11 Dick, Babs please?
Oracle sat in front of the computer in the clocktower, unmoving, her glasses reflecting the screen in green numbers and surveillance images and the scowling profiles of perps. Her headset lay abandoned on the floor, the crackle of interference and concerned voices drifting up to unhearing ears.
Suddenly, a security warning flashed across the screen in blinding red, startling her out of her turbulent, raging mind and emotions. She looked up to the corner of the screen and saw the live footage of Nightwing, stumbling into the clocktower lift and collapsing in it as it brought him up to the top level.
Barbara was out of the computer room in an instant, wheeling herself into the hallway towards the lift. Her breathing was fast, her heart thumping in her chest so loudly it hurt, sitting there, waiting for those doors to open. She dug her nails into her knees and didn’t even feel the pain. It was nothing compared to the burning pain that seemed to be cutting through the deepest, most inward crevasses of her soul.
She had never known pain like this before. And Barbara knew pain.
The doors swished open, the automated voice identifying Nightwing (”Nightwing, critical condition”) after the full-body scan, and Barbara let herself down from her wheelchair. She crawled on hands and knees to where the crumpled body of Nightwing lay, bruised and battered and bleeding.
“Dick,” Barbara hissed, her voice desperately quiet, no more than a whisper. She positioned his head in her lap, gazing down at him, slapping his cheek roughly in an effort to wake him. “Dick Grayson. If you don’t wake up this instant, I swear to god, I’m going to dump you for good.”
“Boy. You sure know how to… kick a man… when he’s down.”
A smile twitched on the corner of Nightwing’s lips, his laugh turning into a rough cough, that turned into a groan as his face contorted in agony.
“Don’t move, you’re in critical condition.”
“Yeah… so your elevator… just informed me,” Dick said lightly. But his voice was weak, faraway, and Barbara knew she had to perform some basic medical procedures and check right away. They couldn’t wait for Alfred, or Leslie.
Get the hell up, her mind ordered her gruffly. If you don’t get him to the medical unit, he could die of blood loss.
But her body refused to move, staring down at the broken man she held in her arms. The man who still threw out jokes and smiled even when he was at death’s door. Even when the pain was obviously too much to bear.
Dick blinked up at her with a soft, sad smile, and reached his hand up to her face. He wiped the coursing tears away with a gloved hand, and left it there, caressing her cheek. Barbara met his gentle gaze, and allowed the love held in those blue eyes, boundless and deep as the sky, to wash over her.
“Why are you crying, Babs?” he asked into the stretching stillness, the whir of manmade machines the only sound beyond their out-of-sync heartbeats.
“I almost lost you,” Barbara said finally, her voice a broken harmony with the body of the man she knew she loved but too often couldn’t find the way to tell him.
Dick laughed then, and surprise shot through Barbara’s eye to hear the utter joy that filled that laugh in octaves of childish, innocent mirth.
“You can never lose me,” he countered, hidden strength rebelling against the wounds, escaping blood and breath. “I’m yours. Forever and always.”
As the tears continued to rush down her cheeks and under the rims of foggy glasses, Barbara leaned down and kissed him. The cold, metallic taste of blood undercut by a sweetness, a warmth she knew only Dick possessed.
A warmth she knew she couldn’t live without.