A Young Justice AU
written by Satellites on Parade
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
and never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot,
for auld lang syne?
For auld lang syne, my dear;
for auld lang syne.
We'll take a cup of kindness yet,
for auld lang syne.
— Auld Lang Syne, Robert Burns
Happy Harbor, Rhode Island
January 1st, 1941 – 12:01 AM EST
Wallace Rudolph West had a good feeling about 1941.
Evidently, everyone else shared this feeling with him, if the boisterous display of euphoria throughout the warmly lit restaurant was any indication. The air was thick with cigarette smoke and the effervescent smell of champagne, and even though he was only fifteen, Wally felt years ahead of himself, sprinting along beside the future in a race to the horizon. The sounds of the countdown that ended moments ago still buzzed in his ears, causing goosebumps to run up and down his arms.
He glanced up at his Uncle Barry Allen, who was grinning at the bartender as he accepted a glass of champagne, raising it in a toast to no one in particular. Wally presumed that he's just a tiny bit tipsy, like everyone else is – except, of course, for Wally himself and the two friends he had managed to drag along. After sharing a wide smile with his uncle, he craned his neck around to attempt to find said friends.
After a moment, he spotted them, loitering over by the pool table. With all the agility of a cat, he forged his way toward them, reaching them in moments even through the elbow-to-elbow layers of the throng.
"Pretty swell party, huh, fellas?" Wally said with a grin as he walked to stand next to the youngest of the three of them, a sly-looking boy with dark hair and peculiar sunglasses. "You enjoying it, Rob?"
"I'd say so," Robin said, cocking an eyebrow and surveying the crowd with apathy. "I'm on my fifth Roy Rogers." As if to prove this statement, he picked his glass up off the surface of the pool table and took several gulps through the straw.
"You say that like it's a bad thing." Wally snickered and turned his head to the other boy, the eldest, a tall, pensive African-American with disconcertingly blond hair whose milky eyes gazed wistfully toward the exit. "Okay there, Kal?"
"Yes," he answered calmly. "These customs, however, they… perplex me."
"Maybe they should plex you," Robin muttered, still slurping his soda. "Jeez, I wish Babs was here."
Ignoring his friend's latter comment, Wally focused his attention on Kaldur and folded his arms.
"What's so confusing?" He paused briefly at the end of his sentence before quickly appending, "I mean… you don't have to answer or anything; I just figured since we haven't known you very long, we could… get to know each other, and…"
"It is all right. In Atlantis," Kaldur explained in a conspiratorial tone, leaning toward Wally so as to avoid speaking at normal volume, "the start of a New Year is not until the spring begins, and even then it is a time to revere the power of the King and the Sea, and to thank them for another successful cycle beneath the Surface."
"Sounds dull as dirt," Robin grunted frankly, downing the remainder of the Roy Rogers in one swing. "Glad I don't have to live in a place like that."
"You say that every time, Rob," Wally hissed.
"It is far superior to this place," Kaldur whispered, brow tightening almost imperceptibly. "There, I am treated with respect, with dignity, and am not jeered at in the streets like a dog—"
"You think Speedy's going to show up anytime soon?" Robin interjected hurriedly as if the topic of conversation was slightly too unpleasant for his tastes, and Wally shot a piteous glance Kaldur's way.
"Can't say for sure." Wally shrugged, eyes flicking through the now-dancing crowd in search of their absent companion. "He's probably busy with Green Arrow."
The other two boys nodded contemplatively at this, and the conversation dwindled into amicable silence as the trio regarded the escalating party with indifference (and a bit of longing).
"I've got a good feeling about this year," Wally stated after a few minutes, staring out at the restaurant with uncanny eyes. Robin and Kaldur tilted their heads at him. "I do."
"Any particular reason?" Robin prodded, rubbing at a small shrimp cocktail stain on his blazer with disdain.
"I just do," Wally said frankly, raising his arms to lace his hands behind his head, causing his favourite burgundy wool-and-gabardine jacket to stick out at his waist. "I feel like we're gonna do something big this year, boys. Something big."
"Sounds like a swell party," Robin jibed sarcastically. "Sweller than this one, anyway." He turned toward Kaldur. "Where'd Aquaman go?"
"I presume he ventured outside," Kaldur answered with a distant nuance in his voice. "The atmosphere here is stifling, especially for Atlanteans like ourselves."
"You want to get some air?" Wally offered, but Kaldur shook his head.
"I will be all right. Perhaps you should focus on your uncle at the moment…"
Wally blinked and followed Kaldur's pointed nod toward the bar, at which Uncle Barry was now sprawled out with a goofy grin on his face while the bartender patted his head jovially.
"I think it's about time for me to go," he said with a tortured sigh. Kaldur's eyes twinkled with a possible smile.
"Do not feel guilty for leaving me. I will see you again soon enough."
Robin tapped Wally's shoulder.
"I can still come by until Bats picks me up, right?"
At the prospect of this, Robin's normally drawn face visibly brightened, and he trotted beaming alongside Wally as they approached the bar.
"Happy New Year, Uncle Barry," Wally said with a mischievous grin as he clapped his uncle on the shoulder. Barry grunted in response, his forehead on the surface of the bar, and Robin watched him skeptically.
"How's he supposed to drive all the way back to your place if he's drunker than Veronica Lake?"
"Veronica Lake isn't a drunk," Wally choked out, appalled. Robin smirked.
"Well, on the subject of driving, Uncle Barry could always pass the buck to me," Wally suggested with a far too excited expression, and Robin shook his head firmly. Wally sighed, obviously disappointed. "Super-metabolism should be kicking in any sec."
"Kicking!" Barry shouted, sitting bolt upright at the word and looking wildly (and a bit hazily) from Wally to Robin with dazed eyes. "I need to drrrrive home."
"Right you are, Uncle Barry," Wally exclaimed with a dramatic Winston Churchill impersonation that made Robin stumble back cackling. "You've got ten seconds."
"I kin make it now," Barry protested, getting to his feet and swaying for a moment but not toppling. "Booze ain't got nothin' on me, Wall-man."
"I don't think I buy it." Wally stroked his chin suspiciously and Robin snorted.
"If the man insists," the pale boy urged, and within moments, Barry was sober enough to walk in a straight line to the Lincoln in front of the restaurant, gleaming beneath the snow.
"Hop in, boys," he said with a grin. "And be quick about it! New Year's Day don't last forever!"
"Why in the hell did they put 'for' before 'ever?' What kind of emphasis is that supposed to have? I mean, I can see how it could be two words, like for ever, but making it one word is just dumb, and…"
Wally fell asleep in the back seat to the sound of Robin's excitable chattering.
1941, he was absolutely certain as he dreamt, was going to be a good year. It was a year filled with possibilities that gathered hungry and tingling in the belly of his brain, and he could not help but want to catch it in his hands and run miles with it.