I Will Follow You Into the Dark
Authors Note: All you have to know is that Argon is an element on the periodic table.
Thanks to Damilyn for editing it, Cassedoutofheaven for letting me cry. Gabsgen, this is for you~
The day Wally West dies isn't what he expected it to be. (Yeah, he's predicted his death! He figures at some point Artemis will get so fed up with him and just stick an arrow in his side just to put herself out of her misery.)
That's not actually what happens.
He figures the world will be dark. Everyone in a state of total mourning at the loss of his life. He figures he'll feel it. You know, have some inkling of his upcoming demise.
It doesn't happen that way.
(It was probably too much to think that the entire world would be devastated. But he'd never actually figured he'd have to really predict his death. The ignorance of super speed is a feeling of going so fast you can outrun death, while harsh reality of the situation is that you can't. He learns that today.)
The day Wally West dies is the day he wakes up with growing pains in his knees and his mother shouting up the stairs for him to hurry up and get down the stairs or he'll miss breakfast. He races down the stairs at regular human speed, stuffing a piece of toast in his mouth and four more pieces in his backpack.
The door to his parent's room is shut tight and the familiar angry noises of quarrels seep out of the crack between the door and the frame. He takes a step towards the door to say goodbye, but a particularly loud scream followed by a string of words including "He's your son, Rudy!" send him reeling back and quickly out the door. He'll say goodbye next time. They probably won't even notice that he's gone.
His school day is miserable at best. Wally enjoys learning, there's no doubt about that, but school is a whole other story. He's surrounded by people who rarely talk to him unless they're asking for homework "help." He's polite and friendly, and he has "school friends," but they aren't people who he'd hang with on the weekends unless his mom kicked him out because Wally needs to "socialize beyond his extracurricular activities." He spends another P.E. getting smashed in the face by dodge balls (despite the fact that he could out dodge them in an heart beat) and spends Spanish receiving more failing grades for incorrect conjugations.
There's only one shining beacon of light and that's his chemistry class. He takes AP Chemistry, a class filled with eleventh graders and taught by a truly brilliant teacher. She's constantly dropping hilarious jokes about the periodic table and she really knows her stuff. It's like a breath of fresh air after classes filled with teachers who seem like they hate children. Go figure why they chose a job that involves children 24/7.
Wally sprints home, his mind filled to the brim with tons of new jokes , just waiting to be wrapped up in ribbons and bright paper to be given to Rob. He and Arty are the best audiences for this type of thing. Wally measures their success easily. The louder the groan of hatred, the better the pun.
And that's how he spends part of his afternoon. He finds Artemis and Robin engaged in a deep conversation about something school related when he arrives. M'gann is giggling in the kitchen, and he swears he can hear a softer baritone laugh underneath hers, sounding suspiciously like Conner's.
"Yo Rob," he half shouts, voice echoing across the foyer. "Are you made of copper and tellurium?"
His best friend cocks his head in Wally's direction, light glinting off his sunglasses. "What?"
"Because you are Cu-Te!" Wally laughs - he's just going to ignore how it's more comfortable to hit on his best friend than the female archer sitting next to him - and then launches himself onto the couch, sending the other occupants flying haphazardly in every direction.
"Oh. My. God." Dick says, after regaining his sense. "Was that a chemistry pun?" Besides him Artemis' eyes focus on him, something unreadable in her gaze. Confusion reads in every line in her face, and then it breaks in realization.
"Cu for Copper and Te for tellurium. No. No. No. Didn't we already go through this?" She yells, throwing her hands over her face with a groan.
Dick's at her side in seconds. "We did!" He shouted, throwing a mock-accusatory look at Wally's smug face. 'We banned these types of jokes, KF! We even got Red Tornado involved in the act of banning these types of jokes!" A fleck of spit sprang from his bottom lip in his indignation.
"Is the R-man here? R-dude? R-Robot? Whatever." Wally runs a hand through his hair, rumpling it even further than it was and settled back onto the couch comfortably. "Point is he isn't here. Therefore, I can tell my totally awesome chemistry jokes."
He could practically hear the grinding of Robin's teeth. His best friend was more inclined to tell math riddles than Chemistry puns, and they made it their greatest battle to out joke one another.
The three banter back and forth for a bit, Dick occasionally saying things like "poly your nominal" to which Artemis and Wally both visibly shuddered, and Artemis even saying that they were extreme idiots, but only...periodically. Wally was in tears and Robin on the floor moaning about how much he wanted Batman to take him off the Team.
Artemis stands up after a solid thirty minutes of science and math puns, fed up with his terrible jokes. "Robin, I'll leave you with this loser. M'gann sounds like she needs help in the kitchen, and we all know Conner is just going to make her cooking worse. Tell me when you find someone better than this poor excuse of a best friend."
Dick smirks up at her, and Wally can see the way his eyes crinkle under the edges of his sunglasses. "Please. You can come crawling back after you try and find two people better than us," the younger boy says smugly.
She snorts, and giggling, flounces away, muttering to herself, "Boron and moron."
Wally feels something then. A little flicker of warmth in his chest, despite the cool air blasting through the AC. He could get used to this. Sitting on the HQ's couch, goofing off with Dick, as Artemis rolls her eyes in a manor she swears isn't fond, while Kaldur observes and Megan tries to teach Superboy how to cook. It's a totally messed family-of-sorts, but it's one none the less. He hasn't allowed himself to feel this way about a group of people in so long. It's almost comforting.
Of course, that's when everything changes.
Within hours, (hours that fly by as if they're merely seconds) he's out on a mission, the world falling apart around him in plumes of smoke and . He's just watched Artemis get hit with some form of laser beam, then Kaldur. Stupid stupid Kaldur, who shoved him through the Justice League door before himself, was also hit. Then goes Superboy, the boy that's he's known for less than a year, sacrificing himself for the good of the mission, as M'gann screams his name through sobs of agony.
Now, her uncle's got an iron lock around the Martian's arm as they slide through the metal floor. It doesn't matter that she's getting away from the armed bomb. She's going outside. God only knows if she'll survive. It's an alien invasion.
It hurts. Oh god, it hurts.
It's all happening so fast, that it should numb out the pain, it should be to quick to even process but that doesn't seem to be a problem for him.
And suddenly it's silent.
It's just him and Dick now, standing in a ruined arena, with the clock counting down to an ending he never thought he'd have.
"Dude?" Dick says up to him, uncharacteristically shy, eyes wide with horror.
"Yeah?" Wally's voice is cracking just as bad as Dick's , and he swears that he doesn't have to take a shuddery half breath before responding.
"Those chemistry jokes you told earlier?"
"What?" If anything was to come out of the dark haired boy's mouth, he had really not expected it to be that. A confession of love would have been more startling.
"They..." Dick takes a deep breath, as if he's about to pull a secret from the depths of his soul and whisper it aloud for only time to keep. Though in hindsight, it's probably due to the tears streaming down his face. "They were really really bad."
A beat. "I actually cannot believe you're saying that!" Wally chokes out, and he has a hard time looking down at his best friend. He likes to pretend the hacking noises he's making is laughter, not his voice cracking as he struggled to hold back tears that were already streaming down his face.
"They were just so bad. You could have done so much better." Dick said teasingly, and then the timer goes off one last time.
There was another beat.
"Promise me in the afterlife, or heaven or wherever the hell we end up, that if you do pester me with chemistry puns, they at least have taste. No more periodic table crap. You're above that."
Wally actually cannot believe what he's hearing. But Dick's standing tall, his hand stretched out as if any of this really mattered. As if he wants Wally to shake on it
They're going to die.
But his hand is still out there, wavering, his eyes now rimmed red with tears and grime.
"You got it." Wally claps the smaller shaking hand. "No more shitty jokes."
"Thanks." Dick replies and Wally's not sure what he's thanking him for, whether it be the jokes, or the hand he's still clutching, or shit he doesn't know! All he knows is their hands are intertwined tight, facing the generator going up in flames. The generator that's been laid out to kill them.
Dick's body is angled towards the blaze. They're going to run towards it. Wally doesn't know exactly why. Something about lessening the pain? Quicker death? He doesn't bother trying to figure out the reasoning. He's following his best friend either way.
"No more periodic table jokes. I'm not kidding."
"Dude I would tell you more but all of them Argon. "
Dick freezes, his hand tensing underneath his.
"You did not." He's smiling up at him, and Wally can feel the corners of his lips turn upward slightly.
The generator screeches, creaking as the heat intensifies even more and the final countdown hits the last couple of seconds.
And with a swift look at one another, they take off into the hellfire before them, hands still entwined and death the last thing on their minds.
I made an AO3 and tumblr, under the same username.