Alfred looked at him, horrified.
The Batsuit was identifiable as a Batsuit and still concealed the identity of its wearer, but it was a tattered mess.
Worse, its wearer's face was smeared in blood.
He looked into the wearer's eyes: the wearer was not Batman, but Bruce Wayne.
Alfred had seen that look twice before; both times had been many years ago.
The first time was when young Master Bruce had fallen into the abandoned well, gotten hurt, and been unable to climb back out. Bats flew at and around a terrified Bruce Wayne as he waited in the dark shadows for someone to rescue him. When Alfred and Dr. Wayne finally pulled him up out of the well, young Master Bruce had that look on his face.
The second time was a few months later, the day young Master Bruce's parents were murdered before his very eyes.
"How bad are you hurt, sir?" Alfred asked, opening a first aid kid and stepping toward the battered figure.
"Not bad, actually," came the reply. "Quite a few bruises, and some cuts where I'm exposed." The figure paused. "For the most part, the Batsuit did its job." The battered figure managed a weak smile, as he added, "I'm sure it looks worse than it is."
Alfred breathed a sigh of relief, as he motioned for the figure to sit down, setting the first aid kit on a small table next to him, then went back to the console nearby and brought a bottle of cool water, twisting the plastic cap off as he handed it to the figure.
Sitting down, the figure drank nearly half of the one-and-a-half-liter bottle of drinking water, before pausing to take another breath.
Alfred turned on a nearby ventilation fan.
"You smell of tear gas and smoke."
The figure nodded, as Alfred glanced at the utility belt: it looked as if all the expendables had been used.
"How do you feel, sir?"
The figure drank the rest of the water, then for a long moment, stared absently at the floor of the Batcave.
He was so happy to be with his mom and dad. The three of them were in heaven, walking to the car.
But, something was wrong.
Two men were there. One approached quite close.
"That's a pretty necklace."
Young Bruce looked at the man.
The man was taking his mother's new pearl necklace from around her neck.
The necklace broke, and the pearls fell... they fell forever....
Suddenly a loud noise exploded his world, and his mom fell... she fell forever....
Young Bruce turned and looked. His father was collapsed on the street.
He looked back. His mother was face down on the curb, next to the pearls from the pretty necklace that young Bruce and his father had given her earlier that day.
Bruce looked up. All he could see was a long, dark tunnel, smoke still drifting lazily out of it, as the man cocked the revolver, aiming right at Bruce's forehead.
A voice drifted in from nowhere, "Let's get out of here."
The man looked away from Bruce.
"Come on!" the voice broke in again.
The man looked back at Bruce, smiled, and raised the tunnel up, its smoke still rising into the night sky. "See ya around."
Bruce looked at his mother, her fragile body broken, her blood flowing out of her into the gutter.
He looked back at his father.
"Bruce... don't be afraid."
He took a towel from the table and wiped his face.
He looked Alfred right in the eyes, then gazed at the wall, his eyes resting on a small medallion of the sun he had brought back from Asia.
"In all the years... since my mom was killed... never have I missed her as much... as I do right now."