A/N: This is just a little friendship piece that I wrote because I was so angry about the events of Endgame. I have not seen the episode (nor do I plan on ever watching it) because I consider the way they ended the show to be a pathetically cheap shot at 'going out with a bang.' Wally deserved so much more than that.
"Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way when you criticize them, you are a mile away from them and you have their shoes." Jack Handey.
"Okay, we're here," announced Barry Allen, guiding the car to the curb.
"Alright!" Wally cheered and reached for the door handle.
"Not so fast, Kid," Barry cautioned. "Let's go over the rules one more time."
"Aw, c'mon, Uncle B! We've been through this, like, a dozen times already!"
"Then I guess this makes thirteen the charm. Hey, don't blame me," he added, as Wally shot him a frustrated look. "They're not my rules. And I'm not planning on ticking off the Bat – especially after he agreed to this."
"Barry's got a point, Wally," Dick countered from the back seat.
Wally shot his best friend a look. "It's just a party and you already know the stupid rules, why do I have to know them?"
"Because Batman said so, riiiiiight." Wally sighed. "Okay, fine! Rule number one, don't use Dick's last name. Rule number two, don't mention Bruce Wayne. Rule number three, no drinking, no drugs and no girls…" Wally paused. "That last one only applies to you, right?"
Dick rolled his eyes.
"Wally." His uncle nudged him and Wally continued to tick off the rules on his fingers.
"Rule number four, if there's even a hint of trouble, we're to leave straight away. Rule number five, be home by one. Rule number six, no superpowers or anything that might give away our secret identities. Rule number seven, no fighting." He blinked, a thought occurring to him. "Why would we even be fighting? It's a party!"
"Wally!" his uncle groaned.
"Fine, fine. Rule number eight, check in with Bats every hour via text– Dude, you are so totally gonna be the one to do that. Rule number nine, stay together at all times. Rule number ten, don't do anything that could get us in trouble and, or, arrested. Rule number eleven, I screw up any of the above and Bats will fricassee my hide."
"That wasn't one of the rules, Wally," Dick pointed out, laughing.
"Yeah, but it's kind of implied. Why else would he give us a bunch of stupid rules?"
"Maybe because he agreed to let his thirteen-year-old son go to a high school party and said thirteen-year-old can sometimes be a target for less than savoury characters?" Barry pointed out. "Wally, you need to take that seriously."
"I know, I know. But it's just a party, Uncle Barry, and no one here knows who Dick is. We'll be careful, I promise."
His uncle smiled and ruffled his hair. "Alright. You two enjoy yourselves. I'll be back at twelve thirty to collect you."
"Twelve thirty?" Wally whined. "But we don't have to be home until one!"
"And I'm making sure that we leave plenty of time to get home in case of any detours," Barry replied. "You're not the only one who doesn't want to get on the wrong side of the Bat, Kiddo."
"You know, Bruce really isn't all that bad," Dick defended his mentor. "He's not Batman all the time."
Barry shook his head. "Maybe not for you, Dick, but for the rest of us…" Wally saw him exchange a quick grin with Dick in the rear-view mirror and felt a frisson of impatience.
"Whatever! Enough Batman talk; let's party!"
"Twelve thirty," his uncle reminded them as they climbed out of the car.
"Sure thing, Uncle B, thanks for the ride!" Wally called, then slammed the car door and dashed around the other side to Dick. They waved as Barry pulled out.
"Dude, this is so awesome!" said Wally gleefully. "I really thought Bats would change his mind at the last minute."
Dick grinned. "You and me both. C'mon, let's go check out this shindig!"
They walked towards the house, the music level making the path beneath their feet throb. They were in Central City, and one of the kids from Wally's school was throwing what promised to be the party of the year; everyone was going to be there. Wally had been looking forward to it for weeks. What made the party even more epic in his eyes was that his best friend was going to be there as well.
It had taken major effort and begging on Dick's part, not to mention a serious amount of grovelling and promising on Wally's, to convince Bruce to let Dick go. Wally thought his caution was way OTT; Dick was in high school now. Plus, he'd trained Dick to be Robin and wasn't that way more dangerous than any high school party? For a smart guy, the dude's logic was seriously flawed.
"Wally!" a loud voice called as they reached the front porch of the heaving house; teenagers were practically hanging out the windows.
"Gage, my man!" Wally turned to greet a tall, gangly teenager with long, stringy blond hair who had been lounging at the far end of the porch. They slapped their hands together briefly in greeting.
"Dude, what kept you?" the blond teenager asked. "You were supposed to be here, like, an hour ago."
Wally grimaced. "My uncle was giving us a ride and his time keeping sucks."
"My cousin, Dick." Wally gestured to the younger boy, using the cover story that Bruce had insisted they use to keep anyone from prying too deeply into who Dick was. Wally thought Bruce seriously needed to dial down the Bat paranoia. "He's visiting for the weekend."
"Hey," Gage nodded at Dick, who smiled back. "You picked a great weekend to visit – this party is gonna be epic!"
"We miss much so far?" Wally asked.
"Nah. Just some freshmen puking out back. The real fun hasn't started yet. I just came out for some air. You ready to get this party started?"
Wally grinned. "Thought you'd never ask."
Wally thoroughly enjoyed the first hour of the party. True, the food could have been better (nothing but chips and dips) but the music was awesome, conversation was fun and there were enough pretty girls to keep Wally entertained until Doomsday.
He glanced at Dick, who was standing several feet away, chatting with Gage and Alex – another of Wally's classmates – and suppressed a grin. It hadn't taken long for Dick's easy charm to work its magic on the older teenagers. Wally often wondered how he managed to be so warm and easy-going when he was being raised by the world's only living rock.
He blinked as he realized that was the third time this evening his thoughts had turned to Batman. What was that about? Maybe he needed more snacks. Turning to raid the chips and dips table again, Wally collided with a very solid chest.
"Watch it, West!" an obnoxious voice growled and Wally took a step back.
Oh, nice. Todd Weldon, Mr Quarterback, the walking cliché; all-round jock, jerk, jackass – and one of Wally's least favourite people on the planet. "Sorry, Man. Didn't see you there without your wide load sign."
Somewhere inside of him, his instinct for survival face-palmed itself.
Todd seized the front of his shirt. "Think you're funny, do you?"
"Actually, I think I'm hilarious." Stop talking now, Wally.
"Problem?" asked a mild voice, and Wally turned to see Dick coming up beside him.
"Mind your own business!" Todd snarled, before doing a double take. "Who's the shrimp?"
"I'm Wally's cousin," Dick told him, frowning as he tugged Wally's shirt out of Todd's grip. "What's your anger management problem?"
"Dude!" Wally hissed, as Todd's eyes narrowed. He was pretty sure Todd's anger management problem bordered on psychotic.
"Listen, Shrimp," Todd warned Dick in a low voice. "You obviously don't know who I am so I'm going to give you ten seconds to say sorry and then walk away."
"Gee, that's big of you," said Dick sarcastically, before turning to Wally who was having a mini heart-attack. If Todd decided to rearrange Dick's face, Bats would have his head. "C'mon, Wally, let's head out back. Gage said there's a–"
Todd seized Dick's shoulder and spun him back around. "I'm still waiting for an apology."
Dick batted his hand away. "Then pack a lunch. It might be a while."
Todd started, and an expression of anger darkened his features. Wally could see that he was infuriated by the much smaller boy standing up to him; Todd was used to nothing but total servitude from the lower classmen.
In an obvious effort to maintain his image, Todd grabbed the front of Dick's sweatshirt with both hands…and promptly found himself flat on his ass.
Wally froze. What just happened?
Todd was clearly thinking the same thing. He blinked up at Dick with a stunned expression on his face, while several people around them snickered.
"You coming?" Dick asked Wally, as though nothing had happened.
"You're dead, Shrimp!" Todd snarled at Dick, clambering to his feet.
Dick just ignored him, which only served to enrage Todd further. The large teenager charged at Dick, who dodged effortlessly and grabbed his outstretched fist, using its forward momentum to chuck Todd face-first against a wall. Several partygoers turned at the sound of the disruption and from somewhere the chant of 'Fight! Fight!' sounded.
Wally moaned. This was breaking bat rules four, six and seven – what the heck was going on with his friend?! Dick was normally never this reckless in public. If Batman knew he had pulled a Robin manoeuvre, he would ground them both until they were thirty!
Todd was getting to his feet again, but the look in his eyes was now more calculating. Wally could see him assessing Dick, and decided it was time to do some damage control before Dick gave away his secret identity with more of his fighting skills. Because if that happened, Batman might break his 'no kill' policy and Wally wasn't in favour of that happening. He liked breathing, thank-you-very-much.
Quickly, Wally yanked Dick backwards and pushed him behind him, before turning to Todd. "You're going to have to excuse my cousin," he told the looming quarterback in the most deferential tone he could manage towards the guy whose butt he had dreamed many times of kicking. "He's got some…problems."
Wally tapped the side of his head with a finger, drawing an outraged sound of protest from Dick. "I do not have problems! The only person here with a problem is–"
"Dick!" Wally spun around and glared at his younger friend with an expression that said shut-up-now-or-the-Bat-will-find-out-and-kill-us both!
Dick caught the gist of Wally's expression and snapped his mouth shut.
Behind Wally, Todd snickered. "His name is Dick?! The little shrimp's name is Dick? Hey, whaddya know? Dick by name and dick by nature!"
A few people tittered and Wally cringed on his friend's behalf.
But Dick merely raised a single, unimpressed eyebrow. "Is that the best you've got? Dude, that button has been pushed so many times already, it broke. Seriously, can't you jocks ever come up with some new shtick?"
Several people laughed appreciatively and Wally glanced back at Todd, whose face flushed an angry red. It looked like that was another button being pushed too many times. Time to make a quick exit before Dick's quick mouth landed him – and by default, Wally – in even more trouble.
"Uh, we'll just be going somewhere that's away," Wally told Todd, quickly pushing Dick through the knot of people that had gathered around them. As the crowd parted slightly, Wally seized Dick's upper arm and marched him into the hall.
"Wally, oww!" Dick hissed, pulling his arm out of Wally's grip. "What's your deal?"
"What's my deal?" Wally repeated incredulously. "Dude, are you freakin' kidding me?! What the heck was that about? You-know-who would murder us if he found out what you did! And you lecture me about subtlety? Yeesh."
"I was just having some fun." Dick pouted.
Wally's eyebrows almost shot up into his hairline. The Boy Wonder was pouting at him? Wally didn't think he'd ever seen that! "Dude, are you feeling alright?" he asked, studying his friend. Dick's eyes were a little bright and his face was slightly flushed.
Wally opened his mouth to respond just as a tinkling, feminine voice sounded behind him. "That was really brave of you to take on Todd Weldon like that."
Both boys turned to find a tall, graceful blond smiling at them, and Wally's heart performed a stupid, girlish flip-flop that his inner male groaned over.
Reina Gray! an excited little voice in his head chimed.
Next to M'gann, Wally considered this girl to be one of the prettiest he'd ever met. He'd had a crush on her since Grade School. "Hnngh mufgnm," he managed to get out, then cringed.
Smooth, West, real smooth.
Dick snickered at Wally's gibberish before responding to the girl. "It wasn't that brave, Todd's just a bully. Guys like him are all talk and no action."
Reina tilted her head. "Where did you learn those moves? That was so cool!"
Dick shifted a little uncomfortably. "My…Dad thought me self-defense."
"Really? You must be very good to throw someone much bigger than you."
Dick shrugged. "I'm okay."
Wally frowned. Was the girl he liked hitting on his best friend? Dick was, like, three years younger than she was!
"You know, Wally's really good at self-defense," Dick informed her, shooting his friend a sly grin.
She looked surprised and turned to Wally. "You are?"
"Sure he is!" said Dick emphatically. "He just doesn't like to show off."
Wally gave his friend a megawatt grin as the girl's brown eyes studied him with interest, because who was Dick kidding? Wally loved to show off!
She shifted closer to the red-haired speedster. "Why don't you tell me a little more about that?"
"Uh, sure," said Wally, melting at the dazzling grin she shot him. Over her head, he could just see Dick giving him the thumbs-up before disappearing back into the crowd.
He so owed his best friend right now.
As far as Wally was concerned, this was the best party in the history of ever! Reina had seemed fascinated by his tales of how he'd used his 'self-defense' skills to play hero. Not Kid Flash heroics obviously, because even Wally wouldn't go that far to impress a girl, but of the I-stopped-a-little-old-lady-from-being-mugged variety.
After a while, Reina had kissed him and Wally – although he would die before admitting it to anyone – had a mini freak-out that the hot girl was paying him that kind of attention. But finally, after several rounds of ohmygodsheskissingmewhatdoIdo, Wally relaxed into the kiss. They were now currently in the middle of a major make-out session in a quiet corner of the living room.
Wally thought this might possibly be the best thing to ever happen to him.
The noise of the party and the hum of conversation had long ago fused into an unidentifiable din, and Wally was blissfully oblivious to his surroundings – until the name Bruce Wayne slipped out from somewhere in the din and pierced his happy little bubble.
Wally drew back. It sounded like a plunger being withdrawn.
"Wally, what's wrong?" asked Reina, surprised.
"Hmm?" he said, scanning the crowd. Maybe it was just a coincidence? After all, Bruce was one of the richest men on the planet; people must talk about him all the time…
"Wally?" Reina was frowning at him now.
Wally gave her his best charming smile. "Sorry, Babe, just thinking about how awesome you are."
"Good," she cooed, snuggling closer. "I like having your undivided attention."
"And I like having yours," Wally flirted, leaning down to kiss her again. God, this was awesome. Why wasn't he spending more time kissing girls?
"Gotham…Grayson…" Fragments of a conversation flitted into his hearing once more and this time Wally wasn't even careful about pulling away as his head shot up in panic. Okay, mentioning Dick's last name; that definitely wasn't a coincidence!
"Wally!" Reina looked annoyed now.
"Um…sorry, Babe, call of nature?" Wally offered. "Give me five minutes and I'll be back with drinks, how does that sound?"
She looked decidedly less than impressed, but gave a small nod.
"Thanks, Babe," said Wally, dashing away without so much as a backward glance. He was most likely just over-reacting – Bat paranoia was clearly catching – and Dick was probably fine, but he needed to make sure…just in case.
It took longer than Wally expected to find Gage and the others because they weren't where he had last seen them and when he did, Dick wasn't with them. "Gage, hey, Gage!" Wally called over the music, which seemed to have tripled in volume. He tugged at the lanky teenager's arm. "GAGE!"
The boy turned, blinked, and his whole face opened up in a lazy smile. "DUDE! I jus' heard; Reina Gray? Nice!" He held up his hand for Wally to high-five him.
"Uh, thanks," said Wally, absently returning the gesture. "Gage, where's Dick?"
"The lil' guy? He's…aroun' here somewhere," Gage slurred.
Wally narrowed his eyes. "Gage, are you drunk?"
He threw an arm around Wally's shoulder and giggled. "Dude, don' tell anyone but…'m so smashed right now!"
Wally wrinkled his nose and pulled away from his friend's reeking breath. "Gage, not cool! Where'd you get the beer?"
"S'not beer," Gage replied. "Someone put something in the punch…fruity stuff…it's awesome!"
"Someone always puts something in the punch," Wally pointed out. "That's why you don't drink it, you idiot!"
"No, no…isss really good, Man, you gotta try it!" Gage insisted, leaning forward tipsily.
Wally gingerly unhooked his friend's sweaty hand from his shoulder. "Thanks, but no thanks. Gage, where did you last see Dick?"
Gage squinted, bleary-eyed, at him. "Dick?"
"Yeah, you know, my cousin?"
"Oh, the lil' guy! Yeah."
He smiled at Wally who made a concentrated effort to swallow his irritation. "Well, where did you last see him?"
Gage blinked, then frowned, before giving a half-hearted shrug.
Wally exhaled and turned away. Drunk Gage was seriously annoying.
"Hey, how come…you din't tell us he was, like, a bajillionaire?"
Wally's head snapped back around. "What?"
"You know," Gage waved his hand, spilling some of his drink over his shirt, "his Dad is…hic…Bruce Wayne."
Wally could feel his heart sinking. "Gage, where did you hear that?"
"S'all over the party, Man."
A cold feeling crawled over Wally. Okay, he really needed to find Dick now. Much as he laughed about Bruce's obsessive over-protectiveness, – especially since he let Dick run around as a masked hero fighting crime – Wally knew that being Bruce Wayne's son made Dick a target for kidnappers.
Wally just never thought they would have to worry about this here in Central at a high school party.
He seized Gage's right arm. "Gage, where did you last see Dick?"
"Wow, Dude, you seriously…hic…need to de-stress. Here, have a drink." Gage tried to hand Wally the glass he was holding.
"I don't want a drink!"
His head drooped. "Aw, Wally, don' be a…hic…spoilsport…even the lil' guy had one."
Wally had been craning to look over the heads of the people around him, but at Gage's words, he jerked back to look at the lanky teenager in horror. "Gage, please tell me you didn't give Dick alcohol!"
"Well, yeah, but it was jus'…hic…jus' a couple of glasses."
Wally moaned. He was the deadest man in all of Deadonia – Bats would literally skin him alive! "Did Dick know what he was drinking?"
Gage made an expansive gesture with his hands, spilling more of his drink. "Oh, yeah, totally, Man, he totally…hic…knew! I tol' him it wassss the punch when he…hic…asked."
Wally wanted to hit him. "Gage, he's thirteen! It's his first high school party – he doesn't know they spike the punch!"
"Uh….hic…I din't know that…Dude…hic…'m really sorry…"
Wally closed his eyes and did a speedster count to ten before opening them again. "Just keep him here if he passes, okay?"
Gage nodded vehemently with wide, serious eyes before hiccupping again. "You can…coun' on me!" He saluted Wally with the hand holding his drink, spilling the last of it down the side of his face.
Wally sighed. Yeah, real reliable. Turning and leaving the surprised looking Gage behind, Wally began looking for Dick.
While he searched, he checked his phone for any messages from the younger boy, but there was nothing. Sending him a quick 'Dude, where are you?' text, Wally wondered if Dick had remembered to check in with Bruce. Since he'd unknowingly been drinking, Dick might have forgotten to text his guardian, which meant there was a good chance that Bruce was already on his way to Central to find out why his son hadn't followed Bat rule number eight. Dick usually obeyed Bruce's rules – especially if disobeying them meant he might be grounded for life – but alcohol could loosen inhibitions and make people do strange things. It certainly explained Dick's out-of-character behaviour with Todd earlier.
It struck Wally suddenly that an uninhibited Boy Wonder at a high school party might be a Very Bad Thing. What if he decided to put on a dazzling acrobatic display? Wally couldn't decide what was worse; Dick being kidnapped or Dick outing himself as Robin to half of Central City High. But then he realized it didn't matter; Bats would kill him either way.
After almost thirty minutes of shoving through the sweaty throng of teenagers that blanketed the house, Wally reluctantly conceded that Dick wasn't downstairs. He seriously hoped that Dick was upstairs in a bathroom getting sick or something, because the alternative meant not only bad things for Dick, but Wally as well.
His frustration increased as he made his way upstairs, pushing past several drunk teenagers slumped on the stairs. This was so not cool! He was at a party and should be having fun, not stressing about where Dick was. His best pal so owed him right now.
Searching the upstairs rooms, the only thing Wally found was several couples who had retreated to the bedrooms for more privacy. He was yelled at more than once for interrupting, and one guy even chucked a beer bottle at his head. Scowling and rubbing his head where the beer bottle had connected, Wally made his way back downstairs.
Dick still hadn't replied to the text and Wally was starting to freak out a little; where the heck was he?! If Dick had gotten himself kidnapped on his watch, Wally would kill him!
He was just about to call his uncle for help when he spotted Todd Weldon and three of his buddies huddled in a corner of the living room. Two of them kept glancing around furtively.
The red-haired teenager narrowed his eyes. Okay, that didn't look at all suspicious. Remembering how Dick had gotten under Todd's skin earlier, Wally headed in that direction, using the heaving mass of teenagers to hide his approach. Getting as close as he dared without being seen, Wally tried to blend in with the group of seniors standing just two feet away from Todd and his buddies.
He tried to listen to what they were saying, but the thumping music meant he only caught snatches of their conversation. "Wayne….ransom…my brother…" floated back to him and Wally felt a slight knot form in his stomach. Why, oh why did he have the horrible feeling they were talking about Dick? He shuffled closer and strained his ears to listen.
"….out back with the Cheerleaders; they're getting a huge kick out of talking to an actual billionaire. The kid's drunk so it should be easy to–"
"WALLY WEST!" a loud voice yelled, making him jump.
Twisting his head around, Wally came face-to-face with a very angry Reina. He felt like he'd been doused in cold water and his insides shrivelled when he remembered that he'd left the pretty girl standing in the corner of the living room more than half an hour ago. In his frantic haste to locate Dick, he'd forgotten all about her.
"Reina, Babe," he said weakly. "I've been looking all over for you."
"Yeah, right! I was right where you left me, you Jerk!"
"I don't want to hear it!" she snapped, jabbing her finger into his chest. "I should have known better than to give a loser like you a chance!" Turning tail, the pretty girl stalked away, her blond hair swishing behind her.
Wally wilted with disappointment. This was the worst party ever!
He glanced back at where Todd Weldon and his buddies were gathered, only to find the older teenagers gone. Panic gripped him. They'd been plotting to kidnap Dick! He needed to find him!
Hurrying out of the living room, Wally was irritated by the sheer number of teenagers gathered in the house; they kept getting in his way! He knew this was a party, but did there have to be so many of them?
Reaching the hall, he craned his neck to see over the heads of other partygoers, and through the doorway into the kitchen, he could just see Todd and his buddies disappearing out the back door into the garden. Wally's heart started to beat a little faster; hadn't they said Dick was out back?
Forgetting any semblance of manners and ignoring the annoyed squawks of the people around him, Wally shoved roughly through the crowd. Why hadn't he thought to check the stupid garden earlier? It was September, the weather was still warm – of course there would be people outside!
Stupid, Wally, stupid! he berated himself, squeezing between two juniors just as they came through the back door and ignoring their irritated protests.
Once outside, he had to squint in the dimmer light until his eyes adjusted enough to see a large group of people seated on the decking near the hot tub. Lights had been set up around it and Wally's brain did a little happy dance when he realized that several cheerleaders were in bikinis enjoying the hot tub.
No, Wally, focus! You have to find Dick!
Sighing, Wally continued to scan the garden until a familiar, cackling laugh drew his attention back to the general vicinity of the hot tub. Dick! Hurrying in that direction, Wally became aware of his best friend's voice talking animatedly.
"…and see, there's equations like Einstein's that believe string theory is like a quantum theory of gravity. So if string theory is mathematically consistent and it describes the whole universe, then that makes it a theory of everything. Get it?"
"Oh, yeah, it makes total sense!" a female voice cooed.
Wally rolled his eyes as he reached the crowd. Was Dick seriously talking string theory at a party?
He reached the group seated around the decking and was annoyed to find Dick sitting between several cheerleaders who were hanging on his every word. He'd just spent the better part of the last hour worrying about where the younger boy was and had screwed up any chance of ever getting a date with Reina Gray, and Dick had been fine all along?!
Wally was so mad at his best friend right now.
"Dude!" Dick cried happily as he spotted him and jumped up. "Where've you been?"
"Looking for you!" Wally snapped back. "Don't you check your phone anymore?!"
Dick blinked at the hostility in his voice. "It's broken. I was showing it to one of the girls and she accidently dropped it into the tub. I'm really sorry, Walls."
Wide blue eyes stared up at him in contrition and Wally sighed. "It's cool, Man, don't worry about it."
Dick beamed happily and hugged him.
Wally raised an eyebrow. "Uh…what was that?"
"You were mad," Dick told him. "And now you're not, so I hugged you."
The younger boy's eyes were too bright and he seemed to be swaying where he stood. Wally's heart plummeted when he realized Dick really was drunk. He swallowed hard. Oh. Crap. Batman was going to freaking murder him! And then bury his body where no one would ever find it.
"Walls, you okay?" Dick asked, tilting his head and taking a sip from the paper cup in his hand.
"Give me that!" Wally snatched the cup out of Dick's hand and sniffed it. Making a face, he spilled the drink into the nearest bush.
"Wally! That was my soda!"
Wally opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by a drawling voice. "Yeah, West, what's wrong with you?"
A smirking Todd Weldon appeared beside Dick and draped an arm across the smaller boy's shoulders. "Here's another soda, Dick," he said, handing him a cup and smiling with insincerity.
"Uh, thanks," said Dick uncertainly, frowning up at him before staring down at the cup.
"No!" said Wally at once, snatching the cup and chucking it. "There's probably something in it!"
"Well, now, that's not very nice," said another voice, and a large figure appeared on the other side of Dick. "Todd's only trying to make up for their little tussle earlier…isn't that right, Todd?"
"Course, Man." Todd smirked. "I'm all about making new friends."
Wally froze, recognizing the new arrival: Jake Elliot. He'd been a senior at Central City High until he'd been kicked out for selling drugs. His brother ran with a dangerous gang called the Snakebacks and it was rumored that Jake himself was also part of the gang. The guy was bad news. Wally had no idea that he and Todd were friends. And if he was involved in the plan to kidnap Dick…
"Dude, I need to talk to you, now!" Wally announced, grabbing the younger boy's arm and yanking him out from between the two older teenagers.
"Wally, what're you–"
"Just keep walking," Wally muttered into his ear, keeping a firm grip on Dick's arm. He glanced back at Jake and Todd, and was alarmed to see they were following them. Two other teenagers joined them, making Wally's heart pound. They were all much, much bigger than him or Dick.
Oh crap! Ohcrapohcrapohcrap!
Wally quickened his pace, practically dragging Dick after him.
"Wally, ow! That hurts!"
Wally ignored him, his eyes locked on the back door, feeling trapped as he debated what to do. He couldn't use his powers to get Dick out of here without being seen, and if they left the house and the relative safety of the crowd to use those powers, it would only give the bigger teenagers an opening to jump them. And with neither of them able to use their abilities – not to mention that in his current state, Dick would be useless anyway against an attack – they'd be sitting ducks!
The four older boys were getting closer, literally shoving other partygoers out of the way, and Wally swallowed nervously as they reached the back door. Quickly, he hustled Dick into the kitchen and dragged him towards the hall. He could feel the smaller boy trying to unpick the fingers encircling his arm and tightened his grip. No way was he allowing a drunk Boy Wonder to go all ninja on his ass!
Bathroom! We can hide in the bathroom! Wally thought, making a beeline for the nearest one. One good thing about having spent the better part of the last hour searching for Dick was that Wally now knew exactly where to go.
There was a massive queue for the bathroom, but that didn't deter Wally in the slightest. With a loud yell of, "Move it or wear it, puking freshman coming through!" he cleared a pathway to the bathroom door and shoved Dick in ahead of the girl who was next in line, ignoring her furious protests. Following quickly, he slammed the door and bolted it, then rested his forehead against it.
"Walls, whassa matter with you?" Dick demanded. "You goin' crazy or something?"
Oh yeah, Dick was definitely drunk. Otherwise he'd be yelling at Wally for that stunt. Slowly, Wally turned around and studied the Boy Wonder where he stood, swaying slightly while rubbing his arm where Wally had gripped it. He was also squinting at Wally as though having trouble seeing him.
Wally sighed. "You're drunk, Dude."
"I am?" Dick blinked in confusion. "How?"
"Punch was spiked."
Dick's eyes widened into perfect O's of surprise. "It was? Why?"
"Because someone always spikes the punch," Wally muttered, rooting in his pockets for his cell phone. Uncle Barry. He needed to call Uncle Barry.
"Wally, why are we hiding out in a bathroom?"
"Because, Doofus, everyone here knows you're Dick Grayson and now some really big guys want to kidnap you!" Wally snapped, a hysterical edge to his voice. Being a civilian around Dick was stressful. Wally couldn't believe he was dealing with a freaking kidnap plot at a high school party!
Dick's shoulders sagged. "Oh."
"Oh? That's all you're gonna say? Oh?!"
"Well, what do you want me to say?" Dick snapped back, crossing his arms. "I'm sorry a bunch of morons think I'm an easy target?!"
He looked like a little kid as he frowned at Wally in hurt, and the speedster sighed. He was beginning to understand Bruce's paranoia now. This was a whole other city where Dick didn't know anyone, and someone had still recognized him. And the first thing they had done with that information was plan to kidnap him.
The problem was Dick did look like an easy target. It was something that had never occurred to Wally before. Normally he spent more time with Robin than Dick Grayson – and time spent with Dick Grayson usually meant sleepovers at Wayne Manor with big security gates and Alfred's cookies. In fact, this was probably the first time Wally had ever been somewhere public with Dick – without Bruce or Barry in tow – and it was forcing some uncomfortable truths on him.
Wally had never really considered what others saw when they looked at Dick. To Wally, Dick was just Dick; his best pal with the same taste in music and video games, who considered Zombie movies with something akin to fanboy reverence and hated detective flicks 'because they always got things wrong'. Plus, Dick was the one person on the planet who never looked at Wally as though he was a joke.
But now, Wally was looking at Dick and seeing what potential kidnappers saw; a small, skinny teenager with big blue eyes who looked a lot younger than he actually was…and whose father was one of the richest men in the world. Prime kidnapping material.
And Wally didn't like it. He didn't like the realization that his best friend was vulnerable in his civilian persona, he didn't like that Dick had no choice but to be the victim because using his skills to defend himself could mean outing Batman and Robin, and he hated that others saw Dick as a target.
He hated all of this, actually.
"I'm sorry," said Wally quietly. "I know you can't help this."
Dick uncrossed his arms and smiled, before moving over to Wally and throwing his arms around him in a tight hug. "S'okay, Walls. We're cool."
Despite the situation, Wally couldn't help but grin deviously over the top of Dick's head. Whatever Batman did to him after tonight, he could still poke fun at Dick for being a cuddly drunk. Who ever would have thought that Robin, the Boy Wonder, protégé to the freaking Batman, turned into an affectionate little girl when you got a few fruity beverages into him?
Someone hammered on the door, making them both jump and a male voice yelled, "Hey, c'mon, hurry up! Some of us really gotta go out here!"
"Find another bathroom!" Wally fired back.
"No, Walls, we should leave," Dick protested tipsily, swaying backwards until Wally grabbed him. "We can't take over the bathroom."
Wally snorted. They weren't leaving this room until Barry got here. Speaking of which, he needed to call his uncle.
"Sit down," said Wally, pointing at the bath. "I need to call Barry."
"Sit!" Wally ordered, pulling out his phone.
Dick sat, but missed the edge of the bath and crashed to the floor. "Wow, Walls, you okay?" he asked, blinking up at Wally.
Wally didn't know whether to laugh or face palm. "Dude, I'm not the one on the floor." He offered his hand to Dick and pulled the younger boy to his feet while dialing Barry with the other.
Looking slightly sheepish and confused, Dick gingerly sat on the edge of the bath and clutched at it with both hands.
Wally frowned when he realized Dick was still swaying a little. Oh man, please don't hurl on my watch!
"Wally?" his uncle's surprised voice sounded on the other end of the line. "Is everything okay?"
"No! Everything is so not okay!" The words poured out in a rush. "Somebody here must have recognized Dick because it's all over the party who he really is, and now a group of guys are planning to kidnap him – and I'm pretty sure one of them is a member of the Snakebacks – so we're hiding in a bathroom. Oh, and Dick is drunk because he drank the spiked punch."
His uncle was silent for a long moment before responding. "Wally, please tell me you're joking!"
Wally sighed. "I wish. How soon can you get here?"
"Give me twenty minutes," his uncle replied and hung up.
Wally turned to look at Dick and frowned when he saw him sitting with his head in his hands. "You okay?"
Dick shook his head. "I don't feel so good."
Wally took a step back. "Are you gonna be sick?"
"Dunno. M'head feels weird."
Dick's voice was slightly slurred and he sounded very uncertain, making Wally feel bad. He stepped forward and perched on the edge of the bath beside the younger boy. "Sorry I never warned you the punch might be spiked."
Dick rested his head against Wally's shoulder. "S'not your fault."
"Yeah, but still…" Wally felt guilty. He'd been so eager to get Dick to come to the party that he'd forgotten to warn him about some of the things to watch out for.
Like spiked punch and gang members who might try to kidnap him.
"No, I had fun, Walls," said Dick, his voice soft. "Everyone was really cool. Do y'know your cheerleaders wanted to talk to me about string theory? I mean, they actually wanted to talk about string theory. In Gotham, only science nerds or math geeks want to talk about string theory."
"You're a math geek," Wally pointed out, not having the heart to tell Dick that the cheerleaders were only interested in what he was saying because his dad was a famous billionaire.
"And you're a science nerd," Dick retorted sleepily. "Perfect symniotic relationship."
"Dude, I think you mean symbiotic."
"Yeah, that too," said Dick, closing his eyes.
"Get lost!" Wally yelled at the fist hammering on the bathroom door as Dick jerked up from his shoulder. For the last twenty minutes, there had been a constant stream of banging fists and raised voices from people looking to use the bathroom. Wally was getting seriously annoyed. Didn't they know there were three other bathrooms in this place?!
"Wally, let me in," his uncle's voice sounded through the door.
"Uncle Barry!" cried Wally in relief, darting over to the door, unlocking it and pulling it open. At once, his uncle pushed past him, closing and locking the door again, creating a vehement noise of protest from the people outside.
"Man, Uncle B, you could not have picked a better time to start being on time!" Wally told him fervently.
"Barry?" Dick's voice chimed in sleepily. "He's here already? Wow, did you use Flash speed?"
"No, you just fell asleep on my shoulder," Wally told him, turning back. He made a face. "And I think you drooled on me. Dude, uncool!"
"Didn't!" Dick retorted, staggering to his feet and immediately stumbling backwards. "Whoa, the room's moving. Walls, you see that?"
"Yeah, it's epic." Wally sighed and gave his uncle a resigned look.
Barry looked horrified. "Wally, what the heck happened tonight? Wasn't there a rule about staying together at all times?!"
Wally shuffled awkwardly. "Well…uh…you see…"
"Wally, please tell me there wasn't a girl involved!"
"Do you want me to lie?"
His uncle groaned. "Wally!"
"What? She was hot!"
Barry snorted. "Oh yeah, that excuse will go over real well with Bruce!"
"You won't let him kill me, will you?" Wally asked, only half joking.
"That depends on if he doesn't kill me first," Barry muttered.
"Never mind. Wally, what the hell were you thinking?"
Wally shifted in agitation. "Can you yell at me later? We should go. Where are you parked?"
"Out front. But we can't take Dick out that way."
"Because there's a van parked across the street with four well-known Snakeback members inside. They're watching this house. Three guesses who they're here for."
Wally's heart sank. He was willing to bet that, courtesy of Jake Elliot, the gang members in the van knew exactly what Dick looked like. It didn't help that he was also the shortest person at the party by at least a foot. Talk about sticking out like a sore thumb. "Crud."
"Yes, crud. Wally, I know you think Bruce's rules are stupid but they're there for a reason, and he trusted you to take them seriously tonight."
Wally looked at the ground. "I'm sorry."
"It's not me you're going to have to apologize to. And, Dick, you're not innocent in all of this either…" his voice tailed off as he turned to address Dick.
The smaller teenager had slid down the side of the bath while they were talking, and was now sitting on the floor, his legs pulled up to his chest and his head lolling on his knees. He was fast asleep.
Sighing, Barry knelt beside him and shook him gently. "Dick? C'mon, we've gotta go."
"Jus' five more minutes, Alfred," Dick slurred and Wally snickered.
"I'm not Alfred," said Barry patiently, shaking him again. "Come on now, Dick, wake up."
"Wha-?" Blearily, Dick looked up at him. "Barry? S'up?"
"Time to go, Kiddo," he replied, helping Dick to his feet. Keeping one arm around the teetering Boy Wonder, Barry turned to Wally. "I'm going to run him back to my place."
"How are you going to do that without anybody seeing you?"
"I'll take him out the window. See the big tree outside? That should give me enough coverage to take off without anyone seeing me."
Wally sagged. Why didn't he think of that?
He watched, frowning, as his uncle moved over to the window and poked his head out to check the garden, before vibrating his molecules right through the wall. This was too much for Wally. As civilians, he and Barry never found themselves in situations where they had to worry about their superhero identities being revealed. Usually it was the other way around, with their superhero personas trying to keep their civilian identities under wraps. Normally when they were civilians if a situation requiring a speedster arose, they simply headed for somewhere more private to change. It was easy to do because no one was ever paying any attention to them. Being Barry Allan and Wally West gave them an anonymity that Bruce Wayne or Dick Grayson just didn't have. It made Wally appreciate just how hard it must be for his best friend to maintain a secret identity when his civilian one was so well-known.
"Wally!" his uncle's voice broke into his musings. "Get Dick!"
The red-haired teenager glanced back at his friend who was once more sitting against the bath with his head nodding.
"Dude!" Wally hissed, grabbing the younger boy and yanking him to his feet.
Dick immediately rested his head against Wally's shoulder. "Walls, stoppit! I'm tired!" he whined.
Wally grinned. It was kind of hilarious to see Dick acting like a little kid. He was going to have some serious fun with this later.
Providing Batman didn't kill him first, of course.
Smile vanishing at the sobering thought, Wally pushed Dick towards the window then rolled his eyes when the smaller teenager blinked in surprise at Barry's face.
"Barry? When did you get here?"
"He got here five minutes ago. Dude, focus!"
Dick tilted his head at Wally. "What am I focusin' on?"
"Uh…going out the window. Hello, weren't you listening?"
Dick stared at him.
Wally sighed. "Guess not. Here." He picked Dick up, ignoring his surprised noise of protest, and lifted him through the window to Barry. He grinned at how light his friend was. "Dude, you have got to start eating more."
"Shuddup!" Dick told him sulkily.
"Shhhh!" Barry hissed, glancing around as he took Dick. "I'll see you at home," he told Wally, and then they were gone.
Clambering out the window after them, Wally couldn't help but feel a disappointed pang at how the evening had ended. So much potential and a couple of idiots had managed to ruin it.
As he zipped past the van containing the waiting gang members, Wally seriously debated screwing with their tires.
The run back to Barry's took less than a minute. Wally enjoyed the unfettered sensation of the wind in his hair and the steady thump of the pavement beneath his sneakers. It was a relief after how trapped he'd felt in the bathroom, unable to do anything for fear of exposing either himself or Dick.
Except that he could have gone out the window.
Wally scowled. He still wasn't over that. It bugged him that he'd panicked so much he hadn't been able to think straight. Wasn't he supposed to be a superhero? He'd been in much worse situations before, so why had he freaked out so much tonight? Was it because he wasn't used to dealing with threats in his civilian identity? Or was it because it scared him to discover just how vulnerable his best friend really was as a civilian?
Either way, Wally was annoyed at himself for freezing. Dick was always on his case about being prepared, and they'd gone to the stupid party with a list of rules that practically screamed "Dick is a target" at him, but Wally had still been completely overwhelmed by the situation. Did that mean he sucked at being a superhero? His heart thumped painfully at the thought as he skated through the front door of his uncle's house.
"Uncle Barry?" he called.
"He's upstairs," came the slightly grumpy reply, and Wally turned to find his Aunt Iris leaning against the door frame with her arms crossed. "Changing," she added pointedly.
"Changing?" Wally's heart sank. "Oh man, did Dick...?"
She grimaced and nodded. "The run back here didn't agree with him; he upchucked all over Barry halfway up the stairs."
Crud. Wally was going to pay for that one. "Where's Dick now?"
"Upstairs bathroom. You might want to go check on him."
Wally sighed and zipped up the stairs. Reaching the bathroom door, he made a face at the retching noises emanating from within. "Dick?" he called, tapping on the door. "You okay?"
"No!" came the retort, followed by more retching and then the toilet flushing.
Gingerly, Wally pushed open the door and entered. Dick was sitting on the floor by the toilet, his hair sticking up in every direction and his head practically lying on the toilet seat.
"Walls, this totally sucks!" he moaned.
Part of Wally was tempted to laugh at how pitiful he looked, but the bro-code wouldn't allow for it. Instead, he moved over and helped Dick to lean back against the bath before sitting on the floor beside him. Immediately, Dick rested his head on his shoulder.
Wally cocked an eyebrow. Again with the shoulder; what was up with that?
He could feel the smaller teenager shaking slightly from cold sweats and put an arm around his shoulders to warm him up. His superfast metabolism meant Wally always ran a couple of degrees warmer than everybody else, and he had a feeling that Dick wouldn't be leaving the floor for a while.
"Everything okay in here?" Barry's voice sounded and they both looked up to see the older speedster standing in the doorway holding a glass of water.
"No," Dick replied at the same moment Wally said, "yes."
Barry raised an eyebrow before moving over to join them. He squatted down beside Wally and handed Dick the glass. "Here, drink this."
"Don't want it," Dick whined.
"Trust me, Kiddo, you'll feel a million times worse tomorrow if we don't get some fluids in you now."
"Nothing could be worse than this!" Dick moaned.
Wally exchanged an amused look with his uncle. It wasn't like Dick to complain about not feeling well; normally he did the Bat thing and downplayed any vulnerabilities. The alcohol was obviously stripping away his defenses and making him act his age for once. Wally found it hugely entertaining. If Dick weren't his best friend, he would so be filming this.
"Drink the water, Dick," Barry commanded gently.
Reluctantly, the boy did as he was told, taking a few sips before making a face. "S'cold and it tastes nasty."
"Drama Queen." Wally jostled him. "It's just water."
Dick scowled at him, but drank several more sips before handing Barry the glass. "No more," he said pleadingly.
"Yes, more," said the older speedster. "But you don't have to drink it right this second. I'll just leave it here until you can manage a little more." He stood up and placed the glass on the vanity unit. "Trust me, Dick, you'll thank me in the morning."
Dick muttered something Wally was pretty sure wasn't a polite response, but Barry ignored him.
"Want me to get a blanket?" he asked Wally, as Dick's head flopped against Wally's chest.
"No, it's cool. I think–" The doorbell rang suddenly, interrupting Wally. He frowned at his uncle. "Who the heck is that at this time of night?"
Barry gave a pained grimace. "It's Bruce. When Dick didn't check in with him and he couldn't reach him on his cell, he got worried and left for Central. He was nearly here when I called him and–"
"You called him?!" cried Wally in panic. "Why would you do that?"
"Because Bruce would skin me alive if I didn't!" The doorbell buzzed insistently again. "Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to go let a very angry Bat into my house." And with a blast of air he was gone.
Wally looked down at Dick's dark head leaning against him. "Dick, if Bruce kills me for this, I swear I'll come back and haunt you!"
"Now who's the Drama Queen?" Dick mumbled.
"Hey, an angry Batman is a totally acceptable excuse for fear! The guy can make Superman cringe!"
"He can, can't he?" Dick sounded almost proud and Wally rolled his eyes. Bats found the strangest things amusing.
Heavy footsteps sounded at the top of the stairs and Wally swallowed. Hard. He knew it was a little ridiculous to be so scared of Bruce, but the man was pee-your-pants intimidating! Not to mention that Wally was partly responsible for the fact that his thirteen-year-old son was now drunk. Such a combination did not make for an appealing encounter.
A second later, the large, looming figure of Bruce Wayne appeared in the doorway and Wally could have sworn he felt the temperature drop by several degrees. "What. Happened?" came a low growl.
"Punch was spiked," Dick mumbled from where his head was propped against Wally, who was determinedly keeping his gaze glued to the floor. "I didn't know."
Wally felt Bruce's gaze shift to him and his heart started to race.
"What about you, Wallace? Did you know the punch was spiked?"
Uh-oh. Full name. That was a bad, bad sign. "Y-yes," Wally stuttered, eyes still fixed on the floor.
Bruce moved closer to them. "And it never occurred to you to inform Dick?"
"You forgot." The voice was cold, hard. "Did you continue to forget when you saw that Dick was becoming inebriated?"
Wally swallowed. How could he explain that he hadn't seen Dick get drunk because he'd been too busy kissing a pretty girl? Which, awesome as it had been, now seemed like the worst idea in the world. "Uh…I…Um…"
"Full story, Wallace, now."
Knowing that to continue staring at the floor would only infuriate him further, Wally raised his gaze to Bruce's chin – looking him in the eyes was beyond his capabilities right now – and told him about everything that had occurred at the party.
"Let me get this straight," Bruce's voice was dangerously quiet when he'd finished, "you left Dick alone after I specifically gave orders that you were to stay together?"
"Yes," Wally whispered. Why was he so frightening? He didn't even have superpowers!
"Bruce," Dick sighed, dragging his head up and staring blearily at his guardian. "Quit givin' him a hard time, it wasn't Wally's– nggh!" Jerking forward suddenly, he retched into the toilet once more.
At once, Bruce was on his haunches and giving Wally a look that said move! Wally obeyed quickly, scooting over so the man could squeeze in beside Dick. Putting one giant hand on Dick's back, he rubbed soothingly while the dark-haired teenager heaved miserably.
"This sucks," Dick said shakily, wiping his mouth while Bruce flushed the toilet. He slouched back against the bath once more and Bruce silently sat beside him, putting an arm around his shoulders to pull the boy closer. Dick leaned against him and closed his eyes.
Wally gawped a little. Bruce could do human contact?
The man in question leveled a dark glare at Wally's shameless staring, causing him to gulp and retreat to the relative safety of the doorway, where his uncle had been watching the proceedings.
"Is it like this every time you drink?" Dick asked Bruce with a pathetic expression on his face.
"Yes," Bruce replied at once, with a look towards Barry and Wally that dared them to say otherwise. Neither was stupid enough to do so.
"Then I'm never drinking again!" Dick declared.
Wally could have sworn he saw the corner of the billionaire's mouth quirk upwards in a small smile and raised an eyebrow. He didn't think the muscles in Bruce's face allowed for smiling.
He felt a hand touch his shoulder and looked back at Barry who jerked his head in the general direction of the kitchen. Wally nodded in relief and padded after his uncle, glad to leave the presence of the man who currently looked as though he wanted to throw him off a building. A very tall building.
"Iris made mac and cheese earlier, want me to reheat some?" Barry asked as they entered the kitchen.
"Sounds good." Wally slid into a chair by the kitchen table and watched Barry potter around the kitchen. His thoughts returned to the events at the party and Wally sighed. He felt like a complete screw-up. Why hadn't he been able to come up with a way to get Dick out of there? He was Kid Flash for crying out loud! Why had he frozen so badly?
He was still contemplating his failure when his uncle slid a steaming plate of mac and cheese in front of him. "Bon appetite, Kid," said Barry, before sliding into the opposite seat with his own plate of cheesy goodness.
They ate in silence for several minutes, the tasty warmth of the dish making Wally slightly less despondent. Food always made him feel better. Finally, his uncle broke the silence with a question.
"Want to talk about what's bothering you?"
Wally looked up. "What makes you think there's something bothering me?"
"Call it a hunch," said his uncle dryly, with a look at the half-finished mac and cheese in front of Wally.
The teenager blushed. Oh, right. Any meal not cleared within half a minute of being put in front of him was a sure sign that something was wrong. He hunched forward over his plate, fork playing with his food. "I don't get why I freaked out so much back at the party. I mean, yeah, it was a pretty intense situation, but I've been in worse…so why couldn't I come up with a plan to get us out of there?"
"You've been in worse as Kid Flash," his uncle pointed out. "Don't you think that not being able to use your powers might have thrown you a little?"
"Except that I could have done what you did and taken Dick out the window," said Wally in frustration. "It was so obvious! Why didn't I think of it?"
"Wally, you're being too hard on yourself. You didn't expect any trouble at that party tonight, and it had to be a pretty unsettling experience to discover that some of your schoolmates were planning to kidnap your best friend. Of course you freaked out a little."
"But I shouldn't have!" Wally argued. "I've been in bad situations before – and Bruce gave us a list of rules to follow because Dick has been kidnapped before! I should have known it was a possibility. But did that make any difference? Noooooo. I was totally useless, Uncle Barry, I locked us into a bathroom! That was the best I could come up with!"
"Now hang on a second," said his uncle, holding up a finger. "You've just made a very good point; Dick has been kidnapped before."
"How is that a good point?"
Barry glanced quickly towards the door before turning back to Wally and lowering his voice. "Wally, even Bruce wasn't prepared for the first time Dick got kidnapped, and he's Batman for crying out loud! He's had five years to get used to Dick being a target and his list of rules has evolved from experience. I know you could have taken them a bit more seriously, but in your defense, has Dick ever been kidnapped in the two years that you've known him? Other than as Robin?"
Wally thought about it. "Well, no. But he told me about the two times he was."
"Being told about something and actually experiencing it are two completely different things," Barry replied. "Bruce has been in the horrible situation of receiving a ransom call and worrying about whether he'll get Dick back or not, you've never experienced the fear of that. Hearing about something rather than experiencing it makes it that little bit less real and easier to disregard…I bet you'll never laugh at those rules again after tonight?"
Wally shook his head vehemently.
"Exactly. Wally, don't you think the fact that Dick is here safe with us instead of somewhere with those Snakebacks is a mark of how well you did react in a challenging situation? Maybe your reaction wasn't perfect, but you still kept your head enough to hide Dick somewhere until help arrived. In my book, that makes your actions a success."
"Barry is right," said a deep voice and they both jerked around to find Bruce framed in the doorway, a dead-to-the-world Dick Grayson in his arms. His eyes were locked on Wally. "I've told you before that no battle plan survives first contact, it's how you adjust to the unforeseen that determines success. Your reaction to the situation could have been more logical, but Dick is still safe and that's what matters. We all learn something from each new experience; I'm sure that should you find yourself in a similar situation again, you will react more appropriately." His steel grey eyes narrowed. "We will be doing more training in the very near future to ensure that."
"Yes, Sir," said Wally meekly.
"I am taking Dick home," he informed them. "Barry, I will see you at the League meeting next week."
"Wait!" Wally called, as Bruce turned to go. "Can I visit Dick tomorrow?" he squeaked, as the imposing face focused on him once more. "Um…Sir?" he added.
"You may come at noon," came the response and then Bruce was gone.
Wally blinked, then turned to face his uncle. "That wasn't so bad. He didn't even say anything about Dick being drunk! Does this mean I'm not being punished?"
"Wally, are you kidding me?" said Barry incredulously. "Solo training with the Bat? If that's not punishment then I don't know what is."
"Wait! You mean that training isn't for the whole team?"
Barry gave an amused smile and shook his head.
Wally moaned and buried his face in his hands. Well, crud. He may as well just shoot himself now.
"Wakey, wakey, Boy Wonder!" Wally called in an irritatingly sing-song voice, while playing gleefully with the shutters in Dick's bedroom.
It was the day after the party and Wally had arrived at Wayne Manor at the time Bruce had specified, only for Alfred to inform him that Dick was not yet up and was resisting all attempts to rouse him.
Wally had immediately offered to get the younger teenager out of bed. Purely out of the goodness of his heart, of course.
"Come on now," he taunted, yanking the shutters up so that a burst of sunlight hit Dick squarely in the face. "Rise and shine!"
"Dude, you suck!" Dick whined, burying his face under a pillow.
Wally laughed evilly. Torturing a half-awake, cranky Robin was so much fun and something he rarely got to do. Speeding over to the bed, he took a running jump and landed smack on his knees in the middle of the mattress, making it jiggle slightly.
Dick still didn't move.
"Up, up and at 'em, it's a beautiful day!" Wally called, bouncing up and down, and making Dick bounce too.
Dick growled from beneath the pillow before sitting up slowly and glaring at his friend. "Do you want me to hurt you? Is that it?"
Wally's eyes widened in feigned innocence. "And after I came all the way from Central to see how you were feeling."
"Yeah, right. You only came so you could torture me," Dick grumbled, rubbing his eyes.
"You know it!" Wally chuckled gleefully and bounced again.
"Jerk!" said Dick, throwing a pillow at him.
Wally caught it. "Like you wouldn't do the same? Actually, you'd do worse! You'd probably hire a twenty-piece marching band to come through my room or something!"
A slow grin unfurled across Dick's face. "Yeah, one with bag-pipes. Thanks for the idea, Walls, I'll remember that when you have your first hangover."
Wally could have smacked himself. What had possessed him to put that notion into the head of the one person he knew who could actually afford to hire a twenty-piece marching band?!
Wally sighed. He really needed to start thinking before he opened his mouth.
"So, how bad does the hangover feel?" he asked, curiosity pushing aside the instinct to tease.
Dick grimaced. "There's a herd of elephants stampeding through my brain, and it feels like something died in my mouth. I can't believe people do this for fun! They must be crazy."
"Crazy masochists," Wally agreed. "But it must have been a little bit fun being drunk last night?"
"Wouldn't know, everything is pretty blurry after leaving you with that Reina girl." He gave an evil grin. "I do remember being locked in a bathroom and watching you freak out though, that was kind of fun."
"Dude, not cool! That was so not fun!"
"Seemed pretty hilarious from where I was standing."
"Actually, you spent more time on your butt in that bathroom," Wally retorted. "Couldn't stay on your feet apparently."
Dick shrugged, unconcerned. "Meh, I was drunk, not exactly a shock."
"No, but you know what was?" Wally asked with a sly grin. "That you kept wanting to cuddle."
That got a reaction as Dick spluttered furiously. "I did not!"
"Oh, but you did," Wally told him gleefully, determined to get a rise out of him. "You kept hugging me and cuddling up to my shoulder like a little kid." He raised his voice as though talking to a very small child. "Does the widdle Boy Wonder want a cuddle?"
A savage pillow was leveraged into his face and Wally grinned mischievously. Pay dirt! "Awwww, whassa matter with our little Robbie poo? Is he a little cranky this morning?"
"Dude, I am going to make you hurt on so many levels," Dick muttered dangerously, his face beet red.
"Awwww, you're so cute when you pout– ngggh!" Wally cried out as Dick launched himself at him, smacking him with a pillow.
Laughing, Wally swung back with the pillow he had clutched in his grasp. For several minutes they wrestled and whacked at each other with the pillows until Dick gained the upper hand. Somehow, Wally found himself facedown on the mattress, one hand pinned awkwardly under him and the other pinned above his head while Dick straddled his back.
"Not so cute now, am I?" Dick demanded.
"I let you win!" Wally's voice was muffled from where his face was half squashed into the mattress.
"Oh, really?" A bare foot planted itself on his nose and Wally yelled.
"You win! You win! Get it off! Get it off!"
Cackling happily, Dick removed his foot and somersaulted off the bed.
Wally scowled, rolled over and wiped his nose. "That was gross!"
"You're just jealous that even with a hangover I can kick your butt!"
"Whatever," said Wally grumpily. He should have known he wouldn't get the better of the Boy Wonder. "Just get dressed so we can go down and get some food. I ran all the way from Central…metabolism needs replenishing, Man."
Dick shot him a grin and headed for the ensuite. At the door, he paused. "Hey, Wally?"
His voice was soft. Sitting on the bed and sulking about losing to an under-the-weather Boy Wonder, Wally only half heard him. "Hmmm?"
That got Wally's attention and he looked up. Dick was hovering in the doorway to the bathroom, biting his lip. "For last night. I would have been in a lot of trouble without your help. I'm sorry it ruined the party for you."
He looked truly sorry and Wally softened. "It wasn't your fault. You didn't know the punch was spiked, and you couldn't help that those guys went after you."
"Yeah, but it ruined your chances with that Reina girl and I know you liked her. I'm really sorry, Walls."
Wally waved a hand. "Dude, there are plenty of pretty girls out there, but I only have one best pal…no way am I gonna leave him in trouble for some chick. Besides," he shrugged, "you'd have done the same for me."
Dick grinned. "You know it!"
Wally smiled back, then waved his hands at the younger boy. "Okay, enough of this mushy stuff and go get ready! I can smell Alfred's cookies from up here and it's driving me nuts!"
Dick sighed. "Trust you to ruin the moment because you can't stop thinking about your stomach for five minutes."
"But I need food!" Wally pleaded.
"You're such a dork!" Rolling his eyes, Dick disappeared into the bathroom.
Wally grinned and flopped back against the bedcovers, hands clasped behind his head, to wait. He felt pretty satisfied with life right now. Okay, so the party had been a complete disaster and Wally had learned the uncomfortable lesson that his best friend was vulnerable in his civilian persona, not to mention that there was a solo training session with the freaking Batman in his future! But thanks to Barry and Bruce's words the night before, Wally had also realized that he was capable of being a hero without using his powers. Maybe he hadn't been all that rational in his execution of a rescue, but he had still managed to get his best friend to safety without using his speed, meaning Wally was more than the sum of his powers.
And there was something kind of comforting about that. Wally had always worried that – with the exception of Robin – he was a little bit of a joke to other heroes. Worse, he had always been slightly afraid that they weren't wrong in that regard. After all, without powers, what could he really do? But last night had proven that not only could Wally spot a dangerous situation, he could also think on his feet. Okay, so maybe he needed to work on fine-tuning his tactics, but at least the potential was there.
The delicious aroma of apple and cinnamon reached his nose and Wally smiled blissfully. And to top it off, he now had an entire day of Alfred's baking to look forward to. Could life get any better?
A wet towel smacked him in the face. "Hey, Kid Lazy! You got me out of bed, and now you're just gonna lie there smiling at the ceiling?"
Wally pulled the towel off to find Dick standing over him, smirking. "Dude, I could give you a minute's head-start and still get to the table before you!"
Dick's grin widened. "Wanna bet?"
"What are the stakes?"
"Loser has to rearrange the furniture in Superboy's room, then take him on a tour of his new digs!"
Wally gulped at the thought; Superboy was more than a little possessive of his stuff. But he'd never hear the end of it if he refused. "Give it your best shot, Boy Wonder!" he challenged.
With a cackling laugh, Dick was gone.
It only took Wally ten seconds to realize he hadn't forbidden Dick from using any gadgets. He could be smoke bombed in the hall, or worse!
"Dude, no tricks, okay?" Wally yelled. There was no response. He made for the door. "Did you hear me? I said– blgggh!"
A water balloon smashed into his face, drenching him. A maddening little giggle drifted down the hall. "Better dry off fast, KF! You know Alfred's rules; no food unless properly attired!"
"Dude, you SUCK!"
Grumbling, Wally raced into the bathroom, grabbed a towel and frantically dried himself. Then he darted after Dick, speeding into the dining room two seconds later, only to find Dick sitting at the table chewing a piece of toast.
Alfred appeared beside him. "Master Wallace, what have I said about running in the house?"
"Sorry, Alfred," Wally mumbled, sliding into a chair just as Dick shot him a triumphant grin.
Wally scowled back. Now he had training with Batman and being murdered by Superboy to look forward to. Oh joy. He sighed, knowing he only had himself to blame; he should have known he'd never get one over on the Boy Wonder.
But as a smiling Dick pushed a huge plate of waffles his way, Wally softened slightly. Okay, so maybe his younger, smaller, non-powered friend could kick his ass in most things and maybe that was a little annoying, but it was also a mark of how much Dick trusted him that he could actually do those things with Wally.
As Robin, he couldn't be vulnerable with his friends because, well, he was Robin, the Boy Wonder, protégé to the freaking Batman. Vulnerable wasn't exactly a Bat character trait. But as Dick Grayson, vulnerable was exactly what he was supposed to be – no Robin acrobatics or mad hacking skills, just little Dick Grayson, mathlete extraordinaire.
But with Wally, Dick could still be Dick Grayson and not hide his skills. He didn't have to hold back with Wally, because Wally already knew everything about him. Dick trusted him enough to let him into both parts of his life. An honour he had not yet bestowed on anyone else.
Wally had to admit, it was pretty cool to be so highly regarded by the Boy Wonder. Biting into a deliciously sweet waffle, he sighed with contentment. He shouldn't forget the perks either.
Wally supposed continuous butt-kickings were a small price to pay for all that.