The Central Gazette
Bloodbath in Lawrence Hills
February 21st, 2015
The police are investigating the brutal scene discovered early this morning in Lawrence Hills. It has been reported that the men claim Kid Flash attacked them, beating the crew of five so severely that one of them is in Central City's ICU. Details are still mostly unclear, leading the police to believe that the men are falsely accusing the young speedster.
Lights flashed by as Black Canary wove through the cars, all but flying down the highway with Nightwing close on her tail. The night was slow, the port almost empty and few big thugs hanging around the city. In comparison to most of the cities Nightwing had lived in, Canary thought Seattle was by far the most peaceful, despite the near constant disputes and protests that stopped the streets.
Beneath the helmet, Canary cracked a smile. Sure, the city had its problems but they had it easy. No all-consuming gang wars, a lack of homicidal maniacs with access to vats of chemicals, no underground society threatening to tear the city to ruins. She would fight tooth and nail before she gave up Seattle as her main city to return to Gotham.
Canary turned off at the exit, blinker flashing to make sure Nightwing followed her. Sometimes he would get too distracted while they drove and miss her turning off. Once he'd driven halfway to Olympia before he noticed that he wasn't following her anymore. She turned from James to 9th, passing by Cherry St, only glancing around the intersection and checking for basic thugs or what not. Seeing none she continued, heading straight for where they usually left their bikes.
Saint James Cathedral had always seemed like the safest place in Downtown to drop the bikes. It was respected by locals and had a secure enough space where both bikes could stay without anyone touching them. Not that they really could with all of Nightwing's modifications to them. Canary had quickly learned that Nightwing had quite a talent with numbers and machines. Granted the quick learning was probably because she got more than a few face fulls of number speak when all she'd asked was 'How are you doing?'.
With a sigh, Canary pulled into the cathedral's courtyard and brought her bike to a stop, kicking down the stand. She slid off, simultaneously removing her helmet with practiced ease. It was only seconds before Nightwing pulled out alongside her. Canary placed her helmet in the compartment before starting to roll the bike towards the back shed. It was open, as usual, and so she placed her bike inside, stepping out so that Nightwing could do the same.
When he came out, Canary pulled a lock from her pocket and snapped it in place on the shed's latch.
"So… what're we gonna do now, doc?" Nightwing smirked, hands laced behind his head.
"Now we do what we usually do," she smiled, hands deep in her coat pockets.
Nightwing grimaced. "Apartment, tea, talk about the mushy-gushy stuff?"
" All the mushy-gushy-squishy stuff." Canary chuckled as she turned and started walking towards the next-door building's fire escape.
The groan that followed her only served to widen the mentor's smile. Canary knew quite well just how much her protege absolutely hated to have their talks, but it had been part of their agreement for his whole charade to happen. When she'd instituted it, the talks were partially a way of gauging his seriousness, as well as a way to ensure that the boy did not lose all the progress that he had made.
As she started up the ladders, Canary could hear Nightwing cursing at whoever invented talk therapy and peppermint tea.
"If you want another kind of tea, go to the shop down the street instead of uselessly complaining about it. They are bound to have something you'll like," she told him, already knowing she would just get a huff and much quieter grumbling mumbles.
Canary sighed audibly as she stepped onto the roof, hearing the mutterings taper off as he stepped up too. She smiled at him; it was small but warm.
"You ready?" She asked.
"To wipe the rooftops with your jacket? Oh yeah. Tonight's my night," Nightwing grinned, cracking his knuckles.
"Don't get cocky. You've still got stitches you're not supposed to pull, remember?"
"Yeah yeah, already had the lecture from Dr. Jason," he snorted. "We racing or not?"
"I was just reminding you," Canary shrugged. "Three."
Together they shouted, "One!" and were off.
Nightwing was slower on the ground, but through the air he managed to make up a bit of distance, though he lagged behind. Normally, Canary would at least try to make it a close one, but she knew he would know she was going easy on him if she did this time. Deciding that a grumpy protege was better than an embarrassed one, Canary opted to just go along the route as she would normally. If Nightwing wanted to try using one of the shortcuts, he was welcome to, though she personally would not have recommended it.
That was another thing she had learned about him. Telling Nightwing not to do something was often as good as throwing up a neon sign saying, 'DO IT'. How that got wired into his brain, Canary would never know. Though she could imagine it had something to do with the fact that Bruce, the person who raised him since he was nine, was a normal human who performed superhuman feats on a regular basis.
Dinah leapt from the roof she was on to the fire ladder below, and from there swung into her apartment through the window that was always open. The lights were still off, meaning she was the first one home. Dinah shrugged off her jacket as she crossed the room, avoiding her coffee table, and switching on the lights before disappearing into her bedroom. Dick had a change of clothes stashed away in the bathroom for when he got back. Hopefully before she came back out, otherwise he would be getting an earful about getting himself hurt and pushing too far too soon.
"Sometimes I swear that's that family's motto," Dinah mumbled, shaking her head as she started peeling off her uniform.
Thanks to the lack of thugs it could simply get put into the laundry pile and see another day without getting a visit from needle and thread. Quickly enough, Dinah pulled on her sweats and loose tee-shirt. Stepping out of her room she noticed the window had closed as well as the bathroom door.
"You alright?" She asked, walking to the kitchen.
As she filled the kettle with tap hot water, Dinah heard him respond, though couldn't decipher the muffled words.
"Stop resuturing and come out here. You've got the tact of a grizzly bear with a needle," Dinah told him, again.
After a few seconds the door opened. "How'd you know I was stitching?"
"Cause you're you," she paused, putting the kettle on the burner. "And because you hold your shirt in your teeth every time."
"Not every time."
Dinah barely turned her head towards him, fixing him with an incredulous look.
"What? I don't!"
"I think we both know that's not true."
"Sometimes I don't have a shirt, so I don't have anything to bite."
"And those are the nights where you have bruises on your hand the next morning."
"False. Totally false," he chuckled.
Dinah could only roll her eyes at the boy. These little bickering moments were his way of playing around, putting off what was coming as soon as the tea was ready. Granted, she had also quite fallen into the habit of going along with the banter, finding it rather fun for herself as well, if not cathartic.
The kettle began to let steam out of the spout, and though not quite to the point of whistling, it was hot enough for the two. Just boiling was drinkable, boiling to the point of melting lava was too hot for even Superman to drink. As Dinah pulled the kettle off and shut the burner down, Dick grabbed cups from the cupboard and pulled two packets of tea from the box beside the sink, handing them to Dinah.
Slowly, hot beverages in hand, the two made their way over to the couch, sitting at opposite ends, but facing one another. Dinah crossed her legs beneath herself, sitting almost as though perched on them, while Dick pulled one leg to his chest and let the other hang off the couch, folding underneath it. It was a relaxing scene, though through practice and ritual more than anything else.
"So," Dinah prompted, hoping that Dick would be mildly forthcoming that night.
"So…" He responded, trailing off as he nodded slowly.
"How did yesterday go?"
Of course she had already heard how it actually went, from other mentors and from Jason. What she wanted to know though was how Dick thought it went, which if she knew the boy even a little bit, would be vastly different from the others' interpretations.
"Horribly horrible, followed by horrible, and then a little less horrible, and then horrible again," Dick answered into his tea, holding the mug with two hands.
"Care to elaborate on the less horrible part?"
"Care to elaborate on what you already know?"
"You know the drill by now, Dick."
"I talk, you listen. You talk, I listen. Then I leave?"
Dinah nodded, sipping from her own steaming mug. She felt her lips smile against the ceramic as Dick, ever the diva, let out another exasperated groan. The groaning was good, it meant she would actually get something, if not a crumb or two of something, once he started talking. Wry wit and dry humor usually meant talking was a waste of time.
"You want just the less horrible, or the entirety of the terribly horrible horrendous mess?"
"Just tell me what you think is important," Dinah sipped at her tea again before setting it aside and crossing her hands over her lap.
"How about just the plain old horrible's? First one's Jason being Jason. The kid's stitch work and bedside manners weren't too helpful but not entirely unexpected, as Jay's gonna be Jay till the end of his days. Overall wasn't too horrible, more just really not asterous." Dick paused, watching Dinah just like she always watched him. "Particularly when he didn't wanna answer a question."
Dinah's silence was her way of asking him what he asked, though she was pretty sure she already knew what the question was.
"I asked him what happened to Walls, cause there's no way he went from being happy, jokey Wally to Mister Tall, Ginger, and Brooding."
It was a fair enough question for anyone to ask her, let alone the person who had been gone whilst everyone else watched the speedster spiral. Dinah sighed, dragging a hand over her face.
"Have you asked him about it?"
"He'd knock my lights out before I finished the sentence if Janah asked."
"Maybe as you you, then."
"Richard Grayson is staying mysteriously in Europe till Babs comes back to life," Dick scoffed.
"Careful what you say, with our line of work," Dinah warned, picking up her tea again.
"I wish," Dick snorted in answer, his arms cinching tighter over his chest.
Dinah closed her eyes and pinched the bridge of her nose, holding back her sigh. There were a multitude of roles she was qualified for. Therapist, hero, friend, or combat instructor, to name a few. Combining all of them in a functional manner under the term 'mentoring' was not one of them, even after a year of doing it.
"So… Are you gonna tell me or am I gonna have to go fishing in a different pond?"
Dinah chuffed lightly, dropping her hand away. "It's up to Wally to tell you. It's his story."
"There's no way I'll get an answer out of him. And I'm guessing the others don't know anything cause otherwise you'd have told me to talk to them. So, really, you and Jay are the only two viable ways of me getting any information-"
"Trust me, Dick, asking us for that is not the right plan. Sharing what you want has to be his choice," she told him.
"Why? What the hell happened that was so bad that you can't tell me? He- I- Why shouldn't I know why half the Team practically craps their spandex when he gets pissed?" Dick all but growled, fixing Dinah with a confused and frustrated look.
The way Dick's mouth moved, wordlessly asking questions he couldn't voice because of how worry and disbelief were clogging his throat, was eerily similar to Dinah. It was not the first time she had seen that look tied with Wally or his downward spiral. The redhead seemed to be a magnet for Batman's proteges.
"It's not that you shouldn't know, just that it needs to be his choice to tell you," Dinah repeated.
"You not telling me because of confidentiality or some crud like that. Fine," Dick snorted annoyedly. "But Jay? He's my little brother. He's supposed to tell me everything, and he's not! Why?"
"Jason has his reasons, Dick. They're damn good ones too."
"How does he know about it then? Since no one's very into sharing."
"Because he became a part of it when it got darkest," Dinah snipped tersely, having had enough of that same question over and over.
A barely audible groan slipped from Dinah as the boy's worst night ran through her head again. From the ear-splitting argument she'd heard rooms away when Jason had dragged Wally, kicking and screaming, back to the Cave, to her gut-wrenching memory of Wally brokenly flopped on a couch in her office, tear tracks muddied with drying blood. Dinah shook her head and stood, mug clenched tightly in her hands as she walked to the kitchen. Even for her, a person who was experienced enough with bad days and nasty spirals, Wally's had been the worst. The cup clanked against the metal basin as Dinah set it down, hands curling around the counter's edge.
Without even looking at the doorway Dinah knew Dick was now standing in it, giving her space but also still wanting to ask more questions. Of course she understood why he wanted the answers so badly, why there was nothing she could say to make him completely drop the subject. Dinah just couldn't be the one to show Dick how thoroughly he had shattered his best-friend, what his leaving had almost lead to...
Dinah exhaled heavily, turning to lean her back against the counter. "Jason was the only person that Wally had when he hit bottom, and he's the only one Wally thinks he needs now because of it." She walked over to Dick, putting a hand on his shoulder. "If you want more details, Wally's the person you're going to have to talk to, under one name or the other," she said gently, squeezing his shoulder.
A tone of finality lingered in the air, mingling uncomfortably with the silence as Dinah stepped past Dick, going back to the living room.
"Isn't this the part where you're supposed to do some talking? Analyze that whole thing?" Dick chuffed, walking into the room on his hands.
"I've been talking the entire time. Not that you heard anything I was saying," Dinah scoffed teasingly, rolling her eyes at the boy's antics.
"So… does that mean I'm free to go?" Dick asked, feet dropping back to the ground.
"Guess it does. Don't do anything Alfred would scowl at you for," Dinah warned, watching the boy dash to the door.
"Will it matter if I promise not to, or are you just gonna assume I will?"
"You're not a child, but promises don't hurt, do they?" Dinah chuckled.
Dick rolled his eyes as he opened the door. "I promise to be a smart human being and not do anything stupid." He paused before shrugging, adding on, "Tonight at least."
Dinah couldn't help the laugh that followed, making her attempt at getting one last mentor-ly word in before Dick disappeared out the door, shutting it behind him, futile. Granted, warnings and cautionary words were probably not needed. What trouble would Dick want to get into after a night patrolling, on top with training? The answer was usually a lot, given the boy's propensity for stirring the cauldron. But a mentor could have hope, couldn't she?
With a sigh Dinah started towards her bedroom, stopping beside the door to turn out the lights. She stalled there a moment, hands on either side of the frame, biting the inside of of her cheek. There was a very likely chance that she would be waking up to panicked calls from three boys the next morning, given her protege's tendency towards dramatic reactions. A slight groan was the last human utterance in the apartment as Dinah stepped into her room, turning off the lights and shutting the door simultaneously before dropping on the bed.
If she was going to be awoken by frantic phone calls, she might as well be rested enough to properly handle them all.