Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Demon, Part 3 of 5

It was late afternoon, and Alfred was sitting down for a cup of tea.

In the reflection in the window, he could see someone coming in behind him. He turned.

"Sasha," he smiled, standing up. "Won't you join me for a cup of tea?"

They sat down, and Alfred took another cup from the tray and served Sasha a cup of tea.

"Master Bruce tells me you are leaving us. May I ask why? Is anything wrong?"

"It's personal, Alfred," she answered. Seeing Alfred was taken aback by her short answer, she felt frustrated by her inability to express herself precisely in English.

"I didn't mean to pry," Alfred smiled gently, trying to smooth over what suddenly seemed like a delicate topic.

"What I meant, Alfred," Sasha hurriedly began, "is that nothing is wrong. Well, I guess something is. It's personal, and..." flustered and frustrated, she stopped. "I need some advice."

His fatherly demeanor soothed her, as he sipped his tea with a smile.

"It's Bruce," she decided to blurt out, then stopped, not able to bring herself to finish the thought.

"You're in love with him."

"Yes," she confessed, stirring sugar into her tea.

"But you feel that he is not in love with you, and that he might never love you. You think he is distant, and you are worried about that woman from his past that is here in Gotham City."

"She comes to his office periodically, and he seems to pay a great deal of attention to her. But you know, the funny thing is that I think he is distant from her, too." She sipped her tea. "She loves him, I can see it. A woman can tell," Sasha explained. "But, he does not love her, and I can tell she is frustrated, just like I am, even though she and I have only seen each other, and never talked... I can tell."

"And why do you suppose it is that Master Bruce does not love her?"

"I think in a way he does, but there is something that keeps him from sharing his life with her."

Alfred continued to smile at Sasha, and Sasha felt comforted.

"What do you think that something might be?" Alfred led her investigation along.

"So, Mr. Fox, at first I was applying merely for a position as a corporate security officer with Wayne Enterprises, but during the interview process today, I get the impression that Wayne Enterprises has something more than that to offer. What kind of a position is it that I might be considered for?"

Selena looked at Lucius Fox intently.

"Well, we have a need for people with your advanced martial arts skills to train some of our key personnel. We currently have no vacancies in that department, although there may be a vacancy coming soon. We may have a person leaving the company, and, in any case, there has been some talk of establishing a new position. But, we can discuss that more at a later time."

"There is something that she and Bruce do not share. Something that Bruce wants to share, something that he needs to share, something that he can't share," Sasha reasoned through the situation.

"Something that would fulfill a relationship," Alfred suggested.

"Yes," Sasha added thoughtfully.

"Something that he doesn't really share with anyone, perhaps. Something that he can't share with her," Alfred continued.

Sasha looked around to make sure they were really alone. By contrast, long accustomed to life in Wayne Manor, Alfred knew almost instinctively that no one else was nearby.

"It's that, isn't it?" Sasha asked.

"Her name is Talia al Ghul," Alfred explained. "Her father is Ra's al Ghul." Alfred sipped his tea again. "In many ways, he and Master Bruce are alike – they are both being driven by their demons, but whereas Master Bruce decided to go one way, Ra's al Ghul has allowed himself to go another. Talia is torn between her love for her father and her love for Bruce Wayne. Master Bruce, for his part, is torn between his life as Bruce Wayne, and his other life."

Sasha nodded, absorbing it all, as Alfred continued.

"There is more to Bruce Wayne than meets the eye. There is a part of his life that is secret to nearly everyone in the world. From what I understand, Talia at least suspects what that part of his life is, but she and Master Bruce don't share it, because she is torn between her feelings for Master Bruce and her loyalties to her father. Moreover, Bruce Wayne and Ra's al Ghul are on different paths, and Talia does not yet know which path to follow. For his part, any relationship with her would seem perhaps deeper than most for Master Bruce, but still too shallow."

"He needs someone to share his secret life with him," Sasha thought aloud.

"But that would cause as many problems as it would solve," Alfred explained.

"How so?"

"What he does is dangerous, and he cannot allow himself to be distracted – at least not yet."

Sasha studied her tea. "What should I do?"

"Perhaps you could try talking to Master Bruce – downstairs – and explain how you feel, at a time and place where you can talk freely."

Sasha sipped her tea. "Do you have any advice?"

"Only an observation," replied Alfred.

"What is that?"

"That both you and Master Bruce are still quite young, and it would be a shame for either of you to allow impatience or frustration to rule you." Alfred sipped his tea. "Impatience and frustration are two demons, closely related; allow neither to drive your actions."

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