It was stupid to complain that you had nowhere to go, when not even two weeks ago you had been stuck in the Speedforce as, well,... He hadn't even been a memory. He had still been Wally West, but at the same time everything he was had not, had been fading out of existence, had found nothing to hold on to. Someone had tried to wipe him out. Not even his wife, not even his best friends or family had remembered him. Nothing had been left of him in their minds. Wally West – the Wally West he was had never existed. At least until Barry had remembered and pulled him out of the Speedforce, saving him from dissolving into nothingness. He still woke from nightmares, feeling like he was slipping away, losing his grip on reality, on life, existence.
So, yeah, complaining about not having a flat, a life, a job outside of the new red speedster costume, sounded like whining. And, really, he had a place to stay, at least for the moment. “Is it really okay if I stay here?” he asked for what was possibly the twentieth time.
“I have lots of space and it's not like I'm using it.” Dick Grayson, his best friend in the world, waved him away as if it was nothing to offer your house and home to someone. But that was Dick. Wally had crashed on his sofa often enough, back in the day, to know that much.
“You just moved in, Dick. You had no time to use any of it.”
His friend looked up from where he was unpacking a box of new plates. “I don't mind, Wally. It's a big penthouse. And I feel like I owe you for forgetting. How could I ever forget my best friend?”
“At least let me help.” It only took him making up his mind to swish through the place unpacking boxes and putting stuff into cupboards. When he was finished he casually leaned against the counter, before Dick had even so much as straightened himself and turned. He was looking with a grin between the now empty spaces where boxes had been less than a second ago and Wally, grinning like a maniac.
“You are handy to have around,” he said and chuckled. “How could I ever not miss you?”
It was a joke that they'd made a few times since he'd come back, but there was still that awful little pang of hurt, every time he thought about it too hard. Whoever had wiped him from all existence had done a perfect job. If Barry hadn't remembered at the last minute, he wouldn't even be here. And there wouldn't have been time to try Dick or any of the Titans. He'd tried the first three people who sprang to mind... Perhaps he should have tried Dick first, fearless leader, short pants, all around good guy and best friend.
“I'm sorry,” Dick said, his smile turned slightly rueful. “It was an awful thing to say.”
He waved him away and smiled. “Don't think about it too hard, shortpant.”
“You know you can stay as long as you need to, right?”
“Not because you're feeling guilty?”
Over the years he had learned to read Dick Grayson like a book. Some details were still shifting in his mind and he couldn't quite remember if they were all falling into the right places. Reality had changed dramatically and although he had not been meant to be here, his existence was starting to fit itself into this reality he was now a part of. Sometimes that scared him as much as the thought of nobody remembering him had before. The one thing he knew for sure was that Dick Grayson had always been the best of friends. They had always enjoyed their time together and Dick had never minded doing a favor to any of his friends.
“Aren't all you bats supposed to be solitary creatures?”
“Have you met my family?” Dick chuckled. “It's kind of growing, still.”
He laughed. “Your bat dad still scares the hell out of me, though. Even when I ran with him in the Justice League, he scared me more than some of the rouges. He's a good friend. Always was a good friend.” He'd gone to Bruce first even. Before he'd gone to Linda or Barry. Batman was in so many ways the best of them, the one you could trust with solving the unsolvable. He'd been scared ad out of options, so he'd gone to Batman first. Like everyone would.
“He's not all that scary.” Dick stuck out his tongue and Wally laughed.
“Do you remember when he gave us a dressing down for crashing the batplane?”
“I remember getting that dressing down. The way I remember it, Barry just patted you on the shoulder and said it was a stupid thing to do, but the important thing was you were alright.”
Yes, that was what happened. Wally had been young and inexperienced and Batman had still been the scariest thing in the whole wide world. He'd felt bad for Dick, but so grateful that Barry was the one who'd stepped up to take responsibility for Wally's mistakes.
“We spent so much of our time together. When I wasn't in Gotham it was usually because we were off on our own adventures, wasn't it?”
“We'll have lots of time to get into more trouble now.” Wall smiled fondly, remembering some of their exploits. They'd taken on so many foes with the Titans at such a young age. “
Especially if you'll stay here for a while.”
He beamed at the thought. “It's going to be you and me. Just like on those road trips we went on every year. Honestly, we should do that again. Remember that time we ended up in that little diner when that robber burst in? Where was that? Oregon? Poor man didn't know what hit him.” The surprised face of the robber when the Flash and Nightwing had appeared on the scene out of nowhere was still imprinted on his memory. “Or remember that time a murder mystery turned into an alien invasion? I warned you.” He laughed.
Right up until he realized Dick wasn't laughing with him.
The quizzical look on his face, the lack of recognition in the blue eyes, the frown... Wally knew immediately that Dick had no idea what he was talking about.
“You have no idea what I'm talking about, haven't you?”
Dick quirked his lips and looked slightly apologetic. “Road trips?”
God, that hurt, really hurt. Those were some of his best memories.
“One every year, sine I became the Flash. When Barry was...” He frowned.
Dick frowned to. “When Barry was gone. But Barry was never... gone.”
Their eyes met. Wally, who loved chattering usually, felt his throat go dry. Things were still shifting. His marriage... damn it, some of his best memories weren't even part of this world anymore.
“We must have had a lot of fun,” Dick said and smiled at him.
“One of us was supposed to decide where to go every other year, but in the end I always made you pick.”
Finally, that made both of them laugh.
“You know what?” Wally asked, laughter loosening his tongue again. “This year, I'm going to pick. About time.”
“I think I'd like that.”
He watched Dick make them spaghetti, while he sitting on his kitchen table, his legs dangling. There was always something weird about spending the normal, domestic moments with your superhero friends. But just now it wasn't weird at all. He had nothing to go back to, no life waiting for him. For the time being Dick offered him a home, a place to feel like he belonged and he felt more grounded than he had since he'd sprung back into this existence.
He was the Flash. Even he couldn't outrun his troubles, but perhaps if he stood still for a while, they would pass him by for now.
* * *
And every time he came home and Dick greeted him with a smile or he sped through the flat to get some food on the table before his friend got home, it felt like belonging.
“I've decided,” he announced, when Dick stepped into the penthouse from the balcony, his Nightwing costume wet and ripped in places. He pushed a t-shirt and track pants into his hands after picking them up from his room – all in one blink of an eye and without interrupting his speech. “Time for a road trip. Better start packing.”
Dick looked at him, his eyes and part of his face still hidden behind the mask, but his eyebrows raised in surprise. “Now?”
“Time to make some new memories and what better way to do it than by starting an old tradition all over again?”
They ended up driving in a red, fancy car that Dick just turned up with the next day. They decided that beaches was what they want for their little vacation. So they set out to get what they wanted and actually got all of that, lounging in the sun, sand and salt in their hair, enjoying themselves. There was no alien invasion this time. But they manage to stop a ring of drug dealers targeting the young, like it came as an afterthought. Superheroes never got to take time off like other people.
“First toad trip I ever planned,” he said from behind his sunglasses, watching Dick walk out of the water. He'd always been aware of the fact that Dick was good-looking; attractive, really. No way around noticing with how how people just flocked to him wherever they went. Perhaps he was feeling a bit lonely and fragile right now, healing but not yet healed, but he'd never noticed it just like he'd been noticing it this whole trip.
Drying off in front of him, Dick raised an eyebrow. “See something you like?”
“Just glad, I decided to come here. With you. It's been a road trip just like I remembered. I don't think I've felt this good all year.”
The thought seemed to appeal to Dick. Perhaps some part of him did still remember something, the ghost of something. “So, I get to pick next year?”
You get to pick whenever you want, he thought.
* * *
Their friendship was the most important thing to him now. It was like his new life had been built around Dick and the friendship he felt for him.
They were the ones to tend each other's wounds after the superheroeing had gotten out of hand; they were the ones offering each other a shoulder to cry on and a place to rest. He wasn't surprised that Dick fell asleep leaning against him on the sofa like it was nothing after a particularly tiring adventure. He wasn't surprised that his hand started to stroke circles through his hair absentmindedly either. It felt too real, too normal, too right.
Dick was his best friend. But perhaps there was a little more to it.
He couldn't remember if it had always been like this or not.
Over the months the destinction had become less important. This life was what it was now.
It was time to make up his mind about what he wanted.
Oblivious to his thoughts, Dick mumbled in his sleep and curled into himself, snuggled closer.
They woke up with stiff necks and joints, a tangled mess of limps.
There was no awkwardness to it. Even this felt right.
* * *
He didn't mind. Never had.
Perhaps now he was not minding it for purely selfish reasons.
“Do we still have milk?” Dick asked like he had just lost track of their shopping necessities and hadn't in fact not been part of this household for a while. There was a fading bruise on his left shoulder and a healing cut on his back. Wally took not of it all and filed it away for later questioning. But at the question he just jumped into action, speeding over to stand behind Dick and pull the milk from the open fridge, so Dick could grab it from his hand.
He ended up standing slightly too close, brushing up against Dick's shapely ass, nothing but a pair of boxers and a white towel between them, the scent of Dick's freshly washed hair making it hard to not lean down and kiss his neck. Deciding that the best bet was to play it off as accident – which technically it had been - he sped back to the sofa, leaving Dick standing there, holding the half empty bottle of milk.
Decidedly not looking up, he went back to watching the news on his tablet.
There was no noise from the kitchen. Dick usually moved in silence, when he didn't decide that he wanted to be heard. So it wasn't exactly surprising when he suddenly appeared behind the sofa, looking over Wally's shoulder at the screen.
Wally looked up.
Dick looked down.
They stared at each other for just a moment.
Then they were kissing and it was absolutely beyond Wally who had actually stared it. It didn't matter, he decided finally, when Dick slid over the sofa's back to be pulled closer, Wally's mouth pressed to his. It was the wettest most aggressive kiss Wally had ever received in his life, all tongue and teeth and passion, and it went instantly to his groin. He groaned when Dick wasn't so much pressed down into the cushions as pulling Wally on top of himself, so that their erections brushed painfully against each other. With the speed of the Flash he got rid of all the fabric that was in the way and Dick gasped, then grinned up at him.
He was very sure he'd never been so hard just from one kiss.
“I wasn't sure you wanted to,” Dick said.
“Hell, yeah,” Wally said and kissed his friend again. He was not going to point out that he had been pining, that he'd been looking for Dick in all the people he'd met lately. This was Dick. He'd been best man at his wedding. Wally had been cheering for him and Babs to finally get hitched... but then none of that was even real anymore. As far as he knew Dick and Babs had never gotten that far.
And it was not the place and time to even think about it when Dick encircled their cocks with sure fingers and stroked them together. He kissed him deep then, made him move up a bit to lean into the cushions, made him slow down.
Their first love making would be all he had been thinking of, soft and achingly slow. He wanted to cherish it. He'd learned to cherish memories and he would make sure that this one would last.
Dick wasn't protesting, encircled him with his legs and let him move at his leisure.
“God,” he breathed. “God, Wally, please.”
He bit his jugular softly. “Say it again,” he said softly. “Say it again, please.”
And Dick knew exactly what he wanted, chanting his name and “please” and encouragements like one long plea, while the little voice in his mind just sang: “Finally, finally, finally.”
This was real. This was good. This was right. This was so much more than he remembered.
* * *
It was perfect in its own way.
* * *
“You're a trouble magnet,” Wally admonished fondly.
“This time it was all you.”
Dick threw his bag to the floor and let himself fall onto the king sized bed with the soft looking duvet. “Let's make the best off this, huh? Who knows. The alien invasion you spoke of before might still be waiting around the corner of this trip.”
“Please, no. They can wait till next year.”
“Fast and hard, please,” Dick whispered and patted the spot beside him.
He was there before the hand had come down a second time, Dick's blue eyes twinkling at him, as he held the hand as if he was about to spin him around in a dance. “I can do fast,” he said.
And he was through wasting time. This was his life and he knew that existence was a damn fragile thing in his line of work. He was going to live in the here and now, enjoying the love and friendship he shared with this man, because it had become the one thing that mattered. He'd missed his family and now he had one right here once more.
Fast, he thought. But not too fast. He wanted to carefully build memories one at a time, lasting ones. The ones that made a difference.
They were already off to a good start with so much history between them and so much new ground to cover.