Pebblekit: This story is a fill for the Young Justice Anon Meme on "Livejournal". It is also the first story I've written for this fandom, so any feedback and constructive criticism anyone could give me, I'd really appreciate it. This story actually starts between the two seasons and involves some aspects from the pre-reboot comics. Some of it might make Bruce seem a little out of character at first, but he'll get better later. The first part of this kind of focuses a lot on Dick, but it's what ends up triggering everything. That being said, the timeline is kind of skewed. So...Here goes.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything to do with the DC universe or anything affiliated with it. This is just a fan work of fiction.
It was a fairly quiet day in the cave. Artemis was practicing in the training room with a new chemical for her exploding arrows. Conner was watching the static channel on the television. Megan was trying to cook, something she'd improved greatly in over the past few years. Currently, she was levitating several plates, ingredients, and pans precariously as they dipped and rose while she read a recipe. Kaldur was vacuuming, as he seemed to be the most serious member of the group in keeping their base clean. Everyone else was out somewhere, except perhaps Red Tornado, who no one ever really understood the movements of, when Wally came in, the computer blurting his name and number in welcome.
He immediately trotted over to the fridge, waving to Megan and Conner on the way, and opened the door, peering in. There were several things that, on any other day, would have caught his eye, but right then, he was more focused on his best friend. It was Dick's sixteenth birthday tomorrow, and Wally had already roped Roy into going out for ice cream later tonight in Star City so long as they didn't get a mission assignment. Over the period they'd known each other, Wally had discovered that the younger boy really valued time with the people he cared about more than presents, mostly because he lived with one of the richest men in the world and could have anything he wanted. The whole team would celebrate together on the actual day.
Wally was going to carry Dick over there as soon as he arrived from school (despite how much it seemed to embarrass his friend). Right then, he was just killing time. Hearing the telltale splat of an egg hitting the floor behind him, he pulled out some cheese and an apple, dashed over to grab a paper towel, and wiped the white and yellow up before Megan even managed to put her cookbook down.
"Thanks, Wally," she said, setting the text aside with a small smile. "Are you leaving soon?"
"Yeah," he answered, quickly swallowing a huge mouthful before continuing. "Rob should be back soon and then we're taking off."
"He doesn't know, does he?"
"Nope. At least, I hope not. I've been trying really hard to keep it a secret." And that was completely true. Though, admittedly, it was kind of difficult to hide anything from someone that had been trained by the Bat, was practically a freaking NINJA, and was surrounded by gabby teenagers all day.
"Even if he has figured it out, I'm sure he'll like it just as much."
Wally opened his mouth to respond, but was interrupted by the computer announcing the arrival of "Robin, B01". He smirked excitedly and sped off to the cave entrance, expecting his friend to come flipping or tumbling through as had become normal. However, his good mood quickly disappeared the moment he saw Dick.
The younger boy had come to the base before in all manner of ways, whether it be happy and cackling about something that he told no one about, angry over a crime that occurred in Gotham, contemplative over strategies, and so on and so forth. But this time, Wally could tell immediately something was wrong in such a way as he'd never seen before. Rob's head was bowed, his steps uncertain and clumsy, which was just wrong for his friend. But even more worrying was the fact that he was half in costume and half out, as though he'd started to change one way or the other, but couldn't be bothered to finish.
"Welcome back Robin and...what happened?" Megan had caught up with Wally, floating away from the kitchen with Conner right behind. Her face drooped with worry as she was undoubtedly taking in how strange it was to see her teammate's tunic shirt over a pair of jeans still with the utility belt, regular sneakers, a lopsided mask, and his cape folded haphazardly in his still-gloved hands.
The smaller boy didn't answer, but he slumped slightly more.
"...Robin?" Conner prompted after a moment, stepping forward slightly before seeming to think twice about it and drawing back.
Dick made a strange sound, somewhere between a whimper and a growl. A slightly horrified look crossed his face and he pressed it into his cape, obviously feeling humiliated.
Wally was getting really worried now. He'd never seen his friend so out of it or upset, and he didn't really know what to do about it. "Look, buddy, we can't help you if you don't tell us what happened." He tried to make his voice sound harmless and calm, but he wasn't really sure how well he did, considering how he normally just threw himself into things.
"Please Robin?" Megan added, quiet in her own gentle way.
"You can't call me that anymore," Dick finally answered after a long moment.
"What do you mean?" Megan asked, drifting closer to put a hand on his shoulder.
Dick flinched out of the grip, but didn't push her away. "I...I've been...Batman fired me."
There was silence. Sounds from the rest of the base still echoed around the walls, but the entry way was as still as a crypt, save for Robin bowing his head into his cape again. Before he even really know what he was doing, Wally found himself enveloping his friend in a tight hug. Dick's shoulders were trembling, but there were no tears. Just a sort of dumbfounded quiet, as though he, nor anyone else there, could find their words.
They stood there for awhile, long enough for Kaldur to finish his work in the hallway by the rooms and come to join them and for Artemis to amble in at some point, obviously noticing the inactivity in the cave. Megan must've said something to them telepathically, because Wally saw both of their expressions change- his in disbelief and sympathy and hers in anger- even though no one had spoken aloud.
When Batman came by later that day to give them updates on criminal activities, he completely ignored Robin, who had sunk into the couch by that point. Wally sat next to him, trying to coax him into sharing what had happened to no avail. Everyone else was giving the Gotham Knight some form of a death glare all throughout the meeting. Whether or not it affected him at all was impossible to tell.
"SHHHHH. Keep it down," Wally urged, glancing around to see several pairs of curious eyes trained on their table in the small ice cream parlor. Roy, just realizing that he'd jumped out of his seat with his outburst, sat back down as quickly as possible, clearing his throat in an uncomfortable manner. People kept staring.
"He what?" the older red head tried again, this time mindful of their audience.
"He fired me," Dick responded, almost lifelessly, silent enough that no one would overhear him. His eyes were planted on his lap. His sunglasses were missing, left back at the base, which just felt wrong somehow. "Kicked me off the team. Out of the duo. I'm not Robin anymore."
Roy was looking at him incredulously, eyes almost comically wide as though he'd smelled something unpleasant. It might've been funny at any other time. "But...but why? I mean...you're like...the best of us, you know? Why would he..."
Wally didn't bother being surprised that Roy had alluded to himself as being a sidekick. He was more worried about Dick's reaction as his friend started shaking his head almost violently. "He needed me in Gotham on a case, but the team - Young Justice I mean - were in the middle of a mission. One he didn't assign us to. Conner happened upon a suspicious operation in the city on the way back from school, so he called us in for back up. We ended up busting a drug ring. I was in a stealth position, so Batman had called me and I had turned off my communicator with him, so I didn't answer. I got back to help him, but I was too late to really do anything."
"Dick," Wally started, leaning over again to hug him once more, but the younger boy drew away at the last moment, quivering.
"He said I was useless. That if I wasn't there when he needed me, there was no point in having a sidekick. I...this had happened before, but I'd never completely missed a case with him. I've just showed up late, you know? I never thought...I was doing good, wasn't I? With the team, with Young Justice...with you guys...wasn't I?"
"Of course you were, Dick," Roy said, reaching forward to grab his friend's hand, but Dick dodged the move, instead wrapping himself up in his own embrace. The archer acted unaffected, but Wally could tell the gesture bugged the older man. "Don't you ever question that, no matter what Batman or anyone else tells you."
"Then why did he...why did he kick me out? Why doesn't he love me anymore?"
"He does!" Wally said, slightly louder than he meant to and managing to draw back the attention of the people that had finally turned elsewhere after Roy's excitement. The speedster drew his voice down again, leaning close to ensure no one outside their circle could understand what he was saying. "He does, Dick. He's your caretaker. Why would you think that? He's probably just worried about you pushing yourself too hard to go back and forth or something." Even as he said the words, he couldn't help but think he was lying. Yet, for Dick's sake, he forged on. "Maybe he misses you or something."
"If that were the case, he wouldn't have kicked me out of the mansion."
Roy's jaw dropped at that and Wally felt himself freeze for once, unable to process the words for a second. "W-what?" Roy finally managed, obviously speaking past a lump in his throat.
"He kicked me out."
He'd said that several times now, throughout the day, but Wally hadn't understood. He hadn't thought that the words had extended past being Robin, hadn't thought they'd meant that Dick had lost his home too. "Are you sure?" And Wally really wanted to punch Roy then, because why would he say that? But the archer had never been good with words, not really. He'd always been blunt and frank. If Dick took offense to the harsh question, he didn't give any indication. He just shrugged.
"Don't know. He said I could come back this weekend and take some things, but...that was it. Alfred said that his expectations were too high, but he was rather upset, so he might not have meant it."
Wally had to mentally backtrack at the mention of Alfred, good old Alfred, losing his calm composure, but didn't mention it. He instead tried again to wrap an arm around his friend, and Dick allowed it this time. "Come here," he said instead of all of the things he wanted to say, like how Batman was a jerk, how this should never have happened, how he did nothing wrong. "We're here for you man, okay? Whether or not you're Robin with Batman, you can still work with us, right? We'll set up a permanent room at the mountain for you."
"Yeah. I'd offer you my place, but Jade just moved in, so that might not be the best idea. Besides, I think it'd be best for you to be with your friends," Roy said in thought. "Or perhaps another member of the league would take you in?"
"I could ask my parents?" Wally offered, though he wasn't quite sure that was the right thing to do. His mom and dad weren't around very often and when they were, they tended to be sort of apathetic about the whole superhero thing. Still, if Dick needed a place, he'd happily share his room or something.
"No," Dick managed. "I...thank you. Both of you, but...I'd rather just stay in the cave for now, if that's alright."
Wally nodded, understanding that maybe, after losing a second father, maybe Dick just wanted to be as alone as possible for awhile, at least from adults. (Even though he technically was almost eighteen and would soon count as such, but whatever.) "Alright then," he said. "We'll talk to Red Tornado. I'm sure he'll be okay with another full time guest. The others will surely be okay with it too."
Dick nodded again, though his heart didn't really seem to be in it. In front of him on the table, his mint chocolate chip sundae was melting sluggishly into what looked like a thin milkshake. Roy pushed it towards the smaller boy. "Until then, let's not focus on it, okay? It's your birthday tomorrow. I know this is hard, but...we want to help you. At least let us try to cheer you up?"
Dick, finally, looked up from his lap and met the archer's eyes for a long moment. "Okay," he finally said, though his voice was little more than a croak and rather difficult to understand. He cleared his throat subconsciously and tried again, this time with a much firmer voice. "Okay." And somehow, without prompting, he reached forward and grabbed the spoon Wally had set on a napkin for him earlier. His hand was trembling, but he managed to scoop up some of the desert and brought it to his mouth. Wally pulled him closer, reaching for his own treat as Roy did too. The three ate in relative quiet after that, talking about little things and telling stupid jokes. They'd even actually managed to wrangle two small chuckles out of Dick by the end of the night, a couple of sundaes later (more, obviously, for Wally).
As they stood to go home or back to base, the smallest of them smirked slightly, though the expression was much more somber than usual. "Thanks you two, for everything. Thank you so much."
Wally picked Dick up in a piggyback, gave him a spare pair of goggles, and the two of them ran beside Roy's motorcycle as he made his way home. Jade came out to see them, though it was obvious she was uncomfortable in doing so, no matter how good she was at hiding it. Roy went up the fire escape of their apartment to her, giving her a chaste kiss on the cheek. He must have whispered something in her ear, told her about what had happened, because the normally private and aloof woman made her way down the stairs and actually hugged Dick. "If you ever need a hit-man, I could refer you to a pretty willing woman instead," she said cryptically, but there was no doubt what she truly meant.
Wally wasn't sure if he was more surprised by her joking tone, which was so much smoother and kinder than the taunting voice she'd used against them in battle, or about the fact that, as she pulled away, there was a cold look in her eyes that indicated she was absolutely serious. The speedster had only seen that expression a couple of times, mostly when someone mentioned Sportsmaster to her, but not very recently. Jade had managed to somewhat reform herself in the recent years, even helping out the Justice League at times, but that didn't still mean Wally's skin didn't crawl every time he thought about how often she'd tried to kill them. Especially that time at the pool when he'd nearly drowned.
He shivered as she pulled away from Robin, turning her back on them. He'd hate to be Batman just then.
Roy nodded to them before both vigilantes disappeared up their fire escape and through their window.
Wally picked Robin up again and bounded off. When they got back to the cave, he sent a mental message to Megan in the hopes she'd hear him, asking her to inform everyone else to act like nothing was wrong, at least until after Dick's birthday the next day. Thankfully, she seemed to pick up his words, as no one even mentioned Batman that night.
Wally, even before he'd become Kid Flash, before he'd gotten his power, had always walked his troubles away. Once he'd become a speedster, that walking had evolved into running. That night, he left and didn't return for several hours. He'd run almost at his top speed the whole way.
Author's Note: Hey guys. Thanks for reading and I hope you liked it. Please tell me anything I can do to improve with these characters, as I plan to write a monster story in this universe soon. For those of you that are reading my other stories, I swear I haven't abandoned them. College, life, and stress have killed all my muses. This story actually is an attempt to get out of my HUGE rut. I will finish the other stories as well, I promise. Thank you!