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Code Red

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It was a little after ten o'clock on a Friday night, which may not have seemed like all that late to most his age, but Wally West had faced a particularly grueling week and was more than ready to finally catch up on his sleep. He reached a hand out through the blanket he was currently snuggled down in to hit the power button on the remote beside him on the couch, turning off the T.V. and abruptly cutting of The Simpsons theme, stretching out with a groan. The blanket fell from around his shoulders as he did so, and there were a few pops from his joints as he extended his arms and legs as far as they would go, letting out a quiet hiss.

The team had been out on a particularly tedious mission Wednesday night, which meant that Wally had had to forget about starting that essay for his English class. It also meant that he had to write all four pages in one night and consequently spend two days in a row running on fumes. If he could only let his teachers know he was saving the world than surely they would give him a pass on homework.

He let out a long sigh as he lay down on the couch, thanking his uncle for having the foresight to toss him this lovely blanket before heading off to bed. There was no way he would have made it to his room. With an obscenely loud yawn he shut his slightly burning eyes, the consequence of staring at a glowing screen in near total darkness for almost three hours, and very quickly fell asleep to nothing more than the faint shine of city lights outside the window and the distant sound of cars floors below.

Unfortunately for him, it was a short-lived sleep as not an hour later he was rudely interrupted by his phone blaring an all too familiar customized ringtone. He was groggy from getting far too little rest and angry at whoever it was calling him at this ungodly hour, so it took him a few moments to identify who exactly the culprit was. When he recognized it, however, the lateness of the call did make sense. He was still pissed but who could realistically expect Dick Grayson to keep track of the time. Wally just let the song play out. He loved the guy but he was equally furious at being woken up and right now anger was winning out.

Eventually, the obnoxious noise came to a blissful end, and Wally smiled faintly into the elbow serving as his pillow as his brain began to tip back towards that blissful unconsciousness. And then his phone began again. It was a remix of himself, from several different security feeds and home videos, singing Rick Astley's Never Gonna Give You Up. It had been an April Fools prank from a few years ago by the boy wonder himself but Wally had gotten such a kick out of it that he decided to keep it even after Dick had ‘allowed’ him to change it back. Right now, however, Wally could not be getting less of a kick out of it. In fact, he was about ready to block that little punk's number. He reached blindly in the direction of the noise, barely managing not to fall onto the floor as he grabbed his phone from off the coffee table. The light was way too bright for his delicate, sleep-deprived eyes as he turned the screen toward himself to angrily answer the call. Dick had better have a very good explanation for this.

"What the hell do you want?" His voice was groggy and his tone as unenthusiastic as he could make it, which he was sure Dick was going to tease him about but he could not have cared less at that moment if he had tried. When his friend responded, however, it was without his usual joking overtones. Something was wrong.

"We've got a code red, Wally. Requesting immediate assistance." Wally struggled to sit up on the couch, unsticking his sleep-glued eyes to blink hazily into the darkness. They didn't have codes, what the hell was he on about? If this was a hero thing then Dick wouldn't have used his real name, but he did, so therefore it wasn't. Eyes closing again, Wally brought up his free hand to rub at them, trying in vain to understand what was going on.

"Code... red?" Dick hummed in affirmation, speaking up again with his voice just as dire as before.

"Bruce found my stash of ice cream bars and I ate the last of the Cocoa Puffs this morning and there aren’t any chips left in the pantry and I saw Babs drinking the last can of Sprite the other night and-"

"Wait.." A tired grin appeared on Wally's face as understanding found him at last. His pal was in a very dire situation indeed. "You're not saying what I think you're saying, are you?"

"I'm out of junk food!" Dick practically shouted at him. Wally pushed himself up off the couch with a groan, letting the blanket fall to the ground as his head pounded from the sudden change in orientation. Making his way to his room, he fumbled around with his costume for just a couple seconds, a quick-change most would call impossible but he would call sluggish, before returning to his phone fully geared up and reluctantly ready for action.

"Fear not my friend," He paused, yawning loudly, "Kid Flash is coming to the rescue."

Dick's relieved smile was audible as he retaliated, "Quit referring to yourself in the third person and get a pen and paper. I have a list."

~•~

For Wally, it would take about twenty minutes to get from Central City to Gotham on a good day with no shopping trip in the middle, but feeling the way he did right now and accounting for the fact that he would have to not only pick up every ridiculous thing Dick had requested but also carry it the rest of the way to his house, he knew he would be lucky if he made it in under an hour. At least he didn't have to worry about what his uncle and aunt would do to him for running off to Dick's in the middle of the night. They were used to it by now and he had left them a note on the coffee table. The three of them had agreed to that after the third time Uncle Barry had gotten a midnight call from Mr. Wayne about whether or not he knew where his nephew was. Truthfully, his sleep addled brain had barely remembered to leave a note at all, he had just grabbed his special speed-resistant duffel bag and scribbled down whatever had come to mind. He could not say how coherent the letter was, but at least it was there.

Had it not been for the impossibility high speed at which he was running he was sure he would have passed out from exhaustion by now. The scenery was not doing much to distract him either, with forests and corn fields flicking past in near total darkness. Every few minutes or so Wally would be shocked awake by the lights and noise of some small town for just a fraction of a second before he zoomed through it and the moon became his sole source of light once again. His mind became a lightspeed chant of 'left foot, right foot, left foot, right foot' as breakneck winds assaulted the bare skin on his face.

Eventually, the fields and forests gave way to suburban gardens, and not long after that Wally was surrounded by flickering streetlights and towering buildings; the Gotham trademark. He had made this journey enough times to recognize the shapes and smells of the city once he reached it. Police sirens sounded somewhere in the distance, which they normally did, as he skidded to a smokey halt outside of some small, ground level convenience store on the outskirts of downtown. It was one of the few places with lights still shining, which Wally was very grateful for as he trudged inside in a lack-of-sleep induced trance.

Dim LEDs flickered above and a glance towards the counter showed him an overworked employee who looked just as worn out as he felt. The lady barely acknowledged the synthetic bell chime that signaled his entrance, too entranced by the cash register to do more than blink when it rang out. The place was dismal and only made him feel impossibly more tired as he trudged up and down the aisles. He hadn’t bothered with writing down Dick’s list. That was a lot of effort and he knew what his buddy liked anyway. It was almost insulting that Dick thought he needed a list after all their years of friendship. Sure his memory could be a bit faulty at times, but he tried and Aunt Iris always said that it didn’t matter how you did as long as you tried.

And try he did, pulling down bags of Fritos, Ruffles, and jelly beans, grabbing handfuls of Twinkies and M&M’s, and finally waddling over to the counter carrying three one-liter bottles of Sprite. The cashier watched him with increasing interest as he continued to pile junk food onto the counter, though he suspected it was because of the speed at which he was flitting around the store. There weren’t any speedsters in Gotham last he checked; it was no wonder she looked so shocked. Too tired to stop and chat with a sure-to-be adoring fan, Wally simply leaned over onto the cold counter, head nested in his elbows and eyes blinking slowly at nothing as the periodic beep of the item scanner began to lull him to sleep. Whether or not he actually fell asleep he never knew, but he lifted his head as a cautious hand tapped his shoulder, shaking strands of pale ginger hair out of his eyes and fixing the young woman with a quizzical gaze.

“Um, your total is forty-four sixty-three.”
Wally mentally groaned at the price, fishing around in his many hidden pockets for the debit card Dick had given him. Or, really, the debit card Mr. Wayne had given him. He had shared the details of his… no so perfect home life with Dick, who had been ready to roundhouse kick his father in the face for refusing to feed him whenever he did something ‘wrong’, and having Mr. Wayne help him with money for food had been an admittedly life-saving compromise. He just hoped there was enough money left on the account to satisfy his friend’s cravings.

After a lighting quick moment of blurred hands and increasingly desperate suit-searching, a sleek, gray card was pulled victoriously from an inside pocket. His hand swiped the card and typed in the PIN number completely independently of his brain, which was running completely on empty. It was very likely that he would remember all of this as a dream and wake up in Dick’s room dazed and confused. At least he would sleep well. Dick’s plush, queen sized mattress was miles better than his uncle’s couch. Nothing against the West-Allen household, it just wasn't a billion dollar mansion. Apparently, he had been staring blankly at the wall because a hand waving in front of his face startled him nearly to the point of falling over.

“Were you planning on taking these?” the woman, Mishti, he finally read off of her name tag, gestured at the bulging plastic bags that sat waiting by the cash register. Mumbling a quiet ‘sorry,’ Wally reached behind himself and dropped his duffel bag on the counter, carefully loading the snacks into it and snarfing down a Snickers bar he felt he was more than entitled to.

“Thanks,” Wally muttered, voice cracking mid-word. Mishti just shrugged.

“No worries, I’m just psyched to have met a superhero,” she said with a happy-tired smile on her face. Wally grinned back, swinging the bag back onto his shoulders. With a low effort salute for an attempt at a dramatic exit, and after almost slipping on a small puddle of slushie near the door, he was off in a streak of yellow. The door was still swinging shut behind him when he caught his first glimpse of Wayne Manor atop its hill at the far end of the richest neighborhood. He was at its gates in moments, wishing he knew how to phase through things already as he scrambled up and over one of the massive concrete pillars that interspersed the black iron of the wall that circled the entire mansion. It wasn’t hard to run up things, of course, but it was very tiring. The rush of energy from the Snickers was all but gone and he still had to make it all the way up to Dick’s third story bedroom. That was going to be a bit of a challenge, running on fumes as he was. He shook his head, blinking hard as he noticed the manor start to blur together with the grounds. He was in the home stretch. He could do this. After locating the bright blue curtains that wafted out through deliberately open windows, he backed up a little, took a deep breath, and bolted.

The world tipped over onto its side for just a moment as Wally vaulted up the rustic brick wall, using the very last of his strength to grab onto the windowsill as he felt himself slipping backward. The ground was where it should be again, but that only meant that he would have something solid to hit on his way down. This was it, he thought to himself, legs dangling uselessly below. This was the end. What a way to go; falling from the window of your best friend’s bedroom in the middle of the night with only a backpack full of snacks to cushion your fall.

“Little help here!” he hissed, keeping his voice down as to not wake anyone up, although it probably wasn’t necessary given the sheer size of the place.

“Coming!” returned an equally quiet voice. A pair of small, chestnut brown hands were suddenly grabbing onto the red gloves of his suit, pulling him to safety. An exhausted grin grew on his face as he clambered through the open window. He had done it. Mission accomplished. All he wanted to do now was get out of this sweaty costume and sleep for the rest of his natural life. He barely took note of Dick’s dumb, not tired at all face as he shrugged the duffel off his shoulders and flopped face first onto the bed before him, sinking into the many layers of plush blankets that covered it. It may have been summer, but that wouldn’t stop Dick Grayson from living life in the cozy lane.

“Well hello to you, too,” Dick said with another audible smile. Why did he always have to be smiling? It was too late to be that level of cheery. Wally rolled over onto his back, pulling the mask of his costume down off his face to rub at his eyes.

"Just take the food you ungrateful jerk," he said with a yawn. Dick was clearly trying, although very poorly, to not giggle at his friend’s grumpy mood.

"Dang, what happened to you?" The click of a closing window accompanied the question, which was a bit of a bummer. The breeze had been nice, but Wally wasn’t about to complain about something so trivial when he was being ruthlessly picked on by the very same dork who had forced him to stay up this late in the first place.

"I woke up in the middle of the night n' ran five thousand miles to get you some Twinkies, that’s what," Wally grumbled, voice slightly muffled by the red gloves he decided to take off with his teeth. He very reluctantly sat up to unzip the rest of his costume, tossing it to the ground next to his gloves and flopping back down onto the bed. The silky texture felt heavenly against his newly exposed skin, and he thanked his past self for just tossing the costume on over a pair of boxers and a t-shirt.

"Not just Twinkies I hope." came the response from the other side of the room. Wally just grunted. It was too late for banter. Dick sighed, and Wally heard the rustling of plastic as the bags of goodies were removed from his duffel.

"Alright, alright. Thanks for doing all this for me." Finally some recognition. Wally grinned faintly into his pillow, yawning deeply as he responded, "Sure thing, bro." He could finally go to sleep now that he had gotten a proper ‘thank you’, and that made him happier than anything else in the world.

"Geez man, why are you so tired? It's not that late." Or his best friend could decide to be a jerk and keep him awake forever. Not bothering to come up with some witty response, Wally just gave him the short version.

"Had a test before that last mission, remember," he mumbled, mouth barely able to form coherent words as his heartbeat began to slow and sleep began to claim him. Dick gasped loudly.

"Oh! Oh Wally I'm so sorry, I forgot about that! Aw geez, and I made you run all that way, you must be exhausted I'm really sorry dude-" His voice was so genuinely distraught that Wally couldn’t help but forgive him, not that he’d tell him that after everything he had just done for him. Loving your friend enough to run to his house in the middle of the night was one thing, but being expected to not hold it over his head for a week was simply asking too much. He had to raise his voice to be heard over Dick’s monologue and nervous pacing, which required far too much effort on his part.

"Apologize later, sleep now." The room was quieted for a moment as Dick seemed torn between wanting to find a proper stop for his train of I’m sorry’s and doing what his overly exhausted friend wanted him to do. It didn’t take him long to come to the right conclusion.

"Alright then I'll just um, I'll just put these downstairs real quick-" A near silent floorboard creak followed his words as he presumably took a step towards the door.

"Morning." came Wally’s muffled reply. Like hell he was going to fall asleep only to be woken up forty-five minutes into his beauty sleep by Dick ‘sneaking’ into bed next to him. Plus, the kid was basically the best stuffed animal in the world, and holding him helped Wally fall asleep. It was one of the many luxuries of sleeping over at Wayne Manor.

"What?" Wally rolled over onto his back to make sure his message would be heard loud and clear, forearm resting over his eyes to protect them from the warm yellow light of Dick’s reading lamp.

"Do it in the morning. Sleep now." He heard Dick snicker quietly but was far beyond caring about what the other boy thought, or really even about his dignity. At this point he would be fine with never seeing his aunt or uncle again if it meant holding his best friend like a teddy bear and sleeping until he died.

"Okay, okay. Grumpy." Dick said with a smile, a lovely tenderness to his voice. There was a cushy thump as he hopped atop the layers of blankets, slowly sinking into place with Wally curled around him, his stomach to the other boy’s back. A warm arm coiled around Dick’s torso, grabbing a handful of his silky pajama shirt and pulling him impossibly closer with a sleepy grunt. Wally’s final thought that night as he lay atop mountains of comforters with his bestest friend wiggling slightly in his grip, was ‘finally’. He had answered the desperate call of a citizen in need and had saved him despite all odds. He could now, finally, fall asleep.