Rae: I lay the blame for this solely, squarely and CRUSHINGLY on my beta's head, when she showed me the music video for Train's song 'Marry Me'. She said she could totally see Wally as the waitress and Bruce as the mysterious guy.

...Go watch it right now, and you'll see what I mean. And she wonders why I'm not getting NR done...

I claim no rights over Wally or Bruce, or the song, or Train.


Now that the weight has lifted,
Love has surely shifted my way.

Marry me
Today and every day
Marry me
If I ever get the nerve to say hello in this café.

Say you will
Say you will

-Train, Marry me


Wally sighed as he checked the order list one last time to make sure he had everything down right, fingering the last of the notepapers on the wall absent-mindedly. Working seven hour shifts every day in a small diner for a wage of only six dollars something an hour was not his idea of an ideal life, and he wanted change. Longed for it, searched for it, ached for it. He just wanted something to tear him away from the monotony and stability his life had fallen into, take him away on the adventure of a lifetime. And he certainly wasn't going to find anything like that by simply staying still.

But then, he mused as he picked up a coffee mug from a now-vacant table and wiped the tabletop briefly with a cloth, where else could he go? It wasn't like he could afford to go anywhere, and all his savings went into just rent and food. No car, no money and no time.

He was going nowhere.

Distracted as he was by his thoughts, he swore as he slipped and tripped over his feet and dropped the mug. It smashed on the floor, puddling it in a third-full cup of joe and about four or five large pieces of ceramic. Wally himself managed to stay on his feet, but stared forlornly down at the broken crockery for several seconds before letting loose a slight whimper and disappearing into the back to find another cloth to clean the mess up with after advising a couple who were getting up to watch where they were treading.

When he came back he knelt next to the puddle and began mopping up, picking the broken pieces out of the way as he needed. His messy red hair fell into his face several times, but with nothing to hold it back he kept pushing it into the rest of his hair and hoping it would stay there.

Once he'd got the ceramic pieces all in a pile and he just had to wipe up the rest of the coffee he get the feeling that someone was watching him. Wally glanced up at the customers seated nearby; a couple discussing their work on the table next to him, a businesswoman clearly on break with a colleague behind them and a couple of friends chatting it up on the bar stools. But it was the dark-haired man in a fedora that didn't quite fit with his rogueish attire sitting in one of the booths by himself drinking a cup of strong black coffee and holding a newspaper in his left hand that made him double take. Their eyes met, and Wally found himself getting lost in the deepest sea of blue he'd ever seen.

Dark, mysterious, brazen, bold, but holding something back. He liked them, he found, and couldn't tear his own gaze away. Once the man realized he had Wally's attention he smiled.

It was small, barely there, but it was real. And spoke volumes. It held a whisper of pain, a promise of an adventure, a hint of pride and arrogance, an untold tale of loss and a twitch of sympathy. It probably wasn't something he did very often, Wally noted, the lack of laugh-lines around the eyes and lips giving him a more severe mein. The red-head guessed the man to be a fair bit older than he was - fifteen years, perhaps, but that didn't stop the skip in Wally's heartbeat when that smile appeared, or the unnatural stillness those captivating eyes had thrown him into.

Wally's trance was broken at the sound of the cook ringing the small desk-bell on the orders shelf to signal it was ready to take out. He shook his head briefly, watched the dark-haired man's smile turn wry before he went back to his newspaper, and stood up with an inexplicably heavier heart, taking the crockery and cloth with him. Everything that man held in his smile was just what Wally was looking for, his ticket out. But since when did he ever have that kind of luck?

Once Wally had rid himself of the mess the young man scooped up the two plates of pancakes and scrambled eggs from the shelf, threw a "thanks!" to the cook, and made his way over to the business colleagues with a bright smile and a cheerful query as to whether that was everything or would they like anything else. The woman shook her head, thanking him, and the man simply didn't answer. Instead he began tucking into his breakfast, and the woman gave him an exasperatedly fond look before telling Wally no, he had everything he needed too. Wally grinned lightly, shifting from his patrons to look back at the man who had captivated him so earlier.

Except his seat was empty.

Wally blinked a couple times at the half-full coffee mug sat patiently on the table, next to a neatly folded newspaper, trying to recall if the man had passed him on the way out. It wasn't that big of a trip to the counter and back. He had simply... vanished.

That little bit of hope Wally had started to feel in his chest died very quickly, and he pulled his bottom lip between his teeth to nibble on as he fought back tears. Of course he should have known. The man was just a stranger passing through who had deigned to actually pay him a bit of attention, but that's all. It wasn't like he was going to be whisked away with the man to unknown places, go exploring and enjoy life. As far as the world was concerned, that wasn't his purpose; Wally West was fine where he was.

Maybe the world was okay with this, but Wally certainly wasn't. He pushed back his emotions, forcing them out of his consciousness as he collected one of the coffee serving pots sat warming happily in its filterer and started the rounds of refilling low or cooling mugs of coffee. Or tea, in the case of the woman sat at the bar.

The door jangled and announced the arrival of another, more elderly couple. They took a booth and Wally slipped his notepad out of his apron as he approached them with perky smiles and the usual questions about what they wanted to order.

As he took the cheque to the cook and deposited the menus for cleaning and replacing, he couldn't help but sense a theme in the diner, however unintentional it was. A tug of lonliness shot through him and threatened to overwhelm him, and he stood still for a moment to regain himself and his control.

Wally pulled his apron off as the sudden thought of 'I need some air' entered his head, and left it on the counter behind the till while he fled outside the doors for a moment, a brief, impromptu feeling of claustrophobia gripping him too. He thumped a wrist against the wall outside in frustration.

Why?

Why him? Why was he stuck here to live life by the day, as mundane and predictable as the previous with barely enough to live on and nobody to share himself with while everyone else was out having fun with their families or significant others. They could go places, see things, do things and live. And that was all Wally wanted. He looked around for any sign of the lone man who had been in earlier, praying that maybe he was coming back after all, but he was nowhere to be seen. All he saw was the hustle and bustle of a town getting on with their daily lives, unaware and uncaring of his struggles or desires.

More tears attempted freedom and his knees felt weak, but stubbornness was enough to keep both from doing what they were trying to bully the red-head into doing. He wasn't going to give up, there just had to be a way out of this.

-x-

-x-

It was only once all the patrons were seen to and had left that Wally granted himself a cup of coffee with five sugars and a small packet of creamer and a sit down. He chose the seat opposite where the strange man had been, where the coffee still sat waiting and the newspaper looked ready to be picked up again at any moment. The red-head sighed deeply, exhaling sadly that the one person he'd finally felt a connection to had disappeared without a trace, and it wasn't likely he'd be seen again.

Wally slouched in his seat, wrapping both hands and long fingers around his mug and sipping the dark, bitter beverage with some vague satisfaction. At least here was safe, Wally thought. At least here he knew where he was and how he stood.

It wasn't until a couple moments later that Wally noticed an off-color spot over the top of the table, and wondered if perhaps he'd spilt something there or it had stained. As he sat up and leaned over to get a better look he realized that it wasn't any of those things. It was a hat, of which he could only see the top little corner of it over the table from his position. The same hat the guy from earlier had been wearing.

Strange, Wally hadn't noticed it on the seat before.

The red-head set his drink down and stood up, circling slowly to the other bench and picking the hat up carefully. Yep, it was real. Good quality too, from the feel of it. He ran his fingers along the hem slowly, savoring the texture and contemplating trying it on, not hearing the door jingle open as someone came inside.

He did, however, suddenly feel that same sensation of being watched he'd had earlier in the morning, and he slowly turned around with the hat clutched carefully in both hands.

There, standing in front of the door and with that same prideful adventurous, yet somehow sad, smile tugging at his lips was the man from this morning. Wally sucked in a breath sharply, feeling himself flushing even as he returned the smile tentatively.

That just made the man's smile slightly bigger, and Wally took the opportunity to step steadily closer to the dark-haired man until they were barely two feet apart. Definitely older, was Wally's first thought. But in a good way. It wasn't just his clothes that were rogueish. He lifted the fedora gradually until it rested in the man's hand, but neither made a move to let go of or take it.

Prussian orbs narrowed slightly in question, situation recognition and the drive to do something about it now overshadowing anything else. Wally never said a word in reply, but his own emerald eyes must have been desperately screaming his thoughts and hopes and dreams for the world to see because he was suddenly enveloped in a pair of strong, comforting arms. His hands gripped the back of the man's jacket as he accepted and clung to this pillar who had appeared out of nowhere. Save me, he wailed in his head. Save me, take me away from here, never let me go.

Never, Wally swore he heard whispered back, and he clung to the man even tighter. Never.


Rae: This is an AU, by the way; Wally has no powers, he's just plain ordinary Wallace West. And Bruce isn't a broody Bat, he's just a rather jaded man. And just as a random bit of info, I work off the idea of roughly a 14-year age gap between Bruce and Wally.

Not that that had anything to do with anything. Just saying. 8D

R and R? x