A/N: In an episode of Justice League, the League discovered that without Wally they would fall- he plays the part of their compassion, and their conscience. In an alternate dimension, where he died, the League went rogue and established like, totaltarianism everywhere. It was insane.
But it was cool to see- really see- how important Wally is to them. C: He holds everything together. He's not afraid to question why things are done, and he'll get downright testy when he thinks what's happening is wrong, but he'll also play the role of mediator and he is so darn sweet to civilians, all the time. It's right that he holds things together, even if it's not obvious that he does.
-a Wally fan-
His heart was beating faster than normal, as Batman stared him down- which was pretty darn fast, being a speedster and all. Yeah, he would accept whatever came at him- yeah, at this point, he definitely deserved it. He didn't know how things worked in the League on the political level, didn't know what picking a fight with Superman would specifically entail punishment-wise, but he knew it had to be a pretty bad offense, all things considered.
But Conner was his teammate- his friend. And seeing him look like that, so beaten down in the face of the man he aspired to- no, because of the man he aspired to be like was too much.
Wally deserved whatever was coming, he decided with an inward nod, wrapping up his current train of thought about a second after it had started.
But I don't have to like it, he thought grimly, refocusing on Batman's cowled face. And I sure as hell won't apologize.
And then suddenly his vision of the Dark Knight was obscured by broad shoulders and he blinked.
The last thing they needed was a battle royale between Conner and Batman. Sure, Conner kicked serious butt, but- Batman.
"Supes, no!" He flitted around to be somewhat in front of him, and attempted to shove on his arm. He might as well have been shoving at the side of a building for all the good it did, because the clone didn't budge. "Seriously, dude, I appreciate the thought, but- "
"You promised me the moon," Conner said abruptly, not looking at him. He sounded on the verge of an epiphany. Wally blinked.
"You kept your promise."
The yellow-clad sidekick stopped his fruitless attempts at pushing his friend back to his place among the others, and glanced at him, thoroughly confused. "Well, yeah."
Apparently the stilted conversation had some meaning, because Conner shook his head, and kept his eyes locked on the dark figure in front of them. "Supey, what the heck are you- "
"Whatever punishment he gets, I want it too." His tone booked no room for argument. Wally stared at him.
After the slightest moment of hesitation that seemed to stretch into an hour for a nervous speedster, Batman's lips twitched into something that could- by generous definition- be considered a smile.
Wally stared at him, the hundreds of thoughts whirring in his head at any given moment sort of ceasing as stunned disbelief turned quickly to soul-wracking relief. He was glad his reaction time was a lot faster than everyone else's, because he was able to laugh before the silence grew uncomfortable and ease the uncertainty off his teammates' faces-
And man did he love to make them smile.
"Sue me for unoriginality," he said with a grin. "I was pressed for time."
"I never thought I'd hear that from a speedster. Though you're the last one to every meeting," he added in a perfect deadpan, glancing pointedly at the Flash, who's returning grin matched Wally's almost perfectly. Turning back to the younger of the two, he said sternly, "Questioning authority is something frowned upon, yes, because generally authority does know what's best even if it doesn't always seem like it. But no system is without flaws, and sometimes our leaders make mistakes."
It was the most Wally had ever heard Batman say in one sitting, besides mission briefings. He found himself paying rapt attention, soaking in the words because for Batman to say them they must have been worth knowing.
"It's important," Batman continued, "not to lose faith in the system entirely- not to lose faith in our leaders entirely. There's only so much we can ask of them. Superman was in the wrong this time; you were well within your rights to defend your comrade. But don't judge him too harshly."
"Yeah, I can see how being the world's most iconic hero could put the pressure on someone." He said it lightly, but then he frowned to himself a little as he heard the way the words sounded aloud; sure, respect was good and all, and fame seemed pretty sweet- but the Superman gig was way too big a package. All things considered, Wally didn't thing he'd be able to lead a league of heroes, manage the safety of a huge city like Metropolis and deal with the added pressure of being everyone's go-to hero when the world was in some sort of apocolyptic peril- all at the same time.
"I can definitely give him props for that," he added decisively. Batman nodded, looking somewhat amused, and glanced at Superboy.
"I know it isn't the same coming from anyone else- " Was Batman's voice...gentle? "- but you did good out there today. A lot of people are alive because you were there."
Conner seemed too surprised to answer, his brow furrowing slightly as he looked for the trap in the words. Kid Flash grinned and said, "Aww, he knows. Megan, tell Supes how great he was today. He'd like hearing it from you, wouldn't you Supes?"
That got a grin from the taller boy, albeit a small one, and Wally felt elation swell inside him.
I'm not off the team! Sure, that may have been a worst-case scenario to begin with, and maybe a bit too extreme, but he had been terrified nonetheless. He didn't want to be off the team, ever- not when he could hang out with Rob so often, and flirt with Megan and argue with 'Missy and learn from Kal and make Conner smile.
He wasn't losing the friends he would do anything for, and just knowing that was enough to make his smile stretch wider and compel him to say, "Thank you, Bats" -putting as much into those simple words as he could.
Batman shook his head almost wryly. "I get the feeling you won't be the most conventional of heroes in the League. I'm almost looking forward to it."
The Dark Knight had already zeta-beamed out before Wally could find his voice- a pretty remarkable feat.
He really thinks I'll-? I mean, it's my dream, isn't it everyone's, but he really thinks I'll make it there?
He didn't have long to dwell, sadly, because he was suddenly being attacked from all sides, as mentor and friends ganged up on him abruptly.
"'Big Blue'? Seriously?" The Flash hit him on the head, sharply enough to make Wally yelp. "I thought he was going to laser-vision you through the computer! I'd have had to avenge you against Superman!"
"What were you thinking?" Kaldur said, sounding more exhausted than upset. "Really, Kid, you gave us all quite the scare."
Robin punched him in the shoulder, hard. "No joke! You can't just say stuff like that, man! You nearly gave me a heart attack, I thought Batman was going to kill you- and you're my best friend, dude, but there's no way I'd have gotten in the middle of that."
"I actually feel kind of bad," Megan said suddenly, voice rather subdued, as she twisted her fingers in a rather human display of anxiety. "I mean, Wally is the only one of us who's stood up for Superboy- I feel like we've let him down," she added meekly, glancing in the clone's direction.
"You haven't," was all he said, but it was all he needed to. She smiled, and the atmosphere sort of mellowed.
"Are you really not afraid of him?" Artemis asked suddenly, looking curious even as she stood in "completely disinterested in you" mode, with her arms crossed and her stance casual. "You told Superman he didn't scare you."
Wally grinned, completely and totally loving his life and all the people he had in it. "The only person I'm afraid of is The Flash."
His uncle hit him again, but this time gently- and he used the motion to pull Wally against him in a one-armed hug. "Darn right."
Superboy caught his eye some time later and offered him an uncertain smile.
If life could get any better, Wally seriously couldn't think how.
Later that night, Conner woke up. He was laying on the couch; a quick glance around showed all his teammates to be sprawled on various pieces of furniture. The sight of them, for whatever reason, made him smile.
The TV cast flickering shadows along the walls, as the menu for whatever DVD was in played on a continuous loop. The volume had been muted, so everything was silent- and after living with companions this long, the silence seemed eerie.
It must have been very early in the morning. Sleep didn't seem to want to return anytime soon, so he got up to see if there was any food left in the kitchen. He wasn't sure if anyone had been shopping recently, and it was usually a good idea to go every few days since one of their number had an insane calorie intake.
As he started to sit up, something he hadn't noticed was laying on his stomach fell into his lap. It was a paper bag, and he frowned at it.
Never one to let anything go unchallenged, including a mysterious paper bag of unknown origin, Conner upended it, dumping its contents into his lap.
It was a shirt, he realized as he held it up in the dim light. Made of the same strong, stretchy material as his teammates' uniforms, with long sleeves- and on its front was the strong S emblem that meant everything to him.
There was a piece of paper taped at the shoulder. After a moment's hesitation, Conner pulled it off, and lay the shirt down to read;
I'm sorry. It was wrong of me to say those things, and I suppose it took your friend defending you so blatantly to open my eyes. I should feel every amount of pride for you that your teammates do, and I'm sorry- about everything. In all honesty, Conner, you scared me. Watching on TV as you jumped into a building that could have come down at any moment... I don't want you doing dangerous things, but it's not a question of whether or not you're able. Believe me, if you can, Superboy- you will find greatness. I know you will.
Conner must have read the words ten times, clenching the paper in hands that shook. It was a long time before he could lay it down and soak in that-
Superman believed in him.
Feeling his eyes burn for some stupid reason, he looked at the shirt again, a gift from his hero. Long sleeved, open necked, black and red...
Superman's shirt, in his colors.
He held it tightly, and lay back with a smile.