They found out before the announcement was made. Batman hadn't been surprised—Nightwing had been hacking into the League's computers practically since the League had been formed. Still, he wasn't prepared for the sight of his protégés gathered together in the cave, their masks removed, greeting him with the most pained expressions he'd seen since Jason's death.
"When do you leave?" Dick asked.
Bruce pulled off his mask and didn't even pretend he was surprised. "Tomorrow night. We're using the rest of the time to set everything in order. Icon has agreed to go with us."
"But he wasn't involved in the attack," Tim pointed out.
"He knows a lot about the universe, maybe as much as Green Lantern," Dick reasoned. "And Terminus isn't affiliated with Oa and the Green Lanterns. He's the best hope they've got for a fair trial."
Bruce watched as Tim nodded at Dick's explanation. There was a pain in his heart at the matter-of-fact attempt at reassurance that his oldest had given. It was the kind of explanation he would have given. All these years, he'd hoped Dick wouldn't turn out like him, and it looked like that hope had been for nothing.
"Master Bruce?" came the polite voice of Alfred as he stepped into the Batcave. Taking note of everyone's costumes, he said, "I am setting the milk to heat for cocoa. If anyone would like to change into more comfortable clothing, now would be the time."
"I think I've got some spare clothes here," Dick said, stretching. It was a relieving sight—he now seemed like the bright young acrobat again and not another Batman in the making.
Barbara held up a backpack, proving she'd brought her own change of clothes. "Never leave home without it."
"Yeah, yeah," Dick answered with a half-grin. Looking back at Bruce, he asked, "You coming?"
"I'll be up in a minute," he promised, turning to the computer. There were preparations to make—letting the Commissioner know he would be out of town for an unknown period of time, setting the police scanners to pick up any trouble, networking with Dick's computer in Blüdhaven so he could help pick up the slack, contacting any other Leaguers or unaffiliated heroes that he could trust with the secret that he wouldn't be in Gotham for a while...or forever...
Dick, Tim, and Barbara were gone, and the cave was silent. Bruce stepped away from the computer. He could trust them to take care of what Gotham needed done. For now, he needed to spend the rest of his time here with his family.
The cocoa was hot and thick, topped with a sweet blob of Alfred's homemade vanilla marshmallow. It was one of Bruce's deep dark secrets that he loved it when Alfred made hot chocolate that way. Everyone had their own way of drinking it—Dick's marshmallow was topped with chocolate chips, Barbara stirred her cocoa with a peppermint stick, and when he thought Alfred wasn't looking, Tim snuck a spoonful of ice cream into his, right underneath the marshmallow. Alfred himself took his cocoa with a dash of cinnamon and the marshmallow on the side—he always hated it sticking to his mustache when he sipped at his drink.
Once they had their drinks, they sat in the living room and watched movies the whole night. It was usually a Christmas tradition, started with Dick when he told Jason he had to watch It's A Wonderful Life because it was a classic and he didn't know what he was missing, only for Jason to make him watch Die Hard, proclaiming it a true holiday classic, despite Alfred's disapproval.
They had skipped that tradition this year. It had been too painful to continue it without Jason. Still, Dick chose Die Hard in his honor. Alfred and Barbara picked Camelot. They all agreed on Fellowship of the Ring. Popcorn was made and quickly devoured, and by the time dawn hit, everyone had fallen asleep in the living room.
When the eight Leaguers left for Rimbor, there were the expected tearful goodbyes. Clark and Conner, still so new to their relationship compromise as brothers. Diana and Cassie, sisters by tradition. J'onn and M'gann, the rest of their blood family clueless on Mars while Gar hadn't come, being closer to his adopted sister than her uncle. Augustus and Raquel, partners become family, bridging two worlds. The Bats weren't as touchy-feely, but no one expected them to be. Just soft words to be careful and promises to take care of themselves. If anyone thought they were cold, they were polite enough not to say so. The Bats knew better. They had their moment together, and it was one nobody else needed to be part of.
Young Justice is the property of DC Comics, Warner Brothers, and Cartoon Network. This fic came about as a promise to my sister to detail what I thought probably happened as the Batfamily's goodbye—they're private enough that I think they probably said their goodbyes earlier. The reference to It's A Wonderful Life comes from Batman: The Animated Series, where it was Dick's favorite Christmas movie.