Pebblekit: Hi there! So, this is it. The final chapter. I can't really explain how awesome this journey has been. Thank you all so much for the continued support you've shown me all through this and for all of the advice you've given me. I really can't explain how much you all have helped me. I've also pretty much decided that I am going to write a sequel, but it may take awhile in coming. I have to get ready to go back to college while making a bunch of stuff for a convention coming up, but I'll be working on it.
Also, you guys are amazing seriously. Certain people requested things for past chapters that I was already writing (like Barry's point of view in the last chapter.) It's like you guys can read my mind or something. The same thing happened in this chapter as well, so I hope you guys like it. Thank you all so much! You have no idea how much this has helped me revive my writing spirit (which college killed this year). Now, onward to the end!
Wally ran and looked around, staring at everything he could, trying to take it all in at once. The cave had changed somewhat. There were a lot more personal effects strewn around, the training room had been expanded, the library had gotten more books that wouldn't fit on the shelves and were instead piled on the floor and tables, the hallway of rooms felt much more full than it had when he'd lived there, and the overall technology had been updated much more than he had thought possible.
A thrill of happiness coursed through him, one that he couldn't fight down as he went around again. And again. And again, just for the sake of memorization. By the time he'd finished, Dick was sitting on the kitchen counter smirking at him. "Having fun?" he asked, sounding amused.
Wally didn't care that he looked like a little boy at a theme park as he nodded excitedly. "It's been so long since I've just hung out here, you know?"
Dick smiled. "Kind of. I felt like that when I first went back to Wayne Manor."
The speedster calmed down at that and shot his friend a strange look. "You went back? When?"
"At Christmas and some of the other holidays. I have since Jason died."
Wally frowned, upset he that he hadn't been aware of that. "Oh. That's good. I...sorry I didn't know."
Dick shrugged. "No big deal, man. It's not like I ever told you." There was a small silence between them that was sort of awkward, but not nearly as much as what had been going on the past couple of years. Dick cleared his throat. "So, are you ready to rejoin the team?"
"Absolutely," Wally answered, looking around him again to try and take in everything he could. It felt so good to be back, almost like he was coming home after being away a long time.
Dick looked happy, but somewhat uneasy at the same time. It wasn't unlike the expression Barry had worn a few days before. "Are you sure you're up for this, man?"
"More than anything," he answered with a smirk. "I've stayed away for too long. It's about time I came back."
"Artemis would be proud."
Wally had to smile slightly at that, because she probably would be. He glanced around, seeing no one before leaning forward, lowering his voice as he spoke. "Have you heard anything?"
Dick looked decidedly uncomfortable. "No. I haven't been able to get through to either her or Kaldur. I'm sorry, Wally."
"It's okay," he answered, even though it kind of wasn't. He'd known what danger his girlfriend was putting herself in the moment she'd chosen to take on this mission, but that didn't mean he was really prepared for the mental pain that came with it. It was getting to the point that he was worrying about her every free moment he had and he was beginning to hope that maybe rejoining Young Justice would help him focus on other things. But he was still scared. He found himself hanging on Bart's words more than was probably healthy, telling himself not to worry and that everything would be okay.
But it wasn't enough.
She was out there somewhere, maybe in danger, maybe in pain, maybe being discovered for who she was right now, and there was nothing he could do about it. He felt like a horrible person when he realized that he was somewhat relieved when Nightwing looked just as upset. "Wally," the younger man asked, and his voice was quiet. So quiet. Like it had been when he told him he'd been fired as Robin, all those years ago. "Do you...do you think I made the wrong choice?"
"What do you mean?"
"Do you think I shouldn't have sent those two out in the first place?"
And how the heck was he supposed to answer that? He was probably the most biased person on the subject. "I don't know," he finally said, deciding to be truthful. He was so sick of keeping secrets and Dick was the only one he didn't have any with at that moment. He saw no reason to change that. "I think it was a dangerous decision. But I also think that it's part of the job. We all knew we'd be putting ourselves in danger when we took up our cowls or costumes. Artemis and Kaldur knew what they were getting themselves into. It may have been your plan, but they were the ones that agreed to it."
"I know. I know, it's just...I can't help but feel like I've screwed up somehow, like...I've sent them to their deaths or something, you know?"
"Yeah, I can see how you'd feel that way, but dude...I won't blame you if something happens to them." And he realized, right then, that that was true. It wouldn't be Dick's fault at all. He wouldn't be the one that directly hurt them, and he wouldn't really be the one that put them in that position- they themselves had.
"You wouldn't?" there was so much hope in that voice.
"No. I mean...none of us ever blamed Batman or the other members of the Justice League when one of us got hurt, right? This is the same thing."
"Not really. Batman was always our backup, in a way. Someone always knew where we were. This is entirely different. Artemis and Kaldur don't have a contingency plan, or anything to fall back on. Even if they asked for help, I'm not sure anyone would give it to them, what with how Kaldur's been acting to them all and how Artemis looks right now. I threw them into an ocean without a life raft before I checked to make sure they could swim."
"Bart said not to worry about Artemis, that it would all end up okay." Wally probably shouldn't have told him that, but Dick was so upset and he hadn't seen his friend like that in so long. He really didn't want any secrets between them.
It seemed that the news calmed the younger man a little, but not much. "But what about Kaldur? And what exactly does that mean? She could still die, even if the mission itself succeeds."
Wally had thought of the same thing, but he really hadn't wanted to dwell on it much. "I don't know," he finally said.
"You two and your secrets. If I didn't know any better, I'd think you were plotting to take over the world or something."
"ROY?" And yeah, maybe Wally had been a little loud (proven by both of his friends rubbing idly at their ears with pained faces), but could anyone really blame him for that one? He made sure to calm himself before finishing. "What're you doing here?"
The older red head blinked at him, shifting the back pack he had on as he turned to Dick. "You haven't told him?"
"Told me what?"
"No, I haven't," Dick rubbed the back of his neck, looking kind of awkward. "Wally, Roy is re-joining Young Justice, as of today."
The speedster couldn't do anything but stare for a moment. "Wait...what...really?"
The archer nodded with a strange smirk on his face. "Really."
"But-but-but...Why? I thought you were part of the Justice League now."
"I was, but I took a demotion. I didn't really fit in there. Besides..." and at this, the man looked more uncomfortable than Wally had ever seen him, shuffling his feet as he searched for words. "Watchtower is in space, which isn't a very good environment for children."
"...what?" Because, well, WHAT?
Roy cleared his throat, looking everywhere but at his two friends while Dick just chuckled at him. "Come on, man. Wally will be okay with it."
"Y-yeah, but Jade tried to kill him that one time, with the pool. She almost did! Which, by the way, she really is sorry about and-"
"Sorry! I just...ahem, Wally, I'd like you to...to meet someone," Roy finally choked out as Dick elbowed him rather painfully in the side. He slowly slung his back pack, which was more of a fur wrap around than anything, around to his front and placed it as gently as possible on the counter. The top flap wasn't actually fastened close, and the bag had a very loose weave. Roy took a deep breath before opening it.
And Wally just stared.
"Dude," he finally said, staring down at two bright little eyes staring right back up at him. "When did you get knocked up?"
Dick burst out laughing as Roy's face morphed into something that promised unimaginable pain and death. "Not funny," he finally said after his mouth worked a bit.
The little person - girl, he realized, she was a girl - giggled brightly and reached up with her hands. Wally blinked again, unsure if he would be crossing a boundary if he scooped her up and hugged her like he wanted to and instead just put his finger out. She grabbed hold of it immediately. He expected her to bite it, or squeeze it, or maybe even bend it backwards, but she just held it, like it was entirely natural. "...Okay, how did you and Cheshire manage to make such a terminally cute baby?" Dick laughed even harder and was now having to gasp for air. "I'm serious Roy, this has to violate, like, nine laws of the universe at least."
"Not funny, Wally."
"No, Roy's right, it's hilarious," Dick said, finally gaining back a sense of composure, though his face was bright red behind his mask. "Ugh...I forgot what it's like to be with both of you at once."
Neither of them said anything at that. Wally felt no small amount of guilt welling up in himself, mostly because he'd shut everyone out and it was partly his fault the three of them hadn't hung out since Dick's birthday a couple of years ago. Roy looked even worse, as he shrunk a little. Dick became upset as he realized that he'd just killed the atmosphere and stuttered a quiet apology.
"Don't worry about it, man, it wasn't your fault," Wally reassured him. The tiny girl tugged on his finger and reached for him with her other hand. He couldn't help but smile and poke her nose softly, to which she squealed and giggled again. "What's her name?"
Roy suddenly looked like he was about to burst with pride. "Lian. She's perfect. You're right, Wally. I don't have a clue how she came from her parents."
"I have an idea," Dick said, ruffling the girl's hair lightly. "Maybe you just don't see how perfect you are."
"I'll swear to that," Wally added before Roy could interrupt. The older boy looked at a loss for a moment before he sighed and bowed his head.
"Whatever. You two are weird. Though...thanks for letting us stay here, Nightwing. My apartment was no place for a baby, especially on that side of town. I...I didn't know where else to go, so...thanks."
Wally smiled knowingly, fully aware of how hard it was for Roy to take a step backwards from his pride like this. Lian was already changing him for the better, it seemed. As though she agreed with the thought, the little girl made a strange sound and looked at her daddy, smiling a much smaller, but seemingly more sincere smile. Perceptive this one, Wally realized. Just like her parents.
"It's no problem, Roy. We told you five years ago that you'd always be welcomed here. I didn't see any reason to change that now. As for Lian, how could I say 'no' to that face?"
Roy looked slightly embarrassed before he changed the subject. "By the way...I couldn't help but hear you guys talking about Artemis."
"By 'hear', do you mean 'eavesdrop'?" Dick asked dryly, though he didn't seem as upset as Wally would have thought.
Roy winced anyway. "I won't tell anyone, I swear. I understand the need for a covert operation like this, and I think the League will too. It's Young Justice you'll have to worry about."
"It's Young Justice I live with and see every day."
"Yeah, well, they'll just have to deal. Sometimes, there are things that are more important than people's feelings. Although, does this really mean that Kaldur's-"
"Yes," Dick answered quickly, glancing around to ensure no one was listening.
Roy was silent for a moment before he took a huge breath. "That's...wow. That's dedication. Kudos to him. Seriously."
"I know. This...hasn't been easy for any of us. Especially him."
"We need to throw him an appreciation party when he gets back."
"That we will do."
"I'm game," Wally said, surprised when Lian tugged his finger hard enough to give the impression that she agreed too. "She really is amazing Roy," he said, marveling at this little miracle in front of him. This child...Lian had come from his best friend and his girlfriend's sister. She was practically part of his family. And she was so perfect.
"Thanks," the archer said, though he sounded a little unsure again. Wally looked at him, wondering what was wrong. "Um...Jade and I kind of talked about this, and we decided this was best."
"Huh?" Wally could tell he was out of the loop on something. Dick was giving him this really loopy smile, like he'd just been told he'd won the lottery and Roy, if at all possible, seemed even more uncomfortable than before.
"We...uh...we want you and Artemis to be Lian's godparents."
The speedster couldn't even begin to comprehend that. "What?"
Roy sighed. "We want you two to take care of our daughter if anything should happen to us. Dick is kind of our second back up."
"...Roy, perhaps you've forgotten, but I tend to break things when I'm not careful."
"You won't break her."
"She's a...a kid!" Wally could feel actual panic rising in him about this. What the heck was Roy thinking? "I don't know what to do with kids!"
"Bart says exactly the opposite," Dick said, the little traitor. "In fact, he says that about a dozen children all loved you and you took care of them all at once."
"Yeah, maybe, but that's forty years from now! I've never even held a baby before!"
"Never too early to start practicing," Roy responded, and before Wally could even begin to phrase a defense, he found his arms full of a slightly squirming Lian as Roy picked his daughter up and passed her over. Wally freaked, his hands fluttering around as he tried to figure out a way to hold her that wouldn't cause harm. He was supposed to support her head, right? In the shows, mothers always put their hand behind the baby's head. But did she need that when she was in her wrap-around-bag-thing? Was he supposed to start burping her before or after she showed signs of needing it? Speaking of which, was he supposed to feed her or something? Did he put his other hand under her rear, or did he sit her on his arm? And-
"Wally, stop panicking. You're going to do fine, I promise you." And if Roy had ever sounded like a father, it was there.
His voice alone somehow acted like a sedative or something, because suddenly, Lian was in Wally's arms and it was so much easier than it had seemed a moment before. The little girl gurgled up at him, pulling at his shirt with inquisitive hands and Wally felt his heart melt a little bit. This child...was Roy's. And Jade's. It was such an odd image, but it somehow seemed to fit. He could see now, the features she'd gained from each one, and it was almost scary how much a perfect mesh of the two she was.
"So...will you do it?"
"Will you be her godfather?"
Wally kept looking at her, taking in everything he could, because this was one of the most beautiful things he'd ever seen. He knew exactly what he wanted to say, but he knew he shouldn't. He had so much to worry about, the Speed Force being at the top of the list. He couldn't take on something like this. Not now. But then, Roy had said that Dick was there too, and both of his friends were looking at him with so much hope and some other emotion he couldn't place.
Lian smiled at him, cooing softly, and Wally felt his walls crumble.
"Of course I will," he said quietly. "Although, can't promise I'll do a good job."
"Don't have to tell me, man. I was drunk and pretty much high when Jade dropped in to tell me about her. Don't even talk to me about bad fathers," Roy responded.
"You'll do great," Wally answered at the same time Dick said "she'll be fine with you."
All three of them turned to see Batgirl, Bee, and Blue Beetle walk up to them from the direction of the entrance. The second two looked at Wally and Roy quizzically, and Lian quite critically, but Barbara just smirked. "What're you doing here?"
"We're rejoining the team," they both answered at the same time. Wally felt a sort of pride in his words, but also nervousness. Judging by Roy's face, he was the same.
All three of them stared for a second before Barbara reached forward to shake their hands and ruffle Lian's small amount of hair. "Welcome back, then. We could use another speedster. And certainly an archer." She then looked to Dick. "Do you have a mission for us today?"
"Yeah, some pretty simple recon work," he answered.
"And by 'simple', he means 'simple to screw up,'" Wally couldn't help but interject. Roy snorted in agreement and the other three heroes all chuckled.
Dick himself nodded. "Probably. Anyway, there some nearby drug activity that is now growing enough to be suspicious. I know you guys weren't there back then, but the original team once came across a problem where Bane and Sportsmaster were having a turf war that was growing steadily out of hand. I would like to avoid something like that happening here at all costs."
"So, let's go see how we can possibly make this harder than it needs to be," Wally said cheerfully. Because, of course, back in the day Murphy's Law ran rampant all the time.
"And then, knowing our luck, it'll start raining on top of whatever happens," Roy muttered.
Bumblebee gave an actual laugh at that. "Yeah, they'll fit right in."
Everything else went by as a blur at that point. The other members of Young Justice gathered in the briefing room where Dick told them what was going on. Everyone else seemed okay with Roy and Wally's presence, and once Nightwing had confirmed that they were there to stay, Megan squealed and Conner had moved over next to them, both asking to be on their team. Wally had just blushed, not knowing what to say and genuinely surprised that they were so happy that he was there. Bart was no better, practically tackling him to the ground in excitement while waving up at Roy.
Wally felt right being back in his Kid Flash costume, though, considering his age, most of them called him KF. He didn't really care and made a mental note to think of a different name later, one that had to do with speed. Maybe Momentum. Or Inertia. He was kind of leaning towards Speed Demon or something himself.
In what seemed like hours but was only moments, they all got ready to go. Roy had decided to sit this one out and get Lian more acclimated to the base before leaving her with one of the younger heroes. Kid Flash, Miss Martian, Superboy, and Nightwing were all assigned to Beta squad. Bart, Robin, Bumblebee, and Wondergirl were Alpha, and all of them were joking that they were practically the junior squad of the first generation. Wally just smiled, laughing as he realized that, yeah, that was kind of true, though Bee had many differences from Megan. It struck him then just how much the team had grown over the years, especially in his absence. It was kind of a calming thought, that if something happened to him, there would be someone there to pick up the slack. It wasn't like the old days, where if they lost one person, the rest of them might not make it out of wherever they were.
Again, he was reminded of Artemis and Kaldur, who didn't even have what they'd all had five years before, but he brushed the thought away. While he felt bad for pushing them away like that, it wouldn't do any good to get distracted at that moment. Especially with how lonely he'd been since his girlfriend had left.
In front of him, the Zeta beam portal opened up and he found himself smiling. This was it. His first real mission in two years. The other two, he'd just run into blindly. But this was different. He had a place here. He had friends that he knew had his back and a plan. He was home here, with them. With all of this.
He missed Kaldur and Artemis, and they could be in danger.
But strangely, he was okay with that.
Just like he'd been okay with dying for his teammates. His friend and girlfriend had been ready for whatever came their way, and it would be unfair to them if Wally wasn't prepared the same way. Such a thought felt so wrong, but he knew that if he worried about them endlessly, it would not only make him fret, but it would also imply to himself that he didn't believe in their abilities.
He himself was running back into battle, aware that everything was on the line and that the Speed Force could snatch him back at any moment.
But, again, he was okay.
He was ready. If he was going to die, as had always been a threat in this kind of life, he wanted it to come in a way he was comfortable with. If he was going to go down before retirement, he was going to go down fighting. He wasn't contagious. Bart, Barry, and Jay were all safe from him unless they themselves went too fast - something they had all become wary of.
Nightwing made it a point to keep at least one super powered person on each team with a speedster, just in case. Though Wally knew that wouldn't be enough to pull them back should anything happen, it was a nice effort. Better than nothing anyway.
He still felt it. The Speed Force. It was always behind him, always beside him, tugging at him, trying to call him back. But he was okay. Because he had friends to help him. He had a new outlook on life now. If Artemis came back to find him gone to the other side, he'd like to think that she'd understand, at least somewhat. And he knew she would. She would kill him, but she would understand. It was the same reason he'd understood why she took Nightwing's offer to re-enter the field. Crime fighting was unavoidable once it got in the blood.
Going back to it felt so right.
As he turned to the Zeta beam, pulling up his cowl as he went, he felt so free.
He would always be in danger. And he would always be in a difficult position when it came to running. And thoughts of Artemis and Kaldur would always haunt him in the back of his mind. He'd never forget how he'd almost destroyed his relationships with everyone, especially those closest to him. He would be working for a long time to repair everything that had gone wrong in his life and get back all that he had lost.
But he was okay with that.
Because everything was worth that and so much more.
Author's Note: Thanks to everyone that has supported me up until this point. You really have no idea what it means to me. This story was a blast to write and I look forward to returning to it the future. The sequel will be interesting though. Since the story has officially caught up to the series, it will be entirely AU and there are so many ways it can go that I'm not sure what to think at the moment. I hope you all liked the story! Any feedback will be taken into great consideration and is very much appreciated. Thank you all so much for everything!
P.S. For those that are curious (I always am when I read stories), the final page count here was about seventy-four and a half pages, not counting the author's notes. Thanks for reading!