Disclaimer: All characters are owned by DC/Time Warner Bros. No money is being made off of this writing.
Summary: AU tangent after the ending of the Blockbuster/Tarantula storyline.
Dick gritted his teeth and looked at the injuries to his side, trying to estimate the damage, what he would need to bandage it and how long it would take to heal.
He had three long gashes going from just behind his shoulder blade to just under his floating rib. One had gone deep enough to score a rib, but the other two had only done surface damage. The bleeding was negligible now, which was a good thing – the body only has so many pints.
Dick taped several pieces of gauze over the gashes and carefully, gingerly, began winding a bandage around his ribs, pausing when the pain made him pant and want to curl into a ball. He could do this. He really could.
He'd have to get a doc to look at them soon – he couldn't stitch his back, no matter how flexible he was. He just needed a little time to catch his breath and make sure the loose ends were tied up. Make sure this case was done.
He'd worked this case for three months – solid. It wasn't as if he had any distractions. He had rejoined the BPD at Amy's behest, but as the liaison with the cape community rather than an officer or detective. No one in the superhero community knew this as Dick hadn't told anyone. After the fiasco with Tarantula and Blockbuster, Dick had left the cape community alone. He had turned Tarantula in, turned over all the evidence he had garnered on both characters including the disc that DA Alvarez had destroyed. Nightwing, in his haze of pain and crushing defeat, had forgotten about the backups. His backups. The ones he always made all the time out of Bat induced paranoia. He'd found them when checking his equipment to see what was too far gone and needed replaced and what was salvageable. It broke the case and put paid to a dead man's empire.
And Dick could close that chapter of his life and hold the guilt close for always. It had truly come down to he wouldn't have killed Blockbuster, but he didn't have to save him either. That one of his own employees – and wasn't that embarrassing to find out – had put a bullet through his eye was just part of the perks of working in the criminal under world. There is no honor among thieves. The fact that Tarantula had been killed in Blackgate had put paid to his identity and by extension his families, ever falling into the wrong hands.
So the only vigilante that Dick liaisoned with was Nightwing. Himself. He kept an eye out and an ear to the ground, but for now, Bludhaven had fallen off the map as far as superheroes were concerned. It was mostly calm, no super villains were working the area and crime was down for the moment. Good enough. They had other worries. Other problems. Dick still felt the sting from Batman's admonition to leave his problems in Bludhaven. So he had, remaining there himself. Wasn't he a problem?
With Blockbuster gone, the heirs to the empire fell to squabbling amongst themselves, petty rivalries flared up and bitter feuds boiled over and began again. Nightwing did everything he could to foment this and keep the underworld off balance. The longer they fought each other, the safer the ordinary citizens were.
Until the harvesters had shown up. They had stayed clear of the turmoil and had moved around the edges and shadows like a scavenger, picking off children, taking teens and leaving their bloody remains to be found. Young bodies had stronger hearts and organs. The market price for a new liver had never been higher.
Dick had gone after them as vengeance personified. To see children hurt, especially after the Outsiders and Roy and Lian, drove Dick to extremes. Kids didn't deserve to be hurt. They deserved to be nurtured, cared for, and encouraged. Dick had hunted them, figured out who they were and who their buyers were. He had gathered the evidence and information, brought in the police, coordinated with the feds and brought the entire ring down.
There were prominent citizens in Metropolis and Gotham that were going to have their empires crumble around them with dawn's harsh light. Public support never did favor those who would kill children for their own ends, now matter how removed from the actual death. For those in Bludhaven, it would only confirm what many had already thought, pleased to see that evil was finally getting its comeuppance in Bludhaven.
There had been one meta.
He was the one who had started the whole damn thing and had seen the events of Bludhaven as the time to strike. Nightwing had taken him on in a furious clash of claws and muscle. Dick had taken him down in twenty minutes, but not without injury. He'd called Amy to inform her and have the team created to take care of such villains to come and get him. Amy told Grayson that he was needed as the liaison for the cape community to talk to the feds and police representatives. Dick sighed, gritted his teeth and got into his 'other' uniform and made his way down and out of the building.
The meeting lasted the better part of an hour with lots of questions as to where the superheroes were, how had the information been obtained and why wasn't the hero in question here? Dick steadfastly answered them all. There had been only one cape and they had worked together on this ring. The information had been obtained as legally as possible and after Dick had opened the case through the police department, he had gotten all the necessary documentation and legal niceties for wire taps, search and seizures, and hidden microphones. The hero wasn't there because he didn't want to be there. Technically, he still worked outside the law and the last time he had come within distance, he had been arrested, handcuffed and almost shot for his troubles.
When Amy protested this, Dick just turned, shrugged and said "once bitten, twice shy".
With this, the various agencies had to be satisfied. And they were. This bust was going to make everyone look good from the crime it had stopped, to the kids they had recovered, to the seamless way everyone had worked together rather than clashing over territories and procedure. Everyone won.
Dick barely made it out of there before Amy discovered the extent of his wounds. She had seen him falter and grab his side. Immediately she was next to him, supporting him and demanding to know what had happened. Dick had smiled at her, told her that he had taken a couple of good solid hits, but was essentially fine. Just tired. He had worked on the case with very little break. Amy had looked him dead in the eye, knew he was lying and just shook her head. She thrust a handful of envelopes at him, telling him that normal people pick up their paychecks on a regular basis, not quarterly.
Dick had just smiled, stuffed the envelopes in his jacket pocket, gone over to his bike and ridden away. Five minutes later the blood had soaked through far enough for it to show on his jacket. Thankfully, it was a dark color.
Dick looked down at the once white bandages that were now showing red splotches. He was going to have to get this looked at sooner rather than later. Standing up, a wave of dizziness engulfed his senses and caused Dick to stagger and drop down on his knees. That wasn't so good. Breathing deeply, he knew he should have gotten help at the crime scene – there had been several ambulances. But finding the excuses had just been beyond him. All he had wanted was to find his hole and crawl in it, preferably pulling the opening in after him. Well, if he did that, both of his careers would be over before he could get them started again. Which, sometimes, was a temptation in and of itself.
Movement was just becoming an idea of contemplation when Dick felt the air pressure change near him. Tensing, Dick let the adrenalin flood his system, readying himself for whoever had breached his sanctuary. He felt the muscles twitch and pull across his back, making the gashes bleed more. Dick remained still, playing possum until his intruder revealed himself. He had not been expecting a gentle touch and flinched.
Dick looked up and saw Batman kneeling next to him, one hand supporting his arm the other wrapping around his waist. To his other side, Dick saw Robin in a mirrored position, supporting him as well. Dick was confused.
"Where'd you come from?" Dick wasn't even sure his mumble had been heard.
"Did you think we wouldn't come?" Batman looked at his first partner and son, worried at how pale he was, proud of the job he had just completed.
Dick shook his head a little. "Didn't. Didn't call."
"Since when do you have to call?" Robin's heart clenched a little at Nightwing's admission. He hadn't called and he hadn't expected anyone. It seemed that Oracle was right; something was going on in Dick's head that was causing him to cut himself off from everyone.
Batman's arm tightened around the waist of his son. "Your captain called the manor. She found a contact number in your previous employment papers. Said you didn't look too steady on leaving the bust."
The two vigilantes got Dick to his feet and moving towards the door. Only Dick would use an abandoned mine complex for a headquarters. Outside of town, but with tunnels leading just about everywhere. Batman wasn't the only one with a thing for caves.
Dick allowed himself to relax a little once they had gotten up to the vehicle and settled. He was being flown to Gotham and Leslie's tender mercies whether he wanted them or not. His last muzzy thought before blackness took his mind was that it was good to have family.