New York City… late evening same day…
It had been a long time since Dick Grayson patrolled the streets of New York City. It was close to midnight, and the red striped Nightwing had just helped the local fire department rescue several children from a burning apartment building. Their panic-stricken parents thanked the masked vigilante many times over as they crushed their children in their tight embrace. As he made his way back up to the rooftop of a nearby skyscraper, an annoyed voice caught his attention.
“You didn’t have to go and do that alone,” Damian said, glaring at his older brother from behind the mask he wore as Robin.
Nightwing tried to smile at his younger brother reassuringly. “You were already busy chasing down the arsonists who started the fire. Besides, it wasn’t anything I couldn’t handle.”
Robin was not reassured, and his frown deepened to emphasize that point. “Don’t give me that. You’re still upset about what happened this afternoon with that thief-“
“Tch! Whatever! Doesn’t matter. What matters is that whenever you’re upset about him, you go rushing into the night alone and start taking stupid risks in the field!”
“Madrid?” Robin reminded Nightwing curtly. “How about New Orleans? Hong Kong? Metropolis? Baghdad? Do you want me to go through the whole list, or only the ones where you nearly got yourself killed?”
What Nightwing really wanted to do was just tell Robin to drop it, that it wasn’t something he had to worry about because he was just a kid. However, it was near impossible to think of his former partner as “just a kid” anymore. He’d long since stopped being shorter than Dick. At seventeen now, he was the same height as him, with signs that he’d probably acquire another couple of inches before he finally stopped growing. Damian had gained his father’s genes in height, though not his bulk in muscle. His mother’s genes worked on that and gave him a leaner body than the original Batman. He sighed. “No. You don’t have to go on,” he told Robin. “Let’s… Just patrol for a few more hours, then head back to the hotel.”
“Good,” Robin said as he started pulling out his grappling gun. “I can’t wait till this gallery thing is done, and we can go back to Gotham. I’m so sick of this city.”
Nightwing smirked a little. “You just want to get back to work on your flight suit at home.”
Robin scowled. “Yes. Yes I do! The wings are almost done! I can’t wait till I can go on a Titans mission and NOT have to rely on the metas to fly me back and forth.”
“Awww… Don’t you like getting picked up by Supergirl anymore?”
The unmasked portions of Robin’s face started to redden. “Shut up, Nightwing.” The grappling line flew out from the gun, and the younger vigilante quickly followed after it.
Bantering with Robin lifted Nightwing’s spirits a little. When he lost Tim, he'd made it a point to stay as close to Damian as he could, to the point where he was overprotective to a fault. Dick vowed he wouldn’t lose another brother. However, when his hyper-protective nature kept hindering Damian in the field, Bruce had to make the judgment call to separate the two, under the excuse that it was time for him to partner with his youngest son, and for Dick to be Batman Inc.’s representative in the Justice League. When that happened, Dick decided to hang up his version of the cape and cowl once and for all, and returned to his Nightwing persona full time. However, as a tribute to his missing brother, he changed the stripes from blue to red. The intention was to return them to their original color once they finally brought Tim home.
They’d been red ever since.
For the next couple of hours, it was a pretty standard night in New York City. A car jacking stopped here, a meth lab busted there. A few breaking and entering jobs were nipped in the bud in between. It was almost three am when the pair decided to take a break and split a small pizza on the roof of the Empire State Building.
“I was right, wasn’t I?” Nightwing insisted with a smile after finishing the second to last slice of the pie.
Robin frowned and finally gave in. “Alright. I admit it. The pizza here is better than any I’ve had anywhere else. Are you happy now?”
“Good, cause the last piece is mine.”
Before Nightwing could go in and swipe that last piece back for himself, the communicators from both of them started to go off. It was Oracle, and even though they both flipped the com units on their masks on, Nightwing was the only one who could answer, since his was the only mouth not full of pepperoni and cheese.
“Evening beautiful. What’s up?”
“I can’t believe it! I just can’t believe it!” Barbara Gordon’s voice was thick with emotion as her words tumbled into the boys’ ears. It sounded as if she’d been crying. “I ran the tests five times just to be sure I wasn’t dreaming, but it’s real! It’s really real!”
Nightwing’s brows furrowed with concern and confusion. Robin looked decidedly less confused, but concern and surprise were both there in his young face. The rest of his pizza was placed back in the box and promptly forgotten. “Babs?” the elder brother said. “What are you talking about? What tests?”
“The blood samples,” she said between sniffles. “The ones D sent me this afternoon. I ran the DNA against my database and it’s a match! It’s a match! A hundred percent! Oh god… You found him! Oh my god! You really, truly found him!” Barbara was sobbing openly now.
Robin had paled, his face a picture of shock. Nightwing felt a dawning realization about who she might be talking about, and his own voice felt heavy in his throat with barely restrained emotion when he spoke once more. “Who? Who did we find, Babs?”
There was a long moment of sniffling before Barbara finally answered him. “Tim,” she said softly. “You finally found Tim!”
If Babs said anything more, Dick didn’t hear it. His mind was whirling as the events of the earlier afternoon replayed themselves in his head. He didn’t even realize he’d been stumbling backwards until his back met a wall and he slid down it, his legs suddenly turned to jelly.
“It was him,” he said, his hands trembling as he brought them up to his eyes; hands that just a few hours ago had held his long lost brother. His voice shook just as bad, caught between laughter and sobbing as he tried unsuccessfully to scrub the tears away from his mask. “It was him! We found Tim! He’s alive! Oh god, he’s alive!”
For the first time in years, Dick Grayson felt lighter than air. A mercilessly crushing weight of guilt and grief finally lifted itself off of his shoulders. Eventually, the sobs faded it was only his joyous relieved laughter which filled the crisp New York night air.
DNA didn’t lie, after all.
DNA doesn't lie?