Robin rushed to his companion's side, hitting his knees and grabbing the elder boy's shoulders.
"KF! KF! Wake up!" The boy wonder gave the young speedster a few gentle shakes before setting him down and checking for a pulse. At the steady beating under his fingertips, he breathed a sigh of relief. Wally was only unconscious, likely as a result of being shocked senseless and running himself ragged on an empty stomach. There was a reason the boy kept snacks on him, after all, and he'd used up his last one when they were still sitting atop the roof together and that felt like it happened a lifetime ago.
It wouldn't be too hard to lift the ginger off the floor and carry him out – he was likely heavier than Robin, but that was not his concern. Robin could lift his own weight in his sleep if he felt the need, lifting a little more for a short period of time would be no trouble at all. What the dark-haired boy was worried about was the friend which he would be moving. What was wrong? What had happened? What was he supposed to do to help? Would moving him even be helpful? What if he was making a mistake by disturbing him?
"Alright, taking the chance," the boy's words were spoken to himself, due to the fact that the only person he was really eager to talk to was out cold.
Gradually, Dick pulled KF off the floor and up onto his back, drawing the speedster's arms around his neck and heading for the exit once he was sure Wally wouldn't slide off. The door out had been left open by a thug that had been joining the fight, and moonlight poured in from the opening – a beacon of light in the darkness.
The door slammed shut before Robin could get through it. He was forced to halt at the sight of a dreadfully familiar face blocking what had been his intended escape route.
The figure now standing in front of their exit was large, larger than what was normal – thanks to the substance being pumped into his body through a tube connected to the back of his neck. His face was covered by what looked to have once been a mask seen in wrestling and it did nothing to hide the wide, maniacal grin on the man's face.
"Hello there, tiny bird."
That voice was tinged with a Spanish accent.
Robin had only encountered him one time before, whereas Batman had requested he keep his distance until the drug-induced giant was taken care of.
"I don't suppose the Bat is here with you, eh?"
"As if I'd tell you."
The young boy felt incredibly dwarfed by the villain, and with his friend out cold on his back, Robin felt far more vulnerable than he was comfortable with. He slowly and carefully began to retreat backwards, his first goal being to put as much distance between himself and the second villain of the night.
"You don't have to," Bane noticed the child's slight steps backwards and advanced. "I will settle for tearing your wings off now, little Robin, to save me the trouble of doing it later."
Bane charged with an inhuman roar, the sound kicking Robin's heart into a frenzy. He turned to flee, barely twisting out of the way of the bullish charge. He did not stop to face his opponent – with Kid Flash as deadweight, there was no chance he'd be able to fight back properly – and instead continued to run, hoping to somehow work his way around Bane to get to the exit again.
It occurred to him that he might have a chance of fighting the man if he put Wally down, but with that maniac running around, Dick didn't want to chance putting his friend in harm's way.
Bane was giving chase, his hulking arms reaching to grab either of the children he pursued.
"Come here, puny bird," he cooed, far too sweetly for someone his size. "I will deliver your body in pieces to your master."
Robin was gradually herded into a corner by the charging lunatic, spinning to face Bane head-on as he advanced on the pair. The man's lips were stretched into a wide grin, wasting no time on words as he charged again. Dick braced himself for impact, sucking in a breath and praying to whatever god existed that at least some of his bones would remain unbroken when this was over.
There was a terrific smashing sound of flesh hitting stone, accompanied with a numb sensation that enveloped the boy's entire body.
At least it was better than pain.
It was then that Robin realized his eyes had closed at the last possible second. Opening them was both relieving and confusing. The boy was unscathed and the giant was under a pile of rubble that might have once a been wall.
Before he could spend too long trying to piece together what had happened, the answer came to him in the form of Kid Flash's voice behind him.
"Dude, put me down and face this guy...don't worry...'bout me."
Robin shifted so he could sling Wally's arm around his shoulder and better look at his friend. The teen's skin was stark white, blood now dripped not only from his nose, but from the corner of his mouth as well. Whatever damage had been healed by Kid Flash's speed to bring him back into consciousness in the first place had returned and worsened in a matter of seconds.
KF had tried that vibrating trick again, only this time, he'd increased the intensity so that both boys became immaterial for just long enough. That would be incredibly cool, were it not for the fact that straining himself with that technique appeared to be killing him.
"I can't do that, KF. And you can't keep doing that, you're gonna take yourself out, and how would that look in the superhuman history books?"
Wally was struggling to stand on his own, to take his weight off the smaller form of his young friend. Meanwhile, the pile of rock that had been a solid concrete wall just seconds earlier was shifting as Bane forced himself out.
"Come on, we gotta get outta here."
Robin did his best to help his friend cross the warehouse to the door, dedicating all of his willpower not to take the time to look back and see the angry mutant no doubt about to crush them both. When Bane's arm came sweeping into the boy's side, several things shot through his mind.
The first being that he was definitely going to have some nasty bruises if he made it out of this alive. His ribs had taken a direct hit from Bane, who'd knocked them aside like they were nothing. Secondly, he was glad that he had been the one to take the direct blow, and not his speedster friend whose condition was already bad enough.
This thought, however, was quickly regretted when they came to an abrupt stop – KF hit the concrete first, then unintentionally cushioned Robin with his body as he was sandwiched between the younger boy and the wall they'd collided with.
Dick picked himself off of his friend then turned to the speedster in concern. Wally was slumped against the stone, his entire body limp and boasting a new, bloody head wound that made Robin cringe. What was probably the most alarming thing about his friend's worsening condition was that Kid Flash was entirely unresponsive – but his eyes were open, lightless and downcast.
"Wally-" Robin hissed, his voice breaking with worry. He couldn't help how his mind jumped to the worst possible conclusion, and he couldn't prevent the blurring of his vision as his eyes clouded with tears of pain and sorrow.
He heard Bane laughing behind him.
"Say your prayers, boy, I'm about to send you to god."
Still shaken by tears and shock, the boy rose and turned to face the giant. His staff found its way into his hands and Robin braced himself for battle, determined to hold his ground in front of his friend. He didn't dignify Bane with a retort, but he would not run. He couldn't leave Wally lying in the man's destructive path and with the pain blossoming in his side, he wasn't so sure he could carry them both to safety anymore.
His only option was to stand his ground, every muscle in his body locking into place as Bane charged.
Sorry, Bruce. I overestimated mysel-
Bane was smashed aside by a streak of red. Three seconds later, Robin was buffeted by an intense gust of wind that threw his cape over his head and blinded him temporarily. When he shook himself free, a dark and intimidating shape towered above him, whitened eyes narrowing down on him.
Intimidating, yes, but also the most welcome sight to Robin at that moment. He practically melted with relief, falling forward into the arms of his mentor and guardian.
"Oh god, I'm so sorry," the boy breathed as Batman steadied him, his hold firm on his arms.
"Robin. What happened?"
"Riddler commotion...attracted Bane...Wa- Kid...Kid Flash...hurt real bad." Robin was shaky with adrenaline and fatigue, his earlier composure crashing around him now that he was no longer required to be strong. His eyes wandered to where Bane was launched back into the pile of rubble his second crash had created. The Flash zipped to where the man lay dazed atop the mound of stone, pulled the tube from his neck and with the same hand, smashed the villain's head into the stone.
With that, Bane was out cold.
But by the time Robin realized this, The Flash was behind him, carefully picking the body of his apprentice off the ground. Dick tried not to notice the way the teen hung limply from the hero's arms.
"Oh god...Wally...I'm so sorry Barry...I couldn't..."
Barry gave the boy a stare that silenced him. It had not been angry or annoyed or disappointed. It had only been understanding.
Robin watched as the Flash lifted his young associate higher, putting his ear to the youth's chest. There were a few long moments of silence, during which Batman's grip on Robin's shoulders tightened in support.
"He's alive," said Flash, "don't worry, Robin, he's alive."
The air drained from Dick's lungs, and were it not for Bruce's hands keeping him upright and steady, the boy probably would've collapsed, overwhelmed with emotion.
"I'm so sorry," he repeated, now tilting his head back to look up into the stoic face of his mentor. "We tried to handle things ourselves...we should've..."
"It's alright, Robin." It was the Flash who spoke, approaching the dynamic duo with his unmoving miniature held tightly in his arms. The dark knight continued where the scarlet speedster left off.
"Between the two of you, taking out the amount of thugs you did – and then Nigma as well – is impressive. Bane is just unfortunate circumstance. This is not your fault."
Robin wasn't sure he'd survived Bane's assault after all – Batman was praising them?
"Still, you should have called someone," Flash spoke in an exasperated tone. "I can understand acting on instinct, but calling could've saved you two a lot of problems."
"Agreed. In the future, you are to inform me at the sight of trouble on a patrol – not to run off and try to handle the problem yourself. This will not happen again, are we clear?"
A little disappointed that his mentor's praise had been so short lived, Robin hung his head and nodded, too shaken to do much more. He was willing to accept any sort of criticism – Wally was okay and they had both survived the ordeal.
Dick was happy enough with that.
Concerned, the dark-haired boy looked once again to Wally, then lifted his stare up to the elder speedster, his eyes wide with unspoken enquiries.
"He'll be fine," Flash assured, "give him a couple days and he'll be running around rambling about 'the time he almost died.'"
Satisfied and inwardly envying the rapid healing of speedsters, Robin followed the Flash out of the building. Behind them was a warehouse full of the unconscious bodies of dozens of hired thugs, including Arkham regulars the Riddler and Bane. Though Bane's subduing was not their doing, the amount the two sidekicks did accomplish was in hindsight, quite impressive.
As Robin glanced momentarily back at Batman – who was calling the commissioner for cleanup – the boy could feel his newest promise already being broken.
If the moment arose, he would do it again. But he would be stronger, better and smarter. Next time, they wouldn't need their mentors to come to their rescue. Next time, they would win.
As Barry had predicted, Wally was back on his feet in just over two days. He was back out in costume in a matter of four. Barry had tried to ask the boy to take it easy for a little longer to make sure he recovered properly, though as he had spoken he knew Wally would not.
The first thing the ginger had done as soon as he'd been able was run out to Gotham to rave about how awesome they'd been to his young friend.
"Dude, I actually did it! I vibrated through things! The first time hadn't gone exactly as planned, but it wasn't supposed to, but that second time – with Bane and you and me not getting crushed – that was me! Actually doing it properly!"
"Yeah, but you gave yourself a nosebleed and...a face-bleed, pretty much."
"Well, it's not perfect yet, and when I told Barry I'd done it, he said it probably only worked because I was so exhausted I didn't have the energy to move our molecules as fast as I usually do, and it's certainly better than accidentally blowing us both up. Which is kind of good...but I tried it again a few hours ago and blew up a portion of my back yard. Baby steps."
Dick laughed, earning a wide smile from his older friend.
"Barry's still kinda mad with me about the whole thing, though."
"Really?" the young acrobat was genuinely curious. The way he remembered it, Flash hadn't looked angry at all.
"Yeah. There's no denying I took a bit of a beating and a lot of it was self-inflicted, trying to do things I can't really do properly. He was fuming when I woke up, I got an earful. 'If you ever put yourself in danger like that deliberately again, I swear I will nail you to the floor!'"
"Well, you did get beat up pretty badly."
"Oh, and you didn't?"
"Not as much."
"Only because I was there to save your sorry butt."
Wally was swatted over the head playfully before both boys settled back with quiet chuckles. They were seated on Dick's bed, cross-legged and facing each other, eating a snack of cheese sandwiches that Alfred had prepared for them. Between them sat a silver tray with two glasses of milk and their plates balanced on the surface.
"You know, Barry promised me he'd take me to the Justice League headquarters, so long as I listened him and stopped being so reckless."
"Really?" Dick grinned. "I'm gonna have to ask Bruce to take me too, then. Can't have you getting a one up on me."
Wally stuck out his tongue.
Then there was a long pause.
Four years had passed since the day the two boys had done the very same thing they were doing here and now. When Dick had only been a boy of eight and Wally, ten. They'd gotten along perfectly from the start, seeming naturally in tune with one another after only a couple hours together.
A lot had happened since then.
Dick Grayson had become Robin – the young, talented ward of the infamous Batman. He'd proven himself a formidable opponent and a tremendous ally, not to be taken lightly. His age was nothing to judge him by. He was wise and experienced beyond his years.
Wally West had created the mantle of Kid Flash, the impulsive but powerful apprentice to the Flash. Over the years, he'd brought his top speed closer to that of his mentor's, ever focused on the day he would finally pass it. He was a prodigy of science, a brilliant child even without the superpowers – though he still had troubles believing his aunt and uncle when they told him that. He was someone to be proud of, a force of energy both kinetic and otherwise to be reckoned with.
For Wally, the last four years had been the best of his life.
Meeting Richard had just set the ball in motion. Up until that point, he'd felt a little lonely and alienated from the other kids. Between the tension between himself and his father and his unusual intelligence which – to kids looking to make themselves appear strong and feel better – was something to mock, Wally had always felt unimportant.
Iris and Barry had always been there to tell him otherwise, but some part of him thought that his aunt and uncle felt obligated to do so – that because they were relatives, they felt it was their jobs. He didn't think they actually felt the way they said. He thought they told him those things because it was what he wanted to hear.
But Dick had flipped the switch when he became someone who liked Wally for who he was – someone who frequently told Wally he was cool or funny or smart – and had no obligation to do so.
Then, Barry and Iris had been there for him when he needed to be loved, to be appreciated. They never shut him out or turned him away. They were patient and understanding, willing to take the time to listen to him where his mother and father would not. Their door was always open. They were willing to build him back up when he had fallen.
And Barry, who had been patient and understanding with him from the very first day they'd met, was willing to take Wally under his wing even after the boy had abused his trust and endangered himself. Even after Wally had challenged the man and pushed his childish ideology on him, after the boy had forced him into accepting a partner, Barry had been nothing but accepting. Nothing but forgiving.
He didn't need the costume and the super speed. Even before Wally had known the truth, to him, Barry had always been a hero.
Wally was lucky. He knew this now. It had taken him four years to begin to start really appreciating it, but Wally had found himself the best people to grow up with. He had a best friend that knew him as well as a brother, who understood him maybe even better. He had a second mother, who had always been sympathetic to his troubles as a child and always thought of him where others would leave him out, who always had love to share with him when he needed it most. He had a mentor, someone to help him navigate the troubles of youth and the added hurdle of superpowers while understanding the kind of person he was and loving him regardless of his faults and mistakes.
Wally had found a family that made his immediate one pale in comparison. A family that accepted him for everything he was and was not.
And to think: this realization – this understanding of what Wally had all along and what he'd gained along the way – had started with something as simple as a friendly visit and two boys eating cheese sandwiches.
Everything after was a blur.
Like a true nature's child,
We were born
Born to be wild.
We can climb so high,
I never want to die.
That's a wrap, folks! Yay for being able to put this on complete now! Wooooo! -little happy dance-
So. I'm definitely not done writing for this fandom, but I have another story I've promised myself I'm going to finish. It may take a while, but I'mma finish it, and then I will be back here to burn your eyes with more of my brain child in writing. Isn't that exciting? I love burning out eyeballs!
In the meantime, I guarantee, the more people who review here, the faster and decided I need to do more, so um. Yeah. LOOK OUT FOR MY NAME, FRIENDS, I'M SURE YOU'LL SEE IT SOONER OR LATER.
Super huge thank yous to all of you who took the time to review in previous chapters, and thanks in advance to those of you who will review and to those new readers who will review after they've torn through this story, right? 8D Your support is always appreciated, I love hearing from each and every one of you, and for everyone who reviews this chapter with an account, I promise to write back to answer any questions or just say hi.
And that I love you.
And that we should get married.
Thanks so much for reading, I really appreciate it!
BOOOOOORRRRN TO BE WIIIIIIIILDD!
P.S. I was looking back on some of the previous chapters, and I realized in the sixth chapter, Fanfiction had cut out bits and peices of dialogue. I fixed that. Yay!