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the bat's nest

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The Justice League knew one thing for certain about Batman: he didn’t trust anyone . They said it as easily as they would say any other fact. The sky is blue, Flash needs to eat, and Batman doesn’t trust.

They were comfortable with the fact that out of everyone on Earth, they were probably the closest there was to people that Batman trusted .

~~

They were in chains, watching as a bomb counted down.

15…

Superman tugged at his restraints, somehow unable to get out of them. A glance at the rest of the League showed them to be in the same position, despite their various enhancements and strengths.

12…

They wouldn’t be able reach it in time. Even if they somehow did manage to get out of the chains, it would be too hard to disarm the bomb in the time that would be left.

11…

“We won’t be able to make it,” Flash realised with dread.

They watched in horror as it continued to count down, and finally Hawkgirl was the first to stop struggling. “If we must die, at least we will die with honour, amongst fellow warriors.”

“I would kinda prefer not dying at all,” was the response as it continued to count down.

As soon as that was said, a large blue and black blur flipped into the room, running towards the bomb. The figure stopped for just long enough to send the League a thumbs up. At this point, however, it was more likely that they were enemies than allies. As soon as that was thought though, the bomb stopped ticking and instead there was a loud beep.

“Ha! Got it,” the man said. Then he turned back to look at the Justice League, a large smile on his face. His gaze fell on Batman and he crossed his arms, going as far as to raise an eyebrow.

The man had black hair, with a tight black body suit. The only colour on it was blue in the shape of a large bird, stretching over his chest, and blue streaks on his knuckles. His eyes were covered by a blue domino mask.

“Hey, B, you do realize that cellphones exist , right? I’ve literally just moved across the river. Call once in a while. It doesn’t have to be this dramatic, ” he said as he waved at the bomb behind him, walking to help them out of their chains.

Batman frowned, and the figure stopped untying them to put a hand on his hips. “It’s been a while, huh?” he said, and they looked around at each other trying to figure out who he’d been talking to.

Batman stared at him, and the figure crossed his arms. “You know, a thank you would be nice. It’s not like I just saved your life or anything.”

Batman nodded his head at him, but didn’t do anything else.

“C’mon, you can do it. Words. Thank you, Nightwing.”

Batman sighed, and then in a longsuffering voice, “Thank you, Nightwing.”

The rest of the League looked at each other in confusion. By this point they were speechless.

“It’s been a few months, hasn’t it? I wonder, when was the last time we talked?”

He looked at Batman, a challenging look on his face. When Batman didn’t answer, he pulled out his phone.

“Three months. And that was for work .” He rolled his arm. “We should really catch up sometime, shouldn’t we?”

When they were all standing on the ground, he stepped back and looked at Batman again.

“How about we do brunch, Friday at 11. That safe house in Bludhaven. Bring your new friends!”

And then, without waiting for an answer from Batman, he backflipped out the window, and they could all just feel Batman rolling his eyes.

They stood in silence for a second, staring at where he had been just before.

Then, a barrage of questions. “Who was that? Do you know him? How do you know him? Was he another Gotham vigilante?”

Batman ignored them all, instead choosing to turn away and try to get out his grappling hook.

“No, no, you can’t just drop something like that on us and then leave . Who was that?” Barry crossed his arms. “I, for one, am not finishing this mission until we know.”

He was rewarded with a batglare, but Batman shook his head and answered anyway.

“That was Nightwing,” he said, in a tone that showed that he thought that it should have been pretty obvious.

He then turned back and, ignoring everyone else, got out his grappling hook again as he got ready to leave to continue the mission.

Before he could leave though, he heard Diana yell after him, “We’re going to the brunch whether you like it or not!”

~~

That safe house in Bludhaven’ turned out to be a run-down apartment in what had to be the worst part of town, even just judging by what they could see.

When Barry pointed this out, Nightwing just laughed. “It’s Bludhaven. Every part of town is the worst part of town,” he’d replied as if it was somehow normal.

They were all sat down around a table in costume, Batman and Nightwing sitting next to each other as the rest of the League eyed them suspiciously.

There was a lot of food on the table, which, seeing how Barry was eating, was probably a good thing. Before picking up any of the food, Batman had eyed Nightwing warily, who just laughed.

“Don’t worry, I didn’t actually cook anything. I stole it from Jay.” That seemed to satisfy Batman, who had started to eat after that. The superheroes had then started to make small talk amongst themselves.

“So, like. Who actually are you?” Green Arrow finally asked, looking at Nightwing.

“I was waiting for that to come up,” he said to himself. “Like I said, Nightwing. I’m Batman’s first lovechild with justice!” he said and started laughing. Batman just turned away, not saying anything in response.

Martian Manhunter then spoke up. “I was not aware that Batman had a child.” He said it so calmly that no one was sure whether he was just joking, or if he had picked up a loud thought in the air. However, they all nodded and muttered their agreement.

Nightwing stared at them for a second, as if they’d said something completely ridiculous, before he started laughing uncontrollably.

And kept laughing, and he’d fallen over in his chair. He made no effort to get up, and just kept laughing.

Batman started moving closer to him and took out a small spray bottle, but Nightwing just shook his head and kicked him away. “Stop it, B,” he said as he tried to wipe his eyes, “I’m not hit by Joker gas or whatever, this is just… oh my god ,” he laughed again, “This is the funniest thing I’ve heard in ages . ‘I wasn’t aware that Batman had a child,’ oh my god , B without kids, he wishes .”

Batman moved back and sat in his chair. “We get it; you can stop laughing now.”

“I really can’t.” He tried to wipe his eyes again, but was stuck on his mask. He shook his head and turned back to the Justice League, trying to usher them out the door.

“I’m sorry, it’s just,” he chuckled to himself again, struggling to catch his breath as he turned to Batman. “We’re so glad you’re socialising now, Batman.”

With that all eyes were on Batman again. Superman was the first to say what they were all thinking, as he raised his eyebrow.

“… We ?”

Batman was gone before he’d even finished the word.

~~

No one sees Batman again until the next League meeting, not for lack of trying. The other human members had gone in their civilian identities to Gotham, trying to have a chance to question him, but each time they came back empty-handed.

A few had gone back to Bludhaven to visit Nightwing and try to ask him about it, but he’d just shook his head and laughed.

“I’m not ruining this, absolutely not. This is the best entertainment I’ve had for ages,” he said each time, before flipping back to whatever he was fighting.

They knew Batman was still at work, though. He’d been in the news for defeating some villain or another in Gotham a couple times, and they all knew what that meant.

He was avoiding them.

Usually, they’d have thought nothing of it. It was Batman; he had all sorts of strange habits. Even Martian Manhunter, who could read minds, had given up on trying to figure him out. However, this time they were seeking him out for a reason. They had to know.

Even at the meeting, he doesn’t say a word about Nightwing, or any other “child” he might have. He’s focused completely on the mission, and tries to ignore any questions they have.

But then the mission leads them to a place that makes them think they’ve figured it out, for a few seconds at least.

It was an unusual mission; someone was running around a heavily populated city, and was going around picking off a very large number of politicians who were rumoured to be corrupt, as well as the occasional criminal. It wasn’t something that the League usually went for, but it had been a slow week. That might have usually been good, but just because there were no villains running around didn’t mean that they could slack off.

It took them a while to find the guy behind it, but when they finally got a look at him it seemed like it should have been a lot easier; he looked like he could be no older than twenty, with a red helmet, motorcycle jacket and a few guns – and for some reason he also had a red bat, similar to Batman’s, on his chest.

And somehow he’d been doing it all on his own .

The League showed up when he was about to take out the next guy, and he took one look at them and groaned.

He looked around at them until he found Batman, who was – suspiciously – at the very back of the group. The teen glared at him (or so they assumed; it was hard to tell with the helmet) for a few seconds before groaning again.

“Oh my god . You’ve got to be fucking kidding me, what the fuck. I thought I told you to keep out of my business, what is this,” he gestured to the Justice League. “Seriously, were you listening to a word I told you? Fuck, this is why I don’t come home if I can help it.”

Batman put his head in his hands, which on its own was out of the ordinary. As the teen continued to rant, he shook his head, before growling out a simple, “ No .”

The teen stopped his rambling and instead put a hand on his hip.

The thought passed through the entire League’s head at once. They’re related .

It made sense, in a way. That must be why he didn’t talk about his kids; one was a murdering vigilante.

Flash put an arm around Batman and tried to be consoling. “Hey, man, I think we get why you don’t talk about your kids now. I mean, it must be weird knowing that you’re you and one of your kids went and became a weird, violent vigilante, right? I don’t think any of us are gonna judge you for it or anything though, don’t worry about it.”

Batman just shake his head, and Flash gets a slight idea that he might have said something wrong. That’s just before the teen starts talking again.

“Seriously? Oh my god , B, you can’t be serious. You haven’t even told them about us? Wow, oh my god. I’m offended. We go through all the trouble of not killing each other on Father’s Day or at family dinners, and this is the thanks we get? Oh my god. Wow. The other are going to be so offended, oh my god.”

Batman’s head is still in his hands, and the League gets the slight idea that he’s crying internally. What comes out of his mouth, however, is, “ They are happy that I’m socialising .”

Red Hood stops shouting and starts to laugh now, his large shoulders shaking. The League are ready to ask what he meant by “the others” but he just shakes his head and starts to root around in his jacket pockets for his grappling hook.

Before he can fire it however, Batman seems to decide that nothing he can do can make it any worse, and calls after him.

“Does this mean you’re still coming to dinner tomorrow?”

Red Hood starts cackling again, and calls back, “Abso- fucking -lutely, if only to tell them about this,” before he fired his grappling hook and took off.

They watched after him, and Diana raised an eyebrow. “Can we come to dinner tomorrow?”

Absolutely not .”

They tried their luck with, “What did he mean by others ?” but when they turned to hear Batman’s answer, he was already gone.

“Fucking ninja .”

~~

The next time it happened, they were on a mission in Gotham. This in itself was pretty amazing; Batman usually didn’t let any metas or anyone enhanced inside his city, so they figured they wouldn’t push their luck and try and ask any questions.

It was totally unexpected, but it happened when they were on the rooftops. They’d started off in ne end of the city, and had to get to the other end to actually be where they needed to be, and Batman had – of course – said that he knew a quicker way to get there than through the streets.

And, so, there they were, on the rooftops. They’d stopped on one for a few seconds, when a girl wearing purple showed up out of nowhere and landed a solid punch on Hawkgirl, knocking her to her feet.

The Justice League were more than ready to start fighting back, ready for the worst – it was Gotham , after all – before another teen wearing a red costume showed up in the shadows behind her and started yelling.

“No, wait, Spoiler! That’s the Justice League , oh my god! You just punched Hawkgirl !”

The girl took a few steps back, yelling back, “Yeah, Red Robin, I kinda noticed that already !”

Then the two teens were both fully visible, and the League took a few seconds to look them over. They didn’t seem to be hostile – at least, not anymore. They were both clearly quite young, as well as scrawny – they were really well outfitted though, and their costumes were obviously expensive.

The girl was wearing mainly purple, with blue boots, gloves and a blue mask. She had a purple hood over her hair, but some of it had fallen through – from what they could see, it was long and blonde. She was wearing a black belt and though at this point she seemed very nervous, she was obviously well trained.

The boy’s costume was mainly a bright red colour, with black gloves and black patches on his pants. His hair was black, and he had a matching black domino mask covering his eyes. On the left side of his chest were two R’s in a circle. He had a red cape that was the same colour as the red on his suit. He was wearing a black belt, that was clearly full. He too seemed nervous, but ready to fight if need be.

Both the teens looked nervous, flailing around. The boy extended his hand towards Hawkgirl, looking to pull her up but Shayera just shook her head, using one hand to push herself up while the other was clutching at her jaw.

Wonder Woman regarded the two vigilantes, a smile on her face.

“That was a great hit,” she said, looking over them both. “Are you two new heroes? You seem quite young, but your skills are already very impressive.” They both seemed very uncomfortable being under her gaze, so instead she smiled at them and turned to Barman, who she knew would be able to answer her question – after all, he knew everything that was going on in Gotham, right?

However, when she looked at him, he had turned the other way, and Martian Manhunter was looking at him in that way he sometimes did, that meant that he was so mentally uncomfortable that he just couldn’t ignore it.

The rest of the League turned to look with her, and gaped.

No way ,” Green Lantern was the first to speak up about it, “Please tell me that they’re not…”

Red Robin cleared his throat. “Um, yeah. Hi dad, nice to see you’ve made some friends?”

And that was when Spoiler lost it, laughing so hard that she doubled over. “Red, can’t you see how uncomfortable he is already? You can’t make fun of your dad like that!” She continued laughing, before she straightened again. “However!” she said, putting up a finger, “He is not my dad, so guess who can ?”

Batman groaned, and even Red Robin was chuckling now.

“You spend all your time at our place anyway, we all consider you family, so how come you can and I can’t?” he said as he laughed, and Spoiler just shoved him away, grabbing her grappling hook and firing it off.

“Sorry, Hawkgirl! B, I’m coming over for dinner tonight and telling everyone about this, because apparently I’m family now!”

The Justice League were, once again, left speechless. Batman just looked at them for a second, before continuing to run across the roof.

Somehow that still wasn’t the end of it though, as later that night, the League saw in front of them a figure wearing a costume that was almost completely black, except for an outline of a yellow bat and a yellow utility belt. She was wearing a cowl similar to Batman’s, and a cape that was ripped at the ends.

When she saw Batman she didn’t say anything, but waved gleefully at him, and when he waved back she rushed forward and hugged him.

She then disappeared down the side of the building, only to be seen again when a drug dealer and his thugs were tied up at the corner of an alley.

They all stared for a few seconds – Batman hugging? – before Green Arrow turned to Batman.

“They’ve got to be the last ones, right?”

Batman fled before anything else could be said.

~~

“They were young . Mid-teens, at the most. There’s no way there can be any others, right?”

Everyone else nodded in agreement. “I just wanna know where they’re all coming from,” Green Arrow muttered. “Termites?”

Green Lantern started nodding. “Right out of the woodwork,” he agreed.

They all agreed that it was strange though, that Batman was able to hide this many children and vigilantes from them.

“The people of Gotham have to know about them, right? How come there’s nothing about them in the news, like, ever, then?”

Everyone shrugs. “ Gotham ,” is all Superman muttered in reply, as if it explained everything. From everyone’s nods, it seemed like it did.

Flash shook his head and smiled. “I think it’s adorable ,” he said and laughed. “There are so many of them. Imagine Father’s Day in the Batcave! Do you think they all get him presents?”

The others laughed, and Flash paled. “Just… please don’t tell him I said that.”

~~

None of them expected any other kids to appear, but by that point it had become something of a running joke, so they kept their eyes open just in case. They were waiting for it, even though they knew nothing would happen.

They were proven wrong when another mission brought them to Gotham. Batman was wary, as usual, of letting them in the city but he eventually agreed, if only because the mission was to retrieve a crate full of Kryptonite that was being transported through his city.

Before the mission they joked about running into more batkids, but nothing prepared them for when they actually did.

They met on the rooftops again, though this time, luckily, no one was punched. The first kid was wearing a costume with a yellow chest and black tights. He, like so many of the batkids, had a bat on his chest, the black contrasting with the yellow around it. He had a cowl similar to Batman’s and Black Bat’s, except his was yellow with black over the eyes.

The second was wearing an all-black bodysuit, and a grey utility belt. She had short black hair with the top dyed blue, and was wearing a blue domino mask.

They seemed to be patrolling, with the boy in yellow speaking into a comm in his cowl and the girl laughing at something. They seemed to be about to grapple off the building, when they caught sight of Batman and the League and stopped.

Unlike the others, neither of them stopped to talk or hug Batman, and instead the boy waved awkwardly. Batman waved hesitantly back, and that seemed to be enough for him as he then shot his grappling hook and dived off the building.

The girl shrugged and then smiled and waved as well, and put both thumbs up when he waved back. She then got her grappling hook out and followed the boy.

They all looked at Batman. “First: holy shit how many do you have? Second: they both barely acknowledged you,” Flash said with a laugh. Batman sighed.

“That’s Lark and Bluebird. He’s new. She’s trying to be mad at me.”

~~

At the end of the mission, Superman grabbed a hold of Batman before he could leave. “They had to be the last ones.”

Batman just looked away and cleared his throat, and everyone gaped.

“How many are there? Where are you finding these kids?”

Batman remained silent.

~~

For the next one, they were at the Watchtower. Superman had been trying to use the computer, when all of a sudden it shut down, instead leading to a blank green screen.

Batman sighed, and the rest of them looked at each other in confusion.

Was someone trying to hack into the Watchtower?

Green Lantern voiced the thought, and they jumped when they received a response.

“Sort of. Your security is terrible , I’m fixing it. Why hasn’t B done anything about it yet?” a computerized female voice spoke.

They traded a look. Another of Batman’s kids.

“He tried,” Superman sighed, “We made him go to sleep.”

“…Alright, I can respect that.”

Then there was silence for a few minutes, until Flash spoke up.

“Are you another one of Batman’s kids?”

There was silence, before, “Not really. I have a dad, B’s more like… a weird uncle or cousin, who I see way too much of but mostly love anyway.”

They all looked to Batman, who seemed torn between looking exasperated and flattered.

Then they turned back to the screen.

“Seriously though, how many of you are there? Because we didn’t think there were any , but there are so many . Where is he finding you.”

“Mostly? We either show up and he accepts it, or he catches sight of a poor orphan who needs help and it tugs at something in him and he adopts .”

“Has that happened with many of you?”

“Adopting? … At least five of us. And this is totally unrelated but, Batman, right now, Spoiler and Red Hood are at the manor and painting each other’s nails. I’ve saved all the pictures to your computer.”

They looked at each other and Batman sighed, before saying quietly, “Thank you.”

~~

The next time they meet one of them, it’s because she wanted them to.

They were on a mission, once again , in Gotham. Batman was all but ready to just ban them all from his city so that things like these wouldn’t happen in the first place.

They were in the middle of a fight when she appeared on a rooftop. She had long red hair and a black mask covering the top of her face, two large bat ears coming up out of the top. Her costume was mainly black, with red boots, red gloves, a red utility belt and a red cape. On her chest was a red bat. The lights shining behind her managed to accentuate all the colours that were in her costume, reflecting reds onto the wall.

Without a word she dove into the fight alongside Batman, keeping to his side and deflecting any attacks that came his way. The rest of them spared a glance to the two vigilantes, watching in amazement as this person they’d never seen before kept up with and beat Batman to the enemies.

“Batwoman, leave ,” Batman growled out, and it clicked in all their heads.

Another bat.

She continued fighting, managing to level a glare his way in the middle of it. “Absolutely not,” she said. Her voice was coated in annoyance. “I’ve seen your injuries, I’m not letting you go home with more .”

Batman just glared at her, and they got the sense she was rolling her eyes. Without looking his way she knocked out another thug.

She looked at Batman. “Don’t think I won’t knock you out, because I will.”

“I don’t doubt it,” Batman growled, and he didn’t retreat from the fight completely but he moved back to the edges of it, which still didn’t seem to please Batwoman. She said nothing more about it though, instead taking his place in the fight.

When it was down she walked back to him and put one hand on his elbow.

“Now, come back with me or I drag you. Either way, you’re getting to the Cave.”

Batman levelled a stony glare at her. “We have mission reports.”

“Are they digital? Get one of them to do it.”

Batman sighed, before turning to the League. “Flash, you’re on mission report.”

Then he turned his back and started walking somewhere with Batwoman.

Everyone stared at them walking away, speechless once again.

“So, there’s no way she’s actually like, his kid, right?”

~~

After all that, they were confident that there would be no more children or other ambiguous relatives showing up from Batman’s life. After all, how many could there possibly be?

(…Catwoman didn’t count.)

This meant that they were totally unprepared for what they would see when they finally entered the Batcave.

Batman was getting ready to tell them his secret identity, and they all started looking around to give him time. If Batman had to gather the courage, it would have to be good, right?

Around the cave there was what seemed like decades worth of costumes and tokens collected from various villains. A lot of them they identified as costumes belonging to the newer heroes and members of Batman’s family that they had only just recently met.

Most of their attention was caught, however, by the giant computer in the middle of the cave. It was gigantic, and someone was using it .

They looked at each other and all seemed to silently laugh; the same thought had been in all their heads.

It’s another batkid .

They were all still surprised, however, when the chair squeaked and Batman’s head popped up, as he let out a small growl.

Green Arrow gaped. “ No .”

Their chair spun around slowly to reveal another child, probably not even having reached his teens yet, sitting in the chair stroking a cat that was in his lap.

He was wearing a costume similar to many of the others on display, with a red top and black pants, with large green boots. He had an R on his chest, and was wearing a black and yellow cape, along with a green domino mask.

In short, he looked like a walking traffic light.

The cat was black with white spots, and he was petting it like he was a second-rate Disney villain.

He glared at the League, before looking at Batman. “Father,” he started and Batman groaned, “who are these ?”

“How many kids do you have ?” Green Arrow yelled in disbelief, and everyone else just gaped.

Superman turned to Batman and put his hand on his shoulder. “Batman, you’re my friend and I admire you a lot, but… I think you have a problem.”

Batman sighs and turns to the kid, who is so tiny he would barely reach most of their chests.

“Robin, you were supposed to be in bed hours ago,” he growled, “Go to sleep.”

The kid, Robin , shook his head, causing them to gape at him again. “No.”

Batman glared at him, and the kid just glared back. “I’m not leaving this spot. Alfred is asleep on me.”

Batman put his head in his hands. The kid smiled, satisfied that he’d won, and turned back to the Justice League. His eyes raked over all of them, before stopping at Wonder Woman.

“Wonder Woman. Father tells me you are a worthy fighter,” he started.

Please don’t,” Batman said more to himself than Robin.

Robin just smiled. “I challenge you to a duel,” he finished, before adding, “As soon as Alfred wakes up.”

Batman shook his head and sighed. “He did it.” Chances were that he was crying under his cowl.

Then the door to the cave opened, providing an opportunity for Batman to turn away from everything that was happening in front of him.

At the top of the stairs was what seemed like a butler. “Master Bruce,” Batman ignored all their looks , “I believe now may be a bad time to mention it, but all the children are upstairs waiting for you to formally introduce them.”

Batman sighed and glared at Robin, and none of them knew if it was because he hadn’t done as he was told or if it was just because he was the only kid there that he could glare at.

Diana seemed to finally be able to talk again. “Is he at least the last of your kids?”

Batman. “Mostly. Some come in and out.”

Silence for a second.

Then, “ What the actual fuck ?”