It had been staring her in the face for months. How had she missed it? How had any of them missed it?
And how could he have been so sloppy as to have given it away?
All it took were two little things--a matching bicep wound and a shout of her name.
His voice wasn't even that different!
But, maybe if you didn't expect it, you didn't see it or hear it.
Until it slapped you in the face and saved your life.
Sighing softly to herself, Amy ran a tired hand over her face and opened her web browser. Before she confronted him in the morning, she needed a little more information.
Awake only because of her current caffeine buzz, Amy half- listened to the two officers, then finally interrupted them and politely asked Gannet to leave. He did so after giving her a puzzled look, and Amy tried not to snort at the sudden apprehension on Grayson's face.
He hesitated, but did so.
Amy leaned back slightly in her chair and gave him a measured look, before leaning forward again and tapping a green bound file folder on her desk. "So, how long have you been a vigilante?" She quickly forestalled any protest, "And, don't bother lying to me. There's an interesting piece of information in your personnel file that I'm amazed hasn't been leaked to the whole department."
Dick frowned, stared into her eyes for nearly a full minute, then blinked and flushed as he looked away. "I shouldn't have called you by name," he finally muttered.
"You shouldn't have done a lot of things, but I am grateful you saved my life, rookie. I really am," she added softly.
Slowly he nodded, his shoulders slumping as he seemed to struggle mentally, then he sighed and met her eyes again. "I've been Nightwing since I was nineteen."
"And before that?" She tapped the file folder again.
He looked decidedly unhappy. "Why do you think I was anyone else before that? Isn't nineteen young enough to start this?"
"You'd know that better than me, but I've spent most of the night doing research. There's a surprisingly large amount of information on your early years--Nightwing's early years. As leader of the Teen Titans, you were prominently in the news in New York for several years, and then you disappeared for awhile, before coming back in charge of another group of Titans, and then you slipped out of the headlines again, with only vague sightings in Gotham before you appeared here. The news out of Gotham was all rumors and urban legends, but since you're real, I'm guessing they were real, too. But, here's one of the interesting things, Dick. When the Teen Titans first appeared on the New York scene, Nightwing wasn't their leader. Robin was. The urban legend sidekick of the Batman, obviously not a myth."
Not smiling, she turned over two pieces of paper on her desk and pushed them towards him. They were photographs. Robin, Starfire, Wondergirl and others from one of their early appearances were in one photo, and the same group minus Robin but including Nightwing were in the other.
"I'm not an idiot, Dick. Same build, same height, black hair, blue eyes, same cheekbones, for god's sake. You were Robin."
"Don't, Amy," Dick ground out, no longer flushed, but pale.
"And if you were Robin, who reports have in the field alongside Batman as a child nearly fifteen years ago, then Batman's real, too, and I know what it says in this file." One more tap and then she opened it, nearly as breathless now as she'd been hours earlier when the truth had come to her. In black and white courier type was the name of Dick Grayson's next of kin.
"I know who Batman is," she whispered. He looked scared, and before he could say anything, she shook her head and gave him a sad smile. "And I'll never tell anyone."
"This is all supposition, Amy." This time he choked out the words but she could see the worry in his eyes and she frowned again.
"I said I wouldn't tell anyone."
"I believe you. That you wouldn't, willingly, but if it gets out that you have any inkling of any hero's identity, your life could be in jeopardy, again."
"It won't get out. I just don't understand how you've kept the secrets so long. Once I had the first piece of the puzzle, all the rest fell into place. The car, the plane, the gadgets, the suit-- everything Batman's rumored to have--they're not cheap."
"But, you had the first piece of the puzzle. Only a handful of people have ever figured it out."
"But, you don't even try to hide very much. All the acrobatics, the skills you've shown, and the fact that all you do is wear a little mask, one that until a few years ago didn't even hide your eyes. How can people not know?"
"Because they don't know where to start to look. Amy, it's really simple. Down deep, people just don't want to know. It's better that their heroes are almost mythological beings rather than normal humans. If they look too closely, all the illusions get shattered."
"I guess you're right," Amy said after mulling that over for a moment. "I never saw it in you, until you said my name and I saw the blood. Speaking of, it was damn stupid to go into the field with that bullet wound. Must have hurt like hell."
"It did, does. I've been shot before."
Amy could feel herself gaping at how casually he said it, then shook her head again.
"I was careless with the acrobatics," Dick admitted. "I got cocky, something I should know better than to get. I think Slade shot it out of me."
"Um, Deathstroke. The assassin."
"You're on a first name basis with an assassin?" She gave him her best 'mom' look until he flushed.
"He's not always...It's very complicated. You're safe from him. He has a code of honor that I trust. We haven't always been on opposite sides."
"He shot you."
"As I said, it's complicated. He's a mercenary and, yeah, an assassin, but mostly outside the States, in places where it's legal." Dick paused for a moment. "He showed me that the world isn't as black and white as I was raised to believe. It was a valuable lesson."
Amy nodded at that, then changed the subject. "We need to talk about your future, Dick. Why are you on the force?"
"I joined to clean it up, but then...Well, I actually like it, most of the time, and I'm good at it."
"You are, though I can now see why you're so damn good at detection and forensics. You have a future here, Dick, but Nightwing is a problem. Vigilantism is illegal."
"Technically I'm not a vigilante." She watched as he pulled out his wallet and took out a card, tapping the edge in a seemingly random pattern until the image changed. He held it out to her and she took it.
"Justice League reserve member?"
"We're sanctioned by the UN. Again, technically Bludhaven PD can block me from helping out, but that would be like shooting yourself in the foot. I'm doing good, Amy," Dick stressed.
"I know you are, but...well..." She stared down at the card. "Okay, I guess you can flash this if you're ever caught and I guess...this helps me with the decision I really didn't want to make."
"Asking you to choose." She watched him pale again, his eyes go sad and a bit lost. "As long as Nightwing doesn't interfere with your day job, I won't try to stop you."
Dick quickly promised, "It won't."
"But Officer Grayson is riding a desk until the doctor clears you for the streets."
He smiled. "Yes ma'am."
Amy rolled her eyes. "Cut that out." Then she softened again and closed his file before putting the two photographs through the shredder next to her desk. "Thank you for saving my life."
"You already thanked me, but you're welcome."
"We both know who was behind the attempt." At his nod, she continued, "Now we just have to prove it."
"I have some theories on that."
"You or your alter-ego?"
"We're one and the same."
"Then, tell me over breakfast, Officer Grayson. I need many more cups of coffee to make it through the day and you need to get your strength back."
They both smiled at each other and rose, then Dick reached across the desk to take her hand and squeeze it. "Thanks, Amy."
"You're very welcome, Dick, and you can trust me."
"With my life, I've known that all along."
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