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I’d go to hell and back with you

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Bow, quiver, cap, goggles – every item goes in a set order, for efficiency's sake, but Wally interrupts the process before he even gets the arm guards off. It's a dance they've perfected years ago, even if the space they're performing it in is new, even if Roy has forgotten the melody of said dance; he finds its rhythm easily enough, like his hand finds the arrow he needs without conscious direction, and each step brings him closer not only to Wally's room in the Tower, but to the lost memories Wally's helping him uncover.

They kiss until Wally's back melds against the door, made pliable by Roy's hands brushing his ribs, his backside, his shoulders, anything to convince himself that Wally is solid, that he's real, that he's back.

He remembers Wally's sheepish look and the protective hand on the door handle the first few times he excused himself for the moment it took to tidy up his room; he remembers leaving a trail of clothing, his Speedy outfit dotting the floor where Wally's Kid Flash uniform lay discarded like a crumpled skin; he remembers eating pizza in bed, squabbling over the slices because Wally barely left a bite for Roy, so Roy sucked them straight from Wally's fingers, which shut him up even though it was Roy whose mouth was full. Later, when he joked how they could pass off all the stains as grease, a blush crept over Wally's freckles as brilliantly red as the suit he's wearing now.

Or was wearing just a moment ago. It simply unraveled.

Not that Roy dwells on that. They've spent quite some time battling new metas and then a little more time bickering about it afterwards that Roy has no patience for anything but taking Wally apart with his tongue.

Wally's kisses tingle on his lips and his touch is electrifying, recharging his tired limbs like a battery. He may not have access to the Speedforce but he's still quick to discard his armor so he can sink into Wally's arms without a barrier between them. A physical one, that is. The timeline that Wally remembers but Roy doesn't separates them enough, makes them strangers to each other.

Strangers reacquainting themselves with something familiar among the unfamiliar. Wally's clouded smile may be new to him, but his freckles are still as familiar as the constellations in the sky.

He remembers attempting to count them, kissing and naming each his favorite in turn, remembers losing track and starting over, remembers giving up and mapping the places that made Wally's breath hitch instead, that made him lean in or jerk away, that made him burst into helpless laughter. It used to be so bright and blinding that it affected Roy even when he was at his angriest. He used to envy him that sunshine smile, the ease of it. No one should be that happy, he used to think. But they should. Now, remembering that smile, he just wants it back.

He wants Wally to smile like he did when he marveled at the scars he claimed marked Roy a hero, eager to hear their story. They may have started out like that, with Roy distracting Wally before he ever got to the trackmarks.

"That's gonna leave a nasty scar," he said with a grin when Roy was cleaning his latest wound he got courtesy of an Atlantean blade. Garth helped disinfect it and told him to apply a special poultice he'd mixed whenever he changed the bandages.

Roy rolled his eyes at Wally who was buzzing around the med bay like a fly that's too fast to be swatted at, even though he should be resting. "How's your leg?" he asked.

"Already healed." He beamed some more while at the same time intently watching what Roy was doing.

"You mind?" Roy asked and meant it like "Piss off" but Wally understood it as a request for help and wrapped Roy's chest in a few layers of gauze before Roy could open his mouth to correct him.

"That's quite an assortment you got there," Wally said, tapping a raised scar on Roy's bicep. "You know, I probably shouldn't say that, but I'm a little envious. You have, like, real souvenirs of the battles you fought. Something to remember them by."

Roy frowned at him, imbuing his features with as much "you've gotta be kidding me" as he could muster.

Wally shrugged. "I heal too quickly for any lasting marks."

"The tragedy," Roy deadpans, then rolls his shoulders. "These scars remind me I wasn't good enough to avoid them."

"I'm sure you've taken some for others just as much the way you're always jumping in front of civilians. Take this one for example," he pointed to a gunshot wound he got from a mob boss back in Star City where he had indeed saved the boss' own nephew from getting shot. "That looks like something you'd remember. Wanna tell me about it?"

Despite himself, Roy did and continued to do so, however reluctantly, with every new mark Wally sought out.

"I'm sure you got that one shaving." He tapped a thin line that graced Roy's jaw.

"That was Green Arrow testing my reflexes."

"No way! He'd do that?"

But when Wally lifted Roy's left arm to inspect it, Roy just reacted. He could have slapped Wally's hand away and stormed away with or without thanking him for wrapping his chest, but that might have raised suspicions, so instead he interlaced their fingers and pulled Wally down for a kiss.

Roy hadn't actively thought about it until it was happening, but when it did, it was almost hilarious. Every bit of movement drained out of Wally as the color in his cheeks rose to match the shade of his hair. Then he stammered, "Oh, I-I-I didn't—"

"I did," Roy said and kissed him again for good measure.

Shame accompanies that memory, shame he doesn't want back in his life. He's not proud of the way he treated Wally in the beginning, kissing him before he could ask more questions, because he was sweet, because he was innocent, because Roy wanted that innocence for himself.

At first.

Later, he wanted to preserve it. When he realized that not everything they were piecing together was built on lies and deception. Or self-deception in his case, because he didn't want to acknowledge that he may have started liking Wally, that he liked being the center of his attention and that he kissed him simply because he wanted to.

Later, he kept the secret of his drug addiction from Wally not because he was ashamed of it – which he still was – but because Wally was better off not knowing about that part of Roy's life.

Turned out he needn't have bothered. Roy was about to break it off with Wally because he felt selfish for keeping this going when he wasn't being open. He felt like corrupting Wally's purity simply by being who he was.

But Wally stopped him.

"I guess I know what this is about," he fidgeted. And trust Roy when he says you don't want to see a Flash fidget. Makes you nervous just to be in the same room with them. More than usual. "I'm not stupid. Or maybe, I guess I am. For taking so long to bring it up. Thing is, I've noticed my curiosity about your scars is bothering you. I'm sorry I keep pushing you to tell me about them. I think they're cool, partly because I don't have any myself to show off proudly and say, 'here, look! I got this when I was saving the day with my friends!' but you obviously don't think of them that way. So, uh, I'm super sorry for being so inconsiderate and making you feel that way can you please give me another chance?"

Roy stood there in the middle of Wally's room, ready to unspool the speech he'd prepared, already feeling judged by the posters of the Flash on the wall, but Wally's own monologue had left him dumb-founded. He almost wanted to punch him for taking the blame on his own shoulders. "That's not it at all," was all he managed.

"But I think it is," Wally said, fidgeting some more. "You see, I only ever saw my own fascination with physical marks that serve as a reminder of all the things you survived. I never once stopped to consider that there are things you may not want to remember." Here Wally averted his gaze and tapped the crook of his elbow. Dread slowly filtered through the muteness Roy was experiencing. "I'm not blind, Roy. And I'm not dumb, either. I know what those are."

Now it was Roy's turn to avert his eyes. "Wally, stop. I don't want to talk about it."

"No, please, let me finish." Wally had closed the gap between them in an instant, and was imploring Roy to look at him again. Roy was trying to remain steadfast, but he didn't know anyone strong-willed enough who could resist Wally's pretty green eyes when he was doing his lost puppy impression. "I swear I'm not judging you. But perhaps I misjudged something. Because you know what this means to me?" He squeezed Roy's elbow as if meaning to turn his trackmarks up to the light but Roy kept his arms firmly crossed. He could still do that much at least. "They're scars – healed wounds, not fresh ones. It's a reminder of the past, sure, but a past you overcame. They're the marks of a survivor. Proof that you're still alive and stronger for it."

Roy clicked his tongue. He was annoyed at how much positive energy could be in such a small person. "Wally. I don't... it's very sweet that you think that way, but there's one thing you don't understand: I am a drug addict. There's no such thing for me as a past I've overcome. The struggle is still part of me and will likely always be. That's why I don't want us to be together anymore. You deserve better than that. Better than me."

"Don't I get a say? Come on, man, I don't wanna hear you put yourself down anymore. And I don't want to hear of you wanting to leave again either, are we clear? I mean," here he grinned and pointed his thumb at himself, "I'm the fastest boy alive. You can't outrun me."

The memories that rush to fill in the gaps in his head fill him with the same sense of overwhelming gratitude as he felt back then. But same as back then, he also feels undeserving of it. He hasn't been sober for a long time; he's been drinking to remember all the things he's been missing without Wally in his life.

They might have been strangers when Wally was first pulled back from the Speedforce, but the longer he's around, the more Roy remembers about the time they spent together, even if it feels like a dream Roy once had and not a life he once lived.

They'll get to the bottom of who is behind the missing years together, but what matters now is that Wally's here, that he grounds Roy and that Roy wants to return the favor. He doesn't want Wally to disappear again.

It's reassuring to press against him, almost forehead to forehead, to bask in his warmth and to feel his heartbeat beneath his palms or his breath against his cheek, to hear him pant "faster, please Roy, faster" and to feel his fingers grab for purchase on his back.

It's reassuring to lie beside him after, hot breath against damp skin, and to feel his thumb brush over the pale lines that were little nicks and sutured gashes before they closed.

"You've got some new scars I don't know about yet," Wally murmurs, and Roy can hear the smile in his voice. "Wanna tell me about them?"

"If you let me count your freckles to make sure they're all still there," Roy mutters back, soothed to the brink of sleep by Wally's featherlight touches.

Wally laughs for the first time in what seems like forever, a tired but affectionate laugh. "Deal."

Roy feels accomplished even before he picks a place to begin.