Author: Neptune47 PM
JLAnimated. When Nightwing begins to doubt Batman's faith in him, he and Batman butt heads, putting strain on their already tenuous relationship. Diana tries to intervene, but even Wonder Woman might not be able to stop the partnership from crumbling.Rated: Fiction K - English - Drama - Bruce W. & Dick G. - Chapters: 4 - Words: 13,585 - Reviews: 75 - Favs: 45 - Follows: 52 - Updated: 11-10-05 - Published: 01-27-04 - id: 1705444
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
AN: I'm always doing this, but let me apologize to anyone who's been patient enough to keep track of this story. It's one that I'm very fond of, and those tends to take much more time to write than I think it will. Plus, there are so many things that have been preventing me from really writing as much as I would like to. It's said, but that's life, I guess. So enjoy this chapter, and believe me when I say that the end is in sight.
Love to my amazing Beta, Lael Adair. Once again, she proves how awesomely talented she is by offering some of the best and most insightful feedback a writer could every ask for. If this story is any good, its because she keeps me and check, and on track.
Chapter Roll Call Batman/Bruce Wayne, Nightwing/Dick Grayson, Wonder Woman/Diana (though this chapter is mainly about the relationship between Dick and Bruce—for all of us out there who love Bats and his oldest son)
Diana choked on the smoke that assaulted her lungs. Trying to regulate her breaths again, she looked around, noticing that Batman was already on his feet. She pushed up on her palms to stand as well, and Batman's firm grip was instantly on her elbow offering some assistance. His focus, however, was on the other side of the warehouse. She knew perfectly well why.
Before she could speak, he was running, barking back "Take care of them" in his wake.
She was confused as to who exactly "they" were until she heard a muffled groan, slowly increasing in intensity somewhere on the floor behind her. It was one of their assailants Two Face had sent after them, coughing and choking like she had been. But it wasn't on smoke. It was on blood.
"Don't move," she ordered as she went to his side, lifting the large wooden plank that was crushing him. The blood-soaked board splintered in her hand as she threw it away.
She wished she hadn't moved it as soon as she'd completed the action. It was clear that the blood covering the wood wasn't from just one person. Next to the groaning thug she was trying to rescue was the body of one of their other attackers. His head had been severed during the explosion.
"Hera," she whispered, briefly closing her eyes before she tended to the men.
The scene changes again, but lingers longer than
the others. It gives him enough time to
orient himself--enough time to realize that he can't orient himself, because he is falling, falling, falling...
He barely blinks when he finds himself flying through the air. It surges around him, and he knows instinctively to straighten his body and extend his arms. In no time, he hears the familiar slap of skin against skin and feels a strong pair of hands tighten around his forearms. He grabs the arms back, and together they control their swing into a downward arc.
He knows the face he'll see before he even looks up. "Dad," he whispers through a raw throat.
His dad moves his mouth, speaks, but no words come out. Dick squints, trying to read what the formations of his father's lips could be saying. He understands the word like a warm knife in his stomach.
"Dad," he says, and again, "Dad," before he stops himself, feeling like he may never stop repeating the word if he doesn't clamp his mouth shut.
His father nods, as if he understands in an instant what is in his child's heart. The gesture is comforting and calming, and Dick relaxes more than he has in a long time. He finds his words.
"Dad, it's been a while."
He gets another nod, as well as a slight chuckle. Still though, there is no sound other than his own voice. But it doesn't bother him as much as he thinks it should. After all, he has so much to say to this man. He starts with the most important.
"I've really missed you. All these years. I...I've...missed you."
His father smiles back at him with his kind eyes, and he hears the words in his head. Missed you, too, Dickie. Missed you, too.
He opens his mouth again to continue, but is immediately interrupted. The disruption is so subtle at first that he is unsure if it is real, or just a figment of his imagination.
The image of his father flickers above him,
momentarily morphing into a darker form before reverting back to
himself. It happens three more times; the sound around them diffuses
into static before returning to silence, then back to static with the
next flicker. In the static, he hears a muffled word.
"What's--what's happening?" he asks, suddenly very aware of the fact that he is high above the ground, suspended only by his father's hands. This is not a memory, and he was somewhere else before this, somewhere important.
His dad looks at him sadly, and begins to speak. There is again no sound, and he tries desperately to read the lips of the man through the haze that has begun clouding his brain. He can only make out a few --watching you, done well, happy, proud-- before the image flickers, replacing his father with the familiar dark form.
The new figure's mouth disrupts the sentence that his father started; he hears the same thing in the muffled static: "—wing. Ni—wing. Nightwing!" The image reverts and the interrupted sentence from before continues silently again.
The distortions continue to come more frequently; each time the darker image appears, his features become more prominent, more recognizable. When the face becomes clearer, covered from the nose up by a black cowl, Dick is confused, but not surprised.
His father's face comes back into view, and he knows this will be the last time he'll see it. "I'm sorry, Dad, but I have to go now," he tries not to choke on the words. "Someone's calling me, someone very important. He took care of me when you…" He stops when his father smiles knowingly. He doesn't need to explain. So instead, he condenses everything he's wanted to say in the last sixteen years into one sentence. "I love you, Dad. Thank you."
He lets go of the arms, and falls into blackness.
His eyes snapped open immediately, and a burning sensation invaded his lungs as he raggedly inhaled smoke. The broken warehouse had rematerialized around him, and he was freefalling.
"Nightwing!" The gruff voice cut into his head again, clearing out the haze in his brain enough for him to take notice of his burning surroundings. Instinctively, he tucked his feet into his body and extended his left arm. A thin sturdy wire shot out from his glove with a swoosh, and wrapped its anchor end around one of the metallic beams securing the fishnet across the ceiling they had descended from earlier. Keeping his muscles tight, he used his momentum to swing himself around and away from the fire that was burning below him. His arm roared in pain as he did so, and his grip on the rope began to slip. He bit down on his lip to refocus himself, trying to ignore the throbbing, bleeding wound he had previously reopened on his shoulder. His glove slipped further down the taut line. "This isn't good," he winced, as grip on the grapple continued to wane.
He was sure he would have fallen, had a secure arm not latched itself around his waist. He looked up to see a twin line to his own stretched beside him. "Batman?"
There was no response as the Dark Knight maneuvered them to a safe spot on the ground. Once they were secure, he finally spoke. "What happened?"
Nightwing rubbed at his aching head, trying to piece the memory together. "Two Face, he had a master detonator. I can't believe he'd discharge his entire stock."
"We found it. He needed to destroy the evidence."
"Yeah, he did a great job. Minus the whole blowing-up-his-secret-lair thing." Dick rubbed as his semi-charred uniform. "I got lucky, the force of the explosion must have thrown me away."
Batman raised an eyebrow. "You fired a grapple line straight up, and managed to stay slightly ahead of the explosion before you lost consciousness."
Nightwing looked at his left hand, noticing for the first time a second frayed line hanging from his glove. "I hadn't even realized."
"It's a good thing you did. It probably saved your life." The words were hard, but Nightwing could almost detect a hint of something else in his voice.
"How long was I out?"
"A minute, maybe less."
His eyes widened. "That's all? I could have sworn…it seemed like much longer."
Batman eyed him, but didn't press it. Instead he touched his shoulder.
"Just a little scratch." Reading the expression on the older man's face, he knew that wasn't the thing to say. "I'm okay. Really."
Instead of arguing, Batman opened a corner pouch of his utility belt and pulled out a small roll of gauze.
"You're a regular boy scout—I'm kidding, kidding," he added quickly at the look he got. They stood silently as his mentor quickly wrapped the gauze around his shoulder. "Listen…thanks. For back there."
There was a look on Batman's face that Nightwing couldn't quite read. The subject was changed before he could try to decipher it.
"The fire has been contained by the cement and metal, but we should make sure the department is on their way. Let's get Diana and leave."
"She's on her way," Nightwing said, indicating the figure walking towards them. Her face was tight with barely concealed anger. Her hands were red with blood. "You okay? You didn't get hurt, did you?" he asked when she got closer.
She shook her head and rubbed her hands. The blood smeared and flaked away, revealing unscratched, but slightly pink-stained skin. "I'm fine," she said through clenched teeth. "But that…man…how could he? They were his people."
Nightwing looked to Batman for an explanation. "He didn't warn them when he detonated the bombs. Most of them were caught in the explosions."
"I managed to rescue three. The rest are dead." She clenched her fist. "We have to get him. There are many things he needs to answer for."
"I agree," Batman said. "Nightwing and I will go. You get those men out of here."
Nightwings's eyes widened in surprise, but he didn't say anything.
Diana shook her head. "I can help you."
"I need you to get the men who are still alive to a hospital. The bodies too. Nightwing and I will take care of Two Face."
Diana stared them down, but then acquiesced. "Alright." She turned and flew swiftly back to where she had deposited the injured men.
Turning to his protégé, Batman eyed the bandages wearily. "We need to track Two Face."
Dick caught the unvoiced question. Can you go? "Yeah. We can take my bike."
Batman cast him a baleful look. "We're taking the Batmobile," he stated, spinning on his heels and walking away as he said so.
"Yeah, okay, you win." He'd flown here to begin with. Plus his bike didn't have a sidecar anyway.