Black Ops
Epilogue: Picking Up The Pieces

By John Westcott

"Listen, can you tell me who won that Survivor thing? I missed the last few episodes." Nightwing winced with pain as he spoke, Batman had produced a small medical kit from his utility belt and began to treat the worst of the younger man's wounds. Dick wondered if there was anything Bruce didn't keep in that all purpose arsenal around his waist.

Beneath his cowl, Batman shot a skeptical look at Nightwing. "I....... didn't follow the series. I believe Alfred taped it though. I'll have him send you a copy."

Nightwing pulled himself to his feet with Batman's assistance after he had stopped the bleeding caused by Kane's sword and bandaged the area. "I have no idea how you found me, but I should have known you would. How's Tim?"

"He's fine. They didn't hurt him."

Nightwing was visibly relieved. "Thank God for small miracles. Clancy is gonna have my butt in a sling for disappearing like I did. Does Barbara know about all this?"

From the edge of his vision, Batman noticed the men of Impact Squadron approaching with all possible speed across the sand, heading for the wreckage of the biosphere. He knew his time with Dick was drawing to a close. Soon they would find The Dynamic Duo among the wreckage and they would no longer be able to speak freely. "Yes Barbara knows. She helped me find you. I think one of us should take her out for dinner, and I think she would prefer your company to mine."

Nightwing smiled appreciatively at his former mentor, his thoughts turning melancholy as the events of only minutes ago began to sink in. "You saved my life. If you hadn't arrived when you did, I would have snapped my neck when I landed."

Batman shook his head and dismissed the thought immediately, "No. If I hadn't come along you would have saved yourself somehow. That much I'm sure of."

Nightwing's face became deadly serious. "Maybe, maybe not. The point is I didn't have to. You came out of nowhere as you always do, looking out for me as you always have. I won't forget what happened here today. Ever. Someday I'll return the favor."

"I hope you never have to chum." Batman simply looked into Nightwing's eyes, allowing him to see the emotions that lay within. Nightwing knew that Bruce Wayne was not the most comfortable man he had known, but he knew that he could always count on Bruce for anything he needed. It was at times like this that he was reminded of that. As strange as his upbringing was, as driven and cold as Bruce Wayne could sometimes be, Dick was reminded that his mentor was a man of deep feelings. Bruce loved his family, his mother and father, and his extended family just as deeply. He never spoke the words aloud, he didn't dare. It had become obvious to Dick that Bruce always feared that the minute he admitted to loving anyone that they would be taken from him forever, just like his parents. Batman was created to keep anyone who came within his purview from ever experiencing that dreaded feeling ever again. Bruce never spoke of love, but his actions said more than any words ever could. He had followed Impact Squadron to the other side of the world, leaving Gotham and its myriad worries behind. He had risked life and limb in a blazing explosion to save Dick. What good were mere words compared to that?

"Even if I never get the chance to pay you back for this. I won't forget it." Batman merely nodded. Attempting to lighten the mood, Dick finally mentioned Batman's modified uniform. "By the way, have I mentioned what you're wearing? That is one bad outfit."

"I try to stay fashionable." Batman replied.

Nightwing was almost aghast, "Did you just try to be funny?"

"I admit I don't have much practice, let's just say I'm relieved to see you and I'm making an effort."

At that moment Captain Cortez, Styles by his side, came crashing through the debris and localized fires, "We found them! They're over here!" Nightwing waved to the members of Impact Squadron and, assisted by Batman, began making their way out of the debris field. Nightwing listened on as he heard Cortez telling his men to spread out to search for survivors, and most especially, for Kane's body. Batman addressed Cortez and practically demanded that he be able to speak to Cortez's commanding officer. Cortez helped both men past the fires and out into the open. Colonel Young and Major Summers were waiting on the horizon with the other injured members of Impact Squadron and Angelica's dead body, which was now covered by Summers' jacket.

The relief on Summers' face at seeing Nightwing alive was obvious, as was the confusion when she saw Batman beside him. She hadn't witnessed The Dark Knight's dramatic entrance into the fray. As they approached both Nightwing and Batman noticed them talking into the comm units clipped to their uniform collars, no doubt hearing MacQuarrie explain Batman's arrival to them. When they finally reached the group, Batman crossed the last few steps to Young quickly, allowing Cortez to assist Nightwing, and pointed an accusing finger at The Colonel. "You people have some explaining to do Colonel. What gives you the right to abduct citizens from their homes for your own purposes?" Batman's voice was as hard and cold as granite.

"Sir," Young said as he struggled to his feet, "I assure you if it were in my power things would have been handled differently. Major Summers has informed me that the man who ordered Nightwing's abduction, General Douglas Walker, died in Crete at Kane's hands. With him died whatever secrets he had on Nightwing. None of us have ever seen his true face."

"You know where he lives. It wouldn't be hard for people with your resources to find out his true identity." Batman countered.

Young's response was immediate and seemingly sincere, "Sir, I owe Nightwing my life. Even after General Walker died he continued to help us, for no reason other than the fact that helping us helped the entire world. With The General dead, I am in command now, and I guarantee you this, we will respect Nightwing's privacy. I think it's time Impact Squadron started playing by the same rule book as the rest of the world and to hell with the consequences."

At this point in the conversation Nightwing decided to interject. "I believe him." He said to Batman, indicating by the tone of his voice that his mentor should push the subject no further. Batman cast a glance back at Nightwing and considered Dick's tone and body language. Finally he relaxed his accusing finger and relented. Apparently Dick's words were good enough for him. Letting the subject drop, Batman turned back to Nightwing. "I have a plane two miles South. I'll be waiting for you over here." He said as he pointed towards the horizon, with that be began a slow jog due south.

"It might be wise for you to leave son," Young said, "MacQuarrie has already summoned the authorities. They'll be here within ten minutes I suspect. It wouldn't do to have you around."

"What will happen to you folks?"

"I suspect we will be welcomed back with open arms now that we've completed our mission." Summers interjected.

"Well then, I better get going."

"One other thing son, I want to give you something before you go." Young said. Nightwing was silent, wondering what Young could possibly give him. He realized what Young had in mind when The Colonel snapped out a stiff military salute. Cortez and Summers both followed his example. Young, Summers, and Cortez were giving him the only thing they could, their respect. Having some familiarity with saluting in the police academy, Nightwing returned the salute. Before he left, Nightwing turned to Summers. After all they had been through together, after what they had shared, he felt that he had to say something. At first, both of them began to speak. Just as suddenly both of them stopped talking. After a few seconds silence, they both tried to speak again, only to cancel each others words out. Finally, Summers insisted that she allowed to speak first.

"I can't thank you enough for all you've done for us. If you and your girlfriend ever call it quits, I'd like it if you considered me next in line."

Nightwing smiled at her, "If we ever called it quits, how would I find you?"

"Don't worry, I'll find you. Remember, I know where you live."

He had to laugh at that remark. Nightwing regarded the beautiful woman before him, she had done exactly what she had promised from the beginning. She had healed his wounds, fought by his side, and listened to his plans. He knew his love life was complicated enough, but he need not deny the facts. Stacy Summers was everything he could have possibly wanted in a woman, and yet he may never see her again. Without considering his actions, Nightwing stepped in close and kissed her. Surprised at first, Summers eventually relaxed into the kiss and melted into Nightwing's strong arms. The kiss was lingering, both participants felt time slip away as Cortez, Young, and the wounded Francis and Brooks stared at the ground uncomfortably. The sound of sirens could be heard approaching, the authorities were drawing near. Reluctantly, Nightwing broke the kiss and stepped away from her.

"Take care of this bunch," he told her.

She smiled, "I will."

Cortez handed Dick a duffle bag containing his original uniform and Nightwing finally bid them farewell, sprinting after Batman who could be seen just over the horizon waiting for him. A tear escaped Summers' eye as she watched him go. Within minutes, they were gone. Their reverie was broken by the sound of Dixon's voice coming over their comm units.

"Colonel, I think we found Kane's body in the wreckage here."

Summers handed Young her comm unit and he activated it, "Report Lieutenant, what is Kane's condition?"

"He's dead sir. He barely has any skin left on his body." Dixon's statement was followed by the sound of several of his comrades in the area vomiting with revulsion.

Young was silent for a moment. Cortez and Summers were also silent. Kane didn't deserve to die, he was exactly as they made him. Treated like an experimental lab rat from the beginning of his existence, Kane eventually came to see the human race as evil. Was it just possible he had every right to? Scientists had toyed with human evolution all in the name of politcs and their dispicable black ops. Perhaps Young should have felt triumphant, but all he could feel was sorrow. "I understand Lieutenant. Have MacQuarrie send a coded message to Washington. 'Mission Acomplished.'"

Gotham City - two days later......

Barbara Gordon squealed with delight as she returned home from getting her groceries to find her entire apartment littered with long stemmed red roses. Immediately she knew who had breached her security. Wheeling her chair over to the coffee table, she noticed a small note in the largest bouquet in the room. It was a small handwritten note, she recognized the penmanship immediately. The note read:

"I'm told you had a lot to do with Bruce finding me. Consider this a down payment on me owing you my life. I'll be back in Gotham this Saturday to pay you back in full."

See you then

- Dick -

The End

Nightwing will return in "Nightwing: A Matter Of Vengeance"

Authors Note: Special thanks must go out to to Cyndi for coming up with some fantastic artwork inspired by this story (which can be seen at this address:, and to Andrea for giving me some reassurance when I needed it at the eleventh hour. I didn't know either of your names before I began this story but I consider you both fast friends now, that's one of the greatest benefits of sharing Black Ops with the world.

If you are interested in learning more about the hidden codes in The Torah here are some links to internet sites on the subject. As I mentioned in earlier chapters I am not seeking to convert anyone to any way of thinking, and I have included links that seek to refute the Bible Code as well.

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