"Batman! Hang on! You idiot, you can't die yet!" Damian clutched the slick fabric desperately, his normally stoic and arrogant attitude vanished in the horror of the moment. Right then, he was nothing more than a little kid about to lose his father figure.
Batman heaved a shaky sigh, the pain enough to make him want to scream. He could tell, this, this here, was the end. "Sorry… Robin." With an effort he reached out, brushing back the damp locks from his protégé's eyes with his bloody hands. He wished his voice was working better, he wished he could say how proud he was of Damian, how he knew that the kid would be amazing, that even if he had rough beginnings, he trusted him with their city's protection.
"Shut up! Just shut up and stay alive! I- I called for backup, okay? You can't die and let me suffer the humiliation of asking for help alone, you can't!"
But he was already almost gone; he could feel it, his vision going black, his heart giving up. There was just too much blood loss. It hurt, knowing he was leaving Damian like this. The kid didn't deserve this, but he didn't have a choice. Huh, funny how it was raining in his last moments. Like Gotham was weeping for him. Maybe it was. He could barely make out his frantic partner anymore, his mind couldn't hold still long enough to comprehend. He saw Wayne mansion, Alfred still waiting faithfully for them to return, like he had always done. He saw the League fighting another battle to save the earth. He saw the new batch of heroes coming together, shaping the future.
"Batman! Stay awake you idiot! You bastard!"
Yes, it was time. He couldn't stay any longer. All the friends he had let slip away over the years, all the pain he endured in his occupation. It was done, he was done. I leave this world to you, Damy. I know you'll do good. I'm proud of you Damy.
"No! You can't die!"
"I- I won't let you do this! Please, don't leave me alone, Dick! Dick!"
Where was he? He had… he had been on a mission with Damian- Robin. There had been an explosion, and he had covered Damian to protect him from shrapnel…
It was weird, wherever he was, like being stuck in a fog with the sun just over head. He couldn't see much, but it was so bright.
Out of the fog he heard a laugh, and he turned in its direction, frowning. It had a distantly familiar lilt, and though he still was trying to grasp at straws as to who it was, he felt his heart begin to pound. He recognized that sound, but from where? He couldn't place it…
A swish of red hair in the mist, flashes of red and canary yellow.
"No way, dude! I can't believe you got taller than me!"
Richard's eyes widened as the memories assaulted his brain. It had been so long ago since he'd seen him, so long…
The face disappeared into the mist.
Wait! Dick stumbled a bit as he raced after the figure, trying to locate the slight figure. Wait!
He paused, looking around frantically until he saw the shock of orange in the mist again.
His face was the same as he always remembered it, accept now the red head was looking up at him instead of down. The green eyes danced, knowing how shocked Dick was an enjoying every second of it. Past memories suddenly shot to the forefront of his mind. The canary yellow costume running alongside his R-cycle. Plotting endless pranks against the League. That warm sincere laugh, the playful banter and fierce loyalty from all those years ago. "Wally?" He choked out.
Wally's eyes softened, surprisingly mature. "Hey, Dick. Its… its good to get to see you again."
"Wally!?" Dick- in a very unadultlike manner- hurried forward and grabbed the younger figure by the shoulders. The memories flashed through his mind's eye, the vortex lashing out against his friend, the forms of the speedsters being lost in the wind until the attack died away and there were only two left. "Are you- you're-" Dick cut himself off, remembering the pain of losing his best friend all those years ago in earnest. He wrapped his hands around the form. I'm bigger than him now. "Wally…"
Wally returned the hug, smiling sadly. "I missed you too, Dick." He laughed awkwardly, trying to cut the tense atmosphere. "But I gotta say, as much as I missed you, I'm glad it took this long for me to see you again, you know?"
Dick, still in shock from seeing his long dead friend, suddenly made the connection. "I didn't make it, did I?"
Wally didn't answer, instead looking out over his shoulder. Dick followed suit, wondering what he could see in the dense fog.
And then he could see.
Damian crying over his prone body, far below in the dark and dirty roofs of Gotham. Red Hood was standing nearby, and Tim was trying to approach Damy, trying to help. Superboy, still young appearing as ever, stood next to Zatanna, looking horrified as he held the sobbing figure.
"Is this what it looked like when I died?"
Dick turned back to Wally, who didn't look sad as his voice sounded, just distant. Dick thought back to that day, how his whole life had crashed when he realized that another important person in his life was gone. Yes. It was like this. "You didn't see?"
"Nah, I didn't have anyone to show me…" Wally turned and gave him one of his signature smirks, turning the twenty-year old into that younger side-kick he had grown up with. "I had to beat you all here so I could give the grand tour."
Dick watched, more detached than he'd like, as the scene below him was engulfed in mist and blown away. He turned back to Wally, who looked almost eager- or at least antsy. Could speedsters still be impatient in the afterlife? "Everyone?" Dick thought back to who that could imply, who had followed after Wally in the decades that had past…
"Yeah, made for a lot of great reunions. Kaldur got to be with Tula when he finally got here. You should have seen Roy when he got to hold Lian again. And when Artemis…"
Dick closed his eyes. Tigress- Artemis had turned her back on the League years ago, renouncing her duty and disappearing, occasionally popping up as a mercenary for hire. He never did find out what became of her, so she was gone too… "I'm sorry, Wally."
"Nah, don't be. We talked about it, I was the only real anchor she had, Artemis had always been one to forsake the rules." Wally smiled disarmingly. "She'll come say hi when the time is right."
So many of his friends dead… but, what about everyone else, what about- "Bruce?" Dick felt his heart start to hammer in his chest again, a twinge of hope long forgotten edging up. "My parents?"
"… They aren't coming just yet." Wally shifted awkwardly again. "See, I just got to see you because I'm so fast, you know? Wanted to say hi and turn you back…"
"Say hi?" Dick looked back to where the image had disappeared. "But I thought-"
"Dick, no. If there's one thing the world is going to always need, its their heroes." Wally smiled sadly. "Some of us the world can afford to live without, others… you don't get to come home, not yet."
As if Wally's words were the cue, Dick suddenly started to feel like was being pulled away. Away from Wally. "Wait!" Dick fought to keep ground, feeling more helpless than he had been for years. "Wally!"
"Tell uncle Barry and everyone hi, okay?" The red head was fading into the mist again, soon to be lost to Dick's gaze forever.
Dick did his best to stay firm, but it was like trying to keep still in rapids. "Wally, I don't want to leave! Let me stay with you!"
Wally's voice grew fainter. "Dude, you can't. Remember when I said that I'm there to question your objectivity? Well that hasn't changed. I'll see you later, okay?"
"Heroes never die, Dick…"
"Dick! Wake up, damn you!"
Dick gasped slightly, the shock of pain as something slammed against his chest jerking him awake. He looked through the cracked lense in his cowl to discover Damian pounding CPR into him. Man, that kid could throw a punch. "D-Damy… stop."
The young Robin's head shot up, wide eyed and evidently having been crying. He could vaguely hear the voices around him gasping and crying out in relief. "B-Batman!"
"I'm awake, Robin." He let his head fall back. "I'm awake…"
"Smaller hands grabbed at his cape, demanding. "Don't close your eyes! Do you hear me? I will personally drag you through hell and back if you dare make me that afraid again!"
Dick laughed weakly, regretting it once he was reminded of just how much shrapnel was lodged in his body. "Don't worry. I'm n-not going anywhere." He slowly turned his head, till he was facing the ledge where he knew his family had gathered. "Could use some help here."
Everything was a blur after that. There was a lot of pain, and a lot of Damian demanding and threatening and quietly worrying when everyone else was away, but Dick quite frankly couldn't remember much of it when he woke up three days later, bedridden but on the mend. He did recall, though, vividly the dream of Wally. Or the reunion with Wally. He still wasn't sure.
But apparently, he had been slightly delirious at one point and talked in his sleep. Because when he was finally able to stay awake long enough to hold a few hours of conversation, Damian came in, pouted for a good ten minutes with an adorable scowl, and then promptly spouted "You will tell me who this Wally is, and why you miss them, and why the hell you dare to try and pick them over me."
Dick blinked uncomprehendingly, was Damian acting… jealous? "What?"
Damian squirmed, then frowned more deeply when he realized he was. "When you were being brought back to the cave, despite my explicit threats on your life, you kept drifting in and out. At one point you were calling to Wally, and then acted like you were having a conversation with this person. Superboy went all stiff, and Zatanna would not answer my demands." He leaned forward, eyes narrowed. "Who. Is. Wally."
Dick leaned back in the pillows Alfred had overstocked his bed with. "No one you know." Seeing him had opened old wounds, old wishes and painful memories. "I… I had forgotten him." Dick felt his skin go clammy as he realized the truth in his words. After Wally had ceased, it was like the golden years of being a hero left too. Nothing was ever the same, and he had stayed away from the League for months in an effort to accept what happened, and then eventually just started to block the pain of his loss. As the years grew harder, as he broke off ties with his friends and team mates, took on the responsibly of his own partners and becoming Batman. After saving the world countless times and foiling villains at their game, he had managed to forget his best bro.
"So he is insignificant?" Damian reclined back slightly, still unhappy. "Then why would you call out to him?"
"He's not insignificant." Dick smiled kindly at the bristling kid, recognizing the jealousy for what it was. "But he's an old, old friend. One who died in the line of duty way too young."
Damian scowled at this, evidently thinking back and trying to connect the dots. "Before me?"
"Way before." Dick settled into the pillows, feeling weary all of the sudden. "If you manage to hack the files, you could find out a bit more."
"Or you could tell me the password, and I won't have to break the system in aggravation."
"Nope. Training exercise."
Damian had left and returned six hours later, just looking at Dick. He said nothing for awhile, then finally muttered, "He seems stupid, you shouldn't miss him." Dick knew better than to take it to heart and laughed it off, at which point Alfred- who really should have less active at this point- came and ushered the annoyed child away.
Before long Batman was back in business, and surprisingly, seemed to have gotten his second wind, like he was in the old days. When criminals had a temporarily safe hole to hide in, or were meeting up in Arkham, they discussed it quietly, not in the least bit please with the new zeal the vigilante took on heroing.
A month later, Dick finally worked up the courage to leave town and visit Central City's largest cemetery. There, towards the center, was the unassuming head stone of Wallace Rudolph West. He couldn't bring himself to speak, didn't know what to say to a dead corpse. Dick gazed down at the inscription, feeling the familiar ache from all those years ago when he had last visited.
Wallace 'Wally'Rudolph West. A true son, a true friend, a true hero.
Dick looked up as the wind blew especially hard at the dancing autumn leaves. It was always windy in this city, like the speedsters were always racing around you. A smile quirked on the old man's lips, eyes sad but bright. "Heroes never die…" He placed a small card face down on the stone before turning and walking away.
Long after the Gotham car had sped off, another gust of wind ran through the cemetery, flipping the paper and fluttering it against the head stone before falling down, this time face up for the world to see.
Thanks Wally, for showing us what a true hero is. See you soon! –Dick
Angst, angst, angst. There, I made a fic for my denial of Wally's death, and a fic of my acceptance of Wally's death. Now I need to do a bargaining fic and we'll be on our way to the four stages of grief therapy fics. Sorry if it was sad, go read some fluff. In fact, go to my favorites and read 'We Were Once Perfect' by ClampLover. That story should have been how this season ended... kinda. Should I make a sequel?