A/N: Inspired by "How To Save a Life" by The Fray. This friendship is one I love looking into the darker side of… There are some things best friends choose to be blind to. Like selective hearing.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. Wally's POV.
How to Save a Life
I always wished he could see through it. Through the glassy smile and the faked laughs and all other forced motions of my day. As my best friend, wasn't it his job to try and help me? He was supposed to watch my back, see through the facade, pick me up when no one else would.
And Robin failed.
I always knew he had bigger fish to fry, me not being one of them. He had Gotham to tend to, a big Bat to impress, and a whole world to prove wrong. He wasn't human. He wasn't weak. He was something special, something immortal, a bird without limitations. He was bigger than life itself. I was never a top priority on his to-do list. Because I could take care of myself.
I did try to go to him, more than once. He still didn't see it, and I was too afraid to speak up after trying the first few times. Getting up my courage to show weakness was one thing, getting rejected was another.
"Wally, I can't talk right now." He pulled a glove onto his hand and curled his fingers to his palm, stretching out the fabric for a comfortable fit. "Bruce is out and I'm flying solo. I can't screw up tonight." Gloves on tight, he pressed the black and white domino mask to his face, letting it mold to his pale skin.
"Dick, I just need a minute." The bruises on my wrist would be enough to show him I needed serious help, that Uncle Barry wasn't cutting it. Being away from the problem wasn't enough. A Bat would fix it. Dick was my key to getting Bruce's help, to making the bruises fade to memories and turning scars to meaningless marks on flesh.
"I can't." He was already tapping into the computer, numbers flitting across the screen, colors flashing, systems getting hacked; he never once looked to me. "This is my chance to show Bruce that I can do stuff on my own, that I'm not a kid anymore."
From one side of the Batcave came a hissing sound, loud and fierce as the ground rose, pushing the R-Cycle into view and out of hiding. That was what Robin's eyes fell on, not me. I was a voice in the wind, nothing more. He had his moment to shine, and that was all he cared about at that second. "I'll be back around two if you wanna come back then."
I nodded, but I knew I wouldn't come back. I'd have fresh bruises and maybe even a welt or two. It was proof, but by then, I'd be weak and tired from trying to run, from trying to take the beating. What kind of hero was I if I couldn't tolerate the pain?
He was blind. Not just behind the sunglasses or in the dark, but to the world around him. Some part of him must have been aware of emotions and mentalities, but he seemed less focused on me when it came to that, like looking my way for those sorts of things was irrelevant to his life.
Artemis told me once that he told her how to study after she'd done a panicked cram session in the cave's kitchen. He'd been precise with instructions and seemed to know how to handle the whole thing perfectly.
Kaldur took girl advice from the kid, who had, ironically, never had a girlfriend. "There are other fish in the sea," that was what Robin had said with a cheeky smirk at his witty pun.
The Boy of Steel even got hugs for his daddy-issues. Robin was the first to try and mend the breach, far too wide to fully repair but good enough for a solid attempt.
But he never looked to me.
And maybe once, I was a little moody, snappier than usual, my face darker, my eyes angry. Maybe he did notice because, as we sat on the couch, me aimlessly flipping through channels, hand clutching the remote too tight, him tap tap tapping away on that little laptop, researching his foreign languages, he did look over at me, and through the sunglasses, I could read a glaze of worry over his cobalt eyes. His small but strong voice did ask, "Are you okay?"
The night before, I'd taken a hard hit to the back of my neck and the headache that resulted had lingered all night, throbbing and pulsing pain through my skull. Two hours of sleep was not enough. I was tired, frustrated, feeling sick to my stomach with the whole thing. "Fine." The one syllable was spat like toxic venom.
And he didn't seem offended or even affected. He gave me a closer look with slightly narrowed eyes behind the black shades, and then slipped back into his work like nothing had happened.
With me, nothing was ever wrong. Was that what he saw? Someone strong enough to take care of himself? Because I was never capable of that.
Because when Barry's not there and Iris is working late, he's just down the street, lurking in his idling car, smoking or drinking, whichever sounds best, and waiting for all the lights to go out except for the one that's my room, the signal that he can come in and give me a whipping for not being good enough for him. I was never good enough.
"Dude, party at my place. You, me, all the video games we could ask for. And popcorn." I thought the offer was tempting enough for a boy who had no siblings, a scarce number of friends, and who lived with an elderly butler and a killjoy Bat. "Zeta over in five, 'kay?"
He took a few long breaths, sounding like he'd just been running a few miles, not a problem for me but hard on him. "Can't," he finally managed to sputter into the phone. "Working like a dog just to get a few minutes of training in. Bruce made me study all night, can you believe it? For English, of all things." He snorted his obvious disdain. "I know it's not my first language, but come on, I did come up with some pretty awesome words. Aster? Traught? Yeah, I deserve some credit for that."
"And you can't even hang out for a few hours?" I was practically begging. I needed someone there, another body, someone to see what he was doing to me. I needed proof, another set of eyes to see what was going on behind the closed door.
Another snort of disgust and then his voice lowered, slightly bitter. He never even asked Bruce. "He won't let me patrol because of this stupid test, what makes you think he'll let me rot my brains at Barry's?"
I hung up and prayed the man down the street in the idling car wouldn't come.
We lived as heroes, day in and day out, and yet he couldn't see past the lies I lived, the way I wore the shirts that hid my flesh, that he stopped asking questions after I went into denial the first time; he wouldn't dig any deeper than the shallow grave that was necessary to hide a body.
"What's that?" This time, he even picked away at my collar, pulling it down so his curious eyes could see the well-defined red blotch that ran in a perfectly rectangular line from my neck to my collarbone. The markings of the weapon were indistinguishable unless you were a victim. A belt had torn into my skin, leaving behind an angry crimson welt rather than the blood.
"Nothing." I almost slapped him away. It took all of my self-control not to swipe at him. Instead, I shrugged, and his fingers peeled away.
"Where'd you get it, dude? It doesn't look good." A grimace actually touched his naturally calm features.
"Fight with Trickster last night, nothing big or flashy like you and Bats taking down Bane." I tried so hard to keep the green-eyed monster under wraps, but it escaped, my voice tinged with traces of jealousy.
And for once, it looked like he might press into details. "I looked over the report this morning, and Barry wrote that you were never there. Besides, he teamed up with Hal for that job, leaving you at home with Iris last night, not in a fight." His black brows knit together in confusion, puzzled as to why I would lie.
"Then maybe it was the night before, I don't know." There was only so much I could take, the fear of my father, the fear of someone finding out I was weak, the fear that no one would help me. And at some point, it had been spun into a deeply engraved denial. Reject everything. It was a fight. Kid Flash got hurt, not the kid behind the mask. It was hatred from the enemy, not hatred from the family. "It's fine." I forced my tone to be like steel. "I'm fine." And then I realized I'd emphasized the wrong word.
Yet he didn't notice. And he stepped down, an omega submitting to the alpha. "You should probably get some ice on that, take the swelling down." He got up to get some frozen meat, but he did not ask any more questions.
I wasn't sure whether to be terrified or relieved.
And now, I stand in the shadows as he and Batman are the second responders to Barry coming across my body where it lays crumpled on the living room floor, a bloody mess only recognizable by the red hair. My face wears a black eye and a bloody nose. My neck has the same marks from the same belt, but they run all the way around this time. My knee is bent, busted from when I hit it on the coffee table in my fall. All I know is that I'm dead, and I'm not sure where to go from here, Heaven or Hell. So I watch for a little while longer as the blood stains the carpet under me.
Batman's already apprehended my father, given him a good beating for what he did, for killing his own son. The Dark Knight doesn't hesitate with revenge.
Barry hides outside, trying to figure out how to tell Iris. He's in civvies, back from a long night of work. He should've been home.
And then there's Robin.
He finally understands the bruises and welts. He finally understands the mood swings and tired eyes. He finally understands the dark secret I managed to harbor and hide under clothes and fake smiles. And he knows he should've been there. He knows he should've stopped it before it happened.
He's holding onto my body, whispering apologies to empty ears.
A/N: Darker perspective of them right there, but it's something I see completely plausible in the friendship. Just not in the actual show :\