Alfred approaches the wooden door frame that leads to the Batcave. It looks like somebody has broken the door. As he enters the cave, some scattered wood pieces crunch beneath his feet. There is a big hole in the ground in front of him. Alfred realizes that it’s one of the many traps Batman has planted in and around the cave over the years. Batman’s paranoid impulse to plan contingencies always disturbed Alfred. But Alfred understands the root of this impulse: that dark night, the one night he was caught unprepared. Despite that understanding, there are times when the butler cannot help complaining.
“Never again,” Bruce has said to Alfred, so many times. “Never again will I be caught helpless, off-guard.” In those moments, Alfred simply nods. But he never stops fearing the day Bruce’s impulses take him too far.
Alfred sees a man lying unconscious on the floor. He recognizes the man to be John Watson. Batman’s daunting figure looms over him.
“What have you done, Batman?” Alfred asks. His hands begin to tremor.
“Don’t worry. He’s not dead. What are you doing here?” Batman walks toward the weapon’s cabinet. There is a scary calm in his voice.
“He said—” Alfred hesitates. “We thought you were in danger. So, we rushed back from London as soon—”
“I thought you were having a vacation, Al. Meeting some old friend in Florida you said.” Batman speaks as he puts the lasso of truth back in the cabinet. “Booked yourself a suite at Ponce de Leon, did you not?”
“An elaborate lie.” Batman takes off his cowl and throws it at the floor. “Why, Alfred?”
“This case is taking a toll on you. You wouldn’t even talk about what happened to Miss Kyle. You were never one to accept help. You’d have stopped me if you knew I was going to consult Mr. Holmes. I’m sorry, Bruce.”
“Don’t call me that. It’s Batman. Bruce Wayne is just a frightened child screaming in an alley behind Monarch Theatre. He never really existed beyond that,” says Batman.
“That’s not true,” says Alfred. But he doesn’t know if he truly believes that. “If that’s true, then what am I doing here?” His hands still tremor.
“I don’t know, Alfred.”
“I don’t serve Batman. No, sir,” says Alfred. “You indeed were a frightened little boy. Every night since your parents died, I feared for you! I held you in my arms as you cried every night. I feared for you when you wouldn’t speak to anyone for weeks. There were days, sir, when I feared you’d attempt to take your own life!” His voice breaks as he begins to cry. “I don’t know how you survived, sir. But I’m proud of the man you became, the man who overcame fear. I serve the man I raised. And the man I raised wouldn’t do that to a good man.” Alfred points to Watson who’s still knocked out on the floor. “I did not raise Batman.”
“Maybe you did,” says Batman. He’s staring blankly at the floor.
“Then I am ashamed of myself. I will be no longer a part of this cursed crusade,” says Alfred. “I shall tend to Mr. Watson’s wounds and then I’ll leave.”
“Fine. Have it your way.” Batman checks on the Batwave station.