Title: We Were Once Perfect (1/?)

Warnings: Potential spoilers for entire series and future episodes (yay head-canon ideas and guesswork!) Oh, and character death, both true and assumed.

Note: Hello again, everyone. Recently, I wrote another Young Justice story titled To Keep Your Memory in Me. One of the reviewers, the lovely and awesome Ally Marton, suggested a prompt that almost had me explode in a cloud of rainbows and redemption and smiles.

Wally supposedly dies in a mission, but somehow he comes back to the team years later, as Wally, not some Cadmus clone or traitor. How does the team (both old and new) react?

The three things Ally Marton really, really wanted to see were:
Robin and co. thinking Wally's dead.
Wally's apparently not dead after YEARS
Pandemonium and hopefully joy ensues

I hope I delivered, and I hope you all enjoy this as much as I did writing it. It's nice to let this group have a happy(ish) ending for once.

Title taken from the Automatic Loveletter song, Hush. (Further musical influences of this chapter were She's Got You High by Mumm-ra and Ships in the Night by Mat Kearney).

Check end of story for about a billion more notes.

Disclaimer: I don't own, I'm unlucky like that.

Update: Final revisions and additions on July 18. All author notes remain the same.

(Working) Summary: A 2016 story. After two years of being gone, Wally faces a long road to home. Lucky for him, the entire Team determined to both love him and get him caught up to speed. Or, where Wally comes back to life, makes fun of his best friend's costume, and becomes the worst influence to the newest team members.

(May 1, 2016 6:46 AM).

Central City Cemetery looks gorgeous as always, especially in the early morning light. Unlike the majority of the birds silent around the area or in trees, a peculiar green one swoops down to a grave, with its black marble head stone polished and pristine. The words clearly read:

Wallace Rudolph West

November 11, 1994 to May 11, 2014.

Beloved Son, Friend, and Nephew

He Sped Away Too Soon

A few bouquets composed of red and yellow flowers lay to the side, still fresh. The bird settles down beside them and morphs into a boy with green skin and fur, tail lazily swinging back and forth.

It's a tradition he started after Wally died (and it's still so weird, so wrong to admit that, to realize that the goofball to put him to shame will not come sliding around a corner as now-Nightwing calls out to for him to learn how to stop while simultaneously warn others of his best friend's presence).

The graves and idea of loss are impossible for Beast Boy to shake off, some days, with memories of his dad, then mom, and then his brother swimming in his head. It throws him home, leaving him not wanting to leave M'Gann's side, as if she'll be taken away too. But she's not here right now, no one is. Just him and Wally, because no one else will slyly spill gossip and compare souvenirs with him that same way.

"Alright, time to begin where we left off: why Superboy and my sister need to get back together edition. Reason 23: Lagoon Boy keeps calling me pipsqueak, and I don't like him. Oh! And he thinks he's going to one day beat Nightwing in a fight. Yeah, right!" (Wally smiles and nods his head; see, totally not happening. Two on one, or technically three versus one depending on if Nightwing agrees with them. It's Wally so he will. Robin and Superboy too.)

"Bumblebee and Mal have been arguing over everything lately; whenever I walk into a room, they're just going on and on. I'll do the fly on the wall idea we came up with if they keep fighting. But I have better, more interesting news than them: the cleanup over the whole alien invasion thing is going pretty well; luckily the Justice League was tried innocent, I think? You gotta ask Icon about that cause I have no clue what he was telling us when they returned." (The entire Team was so exhausted that day, Gar doubts that even Robin paid attention).

"And don't worry, I snatched my latest souvenir just for you. We ended up having to go to Australia to hunt down the partner of the Europe guy from last time. You remember him, right? I got a boomerang! Someone threw it at my head when we were fighting. Nightwing told me I could take it and about how one of your villains has them. So this boomerang is both yours and mine. Sharing is caring," Garfield ends with a grin. ("Oh my god, you need a second sibling so you can relearn sharing is caring. Give me the ice cream!" Beast Boy leaps out of the way of Kid Flash as he lunges at Artemis, who spins out of the way herself and throws the empty carton at his head. "Do not be friends with your ex-girlfriends. They are evil, and I will laugh at you." Kid Flash mutters to Beast Boy as he goes to catch up to Artemis).

Beast Boy likes coming to talk to Wally, someone who didn't judge him and thought that both his personality and green skin were "Kick-ass!" ("KF, he's nine! Language.") He's always wanted to be a part of the Team, to save both animals and people, he is his mother's son after all, but it's painful to be around the Cave this time of year, a week and a half before the two year anniversary of losing Kid Flash. He remembers last year how none of the original six were around the days before, of, and after. Sis came back, fine and unruffled to everyone who didn't know how to look, but it hurt Gar to see her upset. Aqualad (before Tula, before everything) had returned as well, seemingly fine, although Beast Boy couldn't tell because the dude had been that good. Artemis was already on break to finish up her last few weeks of school. Superboy and Nightwing (he was Nightwing then, right?) were both gone for far longer, ended up fighting harder until the rage and sorrow worked through their systems. (Beast Boy had been pretty useless in those fights, but everyone else was too, so it was okay.)

The memories of the last year hit Beast Boy as he prepares to say goodbye to Wally. Hopefully, year two would be better. (No, it will be.) He can feel it.

(Beast Boy will later call himself psychic and spend two weeks guessing lottery numbers he'll con a yet to be identified teammate to buy for him-and Robin will find out who.)

(May 7, 2016 8:45 PM)

Robin knows this will be a long night, with both Artemis and Batman in the Cave, waiting for Nightwing to delegate the mission roles.

Batman has the pinched look on his face that spells doom and unimagined horrors for all opposed. Robin doesn't love that look per se, but can appreciate it from a certain viewpoint. It means that Batman wants things done, yesterday, so get ready now. This is not an idle mission that has room for error. (La'gann will be thrilled, if he comes along).

"This is all hands on deck," Nightwing states (La'gann is coming along. Note: Best course of action, if assigned team with him and Superboy, is to attempt to ignore their issues. If not an option, keep quiet and uninvolved. Worst case scenario, side with Superboy. Priorities.)

Images of what looks like an unassuming warehouse flicker behind Batman and Nightwing; Robin is automatically on guard (so is Batgirl, although they seem to be the only two, no three, including Superboy, who is scowling, to notice that this is not a good place to fight. Bad things always happen in warehouses.)

"Intel reports show the possibility of this warehouse belonging to Illerlex, the company that also claimed ownership of the Cadmus facility in Washington D.C. While it seemed to be abandoned, the local police cams show increased activity along the streets and alleys surrounding it. Our mission is to check out these claims. Depending on what is seen, we may have to storm the facility. Batman will be coordinating possible support from the Justice League depending on what is found." Nightwing is clearly in his element, and yet again, Robin feels lacking in his training.

Despite Nightwing's assurances, Batman's occasionally proud nods, and Batgirl's easing protection, he's never going to be at the level of Nightwing, be the deciding factor in the fight (not that he wants to be, that's just wrong to wish for). He just hopes he doesn't end up being the reason for their loss in such an important battle.

"Miss Martian, Lagoon Boy, and Beast Boy are gamma: watch the waters at the docks, monitor potential shipments, and locate any further escape exits under water. Robin, Batgirl, and I are going to enter the warehouse first and analyze what exactly is located inside it. Finally, Blue Beetle, Artemis, Wonder Girl, and Superboy, I need you to wait on the rooftops. On my signal, come in swinging, if it comes to that. I don't think I need to stress how important handling this properly is. We cannot allow this to be a bust." Nightwing, Superboy, Artemis, and Miss Martian all seem to be gearing up for war, although Robin can't blame them. While Cadmus being a Big Deal isn't necessarily a secret, the true reasons as to why aren't often explained unless asked (Robin didn't ask, but he wouldn't have been allowed on this team if he didn't know everything).

(May 7, 2016 10:00 PM)

The warehouse is in a quiet part of some small California town. Despite the rain, Robin can still see the warehouse, barely two stories high, with no windows and the only non-docking entrances being two doors that are seemingly reinforced with steel. On the roof, however, is a small hatch, flakes of rust falling off as the trio slip inside and land on the metal grating of a walkway high enough to give a good view of the entire facility. There are countless shelves, filled to the brim with boxes and piles of miscellaneous objects, like tires and something shaped like a manhole cover. Nightwing motions for them to spread out as he updates the other teams and checks on their progress. It's Batgirl, tech woman extraordinaire, who finds it though, a tiny computer carefully hidden behind two boxes on the north end of room, maybe ten feet away from one the two steel doors. She rapidly hacks, and a small chirp precedes two of the shelves being pushed left and right respectively to reveal a moderately sized lift, with a red lever in the center.

That is the extent of what Robin will be able to remember clearly about their trip down (what happens after gets his full attention). He has vague memories of certain other team members joining them, before they head on down. What they find is akin to a factory, with dozens of rows of pods, surrounded by countless computers, each with someone monitoring it, armed with guns and, possibly, other weapons. Everyone looks up to see who is coming down the lift; the team is mobilized before the lift is on the ground, before the group realizes it is not one of their own.

Over the hours, Robin takes down dozens of guard with well placed batarangs and his beloved bo-staff. More and more come out of doors that materialize out of the walls, but they're no real match for the Team going at full power. In fact, Robin thinks the most difficult part is avoiding the pods and glass shattered during the fight, enough that only a minority remain intact, sprinkled in various locations in the room.

The year and a half of training with Batgirl and Nightwing allows him to always have a vague idea where they are, what they're fighting. Therefore, it is no surprise when Robin is the one to notice the change in Nightwing, as he suddenly, stop dead, dropping his Eskrima sticks. All he does is stare straight ahead, to the complete opposite side of the room. An arrow sent by Artemis to stun the guard approaching him spurs Nightwing back to life.

Robin winces at the shriek of "KF!" that comes over the mental link and is vocalized by his brother.

Stunned, he sees Nightwing sprinting across the place, jumping over the bodies of guards and ignorant of everything else, until he slams into a console next to the occupied pod, translucent glass doing little to hide what looks to be a red-headed man. Seconds later, Superboy, who Robin thought was on the first level of the building, materializes out of nowhere, barely holding back from breaking into the pod himself.

Robin can't hear either of them, but clearly sees them gesture wildly as the pod begins to make noise and starts to open. Blue Beetle tenses next to him as he takes down one of the last guards, and Wonder Girl flies back down and asks, "The fight over?"

"Hey!" Artemis shouts, the last of her arrows flying into the stragglers coming through a wall-door; it only takes a few minutes for the trio, Artemis, and Batgirl to finish them off. By the time Robin looks back to Nightwing and Superboy, he sees his brother on his knees, next to where the red-headed stranger is sprawled out. Robin thinks he can see him breathing, but the distance is preventing him from identi..."KF," Robin states quietly. (Impossible, oh god, they had thought Dick was handling it better this year. He's going to be crushed and disappear for a week and Bruce won't be able to find him until the actual anniversary when he screams at the grave about Wally not being allowed to be dead. Again. Worrying is a good idea.)

Artemis is off like a rocket upon his whisper, Batgirl following for a few yards before taking a hard left, cords from her gauntlet already out as she reaches one of the few remaining computers and starts scanning into everything.

Wonder Girl rocks back and forth on her heels and asks, "Did we miss something really important?" Blue Beetle shrugs next to her and replies, "No clue, chica. It's a little too over crowded there to see anything." And that is true, Superboy's back and the wild mess of Artemis's hair blocks most of the view of the mysterious man in a white body suit.

Robin sighs and leans against a wall to think; no one else is going to call the rest of the team. Just as he's about to contact Miss Martian, Nightwing's voice comes across the line, sounding off and distant, "Miss M! Prep the Bio-Ship and send word to Mal to make sure Batman and Martian Manhunter are waiting for us. Now! Everyone meet at the ship in three minutes."

"Well, I guess we'll find out soon enough," Wonder Girl reflects. Robin shares a look with Batgirl, who has picked up on the difference as well.

This is not going to end well for anyone.

(And it doesn't, in any way, shape, or form. Nightwing is holding the pale man with red hair but keeping him generally sheltered from the majority of the team, aided by Artemis and Superboy, who apparently isn't carrying the man just so he can punch holes through the walls of the supposed warehouse, making it easier and quicker for Nightwing to leave. Judging from the grip Nightwing has on him, coupled with the look on his face, Robin doubts he'd have let go regardless of Superboy being stronger.

Miss Martian almost loses all color when they get to the ship and tears up as Nightwing, Superboy, Artemis, and herself all lay the person(?) down on a medical cot placed in the far back of the ship. No one even thinks to question the group, all of whom settle into seats, except Nightwing, who crashes on the floor next to the bed and dares anyone to try and sway him differently.

They don't.)

(May 8, 2016 1:00 AM)

There's a lot of raised voices once the departed members of the Team (if only she wasn't with Dr. Palmer!) arrive back to the cave, but the loudest are Superboy (what a shocker) and Nightwing, who sounds like he is completely losing his shit (never thought she'd see the day). Bumblebee turns away from Mal to see all the senior members of the team surrounding a bed Superboy and Nightwing are joint carrying. All four of the group ignore them as they disappear down a different corridor.

Wonder Girl, Beast Boy, Lagoon Boy, and Blue Beetle come in soon after, trailed by Robin and Batgirl, who just activates some of the monitors and opens her own holographic computer on her gauntlet, not even bothering to acknowledge anything outside of her own little world.

Never let it be said Karen didn't know a lost cause when she saw one.

"So," turning to face the remaining five (four, Robin's an inch away from booking it), "how did the mission go?"

The zeta beams behind her announce both Batman and Martian Manhunter's arrival; Robin's already at his mentor's side and directing them to where they have to go. Batgirl barely looks at them, even as they walk off.

"Alright then. Which one of you is least likely to pass out as they tell me what the hell happened this time?" It's going to be a long(er) night. Mal sighs behind her, once again in perfect agreement.

They've put him in a basic medical room, complete with a small team of frantic doctors and the Martian duo. While Dick consented to leaving the room (not forced, he held it together, despite the looks Bruce is sending him), he's not budging from his position at the window (and he made damn sure to 'accidentally' rip the curtain that could have prevented his view).

It doesn't take a near decade of life together to know how…frustrated his adoptive father is; the emotions, while controlled, usually radiate off him in these types of extreme situations. Dick has no illusions that this conversation can be pushed off.

"It's him."

"Can you hear yourself right now?" The worst part is how concerned he sounds, in his own way. Dick can tell, even if no one else can.

"It's him, Bruce. It has to be." The second it leaves his lips, Dick knows how much it will cost him.

He is not disappointed. "Need I remind you this is Cadmus? Even if he's not a clone, he's dangerous and unstable." Dick looks up, defensive protest on his lips.

Bruce ignores him. "More importantly, you're too focused on your emotions to notice this is a trap. The day before the anniversary of his death, he randomly appears in the specific location you attacked. We both know you never gave up hope he was somehow alive." (Dick should have known better than to think he kept that a secret, but getting completely wasted and screaming at Wally's apparently fake grave could have clued anyone in). "This doesn't make sense."

"I'm not complaining."

"You should be."

"I know." And that's the thing; Dick knows he should be panicking, or at least more concerned about the situation, especially as leader of the Team. (His objectivity is shot to hell right now; again, he admits this.) But he's not. There's just this serene calm when he looks into the room and sees Wally, because he knows it's him. Bruce will spend the night trying to dissuade him of that, but it's true. The second he got his hands on Wally, everything connected back into place for the first time in two years.

(He laughs at Batgirl's token murmur of longing after they send a few Cadmus guards through the computer monitors they were stationed at. Babs has never been able to pass up updated technology, and Cadmus is top of the line. He goes to hit the next set of guards, but, as they drop, a reflective surface catches his eye. One of the broken pods, a much more fragile version than the one they found Superboy in all those years ago, suddenly tips over, like a majority of the ones surrounding it, giving Nightwing a direct line of sight to the far side of the room.

He heart, for the first time in two years, starts with a beat he thought it forgot: wallywallywally. Even though he's far away, his blood is singing (is it? or is he just noticing for the first time that it is still flowing through his body) and telling him what he already knows is true. Enclosed in an intact pod is his best friend, and Dick freezes, wonders if movement will take this away from him. An arrow whizzes two inches in front of his face, and he is gone, sprinting to the other side of the room and screaming, "KF!" be real be real be real be real.

He skids into the computer set next to the pod (and it is so clearly Wally that Dick's heart breaks and mends once every second) and frantically hacks, notices the stats that show a firm heart beat and no injuries reported. Superboy is at his side a moment later, making an impressive hole in the ceiling that Dick takes a moment to admire while avoiding lingering debris.

Superboy goes pale and looks at Nightwing. "Clone?" The cautious tone cannot hide the hopeful look on his face or the way his hands keep trying to reach out to touch the glass.

"I think it's him." Superboy doesn't comment on the waver in tone, only sees his expression mirrored on Nightwing's face.

They both want this too much to be objective, and both become breathless as the pod finally opens, gently releasing Wally, who is quickly caught and laid on the ground.

Nightwing starts noticing everything he can: the same shade of hair, the same scar on his left hand from falling out of a tree at the age of seven, the same muscle structure as the day he died.

He's going to get hell for this, but every part of him is desperately screaming for Wally, that it really is him.

The look on Superboy's face proves he's not alone.)

Batgirl tears herself from whatever files she had been poring over around 3:30 AM to bring him a beautifully large cup of coffee (Dick knows Babs missed Wally too, knows she wants this to be true almost as much as they (he) desperately do). He still hasn't moved from his position at the window.

Dick questions Babs when she lingers by his side, "Isn't your dad going to kill you? Artemis's mom threatened to come down here herself if she didn't at least attempt to get a few hours of sleep." Bruce more or less gave up on him for the time being, bringing Robin back to Gotham and going off to analyze the data they collected from Cadmus in the Batcave, leaving Dick to his own devices. (It's a flimsy pretense; Dick knows there are cameras on all of them.)

"What are you talking about? I'm currently sleeping over Bette Kane's house to celebrate her being home from college. We're going to be gossiping until we crash at sunrise, and I'll end up going home in the middle of the day because we're so tired." Barbara smirks, and Dick remembers why he is so often awed and slightly frightened of her. He and Tim joke that being her level of cunning is a super power and she's going to take them all down.

"Has he woken up at all?"

"No, but his brain activity is being monitored; both the doctors and Miss Martian think it's only a matter of time before he wakes up." Dick had been relieved beyond words at that. "We're waiting to alert his family until then." No sense breaking any more hearts if this wasn't Wally (it is).

Babs leans against him, her sign of solidarity. She most likely knows how well his confrontation with Bruce went, and she never bothers with futile endeavors (most situations eventually change when faced by her, but not Dick, not over this). She doesn't bother to ask if he's okay, because he is and isn't (if Wally's returned, he'll be the best he's been in years; he doesn't want to think about how crushed he'll be if Wally isn't in that bed). The best part is she understands he recognizes all of this, making it easy for her to ask, "So why aren't you in there with him?"

"Condition from Batman. It was the only way he'd stop the interrogation for now. He's right to be distrustful."

"Yeah, he is. But here you are, anyway. That means something too." Babs yawns and swipes a sip of his coffee before heading out, most likely back to her computers.

"I forgot to mention that I reprogrammed the camera half an hour ago. It's currently on three alternating loops of footage. The doctors have been...persuaded...not to mention that you entered the room, if they catch you. And the door's unlocked. You're welcome." Dick knows she's smiling, even if he can't see her face, and can't help but beam at her retreating figure.

He knows where to throw his lot during her inevitable global takeover.

Moments later, he settles into a chair next to Wally's bed, and the relief that blooms in his chest is unprecedented.

(May 8, 2016 4:00 AM)

Dick ends up dozing lightly, but is woken up to an increased set of beeps that will inevitably bring countless others into the room.

He shoots out of the chair and sees green eyes staring back at him.

After a few seconds, Wally rolls his eyes and asks, "Oh god, how badly damaged am I? You only bother with the chair when I'm near death. You not shoving me around on the bed scares me man, especially because I feel fine...what the hell are you wearing anyway?"

Dick, for the first time in two years, hugs his best friend and doesn't let go until the door opens for both Martian Manhunter and M'Gann.

Even then, he doesn't leave the room, Bruce's warnings be damned.

This was going to be a short prologue-ish kind of thing, to set up all of the inevitable drama and issues with Wally coming back. I thought it might be a small scale, two or three part story. Yeah, doubt that's going to happen. Damn, this is going to be a beast. I'm so excited!

While I was writing this, what I had wanted for it, a big reaction piece where the primary character was Nightwing, changed. While Nightwing and Wally are still going to be a huge part, I think, at the heart of this, is the team and how they react when one of their own comes back (and how Wally reacts to coming back after years). And I'm going to be using ALL the team (including the characters we're not supposed to know about/are waiting to debut, such as Roy, Tempest, and Impulse, if they even show up) and a lot of side characters as well.

This chapter is more action oriented set up that the following chapters, so if you're looking for pure emotion, that is coming up ASAP. Lord only knows I am. Seriously, I'm already planning out each reaction, from how geeked out Wonder Girl will be to how happy a reunion the Flash is going to have.

Again, when I wrote this, I did not expect how many possibilities and ideas would come. Curse you Ally Marton.

Anyway, thank you for reading and I hope you enjoy what this story will become (and it will be happy in the end, he's the real Wally).

Preview for next chapter (sometime within the next week or so)

"Dude, who's the guy in blue talking to himself?"

"That's Blue Beetle. You can meet him later."

"Is he still going to be talking to himself? Cause that introduction can be last. Speaking of introductions, where's Kaldur and the rest of the aqua friends?"

"About that..."