Wally watched the team (our team, Artemis had said) from the kitchenette.
They had congregated in the sitting area, crowding around the young Zatanna Zatara, doing their best to welcome her to the Cave without reminding her why it was she was being forced to move there.
Giovanni Zatara had donned the Helm of Fate barely 24 hours ago. Nabu had refused to release him. Wally could honestly say that he wouldn't have wished that upon his worst enemy.
Wally had never met Zatanna before, only Robin and Artemis had been previously introduced. It seemed that Zatara was not the type of man to trust his daughter within spitting distance of a teenager who actually listed 'manipulating women' as a superpower.
But now he was gone. And now she was here.
Wally could see that the reality of the situation had not yet hit her. She was dazed, just sort of allowing Miss Martian and Aqualad to welcome her and offer condolences without really accepting them.
It made him think. She woke up just yesterday with her father happy and whole, only for her day to turn into a nightmare when he and every other adult on the planet simply vanished from the world. After almost an entire day of fear and worry and hysteria, the adults had been returned, but at a cost.
Across the globe, parents were reuniting with their children, and here Zatanna was. Without her father.
It really made him think.
Nobody noticed as Wally left the kitchenette, treading silently towards the hangar.
It didn't take too much convincing to get the Super-Cycle to unlock the hangar doors, something Conner had unthinkingly taught her the first time the clone had ridden the organism he had affectionately named 'Sphere'.
The Kryptonian heard the doors open and the Cycle's engines rev, alerting his teammates to the anomaly. But by the time they got to the hangar, Thorn was already gone, a small note left where Sphere usually rested.
Be back soon, it read. There's someone I need to see. Don't call Batman.
Six teenagers shared questioning glances.
Breaking into Arkham was far easier than the last time Wally had attempted it. He supposed that that may have had something to do with the fact that more than half of the guards were currently home with their children rather than manning their stations.
He slipped by the remaining jailers with ease. He'd decided to go 'classic' for this little adventure, his jeans and the green of his skin helping him fade from sight as he kept to the shadows as he trod silently through the halls, looking for a very specific cell.
He'd checked and double-checked the number before he'd left, but Wally was forced to doubt himself when he arrived at Cell-106 to find an empty room.
Wally slapped himself. She'd already escaped. And judging from the general lack of green or destruction in the immediate area, Wally doubted that she'd done it herself.
"Dammit," he hissed quietly, before breaking into a sprint as he rushed to check a few of the other choice cells he had memorized over the years.
Two minutes later and Wally was barely keeping himself from hysteria as he stood at the door of the cell of Halreen Quinzel.
Aside from Ivy, there had been just one other disappearance. The Joker. And, given that Aunt Harley was still sleeping like a baby in her cot, Wally knew that neither escapee had had much of a hand in their respective breakouts.
That meant someone else was calling the shots, and so far the only organization to have anything to do with both Ivy iand/i the Joker was the Injustice League which, to Wally, spelt out pretty clearly 'Not Good'.
Choosing to deal with his frustration and mild terror in a completely healthy and mature way, Wally then banged his head against the metal door of Harley's cell.
This, as it turned out, was not his best idea.
"Unh?" Came a slight groan from within, giving Wally just enough warning about what was to come to know that it was too late to stop it. "Little Red? What're you doing here?"
Wally blankly watched as his honorary aunt blinked sleepily, throwing away her covers and staggered tiredly to her feet, taking a shaky step towards the door before realization set in.
"What're you doing here?" She asked again, this time with venom in her voice as she, suddenly wide awake, turned sharply on her heel and crossed her arms with a notable huff.
"..." Wally honestly had no clue of what to say. There were a ton of things he'd planned to talk to Ivy about, but Harley had completely slipped his mind.
"If you're here to beg for forgiveness, well, you can just forget it," she told him in an oddly biting combination of a hiss and a whine, "I ain't never gonna forgive you for turning on your Uncle J and me! And after everythin' Red and I did for you!"
"I'm sorry," Wally said without thinking.
Harley looked at him over her shoulder, one eyebrow raised expectantly as she pointedly kept her mouth shut in an angry pout.
"Actually, I'm not sorry about stopping Joker," Wally amended, before elaborating, "But I iam/i sorry that I got you sent back here."
Harley facial expression didn't change, even as she gave a quiet 'ahem', that plainly told Wally what she was waiting for.
He rolled his eyes in exasperation. He should've known.
"I'm sorry, Aunt Harley," he repeated, this time stressing on her name, "Queen of all that is laughter, pranks, and custard-filled pies."
"And?" She prompted.
"And," Wally grit his teeth at this point, "Mistress of Super Smash Bros Brawl."
"And?" This time she reached through the bars of the small window of her door to poke him in the chest.
"And Princess Zelda totally kicks Kirby's ass," he muttered irritably, "Even though you totally cheated last time and-"
"Little Red!" She cheered, all trace of hostility gone in an instant as she pressed her face against the window, "How ya been, kiddo? You gonna let your old Aunt Harley outta here, or what?"
"Uh," Wally stammered, "Well, y'see... the thing about that is..."
"Thorn?" Harley questioned earnestly, "Whatsamatta?
Wally sighed, "I can't let you out. Aunt Harls... I've gone legit."
Harley gasped with all the horror she could muster, as though he'd just told her that April Fool's Day and Halloween had both been cancelled and grease paint had disappeared from the face of the earth.
And then, once her need for drama had been satisfied...
"Eh?" Wally raised an eyebrow, affronted. "I tell you I'm going straight and all I get is an 'eh'?"
"What can I say?" She shrugged, "I saw it comin'."
"You... saw it coming?" Wally practically gaped at her.
"Well, duh," Harley rolled her eyes at her best pal's nephew, "Psychologist, remember? Always knew ya weren't cut out for the life. Ya just had to work through that weird hero-worship thing ya had goin' on with Big Red. Only don't ever tell her I called her 'big', see?"
"Now listen," she continued, while Wally still tried to process through what she'd just said, "I know your aunt ain't exactly gonna be thrilled about the news, but don't let that stop ya from doin' what ya gotta do. Got it?"
Nodding numbly, Wally parroted, "Got it."
"Good," Harley nodded surely to herself, "Now get outta here before some mook puts a spot on your nice and clean pardoned record."
Shaking himself out of his stupor, Wally smiled. Leaning in, he kissed his aunt's cheek through the bars and said, "Thanks, Aunt Harley. I'm gonna miss you."
"Aw, I'll miss you too, Little Red," she shooed him, "But hey, they can't keep me here forever. I'll pop in and visit you every now and then. Make sure your life doesn't get all borin' being a goody goody. And you can always come see me here."
Wally smiled at her again, promising that he'd come and visit her legally as soon as he was able as he made to leave, only for her to stop him as she remembered one more thing she wanted to say.
"Always remember your roots, kiddo," she told him, with as much seriousness as was possible for the Harlequin, the pun notwithstanding, "No matter what ya wind up doin' with yourself, you were raised by a pair a' nutjobs and ya managed to turn out alright. Don't forget that."
"Oh, and, uh," she continued with a cheeky grin, "If ya get the chance, could ya do me a favor?"
Wally met her grin with his own as he anticipated what she was about to ask.
"I'll see if I can't sneak a whoopee cushion under the Batplane's seat," he promised, "I'll try and get you a picture of his face if he falls for it."
Several hours later, a guard of the understaffed Asylum finally got around to Harley Quinn's cell, only to find her laughing hysterically about bats, planes and whoopee cushions.
Wally was on autopilot as he made his way back to the Cave. Literally, the Cycle steered herself and all Wally did was watch the city of Gotham pass below him, his mind distracted by thoughts of his meeting.
Harley had told him that he wasn't cut out to be a villain.
Over the years, Thorn had heard that line more than once, usually from prison psychologists who, despite impressive credentials, rarely had any idea of what was going on inside his head. Robin had used to say it with annoying regularity too, mostly when he had visited Wally in prison, usually as a means of taunting. After all, you couldn't be that great a villain if you kept getting caught, now, could you?
Artemis had said it too, in her own snarky way. Wally had initially dismissed it, but now he wasn't so sure.
Because now Harley had said it. Harley who, despite her insanity, was probably the foremost mind in super-villain psychology. And she'd said it with an uncharacteristic seriousness that let him know she meant it.
He wasn't cut out for villainy. Destroying things may have been fun, but hurting innocent people had never sat well with him. So what else was he gonna do?
Wally thought about his upcoming pardon, set to be official and signed by the end of the week if you considered Robin a reliable source. He'd be free to leave the Cave after that.
And where would he go? His parents? Nah. He'd been gone for too long, changed too much. It wouldn't be right to impose himself upon them now.
Besides, they hadn't seemed all that thrilled with the green last he saw them.
Would the government take him in? Send him to foster-care? He hoped not. He'd heard too many horror stories in juvie. He'd run away if they tried.
Hmm, now that was an idea. He could just take off and live off the land, like he'd done when he'd first made the pilgrimage to Gotham. Maybe it wouldn't be glamorous, but he could do it. He'd never have to be separated from the green again.
And then, another thought. Why couldn't he stay at the Cave? Sure, Miss Martian and Aqualad split their time between staying with the Manhunter and Atlantis respectively, but they both had actual rooms in the mountain base and Conner, and now the Zatanna girl, were both living there full-time.
So why couldn't he?
Wally could think of a few reasons, chief amongst them being that fact that, if he did, he'd be expected to join the team as an actual member.
That would be awkward. No matter what Artemis and Robin may say, Thorn was not a part of the team and, in all honesty, he wasn't sure if he could do the things they did.
Yes, he'd stopped the breakout of Belle Reve... but that was more for the upgrade in accommodations than anything else.
Yes, he'd faced the Injustice League... but that was for Ivy, not the team.
Yes, he'd done a few other things here and there, for both his own benefit and for the good of others.
Yes, he'd refrained from doing anything illegal lately (mostly).
No, he wasn't a villain. He wasn't a bad guy... but did that make him a hero?
He saw something in the city below, breaking him out of his internal soul-searching.
"Supey, can you bring us down over there?" He asked politely, even as he reached for the controls and made the question pointless as he took over steering, directing them downwards to land on a long since abandoned warehouse.
'Giggles and Tidbits', the sign read, but that wasn't what had caught Wally's attention. Rather, it was the jungle still present within.
Wally smirked as he dismounted from the Cycle, he could tell that someone had tried to remove them, but his plants were nothing if not resilient and they hadn't been willing to risk setting them on fire.
In a way, he supposed, this was where it all began. No, it'd all began with the news report back at the outskirts of Arkham. What was it, three months ago? Four? It didn't seem possible that it hadn't been longer.
But still, Arkham may have been where he made the decision, but this was where he'd actually done it. This was where he willingly risked his life and his freedom to stop the Joker, turning on his own Aunt Harley in the process and leaving Ivy to the Asylum. This was where he'd set himself on the path that led to Belle Reve, to the Cave.
All because of a couple of kids with the sheer bad luck to look like Robin, and the even greater misfortune to catch the Joker's eye.
Wally couldn't tell you any of the kids' names at this point, he'd never really cared to find out, but he could remember how they'd reacted to him.
They had been scared, terrified of the Joker, and that fear hadn't dissipated when he'd started releasing them. They were Gothamites, after all, they'd all known exactly who he was. They didn't understand why Poison Ivy's Thorn would be helping them. Hell, he didn't understand it either.
But he still did it.
He also remembered the wonder in that one girl's eyes when he grew her a rose, just to stop her from struggling really. He remembered, once she'd been untied, she didn't let go of it.
He wondered idly if she'd kept it.
And so, Wally thought, maybe he wasn't a hero. But for a brief moment... to those kids he had been. To those kids he could be.
Wally thought back to Conner. He and the clone had shared a few conversations since their unwanted adventure with the Forever People, during which Conner had explained that one of the reasons he stayed with the Team was because, frankly, he didn't know what else to do with himself. After all, who else did he know in this strange world he had awoken to find himself in?
Wally had just gone over exactly how nonexistent his plans were.
Wally recalled his Halloween conversation with Artemis. She'd told him that the reason she did what she did was because it made her feel good about herself.
He remembered how he'd felt when he'd saved those kids. Good didn't quite cover it.
Wally walked back to the waiting Super-Cycle, thankful that she was remaining silent during his questioning. With an easy motion, he was back aboard Sphere and revving the engine, sending them hurtling skyward.
He was going to stay at the Cave. He knew that. Maybe he'd choose to help the team. Maybe he could be a hero.
After all, he'd saved the world once already (twice if you counted the thing with Dr. Fate). He was off to a great start.