Upon returning from their second mission as a team—and Barry still couldn't believe he was a part of it—the cave was silent and none of the lights were on, which was strange because Alfred was usually waiting for them and he had been manning the comms an hour prior. The feeling apprehension grew when Barry felt himself being watched.
Instinctively, Barry looked to Bruce and saw him scanning the cave with his eyes, searching for anything amiss. Bruce stilled and Clark cocked his head, evidently seeing something Barry couldn't, and the entire team tensed. Diana placed a hand on her sword.
There was a stare-off between Bruce and the intruder before he pulled off his cowl. "Nightwing," he said, as if in greeting.
Barry nearly started vibrating on the spot in excitement. Nightwing was a legend. Barry had seen videos of Nightwing on YouTube and the acrobatics he incorporated into his fighting style was the stuff of dreams. For him to do all those stunts, Barry hypothesized that Nightwing must have studied and trained for years, if not decades, to get as good as he was. But the kicker was this: he was Barry's age. Or, at the very least, he looked it. Frankly, it was inspirational to see and it made him realize that maybe, just maybe, he could be a hero too.
And apparently, Batman knew Nightwing. He didn't think Bruce could get any cooler. Barry beat back the tide of hero-worshipping thoughts and focused on what was going on in front of him.
Nightwing emerged from the shadows of Bruce's Batcave like he owned it. Like a badass. Barry tried not to vibrate through the floor and accidentally suffocate himself.
“Bruce,” Nightwing greeted back.
They were at an impasse. Bruce wouldn't say anything, Barry knew; that man could outwait the best of them. Nightwing seemed to realize it as well. “Why didn't you call?”
Bruce sighed. “It was—”
Nightwing smoothly cut him off. “If that sentence ends in 'too dangerous,’ then you better come up with a better excuse.” His lips thinned. “You know what I'm capable of. I could have helped you.”
Bruce didn't say anything. At this point, the League were just bystanders watching the one-sided verbal tennis match.
“Bruce,” Nightwing said exasperatedly. “I'm not here to fight with you. Just tell me why.”
The silence stretched.
The quiet allowed for Barry to get lost in his rampant thoughts again.
He couldn't get over how weird—and cool—all of this was. He was meeting his long-time hero and his other hero knew him.
Nightwing had spoken to Bruce with such familiarity; it was like they were related or something. At this, Barry’s thoughts came to a screeching halt. He knew Bruce had two sons. Multiple reliable sources he found on the Internet said so. (They also said that one died but Barry didn't want to linger on that.)
The thought of them being related was ridiculous. But, a voice in Barry's mind said, they're both complete badasses; why couldn't they be related?
If it was true, Barry's respect for Bruce went up a few notches. If Bruce could train the likes of Nightwing, then he could help Barry become half as good as him.
Barry came back into himself when Nightwing spoke.
"Bruce, did you think that I wouldn't have come?" Nightwing had apparently managed to glean something from Bruce's silence and unmoving facial expressions. The man looked stricken and Barry honestly felt bad for him. "If you needed me, I would've come running."
"...I know." Bruce said.
"Do you? Because it sounds like you don't."
"I didn't think you'd want to see me," Bruce admitted.
"Bruce," Nightwing said, incredulous, "the world was ending." He sighed when Bruce remained silent. Barry nearly sighed with him because if this man was who Barry thought he was, the answer should've been obvious. Barry knew he'd do anything for his dad. Except get him out of prison apparently, he thought bitterly before immediately severing that line of thought. It wouldn't be good to turn this into a pity party about him. It was more like an intervention for Bruce, if Barry had to say. "If I needed help, would you come?"
Upon hearing those words, Bruce looked so aghast—as aghast as Bruce Wayne, the Batman himself, could be—that Barry nearly gave up on his self-imposed vow of silence. "Of course I would; you're my son!”
The other man crossed his arms and leaned back a little to rest on the balls of his heels like Bruce had just made his entire point for him.
Barry's gut clenched, trying to rein in the laugh that was bubbling up from within him. He nearly broke when he caught sight of Alfred rolling his eyes in the background with his arms crossed. This entire thing was like a soap opera he saw once on TV. He settled for a grin instead.
Nightwing muttered something suspiciously close to “Holy emotionally stunted idiots, Batman,” before he pulled Bruce towards him with a surprising amount of force. Everyone saw the flicker of surprise and uncertainty on Bruce's face.
It was a hug. Bruce brought his arms up to wrap around his son so hesitantly, it was like he had forgotten how to and Barry thought it was one of the saddest things he’d ever seen.
They watched him sag into the embrace like the weight of the world had finally caught up to him.
Things were quiet for a moment, save for Nightwing's murmurs into Bruce's ears. Barry felt the back of his neck heat up. This was an intimate moment for Bruce and Nightwing only—except maybe Alfred, but he was always an exception to every one of Bruce's rules—and he felt uncomfortable watching them.
Glancing around, Barry took in the rest of team. Clark had his body half turned away and looked like he was doing his best to not hear the conversation happening a few feet away. Victor had done the same and was occupying himself with fiddling with his cybernetic arm. Arthur on the other hand, was blatantly watching with a smirk.
Diana met his gaze with a warm smile as soon as he turned to look at her. He smiled lopsidedly back, albeit a little awkwardly.
Barry turned back to the duo just in time to see Bruce nod in response to whatever Nightwing had said to him.
"Now how about you introduce me to your friends?" Nightwing said, breaking the hug.
Bruce opened his mouth to protest but the combined weight of Alfred and Nightwing's unimpressed stare caused him to close it again with a grimace. It kind of looked like a pout.
Barry let out a bark of laughter before shutting his mouth as quickly as he opened it. "Sorry," he said, sheepish.
Nightwing brushed it off with a friendly smile. "No worries."
Barry inwardly screamed.
Luckily, Bruce spoke up, saving him from embarrassing himself further. “Everyone, this is Nightwing,” he said, addressing the ensemble of heroes before him. “Nightwing, everyone.” He made an all-encompassing gesture with a wave of his hand.
Nightwing glanced around, assessing each one before picking who he wanted to speak with first and walking to them.
"Princess," Nightwing held her hand in his and pressed a kiss so light onto the back of her hand, Diana wouldn't have noticed if she hadn't been expecting it. "Dick Grayson, pleased to meet you." He said, charm practically oozing from his pores and in his smile and even his dimples.
Diana's eyes softened and an amused smile twisted the ends of her lips upward. The resemblance between Bruce and his son were uncanny, especially when they were schmoozing. "The pleasure is all mine. It is nice to finally meet Bruce's son," she said, throwing a pointed look Bruce's way.
Bruce didn't seem to care. Standing side by side with Alfred, he watched his son charm his way into the League. Diana could see that Bruce was lighter, brighter, like the shadows that clung to him were slowly being overcome by the sun that was Dick Grayson.
Barry fidgeted nervously and watched with barely concealed longing as Nightwing introduced himself to everyone.
When Nightwing finally—finally!—turned to him, he felt himself automatically straightening up, trying to hold himself like the rest of his team. He couldn't mimic Diana's effortless grace and overall regalness or Arthur's confidence but he tried.
He didn't think it worked when Nightwing quirked his lips in a smile that was kind of like the smile you'd give a tiny dog trying to attack your shoes. Barry mentally panicked, did he already mess up? He hadn't even done anything yet! Well, there was that laugh earlier but Nightwing himself said it was fine...
"So you're Flash, right?" Nightwing—his hero!!—cut through the mess of his frenzied thoughts and brought him back to the present. A thousand or so milliseconds had passed.
Barry didn't trust himself to speak so he just nodded his head enthusiastically. The team didn't even try to hide their smiles at Barry's behaviour.
Nightwing grinned at him, perfect teeth glinting in the light. "Your suit's awesome," Barry was starting to feel lightheaded with how fast his heart was beating, which, for a speedster, was quite the feat. "Can I see how your powers work?"