All had been going remarkably smoothly. Dick had arrived at the Manor early to spend some time with Alfred. Bruce had returned from work but just as they were about to start getting ready, a phone call from the Commissioner had sent the two men racing from the Manor.
"You must be back no later than 7:30!" Alfred had shouted after them.
"What time is it?" Batman yelled.
"Oh, shit. It's after eight. She's going to kill us!"
Alfred heard the shouting and started down the stairs. "I have laid out both of your evening clothes in Master Bruce's bedroom. Miss Barbara called and..." The two men raced passed him on either side and disappeared into Bruce's room. Alfred shook his head, turned and slowly climbed the stairs knowing he would be needed in some capacity. The scene that greeted him as he entered the enormous room was one of utter chaos. Clothing laid strewn from one end of the room to the other. The shirts and suit jackets that been laid out neatly on the bed were rumpled. Bruce was rummaging through the drawers of the dresser and Dick was hopping up and down on one leg trying to pull socks on.
"Perhaps if you were to sit down," Alfred suggested, calmly.
"Alfred, they're not here!" Bruce cried, slamming another drawer and moving to the next set.
"To what are you referring?"
"Bow ties," Bruce snapped, opening another drawer, scanning it briefly and slamming it closed. "What time is it?"
"We're dead," Dick muttered, flicking his eyes to the ornate grandfather clock in the corner. "Man, we are deader than dead! It starts in twenty minutes."
"The bow ties are in the top drawer of the Rosewood dresser," Alfred informed Bruce, watching with fascination as the other man frantically continued his random opening and closing.
"No. I've already look in that one. They're not there." Bruce continued with his desperate search.
Alfred walked across to the Rosewood dresser, pulled open the specified drawer, lifted up the top item and pulled out the apparently invisible ties. "Perhaps if you lifted things? You do not share Master Clarke's X-ray vision."
Bruce grabbed the two ties, tossed one to Dick and sprinted behind the dressing screen, discarding the last of his costume as he did. "Careful, Alfred. More comments like that and you could be joining the unemployment line," Bruce called.
"I doubt that very much," Alfred replied, collecting his employer’s shirt and jacket and hanging them over the edge of the screen before walking across and assisting Dick into his suit jacket.
"You sound like you think you're irreplaceable," Bruce claimed, reappearing.
Alfred turned and without a hint of a smile he stated, "I say with great confidence, I know I am."
Bruce walked passed the butler, brushing shoulder and whispering, "So do I."
"Ready?" Dick prompted, glancing at the clock. "Ohhhhhh, hell."
"Let's go," Bruce agreed. The pair raced for the door. Alfred watched them and sighed with tired amusement. "Sirs?"
They glanced back and then spun around to face the elderly man.
"How do we look, Alf?" Dick asked, grinning. Alfred always had to make a final appraisement before they were released for public viewing.
Alfred ran his eyes over the two men. Neatly pressed jackets. Perfectly starched collars, which Dick was already fighting with. "Very smart. However, I fear that to complete the ensemble you may require trousers.”
Bruce and Dick looked down to find that they were both trouserless.
“Oh, hell.” Together they darted into the walk-in-wardrobe in search of the missing garments.
Trousers and bow ties were the only two items that Alfred hadn’t laid out on the bed for the two men. The butler glanced heavenward. “I have failed,” he murmured. “After twenty years, they still can’t dress themselves.” He began picking up the discarded parts of the two men’s uniforms. Bruce’s cowl dumped on the dresser. A boot from the bed. One of Nightwing’s gloves handing from the chandelier.
From the walk-in-wardrobe....