”
Sakura did, and she couldn’t stop the giggles that escaped her.
“You know that’s not what I meant.”
“You raised him.” Sakura let that sink in.
“Sakura, are you saying…”
“That the Wayne’s died before he reached his maturity. You raised him. You helped him become a great man.” Sakura chuckled. “In fact, I think my companions are more afraid of the man you were than of Ba—Bruce himself.”
“Why? I’m an ordinary man. I imagine Bruce is too.” Sakura rolled her eyes and didn’t bother trying to argue the point. “So, I imagine you mean to change it—the future that is.”
“I want to. I don’t know if I should, Alfie.”
“Why wouldn’t you?”
Sakura’s answer was prompt. “Because the world needs the man that Bruce becomes. There are things that are coming. We won’t be able to survive them without that man.”
“Surely others would step up to the plate.”
“If that were the case, they would have joined us already.” Sakura shook her head. “Alfie, Bruce is one of a kind. I’m afraid that if I change this one thing that makes him what we need him to be, then, it will be a world-ending catastrophe.”
“One of a kind? And you’re sure you want to throw your lot in with me, instead?” Sakura had the insane urge to smack Alfred. It wasn’t one that she’d ever had before, and she didn’t know what to do with it. “Riled your temper, didn’t I? You know, I have to ask. This thing between us, Sakura, it isn’t guaranteed. Just because some bloke in the future fell in love with you and proposed to you, doesn’t mean I will. I’m not him and if you stay I probably never will be him.”
“It’s doesn’t matter if—“
“Don’t lie to yourself. It does matter. I see how you look at me. That night we spent together it was so strong I felt it in your touch. If I don’t end up loving you the same way you love me, you’ll leave.”
“No, I won’t.”
Alfred blinked then leaned back in his chair. “Aa, you mean to stay for the boy.”
Sakura scowled. “I feel like you’re questioning my motives.”
“Because I am. You have lives in your hand, and you’re not God.”
“You’d have me walk away and do nothing?”
“I’d have you think on it a while longer and consider all the implications.”
Sakura supposed that was fair because what she had the potential to do was big.
“And what about us?”
“I’d have you think on that too.” Sakura opened her mouth. “You still care for him. You can’t tell me you don’t, Sakura.”
“I’ll always care for him, just like I’ll always care for my first husband—“
Sakura groaned. “He died too, Alfred. I loved him dearly and how I lost him is a story that I don’t want to go into.”
“Sakura, just how old are you?”
Sakura sighed. They were in for a long night. Sakura figured that she might as well start at the beginning because if they were going to try, then the right thing to do would be to lay all her cards on the table.
Martha draped herself over the side of her husband’s chair. He was holding their son, and she loved seeing him like this. Fatherhood had never suited another man as well. She took a second to coo at Bruce before she went in for the inquisition. “Have you seen them, Thomas?”
“You have a whole network of spies, and you still feel you have to resort to questioning me.”
Martha bit back a smile. “I don’t have a network of spies. I have employees who are dedicated to the happiness of Alfred Pennyworth and Sakura Subaku.”
“Spies.” Thomas shortened, and Martha snorted because he wasn’t far off the mark. She hadn’t expected the staff to take so readily to Sakura and Alfred pairing off, but they had. Martha was sure part of the reason Sakura hadn’t given up on the man was because at least half the staff were encouraging.
“Don’t you think they’d make the prettiest babies? I mean, Alfred is already damned pretty--”
“And knowing you lust after our butler makes me feel—“
“Combine that with Sakura’s genes and the children—“
“So very secure in our relationship.”
“Imagine if they had a daughter. We could marry Bruce off to her.”
“Martha, we’re not arranging marriages—especially not to their children.”
“And what is wrong with that?”
“It would put Bruce at a disadvantage. He’d be most likely to be murdered in his sleep if something were to go wrong. We only have one child, and I’d like to keep him alive and well.” Martha laughed. “You can’t tell me you don’t think of them as the murder couple. I’ve seen the things Alfred can do, and Sakura is quite scary when the opportunity arises. They’ll probably end up with some motto like ‘the family that kills together, stays together.’ So no marriages. If they have a daughter, we’re building them a house. Can’t let the children get too close.”
Martha laughed harder.
“Can they at least have a house on the property?”
“The edge of the property. That’s as close as they can get. Stop laughing Martha. I’m serious.”
There was an air that hovered over Alfred and Sakura. Some would call it an inevitability, others longing. Whatever it was, it made everyone in the Wayne household watch them with bated breath to see what would happen next.
They were no longer avoiding each other. Civil words were exchanged, and touches lingered. If the staff left them alone more often than usual, then it was easy to see why.
On one such occasion, Sakura couldn’t resist walking up to Alfred and resting her head against his spine. Alfred didn’t push her away, nor did he move.
“Sakura, this is inappropriate.”
Sakura slowly raised her arms and wrapped them around his waist. “I can show you inappropriate.”
“Did you know that once, the future version of you made love to me against that very wall?” Sakura pointed her finger straight ahead.
“I most certainly did not.”
He hadn’t, they were against a different wall in a nearby room, but she wasn’t about to tell him that.
Sakura loosened her hold on Alfred and allowed him to turn around in her arms. “You’re a menace.”
“Alfie,” Sakura began.
“But Alfie,” Sakura began again. When she saw Alfred look toward the heavens and let out a sigh, she was sure she had won, but she was wrong.
Sakura dropped her arms and took a step back.
“Okay, I’ll get back to my duties.”
Sakura would have turned away, but Alfred grabbed her quickly, pulling her into his arms and holding her tight. Sakura melted in his arms. Alfred tipped her chin up and dove in for a quick kiss. Just when it was getting interesting, Alfred pulled away and gave her a stern look. “Back to work, Sakura.”
“Yes, Alfie.” With a grin and a bounce in her step, she ignored the put upon sigh that Alfred let out.
Martha could admit that maybe she was a little too invested in Alfred and Sakura’s relationship.
“You are Martha. You definitely are.” Thomas stated.
“I’m still giving all of the staff the day off tomorrow—paid.”
Thomas blinked at her blankly. “But how are we supposed to eat?”
A woman with a normal husband would have expected a complaint about paying the staff for a day of work not done. But Martha had chosen differently.
Alfred had learned that a locked door was not going to stop Sakura if she wanted to get in. So he stopped locking his. He looked up from the book he was reading as Sakura marched into his inner rooms and perched on his lap.
“Are we staying in, or are we going out?” She demanded. Alfred sat his book aside and wrapped his arms around Sakura, pulling her closer.
“Sakura, have you decided—“
“Nope. We’re not doing that tonight. We don’t have to work tomorrow. We have time to spend together, Alfred so let me have it. Tomorrow, we can remember everything that’s between us. Can I just…have you for a little while?”
“Alright,” Alfred gave Sakura a gentle shove. “Go get dressed. We’re going dancing.”
Sakura squealed and ran out of Alfred’s room. She didn’t hear Alfred amused laugh in her haste to get dressed before he changed his mind.
Alfred supposed that the older version of himself hadn’t taken her dancing often. The thought made him sad. Sakura should always dance.
They returned home right before dawn. Sakura’s cheeks were flushed, and she twirled around in delight on a natural high.
“You’re lovely.” Alfred couldn’t help but blurt. She beamed at him in her pretty red dress and matching shoes. She closed the distance between and said, “I adore you.”
She danced away from before he could grab her, laughing at his irritation.
“You’ve got to catch me, Alfie, if you want me.”
“You’re a minx.”
Sakura stretched her arms over her head teasingly.
“You love it.”
Alfred darted forward, and Sakura shrieked and started to run. Alfred snatched her mid-run and pulled her close. The sky was beginning to brighten, and Alfred would never know what possessed him to do it, but he said, “Stay. Stay with me. Don’t return. I don’t care about any of it. The future me, your other beau. Just stay.”
“Do you mean it?”
The words were whispered, and he could see the fear in her eyes. Doubt that he would change his mind any minute and cast her aside.
“More than I’ve meant anything before in my life. I love you, Sakura Subaku.”
A tear fell from her eyes and splashed against her cheek. He cupped her face in his hand and brushed it away.
“Are you sure? Because once you’ve got me Alfred Pennyworth, there’s no giving me back.”
Alfred laughed. “I’d be a fool if I ever wanted to.”
She kissed him and pulled him inside.
They sleep for a while during the day and when they awakened Sakura moved her belongings into Alfred’s room. No one said anything to Sakura and Alfred about it, but Sakura heard lots of cheering. She also heard a rumor that Martha broke out several costly bottles of champagne.
After she had moved that evening, Sakura curled up in Alfred’s lap while he read aloud to her. It became a thing that they did every night before bed. It was Sakura’s favorite time of the day.
Sakura was preparing for bed when she noticed Alfred studying her carefully. “Anything wrong?” She murmured, and she got closer to him. He took her hand and looked at her fingers. The engagement ring still rested on her finger where it belonged.
“I want to get you another one.”
“What’s wrong with this one? Wait—Alfred, are you asking me to marry you?”
Alfred looked at her sideways. “Not yet.”
Sakura grinned. “But you’re going to do it soon. Well, my answer is yes.”
“You can’t say yes. It takes the suspense out of things.”
“Alright, when you ask I’ll say no before I say yes.”
Sakura giggled. “Why do I need a new ring, anyway? This one is perfect.”
“Because I didn’t pick it.”
“Yes, you did.”
“No. I didn’t.”
Sakura narrowed her eyes at the stubborn look on Alfred’s face. “Alfred, you wouldn’t, by any chance, be jealous…of yourself?”
“Don’t be ridiculous,” Alfred said as he slipped her ring off her finger. Sakura laughed.
“Give me my ring back, Alfie!”
“I don’t want you wearing an engagement ring some other man gave you.”
“You are that other man! And you have impeccable taste.”
“If I have such impeccable taste then you’ll have no problem wearing a ring that I buy you.”
Sakura gasped. “Oh my god! You are so jealous!”
“I am not.” He sounded petulant, and Sakura couldn’t help but relent.
“Okay, Alfie. You can have the ring. I’ll eagerly await the day when you replace it with one of your ‘own,’ but hopefully, that will be soon. Hint. Hint.”
Alfred gave her a small smile. “Very soon.”
Alfred was humming. He could hear the staff giggling, but it only made him smile because he was happy. Happier than he could ever recall being. That is until one of the maid’s crashed into the room, knocking over a table and a priceless vase in the process. Thankfully, the vase didn’t break, but he still had to scold the girl for running.
“Mr. Pennyworth!” She yelled, talking over him. “Sakura’s in trouble!”
Alfred, with no hesitation, demanded harshly. “Where is she?”
Alfred didn’t remember starting to run. He didn’t remember running past Martha and having her ask him what was wrong. He didn’t recall her tossing her heels aside and running with him.
When he made it to the gardens, he heard Sakura say sharply, “No!”
And then the man, Clark, picked her up in his arms. He watched Sakura struggle in vain to get away from him. “Let me go!”
“Stop!” Alfred called out, and Sakura turned her head and met his gaze. He could see clearly her eyes fill with tears.
“Alfie!” She called out and reached out a hand to him before she disappeared.
Sakura was in the gardens in the Clark returned. It wasn’t that she hadn’t expected him to come back. It was just that he was the furthest thing from her mind. Alfred had heavily implied that a proposal was in her future and she was practically dancing through life. When he appeared, she jumped and automatically took a step back. Then she berated herself because it looked like she was afraid of him.
“Sakura, it’s time to go.”
Sakura shook her head. “Clark, I told you, I’m not going back.”
“Yeah, but I thought that was because you had some mission or something. You can’t stay. You know you can’t. You’ll change history.” Sakura didn’t say anything. “No, Sakura that’s what your plan is? You can’t do this. It’s wrong.”
“Why is it wrong, Clark? Because it’s not something you would do?”
“We need him. You know that. I’m sorry, Sakura but I’m going to have to take you back.”
“Clark, you don’t understand what’s going on here.”
“I understand enough.”
Clark stepped forward and grabbed her arm. “No!” Sakura began to struggle in earnest when Clark picked her up. “Damn you, Clark Kent let me go!”
Sakura was going to punch him. She was prepared to do just that when she heard Alfred’s voice.
“Stop!” Turning and looking for him was automatic for Sakura, but she wasn’t prepared for the naked fear on his face. It brought tears to her eyes because she knew that she was about to lose him again. She didn’t think she could bear it, living without him. She suddenly felt like she had wasted so much time. Everything that they could have done together…she should have cherished every moment more than she had.
The last thing she saw was her Pennyworth crumpling to the ground.
When Sakura made it back to the Watchtower, Bruce took one look at her face and knew something was very wrong. Clark had just sat her own the ground, and she stood stock still seemingly unaware of the celebration for her return that was going on around her.
Then he saw a look on Sakura’s face that he hadn’t seen since she’d taken the Joker. It twisted with a rage so ugly that it was frightening.
“Everybody leave!” Bruce shouted effectively quieting the room. He could see some frowns and people started moving cautiously to the door. “Now!” He roared.
Most people picked up their pace, but Clark, who was closest to Sakura, reached out to touch her. What happened next was so swift that Bruce couldn’t see it, but it would take an idiot not to realize that Sakura came to him, disabled the traps on his utility belt, grabbed his Kryptonite, and punched Superman so hard he flew through several walls.
Everyone who hadn’t left at that point made a valiant effort to go then. Wonder Woman, though, paused, silently asking if needed assistance. Bruce waved her off. He was pretty sure he could talk Sakura down.
Clark picked himself up and looked at Sakura incredulously. Sakura extended a finger in his direction.
“If I ever see your face again, I will not hesitate to make sure that I put you six feet under. And there will be no coming back. I’ll make sure of it.”
Clark looked at Bruce, who said, “Go.”
A cool breeze indicated his departure.
Sakura stood and breathed heavily, staring out at nothing until, for some reason, she looked down at her hand. Bruce’s heart started beating rapidly. The ring was gone. Sakura realized it at the same time, and she made a move. Bruce knew it was to go after Clark and finish what she started, but he intercepted her. Why was the ring gone? Sakura never left it behind.
He pulled off his cowl showing his face, and Sakura’s eyes snapped to his. What he saw was unpleasant to behold. She was broken, utterly destroyed, and he hurt because she was hurting and he didn’t know how to help her.
Bruce held out his hand to her; there was only one thing he knew to try.
“Let’s go home, Sakura. You can come to bed with me. I’ve been waiting for you forever.” Sakura let out a shuddering breath but didn’t take his hand. “Dick is waiting for you, too.”
That reached her, and she nodded and took a halting step forward before she collapsed.
Bruce pinched the bridge of his nose. “You didn’t think to tell me that when she went back in time, she was living with my parents?”
“It didn’t seem that important. I just wanted to bring Sakura back. When she said she didn’t want to return, I couldn’t let her stay and alter the timeline.”
Sakura had never returned his Kryptonite, and now he knew why.
They were in the cave. Sakura hadn’t come down here since her return. She hadn’t stayed in his bed either. With the new information, that wasn’t surprising. It also wasn’t surprising that she moved back into Alfred’s rooms.
Bruce opened a drawer at his desk and pulled out a picture and handed it to Clark.
Clark frowned down at the picture. It was a picture of a stoic older man and a slightly younger Sakura with her arms wrapped around him smiling broadly. The face looked familiar, but he didn’t know why.
“Who is this?”
“That was Sakura’s old fiancé.” Bruce paused. “That’s Alfred.”
Clark paled. “The Alfred?” Bruce didn’t reply. “She was engaged to Alfred. The man who…”
“Shaped who I am? Yes.” Bruce ran a hand over his face. “Have you heard of the Joker?”
“Everyone’s heard of the Joker, Bruce, but he hasn’t been a problem in years.”
“And do you know why?”
“I just assumed he started taking well to reformation.”
Bruce chuckled mirthlessly.
“Then that’s a stupid assumption. The Joker killed Alfred and then Sakura happened.”
The air was heavy with the implication of his words, but Clark denied them. “Bruce, we know Sakura. She wouldn’t hurt—“
“No. I know Sakura. You don’t know her at all. You don’t know how bad things got after she lost Alfred. You don’t know what it took to pull her back, and with a single act, you have undone everything that I’ve tried to do for her! Did you even talk to her? Did you ask her what she planned to do? Did you even wonder why she struggled in your arms when you dragged her away? Did nothing seem off to you? ”
“You love her,” Clark said as if that excused his actions as if he had been trying to help Bruce all along.
“Yes, damn you. I do. But I love Sakura enough to let her go! I’m not stupid enough to believe that I’m ever getting her back now. You should believe her when she says that she’ll kill you if she sees you again and you should pray that if Sakura does see you that all she does is kill you because the Joker didn’t get off that easily. Why should you? Don’t come back here. I don’t know if I have it in me to stop her if she tries.”
The story title comes from this chapter.
Dick was in bed, and Bruce opted not to go on patrol that night. Sakura, whether she said it or not, needed him to stay close to home. She had been home for two months, and Bruce had yet to see her step outside once. She looked out the window, though, always lost in thought.
He joined her, standing at her side, waiting to see if she would initiate conversation because there had not been a lot of that between them since she came back.
Sakura turned and looked at Bruce. “Don’t you care?”
“I do.” But there was nothing that he could do to change what happened. She was here now, and Alfred was gone. Sakura turned away from him and resumed staring out the window. “Did you make him happy while you there? Was he…” Bruce didn’t know what he was trying to ask.
“I tried. Every day I did my best. It wasn’t enough.” Sakura let out a frustrated noise. “I wasn’t going to come back. He asked me to stay, Bruce. You know how he is. Alfred doesn’t ask for anything.”
“That’s not true. He asked for your hand.”
Sakura laughed bitterly and raised her hand. “His ring is gone. I lost it, left it behind. I lost the only piece of him I had left. I’m so angry, Bruce. I’m angry all the time.” Sakura took a deep breath. “Do you want me to leave?”
“Should I do it anyway?”
“I don’t know, Sakura. Being here with all these memories haunting you, it can’t be good. But Dick loves you. I don’t think he’d take your departure well.”
“Bruce, you’re skipping over yourself. Would it be better for you if I left?”
“I don’t have an answer to that question.”
“Because you won’t know until I’m gone.” Sakura bit her bottom lip until she drew blood. “I’m sorry, Bruce. What I did wasn’t fair to you.”
“Don’t do that, Sakura. I understand.”
“Just because you understand doesn’t make it right. So, I’ll go.”
It wasn’t better for Bruce with Sakura gone.
In the past:
Two years had passed since Martha Wayne had watched Sakura Subaku vanish into thin air. She observed the first year as Alfred waited and hoped that she would return. She had hoped with him that the plucky maid would make her way back.
She watched as that hope faded from his eyes in year two.
Sakura looked down at Bruce on her hip and said, “Well, love, it looks like you’re our only hope. Are you going to help Mommy match make? Yes, you are, because you’re a good boy and my favorite son in the whole wide world 🌎.”
Bruce grinned up at her, and Martha kissed his cheek.
Thomas had just entered the room as she uttered those words and looked at her suspiciously. “Martha, whatever it is that you’re planning just don’t do it!”
“Thomas Wayne this is my house! I’ll do what I want!”
Thomas sighed exaggeratedly, and Bruce laughed.
It was six o’ clock in the evening when Brue got a phone call. He was just about to leave on patrol and considered not answering but at the last minute gave in when he recognized the number.
“You’re going to want to make your way to WE.”
“Really, Lucius? This isn’t something you can handle?”
“No, and I don’t think you want me to handle it either so get over here.” The line went dead, and Bruce swallowed down his irritation and went back upstairs to change into something that befitted Bruce Wayne.
When Dick saw him come back upstairs, he said, “I thought you were going on patrol.”
“Me, too. I’m headed over the WE. You’ll be okay?”
“Yeah, Mom’s here so…” Dick shrugged, and Bruce paused. He hadn’t known that Sakura was there, but he supposed that was the point.
“Make sure you finish your homework. Remember, no patrol until you pick your grades up.”
“Yeah, yeah, Dad. I got it.”
Bruce's lips quirked a little before he headed to his room for a quick change.
When he made it to WE, it was to hear the man arguing loudly with a woman with fire in her eyes. She was a tall woman whose flaming red hair fell to the middle of her back. Her cheekbones were high, and her lips were full and luscious. And don’t get him started on her curves. “My family has been entrusted with this letter for years and if you think I’m just going to hand it to you, Mr. Fox, then you’ve got another thing coming. I demand to see Bruce Wayne now!”
“Ask, and you shall receive,” Bruce said, stepping forward. The woman whirled around startled by his presence momentarily before she straightened.
“Mr. Wayne I apologize for interrupting your evening, but in my defense, I have been trying to reach you since dawn.” The woman turned and looked at Lucius, who threw his hands in the air.
“You deal with her; I’m done.” Lucius walked away before Bruce could stop him. Internally, he sighed.
“How can I help you, Ms…?”
“Leaven. Look, Mr. Wayne, I know this is odd, but I have something that belongs to you. After your parents died, we thought it was of the utmost importance that we give it to you at the time that it was requested.”
“What is it?” Bruce asked as she extended a sealed envelope in his direction.
“I’d love for you to tell me that, but that isn’t my business. Have a good evening, Mr. Wayne.” Ms. Leaven whirled on her heels and marched away, not once looking back.
Bruce looked down at the envelope in his hand and considered not opening it, but the woman’s words perplexed him. Her family had the letter since before his parents died?
Bruce opened it.
I hope you’re alive and well as it was a tricky thing coming up with the correct timing for this letter. Sakura only gave the barest hints of information regarding you and when the two of you met.
Bruce’s heart started to race.
Still, today is as good of a guess as any. As of now, it has been two years since we lost Sakura Subaku to time itself. I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that we died sometime before you met her because I can assure you Bruce, my favorite son, that if I had been living things would have been a lot different.
She broke your heart, didn’t she?
I’m sorry about that. The last thing a mother ever wants for her son is for him to hurt. She spoke of you fondly while she was here. She told me about the great man that you become. And I hate to do this, but I’m going to have to appeal to that man.
Send her back.
You and I both know that she does not belong there with you. Her heart is here with our Alfred. It’s where she belongs.
Now, I know sending her back will change a few things. It’s probably a significant concern of the people of your time. But who’s to say it won’t be a change for the better? Sakura’s a smart cookie, and I’m nothing to laugh at either. Have faith in us to do what is right. I have a feeling that the world believes in you. You’re my son. They should. Know that we will plot, plan, and strategize the hell out of the future if you lend a hand.
Alfred, he’s no good without her, and I’m sure you can see she’s no good without him. Have you heard that saying about time, Bruce? Let me tell it to you.
Time is free, but it’s priceless
You can’t own it, but you can use it
You can’t keep it, but you can spend it
Once you’ve lost it, you can never get it back.
It’s a bunch of bull shit, isn’t it Bruce? Because now, we both know that time can be bested. They’ve already lost twice. Can’t we give them a third chance? Because three, it’s the charm, isn’t it?
Do you want to be the thing that keeps them apart? If so, then do what you must. I’ll love you anyway forever and ever and ever. Till the end of time and back.
Oh, and Bruce if you would be a dear and…
As Bruce dropped to his knees and cried, he had never been so glad and so angry to be alone.
Clark woke up knowing he wasn’t alone. He tensed until he saw who was hidden in the shadows.
“Damn it, Bruce.” He wasn’t in cape and cowl, and Clark sat up slowly wondering what the problem was. “What’s going on?”
“I need,” He hesitated, almost choked on the words, “to talk to someone.”
Clark stood and swiftly dressed.
“You want some coffee?”
Bruce shook his head as Clark lead him back into his living room. Clark turned on a lamp and sat down across from Batman.
“What’s going on Bruce? You don’t normally come to Metropolis—not to see me that is. And with everything that happened…”
“Sakura left me.”
Clark shifted awkwardly in his chair. “I’m sorry to hear that, Bruce.”
Clark wasn’t sure Bruce heard his words. “A Ms. Leaven came to see me—“
“You know Ms. Leaven?”
Bruce blinked. “You do?”
Clark raised his hand and scratched the back of his head. “She has a serious aversion to Lois…and occasionally Diana. I don’t know why, though.”
Bruce frowned and filed the information away for later. “She brought me a letter from my mother. She said her family had been holding onto it for a while. My mother wrote it two years after Sakura left there.”
“Okay.” Clark began having no idea where the conversation was going.
“She asked me to send Sakura back.”
Clark stood and shook his head. “Bruce, you know how I feel about this.”
“I do. That’s why I’m here. I need to know if I’m biased. If I want to do this because it’s something my mother asked me to do. Because it’s a form of contact from her that I never thought I’d get.”
Bruce pulled out an envelope and passed it to Clark. “Read it.”
Clark read the letter three times before he raised his head. “She asked you to break my knees.”
Bruce’s lips twitched. “Well, I didn’t. We could consider it an exchange.”
“She asked that you make it as painful for me a possible.”
“She describes in detail how you should do it.”
“Bruce, this shit could work. Your mother is a sadist.”
Bruce is silent as he lets Clark think about what he just said. “Bruce, I’m sorry. I don’t mean to speak ill of the dead, of your mother, but this is a little much to throw on me.”
“Then I’ll ask you plainly. Do we give Alfred and Sakura a third chance?”
The slight fear and indignation on Clark’s face melted away. “You know I never meant to hurt her.”
“I know that, and I’m sure that deep down she knows that too. It’s why you aren’t dead, after all. She has access to Kryptonite, and she knows where you live.”
Clark looked down at the ground. “Let her go.”
“And is this your guilt talking or do you think she should go?”
“Both maybe? I don’t know. If I lost the person I loved and got a second chance with them, and it was taken away from me…forcibly…I don’t know what I would do.”
“Using the machine to send her back requires two senior members of the League. Are you sure, Clark? Cause I haven’t spoken to her about this yet, but once I do...”
“Yeah, I am sure. Whenever you’re ready, we’ll do it.”
The shift in the wind made Sakura turn her head to left. She was having dinner in a restaurant, and the last thing she expected was to be joined by someone.
“You’re a long way from home.” Bruce sat down and joined her.
Sakura gestured to her food because she had more than enough for two. “Eat. You look half dead.”
“That’s because you made me chase you around the world. I didn’t expect you to be in Japan.”
“I like it here,” Bruce said nothing to that and instead did as she bade and ate. “Is Dick alright?”
“He misses you, but he knew where you were and when you’d be back.”
“I love him, Bruce.”
“So why are you here? I know this isn’t a courtesy visit.”
“I have to ask you a question, but I don’t want to.”
Sakura studied Bruce’s face. “I’m not going anywhere. It can wait.”
Bruce nodded, and they finished their meal in silence.
Bruce walked with Sakura back to her hotel. Sakura kept throwing glances his way, expecting him to say something. She suspected that he wanted to send her on a mission and didn’t think she’d be willing to go. She would. It would keep her from thinking about things she shouldn’t.
When he stopped without going inside with her, she smiled softly, “Come on up, Bruce.”
She slipped out of her shoes immediately upon entering her suite, and Bruce followed suit. She was about to get settled in a nearby chair when he said, “I want you to come home.” Sakura forced herself not to stiffen. “I got Clark to agree. We’re going to send you back.”
“What? Back? Bruce, please, tell me what you’re talking about.” Bruce passed Sakura an envelope. “What is this?”
“Read it.” Wordlessly, Sakura pulled out a familiar sheet of stationary and let her eyes read the words. Her eyes blurred by the end. “But before I send you back, will you tell me about them? I don’t…the older I get the less I remember. If it isn’t too much? Will you tell me about my parents?”
Sakura stepped forward as tears streamed her cheeks and laid a gentle hand on Bruce’s arm. “Bruce, Martha Wayne was the nosiest, smartest, most meddling busybody that I have ever met. And I think you’re the only person who could ever understand just how much I miss her. And I have never seen a man more wrapped around a woman’s finger than Thomas Wayne.”
Bruce snorted. “I have.” Sakura looked at him blankly, and Bruce laughed outright.
At the end Bruce was talking about himself.
Dick wasn’t stupid. He knew things between his parents had become rather sketchy after her travel through time. He hadn’t asked too many questions about it, probably because he was afraid to hear what they’d have to say.
So he was surprised when he came home from school on a Friday afternoon to find his Mom in the kitchen preparing a meal for all three of them. He was doubly surprised to find his Dad in the kitchen with her talking amicably.
“Hey,” He offered, and both of them turned to him and smiled.
“Hey sweetie,” his mom said and gave him a kiss on the forehead.
She just laughed at him and told him to wash and get changed for dinner. He did just that, but a tension settled in his shoulders that he didn’t understand.
Dinner was pleasant. There were no arguments, no tears, it was almost perfect. There was even dessert—lemon meringue pie. He should have known that there were shoes to be dropped.
They had moved to the parlor. His mom was curled up in a chair and slowly savoring her pie. His dad had opted for coffee—black as sin because he was going on patrol later that night. In fact, they all were, which was a first in a long time.
“Dick,” His mom began. “I have to ask you a question, and I need you to be honest.”
Dick froze. They knew. How did they know? Why did he have to have parents with eyes and ears everywhere? He wondered if all children of superheroes had to suffer like this.
“It was only once!” He blurted.
His mom and dad shared a look. His dad leaned forward, resting his forearms on his thighs and interlaced his hands together. “Continue.”
Inwardly, Dick groaned. “I just wanted him to stop bullying her. She’s a really nice girl, and she didn’t deserve it.”
His mom sighed. “Dick, Robin is not to be used to stop bullies at your school. It would only take a person with a modicum of common sense to figure out it’s you.”
“I know. I won’t do it again.”
“See that you don’t.” His mom said sternly. “Now, for what we really brought you in here for,” That time Dick groaned out loud realizing he had outed himself. “I need you to tell me everything you remember about the day of your parent’s death.”
A pang went through Dick’s chest at the question and a surge of anger that he hadn’t felt in a long time returned. “Why? We solved that case. We know who did it and why.”
Again his parents exchanged a look.
His mom rose to her feet and laid a hand on his shoulder. “Dick, if you had to choose, would you prefer a life with Bruce and I or one with your parents?”
“Why are you asking me this? You can’t just say things like that.” Dick shrugged off her hand and rose to his feet.
“No. I’m going to bed. I don’t want to talk anymore.”
Dick darted out of the room before either of them could call him back. He started to run to his bedroom, but he paused and went back to listen in on his parents because he knew more had to be going than what they were willing to tell him.
“The longer we wait, the more likely Clark is to change his mind. We have to do it soon.”
“Then I’ll have to take that chance. He’s my son. I want what’s best for him. Had I just stayed I would have made the decision on my own and hoped for the best. But if I don’t have to…”
“He’s a child.” His father said patiently.
“No, he’s not. He stopped being a child the moment he put on the costume.” He heard his mother chuckle darkly. “Actually, that probably happened when he witnessed his parent’s death. Didn’t you feel like you lost your childhood when the same happened to you?”
The room fell silent.
“We’ve done what we could to give him back a normal childhood.”
His mother laughed. “No, we didn’t. We made him one of us, and he assimilated all too well. I can’t just—he has options now, and if he never wants to be a part of this life again then it’s his choice. I have to give him the time to make it.”
“And if Clark changes his mind?”
“Dick comes first. I won’t regret that.”
Dick was shocked. His mother wanted to go back in time and save his parents. He didn’t know what to think about that. It was true he missed his parents, but he loved Bruce and Sakura. The thought of losing them didn’t sit well with him. They were his family.
They didn’t pressure him into talking about it again anytime soon, but Dick knew that they had a window of opportunity and it wasn’t large. He had to speak to them.
His mom hadn’t left again. She stayed in the Manor, but he knew that she and Bruce weren’t together. For some reason, she stayed in servant’s quarters. When he knew he could wait no longer he went to her room and knocked on the door.
She opened it, and he could tell she was surprised to see him, but she stepped aside and let him in drawing him into the inner rooms.
“I don’t want to forget you. I don’t want to forget Bruce.”
Her eyes immediately softened. “You know what I mean to do.”
Dick nodded. “If you go back and I stay with my parents, everything will change. I don’t want to lose either of you.”
She nodded. “Alright, then if you’re okay with it this is what I’ll try to do—“
Sakura said her goodbyes to Dick at the Manor. She didn’t want him to see her cry and if he was one of the last things she saw before she went back to Alfred, then that’s precisely what would happen.
She told him repeatedly how much she loved him and would miss him, and she showered him with kisses that he only tolerated because he knew what was to come.
Bruce stood nearby, watching them both with an expression on his face that she didn’t understand and didn’t try to. She had a feeling that it would spark those tears that she had been fighting.
When they made it to the Watchtower Clark was there, and she felt Bruce lay a heavy hand on her shoulder. She raised her hand and looked up at Bruce and said, “I’ll behave.”
“Where’s the Kryptonite, Sakura?”
Sakura just smiled.
Bruce sighed. “Don’t kill him as a baby.”
They both heard Clark let out a distressed noise but ignored him. For Sakura’s trip back to the past this time she came prepared. She had a bag packed with the things that she had arrived with from Konoha. Papers of plans that Bruce had drawn up that he had forced her to memorize because he didn’t know if they’d survive the trip. She also brought a few articles of clothing because they had told her they wouldn’t be able to send her back from the time she was taken.
“I wouldn’t do that.”
“Don’t kill him as a child either.”
“Sometimes you just suck the joy out of life.”
Sakura then wrapped her arms around him and rested her head against his chest. “I love you, you know that? This isn’t because you aren’t enough.”
“I know, Sakura.” He leaned down and rested his forehead against hers and closed his eyes. “Be happy.”
“I will.” She whispered.
“And don’t get lost in time again.”
“I won’t. I think if I did it again, Alfred would find me and kill me.” They both chuckled, and Sakura was the one to pull away first. “I’m ready.”
She turned and looked at Clark. “Sakura, for what’s it worth, I’m sorry.”
Sakura nodded. “Don’t worry Clark. I’ll make sure you think before you act from now on.”
Clark’s eyes widened, and before he could reply Bruce hit the button that sent her back in time.
Clark turned to Bruce and said, “She was joking, right?”
“I doubt it.”
Clark dropped his head to his chest. “When will we know if she changed things?”
“I don’t know about you, but I’ll probably figure it out when my parents aren’t dead.”
Clark paused. “Is that why you didn’t ask her to stay? I know you wanted to.”
“She would’ve said no, and I didn’t want to put her in that position. Honestly, I don’t think I’m getting the short end of the stick.”
“Do you really think we’ll remember her?”
Bruce shook his head. “No. I don’t.”
Sakura Subaku walked up the long driveway to Wayne Manor heavy with apprehension. Initially, she had been excited about her impending return but…what if Alfred no longer wanted her and the trouble she brought along with her?
Sakura shook her head. She had meant what she told him. Even if she could only be his friend, she’d stay at his side. She’d take that man whatever way she could get him.
She still dragged her feet.
“Come on, Sakura,” She murmured to herself, “this is a reunion. Not an execution.”
Sakura picked up her pace.
When Sakura finally made it to the door, she halfway expected someone to be waiting there for her, but the Manor was quiet. Sakura took a deep breath and rang the bell. It was a while before the door opened and when it did he was there, staring at her stunned.
She expected some type of startled proclamation, but all she heard was her name said reverentially. Sakura barely had time to sit her bag down before he pulled her into his arms. She raised her arms and wrapped them around him, holding him tight. “I missed you, Alfie. I didn’t think I would ever see you again.”
She felt his body shudder, and he drew her inside.
Sakura pulled away and looked up at him. “Martha Wayne is a genius.”
“You bloody well better not let her hear you say that.”
“Too late!” Martha crowed, and Sakura peered around Alfred to see the Wayne family all together and approaching them swiftly. Sakura disentangled herself from Alfred and let Martha pull her in for a hug. “I have the best son in the entire world. He listens to his mother!”
Sakura chuckled. “Thank you so much, Martha. I don’t think you’ll ever know how much this means to me, but I have something for you.”
“For me? Why?”
Sakura shook her head and went to her bag and pulled something out three similar objects.
“When I came to this world, I was Sakura Subaku. Widow of the Kazekage of the Sand, Gaara Subaku. I had a home that I could in no way go back to and to be honest with Gaara gone I didn’t want to go back. However, my loyalties remained the same. If any of my people came for me I would have been honor-bound to return.”
She heard Alfred make a noise from somewhere behind her, so she turned her head and gave him a reassuring smile. She extended her hand and showed her headband. “The symbol tells everyone who sees it, where I’m from and where my loyalties lie.” Sakura produced a sharp object and put a slash through it. Her audience gasped. “I rescind my allegiance to Sand because now my loyalties lie with you, Martha Wayne, and your household.”
“Sakura—“ Martha began but Sakura kept talking.
“I will protect you and your family for as long as I live. This loyalty I will impress upon my children and my children’s children.” Tears began to stream Martha’s cheeks. Sakura looked at Alfred, who merely nodded. “Our service to you is not because of a debt owed. It is because friendship was given freely and freely accepted.”
Sakura passed her old Sand forehead protector to Alfred and gave a new one to Martha. Martha frowned down at it.
“Is that a--?”
“Bat.” Sakura supplied. “It was a symbol that Bruce used to identify himself to all those who dared do harm to the people of Gotham. It struck fear in the hearts of his enemies.” Sakura looked at the child in Thomas Wayne’s arms and smiled at him. Bruce tucked in his face in his father’s shoulder to hide. “And maybe a few friends.
I want you both to have it and know that I will always wear a similar one on my person so that everyone will identify with whom my loyalties lie-with the House of the Batman.”
“Sakura, this is too much. We don’t deserve this.”
“Prove it.” Sakura dared, and Martha sighed.
Later that evening when Alfred and Sakura were able to extricate themselves from the Wayne’s Sakura lay in bed with Alfred’s head resting against her chest. Lazily she ran her fingers through his hair.
“I’m having problems believing you’re real.” Alfred murmured. Sakura pinched him. “Ow! Sakura! I’m supposed to pinch myself.”
“You wouldn’t have done it hard enough.”
“Why’d you come back?”
“Alfie,” Sakura began.
“I’m sorry darling. I meant how. You were so certain they wouldn’t allow it. How did Martha Wayne, of all people, convince them to do it?”
“Bruce has a strong sense of right and wrong. I think somehow she knew that. Maybe because she does too. Bruce always did what he thought was right.”
“And he just let you go?”
“We weren’t together anymore, Alfie. After I returned, it was over.” Alfred raised his head and stared at her. “What? Is it that hard to believe that I love you? That I was willing to spend the rest of my life pining in want of you?” Alfred pulled away from her, rolled off the bed, and moved to his nightstand. “What are you doing?”
Sakura began to sit up only to see Alfred begin to pace back and forth. “This is all wrong. You deserve more than this, but I just can’t wait any longer.”
Alfred got down on one knee.
Sakura screamed ‘yes’ loud enough to wake several members of the household. After they realized whose voice they heard the majority chuckled to themselves and went back to bed.
Others ran to their Mistress.
“Sakura, you’ve got to let me ask the question.” He said with his arms full of his future wife.
Sakura pulled back and grinned. “Marry me, Alfred.”
“Sakura, you don’t get to steal my thunder. I’m the one down on one knee. I get to ask the questions around here.”
One more chapter, I think. Although, I've been telling myself that for the last few chapters. XD
And for those of you who don't know, I've included a picture of Sakura's Alfred. Actor Jack Bannon from Pennyworth (Left) Thomas Wayne (actor Ben Aldridge) is on the right.
Thanks, bunches for your support. And for your toleration of my story blitz.
Thomas Wayne led Alfred Pennyworth away from the parlor where his wife and Alfred’s fiancé were having a screaming match.
“How long do you think it will be before they notice we’re gone?” Alfred queried.
“I’m betting they won’t remember we were there, to begin with.”
“I can’t believe they’re having such a row over a wedding.”
Thomas just shook his head sadly at Alfred’s naiveté. “Do you care one way or the other?”
“Well, I do understand where Sakura is coming from. For her, the last time we were engaged, there was never a wedding. Going down to the courthouse and getting married immediately…well, I like the idea of her being a Pennyworth as soon as possible. Plus, she’s starting over again. All her friends are in the future, so who is there to invite?”
“She’s so very lovely in white.”
“Alfie,” Sakura said from somewhere behind him. “Why didn’t you tell me you wanted a wedding?”
Alfred scowled at Thomas who just grinned back at him. Alfred turned around slowly.
“Because I’m happy if you’re happy.”
Sakura just sighed and looked at Martha who was standing next to her triumphantly. “Fine.” She said to Martha. “But I’m not waiting any longer than a week. One week. If you can’t pull it off then too bad.”
“Don’t doubt me, Sakura. I can pull it off.”
Martha pulled it off and seeing the happiness on Alfred’s face on their wedding day made it all worth it.
Martha looked at Sakura and said, “Are you ready for this?”
“As ready as I’ll ever be.”
“Let’s go then.” Martha opened her car door and went to the back to take Bruce out of his car seat. She straightened his clothes, but Sakura rolled her eyes and picked the boy up and put him on her back, smiling when he laughed joyously.
“Sakura, you shouldn’t be carrying him. I have a good mind to tell Alfred you’re still carrying him while you’re pregnant.”
“Why are you always trying to get me in trouble?”
Martha shrugged. “I don’t know. I thought that’s what sisters did.” Sakura stopped walking and looked at Martha. “Oh, come on. You practically swore a blood oath to me when you came back. I was the matron of honor at your wedding. We’re on an adventure together to change the entire world. I think that makes us sisters.”
“Fair,” Sakura said and kept walking until they reached the door. Martha knocked.
A woman opened the door with a shrewd look in her eye.
“Hi,” Martha began. “I’m—“
“Wayne. Martha Wayne.” Sakura and Martha exchanged a look. “Don’t be so surprised. You’re hardly an unknown woman.” Sakura smirked. “Come on in and tell me what you want.”
The three of them came in, and Sakura sat Bruce on the floor. His eyes quickly landed on another little boy in the house. He turned and looked back at both of them a question in his eyes.
Martha asked, “You don’t mind if our boys play together, do you, Mrs. Kent?”
Sakura could tell that the woman was hesitant.
“It’s fine if you’d rather not. We won’t be long.”
She shook her head. “No, it’s fine. Clark, you boys, go on up to your room—and behave.” She said sternly. Clark nodded, and the boys ran off.
“Would you ladies like something to drink? I have lemonade.”
Sakura smiled. “That would be lovely.”
“Spike mine with whiskey if you have it.” Sakura looked at her Martha. “I’m joking!”
She wasn’t, but Sakura let it go. Martha Kent just shook her head at the pair of them and moved into the kitchen.
“Martha, this is important.”
“I know it’s important!”
“Fine. I’ll let you do all the talking.”
“I think that will be for the best.”
Martha returned with their lemonade and sat down across from them expectantly.
“My name is Sakura Pennyworth.” Sakura paused for a second to smile, ignoring her Martha rolling her eyes. “We’re here because we have a feeling that we all have something in common.”
Martha Kent snorted. “And what would I have in common with Martha Wayne?”
“Let’s go check on the boys,” Sakura said and stood. Martha Kent frowned but complied. They walked up the stairs and peeked into Clark’s bedroom. Clark was sitting cross-legged on the floor and looking up at the sky in amazement at Bruce who was hanging upside down from the ceiling.
Martha Kent swallowed harshly, and Martha Wayne laughed delightedly and said, “Our children are going to change the world. And as mothers, we must protect them. Don’t you agree?”
When the women returned downstairs, Martha said, “How did you find us? How did you know?”
Martha Wayne pointed at Sakura who said, “I’m a time-traveling, dimension-hopping, fountain of youth finding ninja.” Martha Kent looked at her blankly, and Sakura clarified. “I knew your son in the future. He sent me back in time.”
“I’m sorry, but I’m finding this a little hard to believe.”
“And yet,” Martha said, “You haven’t thrown us out on our ear.”
“We aren’t here to cause any trouble. We thought you should know about us because we certainly knew about you. We had hopes that our children could become friends.”
“Say I believe this nonsense you’re spouting, why would my son send you back in time in the first place?”
Martha reached out and grabbed Sakura’s arm and squeezed it tightly, but it didn’t do much good. “Well, Mrs. Kent. He did it because he’s an ass, but most of the time he means well.”
Martha Wayne groaned. “You’re never going to let it go, are you? All’s well that ends well. Remember?”
Martha Kent looked back and forth between the women and said, “You’re insane.”
“Only slightly.” Martha Wayne reassured.
There was a gust of wind that they all felt and Bruce came running by only slightly slower than Clark. He was so much better now that he had started his training at a younger age.
Sakura rested her hand on her stomach, lovingly. “But, you have to be to live our lives.”
Martha Kent sighed, “Jonathan is going to be so upset.”
Sakura grinned. “He’ll be fine once he meets my Alfred and her Thomas.”
Diana entered her office to see three women seated inside.
“I’m sorry. I don’t recall having any appointments today.”
One of the women with bright pink hair said, “You probably don’t.” She rose to her feet rather ungracefully since she was very pregnant. “Diana of Themyscira, I need your help.”
Diana shifted slightly into a battle-ready position.
“How do you know that name?”
“I know it because you told it to me.” Diana’s eyes narrowed dangerously. “Get your lasso of truth. I have no reason to lie or to make you angry.” She placed her hand on her stomach. “I have people to protect.”
Cautiously Diana moved to open her bag and pulled out her lasso. The woman held out her hands, and without hesitation, Diana wrapped her wrists with it.
“The lasso of truth compels you. Who told you the name Diana of Themyscria?”
“How are you fighting my lasso?”
“Lies. I don’t know you.”
“No, you don’t.”
Diana blinked not expecting that answer. One of the women sighed and said, “She’s a time traveler. She met you in the future, yada yada yada.”
The pregnant woman turned and said, “Really, Martha? You can’t let me have a little fun?”
“Leave the dramatics to me, Sakura. I’m better at it.”
Diana looked at the third woman who said, “Don’t ask me how I ended up stuck with them. I still don’t know.”
“Are you a time traveler?”
Diana released her and went to sit behind her desk. “What is it that you want?”
The woman named Martha leaned forward and said, “We have really super children. They’re going to change the world. But we must be able to protect our children until they can do it themselves.”
Sakura said, “And I’m very pregnant. Trying to train them is difficult, and training Wayne over there is difficult enough when I’m not pregnant. I figured an Amazon might be able to beat her into submission.”
Diana was struck speechless. When speech finally returned to her, she said, “You’ve got to be kidding me.”
It was Martha Kent who was finally able to convince Diana to train the women which flabbergasted Sakura.
Later, Diana had told Sakura that she only agreed for the momentary amusement of seeing them fail. When the Martha’s two had attacked her with everything, Sakura had trained them with thus far she had been impressed. It was why she stayed and met the boys.
Clark and Bruce apart were well mannered, well-spoken children. Clark and Bruce together were hellions. Clark delighted in the fact that Bruce was harder to break than other children. And Bruce liked that Clark could take a hit and get up fighting.
Mostly, though, they liked to play hide and seek, and the mansion was a great place to everyone’s dismay.
Diana loved the boys. She trained them as often as she did their parents. As time went by, Diana’s training made it harder to find them.
Sakura’s first child was a boy. For some reason, this delighted Thomas. If she didn’t know better, she would have thought he was discriminating against girls.
She was able to get Alfred to let her name him Grayson. It wasn’t hard. A few kisses mixed in with a couple of pretty please and the deed was done.
Bruce hadn’t been happy about the baby because it took a lot of attention away from him. Alfred and Thomas sat him down and told that they would always love him and that he’d still be important to them no matter how many children they had.
After that, he took his role as the older cousin very seriously. Sometimes, Sakura felt like he took it too seriously.
Grayson was Sakura’s pride and joy. She never expected to have children, so looking into Grayson’s big brown eyes was love at first sight. He wasn’t a fussy baby but the older he got, the more she could see bits of her personality shining through like the pale pink hair on his head. Mostly, though he looked like Alfred and Sakura was okay with that.
Martha (Wayne) expanded her network of spies to cover all of Gotham. Her people tended to keep her family symbol somewhere on their person, much like Sakura did. You never knew who they were going to be. The maid, your spouse, your best friend.
It ensured that Martha knew every dirty secret in Gotham, which was just how she liked it. It drove Thomas up the wall-especially when she started cleaning up Gotham. She made enemies, but Sakura was always there to protect her, and when she wasn’t, Martha could take care of herself.
When Martha Wayne had her second child, a girl named Bianca, Martha Kent tried to convince her husband to sell the farm and move in with the Wayne’s. She failed. Jonathan Kent was a very independent man, and he was happy in Smallville.
Instead, Sakura bought a house in Smallville. It was where they tended to spend the summers.
“Do you regret it sometimes? Coming back to me?”
It was a constant worry of Alfred’s, and Sakura knew that, but she didn’t get why.
“What is there to regret?”
“You spoke of the battles you fought, the life of danger you loved to live. We live quietly, peacefully now. I just wondered…”
Sakura started laughing.
“I made the decision to live a dangerous life to protect my village at a very young age, Alfred. I started risking my life at twelve. This is who I am Alfred.”
Alfred’s arms tightened around her. “I know. That’s why I’m afraid you won’t be content in life with me.”
Sakura raised her head and looked up into Alfred’s eyes. “Alfred, why are you being ridiculous? You risk your life for Master Wayne all the time! You’re just like us! He told me about the time you beat up that guy who came at you with a knife!” Alfred fell silent, and Sakura felt a moment of smug satisfaction. “You managed to stop me from robbing you blind—although that was mainly because you’re very sexy and distracted the hell out of me.”
Sakura grinned. Bruce had become rather willing to share Alfred stories. “And what about that time when—“
“Alfie, sweetie, you don’t think we live a peaceful life, do you?”
“Sakura you used to fight alien invasions!”
“Yeah, and last week Martha and I took down a mafia ring. I seem to recall you driving the getaway car.”
Alfred huffed. “That’s different.”
“I love you so much, Alfred.”
“Don’t be patronizing, Sakura.”
“But I do! You’re adorable when you're blind as a…bat.”
“Don’t be punny, either.”
Sakura threw her arms around his neck. “I’ll never regret you. How could I?”
“How is Clark?” Sakura held the phone to one ear and changed a diaper with another. Her second child, also a boy his name Sakura and Alfred had fought on fiercely. Alfred had wanted a proper British name. Sakura had insisted that Grayson was a proper English name—and she wasn’t naming her baby Edwin no matter what Alfred said.
“He’s asking questions about where he came from. About why he and Bruce and can do these things. He wants to know why Bruce isn’t as upset about his abilities as he is.”
Sakura sighed. “What did you tell him?”
“That Bruce’s family is nuts, and so is Bruce.”
Sakura laughed. That answer wasn’t too far off the mark. “I wish Jonathan had let you guys move to Gotham. This would be so much easier.”
“You know how Jonathan is. He loves this land and frankly, Sakura, I do too.”
“I know. I don’t want Clark to feel like he’s alone. Grayson’s already learning how to use his chakra, and it won’t be long before this little one follows suit.
“Still, no name for the baby yet?”
Sakura sighed. “Alfred is so stubborn. I don’t want to name my baby Edwin! Is that even English? Or is he making it up?”
Martha laughed. “Alfred wouldn’t do that to you. Name him Hamilton. I’ve always liked that name. I would have named Clark that if I hadn’t thought of it too late.”
“I’ll run it by Alfred and see what he says.”
“I think Clark needs to spend more time with you and the Wayne’s. I don’t want him to be scared of who he is. He has to hide it, but I don’t know how healthy it is for him to hide it all the time.”
“You know he’s always welcome. Besides, I’m sure you and Jonathan would like the alone time.”
“Speaking of how do you and Alfred manage to get that? Between you and Marty, there are four children in that household. That’s a lot.” Sakura smiled like she always did at Martha’s shortened name for Martha Wayne. It became necessary to differentiate between the two.
“We do a lot of co-parenting. Auntie Sakura and Uncle Alfred are always willing to help and vice versa. At this point, I don’t think we know how to function without each other.”
“Stay safe then; I know you guys have a lot to deal with out there but make sure you watch each other’s back.”
“We will, and if you see Diana before I do send her my love.”
When Bruce eighteen and had just graduated high school, she sent him to a man named Henri Ducard for further training. She considered sending Grayson with him but discarded the idea because Alfred thought he was too young.
Alfred also thought that Bruce was too young and should head to college, but thankfully, Martha had backed her up on that. Before the summer was halfway over, Ducard sent him back.
“Auntie Sakura, he said there wasn’t that much he could teach me. You and Diana have already taught me so much. He wanted me to come back next summer. He’d promised to have additional teachers for me then.”
Alfred had looked entirely too smug when Sakura said, “Well, I guess you better see if you can get into some college because Thomas is not going to let you waste a year.”
“Do you think he’ll let me spend the rest of the summer in Smallville?”
Sakura snorted. “Why? So you and Clark can raise hell?”
“I’m an adult now. I know how to behave.”
Martha swept into the room. “Knowing and doing are two different things, son.” She sat a stack of papers in front of him. “College applications. Start filling them out.” Bruce groaned. “And I thought you and Clark were fighting over that girl anyway. What’s her name? Larry?”
Sakura bit back an amused snort. Alfred sighed.
“She’s not worth your time.”
“You think that about every female I like.”
“That’s because you have bad taste in females, Bruce.” Sakura cleared her throat loudly. Martha just looked at Alfred pointedly. Sakura lowered her head. “If I turn my back on you for a second, you’ll sire a child on a crazy assassin’s daughter or something. You need to be more discriminating.”
“If I discriminated like you I’d die a virgin.”
“Why is this a problem?” Martha retorted.
Sakura couldn’t hold back her laughter. Neither could Alfred.
Life moved on, and suddenly Sakura was faced with a crucial task that she had been waiting decades for. She found herself sitting in the office of a man who looked so sleazy that Sakura didn’t even want to sit in his chairs.
“What do you want?”
Curt and to the point. Sakura was okay with that. It meant that she could get out faster.
“I’ve heard that you have an interest in Haly’s Circus.”
His eyes narrowed at the words and Sakura saw him shift probably to but his hand on his gun. Sakura handed him the card that was in her hand. She watched in satisfaction as his eyes widened.
“I’m sure you understand now who I represent.”
“Hey, now, I don’t mean any harm. I didn’t know the Bats had an interest in the Circus; otherwise, I wouldn’t have spoken to Haly. You guys normally stay in Gotham. It’s a legitimate mistake.”
“I’m glad to hear that, Mr. Zucco. My employer will be glad to hear that as well, but just in case you don’t understand I’ll rephrase. If anything happens to anyone in Haly’s Circus—especially any of the Flying Grayson’s we will hunt you down, and you won’t like what happens to you, and I can assure you that no one will ever find you again. Is that clear, Mr. Zucco?”
It was different than what she intended. They ran more like the mafia in Gotham than superheroes. Sakura preferred to think that they ran more like a ninja village. They didn’t go around killing people, but they maintained order and peace in Gotham, and eventually, they expanded to encompass most of the world as more and more heroes popped into place.
They didn’t dispense Justice. The Marthas were against that name. They were something more, and their purpose was something greater.
Okay, seriously this time. One more chapter.
Eighteen-year-old Dick Grayson frowned at Wayne Manor. It was only slightly different than how he remembered it, but the differences intimidated him a little. Still, that didn’t stop him from sneaking in the same way he had snuck out when he was younger.
As soon as he was on the property, a part of him expected dogs to be released on him at any second. However, there was nothing but silence. He crept forward, keeping to the shadows, exploring the Wayne Manor of his childhood. He was flabbergasted as he almost ran into someone in the gardens.
That wasn’t how he remembered things. Before it had only been—
“Excuse me, young man, but what exactly are you doing at Wayne Manor?”
Dick froze and looked at the older gentlemen that had him pinned with a steely-eyed stare.
“Uh,” He began.
He would have run if the man hadn’t reached out and grabbed him in a grip that Dick would have to hurt him to get away from. He wasn’t willing to injure an old man for trespassing. Dick closed his eyes in defeat. His parents were going to kill him. He was going to jail and if he survived that his parents were going to murder him.
“Well, speak up.”
“Um, is Sakura Subaku here?” He squeaked out, and the man’s countenance grew stormier.
“There’s no one here by that name.”
That answer made the man unhappier, but a familiar voice sounded from not far away.
“Pennyworth. It’s Sakura Pennyworth, Dick.”
Dick’s head whipped around to see an older woman with hair down to her waist. It was still pink, but a softer pink and streaked with gray. She was fit, and most of her age could be seen in her eyes, but she was still his beautiful mother.
The man released him at his question, and Sakura opened her arms. Dick couldn’t stop himself from running to her, picking her up, and swinging her around. She laughed and he was reminded of many happy days from his other childhood.
When he finally put her down the man said in a droll voice, “Only you could find a way to have a child outside of our marriage without me knowing about it.”
Sakura laughed heartily again and drew Dick closer to the man. “Dick, this is my husband, Alfred Pennyworth. Alfred, this is Dick Grayson, my son from another lifetime.”
Dick grinned and held out his hand for Alfred to shake. Alfred took it, but he could see he was eyeing his wife dubiously.
“A pleasure to meet you.”
“Pleasure’s all mine.”
Sakura linked their arms. “Come on in, Dick. I’m sure you have plenty of questions. I’m so happy that my jutsu worked.” She paused, pulled away, and looked Dick up and down. “You’re such a handsome young man. Breaking hearts yet?”
Dick blushed. “Mom!”
“And none of that Mom stuff. I’m pretty sure your real mother wouldn’t appreciate it.”
Dick frowned. He didn’t know whether or not that was true but still…
“I can’t call you by your name.” He was aware that he sounded scandalized, but Sakura didn’t care.
“I’m old enough to be your grandmother. You can call me that.”
“So is the world.” Point taken Dick shrugged. As soon as Dick was inside the house, he couldn’t stop himself from looking around. He didn’t know what he was looking for until his Nana squeezed his arm and said, “He’s not here. He’ll be back later.”
Dick glanced to the side to see the older gentleman walking very close to Sakura. Occasionally, he’d see her smile up at the man with a soft gaze that was very familiar. Dick looked away, not wanting to intrude on what was something special between the two.
Dick could tell she was leading him to the parlor but before they got there a guy who was easily six feet four with hair as pink as he remembered his mother’s…nana’s being approached them.
“Grayson, what are you doing here?”
“Bruce ditched me again.”
Dick looked at his Nana incredulously before he started grinning. “You named him, Grayson?”
“Of course, Dick. What else was I supposed to call him?”
Grayson looked back and forth between all of them and said, “Who is this?”
Sakura gestured to Dick. “This is your brother, Dick.”
Grayson slowly turned his head and looked at his father, who rolled his eyes. Dick stepped forward and held out his hand. “Richard Grayson.”
Grayson’s head snapped back to his mother. “You and your time travel!” He quickly shook Dick’s hand and stepped back. “I’m leaving before things get too weird—again. Nice to meet you, kid. I’m pretty sure I’ll see you around, but right now I have a Wayne to wrangle.”
“Don’t we all,” Alfred said dryly.
When they’re all settled, his mother turns to the man, Alfred, and said, “Dick was the first Robin.”
That. That was a thing that threw Dick for a loop once his memories had returned. There were Robins in this new world that weren’t him. Before his memory had returned he had always been fascinated when news of their existence started to spread so much so that his parents limited his time researching them as much as they could.
“Ah,” Alfred said and nodded as if finally understanding and maybe he did. Dick didn’t know. “I’ll go fetch some tea and let the two of you catch up.”
When they were alone, his Nana smiled and gestured for him to go on because he was about to burst with all the questions inside him.
“You didn’t marry Bruce?”
“Um, no. I went back a little further in time than that as you can see.” She waved a hand along her body, and Dick once again noticed her age.
“For my husband. Do you remember me telling you once that we had all lost someone we loved to a murderer?”
Dick remembered that and it was a terrible thing for three people to have in common, but that was them.
“You saved him, you saved my parents,” Dick paused. “You saved Dad’s parents too, didn’t you?”
She opened her mouth to reply, but the door to the parlor burst open, and the woman swept in taking all his attention. Her hair was gray and pulled into a bun at the back of her neck. She wore a black pants suit, and a pair of pearls were at her throat. Her heels were dangerously high and yet she walked on them as if she wore born wearing them.
“And who do we have here?”
Dick jumped to his feet. “Dick Grayson, ma’am.”
The woman looked at Sakura, who said, “My son.” Dick didn’t point out that she didn’t want him calling her mom so technically he would be her grandson, but he knew her well enough to know that would be an unfortunate and possibly painful decision.
“Ah, Zucco.” Dick held back a flinch at the name he remembered well. Sakura nodded. “I’m Martha Wayne, Bruce’s mother. I would introduce you to my husband, Thomas, but he hasn’t been well lately and is taking a nap.”
Dick nodded and sat once again after Ms. Wayne did the same.
“Go on, Dick. Ignore Martha. I do.”
Martha scowled but remained quiet. “The League.”
“It exists.” Martha supplied and said, “But it now works from the shadows for the safety of us all.”
“We also don’t call it the League.” Sakura continued. “And it started way before you were born.”
“What is it called?”
“M.A.D.K.A.W.” Dick blinked trying to work out the acronym but couldn’t.
“What does that mean?”
“Oh, only the original members know what it means. We prefer to keep it that way.” Sakura said, patting his hand gently.
Dick didn’t press because he knew he’d figure it out eventually. Plus there was one important question that was on his mind that he had to know the answer to.
“Are you happy?”
Sakura smiled. “Yes, Dick. I’m very happy.”
Dick nodded. “Thank you. So much for everything.” He saw tears spring to her eyes, and she pulled him into a tight hug.
When Bruce and Grayson returned together, all Sakura could hear was their bickering. It wasn’t anything unusual. They started bickering as soon as Grayson learned how to talk.
“I’m telling you, Bruce, she’s trouble.”
“You lack imagination if you can’t see all the ways that is a good thing.”
“I’m telling you Selina Kyle is—“
Grayson broke off when he saw they had an audience. Sakura looked at Dick, and Dick looked at Sakura.
“Selina Kyle?” Dick choked out.
Sakura sniggered. “Yes.”
“Are you going to—“
Bruce looked at them all suspiciously, which was kind of the norm for him no matter what life he lived. “Who is this?”
Sakura made introductions.
“I don’t know how I feel about him not knowing me. I don’t know how I feel about there being a Robin that isn’t me.”
“It’s okay to not know. Bruce didn’t ask the same thing of me that you did.” It was something Sakura understood. She wasn’t sure he would have been able to live happily with the shadow of what had been hanging over him. She figured he wanted peace and she wouldn’t begrudge you that. “I’m sure the two of you can get to know each other again. Bruce is actually really laid back now.”
“Does he know? About the time travel? About you?”
“Not really. Bruce knows I traveled back in time. The entire Wayne family knows that, but I didn’t really feel it was appropriate to let Bruce know what we were to each other especially since now I’m quite a bit older, and the whole concept is icky.”
“I agree,” Dick said with a laugh. Sakura waited out his laughter wishing she had a purse that she could beat him with for agreeing with her.
“Dick, are you here because you want back in? You don’t have to join MADKAW. I’m not expecting that. You’re free to live whatever life you want. You have no obligation to me, or to Robin.”
Dick looked down at the ground. “I don’t want to be Robin, but I miss the life. I miss you. I miss…”
That was enough of an explanation for her.
“Come with me.”
Neither were aware that their conversation had been overheard by Bruce.
Sakura led Dick down to the Cave. As she did so she watched his face carefully. The surprise that she saw made her smile. In that old life the only people who came to the cave were her, Bruce, and Dick—and occasionally Superman. It was their own private world. Now, it was full of life and occupied by several different superheroes, some she knew Dick recognized.
“Sakura!” Diana called out, causing Sakura to hurry down the stairs with Dick trailing closely behind her. “MM’s say that Luthor is up to something again. Should we send more out to investigate?”
“I’m not in charge anymore, Diana.”
Diana rolled her eyes. “Yes, I know, and you leave me to deal with the children. I feel like a glorified nanny.”
Sakura carefully didn’t say that was precisely what she was. Instead, she said, “This is my son, Dick. He’s thinking about becoming a part of MADKAW.”
Diana scoffed. “Sakura I know all of your children. If you think—“
“My son, from my other life.”
Diana paused and then looked carefully at Dick. “Ah, the one you grieved has finally revealed himself. Are we still going with the name Nightwing for him?”
Sakura ignored Dick’s gaze.
“The two of you can discuss that together.”
Sakura made a move to step away, but Dick grabbed her arm and whispered, “It’s Wonder Woman!”
Sakura suddenly recalled Robin’s crush and grinned.
“Yes, now run along. Diana will tell you how we operate and if it’s something you’d like to try, then feel free.”
Sakura returned upstairs to find Bruce waiting for her. Sakura titled her head and looked at him curiously. She knew Bruce now better than she ever had before. Something was on his mind.
“We were together, in your old life. We had a family.”
Sakura paled slightly. She thought about lying. It would have been easy to deny it all to push the past aside completely, but she couldn’t because it had shaped her and made her into the person she was now.
“Was I that terrible in that other world that you had to completely change everything?”
Sakura scowled. “How could you ever think something so foolish? Bruce, you know better than anyone how much I love Alfred. You know it now. You knew it in that other life. I had a chance to get him back after he died.”
“Bruce, sweetie, everyone we loved died. That’s why we’re here now.”
“Everything,” Sakura confirmed. “I admit I was selfish. I wanted a happier life for myself. But I wasn’t selfish enough to not share my happiness, Bruce. I love you. I love seeing the man you’ve become because you wanted to not out of necessity. Back then that world, it needed Batman. He was, you were, a system of checks and balances. Heroes, no matter how powerful always knew that if they stepped out of line the consequence was you.”
“I was the superhero boogieman.”
“No.” Sakura said with a fond chuckle. “you were everyone’s boogieman.”
“But now you are.”
Sakura smiled. “And I regret none of that.”
Sakura ignored the look on Alfred’s face. She knew just like she always knew that he was waiting for her to spill her guts. “Dick’s fine. Hiding how salty he is about Bruce not having his memories, but he’s fine.”
Alfred inclined his head and held out his arm. Sakura took it and allowed him to lead them to their quarters. “I sometimes forget about that life you once lived.” Lives, but Sakura didn’t correct him. “Did seeing him upset you?”
Sakura shook her head. “No. It made me happy. I wasn’t sure he would come back once he had his memories. He’s been doing well at the circus.”
“Well, you know how I feel about children joining this lifestyle.”
“If his parents don’t have something set up for him, I’ll make sure he knows he has to have an education. I’ll take care of it.”
“As well as can be expected. The doctors say he’ll recover. But they’ll expect him to get his pneumonia vaccine.”
Sakura nodded, and Alfred paused and turned to her. He reached for her arms and held them securely. Sakura looked up into his eyes and could tell he knew of her conversation with Bruce but he wasn’t going to question her on it. He had accepted the woman she had chosen to become in order to protect Bruce from a future that could have been murky. He had merely joined her and worked quietly at her side to make a brighter future.
“And now that things have come full circle, tell me Sakura Pennyworth, how did changing the future work out for you?”
Sakura reached for her husband and placed a gentle kiss on his lips. She let every once of affection she felt for the man in front of her show in her visage.
*The new Leader of MADKAW is technically Clark Kent but Martha Kent is still alive and well so when Clark's acting stupid everyone defers to her.
*Martha Wayne is only a part-time member of MADKAW. She took a step back when Thomas' health started taking a turn for the worst.
*Sakura retired completely because her first priority is to the Wayne family. She's letting her and Martha's children get used to handling things.
*Sakura's youngest son, Edwin Hamilton Pennyworth, married Martha and Thomas' daughter. Thomas hid his fear at this turn of events extremely well.
*Dick became Nightwing. Every Robin that came after Bianca, Bruce's younger sister, was trained by him.
*Dick does discover the meaning of MADKAW but he never tells anyone. It's something that goes to the graves with the women who started the organization. No one helps him figure it out. He just knows his mother.
Thanks for reading!