Disclaimer: Ownership is something to laugh about over a glass of wine.
Dick Grayson, the man who was once known as the costumed adventurer Nightwing, stood before the entrance to the building, feeling a tingling in his stomach, though he wondered why. It wasn't like he hadn't been here before; it was quite the opposite. Whether it was to check up on Wally, or play chess with Shayera, he had come to the Metro Tower quite often in his lifetime. Perhaps it was because he was seeing him for the first time in years. Or maybe it was because he was with his son. He had been here with his wife before, who was now holding on to his arm supportively. He looked over to meet her green eyes, which had lost none of their youthful spark over the years. She squeezed his arm.
"It'll be fine, Dick. It's not like he's going to refuse to talk to you, is it?"
He let out a deep breath through his nose noisily. "I guess so. It's just been so long…"
"Richard Jonathan Grayson, look at me."
He hated it when she did this. Because no matter what she said, he would end up agreeing, simply because she was saying it. It was probably how he ended up marrying her. He turned to look at her somewhat reluctantly, knowing the outcome. She put both hands on his shoulders.
"You will be fine. If he is the hero that has been so praised by you and many others, then it must be in him to talk to you." She paused to smile sweetly, and Dick was sold. "It will be fine," she reiterated, before leaning in and kissing him to seal the deal.
Thomas Grayson rolled his twenty two year old eyes. "Could you two stop? You're making me glad I left home."
Dick looked at his son, and thought about how much Garfield had influenced him as he was growing up. Once he had been born, Dick and Tom's mother had still wished to continue their crime fighting career, and so Tom had been left in Titans Tower on more than one occasion. If he was left with Raven, chances are he would be fine, just a little bored. It was the same with Victor, who wouldn't let him touch equipment of any kind. Garfield and Wally were the only ones whose company Tom truly enjoyed, and with usually disastrous (and destructive) results.
Dick smiled and ruffled his son's jet black hair, and Tom groaned in protest. "You know, you would think that you'd have stopped doing that after I hit eighteen."
"You'd think so," Dick agreed, chuckling to himself. Before Tom could reply to the remark, the doors to the Justice League Unlimited Metro Tower slid open, and the hulking form of Warhawk stood before them. Dick saw the hint of a smile spread across his lips.
"Dick. It's good to see you."
"You too, Rex," he replied, nodding.
He smiled and looked over at Dick's significant other. "Kori. You look better every time I see you."
"As do you," she said slyly.
Rex wasn't sure how to respond to that, so he went on to Tom. "How're you doing, kid?"
"I'd be better if you guys would give me membership already."
Rex laughed, and both Dick and Kory let out embarrassed smiles.
"Maybe once you start thinking before you leap."
"Like you, you mean?"
Rex's smile disappeared, replaced by a slightly irked frown. "You can come in now."
The three smiled and entered. Dick took in the lush surroundings and wondered if this was the same Metro Tower he had worked in for those few weeks. Of course, it had been destroyed and rebuilt many times since he had retired from being Nightwing. He could still remember the day he had decided to quit. Wally had found it hilarious when he had put his back out while fighting the Penguin. It didn't help matters that Wally's increased metabolism retarded his ageing process somewhat, so he looked about the same age as Superman.
And speaking of smug speedsters…
The ex-Flash's face lit up as soon as he saw the three enter the foyer.
"Dick! Kori! Tom!"
In a second, the speedster was stood in front of them, hugging each one of them in rapid succession.
"How are you guys?"
Dick smiled with mild amusement at how little his best friend had changed. A few more wrinkles and some grey evenly spread across his flaming red hair had made little impact on Wally.
"Then why are you looking so uncomfortable?"
Kori leaned over. "He's worried about meeting you-know-who."
Wally nodded, letting loose his trademark Flash grin. "Ah, I see. He isn't here yet anyway; said something about ink causing trouble in Gotham."
Wally shrugged. "That's what Ollie told me."
"Speaking of ex-archers, is Roy here?"
Wally beamed and nodded. "He's off talking to Aquagirl."
"I bet Aquaman's not happy about that."
"No he is not," Wally said, laughing.
Dick was about to reply, when Kori interrupted his thoughts. "Where's Tom?"
Dick looked to where his twenty two year old son had been stood, and quickly surveyed the area. "There he is," he said, nodding across the room. Wally turned and grimaced indignantly.
"Hey! That's my daughter he's trying to sweet talk!"
And with that, Wally was on the other side of the room. The couple looked at each other, and then shrugged simultaneously. Laughing, they made their way into the crowd.
"Kori! Dude! Over here!"
The orange skinned Tamaranian and her husband didn't even need to look to see who was calling out to them. Grinning at the sight of their old friends, they made their way over to Garfield, Raven and Victor. Much to no-one's surprise, Garfield was the first one to speak.
"How are you guys?" he said, enthusiastically hugging them and shaking hands.
Dick smiled. "Pretty good, for the most part. Feeling my age, but other than that…"
The green changeling rolled his eyes. "Tell me about it. I get tired just from turning into an elephant."
"Although his reasons for becoming an elephant are few and far between these days," Raven commented dryly, prompting laughter from three of her friends. Garfield scowled.
"Just remember Raven, there's gonna be a big spread at this party, and I have no problem with starting a food fight," he said, grinning evilly.
"You do if you value your life."
As Garfield laughed, Victor pulled Dick aside for a moment. "So, what are you going to do about you-know-who?"
The smaller man frowned. "I'm going to talk to him."
"I didn't know you two were on talking terms."
"We're not. I'm hoping that'll change once I talk to him."
"Where did this attitude come from?"
"I just thought it was time for us to sit down and talk out our problems. You know, like mature adults."
Victor smiled. "Kori made you, huh?"
"Oh yeah," Dick responded instantly, not missing a beat. "Anyway, how're you doing? How's the company?"
"Pretty good. We've got a new business venture in the works with Wayne Enterprises, so the future's looking pretty bright."
Dick smiled and nodded, but was interrupted by a hand on his shoulder. He turned to see the smiling face of Tim Drake.
"Tim! How you doing, man? The family with you?" Victor asked.
"Hi, Vic. They couldn't make it, but I decided to come. I haven't seen the old gang in so long, I figured…" he paused. "Dick, have you seen the old man?"
Dick shook his head. "Not yet. But if I see him, I'll let you know."
Tim nodded and looked over to where the other ex-Titans were gathered. "Anyway, I'll see you later, okay?"
As Tim went to join his former tutors, Dick spotted someone he recognised in the crowd.
"I'll be back in a sec," Dick said, and Victor nodded, going back to where Tim was entertaining the others with a story about his days with Batman.
Dick reached out and put his hand on her shoulder. "Hey Barb."
She let out a slight laugh. "I was wondering if you were coming." She turned to look at him, a fond smile on her face. "How are you, you old geezer?" She asked, hugging him.
"Better than I look, anyway," he said quietly.
"I know how you feel. Is Kori with you?"
Dick nodded. "Yeah. And Tom's here too, hunting down women."
Barbara laughed. "Runs in the family I see."
"I didn't think I was that bad."
"No, you just weren't bad compared to Wally. But you were still quite the heartbreaker."
An awkward silence followed as Dick considered how to respond before finally deciding that there was nothing much he could say to that.
"Dick, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to-"
"It's fine, Barb. It's not like I'm blameless."
The ageing ex-hero turned to see Roy Harper waving to him, summoning him over to where he was stood with Wally. Dick wasn't sure of the mischievous grins on their faces, but decided to go anyway.
"I'll see you later, all right?" Dick asked, looking at Barbara.
"Sure you will. I'll have to introduce you to my husband."
He smiled and, after a small wave, made his way over to his two friends. Dick couldn't help but grin as he remembered all the trouble they used to get into in the old days. So much, in fact, that Ravenhad given them the nickname 'Terrible Trio'. It wasn't as though they were constantly in trouble like Cyborg and Beast Boy, who would usually be the source of their own problems. When they were Robin, Speedy and Kid Flash, trouble just seemed to follow them, and then spread to whoever was in the immediate vicinity. Dick was still unsure as to what exactly it was about the three of them that attracted such trouble, but as Roy had once said: 'C'est la vie.'
Roy extended his hand as Dick approached. "How are you?"
"I'm fine, just getting tired."
Wally laughed. "Man, you are old."
Dick grimaced, and Roy laughed too. "Anyway, we're going to have a Poker game with some of the old big wigs of the League after the party, if you're in."
"I don't know… Kori-"
"Can come if she wants to," Wally cut in, his grin indicating to Dick that he was not going to win this argument.
"I'm guessing that Tom is just as welcome?"
The two friends glanced at each other. "Can he play Poker?"
"He's never played before."
"Then he's especially welcome," Roy said, smirking evilly.
The man once known as Nightwing couldn't help but laugh and shake his head. "All right, all right, I'm coming. But nothing crooked, all right? Kori can't play well as it is."
"Can't play what well?"
Dick froze at the sound of his wife's voice, and Wally and Roy snickered as though they were still Kid Flash and Speedy. Dick turned to face Kori.
"Uh… I was just saying that… uh…"
Roy raised a mock intellectual finger. "I believe you said that Kori can't play Poker very well."
Dick shot the two snickering old men a glare, which did nothing to stop their rampant giggling.
"Is that right?" Kori said slowly, raising a deep red eyebrow.
Dick sighed. Talking to Bruce would be easier than this.
Terry McGinnis let out a moan of pain as he rubbed his bruised elbow.
Of all the ways to land…
The tuxedo wasn't helping. He pulled at the collar, keeping one hand on the wheel as he tried to free up some room so he could breathe.
Terry shot a glancing glare in the old man's direction. "I'm not fidgeting; I'm trying to live."
"You're fidgeting. Bow ties can be tight; deal with it."
Terry huffed slightly. "Fine," he mumbled quietly, looking out the window. After a silence of about five minutes, he spoke again.
"Who's going to be at this party, anyway?"
"Everyone who can make it, from what I've heard."
"Does this mean I'll finally get to meet Dick Grayson? Commissioner Gordon tells me he has quite a few stories about you."
The ageing billionaire Bruce Wayne was silent for a few moments. "I suppose he does."
Terry wasn't so dense to know that he had hit a sore spot, so he decided to leave it well enough alone. He wondered what other heroes would be attending. It'd be cool to meet the Green Lantern and Hawkgirl. Well, the old Green Lantern, anyway. The new one was okay, but Terry found himself getting annoyed at how inhumanly calm he was all of the time. Would it kill him to get annoyed at something, or become excited about something, just once? Terry didn't think so. Neither did Warhawk for that matter, but he would never say it out loud. He would never agree with Terry on anything.
Terry pulled into the car park, and the two silently made their way to the foyer.
"I hope they haven't been waiting for us to arrive," Terry said absentmindedly, attempting to make some kind of conversation.
"Mmm," was Bruce's only reply.
The doors of the elevator slid open, and they were greeted by a wave of noise. Terry smiled in awe at the surroundings. He never knew the Metro Tower could look this good. He immediately spotted Superman, who waved the two over, a huge Santa Claus sized grin on his face. As Terry considered how alike the two were, the two walked over and Superman gladly introduced the woman he was with.
"Terry, this is Lois Lane."
Terry shook hands with the silver haired woman, and observed Bruce's reaction to her with great curiosity.
"Lois," he said.
"Bruce. Nice to see you haven't outgrown the need to recruit young cadets."
Terry didn't know whether to smirk of be insulted. Since it was Christmas, he settled for a smirk.
Mistake number one.
Bruce raised an eyebrow. "What are you smiling at?"
"Nothing. I'm Batman, remember? I don't smile."
Lois laughed. "You'll be a better Batman than he was kid, let me tell you."
Now that Terry found funny, even going so far as to snicker out loud.
Mistake number two.
Bruce gave him the bat glare. Terry gave him a bat glare back.
Mistake number three.
And you're out!
Bruce seemed to grow to monstrous proportions, his eyes becoming even more incensed. Terry laughed nervously.
"I'll just… go over here," he said, pointing to the other side of the room. Walking away quickly, he bumped into a red haired man.
"Oh… uh, sorry."
The grin that spread across the man's face immediately put Terry at ease. "No problem, kid. Wally West," he said, extending his hand. Terry's eyes widened and he took his hand.
"Wally West? As in 'The Flash' Wally West?"
"Well, I don't like to brag, but… yeah, that's me. The Fastest Old Coot Alive."
"I don't know… the old man can go pretty fast when he wants to."
Wally raised an eyebrow. "Old man? You mean your dad?"
Terry burst out laughing so loud that everyone around them turned to look in surprise. "God, no. What kind of hell would that be?"
Wally smiled, though his features betrayed the confusion he was feeling. Terry quickly recovered from his bout of laughter, wiping away a tear.
"Sorry, I haven't introduced myself. Terry McGinnis," he said, extending a hand. Wally took it uncertainly. Terry leaned further forward. "I'm the new Batman," he whispered, and Wally's eyes widened.
"So the 'old man' is-"
Wally's face once again broke out in a grin. "Where is the old guy?" he said, obviously plotting something to irritate him.
"Right over there," Terry said, pointing him out to the speedster.
"Thanks a bunch kid. I'll see you at the dinner, okay? Hey Bats!"
With a gust of wind, he was gone to annoy Bruce Wayne. Terry meandered around the crowds for a few minutes, trying to find someone he recognised. As he walked through the crowd, he heard different snippets of conversation.
"I've can't believe how much she's grown."
"Well, she is the Atom's daughter."
"I like nuts. Nuts nuts nuts." Terry frowned as he saw a yellow skinned man feasting on a handful of nuts, a Joker-esque grin on his face. Other voices knocked Terry from his troubled demeanour.
"And then I said, 'that's not a banana; that's a photon disintegrator pistol'!"
"Well, I guess you had to be there."
"John, I don't understand why you won't just try the Blurb. It's not like it'll kill you."
"The one time was enough for me, thanks."
"Mom's right, Dad; it's not that bad."
"Well, call me old fashioned Rex, but I prefer to have drinks that don't have worms floating in them."
"Look, Kori, it's not that you're bad at Poker; it's just that you don't quite understand the rules yet."
Terry turned to the bickering voices, and was greeted by the sight of a grey haired man pleading with his red haired wife, who had a peculiar orange tint to her skin. The woman turned in a huff, leaving the man scratching the back of his head, thoroughly confused. Terry smiled, being able to sympathise.
"And here I thought it got better with time," Terry joked, and the man heard him. He sighed and rubbed his eyes.
"I wish," he muttered, turning to face him. Something about him seemed familiar, but Terry couldn't place him.
"Do I know you?" Terry asked, extending his hand.
"I don't think so. Dick Grayson," he said, shaking Terry's hand confidently.
"Woah. You're Dick Grayson?"
Dick frowned and nodded. "Yeah, why?"
"It's just… wow, this is weird. You're the only one I haven't talked to."
"Sorry. I'm the new guy." Dick still did not comprehend what he was talking about, and Terry leant closer, lowering his voice. "The new Batman, I mean."
Dick's eyes widened slightly. "Oh… so is…"
"Yeah, the old man's here. He seems pretty nervous about you being here, too."
A hint of a smile flashed across his face. "He does?"
"Oh yeah. Every time I mention you, he gets all silent. That's always a sign he's nervous."
"Well, that makes me feel a little bit better."
Terry was about to ask why when Superman floated above everyone. The noise from the crowd died down, and Superman nodded thankfully.
"Thank you. I've just been told by the chefs that dinner is ready, so if you would please make your way to the dinner hall, we can start."
Dick looked back down at Terry. "I'll see you later, kid. I've got to find my wife and find some way to get her to sit down next to me…" he said, trailing off as he walked away into the crowd.
Terry grinned. He liked him already.
He had done it. It had taken a lot of grovelling and promises, but he had eventually gained Kori's forgiveness. Of course, Kori wasn't that angry with him to begin with, but she enjoyed putting the fear of an angry Tamaranian Princess into Dick now and again. They had been seated with the other Titans, who, much to Dick's dismay, were next to where Bruce and his protégé had been seated. As they ate, Kori was continually nudging Dick to attempt to make some kind of contact with the old man, but every attempt came short, usually from Garfield and Wally loudly interrupting with some old joke or story.
By the time the dessert had come around, Kori had had enough of her husband's indecisiveness. Clearing her throat, she loudly spoke.
"Dick, wasn't there something you wanted to tell Bruce Wayne?"
The old man looked up slightly at mention of his name, and Terry grinned. Dick shot a glare at his wife.
"Thank you, dearest."
"You'll thank me later."
Dick wasn't convinced, but turned to Terry anyway. "Hey kid, do you mind switching seats?"
Terry shrugged. "Sure."
The two made their way around the table, and Dick took his seat next to his old mentor. "So… enjoying the food?"
Bruce remained silent. "It's… colourful."
The silence that followed almost stopped everyone around them from talking. Dick took a deep breath. "Listen, Bruce… I…"
Bruce sighed and nodded. "I know, Dick. It's all right. You don't need to-"
"No, you don't know, Bruce. And I can't get the words out to make you understand, so I… I'd like you to meet my son."
Bruce was looking increasingly uncomfortable. "You don't need to do that."
Dick put a hand on his shoulder. "I want to."
Dick got up and walked over to where his son was seated with Aquagirl and the other younger members of the Justice League Unlimited. "Tom, would you mind coming with me? There's someone I want you to meet."
He reluctantly left the table and followed his father, looking increasingly impatient as they walked over. Dick stopped and took a deep breath.
"Bruce, I'd like you to meet my son, Thomas And'r Grayson. Tom, this is Bruce Wayne."
Tom's eyes widened. "You mean… this is…"
Dick nodded before his son could go any further. "And not a lot of people know about it, so…"
Tom nodded. "Okay, okay. But wow… this is so cool. I mean, you're one of the schwayest heroes ever!"
Bruce raised an eyebrow at his unbridled enthusiasm, and Dick patted his son on the shoulder. "All right, all right, you can talk later. I just wanted you to meet him."
This time, Tom was reluctant to go back to his table, though one look at the female occupants changed his mind. With a quick wave to his father and a lingering look at Bruce, he made his way back. Dick watched him go, and then turned back to Bruce.
Bruce was silent for a moment before he said anything.
"You named him Thomas."
Dick shrugged. "Well, you were always like a f…" Dick trailed off, unable to say the words. "…so your father was like a grandfather. So, I… it just seemed…"
A heavy hand was placed on his shoulder. His voice was so quiet that Dick barely even heard him. "It was." Dick looked into his former mentor's eyes in the silence that followed, and couldn't help the emotion that welled up inside him.
Dick smiled fondly, and was at a loss of what to say. Fortunately, he didn't have to worry about it for long, since there was a resounding splat noise from behind Bruce. They turned to see Raven with some pudding on her face, and Garfield giggling in his chair. Somehow, Terry had ended up sat next to both Garfield and Wally, and was now holding a recently fired spoon catapult in his hands.
"Dude! Schway shot!" Gar exclaimed, patting him on the back. But Terry wasn't convinced, judging by the horrified look on his face. Neither was Wally, for that matter, since he was slowly inching his chair back. Raven's scowl was evident beneath the pudding, and Dick couldn't help but feel sorry for Terry. Only a few minutes with Garfield, and he was already one of Raven's enemies. Bruce groaned and rubbed his eyes.
Dick smiled. Some things truly never changed.
"Was I right?"
He was silent.
He sighed and nodded. "All right, all right. You were right, I was wrong. Thank you."
Kori nodded graciously. "That's all I wanted to hear."
They swayed in silence to the music.
"So… am I forgiven?"
Kori was silent for a moment. "I think so, yes."
Terry smiled as he walked by the dancing couple, and only wished that Dana could be here with him. He would definitely tell her soon. He'd kept her in the dark about Batman for too long. Terry smiled to himself.
Heh. Batman. Kept in the dark. I made a funny.
He ran a hand through his hair, and found some pudding there. He groaned, wondering just how much pudding that Raven had thrown on him and Garfield. He silently cursed Wally's speed, since it had saved him from the repercussions of Raven's wrath. Terry had no idea how Garfield could have been so blasé about Raven's anger. It just didn't seem to bother him. He looked around the room, trying to spot the ageing green changeling. Much to his surprise, he was engaged in a slow dance with said dark empath. A very peaceful and romantic looking slow dance, in fact.
Terry frowned as he looked at all the other couples enjoying their dances.
Ah, screw it.
Terry walked out of the large hall and marched to a quiet area of the building. Pulling out his cell phone, he pushed the speed dial for Dana. After a few rings, Dana picked up.
"Hey, it's me."
"Terry? I thought you were at a Mr Wayne party."
"I am. I just wanted to call and see how you were."
Dana seemed mildly surprised. "Uh… yeah, I'm fine."
"And… I wanted to know if you wanted to have dinner some time before Christmas. Just you and me. I've got something to tell you."
"Okay. I hope it's something good."
Terry smiled wryly. "I guess that depends on your point of view."
"See you later. And Dana?"
"I love you."
There was the longest silence on the other side before Dana responded. "I love you too."
Terry smiled. He loved the holidays.
Clark stood before the crowd, and wondered briefly what to say. But only briefly. Maybe it was the way Lois was smiling at him supportively. Maybe it was the way that Wally was grinning inanely at something Linda had said to him, even though it wasn't meant as a joke. Maybe it was the way that John and Shayera playfully bickered with one another.
Maybe it was how the Titans were like a family within a family.
Maybe it was how Tim was sulking after Bruce had glued a Santa Claus hat to his head earlier on in the party. Or maybe it was the way that Bruce was smiling as he talked to Dick's son. A kind of smile that Clark had never seen before. A smile of pure joy. The smile itself was very small, but Clark knew Bruce well enough to be able to read his eyes. It was why Batman wore a mask with one way lenses; his eyes gave away so much of his emotion, even after all these years. Especially after all these years.
"I hope you've all had a good time. It's wonderful to see so many familiar faces with us. And while there are some who couldn't make it…"
Clark's mind instantly flashed on to those close to him who were absent.
But rather than become downcast at their being missing, he grafted his warm feelings for them into his speech.
"… I couldn't have asked for a better turnout. I've seen so many people today that I never thought I'd see again. And some whom I see every day. I'm just glad that you could all be here, putting aside differences of age for the seasonal spirit. I know it's hard for you younger members to put up with the more… 'experienced' members of the League-"
"Don't you mean 'old'?" Ray Palmer cut in, and a chuckle went through the crowd. Clark smiled.
"Just protecting my ego, Ray." Another chuckle shook through the crowd, and Ray grinned. "In any case," Clark continued, laughing slightly, "it was wonderful to see you all again. But just remember that it doesn't have to be a big Christmas occasion for you to see each other. This is just one time of the year, and it would be a shame to limit yourself to seeing each other that little. So, whether it's old friends you haven't seen for a long time…"
He looked over at Wally, who was stood with Dick and Roy, all three of them looking ready to start some kind of mischief.
"… or if it's people you've only just come to know…"
Bruce looked at Tom with pride in his eyes, who was enthralled by Clark's speech. Seeing this, Clark's smile widened.
"…don't let it go to waste."
He looked over the crowd and smiled fondly.
"And finally… Merry Christmas."
And that was a sentiment that everyone could get behind. Even Bruce.
(A/N: There. A big cheesy final Christmas chapter for y'all.
Thank you all for reading and reviewing. You guys and gals have made this story my most popular fic by far, and that's not an exaggeration in the least, trust me. I have been genuinely surprised by how damn popular this story was, and I hope you read and review my future stories as much.
So, that being said, don't forget to review this chapter as well.
Merry Christmas, all.)