Deal with the devil. –Young Justice- One-shot-
It was over finally everything was over. It was just time for the aftermath, the aftermath Dick wasn’t looking forward to.
Dick had sacrificed so much to make sure the people he loved were safe. He never wanted to agree with Kaldur’s plan to go undercover; he should have fought harder to go in instead of Artemis. He had to listen to their annoying common sense and give in, to control things from the shadows. Watch as everything fell apart, loathing himself with every passing day, the words of Connor and the disgusted glares from the others once they found out the plan adding to his inner pain.
The day he knew for sure he was going to hell was the day before the summit with the Light.
The day he made a deal with Deathstroke AKA Slade from his days back with the Titans to save the people he loved as a family.
The day he made a deal with the devil.
Now here he was, the invasion was over, the league was back and Aqualad was in charge of the team once again. He had saved Wally from disappearing into the speed force, even if the speedster hated him now. He knew what the others thought of him, he was there sitting under their judgmental gazes as they were filled in on what happened in the last months.
He knew what their decision was going to be, he had to leave before they could finalize it.
Dick stood up suddenly, pushing the chair he was sitting in with a loud scraping noise.
“What I did, I did it to save everyone I love. I regret agreeing with Kaldur’s plan; I regret not going in myself instead of Artemis like I had originally planned. Every deal I made I made to save people I love. Remember that always.” Dick said, knowing he had everyone’s attention on him.
“I can’t ask for anything more than that and I won’t… Just…” He shook his head; he reached up pulling his earwig out. He tossed that and his communicator onto the table in front of him. He took a breath and un-hooked his utility belt before setting it before him. He heard Tim and Barbara gasp as they realized what he was saying.
“I have to uphold the deal I made…” Dick said sadly before he walked towards the Zeta tubes.
“What deal? Nightwing?” Connor was the 1st to react; he reached out grabbing the teen’s shoulder. Dick hated himself more for what he was about to do, but it was part of his plan.
He always had a damned plan.
He reacted and twisted Connor’s arm around his back, he pressed the limb into his back.
“I’m sorry Con, if you know me as well as I hope you do… You will know what to do.” Dick whispered into his ear before pushing the super teen onto the ground and running into the nearest Zeta tube.
“Recognized Nightwing B-01.”
“Connor, are you alright?” Superman was at his son’s side in an instant.
“I’m fine… Heh, he always has a plan. Robin, plug this in would you?” Connor was on his feet and tossed a small USB drive towards the youngest bat.
“I’m here to uphold my part of the deal Slade.” Nightwing gritted out, he was in his civvies and sunglasses.
“Welcome back.” Deathstroke said as he walked out of the shadows. “Nightwing is gone I see.”
“I’m no longer part of the league or the team if that’s what you mean.” Dick glared at the man.
“Excellent. We have a lot of catching up to do my apprentice, but 1st…” Slade stood inches away from the 18 year old. Dick made no movement to stop as Slade reached up and removed his sunglasses, dropping them to the ground.
Dick Grayson looked up with his blue as sapphire eyes, hatred clear in his eyes.
“It has been a while Richard… Now if you keep up your end of the deal and never try to get away… The identities of those you care about most will stay a secret.” Slade touched Dick’s cheek; it took EVEYTHING he had not to flinch back violently.
“It’s time to go my apprentice.” Slade stepped back.
Bullets suddenly fired into the cement separating Dick and Slade. They both leapt back and looked up to see where the gunshots were coming from. A teen in a gray and red Kevlar suit with a brown leather jacket and a solid red helmet with white slots for his eyes was standing there with two smoking guns in his hands.
“Red Hood.” Dick couldn’t help but let a small smile come onto his lips.
“What exactly do you think you are doing to my brother?” Hood asked annoyed as he jumped down to the same rooftop as Slade and Dick.
“Taking my apprentice back to where he belongs.” Deathstroke said very calmly watching as Red Hood placed himself in between the mercenary and his brother, his guns still trained on the masked man in an overprotective stance.
“He isn’t going anywhere with you.” Red Hood snarled.
“Ah but you see, your brother and I made a deal.” Deathstroke smirked from behind the mask. “I let his undercover friends stay alive, save the world and keep all the identities I know about a secret. In return he leaves the league, his little team and the Bats becoming my apprentice once more.”
“Well I don’t think you counted on how protective we all can be of him.” Red Hood’s body tensed slightly.
Deathstroke didn’t seem to like this and launched himself towards the hooded teen. Dick having no weapons on him dove off to the side, taking cover as swords and bullets clashed on the rooftop.
He never thought he would see the day that Red Hood, his dead brought back to life brother and Deathstroke, his personal nightmare duking it out. He felt like a fool, he had done exactly what Slade told him, all because he wanted to save his friends and family. He broke one of the Bat rules; he left without his utility belt. Suddenly an arm wrapped around Dick’s throat yanking him to his feet, causing the teen to gasp.
“Let him go.” Jason growled.
“Now, why would I do that?” Deathstroke questioned from behind Dick. His free hand stroked Dick’s ebony hair while the other arm was wrapped around Dick’s throat tightly making it hard to breath. The teen grunted when he felt a prick under his chin and things started to get blurry.
“Because if you don’t I will put a bullet in your head.” Jason threatened.
“Why don’t you calm down Mr. Todd? We can work this out.” Slade was just taunting Red Hood now, showing Dick how much he really knew about his family.
“I highly doubt that.” Jason sneered.
While Slade’s attention was on his little brother, Dick’s training kick in and let the adrenaline flow trying to overcome the drugs in his veins. He dug his elbow back into Slade’s gut while driving his foot back into the man’s groin, it was a low blow but he needed to get away. The teen dropped to the ground and summersaulted away towards Red Hood who took the opening and fired both his guns at Deathstroke. The bullets buried themselves into his limbs; the man fell back onto the ground in pain.
“You are never going to hurt my family again.” Jason snarled and without another thought he fired the rest of the magazine into Slade’s skull. Dick watched as his brother killed the man who was his personal nightmare since he was 15.
“It’s over now Dickie-bird.” Jason knelt beside his brother. “You’re safe.”
“Little Wing? How did you?” Dick was confused with his head was spinning.
“It wasn’t on purpose… I was walking by and saw you enter the building in your civvies and belt free. I knew that wasn’t a good thing so I followed you.” Jason confessed.
“I’m glad you did Jay.” Dick whispered trying to lift himself onto his feet, he felt his body go numb and his eyes rolled up into his head falling sideways.
“Glad I did too big bro.” Jason whispered to the unconscious form of his big brother he caught in his arms.
“Better get out of here.” Red Hood grunted as he tossed his big brother over his shoulder fireman style before disappearing into the shadows of Bludhaven.
Everyone watched as Robin plugged in the USB drive Nightwing had given Connor when he twisted his arm behind his back.
A screen with Nightwing popped up, the background showed the warehouse they had used when in Bludhaven.
“If you are watching this then that means my deal went through.” Nightwing started as he rubbed his face with his hand.
“The summit is tomorrow, I hope to god everything goes down like they hope. Deathstroke shouldn’t be showing up tomorrow if he holds up his end… I kept this a secret for a long time… When I was 15 and in Jump City with the Titans… We ran into a villain known as Slade… He blackmailed me into becoming his apprentice. With help I broke away from his hold, but he has been following me ever since. He’s my own personal nightmare… I kept tabs on him ever since and when he appeared under the Light; I knew I had to have a face to face with him before Kaldur went in… He’s too smart; he WILL spot him and Artemis right away. I can’t take that chance. I made a deal with him after we had a sparring match, he wouldn’t turn them into the Light… On the condition that after everything was said and done I would… Cut ties with the league, the team and the Bats and once more become his apprentice. If you are watching this, that means he upheld his end of the deal and I left to uphold mine.” Nightwing took a deep shaky breath, his body trembling at the mere thought.
“Everything I have on Slade… Deathstroke is on this USB if you don’t hate me as much as I hate myself, I hope you to find him and bring him to justice… I wanted to say how sorry I was about everything… Goodbye.” Nightwing with a shaky hand shut the recorder off.
Once the video was done, the screen filled up with hundreds of files on Slade/Deathstroke.
“Oh god.” Megan covered her mouth with both her hands.
“He did that for us.” Artemis whispered to Kaldur and Wally, the redhead looked down in utter shame.
“I’m finding him.” Connor said firmly as he headed towards the Zeta tubes.
“I understand what he did and I will find him. I’m not going to let this psychopath take him again.” He didn’t wait, but he knew the original team was hot on his heels with the Bats included.
“Batman?” Superman looked at Dick’s father.
“Send all Deathstroke’s known hideouts to my communicator. I’m getting my son back.” Batman said as he walked towards the Zeta tubes with his cape billowing out behind him.
“His tracker is still working, it’s really weak, and it says he’s in Bludhaven.” Robin reported from his seat in the Bio-ship.
“Makes sense.” Connor grunted, keeping his eyes forward.
“Down there!” Robin cried out pointing at a rooftop.
“I’ll steady the Bio-ship.” Megan said and hovered the ship over the rooftop, opening a hatch. The team all dropped out of it and landed on the roof and stared at the obvious signs of a fight.
“Nightwing’s sunglasses, it’s where his tracer is when he’s in civvies.” Batgirl gently picked up the pair of sleek black glasses from the bullet-ridden rooftop.
“Found Deathstroke, bullets hit the major body parts and about 5 bullets in his head. He’s been dead about 10 minutes.” Robin reported.
“Bastard got what was coming to him.” Batgirl growled.
“Who would do this?” Aqualad asked looking at the bats.
“Not Nightwing, he loathes guns and refuses to even touch one.” Connor spoke up cancelling out any ideas that people were having about Nightwing having done this.
“I did a quick recon of the surrounding area, ‘Wing isn’t here.” Wally reported, his body vibrating with worry.
“We’ll find him.” Artemis placed her hand on her boyfriend’s shoulder.
“All those things I said to him and then he saved me from dying then this. God I’m the worst friend in history.” Wally groaned, how could he be so dense?
“Batman… Deathstroke is dead. We are in Bludhaven, sending you our coordinates now.” Robin contacted Batman.
“On my way.” Was the tight response they got in return.
“We need to find Nightwing soon.” Aqualad was filled with worry.
“We will.” Connor swore.
“God you are lighter than you look Dickie, you got to get more food in you. Alfred would not be pleased.” Jason muttered to the form of his unconscious older brother who he had tucked up into his bed in his small apartment in a rundown area of Bludhaven, someplace no one would look at twice.
“What the hell has been going on with you lately big bro?” Jason asked as he wiped sweat off Dick’s unmasked face.
“You know if whatever the hell Deathstroke injected you with left your system having this conversation would be a hell of a lot easier.” He grunted annoyed as he reached down and took his brother’s pulse and growled when he was met with a faster than normal pulse.
‘That’s not good, you would be having a reaction to it.” Jason grunted running a hand through his hair, gripping his white bangs.
“Always putting me in the awkward situations aren’t we Dickie? Looks like we are taking a little trip.” Jason huffed before suiting up as Red Hood again. He heaved his brother into his arms before leaving his apartment and headed towards the closet Zeta tube.
He glanced around and his eyes widened as he noticed the faint outline of the Bio-ship that he had grown used to from his time on the team.
“Damn, I know I’m going to regret this… Damn you Dickie for making me revealing myself to them.” Jason gritted his teeth as he looked down at his brother whose body was trembling. “Damnit.”
Jason ran as fast as his legs would carry him up to the rooftop. He kicked down the door and dropped onto the roof. Batman, Robin, Batgirl, Miss Martian, Superboy, Artemis, Aqualad and Kid Flash all whirled towards him with their weapons at the ready.
“Red Hood?” Robin frowned confused. He had read about the thug in a file on the Bat computer, not who it was but he knew about him.
“Do you want to attack me or do you want to help me save my brother?” Jason shifted Dick in his arms making the drugged teen groan.
“Jason?” Miss Martian gasped.
‘The one and only, now stop gawking and help him. Deathstroke injected him with a drug and he is having a reaction to it.” Jason snapped impatiently.
“We need to get him onto the Bio-Ship and up to the watchtower.” Batgirl said firmly glaring down Batman.
“I’m coming with you. I’m not leaving my brother again.” Jason locked eyes with Batman and for a long tense minute everything was silent.
“Fine.” Batman agreed and turned to contact the watchtower to prep the medical bay and authorize a guest.
Jason refused to let Dick out of his arms as they entered the Bio-Ship. He kept getting wary glances but he could care less, all he cared about was his brother in his arms. Dick’s face was pale, his cheeks were red and sweat was beading up on his forehead.
After it seemed like a lifetime they arrived at the watchtower and docked. Following behind the team Jason ran with his brother towards where the medical bay was ready.
“Deathstroke injected him with a drug and he’s having a bad reaction to it.” Jason told the Flash as he gently laid his hurt brother onto the gunnery.
“Did you happen to grab the needle?” Barry Allen asked.
“Yeah.” Jason produced a small needle he had grabbed from the scene before he took off to his apartment with Dick. “I was going to break into a science lab to find out what he was given but this works too.” Jason shrugged at the look he was getting. “Save my brother Allen.” Jason threatened/begged.
Then Barry and his older brother were gone, leaving Red Hood alone in the room. He steeled himself, it was time to answer some questions and he had some of his own. He wanted answers and like hell he was going to get them.
He found himself in the main room in front of the whole team and the league, all staring at him, so much for staying under their radar.
“Who are you?” Blue Beetle blurted out.
“Red Hood is the name I go by nowadays. I was known as another name before.” He pulled his helmet off and ran a hand through his hair shaking it out. “Jason Todd, the 2nd Robin.”
He couldn’t help but smirk at the stunned looks he got in return.
“I know I’m breathtaking but really.” Jason smirked at the ladies.
“How are you…?” Wonder Girl questioned eyes wide.
“I really rather not talk about the pits if it’s all the same to you.” Jason said, shuddering at the memories.
“What matters is I couldn’t come back so I became Red Hood and it wasn’t long before I ran into Nightwing and he took me under his wing I guess. He made sure I didn’t kill or get in too deep. He made sure I had a place to crash if needed, I don’t even know how many times I would stop by his place in Bludhaven and he would patch me up. In return I would watch over him from the shadows to make sure no one got to close in harming him.” Jason explained, keeping his eyes staring straight. “Good thing I did watch out for him, otherwise that bastard Deathstroke would be god knows where trying to turn Nightwing into his ‘perfect apprentice’.”
“Speaking of which… Why the hell was Nightwing meeting Deathstroke alone, in his civvies and totally unarmed. That bastard mentioned some sort of deal and Nightwing was ready to go quietly, even let him take his sunglasses off… Deathstroke knew who he was and who I was. As long as he was alive he would always be a threat to Nightwing so I took him out, I would do it again in a heartbeat.” Jason crossed his arms, his facial expression telling the others how unimpressed he was about the situation.
Batman nodded at Robin who brought up the video Nightwing had put on the USB drive and Jason watched it in silence absorbing it all in.
“And where the hell was the so called ‘Justice League’ during all this shit?” Jason turned on the founders.
“Off world at a trial.” Batman reported.
“Damn… That makes sense now.” Jason scrubbed his hands over his face. “Nightwing showed up at my place one night, he didn’t speak a word all night no matter what I did. Then I started to notice that he patrolled Bludhaven only half of the night, I knew something was up.”
“Oh man… When he gets better I’m going to kill him!” Barbara seethed, her fiery redhead nature coming to light.
“Since Batman was off world, we couldn’t let Gotham know he was gone so… Nightwing put on the cowl and for a good chunk of the night with Robin and I we kept Gotham safe. He swore that when he went back to Bludhaven he would get some sleep, if I knew he was still patrolling as Nightwing I would have knocked him out at the cave.” Batgirl was fuming.
Batman tensed at the news of his son taking up his place as Batman in Gotham.
“I feel like Nightwing is going to get a beat down when he wakes up.” Impulse whispered to Wonder Girl.
Before any one could make any more arguments could take place when Barry came running into the room.
“Well?” Half the room was on their feet in an instant.
“He’s responding well to the antidote, if he was left in that condition any longer he would have died. If Red Hood didn’t bring us the needle we never would have been able to make the antidote, he saved Nightwing’s life.” Flash reported grinning at Jason/Red Hood who slumped back in his seat in relief.
“When can we see him?” Wally asked anxious.
“He should be waking up in a few minutes.” Barry shrugged.
“Good, I’m going to see him.” Jason rose to his feet and glared at the others in the room as if to challenge them to stop him from seeing his brother.
“I’m coming with you, he’s my brother too.” Robin did challenge him, the two locked glares for a moment or two.
“Come on then replacement.” Jason waved his hand. Together the ex-Robin and current Robin sped down the hallway towards where their injured brother lay. They paused outside beside the viewing glass.
“He’s going to be okay… Right?” Tim asked Jason quietly, his masked eyes never leaving the limp and pale form of his older brother. He had IV’s feeding into it seemed like almost every vein on both his arms, a bandage over his neck where the needle had been injected. An oxygen mask was covering his mouth, little puffs of white appearing as the teen exhaled.
“Dickie-bird is strong, he will be fine.” Jason said confidently before striding into the room, if his voice wavered slightly Tim didn’t comment on it.
Jason stood beside his brother’s hospital bed, arms crossed over his broad chest. His mind was going over all the information he knew about the situation and he hated it more and more. He also took in the looks and vibes he was getting from the others in the room, to make this plan work it seemed that Nightwing had to break a lot of trust he had with the team.
Tim had pulled over a chair and was sitting at his brother’s side, his leg bouncing up and down as he tried to keep calm, all that was keeping him from pacing was the steady beeping of the heart monitor.
Well until it started to spike up dramatically while Dick started to gasp like he was scared. His fingers clenched the bed sheets tightly as he tossed his head back and forth whimpering.
“Whoa!” Jason jumped back startled.
“What is going on?” Tim was out of his chair looking up at Jason.
“He’s up on painkillers, he isn’t in pain…” Jason trailed off before it clicked. “He’s having a nightmare.”
“What are we suppose to do?” Tim tried to think back to when he was younger and had a nightmare.
“If you ever tell anyone about this I will kill you.” Jason threatened as he shrugged off his leather jacket before nudging Dick over on the bed so there was room for him to slide in.
Tim just rolled his eyes as he put himself down by Dick’s feet, gripping his leg as Jason wrapped his arms around his brother, holding him close to his broad chest.
The trembling and whimper quieted down for a few moments before it came back full force and Tim looked at Jason with worried eyes.
“Whatever this is, it’s in his mind… Get Martian Manhunter.” Jason ordered Tim after a moment of thought. Tim nodded and bolted out of the room.
Jason sighed; he ran his fingers through his brother’s ebony locks a few more times before he extracted himself from the hospital bed. He felt guilty when Dick’s arm reached out to where he had been before falling still once again.
Moments later Robin came back in with Martian Manhunter, the founders and the original team plus Red Arrow, Robin and Batgirl were hot on his heels.
“Robin told me the problem might be in his mind.” John said in his calm tone of voice.
“Yeah, all the monitors are saying he’s fine and not in any pain but…” Jason trailed off as Dick whimpered and thrashed in his sleep once more. “That happens.”
John’s glowed green briefly before he grunted and took a step back, Wonder woman steadied him.
“His mind… It has powerful barriers; it is blocking me out but at the same time… He is trapped within his own nightmares.” John reported, rubbing his forehead.
“Where the hell did he learn that?” Red Arrow snapped.
“How did he become Deathstroke’s apprentice? He was gone for a few years, clearly he picked up some tricks.” Wally snapped at the other ginger.
“Peace my friend, angry words will solve nothing.” Kaldur said soothingly.
“What can we do?” Connor asked the Martian while looking over at his friend, his brother worried.
“If Megan can enter his mind, she may be able to break down the barrier Nightwing has in place. “ John offered and Megan froze up.
“No, I can’t. I mean I…” She sent a look at Connor, Kaldur and Artemis.
“You fixed my mind Megan, I have faith in you.” Kaldur placed his hand calmly on her shoulder.
“Would you all… Come in with me? If his barriers are as powerful as Uncle John says they are… I’m going to need some help getting past his defenses.” She admitted.
“Anything to help Nightwing.” Artemis said firmly.
“I’m coming in with you.” Jason said firmly, leaving no room for discussion.
“Fine.” Megan nodded her contest and everyone on the team and Jason locked hands. “Prepare yourselves, I have a feeling this is going to be rough.”
A tugging feeling appeared in their guts and then blinding pain as light exploded behind their eyes.
They were floating in a dark empty space.
“Whoa!” Wally gasped loudly as he craned his head backwards. The others followed his line of view and stared slack jawed.
In front of them was a HUGE wall of pulsing blue electricity.
“I can see why that might be a problem…” Jason commented causally. “Hey Robby, go touch it.”
“When Manhunter tried that he was shot out of Nightwing’s mind, no way!” Robin crossed his arms in an X formation.
“Then how are we supposed to get in?” Jason threw his hands into the air.
“I think that’s the point.” Red Arrow rolled his eyes.
The wall pulsed and two figures emerged from the center. One was wearing a violet cape and leotard with the hood up over her head. The girl next to her was wearing a very reveling purple amour with long fiery red hair, her hands and eyes were glowing a bright green.
“Who are you?” The red haired woman roared, holding her glowing hands up in a ready position.
“Friends of Nightwing, we are here to help him!” Megan spread her arms to show she meant no harm.
“Friends of Wing huh?” The hooded one mused, her hands glowing an eerie black.
“We are here because Friend Nightwing feels threatened and he trusts us to protect him and we will!” The girl shot beams of green energy out of her eyes towards the team.
“Whoa!” Wally shouted as he and the others dove for cover. “She can shoot laser beams from her eyes!”
“Really? I hadn’t noticed!” Artemis said sarcastically.
“I’m not here to fight you.” Jason raised both his hands before walking towards the two women who were there to help protect his brother’s mind. “I’m Wing’s little brother, Jason Todd. I remember you two, Raven and Starfire.”
“Jason Todd?” Starfire’s eyes stopped glowing.
“I remember you.” Raven lowered her hood to show her violet hair and gem on her forehead. “Wing said you died.”
“I did but I was brought back to life, what can you do right?” Jason shrugged his shoulders and Raven cracked a small grin.
“Wing cares for you and the others here. I will permit you to pass.” Raven replaced her hood and with Starfire beside her they melted back into the wall, moments later it disappeared.
“Well let’s carry on.” Jason motioned to the empty space.
“Who were they?” Batgirl asked with a jealous tone of voice.
“Raven and Starfire, from back in Nightwing’s Titan’s days.” Jason answered as the group moved forward.
They were in a warehouse in Gotham next, Robin, Red Hood and Batgirl all tensed out of reflex.
“Where are we?” Megan asked the other female there.
“Gotham.” Barbara said grimly.
A scream tore through the warehouse and the team was off towards the sound of the pained cry.
They spotted a small form of a boy curled in a protective ball as an older man with a half burnt face was beating on him ruthlessly. A coin was lying on the ground nearby.
“Two-Face.” The Bat’s growled and the group sprung into action. Wally sprinted forward as Red Arrow and Artemis shot arrow after arrow at the man, pulling him away long enough for Wally to grab the boy and sprint to the other side of the warehouse.
“Hey, hey I got you.” Wally said soothingly as Connor, Jason and Kaldur attacked Two-Face. The others formed a protective circle around Wally and the injured child in case Two-Face got past the team.
“W-Wally?” A small voice asked.
“How do you…?” Wally trailed off as he saw the Robin costume that was on the boy; his messy black hair was matted down with blood and dirt. The mask was ripped and blue eyes looked up at him.
“Dick?” Wally gasped.
“You found me.” Robin snuggled into his chest, feeling safe.
“I will always find you.” Wally said out of reflex.
“Then I’ll help you find me.” Robin stood up straight and his ripped and bloodied clothes disappeared and he was wearing his normal Robin uniform. Clay-face howled and he evaporated into nothingness.
“Help us find you?” Wally said slowly.
“Well yeah, I mean you are here to find the older version of me right? I know he’s in pain, right here.” He pointed at where his heart is located with a small pout on his lips.
“We want to help take that pain away.” Batgirl knelt by the younger version of Dick and he smiled brightly at her.
“Okay, follow me!!” Robin threw his arms outs to the side and ran off making airplane noises.
“It’s weird seeing him so young and carefree.” Megan said with a sad smile.
“I remember when he was this age, if you think he was a troll when he was 13, man you haven’t seen anything.” Red Arrow laughed in memory.
“Come one! No time to waste!” The little Robin called from over by a new doorway.
“We are coming.” Batgirl said herding the group over and little Robin smiled up at her widely.
“You’re really pretty, you remind me of Starfire! She and Raven sometimes come and keep me company!” He said brightly before his face darkened. “They hide me from the masked man.”
“You mean Slade?” Wally asked and little Robin nodded before launching himself into Connor’s arm’s surprising the clone, but he held him close nonetheless.
“I hate that man.” The little boy muttered while clutching Connor’s black shirt. “He’s the source of my older self’s pain, will you save him?”
“That’s what we are here for kiddo.” Red Arrow ruffled the little boy’s black hair.
“Then go through those doors.” Little Robin pointed towards an appearing doorway. “Will you save him? If you do then I can leave this warehouse and play with the others including my brothers.”
“Your brothers?” Jason asked slowly.
“Yup!” Little Robin popped the ‘p’. “Jason and Tim! They are the best brothers in the world and sometimes Bruce comes to visit and we all play games together!”
“We’ll do our best.” Connor promised as he saw Jason and Tim were choked up and couldn’t seem to be able to form proper words.
“Thanks, good luck… The masked man is sneaky and is hard to beat, but with you all helping the older me then you can beat him!” Little Robin hopped out of Connor’s arms and waved his arms in a goodbye.
“We got this kid.” Wally gave him thumbs up and the team all went through the door. They stood in a loose circle formation in the darken room, looking around for any sign of life or a threat.
“My apprentice, it is time for another lesson. What happens when you try to contact your little friend’s?” A deadly voice questioned and an agonizing scream pierced the air.
“Now what did I say?” The voice sounded like he was smirking.
“N…Not to contact the others.” A too familiar voice whimpered through the silence.
“That’s Dick.” Barbara whispered as she bit her lip. His voice sounded so broken and like it was taking all his strength to just speak.
“Good, I will be back for you in a while my apprentice.” The voice was getting farther away and a door clicked shut.
The group of hero’s moved forward quickly following Connor who used his infrared vision to track down the heat source that was their friend.
Gasps rippled through the group when they found Nightwing. He was chained up to a wall, arms high above his head with metal cuffs covering his wrists. A large collar was wrapped around his neck that too was connected to the wall behind him. His head was hanging down loosely and his Nightwing uniform was barely clinging to his body, blood was fresh and dried around the many cuts visible on his body.
“Oh Dick.” Megan gasped, tears welling up in her eyes.
“Wake up big brother.” Jason stood by his older brother, tapping his cheek gently.
“Jay?” Dick whimpered, eyes opening up.
“We all are here Wing.” Red Arrow said softly as the others came over to form a circle around him. Superboy and Aqualad started to work on the chains that were attached to the teen’s body.
“How did you find me?” Nightwing slumped forward; Wally and Jason were supporting him in an instant.
“Your younger self helped us with that.” Wally admitted.
“What…Hold on! You can’t be here! Deathstroke is going to come back and he will kill you all! You have to get out!” Panic was easily heard in his voice and seen in his eyes.
“Don’t worry about him anymore Dick, he’s dead, Jason put numerous bullets in him, he is dead! The man you see here is just a projection, you can banish him!” Megan told Dick, who just shook his head back and forth, muttering about they were wrong and they were all going to die if they didn’t leave.
“Don’t make me slap you Dick.” Artemis snapped.
“I know you would.” Dick chuckled looking up at the blonde.
“And I will if you don’t pull yourself together! You can banish Deathstroke once and for all. We will be right here, supporting you.” Artemis promised and she grinned as she noticed that he stood up a bit more, like his strength was returning to him.
“I-I’ll try.” He nodded his head.
“We got your back bro.” Roy grinned, the others nodding in agreement.
“Well, well. What do we have here?” Deathstroke’s voice rang out and a shudder traveled over Nightwing’s body, but his eyes were strong and set in a look of determination.
“My friends are here for me Slade.” Dick spat out, fury laced in his voice.
“I thought we went over this in previous lessons apprentice? Your friends don’t care for you, after everything you have been through for them and how did they repay you?” He tried to weave the lies back into Dick’s mind, but the presences of his friends. His team. His family by his side Slade would never get into his mind again.
“Then why are they here?” Dick countered now able to stand on his own, but the group stuck close to him in case he needed backup.
“They are here to save me from you, from your ghost that has been following me for years. Well that ends today! You. Are. Dead. You can’t hurt me anymore; I won’t let you control me. You are nothing!” Dick was shouting by the end and his wounds and uniform fixed them selves.
“You. Are. Dead. You. Are. NOTHING!” Dick shouted and Slade made a choking noise and he disappeared just like Two-face had done so. Dick slumped to his feet and the whole group was on the ground beside him. Dick leaned against Connor’s shoulder as he breathed heavily.
“That was harder than it looked.” He admitted, sweat rolling down his face.
“You did it Wing, you did it!” Connor smiled and Dick’s face lit up as it sunk in.
“I did, didn’t I?” Dick’s grin was his old goofy one. “Thanks guys… Now get out of my mind, I want to wake up.”
“Fair enough.” Tim shrugged with a smile on his lips.
“See you soon Dick, oh and we are going to have conversation about that other redhead and about you patrolling as Batman AND Nightwing.” Barbara jabbed her index finger into Dick’s chest.
“Looking forward to it.” Dick grinned cheekily.
The group started to fade and before they knew what was happening they were all flying backwards in the med bay room.
“What happened in there?” Flash asked he helped Wally to his feet like the other mentors were doing with the other members who went into Dick’s mind.
“We met some Titians, saved a super young Robin from Two-face and then helped Nightwing banish his projection of Deathstroke.” Jason summed up their adventure in a few seconds.
“He should be waking up soon.” Megan said looking over at the bed where the dark haired teen lay.
“Unless Bab’s threat really freaked him out.” Artemis teased.
“Some hero if he is freaked out by that.” Bab giggled and Megan shook her head.
“I heard that.” Dick’s weak voice came from the bed. Everyone in the room was surrounding Dick’s bed in a second.
“How ya feeling Blue Bird?” Jason asked.
“Crappy, but better than I was before.” Dick admitted. “Thanks for helping me out even if I didn’t deserve it…”
Connor frowned and pulling back his strength he reached over and whacked his friend upside his head. “Don’t be such a dumbass.”
“I knew introducing you to modern culture was a bad idea.” Dick gave Connor a genuine smile. “Thanks. I mean it, none of you had any reason to help me…”
Connor repeated his action and his words.
“Okay, okay, sheesh… Thank you guys, I mean it.” Dick said with a shy smile on his lips.
“If you EVER pull something like that again.” Jason let the threat trail off.
“Got it little wing.” Dick smiled.
“Get some sleep Dick.” Barry said as he inserted something in his IV drip.
“Everything will be fine.” Wonder Woman stroked Dick’s hair off his forehead, as his eyes grew heavy.
“…Love you guys.” Dick muttered before he fell into a drug-induced slumber.
“If any of you so much as think of kicking Dick out officially, you will have us to deal with.” Wally turned to the Justice League members with his arms crossed. The others took the same stance, all of them staring down a member of the league.
“We wouldn’t do that, we didn’t plan on doing that in the 1st place.” Superman assured the protective group.
“Good, now it’s been a long day. Let’s get some rest and see Dick when he wakes up later.” Aqualad stated.
“Good idea Kaldur.” Artemis smiled noticing how Megan was swaying on her feet, going into Dick’s mind had taken a lot of her.
“I’m just glad everyone is here and safe.” Wonder Woman spoke up with a soft smile on her lips.
“Us too.” The room agreed and the mentors left the room with their protégée’s. The bat’s however stayed behind and once alone their masks came off.
Bruce stroked Dick’s hair as Bab’s grabbed Dick’s hand. Tim and Jason sat beside each other, not talking.
The silence that was so comfortable with the Bat family took over the room and everything was right once more.