It had something to do with business – or maybe it was something influenced by friendship, Wally couldn't be sure. He hadn't really paid attention to the reasons why they were visiting the Bruce Wayne, the ginger had a hard enough time believing his mild-mannered uncle was good friends with a famous billionaire. It seemed too farfetched, like something out of a cliche movie. Regardless, when Barry had asked his young nephew if he wanted to come along, Wally had taken less than two seconds to think of his answer and respond.
However, after spending some time in the manor with the aforementioned billionaire, it became clear that some events of this visit were off limits to him. He was strictly a tag-along. He was not allowed to participate in the latter half of Uncle Barry's business excursion. In fact, his involvement in the meeting had been quite minimal. Barry had introduced his nephew to the billionaire, who talked with him kindly for a while, asking questions and making conversation.
What grade are you in?
So that makes you how old?
Do you visit with your uncle often?
I heard you do well in school, is that true?
They were all simple, small-talk questions that were meant to make him feel important. While he certainly didn't mind the attention, the youngster felt a twinge of unease around the man – like he was being interrogated. The billionaire looked at him in a way that made him feel nervous, like Wally was supposed to do something, though he didn't know what. When Bruce Wayne was satisfied with the amount of answers he'd gotten from the young ginger, he stood straight and suggested that he and Barry head into his study.
The imposing man told the child to make himself at home while the two adults excused themselves to discuss something a little less "appropriate for young ears."
So while Uncle Barry and the billionaire stole off to trade secrets, Wally was left sitting on the gargantuan couch, feeling smaller than usual and under the observant stare of the family butler. Wally met the elder's stare with a curious one of his own.
He felt significantly less nervous when the old man – Alfred – gave him a small, friendly smile.
"Would you like something to eat, Master Wallace? A snack, perhaps?"
With his voice stuck inexplicably in his throat, the boy could only nod. The butler gave a little bow and vanished down the hallway, leaving Wally sitting alone in silence.
"Wally, Bruce is kind of...well, he's a very professional person. It's probably in your best interest to stay out of trouble while we're in the Wayne Manor, okay?"
Honestly, Wally really did intend to stay out of trouble – he didn't want to upset Mr. Wayne or his uncle. Then again, he didn't expect he would be sitting alone for an extended period of time in a giant house that was just begging to be explored. His notoriously short attention span had him restless and fidgety within minutes. Barry should have known. Alfred could have sprinted to the kitchen and back, it still wouldn't have been fast enough to keep Wally from pushing off the couch and venturing further into the manor.
It wasn't long before the boy came upon a grand staircase that lead up to a second floor and more places to discover. Wally tilted his head back to stare up at the balcony, startled to find a pair of eyes staring down at him from between the banisters above. The eyes were bright blue and situated on a face that looked younger than his own – a face which was capped with neatly combed black hair.
Wally stared at the stranger for a long, silent minute. Neither boy looked away or breathed a word during that time, they simply remained rooted in their respective positions, sizing one another up, not quite sure what to think or how to proceed. It was the elder boy who lost his patience first, uncomfortable in the tense silence. He took a small step back in hopes to get a better view of the kid and spoke to him slowly and clearly, being unusually cautious.
The boy suddenly pulled away from the banister and vanished, leaving only the light taps of his footsteps as evidence that he was ever there.
Wally raced up the stairs, only managing to catch a glimpse of the child as he vanished around a corner. Without any thought as to what he was going to do or why he was doing it, Wally sprinted after him.
He quickly discovered that the kid was fast and agile - but then again, so was Wally. He prided himself in being the fastest kid in his class, partially thanks to the many hours he spent running about in the yard imagining he was The Flash.
Wally steadily gained on the dark-haired stranger as the pair of boys ran rampant through the halls of the second floor. At some point in their chase – probably the point where Wally realized he was close enough to tackle the kid to the floor – the ginger boy found he was enjoying himself. Their encounter had become a game.
For a while, no matter how close Wally got to the stranger, he never made much of an effort to reach out and catch his target. What was more: it seemed the dark-haired boy had also started considering their chase to be more whimsical than serious. He had started laughing as he ran, taking corners as quickly as he could without running into walls and ducking into various rooms in a half-hearted effort to confuse his pursuer.
In one of these rooms, the pair had paused their game with a large desk between them. The younger boy stood on one side, breathing a little heavier than his elder impromptu playmate and wearing a mischievous smile.
"Where're you gonna go?" teased Wally, shifting his weight from one foot to the other as he waited for the boy to pick a direction to run, confident he'd corner the kid.
Instead of choosing a side, the dark-haired boy sprang atop the desk with a laugh and launched himself over his ginger pursuer, giggling as he gracefully flipped in the air. He stuck the landing perfectly, turned just enough to stick out his tongue in Wally's general direction, then raced out of the room. It took the ginger a second or so to get over his amazement, then he shot off after the kid.
After being thoroughly wowed by the child's acrobatic prowess, Wally was determined to better the boy in his own way. He couldn't exactly flip himself over people's heads with such confidence, but he did take pride in his natural build as a runner. He would will himself a little faster at times in order to pass the boy and stop him from taking a certain turn. In other rooms where the blue-eyed boy could put an object like a bed or a desk between them, they both noticed that the younger of the two took the time to catch his breath. He would huff, his face flushed, while Wally simply stared with a smug look that said 'I can do this for hours.'
Though perhaps 'hours' was a bit ambitious, as Wally did eventually begin to tire. At that point, the younger kid looked exhausted and was red in the face, but too stubborn to simply admit defeat. So Wally decided to put an end to their game. With a winning grin, he pushed himself faster – like the final stretch of the junior track-and-field 200 metre dash – and tackled the younger boy to the ground from behind.
The pair collapsed to the floor in a heap of tangled limbs. In the midst their tumble, the younger boy somehow seized their momentum – he grabbed Wally's collar, forced them to roll a few feet together before he perched himself atop his senior. He was panting, sweaty and quivering with fatigue, but he had gained his own small victory: the ginger was pinned beneath him, looking bewildered and unsure how exactly he'd ended up underneath the smaller boy.
For a while, the two stared at one another, though this time, their expressions appeared equally flushed and wore matching grins. Again, it was Wally who broke the silence.
"Hi!" he chirped.
"Hi," returned the boy quietly, his smile becoming shy.
"My name's Wally, who're you?"
"Richard, but everyone calls me Dick."
There was a pause between them, but it was not a silence that was heavy in weight or lasted very long.
"Hi, Dick," Wally beamed.
"Hi, Wally," Dick's smile grew to match his own once more.
"Are you boys quite finished?"
The pair flinched at the sudden voice, but remained as they were – one sitting atop the other. Richard looked up to see the butler standing just a few paces down the hall, a silver tray in his hands. Wally had to tilt his head back to see the same image flipped upside down and giggled. The two exchanged a look, then went back to staring at the butler.
"Would you like your snacks, now?"
Wally shoved the boy off him and tried to scramble to his feet. Dick was far more graceful, and he rolled smoothly up from the floor like a trained acrobat. Both children brushed themselves off sheepishly, stood side by side and grinned their matching grins up at the elder.
At the insistence of the younger boy, the pair ate their cheese sandwiches in Dick's room, sitting cross legged and facing one another on his bed, the silver tray in between the two of them and balancing not only their plates but their glasses as well, which were filled with cold milk. Alfred – the butler – had expressed his distaste at the children eating on the bed, but didn't seem to have the heart to say no to those big blue eyes. He'd left the two to their meal, if only to avoid watching the mess they would undoubtedly make of Master Richard's bedspread.
"So you live here with Mr. Wayne?"
Richard nodded, his mouth full.
"That's so cool! But doesn't it get lonely in this big ol' mansion with just the three of you? Is he your dad?"
Dick said nothing for an uncomfortably long period of time, looking at the ginger with a slightly saddened expression. Slowly, his eyes fell downwards and his shoulders slouched as if suddenly put under an enormous weight. Wally stared, unsure what to say.
"He's not...not my dad...no," mumbled the boy, swallowing with difficulty. "My...my dad..." Dick trailed off, holding a sandwich diamond loosely in his hands. His young face twisted into an expression of sorrow. He looked like he was about to cry.
Suddenly more empathetic than he was used to, Wally shook his head, leaned across the tray and put a hand on the younger boy's shoulder.
"Hey. Don't worry about it. Whatever it is, you don't gotta talk about it, okay?" The ginger offered Dick a reassuring smile, whose blue eyes could only linger on his new friend's face for a moment before they fell back to the bedspread below. Wally took in a breath and leaned back, deciding to take the pressure off his junior and onto himself, in the hopes that it would make him feel better. "My dad yells at me a lot. He thinks I make all sorts of mistakes on purpose, that I mess everything up just for attention. I don't, though; sometimes I'm just clumsy or get confused. Honestly, I really try to impress him, but it's almost impossible."
It was Wally's turn to give the sheets below a good, hard stare. In contrast to this, Dick had raised his eyes and was now studying the green-eyed boy with a curious expression.
"Mom's not as bad, but she doesn't say anything when he's yelling, you know? It's like she doesn't want to get involved, or like she's thinking the same thing deep down inside. I know I tend to goof up on the things I do now and again, but I never do it to try and make their lives harder, or embarrass them, or to get attention. I just wanna make 'em happy, y'know?" The ginger absently chewed on his sandwich, propping his elbow on his knee and resting his chin in the palm of his hand. "Aunt Iris understands – Uncle Barry, too. I think that's why they don't mind having me over so much. In the summer I spend more time with them than I do at home, and every other weekend or so, my uncle will come down to get me and we'll all go do something fun for the weekend, like go to a fair or the zoo or..."
Dick was leaning forward slightly, his entire attention on the older boy as he spoke, who seemed somewhat distant and lost in memories. His blue eyes were wide and filled with concern. He hadn't known the fire-headed kid for long, but what he did know of him made this sadness feel uncharacteristic.
"When I mess up or make a mistake with them, it's just that...A mistake, an accident. "Happens to the best of us," they tell me, which is nicer than what dad says." The boy lowered his voice and shook a finger at the silver tray between them. "What do you think you're doing? What made you think this was a good idea? Can't you think things through for once, Wallace! Stop being so immature! Grow up already! You're far too old for this nonsense!"
Dick couldn't help a lighthearted chuckle. The sound was pleasing and made the ginger smile, despite the solemn subject.
"I'm ten, y'know, and not a rocket scientist. Kids are allowed to make mistakes, right?"
The black haired boy nodded, still smiling.
"Exactly. I'm just a kid. I'm still learning how to...not be a kid, I guess. I'm still growing up. Aunt Iris tells me that all the time. Why can't mom and dad see what they do in me? Uncle Barry thinks I'm smart, he says I have talent, that one day I'm gonna grow up and do incredible things. Aunt Iris tells me I'm a free spirit and a good kid, that some day soon mom and dad will open their eyes and see "what a treasure they have, and how lucky they are." But I don't wanna wait for that...I want that now. I want them to...I dunno, approve of me? Compliment me? Tell me they're happy with who I am for a change? Is that asking too much?"
"No," said Dick, and Wally merely grunted in response, finishing off the rest of his sandwich with a long sigh.
"I'm sorry, Dick, I didn't mean to complain so much...it's just..." there was a pause, during which Wally fixed the boy with a careful stare. He studied his young friend carefully for a few short seconds, then continued. "You're really easy to talk to. I like you."
"It's fine," said the boy, "I don't mind. You're the first friend I've had in a while."
Wally beamed at the use of the term 'friend.' He was eager to repeat it – to solidify it as something concrete and practically tangible between them.
"Good. Then we're friends from now on, okay?"
Dick nodded eagerly, raising his hand to meet Wally's in a powerful high five – their first high five as friends. It seemed like a big milestone.
Suddenly, caught up in this new, warm energy running between them, Dick rolled onto his knees and spoke with a renewed excitement.
"Hey, do you wanna see something cool?"
Wally didn't miss a beat.
"Do I ever!"
The two tumbled from the bed and Dick lead the way out into the hall. They kept pace with one another as they ran down the hallway to the staircase. Dick checked through the bars for anyone standing below, then descended the stairs by sliding down on the railing. Wally followed his actions exactly, teetering uncertainly at the top but managing to keep his balance all the way down.
Together they navigated through the halls, coming to a stop in front of a large grandfather clock. Dick stood before it, easily half the height of the antique that swung its pendulum slowly and evenly, temporarily mesmerizing the two boys as they watched. For a long time, Dick said nothing.
"What is this?" Wally prompted curiously.
"Bruce's clock," said Dick, "but listen!"
Both boys leaned in close to the clock as the younger gave a few solid knocks onto the wood. The sound reverberated inside the antique and faded. It was then that Wally realized he could still hear the knocking – distant and muffled, like an echo, behind the clock.
"There's something back there," Wally said, his voice suddenly hushed – feeling like this was some big secret he wasn't supposed to talk about out loud.
"I know, but I can't figure out how to get it open."
"Do you think there's some sort of secret switch?"
"Maybe. I've tried moving it, but it won't budge."
To demonstrate, Dick whipped around to the side of the clock and began to push against it with all his might. Without being asked, Wally went around to the opposite side and did the best he could to help, pulling from his side. Even with their combined efforts, the clock didn't budge – true to Dick's claims. It just kept swinging that pendulum, unaffected.
"Well, start looking for a switch or something! This is a big, crazy mansion, there's bound to be some cool secret passages," Wally exclaimed, already running his hands over the wood and looking for an imperfection.
"I thought you only find secret passageways in old castles...or in the movies..."
"Shh. This is practically a castle, don't spoil the fun!"
Dick pressed his lips together and helped his red-headed comrade examine the clock. They pulled open the door and peered inside, making an effort not to be whacked by the pendulum as they snooped around the clock.
"What do you boys think you're doing?"
The voice that made the pair simultaneously flinch was not Alfred's, but the lighter, confused tone of Barry Allen. The pair turned guiltily, shutting the face of the clock behind them and standing side by side. Dick stared unflinchingly at his shoes, while Wally mustered the most innocent expression he could manage and tried explaining.
"We were just seeing how the clock worked, is all..." It was then that Wally noticed Bruce Wayne standing just over the shoulder of his uncle, who peered at the two with an expression of stone. Barry followed his nephew's stare to meet the eyes of the billionaire. The two said nothing, nor did the move in any way that would signify communication, but Wally still felt as if the two were talking to one another.
"Well," Barry said at last, "we should be heading back, Wally. Iris will be expecting us for dinner soon."
Wally took a few steps towards his relative, only to jump when small hands suddenly latched onto his arm. He turned, confused, to look at Dick. The dark-haired boy still hadn't lifted his gaze from his shoes, but both his hands gripped tightly at his forearm. From what wally could see of the younger's expression, his lips were pursed and his brows arched upwards.
Don't you get lonely in this big ol' mansion?
You're the first friend I've had in a while...
Wally suddenly understood.
"Hey, Uncle Barry, Mr. Wayne?"
Both men were already staring at the young pair.
"Is it okay if I um...if I come visit Dick again soon? We're friends now," said Wally, matter-of-factly, "but we don't go to school together, and we gotta hang out some time..."
Again the two adults exchanged a look and the lighthearted smile of Barry made the young red-head feel a little more confident about his question. Then his green eyes fell upon Bruce. The large man was staring down at Wally with an unrelenting and unreadable expression. His sharp blue stare flicked from one child to the next, his expression never changing.
After what felt like an eternity, Bruce broke the silence.
"I don't see the harm in it."
Wally breathed a sigh of relief that seemed to purge his entire body of tension. He turned back towards Dick, who was smiling shyly, but looked pleased with the answer nevertheless. Wally lifted his free hand, and Richard met it with a high-five almost instantaneously.
With his arm released, the ginger was free to return to his Uncle's side, who thanked Bruce for his hospitality and began herding his nephew towards the door. Bruce followed to see them out, shadowed by the young Richard who had yet to stop smiling.
I said I'd be writing oneshots for this fandom for a while, and I lied. This is fo sho not a oneshot. I suppose if you're in denial and really eager to be that way, you could read this as a oneshot, just don't be upset if I happen to tack on more chapters.
So. For now, the story centers around Wally and Dick, but honestly, there's just as much Wally and Barry.
This fiasco will incorporate some things from the Flash comics, the YJ show/comic storyline and my over active imagination. I apologize in advance if any of these offends you.
Thank you for taking the time to read, I really appreciate it. If you could just click el review button down yonder, I would be even more grateful. I would love to hear your thoughts, whether it be crit or praise, ideas or suggestions. I read every one, and am likely to respond to some, too.
Regardless, you're all fantastic people.
Thank you for reading this far,