Despite the fact that the entirety of the Justice League had just spent nearly fourteen hours dealing with a small invasion, their day was far from over. All of the Justice League, sans Hawkman who was sleeping off an injury in the medbay, now had to reconvene for a mandatory debrief. Everyone was tired, scorched, filthy, sore, and ready to go home, but policy mandates that when you don’t know why aliens attacked Earth, you have to have an absurdly long debrief where everyone throws increasingly random and ridiculous ideas out on why they might have maybe attacked. Well, that’s not how it was worded, but it might as well have been for all the Flash cared right now. Even Superman looked tired. The only one who remained stoic and ‘mission-ready’ seemed to be Batman. But he was Batman so no one questioned it.
Despite three years of building trust and participating in Superman’s team-building exercises that he literally pulled from the boy scout handbook, he still hadn’t revealed his identity. There were ongoing bets on who he was, but Barry’s personal favorite was that he was actually a physical construct representation of the twisted, corrupted, and dark concept of justice that could only be bred in the bowels of despair deep under Gotham’s surface. It was a pretty dark theory, but Batman seemed to be immortal, unkillable, regenerative, perfectly stoic, with literally nothing able to get past him. And he was scary as shiz. But that was irrelevant.
He glanced over to the man himself to see him- pull out his communicator? Batman glanced at it, then tucked it back into his belt. A belt which was frankly more evidence on his inhuman origins. Zatara did the math, and there was no way that even an expanded space could have that many gadgets. It would take an insanely powerful summoner to provide him with that many tools upon request constantly during a fight. The non-emergency watchtower request flashed, but everybody ignored it. Everyone was tired, and all they had to do was get through Hal, and Batman’s reports, then everybody could go home and sleep. Almost suspiciously soon after, Superman’s communicator beeped. Superman frowned, checked it, then his head shot up to look at Batman, wide-eyed. Batman narrowed his eyes dangerously. Barry had no idea what just happened, but that look said someone was about to pay. Pay in blood, and tears.
“Are we interrupting something? Because if so, I’m sure everyone would be willing to table this discussion for another time.” Diana, the goddess of all that was good and wholesome in the world, suggested neutrally.
“It’s nothing. Continue.” Batman spoke coldly. Yeah, he was pissed. Everyone seemed to sag slightly, but no one was willing to fight him, not with his murder voice. Hal opened his mouth to continue his report, but the emergency call beacon activated, and everybody groaned. Literally no one wanted to go on another mission right now. However, before anyone could respond, Batman rose, stalking like an angel of death to the monitor, and smashed the answer button with approximately 2.5 times more force than normal. The large screen lit up to show a video call coming from… the Batcave? They had only seen that background a handful of times when Batman absolutely could not make it back to the watchtower, and it was usually fun to try and see if they could spot any personal identifiers in the background. Now, it was just odd. A tall, well built, dark-haired, and very handsome man stood in front of the screen, shirtless, with a black domino mask hastily slapped onto his face. It was still slightly crooked.
“B thank god you answered. It’s an emergency-” Batman held up a single hand to silence him.
“I. Am. At. Work. What is so important?” Batman spoke slowly, and Barry had honestly never been more terrified. That voice wasn’t even aimed at him. The man wilted slightly, before shooting Batman an absolutely tragic look of sadness.
“Red Hood locked himself in the panic room, and Batgirl is about to start cutting through the wall with the torch, and Robin is helping her.” The man breathed out nervously.
“What. Why?” Barry had never seen Batman so torn between bewilderment and outrage.
“Because that asshole locked himself in with the last of the lasagna and is live-streaming himself eating it. There’s no other food in the house.” There was a moment of silence and Batman made a pained noise.
“Nightwing. I am at work. Just order a pizza. I’ll deal with Hood when I get back. Take the blow torch away from the kids, and if my panic room has a hole in it when I get back.” Batman tried to trail off threateningly, but Barry had never heard the man sound so done with anything in his life.
“That’s exactly the problem! Red Robin left his wallet at his house, Black Bat vanished with cookies like an hour ago, Robin lost his allowance to Red Robin over a bet last week, and- well you already know about me and Batgirl’s financial situation.” The man, Nightwing, sounded so bitter about that last part that Barry frowned. Batman was a fount of resources. If any member of the league needed help financially or otherwise, they could talk to him about it. Why would someone he clearly knew personally have-
“Nightwing, you and Batgirl spent five-thousand dollars on glitter, funfetti, spring-loaded cupcake traps, and waffles. Your accounts will remain frozen until I can walk through the manor and drive the batmobile without finding any glitter. End of story.” Batman hissed out and Nightwing sputtered, glancing at the rest of the league with wide-eyed embarrassment.
“Oh, did you think that just because I was at work you could call me to whine about this and I would not bring it up? You called me on the emergency line Nightwing. This is for emergencies. I will be hanging up now. You are highly trained vigilantes, you can figure out how to feed yourselves without my credit cards.” Batman rubbed a hand over his face and made an aggravated noise.
“Father wait!” A young voice called out. If this entire conversation hadn’t been mind-blowing already, seeing a twelve-year-old boy rush onto the screen with a dark green, hastily applied domino mask, t-shirt, and jeans calling Batman father was more than enough.
“Robin. What do you need?” Batman sighed, longsuffering.
“There is no food in this house. I cannot remain at peak combat efficiency without sustenance.” The boy spoke stiffly.
“Then eat a ration bar. There are plenty in the cave.” Judging by the way both boys scrunched their faces up, it was clear they’d rather starve.
“Father if you could just call Pennyworth.” The boy protested.
“Codenames!” Now Batman sounded annoyed again.
“Listen to me Robin. Agent A is on vacation. A vacation that will not end until he too can walk through both the manor and cave without finding glitter. If you want him to return, then get Nightwing and Batgirl to clean up their goddamned mess. If you want to buy your own food then you shouldn’t have bet Red Robin. Everyone was fully aware that he would eat the mold to spite you. You and I both know you only agreed to that bet because you hoped he would poison himself. If you’re looking for pity you will find none. I repeat, this is the emergency line.” Barry honestly wasn’t sure if this was a hallucination at this point. Either way, Katar was going to be so pissed he missed this.
“But Father-” The boy started to plead, but Batman cut him off.
“No buts Robin. Take your complaints up with Nightwing and Batgirl.” Batman was clearly about to hang up on them when a loud crash sounded in the background. Both boys flinched and looked past the screen. There was a moment. Barry could see it on Batman’s face, a moment where Batman was fully ready to hang up anyway and be done with all of them, but then a young female voice shouted.
“No running with explosives Tim! You know the rules.” Both boys of the screen gave Batman a wide-eyed look.
“Then stop chasing me!” A male voice- presumably Tim- shouted back.
“Then don’t take my things!” The girl shouted and another crash happened somewhere offscreen.
“I don’t care how much of an asshole Jason is! Alfred and Bruce will murder all of us if you blow up their house.” The two boys on-screen continued to give the camera a deer in headlights panicked stare.
“If Bruce didn’t want us to blow up the house then he should’ve made the panic room easier to crack! Now give me back the grenades!” The girl shouted.
“Do you even hear yourself? Dick! Damian! Stop just standing there and help me stop this psychopath!” Both winced comically as a teenage boy with no mask, launched himself over the monitor and into view. He had a shoebox tucked under one arm, and a bo staff in the other hand.
The kid looked vaguely familiar, but a sharp inhalation from Green Arrow made him think that he did indeed recognize this kid from somewhere. Barry glanced around to see Superman wincing painfully and Oliver looking absolutely mind-blown, but in a bad way, like his whole world was crashing down around him. He kept looking back and forth between Tim and Batman muttering ‘no-this-can’t-be-real’ under his breath. The kid -Tim- crashed to the floor in a controlled roll, and popped up just in time to block a blonde girl, who entered the camera’s view in a flying kick. Nightwing face palmed and muttered.
“Dammit, forget getting the credit cards back, I’m getting disowned.”
“Codenames you imbeciles! We are in a video call.” Robin shouted and both teens stopped instantly fighting to look at the boy incredulously.
“Oh like your one to talk Mr. Says-my-real-last-name-in-front-of-supervillians. I can’t believe you just tried to call me on-” Tim froze mid-sentence as he registered the video call.
“Uhhhhh.” The girl articulated.
“First, put the explosives down.” Batman ordered icily. Tim very slowly set the shoebox down.
“Good. Now, will I be returning to a hole in the wall of my house?” Batman asked the teenagers calmly.
“No! Your stupid panic room is impossible! Why would make something that even we couldn’t get into?” The girl protested, and Batman muttered something that sounded suspiciously like ‘gee I wonder’ under his breath.
“That is not what I was asking. Will, there be damage to the one-hundred-year-old hand-carved mahogany walls that cover the panic room?” Batman asked, voice frigid. The sudden silence spoke for itself. Batman sighed again.
“That’s what I thought. Now, Batgirl, Robin, and Nightwing will be going to their rooms and staying there until I return. Tim, return the grenades to storage and inform Red Hood that he has ten minutes to leave the premises unless he wants a long lecture on misuse of the panic room.” Batman announced with finality, immediately the other three started protesting.
“I’m twenty-four you can’t send me to my room!”
“You're not my dad, I don’t even live here!”
“But Father I did not partake in any of this!”
Were all shouted simultaneously, but Batman held up a single hand to silence them.
“Do not make me repeat myself.” He stared them down until as one, they crumbled and the three stormed away grumbling. Only Tim remained on screen.
“Uhh I guess I should hang up now?” Tim asked awkwardly.
“Tim, wait. After you’re done talking to Hood I want you to wait within hearing range of the door buzzer.” Batman spoke much more calmly. Tim looked baffled.
“Um okay? Am I waiting for someone in particular?” He asked slowly.
“Yes, pizza should be arriving any minute. You can take your box and retire to your room, thank you for taking the explosives away. However, if Alfred finds your box somewhere it shouldn’t be upon his return, I will not be helping you. Leave the other boxes in the kitchen. The rest can eat after I’ve spoken to them individually. Try to get some sleep tonight.” Batman spoke the last line softly, sounding more like a dad in that moment than at any point previously. Tim beamed and fist-pumped before nodding and bidding Batman goodnight. The screen shut off, and Batman turned back to the league.
“That was unprofessional of me. It will not happen again. I make a motion to table this meeting until the scheduled conference next week.” Batman sounded more tired than Barry had ever heard him.
“I second the motion.” Diana replied near instantly.
“All opposed?” Batman asked the group. No one breathed, much less moved to oppose.
“This meeting is adjourned. We will continue this next meeting next week.” Batman concluded the mission and rose. No one else joined him as he exited the conference room. The group stared at each other in bewildered shock for several moments.
“You all saw that too right?” As tired as they all were, no one was willing to confirm that this whole event hadn’t been some strange hallucination.