This has probably been the most exhausting day of his entire life. For starters, he woke up at six a.m. after an hour of sleep because he was meeting Bruce at seven to talk about some Batman stuff. After that, he’d planned to go home and sleep a bit, but Jason called and asked if Dick wanted to have lunch with him, and Jason never wanted to have lunch with his brothers, so Dick had to say yes. Then, around four p.m. he went home to finally take a nap, but Roy called to say that Clayface was terrorizing people and the Titans needed him. So Dick went. When Clayface was defeated, Donna suggested going to eat something, and Dick couldn’t say no, because if he said no, then Donna would ask him what was wrong and Dick would have to answer because he couldn’t lie to her.
So he pretended to be lively, happy and no-tired the whole time. But it didn’t end there, no. After that, Wally said that they should see a movie or something at the Tower, and everyone agreed. Dick went, half a zombie already, and stayed awake the whole movie. And then, finally, he fell face-first to his bed at the tower, because he had no energy left in his body, closed his eyes and started to snore.
It was great. The best sleep he’s ever had, except that he only slept for like two hours until he woke up crying.
It’s not the first time that it’s happened, so it’s not a big deal when Dick gasps, waking up in a cold sweat and with tears running down his cheeks. When he remembers where he is, why he’s here, he sighs and closes his eyes. He hugs his knees and resists the urge to sob.
He’s so damn tired of this. It’s been happening for months—he has nightmares, and he always wakes up crying. The worst thing is that he barely remembers what the nightmares are about. He can only recall flashes of red, someone kissing him, caressing his skin, words spoken softly against his ear. They’re not even nightmares, but they sure as hell feel like it.
But it’s not only that—the nightmares feel like something—when he wakes up from them, Dick feels like he’s missing something. Someone. It’s like when you leave your jacket at home but only notice you’ve left it when it’s cold and you really need it. Dick doesn’t know what or who he’s missing, but he needs it and he needs it badly.
Dragging a hand down his face and wiping the tears away, he stands up. He chuckles to himself, because now that he doesn’t have to do anything, now that no one wants him to do anything, he can’t sleep. Maybe he doesn’t want to either, but that’s another thing completely.
He goes to the kitchen to have some water—Dick doesn’t even bother to turn the lights on, and he hears Wally squeal in surprise when he does turn the lights on and notices Dick.
“What,” he begins, a hand against his heart, “are you doing?”
Dick puts the glass aside. “Drinking water.”
He snickers when he notices Wally’s clothes: the shirt’s bright yellow and too small for him, doesn’t even cover his stomach, and he’s wearing sweatpants with blue and white stripes.
Wally rolls his eyes. “I mean, what are you doing here in the dark? I know Batman was your mentor and all that, but this is just creepy.”
Dick shrugs and drinks what’s left in the glass. Wally, on the other hand, comes closer to get water too, but stops looking for a glass when he notices Dick’s eyes. “Dude,” he says, his voice calm and soft and worried. “Are you okay?”
“Yeah,” Dick says, though it sounds like a no. He feels tears prickling in his eyes again for whatever reason, and he remembers his nightmares again—red flashes, kisses on his neck, laughs—and he has to lean on the countertop because he can’t take it.
“Whoa!” Wally catches him when Dick crumbles, and god, this is embarrassing. But it’s also comforting, and Dick doesn’t know how to take that. “What’s wrong? Dick?”
“You’re crying,” Wally deadpans, and Dick laughs, but it’s sour and mixed with sobs and this is awful. He shakes his head, thinking of something to say, but before he can open his mouth Wally says, “C’mon, let’s go to my room.”
Dick feels his cheeks burning, and he hates it. “Wally, I’m fine. I just—”
“La, la, la, I can’t hear you,” he singsongs, taking Dick to his room.
Dick closes his eyes and lets Wally lead him, and he thinks about his nightmares. They started a couple months ago, out of the blue—when Wally came back from the Speedforce, when Dick remembered his best friend, the nightmares stopped for a while. He could sleep whole nights without waking up crying, and Dick thought that he wasn’t going to get nightmares anymore… until now.
He hears sobs, but he doesn’t want to admit they are his, and goddammit. He feels Wally’s hands against his hips, over his shirt, and that’s the only thing he can think about until they get to Wally’s room and his hands disappear. Wally’s cheeks are flushed, but maybe that’s only because he carried Dick all the way here. Maybe.
Dick sits on the bed, rubs his eyes with his hands and waits for Wally to say something.
“So,” Wally mumbles, and he looks kinda nervous. “What’s wrong with you?”
“The usual,” Dick says, flashing a smile, trying to look as charming as ever, because if there’s one thing he doesn’t like to talk about, it’s his feelings. He can make Damian or Tim or even Jason tell him everything, but he wouldn’t do the same. How ironic. Wally raises an eyebrow. “I’m stressed?”
Wally shakes his head. “You don’t cry when you’re stressed. Come on!” He comes closer and sits right next to Dick, his arms and legs touching. Wally’s ridiculous shirt is making Dick nervous. “We’ve been friends for a long, long time.” He leans closer; Dick knows he’s blushing. “I’ve seen you naked.”
“Okay,” Dick squeals, getting up. Wally’s grinning. “Okay.”
The other day he was scrolling down the album on his phone, looking for pictures of Wally and him, because ever since Wally came back, photos of him, of the two of them, started appearing on his phone. And he was looking for a photo that proved something Dick had been thinking about when Donna entered his room without knocking. Dick tried to hide his phone, but she was an Amazon and she was fast and she caught a glimpse of a photo in which Wally was kissing Dick’s cheek.
“Ohh,” she cooed, lying in the bed with Dick. “So, you and Wally?”
“No,” Dick had blurted out, blushing. He was blushing a little bit too much every time someone mentioned Wally, and it was straight up killing him. “I was just, um, looking for—”
Donna laughed. “You don’t have to say anything if you don’t want to,” she said, nudging him. She caught the phone from Dick’s hand, looked at the picture. “It’s cute,” she mumbled, smiling. Dick smiled too. “You think you two—”
“I don’t know,” Dick said. And that’s the point, he doesn’t know and he doesn’t know how to ask either and he doesn’t even know how he feels about it.
Wally’s still looking at him, his eyes burning holes in Dick. If only he could ask, just three words. If only he had the strength. But he’s scared of the answer, he’s scared that if Wally says yes things are going to change, but if he says no Dick’s going to be devastated.
He looks at Wally, biting his lower lip. Why can’t he remember? Wally said years were snatched from them, that they didn’t only forget Wally, but a whole lifetime, a lifetime that only Wally remembers. Dick looks at the freckles on his face, his blue eyes, his red hair.
He recalls his nightmares, flashes of the brightest red, a mouth against his own, I love you’s whispered in the dark, and Dick’s too afraid to ask. Because he knows. He knows that he likes Wally, perhaps a bit too much, but what if Wally doesn’t like him? What if his dreams are not memories, but only dreams? What if he wants him so bad his brain has started to make things up? What if what if what if.
“I’m—” Wally begins, but Dick interrupts him: “I’ve been thinking about someone.”
Wally opens his eyes really big, as if he just heard something he didn’t want to. “Oh?”
“There’s—there’s someone I can’t stop thinking about.” Dick fidgets with his own fingers, can’t even look at Wally in the eye. “I don’t know who that is, though. I… I don’t know who I’m thinking about, but I know they are important. I mean, it’s… sad.”
Wally looks dumbfounded, but Dick doesn’t stop rambling. He knows, if he keeps this to himself any longer, it’s going to destroy him in some way. “You said… you said years have been taken away from us, right? That’s why we didn’t remember you. That’s why you didn’t appear in any photos until you came back, right?” Wally nods. “And you are the only one who remembers anything at all about those years?”
“Yeah,” he says, scratching the back of his neck. “I mean, I think so. Why are you asking this?”
“Maybe you remember who I can’t stop thinking about,” Dick mutters, sitting on the bed again. “Maybe you… know who is it I have on my mind all the time.”
Before, Wally looked ready to go out and start a race against Superman. Now, he looks… sad. Like he knows something he doesn’t want to tell Dick. Dick feels like he’s about to cry again, or maybe it’s just that he’s nervous. It’s killing him, not knowing, but he can’t bring himself to speak the words.
“You… I…” Wally looks like he’s about to be sick. “I dunno,” he finally says. Dick’s spirits fall. “You didn’t tell me, if you were with someone. I’m sorry, Dick. I don’t know.”
“Wally,” Dick chokes, closes his eyes. He covers his face with his hands and feels Wally’s fingers on his shoulder, trying to guess what’s wrong. And Dick wants to ask, wants to ask so badly he thinks he’s going to burst into tears again. Are you the one I dream about every night? Are you the one I whisper I love you? Are you the one I can’t remember loving? His chest is heavy and he can’t breathe and in a second, in the lowest voice ever, Dick asks, “Were we together?”
“No,” Wally says. His hand disappears from Dick’s shoulder, and he gets up from the bed, walks away. “We weren’t. I—I don’t know what you’re going through, but we weren’t together. We’ve—we’ve always been just friends.”
There are always flashes of red, hands touching his skin, brushing against all his scars. Dick’s always saying how badly he wants to kiss every single freckle on their skin, and they laugh, challenge him to do so, and Dick starts to kiss their face, neck, collarbone and down down down. There are always flashes of red, and then they whisper that they don’t want to wake up, that they don’t want to stop, not now, not ever. And Dick kisses them and they both laugh and it’s the happiest he’s ever been, and he thought it was Wally, he thought it was Wally all along, that it was a memory, that it was flashbacks from a time he can’t remember.
“I’m sorry,” Wally mumbles. “I think you should get some sleep, buddy.”
“Yeah.” He tries very hard not to cry, at least not until he’s alone in his bedroom, not until Wally’s not there. “You’re right.”
So he gets up. Dick can’t even look at Wally, and he can’t hold the tears anymore when Donna gets out of her room, asks what’s wrong.
He can’t see it when Wally starts crying either.