Disclaimer: I don't own Young Justice.
Safe And Sound
The asphalt beneath Wally's feet switches to gravel every other step. He tells himself to keep a steady cadence as he runs, waits until he's comfortable, and bullets faster. His feet have gone numb from what seems like hours of running, with energy that crackles at the seams of his boots. He looks over his shoulder constantly, in curiosity if he can find his mentor behind him. When he can't find the Flash, the sliver of hope that swelled only seconds ago shrinks until it grows numb in his chest.
The world around him moves in a blur. He sees lightning. Yellow. His color. It shimmers in the corners of his eyes and blisters as he blinks beneath his goggles. His ears are deafened to the thunderous sounds around him, with intensity that hisses and snaps at his costume. As he pushes himself faster, Wally finds himself dragging his feet in search for traction.
There are no trees, no grass, no sidewalks, no concrete, no mountains, no people that greet him from the corner of his eyes. He keeps himself from looking down, in fear that the ground beneath him is false as well. At the front of his mind is every lesson Uncle Barry has ever taught him.
And he knows he needs to slow down.
Wally hesitates half a heartbeat before he takes the next step.
He reminds himself of the weights added in his boots as a failsafe and lets his feet fall heavily to the ground. Wally allows the inertia to guide him and feels the adrenaline as it pelts him hard in the stomach. Air chokes from his throat, with the scent of burnt rubber and lycra mixing with wet blood as it dribbles from his nose, and he grits his teeth until it aches in his jaw.
The silhouette of trees and tall buildings catch his attention, and he knows he's doing the right thing. Secretly, Wally's relying on dumb luck.
[Kid] Flash Fact: Magic doesn't exist. It doesn't explain "what can't be explained" and exists only in night clubs and five-year-olds' birthday parties. Being reckless is a better word for what he's doing. He lets the predicament and solution run through his head, without calculating what his repercussions could be.
(In other words—to quote the admirable Leo Valdez—he tries not to think. It interferes with being nuts.)
Wally lets out a cry of relief as the buildings around him begin to solidify. The ground beneath his feet becomes more structured—stable, as he runs, and the throbbing finally catches up with his chest. He curls his hands into fists, lets gloved fingers dig into thickly-covered flesh, and cringes as his feet pound the ground with force.
The energy is still whirring over his wing-tipped covered ears and biting at his own uniform. Wally asphyxiates with smoke and crisp rubber swelling in his nostrils, and knows that just telling his feet to stop doesn't cut it. He needs a destination—an endpoint. One of the first lessons Uncle Barry taught him; one of the little ones that as a thirteen-year-old boy, Wally had rolled his eyes and loudly proclaimed, "Duh."
He never would have thought it was the biggest advice Flash could have taught him.
So for one instance Kid Flash kicks up his speed and steers left. He pivots his footing and somehow, makes his destination Mount Justice, Happy Harbor. Wally squeezes the last breath out of his lungs and releases of the energy that swells in his stomach.
The metropolitan city of Happy Harbor greets him with a sunset—with buildings that go over his head, cars filled with people that shriek as they look over to see him, the yellow blur, and just…people. Life other than himself. He keeps himself from laughing and hides a grin of relief, knowing that if he loses focus, he may mess up. Water pads beneath his feet and splashes into the bare skin of his face.
Once the familiar formation of rocks appears in his line of his vision, Wally lets himself go. He lets the overwhelming feeling of relief bloom in his chest and knows the first thing he'll do is tell Rob how fast he was going. He plans on sweeping into the kitchen as Megan finishes baking cookies and give her a kiss on the cheek, plans on introducing the classic movies to Supey (The Breakfast Club and then Singin' in the Rain) and plans on assuring Aqualad that running is his safe haven.
His security blanket. If he didn't know how his speed works, he'd lie to Kaldur, then he wouldn't be Kid Flash. He knows that once he bluffs, Robin will give him that knowing look (one that knows Wally is freaking) and they'll discuss it away from the team.
But first off, he collides face first into the side of the mountain.
…when Wally wakes up, he feels the warmth of a hand to the side of his face. Touch. He feels his stomach catch up to him, with nausea burning on the inside of his throat. Every part of his body is sore, stinging with numbness he doesn't usually feel after running short distances. A palm presses against the bare flesh of his face, with fingers that rest upon the pulse in his neck. He leans into the hand with a whimper in his aching throat and lets his eyes open.
Beautiful cerulean blue orbs hover above him, with charcoal locks that dangle from his forehead. Robin's skin is light and creamy, reflecting the orange hue of the milieu as a sky turns to night.
Every part of Wally hurts. Even his teeth throb. His throat is sore—dehydrated—and through blurry goggles, he can barely see his best friend. He's tired. But he knows it's Dick. The hand resting on his face thumbs the goggles and pushes them delicately to his forehead. Wally swallows hard and watches as Robin's eyes react. He laughs, and he knows he looks like shit.
Robin's free hand stays firm on his chest, melding around his heart beat. The other one remains where it is, at the side of Wally's face and capturing his pulse. Despite this, Wally reaches out with a quivering hand and brushes the bangs out of his best friend's face.
Under his breath, he murmurs, "Looks like you found me."
Instantly, Robin recoils. Wally blinks.
He blinks the daze out of his eyes until the rose color disappears from his gaze.
And sees the man's eyes dampen. "Wally?"
Kid Flash forgets to breathe.
It's Dick. Wally knows for a fact that it's Dick, with the shape his eyes, and the small way his lips curl when he frowns. The first thing the older version of his friend does is help him sit up. Wally is handed a bottle of water from who-knows-where and a custom-made bat-handkerchief that soaks up the blood that falls from his nose. This Dick keeps a hand on him at all times, whether it be on his shoulder or the small of his back as a form of security.
For Wally or for Ro—Dick, he's not quite sure.
The pounding in his head convinces Dick that Wally ran himself into a concussion. (Dick also adds it's likely, given Wally ran straight into the "remnants of the mountain." Wally doesn't ask why 'remnants' is said, too busy trying to keep himself awake.) For the most part, there isn't conversation. Dick orders Wally to drink all of the water and runs his hands on either side of Wally's face in a way that makes him croon. He insists for Wally not to fall asleep, going as far as shaking Wally despite the vomit that threatens to ooze from the back of his throat.
Dick pulls him to a battered looking zeta-beam teleporter tube at the side of the mountain that looks like it's seen better days. Wally's feet dangle off the ground as Dick lifts one of his limp arms over his shoulder, and he tries to lighten the mood by joking about his best friend's growth spurt. It doesn't get a laugh.
Once they reach the other end of the tube, Wally can barely keep his eyes open. He feels Dick lift him over his shoulders like a little kid, and buries his nose in the skin of Dick's neck. Beneath him, Dick stiffens and says nothing.
They discreetly go to an apartment. Under closed eyes he feels Dick's feet trek up a staircase and hears him pulls out a set of keys. Future Dick's frame has to be at least double the size it is in present time, with arms that engulf Wally and make him feel protected.
They cross the living room and Dick sets him on the mattress. Blue eyes watch him carefully as Wally stirs, and he clutches his aching head. Dick kneels over and places an ice bag on his forehead before he can say a word.
It's gentle. And caring, and loving, and makes Wally's chest swell until he forgets how to articulate. The shape of Dick's face is carved deeply, with the contour of his demeanor radiating with authority. His nose is sculpted intricately, taking in breaths that allow his chest to rise and fall with vivacity. Hair falls in messy clumps over bright cerulean blue eyes and tapers at the side of his neck. There's a knot in his hair—right at his ear, that Wally wants to comb out.
The hands set on either side of him are rigid, not small. The body that reaches out embraces him, instead of falling lithe in his arms. Dick's face—his demeanor, is more honest than what Wally could ever asks for.
He watches Dick's lips move and forgets to listen.
A crack appears between ebony eyebrows. Slowly, a faltering smile spreads across his best friend's lips. "I need to check you for wounds. I'd rather do it now, than…" His voice trails off.
Nodding carefully, Wally raises his head and pulls down the zipper at his neck. His teeth clatter out of pain as the soreness shoots through his arms and shoulder blades, and seethes. It hurts. It hurts, everything hurts. "Can you help me?"
It's the way Dick looks at him next that makes him blush.
They take off the uniform; glove-by-glove, boot-by-boot. Only the goggles are taken off his head with ease, marred in both caked blood and dried sweat. Wally's mind is insentient, detached from his actions and disjointed from the thoughts that run through his head, when Dick reaches for the zipper again and slides it down his chest.
(He's thankful to be wearing the solid-colored boxers and an undershirt when they finally leggings off.)
Dick diagnosis him with a twisted ankle and a mild concussion. He puts a wrap around Wally's leg and smoothes a band-aid over the bump on his forehead.
Wally is given crackers once he can move his jaw again, and trades it out for a half-assed peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
After insisting on a tall glass of milk to go with his PB&J, he follows Dick's orders and goes to sleep.
Wally wakes up late in the afternoon.
He takes in a breath until air consumes his lungs and turns over in the bed. He pulls the blanket over his head in order to block the sun out, and buries his nose into the pillow, ignoring the shooting pain in his head.
Then he remembers what happened. Running. Perpetual motion. Diving head first into the side of a mountain which—ow.
Pushing off the bed, Wally sits up and examines his surroundings. The room is painted a soft blue, with walnut-wooden floors. Pictures adorn each wall, with various people that he manages and fails to recognize. He stands to his feet and waits for the awkwardness to dissipate from his joints before moving about the room.
Looking in a mirror, a beat up version of himself stares back. Medical tape rests on his nose to keep it intact. Bandages are wrapped neatly over his head to reduce the swelling, and a binding is wound around his left ankle from the stress he put on it while running. Wally's eye is bruised, with bags drawn beneath his sockets. To complete his look, he wears a light blue Stanford University t-shirt that dangles over his bare shoulder. Wally can't remember changing out of his uniform.
He treks the room in a steady pace, breathing verve into his lungs as the tiredness fades away, and stares at a picture frame of his older best friend and himself. They're the same height—even roughly the same build. Wally recognizes the background as the front of his house. The beginnings of Dick's shaggy hair begin to show as little bits run down the back of his neck and Wally's hair is long enough that it curls against his forehead—something he hates. They can't be older than fifteen and seventeen.
Looking at a picture of a moment that hasn't happened yet makes him woozy. He turns the frame over and opts to leave the room.
Dick is laying on the loveseat, with legs dangling off the armrests and arms crossed together. Wally finds him immediately when he turns the corner in the hallway, with his head jutted at an awkward angle that must strain his neck and eyebrows scrunched together in a bothered expression.
Wally waltzes over with light footsteps and feels his heart thrum gently in his heart. He pushes the locks of dark hair out of the man's eyes, and is surprised when Dick doesn't immediately wake up. It must have been a while since he slept.
Knowing that fact, Wally pulls back and tries not to laugh. Even with however many years have passed, him doting on his best friend apparently changes nothing. Dick still gets his sleep at odd hours in the day and stays up for however long his body allows him.
Despite his ankle, the speedster zips to the bedroom and returns to place a blanket over his sleeping friend. Wally walks into the kitchen that bares no match to the one in the Wayne Manor. The counter is empty, with cabinets that hold only a few cans of soup and two boxes of cereal. He checks the fridge next, and it doesn't disappoint.
Greens and meat decorate each shelf, but there are three separate Pyrex containers filled with macaroni, lasagna, and roast beef respectively. Taped to the refrigerator is a note by Alfred, insisting Batman's ward doesn't return the containers until they're empty and eaten out. That shouldn't be a problem.
He takes two slices of bread, finds a spoon, and scoops the contents out of all containers between them until the sandwich meets his chest. Smushing the bread together, Wally sinks his teeth into his new source of food.
A grin, packed in front of a mouth full of macaroni shells, roast beef, and seven layers of cheese, spreads across Wally's face. The redhead turns to see Dick staring at him from the counter. Swallowing hard, his eyes fall to the tight smile across the man's face, and he meets him on the other side. "I think you said the same thing to me just last week. You know, only shorter."
The uneasiness in Dick's smile doesn't disappear. Wally has to catch himself, wondering if the small creases in the man's face and the way his eyes flicker are as honest as they feel. Standing here, in only a t-shirt two sizes too big for him, in his boxers, and covered in medical tape, Wally knows he doesn't measure up to what his best friend is probably used to. Hopefully, he's grown taller.
"You feeling okay?" Dick finally asks him after what feels like ages of silence.
Wally nods, and without consideration of Dick's thoughts, unwinds the bandages from his forehead and places it near the sink. Dick jolts, eyes wide in surprise, and Wally can't help but snicker. "Speedster healing. I'm fine. Maybe a day or two of rest on my ankle. Then I should be able to run."
He hurries over to a cabinet and removes a bowl, along with Dick's half-empty box of Captain Crunch. Placing the contents in front of Dick, he's surprised he's met with…well, surprise.
"You always sleep in the middle of the day? In your…jeans?" Wally pulls himself onto the counter and continues eating his manwhich. There isn't an immediate answer—instead, Dick's eyes are narrowed to his mouth, and stay there with a grimace. Wally reaches over and pours both the milk and cereal in the bowl. It snaps blue eyes into attention, and they look down with hollowness in them. "You found me last night after I smashed into the mountain, right? And iced my wounds while I was asleep? Thanks. Creepy—but, well. Thanks."
It cedes a reaction from the man apart from him. Wally bites back his relief, watches as Dick closes his eyes and pinches the bridge of his nose, and looks back up. "How old are you?"
"Fif—well, sixteen. My birthday was just last week. Saved Queen Perdita of Vlativa." Wally shrugs as though it isn't a big deal and crosses his legs. "How about you?"
The corner of Dick's lip rises. He reaches out, spoons bits of cereal to the brim of the bowl, and shrugs back. "Nineteen. Just saved the world."
"Right. Because you're you, and you need to one-up me on everything I do even though you're like—this big." He pinches together his thumb and his index finger and laughs, even when Dick doesn't. "So. I'm five years in the future staring at my best friend who probably has a job as a supermodel and goes to like, Bats University or something. Cool."
"You're surprisingly calm about this."
"No you're not."
"No I'm not." A smile plans firmly across Wally's face as he sees Dick's eyebrows arche crookedly and a, 'You're-absolutely-mental' grin forming at his lips. Wally laughs and flicks bits of macaroni in his best friend's face. "I'm guessing you're not gonna let me leave until I look less like a mummy."
"That's a good guess."
"Is my future self going to come by anytime soon?"
The change in Dick's eyes is almost frightening. The rest of him remains calm, with the false smile that graces his lips, but the storm in his eyes puts Wally off. He's too afraid to mention it, and instead just follows along with Dick's expression. "That may not be a good idea."
"Spoilers, right?" Wally forces grin and shoves the rest of the sandwich in his mouth. "You're probably not going to let me see any of the team either. You know—to see if Kaldur grew gills on his legs or something, or if Supey and Megan finally break up."
"That…wouldn't be a good idea. No." The man takes a breath and heaves a heavy sigh. All Wally can do is smile and pretend he doesn't notice. The cereal is pushed aside without one bite eaten and poured into the sink. Dick pushes off the counter, enters the kitchen, and holds a hand out to him. "It's best to lay low for now. Once your leg is healed, we'll go from there. But I can still take you out to eat."
"We're eating right now."
"Okay." Wally curls his fingers into Dick's palm and pushes off the counter. He lands on his good foot, with his other hand grabbing his best friend by the chest. A large hand plants on his waist to secure him. Firmly. Safely. He looks up to the man, who stands a head and a half taller than him. His muscles are taut beneath the lithe t-shirt, squeezed firmly beneath Wally's fingers. Dark locks dangle from Dick's forehead and frame the strong contour of his face. They hide the boyish looks once given by the Boy Wonder, and show the maturity that feels like it's come twenty years too soon. But cerulean blue eyes are as bright as ever. Wally swallows hard. "Please tell me I grow taller than I am now."
"Little bit." Dick lets go of him and pinches his thumb and index finger together.
"Spare change of clothes?"
"I'll have someone bring some over later." He untangles from their grasp, and Wally is left feeling cold. Ebony eyebrows knit together and he offers a weak smile that doesn't reach his eyes. "Until then, we'll dig in old boxes and see what we can find."
The clothes Dick presents him with seem like a perfect fit. He's dressed in a t-shirt and pants that feel a bit too snug, but work better for his body. The shirt, Wally realizes as he looks around picture frames on the room, is something Dick's worn before. It's hard to think of the man as a packrat, given the neat and precise thirteen-year-old he hangs out with in his time.
It's even harder to look at all of these pictures and know that one day they'll happen. That they'll still be side-by-side for years to come, screwing around, and getting on each other's nerves. Wally looks at a picture frame fondly of the team standing together in a stiff pose, most likely taken by a superior. Dick and he stand at the same height. The Robin uniform appears to be adapted just slightly, with new straps and equipment added to his infamous utility belt.
Without even thinking, Wally opens a chest in front of Dick's bed. In it is a sleek black uniform—thick Kevlar that bears a striking resemblance to the Batman uniform, but with a stylized blue bird at the front of the tunic instead of a bat.
"Bluejayman?" he jokes when Dick looks over.
Dick snaps the chest shut and smiles harshly. "Time to go."
They take a motorcycle to get to the destination Dick has in mind. Wally keeps his hands tucked around the man's torso from behind, and lifts the visor of his helmet so he can press his cheek into the back of Dick's North Face jacket. Dick stiffens but doesn't say a word, and Wally doesn't goad him into doing so.
The pulsations of the bike beneath them are soothing. Wally has to stop himself from falling asleep; breathing in the scent of Dick's body cologne and fitting into place so easily with his best friend.
He's awake again when they make it to a small Mexican All-You-Can-Eat buffet. Dick dismounts from the bike, then offers a hand for Wally. There weren't, surprisingly, a pair of crutches back at the apartment to use. Wally assured him it was fine. Every time he smiles, Dick either smiles back or averts his eyes.
In the restaurant, the speedster piles up as much food as he wants. He eats a build-your-own-burrito that's bigger than his head, and across the booth, Dick looks back with an empty plate. Three bites in, Wally stares down on his best friend's lack of food and swallows hard. "Aren't you going to get something?"
Dick shakes his head slowly, eyes never leaving him. "Not hungry."
"Please?" Wally's face twitches. His voice cracks as he speaks, gaze narrowing to the man that sits in front of him, and he waits for a reaction. Something that Dick will say, instead of sitting across from an inanimate object. For the first time he sees life flicker in blue orbs—debating thoughtfully.
A hand reaches over. Dick grabs a discarded tamale on his plate. "Okay."
Wally throws three more to Dick's side, along with one of his miniature shrimp tacos. He smiles against the puzzled look on his best friend's face. "There's a such thing as eating, and a such thing as eating. Might as well get something now before I raid all the food in your fridge."
"Noted." Dick offers a soft laugh that teems in the redhead's ears.
They spend the time in one-sided conversation. Wally takes it upon himself to ramble about how his birthday's gone, how he saved Queen Perdita, how classes are going, how his dad wants to buy him a car—anything, to test out that smile and see if it'll eventually reach the elder teen's eyes.
Eventually—"Are you seeing anyone?"
The look Dick gives him is worth the embarrassment he feels once the question leaves his mouth. His best friend chokes on the taco and stares at him, eyes wide and mouth twisted in a crooked grimace. He pounds his chest three times and Wally patiently waits until he can get a verdict.
"Spoilers?" he asks innocently.
Dick's eyebrows shrink together comically and he reaches for a napkin to wipe away discarded food. He takes in a deep breath, eyes squeezed together, and pinches the bridge of his nose. "No."
"No, as in you won't tell me?" Wally pats his fingers across the table. "Or…'no'?"
The man shakes his head on both accounts. Wally can't help the disappointment that bubbles in his stomach and the hope that swells in his chest.
Halfway through the conversation, he reaches beneath the table and places a hand on Dick's. The elder teen's voice tapers off and he falls silent. Ebony eyebrows contort together and he smiles tiredly. "Why do you keep doing that?"
"Doing what?" Wally props himself on his good leg. He sits higher in his seat with a playful look and arches a brow high in the air.
"This." A thumb moves over his knuckles, brushing lightly in a soothing manner. Dick presses a hand to his temples and shakes his head slightly. "I don't remember you being this big of a flirt when we were kids."
The red blazes in Wally's cheeks and almost ruins his impish demeanor. He steers on and shrugs. "Have you met me?"
Dick's face twitches. His bangs sway side-to-side as he shakes his head, never mind.
They carry on the conversation with less tension between them. Wally asks few questions other than, "Is everyone at least doing well?" and catches the ambiguousness in Dick's answers. Some of them, he knows is for his sake. Others, he wonders why Dick won't look him in the eye.
And eventually, Dick pulls his hand away.
When they go home, Dick designates the bed for Wally's convenience. They check on his wounds, changes the bandages, and decide first thing in the morning, they'll try to fix his costume. They pop in a movie—one of Wally's favorites; Back to the Future and eat out as though everything is normal.
Dick sits on one end of the couch, and Wally at the other.
At the end of the night, he's carried to the bedroom by his best friend. Wally whispers a sleepy 'Sweet dreams,' and Dick shuts the door.
The next day, Wally wakes up to the scent of pancakes, bacon, and toast. He pushes off the bed that feels too big for him, inhales the aroma of breakfast foods and soaks in the tang of his best friend, from the pillows to the comforter to the room itself. He plucks the front of his shirt, brings it to his nostrils, and breathes in deeply.
His legs and body are stiff from a day without running. Wally checks himself in the mirror, admires the lack of black and blue around his eye, and feels the almost-nonexistent bump on his forehead. He moves his ankle and winces as a lingering pain shoots up his leg, and concludes another day or two should be enough before he can run again.
After that, the redhead walks out of the room with intentions of eating breakfast foods.
"—don't answer my messages for almost two weeks, avoid confrontations with Bruce, and out of the blue ask me to bring over some clothes. I trust you, but…what's going on?"
Then halts. Wally stands at the edge of the hallway toward the entrance to the living room (and ultimately, near the door) and sees the back of Dick's shirt as he talks to a boy outside.
"I found Wally."
At the mention of his name, Wally fidgets, but says nothing. He doesn't reveal himself, doesn't come forward—just listens. The boy his best friend talks to suddenly loosens his demeanor, clearly caught off guard.
"I know." Dick cuts him off before the boy can finish the sentence and runs a hand through ebony hair. "It's...a past Wally. I don't understand how he got here, other than nearly running himself into oblivion. Look. Don't tell anyone, okay? I'm trying to handle this."
"If they see him," Dick continues, and his voice cracks painfully, "he won't be able to leave. And they won't him want to. He's never even told me that back in the day he pulled something like this. I'm trying to figure out why—the guy usually can't keep his mouth shut."
There's a soft, mournful laugh passed between them. The boy reaches out and places a hand on Dick's shoulder. "Are you going to be okay?"
"I will be. Just…don't tell. Not even Bart, okay? Especially not him."
Silence carries through the apartment, other than the stove that hums in the kitchen. Wally runs the name Bart through his head and tries for a visual aide. He can't find one.
"Okay," the boy says quietly. His voice is doubtful.
"Thanks," Dick says. Then adds, "how are you and he doing?"
"We're doing okay. It's…been two months. Dick." The boy looks up thoughtfully and tilts his head. "Call me if you need anything, alright? You know I'll be there."
The door shuts quietly. Wally bites back the sinking feeling in his chest and steps forward. When Dick turns around, he startles uncharacteristically easily, blue eyes widening in shock. His mouth parts, eyebrows furrowed together, and hands twitch over the bag in his hand.
"Morning," Wally whispers groggily, with a tired prickle in his throat. "Is that your boyfriend?"
Every part of Dick's stunned face twitches. The last thing Wally expects the man to do is break into laughter. Wally jumps as Dick tosses his head back—and for a good two minutes, Dick is in a fit of snorts and laughter in contrast to his usually calm demeanor. "PFFFThahahahahAHAHA!"
Wally's face glows with pink.
"That's—he's…" When Dick catches himself, he walks the length of the room and puts a bag in Wally's hands. "Spoiler. But he's the reason why you have a fresh set of clothes for the next few days."
Curling fingers around the paper handles, Wally cranes his neck to inspect Dick's expression. Instantly he's met with that mask—the calculating front even Dick back at home still does to block people from seeing what he's feeling. It's obvious that he walked in on something forbidden.
He snaps out of his ministrations when Dick curls a hand over his. His expression twists, almost yearning, with a lack of mirth Wally finds himself searching for. "I made you breakfast."
Wally's lips purse together tightly. He grips the bag compactly and curls his fingers into his palms.
"We're. Not dating, Wally. Tim—he's. He's like my baby brother." Worry flashes in Dick's eyes, for fear he's done something wrong. His hand curls at Wally's shoulder and he bites the inside of his mouth. "Okay?"
"No. It's—not…that. I mean." Wally scrunches his nose. "You can cook? Seriously? I know your old title was the Boy Wonder, but what are you now—Mister Perfect?"
Dick looks at him again as though he's grown a second head.
And Wally can't help but smile when his best friend laughs again.
Most of the food, of course, is made for Wally himself. He's surprised just how well the pancakes taste (he bluntly asks if Dick's personal Alfred hiding in the closet) and gobbles down most of it before Dick finishes stacking them on his plate. Wally eats four stacks of pancakes drizzled with maple syrup and decorated neatly with sliced bananas and strawberries. He snaps bacon into his mouth and relishes as it crunches between his teeth, and eats the rest of his toast.
Dick removes himself from the stove, a pan in his hand and raises it over his plate. Wally shoves it to the other side of the table.
The elder teen blinks. "You full already?"
"I'm never full." Wally snorts and arches an eyebrow. "I want you to eat."
Oh is the look that passes across Dick's eyes. He slides the last of pancakes onto the plate and sits down across the table. Wally gets up, searches the drawers until he can find a fork, and puts it in Dick's hand to eat.
Before putting the first bite in his mouth, Dick looks up. Blue orbs flicker thoughtfully and narrow to the speedster in front of him. "Thank you."
Wally's heart skips a beat. "You're welcome."
They spend the entire afternoon working on his Kid Flash uniform. Dick pulls it out of the closet, where it had been neatly hung on a regular, pasty white hanger. The yellow boots are in tatters, with the sole on one foot completely burnt off. The other shoe is covered in soot, with the rubber so thin that Wally can feel his fingers in it. His goggles are cracked and covered in bugs and debris (probably from slamming face-first into the side of a mountain) and the shoulder pads have all but fallen off.
Dick gives him a look when they move operations to the living room. (As it turns out, there isn't a secret Bluejayman Cave or Nest or whatever.) "Has this ever happened before?"
"Don't normally go that fast." Wally shrugs and bites his lips. He looks down to the tattered uniform with a discontent frown and scratches his head. "I…didn't know I could go that fast. Uncle Barry and me. We…were racing for the heck of it, and…" He shrugs again. "He ate my dust."
Something clearly changes on Dick's face—an eerie expression that makes Wally reexamine what he's just said.
He changes the subject so Dick will stop staring at him and leans over Dick's lap to touch his boots on the coffee table. Wally places a hand on the other teen's thigh and inspects his tattered uniform. "Can we fix it?"
Fortunately Dick's expression morphs back to the situation at hand. He stands up, leaving a frigid gap between them, and disappears into the hallway. Wally falls over into the spot his best friend had taken over, and swallows the hardness in his throat. When Dick returns, he has an identical pair of Wally's boots, followed by variations of the red and yellow uniform that clearly look too big for him, and a few different uniforms. The speedster blinks, perplexity evident on his face.
"You were my best friend after all," Dick says as though it explains everything. "I'd be stupid not to have one of your spare uniforms with me."
"Oh," is all Wally can say. Dick holds the uniforms close to him. It looks like the hardest decision he'll ever have to make.
"It'll look stupid, but we'll just patch up the one you have." His best friend sets them on the coffee table and sits at a far corner away from Wally. "You just need a uniform that withstands the friction. If it's just as simple as running backwards from the way you came."
"It will be," Wally promises. He stands to his feet and takes scissors from the kitchen without even thinking. It's becoming very easy to think he lives there.
All the while, Dick watches him silently.
They spend the afternoon fixing up his uniform, cutting out patches and sewing in new ones. Dick consciously places distance from him—avoiding touch, and at times, even avoiding eye contact.
The next day, Wally figures it out.
The thoughts come rushing to him once he wakes up. He lies in bed with the sun beaming a white light through the room and the thoughts gnaw his mind. Every bit of him—the need to push Dick's sad gazes aside, the nagging feeling that insists he overlooks the way those blue eyes flicker, the slightest crook in Dick's lips as he frowns, the scrunch in his brow with every word Wally says—disappears. He searches himself, and omits the urge to push it away and go through all the motions of discomfort and sadness with his best friend today.
Since his visit, Wally hasn't had contact with another human being other than his best friend.
No one comes. Not even in passing to greet Dick at the door before he ushers them away. Dick assures him it's to prevent spoilers. He avoids all of the questions, involving what Wally's 'future self is up to.'
Dick doesn't contact Batman throughout his stay, to report what's going on.
Dick hasn't gone on patrol once, since his arrival.
Dick stares at him like a ghost.
Dick and he…were best friends.
He lays in bed, wide awake for what seems like hours. Green eyes scope the ceiling and make shapes out of the pattern of white paint. At first, all they can do is stare at the bleakness of the room. Then they moisten. When the thought hammers solemnly in his mind, Wally hides himself and tries to breathe. He ignores the door when it opens with a soft click and curls his hands at his side.
"Wally? You okay?"
"I'm dead, aren't I?"
Wally's palms permeate with sweat. He sits up against the bed and looks directly into blue eyes, with a weak heart trembling at his chest. Dick blanches—and the hesitation—the guilt, the fear, the anguish—all shows too easily on his face. Wally's hands knot into the duvet and he turns. He swallows hard. "That's why you won't let anyone see me. Because I'm spoiling myself—and. And it'll cause a fuss and—it'll make it harder for me to leave. Because you know everyone is going to freak out if they find me, a fifteen-year-old version of myself."
"Sixteen," Dick corrects quietly. His eyebrows knit together and arm falls limp at the door.
Breathe. "I'm dead," Wally repeats, hoping the tremor isn't in his voice. "Aren't I?"
"Was it a noble death?" His voice cracks and he hates himself for it. "Did I die a hero?"
They stare at each other. Wait for a heartbeat to pass. Dick's eyes are bluer than Wally has ever seen them—all in vivid, beautiful shades—and in an instant, they disappear beneath lashes. Dick sucks in a harsh breath. "Of course you did. Wally that's—that's not even a question."
"Tell me how."
He does just that. Not all of the details, Wally knows. But enough to understand. The Arctic. An endgame, set up by someone sinister. The Flash, running. Not being fast enough. Enter Kid Flash—his future self, twenty-one-year-old Stanford student, who would never let someone die because of speed. Because speed is his game.
One that he wins at the cost of his own life.
Wally has his own memorial at the Watchtower and his legacy lives on. Uncle Barry doesn't go a day without thinking about him. No one, Dick enunciates, goes a day without thinking about him.
Three days ago was the two-month anniversary of his death. Which was why Dick, who resigned from the team and even the hero business, had visited the remnants of Mount Justice. Where he found Wally, who used their old (current) headquarters as his endpoint. Wally has to stop his friend before anymore can be said.
Once Dick finishes, Wally finds himself staring at the ceiling once more. He makes out the small blotches of white, the empty grooves that exist beneath the pattern. He feels Dick's eyes as they gaze upon him—and says the only thing on his mind.
"Sorry I died." Wally shrugs and looks to the man. He pulls his knees to his chest like a small child and stares at his best friend obliquely. "I'm…I'm sorry it cost me my life."
The look Dick gives him next makes him gulp hard. And the mask breaks.
"You're apologizing to me. F…For your death," Dick murmurs slowly, and he chokes on his own words. A bitter laugh etches from his throat. "Wally, y-you died and you're apologizing to me?"
The words stab Wally sharply in the chest and he forces himself to breathe. "How do you want me to react? I saved the world dying—"
"You're a kid, Wally. A KID." Dick cuts him off and his eyes moisten with tears. For the first time it isn't an unruffled smile or an empty gaze—there's rage. He throws his fists into the air and shuts the door behind him. "You're sixteen. Sixteen-year-olds make stupid decisions about driving or the girl they like in school. They don't worry about saving a world, they don't—they don't worry about dying, Wally."
"Most kids don't have superspeed either. What do you want me to do—" Wally cringes against the look Dick gives him, and heart squeezing in his chest. "Quit heroing?"
"You do," Dick snaps back. "And I hated you for it. I wanted you back on the team more than anyone, Wally. I just—" —didn't want him to die because of it. He halts before he can finish his sentence, but it's obvious what he wants to say.
The tears fall down his best friend's face—little bitter beads that had been contained since day one. Dick resorts to muttering incoherent things under his breath and squeezes his eyes shut. He shivers, the tears accumulating and sobs.
"You left me," Dick whispers. "And I couldn't get you back."
Wally crawls off the bed. He presses the balls of his feet to the ground, treks around the mattress, and stands parallel to his best, best friend and embraces Dick without a word. Then buries his face into Dick's shirt. Above him, (too-old) Boy Wonder takes in a breath before hugging back. No pulling away, no disappearing.
Like the first day Wally brushes soft bangs out of Dick's face and curls his palms against his flesh. He feels the warmth of tears, and the fire of skin beneath his fingers, and watches the shadows beneath stunning cerulean blue eyes. Charcoal eyebrows knit together and Dick hides away his gaze with a pathetic laugh.
"Sorry," he whispers.
"What a baby," Wally whispers back, with terrible mirth tingling in his tone. He stands to the tips of his toes and presses their lips together.
Of all the gestures, Dick doesn't push away. There's hunger as he kisses back, instead of ignoring everything Wally had done since his arrival. Dick laughs softly, painfully into the kiss as their lips mesh, and straps both arms around the teen with the intent of never letting go. He nibbles on the speedster's lips—yearning, tasting, and begs for more. For something they'd never had, in eight years of friendship together.
They part when they remember they need to breathe. Wally's lips are hot with saliva, mouth tingling with delight. He blushes from his neck all the way up to the tips of his ears. Dick looks down to him with a breathless laugh. The affectionate one Wally loves to hear so much every time he gets to see Robin.
But then there's regret, for the both of them. The nagging starts again in the back of Wally's head as he tries to smile, and he curls a hand at the other teen's bicep.
Dick kisses him again.
They spend the rest of the day in bed, arms curled tightly over each other, and legs knotted together. Wally plays with the fabric of Dick's shirt and rubs it fondly between sad and sweet kisses, and shivers as hands run across the bare skin of his leg, touching every freckle that exists.
His best friend pulls the duvet over the both of them and they hide from the world.
When Wally asks questions, Dick answers them. Truthfully. If Uncle Barry and Aunt Iris are alive, if Superman finally accepts Conner. Dick explains the costume change. Nightwing. Because Batman taught him everything he needed.
Since his future self quit, Dick reasons, there was no reason for "Present-Wally" to change the costume. No interest to. Wally fills out the uniform as Kid Flash for another three years before he retires. He holds back a remark of how he's never wanted to quit—because the honest look on Dick's face lets him know it's the truth.
"Why this?" Dick asks that night after Wally's done with his questions. His fingers splay at the small of Wally's back, and allows the speedster to bury his face as he pleases into his best friend's arm. Wally's hand plays with the line of skin beneath Dick's shirt and his pants, and he sighs.
He shrugs. "Why not?"
"Wally," Dick voices, almost humorous. "You weren't this flirty with me when we were kids. Not anyone. I didn't even know that you…" He trails off.
He has to hide his embarrassment as the red burns in his cheeks again. Wally rolls away and crosses his arms thoughtfully. "I dunno. Maaaayyybeeee…just to get a reaction out of you?"
"I wasn't sure how to break the ice with you." He shrugs again and feels his face drown in sanguine. Wally props up in the bed and stares down at his own hands. "Dick. Dude. I. I've…always liked you. Always. I mean obviously I didn't expect to wake up one morning and find out you're like the best cuddle buddy ever, but." He takes in a breath and turns his head back to the other teen. "Artemis came into the picture. Zatanna came into the picture. I. I figured you'd want something else."
The sun casts a shadow across Dick's face as it sets behind the buildings. He looks to the speedster, eyes flickering monotonously, and runs the tips of his fingers across the freckles on Wally's forearms. "You know tomorrow you'll have to leave, right?"
"Yeah." Wally's breath drops short. He adds, "being a hero sucks."
It brews a laugh from the teen next to him and makes him smile. Dick pulls him close, until Wally can hear the pulse in the man's chest against his own, and captures his lips in a kiss.
"One more day," Wally promises. "And then I'll leave."
Blue eyes stare back sadly.
"When you get back," Dick murmurs softly, and he rubs his thumb over Wally's cheek, "kiss me. And see what I do. Okay?"
Wally swallows hard. "Okay."
They fall asleep, arm-in-arm, and bury themselves into each other.
The next day, Wally insists on seeing his grave at Central City.
Going to the Watchtower is too controversial, and even if they manage to override all of the security codes, there is someone that is bound to see him. Dick shoves a hat over his head to cover red hair and zips up the jacket over Wally's torso even though he protests it'll be in the nineties when they go down to Kansas. He makes Wally wear his black shades to look 'inconspicuous,' because absolutely no one must see him.
Then, despite the obvious height difference between them, Wally assures Dick he can be carried on his back.
The first few steps toward Central City nearly has him falling over from the kajillion pounds of extra weight Dick has because of his growth spurt. Dick laughs and ridicules him in a way almost like Wally's Robin. Once they're set in motion, Wally kicks his speed and estimates they'll be in Kansas borders within thirty minutes. They start a conversation about the good and bad movies that will come out in the next five years—and which chick flicks they secretly go to when they're away from the team.
Ten minutes into their conversation, Dick is quiet.
His arms fall around Wally's torso, just as Robin would, and he buries his head in the crook of Wally's nose.
He misses this.
Wally's grip on either one of his best friend's legs tighten. He sucks in a breath, says nothing, and keeps running.
Once they arrive in city limits, Wally suggests they buy flowers. (It's weird to think about buying flowers for his future deceased self—the thought shows on Dick's face as he arches an eyebrow, but all Wally can do is shrug. His best friend dressed him up as a ginger-ninja. Whatcha gonna do?)
It's when they finally make it to the cemetery—see the tombstone with his name on it, that Wally decides it might have been a bad idea.
He expects a little rock no bigger than his knee, with the name Wallace Rudolph West carved in stone. That beneath it, some bratty little kids would graffiti the stone that say Rudolph the Red-Haired Loser, or Esther East—something like that.
Not…a six-foot tall statue in a wide field of the cemetery, with his future self staring straight back in an intricately carved-out Kid Flash uniform. Not with a golden plaque, engraved with, In Loving Memory of Wallace Rudolph West. "Kid Flash." Our Hero.
Not with a cement pathway to walk up to, with flower beds of lilacs blooming on either side. Or with dozens of bouquets of flowers left by civilians, by heroes alike—with little notes tagged onto them, as though he could read them in the afterlife.
In Loving Memory Of:
Wallace Rudolph West
November 11th, 1995 – June 20th, 2016.
"Did it always look like this?" he whispers quietly under his breath.
Dick shakes his head. He keeps an arm at Wally's waist, if only to secure him and keep him from running away. His hand squeezes the speedster's side tightly, and he sighs. "I…don't know. Maybe? There…wasn't a body found when he—you…died. I think Bart said the mayor commissioned it. People come by all the time. No one's allowed to make a gimmick out of it."
"Oh," is all he can say.
Because this…this is his future. The realization hits him hard in the gut all at once, and he squeezes the bouquet of flowers tightly in his hands. Death. At home, he's just…dorky Wally West. Science whiz. No one bats an eye to his name at home. Dodgeballs know his face by heart. All the miserable terrible high school experiences—happens to Wally West.
And five years from now he's expected to be revered as a hero and die. But.
Dick's right. He's just a kid. Just a kid. Just a kid who can run. Just sixteen years old and running and—never coming back.
"Wally?" A voice snaps him out of his thoughts, and a hand touches his face. Dick's gaze flickers with concern. "Wally—"
"'mfine," he murmurs. No he's not.
Wally wipes the tears from his face. He steps forward, places the flowers at his grave, and reminds himself to breathe.
The run back to Bludhaven in silence. Wally stays in his head—pacing himself. Reminding himself to breathe, to push against the tight feeling in his chest. Dick asks more than once if he is okay—even if they both know he isn't. Once they're back, Wally chucks off the leather gloves Dick made him wear, throws away the jacket, and tosses the black shades across the room. He moves forward to hide his tears—he's dead, he's dead, he's dead—and shivers as he marches down the hall.
"Wally," Dick calls after him. "Wally—"
He whirls around when Dick grabs him by the arm, and chokes on another sob. The scenario is completely opposite from yesterday—where Wally looked at his best friend and lulled him. Dick looks at him, with soothing blue eyes and squeezes his hand firmly over the speedster's wrist.
Dick yanks him into his arms, and crushes him. He envelopes the small entity of his best friend, and buries his face in the crook of Wally's neck. And instantly, Wally cries. The sound strains loudly from the back of his throat, and he claws Dick's shirt in search for more protection. Wally shakes and presses his wet face to Dick's chest, and cries harder.
He's dead. He's dead. He's dead.
"It's okay," Dick murmurs into his ear. He runs a hand smoothly up and down the speedster's back, and breaths in his ear. "You're okay."
No. No he's not, he's not.
Green eyes look up, under tear-matted red hair. A hand combs it out of his face, and Wally finds a smile. Broken, beautiful, and—there for him no matter what. Always. Wally reaches up with a small hand, and curls it at Dick's neck. He stands to the tips of his toes and presses a kiss to the corner of the man's lips.
Dick kisses back—soft, with fervor effervescing behind his teeth. He grips Wally tightly as the small teen stands on his feet, and tastes the tears as they fall into his mouth. Wally's hand scrambles to undo the belt and untuck the shirt from the man's pants.
For a moment, Dick pulls back and looks at him alarmingly. He opens his mouth—
"Please?" Wally breathes, and he sniffles. His fingers play with the end of Dick's shirt and pad bare skin.
—and says nothing. Cerulean blue eyes scrutinize every part of Wally and search him for an inkling of doubt. Dick lifts the redhead off his feet, broad arms wrapping as far into Wally as they can, and pulls him into another heated kiss.
Dick's knees press against the mattress as the redhead lands into bed. They break mid-kiss to throw the shirt off the elder teen's person, and Wally tenses as he feels a hand palm his skin beneath the shirt, and squirms as fingers pinch his nipples. He whimpers, and feels the rush of blood as it goes down beneath his legs.
"Are you sure about this?" Dick mutters with concern. His eyes flash with alarm when Wally wrestles out of his shirt and tosses it aside.
A shirt for a shirt.
Wally shivers in the cold, and moans with the warm hand pressed against his heartbeat. He nods jerkily, strains his neck, and pulls on a drawer at the nightstand with a quivering hand before tossing a fresh bottle of lube in the man's direction.
One of Dick's eyes bug out. "Should I even ask how you know about that?"
Shrug. "'mcurious." He sniffles again, wiping the last bit of tears from his eyes and leans back in the bed in his best seductive pose. (Even then, Wally's sure he looks like a gawky awkward giraffe.) He doesn't care. Really—he doesn't. All Wally wants is his best friend. To live this moment before he has to go back home and live. Quietly under his breath he begs, "Please?"
It's not the last time Dick asks him if he's okay. They go at each other for another kiss, where Wally digs his hands in the back of his best friend's head and feels Dick's skin as it moves against him. Warm fingers his muscles and rub his nipples until Wally bucks beneath the elder teen.
He gasps as Dick's lips move to the juncture of his neck and nibble behind his ear. Dick mouths every freckle, and trickles fingers down the pale abdomen beneath him. His hands squeezes Wally's belly, and he kisses the pulse at the redhead's chest.
Slowly, Dick mouths lower, lips pressed against skin as Wally shakes and embarrassingly moans.
For a moment, Dick reaches up and pushes the sweaty hair out of Wally's face. He kisses the boy soothingly and grips him by his bare side. "You don't have to contain yourself. I want to hear you."
Wally flushes red from his chest all the way up to the bridge of his nose. He croons into their next kiss and clumsily unbuttons the front of Dick's jeans. The elder teen's fingers curl against the band of his pants and pull both his boxers and jeans down to Wally's ankles so he's fully exposed.
He doesn't miss the way Dick's eyes gleam, nor the tongue that sticks out of his mouth. Wally has to stop himself from covering up.
The teen in front of him shucks out of his pants until he's standing in his boxers, muscular thighs and thick calves exposed. Wally's eyes roll to the back of his head and he keens as Dick molds a hand around his erection. And—stops.
Wally huffs. "Dick."
"You're sure about this—"
"Yes," Wally says again. He hooks his ankles around the man's back and curls his hands over Dick's neck before pulling him into a kiss. Dick's hand squeezes his cock just enough to make Wally mewl again. "Dude, I am n-not above just jacking off if you're not going to touch me. God."
He must have said something funny, because Dick laughs. He kisses Wally on the nose and stares at him coyly. "I'll keep that in mind."
There's a snap of the bottle in between kisses. Dick grinds against him, his cock rubbing against Wally's thigh. Wally has to breathe to keep himself from cumming too soon (and—as a sixteen-year-old virgin, he knows he won't last. He hopes it doesn't show on his face.)
Dick squeezes the substance in his hand and rubs it tentatively between his fingers. He instructs the teen to lie on his back before sitting on his knees, then parts Wally's legs with his free hand. The speedster moans, feeling a wet mouth between his thighs, and chokes with pleasure as he feels lips on his balls.
Simultaneously, Dick's fingers part his ass and touch his entrance. Wally's knees collapse on either side of the teen and he twitches with shock. Dick keeps them firmly parted, and slips a finger into him. Oh god.
"Dick," he squirms, and feels the mouth lick beneath his balls. There's a burn as Dick adds another finger, and he thrashes against the bed. Dick's free hand stays firmly on his thigh to keep him from writhing. Wally cries out, his hands fisting into the duvet in pleasure.
Once Dick reaches his prostate, Wally does everything he can not to scream. He flexes his fingers, buried three knuckles deep into the speedster and mouths the inside of Wally's thigh.
After the teen is sure Wally is prepped and ready, he pulls his fingers out. Wally clenches against nothing and pants as Dick slips off his boxers. He gulps hard in a haze, watching Dick shiver and moan softly under his breath as he slicks lube onto himself.
Dick climbs onto the bed and Wally makes room for him. He reaches down, kisses across Wally's as sweetly as he can, and presses the head of his erection at the curve of the speedster's ass. Blue eyes stare down, hair matted to his face in sweat, and cheeks as flushed as he feels.
"I swear if you back down now," Wally murmurs under his breath, and he hooks his ankles together around the elder teen, "I'm never going to forgive you."
"You never shut up." Dick grins tiresomely and he laughs. "Do you?"
"Pffft, who cares." Shrug. "I'm dead anyway."
The first thrust fucking hurts. Wally forgets how to breathe as soon as Dick moves inside of him and dizzily decides that whoever said sex felt fucking good never got past third base. Dick is kind to him when he sees the pained look on his face but—god. Wally decides before he goes back to his present, he's going to go to the beginning of time and ask who the hell thought sex was pleasurable. He grits his teeth and claws into the blanket beneath him with absolute pain.
It only stops when Dick pulls one of his arms over his shoulder. "Look at me—hey—look at me, Wally."
Through wet eyes Wally looks up and curls his hands tautly into Dick's shoulder blades.
Dick bucks his hips, and he kisses Wally on the chest. "Breathe, okay? Breathe."
"Breathe, Wally. C'mon, breathe…"
And it gets better.
He has to leave.
Because the longer he stays, the harder it is for him to complete that thought in his head. He…has to go. The next morning, Wally wakes up with his face curled tightly into Dick's bicep. The ache from last night shoots up his back and draws out a pained groan from his lips. He ignores it.
Today's the day. It has to be. It's…gotta be.
For a moment, Wally stays where he is, with arms tangled around his best friend—his first love—and listens to his pulse against his ear. He waits until the sun peeks through the window and feels the kiss on his neck when Dick murmurs good morning.
He looks over to Dick and tries to meet his eyes. Knows he can't.
Dick's gaze flickers sadly as they meet each other. He buries his face into the younger teen's neck, and they spend the earlier part of the morning laying in bed, tangled together, and hide beneath the duvet. Once they gather the courage, Wally crawls to the edge of the bed and opens the chest where the Nightwing uniform is kept.
"What are you doing?" Dick asks. This time, he doesn't shut the lid on top of him.
"I wanna see the team before I go." The other teen gives a look of protest, but all Wally can do is shake his head. He digs into the chest until he finds the comm.-link—perfectly in shape and ready for use. "This is my decision. And…I want to. Okay?"
Dick still looks hesitant, but agrees. Neither one of them wants to leave each other on a sour note. Wally hands him the comm.-link to make the call.
An hour later, Wally is suiting up in the living room and taking off bandages. He answers the door each time it rings on his own amusement and waves nervously as one-by-one, the team members take a look at him. Megan is still absolutely beautiful. Kaldur gets a crop-top. Artemis is still as pretty as the day Wally left. Superboy…looks the same.
When Uncle Barry sees him, he bursts into tears.
He has to pat his uncle on the back and murmur soft words to keep from crying himself. Dick watches from the kitchen counter, a wry smile on his face and a pained look in his gaze.
First—when everyone's gathered, there's lots of hugs. Wally nearly breaks his jaw when Supey picks him up and crushes him against his shoulder. Megan nearly chokes him as she cries and hugs him, and Artemis places a hand to her mouth before she bursts into tears. Her look especially, makes Wally's heart twist in pain.
Then there's a lot of yelling. He sits contently between Uncle Barry and Megan as Dick and Artemis go at it, with the occasional blurb from Conner that for some reason, makes everyone wince. A lot of,
"The only chance we'll ever get to see him again and you decide it's better not to tell anybody? What the hell, Dick?!"
"What did you want me to do?! He's sixteen, Artemis! You think it was easy for me to take him in?"
Kaldur gives him aggrieved looks. Megan keeps a hand over his, like he used to dream of since the first day they met, and Uncle Barry keeps a hand on his shoulder. Eventually—by the time Wally is in his modified suit and has the goggles placed over his head—he gets fed up. "Hey. HEY!"
The yelling stops, with Artemis on one side of the room and Dick at the other, both with their hands tossed in the air and arguing in frustration.
Wally can't help but roll his eyes. "Care to stop being adults for like, two seconds?"
Neither one look satisfied for their broken argument. He rolls his eyes again and pushes off the couch to get between them. For a moment both of their looks wither, and Wally finds himself in the middle of sadness.
"Rob was right not to tell anyone. The more of you who knew, the less I would want to leave." He bites the inside of his mouth and shifts awkwardly between his feet. "I just. I-I don't want to see these looks on your faces. I—" Don't want to leave. His eyebrows contort together beneath the cowl and his hands curl into fists. Don't want to be upset.
It's enough for both of his friends—his best friends—to break apart from their frustration. Artemis and Dick both come forward to put an arm around them. She keeps herself from pressing on more—and Wally can't help but wonder why. Everyones' eyes gloss with tears.
Looking up from the hold, Wally meets eyes with their resident telepath. "Can you erase my memory?"
They in the room stares at him, and the grip that both Dick and Artemis have on him loosen. Dick, especially, looks at him with absolute shock.
Megan's lips purse together and her face scrunches. "You…want me to erase your memory?"
Wally shrugs jerkily and feels the words choke at his throat. "Dick said a couple days ago to his brother that I never mentioned going forward in time. Me coming here was completely unexpected. I—I think that's what happened. You erased my memory."
"Wally…" She stands up, and looks absolutely crushed. He forces himself to look away from Uncle Barry and from Dick.
"I don't want to live my life as a countdown." Jerking, Wally steps out of the hold both Artemis and Dick have over him and pulls the goggles over his eyes. "I. Just…let me live. I'll start running, and you erase the memories of the past few days. Make me think I'm just running to get back to the past."
He looks up to meet her stunning brown eyes, and finds them pooling with tears.
Sucking in a breath, Wally shifts between his feet. "Okay?"
She floats across the coffee table and lands in front of him. Megan pulls him into her arms, and nods quietly against him. "Okay."
They relocate at a clearing in the outskirts of Bludhaven. He takes his first and last run with the future-Uncle Barry, whose eyes tighten as they look at each other. Dick suggests he runs in the opposite direction he did previously to get here—and simply hope for the best. Everyone lines up so he can say his goodbyes.
He starts with Artemis, seeing as her face concaves. She feels too small in his arms—the grip tight, and he breathes in her scent.
"So…all of that arguing and slap fights. Does that actually lead somewhere?" he whispers to her.
She laughs against his ear. "Of course it did. We were sixteen and stupid kids, Wally. Kids."
"'Course we were." They stand at the same height, with the archer having aged beautifully over the years. He doesn't know if it's his place, but he kisses her on the cheek. "You can do better than me. I always thought you were out of my league anyway."
He moves onto Kaldur, who offers out a hand for him to shake. Wally latches onto him before his leader can blink.
"I bet in five years of knowing me," he muses, "you never once thought about hugging. Did you?"
Just like Artemis, Kaldur laughs and pats him on the back. He's taller. Older—with just as much weariness in his eyes like Dick has, if not more. "I was always afraid I'd end up dragging you to Atlantis if you didn't let go."
"Pshh. I'll mention it when I get back." Wally zips over to Conner and holds his arms out for a hug.
Conner gives him a look—before plucking him off the ground again and nearly crushing him with super strength.
"You," Wally says tightly, "were always my favorite souvenir, Supey."
Conner twitches. "You haven't called me that in years."
Oh. "Well, that sucks." Wally wiggles his feet above the ground and tilts his head at him. "Supey. Uh—you can let me go now."
All it leaves is Dick, Uncle Barry, and Megan, who stand together at the other end of the line. Wally stands parallel to his uncle and raises his head to the man who taught him everything in the past few years. In years to come. He feels his eyes glisten with tears beneath the goggles, and holds his breath.
Uncle Barry reaches out and pulls him into an embrace that hurts more than Conner's hugs. His grip is firm, squeezing every bit of the younger teenager in his grasp before the man sobs again beneath his mask.
"You were proud of me, right?" Wally whispers. His throat clinches and he bites the inside of his mouth. "Of him?"
Just like his teammates, Uncle Barry laughs. It's genuine, with the slightest bit of mirth in his tone as he clutches Wally by either shoulder. "Wally. I will always be proud of you. No matter what you do."
Right. Wally breaks through with a crooked smile and moves onto his best friend. His first love. Cerulean blue eyes meet him, completely void of the frigid eyes from before. They're sweet—and soft, and everything about Dick that made Wally fall in love with him years ago.
They embrace without much to be said. Wally stands at the tips of his toes, buries his face in the elder teen's neck, and breathes in the cologne one last time.
"Sorry that I had to go all Time Traveler's Wife on you." Wally closes his eyes and curls his hands at Dick's shoulder blades.
The teen above him only chuckles—bittersweet and strained. "You made me go see that with you."
"Aw—c'mon, you loved it." They share another laugh, arms curled tightly around each other. Wally's gaze follows the small indents on Dick's arms and fingers pad the bare flesh not hidden by his t-shirt. He bites the inside of his mouth and forces the reluctance away from his chest. "Don't quit. Okay?"
"What?" Dick pulls away and stares at him in confusion.
"You. Rob. Nightwing. Whatever. Don't quit," Wally repeats. "Okay?"
"You, Speedy, Flash." Wally's voice raises and he stands apart from the man in front of him. "You guys are the reason why I became who I was. Just because of this—me…dying…" He gulps hard and waves his hand around to make it seem casual. He forces a smile and crosses his arms to look taller than he feels. "We're heroes. It's what we do. So…grow a pair and get over it. Okay?"
Dick's face twitches impractically and he makes a sound from the back of his throat. "Wally. Did you just—"
"Yeah." He kisses the man firmly on the lips, and moves onto Megan before they can carry on the conversation.
At first, she looks surprised. Megan looks over to her old-teammate as if to decipher what they'd said to each other. She looks back to Wally, her gaze sad, and places both hands on him like a doting older sister. "Are you ready?"
"Yeah." Wally nods. He hesitates. Then, 'Is it just us in the mental link?'
She stares at him, unfazed, and nods. 'Yes.'
'Put a mental block on my powers. So the moment I stop running, I never go at that speed ever again.' Wally pulls the goggles over his eyes and stretches out his limbs. He looks back to her, watches her eyes widen in surprise, and bites the inside of his mouth. 'Okay, Miss Magnificent?'
Her demeanor changes. Wally doesn't need the link to know what she's thinking—the question that all of them are wondering.
'I can't come back, Megan.' Even in his head, it sounds empty. 'It's mean if you guys are just waiting until I screw up again and land myself here.'
'Okay,' she finally says, and he feels her sadness as it rushes through his mind.
"Focus on calendars as you run." Uncle Barry squeezes his shoulder tightly. "It's fuzzy, but that should be your biggest hint on what year you've hit. If you go too far, decelerate first. Making a U-turn is dangerous. Sounds funny, but seriously dangerous."
"Once you leave the fifty-mile radius, I'll make you think you're just running." Megan stands on the other side of him, hand clenching her heart beneath her chest. "You shouldn't question why."
Wally nods. He spares his team one last look, and looks over to Dick.
"Ready?" Uncle Barry asks.
Dick looks back, stature tight, and mouths a quiet Goodbye.
"Set," Megan announces.
Taking in a deep breath, Wally feels the energy coil in his stomach. He breathes in the scent of electricity, and digs his feet into the ground.
Kid Flash runs.
I started working on this as soon as the episode was over and got around to finishing it last night. A friend and I were tossing around the idea of how a younger Kid Flash could just show up and...voila. The title of the piece is a song called Safe and Sound by Taylor Swift, but I had the Sam Tsui cover in mind whenever I wrote this. It's devastatingly sweet, and I love how it goes with the piece. I hoped you guys enjoyed reading; I had a fun time writing this. (: