The feeling is like waking up at two in the morning with cold sweats and realizing something is amiss — maybe it was stupid, like leaving the back porch light on, or not setting the alarm for tomorrow.
But it keeps weighing down on his thoughts — gnawing on the bottom of his stomach, gnawing at the walls of his throat — and, finally, when he realizes it's not stupid at all… the feeling only worsens.
"The poem is like a metaphor…" Dick insisted, smacking Wally's drooled-on pencil out of his mouth soundly—" -The hell, man!- "—and pointed to the page of text with a challenging edge to blue eyes, "LOOK or I'm not helping you anymore… 'anyone lived in a pretty how town (up so floating many bells down)¹'…it's talking about people growing up… and 'noone' loved him…"
There are graves for people Dick has no prior knowledge about.
But he feels he should know, staring down at the marble headstones when early morning sunlight etching into the engraved words: "Donna Troy" "Rachel Roth" "Bart Allen" among others.
"Wally West" is nowhere to be found.
The curdled, slick taste in the back of Dick's tongue and mouth, and the migraine that crackles behind his eyes prompts him to return to his motorcycle… to return to the shadows of Bludhaven.
"No one loved him? Like everyone hated him?" Wally blows some air through his lips, tilting back in his desk chair and wobbling his head to balance a newly sharpened pencil on the tip of his nose. The impact of air somewhat careens the end of the pencil. The sixteen-year-old gives up when it falls to bounce against his knee and onto the floor. "I feel sorry for the guy."
Dick sighs, heaving up Wally's literature textbook and turning slightly away to settle his lower back on the wood stile to Wally's chair. "Actually, 'noone' is his lover. And the poem goes on to explain how much she loves him and they die together. It's a play on words, genius." He twists around, thumping the now shut book on top of Wally's head rudely.
Dick waits until Barry begins to decelerate on the asphalt street, his fuzzing edges clearing into existence — and the streaks of red and golden lightning vanishes.
It's a private area. Dick makes sure that civilian identities are safe to reveal. He peels back the Starlite mask, his Nightwing identity flopping limply between his hands, and stares up expectantly.
To level the playing field, the man removes the cowl to reveal — a shade of emerald; a splash of freckles on pale skin — a pair of crystal blue eyes and sun-gleamed hair.
"Bruce has told me about you, Dick."
"Me too," Dick says out loud, and then adds with a tight, awkward smile, "About you, I mean…"
"Was there something you wanted?" The older man asks with a little less patience, threading red gloved fingers through his cowl-plastered hair.
Dick's stomach clenches. "Does the name 'Wally West' mean anything to you?"
Barry screw up his mouth in consideration. Please.
"I named my pet turtle from grade school 'Wally' but I'm sure that's not what you meant." He says candidly, dully, "…Never heard of him. Would I?"
"Iris West? His aunt?" Dick understands his voice is betraying him, hinting his urgency, his dismay, but someone has to remember… he can't…
"Do you know her?"
When Barry's exposed and bewildered eyes narrow in suspicion at him, Dick's heart thuds away more desperately in his ribcage.
Wally rubs his head, frowning up at him with a semi-accusing look. "How do you even know this stuff?" he asks.
"I liked the poem as a kid. On top of school, Alfie tutored me in books by Andrew Marvell, Emily Bronte, Virginia Woolf, James Joyce, people like that…" An uncomfortable pause. Dick grinned, touching the nape of his neck exposed by the collar of his jersey and scratching there. "Since I'm not really good at numbers… it's a little easier when I'm working with the meaning of words…"
"Sure, whatever, Boy Wonderful," Wally laughs, careless and young as he is, and excitable as he tugs the other teenager into his lap with a low, hungry noise—roaming one of his hands to push up under Dick's jersey. Warm skin eagerly palms a scarred abdomen. "You're good at everything…"
Their breathing shudders quietly in different rhythms when they come down from euphoria.
Kory reaches out from his left side on the mattress, a gorgeously naked and unearthly being, and sweeps his dark, sweat-weighed bangs from his eyes.
"You do not see me when we are like this… do you?"
Her voice keeps a gentle timbre — her face reveals nothing. And that's what frightens Dick the most than her comprehending the truth — the lack of emotion.
Amber-colored fingertips press to his jaw as Dick murmurs a half-assed apology with a cringing mouth and dry eyes — unlike hers.
When they split up, five months from the present, she will never again seek comfort or love from a human man again.
The kiss is a simple one, at least, to start—neither of them were ever simple creatures to begin with—and Wally relocks their lips, sucking in a deep breath and stealing a little from Dick, and from his open, panting mouth. He grabs Dick's lower lip between his, wetly sucking with a thoroughly satisfied hum as Dick parts his legs to either side of Wally's chair, rocking against Wally's lap.
Wally smirks, going for his neck, "I'll be your 'noone' if you'll be my 'anyone'…" Wally's fingers trail up the corded muscles of Dick's thighs in obvious suggestion.
"You know your hookup lines barely work on me… let alone would they work on anyone els—Aaah!-" Dick moans above him suddenly, arching his head back when Wally's smooth, grazing lips pull back into a good-natured snarl and his teeth sink—taunting; sharply; -so- good—into Dick's skin. Wally's hands grip him closer until the swelling in Dick's jeans flattens to Wally's stomach.
The feeling is like understanding that everyone else on the planet walks around with a fat ribbon tied stiffly around their eyes… and they won't even recognize it.
Dick kicks up the autumn leaves in England, thickly coating the long terraced walk from the beeches and sweet chestnuts and cedars, and wonders momentarily if returning to the penthouse is worth getting those stares from Bruce and Alfred and Damian much longer. Like something is wrong with him. Like he's gone unhinged. He's not. It's just… they didn't remember him… his best friend.
He mumbles something offhandedly to someone in a plaid jacket when their shoulders collide on the walk — flaming red hair; a goofball expression — and Dick instinctively snatches the man's wrist.
Everything had lightened. And Dick had missed it somehow.
Dick's lips barely part.
Wally gives him an unconvinced snort, windswept and not rosy-cheeked like him, and not yanking out of Dick's now shaking hand. "Who would even think of trying something like that with me?"
Dick bites the inside of his cheek (—don't tell him it crossed your mind, his subconscious urges him, don't tell him that). "Then… someone tapped open an alternative dimension…had to-"
"Guess again," Wally sounds so collected, so serene.
Dick's fingers grasp harder on Wally's wrist, as if needing that physical sensation, as if there is a creeping fear of letting go meaning much more than that.
"But you didn't exist," he insists, and Dick's voice is breaking, "You can't—aren't—it's not possible—"
"Then how was it possible that you were the only one who remembered me?" Wally points out, still sounding so so calm about everything, and slides a hand over Dick's shoulders. "You know me, I love using logic to explain everything but…" Wally's eyes gleam, like Dick's eyes are gleaming, and Wally wipes his face with a plaid sleeve, grinning big. "Honestly, I'm just glad to be here." He makes a comically surprised expression when Dick's arms throw themselves around him, and the rest of Dick joins to cling to Wally's midsection. The force of the hug sends the pair of men toppling and groaning onto the cushion of brown-and-red lawn, and then laughing relieved into the chilly afternoon until their bellies ache with mild pains.
Dick's comm.-link embedded in his ear signals him. "Will we be requiring another seat for Master West for this evening's dinner, Master Dick?"
I do not own the poem or any literature figures or anything DC comics.
[Edit: I am fully aware of what characters do or not not exist according to what DC has released anyway. So please, if you have a critique on DC...don't leave it here. If you have a critique on the story, DO leave it here and be as accurate as possible. I don't mind opinions but PM instead. Much appreciated.]
Prompt from The DCnU Meme:
"Dick Grayson has to deal with the sudden disappearance of his lover best friend, Wally West. And the bad news is... no one else seems to know he existed.
(If you can find any way to make this end on a happy note, I would love you always.)"
¹ - Excerpt from e.e. cummings poem "anyone lived in a pretty how town"