Sea and Sky:


by 'rith, from dialogue provided by Smitty

A conversational snippet, circa the Greece vacation. Setup for upcoming fic.

"Tell me how you are, first," Leslie said, accepting a steaming cup of Earl Grey from Alfred's hands. "Then you can tell me about Bruce and the boys."

"There's nothing to tell about me," Alfred said gruffly. "Master Bruce is, of course, not content with his efforts but fortunately his exertions do not seem to be exceeding his physical capabilities. The news you'll be most interested in," he said, sitting across from her and lifting his own teacup, "is about Master Dick's new relationship."

"Really?" Leslie halted the teacup before it reached her mouth. "A new relationship?"


"Something serious?" Leslie asked, setting down her cup without drinking from it.

"It seems to be. They've spent the past week in Master Bruce's villa on Hydros. And...." Alfred gave her a significant look. "It is serious enough that Master Dick discussed the matter with Master Bruce."

"Greece, hm." She knew better, of course, than to ask questions about the 'discussion.' Discussions between Dick and Bruce rarely were of note unless they were arguments, or outright brawls. Since she hadn't been called to pick up the pieces in either case, she could safely assume the matter was settled. Or as settled as they were going to be, between those two. "So? Who is the lucky...person?"

Alfred cleared his throat. "Perhaps you remember Master Garth, from Master Dick's youth?"

She had to grin, internally. Her phrasing had been entirely deliberate, and it had saved Alfred from additional unnecessary explanations he might have found uncomfortable. "His youth? Garth, let me think." Leslie took a contemplative sip of tea. "The early Titans? Was that the redhead?"

Alfred looked like he was about to choke. "Most certainly not. The 'redhead' is Master Roy. Perhaps you might remember a boy with dark hair, rather shy?"

"I think so. Vaguely." She shrugged apologetically. "Dick was much more interested in keeping his lives apart, then, and I only knew them in passing."

"The young Titans did visit the manor once or twice," Alfred said, seeming mollified. "In any case, Master Garth once went by the name 'Aqualad,' though now I gather he prefers 'Tempest'."

Leslie snapped her fingers. "Oh, yes! I saw the new publicity shot. The young man in the red and black costume?"

"The very one," Alfred confirmed. "And not quite so shy now, I believe."

"Very striking," Leslie murmured. "Tell me about him, Alfred. How well do you know him? What's he like?"

Alfred paused. "Without betraying any confidences or information I may, ahem, have inadvertently gathered from other sources...."

Leslie smiled. "Of course." Alfred was nearly as familiar with the data in the Batcave files and records as Bruce, and there were things she simply didn't need to know or had no *right* to know secondhand.

"He's from Atlantis," Alfred said, and then nodded to her questioning look. "Yes, the undersea nation. What's more, he's its ambassador to the United Nations."

She cocked her head. "I admit, I rarely follow superhero politics, but isn't Aquaman the king there? Is Garth his son?"

Alfred hesitated long enough to let her know there was a story here he didn't feel at liberty to tell. "Master Garth was...found by Aquaman," he said with deliberate precision. "As far as I understand, there was never a formal declaration of adoption or anything of the kind."

His answer raised more questions, but she knew better than to pry. She took a sip of tea, considering. "So he's an ambassador, and a superhero. What else?"

"I think that would be quite enough to keep anyone occupied," he said, dryly but with humor.

She grinned back, undaunted. "You know what I mean."

Alfred bowed his head slightly, conceding. "I don't know him well, I admit. I have a memory of a somewhat withdrawn lad, when he was young. There were several years when he was only tangentially affiliated with the Titans. Now, as you saw, he is again a member of the team--in fact, he financed the building of the Titans' new headquarters."

"And more personally?" Leslie pressed.

He took his time, thinking it over. "I'm loath to speak in absolutes, since I've barely spoken to him, and not in years. *impression* from afar is of a young man who has persevered through considerable personal tragedy. He seems more centered, more sure of himself and his place among his friends. Anything further would be mere speculation."

Speculation based on more information than she had, but clearly he didn't want to make a judgment based on hearsay. She nodded, thoughtful. "I remember there being some difficulty with Dick's relationship with Koriand'r, in regards to his secret identity. Is Garth dating Richard Grayson, or Nightwing?"

"I'm not sure that decision has yet been made," Alfred said carefully, "although I believe they've been meeting in Blüdhaven."

"Hm. Probably Dick then." Leslie patted her bottom lip with a fine linen napkin. "My, this *is* serious."

"Indeed." Alfred smiled a little, and the gesture eased her mind considerably. He might never voice his approval aloud, but she could read the subtle clues that meant he wasn't at all troubled or disturbed by the situation.

That was good enough for her.