Wally's return to consciousness was nothing like the way it was depicted in the movies. He didn't wake with a gasp, or sit up in a dramatic rush.
Instead it came to him in bursts, one at a time. The weight of his limbs, the steady beep of the machines, the sound of people talking over him.
"-know who this is?"
"I know who he looks like. But he's dead."
"We should contact the league."
"No, not until we know for sure it's him."
The last voice struck a familiar chord with Wally, strong enough to make him try and open his eyes.
It didn't work at first, his lashes sticking together and fighting him.
His breathing must have changed because the voices around him fell silent.
He huffed, and with one more try opened his eyes-
-only to flinch back from the blinding lights.
"Dim the lights." one of them exclaimed and he felt a rush of gratitude for it. Someone in the room could read nonverbal signals, or at least had been in his position before. Knowing the company he kept, it was probably both.
This time when he opened his eyes it wasn't as painful. A paper cut in comparison to an knife wound. And yes, even when in a hospital bed, freshly woken up, he had a tendency for the dramatic. A figure moved from the periphery of the room to stand beside his bed, leaning over him.
She tucked her loose blonde hair behind her ear, before it could dangle in his face.
"Hey Wally." She said, her voice low enough that only he could hear.
He blinked up at her, the recognition coming slowly.
Artemis' face was pinched, the triumphant 'we won, you're alive!' smile he'd expected missing from her face.
There was something else off about her face, but he couldn't quite put his finger on it.
She ignored the question in his greeting. Instead moving to lift the bed into a reclining position so he could see everyone else in the room.
Taking the cue he looked around, relieved to see familiar faces.
To his left stood Tim, Dick's little Timmy, only he wasn't so little anymore and he wasn't wearing the Robin uniform. Or at least not one Wally recognized. He was wearing red and black, with a double R crest. Instead there was a shorter, mini-bat, wearing the costume more recognizable as Robin. His scowl was all Bruce.
With a foreboding feeling he continued his survey of the room, pausing on the familiar faces at the foot of his bed.
Conner looked basically the same (and honestly did he age?) but the way he had his arm around M'gann threw him. Weren't they broken up? And not on good terms about it?
And speaking of M'gann her hair was longer. Not as long as when she first joined the team, but longer than the pixie style he remembered. It brushed her shoulders, swinging with every movement she made.
It suited her the teenage boy who would always have a small crush on her noted, as she gave him a tentative smile.
Kaldur and Dick were the only members of the original team missing.
Missing teammates, teammates who had different hairstyles, whose faces seemed to have aged, whose dynamics had shifted overnight…
His scientific mind didn't take long to put together the pieces, especially as his fuzzy memories began to solidify in his mind.
"How long was I gone?"
"5 years." Conner was the one who answered, still the one who knew when it was best to be blunt. When dancing around the issue did more harm than good.
Wally squeezed his eyes shut. 5 years? So much could change in that time.
5 years. They were all 5 years older, whereas he was still the same age. Physically at least, his mind… had been somewhat aware of those 5 years.
It was a strange thought, even Dick, the youngest of their team was technically older than him now.
"Where's Dick?" he asked, opening his eyes when no answered. Just in time to catch them all looking shifty.
Artemis reached down to grasp his hand, "Things are different now Wally."
He tried to laugh it off, but a feeling of unease crept over him. "Of course they are, I know how time works."
She looked away, her forehead creasing out of frustration.
Just then the door whooshed open and Wally looked up, deflating when it was just Kaldur.
Where was Dick? Why wasn't here?
Artemis glanced over her shoulder at him, and smiled, genuinely smiled, for the first time since he'd woken up.
Kaldur smiled back at her before sobering as his gaze found Wally. His first smile was one Wally had only seen on the other's face in regards to one woman. And she was long dead.
The penny dropped.
"Oh," Wally breathed, looking at Artemis.
Kaldur moved over, laying a hand on her shoulder.
"After I lost you, we had a lot in common." Artemis said, her left hand, the hand not holding his, moving up to cover Kaldur's.
There was a gold band on her ring finger.
Like his legs, his mind could move fast, jumping from point A to point B quicker than most people gave him credit for.
He rolled his neck, craning to catch Artemis' eyes. "Do you remember the conversation we had on our 2 year anniversary?"
In a rare show of emotion her bottom lip trembled as she jerked her head in a nod.
"Just because I'm not dead anymore, doesn't cancel out that I wanted you to move on. Be happy." He dug deep and was able to give her a genuine smile, "I'm happy for you."
A tear slipped down her cheek and she leaned over to peck him on the lips, murmuring against them a heartfelt, "Thank you."
When she pulled back Kaldur nodded at him, guiding Artemis away from the bed where he enclosed her in his arms.
Feeling awkward now, he turned his gaze back to M'gann, Conner and the bat-kids still lurking in the corner. A safer group to focus on at the moment.
"What happened while I was gone?"
"Not yet." Tim broke in before anyone could answer, and Wally blinked at the authority lacing his tone. He sounded so much like Dick in that moment, so much like Batman.
Wally frowned and Tim sent him a placid look in response. "We need to make sure you're our Wally first. M'gann?"
His old Martian teammate stepped away from Conner, nodding.
"Do you mind Wally?" she asked.
He blinked in surprise. The M'gann he remembered had stopped asking permission after years of linking their minds during missions. He shot Conner a surreptitious look, suspecting his influence in the change.
Her eyes flashed and he met her gaze, the familiar warmth of her shuffling through his mind making him grin. He knew that probably wasn't the healthiest reaction to have when someone rifled through his mind, but he could only associate it with the best of times. Especially after 5 years with no contact. Mental or otherwise.
He now understood why people in solitary had a tendency to go crazy.
M'gann's eyes returned to their normal color and her expression brightened considerably.
"He is our Wally."
He couldn't but feel a rush of fondness for his old friend. Even after almost ten years on Earth she still hadn't lost her awkward phrasing. Most people would have just said, ' He's Wally' or 'It's him'.
Not, 'He is our Wally.'
With her seal of approval Conner stepped closer, crossing his arms over the chest. Presumably to begin telling him what had changed while he was gone.
But Wally couldn't ignore the glaring absence any longer. He was too impatient to wait for them to get around to it in their own time.
"Start with Dick? Why isn't he here? Does he know I'm alive? Does the league?" he shot off the questions rapid fire. Just shy of speaking at speeds they would have no chance of understanding.
The league couldn't know, right? His Uncle Barry would have been here already, likely with Aunt Iris, smothering him. Speaking of, where was Bart? And Roy? All the league members who had become a second family over the years?
"Those are hard questions." Kaldur tried to temporize as he and Artemis composed themselves and rejoined the group.
Wally refused to back down, "Where. Is. Dick."
"We don't know." Conner said with a growl, kicking the leg of Wally's hospital bed, not hard enough to really jostle him. But enough to get the point across. "No one save the league knows. Even then, it's likely just a few of them."
His former team all nodded, but his attention had moved to focus on the bats.
Tim had shifted just slightly to the left while his small shadow made a 'tch' sound.
Wally logged that away for later. He'd grown up with Dick, and spent a decent amount of his formative years with Bruce. All the bat family, as he referred to them in his mind, were similar in their mannerisms. If you figured out one of them, you had a cheat sheet to figure out the rest.
He liked to compare it to how knowing American English gave you a fair chance of figuring out British English. It wasn't a perfect system but it gave him an edge over most people.
It wasn't 100% accurate, but once he added the context of the situation Wally had about an 80% accuracy rating in reading them.
His ability to read Dick, gave him the ability to sort of read his entire family.
Which was how he knew that these two knew something about Dick the others didn't. But he'd come back to that.
"How did that happen?" he demanded, turning his gaze back to his old team who had drifted closer together. Out of solidarity, he guessed.
"Dick… he didn't take losing you well." M'gann started, her words carefully chosen and enunciated.
Something cold and wary licked down his spine.
"He blamed himself." Artemis picked up the tale, her mouth twisting, "He wasn't the only one."
It was unclear whether she meant that he wasn't the only one to blame themselves, or that he wasn't the only one that blamed him.
Wally opened his mouth to argue but she waved him off. That was a subject for later.
"He quit Wally."
The words didn't register, didn't make sense, didn't compute. "He what?"
Being a vigilante, wearing a mask, had been Dick's life. Wally had never imagined a world where he gave that up.
Wally retiring was one thing, but Dick? Who, even when he decided he didn't want to be Batman, had still never considered giving up his mask?
The equation didn't add up. He was missing a variable, an x-value that would make this make sense when he found it out.
"Just the team or...?"
"The team. The League. All of it. Wally, he quit being Nightwing." Conner said while dodging the swat Artemis aimed at him.
Wally could feel his jaw go slack, he knew that must mean he had a stupid look on his face. But he didn't much care at the moment.
"It only lasted around a year," M'gann said, almost tripping over her tongue in her haste to add it on. As if that made it better.
Wally leaned back, head spinning. Only a year? That was a lifetime in their line of work. He couldn’t imagine Dick spending a year as a civilian and not going stir crazy.
"What brought him back?"
Tim rolled his shoulders as he answered, "It's not what, it's who."
Wally couldn't help but glare at the dodge. If he didn't know better he'd think they were dragging this out on purpose. As some perverse revenge.
Ignoring the look Tim continued at his own pace, "Dick came back, but not as Nightwing. He picked up the cowl. He became Batman, took on this one." He indicated mini-Robin.
That... That Wally hadn't seen coming. He could only imagine one scenario where Dick would pick up the cowl. The mantle he'd spent half his life wanting and the other half running away from.
"Does that mean what I think it does?"
"If you mean, was Bruce dead? Sort of." Tim said, his expression pinching into a scowl. "Or rather, he let us think he was dead for about a year."
He knew Bruce could go to exaggerated lengths to achieve a goal, had seen him do what no other sane person would, but faking his death? Letting his family believe he was dead to the point of Dick taking up the mantle? That was a bit much even for him.
"And then Jason popped back up." Tim had continued while Wally was still struggling with Bruce posing as dead.
Once his words registered his head snapped around, "Wait, what?"
The room shifted, all of them frowning at the memories the story brought to mind.
"He, at least, was actually dead. The method used to bring him back... Left him a bit messed up. He and Dick almost burned Gotham to the ground fighting it out. Bruce rose from the 'dead' just in time to put a stop to it." Artemis piped in.
She'd had to watch from the sidelines as her former friend tore apart the city she'd come to think of as her own.
Wally couldn't help but snort in disbelief at the last part. They'd almost destroyed a city and Bruce had been the mitigating factor?
"How'd he manage that?"
"Even I don't know." Tim said, wincing as if the admission hurt his integrity. "The three of them fought for a bit and then disappeared for a week."
Beside him the mini Robin crossed his arms, leading Wally to believe he didn't know either. And was equally unhappy about it.
"When they reappeared things were... Almost back to normal. Or at least they were all back to pretending everything was normal. As normal as it can get when Jason is off the reservation as Red Hood anyway."
That made Wally smirk. All the bats, but most especially Bruce and Dick, were good at acting like nothing was wrong. Jason on the other hand... But that wasn't what bothered him.
"So if Bruce and Jason were both back, why didn't Dick return to the team?"
Kaldur took a turn answering, shrugging as he spoke.
"We don't know. While he did return to being Nightwing, he kept his place in the league's inner circle. Only they know where he is at any given time."
"Every now and then we'll see him during a mission, if it's big enough to warrant everyone." M'gann said, trying to keep some positivity in the discussion.
Wally wasn't buying it.
"And you guys just let him?" He demanded, waving his hand to encompass the team. "No questions, no interventions, no trying to drag him back? "
He found their lack of action hard to believe. When he and Artemis had first wanted to retire there had been many discussions and sit-down talks about it. Most of them spearheaded by Dick.
The team shifted guiltily.
"We didn't think he wanted us to. We thought he'd come back in his own time." Kaldur spoke for them.
Wally choked down the anger, the indignation, their answer caused. Now wasn't the time.
"But he didn't."
"But he didn't." Conner affirmed.
The confirmation drove his attention back to the bats, if he thought about the team abandoning Dick… about the team not chasing after him with the same vigor he'd have chased them with if the situation was reversed… he'd lose it.
"Okay then. Robins," He addressed both of them, "I don't buy that you don't know how to contact him. Dick might quit a lot of things, but he would never quit being a big brother."
Tim opened his mouth but his shadow beat him to it, "Even if that were true, why would we contact Grayson for you?"
With a sigh Tom elbowed him into silence.
"It's not that I don't tell want to tell him Wally." He started, the rest of the team turning accusing eyes on them. Clearly they'd taken them at their word when they'd said they were just as in the dark as the rest of them.
"But you just heard what the last 5 years have been like for him. And that was just the broad strokes. I don't know how he'll handle another of his loved ones returning from the dead."
Wally was silent. He couldn't disagree with that. But.
But. If it were him, if he were in Dick's shoes, he'd still want to know.
Little Robin growled.
Tim ignored him, eyeing Wally, looking for something. Wally tried not to shift or break eye contact. Whatever Tim was searching for, he must have found, because he nodded.
"On one condition. The rest of them team leaves before he gets here. Whatever reaction he has, he won't want an audience."
Wally looked to his old team, daring them with his eyes to argue.
Kaldur took a second to assess the others, "If you call and actually get a hold of him, we'll go."
Tim thought about it, and agreed. "Fine."
Pulling out his phone he hit speed dial one.
His volume was up loud enough that even those with average hearing in the room could hear it ring without speakerphone being on.
"Tim?" Dick picked up and the sound of his voice began to unravel the knot in Wally's chest. His voice was older, rougher than Wally remembered. But still his friend. "What's wrong?"
"I need you to come to the mountain." Tim replied, the only sign of his nerves a slight tick in his eyebrow.
There was a loud noise on Dick's end of the line. An explosion maybe.
It was followed by a pause and when Dick answered his voice was noticeably out of breath, "What happened. Are you or baby bird injured?"
The little Robin (Baby bird? A nickname? Dick was fond of those) shifted, looking as if he wanted to take the phone and assure Dick he was fine. Only to fall back and cross his arms petulantly at the last second. Wally filed the observation away for later. He'd been doing that a lot since he woke up. There was too much to process all at once, even for him.
Before Tim could come up with a reason, or even tell the truth, Wally decided to cut to the heart of it.
"Get your butt over here Rob." he yelled, loud enough he knew Dick could hear him clearly over the line.
Immediately after there was a crashing sound on the other end.
"KF?" Dick asked, his voice much quieter than before with a hint of hesitance.
Tim wordlessly offered him the phone.
Wally took it with a grateful nod. "It's me Robbie. Got M'gann's seal of approval and everything. So hurry home."
Dick started to answer only to be interrupted by what sounded like gunfire.
Having to listen to that, with no way to help or to know what going on, had Wally's grip on the phone tightening until his knuckles were white.
"I'm kinda in the middle of something," Dick said. His words were almost fast enough to match a speedsters, "but I'll get there as soon as I can."
Wally just managed to say "be safe," before the line went dead.
Pursing his lips he took a moment to compose himself before handing the phone back to Tim.
"Alright," Wally turned to Kaldur, "scram. You guys can visit again after I talk to Dick."
For a moment it looked like they were going to protest. One glare from Tim (and little Robin who had a surprisingly fearsome scowl) had them shuffling out the door with nary a backwards glance.
Little Robin nodded, satisfied. "I'll guard the door."
That just left Wally and Tim in the room, the younger of whom moving to sit beside him.
"Do you think he believed me?" Wally asked.
Tim cocked his head, considering him. "Doesn't matter. Either way, he'll come. He didn't quit being your best friend, same way he didn't quit being our big brother. "
Damian paced in front of the door of the infirmary, conflicted.
On one hand the sudden appearance of the speedster who had been persumed dead was unsettling. Even with M'gann searching his mind, some part of Damian remained skeptical.
On the other hand, Damian was pleased on Grayson's behalf. Once, Grayson had taken him to Kid Flash's memorial site. It had left him with the impression that Wally's death had almost broken Nightwing. Who had then been Batman. His Batman.
The small part of Damian that cared for Grayson and his 'brothers', the part of him kept locked up, was happy for Grayson.
He didn't know what to do with that.
He didn't have long to ponder on it, as the computer announced Nightwing's arrival.
In a shorter time than should have been possible for a human, even one with their training, Grayson was skidding around the corner.
The older vigilante stopped in front of Damian, crouching down to be on his height level.
He wanted to see the newly risen Wally, Damian knew, but he wasn't surprised that Grayson would insist on checking him over first. Sentimental idiot.
One hand reached out to brush Damian's hair off his forehead, "Alright baby bird?"
Damian allowed the touch for a second before leaning away. The total distance amounted to an inch but that was enough for Dick to read. He knew physical touch reassured Grayson, but he had his limits.
The hand dropped accordingly.
Damian huffed out a breath. "Red Robin and I are both unharmed."
The acrobat sagged in relief, resting both his hands on Damian's shoulders.
"And Wally?" His second question was quiet. Tentative in a way Damian wasn't used to hearing from Grayson when it didn't apply to him or the past Robins.
It was the reason he didn't pull away, allowing Grayson to soak up whatever comfort he could from him.
"He doesn't appear to have aged, but other than some signs of exhaustion he is healthy." He reported, not a believer in sugar coating anything.
Grayson nodded, his gaze flickering towards the medical room.
He turned back, some of his concern falling away. Reminding Damian that this wasn't just his big brother, but a member of the Justice League. One of the few privy to the inner circle, that only the founding members had been part of before.
"I need you to contact Batman, I came straight here from my mission. Tell him the objective was completed and update him on what's going on here."
Damian hesitated, "The team didn't want to tell the league."
He wasn't arguing with the order. He'd follow Grayson's instructions above any of the teams, even Tim. He was just informing him of what they'd decided.
Grayson's face darkened into a storm cloud. "I don't care. Have they contacted Roy? Barry?"
"Recognize: Nightwing – B01"
The kitchen fell silent.
After being kicked out of the infirmary they'd chosen to hole up in the kitchen. An area where they could listen out for Nightwing's arrival but not be in his way. They didn't want him to think they were trying to ambush him on his way to Wally.
No one wanted to force that confrontation. Especially not when their old friend's emotions would be as close to the surface as they'd have to be.
It wasn't every day your best friend came back to life.
M'gann hugged herself, turning her back to the entrance room.
The team followed suit, giving Dick an out if he decided to come through here but didn't want to stop.
Not that they needed to of course. Dick knew the mountain better than anyone and could easily go around the common area.
Once he was sure Nightwing wasn't coming their way, Kaldur cleared his throat, "So he showed."
Conner rolled his eyes, "Of course he did. Even if it wasn't about Wally, Tim being the one to ask would have been enough."
They fell silent again, the tension in the room killing any desire to make conversation.
Now, they waited.
Asking after Roy almost first thing was a deliberate choice on Dick's part. He knew the archer had always considered Wally something of a little brother. If Roy found out he'd been left out of the loop…
But Dick didn't have time to track him down, not when he knew for a fact that the archer was on another of his solo jaunts. He'd gotten too good at going off the grid in the last few years, often with Jason right beside him.
Damian shook his head.
Dick sighed, "Okay, then I need a favor. Can you track him down and get him here? Don't tell him what's going on, just ask him to meet me here."
Damian crossed his arms over his chest mulishly; and Dick knew this wasn't going to be an easy yes.
"What's in it for me?"
Part of Dick wasn't surprised. Contacting Bruce for league business was one thing, tracking down their wayward archer was another. But mostly, he was itching to go into the infirmary.
Dick's eyebrow twitched with impatience. "When's your next night off?"
For Damian, Batman enforced one night off a week where he wasn't allowed to patrol. It was an attempt to get him to act like a normal kid. Dick could have told him that wouldn't work.
"You can patrol with me next time, I'll talk to Bruce."
In the batcave, Batman frowned as he looked at the readings that his programs had flagged. An unusual amount of radiation was coming from the town surrounding Mount Justice.
The readings were eerily familiar.
Pressing a few keys he sent the results off, comparing them to past readings. He'd seen this before, but he needed to confirm it.
If his hunch was right... well the Flash would need to be on hand.
The speed force wasn't something Batman played around with.
Damian considered the offer. Technically Grayson had been his first Batman, the one who had given him the Robin mantle. They still patrolled together as Nightwing and Robin, but not often.
He would never admit it, but he missed that.
"Two nights. The next available one, and one at a time of my choosing."
Nightwing, for he had yet to remove his mask, shook his head. Rueful, but giving in.
Damian smirked. He knew when he'd won.
"You got it Robin."
Then with a kiss to the forehead, he was gone. The door slid shut behind him and Damian set off to do what was asked of him.
Wally fidgeted with his blankets, time seeming to drag as he waited for his best friend to show up.
Beside him Tim had settled into the lone chair, tapping away on his cell phone.
He opened his mouth, about to try and start a conversation, when the doors slid open.
He looked up, heart in his throat, to see Nightwing standing just this side of the door.
The vigilante in black and blue appeared to be frozen, eyes locked on Wally.
"Robbie?" he ventured, secure in the knowledge that both Tim and Dick would know to which of them he was referring. Even now that Dick hadn't gone by Robin in years, and despite working with three different iterations of the boy wonder, there had only been one he nicknamed.
Only one he called Rob or Robbie.
Nightwing jerked, his hands coming up in a move that was anything but graceful as he removed his mask.
His blue eyes met Wally's green and he smiled, "Hey Wally."
While they stared at each other Tim rose to his feet smoothly. "I'm going to go check on the team."
For the first time since entering Dick tore his gaze away from the speedster to focus on his little brother.
He gripped his shoulder as he drew up to him, "Thanks Tim."
Tim shrugged, "Of course. I'll keep them away if you'd rather not deal with them."
The implications of that statement left Wally frowning. Had the team's relationship with Dick really gone that far south?
"I'll find them later," Dick agreed in the end, moving aside to let Tim make his exit.
Once they were alone, Dick moved closer.
An awkward silence settled over them as they both remembered the less than stellar terms they'd ended things on.
"It's… good to see you KF," Dick said after a pause, his voice breaking on his favored nickname for Wally.
When he stopped just short of the bed, looking to the chair beside the bed, Wally couldn't stand the distance anymore.
Before Dick could begin to sit Wally reached out, grabbed his arm and pulled him closer. With more force than was strictly necessary.
Predictably it didn't work out the way he'd hoped. Dick's hip banged against the bed frame with an audible smack.
Wally winced, knowing from the sound alone that it was going to leave a nasty bruise.
Dick didn't seem to mind though, as he huffed out a laugh. "If you wanted me closer all you had to do was ask KF."
Wally slid over carefully, throwing the blanket back. "I'm asking."
His old friend's lips quirked and he kicked off his boots, climbing in the bed with him and tucking close.
Dick curled around him, his lanky legs twisting with Wally's as they took a moment to breathe.
It was the first time in years where each breath didn’t take a concerted effort to draw, the vice on his throat loosening.
Wally hummed, closing his eyes. For the first time since waking up having missed 5 years, his mind wasn't racing. Or trying to sort everything out.
It all went quiet and he focused on his own steady breathing. On the warmth of Dick pressed against him, of the contentment of being home.
Bruce looked up, just missing knocking heads with the Flash. Once the results had come back and proven the presence of the Speed force, he'd wasted no time in contacting Barry Allen.
Who, likewise, had wasted no time in speeding over.
"Damian? I thought you were spending the weekend with the team?" He asked, an idea beginning to form in the back of his mind.
His son shifted back and forth on his feet, an unusually obvious signal. When his eyes flickered over to Allen, Bruce's knew his in gut what was coming next.
"The team... we found someone." Damian said, "Someone we think is Wally West."
Barry froze. "What?"
In an attempt to get comfortable Dick shifted closer only to have to cover a wince as he jarred his ribs. Thankfully, Wally didn't notice.
He tilted his head down, Wally's red hair tickling his nose as he did so.
It was strange to be able to curl around the speedster, for Wally to seem so small next to him.
Part of it, he knew, was the effect a hospital bed had on anyone residing in it. Something about a person being in a hospital bed made them appear smaller and more vulnerable.
The other part was all him. In the years Wally was gone he'd only gained an inch or so height wise. But his shoulders had broadened noticeably.
His time as batman had changed his lean acrobatic muscle into the brick-wall of muscle his mentor had cultivated. Now that he'd returned to being Nightwing he was slimming down again but some of the broadness lingered still.
"Dick?" Wally murmured to him, his voice giving away how sleepy he was. "Be here when I wake back up?"
Dick wrapped his arms Wally more securely, "I'm not going anywhere KF. Promise."
The speedster nodded, snuggling closer as he fell into sleep.
He started snoring five minutes later.
Tim made sure to take his sweet time as he made his way towards the common area. He needed a second to clear his thoughts.
There was a lot about today he would always remember, images now seared into his mind.
His reaction when he recognized Wally, the surety he'd felt in his gut despite his trained skepticism. From the get go he had hoped, no he had known, he was looking at their Wally.
But what would really stay with him was Dick, his reaction to seeing Wally for the first time.
To the average person, or even to his old teammates, he wouldn't have had much of a reaction. But Tim knew his big brother better.
It was in the way his fingers twitched. The way his weight rocked forward before rocking back as he changed his mind and killed the momentum.
It was the way his jaw loosened just a smidge, into what on a normal person would have been an obvious jaw drop. But most especially it was the way his skin wrinkled around the edges of his mask before he'd removed it. A dead give away of the levels of emotion his predecessor was feeling.
That would stay with Tim for longer than he should admit to anyone.
He was drawn out of his introspection as he neared the common rooms.
Even from the hall he could hear raised voices.
"I thought leaving him be was for the best." Kaldur was arguing, his voice a lot closer to outright yelling than Tim was used to. The atlantean was usually mild mannered, he didn't get worked up over just anything.
Tim lingered in the shadows of the door way, curious as to how this would play out.
Kon, for Tim had met him after he started going by this name, scoffed.
"Yeah, and look where that got us. We deferred to you because you knew the most about what was going on with him. Maybe we shouldn't have."
The room grew quiet and Tim decided this was the opportune moment to move in.
As soon as he cleared the entrance way the team turned to him, alerted by his less than quiet footsteps. He had wanted them to know he was approaching.
"How did it go?" M'gann floated closer, her hands clasped in front of her. "Did Nightwing look well?"
Tim mustered a smile for her, "He's fine. I left to give them some privacy."
Over by the couch Artemis clicked her tongue, "Are you sure that was a good idea?"
Tim glared at the still mostly retired vigilante. These days she only came back for the occasional mission, and said "Yes."
He didn't offer any more of an explanation.
Artemis scowled at him, only letting up when Kaldur sent her a look.
"Recognize: Flash – A04"
A familiar blur shot through the room and no one bothered trying to catch up. After all by the time they registered the sight, the Flash was already in the infirmary.
Tim moved to flop down on the nearest armchair, surveying the old team. In turn their eyes were all on him, looking for a clue as to what he was thinking. What he thought of their treatment of Dick.
Before they could interrogate him further the computer activated again.
"Recognize: Red Arrow – B03"
Tim took advantage of their distraction and darted up and out of the room, racing to the entryway. This one he could catch.
He arrived just as Red Arrow exited the tube.
Roy stalked out, his bow drawn but lax at his side. "What the hell is going on Tim? Why is Nightwing here?"
Because of course it was going to fall to him to explain.
He decided to start small, "What do you know already?"
Roy growled, "Not much. That little brat accosted me, and demanded I come straight here at knife point. Is somebody dying? Somebody better be dying."
Tim sighed, he had no trouble picturing that scenario. Damian could be overzealous at times, especially when he was doing something for Dick.
"Nobody's dying but you should go to the infirmary."
Roy stilled, "Is Dick okay?"
"He's fine," Tim hastened to assure, "Just... go see."
With one last dubious look Roy set off to do just that.
When he arrived the door was already open, Barry leaning against it. As if it was the only thing holding him up.
Alarms bells started going off in Roy's head.
The older man shushed him without looking. Without pulling his gaze away from whatever was holding his attention.
Barry was dressed as the flash but his cowl was pushed back, giving Roy a clear look at his expression. It was soft and gentle in ways Roy could barely remember.
The last time he'd seen that look had been... back when he was still a glorified side-kick. He and Dick had spent the night with Wally at Barry's house after a joint mission with their mentors. Barry had looked at them, just like that, when he'd come home from the debriefing to find them play fighting in his living room. They'd broken a lamp and overturned both couches.
Roy swallowed the sudden lump in his throat as he drew up to Barry.
The speedster shifted over, giving him room to peer into the infirmary. And Roy understood what had Barry so enthralled.
His bow slipped through numb fingers and fell to the ground.
In the hospital bed Dick shifted, opening his eyes to look at them. Roy, already half crouched to the ground as he reached for his bow, froze.
Dick's lips tilted up into a smile, and Roy was almost able to believe what he was seeing.
No way Dick would smile at him like that if this was some kind of trick, if the figure he was curled around wasn't Wally West.
"How...?" He asked, his voice barely audible even to his own ears.
Barry lifted his shoulders in a half shrug, "speed force."
Roy waited for him to expand, and when he didn't, turned back to the bed. The sight of Dick and Wally curled up in that bed was right in front of him, and yet he couldn't quite believe it.
It was too good to be true, it was one person back from the dead too many. Batman had been half expected, and Jason had pushed believability.
And now Wally?
Barry must have picked up on his disbelief because he reached over, shoving Roy further into the room.
With hesitant steps Roy approached the bed, coming up on Dick's side. Blue eyes tracked him the entire way, and Dick leaned back once he was close, giving him an unobstructed view.
The red hair was just like he remembered, in fact it was the exact same shade. The freckles creeping across his nose and cheeks were just like he remembered too, down to a dot.
He even snored the same.
"It's him Roy." Dick said.
He fell backwards into the chair next to the bed.
He ran a shaking hand through his hair, "Yeah...yeah it is."
Wally was back.