yay. last chapter.
i own nothing.
sorry for any mistakes.
The billionaire's eyes shot open, and he turned, seeing his thirteen-year-old son standing in the doorway. His face was pale, and he had bluish bags beneath his sapphire eyes, which were blood-shot and turning red. His cheeks were tear-stained, and his lips were pale and quivering. His too-long hair was falling into his face, and his bare chest gleamed with sweat. His long pajama pants were tied around his waist by a rope-belt, and they, too, were damp with sweat.
Bruce sat up in bed, his eyebrows furrowed. "Dick-"
Dick darted over to his foster-father's bed, jumping in quickly. Bruce, not even caring or noticing the boy's sweat, wrapped Dick up in his arms, kissing his head gently as the boy wept. Dick clutched tightly onto Bruce's neck like a spider-monkey. His shoulders shook violently as he bit back tears.
Dick's salty blue eyes looked up, and he said, "W-When do the n-nightmares... When d-d-do they s-stop?"
Bruce didn't answer.
My head ached, but I ignored it. I'd had worse.
Much, much worse.
"Hey, Timmy!" I heard a voice.
I groaned, grabbing the still hospital pillow that was behind my bed and threw it at the voice. "Ouch!"
"Go away, Wally..."
"Get up, Timmy."
I opened my eyes, the bright white lights stinging them slightly. I hissed, sitting up. "Woah, tiger," came Artemis's voice. The woman sat down next to me. Honestly, I felt my heart flutter slightly. I mean, really, have you ever seen that girl? She... Is... A... Babe.
And, no, I don't mean the pig.
I propped myself back onto the metal head-rest. "How- where-"
Wally sat down next to me. To my surprise, he wasn't smiling like his cheery self. His expression was grim.
"What happened?" I asked as my heart fell into my stomach. My lungs took air in a bit faster, and I felt myself go pale. "Is Alf-"
"Naw, Jeeve's fine," the speedster said quickly.
"What happened?" I repeated, looking to Artemis.
She bit her lower lip, pulling her hair behind her ear. I just then noticed that she had one arm in a cast. Black and blue skin formed a ring around her right eyes. Wally's head was wrapped up a bit, a stain of blood on his forehead just above his eyebrow.
The archeress took my hand, her eyes looking sad. "Everyone's fine... For the most part..."
I felt my breath come quicker. Swallowing back nervous bile, I voiced shakily, "B-Bruce? D-Dick?"
Wally put a hand on my shoulder. "Bruce got a coupla' burns and a concussion, but other than that, he'll heal fine."
My eyes flashed from the man to the woman. "So that means..."
Artemis looked away, tears welling in her eyes.
"No- no, no, no, no, no..."
I slid from the bed, ignoring the fact that my hospital gown flashed my undies in the back. The IV ripped from my arm, and I darted into the next medical room. Wally dashed over with super-speed, grabbing my arms. "NO!" I shouted at him, stepping harshly on his foot. He winced, but didn't let go.
Okay, Plan B...
I decided to play dirty, kicking back and hitting his-
As he fell to the floor in pain, I slammed open the doors and saw-
Mr. Freeze's body had been retrieved from all of the rubble of Wayne Manor. He had been put in the morgue of Gotham Medical Hospital for an autopsy, to better understand the criminal. It gave Barbara chills to think about it.
Joker and Harley were both in straight jackets, on 24-hour surveillance in Arkham. Croc was there, too, shackled and chained to the walls, his snout likely chained tightly. Ivy was a different story.
She had escaped.
How, no one knew.
Once Batman had awaken from his drunken stupor, he had only Joker over his shoulder.
Ivy. Got. Away.
Bane was in a high-security prison, his steroid pumps taken away yet again.
Now, Barbara sat in the Medical Bay, Nightwing's pale, clammy hand in hers. All around the room stood the old members of Young Justice.
Arsenal was pacing back and forth, back and forth. Connor stood next to M'gann, who was sitting in a chair, staring at the floor, both hands on her stomach as she fought back tears. Kaldur'ahm was sitting across the bed from Barbara, watching Nightwing's pale face.
Batman was there, too, to everyone's surprise. He was obviously making an intense effort to be there more for Dick and Tim. He sat down, cowl off, at the head of the bed, his hand in Dick's long, coal-black hair as he stroked it gently
The hero, yet again, had tubes up his throat and nose. The blankets were pulled up to his lower waist, showing his stark white chest, covered with bloody gauze.
Ivy's vine had been poisonous.
It hadn't hit any major internal organs, but it had managed to release toxins into Dick's body.
So now, again, Bruce's son was on his death-bed.
The doors suddenly slammed open, showing Tim, his mask off. Aquamarine eyes were open wide, his spiky raven locks flying around. When his eyes rested on his foster-brother, he fell to his knees.
Arsenal was over in a moment, holding the shaking boy as he cried. "N-No! N-Not again... not again... He can't- he can't just- No, no, no, no, no..."
The red-headed archer was about to pick the boy up, but Tim pulled away. "No- not this time. I'm staying until he wakes up."
Arsenal nodded, making no objections. "Okay, Drake."
Tempest stood, gesturing for Tim to sit.
It was just then that the boy realized how shaky his knees were- from grief and from his concussion. He plopped down into the chair, resting his head in his hands. Kaldur stepped back, pulling Arsenal into the other room for a moment.
They saw Wally on the floor, clutching at his legs.
For the first time in a long time (1), both laughed.
Wally glared up at them and gasped, "Yeah... Right- laugh it... up now, guys... 'cause you won't be- be laughin' for long..."
Artemis came over and helped her boyfriend to stand. Wally shook his crimson mane as he looked to Kaldur and Roy. He frowned when he saw their intent gazes. Turning to Artemis, he kissed her forehead. "Go in and watch Timmy for me, will ya', babe? I need to chat with the guys..."
Artemis had never really taken kindly to being told what to do, but she nodded and sauntered off anyways.
Wally turned to Roy and Kaldur. "How's he doing?"
Roy shrugged. "He's healing up well, but..."
"The poison is attacking his system fiercely," Kaldur'ahm finished, putting a hand on Roy's shoulder. His gaze fell from Wally and Roy down to the floor. "We are doing everything we can. Batman brought up an antidote for Ivy's poison, but it is not reacting with his system as how we hoped... It is attacking the poison, but also his white blood cells..."
Roy, his eyes tearful- for the first time ever- caught Wally's gaze. "Our worst fear now is infection."
The speedster swallowed heavily. "B-But... Dick- he's strong! He- he's gonna make it... Right?"
Neither of the other heroes answered.
Wally suddenly shouted, "But we already almost lost him once! We can't- we can't just! NO! No, no, no... I mean-" He paused, sniffling. "I knew he was injured, but... Oh, God help us..."
That was Wednesday.
Now, on Friday, a nurse came into Dick's room. Bruce was there, still sitting at the head of the bed. Barbara had been dragged away by M'gann and Artemis. Now, she should have been asleep, though everyone knew she wouldn't- not with Dick so injured, still. Wally was out, eating, as his injuries would heal faster when he had more food. Arsenal had stuff to deal with at the company with Oliver, Connor was trying to convince M'gann to eat ("You have another to worry about now, M'gann.") through her distress.
Kaldur'ahm sat across the room from Bruce, smiling weakly as Dick stirred.
He walked over when the younger man's eyes opened. Dick's signature smirk broke out, but pain could be seen in his eyes. He craned his neck as Bruce walked around to stand next to his son. "Hey, Bruce, Kal... What's going on?"
Bruce snorted softly, crossing his arms over his chest. "Well, for one thing, you've been unconscious for the past two days after getting your ass handed to you by Ivy."
Dick playfully winced. "Oh, Brucie, you tease too much!"
Kaldur chuckled at his friend, a friend he had once considered a little brother. Now, though, they had drifted apart...
Did Dick still consider him an older brother?
"Hey, c'mon, Kal. Sit," Dick said, gesturing out. Suddenly, though, he took in a sharp hiss of air and clutched at his gut, eyes squinting shut tightly.
Bruce instantly was on one knee, holding Dick's hand as Kaldur called for a nurse. "Dick... How much does it hurt?"
Dick chuckled. "One a scale of one to ten?"
Bruce rolled his eyes. "Obviously not that much."
The doors opened, and Nurse Peggy darted in, her hair disheveled. Bruce then remembered that it was almost 2AM. "Oh, my! Mr. Nightwing, sir!" She went over to the cabinets and pulled out some rubber gloves and medical scissors. "Allow me to take a look at your wound."
Dick nodded, blowing air out of his nose. Then, his eyes snapped open. "Wait- my wound? What wound?"
Kaldur walked over to stand next to Dick's head. "We all went to the-"
"The Manor..." Dick's eyes widened in recognition. "Oh, God-" he turned to Bruce sharply. "Alf-"
Dick sighed in relief. "And Tim?"
"Fine, too," came a voice from the door. Dick smiled over the nurse's shoulder at Tim. The boy, now dressed in a Gotham Knights' hoodie and black skinny jeans with Converse, walked up, hands in his pockets. He eyed the nurse as she lowered the scissors to Dick's chest. Then, he looked over at his brother.
"How you feel?"
Dick shrugged, and the nurse snapped, "Don't move!"
Dick rolled his eyes, making a face at Tim, his tongue stuck out and eyes crossed as he mouthed, 'Don't move!'
Tim bit back a chuckle as Kaldur'ahm snorted. Bruce simply rolled his eyes again.
The nurse pulled apart the gauze, and Dick's face contorted with pain as he clutched at the blankets. Her beady eyes widened as she looked at the stitched-up hole on Dick's stomach.
The wound was red all around, and a white puss bled from it. Yellowed and greenish skin was all around the black stitches, and it was easily seen that even more puss, this time clearish and yellowish at the same time, had made the stitches latch onto the gauze, which was stained with yellow.
Tim, now ghostly pale, looked up at Bruce, who was hiding his fear with anger.
Only Tim and Dick could see that anger.
Dick didn't look at his wound- he didn't have to to know that it was infected.
By Monday, Dick's infection had spread rapidly.
His fever had spiked at 104.6 degrees.
He had severe chills.
He had puked up blood and everything they had tried to get in his stomach.
Barbara never left his side- she even slept in the room. Of course, Bruce and Tim didn't leave, either, and Wally would have stayed 24/7 if Artemis hadn't pulled him out for sleep and food.
Alfred was 'taking care' of things with the Manor, which had burnt to the ground. His shoulder had healed up nicely, but he still had it wrapped up. Under his suit, though, it couldn't be seen, and he blamed the painkillers on old age and joint pain.
Lucius had gotten the down-low from Alfred, and had messaged Bruce their virtual-screen communicators at least five times already, checking up on the boy he considered a nephew. He checked in on Tim, too, but the teen wasn't eager to talk to anyone at the moment.
The days rushed by in a blur.
Everyone, especially Bruce, was feeling the pain of guilt and grief.
Barbara strung out the rag, the cold water chilling her fingers. She wheeled back over to Dick. He was shivering fiercely, his cheeks flushed red, eyes swollen slightly. Other than that, though, he was stark white.
Several IV's were pushing nutrients, painkillers, antibiotics, and fluids into the vigilante's body. His bandages were changed every four hours, and he had already gone through two different surgeries to try and scrape out the infection.
But each time, Dick's blood-pressure had shot down tremendously, and the surgery had been stopped immediately.
Barbara brushed Dick's hair from his sweaty forehead, gently wiping the liquid away before she drizzled the cold water over his flaming neck. She rested the rag on Dick's forehead, and he gave one fierce, violent shake.
Barbara clutched his hand tightly, tears welling up in her eyes.
Tim slowly rose from his chair, trying to be silent. He had only gotten Bruce to actually sleep, deeply and in actual slumber, on a bed (an extra hospital bed that had been shoved into the corner of the tiny room), and he didn't want to wake him up.
The teen licked his lips and sat on the side of the bed, trying to hide a yawn. "How- how's he doin'?"
Barbara shook her head. "I'm not sure..." She looked up at the clock and then turned to Tim. "Time to change him- can you get the stuff?"
The boy nodded and drifted over to the cabinets, rifling through them, trying to be quiet.
No no avail.
Bruce sat up sharply when he heard the noise. He blinked, wiping sleep from his eyes. "Good God, Tim! What are you doing?"
As the boy heaved the supplies over to the bedside table, he replied, "Changing Dick's bandages."
Bruce nodded and stood, pulling his shirt back on over a muscular chest. "What time is it?"
"Almost midnight," Barbara replied as she cut off the gauze.
As she looked at Dick's wound, a sharp gasp cut the room, emerging from her lips.
"What?" father and son asked in unison.
Barbara's huge smile leered up at them. "Look!"
There was no longer any puss coming from the wound, and it was slightly less swollen. Even if there was still a bit of infection, it was no where near as terrible as it had been hours before.
Tim let out a strangled cry of relief and joy before hugging Barbara tightly. She kissed his cheek, and then turned back to Dick to clean him up.
Tim turned to Bruce, then paused, not quite knowing what to do.
Bruce did it for him.
He pulled the sixteen-year-old into his arms and hugged him tightly, digging his face into the Tim's locks of raven hair. "He's gonna be okay, Tim... He's gonna be okay..."
After a few odd moments, Tim returned the hug just as fierce.
It was December 23rd by the time Dick's fever broke.
He sat up in the hospital bed, smiling eagerly at everyone who came to see him.
And, boy, did a lot of people come to see him!
All Seven Founders came, then there also came all of the Titans. Next was the ex-Young Justice kids, or adults, really now, and then other stragglers from the League, like Huntress, Question (to everyone's surprise), Ralph, Supergirl, Kyle Rayner, and more.
Nurse Peggy came in and smiled as she looked at Dick's papers. "Alright, Dick. On a scale of one to ten, how bad is the pain by now? And don't lie to me, now, boy."
"Three," Dick spoke. "It just feels like a small bruise by now."
The nurse smiled at him, then looked all around the room. Arsenal, Arrowette, Flash, Batman- the whole YJ team and the Founders- were all there, waiting for the good news.
Peggy's smile broke into a grin. "I guess you can be released for Christmas, then."
Everyone began to cheer and hug each other. But, the real shocker came when Diana planted her lips straight over Bruce's.
The real shocker came when Bruce kissed her back.
"FINALLY!" Dick and Tim shouted together.
M'gann pulled Connor into a small kiss, and Artemis and Wally started to have a make-out session. Dick made a face, but suddenly, Barbara pulled him into their own little party.
Tim stood aside, scowling. "I want a girlfriend..."
Dick limped into Oliver's mansion on crutches, smiling ear-to-ear. Upon Barbara's request, he had cut his hair, ("I meant cutting it all off, Dick!" "Hey, it's all off!" "Dick, if it's still long enough to put into a ponytail, it's too long!") and now had it tied back at the nape of his neck. He, like everyone else, was dressed warmly in sweaters and thick jeans. M'gann was the only exception, wearing a dress, instead. Even only about 2 and a half months in, her baby bump was forming, almost four inches out. She and Connor couldn't be happier. Artemis and Wally couldn't stop making out. Dick and Barbara couldn't stop smiling. And, Bruce and Diana were actually a 'thing' now.
All of the mentors were there, along with Green Lantern and Shayera, who were sitting closely, fingers intertwined.
Oliver darted over, Black Canary attached to his hip. Bruce helped Dick get his coat off (to the young man's annoyance) and then walked him over to the couch, where he propped up his leg on the coffee table. The fireplace blazed a few feet away, sending warmth over the whole group.
J'onn stood next to the seat where he had forced M'gann to sit in. The Martian was elated at the news that his niece was pregnant, and was trying to hide it. The younger teammates may have known, but M'gann and Connor were breaking it to the mentors today- Christmas morning.
Tim sat at Dick's and Bruce's feet, beaming. Alfred was in the kitchen, happily making cocoa and cookies in Oliver's expansive oven and stove. Barbara rolled herself over next to Dick. Wally and Artemis, attached at the lips, shared the same seat. Artemis was sitting on Wally's lap, one arm around his neck.
Roy sat next to the fireplace with Superman on his left and Green Lantern and Shayera on his right. (He looked elated... Not...)
Oliver and Dinah sat down next to the Christmas tree, where mile-high stacks of presents sat.
Barbara bit her lip, a little put out.
Roy and Wally (out of the corner of his eye) saw this and grinned at each other.
Quickly, Wally pulled away from Artemis, winking at her, and super-speeded to Barbara's side. Before she could protest, Roy and Wally were lifting her onto Dick's lap. The couple laughed and giggled, nuzzling into each other. Everyone else wiped away happy tears.
Tim was practically vibrating.
"Can we open presents now?"
Bruce stared down at him sternly as Diana came to sit on the arm of the couch next to the Dark Knight.
"Timothy, you are sixteen-"
"Yeah! I'm still a kid!"
Everyone laughed, and Bruce rolled his eyes but smiled all the same.
Oliver turned and began to pass out presents. Everyone got at least five, one from every 'couple' or 'family' in the room.
As they all took turns tearing the gifts open, Oliver got a bit jumpy.
Finally, as all of the presents were over (even Alfred's presents- seriously, who could forget the Bat-Butler?), Dinah finally turned to him. "Ollie, good God, what has gotten into you?"
Oliver shared a knowing looked with Roy, who was trying to keep from smirking too much.
The blonde man shook his head, taking in a deep breath, and stood, calling for attention. Then, he stood and pulled Dinah to her feet.
"Dinah Lance, you are the most amazing woman I've ever met. You are beautiful, smart, caring, and you can kick ass with the best of 'em-" a few chuckles "-and I know that I'm not good enough for you. No one is... But I hope you can learn to settle."
Then, Oliver got down on one knee.
Dinah's hand flew to her mouth as tears welled up. Everyone began to hoot and holler as Oliver pulled out a ring box. He offered it openly to Dinah, showing off a small silver band with a ring of tiny sapphires and a very small diamond in the middle.
Roy shushed everyone, then turned back to the scene.
Oliver licked his lips. "Dinah Lance, will you marry me?"
Dinah burst into laughter and fell to both knees, putting her arms around Oliver's neck as she said playfully, "Just kidding!" And she kissed him.
Everyone howled with laughter, even Bruce and J'onn. After several long, passionate moments, the two lovers pulled away, and Oliver shakily put the ring on Dinah's finger. She allowed one tear to fall, and the two embraced again, hugging fiercely.
Barbara's eyes were alight with the fire and with her own passionate, soulful fire. She looked at Dick, who caught her sparkling eyes easily.
She giggled. "Hey, Short-Pants."
He scowled. "I resent that."
"Yeah- more like resemble."
Dick muttered, "Mean little nerd..."
Barbara rolled her eyes as she pressed her forehead against her boyfriend's, both arms wrapped around his neck. "Yes, I am a mean little nerd. Now kiss me."
And they did.
I watched as everyone sat around, laughing and talking, hugging, and kissing in the couples' cases. I felt Barbara's warm body pressed against mine, and it shocked me how perfectly she fit into the nook of my side. (She was especially careful of my gut, as it still fell a bit bruised.) I ran my fingers through her long, red hair as she leaned her head against my shoulder, eyes closed.
I rolled my eyes. "Yes?"
"What's your Christmas wish?"
She opened her eyes and looked at me. "Your Christmas wish. Every Christmas, you have to make a wish after you open your presents- its kinda' like a more... philosophical present rather than anything."
I nodded, taking in the information. Closing my eyes, I wished.
After a few moments, I opened my eyes to see an expectant face in mine. "Well?" she asked, her lips inches from mine.
Her eyes lifted to the ceiling. "What did you wish for?"
I grinned, fingering the small of her back as my eyes drifted over her lips. "Well, now, if I tell you, it won't come true, will it?"
She scowled firmly at me. "Richard John Grayson, don't try to pull that crap on m-"
I shut her up with a kiss.
I wish this day would never end...
(1) WHOEVER CAN TELL ME (first) WHAT SONG THIS COMES FROM: i will write ANY idea they want (but NOOOOO slash, please! And keep it at a 'T')
now i have more more time to work on MTF...