Chapter 1: Risen
I put off watching Young Justice for a long time (My list of shouldn't have been cancelled shows is way too long) but i finally caved. And as expected, I got attached.
And thus this fix-it fic was born. There were a lot characters to juggle in this, and I'm not super familiar with all of them so I hope it's not too out of character.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Wally's return to consciousness was nothing like the way it was depicted in the movies. He didn't wake with a gasp, or sit up in a dramatic rush.
Instead it came to him in bursts, one at a time. The weight of his limbs, the steady beep of the machines, the sound of people talking over him.
"-know who this is?"
"I know who he looks like. But he's dead."
"We should contact the league."
"No, not until we know for sure it's him."
The last voice struck a familiar chord with Wally, strong enough to make him try and open his eyes.
It didn't work at first, his lashes sticking together and fighting him.
His breathing must have changed because the voices around him fell silent.
He huffed, and with one more try opened his eyes-
-only to flinch back from the blinding lights.
"Dim the lights." one of them exclaimed and he felt a rush of gratitude for it. Someone in the room could read nonverbal signals, or at least had been in his position before. Knowing the company he kept, it was probably both.
This time when he opened his eyes it wasn't as painful. A paper cut in comparison to an knife wound. And yes, even when in a hospital bed, freshly woken up, he had a tendency for the dramatic. A figure moved from the periphery of the room to stand beside his bed, leaning over him.
She tucked her loose blonde hair behind her ear, before it could dangle in his face.
"Hey Wally." She said, her voice low enough that only he could hear.
He blinked up at her, the recognition coming slowly.
Artemis' face was pinched, the triumphant 'we won, you're alive!' smile he'd expected missing from her face.
There was something else off about her face, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
She ignored the question in his greeting. Instead moving to lift the bed into a reclining position so he could see everyone else in the room.
Taking the cue he looked around, relieved to see familiar faces.
To his left stood Tim, Dick's little Timmy, only he wasn't so little anymore and he wasn't wearing the Robin uniform. Or at least not one Wally recognized. He was wearing red and black, with a double R crest. Instead there was a shorter, mini-bat, wearing the costume more recognizable as Robin. His scowl was all Bruce.
With a foreboding feeling he continued his survey of the room, pausing on the familiar faces at the foot of his bed.
Conner looked basically the same (and honestly did he age?) but the way he had his arm around M'gann threw him. Weren't they broken up? And not on good terms about it?
And speaking of M'gann her hair was longer. Not as long as when she first joined the team, but longer than the pixie style he remembered. It brushed her shoulders, swinging with every movement she made.
It suited her the teenage boy who would always have a small crush on her noted, as she gave him a tentative smile.
Kaldur and Dick were the only members of the original team missing.
Missing teammates, teammates who had different hairstyles, whose faces seemed to have aged, whose dynamics had shifted overnight…
His scientific mind didn't take long to put together the pieces, especially as his fuzzy memories began to solidify in his mind.
"How long was I gone?"
"5 years." Conner was the one who answered, still the one who knew when it was best to be blunt. When dancing around the issue did more harm than good.
Wally squeezed his eyes shut. 5 years? So much could change in that time.
5 years. They were all 5 years older, whereas he was still the same age. Physically at least, his mind… had been somewhat aware of those 5 years.
It was a strange thought, even Dick, the youngest of their team was technically older than him now.
"Where's Dick?" he asked, opening his eyes when no answered. Just in time to catch them all looking shifty.
Artemis reached down to grasp his hand, "Things are different now Wally."
He tried to laugh it off, but a feeling of unease crept over him. "Of course they are, I know how time works."
She looked away, her forehead creasing out of frustration.
Just then the door whooshed open and Wally looked up, deflating when it was just Kaldur.
Where was Dick? Why wasn't here?
Artemis glanced over her shoulder at him, and smiled, genuinely smiled, for the first time since he'd woken up.
Kaldur smiled back at her before sobering as his gaze found Wally. His first smile was one Wally had only seen on the other's face in regards to one woman. And she was long dead.
The penny dropped.
"Oh," Wally breathed, looking at Artemis.
Kaldur moved over, laying a hand on her shoulder.
"After I lost you, we had a lot in common." Artemis said, her left hand, the hand not holding his, moving up to cover Kaldur's.
There was a gold band on her ring finger.
Like his legs, his mind could move fast, jumping from point A to point B quicker than most people gave him credit for.
He rolled his neck, craning to catch Artemis' eyes. "Do you remember the conversation we had on our 2 year anniversary?"
In a rare show of emotion her bottom lip trembled as she jerked her head in a nod.
"Just because I'm not dead anymore, doesn't cancel out that I wanted you to move on. Be happy." He dug deep and was able to give her a genuine smile, "I'm happy for you."
A tear slipped down her cheek and she leaned over to peck him on the lips, murmuring against them a heartfelt, "Thank you."
When she pulled back Kaldur nodded at him, guiding Artemis away from the bed where he enclosed her in his arms.
Feeling awkward now, he turned his gaze back to M'gann, Conner and the bat-kids still lurking in the corner. A safer group to focus on at the moment.
"What happened while I was gone?"
"Not yet." Tim broke in before anyone could answer, and Wally blinked at the authority lacing his tone. He sounded so much like Dick in that moment, so much like Batman.
Wally frowned and Tim sent him a placid look in response. "We need to make sure you're our Wally first. M'gann?"
His old Martian teammate stepped away from Conner, nodding.
"Do you mind Wally?" she asked.
He blinked in surprise. The M'gann he remembered had stopped asking permission after years of linking their minds during missions. He shot Conner a surreptitious look, suspecting his influence in the change.
Her eyes flashed and he met her gaze, the familiar warmth of her shuffling through his mind making him grin. He knew that probably wasn't the healthiest reaction to have when someone rifled through his mind, but he could only associate it with the best of times. Especially after 5 years with no contact. Mental or otherwise.
He now understood why people in solitary had a tendency to go crazy.
M'gann's eyes returned to their normal color and her expression brightened considerably.
"He is our Wally."
He couldn't but feel a rush of fondness for his old friend. Even after almost ten years on Earth she still hadn't lost her awkward phrasing. Most people would have just said, ' He's Wally' or 'It's him'.
Not, 'He is our Wally.'
With her seal of approval Conner stepped closer, crossing his arms over the chest. Presumably to begin telling him what had changed while he was gone.
But Wally couldn't ignore the glaring absence any longer. He was too impatient to wait for them to get around to it in their own time.
"Start with Dick? Why isn't he here? Does he know I'm alive? Does the league?" he shot off the questions rapid fire. Just shy of speaking at speeds they would have no chance of understanding.
The league couldn't know, right? His Uncle Barry would have been here already, likely with Aunt Iris, smothering him. Speaking of, where was Bart? And Roy? All the league members who had become a second family over the years?
"Those are hard questions." Kaldur tried to temporize as he and Artemis composed themselves and rejoined the group.
Wally refused to back down, "Where. Is. Dick."
"We don't know." Conner said with a growl, kicking the leg of Wally's hospital bed, not hard enough to really jostle him. But enough to get the point across. "No one save the league knows. Even then, it's likely just a few of them."
His former team all nodded, but his attention had moved to focus on the bats.
Tim had shifted just slightly to the left while his small shadow made a 'tch' sound.
Wally logged that away for later. He'd grown up with Dick, and spent a decent amount of his formative years with Bruce. All the bat family, as he referred to them in his mind, were similar in their mannerisms. If you figured out one of them, you had a cheat sheet to figure out the rest.
He liked to compare it to how knowing American English gave you a fair chance of figuring out British English. It wasn't a perfect system but it gave him an edge over most people.
It wasn't 100% accurate, but once he added the context of the situation Wally had about an 80% accuracy rating in reading them.
His ability to read Dick, gave him the ability to sort of read his entire family.
Which was how he knew that these two knew something about Dick the others didn't. But he'd come back to that.
"How did that happen?" he demanded, turning his gaze back to his old team who had drifted closer together. Out of solidarity, he guessed.
"Dick… he didn't take losing you well." M'gann started, her words carefully chosen and enunciated.
Something cold and wary licked down his spine.
"He blamed himself." Artemis picked up the tale, her mouth twisting, "He wasn't the only one."
It was unclear whether she meant that he wasn't the only one to blame themselves, or that he wasn't the only one that blamed him.
Wally opened his mouth to argue but she waved him off. That was a subject for later.
"He quit Wally."
The words didn't register, didn't make sense, didn't compute. "He what?"
Being a vigilante, wearing a mask, had been Dick's life. Wally had never imagined a world where he gave that up.
Wally retiring was one thing, but Dick? Who, even when he decided he didn't want to be Batman, had still never considered giving up his mask?
The equation didn't add up. He was missing a variable, an x-value that would make this make sense when he found it out.
"Just the team or...?"
"The team. The League. All of it. Wally, he quit being Nightwing." Conner said while dodging the swat Artemis aimed at him.
Wally could feel his jaw go slack, he knew that must mean he had a stupid look on his face. But he didn't much care at the moment.
"It only lasted around a year," M'gann said, almost tripping over her tongue in her haste to add it on. As if that made it better.
Wally leaned back, head spinning. Only a year? That was a lifetime in their line of work. He couldn’t imagine Dick spending a year as a civilian and not going stir crazy.
"What brought him back?"
Tim rolled his shoulders as he answered, "It's not what, it's who."
Wally couldn't help but glare at the dodge. If he didn't know better he'd think they were dragging this out on purpose. As some perverse revenge.
Ignoring the look Tim continued at his own pace, "Dick came back, but not as Nightwing. He picked up the cowl. He became Batman, took on this one." He indicated mini-Robin.
That... That Wally hadn't seen coming. He could only imagine one scenario where Dick would pick up the cowl. The mantle he'd spent half his life wanting and the other half running away from.
"Does that mean what I think it does?"
"If you mean, was Bruce dead? Sort of." Tim said, his expression pinching into a scowl. "Or rather, he let us think he was dead for about a year."
He knew Bruce could go to exaggerated lengths to achieve a goal, had seen him do what no other sane person would, but faking his death? Letting his family believe he was dead to the point of Dick taking up the mantle? That was a bit much even for him.
"And then Jason popped back up." Tim had continued while Wally was still struggling with Bruce posing as dead.
Once his words registered his head snapped around, "Wait, what?"
The room shifted, all of them frowning at the memories the story brought to mind.
"He, at least, was actually dead. The method used to bring him back... Left him a bit messed up. He and Dick almost burned Gotham to the ground fighting it out. Bruce rose from the 'dead' just in time to put a stop to it." Artemis piped in.
She'd had to watch from the sidelines as her former friend tore apart the city she'd come to think of as her own.
Wally couldn't help but snort in disbelief at the last part. They'd almost destroyed a city and Bruce had been the mitigating factor?
"How'd he manage that?"
"Even I don't know." Tim said, wincing as if the admission hurt his integrity. "The three of them fought for a bit and then disappeared for a week."
Beside him the mini Robin crossed his arms, leading Wally to believe he didn't know either. And was equally unhappy about it.
"When they reappeared things were... Almost back to normal. Or at least they were all back to pretending everything was normal. As normal as it can get when Jason is off the reservation as Red Hood anyway."
That made Wally smirk. All the bats, but most especially Bruce and Dick, were good at acting like nothing was wrong. Jason on the other hand... But that wasn't what bothered him.
"So if Bruce and Jason were both back, why didn't Dick return to the team?"
Kaldur took a turn answering, shrugging as he spoke.
"We don't know. While he did return to being Nightwing, he kept his place in the league's inner circle. Only they know where he is at any given time."
"Every now and then we'll see him during a mission, if it's big enough to warrant everyone." M'gann said, trying to keep some positivity in the discussion.
Wally wasn't buying it.
"And you guys just let him?" He demanded, waving his hand to encompass the team. "No questions, no interventions, no trying to drag him back? "
He found their lack of action hard to believe. When he and Artemis had first wanted to retire there had been many discussions and sit-down talks about it. Most of them spearheaded by Dick.
The team shifted guiltily.
"We didn't think he wanted us to. We thought he'd come back in his own time." Kaldur spoke for them.
Wally choked down the anger, the indignation, their answer caused. Now wasn't the time.
"But he didn't."
"But he didn't." Conner affirmed.
The confirmation drove his attention back to the bats, if he thought about the team abandoning Dick… about the team not chasing after him with the same vigor he'd have chased them with if the situation was reversed… he'd lose it.
"Okay then. Robins," He addressed both of them, "I don't buy that you don't know how to contact him. Dick might quit a lot of things, but he would never quit being a big brother."
Tim opened his mouth but his shadow beat him to it, "Even if that were true, why would we contact Grayson for you?"
With a sigh Tom elbowed him into silence.
"It's not that I don't tell want to tell him Wally." He started, the rest of the team turning accusing eyes on them. Clearly they'd taken them at their word when they'd said they were just as in the dark as the rest of them.
"But you just heard what the last 5 years have been like for him. And that was just the broad strokes. I don't know how he'll handle another of his loved ones returning from the dead."
Wally was silent. He couldn't disagree with that. But.
But. If it were him, if he were in Dick's shoes, he'd still want to know.
Little Robin growled.
Tim ignored him, eyeing Wally, looking for something. Wally tried not to shift or break eye contact. Whatever Tim was searching for, he must have found, because he nodded.
"On one condition. The rest of them team leaves before he gets here. Whatever reaction he has, he won't want an audience."
Wally looked to his old team, daring them with his eyes to argue.
Kaldur took a second to assess the others, "If you call and actually get a hold of him, we'll go."
Tim thought about it, and agreed. "Fine."
Pulling out his phone he hit speed dial one.
His volume was up loud enough that even those with average hearing in the room could hear it ring without speakerphone being on.
"Tim?" Dick picked up and the sound of his voice began to unravel the knot in Wally's chest. His voice was older, rougher than Wally remembered. But still his friend. "What's wrong?"
"I need you to come to the mountain." Tim replied, the only sign of his nerves a slight tick in his eyebrow.
There was a loud noise on Dick's end of the line. An explosion maybe.
It was followed by a pause and when Dick answered his voice was noticeably out of breath, "What happened. Are you or baby bird injured?"
The little Robin (Baby bird? A nickname? Dick was fond of those) shifted, looking as if he wanted to take the phone and assure Dick he was fine. Only to fall back and cross his arms petulantly at the last second. Wally filed the observation away for later. He'd been doing that a lot since he woke up. There was too much to process all at once, even for him.
Before Tim could come up with a reason, or even tell the truth, Wally decided to cut to the heart of it.
"Get your butt over here Rob." he yelled, loud enough he knew Dick could hear him clearly over the line.
Immediately after there was a crashing sound on the other end.
"KF?" Dick asked, his voice much quieter than before with a hint of hesitance.
Tim wordlessly offered him the phone.
Wally took it with a grateful nod. "It's me Robbie. Got M'gann's seal of approval and everything. So hurry home."
Dick started to answer only to be interrupted by what sounded like gunfire.
Having to listen to that, with no way to help or to know what going on, had Wally's grip on the phone tightening until his knuckles were white.
"I'm kinda in the middle of something," Dick said. His words were almost fast enough to match a speedsters, "but I'll get there as soon as I can."
Wally just managed to say "be safe," before the line went dead.
Pursing his lips he took a moment to compose himself before handing the phone back to Tim.
"Alright," Wally turned to Kaldur, "scram. You guys can visit again after I talk to Dick."
For a moment it looked like they were going to protest. One glare from Tim (and little Robin who had a surprisingly fearsome scowl) had them shuffling out the door with nary a backwards glance.
Little Robin nodded, satisfied. "I'll guard the door."
That just left Wally and Tim in the room, the younger of whom moving to sit beside him.
"Do you think he believed me?" Wally asked.
Tim cocked his head, considering him. "Doesn't matter. Either way, he'll come. He didn't quit being your best friend, same way he didn't quit being our big brother. "
Damian paced in front of the door of the infirmary, conflicted.
On one hand the sudden appearance of the speedster who had been persumed dead was unsettling. Even with M'gann searching his mind, some part of Damian remained skeptical.
On the other hand, Damian was pleased on Grayson's behalf. Once, Grayson had taken him to Kid Flash's memorial site. It had left him with the impression that Wally's death had almost broken Nightwing. Who had then been Batman. His Batman.
The small part of Damian that cared for Grayson and his 'brothers', the part of him kept locked up, was happy for Grayson.
He didn't know what to do with that.
He didn't have long to ponder on it, as the computer announced Nightwing's arrival.
In a shorter time than should have been possible for a human, even one with their training, Grayson was skidding around the corner.
The older vigilante stopped in front of Damian, crouching down to be on his height level.
He wanted to see the newly risen Wally, Damian knew, but he wasn't surprised that Grayson would insist on checking him over first. Sentimental idiot.
One hand reached out to brush Damian's hair off his forehead, "Alright baby bird?"
Damian allowed the touch for a second before leaning away. The total distance amounted to an inch but that was enough for Dick to read. He knew physical touch reassured Grayson, but he had his limits.
The hand dropped accordingly.
Damian huffed out a breath. "Red Robin and I are both unharmed."
The acrobat sagged in relief, resting both his hands on Damian's shoulders.
"And Wally?" His second question was quiet. Tentative in a way Damian wasn't used to hearing from Grayson when it didn't apply to him or the past Robins.
It was the reason he didn't pull away, allowing Grayson to soak up whatever comfort he could from him.
"He doesn't appear to have aged, but other than some signs of exhaustion he is healthy." He reported, not a believer in sugar coating anything.
Grayson nodded, his gaze flickering towards the medical room.
He turned back, some of his concern falling away. Reminding Damian that this wasn't just his big brother, but a member of the Justice League. One of the few privy to the inner circle, that only the founding members had been part of before.
"I need you to contact Batman, I came straight here from my mission. Tell him the objective was completed and update him on what's going on here."
Damian hesitated, "The team didn't want to tell the league."
He wasn't arguing with the order. He'd follow Grayson's instructions above any of the teams, even Tim. He was just informing him of what they'd decided.
Grayson's face darkened into a storm cloud. "I don't care. Have they contacted Roy? Barry?"
"Recognize: Nightwing – B01"
The kitchen fell silent.
After being kicked out of the infirmary they'd chosen to hole up in the kitchen. An area where they could listen out for Nightwing's arrival but not be in his way. They didn't want him to think they were trying to ambush him on his way to Wally.
No one wanted to force that confrontation. Especially not when their old friend's emotions would be as close to the surface as they'd have to be.
It wasn't every day your best friend came back to life.
M'gann hugged herself, turning her back to the entrance room.
The team followed suit, giving Dick an out if he decided to come through here but didn't want to stop.
Not that they needed to of course. Dick knew the mountain better than anyone and could easily go around the common area.
Once he was sure Nightwing wasn't coming their way, Kaldur cleared his throat, "So he showed."
Conner rolled his eyes, "Of course he did. Even if it wasn't about Wally, Tim being the one to ask would have been enough."
They fell silent again, the tension in the room killing any desire to make conversation.
Now, they waited.
Asking after Roy almost first thing was a deliberate choice on Dick's part. He knew the archer had always considered Wally something of a little brother. If Roy found out he'd been left out of the loop…
But Dick didn't have time to track him down, not when he knew for a fact that the archer was on another of his solo jaunts. He'd gotten too good at going off the grid in the last few years, often with Jason right beside him.
Damian shook his head.
Dick sighed, "Okay, then I need a favor. Can you track him down and get him here? Don't tell him what's going on, just ask him to meet me here."
Damian crossed his arms over his chest mulishly; and Dick knew this wasn't going to be an easy yes.
"What's in it for me?"
Part of Dick wasn't surprised. Contacting Bruce for league business was one thing, tracking down their wayward archer was another. But mostly, he was itching to go into the infirmary.
Dick's eyebrow twitched with impatience. "When's your next night off?"
For Damian, Batman enforced one night off a week where he wasn't allowed to patrol. It was an attempt to get him to act like a normal kid. Dick could have told him that wouldn't work.
"You can patrol with me next time, I'll talk to Bruce."
In the batcave, Batman frowned as he looked at the readings that his programs had flagged. An unusual amount of radiation was coming from the town surrounding Mount Justice.
The readings were eerily familiar.
Pressing a few keys he sent the results off, comparing them to past readings. He'd seen this before, but he needed to confirm it.
If his hunch was right... well the Flash would need to be on hand.
The speed force wasn't something Batman played around with.
Damian considered the offer. Technically Grayson had been his first Batman, the one who had given him the Robin mantle. They still patrolled together as Nightwing and Robin, but not often.
He would never admit it, but he missed that.
"Two nights. The next available one, and one at a time of my choosing."
Nightwing, for he had yet to remove his mask, shook his head. Rueful, but giving in.
Damian smirked. He knew when he'd won.
"You got it Robin."
Then with a kiss to the forehead, he was gone. The door slid shut behind him and Damian set off to do what was asked of him.
Wally fidgeted with his blankets, time seeming to drag as he waited for his best friend to show up.
Beside him Tim had settled into the lone chair, tapping away on his cell phone.
He opened his mouth, about to try and start a conversation, when the doors slid open.
He looked up, heart in his throat, to see Nightwing standing just this side of the door.
The vigilante in black and blue appeared to be frozen, eyes locked on Wally.
"Robbie?" he ventured, secure in the knowledge that both Tim and Dick would know to which of them he was referring. Even now that Dick hadn't gone by Robin in years, and despite working with three different iterations of the boy wonder, there had only been one he nicknamed.
Only one he called Rob or Robbie.
Nightwing jerked, his hands coming up in a move that was anything but graceful as he removed his mask.
His blue eyes met Wally's green and he smiled, "Hey Wally."
While they stared at each other Tim rose to his feet smoothly. "I'm going to go check on the team."
For the first time since entering Dick tore his gaze away from the speedster to focus on his little brother.
He gripped his shoulder as he drew up to him, "Thanks Tim."
Tim shrugged, "Of course. I'll keep them away if you'd rather not deal with them."
The implications of that statement left Wally frowning. Had the team's relationship with Dick really gone that far south?
"I'll find them later," Dick agreed in the end, moving aside to let Tim make his exit.
Once they were alone, Dick moved closer.
An awkward silence settled over them as they both remembered the less than stellar terms they'd ended things on.
"It's… good to see you KF," Dick said after a pause, his voice breaking on his favored nickname for Wally.
When he stopped just short of the bed, looking to the chair beside the bed, Wally couldn't stand the distance anymore.
Before Dick could begin to sit Wally reached out, grabbed his arm and pulled him closer. With more force than was strictly necessary.
Predictably it didn't work out the way he'd hoped. Dick's hip banged against the bed frame with an audible smack.
Wally winced, knowing from the sound alone that it was going to leave a nasty bruise.
Dick didn't seem to mind though, as he huffed out a laugh. "If you wanted me closer all you had to do was ask KF."
Wally slid over carefully, throwing the blanket back. "I'm asking."
His old friend's lips quirked and he kicked off his boots, climbing in the bed with him and tucking close.
Dick curled around him, his lanky legs twisting with Wally's as they took a moment to breathe.
It was the first time in years where each breath didn’t take a concerted effort to draw, the vice on his throat loosening.
Wally hummed, closing his eyes. For the first time since waking up having missed 5 years, his mind wasn't racing. Or trying to sort everything out.
It all went quiet and he focused on his own steady breathing. On the warmth of Dick pressed against him, of the contentment of being home.
Bruce looked up, just missing knocking heads with the Flash. Once the results had come back and proven the presence of the Speed force, he'd wasted no time in contacting Barry Allen.
Who, likewise, had wasted no time in speeding over.
"Damian? I thought you were spending the weekend with the team?" He asked, an idea beginning to form in the back of his mind.
His son shifted back and forth on his feet, an unusually obvious signal. When his eyes flickered over to Allen, Bruce's knew his in gut what was coming next.
"The team... we found someone." Damian said, "Someone we think is Wally West."
Barry froze. "What?"
In an attempt to get comfortable Dick shifted closer only to have to cover a wince as he jarred his ribs. Thankfully, Wally didn't notice.
He tilted his head down, Wally's red hair tickling his nose as he did so.
It was strange to be able to curl around the speedster, for Wally to seem so small next to him.
Part of it, he knew, was the effect a hospital bed had on anyone residing in it. Something about a person being in a hospital bed made them appear smaller and more vulnerable.
The other part was all him. In the years Wally was gone he'd only gained an inch or so height wise. But his shoulders had broadened noticeably.
His time as batman had changed his lean acrobatic muscle into the brick-wall of muscle his mentor had cultivated. Now that he'd returned to being Nightwing he was slimming down again but some of the broadness lingered still.
"Dick?" Wally murmured to him, his voice giving away how sleepy he was. "Be here when I wake back up?"
Dick wrapped his arms Wally more securely, "I'm not going anywhere KF. Promise."
The speedster nodded, snuggling closer as he fell into sleep.
He started snoring five minutes later.
Tim made sure to take his sweet time as he made his way towards the common area. He needed a second to clear his thoughts.
There was a lot about today he would always remember, images now seared into his mind.
His reaction when he recognized Wally, the surety he'd felt in his gut despite his trained skepticism. From the get go he had hoped, no he had known, he was looking at their Wally.
But what would really stay with him was Dick, his reaction to seeing Wally for the first time.
To the average person, or even to his old teammates, he wouldn't have had much of a reaction. But Tim knew his big brother better.
It was in the way his fingers twitched. The way his weight rocked forward before rocking back as he changed his mind and killed the momentum.
It was the way his jaw loosened just a smidge, into what on a normal person would have been an obvious jaw drop. But most especially it was the way his skin wrinkled around the edges of his mask before he'd removed it. A dead give away of the levels of emotion his predecessor was feeling.
That would stay with Tim for longer than he should admit to anyone.
He was drawn out of his introspection as he neared the common rooms.
Even from the hall he could hear raised voices.
"I thought leaving him be was for the best." Kaldur was arguing, his voice a lot closer to outright yelling than Tim was used to. The atlantean was usually mild mannered, he didn't get worked up over just anything.
Tim lingered in the shadows of the door way, curious as to how this would play out.
Kon, for Tim had met him after he started going by this name, scoffed.
"Yeah, and look where that got us. We deferred to you because you knew the most about what was going on with him. Maybe we shouldn't have."
The room grew quiet and Tim decided this was the opportune moment to move in.
As soon as he cleared the entrance way the team turned to him, alerted by his less than quiet footsteps. He had wanted them to know he was approaching.
"How did it go?" M'gann floated closer, her hands clasped in front of her. "Did Nightwing look well?"
Tim mustered a smile for her, "He's fine. I left to give them some privacy."
Over by the couch Artemis clicked her tongue, "Are you sure that was a good idea?"
Tim glared at the still mostly retired vigilante. These days she only came back for the occasional mission, and said "Yes."
He didn't offer any more of an explanation.
Artemis scowled at him, only letting up when Kaldur sent her a look.
"Recognize: Flash – A04"
A familiar blur shot through the room and no one bothered trying to catch up. After all by the time they registered the sight, the Flash was already in the infirmary.
Tim moved to flop down on the nearest armchair, surveying the old team. In turn their eyes were all on him, looking for a clue as to what he was thinking. What he thought of their treatment of Dick.
Before they could interrogate him further the computer activated again.
"Recognize: Red Arrow – B03"
Tim took advantage of their distraction and darted up and out of the room, racing to the entryway. This one he could catch.
He arrived just as Red Arrow exited the tube.
Roy stalked out, his bow drawn but lax at his side. "What the hell is going on Tim? Why is Nightwing here?"
Because of course it was going to fall to him to explain.
He decided to start small, "What do you know already?"
Roy growled, "Not much. That little brat accosted me, and demanded I come straight here at knife point. Is somebody dying? Somebody better be dying."
Tim sighed, he had no trouble picturing that scenario. Damian could be overzealous at times, especially when he was doing something for Dick.
"Nobody's dying but you should go to the infirmary."
Roy stilled, "Is Dick okay?"
"He's fine," Tim hastened to assure, "Just... go see."
With one last dubious look Roy set off to do just that.
When he arrived the door was already open, Barry leaning against it. As if it was the only thing holding him up.
Alarms bells started going off in Roy's head.
The older man shushed him without looking. Without pulling his gaze away from whatever was holding his attention.
Barry was dressed as the flash but his cowl was pushed back, giving Roy a clear look at his expression. It was soft and gentle in ways Roy could barely remember.
The last time he'd seen that look had been... back when he was still a glorified side-kick. He and Dick had spent the night with Wally at Barry's house after a joint mission with their mentors. Barry had looked at them, just like that, when he'd come home from the debriefing to find them play fighting in his living room. They'd broken a lamp and overturned both couches.
Roy swallowed the sudden lump in his throat as he drew up to Barry.
The speedster shifted over, giving him room to peer into the infirmary. And Roy understood what had Barry so enthralled.
His bow slipped through numb fingers and fell to the ground.
In the hospital bed Dick shifted, opening his eyes to look at them. Roy, already half crouched to the ground as he reached for his bow, froze.
Dick's lips tilted up into a smile, and Roy was almost able to believe what he was seeing.
No way Dick would smile at him like that if this was some kind of trick, if the figure he was curled around wasn't Wally West.
"How...?" He asked, his voice barely audible even to his own ears.
Barry lifted his shoulders in a half shrug, "speed force."
Roy waited for him to expand, and when he didn't, turned back to the bed. The sight of Dick and Wally curled up in that bed was right in front of him, and yet he couldn't quite believe it.
It was too good to be true, it was one person back from the dead too many. Batman had been half expected, and Jason had pushed believability.
And now Wally?
Barry must have picked up on his disbelief because he reached over, shoving Roy further into the room.
With hesitant steps Roy approached the bed, coming up on Dick's side. Blue eyes tracked him the entire way, and Dick leaned back once he was close, giving him an unobstructed view.
The red hair was just like he remembered, in fact it was the exact same shade. The freckles creeping across his nose and cheeks were just like he remembered too, down to a dot.
He even snored the same.
"It's him Roy." Dick said.
He fell backwards into the chair next to the bed.
He ran a shaking hand through his hair, "Yeah...yeah it is."
Wally was back.
Let me know what you thought?
P.S. For now this is just a one-shot, but I have thoughts on where it would go next so it might not stay that way? Idk yet. I already have a couple WIPs....
Chapter 2: Return
Originally I posted chapter 1 expecting to not get around to continuing it. It had sat on my laptop for awhile, and the inspiration to continue it hadn't come. So i decided to post what i had, and then it had such a positive response, that... i found my inspiration again?
I want to thank everyone who commented, you're the reason I wrote this. There will be one more chapter after this.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
If you looked at him, really looked at him, you could see the sadness lurking in his eyes.
Tim had never understood how these people, the original team, could look at Dick and not see it. They had been his best friends right? The teammates Dick had introduced to him as another de-facto family?
He'd used to think so.
With a sigh he pushed his arms above his head, stretching. He winced as they lowered, his muscles twinging in protest.
He looked over to see Dick watching him from where he was still curled around Wally. No one had suggested he move and Dick hadn't volunteered to.
Instead of answering aloud Tim raised his shoulders in a half shrug.
Dick sent him a knowing look, one he had a lot of practice ignoring.
Sitting at the foot of the bed, Damian scoffed. "You wouldn't be if you stopped skipping training."
Tim eyed the current robin. He couldn't even sit on a bed like a normal person. Damian had his back against the foot board, his legs stretched out straight in front of him. He was sitting at a perfect 90 degree angle.
"Damian…" Dick said, shooting him a quelling look. They all knew the accusation was unfair. Tim was in the middle of preparing for finals and trying to still run missions.
Missing a training session here and there was inevitable.
In short fashion Damian subsided, crossing his arms over his chest, "Tch."
A silence fell between the three brothers, only broken by Wally's occasional mumbling. Throughout the night he'd been restless, shifting in his sleep and moaning.
The only thing that had helped was Dick, curling closer around him. Running his fingers through his hair.
Observing it had been interesting to Tim. He remembered their strained relationship better than their close one. By the time he'd become Robin and joined the team Wally had been on his way out. Half retired.
It had been easy to see how that affected his friendship with Dick.
But none of that seemed to matter now. Dick was too relieved to have his friend back and for Wally, Dick was a rock. A familiar touchstone to ground him in this world that he didn't recognize.
Dick and Damian both stiffened and Tim looked to the door just as it slid open. Despite all the people coming and going, all the shift changes, Wally hadn't woken once.
It wasn't a cause for worry yet, but if it kept on like this it would be before long.
In the doorway Barry grinned, holding up a tray of coffee. Beside him Roy shuffled his feet, tucking his hands in his pockets in an attempt to look nonchalant.
As if he hadn't come back, again, just to make sure Wally was still there.
Tim waved them in, reaching out with eager hands for his coffee. He'd been awake for almost 24 hours now, and it was beginning to drain him. A kick of caffeine would do the trick.
"Still not awake then?" Barry asked as he passed a coffee to Tim, who shook his head.
In the meantime Roy had retreated back out the door to grab the extra chair. On their way back he'd commandeered it from the common room. He moved it to Dick's side of the bed.
Leaning over his friend he poked him in the arm, "Better sit up lazy ass. Or no coffee for you."
Dick pulled a face.
Tim hid a smile behind his coffee.
Barry had no such compunctions, laughing even as he ruffled Damian's hair.
And judging by the resulting glare, the speedster was lucky to keep his hand.
With an aggrieved huff Dick began to maneuver. It took minutes to untangle from Wally, shifting to put his back up against the headboard. And like the octopus he was, Wally followed the movement, hugging his waist and tucking his head against Dick's chest.
Once he was situated Barry passed a coffee to him. Unable to look away as the young acrobat juggled it in one hand and rubbed his fingers through Wally's hair with the other.
Roy hooked his ankle around the chair leg and tugged it closer to the bed, dropping into it with a sigh. His eyes turned over to meet Tim's and they shared a fond look.
"Where's mine?" Damian asked, his voice huffy.
Barry handed him the last one, and the intent way he watched Damian take his first sip caught not just Tim's but Dick's attention as well. The way Roy smirked revealed he knew what the game was.
Damian pulled a face, holding the cup away from him. "What is this swill? It is not coffee."
His expression of disgust had both of his brothers fighting back laughter.
Again Barry proved he had no sense of self preservation and chuckled, "it's hot chocolate. You're too young for coffee."
The three who had been restraining their laughter gave in at Damian's sulky pout.
"Is he a security risk?"
Batman looked over at Black Canary, noting the concern lurking behind her composed expression. She had one of the best professional masks he'd seen, but when it came to people she considered family… all bets were off.
"At the moment? No."
She nodded, her concern turning thoughtful.
"We're sure it's him?" Green Arrow asked. Beside him Black Canary shifted, taking his hand in hers.
A reminder that like him, Oliver had been one of the first with a sidekick. He, Oliver and Barry had formed an unofficial support group of sorts, helping each other with their boys. They'd never straight out said that was what they were doing. But the joint missions and 'sleepovers' between the boys had expressed it regardless. As such, both he and Oliver were something like Uncles to Wally.
Martin Man Hunter stood up then, walking away from the conference table the rest of the Justice League were sitting around. He joined them by the window, folding his hands in front of him.
"M'gann scanned his mind. She believes he is our Wally West."
"And Nightwing is convinced of his identity as well." Bruce added, aware that his tone revealed which of those opinions mattered more to him.
He didn't have anything against Miss Martian, but he'd trained and raised Dick. He couldn't help but put priority on his judgement.
The fact that they both agreed was just gravy.
Oliver nodded, "and Roy?"
Bruce narrowed his eyes at him. Oliver's relationship with both Roy's was better these days, mostly thanks to the woman beside him.
According to his sources, Dinah had sat all three of her men down and threatened to bang their heads together and lock them in a room if they didn't talk it out. They'd come to a truce.
A truce under duress, but a truce nonetheless.
But maybe not to the extent that Roy would have contacted Oliver with his thoughts.
After a pause Dinah was the one who answered, surprising them both. "Dick assured him. But to be fair, Wally's been asleep since Roy joined them."
Apparently, Roy was on good enough terms to have contacted Dinah.
Bruce smirked, but inwardly acknowledged he may not have a leg to stand on in this case. There were certain matters his boys went to Alfred for first.
Oliver huffed while J'onn smiled placidly.
"Can we visit?" Dinah asked, ignoring the byplay between the men.
Bruce nodded, "I already gave Iris West security clearance to the mountain. Once Wally is awake there may even be a line for visitation."
The group shared a fond smile. Wally had always been something of a crowd favorite among the League. His irrepressible cheer as a child drawing in people like moths to flames.
It had tapered off some just before and after he'd retired. As he grew up and seemingly matured to a more solemn attitude. How much of that had been Artemis' influence was something Bruce was reluctantly curious about.
Now that retiring with her was no longer an option would they see Wally return to his roots as Kid Flash? Or would he still choose the civilian life?
Bruce knew which outcome he preferred. Not just from a tactical standpoint, having another speedster in the league opened up combat options, but for his son's sake.
While Dick had grown into an admirable member of the League, a seasoned leader in his own right, there were still moments where he looked over his shoulder. Expecting Wally to be there, walking beside him and guarding his back.
Bruce had discovered a new level of loathing for the pinched expression Dick would get when he looked, only to find an empty space.
"It'd be even longer if the Lanterns were on planet," Oliver was saying. His beard twitching with amusement.
Bruce acknowledged the point with a tilt of his head.
Perhaps because of Hal's relationship with Barry, Wally had always been popular among the Green Lanterns. If they weren't off world on an important mission for the Corps they'd probably be crowding his room already.
Hell, if Bruce and Barry hadn't agreed not to overwhelm Wally before he was even awake, there'd be a line of visitors there now.
There was a soft knock on the door before it slid open. Dick looked away from where he was tracing circles on Wally's back, freezing when he saw who had arrived.
Iris West raised a shaking hand to cover her mouth, staring at her nephew. A boy who had always been more of a son to her. She'd been there when he was born, had seen him take his first steps, had dropped him off to his first day of school. Losing him had been like losing a limb.
She took a few cautious steps in, and Dick watched as Barry met her, propping her up with a gentle grip on her elbow.
"Can I? Is he?" she stuttered, her disbelief and relief getting the best of her.
Barry smiled, "He's been sleeping for over ten hours, I think we can wake him."
As she approached the bed both Roy and Tim shoved their chairs backward, giving her room to stand on either side of the bed. She chose Tim's side, which was closer to Wally.
Dick watched her, preparing to untangle himself and push away. He hadn't moved for anyone else, but this was Iris. One of the few female role models in his life. And while he wouldn't have blamed her if she had, she'd never scorned him after Wally died. Instead she'd made it a point to check on him. If she asked, he'd get out of her way.
He wouldn't go far, of course, but he'd give her room.
Perhaps sensing his intentions, she chose that moment to catch his gaze.
She placed her hand over where his was still resting against Wally's back, squeezing gently. Implicit permission to stay where he was.
He relaxed back against the headboard. Behind him Roy shifted in his chair so that he could see Wally's face.
Or as much of it as you could when his face was buried against Dick's chest.
"Wally?" Iris shook his shoulder with a gentle grip, "It's your Aunt Iris."
When he didn't respond or show any sign of waking, she shook him a little rougher. There was a touch of desperation to her movements that had Dick's throat tightening.
"Wally? Open those pretty green eyes for me. Please." she said, her voice trembling on the last word.
And as if he felt her distress, Wally's eyes fluttered.
"Five more minutes." he mumbled into Dick's shirt.
Dick choked back a laugh.
The tension in the room he hadn't even noticed mounting, eased. Tim let out a breath and relaxed back into his chair, as did Roy. Barry grinned. And Damian, who had been in a meditative state at the foot of the bed, opened his eyes long enough to glare before falling back into it.
Iris shifted her hand to cup Wally's face, tracing his features. "You're really here…"
Wally's eyes opened again, and this time stayed open as awareness slowly trickled in.
She lent over to press a kiss to his forehead, "Hi, baby."
"Don't you think this is enough food?" Artemis asked, poking the dish of what looked to be lasagna.
You never could be 100% sure when it came to M'gann's cooking. She'd gotten better over the years, but there was still some risk involved when eating or even just identifying her food. Some dishes more so than others.
The more outlandish the food, the better she did. Ironically, it was the simple stuff, the staples, she would mess up. Mac & cheese being the most famous example of this.
Artemis still couldn't eat what had been one of her favorite comfort dishes. Just the smell of it would make her faintly nauseous.
"Wally will be hungry." M'gann answered, her voice distracted as she mixed ingredients. As if that was all the explanation needed.
Which, when you considered how much food Wally could put away, it kind of was.
Artemis eyed the counters, littered with food, and gave up. She squeezed M'Gann's shoulder as she passed, joining the boys on the couch. Conner and Kaldur had the TV on, but neither appeared to be watching it.
Kicking her feet up and onto Kaldur's lap, she forced a smile.
"Why the long faces boys? For the first time in five years the whole of our original team is in the Mountain."
The looks they both sent her had her regretting the attempt to lighten the mood. What did it say about their situation that she'd decided to elect herself as the one in charge of morale? A bad decision if she'd ever had one.
But no one else seemed to be stepping up to the plate.
M'gann was focused on cooking, to the point of obsession while both Conner and Kaldur were caught in a cycle of guilt and self-recrimination. And she wasn't even going to mention the youngsters, the team members who had joined as their team expanded into a league of its own. With perhaps more intelligence than she gave them credit for, they were making themselves scarce around the mountain.
With the exception of Bart Allen who she'd spotted zipping around. Checking up on them she assumed. He never stopped long enough to talk though.
Kaldur's hands fell to rest on her ankles, giving them a squeeze.
"I think we'll all feel better once we get a chance to speak with Nightwing." he said.
Beside him Conner snorted, "Good luck prying him away from Wally long enough."
Keeping a weather eye on Wally where he was situated at the kitchen bar, Dick tugged Roy off to the side.
For the moment Wally was occupied, eating heartily as Iris piled food in front of him. He was flanked by Barry and the recent arrival Jay Garrick, who were more than happy to help him demolish the food M'gann had left out.
"What's up?" Roy asked, running a hand through his hair. It only made his hair stand up even more.
Any other day Dick would have made a joke about it, called him a hedgehog maybe, but not today.
It galled him that he had to ask Roy this, that his only way to check on one of his brothers was through an old friend.
His hands clenched into fists, but he swallowed his pride and asked. "Can you tell me how Jason is?"
Roy tensed, as he'd known he would.
"Dick…" He said, trailing off. The look of pity mixed with his unease made something inside Dick twist.
Sometimes, on days like this, he felt replaced. It was petty of him, he knew. Jason and Roy had a lot in common, and if they helped each other move on he should be happy about it.
But he couldn't help but feel that Jason had replaced him as Roy's honorary kid brother. And that in turn Roy had taken his place as Jason's big brother. Leaving him completely out of the equation. An outsider looking in.
And the worst part was, he couldn't blame them. He'd been so caught up in his own grief, in his own problems, that he'd let them both down. Being replaced was exactly what he deserved.
He was lucky Roy still checked in with him, lucky Jason would talk to him without it immediately dissolving into an argument.
Lucky that when he was injured and didn't have another option, Jason would show up outside his window. He was never his first choice, but the fact that he was trusted at all should have been enough for him.
But he was at his core selfish and he wanted them both back.
None of his thoughts showed on his face, he knew, but Roy knew him well enough to guess.
Roy sighed, "He's okay Dick. As healthy as he's been since he came back."
The 'and I can't tell you anymore' was silent but heard.
Dick's shoulder's sagged and he looked away.
His gaze found Wally, catching him mid laugh. His head thrown back, his eyes bright with genuine mirth.
Some of the sting he'd felt at Roy's words, faded.
A hand fell to his shoulder and he jumped. It was minuscule, but judging by Roy's surprised look the archer had felt it.
Dick flushed and resisted the urge to pull away.
"Give it time, Rob. Things have a way of fixing themselves." Roy didn't seem to notice his use of Dick's old nickname, but Dick couldn't focus on anything else.
Roy hadn't called him that since Wally died, as if the name Wally had christened him with had died with him. Part of Dick had always wondered if Roy blamed him for Wally's death.
It wasn't that they'd ever had a fight about it, or stopped being friends. Roy had come running at Dick's request, even not knowing what it was about. But that didn't diminish the fact that they weren't as close as they once were.
He wasn't sure if the return of his nickname proved or disproved that theory. But he was sure that he didn’t want to know either way. He'd rather not confirm that another of the people he considered family blamed him. He blamed himself enough already.
"Right." he nodded, "Well… Just tell him I asked okay?"
For the first time since their awkward conversation had started Roy smiled. "I will."
The two old friends shared a look of understanding as the bridges crumbling between them began to rebuild. Time and Wally's return shoring up the cracks.
It was only broken when Wally shouted, gaining the attention of the entire common area.
"Hey, you two." His call had even the team (who were hovering at the periphery) turning to look. "What are you doing all the way over there? You're supposed to be showering me with attention."
Dick and Roy shared a look, before moving to do just that.
If there was one thing that could unite them, that could bring them back to their former friendship, it was Wally West.
"Well that was exhausting."
Wally flopped down on his bed. His bed, in his old room at the Mountain. He didn't know whether to be touched or creeped out that they had kept it exactly as he'd left it.
In the end he chose to be comforted by the familiar surroundings. At least this hadn't changed.
With a soft laugh Dick sat beside him, perching there with more grace than Wally could ever be troubled with.
Wally rolled over so he was on his back, reaching one hand up towards the ceiling. He watched the light filter between his fingers
"I feel like I was transported to an alternate reality," he said, "where I recognize faces, but they're not the people I remember. Like everyone is wearing the mask of a loved one."
He let his arm flop back down, turning his head to look up at Dick.
"Except for you."
Dick raised an eyebrow, propping himself up on his elbow and leaning closer. The balance that pose took had long stopped surprising Wally.
"Don't get me wrong, you've changed too." Wally went on, not sure why he was telling Dick this. Just that it was important that he did. "But at your core… you're still Dick. My Robin."
Speaking that aloud felt like blasphemy, like he was telling a secret. He searched Dick's face, wondering if his meaning would get across.
The air around them felt electric, charged with something he couldn't identify.
"Your Robin?" Dick repeated after a moment of staring into Wally's eyes.
Wally swallowed. "Yeah."
When Dick didn't answer Wally panicked.
"That's not- I-" he stammered, and tried to sit up. Dick placed a hand on his chest, pushing him back down to the bed. He swallowed, looking up at his friend. Distantly he wondered when they'd gotten so close.
Dick smiled, and leaned down and kissed him.
After only a moment Wally shoved him back, feeling as if his heart was going to beat out of his chest it was going so fast.
For his part Dick looked only mildly repentant. "I was always better at showing than telling."
The words cycled through Wally's mind as he caught up with the situation. With the implication behind both his actions and his words. And the fact that the kiss hadn't felt like a surprise or a sudden twist in their lives. Instead it felt like the next step. One that had always been ahead of them, just waiting for them to catch up.
A natural progression.
Dick moved to sit up, and it was Wally's turn to stop him. With a touch of super speed he curled his hand around the back of Dick's neck.
He gave him a second to register what he was intending, and then tugged Dick back down.
Their second kiss was everything the first hadn't been. It wasn't just a press of their lips, it was an exploration, a mapping of their mouths. It held both the awe of a first kiss, and the familiarity of their long friendship.
It was coming home.
Let me know what you thought?
P.S. This chapter got a lot more character heavy, I hope I did them all justice.
Chapter 3: Reparation
So yeah, this isn't the last chapter like I said. There's going to be at least one more lol. This is a bit shorter than I usually like to post, but I wanted to post something.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The apartment was dark when he entered, lit only by the flickering television screen. His long familiarity enabled him to vault over the duffle bag and shoes littered in the door way without looking.
"He asked about you again, y'know?"
Jason didn't look away from the screen, "Who?"
He rolled his eyes, walking around the couch to sit beside his friend and roommate.
"You know who, Jason." Roy said.
When the other still didn't answer or even look away from the screen, he bumped their shoulders together.
"Fine, whatever." Jason finally met his gaze, "What did that worry-wart want? Why did you even see him? And why are you pushing this? Usually you’re just as irritated as me when he sniffs around."
Roy's hands clenched into fists but he couldn't deny that last accusation. If Dick had cornered him to ask about Jason as recent as two days ago, his response would have been entirely different.
But it wasn't two days ago, and he didn't know how to articulate that difference to Jason. He wasn't sure he understood the difference to begin with.
"He just wanted to know if you were okay. It's been a while since you've seen him."
Jason snorted, unimpressed with his answer. "What brought this on?"
He looked away, knowing Jason wasn't asking why Dick had checked up on him. That actually happened fairly often, no, he was asking why Roy's response had changed.
Instead of answering right away he fiddled with his phone. He eyed the five missed calls from Ollie, the text messages from Dinah he'd yet to answer. He remembered the look on Dick's face when he'd been unable to give him details. The light in his eyes that was finally back after five years.
Wally returning had changed things. Like a stone hitting water there were ripples moving further out.
"We're family Jason."
"I know that, what's this about Roy, you know you're all I-"
"No that’s not- " Roy broke in, dropping his phone onto the coffee table out of frustration. "I mean yes, we're family Jason. But I was talking about them."
Jason's sudden silence was telling, but he plowed on anyway. "No matter how much we distance ourselves, they're our family too. Dinah, Ollie, Artemis, Bruce, Tim, Damian, even Dick. Maybe especially Dick. And I just can't pretend they're not anymore."
The air in the room changed, growing tense as he finished.
And the longer the tension lasted, the more time passed without an answer, the more scared he was to check Jason's reaction. Especially after his brain caught up with what his mouth had spilled.
One of the things they bonded most over, one of the key elements that helped them relate and be as close as they'd come over the years, was their self-imposed position of outsider among their families. The black sheep.
The prodigal sons who hadn't returned just yet.
So him coming in one day and proclaiming that maybe it was time they got their heads out of the sand and talked to their families? Probably not going to go over well.
Jason let out a long breath, leaning sideways to press up against Roy.
And with that small gesture, the vice on his heart loosened.
"So what now?" Jason asked, his tone carrying what the words didn't. An acknowledgment that he agreed with what Roy had blurted out so inelegantly.
Roy smirked, "Well, did you hear Wally is back? We could start with checking up on him, and Dick."
Maybe it was time they came home.
Rolling over for what felt like the fiftieth time, Wally glared up at the ceiling.
Between all his visitors and weathering the rising tensions between his old teammates, he should be exhausted. He should be sleeping soundly next to his best friend.
Instead he was tossing and turning and it was a testament to how tired Dick was that he hadn't woken from it.
Which wasn't surprising given the evidence he'd seen. It led him to believe that Dick's workaholic tendencies had only gotten worse after his 'death'. When was the last time he'd taken time to properly rest?
Wally wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer. Their relationship worked much better when Dick was the one hovering. It only ended in raised tempers when Wally took a turn being a mother hen.
There was too much of Bruce in his… friend for that to ever go well.
He glanced over, taking a moment to watch Dick sleep.
According to all the clichés, the books and movies he'd seen, Dick should look peaceful as he rested. It should surprise Wally how much younger he looked. When in fact, it was the opposite.
Even while sleeping, lines creased his face. His mouth twisting into a frown as Wally inched away. Dick couldn't escape his burdens just because he wasn’t conscious. Their lives didn’t work that way.
But that didn’t mean Wally was any less transfixed, he mused. He reached over to brush a lock of dark hair out of Dick's face. That it wasn’t just as hard for him as it was for those romance heroes to pull his gaze away and walk to the door.
He paused right before opening the door, looking over his shoulder.
A large part of him wanted to crawl back in that bed, curl up with Dick for as long as he could get away with.
But he was restless, itching with energy, and he couldn’t imagine laying still for another second.
He slipped out the door.
When Hal arrived back on the Watchtower he wasn't surprised to find someone waiting to greet him.
He was surprised at who that someone was.
Batman levered himself away from where he'd been leaning against the wall and moved closer.
Ignoring Hal's confusion, Batman handed him a tablet. He glanced down to see that it was a standard mission report, with most of the fields already filled in. Only the sections specific to the mission were left blank.
"Fill this out and go see Barry. We can do the formal debrief later."
Hal's eyebrows jumped as he cradled the tablet. "Tell me what I did to get you to do my homework. If only so I can repeat the event."
He couldn't actually see the other's eyes through the cowl's lenses, but Hal somehow knew Batman was rolling them.
"Green Lantern," Batman growled, "Go. See. Barry."
The insistence drew him up short, a rush of alarm going through him. "Is he okay? Iris?"
Batman gripped his shoulder and propelled him forward. "Go see for yourself."
Hal grinned even as he stumbled forward a few steps. If someone had been seriously injured Batman would have just thrown him over his shoulder and hauled him there. That he'd taken a moment to verbally insist instead meant it was nothing too bad.
"Yeah, yeah. Catch ya later bats."
The last thing he heard as he left the hanger was Batman's 'harrumph'.
"Why did we have to do this tonight?" Roy asked, unable to keep from griping. He hadn't had much sleep the last couple of days. He'd been looking forward to crashing in his own bed.
Jason turned back with an exasperated sigh, "Can you honestly tell me we'd be here if we put it off until tomorrow?"
Roy couldn't deny the truth in that, instead moving to pass Jason. "We checked the common areas, the infirmary, the training room, and Dick's bedroom."
"So where to next?" Jason asked, snide, as he followed him.
"Where we should have started. Wally's room."
Jason fell silent, the only sign of his anxiety in the way he dragged his feet.
In the span of minutes their positions had reversed. Now Roy was ready to bite the bullet and get it over with while Jason wanted to draw it out.
He didn’t have much time to dwell on that, however, as they reached Wally's room.
His hand rose to punch in the security code, only to hesitate at the last minute. Frozen by the realization that he didn't know it.
While Wally was alive he'd never visited without Wally there to open the door. And after his death, well, he'd been even more religious about not coming to the mountain than Dick had been.
Jason shuffled closer, looking over his shoulder.
"I don't know the code," Roy said without being prompted.
"Budge over." Jason huffed, the gentle way he nudged Roy countering his harsh tone.
Jason hummed under his breath at the first code he tried. The light flashed red in warning. The next two didn't work either.
He cocked his head to the side for a moment before entering another sequence.
The light flashed green and the door slid open.
Jason smirked, "Should have started with that one."
"What was it?" Roy peered into the dimly lit room, searching for a flash of red hair.
"Boy wonder's birthday."
Roy's brain blanked then rebooted, leaving him feeling exasperated. Because, of course, it was Dick's birthday. Jason was right, they should have tried that first.
The lump on the bed he'd assumed were pillows chose then to shift. He felt Jason stiffen next to him as Dick sat up slowly, rubbing his eyes.
He and Jason exchanged a surprised look.
Before, when they'd known him better, Dick had been a light sleeper. He would jolt to attention at a seconds notice, as awake as anyone who'd been up for hours.
So to see him wake slowly? Blearily looking around the room? It was disconcerting.
They watched as he blinked, eyes focusing as he found their figures in the light from the door way.
"Jaybird? Roy?" He threw his legs over the side of the bed, bracing his elbows on his knees. "Is something wrong?"
Roy shoved Jason further into the room, ignoring the glare he received for his efforts. He and Dick had already begun mending their bridges. It was Jason's turn.
After taking a moment to straighten his clothes and build up his composure, Jason cleared his throat. "Hey Dick."
Spotting two figures ahead of him, one green and one red, Wally skid to a stop.
Gravel flew underfoot and he blinked at his reception party.
Hal and Barry were both in uniform, with only mask and cowl missing. It gave him a good look at both their eyes.
The disbelief in Hal's he'd seen so much the last few days, and the awe and relief in his Uncle's.
Barry spread his arms in greeting, "I was just about to go looking for you."
The affection and lingering worry in his voice had Wally's ears burning. It made him glad that in the absence of his own uniform he'd swiped one of Dick's hoodies.
Having the hood up hid his embarrassment.
"I couldn’t sleep," he sighed.
"So you tried to run off the energy." Barry finished for him. Wally knew his uncle and mentor spoke from personal experience.
Hal stepped forward before Wally could form an answer. His hand reached out, pausing just shy of his face.
Confused, Wally blinked at him.
After another beat of hesitance Hal pushed his hood back, hand dropping to his shoulder.
"It really is you," He murmured.
Beside him Barry grinned, bright like the sun.
"It's me, Uncle Hal." Wally answered, the old title slipping his tongue with little thought. As a boy, he'd seen Hal's close relationship with Barry and thought them brothers. And with a kid's logic that meant he'd called him Uncle too.
It was something he hadn’t done since he took up the mantle of Kid Flash and considered himself too mature for it.
Funny how that seemed so silly in retrospect.
Hal made a choking noise and pulled him into a tight embrace
"Christ kid. I think you’ve spent too much time with the Bats. You're developing their habit of coming back from the dead."
"I think just this once we'll count it a win." Barry jumped in, dropping a hand to each of their shoulders.
"Now, who's hungry?"
"I messed everything up." Dick said breaking the silence that had formed.
Jason frowned, his own nerves forgotten as he moved to sit beside him on the bed. He knocked their knees and shoulders together.
"We all have," he sighed, "besides, the title of family fuck up is mine."
The offer of forgiveness was in his tone, if not his words. The duality was something they'd both mastered in their respective years as Robin.
With their family there was always at least two conversations going on. The one being spoken, and the one beneath that.
Dick looked down to study his hands, as one did when confronted with a forgiveness they didn’t deserve. A mercy they'd never thought to expect. Or dared to ask for.
And while the forgiveness had been there already, he needed to hear the words. To convince himself this wasn’t a dream or fantasy.
"Forgive me?" He asked.
Jason glanced at Roy who was leaning in the doorway, preventing the door from sliding closed and plunging them into darkness.
"Only if you'll forgive me." He said, reaching over to wrap his hand around Dick's wrist. He squeezed until Dick's blue eyes met his own.
They both dared a smile.
"Is it even possible to return to how things used to be?" Dick tilted his head to include Roy in the question, "to who we used to be?"
"No." Roy said as he flipped on the light and stepped fully into the room. The door slid shut behind him. "But we can start again with who we are now."
Let me know what you thought?
Side note: After this story is over, would anyone be interested in a story focusing on Dick and Damian? The other bats would feature of course, but it would center on them and how they bonded.
Chapter 4: Restitution
I need to stop saying the next chapter will be the last... it always ends up being a lie. But um, the next one probably will be the last one. Unless I decide to write an epilogue...
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Kaldur wiped his face with his towel, opening the fridge with his other hand.
He'd just reached for a bottle of water when there was a burst of noise behind him.
It took him a second to identify the sound as three voices. Two were speaking over each other and at speeds hard for him to understand. The third was just laughing at them.
By the time they reached the kitchen Kaldur had turned back and braced his hands on the counter. He was not at all surprised to see the two speedsters walk in, the Lantern on the other hand…
Green Lantern, or Hal Jordan since he was wearing civilian clothes, didn’t tend to frequent the mountain. In fact, Kaldur wasn’t sure if he'd ever been to the mountain.
He was neither on planet often enough, nor of the inclination to spend time with them. Whether as 'den mother' or league liaison. Those spots had always been filled by Black Canary, Red Tornado, or Batman.
"Hey, Kal." Wally greeted him with enthusiasm.
He nodded back, watching as they laid their loads on the counters. His eyebrows rose. It looked like they had gotten take out from all the local breakfast joints.
"Is there a feast I don’t know about?" He asked, taking another sip of water.
Wally grinned, "Pretty much. Will you help them set up while I rally everyone else?"
He didn’t wait for an answer before speeding off in a blur.
Kaldur stared after him, thrown. It was going to take him time to get re-used to Wally doing that.
Hal huffed, amused. "He really does think food fixes everything."
Beside him Barry didn’t seem to find it funny as he swatted at his friend. "No, but he does think it’s a good start."
He fixed his steely gaze on Kaldur, "and he's right isn't he?"
Kaldur eyed the older man, mentally rearranging his list of intimidating league members. Before, Barry had barely made the list. Too happy and generally nice to be imposing. With that look though…Barry had just moved up several slots.
The determined, and threatening glint in his eyes, had Kaldur resisting the urge to gulp.
"I think breakfast is just what's needed." Kaldur chose his words carefully, watching for a reaction.
Barry grinned, all trace of tension dropping away as if it had never been there. "Good. Start the coffee? We're going to need more than one pot by the end. When I arrived last night there were a few more guests lurking. Guests who like their caffeine."
Confused, Kaldur looked between them. Barry didn’t explain, nor did Hal who, judging by his smirk knew what Barry was referring to. An inside joke he wasn't privy to then?
With a shrug he moved to the coffee machine as they finished unloading and laying out the food.
They had a coffee maker that usually just gathered dust. Only their various Robins had ever really used it on a regular basis. And as far as he knew, only Dick was still in the mountain. Batman had dragged Damian home hours ago and Tim had class in the morning.
How much coffee could a single man drink?
The reasoning behind the need for extra coffee was made clear when the first group staggered in.
He blinked at the sight before him as Dick led the way out of the hall, with Roy and another flanking him. The third man had his hood up and it wasn't till he tilted his head back to grin at Roy that he recognized him.
"Jason?" His hand reached for the weapons he wasn't carrying.
The three paused, staring at him.
He didn’t take his focus off Jason, who while not an active enemy wasn't exactly a friend either. A neutral designation Roy would have had too, if Kaldur and Artemis hadn't fought it. He also suspected certain members of the league had fought both men's designations, though he had no proof. What had ended up saving Roy was that he hadn't gone quite as far off the range as Todd had.
Dick shifted over, putting himself between Kaldur and Jason.
He frowned over at Kaldur, his familiar sunglasses glinting from the kitchen lights.
"I gave him security clearance. They're both under my protection." Dick's tone dared him to argue.
At his sides Kaldur's hands twitched, but he didn't make a move.
They all knew Nightwing outranked him. Especially since everyone in the room would back him before Kaldur by default if he tried to do anything.
He could make the argument that the mountain was their team's territory and that the League didn’t have the authority here. Even a league member such as Dick who had once led their team.
But the look Barry had given him still lingered in his mind, so he breathed out and forced himself to relax his guard.
They were making amends and attacking Dick's… friends? Brothers? was not the step to begin with.
Barry clapped his hands, drawing attention away. "There's food and coffee. Help yourselves while we wait for the others."
Brazen as Kaldur remembered, Jason was the first to move. He nudged Dick aside, gentler than he would have expected, and bee-lined for the coffee.
He took down three mugs and grabbed the coffee pitcher.
Feeling eyes on him, Kaldur turned to see Dick still staring him down. Roy moved then, brushing his hand across Dick's shoulders on the way.
He accepted three plates from Hal, stacking two up his forearm and offering the third to Dick.
"Come on Dick, let's just eat." He cajoled, waving the plate in Dick's direction.
After another moment of staring Dick complied. He took the plate and grabbing some utensils before joining Roy to fill them.
Kaldur watched fascinated as the three set about gathering breakfast for them all. The three never had to speak. They even finished at the same time, heading to sit in the living room. A show in camaraderie he hadn't expected. As far as he knew they hadn't been close in years.
Dick plopped down on one side of the coffee table while Roy and Jason took the other. Kaldur had no doubt that the empty spot next to Dick was reserved for Wally.
His observation of them was obstructed as Artemis and M'gann entered. They both hesitated when they spotted the trio, turning to look at him. A silent question in their eyes.
He nodded and they came forward as if nothing was amiss. M'gann detoured to the food, accepting a plate and glass from Hal, while Artemis moved to join Kaldur.
She tipped her face up to him expectantly, and he obliged her with a good morning kiss.
"How was your workout?" She asked as she set about making her tea. Despite years of wheedling, no one on the team had been able to convince her that coffee was a better drink for caffeine.
"It was fine." He answered, taking another swig of his water as Wally returned with Conner hot on his heels.
Barry intercepted them, pulling Wally to one side.
For a second Conner hesitated before Wally waved him on.
Artemis hummed as she took her first sip of tea. "Here we go, then."
He nodded. They had all been anticipating and dreading this confrontation. At this point, he wanted to get it over with. No matter how it ended.
Craning his neck to look over Barry's shoulder, Wally grinned.
There was Dick, laughing at something Roy was telling him. Even with his sunglasses hiding his eyes, Wally could read the genuine happiness in the lines of his face.
He'd been taken aback to find Roy and Jason with Dick. But the look on Dick's face had assured him it was only for the better.
Impatient to join them, he bounced on his toes. "What is it Uncle Barry?"
Hands gripped his shoulders, forcing him to hold still.
"Wally…" Barry started before trailing off.
With mounting concern, Wally met his gaze. "Barry?"
His uncle sighed, squeezing his shoulders gently. "I know you want things to go back to the way they were."
He stopped Wally's interruption with a look. His mouth closed with a snap.
"Just, don’t expect today to fix everything. Okay?"
Wally quelled his first response, one of stubborn optimism, searching Barry's face. It showed only concern. It took the wind out of his sails.
He sighed, "I know. Trust me I do."
He thought of last night, of the moment he'd shared with Dick. It had been unexpected, but nice. Amazing even.
But they still had things to talk about, things to resolve.
He knew he would be lucky if the confrontation he was about to force went half as well.
Some of this must have shown on his face because Barry nodded, and dropped the subject.
"Join the others. Hal and I will stay and eat and then give you all some privacy."
"Thank you." Wally said, reaching up to grip Barry's wrists before he could move away. "For everything."
Barry froze, his eyes growing wide.
The moment stretched, until Barry's face softened. He leant forward and pressed a kiss to Wally's forehead.
"You never need to thank me for caring about you Walls."
Wally swallowed, nodding.
The coffee table and end tables were weighed down with plates of food and coffee. Everyone was spread out, having found places to sit either on the floor or on the couches.
Objectively, it was a nice scene with everyone eating and talking. But there was an undercurrent of tension in the air, a sense of awkwardness as topics were danced around.
But no one was better at distracting them from it than Wally. He talked with his mouth full, waved his hands around, and made a point to draw everyone into the conversation at least once.
Beside him, Dick sipped his coffee and watched him work the room. Wally liked to play stupid, or oblivious, but moments like this revealed just how perceptive he actually was. How good he was at reading the moods around him and adjusting accordingly.
Every two minutes or so Wally would pause to take another bite, and sway on the spot. Not much, nothing noticeable, just enough to brush his arm against Dick's. And every time, without fail, Dick had to hide a smile in his coffee.
A foot nudged his and he flicked a glance at Jason. Who promptly made kissy faces at him.
Dick glared at him. This move only succeeded in tipping Roy off, and soon they were both making faces at him.
He rolled his eyes at them, safe behind his sunglasses, letting his breath out in a huff. It was more amused than annoyed though, with him reluctantly fond despite himself. There was something reassuring in them teasing him. It was a return to form he couldn't bring himself to properly resent.
Without conscious thought his eyes flicked over to his old teammates, and he wondered. Would he soon be thinking the same thing about them? Would they ever return to their easy camaraderie and banter?
He'd tried to calculate the odds, he knew them well enough that he should have been able to, but he couldn't. Some things, especially involving people, weren't predictable. It was a hard lesson to learn, especially for someone who had been trained to predict people when no one else could.
In a way, he was too close to be objective about it.
But he did know one thing for certainty.
Having Wally back was enough.
Even if everything else went to hell, even if the divide between him and his old team only widened, as long as Wally was alive nothing else mattered. And so he rolled his shoulders, releasing the tension, and settled in for what would likely be an awkward conversation.
After Hal and Barry made a graceful retreat, Jason stood. He stretched his arms over his head, arching into it and ignoring the way the room fell silent.
Done, he bent over and began stacking the dirty dishes. Without a word or glance, Roy followed suit.
No one was saying anything, until he reached for Dick's mug.
Dick leaned backwards, cradling the mug to his chest. The petulant glare he leveled at Jason made him want to laugh but at the last second he managed to roll his eyes instead. Which was a little more acceptable. He had an image to maintain.
"I was going to get you a refill." He left the idiot as implied and knew Dick had heard it anyway when he pouted.
But he did pass him the mug.
Jason took the victory for what it was, and only smirked a little bit.
Before he could move away, cold fingers curled around his ankle. He restrained a flinch, glancing down to see Dick's hand.
The older vigilante wasn't looking at him, playing it off. No one could see his hand under the coffee table. Jason understood the silent plea that it was.
He looked around the room, getting the lay of the field. The first team, gathered together. Dick wanted him, and maybe Roy, to stay in the room. As backup, a strength in numbers kind of thing.
While he understood the urge, Jason rather thought they'd only get in the way. They both got riled up too easily when it came to family. They were allowed to do all manner of things to those they considered "theirs". But the second someone else did? All hell would break lose.
Besides, Wally was in Dick's corner.
But he was also unwilling to just brush Dick off. He couldn't imagine how he'd feel if he was faced with a sit-down in front of their entire family. He wasn't sure he wouldn't have bolted already in Dick's place.
In what he felt was a comprise, he took another look around the room. Pointedly meeting everyone's gaze, before turning back to address Dick.
"Me and Roy will be in the kitchen, cleaning up. You owe us a spar after this, Dickie boy." He growled, just enough threat in his voice for the others to understand.
He and Roy wouldn't be far, they would be waiting for him, and they'd be listening.
Dick's fingers tightened around his ankle before releasing.
"Do you think they'll be okay?"
Barry glanced at Hal, considering the question as they stepped through the zeta tubes. They were back in uniform, heading to Hal's debrief.
He wasn't strictly needed for it, but he hadn't had anything better to do.
Oh right, Hal had asked him something.
Would they be okay? Barry honestly couldn't say. So instead he answered Hal with another question.
"Did you know I didn't know what to say to Dick after Wally died?"
Hal stuttered to a stop and Barry didn't notice. He was already taking a trip down memory lane.
He remembered the funeral like it was yesterday. Not Kid Flash's memorial service, but Wally West's funeral.
Dick had stood off to the side, not a speck of color on him other than black. He was alone, only a shadow named Tim for company.
One look at the kid's team revealed why.
The team was huddled together on the opposite side of the funeral hall, somber and quiet. Artemis and Kaldur stood a bit to the side of the others, talking in hushed tones.
Barry had watched, unable to look away, as their gazes flicked intermittently to Dick.
Realization had dawned quickly.
At the time he'd wanted nothing more than to approach Dick, the only other person who could say he was grieving as much, if not more, than he and Iris. But he hadn't known what to do, or to say.
Iris hadn't had the same problem.
Unknown to him she must have been watching the same scene, because between one second in the next she'd disappeared from his side.
He'd blinked before finding her red mane in the crowd. He'd trailed behind her, surprised even to this day that he hadn't figured out sooner where she was going.
He'd emerged from the crowd just in time to see her stand on her tiptoes and pull Dick down into a hug.
Under any other circumstances it would have made a comical picture. Without his customary sunglasses Dick's eyes had been wide, his arms limp at his sides.
As Barry had drawn closer Dick caught sight of him and instantly switched to sending him pleading eyes.
He'd shaken his head, reaching over Iris to grip Dick's shoulder.
Dick had sighed before giving in. His arms had risen to slowly hug Iris back.
After that it hadn't taken long for Dick to all but collapse into Iris' arms. They'd propped each other up while Barry stood there with them, hoping he was doing enough.
"Barry? Where'd you go bud?"
He blinked, pushing away the hand Hal was waving in his face.
"Don't you have a meeting to go to?" Barry asked. Deciding discretion was the better part of valor and he'd be best served to pretend he hadn't just zoned out in the middle of the hallway.
In an uncharacteristic show of understanding, Hal let it drop.
When he entered the kitchen Roy was already there, dumping dishes in the sink and running the water.
He looked up with a smug, knowing smile.
The smile only grew wider.
"I'll wash you dry?" Roy let him off the hook.
Jason shrugged, "Yeah. Just let me refill Dick's coffee."
He set about doing that, taking care to breathe deep calming breaths. The whole situation was tense, and he couldn't help but feel the urge to run. To remove himself from the mountain and either hole up in his apartment or go beat up some thugs until he felt better.
But he shoved it down, the same way he shoved down the urge to smoke a cigarette recently. Roy had come to him a few months ago, and admitted he was in recovery. He had asked him to quit smoking cigarettes and drinking around him.
Jason had been so stricken he'd quit the cigarettes cold turkey. He was still guilty of drinking alcohol, but never around Roy.
He could deal with his urge to go hit things the same way. Or, he could put it off till later.
"Ummm Jay?" Roy spoke up from behind him, "you're spilling."
He looked down and cursed. He'd overfilled the mug to the point of flooding the countertop.
Roy reached around him to grasp the mug, wiping it off with a paper towel, "I'll take this to Dick. You clean this up."
Jason was absurdly grateful when Roy didn't try and ask him about it. Talk about embarrassing.
He breathed out of his nose in a gust, and then grabbed the roll of paper towels and began sopping up the mess.
Once it was clean he tossed the towels in the trash, startling when Roy darted back in.
He leaned close, his voice at a whisper. "No one's talking in there. They're just staring at each other."
Jason frowned, his eyes flicking to the living room. The kitchen and living room were only separate by a breakfast bar. He supposed he hadn't heard anything.
"Someone will cave soon," he muttered back.
He was proven right not even 30 seconds later.
"So who wants to apologize first?" Wally's voice was loud enough to carry throughout the entire common area.
Jason blinked. Not sure he'd heard that right.
One look at Roy's face confirmed he had.
p.s. Also I hope Barry's flashback-esque memory sequence wasn't too confusing, I wasn't sure if I should have put it in italics or not. Hopefully the tense change was enough to keep it clear, let me know if it wasn't?
Chapter 5: Resolution
I got up to drive my roommates to the airport at 430 this morning, and instead of going back to sleep after like a sane person I wrote this. Apparently what my brain needed to get over my writer's block was severe sleep deprivation. Who knew.
Also, the long-awaited confrontation! :D hopefully it lives up to expectations.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Artemis leant forward, away from the shelter of Kaldur's arm. She propped her elbows on her knees and looked right at Dick.
On the other side of the coffee table, Dick had to fight the urge to lean backwards to compensate.
For a moment it looked like she was going to reach out to him, to grasp a hand or grip his shoulder. Instead her hands clenched into fists.
She smiled sadly.
"I was grieving," her voice was soft, her eyes fixed on Dick. For all that the entire team was there, her words were only meant for him. "It was easier to blame you than to admit that I really blamed myself."
He couldn't look away from her gaze, even as he felt Wally shift beside him. To jump in and tell her it wasn't her fault either, Dick guessed.
But she shook her head before he could speak.
"I blamed you for trying to be Batman. For all the scheming, and for putting Wally in that position." she grimaced, "But really I was just avoiding my own fault in it. You may have asked me to help, but I was the one who jumped at the chance."
Kaldur moved to rest a hand on her shoulder but Artemis shook him off, "No, let me get this out."
"I blamed you," she repeated, "and the worst part was that by the time I got my head out of my ass, I'd infected the rest of the team. I laid the guilt at your feet, and they followed suit."
As one the team shifted, their guilt rippling through them in a wave.
Dick frowned, "You all didn't chase me off. I left on my own."
It had been his decision to walk away from the team, from their way of life, and he owned that. They couldn't take that decision away from him. In the same way his decision to come back when his family needed him, had been his to make. Any consequences were his own.
Whether or not their treatment of him had been a factor in his decision... well, he was at the point where he didn't much care. He liked to think he'd moved on. And while he appreciated Wally's defense of him, he wasn't sure digging up all this old hurt was a good idea.
Perhaps sensing his rebellious thoughts, Wally reached over to grip his wrist. Dick turned to him, and their gazes locked.
Wally didn't need to speak for Dick to get the message, and he turned back to Artemis, waving her on. He couldn't fight this too much. Not when he knew that if their positions were reversed he'd be doing the same as Wally. And he'd likely be even more aggressive about it.
She hesitated for a moment and he knew his brief interruption had probably thrown off her mental script.
But she rallied admirably. "I guess what I really want to apologize for isn't necessarily the fact that I blamed you, but that once I realized I was wrong I didn't try to fix it."
"I thought you needed space, that you'd come back eventually." She explained her hands opening and closing in front of her in a silent entreaty. "But now… answer me honestly, without this miracle, without Wally, would we ever have had this conversation?"
He titled his head, listening to the clang of dishes from the kitchen, feeling the weight of Wally's fingers on his wrist, and thought about it. Her question deserved all the consideration he could give.
"If the team had needed me," he started to say, thinking aloud more than anything. "Especially if it was Tim or Damian asking, I'd have come running. But would I have stuck around? To have a conversation like this, to clear the air or not?"
He shrugged, shaking his head a bit. "Probably not."
And it wouldn't have been because he was holding a grudge or some such thing. But mainly because he'd learned to cope with pain at the knee of Bruce Wayne. Without Wally pushing for it, he'd have left the past buried. Left well enough alone.
Artemis didn't seem surprised as she nodded, "and that's why the part I regret most is not reaching out to you. I'm so sorry Dick."
Dick swallowed at that admission, his brain scrambling to process and qualify her words. This wasn't going at all how he'd expected and he didn't know what was expected of him. The pressure of having the team right in front of him as he adjusted wasn't helping.
The fingers Wally still had around his wrist squeezed gently and he took a deep clarifying breath.
"Thank you, Artemis." He managed to get out, able to accept the apology but not sure if he was ready to forgive just yet. Not sure if he could come to the right decision when he felt as cornered as he did.
He knew that wasn't their intent to gang up on him. But he couldn’t help but feel it, even with Wally beside him and Roy and Jason not far off.
Thankfully Artemis didn't seem upset as she offered him one last smile and relaxed back into Kaldur.
The rest of the team took that as permission to say their piece.
"It's going well so far."
Jason turned at Roy's statement, communicating his disbelief with a look. "Who would have thought?"
Roy chuckled as he dried the last of the dishes and set them aside.
"Apparently, Wally did." was the comeback and Jason had to concede that.
He pushed off from where he was leaning on the counter and picked up the plates, moving to put them away in the cabinet. When he turned back Roy passed him the coffee mugs.
He rolled his eyes, not proud that it was more fond than derisive, but took them. He shifted his grip so he was holding all three in one hand by their handles. Then with a dramatic turn of his heel he placed his other hand on the counter and lifted until he was balanced just on one hand, and put the mugs away.
Once finished he lowered back down, touching his feet back to the ground. Turning back around he gave Roy a flourishing bow.
The archer shook his head at him, a smile twisting his lips.
"Such a show boat," Roy teased.
Jason shrugged, "and you love me for it."
"I suppose I must."
Wally tried to contain his giddiness as beside him Dick relaxed enough to smile cautiously at Artemis. So far everything was going well. If he wasn't scared of jinxing it he would be celebrating outwardly as well as inwardly.
Even just thinking that gave him the urge to reach out and knock on wood. He resisted.
His attention was brought back to the conversation as Kaldur cleared his throat.
One down, three to go.
Kaldur shifted in his seat, his nerves showing more visibly than usual.
"It wasn't just Artemis. I too blamed you, for putting so much at risk." Kaldur sighed, "in the end I wasn't sure it was worth it."
Wally kept his gaze on Kaldur, but couldn't help but watch Dick out of the corner of his eye. So far he was holding up well, but he knew deep down Dick was more like Bruce than he'd admit. Emotions were not his forte. For all that he wore his on his sleeve around the people he cared about.
Dick's freeness with his emotions was its own kind of mask, of protection. And Wally was asking him to give some of that up today, to let their old team back in.
He hoped he wouldn't come to regret it.
"And I was the one who decided we should give you space." Kaldur was saying, "I thought you needed time to mourn and cool off."
He shook his head, "I should have known better. Me and you, and Wally go way back."
Wally jerked a bit, surprised to be included. Kaldur sent M'gann and Conner an apologetic glance. It was true that the three of them had known each other the longest, Dick and Wally even longer, but it still felt awkward to acknowledge that sometimes. "I of all people should have gone after you. I should have been a better friend."
Judging by the jerk of Dick's arm under Wally's fingers, he wasn't the only one dumbfounded by Kaldur's statement.
"It wasn't," Dick started to say, before cutting himself off and starting over. "I shouldn't have left you all in the dark so long. And I was still the one who left."
Wally supposed he shouldn't be surprised that Dick was insisting on sharing the blame. He always did have an over-inflated sense of guilt, even if there was a thread of truth in it this time. He was a firm believer in the idea that no one person ever had all the blame. It was the whole reason he'd forced this discussion, they needed to bring old wounds to light so they could heal.
He wasn't sure if it was because he was that protective of Dick, or if it was because he was over-correcting due to his own guilt.
After all, before he had five years of introspection outside the timeline, Wally had blamed him too. Had resented him for pulling their strings without their knowledge.
It had taken almost dying, taken waking up in a hospital bed and only being able to wonder where Dick was, for him to realize that none of it mattered. Not in the long run, or in the grand scheme of things.
"It's on me too." Dick said, and the group jumped as there was a loud bang from the direction of the kitchen.
Wally glanced over his shoulder, to see Roy poking his head out with a sheepish smile and shake of his head.
"Shut up Rob, let them get it out." he interjected, ignoring the shenanigans behind him for now. Somehow, he knew if he didn't intercede this talk would end up just going around in a circle of blame.
Dick fell silent but the others were still sending the kitchen wary looks.
In an attempt to move things forward, and assuming Kaldur had said his piece, Wally turned an imploring gaze on M'gann and Conner.
M'gann's cheeks flushed red, but Conner managed to keep a neutral expression under the sudden scrutiny.
At least until Dick followed Wally's gaze and turned towards them too. Wally watched, amused, as Conner looked down.
M'gann reached over to wrap her hand around Conner's.
"We were angry," Conner said after taking a deep breath, "not because we blamed you for Wally. But because we felt like you didn't trust us."
He wasn't surprised at the distinction, but Wally could tell that Dick was. It was subtle, he would have missed it if they weren't sitting so close, but Dick had flinched.
Was his friend really so surprised that not all of them had blamed him for Wally's apparent death?
Wally's gut clenched and he almost missed what Conner said next.
"Maybe things would have been different if we'd known, maybe not." Conner shook his head, "It's a pointless question now, but back then it was all I could think about."
Beside him M'gann nodded her agreement, her eyes swimming with unshed tears. Her lips pursed with held back emotions.
Wally rather felt that Conner was speaking for them both because if M'gann tried, she'd break out in sobs.
"I knew we should have gone after you," Conner admitted. Speaking just for himself now. "I even argued with Kaldur about it, but I could have pushed harder or gone after you alone."
"Please," M'gann broke in, her voice trembling. Then she squared her shoulders and continued, her voice firmer. "Please Dick, forgive us."
The entire team turned contrite gazes on Dick and Wally felt him shift beside him, pressing his back further into the couch.
This was it. This was the moment that would make or break them, prove whether or not Wally should have forced this conversation.
He held his breath.
Dick examined his old friends. Looking for clues as to their sincerity. He wanted to believe them, oh how he did, but he couldn't.
He'd learned his lessons well growing up, it took a lot to earn his trust and once it was lost…
But they did seem to be truly apologetic, and Wally wouldn't be pushing the issue if he didn't believe they deserved another chance. Not to mention Roy and Jason's implied blessing when they retreated to give them space.
He shook his head to clear it, not seeing their dejected looks. In the space of the days Wally had been back, his world had shifted under his feet and he felt like all he was doing was playing catch-up.
Wally nudged him and he glanced at him, confused. The redhead rolled his eyes, gesturing back at the team.
Dick looked back, realization dawning as he finally noticed the looks on their faces. They'd misinterpreted his hesitance as rejection.
He swallowed, "I accept your apologies. All of them." He made sure to meet all their gazes in turn, not wanting them to doubt his sincerity.
"But I need some time, to process before I can answer them." He explained. Because no matter how much he wanted to forgive them and move on, he still couldn't shake the feeling of being cornered.
He needed to get some space, and see if he still wanted to forgive them once he cleared his head. It was the only fair thing he could do. For all of them.
Miraculously, none of them seemed angry or even disappointed. If Dick had to put a name to their reaction it would be… relief.
"Take as long as you need," M'gann offered with a cautious smile. "I think we're all just happy to have cleared the air."
Dick nodded, able to relate to that part at least. As much as this confrontation hadn't been his idea, he couldn't deny that a weight had been lifted from his shoulders with each successive apology.
He didn't need to look over to know that Wally had a smug smile pasted across his face. In any other circumstance it would have annoyed him, but today Wally had earned it.
As for him, Dick still couldn't believe it had gone so well. There had been tension, and some awkward moments, but overall it had been the best case scenario. Since when did that happen?
He was pulled out of his thoughts as Roy and Jason rejoined them. It was hard to miss as they made a production of their entrance. Jason skid in with a triumphant laugh, Roy running into his back when he came to a sudden stop.
Dick raised an eyebrow at their antics. The pair really had been in a surprisingly good mood despite the goings on. It made Dick nostalgic for when they were all kids and their biggest worry was sneaking around their mentor's back to get into trouble.
"Can we steal you away for the spar you promised us now?" Roy asked as he straightened up and fixed his rumpled shirt.
It wasn't the subtlest of outs, but Dick would happily take it. Wally releasing his grip around his wrist in silent permission was all he needed as he jumped to his feet.
"Sure." he glanced back down at Wally, about to invite him along, but Wally beat him to it with a shake of his head.
He stood too, resting his hand on Dick's waist and leaning in to brush their lips together. "I'll catch up."
Before Dick could process that Wally had just kissed him in front of their old team and two of his oldest friends, Roy and Jason were there. They each grabbed an arm and tugged him from the room, shushing every attempt he made at speaking.
He managed to look back, just in time to catch Wally waving at him in amusement as the team picked their jaws up from the floor.
Once the three of them had left and moved far enough way there was no risk of being overheard, Wally turned back. The team had stood up too, likely about to retreat to lick their wounds in privacy.
They froze as one as they caught a glimpse of his expression.
He placed his hands on his hips and glared at them all, unknowingly reminding Kaldur once again of Barry. Even Artemis sidestepped closer to Kaldur, seemingly without conscious thought.
Wally didn't notice.
"Rob is well on his way to forgiving you all," He informed them, unaware of how icy his tone was. If he he'd stopped to think about it, he'd have been surprised to see they weren't relieved at his words.
They were too wary of him to process Dick's inevitable forgiveness, too surprised at this side of him they hadn't seen before. And certainly never direct at them.
"As for me, nothing like this better happen again." He warned them, "Or it'll be my forgiveness you'll have to worry about."
He waited for them all to nod, before dropping his hands and giving them a bright smile.
"Great," he exclaimed, "now that that's out of the way I can go join the others."
He left, no idea of the reaction he was leaving in his wake.
Artemis whistled, "It's scary how scary he can be without ever realizing it."
The others couldn't do anything but agree.
Later that evening, Dick waved goodbye to Roy and Jason before letting himself into his room. They'd kept him busy all day, kicking his ass six ways to Sunday.
He'd given as good as he'd gotten but his ribs were still sore from his last mission and he'd been outnumbered.
Once inside the door he sighed, leaning his back against it. His head tilted back, his eyes closing. Water trickled down his neck, his hair still wet from his shower.
Opening his eyes, he found Wally waiting for him. He was reclining in his desk chair, his face illuminated by the lamp beside him.
"You could say that," Dick agreed, dragging his tired limbs over to him. He jumped up to sit on the desk, knocking his bare feet gently against Wally's knees. "You never did come find us."
Wally shrugged, "I was going to, but then I decided I needed some space to think. I feel like I haven't had more than a few minutes alone since I got back."
He took out any sting Dick could have found in his words by rolling his chair closer and tugging his feet so they rested on his thighs. He hugged Dick's shins and rested his head against them.
Dick felt himself soften, his hand drifting down to run through Wally's hair. "I can certainly relate to that. After this morning all I wanted to do was run away and hide."
Wally huffed out a laugh and Dick tugged on his hair in a mild rebuke, "I'm being serious KF."
"I know, I know" Wally appeased, rubbing his cheek against Dick's pant leg like a cat.
For a time they sat there in comfortable silence, at peace with themselves and each other.
In the end, it was Dick who broke it.
"Why did you want us all to talk?" he asked, hastening to add, "I'm not upset you did. I just don't understand why you did."
Wally lifted his head, tilting it back so they could look each other in the eye.
"Is it so wrong that I wanted my boyfriend and our oldest friends to make up?" He asked in answer.
Dick froze, fingers clenching in Wally's hair.
"Boyfriend?" he repeated even as Wally winced and reached up to extract his hair. Dick didn't notice.
"Yes, if you want that is." Wally grinned up at him.
Dick blinked, then he shifted his feet away from Wally. Before the speedster could protest he tugged him out of his chair and closer, so that he was standing between his legs.
He slung his arms around Wally's neck, "Wow, that was almost smooth Wally West."
Wally opened his mouth, to defend himself most likely, but Dick never let him get that far as he cut him off with a kiss.
It didn't take long for Wally to get with the program, kissing him back with fervor. His hands found Dick's waist and rested there, caressing him gently through his clothes.
Dick shifted closer but Wally pulled back, nipping his bottom lip playfully.
"Is that a yes?"
"Of course it is," Dick all but growled, knocking their foreheads together painfully. But neither of them pulled away.
"Good." Wally replied, reaching down to tug at Dick's knees until he had them wrapped firmly around Wally's waist.
Then in a surprising show of strength Wally lifted him from the desk.
Dick laughed breathlessly as Wally stumbled backwards to the bed. They landed there in a tangle of limbs, knocking the breath out of them both.
"Oh yeah," Dick teased when he got enough breath back to speak, "you have such game Walls."
"Shut up," Wally returned, rolling on top of him.
In the kitchen M'gann flushed bright red, almost dropping her phone as she threw up every single mental wall she had.
She hadn't meant to overhear that.
But still, she was happy for them. Hiding a smile behind her hand, she moved to find Conner. Perhaps she could convince him they should go out tonight instead of staying in like they'd planned.
It would lessen the chances of either of them, her mentally him literally, overhearing something they'd rather not.
So there it is, all wrapped up now :) and if anyone remembers and was interested in the Dick and Damian brotherly-bonding fic I mentioned, I'm posting that right after this one. I wanted to complete this one before I started a new one lol.
Also am I the only one still in shock that season 3 is actually happening? I'm excited, but stunned.
P.S. I posted this not long after finishing it, with only a cursory edit so I apologize for any editing errors. I'm happy to fix anything you notice.