“Daddy!” A little voice screeched as tiny footsteps ran down the hall towards Dick. Dick looked up from where he was placing all of his “toys” for when he became Nightwing. When he looked up he saw his daughter, Catherine, running towards him. Her curly brown hair waving behind her as she ran. “Daddy!” She shouted, extending her arms to Dick.
Dick smiled and bent down, holding out his arms so Catherine could jump into them. He caught her and picked her up, spinning her around high above his head. He brought her back down to eye level and kissed her cheek, “What’s up baby girl?”
“I saw grandpa on T.V.!”
“Did you?” Dick faked a smile. He wasn’t surprised that she had seen Bruce on T.V. He was either making an appearance as Bruce Wayne, Gotham’s playboy, or they were reporting a Batman sighting.
“Yea! And Uncle Dami was with him! They stopped bad guy just like you, Daddy!”
Dick smiled and kissed her cheek again, “They’re good at that. Now give me a minute to finish getting ready. Then we can go to the cave and you can see everyone, okay?” Dick set Catherine down on his bed and continued to pocket wing- dings and sling on his belt.
Catherine sat patiently and watched Dick. “Daddy?”
“What’s that?” She pointed to something folded up and paper like that Dick had slid into one of his wrist gauntlets.
Dick pulled it back out and looked at it. “It’s a picture of someone I love. I keep it with me for good luck.”
“Who is it?” Catherine tried to peer at the picture before Dick put it away again.
“It’s someone I wish you could’ve met.” He reached for his mask and kissed her forehead as he bent over her.
“Why can’t I meet them?”
“They’re gone,” Dick covered his eyes with his mask just as they began to turn red. “I’ll tell you more when you’re older. Promise,” Dick held out his hand.
Catherine took his much larger hand and shook it every which way as hard as she could, “Deal.”
“Are you ready?” Dick looked at his daughter and scanned her body to make sure she was ready to head to the cave.
Catherine nodded and ran down the apartment’s hallway. “Come on daddy we’re going to be late!”
Dick sighed as he was announced into the cave, followed by Catherine’s name. He remembered a time when there was another name that echoed throughout the cave walls, but is now just a distant memory.
Dick discreetly touched his chest where his ring hung on a chain, which was around his neck at all times. It was their anniversary. Today was the five year anniversary of their wedding. That was a big one, and he was celebrating it alone. It was so painful, he couldn’t even share it with his own daughter, one of the only remnants left of him.
Dick came out of a day dream when Catherine released his hand and took off running. She cried out for M’gann and leaped into her arms. Dick smiled, he would be so proud of her if he were here. She’s become so smart and beautiful, so much like him it hurt. It hurt when she started talking and he couldn’t get her to stop. It hurt when she ate everything at the table, plus whatever left overs Dick would allow. It hurt when she crawled into his bed at night and huddled close to him, giving him a sense of warmth again. He loved her though, so much. The only other person he had ever loved more was him.
Catherine looked back at Dick and frowned, “Daddy?”
Dick realized he had zoned out again, “Huh?”
“What are you doing?”
Dick’s brain began scanning his movement for any abnormalities. He realized he had begun tracing the outline of the ring under his armor. All everyone else could see was him tracing the edge of the birds head on his uniform. “Oh, uh, itching, I had an itch.”
Catherine clearly didn’t buy it. If he couldn’t fool the six year old, what did everyone else think, who knew why today would be hard for him? M’gann frowned, “Nightwing, why don’t you just watch sparring practice today, stay with Catherine. I’ll fill in for you.”
“I can tea-”
Dick was cut off by M’gann, “Stay with Catherine.” She set Catherine down then hovered over to the center of the cave where everyone else was waiting to start sparing.
Dick sighed and sat on the floor beside Catherine. Catherine went and got a coloring book and crayons that Dick and stashed away for her, before sitting down. “Since when did you start taking orders from M’gann?”
Dick froze, it couldn’t just be his imagination. He looked at Catherine; she heard it too, because she turned around. Dick turned and followed her gaze until he was looking up, “Wally?”
“Happy Anniversary Dickie bird.”
Dick scrambled to his feet, the tears he was trying so desperately to keep in began to flow under his mask. He slammed himself against Wally, wrapping his arms tightly around his neck. He bowed his head into what little space of Wally’s neck he could find, around his arms, and began to sob. “How? How are you here right now? I’ve missed you so much, so, so much.”
Wally wrapped his arms tightly around Dick, very aware of the child watching them. “I never died. I was stuck in the speed- force. I managed to get out, and here I am.”
“Five years, you were gone five years,” Dick looked up at Wally, tears steaming down under his mask.
Wally furrowed his eyebrows, “Has it been that long? I just managed to glance at a calendar and realized what today was.”
Dick shook his head, “Yea.”
Wally moved his hands from Dick’s back and cupped his face. He wiped away the tears on Dick’s face, brushing a few extra strokes to calm him down. “I promise I won’t leave again anytime soon.” Wally leaned forward and kissed Dick. He kissed him slowly and passionately, savoring every detail of the kiss.
Dick hugged Wally tighter and tried to get under his skin. “Wally,” Dick moaned against Wally’s lips.
Catherine tugged at Dick’s leg, trying to grab what little material she could. Dick looked down at her. “Daddy, who’s that?” She pointed at Wally, never looking at him though.
“He’s your other daddy.” Dick smiled in the way both of their eyes went wide.
“This is Catherine? This is the baby we adopted before I left?”
Dick nodded, “Yea.”
“She’s so big!”
“She’s just like you. I swear it’s like living with another you.”
Catherine looked at Wally, “Why have I not seen him before?”
“He was gone for a while, but he’s back now.”
Catherine looked up at Wally but clung close to Dick’s leg. Wally smiled at Dick, kissed his nose, and then crouched down to look at Catherine. “Hi Catherine, you were too little to remember, but I was the first one to hold you.”
Catherine looked up at Dick for conformation. Dick nodded and stroked his hand soothingly through her curls. “Why’d you go?”
“I didn’t have a choice. I’m a hero like you’re daddy, and I did something dangerous. That thing that I did caused me to get sucked up into this place that only a few people can go.” Wally used big exaggerated movements to show him getting sucked into the speed- force.
“Can I go?”
Wally was about to shake his head no, but Dick stopped him, “Yes.” He met Wally’s confused gaze, “She fell and hit her head when she was learning how to walk. She had cut herself so badly she needed a blood transfusion. Bart had her blood type, now she’s showing speedster like behavior. She eats more than she should ever be able too, she runs everywhere, she can’t control her speed, and I thought I felt her vibrating the other night.”
“Does anyone else know?”
Dick shook his head, “I didn’t want to make a big deal about it.” Dick stretched out the collar of his uniform and pulled out the silver chain with a silver ring dangling off of it. “No secrets right?”
Wally stood back up and kissed Dick again. “I love you,” He turned the ring over in his finger and read the engraving on it, “always and forever.”