Lilith didn’t attend either of the funerals. There were too many people. Being around people meant thoughts and emotions, and she wasn’t sure which was worse: the people whose grief filled the room and slowly seeped into her or swept her up like floodwaters, or the people who didn’t care, their incessant, insensitive thoughts chattering at her.
Perhaps it was selfish, but she liked to think Roy and Wally would want her to honor them in a way that felt natural.
So she went to the Central City memorial days later, a little before dawn. It was a life-size statue of him, placed on a platform half her height. Upon it was engraved “The Flash,” and below it in smaller letters, “Wallace Rudolph West.” She glanced up at the statue’s face, which impassively stared off into the distance as if keeping watch, so unlike she’d known Wally in life. And she remembered.
She remembered him. How he sat in the Titans tower bar with a cup of coffee every morning, his red hair covering his eyes. How he was a sleek runner, all his limbs in line, but elsewhere would often sprawl out over couches or counters or his teammates. How delighted he was to be reunited with them all, how desperate he was for everything to be as it was, or as close as it could be. How he risked his life to save them again and again, how he looked “impossible” in the face and ran straight toward it. How furious he was with himself when he blew his chance with Linda, his memories of her bleeding through the kitchen, memories of dates and marriage, of children loved and lost and saved and lost again, of promises and hopes and dreams. The balance of joy and sadness he carried with him always, a bittersweetness that touched everything he did.
She remembered what he shared with her, the memories of battles won and lost, friends and enemies and those who were both, a parade of the mundane and the fantastic and what they could no longer distinguish between. Some stood out to Lilith, too frequent or too relevant to ignore. His memories of Linda, painted in emotion, a wordless poetry. His memories of Donna, well-worn and carefully examined, an underlying anxiety to many of them that clearly wasn’t there when they first formed. His memories of the Titans, tying together years of his life.
She remembered, in a kaleidoscopic jumble, more than that. Memories that were her own, and his, and both of theirs, memories of stolen kisses and haunted houses, of childish pranks and drug-filled balloons, of awkward flirtation and the smoothest dance moves of...her brain told her the swingin’ sixties, but that couldn’t be right...
Lilith heard a noise behind her and whirled around. The blue light of the pre-dawn sky bounced off of the newcomer’s armor, and Lilith knew immediately that it was Donna, come to pay her own respects.
The amazon walked quickly toward her and the memorial, her black hair blown back from her face by the wind. She froze several feet from Lilith, her face tilted up to the statue above them.
“It’s a good likeness,” Donna said finally.
“I suppose,” Lilith said.
Donna peered at her, and Lilith knew she was about to ask her to elaborate, so she beat her to it.
“It’s not him. It might look like him, factually, like his nose and his eyes and his cheekbones. But the expression isn’t his.”
Donna nodded, her gaze flicking back to the statue. “People want to remember him this way.”
Lilith nodded. She considered saying more, telling Donna that the likeness disturbed her in a deeper way than expression, how it didn’t feel right to slap Wally’s title and face on a hunk of rock, a piece of stone that would never feel anything, because Wally felt so much for so many people, and if they wanted to remember him as a hero then they should have remembered him compassionate, determined, not unbreakable but too stubborn to give up, not this saintly image.
But that meant ranting to a recently-re-found friend about how statues, as a general rule, made terrible people, and she couldn’t find the words to explain why that bothered her so much.
“We died.” Lilith said instead without preamble. She could practically see Donna’s brow furrowing behind her as the amazon stepped closer.
“What do you mean?”
“Before. We—Wally and I—you know we spent time together working on figuring things out. It came up pretty early.” She shrugged. “We decided it wasn’t relevant to everyone else.”
“How’d it happen?” Donna’s voice was curious, casual, as if asking about the weather. Lilith supposed she’d learned to be cavalier about her own death. After all, it might as well have been another universe, much as Wally tried to recreate it.
“There was a rogue Superman robot. I died first. Then you.”
There was a big funeral for Donna. Not for Lilith. Wally had apologized for that once they emerged from his mind, shifting awkwardly in his chair. She’d waved a hand and assured him it was fine. She wasn’t close to many people, and she hated the thought of her funeral being filled to the brim with more.
“Maybe someday they’ll stand in front of our memorial,” Donna said, “having this conversation.”
Lilith fought down the urge to laugh at the absurdity of it all. “Maybe.”
Donna looked up at the statue again. “Where are you going after this?”
“I have an appointment at 9,” Lilith said. “I reopened my practice, since everything happened. I think...I can do more at my practice, for now at least.” She squeezed her eyes shut. “People need what I do. They always have, and now, with what just happened… people need somewhere safe to be vulnerable. And I can help.”
Donna placed a hand on her shoulder. “Thank you.”
Donna slowly moved closer, and Lilith could hear the unspoken ”can I hug you?”. Lilith reached out and wrapped her arms around the larger woman in answer, squeezing just-the-right-amount and feeling the tension slowly leave Donna’s muscles.
“For helping Roy,” Donna said quietly to the top of Lilith’s head. “For helping all of us. You were there when we were a huge mess, and when I think about what might have happened if you weren’t… I might’ve missed my last months with them. And now you’re going to help more people, and they would’ve loved that. Because they tried to get help and someone turned that against them, but you’ll stop that from happening to more people. And they would’ve loved that.” Donna sniffed, and Lilith felt a wet drop fall onto her scalp. “They would’ve loved that, Lilith.”
Lilith felt the first pricks of tears growing behind her eyes and blinked hard. She let go of Donna and checked her watch. “I should go.”
Donna nodded. “Me too.” She patted Lilith on the shoulder one final time. “Take care of yourself.”
“You too,” Lilith said. She turned and walked away, stepping into her car as the first light of morning crossed the statue’s face.