Prometheus: Fathers and Sons III
by Grey Bard
Dedication: To Dad. For knowledge, freedom, and just enough room to fly.
The sun is setting on a warm day in early June. The dusk is made more spectacular by the lingering of the nearby city's smog in smoky tendrils on the humid air. The grass is just a little shaggy around the feet of the lone figure working his way up the hill. The aging man who looks at the tombstone has no name anymore.
He lost all connection to one name long ago and has given up his rights to another. Now he is a still formidable figure against the burning twilight of the city, looking down at the final resting place of the one person who truly knew him when he held both titles.
With a small look of self-mockery and a bitter twist around the scarred mouth he sits down on the edge of the stone memorial, steadying his balance with the cane by his side. He looks down at the grave itself and the bundle in his other hand and both expressions leave his face. An odd faint smile replaces them. He unwraps the brown paper surrounding his offering and places it carefully on the ground.
"Funny, isn't it." he says, shaking his head. "I've got another place to visit with roses. You always did like them, didn't you? There were always a few somewhere."
This smile too leaves his features. There is a pause. "Dick came by today. Not for good, I'm not that much of a fool. He didn't forgive me, of course. He never will. But he came anyway. It was good of him."
The old fighter looks up and out at the city. "My boys, Alfred, my boys. I'm proud of all of them." he sighs. "I'm glad none of them took the suit out of duty. It can't just be duty, it has to be need. I'm glad that two of them made their own places. I wish to God Jase had gotten the chance."
One hand reaches back absently to pat the headstone. "You know, I don't miss you the way I thought I would. Probably because I can't shake this feeling that if I turn around, I'll see you there. It's a nice delusion."
His gaze turns back to the earth. Your garden's alright, Alfred. I've taken care of it for you. Some wildflowers started growing between the plantings and I didn't have the heart to pull them." he says seriously. The smile is back. "I don't think you'd mind."
"You'd like McGinnis." he comments after a moment. "A little brash, but he's a good kid. He'll do fine. He understands. I'm glad he has people to come home to. That friend of his, Max, is so much like Barbara that it scares me. Louder, though. I wonder if she's forgiven me for that incident with the guards at the subway yet." A small laugh somehow manages to escape.
"Not that it matters." he explains hastily.
There is another moment. He grips the stone as if it were a well known hand. Thank you, old friend. I wouldn't be sitting here without you. Thank you for saving my stupid life far more often than I actually deserved and thank you for making everything possible. Thank you for simply... being there. You were never *just* the butler."
He gets up and begins to walk away.
A single rose sparkles in the dew of the summer evening. The man looks back and asks one question in a voice just short of wistful.