Actions

Work Header

I knew you once; long ago and far away

Work Text:

He perches on a gargoyle and looks out at where the big top is being raised and contemplates whether or not Wally will want to go with him, it's not Haley's but it'll still be fun. It's not until they've finished putting up the tent that he wonders who Wally is. He's almost forgotten about it by the time he meets up with Batman and they head back to the Cave. It's been a quiet night so there isn't much to report, but the idea of a Wally lingers in the back of his head. It's only as they're getting ready to head up to bed and Alfred is gathering the dishes from their after patrol snack that he asks them, “Do either of you know a Wally?”

They both stop to think about it for a second before Alfred answers, “I don't believe I do Master Richard. Master Bruce?”

“No,” and the cowl is pulled back, but the expression is still pure Batman in the tightening of his lips and narrowing of his eyes, “why?”

Dick opens his mouth and closes it again before trying once more to answer, “I was thinking about inviting a Wally to the circus, but I don't know any Wallys.”

They both look at him, Alfred concerned, Bruce worried. No one says anything for a second before Bruce walks back over the bat-computer and opens a general search for Wally. It's not surprising when the screens fill with pictures of numerous people named Wally. Bruce waits while he looks through the pictures, but none of them feel right. A flash of red that could almost be a memory goes through his mind, “No, but for some reason I'm thinking of red. Not like blood though. Hair maybe.”

The search is refined to those with red hair and still no one looks familiar. He shakes his head and Bruce frowns before turning off the screens, “Let me know if you think of anything.”

Silently they all walk upstairs and finish getting ready for bed.

When he wakes up he can almost remember a dream about hanging out on the giant gymnastics trampoline they have in the gym with someone. A fuzzy memory of green eyes and an infectious laugh haunt him throughout his shower, but are gone by the time he gets to breakfast. Still, he spends a half hour on the trampoline later for reasons he can't quite figure out before heading out to the mountain to meet up with the team.

Batman and Hal Jordan show up after training to lay out a new mission for them, infiltration and bug planting. Not the most exciting, but something that shows the League's growing acknowledgment of their skills. It's when they're going through the security measures and planning their approach that Artemis points to a section of the security wall around the building and says, “I wish we had a speedster on the team, they'd be able to get right up that thing before the motion sensors could detect them.”

Robin almost says that they do have a speedster before his mind catches up with his mouth. They don't have a speedster. They've never had a speedster. He's still trying to figure out why he thought they did, even if for just a second, when Roy lays out a plan to loop the cameras with some special tech arrows. And for a second, just a second, he has to wonder why Roy is there.

The plan goes off without a hitch, for once, and they're in and out and gone in under thirty minutes. The bugs are transmitting perfectly, the arrows self destructed without anyone noticing, and no one comments on how out of it Robin was until they're on the bio-ship heading back to the mountain. At which point he gets a barrage of questions about his behavior and he can't blame them because he almost got them caught not once, but twice. The best he can say is, “I'm sorry, I've just been having these headaches lately.” It's not true, but better than telling them he kept thinking someone else was watching his back.

They all quite down then and look at each other with worry clear on their faces. Kaldur asks gently, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” he forces himself to smile through the lie, “just haven't been getting enough sleep. Think I'll head home when we get back.”

They don't ask anymore questions, but he can see them sneaking looks at him during the rest of the trip. Even after Artemis breaks the silence by talking about the circus that just came to Gotham and the rest of them start planning a trip for the next day.

Artemis follows him to the zeta tubes and once again the weird feeling of wrongness strikes him as she's recognized as B06, which is as silly as everything else because he can't figure out what other number she'd be. Zatanna is B07 after all and no one is B08. She stops in the alley and looks at him for a second, “Are you going to come to the circus with us?”

He doesn't even have to think about it before shaking his head, “No, I think I'll sleep in tomorrow.”

She knows he's not going to do that, just like she knew he'd say no. There's no good way to wear sunglasses in the tents. Same as with movie theaters. She wags a finger at him, “If you say so Boy Wonder. You're gonna have to tell somebody who you are one day.”

He doesn't respond because a part of him is screaming that he has told somebody. The same part that knows going to see a movie with a friend is so much better than seeing it by yourself. Which is weird because he's obviously gone to the movies with people before, hell he's gone to opening premiers with Bruce, but something tells him going with a friend is different. Artemis is gone by the time he pulls himself together and he makes a beeline for the nearest entrance to the tunnels that'll lead to the Cave.

Something is wrong with him.

Bruce listens silently as he tells him everything. From the weird belief that they had a speedster on the team to the idea that he's told this person, this Wally, who he is. Bruce's face gets harder and harder as he goes on and only years of experience tells Dick just how worried Bruce is. They stand in the dining room staring at each other, Alfred slightly to the side with concern radiating off of him, before Bruce pulls out his cell, “I'm making an appointment with Leslie.”

He wants to protest going to the doctor, but he knows it's the right decision.

Leslie shows up at the manor an hour later and they lay out everything that's been happening to him. She hides it well, she's had practice being a doctor in Gotham, but it's clear she's upset by what they're telling her. After they're done she snaps open her bag and starts pulling out supplies, “I'm going to make sure all your vitals are normal and draw some blood samples. I'm also going to call and arrange for some tests to be done at the hospital tomorrow.”

She lists off the various things she wants to have done and Alfred makes notes while Bruce asks questions. Dick is just so damn glad that everyone is being calm and rational because he's scared and they're the only thing keeping him from crying.

It takes a week for all the results to come back, even with Bruce Wayne's money behind it, and Dick doesn't know what to do with how completely normal everything says he is. Neither does Bruce because everything has been getting worse. Leslie explains the results of each of the tests and looks at him with sympathy before turning to Bruce, “Physically there's nothing wrong with him. I have some recommendations for psychologists if you want to try that route-”

“No,” Bruce cuts her off. She looks ready to protest so he elaborates, “Black Canary is a trained therapist if that's the course we need to take. I have a few other things I want to look into first.”

Leslie looks surprised at the news of Black Canary's day job and Dick smirks a little because everyone is surprised by that. It's just not what you think of when you think of her and he knows Black Canary likes it that way. Still, “Other options?”

“I want to take you to see Dr. Midnight,” Bruce says as Alfred gathers up the test results. “See if he has any suggestions on other possible causes.”

“Such as?” Dick could hug Leslie for being merely curious and not at all skeptical, but she's been hanging out with the Capes and Cowl crowd for awhile now. Instead he stays seated because he wants to know too. Anything to say he's not crazy.

Bruce runs a hand through his hair, a nervous tick Dick knows he tries to keep himself from doing, “I don't know. Something bleeding through from an alternate universe maybe.”

It's not the most reassuring of statements, but it's enough. Leslie leaves shortly after, hugging Dick before she walks out the door. Bruce is already down in the cave contacting Dr. Midnight and Dick really hopes the man can tell them something. Because it's getting worse, so much worse.

The day before he'd gone into the cave and honestly thought Red Tornado would be there. It took him a half hour to remember that they'd never found Red Tornado in Yellowstone, never proved he wasn't a traitor, and never brought him back to the cave. He can't remember the exact details of what he'd thought had happened, but later he looked up recent history at Yellowstone and cried for an hour when he saw the report of the aborted eruption.

Dr. Midnight can't find anything wrong with him either.

Black Canary looks out of place sitting in the manor library, but that was probably just the fishnets. He wonders what she thought when Batman showed up in Star City and demanded she come with him. He'd been down in the Cave when they'd shown up and seen her shock when they led her upstairs. Even now, when he's sure he's losing his mind, he can still appreciate the way people look when they realize that Bruce Wayne is Batman.

Her teacup shakes slightly as she puts it down on the saucer, “Not that I don't appreciate the show of trust, but something tells me this isn't a social visit.”

“No, no it's not.” Bruce says as Dick grabs his hand. “Dick has, he's.” And Bruce just stops. Black Canary probably couldn't look more worried if Darkseid busted in through the wall because Batman doesn't ever not know what to say.

Suddenly Dick realizes that Bruce is squeezing his hand back and Alfred hasn't left the room and it gives him enough courage to start, “It started when the circus came to town.”

Black Canary listens to the entire story and looks through the reports from Leslie and Dr. Midnight before taking a deep breath, “Okay, I see why you brought me here.”

“Do you have any ideas Miss Dinah?” Alfred asks and then stops because at no point during her visit had they referred to her by her real name. It's an inexcusable slip as far as Alfred is concerned.

She laughs it off though, “I think it's fair enough for you to call me by my name at this point.” She takes another deep breath and then bites her lip before looking at him and Bruce, “I think you need to take some time off from the team. I'm sorry, but it's the safest thing to do.”

He wants to protest, he does, but he knows she's right. Bruce benched him in Gotham after finding him crying about a volcanic eruption. Instead he nods and she continues, “I'm going to have to look into a few things, but first I want you to do something for me.”

“Okay,” he says and he didn't think he voice could ever sound that scared. Somehow, over the course of his story, he tucked himself in under Bruce's arm and for a second he thinks about sitting up before scooting closer to Bruce.

She looks at him with so much empathy he wants to hide, “I want you to tell me the earliest memory you have of this Wally.”

He licks his lips and closes his eyes and tries to think of how they met. Then, just like that, it's perfectly clear in his mind, “Harley Quinn and Poison Ivy were on a cross-country crime spree. We caught up to them in Central City. They were robbing a bank and destroying gas stations when we arrived at the scene. The Flash and Wally were putting out the fires from the pumps exploding. We, Batman and I, took down Harley. The Flashes had finished the fires by then and the four of us captured Ivy.”

“The Flashes?” Dinah asks curiously.

His eyes flip open and he stares at her, “Wally is Kid Flash. He's Barry's nephew. Iris's brother's son.” It's so clear now he doesn't know how he could've forgotten that. “He recreated the explosion that gave Barry his powers when he was twelve.”

Alfred walks out of the room and he doesn't need to look at Bruce to know that Alfred is going to go check their records on the Flash to see if Iris's brother has any children. Dinah looks at him, “And that's how you met Wally?”

“Yeah,” and it's so clear in his memories now, “we hit it off right away. Best friends by the time the cops showed up.”

“Bat-Bruce?” She looks over at him and they both know she's asking what he remembers.

“About two years ago we followed Harley and Ivy to Central City. Flash was by himself though. Too busy taking care of the fires to help capture them. They almost got away.” Bruce says it all like he's reporting to the League.

Alfred returns before Dinah can say anything else, “I'm sorry sir, but there's no record of Rudolph West ever having any children.”

It's like a punch to the gut. If he'd had children it would've given them something to work with, something that could mean that he wasn't crazy. Bruce squeezes his shoulder and all Dick wants to do is curl into Bruce's side and cry. He doesn't though because Dinah is still there and he has some dignity. Dinah probably senses it though because she stands up, “I think that's enough for today. I'd like to go over some stuff at home and come back tomorrow though.”

“Of course,” Bruce says as he stands and Dick goes with him because he's not quite ready to let go. “I'll take you back to the zeta beam and we'll make arrangements for tomorrow.”

It's pure Bruce Wayne manners and it's enough to let Dick know just how upset Bruce is and that gives him the courage to let go. Bruce never gives Bruce Wayne manners to Justice League members unless they were out of costume and in public. He looks up in time to see the completely weirded out expression on Dinah's face before she covers it. He snickers because it's one of those things that never stops being funny, nobody expects Batman to know how to be polite.

They all leave the library, Bruce and Dinah heading down to the Cave, Dick and Alfred to the kitchen for hot chocolate.

Dinah comes back the next day and the day after and every day after that. He pretends not to notice the quiet conversations she has with Bruce and the plethora of books she leaves for him to read. He tries not to let half-heard whispers of 'too much stress' and 'he's still so young' get to him. In the end though he can't help it. The circus came to Gotham in mid-March and now it's approaching May and he has an extra two years of memories in his head. It's hard to keep things straight at times, little things, he spent two hours looking for a video game he didn't own before he remembered that he'd bought it to play with Wally.

Another day, another session with Dinah, and Dick is just getting tired of it all. Tired of pretending that this is something they can fix by talking and he's so close to asking her about the medication she's been talking about with Bruce, but he can't quite bring himself to do it. Her voice is shockingly loud in the library, “The team was asking about you.”

“What did you tell them?” They'd gone with a generic illness, something that gave everybody the illusion that he'd get better soon. He thinks that probably stopped working as an excuse over a week ago.

She smiles, “That you're still sick.”

He doesn't have to ask how well they took that. It's probably for the best that no one knows where to find him when he's not being Robin. Even if a part of him desperately screams that someone does know. “It's not a lie at least.”

“Dick,” she sighs and rubs her hand across her face. “Have you figured out what your last memory of Wally is?”

He's not sure why she's so insistent on that particular memory. Maybe because he can't seem to figure it out. Every time he thinks he has it, something comes up later. At first he thought it was rescuing Red Tornado, but then he remembered a version of the training scenario where Wally died with him. The two of them standing shoulder to shoulder as the alien base exploded. It's like that for all their missions.

He remembers hacking the Justice League computers and then convincing Roy to check out Cadmus with him and Kaldur coming along to keep them out of trouble. He remembers talking Kaldur into it with Wally at his side. .

He remembers Red Tornado saving them from Mr. Twister. He remembers Wally making a fake tornado and the rest of them bringing Mr. Twister down.

 

He remembers being told a version of the story to Fate's Tower that ended with Wally putting on the helmet and he remembers a version with Kaldur putting on the helmet.

He remembers fighting the Injustice League with Wally and without and the version without was so much worse, Kaldur had a look on his face when he took off the helmet that made Robin think he'd had to promise something to Fate to be let go.

But then the memories just stop towards the end of November. He can remember goofing off in the cave with Wally and then it gets all fuzzy. He shakes his head, “They just stop.”

Dinah doesn't look happy with that answer, she hasn't been happy about it since she started asking for his last memory. “What is the last thing you remember?”

“We're in the training room,” only that's not right and suddenly Dick knows that's not right. It's like pulling a band-aid off his brain and he can almost remember, “No, wait, we were talking over the comms. A private channel I made for us. I was doing homework and he was talking about Thanksgiving.”

“Thanksgiving?” He can't see her face, but he knows the intense look Dinah must be giving him.

“His favorite holiday. All the food.” Dick pulls his knees up to his chest and wraps his arms around them, it hurts to remember, but in a good way. Distantly he can tell that Dinah is calling for Bruce and Alfred, but he has his eyes shut, “Something happened, he had to go, a new villain was in Central. Something special about him, something unique, fast, he was fast, he was a speedster.”

He's practically panting as he looks up to where Bruce and Alfred are standing by Dinah, “A bad speedster, Wally left his comm on and I could hear Barry telling him to cut him off.”

“Do you remember his name?” Bruce asks as he sits down next to him.

“Zoom, something Zoom,” it's sitting just out of reach, so close he can feel it tickling his brain. “He did something, hurt Barry.”

“Barry was hurt just before Thanksgiving.” Dinah says it casually, like it's not the first real match up between Dick's memories and what really happened that they've found. “He said it was from trying to vibrate through a steel wall at the wrong frequency.”

“No, no, Zoom did something,” Dick can remember Wally's cry of anguish. “And then, I think, Zoom ran. Wally chased him.” And then nothing. Nothing, nothing, nothing. Four months of nothing until the circus.

And it still hurts, it hurts like someone is turning his head into a rubber band. He thinks he falls over and he can hear shouting, but he can also hear a voice, small and distant and so familiar he could cry. It's saying his name over and over and just when he doesn't think he can take the stretching-pulling-about-to-explode sensation there's a pop. A pop with a bright light and then Wally is standing in the living room. Wally just stands there for a second looking at Dick curled up in Bruce's arms before saying a final, quite, “Dick” and passing out.

He doesn't know how Dinah does it, but she manages to catch him and then Alfred is muttering, “Dear Lord, Master Wallace,” and running to the phone to call Leslie. Dick knows it must be Leslie because Wally looks so thin. Skin and bones should never be anything more than an expression, but it look like that's all there is to Wally.

They all pause for a moment before it becomes a rush of activity as they race down to the Bat Cave's medical facilities. In no time at all Dinah and Bruce have Wally hooked up to a saline drip and then Alfred and Leslie seem to appear out of nowhere. He stands to the side, out of the way, as they put more and more tubes into Wally's arms, before pushing one down his throat, and Dick knows it's all that's going to keep Wally alive, but it looks so wrong. Finally it's over and there's nothing but the beeping of machines and the murmur of Leslie and Alfred discussing medical procedures and follow-up. Dinah has her arm around his shoulders and at some point he sat down in one of the chairs. He's looks around and finds Bruce over by the bat-computer talking to Barry on a video feed.

“How could we forget him?” Dinah mutters to herself.

Dick doesn't care. He will later, once Wally has all the tubes removed and is running around the Cave looking at everything like he normally does. Right now though he just wants to sit and look at Wally, his Wally, alive and there and real.