Summary: Dick mourns the loss of a friend.
Characters: Dick Grayson (Nightwing), Wally West (Kid Flash I)
Special Notes: Takes place after Endgame. Also, some language.
They had been drifting apart for some time now.
So much so that Dick found it hard to believe that at one point they had actually called each other "best buds", blindly following the other out of one sticky situation only to wind up into a even worse one.
They always came out on top though. That's who they were, that's what was expected of them. It's what they expected out of themselves.
At one point, Dick would have proudly claimed that no one knew him better than his best bud. The duo did everything that best friends did. They teased each other, they worried over one another, they finished each other's thoughts and sentences, they shared tears. And if the situation called for it, you could bet that they were there to keep each other in line.
But, life went on. And they went their separate ways.
If Dick had to point out a single moment in time when the drifting first started, initially he would have said it was when he left him. But then he would pause and put some more thought into it, finally coming out to say that it started even before that. It started when he found her.
All the time that they had spent together was suddenly halved when those two got together. Instead of going out of his way to spend time with Dick, he bent over backwards just to see her. Of course, Dick couldn't bring himself to be mad at her for wanting him all to herself. They were good for each other, and Dick was a good friend. As long as he was happy, so was he.
Then, he broke out the big news.
"Didn't you hear me? I said we're quitting." Dick, at the time only recently having taken the Nightwing persona, blinked and shook his head.
"Sure, but you don't mean that," he recovered quickly, dismissing it all with an airy laugh. Green eyes shot into his masked ones, and he saw into them a rare seriousness.
"I mean it, Dick. Artemis and I are done. We're moving on."
"What do you mean you're done? You don't get to decide that, this isn't something that we can just drop once we're sick of it. People depend on us!" Uh-oh. He was losing his hold on his emotions; he didn't usually burst out like that. His friend merely sighed though, and cast his eyes onto the ocean in front of him. Nightwing didn't take his eyes off him though, looking for a sign that this was all just some stupid joke.
"The team will do just fine without us. You're getting new members everyday." And already it was his team, not theirs.
"Tula and Garth are doing great, and Kaldur hasn't seemed so happy in a long time now with them around. New Robin could do some cooling down, but I'm sure he'll be fine. And Gar's already mastering his powers so fast, M'gann said that even she can't shapeshift as quickly and well as him."
This was all true of course. But what about him? What was he supposed to do without his best bud? Dick bit his tongue though, and didn't voice out his concerns. Instead he swallowed his opinions and congratulated him.
"Ok. I'm happy for you guys, and if this is what you want than you should do it," he said numbly, not quite feeling like himself. The smile he got in return almost made it worth it though.
"Thanks, man. I knew you'd understand."
A silence fell between them, neither of them quite willing to break it. Finally, his friend laughed and wrapped his jacket around himself tighter against the biting northeastern wind.
"Stanford, man. Can you believe it? I've always wanted to live in sunny California."
"Yeah... I know."
After that, Dick thought he would have a hard time adjusting. But with the team keeping him so busy, he only rarely found himself looking for a certain speedster on the battlefield before realizing that he would never find what he was looking for.
And life went on. They still saw each other often, three thousand miles meant less than nothing to a speedster. He would often zoom by to check on how they were all doing. And when something kept him tethered to California, they kept in touch via their comm links or video chat.
But over time, the visits became further and further spaced apart until they just stopped all together.
"Sorry, I've been so busy with school."
"Yeah, I get it."
And then, either one or both of them would stop ringing the other. They didn't chat as often as they used to and eventually the calls only happened on special occasions.
But they were both busy. Dick with the team, dealing with losses and fake betrayals, and the speedster with projects and tests. For the most part, Dick managed to get him completely off his mind. Until the day he needed their cooperation.
They were still heroes at heart. He knew they wouldn't refuse, at least, she definitely wouldn't.
"This isn't a social call, guys. I have something very important to discuss with you." Dick announced the day he showed up, quite unexpectedly, at their door.
"Whatever it is, count us out. You know none of that is our business anymore."
"It's about Kaldur."
They held their breath. They had heard about the news the day it happened. No one saw it coming, and they were all affected by it. Kaldur was their friend, their leader. He was supposed to protect them, and now he was fighting on the side against theirs.
"Look, Kal's betrayal has been hard on all of us. But I still don't see what this has to with us," she spoke up, intruding on their little stare down. If he knew his friend as well as he thought he did, then he knew that Dick was keeping something hidden up his sleeve.
"Because he hasn't betrayed us. He's on an undercover mission, has been for all this time. And now all of our hard work will mean nothing without the help of you two."
He was furious at him for forcing such a decision upon them. Artemis agreed without much thought. Her friend needed her help, and she wasn't about to let him down. That was that for her.
But Dick knew that he had driven the wedge between them even further that day. He would hold this grudge on him for the rest of his days, for putting her in danger.
Then they had their little... confrontation. That was the last conversation that Dick had with his friend. And it ended on the worse imaginable note. Artemis joined Kaldur on the side against theirs. And the speedster may have loved Kaldur like a brother, but he had his doubts. And the doubts grew to paranoia when the safety of the one he loved most was in jeopardy.
He would never forgive Dick if something happened to her.
Everything worked out in the end though. Kaldur played both the Light and the Reach like the fools they were, his faith in the team forever unwavering. What was supposed to be the final confrontation was one of the happiest days of his life.
His friend wasn't mad at him anymore, they were joking and kicking ass like they used to when they were teenagers. They had stopped the bad guy and had won the day. It should have ended there.
Instead, Black Beetle pulled a fast one on them. They were caught off guard and everyone was scrambling around the globe, trying to play their part in the role.
Once again though, by some miracle, they had actually managed to pull it off once more. They had saved the world for what seemed like the twentieth time in the past couple months.
And then everything went wrong.
No one knows what happened to him. Just that he disappeared and that it seemed unlikely that he was going to come back. Dick knew it was going to hurt, just not by this much.
Damn it, Wally...