Keeping this family together

July 10, 2016:

Nightwing tries to get Batman to open up about his reaction to the news about Jason. That goes about as well as you'd expect.

The Batcave

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Red Hood

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

Batman is meditating, bare chested and in a pair of ragged old sweatpants. He does it differently than most— his legs, folded under him, sit six inches off the ground, and he is supporting his entire weight on a pair of sturdy wood blocks under his palms. Periodically he rotates his body to the vertical and stretches his legs up over his head, to a full extension, then rotates back down in one of the ultimate expressions of yogic discipline. All the motion comes from his shoulders.

"I can hear you thinking, Dick," Batman says into the shadows, after an interminable silence. "What do you want?"


"Mainly to see how long it took you to notice I was here," Dick Grayson answers, descending upside-down from the ceiling on a grapple line. He detaches the grapple and inverts in the same instant, landing with a whisper of boot on floor that is drowned out by the soft hiss of the line retracting. He's smiling as he tucks the standard bat-issue grapple gun away. "You're getting better," he jokes.

His smile holds for a second, then fades slightly as he watches Bruce's disciplined meditation. "Also, I didn't want to interrupt," he answers with more candor. "I know you don't get a lot of time to yourself." He reaches up and removes his mask, tossing it onto one of the many workbenches scattered around the cave, then ruffles out his hair. "So, how are you doing?" he asks, without really answering Bruce's question.


"Busy," Batman remarks in a flat tone. His meditation time is something the Bat generally frowns on interrupting. Dick's creating an imposition, and Batman seems keen on making sure Dick /knows/ he's pushing on Bruce's personal space.

Slowly he comes down from that handstand, rotating back to an airborne sitting position, and finally focuses those cold blue eyes on Dick's features. "What do you want?" he asks Dick, again. His voice remains perfectly level, the tones not varying at all from the first time he asked it.

And he doesn't answer Dick's questions, either. Nor does his let Dick off the hook for interrupting.


"I was perfectly happy to wait on the ceiling until you were done," Dick replies, getting a touch annoyed. "You called me down, remember?" He turns away, rummaging around on the work bench, picking up a half-disassembled gadget, trying to decide whether it's something he should ask for a copy of. Still avoiding eye contact, he finally answers, "Well, I wanted to see how you were dealing with the news about Jason. I never heard back." He sets the gadget back down, pauses, then adds over his shoulder, "I know that kind of news can't be easy on you."


Batman is quiet for a moment before responding.

"I'm disturbed," Batman says, finally. "I did not expect him to just return." That's a statement that Batman has made barely a handful of time in his professional life— the master of anticipation.

"I went and saw him." He uncoils his legs and rises smoothly to his feet, brushing his hands and putting the blocks away with the meticulous attention to detail that is a hallmark of his life. "He was not pleased to see me, but on the other hand— he didn't shoot me. This time," he adds, a beat later.


"Well, he tried to stab me, so you're not as high on the shit list as I am, at least," Dick answers with a smirk. He turns around and leans back against the work table, hands at his side on its edge. "I thought it was an impostor at first. I wish I'd figured it out sooner, so we could have really talked. Instead I let my fists carry the conversation." He shrugs, looks down, and then makes eye contact. "I'm not surprised you're disturbed. That's kind of why I wanted to talk to you about it. I know it has to be — well, it's not just another criminal you can —"

Dick trails off with a grimace. He's usually better at this, but Bruce is in a category of his own, as usual. "You know you can talk to me about it, if you want."


Batman moves to the mini-fridge under his desk and retrieves one of his abominally disgusting, very health soy-based protein drinks, and sets about swigging it down. Full of everything the body needs, except flavour.

"He threatened to shoot me," Batman tells Dick. "He's convinced himself we're out to get him— you want him in Arkham. Cassandra and Tim don't 'know' him." He shakes his head. "At the moment, the only one of us who might be beyond a gunshot wound is Alfred."

"I talked to him. It's not much. But the dialogue's started."


"Okay, well… I didn't say you weren't on the shit list," Dick answers with a sardonic smile. "It's good that you talked, I suppose." He watches Bruce chug the drink, then asks with a slight grimace, "Got one of those to spare?" He's not looking forward to the experience, but the nasty-tasting shakes are only temporary — their benefits are a lot longer-lasting. "I don't want to put him in Arkham," he continues, in case that point was in doubt. "I just want to talk to him. Figure out how he's alive, figure out what the hell he thinks he's trying to do. Chill him out and bring him back into the fold, if we can." There's a slight pause as a question occurs to the young man. "I mean, that's basically what you're trying to do, too, right?"


Batman stoops and picks up another bottle and with an underhanded flick of the wrist, tosses it at Nightwing.

He sips his protein shake a few times. It's at least cool, which improves the flavour somewhat. He reaches for a towel and blots at his neck and chest, then flicks it around the back of his neck with a motion of his wrist. The Batman turns on a few computer monitors to read Oracle's latest livestream of criminal data in Gotham, then turns his intense blue eyes back to Dick Grayson again.

"Yes," he says, finally.


Dick catches the bottle without even really looking. Circus kids, right? Batman's one-word answer isn't what Nightwing would call reassuring, so he presses a little more. "Okay. I mean, you know I'll follow your lead on this, right? I care about Jason, but this is your show. You can tell me what you're planning." He unscrews the top of his shake bottle, chugs a solid half of it, grimaces, and wipes his lips, before saying in a rush. "I know things haven't always been comfortable between us, but it doesn't always have to be that way. I just needed to get some space, stretch my wings a little." His infamous smirk drops into place. "So to speak."


"You need to find your own solution to Jason," Batman tells Dick, bluntly. "Not hide behind me. He's going to see you and he's going to try and kill you. You can try to kill him first, or you can see if you can dodge bullets long enough to reach out to him."

He drains his protein drink and tosses the can into the trash bin nearby. "I'm not planning anything beyond observing him. I won't let him hurt innocent people. But I'm not going to go to New York and fight him over where he draws his line. Everyone finds a different place to stand in the sand," he reminds Dick. "He's found his. Only he can change it." He moves to Dick, then reaches across and grips the younger man's opposite shoulder, his eyes hard and intense. "If you go looking for Jason, my advice is this: Don't go there looking to change him. That'll end badly for both of you."


That flare of annoyance is back in Dick's eyes. "I offered out of respect, not because I'm afraid to make my own decisions," he clarifies, reaching up to brushing Bruce's arm away with the back of his forearm. He hardly applies any force, so the dismissive gesture won't go far if Bruce is intent on staying where he is, but the point will still be made. "You were closer to him than I was. If you wanted to take the lead or set ground rules, that would be your right." He looks away with a frown. "If you don't care, you don't care. I guess that's your right, too."

Just as suddenly as he went frosty, Grayson's cocksure smirk returns. "What, you don't think I can redeem him from the dark side? Where's the trust?"


"I think you should be sure," Batman corrects Dick, not making any effort to stick his hand. "Are you there to try and fix a relationship, or are you there to prove to Jason that you're the better man?" One brow hikes a little bit. "I'm not going to stop you from going. Or tell you how to go about mending bridges. Fight him. Talk to him. Do what you think is right."

He turns to pick his shirt up off a low bench. "Whatever you do, do it for the right reasons. Not just because you can."


"Come on, Bruce — do I look like someone who has something to prove?" Dick asks, looking cockier than ever. And, frankly, between his level of fitness and the stylish outfit and even his posture, it's a lot fairer question than he seems to think. "I'm going because he's basically my long-lost brother, and he's in trouble, and helping people in trouble is what we do." There's a beat as he turns away, sloshing his shake around and considering whether he wants to say more, but he can't help himself: "I mean, someone's got to keep this family together."


Batman doesn't respond, because Batman's gone. He slipped off in the space between the turn away and the thoughtful remark about keeping the family together— the only sound in his departure's wake is the elevator doors closing behind him.

Leaving Nightwing alone in the Batcave, with nothing but his own thoughts to battle the niggling insecurities he'd come to Bruce to try and hash out. Which is kind of the point.

Isn't it?


When Dick glances over his shoulder and sees that Bruce is gone, his jaw drops open. Not in the usual shock-and-awe reaction that this move typically engenders, but in pure righteous offense. "You. Did. Not," the aerialist blurts out, spinning all the way around. "Bruce, you did NOT just do the thing to me," he rants into the echoey darkness. "That is just… rude. You… you…" His hands come up to about the level of his shoulders, and he shouts, "Dick!"

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