a cave of creatures
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Spider-Man: Spider-Verse (Sony Animated Movies), Batman - All Media Types
Miguel O'Hara/Dick Grayson
Miguel O'Hara, Dick Grayson, Bruce Wayne, Jason Todd, Clark Kent
Additional Tags:
Crack Treated Seriously, Pre-Slash, Dick Grayson is Nightwing, but in the earlier nightwing days, Sparring, Mystery, Mentioned Joker (DCU), Timeline Shenanigans, Miguel O'Hara Has Issues, Dick Grayson Has Issues, Bruce Wayne Has Issues, certain issues are more severe than others..., Manipulation, girlboss era dick vs gaslight era miguel, Identity Porn, slight age gap
Part 4 of Wing99
Dick Grayson Rare Pair Challenge
Published: 2023-07-27 Words: 3,564 Chapters: 1/?

a cave of creatures


There’s a new visitor in the cave, Bruce is acting strange, and Dick needs to get to the bottom of it.


Edit: Punctuation fixed as of 231009.

a cave of creatures

He isn’t hiding.

Birds love being up in their perches, don’t they?

Dick is only here to observe, squatting atop the railing along one of the distant walkways up near the ceiling of the cave.

The sight below him has set his stomach into an alligator’s roll for the past hour.

New heroes are rarely a cause for concern, he likes to make an effort with the introductions, to get them acquainted and networked into the community.

It’s usually Bruce’s paranoia that tends to get in the way, that blistering cloud sending shivers through the strongest of metas’ spine, especially when it comes to any new cape entering Gotham, be it by womb or plane.

And yet, there he is down there.


Mask down and gloves off as he speaks to the stranger standing next to him. Dick doesn’t know if it’s mind control or pheromones or what, but it can’t be explained away by Clark’s calming presence, nor Jason’s fear of hearing the adults argue, because Clark had already flown the kiddo to bed over an hour ago before flying home to Metropolis.

And they’re still talking.

Dick’s brows furrow as he huffs and rolls on the balls of his feet, alleviating the pressure from the uncomfortably narrow bar.

He had shown up in Gotham only for the emergency alert that had come in from Agent A; informing him of Batman and Robin’s return, along with a few members of the Justice League, from a multidimensional adventure that had left them struggling with time dilation issues.

Alfred had wanted Dick to help fill them in on the past few weeks they’d been gone for, and although he’s certain there were most definitely ulterior motives at play—he knows for a fact that Jason is months ahead in his studies—Dick had relented anyway.

Now, he’s starting to feel a little regretful over his weakness towards Alfred’s wishes, because the longer Dick sits, the more he realises he’s in for an investigation far longer than a drive-by.

When Bruce finally turns to leave, he doesn’t ask the man to go on ahead of him, he doesn’t even try to log out of the Batcomputer before he wanders off to the showers, dipping out of Dick’s sight as he passes under the lip of the rock.

He scowls, eyes flicking back just in time to see the stranger’s own snapping up towards him. Even from all the way up here, he can still make out the faint glow coming from his eyes.

Dick shivers.

Without looking away, he begins to slowly move across the rail, crouching, slinking down as the walkway curls to the right and down the cave walls, into the jaws of the beast.




He’s… taller up close.

Standing there, broad shoulders in a shimmering suit with glowing red lines, he’s not the easiest to walk up to. But Dick’s whole life has trained him for moments like this, and he faces it head on like any other.

“What’s your name?” Dick asks, because he’d been stuck staring at the back of Bruce’s head the entire time.

The man tilts his head, a thick eyebrow raising as he rolls his shoulders. “Miguel.” His eyes track down Dick’s body. “Or Spider-Man, if you’re on patrol.”

Aware, suddenly, of his domino mask, Dick shakes his head. “I’m not.”

“Then you’re free to spar?” The man—Miguel—asks, stepping towards him.

“What?” He blinks, scratching his cheek in perplexity. “You’re supposed to be leaving.”

“Well, that might be a bit rude to mi anfitrión, no? I’ve yet to receive his blessing, after all.” Miguel snorts, moving around him and towards the training space.

Dick spins after him with a glare. “He hasn’t given you permission to use our mats either.”

“Are you really going to try and hold yourself back from hitting me?” Miguel spreads his arms wide, walking backwards and onto the mats with ease. “Look at you, you’re drooling for a fight right now.”

There’s nothing much better to do, at half past three in the morning, so he takes the bait.

“You fucker.”

He steps over the wooden rim holding the mats in place with a snarl.

Their eyes make contact for another brief second—Miguel’s red ones sending an uncanny spark through him even with the whites of his domino in the way—before they’re gone behind his suit in the next blink.

It… must be a hologram then, Dick squints at it as he juggles the materialisation speeds of nanobots and alien systems in his mind.

The suit sparkles as they circle each other, Dick’s feet bouncing lightly against the stiff mat. His heart speeds up to match the flightiness of his movements, and he embraces the trickle of adrenaline washing over him. Miguel stalks around him like a panther, steady and solid, but there’s an airy quality to his steps too, gliding over the floor when he moves and rooting to the spot every time he pauses.

He isn’t sure if it’s the futuristic suit’s appearance throwing him off, but in the end it doesn’t matter, because in the next second Miguel crosses the space between, and red daggers are whistling towards Dick’s face at the pace of a speedster.

“Shit,” Dick gasps out, under his breath, as he snaps back, under, and away from the elbow, only just saved by the deepest parts of his muscle memory.

If he hadn’t known Spider-Man was enhanced before, he would’ve certainly figured it out by now.

There’s almost no time to move whenever Miguel lashes out towards him, long limbs with claws to match swiping through the air in fast arcs. Over and over and around they go, he’s struggling to move beyond the defensive with the dangerous edges flying at him from all directions. It’s almost like fighting Slade that one time he accidentally hybridised with a cat—except his fear back then had been easily quenched by the humour of the situation.

But right now?

The mask is a tad more expressive than Slade’s, but its eyeless design spares him no comfort. Lungs burning, there’s almost no time for quips, and the time he does have—

Dick grunts as a shin slams into his hip, flipping back before Miguel can grab him.

He eyes the retreating fists.

Those claws count as weapons right?

They hadn’t decided on any rules before the match, and he’s starting to regret it a little now—do tap outs even exist in Miguel’s universe?

No matter.

He pulls out his escrima sticks, pausing only just long enough to see if Miguel will call it off—he doesn’t—and switches to the offensive.




Sparring against Clark had always been a frustrating time, especially as Robin when it’d been impossible for him to reach his solar plexus, let alone his head. But as he dodges another fist, letting it slide against one of his sticks as he jabs the other past Miguel’s defences, he’s kind of grateful Bruce had scheduled it so often.

Even if it wasn’t entirely for this reason.

Sweat drips off his forehead as he boils under his bodysuit despite the chilliness of the cave. He doesn’t know how much coverage Miguel has under the hologram, but whatever the answer is Dick can’t seem to see a single drop flick out from beneath the suit. He wants to know how tangible it is, the ins-and-outs of the technology, …if only it weren’t for the owner.

“Come on, you can do better than that, Grayson.”

Dick flinches, faltering. “How did—”

“You think I can’t recognise the face of Bruce Wayne?”

“But you aren’t even from this dimension.”

Miguel scoffs, flexing his wrists as he mirrors Dick’s frozen stature. “You know you exist in other dimensions, right?”

“Yeah, and I know I’m not in yours. None of us here are.”

“Well, let’s just say I’m pretty aware of the inconsistencies.” The red lines of his mask raise on one side. “Comes with the job.”

“That’s not something anyone’s supposed to know,” he retorts, teeth gritting as he takes a step back, tightening his grip on his escrima sticks.

“Come on,” Miguel groans, “don’t stress about it kid, I got to know him real well while we were away.”


“It wasn’t exactly my universe either, not that this one is any better.”

“Whatever,” Dick says, and launches up for a swing.

Another set of minutes, fifteen individually if Dick’s internal clock is right—it always is—passes. Slowly. The exhaustion is catching up to him. He’s more adrenalised here now than his usual spars, but at the same time more risk-taking than he’d ever be during a real fight.

Maybe it’s the side effect of the presumed safety of the cave, that Bruce is only just around the corner, even if so far he hasn’t said a word over cave’s speakers on how much of a cacophony they’ve been making in the middle of the night.

Maybe he’s running the showers too hard again? Bruce really needs to invest in a better massage chair.

It’s inevitable; that he’d make a mistake he can’t recover from—but Dick hadn’t thought that time would be so soon. He’s flipping over Miguel’s shoulder, just a little too slow, balancing on one escrima as he swings the other down at Miguel’s head, before something squeezes him and he’s suddenly thrown to the side, flung through the air as loud yelp escapes him.

Pain bursts through his side as he slams into the floor, rolling to a stop just over the edge of the mat.

“Damn it,” he groans, clutching at his ribs.

They’re okay, but definitely won’t be continuing this spar at full capacity. He wipes the sweat off his forehead, hair sticky and damp, and shakes his hand to get the droplets off his glove. Straightening up from his crouch, Dick squints as he takes in what Miguel is doing.

He’s just staring.

Unless there’s a bunch of cyber-future-style screens in there, Miguel doesn’t seem to have moved or looked away since throwing Dick off of him.

Dick glares and steps over the threshold. “What? Why’d you stop?”

Miguel just watches him for another long moment, before tilting his head towards his feet.

“You’re out of bounds.”

“Well—” he splutters, “we didn’t make that a rule!”

“Not for winning, no.” Miguel shrugs. “But a pause isn’t the same.”

The bruise forming along his side isn’t that bad. It isn’t going to be enough to hinder him, but it won’t exactly help his faltering speed get any better.


“Fine,” Dick growls, squeezing his sticks tighter, “let’s continue then.”




They go ’round and ’round the mat, Dick now fully stuck on the defensive. With every circling turn he feels the distance closing faster. Miguel is no longer giving him enough room to flip back, so all his dodges are simple—barely escaping sharp claws by the skin of his teeth.


His hyperfocus on the slicers along Miguel’s arms gets the better of him. He doesn’t notice the solid leg behind him before it’s too late and he’s already tripping back onto the floor, heart lurching, chin down, as he lands safely against the mats.

That safety doesn’t last long though, because Miguel follows him down in a blink of an eye, and a rush of air is forced out of Dick as the weight drops down onto his gut, igniting a resounding groan.

A loud thud reverberates through the cave a second later, and they both freeze. Dick tilts his head back to see an upside-down Bruce wandering out from the showers. Oh god.

“Get off,” Dick hisses quietly, pushing at Miguel’s hip.

“Giving up?” Miguel whispers.

Dick shakes his head with a glare, then frantically gestures at Miguel to just shush as he hears the footsteps get closer.

Bruce’s eyes are shut as he scrubs his towel all over his hair. “Well I’m off for the night, son. Oh and O’Hara? Feel free to use whatever gym equipment you fancy, showers are this way behind me.”

“Good to know, Wayne, thanks.”


“’Night chum.”

Dick watches, mortified, as Bruce leaves with a wave of his hand, oblivious, tossing his towels into the cave’s laundry basket as he heads for the stairs, abandoning Dick in the cave with Miguel, Batcomputer still logged in and blinking.

The light flickers as the door shuts behind him.

Fucking hell. “What did you do to him?”

“What’s wrong?” Miguel smirks down at him, and Dick finally notices the fangs glinting in the blue screen light. “I’m not the one who’s done anything to him.”

Dick pulls his arms back with a glare, and swings his escrimas towards Miguel’s lower ribs with as hard as he can. Broadcasting his next move isn’t exactly the smartest plan, but it sort of helps. The first one Is caught but the second one lands a snappy hit, and Dick manages a triumphant smirk for the briefest second before it’s knocked from his grip, clattering onto the stone cave floor.

“Not so fast,” Miguel mutters above him.

Damn it. At least Miguel isn’t really squeezing his wrist or anything. Dick’s hand is still tight around his remaining escrima, and if he loosens it enough to twist it juuust so—


Before him, the suit over Miguel’s body suddenly fractures as the taser-end of his escrima jabs into the meat of Miguel’s bicep. Dick’s eyes widen as the hologram begins to fizz out.

Wait, what?

The electricity must be interfering with the projection, Dick realises all of a sudden, watching the rainbow of fading edges in fascination. He can’t see how low the damage goes, not at this angle, but there’s not much more time to think about the ratio mixed with his escrima’s light voltage settings, because it’s then that Miguel grunts again—and Dick remembers what they’re doing.

Miguel’s hand is spasming around his own, unable to disarm him, so Dick clicks off the button and flicks his wrist to toss the escrima behind his head, just grazing the wooden rim of the mats.

“You little shit.” Before him, Miguel is panting slightly, but probably less-so from exertion and more so from the tickle of volts Dick had just put him through.

The suit… hasn’t re-materialised.

“No rules against that, remember?” Dick responds offhandedly, staring at the wide, tan chest above him.

“Hn, you’re right, next time I’ll just start flinging you around with my webs, if you’re so keen on using special weapons to spar.”

“Webs?” Dick scrunches up his nose—was the “Spider”-half of his title from earlier less superficial than the usual namesake?—looking back up to Miguel’s face. “There’s no next time,” he scoffs, “you still need to leave.”

“Of course. I never heard anything about not coming back, though,” Miguel snorts. He gets up off of Dick in the next motion, calmly stretching and plodding off the mats towards Batcomputer. Dick shoots up from the ground like a bean stalk and jogs after him.

Hey! You can’t use that, it’s got classified stuff!”

“I would hope so,” Miguel mutters, ignoring him as he navigates through the database until he reaches Bruce’s directory of rogues.

He wants to drag Miguel off the keyboard, to throw him out of the cave and convince Alfred to convince Bruce to keep him locked out of the city or banned from this dimension forever but he just—can’t. He’s panting, still exhausted from the spar, and even if he wasn’t, he has no idea what Miguel’s upper threshold even is, let alone any weaknesses he might have.

The only thing he found from their little fight was the suit’s susceptibility to electricity, but Dick doesn’t even know if the suit even does anything to protect Miguel in any way beside identity in the first place.

Are those red slicer things even solid?

Miguel’s back is still bare. A wide and heavy hunch over the desk, as he continues to speed through the lists, switching back and forth between the row upon row of rogue profiles and the ever-refreshing list of recent activity.

A name suddenly highlights, and Dick’s eyebrow twitches.

“You’re looking for the Joker?” His head swivels towards Miguel. “Do you work for him—in your dimension?”

Miguel pauses to hang his head with a groan. “Why do you keep assuming I’m a villain?”

“Well— what else am I supposed to think you—“ Dick glares. “Stop dodging the question!”

“It’d be easier if you didn’t know.”

“It’d be easier if you didn’t dodge the fucking question.”

“I have to do this for your own good, you’ll thank me in the end,” he says, then mutters something under his breath, glancing at him for a moment before turning back to the screen, red eyes turning purple under the blue light.

Abandoning all combative logic, Dick grabs Miguel’s wrist from where it’s hovering next to the keyboard and slams it down. “I’m not letting you use Bruce’s research for whatever scheme you’re planning, you’ll have to go through me first,” he snarls through the grit of his teeth, frowning harder as Miguel only leans back to sit in the chair behind him.

“I already have gone through you, haven’t I?” Miguel raises a brow. “You know you can’t stop me.”

“At least tell me what you’re doing.” Because if he can alert one of the Titans fast enough… “So I can clean up your mess.”

Miguel’s face grows hard and blank for a quiet moment. “…I’m getting rid of him.”


“What does— what do you mean?” His heart thuds in his chest.

“You know what I mean, Grayson.”

He’s going to kill him. Dick’s mind whirls as he fills in the blanks. It’s not the first time, Miguel knows what to look for, what to do, it’s premeditated, he’s not afraid to—he- he kills people, the voice in his head whispers sharply as Dick’s eyes finally widen in realisation. He kills people and Bruce—Bruce doesn’t know.

“How?” he asks, “how did you even hide it from him?” How long has he been spending time with Bruce—with Jason? Dick doesn’t know what the final time conversion was, he’d tuned out most of the debrief to sulk at the top of stairs, he doesn’t know how long they spent together. How much time he could’ve spent earning Bruce’s trust.

It’s awful. Awful.

He knows Bruce isn’t perfect—far from it. It’s why he left. But the idea that something like this could get past him, that it did get past him, that maybe he’s getting older than Dick thought—

“Like I said,” Miguel says, “it… comes with the job.”

He doesn’t want to deal with this on his own, but if Bruce really is falling behind this hard, maybe he’ll just have to. “You’re not even from here, what’s the point of doing this in another dimension?”

“You’ll see, eventually.”

“Right, no fucking straight answers, of course. What did you do to Bruce?”

“Nothing,” Miguel sighs, “I told you.”

“Yeah, fat fucking chance I’d believe that,” Dick scoffs, spinning to head for the showers, barely catching himself from stomping. He has no idea what kind of interdimensional fuck-up must’ve caused Bruce to become so… careless in letting these kinds of strangers into the cave. Maybe if he hadn’t stayed away in Blüdhaven for so long—

He shakes his head, dismissing the thought. He can’t return here. Not permanently. Especially not for Bruce’s own sake. Whatever the problem is, he’ll take it up on the basis of being a concerned, fellow vigilante.

Maybe after this he’ll contact Dinah and see if she can bring Bruce in for an early session.

He hopes it’s only something psychological.

Oh god, can portal radiation cause early onset dementia?

Dick fiddles with his phone, he wants to call Babs and see if she’s in a light enough sleep to get up and out as Batgirl again, to track down the Joker before Miguel can, but he doesn’t want to risk her getting injured in the way of Miguel’s plan.

He shuts it off with a sigh and drops it in one of the faraday cage lockers to collect later.

Unrolling his calf gauntlets and peeling off his domino as he passes by the decontamination stalls, he makes a beeline towards the back where the nice and normal showers stand, fiddling with his back zipper as he goes.

The wet floor is rough, a thick sandpaper beneath his toes, primed to prevent slips despite the unforgiving hardness beneath. With a flick of the wrist, the steaming water drenches him, a quiet shock in the coolness of the cave. He pulls at the high collar of his suit, letting the water rush in as he slowly drags down the zipper with his other hand.

It’s always easier to get out of it this way, but it’s not the most efficient thing to do without an on-demand industrial dehydration unit sitting right there in his apartment. Not to mention the potential water bills.

Dick lets the costume plop to the floor, nudging it away from the various drains with a foot, and begins to soap up his hair, scrubbing away at all the grit from the day.

He doesn’t need a sixth sense to know Miguel is looming right behind him.


End Notes

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