I seriously think that Disordered should've just been therapy sessions and nothing else. I'm feebly trying to make that a reality by turning it into a fic. Also, like 20 people wanted me to do it, so here you go! This should be done by the end of the weekend.
Here we have Wally. Next is Kaldur.
Title comes from Jónsi song of the same name, which means "Padlock."
"Man, when he does not grieve, hardly exists."
— Antonio Porchia
Stage One: Denial.
A defense mechanism. The individual denies the reality of the situation and attempts to rationalize. Typically lasts only for a short time to prepare us for the onset of grief, but can linger for long periods of time in some cases. The individual will avoid discussing what has happened by changing the subject or denying allegations made toward how they feel.
"So," Black Canary muses, crossing her legs and interlacing her fingers pensively. "Wally."
The noisily eating boy opposite her tosses a piece of popcorn into his mouth and crunches happily into it. Black Canary would be laughing at his lackadaisical upside-down position on the chair if this wasn't supposed to be a moment for seriousness.
"That's my name; don't wear it out," Wally ripostes, winking at her. A somewhat exasperated smile twitches over her cheeks.
She blinks, glancing at the bowl he's holding with one arm. It is filled to the brim with absurdly large pieces of popcorn, far larger than anything of the normal variety; he doesn't seem to be fazed, however.
She indicates the bowl with her chin, cocking an eyebrow.
"That's, uh... Those are kind of big, for pieces of popcorn," she observes hesitantly. Wally scarfs down another one and grins.
"Green Cheeks whipped it up. It's enhanced popcorn." He pauses. "Not with Cobra Venom, of course, but pretty close."
Black Canary manages to crack a smile even in response to his uncharacteristically poor joke. She knows what he's doing – putting on jocularity, deflecting seriousness by playing the oblivious fool. It's a front, she knows. Wally West is hardly the carefree philanderer he attempts to be in the wake of disaster.
"It's good that M'gann is still cooking," she says helpfully, and Wally nods vigorously in agreement.
"Tell me about it! Then again, anything involving that babe is sure to be good, so I win all around." He gives her an indicative thumbs-up and continues shoveling popcorn into his mouth. Black Canary suspects he must have some sort of helpful mutation that allows his cheeks to hold so much food at once.
"Anything?" Black Canary asks softly, and she thinks she sees Wally's shoulders tense, but it isn't blatant, because his facial expression doesn't even flicker.
"Generally," he answers far too quickly. He pauses, and so does the eating, much to Black Canary's astonishment. "Look, I know why you dragged me in here. You want to make sure my brain's not all bonkers after the training thing. Five stages of grief, right? You're trying to see where I am. Okay. Shoot, hot stuff."
"You've got me pegged," Black Canary confesses with a light laugh (and it's a lie). "All right, then. Where do youthink you are?"
"I think I'm fine," he replies earnestly, inspecting a particularly deformed kernel with vague interest, wriggling his feet pensively.
"Really?" Black Canary exclaims quietly, her skepticism ill-concealed.
"That's good," Black Canary tells him, and she is lying straight through her teeth.
"Look," Wally states very frankly, flicking a dud off to the side. "The way I see it, none of what happened was real, so why freak out? I mean, sure, I was upset in there, but once I woke up and learned that it was all just – that I was just imagining the whole thing, it was fine. Why react to something that didn't really happen?"
"It did happen, Wally," Black Canary tells him gently. "What happened was real to you. It's real in some sense."
Black Canary frowns at the harshness of his response, the underlying claws of something equal to despair, and sighs.
"What happened in there," Wally starts to say, a bit too emphatically, "it was all just – it was an accident. It was all messed up. Everything that we all felt was practically implanted in us; it was all an extension of what M'gann was feeling. It just transferred over to us because we were sharing the same psycho-space, or whatever. M'gann's – reaction just accentuated our own."
"Do you blame her?" Black Canary inquires.
Wally shakes his head certainly.
"Totally not! It was totally understandable under the circumstances. Besides, I can't stay mad at that gorgeous—"
"Not her," Black Canary interrupts, treading lightly.
Wally's shoulders bunch up again, like unyielding rocks in a stream.
"Is Artemis a 'her?'" he jibes casually. "I hadn't noticed, but now that I think about it..."
Black Canary doesn't want to have to be the one asking the questions, dredging up the answers. But Wally, in all of his compulsory heedlessness, leaves her little choice.
She folds her hands and leans forward.
"I'm going to need you to at least tell me a little bit about your experience," she informs him with a feigned air of reluctance.
He sighs with a smile and raises one eyebrow at her.
"Only for you, babe," he says dramatically as if it's causing him great difficulty. "Only for you."
"You haven't talked about what it was like," she prods him. "Being on the mothership with Robin. How did you feel, knowing you were going to die?"
"I didn't know that because it wasn't real."
"This is a hypothetical question, then. Answer it."
The firmness in her voice isn't cruel; it's calm and imploring. Wally seems to catch on to the somberness of her demand and exhales, letting his previously active feet go limp and his head loll back until his hair tickles the floor.
He closes his eyes.
"I felt..." he whispers. "I felt okay. Like, well, not okay. But... I don't know. I guess I had accepted it, or whatever."
"You weren't scared?" Canary asks. "You weren't sad? Just—"
"Figured that it wasn't the time to change anything. Figured we started this together and we'd end it together, you know?" Wally crosses his legs and hooks them over the back of the chair. "Yeah, I know what you're gonna ask. It didn't hurt. It was like I – it was like I existed and then I didn't. It was too... it was so easy. It shouldn't have been easy."
Black Canary opens her mouth to say something else, but he continues talking.
"I didn't have any regrets, or... anything like that. That's just how I roll. I live in the moment, because moments are all that matter, I guess. Especially then. Especially when—"
He stops himself, catches himself, does something to physically keep himself from proceeding, and his eyes snap open again. The freckles spray up as he beams.
"Ah, but you don't wanna hear about that!" he exclaims, almost too loudly, and swings back up onto the chair, this time slung across it contentedly. "This stuff's too heavy for a day like this. What d'you say we go out and enjoy this nice weather?"
Black Canary sighs and shakes her head, leaning back into her chair again.
"All of your friends were dying in front of you," she reminds him, and she feels just a little bit terrible, bringing this up to him. "How did that feel?"
"Why do you keep asking me how things felt?" Wally demands very suddenly, and Black Canary catches his eye, trying not to be taken aback by the sudden frigid sobriety in them. His face is blank; his hair seems more alight, more adamant, than ever before. "I didn't feel anything. It was all a simulation and like Batman said, we knew that going in, so—"
He halts at the sound of his name and blinks pensively at her, scratching his cheek with one finger. After a moment's consideration, he responds.
"I don't know. It wasn't so bad. I mean, they're all heroes. That's what heroes all eventually have to do, sacrifice themselves. They're dedicated to – to humanity." He pauses. "Heroes die because they have to. Because they want to, to protect everyone. Sidekicks don't do that. So I guess it – I guess something changed. I guess I knew that we were... that we'd, I don't know, grown up? Ugh, this is stupid."
He seems to consider what has just erupted from within him, looking almost surprised, as if he's having a hard time believing that the words are his. Black Canary waits, vigilant and patient.
"When Artemis," he swallows, and the rest of the sentence goes down with it. "I – we should've been there. I could've run over there and moved her out of the way, or M'gann could've stopped the ship, but none of us did anything but watch. We all failed."
Black Canary's forehead tightens.
"What's even the point of all this," Wally murmurs, eyes distant, voice peculiarly tight, "if we can't protect each other?"
Black Canary feels a disturbing urge to reach over and hug the kid, something that should've happened to him and the rest of the Team the moment they had woken up, but his next sentence stops her.
"Everyone... sacrificed themselves," he repeats. "Everyone except Artemis."
Her name is spat out from his mouth as if it is a rock that somehow found its way in there. Black Canary's eyebrows go up.
"No," Wally finishes for her, eyes wandering to the waterfall behind her. "She didn't die for anyone. She just died. It was just – it was her mistake. She screwed up because she was stupid. If she'd stuck around, then maybe she could've been some help, but..."
Black Canary wants to dispute what he says, but doesn't. She folds her arms and taps one heel on the floor a couple of times in thought, but Wally doesn't seem to want to finish his sentence.
"M'gann didn't have that luxury, either," Black Canary reminds him. He doesn't even blink.
"But she stuck with us," he mutters, glancing aside bitterly. "She was there. Artemis wasn't there because she screwed up." Under his breath, he repeats, "She wasn't there."
"You're angry at her," Black Canary states.
"No," Wally spits back, and his fist is pressed against his chin as he looks away.
"You are," Black Canary reiterates sternly, and Wally balks, eyes closed and teeth gritted, as if she has burned him. "You're angry at her because she left you all behind. You're angry because she—"
"I'm not going to talk about Artemis," Wally interjects breezily, as if they're discussing the weather. He shifts back into his earlier position on the chair, upside-down. Black Canary's eyes narrow. Kid Flash is back, cheeky and flirtatious and escapist. "If I do, I might lose my appetite. Can I leave?"
"But BC," Wally insists charmingly. "I've already made this... tragically clear, as Aqualad would say. I'm one hundred percent fine. Beyond one hundred percent. As x approaches infinity, I am fine."
"So you want me to believe that after everything you went through, including your own death from fiery explosion, you're peachy?" Black Canary summarizes cynically, giving him an incredulous look.
"I'm uh, fairly certain I never used the word 'peachy,'" Wally observes between bites. "But I think you got the gist."
"So," Black Canary presses him, caution long since carried off by the winds, bush beaten well around, "you really have no interest in confronting your extreme reaction to Artemis's death?"
Wally chokes violently on his popcorn, spasming up and practically falling out of the chair. He rights himself haphazardly, coughing until the obtrusive kernel has freed up his lungs once again, and he gives her this – she isn't quite sure how to describe it. This look.
It is almost resigned in nature – not quite bitter, not entirely melancholic... perhaps regretful, or yielding? She gets the sudden impression that Wally has aged by years, that he had realized something very recently that changed him, and though she knows precisely what causes him to look at her with such defeat, she says nothing.
The visage is gone, then, in an instant, and is replaced with a debauched grin.
"I'd rather talk about you, babe!" he declares suggestively.
"Wally," Black Canary says, and her voice suddenly sounds so sad. "You're in denial."
Without a moment's forethought, without the slightest amount of consideration, Wally reclines on the couch and replies with all the cheerfulness of a comedian, "I'm comfortable with that."