The thing I am
When Alfred finally arrived, young Bruce let go of his tears and wrapped himself around the older man that now seemed to be the only family left to him. He still didn't speak. He just held on to Alfred until they reached the car where he curled up on the backseat, sobbing softly. It was only the next day, after Alfred had cleaned him up and carefully got him to sleep, that Bruce spoke. The first thing that he said however was a shock to the old butler. "Alfred? What am I?"
The butler blinked at this question. "You are Bruce Wayne." He slowly answered. "Son of ..."
Before Alfred could finish, Bruce interrupted him. "Not who, Alfred. What?"
The butlers eyes widened for a moment as he realized the impact of this question. Then his shoulders slumped and he looked down. "Why do you ask, Master Bruce?"
"Something happened last night, Alfred." Bruce said. He started sobbing again. "Something that wasn't normal."
Alfred frowned. He sat down in a chair and motioned for Bruce to sit on his lap. "It's all right now, master Bruce. Try and tell me what happened." The butler listened calmly. His curiosity quickly turned to horror as Bruce told him about Martha going crazy, and then to complete confusion when Bruce told him how the bullets deflected from his skin, and how the beams had shot from his eyes. When Bruce was done and looked at Alfred with big questioning eyes, the butler pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a deep sigh. "I think it's time you knew, master Bruce."
"Knew what, Alfred?"
"Just come along," the butler said as he got up and took young Bruce by the hand. "It would be best for you to see this for yourself." He guided Bruce to the old standing clock, the one that never seemed to run quite correctly. A tap on the right place shoved it to the side, revealing a door. Alfred grabbed a key, hanging on a chain around his neck. A key, Bruce had seen before, but had never known where it went, until now.
Bruce followed Alfred, down a long staircase, into a dark cave. As they moved further down, Bruce could hear a distinct peeping. It got stronger as they walked down. Then when Alfred opened a second door it overwhelmed him. He fell to his knees covering his ears. "Alfred make it stop. Please Alfred, make it stop."
The butler looked down confused. He had no idea what was happening. He went down on one knee and brought his face level with Bruce's to look him in the eyes. "Calm down, Master Bruce. Focus on my voice. Try and hear only my voice."
Bruce somehow heard him and started concentrating on Alfred. Slowly the peeping noise subsided. Bruce started crying again as he wrapped his arms around the old mans neck. "What's happening Alfred? What is going on?"
"I don't know master Bruce." The butler answered as he answered the boy's embrace. "But maybe we'll find some answers in there."
As Alfred moved aside, Bruce saw something amazing. Something that looked like a small, red and blue colored, rocket. Mesmerized Bruce walked towards it. He circled around it, as in a trance, observing every corner of it. He carefully stretched his arm out and put his hand on the ship. That's when the ship started glowing, and the cockpit opened up. A robotic voice came from inside. "Welcome Kal-El, last son of Krypton."
The boy turned to face Alfred. "Who is Kal-El?" He asked confused.
Before the butler could react the voice answered "You are."
"No, I'm not. I'm Bruce Wayne." Bruce answered.
"That is your given name by Martha and Thomas Wayne. But your birth name is Kal-El."
Bruce looked questioning at Alfred again.
"This is the ship me and your father found you in, almost eight years ago." He said with a look of shame in his eyes.
"Affirmative." The voice from the ship reacted. "And now that young Kal-El has come to me, it is my programming to teach him."
"Who are you?" Bruce asked the ship.
"I am the artificial intelligence that guided this ship here. The Brain of the ship if you want. I gathered all the information you need to learn, about how your body reacts to this worlds atmosphere. Since you have come to me in this young age, your mind is still very perceptive. I should be able to teach you all you need in a months time."
"Can you tell me what happened to me and my parents?" Bruce asked.
"Yes." Was the ships simple answer.
Bruce turned to Alfred. "I need to do this Alfred."
"I know." Alfred answered. "I will check in daily." The he turned toward the ship. "And as for you, you blasted machine. If anything, and I mean anything at all, happens to young master Bruce, I'll have you broken in so many pieces that all the Kings horses and all the Kings men could never even hope to put you back together again."
"Understood." Was the machine's passive answer. "Now Kal-El, please step into the cockpit so we can start the learning process."
Bruce took one last look at Alfred. When he received a nod and a smile from his friend and caretaker, he climbed in the cockpit. It closed over him and lights started flashing inside. Alfred stayed some time, worried about his young master, but when all seemed fine he moved back upstairs. For the next month Alfred went around doing his normal household work. Three times a day he went down to the cave, bringing down food for young Bruce. But every time he came down, the last meal was still there, and Bruce's position in the ship hadn't changed. He was just sitting there, looking at pictures and signs flashing before his eyes.
Finally, the long month was over. Alfred spent the last days completely in the cave, waiting for the ship to open up. When it finally opened, Alfred ran to its side. "Master Bruce, are you all right?"
Bruce looked at him and Alfred saw something different in his eyes. A feeling of wisdom and regret mixed together. "I'm fine, Alfred."
"Would you like something to eat, master Bruce?" The butler asked.
"Apparently, I don't need that much food." Bruce answered. "But right now, I would really love some of your special Pennyworth stew, Alfred."
Alfred smiled. "You shall have as much as you want." He answered as he picked Bruce out of the ship. "But you must tel me all you learned."
"I will." Bruce promised. "Bye, Brainiac." He yelled at the ship.
"Goodbye, young Bruce." The ship answered.
"You named the ship?" Alfred asked.
"I named the brain of the ship. He'll need a bigger home though."
"We'll talk about it later." Alfred answered, throwing a final glance at the spacecraft. He took Bruce upstairs and listened to all the stories the boy told him, as he cooked dinner. He was amazed as Bruce demonstrated how he could heat things up with his eyes, and hear even the bats in the cave. That was what happened a month ago. "Brainiac learned me to control it now, though." Bruce said. Then he continued about new powers that he would develop. Alfred could only marvel at the things young Bruce told him. When he finally calmed down, Bruce turned all serious. "What happened to Mom?"
The butler swallowed. "Detective Gordon came by." He started slowly. "He told me your mother had a nervous breakdown. They had her admitted to Arkham Asylum for treatment."
"Why did she need treatment?" Bruce asked confused.
"She..." Alfred paused looking for the right words. "She did some bad things, when they arrested her. They had to lock her away from anyone. No visitors, no contact. She needs time to let her mind heal."
Bruce looked down taking some deep breaths. "I need to make sure this never happens again." He grimly stated.
"But, master Bruce..." Alfred started.
"No buts, Alfred." Bruce waved his hand. "I have been given all these powers. What use would they be if I don't use them to pursue justice."
"But you're just a boy." Alfred protested.
Bruce nodded. "I know. That is why I will need to train, and learn about the world. We'll start with equipping the cave. It will become a place where I can find solitude."
"A cave of solitude?" Alfred asked.
Bruce mulled this name over in his mind. "Sure, that sounds good." He answered. "We need a big strong computer. The best Waynetech can afford or build. That's where we'll link up Brainiac."
Alfred wanted to protest, but when he saw the fire in Bruce's eyes, he sighed. "Very well then. Let's build this cave of solitude."