Author's Note: I don't own or work for D.C. (Wish I did though…)
This story popped in my mind this morning while I was trying to study for a quiz and upcoming midterms. As I couldn't write it down at the time, it's probably not quite as good as the original, but I hope it still works.
The Other Son
Gotham was always different by night. Granted, it was the same people who lived in the city, but they seemed to change at night. Many people were different. There were those who even showed a different face.
Matthew McGinnis was no exception.
The twenty-four year old silently surveyed the darkened streets below him. Gotham City was relatively slow tonight. In all actuality, the city had no need for Nightwing on this particular night. However, this evening was different than all of the others.
"Matt, we need to talk."
His older brother had shown up at his apartment late yesterday night (or was it early this morning?). There had been an unusual look of seriousness in Terry's eyes. Granted, his older sibling was far less carefree than he used to be, but the brothers were still notorious for the stunts they pulled on each other (and sometimes other Leaguers). Although, to be quite fair, Matt was usually the more mischievous of the two.
"Bruce is…how do I say this…well, he's our father. Our real father."
Nightwing silently slipped into the shadows and moved to the next roof top. He had a midterm and a quiz the next day, but the young man couldn't bring himself to study. Not yet. His mind couldn't focus.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw a group of Jokerz jostling around a young unfortunate couple. The young woman wore an evening gown and her date, a dashing African-American, was pressed up against a wall by one of the gang members.
Oh yeah, he thought, the high schools have their prom tonight.
Matt swooped down and swiftly dealt with the offending clowns. He tried not to take his inner anger and confusion out on the unfortunate criminals.
"I'm telling the truth Matt! Biologically, the Old Man's our father!"
The Old Man…Bruce Wayne. Matt hadn't known the former vigilante much growing up, even after he had discovered his brother's true identity. It had taken a lot of convincing on his part for the old man and his brother to allow him to even take up the mantle of Nightwing.
Even so, he and Bruce had never been close. They would never be close. Not like he and Terry were anyway.
He'd had a father. His father had been murdered years ago.
But you weren't really close to him either, were you?
Matt paused. His parents had divorced when he was young. He had spent most of the time with their mother and not their father. Come to think of it, Terry had probably been closer to him too.
He brushed it off as he returned to his apartment. He had homework, studying to do. Ten minutes later, he had buried himself into his work, which is what he usually did when he was upset.
Working was better than brooding.
"There's something you're not telling me Terry," Matt said. A grimace crossed his brother's face.
His fingers paused over the keyboard. According to Terry, Amanda Waller had tried to have their parents murdered so that Terry would be put on the road to Batman. If she had succeeded…then he would not even exist.
Hell, neither of them should even exist.
"I thought I was a curse, a fake…" Terry started.
"You!" Matt finally exploded. "I have his genes too Stupid! What the hell does this make me? The discarded piece of genetic back up? The piece that no one wants unless the Great Terry McGinnis dies? 'Oh well, at least there's still another…'"
"That's not true Matt," Terry said.
"Then what's the truth? What's real?"
Matt pounded his desk when he realized that he was brooding again. He seemed to have developed the habit of turning into even more of a recluse than Terry when something was troubling him.
He instantly became alert when he detected a movement outside his window. Seconds later, it was followed by a soft 'tap tap' on the glass. After a moment of hesitation, he opened it to see a familiar green eyed, blonde haired face.
"I've been worried about you," the Amazon accused. Matt smirked at her. Natasha, one of Diana's "sisters", had joined the League a few months before he had. They had become good friends, although Terry liked to irritate him by hinting that it was more than just friendship.
"You could have called," Matt said. She glared at him after climbing through the window.
"You turned your phone off," Natasha pointed out, crossing her arms.
"I didn't want to be bothered."
She glared at him and raised an eyebrow. Matt gave a sigh. He knew that she wouldn't leave until he gave an answer that satisfied her.
"It's complicated," he explained.
"Did you and Terry have a fight?"
"Matt…" she warned. Stop being a stubborn ass and talk to me. His dark eyes flickered to her face before looking away. He ran a hand through his black hair and sighed.
"I…I can't talk about it right now," he admitted. "I'll try to explain later, but…" He trailed off. He looked out the window as he suddenly made up his mind.
"There's someone I need to see first," Matt added. Natasha gave him a considering look. Then, to his surprise, she kissed him on the cheek and left.
"Fine," she said on her way out. "But call me when you're ready to talk."
Matt watched her leave before pulling on his jacket and grabbing his keys. He walked outside to his motorcycle. On impulse, he turned on his cell phone to check his messages. There was a new one from Terry.
"Matt…don't break any tea sets." There was a click. That was all Terry had said. Matt stared at it before turning it back off. Don't break any tea sets? What's he mean by that?
He climbed onto the seat and set off for Amanda Waller's place.
Terry looked down at his father's grave. The man that he had always called father anyway. He set down a single rose next toWarren McGinnis's tombstone before looking up at the night sky. A soft breeze sent a brief chill up his spine.
A crescent moon hung bright over head.
He felt his phone vibrate and answered it. His fiancée was on the other line.
"Dana?" he asked.
"Terry…how did Matt take it?" she asked. His sharp blue eyes scanned the horizon, as if trying to see his younger brother.
"Like I expected," Terry answered.
"Will he be alright?"
"He'll be fine," he reassured her. "Matt just needs to get his brooding out of the way first. He and Bruce have the same tendency to withdraw when something's bothering them. Matt'll show later tonight to talk to me when he's done." There was a pause as Dana thought about that.
"All right, I'll call you later. I love you."
"I love you too."
Terry pocketed the phone and walked silently through the older section of the cemetery. A few minutes later, he looked down a pair of older head stones, their names barely visible in the dark.
Thomas and Martha Wayne
Terry gently laid two red roses on their graves. He paused briefly out of respect before melting silently into the shadows.
"Terry…does Mom know?" Matt asked. Terry hesitated before shaking his head firmly.
"No…and…she doesn't need to know Matt."
Matt peered at the huge house through the gated entrance. Tough security. He wasn't trying to break in though, not unless he had to. To his surprise however, the gate swung open for him.
Has she been expecting me?
He glided smoothly up the walkway. The door opened just as his foot hit the top step. An elderly, chocolate skinned woman was waiting for him, her sharp eyes taking in every detail.
"I should have known," Amanda Waller said. "If it's not one brother, it's the other." She studied him carefully, as if assessing his character. A small smirk twitched at her lips as she turned and beckoned the young man to follow.
"Do you like tea, Matthew?" she asked.
"It's all right," he said. He paused, then added. "Terry said something about me not breaking any tea sets." To Matt's surprise, she actually gave a wry chuckle.
"That's because he broke my mother's tea set after he barged in here a few days ago."
"Terry's never been one for tact," Matt said. A few minutes later, he and Waller were sitting across from each other. Matt stared into the oily liquid as the older woman gave a contented sniff of her tea.
"Amazing substance, tea," she said.
"Why?" Matt finally asked. Waller set down her cup and crossed her fingers. Her eyes seemed to pierce into his.
"I'm sure that your brother has already answered that," she said calmly.
"It was unethical. You had no right," Matt accused. A sad smile crossed her lips.
"Perhaps," Waller admitted. "But I have no regrets." The skin around her eyes crinkled as she gave him a wry smile.
"When you said that, I could have sworn that I was talking to your father," she said.
"Warren McGinnis or Bruce Wayne?"
"What is it that's troubling you?" Amanda said, cutting gently to the point. "There's more to this than what caused another McGinnis to come bursting in here." Matt stared at her before looking away.
"What am I?" he asked out loud. "Am I just a back up for Terry? Am I just his replacement if dies or quits?" Matt looked back at her after a moment when she didn't answer. When he did look, he saw a sympathetic look in her eyes. Waller reached across the table and grasped his hand.
"I almost made a mistake once," she admitted. "I would have had your parents murdered in order to 'help' your brother. It was a mistake…in more ways than one." Her hand tightened over his.
"For one," she added quietly. "If I had succeeded, we would not be having this conversation." Matt sat there a moment before pulling his hand away to stand up. He turned away from her.
"That's not all that's bothering you," Amanda observed. Matt swung around to stare at her, causing her to smirk. "I'm an old woman," she added. "I long ago learned to read people in my line of work."
Matt stuck his hands in his pocket and wandered over to the window. Amanda waited patiently for him to speak again. In some ways, he was more like Bruce than Terry, she observed. Terry was far more vocal with his emotions. Matt, on the other hand, was more reluctant to share his inner thoughts.
"I've always been close to my mom," Matt finally said quietly. "But..my dad…Warren…he and Terry were always close. He and Mom divorced when I was a little kid. I was living with her when he died, so I didn't see him as much as Terry. And…"
"And when you discover that Bruce is really your father, it's still Terry who has the relationship and not you," Amanda said quietly. "Are you jealous?" Matt tightened his fists before answering.
"Jealous…that's not the word I'd choose to use…but yeah, maybe a little," he admitted. "But mostly…I'm just sad, I guess. Even after becoming Nightwing, Bruce is still practically a stranger to me."
"It's not too late to change that," Amanda said quietly. She walked over and placed a hand on the young man's shoulder. "Listen kid, Bruce and I don't have much time left in this world. If you want to change his and your relationship, now's the time to do it. You'll regret it if you don't."
Matt stared down at the floor.
"I'd feel like I was intruder," he finally admitted. "Bruce and Terry have always been like father and son. Me…I'm just the third wheel."
"I highly doubt that's what Bruce and Terry think." Amanda placed a hand on his cheek and forced him to look at her.
"They're your family," she said. "You're Bruce's son just as much as Terry. They both need you more than you think." Amanda patted him on the shoulder before turning around.
"Now what are you doing here, Mr. McGinnis? You should be talking to your brother, not me."
The hallway was dark when Matt finally walked into it. The sun was just beginning to rise in the distance, causing a faint glow to reflect through the windows. He padded silently past the old clock in the wall, the secret entrance to the cave.
He knew Bruce was somewhere in the house, possibly asleep. Terry was most likely on patrol.
To his surprise though, his brother was sitting in the living room. A laptop was open on the coffee table, its dim glow visible in the room. Upon closer examination, Matt saw that Terry was reviewing one of the League's past missions.
"How'd it go?" Terry asked. Matt sat down next to him. Terry handed him a soda. He had clearly been expecting his brother to show up.
"How do you think it went?" he asked back. Terry smirked.
"She set you straight, didn't she?"
The two brothers talked quietly for several minutes. Matt finally worked up the courage to tell Terry what he'd said to Waller. Again, Matt realized, his brother seemed to have expected it.
"You behaved better than me," Terry finally pointed out.
"That's because Mom drilled it into me. You were a lost cause."
"Sure, what ever you say," the older brother said.
"Heh, stupid," the younger brother said.
Matt cursed as Terry suddenly threw his arm around him in a head lock. After several minutes of struggling, the two men were wrestling each other on the floor. A shuffling sound caught their attention and they looked up to see Bruce eyeing them.
Terry took the opportunity to sucker punch his brother.
Bruce merely shook his head and shuffled away, an amused smirk crossing his aged face. He paused after a few steps and looked back at them.
"Matt," Bruce said dryly. "Don't be afraid to give your brother a hit to the head. Lord knows that he needs it from time to time."
"Hey!" Terry protested. Matt instantly followed Bruce's advice and whacked his brother across the head.
Bruce's lips twitched as Terry chased his younger brother out of the living room.