title: Undetermined
fandom: DC Comics
characters/pairings: Bruce/Dick, Justice League, Batgirl
rating: Teen
warnings: none
summary: In the Watchtower, Dick tends to Batman and his own fears. JL animated series fic.
notes: hey! there was a justice league movie on cartoon network this weekend, and dickie was actually in it! it was a blink-or-you'll-miss-it detail in the alternate uni created by vandal savage winning wwII. babs and dickie were kissing in the batcave/resistance central place. it made me happy, tho, since the good folks behind the animated dc world have been going out of their way lately to ignore dick's existence. gr. am i right in thinking the new titans 'toon is going to have tim drake as the robin? if that's the case, why don't they just call it young justice? wouldn't that be cooler, anyway? and now they're changing the comic so that it'll be the same as the 'toon...
annnnnyway! this fic is in the animated justice league continuity, because i desperately need them to acknowledge my boy.

The faint beep of the monitor seemed to dominate the small infirmary. Everyone tried to crowd into the door, now that the panic had passed. No one wanted to speak. They stared at the bed, unable to believe it.

Superman drew himself up, feeling the burden of leadership. Under normal conditions, he considered their team to be a collaborative effort, with no one person's opinion outweighing anyone else's. With the exception of Flash, naturally, but still... they were all adults, responsible, experienced... So, there was no cause for any power games between them.

But with him down, someone needed to take control, because no one ever believed that he could fall.

"We need to contact the Cave. Let... his family know. And then we'll call S.T.A.R. Labs. It's not over yet, people."

Everyone else stirred a little, some breaking eye contact with their colleague to nod at Superman. Wonder Woman continued to stare. "I'll sit with him." Her eyes seemed mesmerized by the bouncing line on the monitor. "I'll let you know if... anything changes."

She moved into the room, standing next to the bed. Superman was about to say something about a chair, but then he had a visual of Wonder Woman sitting in a chair next to a hospital bed and thought better of it.

He sat down in front of the monitor, sighing to himself. He hoped he got Robin. He knew Robin. He could talk to Robin.

"Watchtower to Batcave, please come in Batcave."

A pause long enough to make Superman think that maybe something was wrong, and then, "Go ahead."

The voice was deep, and distrustful. "Robin? This is Superman."

"...No, not Robin. Go ahead."

Superman pinched his eyes shut. He knew only a little about Batman's other... allies in Gotham. Little enough. "There's been a situation. Batman is down, and it doesn't look good." He waited, and when the silence started to feel heavy, he added awkwardly, "I'm sorry."

For a moment, Superman thought the connection had slipped somehow, but then, "I'm coming up. Prepare to transport."

Before Superman could decide whether or not to protest, the ready light was blinking on the transport control, and he was inputting the commands.

A shimmer of light, and in the next moment, there was a glowering, dark figure stalking towards them. Flash immediately went on the offensive, threatened a little by the presence of a Bat his own age. "Hey man, sorry to meet under such circumstances, but the man never thought to..."

"Take me to him." The young man clad almost entirely in black walked straight up to Superman, his eyes narrowed.

Superman cleared his throat. And he thought the only person who could make him feel nervous was Batman... "He's in the infirmary. We're going to contact S. T. A. R. Labs, and..."

"No," he said, scowling deeper. "We have our own medical resources. Take me to him."

If Batman wasn't near death, several people would be giving the stranger some static. As it was, Flash hung back so he could mutter under his breath about cold-hearted spawns of batfreaks...

Superman was even wondering if they had done the right thing. He wished he could have contacted Robin instead. This was... Nightwing, if he remembered right. He'd never met him before, but he'd heard about him. Once. He'd been sure that there was no one on earth who could be as cold as Bruce, but the way Nightwing was acting...

He regretted his thoughts as soon as they entered the infirmary. A sharp intake of breath through his nose was the first sign that things were not as they had initially seemed. His body appeared to shudder as he caught sight of Batman on the medbed. Diana immediately moved to step closer to him, just as he moved to Batman as if he were being summoned.

"His pulse has been thready, but we've stabilized his vitals. We're not sure exactly what kind of toxin or agent is responsible, but we've got the best medical equipment available, and..." Her voice wavered as she spoke, her hand reaching out to touch his shoulder as if she needed the comfort.

"Thank you." His voice was grainy and deep. He even almost smiled at Wonder Woman. His hands reached out to Batman, shivering uncertainly as his lips twitched, unable to maintain the scowl. Abruptly, he started to rip off his gloves so that he could lay his hands on Batman's flesh. "What happened?"

"We should call S. T. A. R. They can help..." Superman felt that awful itch under his skin that came from not being able to do anything. He wanted to rip himself into pieces.

"No." Nightwing's voice was remarkably steady. "I contacted Batgirl and Robin. They're bringing our expert as soon as they can. She... has his medical history. He trusts her. We'll need some... privacy. What happened?"

A convoluted tale about a man whose experiments in botany and madness had led him to try to control the world unfolded, stiltedly. He had taken over most of the Amazon, and the strange reports coming in had been the reason that the Justice League was involved. Batman personally came along because he suspected that Poison Ivy might be responsible.

Nightwing listened carefully, nodding. When the story unwound, with a succinct description of Batman's injury, and the Florion's capture, Nightwing appeared to be soaking in all the information, his fingertips gently running in circles over Batman's arm. "Do you have any samples? Any notes?"

Hawkgirl snorted, clearly uneasy in this setting and anxious to smash something. "He was a madman. His notes are gibberish."

"Never the less." Nightwing's eyes were fixed on Batman's closed eyes, his voice calm. "Bring me the notes, and any samples you might have. Superman, I'd appreciate it if you personally saw to the transport of our medical expert. I'm sorry, but I'll have to insist on some privacy. I appreciate your kinship with him, but unfortunately, there are some identity issues that I'm not at liberty to discuss. Thank you."

"For what?" Flash burst out, his mouth running ahead of him as usual.

Nightwing smiled tightly. "For being his allies."

Wonder Woman squeezed his arm, meeting his eye for the first time. "Let us know what we can do. We'll be a breath away. And... I'm sorry."

"So am I." He turned back to the bed, forlorn.

Days passed, and all that the Justice League knew was that Batman was stable, and that Nightwing never left his side for any longer than it took to go to the bathroom. No one was allowed anywhere near the infirmary, except Superman, who had to remind Nightwing that he already knew all of Batman's secrets, and J'onn, who also knew since he was a telepath.

Four days after the battle with Florion, Superman came down to the lower level of the Watchtower with a weary smile on his face. "He's going to be all right."

A collective sigh of relief passed through the rest of the League, as everyone sagged back, the tension disappearing instantly.

"Nighwing was able to discern a code in the notes that madman left behind, and his medical expert and J'onn worked together to synthesize an antitoxin. Batman still needs a lot of rest, but he's going to be all right." Superman leaned back on the railing, taking the weight off his feet.

"When can we go see him?" Wonder Woman watched Superman with an expression of relieved concern. It was obvious the Amazon wasn't going to be satisfied until she could see Batman herself.

Superman waved his hand through the air dismissively. "Oh, the doctor will be leaving in a bit, and then I think it should be ok. Nightwing and Robin are up there, but they're in costume."

Flash snorted, stretching out on the couch lazily. "Has Captain Stick-Up-My-Butt relaxed, or is he still practicing new and exciting ways to retain anally?"

"I perfected my anal retention techniques years ago." Nightwing glowered from the doorway, standing uncomfortably still as he eyed the members of the League with vague disdain. "Superman, the doctor is transporting down with Robin. Batman's still unconscious, but," he cleared his throat, feeling awkward, "if anyone wanted to see him, I suppose..."

"Thank you." Wonder Woman shot up, smiling, before taking off at breakneck speed for the infirmary.

Nightwing watched her go, his eyes narrowed slightly. "Yes. Well... You said something about a canteen?"

Flash was suddenly standing next to him, smiling broadly. "No prob, man! Do ya mean to tell us you haven't eaten in four days?!?!? What kind of hosts are we, huh?" He threw his arm over Nightwing's shoulder. "Sorry about that! Just follow me, and let me tell ya, we're all really glad your pop's gonna be ok!"

Nightwing remained rooted to the spot. He eyed Flash. He eyed Flash's arm around his shoulder. He eyed Flash again. "He's not my father."

Chuckling nervously, Flash pulled his arm away, backing up a step. "Heh heh... uh, yeah, right this way..." Trudging off at a snail's pace, as far as he was concerned, Flash led Nightwing to the canteen.

Hawkgirl smirked as she sidled up to Nighwing. "Don't mind Flash. He's an idiot... but we all got used to him. You will too."

Dick was tired. His back ached, and he hadn't had a decent night's sleep in... He couldn't remember if he ever had one. He was starving.

And he hated the Justice League.

"I don't intend to spend enough time with him to get used to him." He folded his arms stiffly over his body, unable to control his wretched expression.

Shayera stopped short, staring after the Bat's protégé with disgust. "I can't believe it," she muttered under her breath, "Flash was right about something. He does have something stuck up his butt."

Dick sighed as he slipped back into the infirmary. If he was comfortable enough with any of the Leaguers, he might have asked them for a bed, or at least a comfortable chair. Well, he liked J'onn all right. He could see what Bruce had meant about him. If there had to be someone who could read your mind, it might as well be him. J'onn was just... trustworthy.

But even J'onn was a member of the all-mighty League, friends with the shiny and wonderful Superman, and more powerful than any ordinary man could hope to have.

And unlike Bruce, Dick was just an ordinary man.

His head jerked up when he heard a voice. Wonder Woman, or Diana as she told him to call her, was sitting by Bruce's bed, holding his hand, and talking in a low voice to the unconscious man.

Swallowing his almost certainly unfounded jealousy, Dick smiled as pulled his chair to the other side of the bed. "You've been keeping a pretty constant vigil over him. I... I'm sorry, it must have been hard when we had you locked out. It wasn't my choice, I promise."

"His choice. I know." She smiled far too knowingly at him. "I respect his privacy, even if I don't completely understand it. I'm just grateful that he will be all right. I prayed to Iaso that he would recover."

Dick nodded, thinking about how odd it was to meet someone who not only believed in Greek gods and goddesses, but had actually met a lot of them.

Diana seemed to fidget in her chair, which looked truly strange, as she was so... large and graceful. Finally, she looked up and met Dick's eyes.

"Nightwing... I have to confess. It was my fault that Batman became ill. I... I rushed headlong into battle, and he interfered. He spared me, but he came in contact with some... powder. It was all my fault. I cannot express to you my shame or regret." She hung her head down, her shoulders slumped.

Dick wasn't sure whether he should laugh or not. She might be offended if he did. Reaching over Bruce's body, he took her hand. "Don't give it another thought, Diana, please. I know Batman won't blame you. You won't believe the number of times I've gotten him into trouble, and he still speaks to me." He winked at her, smiling his patented #38 Charming Smile.

Diana smiled back, surprised to find herself blushing in response. "Th-thank you. I appreciate your generosity."

Dick sighed, leaning back in his chair. He wanted to be home with Bruce, or at the very least alone with him. But, he wasn't sure enough of himself or of Bruce's feelings for him to ask for any more privacy. After all, these were Bruce's, no, Batman's friends.

Maybe Batman would want his friends nearby.

It was his fault, after all. He had been so cold to Bruce, and he insisted on keeping his distance. If he hadn't been so reserved with Bruce, so self-protective, maybe...

But Bruce was so stubborn! It wasn't his fault that things were quite so difficult! And Bruce was controlling, and prone to jealousy! If he was cold sometimes, and if he needed his personal space, it was only because he needed to maintain his separate identity, least he lose what was left of himself to Bruce.

It was bad enough that Tim said Dick was just like Bruce...

This whole Justice League thing was the perfect example. Dick has asked Bruce to stay out of the League, and Bruce had just... ignored him. He wasn't trying to say that Bruce wasn't skilled enough or strong enough, Dick just felt that Bruce took on enough risks as it was, without adding to his troubles.

Did Bruce hear him out? Did he at least consider Dick's point of view, or feelings? Did he even attempt to talk to Dick about it?

No, and now they were on an infirmary in space, and Bruce had nearly died.

And there was an Amazon princess hovering over him at every turn, and Superman lurking in the background, watching over him with such concern. And that idiot Flash, and Hawgirl, and Green Lantern... All people who Batman trusted, worked with, who cared for him...

People Bruce had known for less than a fraction of the time that Dick had known him, but who still managed to work their way into Bruce's life, and more importantly, into the Bat's confidence.

He was startled when a heavy hand came to rest on his shoulder. J'onn held out a cup of steaming cocoa. "I thought you might like something hot."

Dick smiled at J'onn. The alien's warm presence and cool but concerned eyes were all the comfort Dick could stand. "Thank you."

J'onn pulled up a chair and sat down next to Dick. After a moment of relaxed quiet, J'onn leaned a bit closer to Dick. Diana was too consumed in her watch over Batman to take much note of the men across from her. Pitching his voice low, so that the sound wouldn't travel far, "The time for worry has passed now. You have no cause to be concerned over how he's... feeling."

Dick swallowed, afraid to look into the eyes of the alien, not wanting to understand him completely. After taking the time necessary to compose himself, he nodded once. "Thanks."

J'onn nodded as well, leaning back in his chair. The many facets of human emotions were, apparently, even confusing to them.

Dick wondered if there was a shower in the Watchtower. No one lived here, per se, but they did come back from ugly, grimy missions here.

He was going to ask J'onn next time he saw him. He was beginning to feel a little sticky in his gear...

He heard the laughter first. Very easily identifiable laughter, from the canteen.

Then he heard the Flash.

"Yeah, so I said to him, 'Look man, I don't care if it is your walrus, this is still a no parking zone.'" Flash was leaning on the counter, his body leaning towards Batgirl, who was giggling like she had heard something funny, instead of what the Flash had just said.

Tensing, Nightwing narrowed his eyes dangerously. Affecting an unconcerned posture, he crossed his arms over his chest and cleared his throat.

Batgirl looked at him, straightening up. "Oh! Hi, Nightwing. Flash was just telling me about this time when..."

"Batman is still unconscious," he cut her off abruptly, "but J'onn expects that it's because he is still flushing the toxin out of his system."

Batgirl flushed, and Flash made a visible gesture of rolling his eyes.

"Er... yeah, I know, I was talking to Flash, and he offered me some coffee because I mentioned that I had been awake for hours..." She gestured with her hands as she spoke, looking a little unnerved.

"Hmph." Nightwing went to the coffee maker, pouring himself a cup. "You can go sit with him whenever you like."

"Oh, get your tights out of your butt, man, and give the girl a break!" Flash put his arm over her shoulders. "We were just talking. Ok, she was talking and I was flirting, but c'mon! I always thought us hero types should stick together. Who gets us like us, huh? And since Diana and Bats are a thing, and Shayera pretty much hates me, I figured I might be able to make a connection with Batgirl here. No harm, no foul."

Batgirl took a half-step towards Nightwing, whose back had gone impossibly stiff as Flash had rambled on. "Oh, no, Flash, you've got it wrong, Batman and Wonder Woman aren't an item, they're just friends..."

"Yeah, that's what I thought, but then with the way she's been hovering over him, I've been rethinking some things, stuff from the past and junk, and I think they have chemistry! It's kinda weird to think about since he's the Bat and all, but a guy's a guy, right? Gotta have urges under that creepy cowl..." Flash waggled his eyebrows expressively under his suit, so that his wicked expression was perfectly clear.

Nightwing wrapped his hands around his mug and clenched his teeth.

"No! No, no, no... You see, that can't be, I mean, no, I'm sure they're friends and all, but Batman, well, see, he's got, that is to say, he's not involved with Diana, he can't be..."

"I'm going back to the infirmary." Nightwing's low tone brought Batgirl's babbling to a dead stop. "If you ever feel like joining me, that would be great." He stalked back to the infirmary, his jaw working so hard he could almost feel his enamel flaking off.

He heard Babs rush to say something to Flash, and then chase after him, but he kept moving. With any luck, the lift would start to take him up before she got to him.

"Nightwing! Wait!" Batgirl stuck her hand out and stopped the lift door from closing just in time. She was panting as she waited for the doors to open again, and as she stepped inside.

Nightwing stared straight ahead as if the lift hadn't waited for her.

"Hey, you know, Flash is just a twit," she started to try to comfort him.

"That's perfectly obvious, yes."

"No, I mean, he didn't know what he was talking about, there's no reason for you to feel..."

"This isn't the time, Babs." He spoke quietly so there was no chance anyone could overhead them, even though they were alone. As the doors swooshed open, he stalked away. "Just drop it."

As he stepping into the infirmary, he saw Diana holding Bruce's hand. He furiously banished the image of Bruce Wayne escorting the exotically beautiful Amazon princess to the latest charity ball. It was certainly more likely than Bruce ever taking Dick as a date...

Dick was asleep when Batman regained consciousness. Superman woke him up right away, but J'onn and Diana were working on him for a while after that. Dick was too tired to be jealous or upset. He stood on the sidelines, his arms wrapped tightly around his body, watching.

It was over an hour later when, with bleary eyes, Bruce saw Dick.

He smiled, just a little bit, just so that only Dick and J'onn noticed.

It felt like he had to break out of restraints, just to walk closer to him. Each step was hard in a way Dick wasn't prepared for. The worst part was getting to the bed and not knowing whether he could touch Bruce or not.

Bruce helped, by raising his hand just a little. Dick slipped his hand under and intertwined their fingers, smiling tightly.

"You're here."

"Where else?"

Bruce sighed, and closed his eyes, trying to cling to Dick's fingers. "I want to go home."

"As soon as it's safe to move you, and don't try to glare at me, you can't even stand now." The corner of Dick's lips quirked as he spoke, his eyes warm as they scolded Bruce.

Bruce sighed, in mock disgust, and he relaxed a little. "Gotham?"

Dick hid the twinge of pain that caused, succeeding because he was expecting it. "She's right where you left her, a few of her less desirable citizens now residing in less hospitable environs. Don't worry about it." He wanted to kiss Bruce's forehead, but he could almost feel the others' eyes on him.

Diana came around the bed and took Bruce's other hand. "I thank the gods that you are well again. We've all been so worried."

Bruce missed the quiver of disdain in Dick's face because he was still recovering from all the drugs.

"Don't do that to us again," Superman smiled from the foot of the bed, "or we may consider revoking your league membership."

Bruce grunted, shifting in the bed. "You couldn't get by without me."

Dick pulled his hand away, and crossed his arms over his chest again. "Well, if you really do want to get home, you should rest now. Hopefully, tomorrow, we can transport down." Bruce opened his eyes, confused by Dick's brusque tone. Rushing on before he could stop himself, "Well, I'm going to head back down. I should check on things, let everyone know you're up... I'll see you later. Don't spend too much time catching up with your league, make sure you get some rest."

He started walking away so that he couldn't see whether or not Bruce reacted to his words. There were some things he was sure he was better off not knowing.

J'onn followed him into the lift. "I will operate the transport for you."

Dick wasn't sure whether he should be glad or not that it was the Martian who was helping. "Um, thanks."

J'onn watched Dick carefully from inside his mind. The layers of confusion radiating from the young man's mind was dizzying. "You know..."


"You don't know what I was going to say."

"Sometimes, you do the wrong thing because you can't do the right thing." Dick ran a hand through his hair, trying not to notice how greasy it had gotten in the last week. "I know that he needs me, but... I just want to take him home."

J'onn followed Dick silently all the way to the transporter. Just as he was about to finalize the sequence, he looked Dick in the eyes. "He knows his home is with you."

Dick saw the cave materialize before his eyes. Sagging against the wall of the transport, he ripped the mask off his face brutally.

Bruce sat patiently as Dick tucked the blankets around him. "I'm not an invalid, you know." He purposefully kept his tone light and teasing, even if it was starting to get annoying.

Dick just glared at him. "Don't even think about it. You're going to follow Leslie's instructions to the letter, even if I have to hog tie you to this bed."

Raising an eyebrow, Bruce smirked. "Tie me to the bed? As much as I would be happy to stay here with you, I don't think I'm quite up for bondage games yet..."

Dick flushed, and then he waggled a finger in Bruce's face. "You know what I meant, mister! I better not catch you trying to do any calisthenics or patch into the batcomputer or anything like that."

"Yes, sir," Bruce answered cheekily. His eyes involuntarily flickered to the duffle in the corner. "So, I take it you plan to stay for a while to oversee my house arrest?" He tried to keep the hope out of his voice, but it was hard. He wanted Dick to live in the Manor again, but especially when he wasn't in top form, he wanted Dick by his side.

Dick's eyes fell to the bedspread, his fingers tracing a pattern in the folds. "I, er, hope you don't mind. I don't want to impose..."

"Dick!" Bruce put his hand on Dick's cheek, a little angry that it seemed to take some effort to raise his hand up that high. "You are never an imposition here! This is your home, whenever you want, you know."

"I know." Dick wanted to cover Bruce's hand with his own, but he clasped the blanket instead. "I just... I know you aren't at your best, and I didn't want to pressure you..."

"You never pressure me. I do that to myself." As always, whenever Bruce tried to make a joke, it came out sounding bitter to his ears. Sighing, he tried again. "You'll probably speed my recovery. As long as you keep wearing those loose tanks, I'm going to be motivated to get back to 100%."

"I knew it," Dick teased quietly, "you only want me for my body. And I'm ok with that, in case I hadn't said so before."

"I'm glad you're here." Bruce rested his head against the headboard. "I feel human around you."

Dick hesitantly touched Bruce's stomach, his eyes fixed on that groove between Bruce's pecs. "I'm glad I'm here, too. I'm glad you're here. I was afraid..."

"I'm sorry."

"It's ok. Comes with the territory. Next week, it'll be you worrying over me, week after that, we'll both be fretting over Tim. It's not... ideal. But it's what we both chose, so we can deal with it together."

"Look at me."

Dick dragged his eyes up slowly, until he was focused entirely on the midnight blue of Bruce's eyes.

"I'm sorry."

"Don't." Dick shook his head slightly. "We chose this. Each of us. Don't apologize for saving the world."

Bruce twisted his lips into a wry smile. "This is your opening, you know."

Dick cocked his head to the side, his brow furrowed.

"Time for the lecture; you can tell me that I'm not Superman and I'm not Green Lantern, I'm just a mortal in a suit, and I have to be more careful." Bruce purposefully used a lighter tone than his ditzy playboy voice.

Dick leaned over and kissed Bruce's forehead. "You're so much more than that suit. And I know you are careful. Sometimes, you have to take the risk, like when you need to help out a friend..." Dick nearly managed to keep the strain out of his voice.

Bruce studied Dick's face carefully. "Diana told you about it, then."

Dick's eyes flicked back to the blanket. "Yeah. So, I understand."

"Do you?"

"Of course. I would have done the same in your shoes, for Barb, or Tim."

Bruce thought about something that J'onn had said the night that Dick had left him in the infirmary in the Watchtower. Something about Dick being so much like Bruce and so different from Bruce. Something about Dick being more direct and complex. "Come here."

Dick didn't move for a moment, and then he leaned in slowly, only raising his chin at the last moment to meet Bruce's eyes.

Bruce leaned in, touching lips to lips, waiting for the kiss to develop. Being stuck in an infirmary eating through an IV for a week meant that his lips were dry, and when they started to move their mouths against each other, Bruce couldn't feel Dick's mouth quite as well as he usually could, but soon enough, their lips parted and their tongues touched tentatively.

It made his spine freeze, the chill of touch, so intimate and visceral... He could still feel their first kiss in his bones, the way Dick broke his world into pieces with that simple intimacy. It felt like every step they took was the wrong one, like they were both leading and going in opposite directions, and most of the time he was half-way tempted to throw his arms up in the air and say they just don't fit, but then...

Then they touched, and it all made sense again. They were men of action, and when they moved together, they were perfect.

Dick's back was arched, and his ass was sticking up temptingly, as his whole body seemed to lead directly to his lips, and his connection to Bruce.

Bruce's fingertips made their way to Dick's jawbone. He traced the skin, his skin tingling over the slight stubble on Dick's cheek. He tried to breathe Dick's taste.

"Stay with me tonight?" It was a barely uttered question, the effort to break the kiss causing Bruce to heave.

"Of course." Dick's eyes were closed, and his lashes rested against his cheekbones. It was these little things about his lover that Bruce could never get enough of.

"Good." Bruce shifted and bounced around, until he was flat and his arms were around Dick as best as he could manage. "You know..." he whispered into Dick's ear, "it's never really day around here."

Dick smiled. "Just as well.

"I like the night."

sorry for the Flash-bashing, but in the series, he really is such a twit.