by Pirate Turner
Blue eyes that had not lost any of their piercing shine over the years glared from a withered face at the instrument that sat before them. When he spoke, his voice was calm, but his words were laced in a firm command that, though quiet, left no word for argument. "Get that thing out of my kitchen."
Dick drew his head slightly back in surprise at Alfred's reaction. "I was just trying to help you out, Al," he said, raising his hands in defeat. He'd never seen his old friend, who had become like a second grandfather or perhaps even father to him, look so angry over nothing! "I know you're not feeling up to your old self -- "
"I can certainly still cook better without such a horrid instrument than I ever could with it! I've no use for it! Remove it from my kitchen immediately!" Alfred demanded, thwapping his towel down against the table and still glaring holes in the horrible intruder to his peace and privacy.
"Sure. It's outta here right now," Dick promised, grabbing the microwave and heading out of the kitchen.
Alfred turned his back on him with a harrumphing sound, clearly still quite disturbed. Bruce and Barbara exchanged a knowing look, and as Bruce turned to comfort his love, laying a gentle hand on his shoulder, Barbara rushed out of the kitchen. She quickly caught up with Dick. She could feel his anger radiating before she ever looked at him. "Dick -- "
"I try to help him, and look at how he reacts!" He looked at her with sadness creeping into his eyes. "I know he's not feeling well, Barb, and I know keeping up with us all isn't easy. I swear I was just trying to help -- "
"I know," she reassured him, "and he does too, deep down. It's just -- " She sighed even as she bit back a laugh. "He'd never admit it and he'd be so mad at me for telling you this, but Uncle Al's hated microwaves ever since he killed the only one he's ever had the first time he tried to use it."
He stopped and stared at her. "What?"
She rolled her eyes lightly, a grin tugging at her face. "He wouldn't let any one tell him how to use it. He swore that he'd been in a kitchen his entire life and didn't need any one telling him how to do anything in it. You know how he is when it comes to cooking. Well, he put tin foil in it first thing, left the kitchen for just a few minutes, and it exploded. By the time he got back in the kitchen, the whole counter was on fire!" She tried not to laugh.
A grin was also tugging at Dick's mouth now, and he had to fight back a chuckle. "What in the world could he have put in there with so much foil to cause such a big fire that fast?"
She could hold back no longer. She burst out laughing as she answered, "He was defrosting a turkey."
Dick paused, struggling to rein in the laughter that bubbled within him. He didn't want to laugh at Alfred; he really didn't. He bit his lip, then, along with his girlfriend, raced down the hallway. Once they were well out of earshot, he slowed his pace and started laughing so hard that he nearly dropped the microwave.