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The Boy With The Gucci Purse

Chapter Text

Halloween parties. They’re something every high school kid wants to go to and they certainly are a big thing for Gotham Academy students. Even more so when you were the captain of the track team and dating the schools most popular cheerleader. Wally had put on one of Artemis’s cheerleader uniforms and had borrowed one of her expensive Gucci purses to make the costume complete. The party was fine, until Artemis got drunk and went from throwing herself at her boyfriend and wanting all of the hugs and kisses Wally could ever possibly give her, to complete psycho bitch when he told her she should probably slow down on her drinking.

Arguments between them were something that Wally had sadly grown accustomed to. Artemis was like flipping a coin, some days it would be fine and they’d be an iconic movie star couple. Others, like this one, she would be hitting him while he tried to help her out of whatever situation she had gotten herself into. He tried to take her keys from her to make sure she stayed safe and got a good sized claw mark on his upper arm for his troubles. She was the one who had driven them to the party, saying earlier how much she hated his “Gross old truck” that had been his grandfather’s, his father’s, and now his.

When he tried to explain why he was taking her keys from her she told him to fuck off and physically dragged him to the door of the house the party was at and threw him out like she owned the place. It led Wally to where he was now. A slightly buzzed teenage boy in a cheerleader uniform walking through Gotham at night with a Gucci purse trying to go home from a Halloween party.

He was aware that someone was walking behind him. Aware that he was not the only person out on the streets but that didn’t halt his surprise or shock when he was slammed into from behind. The person was small but packed a lot of power. Torn up jeans and an old hoodie with the hood pulled up. The person grabbed the purse away from Wally and looked at him before he started to sprint. In that moment though Wally noticed three different things. One, the person was a boy who looked younger than him. Two, the boy had the most piercing blue eyes Wally had ever seen, and three, the hoodie had the emblem and name of some old circus that had come into Gotham years ago and never come back.

Seeing the boy sprint over towards a fire escape and begin to scale it with ease and grace that Wally had never before seen on a street kid snapped him out of his stupor.

“Hey! What the fuck?!”

He kept track of the boy on the rooftops as he ran and jumped. Being captain of the track team certainly had its benefits since Wally was able to keep up with the kid fairly easily despite being on the ground.

“Dude that’s not mine! Give it back, just stop!”

The chase went on longer than Wally thought should have been possible but eventually he ran into a dead end. Literally. He barely stopped himself from running into the brick wall and saw the boy with the Gucci purse launch onto the next roof and heard him continue to run farther and farther away. Wally knew he was in trouble. He knew the moment Artemis found out he had lost her purse she was going to be absolutely livid and he was certainly not looking forward to telling her about it or feeling what exactly she would do to him when she did find out. He was frustrated with himself as well. This was not how he had planned the night to be. He punched the wall in anger and shook out his hand and now bruising knuckles.

“Aw man, Artemis is going to kill me.”

He continued on his walk home scanning the roof tops the entire way to try to catch a glimpse of the boy but he was gone.

Chapter Text

In another world maybe he could have been happy. In another world maybe he would have been okay after that night, maybe that night would have never happened, maybe he would have fallen instead, or fallen with them so he wouldn’t be so alone. Instead, the night the Flying Grayson's fell to their death and left their 8 year old son behind Dick sat on the side. He was covered in his parent’s blood. Felt it dry onto his skin and become sticky when he moved his fingers. The police took him to the station while they tried to figure out what to do with him. They told him the orphanages were all full, same with foster care. They took him to Juvie, said he’d be safe but they were liars. Dick learned fast. He learned very quickly where he stood on the food chain in that wretched building.

He learned that his past and his skin made him worthless in the eyes of everyone else. He learned that being able to dodge punches made it worse. He learned it was better to let them beat him senseless than to fight back. He learned that he didn’t want to be alive if this was going to be his life. He tried to stop eating when he turned nine. Tried to starve himself into nothing since he couldn’t have access to anything to harm himself with. When the guards noticed he wasn’t eating they took him to a back room, strapped him down, and they force fed him with a tube down his throat. Nothing was sanitary and it wasn’t long before he had the reputation of always being ill. A fever became his normal temperature. Throwing up in the toilet of his cell became something usual. Tossing and turning had been normal since his parents fell because he could never close his eyes without seeing their bodies hitting the ground on a loop.

Then one day, he snapped. Not the snap that means he gave up everything, he’d done that a long time ago. The snap that meant he wasn’t going to tolerate it anymore. The snap that gave him the power and the strength to punch right back before the other swings could hit him. The snap that allowed his clever young mind to run through and map everything and everyone around him. The snap that gave him the courage to escape the hell he’d been placed into.

Once he made it outside the Juvie’s walls he ran. He didn’t know where he was going but he was going there. He wandered around on the streets of the city that had claimed his life four years ago. Rain battered down onto him and he found himself a run down hole in the wall abandoned home. Found a way in and boarded himself inside. He was lucky enough that a mattress had been left on the floor of a bedroom upstairs and he curled onto it. He didn’t have much. Just the clothes he’d managed to steal back from the Juvie’s storage closet. He was still sick, was always sick. Rotting food from dumpsters didn’t help his case. He was a great pick pocket, could steal all kinds of things but he never offered his work to the gangs. He only did what he did to keep himself alive.

A year later on Halloween he looked out the window and saw a strange sight. A boy with fire red hair dressed in a short skirt. The item of interest however, was the Gucci purse hanging from his shoulder. Dick very quickly and quietly made his way down to the street and followed behind at a good distance. When he was ready he ran forward and slammed his weight into the other, older looking boy. The way that he had hit the ground made Dick look at him a second longer to ensure that he hadn’t accidentally hurt an innocent person. He never wanted that. So he paused to make sure the boy was okay and then he knew he had to run. He scaled the fire escapes and he ran along the rooftops that had helped him escape so many times before when he was still learning to steal for survival. The guy held up well Dick would give him that. So he led him to a dead end alleyway and looped around in places he was sure he wouldn’t be spotted.

It took awhile but he made his way back to what he was calling his home. He’d heard the guy’s shouts but figured they were just ploys to make him return it. That wasn’t going to happen. He didn’t care much for selfish people. He ran the whole way back and climbed in through the window that he had left unlocked for himself. His chest heaving and small wheezes escaping his lungs as his fell into the wall and slid down to the floor. He didn’t know how long he sat there trying to breathe again. He was getting worse everyday. One day he might just die in his sleep. He’d never cough or have to deal with a fever again.

Once he had his center back he pulled the purse to him and began to go through it. Finding the wallet he opened it and pulled out the ID.

“Artemis Crock. Huh, certainly seems like that boy was telling the truth…”

He pulled out all of the cash that was in the wallet and anything in the purse that he thought would be worth something. He looked at the ID again and thought back to how the other boy had yelled to him. What he had heard from him in the alley before he had run off. Dick sighed and grabbed the old laptop he had stolen from Juvie and used the neighbors wifi signal to search Artemis. From there he found her social media and pictures of her and Wally together. After that he was able to figure out Wally’s name and worked to find his address. He wiped the purse down of any fingerprints he might have left on it and went to leave when another coughing fit hit him. It left him feeling drained to the point he knew if he left he wouldn’t make it back. So instead he flopped back down onto the thin mattress and pulled his old Haly’s Circus hoodie closer to his small body. His stomach growling with hunger but he was too tired to care. It didn’t take long before he drifted off to sleep with plans to return the purse the next night.

Chapter Text

Wally sighed as he walked home and pulled out his phone to call Artemis. It rang and rang but she never picked up. She was probably still at the party so he left a message.

“Hey Arty, it’s me, Wally. So...I’m sorry about earlier.” He didn’t know what exactly he was apologizing for but he knew she would find something to blame on him. “It’s my fault, I know.” He shivered at the cold wind as it blew through the short skirt he was wearing. He needed to get home before this storm rolled in. “Anyways I hope your night is going better than mine. Text me when you get this. Love you Arty, bye.”

He hung up the phone and pulled the skirt down lower suddenly feeling very self conscious about his body and his outfit. ‘Way to go wally. Looking like a hooker in Gotham in the middle of the night. Real smart.’

Eventually the red head made it back to his house. The rain was just starting as he got inside. The lights were all out but that wasn’t very surprising considering it was midnight on a Friday. He went to his room and changed his clothes into sweat pants and a t-shirt and headed down to the kitchen for a late night snack. Turning on the lights he found a note sitting on the island countertop.

“Your father and I are on a trip for his work, we’ll be back in a week or so ~ Mom.”

That was it. There was no “I love you” there was no “Goodbye” no telling him where exactly they were going and there sure as hell wasn’t anyone telling Wally about this trip earlier. His parents just up and left while he was at the party. Not that that was very unusual. His parents would vanish and do what they wanted when they wanted. They would travel if they chose to and if Wally was in school they would leave him behind. If he was working in the summer they would leave him behind. It was something that he was used to. He simply crumpled the note into a ball and threw it away on his way to the cupboard. He pulled out a can of raviolis and ate them right out of the can cold. He didn’t care. It had been a long week and a long day, he would eat whatever he wanted to eat.

He sat down on the bar stool at the island and ate his raviolis while he scrolled through his social media feeds on his phone. After refreshing it a couple times he saw a post from John, the captain of the football team, that showed Artemis grinding all over another guy. He glared and turned off his phone and putting his phone down screen first on the counter a little harshly. He glared at the wall and got a fork full of three raviolis and shoved them into his mouth at the same time.

Unbeknownst to him the purse thief woke up from a nightmare after only being asleep for about half an hour. Too paranoid to go back to sleep he looked at the purse and climbed to the roof of his small home. He made his way to Wally’s house and ignored the rain that was now coming down in sheets from the clouds that had threatened it earlier. He cased the house out of habit and paranoia. He could see Wally sitting at the kitchen island and he saw the backdoor that was parallel to the counter. Dick made his way back to the door and dropped the purse in front of it before knocking on the door and quickly but quietly making his way to hide behind a tree trunk. He could feel a coughing fit coming on but hoped to all the gods he could think of that he would be able to hold it in until he could get away from the house.

Wally heard the knock on the door and opened it. He didn’t see anyone but when he went to take a step to look around the corner he found himself nearly tripping over the same bag that had been stolen from him just hours ago. He picked it up and was about to head back inside when he heard a cough from the yard.

“Hello?”

He put the purse inside and stepped out into the yard. Trying to find the source of the coughs he was hearing.

“Is someone out here?”

He methodically checked around the bushes and corners and was about to give up but he had one last tree to check. The rain made it hard to pinpoint where exactly the coughing sounds were coming from.

“Are you the kid from earlier? Did you bring it back to me?”

He finally made his way over to the tree. He felt silly for still looking, there was probably no one even there and the coughing was coming from one of his neighbors. It was because he wasn’t expecting to see anyone that he nearly screamed when he saw Dick leaning on the tree. His expression quickly changed from fear to worry at the sound of the boy’s cough.

“Hey are you okay man? Did you walk here in the rain?”

Dick was confused. No one was nice to him, especially not the people he stole from. Yet here was this kid, showing concern for him. It was stupid. He managed to swallow down his coughs long enough to squeeze out a couple words.

“I’m fine.”

It wasn’t even two seconds after he said it that he doubled over in another fit. He was shivering in the wind but he knew his fever was spiking up again. He had to get out of there. Dick backed away from Wally who was still standing in the same spot he had been and he tried to hide himself in the shadows.

“Brought your bag back, sorry about stealing it but a kids gotta eat.”

Dick turned to leave and slid slightly in the mud that was caking on the bottom of his shoes. He knew it would take a while for his clothes to dry out again just from the way they were clinging to his body. The world tilted a little as he moved and he grabbed the fence post to steady himself.

“You should be careful Wally. Gotham is a dangerous place.”

He didn’t like that Wally had been kind to him. If it had been anyone other than Dick he very well could have been killed the second he’d opened the door. He couldn’t see any hostility when Wally was talking or moving and that meant that he was kind. Kind people die. Just ask Dick’s parents.

Wally being Wally, however, had very different plans than just letting Dick walk away in the rain. He’d seen the way he was coughing. Saw the way he grabbed the fence. He wasn’t just letting the kid go. So he walked over and grabbed onto Dick’s arm and tugged him towards the house.

“Come inside. You’re going to die of pneumonia if you stay out here much longer.”

He wasn’t trying to be mean, just forceful enough that Dick would have to listen to him. Dick didn’t really see a way out so he allowed Wally to lead him into the house and he stood awkwardly inside. It had been a while since he’d been in a real house with working lights and furnishings.

“If I run upstairs promise you won’t steal anything? You need to get out of those disgusting clothes.”

Before Dick could even really answer Wally was running up the stairs. He rummaged in his drawers and found an old track shirt of his as well as sweatpants and ran back down the stairs. He was so anxious to get back down there he missed the last few steps and nearly face planted the floor of his living room. He turned into the kitchen while he straightened himself out and gave Dick a smile.

“They will probably be a little bit big on you but, it’s better than nothing right?”

Dick just stared at the clothes and then at Wally with a confused expression.

“What?..Why?..I stole from you and, and you brought me inside? You’re giving me clothes? Right after I warned you about how Gotham is? Where are your parents dude? What do they think about you harboring a criminal in their house?”

He would be lying if he said the idea of changing clothes and resting comfortably for once since his parents died didn’t excite him. But he had been alone for far too long to trust and relax that easily. He rocked on his feet a bit before the events of the evening clicked together in his mind.

“Oh. You’re just keeping me here until the cops come. I get it. You called them while you were upstairs, it’s smart.”

He began to head to the door when Wally grabbed his hand to stop him.

“Um, my phone was on the counter the entire time and we don’t really have a landline. It’s kind of pointless when I’m the only one ever home.”

He added to his statement by pointing to the phone that was still face down on the island. When Dick wasn’t looking he shoved the new clothes into his hands.

“Besides,” Wally said with a smirk, “you aren’t exactly striking me as a threat at the moment. And~ you did return the purse itself so, no harm no foul, right?” He gave Dick a smile before continuing. “Down the hall, first door on your left. That’s the bathroom, you can shower if you want, or just change, it’s totally up to you. I should warn you though, that shower has absolutely terrible water pressure.”

He shrugged like this was something completely normal for him to do.

“Oh. Towels are in the big black cabinet by the sink. And uh, I never really got a name to work with here.”

Wally’s hopeful look was met with Dick’s confused and analyzing expression as he gingerly picked at the clothes in his hands.

“Dick. I like to be called Dick.”

Chapter Text

Dick slowly headed back towards the bathroom and started pulling his soaked clothing off his body. He turned on the water and looked at himself in the mirror. What a pitiful sight he was. All of his ribs visible through his skin, scars from the beatings at Juvie and accidents while training in the circus. It was sad. He got under the water and tried to will his body to relax. He made it as hot as it would go, relishing at being able to breathe in the warm wet air. It was the first shower he’d had in awhile, he was going to enjoy it.

Once he was finished he wrapped himself in the large fluffy towel and closed his eyes. The last time he’d had a towel like this was when he was at the circus. In the small trailer he and his parents had called home. His mom wrapping him inside the fluffy towel. He remembered her smile and the way his dad’s eyes crinkled at the corners when he laughed. He remembered the smells of cotton candy and popcorn. The sounds of peanut shells cracking under his feet and cheers as his family did their act. The feel of the trapeze bar in his hands, the weight of the cord. The sounds of cheers turning to gasps. The sounds of cords snapping and bodies meeting the unrelenting ground. The smell of blood.

It was enough for Dick to open his eyes again. Reality set in. He wasn’t the happy little boy from the circus anymore. His body showed that. Bags under his eyes from sleepless nights like this one. A natural tan that’s turned pale from only leaving the house for food. Eyes that used to have the light of the sun burning behind them turned dull from having nothing to connect with for so long. He had to tear his eyes away from the mirror. He could see his mother’s face in his own and it killed him that he would never see her face again. Killed him that he was the reason she looked like a corpse in his reflection. He started to pull on the clothes that Wally had given to him. The sweatpants hung off his hips and the shirt was baggy enough it nearly slipped off his shoulders. He knew he was small for his age but he didn’t think he was that small.

He was careful about moving around the room. He made sure to clean everything he had dirtied. He didn’t want to risk angering the only person who had shown him any kindness in years. Once he was done Dick put his ear against the door and listened. When he heard nothing he carefully opened it and peeked out into the hallway. He wasn’t entirely sure where he was supposed to go now that he had finished with his shower so he just went back to the kitchen holding his dirty clothes and towel.

He found Wally sitting on the counter next to the sink playing on a gameboy. The ginger was so immersed in his game that he didn’t notice Dick walking into the room and he started talking to his game.

“No. No. N o. Yes. Yess. No. Ughh come on man!”

The floor creaked under Dick’s shifting weight and Wally finally looked up. He gave Dick a smile as he closed his gameboy and hopped off the counter. He talked while holding out his hands and walking closer to where Dick was standing.

“So, I can take the clothes and wash them but it will take like two-ish hours to finish, but since it’s late I can do them in the morning? You know, if that’s cool with you?”

He took the clothes and towel out of Dick’s hands and walked into the laundry room to set them in the washer and then returning.

“So do you want something to eat? We have breakfast-y food but that can wait until morning. Oh! We have mac and cheese? Or soup? Really just name it and I’ll see if we have it.”

Dick was watching him closely and didn’t really know what to do. He’d been abused so long he didn’t know if he would be able to trust.

“What’s your goal here Wally?” Dick crossed his arms and tried to hide how insecure he really was. “Why are you doing this? I’m a thief and I stole from you and you’re being nice? You gave me clothes, a shower, food.” His voice trailed off while he tried to force his stomach not to growl. “Why?”

He didn’t know why it startled him so much to see Wally freeze. To see him turn without the smile on his face. Why it hurt to see him unhappy.

“Are you a thief, sure. But, when you returned the purse you said something. You said ‘a kids gotta eat’.”

Wally moved and opened the pantry and started to comb through the food items they had in stock.

“You had a reason to steal it. Tell me Dick, when was the last time you slept in a bed? An actual bed. Or had a shower? Or hell, even the last time you had a meal that actually filled you?”

He looked back at Dick and gave him a small appraising smile.

“Just at least sty for a meal, you don’t have to stay the night if you don’t trust me. I can wash your stuff now and you can go back out in the cold storm if you want.” Gesturing to the food he continued. “Pick whatever you want. Please.”

Dick moved with light steps over and looked at all the food that was lined out for the picking. He gently pulled out a can of chicken noodle soup and looked down to the floor.

“I uh...I haven’t really slept since I was 8...uhm...shower is uh...two weeks I think. I broke into a house to get one.” He tried to push memories of abuse out of his mind when he thought about how the owner of the house had reacted to that. He’d nearly been shot for trying to get clean, not that he blamed the man, he can’t say he’d have reacted any differently if it had been his house.

“Food is the same as sleep.”

He closed his eyes and let out the breath he didn’t know he had been holding. He didn’t notice the shirt slipping off of his shoulder and showing off his rather prominent collar bone.

“I’m sorry. You’re being kind and I’m- just being an asshole. You don’t deserve it.”

Wally let a frown fall onto his face as he looked at the boy he’d let into his home. Really looking at him this time Wally could tell just how small the boy was. How tired and malnourished he was despite the way he acted. He put a smile back on before Dick could notice the frown, or the fact that he was staring.

“Well, you’re nicer than Arty is half the time, so it’s fine by me.” He laughed at his comment like he’d said a joke and went to look for a pot for the soup. He popped his head back up from under the counter.

“Do you want something to drink? Water, coffee, tea, soda?”

He pulled out the pot and set it on the stove to start cooking the soup while Dick made his way over and perched on the edge of the counter to watch Wally. He couldn’t explain why he already felt protective of Wally. Maybe it was the fact that he had always had a family to care for back in the circus or the fact that Wally was the only one who was kind to him. Maybe it was both. He wasn’t sure, but Wally’s comment struck something in him.

“Is Arty the one who’s purse I took? She your girlfriend.”

He had assumed as much while looking on the internet but he didn’t want to have Wally thinking he was a mega stalker. He stretched slightly only to have his hand slide from the counter and into the sink causing him to fall backwards. It jarred his chest and soon he was doubled forward in another coughing fit rubbing his chest to try to make it stop. He choked out his words between his coughs and gasps for air.

“Dammit. Sorry. Ignore me.”

Wally stopped stirring the pot and looked worriedly at Dick.

“Are you okay? You sound terrible.”

Dick nodded and so Wally went back to stirring the pot. Dick could smell the soup cooking, his stomach growling loudly while he looked at the pot. What he couldn’t see was that a little bit of light was returning to his blue eyes.

“To answer your question,” Wally began, “yeah, she’s my girlfriend. I had her purse ‘cause we were at this stupid Halloween party but I left early and ran into you. Or I guess, you ran into me.”

He gave a small laugh as he walked to another cabinet and got a bowl and a spoon. The soup was at a boil so she turned off the heat and carefully poured it into the bowl. He took the food to the dining room where he sat it down and then gave an exaggerated bow.

“Bon appetit.”

He sat down across from the spot he’d picked out for Dick for about three seconds before jumping up and running back to the kitchen to grab two water bottles and then returning to his seat. Dick came and looked over the food that Wally had made for him. He grabbed the water bottle and drank a little. Dick froze with the bottle on his lips, Wally noticed.

“You good there?”

“Yeah. Yeah, I just, I guess I forgot what real water tasted like.”

He grabbed the spoon and slowly started to eat the soup. They didn’t really talk all that much until Dick nearly finished with the meal.

“So she’s mean? Artemis I mean. Because you said I was nicer and I was kinda being an asshat.”

Wally frowned a little and shifted uncomfortably in his seat, grabbing at his own water bottle and taking a drink before he responded. He didn’t look at Dick and forced a small smile onto his face.

“No, no. She’s nice..she can be nice..today was just …. an off day.” He made eye contact with Dick again and hurriedly changed the subject. “So what happened? You said you haven’t eaten a full meal since you were 8? How old are you now?”

Dick blushed slightly and looked away. “I’m 13..”

He wasn’t sure how Wally was going to respond to that. Swallowing hard he grabbed for his water and drank a few more sips before he continued.

“It’s better now though. Compared to when it started.”

Wally was completely dumbfounded at Dick’s answer.

“Really?? 13? Interesting, I’m 16, not that you cared.” Confusion flitted across his expression. “What happened at the beginning?”

He put both of his hands under his chin and looked at Dick like a small child at storytime. All the attention made Dick fidget.

“You can’t really tell anymore, but uh, I’m romani. Commonly called gypsy. I was 8 years old and my parents were killed. Instead of foster care they saw my race and they tossed me in Juvie. It...it was bad in there. I’ve got the scars to prove it. After all what would you do if you had a gypsy orphan who couldn’t speak that much english? Awhile ago I broke out. I ran as fast as I could. Anywhere was better than in there. Hell, I’d take Arkham before I go back to that place. I never got sick at the circus. Since Juvie it’s rate that I’m not. I turn 14 soon, assuming I live that long.” It only took a moment before he realized what exactly he’d just said. “Look, I’m not saying this to get pity or charity. You’ve done more than enough. I can’t ask you for more and I don’t want or need your pity. I just, you deserved to know the truth.”

Silence was the only sound in the room for a little while Wally took in the new information and the frown returned to his face.

“Well, you can stay for the night at least. It’s raining and I couldn’t make you go back out.” He picked up Dick’s bowel and put it in the sink. “Look, my parents are going to be gone for at least a week. You’re free to stay until then if you want, it’s really no trouble, I’d just be alone anyways so it would be nice to have some company. So what do you say? Will you stay?”

Chapter Text

“So what do you say? Will you stay?”

Dick shifted around and looked around the house again. The logical side of him said that all of this could easily be a trap. While that side was right, his heart was telling him to stay. That he needed to be here or he was going to be so much worse.

“I, yeah, sure. It couldn’t hurt I guess, but uh, can I help out or something? Do chores or whatever needs done? That way I can earn my keep here.”

He followed Wally out into the living room to the end of the stairs and looked around as he walked. He was counting the entry points of the house. If he was going to stay here he was going to make sure he knew every way something could happen. He always had a plan, it kept him alive on the streets. He also wanted to make sure Wally was safe.

“Thank you for bringing me in.”

Wally just sighed.

“Of course, and uh I’m sure I could find something for you to do? But not tonight okay? You’ve had a long day. There’s a spare bedroom, or you could sleep on the couch or wherever you want. Again, it’s up to you.”

Wally pulled out his phone while Dick contemplated and he looked at the time to see his phone had been bombarded with notifications, all of them from a certain cheerleader.

‘Wally where is my purse?’

‘I need it.’

‘It was expensive.’

‘Wally West. Give me my stuff.’

‘This is why you only have me. You are so annoying.’

A frown formed on the red head’s face as his read and ignored the messages.

“So, where do you wanna sleep?”

“It’d probably be easier to hide me in the guest room.” Dick glanced around the room again to make sure everything was closed and locked before looking back at Wally with a worried expression. “You okay? I saw the frown.”

Wally only shrugged.

“Oh it’s nothing. Artemis just wants her purse. I’ll run it out to her in the morning.”

He started up the stairs with Dick following behind him. Wally opened the door to a room and flicked on the light while walking in.

“My room is directly across the hall. If you need anything you can just come on in. I’ll probably be up for another hour or so. There’s extra blankets in the closet, same with pillows.”

He showed Dick exactly where he meant by opening the closet and pointing to the shelf. Dick nodded and watched Wally leave the room.

Once Dick was alone he walked around. Everything was clean and it was a weird feeling knowing that he was allowed to be in there. Knowing that he wasn’t about to be attacked and that he could take his time and relax a little. It had been so long since he felt like that. He grabbed one of the spare blankets and coiled it around himself while he walked in circles around the room. It was a novelty. What it felt to be clean. What it was to walk around the room, feeling soft carpet under his feet. Hearing the blanket wrapped around his thin frame dragging on the ground behind him. It was strange how amazing the small things were once they’d been deprived from someone.

He walked over to the window and opened it. Staring outside and sitting on the window ledge watching the rain fall. Smelling the rain and mud from safety rather than fearing it while he was in it. The wind gave a strong gust, hard enough to whistle through the screen of the window and drying the air he breathed. Dick felt the coughs claw at his throat. He’d thought it was simply just another fit until the room started spinning. He couldn’t get air into his lungs, couldn’t get himself to stop. He quickly got away from the window and tried to calm down but his panic increased when the room wouldn’t stop spinning. He flung his door open and ran down the stairs and hallways to the bathroom he’d been in before. He just barely made it to the toilet before he collapsed and emptied everything his stomach had consumed in the last 24 hours. It got on the shirt he was wearing. Wally’s shirt. He kept throwing up until there was nothing left but painful dry heaves and muscle spasms.

He had to get the shirt off, had to clean it before he ruined it. Falling into the side of the bathtub he tried to grab at the hem of the shirt to pull it over his head only to find he didn’t have the strength to pull it. He closed his eyes and tried to make his arms move. Tried to find the strength that had saved him out on the streets even when he thought he couldn’t go but they wouldn’t move more than a few small twitches. He wasn’t okay. At least he got a good meal before the end. At least he found a good friend.

Chapter Text

Wally had gone back to his own room and promptly flopped on his bed to call Artemis and sort everything out. It was a stupid purse that he knew for a fact she didn’t use all that often. So why she was making a big deal of not having it with her this very second? He didn’t know.

“Wally I need that purse back.”

“It’s just a purse and it’s been a really long day Arty. Can’t I just run it up to you tomorrow? I’m pretty sure you can live without it for a night.”

“Wallace I need my purse back right now! This is why I’m the only person who cares about you, if you didn’t have me as your girlfriend you’d have nothing.”

“Oh, are you really my girlfriend?”

“What the hell is that supposed to mean West?”

“I mean that video of you grinding on every guy at the party!”

They kept at it. It was getting ridiculous. He couldn’t figure out what was so important about such a stupid bag that she would be in this much of a fit over it. You would have thought that he’d run over her dog or something.

All of his thoughts of the purse and the argument were thrown out of his mind when he heard running footsteps in the hallway. He didn’t care that Artemis was still screaming over the speakers, he threw his phone down onto the bed and flung his door open.

“Dick?”

He walked over and opened the spare bedroom’s door. The window was open and a blanket laid in a hazard on the carpet. Dick was nowhere in sight. Wally checked the whole upstairs and then made his way down. Once he was down the stairs he could hear dry heaving from the bathroom and knocked on the door.

“Hey man, you okay?”

When he didn’t get any response he cracked the door open and saw Dick struggling with the shirt. Wally was careful when he approached and took the soiled shirt. Lifting it up and over Dick’s head and setting it off to the side. It was the first time Wally had seen him shirtless and the amount of scars on the thin boy had him gasping.

Dick whimpered and Wally pulled his eyes back up to look at his face. It was weird that he honed in on the fact that Dick had tears in his eyes. He must have been in a lot of pain.

“S-sorry…”

Dick got the word out before he coughed again. He was trying to stand but got too dizzy and fell back to the floor. He didn’t want to cause problems. He didn’t want to be a burden to the only good person he’d ever met outside the circus.

“D-don’ worry...take me outside..y-you won’t get caught..w-with a dead kid…”

Wally felt the heat radiating from his body and tried to ignore how his heart twisted at the word ‘dead’.

“I-I won’t hurt you anymore..”

Wally didn’t waste anymore time. He put his hand on Dick’s back and quickly scooped him into his arms to carry him back up to his room and laid him down on the bed.

“You won’t die. I won’t let you.”

He quickly went to the bathroom and got a cool damp cloth. He felt a little silly wiping down Dick’s face, it felt intimate. Like it was something only people really close with each other were allowed to do, but it also felt...right? He pulled over a trashcan and sat down on the desk chair he had pulled over next to the bed.

“I have some nyquil you could take, but there isn’t much you can do for a fever.”

He kept wiping Dick’s skin to clean him and cool him down. The heat from his skin was startling to say the least. How had he gotten this bad so fast?

Dick only nodded slightly while his breathing began to even itself out. He let his eyes drift close and swallowed before talking.

“I’m sorry...I didn’t mean to cause trouble.”

“Shh, it’s fine. I wasn’t doing anything important.” He brushed Dick’s bangs back out of his face and dabbed his forehead. Dick opened his eyes again to give Wally a look.

“Heard you arguing, when I ran downstairs. Was it Artemis? I heard you say her name.”

Wally moved to replace the dirty cloth with a clean one and started to dab at Dick’s chest before draping it over his forehead again.

“Oh you heard that did you?” He leaned back and stretched in his chair. “Yeah, it was Artemis. I should probably call her back soon and apologize for leaving the call so abruptly.”

He sent a withering glance to the offending device and Dick felt guilt twist his insides.

“Sorry.”

He felt bad for damaging so much for Wally when he was a diamond in the rough for kindness.

“It’s not your fault. You should sleep, you need the rest. It’s been a long day for you. I’ll be right back, I’m going to go call Arty.”

Wally saw Dick’s eyes slip closed before he stepped into the hallway to call his girlfriend back. It wasn’t surprising when she didn’t answer. Instead he just left a voicemail apologizing and saying he’d explain everything to her when he gave her the purse back. After he was done he put the phone in his pocket and turned towards the wall. He rested his head on the cool plaster and mulled over the events of the day.

“Dammit.”

Right now he couldn’t afford to worry about Artemis. He could do that after he made sure Dick wasn’t going to die. He stepped back into the room and went back to his chair. Re-wetting the cloth and running it over the younger boy. He’d keep an eye on him until morning.

Dick was an odd boy. He had all this talk about fighting and while Wally could tell he definitely had power behind him, Dick reminded him of a small sick puppy. Maybe a tiny bird that just wanted to fight the vultures. Street kids were common in Gotham, so were Robins, and Wally had to shake his head at the mental image of a Robin fighting a pack of Vultures for a piece of bread.

He cradled his head in his arms and leaned on the side of the bed. Dick looked his age when he was asleep. There wasn’t an angry scowl or tense muscles. He started counting the scars on the younger one’s body and he knew exactly why Dick didn’t trust anyone. He didn’t like to think about what he would have done if their situations had been reversed. He didn’t know if he could have been strong enough to fight or brave enough to break out. He closed his eyes and fell asleep dreaming about birds breaking free of cages just to fight the bad in the world.

Chapter Text

Dick blearily opened his eyes to see sun filtering through the open window. He felt better than he had in a long time. It was impressive what rest and care could do to someone. It took him a few moments to fully remember where he was and what exactly had happened before he thought to sit up and go apologize to Wally for being such a nuisance. The moment he tried however, he found that the ginger he was looking for was sleeping soundly on his arm. A washcloth in his hand and a creased brow even in his sleep.

Dick didn’t want to bother him so he very carefully slipped his arm out and snuck to Wally’s room to snag a different shirt. He didn’t really want to be wandering around the house topless. After he’d grabbed the smallest shirt he could find, a plain black one that wasn’t much better size wise from the one he had the night before, he quietly made his way down the stairs. He had paid attention to where Wally had gone with his clothes and towel the night before and so he began a load of laundry. He then thought he’d try to repay some of his friend’s hospitality. Drinking some water he began to hum a song he’d heard on the radio a while ago in the neighbors house. He would earn his keep.

The next morning Wally woke up the next morning to the smell of bacon and eggs wafting through the house. He slowly sat up and stretched on the chair he was sitting in before taking a moment to look at the bed. The empty bed. The same bed that had housed a very sick boy the night before. Wally was confused to say the least. He was quick to head down the staircase and poked his head around the corner to the kitchen to see one of the most precious things he’d seen all week. There was Dick, dancing slightly and humming to himself while he flipped the bacon he had cooking in one of the skillets.

“Feeling better I see.”

Wally couldn’t help but keep the smile on his face when he saw Dick jump a foot in the air. He slid onto a stool at the island and began to swing his legs slightly while Dick quickly caught the food that flew out of the pan in an impressive show of acrobatics.

“Wow.” Wally clapped while he watched Dick catch all the food flawlessly. “That’s impressive.”

“You sir,” Dick began, “almost cost us our breakfast.”

He pulled two plates out of the cabinet and put them on the counter to start serving. Putting the plates down in front of both of them he started to feel a bit self conscious and pulled slightly at the hem of the shirt.

“Ah, sorry, I should have asked before I did this. Hope you don’t mind that I took the shirt, I started laundry but didn’t really think you’d want a half naked house guest.”

“No, no don’t worry about it, it’s fine. Have you been awake long?”

With a quick glance to the clock that hung above the sink he answered.

“Eh, about an hour or so now.” Dick thought back to the night before. How much he had been relying on Wally. How much Wally had saved him. “I’m sorry you had to do all of that last night.”

Wally once again assured him that it wasn’t a problem and the two of them ate their breakfast in peace. They made small talk about random things, how they slept as well as whatever else came to mind for conversation. They were halfway through their meal when a knock sounded at the door. Dick looked to the living room sharply while Wally only made a confused face as he wondered who it could be.

“I’ll be right back.”

Wally got up quickly and got to the door before the person persistently knocking knocked a hole right through the front of his house. Once he opened it Artemis shoved her way into the place.

“Where is it Wally.” A demand, not a question. “I swear to god. If there is so much as a scratch on it I will-”

“Oh, the purse?”

“Yes. The purse. You said you’d stop by at 8. Then you didn’t answer my calls or my texts.”

Wally wasn’t the captain of the track team for nothing. He ran up the stairs and grabbed the bag. Meanwhile, downstairs Artemis only glared at Dick.

“What are you looking at kid.”

Her voice was full of so much venom that Dick didn’t even need to think before he knew what kind of a person she was. Wally, thankfully, came back down with the purse before Dick could give any kind of retort and handed it over to his girlfriend. What he failed to notice during everything else was that the purse had gotten slightly muddy from the rain and being sat outside the door.

“Wally. What, the, hell. This was expensive!”

She proceeded to hit her boyfriend with the purse she was so worked up about.

“Arty it’s just a purse.”

Artemis threw it down on the ground and glared at the person she was supposed to be in love with before she shoved Wally hard enough he stumbled backwards.

“Of course you think it’s just a purse. You’re a fucking dipshit.”

She raised her fist and sent it right towards Wally’s face. Dick had seen the whole thing unfold and felt rage pooling in his chest. Before he even knew what he was doing he was putting himself between Artemis and Wally, grabbing her wrist and holding her still in a show of his hidden strength.

“Back the hell off.”

Chapter Text

Dick shoved her arm away and continued to glare at Artemis.

“I’m the one who stole it in the first place. It’s not his fault.” Once he finished he turned to Wally and his expression softened. “Are you okay?”

Wally only nodded and grabbed onto Dick’s wrist to hold him in place. Dick was fast. Faster than what Wally thought would have been possible for the shorter boy. 

“You let someone steal my purse?! He’s a psycho and he belongs in prison! Why isn’t he Wally?!”

Wally felt panic nip at him at the thought of putting Dick back in Juvie after seeing what it had done to him the first time around. He was fast with a cover story, he just hoped it was good enough.

“No, he was joking, he didn’t steal it. I just tripped and dropped it in a puddle while I was walking home. He’s my friend, he was going to help me...clean the purse. For you.”

His words were followed by a very fake laugh and he turned to Dick, his eyes practically begging the younger to follow along with the story. 

It seemed to work as Artemis’s demeanor changed ever so slightly. 

“Okay, well then just bring it to school on Monday without the mud on it and I’ll forgive you for dropping it in the first place. Just don’t let your friend ruin it.”

Once she was finished Artemis just walked out the door and left. Wally let out a breath and sat the purse at the counter before taking his seat and rubbing his hands down his face. 

“Let’s not tell the whole world you stole the thing next time, okay?”

He didn’t know what to do. It’s not like he knew how to clean a purse. 

While Wally was trying to figure out how to please his girlfriend, Dick was trying to process what exactly he’d just watched. 

“Wally what the hell?! She was about to punch you just because her stupid purse got dirty?! What, what if I hadn’t been here? If I hadn’t returned the purse then you would be-” He cut himself off and stared at the red head. He’d seen abuse, he knew it well. He knew how people like Artemis worked. “We clean it. And we give it back. But Wally, she is abusive. And you need to realize that.”

Wally didn’t even blink. “If you didn’t return it I’d just buy her a new purse.”

He shrugged it off like it was nothing important. Like his girlfriend hadn’t just tried to harm him over a bag. Like it was normal for him to buy things to keep the people around him happy. He grabbed his phone and began googling how to clean purses. 

“Besides, I’m not really in the mood for relationship advice. Arty and I are fine.”

Dick knew it was a losing battle. He’d seen it too many times. If he wanted to protect Wally he had to stay close. So instead of arguing his point he only sighed and shook his head.

“Maybe I’ll just be your bodyguard.” Dick narrowed his eyes at the offending bag on the counter. Both their plates completely disregarded. “I know how to clean it.”

“How do you know how to clean it?”

The look Dick gave was priceless. “Dude. You think this was my first theft? I usually sell these things. I only returned this because it wasn’t yours. I always cleaned them before I sold them to make sure I wouldn’t be tracked. I hope she realizes some of that stuff isn’t coming back.”

Wally had been looking through the bag but stopped to look at Dick with panic in his eyes.

“Dude! What all was in it? Do you remember? Did you throw it all away?”

“Some of the stuff was useless on the street I didn’t need it and at that point I didn’t think I was going to return it, I had to get rid of the dead weight. Her ID is in there. So is her wallet. It might just be a little light on cash and coin. What did you think I was going to do when I stole it?”

“Give it back.”

“I can’t.”

“Why not, Dick?”

“You think I’m the only kid living out on the street? They need someone to help them. It wasn’t going to be the adults so I always gave them a cut of what I made.”

Wally sat back and took a deep breath. “Okay. Okay, do you remember how much money was in there? I can just put however much in the wallet and if she asks about anything else I can just say I didn’t see it anywhere when she gave it to me.”

He fell into rambles trying to find a way to keep Artemis pleased. If she was happy then everything went much smoother. Wally pulled out his wallet and started counting the cash he had on hand.

Dick just stared at him and shook his head in dismay. 

“Why? Tell her I stole it. Or hey, you can do the hand off and I’ll steal it again. Then it’s her fault and she can’t blame you. It’s a win all around.” Seeing the other’s face he kept going. “Wally you deserve so much better than her.”

“I’m not going to tell her, Dick, because then she would go to the police.” He rechecked the cash he had and started running through the amounts in his head. “And when you find me someone better than her, send them my way. Until then, just help me. Please.”

“Wally…” Dick sighed. “I don’t know how much was in there. A couple hundred maybe? I gave the kids a hundred of it. All I remember is that the chick was loaded.”

Wally wasn’t going to listen to him about Artemis. If he wasn’t going to get out of the toxic relationship himself then Dick was going to force him to. He started making plans to steal the purse during the exchange. He could give the rest of the money to the kids on the street. There was one boy who he was particularly fond of. He was almost like a little brother. The kid was scary good at stealing tires, Dick knew for a fact he could use the money to help his mom. He’d give Wally his money back but if it belonged to Artemis it was going right to the other street kids. 

“Was it small bills? Big bills? Like, 10’s, 20’s, 100’s?”

“They were in 20’s I think.” He started putting the dishes away and looked back at the purse. “You got any clorox or bleach?”

Wally pulled cash out of his wallet and put it into Artemis’s before looking back to Dick and going under the sink. 

“Yeah” He pulled the bleach out and set it on the counter. “This isn’t going to ruin the purse is it?”

Dick just shook his head and picked up the purse for closer inspection.

“We’re going to need rags and gloves, a brush, and a plastic bucket. Oh, and something to cover the floor. This is going to be a little messy.”

Chapter Text

They finished cleaning the purse around noon. The tension had bled away while they worked and Wally was once again back to his happy, dorky, self. 

“Well, I shouldn’t have doubted you. The purse looks good as new.” He put the purse down on the safety of the counter and smiled at Dick. 

“So what do you want to do? We could play video games or I could take you to the mall and we could buy you some clothing or we could watch movies. The day is all yours. Whatever you want, we can do it. You know, so long as it's legal.”

“Har har.” He mulled over his options for a little. “I guess shopping couldn’t hurt?”

Dick would be lying if he said he wasn’t a little anxious. The last time he’d been in the mall he had almost gotten caught stealing. He took a breath to calm his nerves, Wally would be with him this time. He didn’t have to steal. 

“I feel bad. I don’t have that much cash.”

“That’s fine, I’ll pay. Just consider it a token of my gratitude or a birthday present or something.”

The red head raced up the stairs before popping his head back down when he didn’t hear footsteps following him.

“You coming?”

He grabbed Dick’s wrist and pulled him up the stairs behind him. Once they were back in Wally’s room he shoved Dick to sit down on the bed and started throwing clothing out of the drawers and making a huge mess of his floor. 

“What are you doing?”

“Looking for clothes for you, you midget.” He groaned. “You know what? You’re just going to wear my hoodie. These can be big without looking stupid.”

Wally then proceeded to pull out one of his track hoodies. The kind that had his last name sprawled on the back of it and threw it at the younger. 

“Try it on.”

After that he moved to try to find pants that would work with the outfit. Dick pulled the hoodie over his head and realized just how small he was compared to Wally. The hoodie hung off his frame at nearly every point it possibly could. He looked at the mirror and blurted the first thing that came to mind.

“I look like I’m wearing a sack.” He turned back to Wally. “Are your pants even going to stay up on me?”

Wally only laughed at his misery. The hoodie was basically a dress on Dick’s small body. 

“At this point should you even bother with pants?” He made a gesture to the length when Dick gave him a confused look and laughed even harder at his pout. 

“I mean, you could just wear your jeans, but it’s cold so deal with ‘wearing a sack’. Besides, nobody will bat an eye. They will probably just think it’s a boyfriend or that you like big hoodies, no biggie.”

Wally was so calm about the whole thing, like he couldn’t care less about what anyone thought. It was proved more to Dick when Wally stripped down into his boxers in the blink of an eye, bending over to go through the clothes that he had thrown onto the floor earlier.

Dick turned bright red at having Wally, a near stranger, basically naked and showing off his very fit body. He looked everywhere and anywhere except at Wally. Dick swung a leg around while staring at the ceiling and turned with his leg. 

“Oookay! Somebody doesn’t have any shame!”

He leaned on the doorway and stared into the hallway.

“Just tell me when you’re decent.”

Wally only laughed while he pulled on blue skinny jeans and a red hoodie.

“Okay, I’m good.”

He ran his hands through his hair and gave it his classic Wally West Wind Swept Hair look. He grabbed his phone and keys while walking past Dick and into the hall again. 

“So where do you want to go first? Thrift stores or what?” He flopped an arm around Dick’s shoulders and led him out to the old truck that Wally loved and adored so much.

Dick bristled at the touch. It was like they were old friends. He didn’t know what to do with the fact that Wally was seemingly ignoring the fact that they hardly knew each other. He glared at him slightly before looking down at his shoes.

“I don’t know. Wherever is cheaper I guess.”

Wally tsked. “No no no sir. Cheap stuff will just tear and be uncomfortable. I have a few ideas, let’s go.”

Wally saw Dick eyeing up the rust lined metal of the truck and laughed a little sheepishly.

“She’s a little old but she still runs like a champ.”

It was proved when the engine roared to life. Wally pulled out of the driveway and turned on the radio only to have it start blasting edgy punk music that didn’t match Wally’s aesthetic in the slightest. 

Dick sat and listened to the music and rolled down his window. He stuck his head out to feel the wind hit his face. To know they were moving and feel the wind rushing through his hair and warp sounds. He didn’t realize he was pulling Wally’s hoodie closer to him and took a deep breath.

“Feels just like flying.”

Wally turned the music down and looked at Dick. He looked like a tiny burrito of hoodie in the passenger seat.

“What do you mean flying?”

He kept glancing between Dick and the road trying to make sure they stayed on course and watching for any signs that Dick was uncomfortable with the topic of conversation. 

Dick pillowed his head on his arms while keeping out the window. He glanced at Wally then turned his attention back to their changing surroundings. 

“I used to be in the circus. A trapeze act. I used to fly all the time...that was with my parents.”

“The circus huh? Well why’d you leave it?” He remembered quickly what Dick had said about his parents being murdered and felt like putting his foot in his mouth. “Oh..right. Your parents...I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to bring that up.”

They sat in silence for a little bit before Wally spoke up again.

“Why don’t you go back? Wouldn’t the circus take you in again?”

Wally couldn’t see the dark look in Dick’s eyes at the mention of going back.

“I’m romani. Lots of the circus is too. The thing about romani is they have this huge deal over bloodlines and purity and all that stuff. My parents never really bought into it all that much, but since I went into foster care, I was with a bunch of different families and then on the streets so now I’m, I don’t know, I guess I’m dirty in their eyes. They won’t accept me back. Especially after the things I did. I committed crimes. As far as they’re concerned I’m just a dirty gypsy piece of trash like everyone says.”

By this point in the story they had arrived at their destination. Wally hadn’t spoken the whole way through Dick’s tale and pulled into a parking spot. Dick was expecting Wally to console or say something ridiculously happy and optimistic. Instead what he got was,

“That’s fucking dumb.”

He cut the engine and pulled his keys out before turning to Dick.

“No offense to your culture or anything, but that’s really fucking dumb.”

He unbuckled his seat-belt and waited for Dick to come around the other side. 

“I’m saying you aren’t a ‘dirty gypsy piece of trash’. You’ve made a few bad decisions, sure, but that doesn’t make you a bad person Dick.”

He laughed but Wally could tell it was hollow.

“Yeah. Like you know.”

They started walking and Dick began to case the building out of nothing more than survival instinct. He glanced back at his friend when he didn’t respond.

“How would you know if I was good or bad?”

Wally locked the car and kept pace with Dick.

“You don’t strike me as a bad person.” 

He refused to look back at they younger one. He knew what his expression would be, he didn’t need to look. Instead he held the door open for him and they began to look around inside the store. 

“So tell me more about yourself. Do you have any dreams, motivations, aspirations? What is something that you would want to be when you’re older?”

“What does any of that have to do with clothing?”

“It’s so I get you clothes that you don’t completely hate Dick." Was it said as his name or the insult? "Just answer the question.”

Wally gave him a pout while Dick rolled his eyes and thought about his answer.

“Honestly? My goal so far has just been to survive, but my dream-” He cut himself off. “Nevermind. It’s stupid.” 

He noticed people staring at him and pulled the hoodie closer around his body while scooting slightly closer to Wally. Wally, the ever oblivious, just kept pace and nudged Dick softly with his elbow.

“Come on~ now you have to tell me.”

He grabbed onto the back of Dick’s hoodie and pulled them into an isle of shirts before he started going through them. He was holding them up and going off Dick’s face on whether or not they would take them to try on or leave them there. Dick watched Wally form up a small pile of clothes and smiled a little before scanning their surroundings again.

“Don’t make fun of me. I’ve always dreamed of..well I’ve always wanted to help people. Kinda like how Batman does, I just, I wanna be able to help. Maybe I can do some good things for a change and make things better for the city instead of just living on the streets and committing crimes. Its, I’m sorry, it’s stupid, I know. Just ignore me.”

Wally turned to him with a smile.

“It’s not stupid. Besides, you could always do that. I can see you as the hero type. I mean, for starters heroes have tragic backstories. You would just need some training and a good name, oh, and a costume. Can’t forget that.” His expression turned dead serious as he continued. “Just don’t wear underwear on the outside of your suit.”

He laughed and winked while Dick rolled his eyes with a fond smile on his lips.

“Yeah. Lots of trauma. I 100% can fill that box, and no, I won’t, but i highly doubt I can have that life. I mean, it’s Batman, and I’m not exactly cut for it I don’t think. Besides, I don’t even know what I would name myself.”

He turned back to Wally and raised an eyebrow at the massive pile he had accumulated. 

“You got enough there?”

Wally just smirked.

“Well I for one think you’d make a badass hero. You’re name has to be good though so take your time with that. Maybe make it something that will inspire you.”

He grabbed one more shirt and gave Dick a look.

Now I have enough. To start at least. Let’s go to the fitting rooms.”

He lifted the pile and the two made their way to the fitting rooms. A worker unlocked it for them and Wally sat the pile down on the bench before stepping out. 

“So, I’m going to wait out there. Try them on and let me know what you think.”

Dick just rolled his eyes while Wally went and flopped himself down onto one of the plush chairs. Once the door to the dressing room was locked tight and Dick had done his check of the area he began to try on the clothes one by one. Eventually he was left with a stack of t-shirts and hoodies, his favorite being a dark blue Gotham Knights hoodie. He picked up his stack and headed back to where Wally was.

“These are really nice Wally.” He was looking them over for what seemed like the umpteenth time. They were good quality clothes. Their price tags showed that. “Are you sure about this?”

“Yes I’m sure. Do you like them?”

Wally took the stack from Dick’s arms seeing that the younger had already taken care of the ones he wasn’t a fan of. Almost immediately he began to walk away towards another jean display.

“Go ahead and pick out some jeans. These are harder to guesstimate for sizes so I’ll just let you go through them.”

Dick stepped to the display and began going through them. He was sure he would be back on the streets at the end of the week. Afterall Wally wasn’t going to be alone forever. He had things to think about, stuff like stealth and stretch, maneuverability. Which of course ended up with him going back to Wally with five pairs of the same black jeans.

Wally raised a brow once he saw what was in his friend’s hands.

“You want five of the same pants..?”

Dick only tilted his head in confusion while he looked at the jeans and then back to Wally.

“They’re not the same. I got them from different piles.”

Wally laughed a little and shook his head, man this kid had never been shopping properly before. 

“Okay okay. Is there anything else you want from here? Or should we go check out and go to another store?”

He took the clothes out of Dick’s hands adding onto the already hefty pile in his own arms leaving the only thing for him to look at being the top of Wally’s wild hair. He had to hide his smile and looked around the store again, his eyes catching on a Batman plushie sitting on a shelf nearby.

“Uhh, up to you. It’s your money. Can I help you carry that?”

Wally’s head suddenly pocked its way out from the side of the pile so he could look at Dick. 

“No. Today is your day. That means you don’t have to carry anything and~ anything you want you can get. Please, don’t worry about money today.”

He noticed that Dick’s eyes kept drifting back to an item behind him and turned to see what it was. At first he thought he was crazy, but watching closer he knew he wasn’t.

“Do you want the plushie Dick?”

As soon as the words left his mouth the mentioned boy turned the brightest shade of red human flesh could ever hope to be. Instantly Dick drew his eyes off the toy and down to his shoes as he stammered to come up with a suitable reply.

“I, uh, uhm. Maybe? A little, uhm. It uh..it doesn’t matter.”

A smirk painted his lips while he put the pile of clothes down and grabbed the plushie from the shelf. 

“It does matter. You want him.”

Wally added the toy to the pile and carried it all to the checkout counter. He purposefully hid the screen from Dick as he watched the total rack up to something near $300. Once they were done he grabbed all the bags still refusing to let Dick help carry and took everything back to the truck. 

Once they were both inside he put his hands on the wheel and smiled.

“So. Where to next?”

Chapter Text

Dick followed Wally into the truck and took his own spot in the passenger seat. 

“I don’t know. My stores are generally the pockets of people on the streets.”

His dumbfounded expression came back as he looked at the number of bags in the backseat and how full they all were. 

“You’re an idiot you know that right?”

He didn’t think it would strike the cord that it did. Wally took his hands off the wheel and leveled a cold but also hurt look right at Dick.

“Could you repeat that please? How am I an idiot?”

He pulled the keys from the ignition and silence filled the cabin. When he didn’t get an answer fast enough he jingled the keys to show his impatience. Dick caught on fast. He saw the emotions flit on Wally’s face and knew he had messed up, that wasn’t his goal.

“I-...I didn’t mean it like that. I just, I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said anything.”

He didn’t want to lose Wally as soon as he had found him. He liked him. He didn’t want the week to end, so he kept his eyes down. Doing this he missed the frown forming on Wally’s face and the fact that his leg started bouncing softly. The angry left his voice while it was replaced with hurt and confusion.

“No. Please elaborate. How exactly am I an idiot Dick?”

The younger stared determinedly at his lap. He knew if he looked at Wally he wouldn’t be able to keep himself calm while talking. 

“I just. Wally you’re not. Can we just, ya know, forget I said anything? Please? I’m sorry. I just thought maybe-” There was no point in trying to brush this away. He’d dug his hole and he’d dug it deep. He needed to explain. 

“It’s not good to spend that much money on me. I don’t deserve it. I don’t deserve you. But I’m so glad that you let me stay because it means a lot to me and I’m not trying to pressure you to keep me in. If you want me gone I can leave but I’m worried about you and I want to keep you safe but you’re so kind that it’s going to get you hurt and I just want you safe and-..God Wally now I’m the one hurting you again.”

He realized he’d gone into a ramble and turned away in shame.

“I’m sorry..just. Just ignore me, I’m sorry.”

Wally didn’t respond. He just mulled over the words that were thrown at him while tossing his keys from one hand to the other. He looked out the window and watched the parking lot. Nothing special. No one would notice the old truck sitting there with people inside for too long. Taking a deep breath Wally put the keys back in the ignition and turned the truck back on. He didn’t look at his friend. Just stared through the windshield, keeping his voice low as he spoke. 

“You need to put on your seatbelt or we can’t drive anywhere.”

Dick did as he was told without a word. The silence suffocating both of them in its awkwardness while Wally began down the street. The red head cleared his throat before speaking. 

“Nobody wants to be friends with the real Wally West. They want to be friends with the rich kid in school.”

He sighed and gripped the wheel hard enough to turn his knuckles white. 

“I’ve never had a real friend and that’s why I’ve been acting like an idiot. I don’t know how to act. With everyone else you just have to smile and nod, buy them something and they’ll be happy. But, you aren’t everyone else. You call me an idiot for buying things and you listen when I talk to you, you’re..you’re you.”

He stopped the truck at a red light and sighed softly before looking back to Dick to find him staring back.

“Do you wanna go home now?”

Dick nodded at the same time the light turned green and Wally started to drive again.

“Something I learned in juvie,” Dick began. “Is that there’s not many people that actually care about others. It always shows backwards. If they say they’re about ‘love’ and ‘people’ then they only care about the money. On the flip side, if they look like they only care about the money then they typically care about people.” He laughed a little at himself.

“Hell, I don’t know how many times people said I was selfish after I picked their pockets and got caught. I wasn’t very good at it at first, but I just, I had to eat. I had to stay alive. They don’t see that. You though, you didn’t care that I took the purse you cared that it wasn’t yours and you had to get it back. And when most people would have you run you just, you cared. You brought me in and you saved my life.”

He looked at his hands folded in his lap as he said the last part. 

“The real you is better than the fake one. The real Wally West is great and amazing and special. I will do everything in my power to keep you safe. Because you deserve it, more than anyone else ever will.”

It stayed quiet for a little. The only sound was the tires rolling softly on the pavement.

“You know you don’t have to keep me safe though, I can handle myself.” 

The ginger laughed slightly as he picked up speed and drove them the rest of the way home. The drive was quiet but it wasn’t awkward anymore. Both of them were simply enjoying the other’s company. Once they were back they unloaded the car and Wally watched Dick. Took in all his slight mannerisms, his appearance, ever detail he could like it was the last time he would be able to look at him. As much as Dick wanted to keep him safe, Wally wanted to keep him safe too. The kid had already had way to hard of a time for the short amount of life he’d lived. 

“So,” He looked around the room to check that everything was in order before his eyes settled on his friend. “What would you like to do now? We could watch movies, talk, play video games?”

“Uhh, I don’t know. You’ve done a lot today. What do you want to do?”

He held his new plushie up to the light before tucking it close to his chest and crossing his arms over it. Wally smiled at the sight. Dick was pretty cute like this. He then grabbed the oversized hoodie his friend was wearing and tugged him over to the couch. 

“We can see if anything good is on and talk, does that sound good to you?”

He pat the cushion beside him while tossing the remote in the air and catching it with the other. Dick just stared at Wally before taking his spot on the couch. After flipping through the channels for a few minutes the two decided on a really old, cheesy horror movie. Wally was fully engrossed in it. Dick on the other hand was not. He was paying more attention to Wally. To the way the green of his eyes reflected the light of the screen. The way his hair hung down in front of his face, how his freckles only seemed to accentuate his facial features. He was paying so close attention to Wally that when a jumpscare came over the movie and Wally jumped. His sudden movement scared Dick more than the loud noise that blasted through the televisions speakers. 

Wally laughed at himself for jumping at the admittedly stupid and predictable jump scare. He turned his head slightly but managed to keep his eyes on the screen. 

“I should probably be ashamed that I didn’t see that coming.”

After speaking his attention returned fully to the screen. He was so immersed in the film he didn’t even notice he was leaning forward with hands clenched in anticipation. Another jumpscare had him pushing himself back into the couch with enough force to rock it slightly. He then proceeded to grab a pillow and clutch it to his chest, smiling and putting his feet up on the coffee table in front of them. It was calm. It was a relaxing night. 

“This movie is so good. I didn’t see that scare coming at all.”

The redhead shifted so that he was pressing into Dick’s side. He had to nuzzle a little to get himself comfortable completely oblivious to the fact that Dick’s body coiled up faster than Flash himself. He nearly stopped breathing at the contact but forced himself to exhale in a relatively steady rhythm. 

“Uhm..Wally? There’s uh..something I wanted to tell you.” He took a deep breath. Here it was. The thing that would certainly have him lose everything good in his world.

“I don’t like girls.”

Wally sat up and grabbed the remote to mute the movie. He looked at Dick for about two seconds before flopping back into his previous position. 

“Ah man, neither do I. They are just so much…” He struggled for a word. “Ugh. They’re ugh.”

Dick wanted nothing more but to scream into a pillow while he heard Wally’s response. 

“That’s not what I meant. I meant, I don’t like females, romantically. If you catch my drift.”

Wally cocked his head slightly to look up at Dick. The confusion was plain to see on his face as he blinked a few times before answering.

“No, I caught your drift. My statement still holds.”

The only movement in the room was the rise and fall of their chests as they both breathed and watched the other one. Dick processed the words he’d just heard and blinked and shook his head.

“Wally. In case you’ve forgotten, you have a girlfriend?”

“Yeah, I’m aware.” 

Said ginger sat up and turned his entire body to look at Dick and heaving a heavy sigh.

“Please don’t think any less of me for this, but, when we started dating..it was strictly a power move.” He stopped and scanned Dick’s face before continuing. 

“We became the school’s number one couple. A power couple if you will. Everyone at school knew us. They either loved us or wanted to be us, and yeah, as time went on I got feelings for her. But that doesn’t change the fact that I like guys.”

He finished with a small laugh, giving Dick an awkward smile before looking down at his hands. Dick just sighed when he saw the resigned look on Wally’s face. Like he was expecting to get abused for what he said. 

“I don’t think any less of you.” He watched Wally’s head perk up a little at that. “But if you like guys...then why don’t you break up with her? I’ve seen how she acts with you. I don’t think she really loves you, and if you need power in school having you be single will give you more of it. Especially if you tell how you were ‘played by this chick’. What matters is if you’re happy.”

Wally shook his head slightly.

“I couldn’t do that to Arty. She can be..a lot, but that would ruin her reputation. I just. The school doesn’t know. I don’t want them to either...so yeah.. There’s that.”

He picked up the remote again and looked at it before giving a pleading look to Dick.

“Can we just go back to watching the movie?”

At Dick’s nod he turned the volume back up and tried to get comfortable. The night progressed like that for hours. The two of them shifting their positions to be comfortable and watching a variety of cheesy films on TV. At one point during a particularly horrible romcom Dick slouched into Wally’s side and fell asleep. The ginger smiled and put an arm around the smaller boy, shifting so that they would both be comfortable with Dick replacing the pillow Wally had been cuddling to his chest earlier in the night. Dick was still recovering so Wally wasn’t surprised he’d fallen asleep early. He was just happy he was trusted enough for Dick to close his eyes around him and sleep. The previous night didn’t count, but this, this moment. That one counted.

Artemis had been texting with Wally for the first part of the marathon but eventually he stopped. It was only seven so there was no way that Wally, the energetic boy that he was, would be asleep. Wally was always supposed to answer her. He wasn’t allowed to not respond. So when he vanished with no seemingly obvious excuse as to why he couldn’t answer his text messages, she decided to go over to his house and give him a piece of her mind. 

She stormed over to the door and right before she pounded her fist into the wood she saw the light of the TV in the dark of what she knew was the living room. She stopped and moved over to look in through the windows. What she saw made her furious. There was her boyfriend, a person she admittedly didn’t really care about, but he was her chess piece and was supposed to do as he was told. There was Wally, sitting with the “Friend” she had seen earlier when she was at the house. She saw them cuddled together on the couch. Pulling out her phone and taking several pictures of the pair she started to forge a plan. Wally would have hell to pay come school Monday morning.

Chapter Text

Monday morning rolled around with Dick making them breakfast and watching Wally run around the house to get all of his things together. He grabbed his bag and the toast Dick made for him and ran towards the door. 

“Bye Dick! I’ll see you after school. You good here?”

“I’m fine. Just go, don’t be late.”

Wally shoved the toast in his mouth and ran out to his truck while pulling out his phone and dialing Artemis’s number. He wasn’t going to text and drive, he knew that wasn’t safe. He was hoping he could tell her he was running late but that he could still meet her in the usual spot so she didn’t get angry when he wasn’t perfectly on time. She didn’t answer. That was a bit odd. He knew she was always on her phone at this point in the morning. 

Once he got to the school he parked and started making his way in. No one came up to him. No one talked to him. People would make eye contact and then swiftly look away. Others were whispering in hushed voices as they moved out of his way. They all had papers in their hands. He was confused until one of them didn’t succeed in keeping their voice down.

“Who knew the track team captain was a fag.”

Immediately Wally whipped around to see who had said it but he only found people laughing and snickering behind their hands as they watched him. He felt a pit growing in his stomach. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t right at all. He quickly made his way back to Artemis’s locker where they usually met up and found that she was surrounded by a group of her friends. Artemis gave him one of her looks. One of the ones she gave to people she was about to tear down.

“So how’s your little boyfriend Wally?”

Confusion overrode his features.

“What are you talking about Arty?”

“No. Don’t call me that. Everyone knows your little secret.”

She proceeded to open her locker and pull out one of the papers everyone had in their hands.

“What the fuck is that?”

“It’s you. You and that little gypsy piece of trash.”

She shoved the paper into his hands and he saw the photo. The photo he knew had to have been taken from his window. It showed his full face and Dick snuggled into him. Showed the soft smile on his face. There was absolutely no way to cover what it looked like they were doing. He felt panic crawl through his body like a plague. . 

“No. That’s not what it looks like. Artemis let me expl-”

He was cut off by her locker door slamming closed. 

“No, no explanation. You’re a cheater. Just. Did you bring me my purse or not?”

He was well aware of the group of people around them. Of how many eyes were watching the exchange and cameras recording it to share it everywhere. 

“No. I was running late. I tried to call you to tell you that.”

“Fine. Bring it after school. My house.”

She started to walk away, purposefully ramming her shoulder into his as she passed him. He wanted to get away, needed to get away. So he kept his head down and made his way through the halls to his locker. He tried to ignore all of the whispers and looks. The comments that were made in his wake. He thought he could just power through the day, until he got to his locker. His locker that was absolutely covered in the flyers that Artemis had apparently been handing out all morning long. Immediately he began ripping all of them off only to find the word ‘gay’ written in large letters across the door in sharpie. 

He opened the door and traded out his books. He could do this. He could make it through the day and then he would return the purse and shut himself away from everyone. He just had to make it through his classes and he would be fine. 


Dick spent the day exploring the house. He found little side rooms and cleaned anything he saw that looked like it could use it. He wanted something good to come out of him staying there, he completely refused to be a burden on Wally. Eventually he settled himself in the living room and watched some tv. The Gotham Knights hoodie Wally bought him soft on his skin. Eventually he heard the sound of Wally’s truck pulling up to the house and moved to get the door for him. He knew he was there so why not? He’d even made a little surprise for Wally so he thought getting the door would be a good segue for it. 

When he opened the door and saw Wally’s face he knew something had to have happened. His smile fell off and he raised an eyebrow as Wally made his way to the door.

“Hi, how was your day?”

He thought that was a safe bet to ask. So when Wally ignored him and huffed into the house to throw his stuff down on the floor he was confused. The thud of the bag meeting wood echoed through the house and Dick followed close behind after shutting and locking the front door. Wally instantly started pacing the living room and noted Dick standing in the doorway. 

“It was shitty.”

He started to move around the house. Pacing just one room wasn’t good enough. He needed to move. Dick followed him. He was worried. Wally was usually a happy guy, for him to be this worked up something big had to have happened. He wasn’t ready for Wally to whirl around on him and yell.

“Can you just give me some space?!”

Dick just gave him a look of shock and hurt at the outburst. He didn’t know what to do, so he got defensive. It kept him safe before, it could keep him safe now. 

“I’m just worried alright? What happened at school?”

Wally caught the look on his face and softened slightly. 

“Sorry.” He took a deep breath and let it out slowly while looking up at the ceiling. Just thinking about it was making him mad again. “I was greeted today with flyers of you and I the other night on the couch plastered everywhere. Everyone thinks I’m a fag and that I cheated on Artemis with someone like you of all people. Which is total bullshit. I didn’t cheat. But, Artemis thinks so and the whole school thinks so. So, yeah. That’s how my day went.”

Wally didn’t notice Dick freeze with the horror of hearing what happened. Or the hurt that ran through the smaller boy at a certain part of his rant. Dick looked down and mulled over the words while Wally finished before he spoke. 

“Someone like me huh?” He knew Wally was looking at him but all he could focus on was the sting of those words. “You know. You really had me going there West. I thought I’d actually found a real friend. Guess I was just a charity case to boost your ego. But no one else can see you with gypsy scum huh? Fine.”

He turned around and walked out the door. He didn’t want to hear the response. Didn’t want to get pulled in. He knew, he knew that getting attached to people only caused hurt. Loving someone only meant it would hurt more when they left. Loving. Funny how that was the word that always cut the deepest, even when it was never spoken. Funny how he only realized when he felt it being ripped away. When he felt it shredding his heart right down the middle. He needed out. He had to run. Run far away and get away from it all. He couldn’t handle another loss. 

Wally immediately knew he’d said the wrong thing. He was cursing his big mouth and not thinking before he spoke. He ran after Dick and shouted out the door.

“I didn’t mean it like that! Just come back!”

Dick was gone. He was gone and Wally was pissed and confused and sad. Nothing was making sense. How did everything go from so good to so bad so fast. He grabbed the stupid purse that started it all and went out to his truck. He dialed Artemis’s number and was surprised when she answered the phone fairly quickly. 

“What.”

“Hey, Artemis, I’ll be over in like, half an hour to drop off the purse.”

“Okay.”

She hung up and he sighed. His life was a mess. Wally started the truck and rolled the windows down. He drove slowly and looked around calling out and searching for any signs of Dick. After a while he gave up. He had to make it to Artemis’s house in time or she would be even more mad. 

By the time he got there her parent’s cars were gone, not that unusual, but the lights in the house were all off even though Artemis had given no indication that she wasn’t at home. Red flags started popping up but he kept going. He called her again to see if there were any special instructions for what he had to do with the purse but the call went right to voicemail. He steeled himself, grabbed the purse, and headed up to the front door. The door opened after his first knock and he started to explain while keeping his eyes down. He didn’t want to see the glare he knew she would have. 

“Hey, so can we talk about the other night?”

When he didn’t immediately hear her yelling at him he looked up and realized why. It wasn’t Artemis. It was John, football team captain. The same guy who she had been grinding on the night of the party. John just laughed, took the purse away from Wally and tossed it inside before grabbing Wally’s shirt and pulling him into the front hall. 

“The other night huh? You mean when you were all over that guy?”

Wally tried to take a step back but two other members of the football team grabbed him from behind and held him still. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t get away from them. 

“John.” The only thing he could do now was reason. “You don’t want to do this.”

“Actually, we all kinda do.”

Every other member of the football team and even some of the track team came into the hall. They all started towards him and he looked up the stairs to see Artemis watching it all as they all took turns hitting him. His lip was split and bleeding. He was trying to breathe around the bruises that were rapidly covering his torso. His bangs were hanging down in front of his eyes as he looked up to Artemis and tried the only thing he could think of. He tried to beg.

“Arty. Please. Make them stop.”

She watched for a moment before coming down the staircase and looking at everyone.

“Stop.”

Everyone in the hallway stopped while she picked up the purse from the ground and examined it. The only sound was Wally’s harsh breaths and his attempted thanking her. She didn’t even acknowledge him as she headed back up the stairs and shot Wally a disdainful look. 

“Just, don’t make a mess. And be gone before my parents come home.”

She walked away after that and left Wally to the mercy of the smirking jocks all around him. 

Dick ran around the neighborhood and got up onto the rooftops. It was where he felt comfortable. He liked being up high. He liked being able to feel the air all around him. It didn’t take him that long to calm down. He was used to being pushed aside and he knew Wally had tried to explain. He just didn’t really want to be right there again. He heard Wally calling out his name and decided to look to see what was happening. Wally in his truck driving around. He wasn’t exactly ready to face him yet so instead he followed the truck from the roofs. 

Eventually he saw Wally give up and start fully driving, but not towards home. He saw Wally get pulled into the house and felt worry coil in his chest. He used his stealth skills to get to the window and see what was going on. He heard the noise of flesh hitting flesh and watched with growing horror as Wally got hit. He saw him beg Artemis for reprieve and watched her leave him to the mercy of jocks. He’d had enough. 

Over the sounds of them hitting Wally no one heard the lock on the front door being picked. It wasn’t until the door whipped open and Dick came in like a bat out of hell to tackle John away from Wally that they knew he was even there. Dick was like watching the wind itself in a fight. He flipped and bent, kicked and punched in a harmony that only Wally knew was built off pure survival and years of flying. Wally didn’t do too much aside from lean on the walls. Everything in his body hurt and Dick was doing well enough in the fight by himself for the time being. He punched one of the other members of the football team down and whirled to check on Wally. Seeing the blood on Wally’s face had the rage pumping faster. Wally was the only person who had shown him kindness, even if it was a hoax there was still the fact that Wally had nursed him back to health. Good intentions or not that was a debt that remained to be paid. 

The jocks reassembled their lines and decided to try to charge Dick all at once. They were all varsity, there was no way he could take them all at once, right? Wrong. In a heartbeat it was no longer a battle of fists. The glint of a blade caught the light and the jocks all froze seeing their opponent with a new weapon. Dick held the pocket knife and stood protectively in front of Wally. He’d be damned if he let these people hurt him more. The jocks all started yelling threats for him to get rid of the knife before they made things worse for everyone. Artemis heard all of the yelling and went to the top of the stairs. She’d told them to keep it down. Once she saw the knife and recognized who Dick was she called the police. Only when sirens could be heard in the distance did she call down the stairs for everyone to hear.

“Well Wally, your little fag toy gets to see what Juvie is like.”

The jocks all laughed and got to work to make themselves look like pure victims. Instead of running at the sound of police like he wanted to Dick turned to Wally. 

“Are you alright?”

Wally wiped the blood from his lips and tried to take a deep breath around his wounds. 

“I’ll live. You shouldn’t have come here…”

He saw the knife still in Dick’s hand. Saw that he was gripping the handle of it hard enough for his knuckles to turn white. Carefully Wally reached out and took the knife out of Dick’s hand. He closed it and tucked the weapon into his own pocket. He’d rather not have Dick have the weapon on him if the cops were this close. He could tell they were close, just a few blocks. Time was almost up.

“I’m glad you did though.”

There was a faint flicker of a smile on Dick’s lips at those words. A tiny quirk that had Wally’s stomachs doing flips over itself and he was suddenly scared that it would be the last time he’d see it. 

The sirens were on the street. 

They grabbed onto each other in a hug while officers came into the house. They started to take statements with the jocks before coming over and clearing their throat to make them break. As Dick turned to face the music Wally tried his best to remain in contact with him. The last thing Dick heard as the cops shoved him into the back of the squad car was Wally’s scared voice. Scared, but also determined. 

“I’ll get you out. I promise.”

Somehow, Dick believed him.

Chapter Text

Wally got back to the house and threw his keys on the ground. This wasn’t fair. This wasn’t how today was supposed to go. This wasn’t meant to happen. The door slammed behind him, the only sounds in the house being his harsh breathing as he tried to calm down. Somehow the house felt wrong without Dick there. Like there was a gaping hole of something crucial missing. It took him a little to realize his heart was throbbing at the thought of never seeing Dick smile again. Once he no longer felt like crying out of pure rage he made his way over to the kitchen. His intent had been to get something to drink and them form a plan up to save Dick. What he found was a plate on the kitchen island. Hot pockets that had long since gone cold during the fights and a note sitting next to them. Dick had surprisingly good handwriting for a street kid. 

“I’m not that good at words, but I hope your day went well, and I hope I can make it better.”

He felt sick. Dick was supposed to be standing here next to him. Eating these hot pockets with him while they were still hot instead of them sitting here getting cold for him to find like this. Dick should have been sitting next to him on the couch while they watched movies and talked about life. Not god knows where with the police. Juvie almost killed him last time. All Wally could do was pray he made it there fast enough. He had to be fast enough.


Dick stared up at the large gray walls from behind the screened in window of the police car. He knew this place far too well. Knew they had upgraded their security after his escape and he knew full well that he would not get the same treatment as all the other newcomers. He knew some of the kids in this place, and he knew they would not be kind to his return. Two burly looking guards met him as the police hauled him out of the car and roughly handed him over. Dick recognized them, he would always recognize them. He saw them nightly in his nightmares, his mind countlessly replaying a tube being forced into his throat. Being held down and forced to eat mashed substance that could hardly be called food. He could tell by their sneers that they recognized him and couldn’t help the pang of fear that settled in his stomach. 

He was well aware he couldn’t show anything here. There was a reason Wally was handed a mess of frustration and anger. It was the only thing that could be shown in Juvie or on the streets that wouldn’t immediately have someone marked for death. Gotham did that. It didn’t matter how old you were, if you were happy you were weak. 

He was processed faster than other kids. Given a jumpsuit and made to strip naked in front of other guards and the Director of the Juvie himself. He pulled on the ill fitting gray jumpsuit and kept himself tense as the same guards from before grabbed onto his arms to haul him towards doors he wished he could burn from his memories. The guard on his left leaned down and whispered in his ear. His rancid breath washing over the entirety of Dick’s being. 

“Yard time for you inmate.”

Without any other warning he was shoved through the doors and into the fenced in walls. Guards lined the brick with guns in their hands. It was extreme for a Juvie, but then again it was Gotham. A place where people like the Joker were common, maybe it wasn’t that extreme. The other inmates looked at him. Some of them were new, some of them were ones that had tormented the boy who couldn’t speak english. Some of them had been bystanders, some of them he knew had been attacked as well. The difference now was that he was targeted by all of them. All of these kids wanting to assert dominance over the new kid that they knew had a reputation. They wanted to break him fast. It wouldn’t work. It couldn’t work. Wally said he’d get him out and he had to believe in that. If he couldn’t believe in Wally then what was the point?

The kids moved as one coming forward and attacking at once. Dick was smart enough to shield himself. If he fought back he’d be the one getting punished for the fight, so he simply covered his body and tried to make his injuries less severe than what they easily could have been. The guards did nothing. Only watched him get beaten senseless until a kick to the head had his mind spinning in several different directions. 

He was only half aware as guards grabbed him under the arms and dragged him inside to the shower room. The shower room that wasn’t really for showers. They tossed his bruised body to the ground and told him to undress, kicking him in his already bruising ribs when he wasn’t fast enough. Dick tried to make himself focus as best he could. Focus on the coarse material under his fingers as he folded the jumpsuit he knew he’d have to put on again. Focus on the pain radiating from his ribs and the feeling of anxiety clawing at his heart and stomach. Focus on one thing at a time. The hose for the power washer. The nozzle being aimed at him. The hard, cold, harsh spray of water beating and berating his already sensitive flesh. The dirt that pooled at his feet and the small bit of blood that came off. He turned without the que and grabbed the tile for support. The water hurt, it always hurts. It didn’t stop until his skin was raw and pink, discoloration in areas fists and feet had made sharp impacts into his body. They had him put on the dirty jumpsuit again and marched him to the cafeteria. The other kids from the yard had already been ushered in for their dinners. Dick was late to the game, again. He already knew he wouldn’t be able to stomach any of the food. There were too many memories attached to all of it. Even if that wasn’t the case, being with Wally had shown him real food. He just had to hold out a little bit and Wally would get him out, right? He had to. He just had to. 

Dick just sat there with his head down until the guards began taking kids back to their cells. When he was guided to his own hell hole that would serve as his place of residence for the time being, he was alone. No cellmate, not yet at least. He laid down on the thin material that had no right to call itself a mattress. He had time to think. It wasn’t like he could do much else with his current situation. He thought about Wally. About the snack he’d made for him. About the fact that he shouldn’t be here. That he should be with the ginger that had made it past all of his hearts defenses in record time. He wanted to go home. Home. Such a funny word for the boy who hadn’t had one since he was eight. 

He was so absorbed in his thoughts of Wally that he didn’t notice his cellmate being brought into the room. Dick hadn't even realized he was crying until he felt the need to breathe around his stuffed up nose. His cellmate, Jack Hardy, had had enough of the sniffles coming from the bunk opposite him and moved swiftly over to the smaller boy. He had seen Dick before, he was tiny, built for movement, while Jack was big and built for force. He grabbed Dick’s shoulder and flipped him harshly out of the small ball he’d been curled in. At that moment Dick realized he wasn’t alone in the room and tried to fight. His motion was cut off by a large hand wrapping itself around his throat like a vice. 

“You shut up. Or I make you shut up. Thought Juvie kids were supposed to be tough.” Almost as an afterthought, he added. “Stupid gypsy.” 

Dick was sick and tired of people using that against him. Yes he was a gypsy but he was proud of it. He may have been drained from the days events but that didn’t mean he was broken. If this guy thought he’d break against him then he was dead wrong. He leveled his cellmate with a death glare and moved his arms to try to push Jack away. The larger boy simply punched Dick in the gut before squeezing his throat tighter. Dick couldn't breathe. He couldn’t breathe and he couldn’t fight. Sparks and spots invaded his vision until he couldn't see. Until he couldn’t hear anything other than the blood rushing through his ears. His body seemed to fade out of his grip. The only thing he could think was, ‘this is a really crap way to die’. 

Jack let go once he saw the younger go limp under him. When Dick didn’t immediately breathe in on his own he punched him in the solar plexus. The shock to his system sent him gasping, coughing, and wheezing to try to get air. Jack moved back over to his side of the room while Dick pushed himself up the wall to breathe better. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep. He had to stay focused, couldn't even let his thoughts wander. Slowly he let himself drift into the buzz of nothing. This was going to take too long. He just hoped the next time Wally saw him it wouldn’t be at the morgue. 


The next morning Wally got a shower and noted the amount of bruising on his body as well as his swollen lip. School could deal without him for a day. He had much more important things to attend to. After raiding his mom’s makeup for something to make him look a little less dead. He combed through his fire hair and put on nicer clothing before heading out to his truck and driving over to the Juvie. 

He may have been a teen in high school but that didn’t stop him from getting a meeting with the Director of the child prison. The Director’s first reaction to Wally’s request was expected. Why would he let Richard go? Why should he? After a bit of explaining on what actually happened and gaining the director’s trust, Wally asked for Dick’s release again. 

“Wallace, you understand that paperwork will need filed as well as the amount of money this will cost the center?”

“I do. That’s why my family and I will pay for all of it.”

“He will need to be given an education so that he doesn’t end up back here for any crimes.”

Wally really felt the need to point out that the only crimes he’d been put here for were being the wrong race and self defense. It was the reason he was still getting Dick out even though the Director brought up that Dick was an escapee. Wally wasn’t stupid. Had he not been prepared with good Samaritan laws, citizen’s arrest regulations, and more, Dick wouldn’t even have a chance at leaving anytime soon. Not legally at least. 

“We can afford to get him schooling as well.”

He knew he had to be polite. As much as he wanted to lose his temper that wouldn’t help Dick. As long as he got his friend back he didn’t care what happened. The Director told him he could go for a visit if he wanted to while he got the paperwork in order for the release sorted out. Wally was guided to his spot to wait for Dick

What Wally didn’t know was that it was currently yard time for all of the inmates. AKA, it was time for Dick’s beating. All the other kids had immediately gathered around to beat the hell out of him. Guards wouldn’t help him. They never helped anyone. That was how it worked until two came out to look for him. The guards came out and hauled him to his feet. They were utterly careless of his new wounds as they dragged him to the visiting room. 

“Got someone to see you trash.”

After that they shoved him into the room, leaving him him to stumble and limp his way down the line. Confusion sat on his features until he saw his favorite red head sitting in the chair opposite the glass. He sat down with a wince but the smile stayed on his lips as he grabbed the phone to talk. 

Wally’s face went from excited to see his friend to mortified by seeing his condition.

“Are you okay? What happened?”

He raised his hand to the glass but was only met with a scoff from the other side.

“It’s Juvie Wally, this is what happens. Especially to people like me. What are you doing here? Did something else happen?”

Wally’s hand lowered from the glass as he fitted Dick with a sad expression.

“I promised you I was going to get you out.”

Dick’s face turned confused. Yes he believed in Wally but the idea of him getting out legally was still something new for him to consider. There was no way. Was there? Would Wally really do that for him? He knew he wasn’t a criminal, Dick wasn’t about to let Wally throw that part of himself away for his sake. He escaped once, he could do it again. 

“How? What are you planning?”

Wally gave him a small smile. 

“I have my ways.”

At that moment the Director came over to them with a stack of papers in hand. He’d had to call Wally’s parents to ensure they were aware of the payment about to be made. Mary West had given her consent. Wally had known it was coming and made the proper arrangements. He knew his mom would help him. He also knew she wouldn’t tell his father. 

“Mr. West here are the forms you need to sign.”

Dick watched Wally meticulously go through the paperwork getting more and more hopeful with every signature his friend put down. He stayed quiet until the stack was finished and being handed back over to the Director. 

“Wally, what was that?”

He knew what it was. Wally’s grin just confirmed all of it. It was the first time anyone in the Juvie saw him smile. The first time any of them had seen him genuinely happy. The Director smiled at Wally before gesturing to people behind Dick and taking the phone to talk to them. 

“Take him back to the yard, then bring him to my office. Have him prepared.” He looked back to Wally. “You may pick up Mr. Grayson tomorrow afternoon. That should be a sufficient amount of time.”

Wally gave another smile to Dick before turning his attention back to the Director. After a few parting words he waved Dick goodbye and moved over to the sign out. He felt like a huge weight had been lifted off his chest and decided to head into school late. Dick would be coming home with him the next day. The excitement there was enough to drown out any nerves he had about facing his peers and Artemis. 

By the time Dick got back out to the yard the other kids didn’t have enough time to do much more than rough him up. The only reason it was just roughing and not an all out beating was the fact that he fought back this time. He knew he had a way out. He knew he could leave in less than 24 hours. It was all worth the fight. His spirit was back, almost like seeing Wally had brought the light back to him. 

Guards came to take them all back to their cells. Although for Dick it wasn’t his cell that was the destination. It was the Directors office. He assumed it was to finish off some of the paperwork he’d seen Wally filling out earlier. It would make sense. When the guards pushed him inside and shut the door abruptly behind him he was thinking it was maybe something else. The first thing he noticed was that it was insanely cold in the room. The second was the uneasy feeling he got at seeing the Director’s smile. It wasn’t quite on the Joker level but it was certainly up there. No one had spoken yet and that only served to make Dick more anxious. The Director stood and put a hand on his shoulder. He felt something pinch into his skin but before he could investigate what it was the room started to spin around him. 

Dick knew this was wrong. His body wasn’t responding to him. When his legs gave out he was guided to a couch seated at the side of the room. He couldn’t move but he could feel. He could feel the hands on his body. Could feel his clothes being pulled off. Flesh against flesh and he didn’t want this. But then there was a mouth on his and something warm was shoved down his throat. He couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t move, couldn’t think, he couldn’t fight. 


It was one in the morning before the hands stopped touching. Before the Director left him alone and guards came in. They were different ones from before. Dick was far too gone to pay much attention to who exactly they were or where he’d seen them in the prison. If he had he would have known they were always around the most traumatized kids. They were ones who seemed to hate it inside the Juvie as much as the kids did. They dragged Dick and his unresponsive body the whole way back to his cell. Once they were there they tossed him inside and locked the door. There was a reputation to be kept up after all. 

Dick felt nauseous. He dragged himself over to the cell’s toilet and promptly lost everything he had in his stomach. Unfortunately for him doing that woke up Jack. His cellmate took no pity on the ailing boy and kicked him in the ribs while Dick continued to dry heave on his empty insides. 

“Be quiet.”

An order. Jack didn’t care for the fact that Dick was shaking like a leaf in a windstorm. The younger was too out of it to be upset. He was too far gone to even notice time passing from his place curled on the hard ground. He had no idea what time it was until guards came to haul him towards the showers. They had him strip down and pressure washed him. All the guards seemingly oblivious to his wounds or the hickeys and scratches that now covered his torso. All the while the only thing he could think of was hands on his body. Flesh to flesh and whispered words. 

“If you scream the red head dies.”

They had him put on loose clothes that Wally had brought him. He tried to focus on the future to not think about the night before or what had happened to him. Trauma was easier to deal with like this. Just ignore it. Hope it fades away inside the dark closet in his head. The guards behind him decided to get rough when they decided he wasn’t moving fast enough. They grabbed his shoulders and pushed him. What they weren’t expecting was for Dick to jump in shock and fear and promptly collapse to the ground shaking and panicking. His chest felt tight, he couldn’t breathe. He was back in the room. Back on that god forsaken couch. 

He knew the smile over him. He blinked to try to make it go away but it didn’t. Everything else came back. The hallway, the guards, they were all in focus and there but the Director was still there. Still looming over him with that smile. Then Dick realized why, because he was. The man was truly standing there, watching over him like the twisted perverted freak he was. He didn’t see the wheelchair until the guards were lifting him to put him down on it. He couldn’t concentrate on that. Just on watching the Director and making sure those cold hands didn’t touch him. He was so terrified he could hardly think of anything else. The closet lost its door and the thoughts of the night came pouring out. 

They came out into the lobby area of the Juvie where Wally was leaning on the wall waiting for them. Waiting to see Dick and take him home. Then he saw the wheelchair. The state of his friend. The smile on the Directors face. Wally was over with them in a heartbeat but the Director only smiled more at his concerned reaction.

“He was so excited last night he hardly slept. The nerves on this one.”

Something about all of this felt wrong to Wally. He looked at the bruises, the dark circles under his eyes, the haunted expression. Something was deeply, deeply wrong.

“Why is he in a wheelchair? What happened to him?”

He was met with a small sigh.

“Sometimes this happens, I should’ve prepared you. The other kids get jealous when one gets to leave. We stopped the fight as soon as we could.”

Wally nodded. It made sense. Dick had told him about how brutal the Juvie was and he’d seen the bruises the day before. He knew they beat him. It wasn’t hard to guess they went overboard on the already hurt teen. Still, he was anxious to get Dick out. From the looks of things being back here had already unlocked some old memories and traumas. He didn’t want there to be any new ones. He turned to his friend. 

“You ready to come home?”

Dick’s eyes slowly trailed up to his as Wally reached for the wheelchair. He didn’t notice the Director’s grip tightening on the handles. 

“We can help you get him to your car Mr. West.”

Wally promptly ignored him. He had Dick out, they couldn’t stop him. He took the chair handles anyways, god the Director’s hands were cold. 

“We’ll manage.”

With a few small goodbyes to the guards and the Director, Wally steered the chair down to the truck. He knew there was an issue when Dick didn’t speak a single word the whole way.

“Can you even stand Dick?”

Wally didn’t miss the flinch at being addressed. Dick’s breath was shaky before he started talking.

“I don’t...I don’t know..I-..I’m not really..”

He tried to push himself up out of the chair and managed to stand for about two seconds before his shaking legs decided they couldn’t hold his weight. He tilted to the side and fell into Wally’s chest. The red head instantly noticed how much his friend was shaking in his grip.

“I’m sorry..I’m so sorry. Please don’t, don’t..Wally..”

His eyes flicked towards the Juvie windows. Dick knew it was a mistake instantly when he locked with the Director’s cold gaze. He let out a tiny whimper and hid himself down into Wally’s broad chest. Wally supported his weight and kept his arms protectively around the smaller boy. Dick was a fighter. He had to be with his life. He’d never seen him this vulnerable. Something had to have happened.

“No, no it’s okay. Let’s just…” he trailed off as he got Dick situated in the passenger seat of the truck and buckled him in.
“I’ll be right back, I have to return the chair.”

When he walked back inside he found the Director watching them from the window. 

“So.” Wally began as he walked over. “What exactly happened? Are the kids who did this to him being disciplined?”

The Director nodded.

“Yes, the situation is being taken care of. I run a clean ship here Mr. West. Nothing illegal happens in these walls I assure you.”

“Nothing other than the kids beating each other and force feeding?” At the Directors look he continued. “Dick talked to me about this place before he came back. You have a problem if he said he’d prefer Arkham to here.”

Without waiting for a reply he left and went back to the truck.

“I’m sorry I couldn’t get you yesterday. Are you okay?..”

He was hesitant to bring things up but he needed to know. Even if the haunted look on Dick’s face had a ball of steel sitting in his own stomach. 

Dick looked up at him and shook his head slightly before hugging himself in the seat. 

“I’ll be okay now. I have you.”

The rest of the ride was quiet enough that Dick let his eyes close and began to drift. Soft music in the background, Wally sitting next to him, the air from the vent hitting his face. All of it worked in tandem to put the closet back together, hiding his demons for later. By the time he opened his eyes again Wally was pulling up to the house. Dick turned his tired eyes over to Wally. He couldn’t help but notice the way the light glinted off his hair.

“Thank you.”

The older turned and gave him a small genuine smile before turning the car off and looking at the house. 

“Home sweet home.” 

He got out of the car and pointedly ignored the large spray painted letters on his front door spelling out “Fag” for the world to see. He'd found it there that morning. The neighborhood kids had been busy during the night. Instead he focused on getting Dick’s door opened and trying his best to make a clear path.

“Are you ready?”

Dick moved himself off the seat and let Wally help him up to the house. He was trying but he knew Wally was supporting most of his weight. 

“Don’t push yourself too hard.”

They inched their way forward and Dick had time to read the door while Wally got it unlocked. He knew that word was there because of him. Wally had been harassed because of him. 

“Why did you do all this for me when I’m the reason your social life is destroyed?”

Dick couldn’t help but feel guilty. If it wasn’t for him Wally would still have the perfect school standing. Maybe it was because his emotions were all out of whack but all he wanted was to curl up in a ball and sleep. He couldn’t do that though. Seeing the door made him remember his fear that Wally was mad. That the only reason he’d even gotten him out was because he was a good person. Maybe Wally had gotten him out for the same reasons he had stayed with Artemis even though it was toxic. Maybe he wasn’t any better. 

Wally got the door open and looked at Dick as he slung his arm back over his shoulder.

“Because you aren’t just a charity case, or a thief or a dirty gypsy. You’re something else. And I don’t know what I’d do without you. I was so worried when you weren’t here with me.” He shook his head a little. “We can talk about this more after we get you inside and resting.”

He closed the door behind them before guiding Dick over towards the couch. The couch that gave canvas to the picture that started it all. 

“So, I think you should probably stay on the couch for a couple nights. That way you don’t have to do stairs. The Director said those kids did a number on you.”

The Director. The man had almost been pushed out of his head. All the familiar things he had learned over the weekend. All the smells and feelings of the things in the house that had built itself up to be his home. All of Wally. It had all kept the Director from his mind but with one simple mention of him he was back. That smile was back. Cold hands running over his body and he didn’t notice himself tensing. Didn’t notice the tears springing into his eyes or the way his breathing hitched at the memories. He couldn’t stop looking between Wally and the door like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming bus.

“He’s not coming here is he?”

Chapter Text

“He’s not coming here is he?”

Wally quickly sat down next to Dick, the fear that hit the younger’s face was something he absolutely could not ignore. 

“No? He isn’t. Why? What happened?...”

He had the sinking feeling he already knew. That couldn’t happen right? The guy was the director of the Juvie, he had to be at least somewhat law abiding. Even if the place was shady on its rules. He couldn’t have. Dick was just a kid.

Dick calmed down slightly when Wally told him the Director wasn’t coming over. He kept eye contact before tearing his gaze down to the floor. He knew he had to tell Wally. He had to tell someone. If he didn’t it was going to kill him. Someone had to know what he did. 

“The other kids in the yard did a lot but they didn’t… They weren’t the ones who… Uhm… When the guards took me to his office.” Cold air. Stone walls. Empty cold rooms. “He, the Director, he put a hand on my shoulder.” Cold hands, pale skin, terrible smile. “And I felt this, this pinch, but I didn’t think... “ A face leering down at him. The room spinning. His body going numb. “I didn’t think anything of it but then I couldn’t move.” Hands guiding him to a couch. He didn’t even realize he was shaking or that he was hugging himself. His mind was too wrapped in that night. “I couldn’t move Wally. I couldn’t control anything and I fell onto the couch and then he was over me and smiling at me with that. That sick smile and then he was grabbing me and touching me and. And he-” The words wouldn’t stop. They just kept pouring out like the tears from his eyes as he remembered every single feeling from that night. He was only thirteen. “He wouldn’t stop. Wally he wouldn’t stop and I wanted to scream but he said he’d get you and hurt you and I couldn’t let that happen so I let him- Oh god Wally I let him…”

Dick felt sick to his stomach. He was too scared to look at Wally. Too scared to see the horror and judgement there. He’d let himself be with an older man. He let it happen. It was his fault. He had no right to feel as disgusted as he did. He should have done something if he didn’t want it. 

Wally on the other hand felt nauseous just thinking about it. Dick had been raped. Raped by a man who was supposed to be in charge of a prison. A child prison. 

“Dick… It’s not your fault.”

Truth be told he was afraid to touch his friend. Afraid that any small touch would shatter the fragile boy in front of him. Dick was tough, make no mistake, but the horrified expression, the tears streaming down his face. All of it added up to show Wally he was reliving the terrible experience. He didn’t want to make it worse. So he ran a hand through his hair and clenched his fist because what else could he do? It wasn’t like he was a superhero like Batman or Flash. He couldn’t just go and punch the guy and haul him to the cops. Could he? 

“I… I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” 

He’d signed off on it. He’d signed off for the guards to take him to the office and get him processed. He hadn’t known but he’d still sent Dick to that room. If he had done better they wouldn’t be here. Dick wouldn’t have had to go through something so terrible. Especially not because of him. 

“I’m sorry I wasn’t there for you.”

The next thing he knew Dick was launching himself into his chest. He was clinging to Wally like a lifeline. Like if he didn’t hold on tight enough then he’d disappear. The two just hugged and held each other for hours. That’s what it took. Hours. Hours until Dick had cried himself out and calmed down. He didn’t pull away. Just curled into Wally’s chest and muttered.

“You got me out. You made me safe when no one else would..you’re my hero Wally.”

Wally just held him closer. He started to hum a song that his mom used to sing to him when he was little and upset after his father had come home drunk. He rested his head on top of Dicks and earned a small laugh from the younger. 

“Thank you. For everything.”

They fell asleep like that 30 minutes later. 


John and the rest of the football team had paid special attention to Wally at school both days. They knew something was happening or West wouldn't have been so happy. His 'boyfriend' was locked in Juvie. So after school ended the first day they went down to the mini Arkham. After a meeting with the Director they knew exactly when the pick up was going to happen and that Dick and Wally would be back at his house by sundown. 

The team started to surround the house. They made sure Dick and Wally were inside, laughing at the fact that they were snuggled and sleeping together on the couch. They checked to make sure the only way in or out of the home was the front door. The same front door they had tagged. Max, the best defense Gotham Academy had, was the one who stepped forward. Turns out he knew how to pick locks. It was something about his dad wanting him to be ready for the real world or something else that was stupid like that. 

They moved into the house quietly. Wally was a heavy sleeper so they weren’t going to wake him up. Dick on the other hand, while typically being a light sleeper was so exhausted from the past days that he was out for the count. John was the one who took the lead. Captain on the field and in terrible acts. He grabbed Dick by the back of his hoodie and ripped him away from Wally so that he was dangling in the air. All his fight instincts kicked in and he was awake in seconds. Wally woke up due to the lack of warmth against his body and instantly saw the team surrounding them and Dick hanging from his hood. Before he could act the same two members who had held him captive for his beating grabbed him again and forced him down into the couch. John just shook Dick like he was some dead animal. Dick wanted to fight, he did, but he couldn’t. Too many touches, too many injuries, it was all he could do to stay aware of what was happening and making sure he didn’t lose his grip on his airways. Instead he shot Wally a pleading look. He knew Wally was stuck, he knew Wally knew it too. Whatever happened they could both tell that it wasn’t about to be something pleasant. John just sneered and laughed at them. The next instant had Dick beginning to panic and Wally’s heart freeze. 

“Alright West.” He grabbed Dick around the waist and pressed their bodies together. “Let’s see if your boy toy is really better than a girl.”

Dick couldn’t move. He couldn’t breathe. This can’t be happening. It’s a nightmare, right?

John flipped him around so their fronts were together. There was no way that John couldn’t feel Dick’s heart racing. Feeling the hands against his skin kicked in everything he had in him. Dick was struggling. Trying to wiggle out using any number of contorting moves to escape his pending doom. John didn’t like that. 

“I thought you’d like this, stop fighting trash.  Be happy that someone will even take you.”

A fist hit the side of Dick’s head. Stars sparked over his vision. This was happening. This was really happening. Again. He couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t hear himself hyperventilating or Wally shouting. Couldn’t feel them. They couldn’t hurt him if he wasn’t there right? If he wasn’t there then he couldn’t get hurt, couldn’t get touched, they’d leave him alone. He shut down. 

Wally saw Dick go limp. Heard each and every one of his panicked breaths. He watched him shut down. 

“Let him go! Please. Just leave. I won’t file a report if you leave him alone and go.”

He wasn’t fighting. He knew there was nothing he could do to help. He’d only make things worse. If he got them to leave Dick alone he didn’t care what happened to him. He saw John smirk at him. Watched him start to grind against Dick and he couldn’t let this happen. He had to try. Even though he knew it wouldn’t do anything he had to try. He couldn’t look at this. He didn’t even notice the tears in his eyes until they started to drop to his jeans. Someone from behind grabbed him by his hair and forced his head up. They were going to force him to watch whatever John decided to do to Dick. 

John kept going. Kept grinding against the younger boy and even through his clothes it was easy to see he wasn’t turned off by the experience. Another team member that Wally didn’t recognize came over and joined in from the other side.  Both of them working to try to get themselves off and get Dick off. John laughed again at Wally’s fighting before grabbing Dick’s face and kissing him roughly. They expected something. Just not the whimper that came from gut instinct on Dick’s part. The team thought it was the funniest thing in the world. 

Eventually they all got bored. Dick was basically limp in their grasp and wasn’t really responding to anything they were doing to him. John tossed him to the ground like an old rag doll and shrugged to Wally who could only pay attention to the fact that Dick wasn’t moving. Wasn’t moving, wasn’t reacting. He was just staring, staring and still. So, so still. John kicked at him but there was still no response. 

“Sorry West. Broke your toy. Maybe you shouldn't cheat on hot pieces of ass like Arty.”

Most of the team left after they let go of Wally. Just John and Max left.

“You can have her John. She’s psycho, which I was able to overlook because she's hot but I’ll let you in on a secret, she’s terrible in bed.”

John moved fast to where Wally had fallen to the ground and kicked him. Kicked him hard enough to lift him off the ground and the house to echo with the sound of his ribs cracking. Wally was kicked again before Max pulled John away and began to edge the two of them towards the door. He looked scared, like he finally realized what exactly they’d done there. 

“See you tomorrow. Wally~”

John sneered at him as he and Max left. Finally they were alone in the house as the door slammed shut behind the two football players. Wally was trying to catch his breath. Trying to make sure his ribs weren’t too badly damaged. Then he looked up. He dragged himself over to where Dick was laying.  By the time he got there he was panting from the strain, if crawling hurt this bad then there was an issue. Carefully Wally started to push Dick’s bangs away from his eyes and lightly touch his cheek. 

“C’mon Dick…” He spoke soft so he wouldn’t startle him. “Look at me, please look at me…”

The world slowly started to come back into focus. He could tell he was on the ground. He could tell someone was carding fingers through his hair and a soft hand on his cheek. He could hear a voice talking to him. 

“Dickie c’mon… come back to me…”

His movements were sluggish. Still, he managed to blink and bring his gaze up to Wally’s. Instantly he saw the damp cheeks and a smile hit Wally’s face like Dick looking at him was the best thing that could have happened. The world seemed distant and disjointed, he didn’t know what was going on. One thing was clear though. Wally was hurt. The way he was hunched forward over his ribs said a lot. Dick knew that position, he’d sat in it too many times in his life for him to be comfortable with. 

“Wally?...”

He pushed himself up into a sitting position and blinked a few more times to bring the world the rest of the way back. They were sitting on the floor next to the coffee table. Something happened.

“What happened?.. Are you okay?..”

Wally didn’t answer. All he did was pull himself to Dick’s chest and hold onto him in a weak up. Dick could feel wet spots soaking through his clothes. 

“I’m sorry. I tried to make them leave. I tried-”

Oh. That’s what happened. Dick knew he was fully clothed. He knew they could have put the clothes back on him but he didn’t feel the same as he did after the Director. Wally must have stopped them before molestation and sexual assault turned into full rape. Dick looked around the room and hugged Wally back, close but gentle.

“You did what you could. I remember him hitting me but after that it gets fuzzy. I saw you Wally they had you held back. This isn't your fault.” 

He buried his face in Wally’s hair. After sitting like that for a few minutes Wally tried to push himself up with a wince. One small movement was all it took for him to lose his breath. Taking in slow, shallow breaths, Wally started to push himself up. He leaned against the wall for support and cradled his ribs with his arm. He carefully made his way to the bathroom and grabbed an orange pill bottle before going to the kitchen for water. He and Dick both ignored the fact that he had to stop for a breather along the way. 

“Are you okay?”

Dick nodded and watched Wally fill his glass with water. 

“I’ll be alright. They didn’t actually do anything besides touching. How are your ribs?”

The response he got was Wally lifting his shirt to show the healing bruises from the fight that sent Dick off to Juvie. Once it was higher up it was easy to see his cracked ribs already bruising. They both looked at it in silence before Wally came to his ultimate conclusion. 

“I’ll live.”

He read the pill bottle in his hand before dropping two pills onto his palm and swallowing them with the water he’d gotten earlier. He saw the look Dick was giving him and explained.

“Last track season I dislocated my knee. I was jumping a hurdle and I twisted badly and I looked down and my kneecap was practically on the side of my leg. So my doctor reset it and gave me these pain killers, I didn’t really need them at the time so I kept them just in case.”

Dick nodded a bit before going back to the living room and making sure everything was locked. He was not about to let something else happen. They both needed rest. He checked every entrance and exit of the house before going back to the kitchen and steeling himself for the question he was about to ask. 

“Uhm, Wally? This might sound weird, all things considered. But uh, Do you think, maybe, we could uh, sleep in the same room? Tonight? Keep each other safe?”

Wally nodded.

“I think that’s probably a good idea.”

Once Wally got the dish in the sink the two of them slowly made their way up the stairs. Both were complaining that they were old men with how much their bodies hurt. Once they got back into Wally’s room they both realized what exactly was happening. Wally sat on the bed awkwardly and looked to Dick before mumbling.

“Would it be weird if I took off my shirt?”

He was shy. Dick thought the expression looked adorable on him. He gave his friend a small smile before giving his consent and playing with the hem of his hoodie. 

“If you get to so do I.”

The two of them crawled onto the bed and turned off the lights. It was a guilty reminder to see both of them so covered in wounds. Reminders of when they'd failed each other. They were both well aware the other was awake. Neither of them were ready to sleep yet. Too many things had happened through the night for them to rest easy.

“Hey Wally?”

“Yeah Dick?”

He reached over and flicked on his bedside lamp. There wasn’t much light in the room but it was enough to light their faces. He had the feeling that this was going to be a serious conversation. 

“I want to do something.” Dick sat up against the pillows and Wally followed suit. “To make a difference. Like how Batman does. I want to stop the people who do things like John or the Director. I want to keep people safe. I want to keep you safe. You got hurt because of me and I couldn’t even protect you in the end. I uhm, I have a confession. And I’m sorry but when I was there again, in Juvie, I didn’t sleep. I spent that first night remembering all our talks and when the Director had me I tried to imagine that I was here with you instead. You were what got me through it and I- I can’t lose you Wally. I don’t know why or how it happened but I. Wally I like you.”

The words came tumbling out of his mouth before he could stop them. The room was quiet enough to hear a pin drop while Dick looked at Wally with a mix of hope and terror. Eventually Wally shifted his gaze up to the ceiling and started. 

“Then do it. I told you at the store, you’re a hero type. I believe in you.”

Dick felt his heart fall slightly at that being the only part that was acknowledged. Then Wally turned to him and took his hand in his.

“And you won’t lose me. I’ll be here for you. With you. For as long as you’ll let me.”

There was that shy smile again. The smile that had Dick’s heart melting like butter and emotions bubbling through him. He was smiling so hard he started crying and wiping at his cheeks with a vengeance.

“Oh you don’t know how scared I was to do that.”

Dick knew he was smiling like an idiot but he didn’t care because Wally was too. After all the trauma both of them just went through they could still have each other. They would be partners through thick and thin. Dick hardly even noticed Wally was moving until his hand was cupping his cheek and Wally was giving him a gentle kiss. Not pushing, not pressing, but there nonetheless. He pulled away after a few seconds and read Dick’s smile, his hand still lingering against Dick’s bruised cheek. The younger just smiled brighter and kissed Wally back. He let it draw for a little while longer than before, just so Wally knew he meant it before pulling away to rest their foreheads together. 

“One heck of a way to start a relationship.”

Wally just laughed and closed his eyes with a sigh.

“So. Dick, would you do me the honor of being my boyfriend?”

By the end of his sentence he couldn’t contain his giggle. He grinned up at Dick and knew he looked like a dork but he didn’t care because Dick was laughing too. 

“Why, with such a formal asking how could I possibly say no?”

Chapter Text

Thursday morning came and Rudy West decided to check the family bank account to see how much he and his wife had really spent on their ‘business trip’. He knew they had spent a bit but he also knew it wasn’t that much. Instantly he knew his son had something to do with it and had Mary pack her bags so they could go home early. His child had some explaining to do when they got back. 

Wally had decided that school was not something he was feeling up to with his ribs still healing and everything that had gone down the night before with the team. It had been a hectic time for both of them and he was not in the mood to go deal with people or leave Dick alone any time soon. The red head had opted to go take a shower in his connected bathroom while Dick decided on what he was going to wear for the day. He was sitting on the edge of the bed wearing nothing but one of Wally’s old t-shirts when the bedroom door slammed open. A large brown haired man with a mustache stepped into the doorway with a storm in his eyes.

“What did you spend all that- you’re not my son.”

Rudy blinked in confusion at the boy sitting on the bed. Was this some intruder? That was his son’s shirt. What the hell was happening? Mary came into the room knowing exactly what had happened during the week they were gone. She stopped Rudy before he could speak anymore and placed a hand on her husbands shoulder as Wally stepped out of the bathroom. The only thing on his body was the towel he’d been using and another drying his messy hair. Wally didn’t look up from the floor, just started talking.

“Hey Dick, how are you feeling after last night? You still hurt?”

Dick instantly went bright red and glared at his boyfriend before realizing that said boyfriend’s parents were still in the room and turned to them with a horrified expression. This was so many levels of wrong and uncomfortable.

“Uhm. Hi. Hello. Mr. and Mrs. West, Nice to meet you?”

At that point Wally looked up and saw his parents standing there. No realization of how his sentence would have been taken by someone who didn’t know what had happened the night before. Dick was right when he called Wally shameless before. He didn’t care at all that they were both basically naked. Mary gave her boy a knowing smile before turning it to Dick.

“Please, call me Mary, this is my husband Rudy.”

She held out her hand and Dick took it in his. He didn’t know how to do this. He never thought this would be something that would happen to him. Thank god Wally’s shirts were big enough to cover him to mid thigh. Rudy gave him a nod in greeting while Wally plopped onto the bed where Dick had just been sitting. 

“So, this week has been a lot. And to make a long story short, this is the boy I told you about Mom.”

Like Mary hadn’t already put that together. She smiled nonetheless.

“Oh okay, yes I remember hearing about you, feel free to stay as long as you need. We have plenty of space.”

Rudy gave her a troubled look and eyed Dick up again.

“Mary, maybe we should talk about this.”

Troubled looks turned into glares on both sides before they quickly said their momentary goodbyes and closed the door on the two boys. Wally rubbed the towel against his hair a few more times.

“Guess they came home early. Whoops.”

He gave a shrug. This is something he wasn’t bothered by. Something he didn’t care about. Dick just stared incredulously at his boyfriend before throwing himself onto the bed with the dramatic flare that only he could achieve. 

“This is it. This is the end. I am dead and dying.”

Wally, never one to disappoint his partner, rolled onto Dick and held himself up on his arms so he could see the reactions.

“Hate to break it to you, but you can’t be dead and dying.”

Dick rolled over so he was facing up and Wally leaned down to give him a peck.

“Besides, if you’re dead then we wouldn’t be dating and that would blow.”

He gave another kiss while Dick pushed them and flipped them so he would be on top. Another peck.

“Wally. Don’t really know if you noticed this or not, but I just met your parents.”

“So?”

“I’m not wearing pants. I’m a dead man.”

Wally just laughed and sat up, pulling Dick to sit on his lap in the process and wrapping his arms around his boy’s waist. 

“To be fair, I’m not either.”

He gave Dick another kiss and waited for Dick to lean into it before he pulled away and began to pepper the younger’s skin with kisses. All over his face, all over his neck, even down onto his exposed collar bones. He let his hand trail down and under the hem of the large shirt in order to feel Dick’s muscles tensing and relaxing and pulled him closer. 

The door opened. Opened right onto that scene. Rudy immediately averted his eyes and faced the hallway.

“Oh god I should’ve knocked.”

He shook his head of the image and closed the door again to leave the boys to their business. Wally finally turned red with embarrassment.

“Okay, now I think I might’ve just died.” He flopped back down to lay on the bed and pressed a pillow into his face before talking through it knowing full well that Dick was still sitting up on his hips.

“Suffocate me please.”

Dick just raised an eyebrow at his boyfriend’s antics and then looked back at the door.

“How about we save that for tonight and get dressed now?”

Wally, in his immense maturity,  tossed the pillow off his face, pouted, and then whined.

“But I don’t wanna~”

-

Eventually the boys were both dressed and headed down to the kitchen for breakfast. Rudy was looking over his plate like he was trying desperately to forget the things that he’d seen that morning. Wally on the other hand was just scarfing down his bacon and eggs so that he wouldn’t have to speak. Mary looked at the West men and then to Dick who was eating like a normal person with a bit of skittish tendencies. 

“So,” She had to break the silence that was at the island. “How’s Arty?”

Wally choking on his food was something no one could have possibly missed. He coughed around the food and got it down properly before bouncing his knee up and down out of nervousness. 

“We, uh, we kind of, uhm, broke up.”

“Oh no. What happened? She’s a sweet girl.”

Wally shifted a little to look at Dick while his mom took a bite of her toast.

“Oh uh, you know. I like guys so that kinda put a damper on our relationship.”

As soon as the words were out of his mouth he shoveled eggs into it so he wouldn’t immediately have to answer anything. Dick followed his lead by taking a very long drink of his orange juice. Rudy stopped moving entirely and started at both of them. Honestly he was hoping that he’d seen things wrong and misunderstood but after that single sentence he knew his child and the boy sitting across from his wife were a little more than friends. Mary just looked at Wally.

“Oh.” She then turned her attention to Dick who had chosen that moment to glance up and make eye contact. “Ohhh.” The pieces all fell together. 

Dick gave her a shy smile as hers only got wider and brighter. 

“So, Wally tells me your name is Dick?”

Rudy choked on his drink at the name. Dick flushed a little and shifted in his seat before looking back at Mary.

“Uh, it’s Richard, actually, but I like to go by Dick.”

“Well Dick, you’re welcome to stay here with us for however long you want. I’m sure you and Wally will enjoy that.”

It was Wally’s turn to choke on his drink and Dick on his food. Mary chuckled slightly while Rudy turned sharply to glare at her.

“Mary-”

“Now Rudy. DOn’t be like this. Our boy is growing up.” She ignored her husband and turned to the two teens sitting in front of her. “So. How did you two meet?”

Dick’s eyes widened slightly as he realized they’d never made a cover story for this part. He shot a look to Wally before speaking again.

“Uhh, how about Wally tells it. He’s a better storyteller than me.”

Wally shot his boyfriend a glare before turning back to his parents.

“So. I was at a Halloween party dressed as Artemis. Me and her had a fight so I walked home and uh, we bumped into each other. And then I dropped the purse she let me borrow…” 

He knew he couldn’t really get away with lying about all of it. He wasn’t good at cover stories, not when it was all improv, but that didn’t mean he couldn’t sugar coat the whole situation.

“Well, he felt bad and ended up returning it to me and we got to talking and I found out he didn’t have the best life so far. So I let him spend the night.” He took another bite of his food before continuing. “And uh, he was sick so I helped him. And then someone took a photo of us and now the school hates me because I’m gay.”

He kept his head down while he was saying the last part and tried to say it fast. Rudy was watching everything Dick did. One reason was all he would need to throw the streetrat out. That was all he ever needed. 

After breakfast they all put their dishes in the sink and Dick grabbed the back of Wally’s shirt and pulled him down towards the hallway. He gave a disarming smile to Mary and Rudy. 

“Excuse us for a moment.”

Once they were hidden from view and out of earshot Dick gave Wally a worried look.

“Wally. What’s going to happen if they find out what really went down?”

Wally grabbed Dick’s shoulders and gave him a small squeeze and a smile.

“It will be fine. Besides. Mom gave consent which is how I was able to get you out. Don’t worry.”

He cupped Dick’s cheek and gave him a kiss. Dick sighed into it and rested his head against Wally’s once they pulled back.

“I’ll hold you to that Walls.”

They both went back to the living room and sat on the couch to chat with each other. Mary was working on loading the dishwasher while Rudy was sorting through the pile of mail on the counter. Mary stepped out to the living room to sort through her bags that were still packed by the door. Dick took his chance to use the manners his parents had taught him.

“I’m sorry you came home to another child Mrs. West.”

He could hear footfalls but he didn’t think anything of it until there was a hand grabbing the collar of his shirt and ripping him off the couch. He came face to face with a fuming Rudy West with a bill in his hand.

“You criminal scum stealing at my family?! Mary this street rat is fresh out of Juvie! Because we apparently paid him out! Wallace you have some explaining to do but first, first we’re taking out the trash.”

Wally stood fast and fixed a look at his father.

“No. Dad. Just set him down.”

Mary was up too. She loved Dick like a second son already.

“Rudy. What are you doing? Put the child down.”

Wally was trying to get his dad to let Dick go and grabbed onto his arm. Rudy just dropped the bill the floor and shoved his son away. Wally ended up tumbling back and smacking his head hard off the floor. 

“I’ll put the scum down when he isn’t in my house.” He shook Dick in the air, not realizing that Dick was just staring at Wally unmoving on the ground. “You can’t stay here. My son had no right buying your way out.” 

Mary couldn’t take it. Her biological son was lying on the ground unconscious. And the boy she already knew she would love was being threatened by the man who she was supposed to love. She screamed.

“I did it! Rudy! I. Did. It.”

He was still fuming while Dick hung in the air by his shirt. 

“Don’t lie to protect this filth. I know his type. He will get in our good graces and rob us blind. Isn’t that right?” He shook Dick again. 

Mary started crying as she walked closer to them. 

“Rudy. I did it. I told the Director of the Juvie he was at that we would pay for his expenses.”

Dick twisted around in the hold until Rudy dropped him. He didn’t waste time on trying to fight at the moment, he had to get to Wally. Had to make sure he was okay. When Rudy moved to go for the two boys Mary got in the middle.

“Mary. Stop lying to protect it.”

“They are boys Rudy. Not objects. And I paid his way out because he was protecting our boy from being assaulted. He was being punished because he was winning the fight. He stays here where he’s safe.”

“Mary get out of my way.”

Dick had had enough. He’d seen abuse too much. He’d seen what it did and the people who did it and he couldn’t stand them. He was tired of running scared. Wally could hold on for a little while longer, he had business to take care of. He stood up and moved to get in front of Mary. If Rudy wanted a fight then he would get one.

“Leave her alone. Leaver her and Wally alone. You have an issue with me that’s fine. But this is your family. All due respect Mr. West, which honestly isn't much, but you need to pull your head out of your ass and think twice before you attack someone. Especially people who you claim to love.”

Rudy took a few menacing steps towards the small boy.

“You come into my house. Eat my food. Use my money. And you think you have the right to tell me to get my head out of my ass?!”

He saw movement behind Dick and saw Mary gently checking Wally’s head. His temper simmered when he realized the child in front of him might actually have a point.

“You’re a delinquent. A nobody. If you so much as breathe the wrong way, you’re out.”

Without another word he grabbed his keys and left the house. Mary looked up to Dick where he still stood protectively in front of both of them. 

“Thank you.”

She turned her attention back to her son and tapped on his face to try to wake him up. It only scared her more when Wally didn’t respond. Dick knelt down on Wally’s other side.

“I’d do anything for him. There’s no need to thank me. He’s right. I’m a nobody and I didn’t have a right to stay here. I’m sorry.”

He looked at Wally’s head again before coming to his conclusion.

“He should be okay. Headache but he’ll survive. I can get him up onto the couch.”

He had years in Juvie and his time on the streets to be able to tell what a lethal wound looked like. Wally would be fine as long as he took it easy for a couple days. 

It took a few hours before Wally woke up. His legs were resting over Dick’s lap and the only sounds he could hear were peaceful conversation and laughter. It took him another minute to realize the source of those sounds were Dick and his Mom. What happened? He remembered breakfast. His dad finding the bills. His father grabbing Dick by the collar of the shirt. The argueing. The shove. The panic set in fast. His dad in a bad mood was never a good thing for anyone involved. Ever. He had to find him. Had to find him and take the hits. It didn’t matter if he was already bruised from other fights he had to protect his mom and Dick. 

Dick broke him out of his panic with one small touch to his shoulder.

“He left a while ago Walls. It’s okay. How’s your head feeling?”

“It will be fine. He left?” He looked at his mom. “Like. Left left? Or going to get drunk and come back later left?”

Mary moved and knelt next to him.

“He’ll be back. He just needs to calm down.”

Knowing that his dad was coming back settled something inside him. Wally knew it was abuse. Knew he should talk to someone but he didn’t want to be the pity case that people looked at and went, ‘oh his dad beat him’. He was also scared that his dad might be right. If people learned how much he really liked science. How much he liked superheroes. How much he wished he could live with his uncle in Central and live in the same city as the Flash. They might all see him as a freak deserving punishment too. He reached up and touched the hand on his shoulder.

“What happened?”

Dick looked to Mary and waited for her to give him a nod in consent before taking a deep breath and speaking.

“I saw him hit you and I twisted free and got to you. But uh, when he yelled at your mom again I kinda, sorta, maybe, told him off?”

“How do you kinda, sorta, maybe tell someone off?”

He looked between his boyfriend and his mom to try to find the answer on their faces. Worry started to creep in again when he couldn’t find it. Did he hurt them?

“Are you two okay? Is it safe for you to be here Dick?”

Dick just shrugged a little.

“I told him to pull his head out of his ass and see he was attacking his family. Sorry for the language Mrs. West.” He sighed. “If I could handle what happened at Juvie, I think I can handle this. But I don’t want to be a burden. If you want me gone I can go.”

Mary intervened at that point. Dick had impeccable manners despite coming in from the streets.

“Please, Mrs. West is too formal. Mary is fine. And you aren’t a burden.”

Wally just stared at his mother incredulously.

“”Are you serious? He can stay?”

She could hear the hopefulness in her boy’s voice and gave him a nod with a smile that quickly faded from her lips.

“But. Until your father warms up to him, I think it would be best for Dick to not be alone in the house, which means Dick. You’re going to have to go to school with Wally.”

Wally lit up like a kid on Christmas and shifted his hopeful expression to Dick. It was easy to see the younger was excited but nervous.

“Will that be okay with the school though?”

“I will call the school and figure it all out.”

Without any other delays Mary left the room and called the school. Dick idly wondered just how much money the West’s had that they could do the things they were doing. Wally looked over Dick and took his hands in his and fixed him with a concerned look. 

“Are you okay? DId he hurt you?”

“I’m fine.”

He didn’t know going into this that Wally’s dad was abusive. It wasn’t hard to figure out though. Wally was way too used to moving around with injuries. He was too used to covering it up. Did he even know what a healthy relationship looked like? Dick leaned in close and hugged Wally to his chest. 

“I was so worried when you wouldn’t wake up.”

Wally wrapped his arms around Dick’s waist and sighed into his shoulder.

“I’m sorry I worried you Dickie.”

They stayed like that for a while until Mary came back into the room.

“So, out of curiosity, you wouldn’t happen to have some form of educational transcript, would you?”

They both saw the phone pressed against her shoulder and they both realized they were still wrapped in their hug. Mary didn’t even bat an eye.
“Uhm, no? Not really. I grew up in the circus to my parents taught me stuff, but we didn’t keep any records. Kind of hard to when we traveled everywhere.”

He gave her an apologetic look. He knew she was trying and he didn’t mean to make things harder on her. They watched her relay that information into the phone and listen to the other side before she rested it again and told them what she found out. 

“Okay. Well Dick? I’m going to go to the school and pick up a placement test for you so they know what classes you can go into.”

Dick and Wally both nodded while Mary went to the other room to finish the call and grab the things she would need to get Dick enrolled at the school. The boys on the other hand thought it was the perfect time for a small peck. 

“Maybe I’ll have a class with Artemis and I’ll get to show her what a bitch she is.”

Wally pulled Dick up onto his lap when he heard the back door close behind his mom.

“Play nice.”

-

Later that night, well after the sun had set and Mary had driven the completed placement test back to the school, she got an email. Both of the boys watched her closely. They both saw her look at Dick with a troubled expression that quickly blended with confusion. 

“You’ve never been to school?”

Dick shook his head.

“Nope. My parents taught me the basics when I was little. But then the accident happened and I was in Juvie the rest of the time. That or the streets. There was no time for school. Why? How bad were my results?”

“Dick, you’re two grades higher than you age and you’re in all advanced classes.”

The room went stagnant while the boys processed the new information. All of them stood there and read over the email for either their second or the first time. Once Wally was finished reading he grabbed Dick around the waist and spun him around.

“I’m so proud babe.”

Mary, being proud of both of the boys, decided that something was needed to mark the day.

“I’m making a cake to celebrate this. You got a good egg Wally.”

Dick smiled up at her and knew this was what family felt like. He and Wally turned on the TV to wait in the living room until the cake was done since Mary insisted on working on it alone since it was a cake for the boys. The channel the TV put on was running an old anniversary showing of the Flying Graysons. One that had aired a few years after their deaths. One that Dick only knew about because people in the Juvie had insulted him for it, despite the fact that he’d never seen it himself. It didn’t matter. He was on the screen.

“There’s my family.”

His words were quiet but they matched with pop Haly’s booming voice introducing the Grayson’s. Out came John, then Mary, and out from behind them came a small smiling six year old Dick Grayson. 

Wally instantly cooed over the tiny version of his boyfriend on screen. Mary heard all of it from the kitchen and came out to watch while the cake baked in the oven. Both her and Wally stared intently at the screen as the Grayson’s did what they were well known for. Flying. Neither of them had ever been to the circus so they didn’t know what was going to happen. Mary could remember the news coverage over the whole incident. It was a huge deal. Especially the fact that Bruce Wayne himself had been there. He’d even gone so far to say that he wanted to help wherever he could. She found herself wondering how he never found Dick and got him out of Juvie if he really wanted to help. They watched the family on screen do one of their moves that left both the audience and them gasping in anticipation. 

Dick watched both of them with a smile on his face. It’d been a long time since someone had watched the Grayson’s fly. It’d been a long time since he had flown. He turned his attention back to the screen in time to see the camera zoom in on the younger version of him as he did a quad in between swings. He watched his dad catch him and heard the laugh that came out of his tiny body. Dick watched all of it with a sad but fond smile. He missed those days. The days that the only thing he worried about was if he was going to do the show or not that night. He missed his parents. Missed the circus. Missed his home.

“I was six when we did this show.”

Mary looked at him in shock.
“You’re kidding. Six?” She laughed. “When Wally was six, he would just walk around the house in my dresses and heels and jewelry..”

Wally immediately turned the same shade as his hair. 

“Mom. We promised never to talk about that. Ever. Again.”

Mary just laughed at her son’s embarrassment. 

“Oh come on, it’s cute. Besides, at least I didn’t show the pictures.”

Dick jumped his chance.
“No. No. Wally, you saw me. Mary, I wanna see those pictures.”

“Of course you can.”

Mary, being the mom of the year that she was, had the pictures saved on her phone and at the ready to show Dick. It was like she had the whole thing planned out. They both ignored Wally loudly protesting as she showed Dick the photos of Wally dressed to the nines in dresses and heels that clearly didn’t fit him in the slightest. Dick cooed over him regardless before looking up at his present day boyfriend dressed in jeans and a baggy hoodie. 

“Wally you were such a cute kid. What happened?”

Wally feigned hurt.

“Are you saying I’m not cute?” Despite the fact that he was still as red as the Flash suit he couldn’t stop himself from smirking. “You’re right, I’m hot now.”

He topped off his sentence with a wink while Mary and Dick both groaned.

“Alright, enough of this, I’m going to get the cake. Do you boys want any? Or am I going to eat it all by myself?”

They spent the next few hours eating and talking. Mary asking Dick questions about the circus and he told stories about how he was raised different than other kids. How he learned to walk on a tightrope. How instead of waking up for school he woke up to practice. Most kids had to do garbage but he was taking care of the elephants. It was calm, quiet, peaceful. The first good night the boys had had in awhile. Bo;th of them were relaxing into each other on the couch but of course, fate had other plans for them. No rest for the wicked. The door swung open and in came Rudy, well over wasted and reeking of the putrid liquid he’d poured into his body. He stopped once he saw three heads looking back at him instead of two. Despite his state he still figured out who the other was in a short amount of time. It took an even shorter amount of time for the anger to set in. 

“Why’s the thieving gypsy here?”

Chapter Text

The house fell silent. Wally slid himself closer to Dick but otherwise there was no sound. There was nothing. Wally couldn’t protect Dick the first time around but he wasn’t going to hold back. Dick had the courage to stand up for himself. Wally was going to do the same. He was done hiding. Rudy slammed his fist against the table next to the door and yelled again.

“Why is that thing still here?!”

Mary was terrified. Not hard to tell why. So Wally stood up in front of both of them, he didn’t see Dick inching his way to stand as well.

“He lives here.”

Dick stood next to Wally and squeezed his arm a little.

“Mr. West, I think we got off on the wrong foot, but I’ve been living here for about a week with your wife and son’s blessings.”

He was trying to be civil. If only to defuse the current situation, apparently it was the wrong thing to do.

“Get the hell out!”

“No.”

The temperature in the room dropped but Dick was stubborn. He had to be with the kind of life that he lived. In one day Wally had taught him to trust and love again. In one day Mary and Wally together had shown him that he could have a family again. He was not losing that to some abusive drunk.

“Get out.” Rudy’s voice was full of quiet anger.

“I already said my answer.”

Rudy was about to lunge. Wally and Mary both knew what it looked like. Both of them had been on the receiving end of his punches before. Wally put an arm in front of Dick at the same time Mary yelled to get everyone’s attention. Her phone in her hand and ready.

“Rudy so help me if you harm that boy I’m calling the police!”

During their talk earlier in the day Wally and Dick had both confided in her about what had happened to them. All of their injuries and all the trauma that happened. She was still hazy on details, she didn’t know what exactly happened between Dick and the Director but she knew that man was never to be trusted and to never leave him and Dick alone in the same room. She was protective of both of them. She also knew neither of them could really take a beating in their current states. 

Rudy looked at all of them and balled his hands into fists. 

“Fine. All of you get out of my house.”

“Rudy....”

“No. If you want him then you can have him in your own house. I bought this house. I bought the food in the fridge. I bought everything here. And if you don’t want to respect my rules then all of you leave.”

Wally was panicking. He hated his dad and normally would be ecstatic about living without him but he didn’t want to lose his home. In all his thoughts about it, it was his dad leaving. Not them being uprooted. Dick watched the look Mary and Wally were sharing. He knew this wasn’t fair. He knew he had to do something so he took a deep breath and steeled himself for what was coming. 

“No. I can go. Don’t lose your home over me. I’m not worth that.”

He wanted the family. He wanted it all. But that wasn’t how it worked, especially not in Gotham. He turned to leave the room only to be stopped by Mary.

“Dick no. I can’t let you go out there by yourself. It’s dangerous.”

“I know. But maybe I just shouldn’t be here during the day? I’ll still go to school and if I’m allowed, could I sleep here?”

“Dick...you stay here. Wally told me how sick you were when he met you. I’m not letting you out there to be hurt again. We can handle Rudy. You’re staying here. You’re practically my son in law at this point.”

They were far enough away from Wally and Rudy that neither of them could hear the conversation. Mary noticed his puzzled look.

“I see how you look at Wally, and how he looks at you. You two are in love. Nothing’s wrong with that. I promise I’ll take care of you like your're my own boy.”

Rudy made himself known again.

“Mary you take the trash out of this house right now or I make all of you leave!”

Decision time. Mary waved Wally over and pulled both of the boys in close for a hug.

“Go to the motel on 6th and 8th. Stay there for tonight, I’ll try to talk him down. Go get your things and sneak out okay? Stay safe.”

They went. They went down to that motel but they couldn’t sleep. There was too much guilt and worry flowing through both of them to rest. Wally sat on the bed sketching on the same notepad he’d been using for the past three hours. Dick was pacing around the room. Part of his circus blood, couldn’t stop moving. He ran his hands through his hair for what felt like the millionth time.

“Wally I have to do something. People like that-” He cut himself off. Was he really about to say this to Wally? He was about to accuse his dad and even though he knew he was right it was still Wally’s father.

“I know.” 

The words caught Dick by surprise but Wally just stuck out his tongue and finished what he was drawing. 

“You know, what?”

Wally looked at him then. Put the notepad down and looked Dick right in the eyes.

“I know you need to do something to stop people like my dad. To stop people who take advantage of social standings and other people. You need to be a hero. I know. That’s why while you were doing your best Batman impression of silence and brooding around the room I was drawing you some costume designs.”

“You...What?”

“Come here.”

Dick moved over and sat on the edge of the bed as Wally flipped back a few pages in the book.

“You know how you were telling my mom and I stories of you and the circus? And how you told us about how your mom would tell you you looked like a robin flying up on the trapeze?” He waited for Dick to nod before he continued. “Well I was watching. And you did kinda look like a bird up there. The first night you stayed here I thought about that too, I was there while you were sleeping and you looked so tiny, like a little bird. So, your name. What if we called you Robin. To remind you of what started it all. We can even bring your family colors into your suit. Something like a badge to carry on the flying Graysons with good work and a bird flying through Gotham.”

Dick just stared in silence at his boyfriend. Everything was there. So much thought and meaning behind one singular thing. 

“Do you like that? If not then we can change it.” Dick was still silent. It made Wally think he’d triggered something he didn’t want. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories with stuff like this I just-”

He was cut off by a pair of lips meeting his. Wally leaned into it and kissed Dick back. By the time they pulled away Dick had the biggest smile Wally had seen on him yet. 

“I love it. Show me the suit designs?”

He smiled. His boyfriend was going to be a superhero. He was making a superhero.

They flipped through the suits. Going through each of them one by one and going over all of the pros and cons of them. Going over all the things that would be exposed and how he had to adapt to Gotham. Where he would put his equipment, etc. All was fine until they flipped the page and Dick saw what Wally had drawn for him. A red tunic with the R they had decided would be the Robin logo. A yellow cape flowing down from his shoulders but one crucial thing was missing from the picture. 

“Really Wally? Were just gunna flaunt my crotch to the whole world? Pants, Wally, I need pants.”

“Well I mean~”

That earned him a nice smack on the back of the head.

“That’s for you to see only. Don’t go sharing these gifts with the world.”
“But you could distract the bad guys with your ‘gifts’.”

They made a run to the store. Several stores in fact. They gathered up supplies, modified them as they needed. In the end Dick was in the bathroom putting it on for half an hour. Wally was beginning to get concerned his boyfriend had killed himself with the cape claspings when he finally stepped out. Black pants with red on the sides. Red tunic with yellow clasping and a black and yellow cape to cover his back. The yellow utility belt around his waist holding all the equipment they could think of. It wasn’t nearly as high tech as Batman’s but it was a good start Wally gave him a smile while Dick grinned in a way that said he knew just what trouble he was getting himself into. 

“Gotham’s got another hero in her corner.”

Chapter Text

The first night Robin flew through Gotham skies he flew high. He and Wally had gotten their own comms set and used that to talk to each other while he was out on patrol. Wally stayed back at the motel and watched his computer for anything on news feeds or social media. He flew over the city streets and stopped whatever crimes he came across. The people were noticing, which meant that a certain Bat had to have noticed him too, right? It was just a waiting game. Both Wally and Dick were hero nerds enough to know that Batman didn’t like when other heroes were in his city. So they knew that eventually the Dark Knight would catch wind of the brightly colored bird in Gotham and find them. 

They weren’t sure what they would do when that eventuality became reality.

For the time being Robin was jumping over the rooftops in the narrows. It wasn’t as bad as crime alley but it was close. He was about to radio in to Wally that it was another slow night when he heard the sounds of a fight. Quickly he pinged his location to Wally and went to investigate. What he saw made his blood run cold. It was the boy. The other street kid who he knew and looked out for like he was a little brother. His name was Jason, technically he had a home but he practically lived on the streets. There were multiple times that Jason would go back with Dick to wherever he was sleeping for the night so that he could have shelter. The kid was getting the crap beaten out of him by what looked to be a group of bikers. Poor kid had probably tried to jack some tires and gotten caught. 

Another strike landed on Jason’s mid section and knocked him off his feet. Robin jumped down from his perch and landed quietly behind the group. The only person that saw him was Jason. That was remedied quickly with a single clearing of the throat. 

“Picking on kids isn’t exactly something you should be proud of yourselves for boys.”

The bikers all turned to look at the brightly colored bird. 

“Yeah, says the kid. You can get beat up too brat.”

Dick knew it was important to stay calm. He knew it was important to keep his civilian life and his hero life separate from each other, but hearing that word. Being called “Brat” again just brought him back to his first round of Juvie. Where he was called a circus brat by nearly everyone that came there. When he was called a Brat because no one would bother to use his name and he was a kid in Juvie so clearly he wasn’t good. It made something in him snap. Just a little. The bikers and Jason saw it to. They all saw his face go dark, the smile slip into something just a tad feral and his fighting stance go firm. Robin fought fast and he fought dirty. In a matter of minutes the bikers were on the ground unconscious and Jason was standing up against the alley wall watching his savior. 

“Uhm..”

The small voice broke Dick out of his stupor. He had been so concentrated on taking out the bad guys he’d completely forgotten that Jason had been hurt during all of this. He saw the blood on the boy’s knuckles and knew he’d tried to fight back. Dick had some bandages in his utility belt that he could use. If anyone deserved some treatment it was Jason. Heaven only knows what kind of infection he could get from the streets if those weren’t taken care of. He crossed the space to the 11 year old boy and knelt down so he was looking up at him through his domino. 

“You okay kid?”

“You aren’t Batman…”

Jason was a smart kid. A smart kid with loads of trauma and no one to count on. Dick wanted to fix that. 

“No. I’m not, but I’m a hero like him. At least, that’s what I’m trying to be.”

“What’s your name?”

“Robin.”

“Is that why you’re dressed with all those colors?”

He looked down at his suit. His suit that Wally had so amazingly designed for him and all of the things that it represented.

“Yeah, yeah something like that. Let’s get those wounds fixed up first okay? Then we can talk. What’s your name?”

“Jason.”

He took Jason to one of the rare parks in the narrows that weren’t filled with drug dealers at this hour in the night. He got the boy to sit down on the swing and noticed he was staring at him while he pulled bandages to wrap his knuckles from his belt. 

“What are you looking at?”

For a second he forgot that he was Robin and not Dick Grayson. As Dick he could be casual with Jason and be the older brother figure he felt like when he was with him. As Robin he couldn’t do that without putting Jason’s life in danger. 

“I just never thought I’d see a hero. Let alone one who looks like they’re my age.”

Dick stayed silent for a moment and gestured for Jason’s hand so he could start cleaning and wrapping his wounds. 

“Well, heroes are out there. We’re doing what we can to make sure you stay safe.”

“You’re doing a kinda crap job of it.”

Dick looked up sharply at that at the same time Jason seemed to realize what he’d just said. 

“I mean,” He went to correct himself and then stopped. The determination that had kept him alive for so long sat back on his features. “Actually, I mean what I said. People are dying out on these streets. You and Batman never cared about us before. Why start now?”

Dick knew Jason was a lot smarter than he let people know. Hell he'd even stolen some books for the kid to read. He also knew that if the boy lost hope in heroes he would make a very startling villain. But he'd be an amazing hero if he kept it. One of the best. Robin sat back and looked the boy over before putting his gloved hands on Jason’s small shoulders. 

“Jason, we failed. I don’t know Batman but I’ll tell you a secret okay? You can’t tell anyone.”

Jason nodded and his eyes lit up. Just a little faith in a person could restore astounding amounts in their own soul.

“I was a street kid. Lived out here and ran around these streets just like you.”

“Really?”

“Yep. I kept my hopes up. I fought my way up the chain and I did what I believed in and now here I am.”

The way Jason stared at him was enough to let him know that he’d won the boy over. 

“Do you think I could ever do that?”

“Do what?”

“Be a hero. Like you. Like Batman. Maybe less like Batman he kinda seems like a big boob. I wanna be a bird.”

Dick couldn’t stop the laugh he let out. God this kid was precious. 

“Yeah, yeah I think you could be. You just have to keep yourself out of trouble and work hard and you can be my partner. We’ll call you BlueJay.”

“Blue’s not really my color.”

“Then we’ll work on it. For now, you’ll just be my Little Wing.”

And dammit he couldn't sacrifice a relationship with this kid. He loved him too much. So at the very least Jason would know how to protect himself. He heard his comm ping in his ear and finished wrapping Jason’s knuckles before lifting a hand to his ear and signaling Jason to be quiet. 

“What do you have?”

“Time to come in. Got a late night call from mom, she wants to facetime us.”

“On it. I’ll be right there.”

He gave a sigh and looked back at Jason.

“Go on. Be a hero Big Bird.”

“Stay safe. Meet me here tomorrow, I’ll start teaching you some stuff.”

Jason deserved to be able to protect himself. It was the least he could do if he was leaving his little brother on the streets. 


A few weeks went by and Robin was out again. By this point he’d found himself a typical patrolling route that ended with the park and teaching Jason small self defense moves. There was nothing fancy about anything that would be blatant that he was taught by the new vigilante but it was enough that he could defend himself in a fight against those bikers if they ever came back for seconds. 

It had been a rough night. Nothing that he couldn't handle but he'd used his body to shield a college girl from being beaten by her drunk abusive boyfriend. Dick had the park in sight when he noticed something was wrong. Jason wasn’t waiting in their usual spot. Instead there were sounds of a fight from the treeline. One of the few in the concrete jungle that was Gotham. Immediately he pushed away the pain from his bruises that he’d collected that night and went to go help in the fight and protect whoever needed it. 

Once he got over there, however, he realized there was no need for that. Jason was holding his own against what looked like a random street thug and would be mugger. There was a woman running from the area with her purse clutched to her chest. Dick crept up along the playground equipment to watch what all was happening when the thug saw him. All he needed to see was the domino mask and he knew he was in trouble. Robin may not have the reputation that Batman does but it’s Gotham and any and all heroes are a threat to the criminal underworld. 

The guy went running with his tail between his legs and Jason turned to glare at him. He wasn’t scared of Dick so he gave all his personality. It was good that someone was recognizing him for what he was instead of what they wanted him to be. 

“I had that." When he noticed his favorite hero hadn't moved from his spot he continued. "Aren’t you going to go after that guy?”

Robin leaned against the post for the swing set and pressed a hand against his side to try to ease his cramping and bruised muscles. 

“I know you had it. I’m not really feeling up to a chase down right now though.”

Jason was over at his side faster than he thought the kid was capable of. He was also worried. God, this kid had such a bright light. He guessed the old sayings were true, suffering does build a hero. 

“What happened? Are you alright? Should you even be standing?”

“I’m fine Jay. Just bruised and sore. I’ve already got one person in my ear saying I should go home, I don’t need you nagging me too.”

“I’ll find whoever did it and-”

There it was. The potential for both sides. 

“I’m fine Jason. Don’t worry about me. I saw you were using the techniques I taught you.”

“Yeah. And for your information I’ll do what I want.”

“Yeah yeah. If you’re gunna be like that then maybe I will just go home for the night.”

He saw Jason falter as he turned to leave.

“Hey Robin?”

“Yeah?”

“There’s someone I want you to look for.”

Oh no. Was it his mom? Was she missing? Dick knew she didn’t really do much in regards to taking care of Jason but he still loved her and took care of her.

“Who?”

“His name’s Dick. He took care of me out here on the streets but he was sick all the time and I haven’t seen him in a while. I can fight now. I can take care of him for a change. I just need help finding him.”

Dick just stood there. He didn’t realize he meant that much to Jason as well. Sure the kid was a soft spot in his heart but Jason was a tough cookie. For him to be worried about both Dick and Robin was quite the shocker. 

“Sure. Yeah. No problem. I’ll make sure he’s okay.”

When he went back to the motel that night Wally fussed over him and put ice against his side while telling him what an idiot he was for not dodging. Wally also went over the fact that Dick had to be careful with going to see Jason. If people found out that an eleven year old kid would be waiting at the park every night for Robin to come they could set a trap. Using a child as bait wasn’t something uncommon for Gotham criminals. There was a reason they all went to Arkham instead of a normal prison. 


It had been a full month since Robin first flew over Gotham’s skyline. One month since he started training Jason. One month since Dick put on a mask and his family colors to fight crime in the shadows. One month invading Batman’s city with no word or appearance of the Dark Knight. The newspapers had been acknowledging the presence of the new hero. They were calling him the Boy Wonder. Wally and Jason both made fun of him for it but Dick liked it. It meant that he could inspire people and he knew that’s what his parents always enjoyed the most about flying in the circus. 

Wally had been going to school like normal in the daytime while Dick went out on the streets. He didn't officially start school with Wally for a little while longer. He made sure Jason was alright during the daylight hours too. Dick had even gone so far to tell him that some guy calling himself Robin had shown up and told him to go act like a brother. When he said the word ‘brother’ Jason had snorted at him and said he didn’t need a brother. The fact that he wasn’t sick anymore didn’t go unnoticed either. Wally would do his homework while Dick went out on patrol and he’d make it back to cuddle Wally for a few hours before he left to start the day again. 

It was a quiet night. Jason had said he was going on a hunt to find his birth mother and look for information. He said he’d be gone for about a week and not to worry about him. So Dick used that time that he’d usually spend with the boy perched up on top of a roof overlooking Gotham’s city skyline. He left his comm line open and was idly chatting with Wally on the other end when he heard it. A small thump from the other side of the roof. If he hadn’t been ingrained with paranoia and a sixth sense for danger while patrolling then he wouldn’t have noticed it. Any normal person wouldn’t have noticed it. He turned to see what was there but froze the moment he did.

“Holy crap…”

The words came out in a whisper. Quiet and muttered only to himself and Wally in his ear who had instantly perked up to see what was happening. There. On the other side of the rooftop. Stood the Dark Knight of Gotham. Batman. The man Dick was beginning to think was actually a myth because he hadn’t seen him yet. There he was standing all dark, brooding, and imposing, face to face with a soon to be 14 year old kid dressed like a traffic light and calling himself Robin.

His voice wasn’t what Dick thought it would be. He’d assumed it would sound like someone had chugged a glass of gravel for breakfast every morning but instead it was just a deep, rough, baritone. Quiet enough no one would ever think to look up but loud enough for Wally to hear it over the comm. 

“Robin. I’ve been looking for you.”

Chapter Text

Bruce had been there the night that it happened. The night the Graysons fell. He’d been sitting in the audience watching the show. He’d watched the cords snap and the acrobats plummet. He’d seen the child being pulled away from his parents bodies by police. He’d seen the blood soaking the colorful uniform. It all felt surreal to him. This was a kid who was going through the same type of thing that he did. Wasn’t that the reason he became Batman? To stop these kinds of things from happening to other people? And yet there was another orphan for Gotham city. 

Bruce let the detectives work on getting the statements from the boy. He’d have to come back and search for what happened later in his other suit. For now he had other, more pressing, matters to attend to. 

He walked over to where Jim was standing and waited, albeit a little impatiently, for the other officers there to leave. Jim turned and gave him a look that said he knew what Bruce was thinking. The man had been the cop that helped him when his parents died. Jim was like another father to him. The first was Alfred, after Thomas. 

“Bruce.”

“Jim. What happened?”

It was a fair question. Numerous other guests at the circus had been asking the same question. No one would suspect a thing by hearing him ask. Especially after it left a child orphaned. Jim just sighed and looked down.

“At first we thought it was an accident. Something someone overlooked while inspecting the equipment. Something tragic but innocent.”

“But you don’t think that’s what it was now?”

Jim was one of the rare people that knew Brucie was an act. He knew Bruce was smarter than he let other people know. He knew he did it to try to hide his trauma. Or at least, that’s what he thought. 

“Sadly no. One of my guys just told me they found acid traces on the ropes. This wasn’t an accident.”

Steel settled in Bruce’s gut at that. Someone had taken a family and slaughtered them in a very public fashion. Acid was a mark of mobsters, he’d have to find out what kind in order to track down who it was. He was trying to figure out how to broach that without giving anything away when he saw the boy sitting next to two officers. 

A thin, worn, blanket wrapped around his shoulders and a paper cup of hot chocolate in his hands. Tears ran down his face while red rimmed blue eyes stared at the spot that body bags had hidden the sight of his parents. Someone intended for this child to die. He’d been watching. The boy was about to jump out when the ropes snapped. He was a target.

It took a hard swallow for Bruce to tear his eyes away from the child.

“The boy-”

“There’s nothing you can do Bruce. The boy is a material witness to murder. He’s going to be targeted so we can’t let him stay with the circus. Kid doesn’t even speak English well, just bits and pieces, most of that is all manners that he probably used to talk to people when the troupe explored around the world in English speaking parts. We’re going to get him situated in social services and hope being out of the limelight and away from police presence will keep him safe.”

Bruce Wayne couldn’t fight that. The Batman could. He’d keep an eye on the boy as Batman for the time it took to catch whoever had killed the Graysons. He’d make sure he had a good life. After what he’d seen he would need it. 


Batman couldn’t find him. That wasn’t something that was said often. He’d tried to find the boy from the circus, he knew his name, knew all about his life there from records held by the circus and the police. Records were kept up until the fall. The fall that was now three days ago. After that there was a record of Richard being taken to the police station but nothing else. They must have put him into social services with a fake name and wiped the records clean. Normally he’d find a way through something like this but they’d wiped security footage of transport as well. 

That meant the police knew who had killed the Graysons. Or at least they had a suspicion. Acid could lead to any number of mobsters in Gotham. Anywhere from a new to the game no name mobster to the Falcones themselves. With money and power the Falcone name had in Gotham it wasn’t surprising that Jim was going to such lengths to protect this boy. It looked like Richard was nearly the same age as Barbara. 

All he could do now was hope that the boy was taken care of. 


That Night 

The police were nice to him but he couldn’t stop seeing it. The fear on his parent’s faces. He could still hear the snap of the ropes. The sound of their bodies hitting the ground. He could see the red running from them onto the dirt and hay of the circus ring. He was supposed to jump. Why didn’t he jump? He could have reached them. He could have saved them. The nice officers told him they were okay now. They said they would be taken care of. He could understand English but he couldn’t speak it too well. Some of the prefixes messed him up. It just didn't make sense. He wanted his parents but they were dead now. Because of him. Because he didn’t stop the strange man in the tent earlier. Because he didn’t say anything. 

He might be young but he knew that man didn’t belong in the circus. He knew everybody, he played with everyone. He’d seen the man argue with Pop Haly. He knew there was something wrong but he didn’t say anything.

They died because of him. 

A nice man came up to him. He had a mustache and all the officers seemed to listen to him. He’s the one who gave him the blanket and hot chocolate. He reminded Dick of Pop Haly.

“Hey kiddo,” The nice man knelt down to his level. “Can you tell me your name?”

“Dick.”

“Hi, Dick. My name is Jim Gordon. I’m the police Commissioner here in Gotham.”

He only nodded. He couldn’t look away even though the bodies were gone.

“They’re dead now…”

The Commissioner sighed softly and nodded.

“I’m sorry son... Can you tell me what happened?”

Dick could see the Commissioner talking to another man. The other man wasn’t in a police uniform but he seemed to know what he was doing. After he left the Commissioner came back to him. The two officers that had been with him left and gave them some alone time. 

“Hi Mr. Commissioner…”

“Hello Dick. I,” He took a breath. “I don’t know how to tell you this son, there’s no easy way for me to tell you. But we think this might not have been an accident.”

It made the tears come harder. He’d been able to fool himself into thinking maybe it was an accident. Maybe he didn’t kill his family. He was wrong. He could feel arms around him and noted the Commissioner was hugging him but all he could think was my fault my fault my fault.

“What was that?”

Had he said that out loud?

“It’s my fault they’re dead.”

“Why on earth would you think that?”

“I saw a man. He- He came out of the tent. Had angry eyes at us. I knew he didn’t belong here. I knew it but I didn’t tell anyone and now… mama…”

The tears fell down his cheeks in fat drops while the Commissioner put his notepad down and held him again. 

“Dick I need you to understand me here okay?” 

He nodded.

“This wasn’t your fault. You couldn’t have done anything. Don’t blame yourself for this.”

Jim looked up at the sound of footsteps and saw the rest of the place had cleared out for the most part. 

“What happens now Mr. Commissioner?”

Jim’s heart broke. This little boy lost everything and now he had to tell him he was going to be removed from the only home he'd had. He’d spoken to Mr. Haly earlier. He knew the circus was the only home this little child ever knew.

“Now we have to leave. And you have to come with us. It’s dangerous to stay at the circus-”

“They don’t hurt me!”

“I know they don’t kiddo. I know. But the man who came after your family could come after you now. We have to keep you safe. Are you ready to meet your social worker?”


The social worker was mean. He wanted to talk to the Commissioner. He was nice. His social worker’s name was Grace but she didn’t have much of it. She’d acted nice inside but once they got to the car she was terrible. Like a double sided coin. In the eyes of others she was kind and sweet, something innocent and good. On the other she was a Devil. Or maybe on one hand she was a Trapeze swinging in the circus lights and the other she was burned with acid.

“No one is going to want a gypsy scum like you. I’m taking you to Juvie. It’s where you’ll go anyway.”

She was like a snake. She kept a grip on his arm and dragged him up the stairs to the big scary building. There were guards and guns everywhere but they didn’t make him feel safe. It didn’t take long for them to drag him back to what they called a yard. It wasn’t a yard. A yard was grass and openness. A yard was friends and swings and slides. This? This wasn’t a yard. This was stone and walls. Wire and weights and angry eyes in every direction. This wasn't a place for children. This was a place for criminals. Was that what she had meant? When she said this was where he was going anyway? Did she think he was a criminal because of his skin? How was that fair?

The guards were about to leave but he had to stop them. So he ran to the closest one and he tried to plead but it was hard. He didn’t know how to do this. His English wasn’t the best and when he got scared it got worse. He wanted to tell them there was a mistake but,

“Mistake!”

“What?”

“Mistake. This.” He gestured around him. Why weren’t his words working. “Mistake. This mistake.”

“There is no mistake here. You’re the new kid here Jefferson. Deal with it.”

Jefferson? That wasn’t his name. These people didn’t know his real name. This was a cover up. A cover up and maybe the world isn’t as good as his parents taught him. Maybe the world is just full of bad people who want to hurt others for their own gain. Maybe Batman really was the myth that everyone said he was. It wasn’t like he’d ever meet him at this rate. It wasn't looking like he was going to live very long inside this gray nightmare.


Present

Dick didn’t know what to do. Batman was standing right in front of him. He just said he’d been looking for him. Oh god. This was Batman. Batman the world’s greatest detective Batman. He knows everything about everyone. What would happen if he found out Dick had a freaking Batman Plushie. He was almost fourteen and a vigilante in a city with one of the worst crime rates in America. And he had a plushie. Focus Grayson. Play it cool. Worry about the useless things later. 

“You’ve been looking for me?”

“Yes.”

Both of them faced each other on the roof. It almost looked like a comical standoff. Wally had gone suspiciously quiet in his ear, probably listening to see how all of this would go. 

“Why?”

“I don’t like capes in my city.”

On one hand, Dick was scared shitless by seeing Batman this close and he wanted to listen to everything because he knew the man’s reputation. On the other hand, he was Dick Grayson, and that meant he was a cocky little bastard.

“But… You have a cape.”

Oh god. He said it. He’s mouthing off to the actual Batman. This is happening.

“Do you have powers?”

“And here I thought you were a detective.”

Dick shifted his weight onto one leg and crossed his arms over his chest. He caught the small twitch at the corner of the Dark Knight’s mouth. 

“I am. Just because you’ve shown no signs of any abilities doesn’t mean you don’t have them. Now. Talk. Who are you and what’s your goal for Gotham.”

Dick raised an eyebrow.

“My name is Robin. No I don’t have any powers. As for my goal here in Gotham, I want to protect the people here. I want to save them like you do. I’ve been doing a good job of it too.”

He was ready for the fight. For the classic ‘you’re a child you should never do this.’ All of that bullshit. He was a child when he was thrown in Juvie. A child when he watched his family be murdered. He’d seen too much to go with that title now. When Batman spoke it knocked all Dick’s building anger out.

“I’ll admit. I was surprised you’d done so well.”

“What?”

“I know who you are.”

“Do you now?”

“Your name is Dick Grayson. Your partner is Wally West. He’s listening in on this conversation isn’t he?”

Oh god he definitely knew about the plushie.

“How did you-” He paused. "If you knew my name then why did you ask me?"

"I'm a detective. I thought you knew that. I wanted to see how honest you were going to be with me. I also wanted to establish how I wanted to deal with this."

"What? Are you- Am I?"

“You’re not in danger. On the contrary. I am going to ask you something and I will only ask you this once. Do you understand?”

“Okay?..”

“Are you hungry?”

Chapter Text

Dick had to blink at that. Did the Batman just ask him if he was hungry? What was that even supposed to mean? “I’m only going to ask once” He had to come up with an answer. And fast if the look on the cowled man’s face was anything to go by. 

“Yes,” The word was drawn out slowly and lowly like he wasn’t sure what to do. “But, can Wally get some too?”

Wally was his partner. Both in the sense of the crime fighting life and in his romantic life. Of course he was going to let him meet the Goddamn Batman and go get food with them. 

It wasn’t even a half hour later that the boys found themselves sitting on the hood of the batmobile eating burgers with Batman. Batman eats cheeseburgers. They just talked. Not about crime fighting, not really, but it was a subtle way of them all getting to know each other. Wally had even gotten a spare domino mask in case anyone saw them and decided that the boys should be targets for being close with Batman. 

In the end Batman was driving them home. All fanboying aside the night had turned out well for them. There was a bond that was established between the two of Gotham’s vigilantes. They were about to go back into the motel the back way when Dick heard a voice call to him from the car. 

“Robin.”

He turned around to face the caped crusader.

“Yeah?”

“I think you could do good here. But it’s dangerous here in Gotham ad you aren’t trained.”

“I’ve been practicing-”

“I’m not telling you to quit. I could train you. Make you my partner and make sure you’re safe while you run on these streets.”

Dick paused. For what felt like the umpteenth time he was wondering if he was hearing things. 

“You...you're ...you want me to be your partner ...seriously?...”

“Yes. If you think that you’re up to it.”

“Yes. Batman. I. You don’t get it. I’ve seen a lot. And I know a lot. I’ve been through things, I don’t care what it takes. I’ll take whatever training I need to and I’ll make you proud.”

There was a slight twitch to the edge of Batman’s lips. Like he saw something in Dick that not many others could see. Like he could see the fire of determination that was burning inside the young man. What he couldn’t see was that Bruce was mentally hitting himself for only knowing the boy for a short amount of time and his heart was already letting him in. It was a dangerous tool in the world they lived in. Especially in Gotham.

Dick was ecstatic. He ran to the back of the motel, his cape flying behind him and listened as the Batmobile drove away into the night. Climbing in through the window he watched Wally turn to face him and get confused by the expression of pure joy on his face while he ripped his mask off. 

“Wally you’re never gunna believe this!”

“You look like you’ve been hit with Joker venom. Was that really Batman?”

He had his smile on his face. He knew something had happened. Had his boyfriend gotten Batman’s blessing to work in the city? They both knew that he hated other heroes in Gotham. 

“Batman wants me to be his partner!”

“What?”

“I know! This is amazing! He’s going to train me and teach me all kinds of stuff and I get to patrol with him and holy crap this is so amazing!”

He was so focused on taking off his uniform and talking about all the things he would get to do that he didn’t see Wally’s smile fading.

“You’re going to be his partner?”

“Of course, I’m so excited.” 

Dick finally turned to face his lover while he pulled on his sweatpants and saw Wally’s face.

“But, you don’t look excited. What’s wrong?”

“Just….” He sighed. “I’m happy for you Dick. I am. You’ve gotta believe me. But.. Batman doesn’t need some dumb high school student. You’re smart. Two grades up and I’m just, average. Once you team with Batman you won’t need me anymore.”

Dick took the time it took Wally to talk to walk up to him and cup his face before placing a light kiss to his forehead. 

“Wally, I will always need you. And I will always want you. You’re the one who saved me, not Batman. And even if I’m partnered with him it doesn’t mean I won’t be on comms with you too. A birds gotta fly free, and you’ll be there to help me. Right there with me.”

Instead of pulling closer and accepting what was said Wally pulled back. 

“Yeah, sure. I get it.”

He grabbed his jacket and Dick watched with anxiety clawing at his chest.

“Where are you going?”

“I’m gunna go get some air.”

“Wally it’s late.”

“I’ll be back.”

Dick moved to stop him but Wally was gone before he could. Dick just stared at the door of their room as he listened to Wally’s truck rumble to life and the tires roll out of the gravel parking lot. Wally knew he should be happy for Dick. And he wanted to, being partners with The Batman was one of the most amazing and awesome things he could imagine. The issue was that he didn’t want things to change. It was more than Batman not needing him it was Dick not needing him. Sure he said that he wasn’t going to leave but Wally had been hurt too many times to believe him the whole way. He trusted Dick with his life but, but sometimes realizing his own self worth was hard. Who was he compared to a real superhero? It wasn’t like he had powers.


Jason had told Robin that he’d be gone for a week. He told him that he was going to find his birth mother. The truth was that he was working on training himself away from his favorite hero. Yeah, he’d own it too. Robin was his favorite. Originally it had been Batman but he’d never seen the caped crusader and Robin was there for him. Robin, in Jason’s opinion, had done more for him than Batman. He didn’t know if Robin had stopped any major crimes or disasters but he was just starting out and Jason fully intended to take him up on the offer of being his partner. Although he had outwardly bristled at being called “Little Wing” the name had a tone of endearment that he’d be lying if he said he didn’t enjoy. 

He wanted to know about his birth mother sure. But she wasn’t the priority. He had his mom. He had the woman who raised him and he took care of her as much as he could. If he became a hero then he could do more. He could keep his family together. Funny thing about people is that they always want what they don’t have. For Jason that was a family. It’s why he and Dick got along so well. They both wanted what the world had taken from them. 

It’s how he ended up in an underground fight club in the narrows. A place where the winner got cash and most of the people would kill for it. Homeless and brutes would fight alike in order to win. Bets were placed and Jason spent the first bit watching. Learning. He used the tricks Robin had taught him and watched the champion’s signature moves. Figured out a way to counterattack so that he could win. And then he stepped into the ring. A small scrawny kid with nothing on him but his ratty old red hoodie. 

The laughter came almost instantly. His hood was down far over his eyes and red paint obscured his identity further. If it was street thugs he would fight as Robin’s partner then it was street thugs he should train with. 

As the first man came into the ring Jason thought about what Dick or Robin would think of him if they knew what he was doing. Dick would say it was dangerous and stupid and say if he needed money then he’d get it for him. The guy was crazy good at stealing things. Robin would say that it was reckless and try to get him out of it. Sometimes you just can’t learn the good way. You have to learn the hard way. It was how he’d lived his life so far and it’s how he intended to keep living it. 

He watched the man move around the edge of the ring. His shirt was covered in grease and sweat. Stains littered over it and the accompanying sleeveless denim jacket. His hair all but gone and a body large enough that if he sat on him Jason was sure it would suffocate him. Lifting his own hands Jason got into a stance that looked normal enough for a street rat. His hands were wrapped just like Robin had shown him. He was doing something stupid but he was trying to be safe while doing it. Besides, Robin and Dick would both immediately know he was in a fight if they saw bruised and bloody knuckles. 

The guy swung. A heavy, meaty, fist swung through the air where Jason’s head had been moments prior. By the time the guy realized he hit air and looked down it was too late. Jason planted his hands on the ground and swung his leg to swipe the guy’s own out from under him. The room went silent as soon as the thwack of hot flesh hit the ground. No one had been expecting that outcome. Slowly, claps started to pepper the crowd. It was the fastest fight of the night so far. And he was sure there were going to be plenty more. 


An hour and a half had gone by and he hadn’t left the ring yet. 

His hoodie had small splatters of blood on it from both his own body and his opponents. He was good but he was training still and he was tired. He wasn’t used to going for this long. 

Then the doors slammed open. 

Cops and people in suits came flooding in while fighters and spectators alike fled the scene. Jason knew he had to get out. He tugged his hood further over his eyes and turned to run. Only to run straight into a woman in a business suit. He tried to back up but she grabbed his arm and held him in place. 

“Just where do you think you’re going young man.”

“Away from here.”

“What’s your name?”

“Why’s it matter?”

“Do you have a family kid? Someone we can call?”

She looked familiar. But why? Why did he recognize her?

“What are you a social worker?”

“Yes. My name is Grace Higgins. You need a proper home to go to if you’re fighting out here like this. You could have killed yourself.”

Grace. A social worker. Sure there could be many but Jason knew who he was looking at. 

Dick had told him a lot about his time in Juvie. What had happened. They’d bonded together on the nights that home was too rough for Jason to stay in and he knew he could go crash with the person he looked up to like an older sibling. They’d shared their traumas with each other. Helped one another through the nightmares. Jason can remember the fever dreams Dick had when he got too sick to be out of bed. He remembered waking up to him thrashing and mumbling because of a mistake. When he’d woken up he’d thrown up and Jason had to talk him down from a panic attack. After that there were no more secrets. 

After that night Jason had hunted the woman down and glared daggers at her from across the street. If he ever had the power to get revenge for Dick he swore that he’d do it. This woman had nearly cost him his life. 

Now here she was. Set up like a test. Revenge or justice. Safety for himself and his secrets or ruin it all for everyone. He wasn’t stupid enough to forget that Dick had escaped the Juvie. If they used him as bait he’d go running and end up straight back in that hell hole. But this time it would be because of him. 

It was like a test.

A damn test.

Jason gave her a near feral growl as he grabbed her wrist and shoved her away from him. He wanted to hurt her. To get revenge for all the terrible things she’d done to the person who was there for him when no one else was. But Robin didn’t need a partner who couldn’t control himself. Dick didn’t need a little brother who would send him back to Juvie because he couldn’t keep his rage in check. So instead he booked it out of there. He ran like hell was clipping at his feet and he didn’t stop until he was nearly out of the city.

His lungs felt like they were on fire. He felt like he was going to throw up. He’d spent all that time and effort and didn’t even get any cash from it. The bust happened before his final fight. He rolled over to look up at Gotham’s smog covered sky. The grass was wet and stuck to him. He knew he’d freeze if he stayed out like this but for the time being the cool air felt good against his warm skin. So that’s what it felt like. To fight and run through the city. It made sense why so many people would do it then. He watched the Batsignal light up in the sky and heard the batmobile roar through the streets he’d just run. 

Somewhere out there was Robin. Was he going to the signal? Was he with Batman? Had they even met yet? He thought back to the night that Robin had shown up at the park injured. Remembered the worry he felt when he heard the slight pinch in his hero’s voice. He was going to fight. He’d keep himself out of trouble like Robin said and become his partner. And then anyone who ever hurt someone he cared about would be sorry. They’d face their justice. He’d do it right.

Chapter Text

When Wally got back he found Dick curled up on the small couch that was in their room. He was pressed in the corner looking out the window and curled into a ball. Like he’d waited and looked for Wally to come back the full four hours that he’d been gone. Wally moved carefully in order to keep Dick asleep. He knew he was an abnormally light sleeper and wanted to make sure that he got all the rest that he needed and deserved. 

Were his feelings hurt by everything? Yes. Was it Dick’s fault? No. 

There were tracks in the carpet from what looked like hours of pacing back and forth. Wally took a moment to look at him. Curled awkwardly against the back of the couch with his head listing on his hand. Dark bangs shadowing closed eyes. The moonlight curling around him and framing him like the Robin of Darkness that he was. With a sigh he moved to grab a blanket. Dick was already asleep, already peaceful. He was going to need it. He was supposed to start school the next day. He was inches from covering his boyfriend when he stopped. 

Was he really about to just leave him on the couch? It kind of seemed like a shitty move on his part. He might be upset and harboring conflicting feelings but he still loved him. Didn’t matter that he wasn’t in the mood to be touched or to really talked. He knew he still loved him. 

Dick was used to cuddling when they slept so he didn’t wake when Wally scooped him up and gently laid him on the bed before getting in on the other side himself. He rolled to face the wall. He wasn’t in a particularly cuddly mood and even then, after all that happened, he didn’t want to confuse Dick with walking out and then cuddling him. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt Dick. But then he felt movement behind him and a smaller body nuzzled into his back. 


Dick woke up to the sound of his alarm clock that he didn’t remember setting. It only took him two seconds to realize that Wally had left before him. The empty bed and silence that rang through their motel said it all. He got up and got dressed before making his way to the building that Wally had told him stories about. 

He was nervous. It sounded stupid for him to be but he was. Sure he was a vigilante crime fighter in one of the most crime ridden cities in America but he was still scared of going into a school by himself. He’d never been to school and this time there was no mask to hide him. It wouldn’t have been so bad if he had someone in his corner but at the moment he didn’t even know if he had that. 

He made his way to the office to get his schedule and went about his day. For the most part he didn’t recognize anyone. A godsend after the things that had happened last time he saw people from the school. The day passed in a haze. Words and greetings came at him while he took notes and thought about what to do about Wally. He wasn’t willing to lose him. Not over something like this. He just had to figure out why he was so upset. Sure he would be with Batman and Batman would be his partner but so would Wally. He wasn’t just going to leave. He loved him too much to do that. Whatever it was thought, he was certain that he’d done something to hurt him. The last thing he wanted was to hurt Wally. 

Between his classes the football team found him. He was so caught up in thinking that he didn’t even notice them until he was being grabbed and dragged into an empty classroom. Dick ignored all the comments they made. Ignored every punch that landed. Every kick that came crashing into him until he had a bloody nose and split lip. He pushed through it all because Mary had gotten him into this school and he wasn’t about to get kicked out on his first day for fighting. He wasn’t going to do that. She was great and the only other mom he’d ever had since his own passed. He wasn’t going to hurt her. 

Eventually the day was done. He swung his bag up onto his shoulders and hugged his bruised rib cage. He just wanted to go home. Home or, god he didn’t even know. Back to the streets? Go see Jason? That wouldn’t work. He was still supposed to be away trying to find his birth mom. This time he was trying to pay attention to his surroundings and made eye contact with a pair of green that he knew and loved. Self-consciously, he wiped at any blood that may have been lingering from his nose and lip and looked down at the ground as he sped up. If Wally didn’t want to see him then he could disappear. 

“Dick! Hey Dick wait up.”

He walked faster while Wally ran to catch up. Before Dick could escape there was a hand on his shoulder and he looked at Wally, forgetting for a second that he was injured before Wally’s expression darkened.

“What happened?”

He put his head down. He didn’t want to see Wally worried about him.

“Nothing.”

A hand gently lifted his chin so he was looking back up at his boyfriend’s face.

“That doesn’t look like nothing.”

Wally was mad. Someone did this to Dick. Someone hurt him and it was because he wasn’t there to help him when he needed it. What kind of boyfriend just leaves their partner on their first day of school ever? A shitty one. 

Dick didn’t realize the anger wasn’t directed at him and shrunk in Wally’s grip. Tried to squirm free and make himself as all as possible until Wally grabbed his shoulder.

“Dick, who did this to you?”

That was the last straw for Dick. He didn’t know what to do with hurt. He didn’t know how to deal with half the things he was feeling. So he did what he’d always done. React with anger. Keep them away. Make them hate you so you never hurt them. So he lashed out. He lifted his face to Wally’s and knew that . Wally could feel his muscles tense under his hand.

“Why do you even care? I hurt you, I-” He cut himself off. Breathe. Breathe don’t lose it. “I hurt you and upset you Why would you care about someone who hurt you?”

Wally for his credit let go of him. 

“Dick for being such a smart kid, you’re so stupid sometimes.”

The words and exasperated expression he wore put out Dick’s fire instantly. He looked down again and shuffled slightly but didn’t try to get away.

“I’m sorry.”

“I care because I love you. I love you so much. Just, tell me who hurt you.”

He was about to tell him. He really was. But then one of the football players came up behind him and pushed him into Wally’s chest. He was thankful that his face was hidden at least because it hid the wince he had from being pushed on top of one of his bruises from the earlier beating. 

“Can we just go home?...”

Dick really had no interest in being there anymore. He just wanted to go home where he and Wally could really talk to each other and relax. Wally though, he knew what had happened just based on Dick’s reaction. He knew the football team had done something to him again. He’d had enough but he wasn’t going to put Dick through it again. 

“Take my keys. Wait in the car. I’ll be there soon.”

He watched Dick walk towards the parking lot before following after the football player that had pushed his boy. 

“Hey dipshit. Why don’t you watch where you’re going huh?”

To prove his point he shoved the jock back. They started to fight with each other. Basic wrestling until is wasn’t anymore when the jock pulled his keys from his back pocket and formed them into  what served as brass knuckles. Punches were shared. Both of them being knocked to the ground once but always getting back up until the jock slammed Wally back against the school wall and used his key’d hand to punch him in the gut repeatedly. The first time ripped his clothes. The second there were scratches. After that, the keys were cutting into his flesh and leaving gashes in their wake. Wally wasn’t going down without a fight though. More than what he already put up. This guy wanted to go for damage? Fine. Two could play that game. 

With one solid punch Wally knocked the guy off him and broke his nose. He’d helped Dick train to be Robin, he certainly knew how to throw a good punch. 

Dick had started to go back to the car. He knew what Wally was going to do but he also knew Wally was an amazing fighter and fast on his feet. If something went wrong then he could probably run to the car before it got too bad. And then he heard a snap. He knew all too well what a broken nose sounded like from Juvie. He didn’t hesitate before turning and running back to go see what happened. The snap was loud, which meant that it was caused with a lot of force behind it. Which meant that things were bad and Wally wasn’t running, or he couldn’t run.

When he got there he saw the blood on the jocks face. He would be lying if he said it wasn’t mildly satisfying. But then he saw the blood on Wally’s stomach and watched it seep into his torn shirt. Saw the bloody keys in the jock’s hand and anger over road everything in him that was telling him to pull away from the fight. 

Wally saw him. Wally saw the expression that painted Dick’s face and he knew the football player saw it too when he went running scared and clutching his face. With a hand over his wound Wally made his way over to his boyfriend and cupped his face. 

“Hey hey hey, Dick. Look at me. I’m fine.”

It took ten more seconds of utterly livid glaring for Dick to look at Wally. 

“He hurt you.”

Wally just laughed at the anger and worry that swirled in Dick’s eyes. He knew he loved him.

“It’s just a scratch. I’m okay. Really.”

Dick turned to fully address his boyfriend. One hand cupped his face the other held over his side and hiding the blood from his view. 

“If it’s just a scratch then let me see.”

When Wally didn’t respond and didn’t move he nudged himself under his other arm and supported his boy. 

“Come on you idiot. Let’s go get you fixed up.”

They rode back to the motel in relative silence. Once they were there Dick dropped their bags by the door and moved to grab the first aid kit from the bathroom.

“Take off your shirt.”

Still trying to play it off like nothing was really wrong Wally laughed and sat on the edge of the bed.

“Or you could just come take it off for me.”

At Dick’s glare Wally did as he was told while Dick pulled out fresh bandages and supplies to clean what they both knew was a kind of gross wound. He stretched back to let Dick work.

“You didn’t have to get in a fight over me you know.”

Wally just shrugged.

“Yeah but it’s fine. I’m fine. It doesn’t even hurt.”

Dick just raised an eyebrow and put the disinfectant right on the main part and started wiping. Wally yelped at the pain and Dick hid his smugness at the fact that he proved Wally was lying. 

“Maybe you should be more careful.”

“Coming from the guy who dresses like a bird and goes out to fight crime and train a kid.”

“Jason deserves the training. He’s going to do good someday. Might even make a good crime fighting partner.”

He was almost done with the bandages when Wally got serious and quiet.

“You mean like Batman?”

Dick didn’t respond while he packed the first aid kit and put it back. When he got there he sat on the floor at the foot of the bed and kept his eyes down.

“Wally...do you want me to say no to Batman’s offer?..”

He took a deep breath and slid off the bed so he was sitting on the floor in front of Dick. 

“No.” He took his boyfriend’s hands and started running his thumbs over the back of Dick’s.

“You deserve this. I can’t take that away from you.”

In the next seconds Wally was tackle hugged and kissed on the forehead, cheeks, and basically anywhere Dick had access to. 

“I love you so much. You’ll be right there with me every second.”

Wally pulled Dick so that he could have access to his lips and gave him a kiss.

“Just stay safe, okay?”

After a while of them cuddled together on the floor Wally put on a new shirt and stood. 

“Come on, we have a dinner with mom.”

They’d made the plans about a week in advance. Rudy was going to be out of the house for work related stuff and Mary wanted to see her boys. Wally grabbed his keys and looked at Dick.

“Lets maybe not tell her about the fight, yeah?”

He winked and held the door open to his boyfriend while Dick chuckled at him and stepped out of the motel.

“Ah, such a gentleman.”

They made it the whole way to the car before Dick spoke again.

“Your moms pretty scary dude. I think she might know. She might just smell it in the air that you’re hurt.”

“God, what do you think she is, a shark?” He started up the car before he spoke again.

“As long as we act normal she won’t find out.”

The car ride was the highlight of their day. A symbol that things were good between them. What, with Wally singing along to poppy 2000’s songs and giving Dick his rendition of That’s What Makes You Beautiful. It was good. Something that they needed. 

When they got there Rudy opened the door. The man was meant to be gone but the way he was dressed said that it wasn’t business stuff he was working on. It was more Mary was kicking him out of the house so she could have a good night with her kids. Speaking of Mary the woman glared at her husband and he pushed his way out the door so she could great them. A quick look over and then she was hugging Dick. He hugged back of course, laughing and loving the attention. Then she moved to hug Wally, pausing the second she made contact and her expression turning serious.

“You’re hurt? How did this happen? How bad?”

Of course this just made Wally sputter while Dick raised an eyebrow and gave his boyfriend a pointed look.

“See?”

Wally rolled his eyes at Dick and gave an exasperated sigh to his mom.

“I’m not hurt. Anyways, what’s for dinner?”

He quickly nudged past and moved towards the kitchen. This meant that he didn’t see the raised eyebrow Mary gave Dick and he didn’t hear Dick giving her a full explanation of what happened.

Mrs. West was a scary woman and Dick was nowhere near stupid enough to cross her. 

Mary hit prime mom mode once she heard the tale. Storming into the kitchen and leveling the look of motherly disapproval on her child.

“You Got In A Fight Wallace?”

Dick kept his eyes down on the ground so he wouldn’t see the betrayed look he knew Wally was giving him. 

“Look mom. It’s not as bad as it sounds-”

“They punched you. Using their keys. Wallace. Their names. Now.”

“Mom-”

“Names-”

“You don’t need to-”

“Wallace.”

“Football team.”

Wally may have been grumbling but even he had to admit that he didn’t really want to be on the receiving end of her glare for too much longer.

“I started it, I was the one who pushed him. And besides only one used their keys.”

“I don’t care if one used them or all of them. Nobody can treat my boys like this.”

No one saw Wally look at the door his father had exited with not long ago. No one heard the sarcastic muttered “Right.” that came out in a huff of air. 

Mary left to grab her phone from her purse and call the school. Leaving Dick and Wally alone to have a lovely little chat. Dick knew that Wally was upset with him over all of it but the pout on his face was doing nothing but making him laugh. 

“Seriously? We agreed not to tell her Dick. Life is going to be worse when the team finds out we snitched.”

He wasn’t so much as mad as he was worried. He didn’t want to do another fight again. And if the team knew that it was Wally’s mom who called they’d target Dick because of his clear lack of a living parent to defend him. He just wanted to keep Dick safe. Dick on the other hand knew what Wally was thinking and moved over to his boyfriend’s side. 

“If anything happens they have to take down both of us. And something tells me that’s easier said than done.”

He listened to Mary chewing out the school for a little. Even with her being in the other room it was easy to pity the poor soul who answered the phone. 

“Also, your mom is a terrifying woman who deserves all respect. And I will answer any question she gives me. Deal or no.”

“Dude my mom isn’t that terrifying.”

He listened to her angrily end the call and huff before coming back into the kitchen looking every bit the calm and loving mother she tried so hard to be. 

“So. Now that all of that is handled. Lasagna for dinner. Dessert is chocolate cake.” 

Wally looked at Dick and laughed at his raised eyebrow and look of see? He leaned over and whispered his consent. 

“Okay, yeah, she is scary. But don’t tell her all of our secrets.”

With a quick kiss on the forehead he grabbed plates and started to set the table. They had to take the good times where they could get them. They knew things didn’t stay calm in Gotham for long. A storm was going to be coming. It was just a matter of when.

Chapter Text

Days trickled by slowly. Dick would meet up with Batman every night and patrol with him. Jason was going to be coming back that night and Dick was lying if he said he wasn’t excited to see him again. Jason was a soft spot for him. Wally knew that, and if Dick ever spoke about him to Batman then he would know too. As it was he was too nervous that Batman wouldn’t approve and try to prevent them from doing anything. He was worried that Batman would think Jason’s potential for villainy was too much and try to stop Dick from teaching him anything else. 

As it was Dick had an open channel with Wally every single night. He would tell him all the details of what they were doing so he was never out of the loop. It’d be quiet so he would chat with his boyfriend and try to lighten the dark mood that was the Dark Knight. 

School came and went with no other incidents. It looked like whatever Mary had told the school over the phone worked and the football team did nothing more than glare at him and Wally. Artemis and her group of friends glowered at them each time they passed in the halls but that was something that was oddly fulfilling for both of them. The plan for patrol that night was to split up. They’d go their own ways and see what all Robin could do with the new tricks he was learning from Batman. It was a good way for Dick to see Jason without showing him to Batman. 

When the time came Dick had made sure that he finished his patrol route from Batman. He then looped his way back to the park where he knew Jason would be waiting for him. Sure enough he spotted the red hoodie sitting on the same swing that Dick had leaned himself against all those weeks ago. As he got closer he noticed a bruise painting the left side of Jason’s jaw. Immediately all his protective instincts were kicked into high gear. 

“Jason.”

The younger stood up and turned to him but kept his face turned down like he was trying to hide the fact that he was wounded. 

“What happened? I thought you were out looking for your mom?”

“I was.”

“Then how did you get this?”

“I didn’t find her.”

The softness in his voice made Dick want to believe him but he wasn’t too sure if he should. Then again, Jason’s mother was always a sensitive topic for him so it really wasn’t that unusual for him to be closed off about the issue. He also didn’t come up with wounds all the time either. 

“What happened?”

Jason sighed and kept his eyes down at the ground. Another warning sign for the teen vigilante. Jason was confrontational, he wasn’t one to be beaten down easily.

“I was out looking for her. I thought maybe she’d gotten tied up in something outside of Gotham but...”

“But what?”

“It doesn’t matter. What matters is that when I came back I got grabbed in one of the alleys and they tried to rough me up. I got away, using what you taught me. Don’t worry, they're all alive and well minus a few bruises and cuts.”

Dick watched him for a little before sighing. Jason was a tough kid. If anything serious went down he’d tell him. Either Dick or Robin. 

“So, Robin, what did I miss while I was gone. I hear you’re partnered up with the Bat now?”

“Yeah, still almost doesn’t feel real.”

“Guess you don’t need me anymore huh?”

Dick felt the words twist in his gut and heard the quiet “See?” from the comm in his ear that connected to Wally. 

“Jay, you’re still my Little Wing. You always will be. And that kid you were wanting me to help you find. Dick? He needs you. Okay? Just because Batman and I are partners doesn’t mean that there can’t be more. I mean, Batman is Mr. “I work alone” blah blah blah, and yet here I am.”

A tiny smile graced him for his efforts and Jason lifted his head up again. It was a good sign. A sign that the scales were being reset and the kid that Dick knew and loved was coming back out.

They talked for a while longer. Catching up on what had happened in the last week and learning where all they were each injured. After that it was about combat skills and how to work when hurt. They were about to start sparring and putting the words into actions when the comm link beeped in Dick’s ear. Instantly he put up a hand to his ear and lifted a finger at Jason. The younger paused and watched with curiosity and then concern when he saw Robin go pale under the mask. 

“Batman are you sure?”

Silence for a little. Whatever it was Jason could tell that it wasn’t good. Robin’s posture had changed and it was clear that he was uncomfortable with whatever mission or threat was posed. Then he noticed that his hero idol kept looking down the street. 

“Yeah. I’ve got some help for us.” A pause. “He’s trained. By me. Learning still but he can help.” Another gap. “Batman we need the help right now. I’m not risking civilians for your order. He can help” A quick look to Jason and then he spoke again. “He wants to help.”

He dropped his hand and turned to face Jason. Ratty red hoodie and a mess of hair. He didn’t have a hero name. Didn’t have a mask. Lucky for him Batman had helped him equip his utility belt with some fancier tech. Including, but certainly not limited to, extra masks. He pulled one out and handed it to Jason who looked at it like it was a fifth limb on the bird. 

“Jason. Batman’s got word that there’s a bomb down the street. I need your help to get the civilians out of the area while I defuse it. We don’t have a lot of time. So, if you’re willing, put on the mask and be my Little Wing tonight?”

A look of determination settled over his features and Jason nodded as he took the mask. He’d do well. He’d prove himself. All his training would lead to doing this well. 

Within the minute Jason was running down the street behind Robin. A spare comm tucked into his ear as Robin issued orders for him to get as many people away from the empty apartment building as possible. He watched his idol vanish into the complex and then set to work. It was going well too. Jason was leading a crowd of people from the neighboring buildings down the street. Telling them to go wait in the park until they knew if it was safe or not. He was on his way back to get more people out when it happened. 


Dick ran inside and immediately made his way up to the top floor. Batman had said one of his informants had said there was an explosive planted there. Why? They didn’t know yet. But his job was to get civilians safe and look for clues while attempting to defuse the bomb. 

He found it up where Batman had said it would be. The issue was that it wasn’t a normal bomb. It was a mass of wires. Some of them connecting to the device buried deep inside and some of them just for show and confusion. He hated that the confusion was working. One wrong cut and the whole building would go up in flames. Jason was outside. He could hear the sounds of civilians moving down the street and heard his pseudo little brother calling for people to move faster and gather others as they went. He was making out to be a good hero.

A timer ticking down gave him the motivation to work faster. He couldn’t see how much time was left on the bomb but he had to hope that it was enough for him to work out how to disarm it. Quickly he opened his comm to Batman. 

“Batman, got an issue here.”

“What is it?”

“The bomb is a mess. I can hear a timer but I can’t see it to know how much time we’ve got. How far out are you?”

“About another minute.”

“You might want to hurry. I don’t know if I can do this in time.”

“What does it look like?”

“Mass of wires. Some connect some don’t but I can’t tell what’s what in here.”

“Stay calm, try to comb through them until you find the device after that it’s what I showed you.”

“On it.”

He was trying. He really was. But every tick on the timer had him one second closer to what could be his death at any second. He didn’t know what it was at. He couldn’t. Eventually he found the core device in the tangle of cords and then felt his heart skip and his breath catch in his throat. 

3

2

1


The building blew. Exploded with enough force to nearly knock Jason off his feet and shatter the windows of the building across the street. Rubble was flying through the air and then Jason saw it. Or rather, Jason saw him. Robin being flung from the building before crashing into the wall of the building across the street. He hung suspended in the crater he left before bonelessly peeling off and plummeting to the ground. 

Jason ran. 

Ran as fast as his legs would carry him over to the boy wonder and noted in horror that he couldn’t tell if he was breathing. The costume was singed and smoking and the cape cloaked him well enough to make it hard to tell if his chest was rising or not. The hero was bent at an odd angle on the ground but Jason was scared to touch him. Scared that he might make things worse and he knew he wouldn’t be able to handle it if he was the one responsible for Robin’s death. 

He was also aware that he might not have a choice but to try. What if Robin wasn’t breathing and he just sat there doing nothing. What then? Damned if you don’t and damned if you do. Pick the lesser of two evils. The most likely to save him. So Jason gently rolled him over and nearly sobbed. Dirt and ash streaked his face. Blood ran down the side of his head from a cut just above his temple and more blood came from his nose and corner of his mouth. Even in this condition. Even with the poor lighting. Jason knew the face. He’d seen the face so many times before out on the streets. The face of his one older brother. The domino had been torn off the pale skin in the explosion leaving Dick Grayson and Robin exposed as one and the same for the people who knew where to look. Sirens blared in the distance as well as the sound of the car he’d stalked for half his life. Where the hell had Batman been before the bomb went off?

Priorities.

Jason lifted a shaking hand to Dick’s throat and held his breath until he felt the pulse thumping under his fingers. Next he moved his hand under his nose to check for breathing and let out his air when he felt the soft exhale from the older boy. Immediately he set to checking him over. Where was he hurt? He’d seen enough on the streets to be able to tell what was directly life threatening and what wasn’t but he couldn’t tell with all the fire and smoke from the building. He set instead to checking the head wound and trying to gain a response from his brother. Sure they weren’t blood and they never said it out loud but Dick was his big brother and he knew he felt the same about him. Robin wouldn’t have spent so much time with him teaching and training him if he didn’t. 

When a shadow blanketed the little light that he had Jason instinctively bent over Dick’s head to cover his identity. And then he saw what blocked the light. Who blocked the light. Batman looked at the two of them for about two seconds before he was kneeling across from Jason and doing the same checks over the wounded bird. Jason wasn’t sure what to think. He knew the Batman was supposed to be rugged and borderline heartless but the way he was cupping Dick’s cheek and turning his head carefully to check for more wounds said anything but. It was tender, caring, almost fatherly?

“Robin.” No response. “Robin can you hear me?”

Jason was worried that they’d missed something or that Dick had gone into a coma from the trauma but a small groan brought him away from that. He looked back down just in time to see dazed blue eyes flickering open.

“..What?..”

“I’m taking you to Dr. Thompkins. Sit up slowly.”

Everything felt like a blur of movement as they carefully got Dick over to the Batmobile and situated inside. The passenger seat reclined back and let him relax inside. Despite seeming relatively alright he was still drifting in and out of consciousness. When Batman went to leave Jason started again.

“Wait.”

“Who are you?”

One look around them told them both that they were alone. Far enough away that no one would hear and perfectly hidden away from prying eyes. 

“My name’s Jason. He’s been teaching me stuff and we worked together a lot on the streets. He-..He’s my big brother. Batman. Please let me come with you.”

It took a few seconds of thinking before the Dark Knight nodded and Jason was soon situated in the back seat of the car as it sped down the street. A call came in over the speakers in the dash.

“He’s alright.”

“Thank god! Where are you?”

Whoever was on the other end sounded really worried and Jason had to wonder if it was the redhead Dick had been telling him about. 

“Wally,” Yep it totally was. 

“Don’t ‘Wally’ me. Where the hell are you so I can make sure that my boyfriend is okay and take him home!”

Batman quickly rattled off the location of the free clinic and Wally hung up the phone after the engine of a truck rolled to life on his end. Jason was too stuck in his own head to hear it.

Jason wanted to be angry. He did. He wanted to be mad that Dick had trusted someone else with his identity before him even though he’d been the one there from the day he broke out of Juvie. But he had other concerns for the moment. First of all, boyfriend? He knew that Dick felt something for the other teen but he hadn’t realized he’d made a move on him. He definitely wanted that story. Second, Wally had his approval. He’d never met him before but he liked him so far. From what he could tell just by the fact that he was telling off the goddamn Batman, Wally was a fighter. You had to be a fighter to survive in Gotham and Dick didn’t need a dead boyfriend. Wally didn’t either. Which brought him to number three. He wanted to be mad at Dick but all of that could wait until he was healed. They had to make sure he wasn’t bleeding internally first. 

They pulled up to the back of the free clinic that Jason had been to more than a few times throughout his life. He knew Leslie and knew that she’d do good work. It made sense that she was the one Batman thought to go to. Either she was his doctor too, or Batman didn’t want to cover for a kid’s injuries. Then again, Batman and Robin couldn’t exactly go running into a hospital every time they got hurt. 

Batman and Jason were forced to sit out in the hallway while she worked on the young hero and then another teen was coming in through the same doors they’d just used. 

“Where is he?”

“He’s with the doctor. Calm down Wally.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down-”

It was clear that he wanted to keep going but then he saw Jason leaning against the wall. His hood was still up and the domino was still in place over his eyes. 

“Who is that?”

Jason wasn’t about to let Batman introduce him. He’d learned after this short amount of time that the Bat wasn’t as scary as he originally thought he’d be. 

“Jason. And I’m guessing you’re Wally? Dick’s told me a lot about you.”

“I didn’t know that he told you who he was.”

“He didn’t. I found out tonight. The explosion took off his mask.”

The hallway was quiet again as all of them thought over what all could have happened. 

That was the scene that Leslie walked into. Silence and all three of them brooding. With a quiet tut she got all of their attention and raised an eyebrow at Batman.

“Really? I expect brooding from you but don’t go corrupting these kids.”

When she saw the domino mask on Jason she scowled a little at the Bat. Looks like she figured out that he’s not that scary too.

“We’re going to have a talk about his. But first. Robin is alright. His ribs are a little bruised and he has a mild concussion but everything else is superficial. He’ll make a full recovery so long as he rests and that means no patrols.”

The pointed look she leveled Batman with let Jason and Wally both know that the Bat apparently didn’t heed the warnings to rest from his doctor. Which also confirmed that Leslie was his doctor. 

“I know that Batman is his mentor but who are you two and what is your relationship with Robin?”

Both the boys looked up to the Bat who just nodded in response.

“I know his identity, so don’t worry I can keep a secret.”

After that Jason pulled the mask off his eyes and pulled down his hood. He gave her a sheepish smile while she looked over the healing bruise on his jaw. 

“Jason...what are you doing in a life like this?”

“Dick helped me out on the street. Robin taught me how to fight to stay safe. Now I know why.”

She sighed and gave him a small smile before turning to look at Wally.

“And you?”

“Uhm, I’m Wally, I’m his…” Was she a person who would judge him for this? Would she judge Dick? “Partner.”

It wasn’t the best thing but it was something. Partner had a lot of different meanings so it tied them together without directly outing them. 

She nodded a little and a smile grew on her face. 

“Nice to meet you Wally. Your Partner will be just fine. You just have to make sure he rests and doesn’t listen to his mentors lesson about pushing through the injuries.”

There was another pause before she gestured for them to follow her back to where Dick was laying on a bed in his own little private room. He was propped up on the pillows with a bandage covering the cut on his head and a few more on his arms where his sleeves didn’t cover. Jason piped up.

“There was blood in his mouth, any internal wounds?”

“Smart kid, but no. Robin do you want to tell them what you did?”

A faint blush crept onto his cheeks while Dick stared down at his lap and muttered. It was quiet but everyone in the room heard it. 

“I bit my tongue when the bomb went off.”

The silence lasted for maybe two seconds before Wally and Jason burst out laughing. 

“I told you that sticking out your tongue while working was going to be an issue!”

“I told him that all the time!”

Dick smiled while watching them and then looked to Batman. His expression got dark.

“Was anyone hurt?”

“No.”

Wally and Jason both quieted down to watch the interaction and everyone could feel the guilt rolling off Dick in waves.

“I’m sorry. I tried to stop it. I did. By the time I found the actual device there were only three seconds and I couldn’t-”

“Dick. Stop. Don’t work yourself up you need to rest.”

“Dr. Thompkins said I’d be fine.”

“So long as you rest. Robin. That’s an order. Wally will be enforcing it on my behalf.”

Only then did he seem to realize that Jason was in the room and he didn’t have a mask on. 

“Jay-”

“Save it. I’m just glad you’re okay. I don’t want to lose my big brother out there. Besides. You’ve got to come up with a better name for me than Little Wing.”

The three of them chatted for a little longer before Leslie was satisfied that Dick could go home with them. When he tried to stand up out of the wheelchair three sets of hands pushed him back into it with a stern “No” from all of them. Wally and Jason he could understand doing that. But the look on Batman’s face was nearly that of an exasperated and worried parent and that just didn’t make sense. Batman wasn’t Robin’s dad.

Chapter Text

Their lives went on with little large events for a while. Jason came over to the motel to sleep sometimes and spent a lot of his time with his pseudo big brothers. That’s right. Brothers. If Wally and Dick were going to be romantically involved then that made him family. Dick had been healing nicely from the explosion and it wasn’t long before Bruce was letting him out on patrols again. He would go running around Gotham with the Bat by his side and Dick was lying if he said that he wasn’t looking up to Batman like a father figure. He might have been maintaining his secret identity but if the protectiveness he showed over the bird meant anything then he knew Batman cared about him. 

Life was normal for them. Well, as normal as one’s life could get in Gotham. What Dick didn’t know was that Bruce was preparing to ask the boy if he could adopt him. He didn’t want to force him into anything. He wanted Dick’s permission before doing anything. After all Dick wasn’t a little boy anymore. He’d been fending for himself for a while and it just wasn’t right to even assume that the boy wanted to have another parent. Bruce had decided that day that their patrol would be closing an easy case of serial rapes through Gotham. After the culprit was in the care of the GCPD then he’d take Robin for food and ask the question. He had it all planned out. Easy case, food, ask. 

He met with his little bird up on a roof in downtown. Robin had insisted on doing  partial patrol on his own and that if he was ever late then Batman would know it went south and be able to help him. There was enough logic there that not even the Dark Knight could argue it. After a quick greeting Batman looked at his partner. Young, eager, full of life and light. Everything that Batman wasn’t. 

“You ready?”

A blinding smile was his answer as he watched the bird flip onto a handstand on the edge of the building. Normally he’d be worried. But for Dick this just meant that he was showing that he was healed. That he was alright and ready for patrol. The boy  was the epitome of grace and balance. Without much hesitation the duo made their way to the Batmobile and headed off to their destination. A Juvenile Detention Center. It was the one place that he knew the culprit would be. He knew that Dick had been to Juvie in the past, not that he’d recently been put through the systems wringer. Unfortunately he was casing the building when they pulled to a stop and missed the color draining out of his partners face as the young vigilante undoubtedly recognized the building that had been his prison about a month prior. 

“Batman?....Why are we here?...”

“A case.”

He didn’t look back at his bird. Didn’t turn to see him swallow hard or the uncomfortable shift in his stance. The faster they apprehended the culprit the faster he could ask his question. 

It’s because of this rush to get to the end of the night that Batman gives the order for them to split up inside the building. Everything was quiet. The cells were all occupied and full of sleeping children. The night guards having yet to catch sight of the dynamic duo perched in the shadows. 

“Stay hidden.”

That was the last order Batman gave before vanishing off to the left halls. Which of course left the right halls to Robin. He carefully touched to the floor and made his way down the halls. Silence, stealth, poise. All of them were his weapons. He knew these halls well enough that he could move through them with ease. Ease of his body at least. Not particularly ease of the mind. In an attempt to gain such a thing he switched his comm link over to the private channel with Wally.

“We’re in the Juvie.”

“What?”

“We’re in the Juvie.”

“Why?”

“I don’t know. Batman just said it was for a case when I asked.”

“Do you want me to ask?  He’s the world’s greatest detective Dick he should be able to tell that something’s wrong here.”

Of course Wally had a link to Batman. Paranoia was a great thing that Batman had told them saved his life on more than one occasion. 

“Don’t worry about it. He said it was an easy case. I just have to stay calm until it’s time for us to leave.”

“What are you even doing?”

“I don’t know. My guess? Looking for the Director.”

Robin heard the sound too late. Footsteps behind him and he knew they weren’t Batman’s. Before he could switch the channels back there was a rag over his mouth. Someone was holding him in place and he had to breathe. The sweet scent of chloroform hit his senses and he tried to struggle. But no matter what he did it wasn’t enough before the blackness took him. 


He didn’t know how long he was unconscious. All he knew was that he was waking up slowly and his body hurt. One shift told him that his wrists and ankles were tied to something. When he moved to test the strength of the bonds his arm brushed the material he was laying on. No. No. He knew where he was. Blinking furiously to get the world to focus he saw the Director’s office. Tied down to the horrid couch and that sick smile looking down at him. 

“Well, Little Robin. It seems that you’ve been bad.”

He wanted to struggle wanted to run but in the turn of his head he saw an Iv in the crook of his arm. Saw the drugs being pumped into his body and realized that he couldn’t move more than small shifts and that was becoming more and more difficult with every passing second. All he had was the hope that his comm line was still on in his ear. That he wasn’t alone and that he wouldn’t have to do this again. He couldn’t handle it again.

“H-help…”

Wally was his only chance. Was he alone, stranded and scared, or was there someone else listening. Was the Director going to break him?


Wally flew out of his room and down to his truck. The comm had been quiet but he just assumed Dick was working and didn’t want to distract him. That “Help” he sounded so scared. He sounded like he was on the verge of breaking and Wally knew too many things in that Juvie that could hurt him. His comm link still in place in his ear he wasn’t going to risk wasting time. Quickly he swapped over to his channel with Batman and pressed it. 

“Batman. Robin is in danger. You have to find him stat. I’m on my way.”

The reply came almost instantly.

“No Wally. It’s not safe for a civvi. Stay put.”

“No. I”m not taking orders from you. He’s-. I can’t lose him.”

Wally didn’t care that he was speeding. All he cared about was getting to the Juvie in time. Dick’s line had gone terrifyingly quiet and it only built his resolve to make it there in time. No numbers of calling Robin gave him any response. Either the comm was off or Dick wasn’t able to respond.

Once he got there Wally was launching out of the vehicle and sprinting up the stairs and into the building. The guard was knocked out and Wally realized with a jolt that there was a rather angry looking Batman standing next to him. 

“Go. Home. It isn’t safe for you here.”

“I’m not leaving him.”

Without waiting for more arguments Wally shoved past the Dark Knight and started running towards the Directors office. Dick had guessed that he was the target but his guesses were generally correct. And if something was happening then Wally had a sinking feeling that it was the Director’s fault the loved bird was in danger. Batman ran at his heels and Wally was grateful that he was being trusted for once. 

They broke the door down once they got there and Wally wanted to throw up. Dick was strapped to posts on the arms and back of the couch with an IV of something leading into him. The Director straddling over his limp body with his hands around the teenager’s throat. Wally could hear a near feral growl come from the man beside him when the Director looked up and smirked. There was the smile that Dick had talked about. The Director lifted a hand to them and squeezed Dick’s throat with the other. A tiny gasp came from him. 

“Tsk tsk Detective. You weren’t supposed to come until the end of the show. You might not want to take another step though, unless you want the boys neck snapped of course.”

Batman turned his attention away from the vile man and to the boy trapped under him. He was trying to ignore the lack of pants on both of them. 

“Robin?”

The only response was a small, pained, whimper. 

The Director laughed at the sound and moved the hand he had waved at the caged bird’s rescuers down to his captive’s lower stomach. When he pressed his weight down a mewl came out of Dick’s mouth. 

“There’s my little bird.”

With one move of the man’s hips he ripped out of the teen and the immediately plunged back in. Full length. No warning. One thrust. Dick was panicking even through the drugs. His breathing was escalating almost in time with the thrusts and Batman and Wally could do nothing. Not with the man’s hands on Dick’s throat. It was too risky. The Director wouldn’t stop. Not until he came. Dick on the other hand was about to hyperventilate. His body was twitching under the man’s and then the Director made his mistake. The same second the Director lifted his hands from Dick’s throat to adjust the drugs going into his captive Batman and Wally moved. 

Batman grabbed the man by the collar and ripped him away from his partner. He slammed him into the wall and didn’t hesitate to start beating him to hell. By the time he was done the man would be begging for death. 

Wally ran straight to Dick. His body was heaving with every breath and Wally wasted no time in taking off the restraints. He noticed the shaking and random twitches in Dick’s body and then he had to wonder if Dick was aware that the Director was gone. That he wasn’t the one touching him anymore. 

Dick didn’t know what was happening. He couldn’t move. He was scared. He felt like the night he lost his parents. The world didn’t seem real. Was any of it real? Where was he? What was happening? Why didn’t anything make sense? He wanted it to stop.

Batman looked over and saw Wally trying to gain a response from Dick. The lack of one unleashed another growl from the Dark Knights throat as he grabbed the beaten man’s head by his hair and glowered. 

“You will never touch anyone again.”

With one slam of skull to wall the Director was knocked unconscious. That didn’t stop him though.

Wally was cupping Dick’s face and watching his eyes through the lenses of his mask. 

“Look at me. Please c’mon Dickie you need to look at me. Let me know you’re still in there. Come on. Please, Dick, please look at me.”

A small movement. A small bit of awareness but Wally knew the eyes behind the mask latched onto his. He wanted to cry and laugh at the same time. 

“Dickie, I’m gunna move you okay?”

A whimper and a small nod but it was enough. Wally pulled the IV out of his boyfriend’s arm and carefully lifted his arms around his neck to pull Dick up. He looked over to the other person in the room and noted that Batman was still beating the Director. 

“Come on Batman. He’s down.”

No response. The vigilante didn’t even act like he’d heard him. They didn’t have time for this Dick needed help. So Wally screamed at him. 

“We have more pressing matters!”

That got Batman to look at him. It took seconds for him to see that Dick was cradled in Wally’s arms. Pants pulled back up and covered to the best he could be at the moment. Batman hauled the pervert up and dragged and bound him outside for the cops to take. The sirens were already on the way. 

“Where can we go? He needs a hospital.”

Batman had an odd expression on his face. He looked over the boy in Wally’s arms, pale, shaky, not okay, and spoke softly.

“No. No I can take him from here. I have a doctor.”

He reached out to take Dick from Wally when the red head nearly snarled and moved back. 

“No. He isn’t going anywhere with you. You led him here.”

The sirens were almost there. They were out of time. 

“Fine then. You can come with us, but we need to go. Now.”

Wally reluctantly handed Dick over to the older vigilante. He heard the sirens and he knew that Batman didn’t want to hurt Dick. His boyfriend just got into really bad positions. He’d have to remember to go visit the Director in hell and give him a piece of his mind. After Dick was safe of course. Batman laid his partner inside the Batmobile as Wally got in his truck and they started to drive. Batman changed his comm link to a different line and spoke.

“Alfred. Meet me downstairs. Robin is hurt. Bad.”


By the time they reached the cave Dick was more aware of his surroundings. He was still pretty out of it but he knew he was more responsive than he had been before. He was starting to get some movement back and it was clear to anyone who saw him that he was trying to move. Trying to struggle. His body just wasn’t responding to him the way he wanted it to. 

Wally was attempting to keep him calm as Bruce pulled the mask away from hazy blue eyes. 

“Dick can you hear me?”

An older man, Wally had heard Batman call him Alfred, was down with them. No mask. Wally wanted to question but he was more concerned with the fact that Dick kept seeming to pass out on them while the older man was drawing blood. They didn’t know what he’d been injected with. They didn’t know what it could be doing to his system. 

It turned out that it was a muscle relaxant. One that was strong enough and given to him in a large enough dose that Batman and Alfred seemed surprised that it hadn’t stopped his heart yet. Unfortunately that also meant that they couldn’t just let Dick sleep it off. They had to keep him awake in order to make sure that he didn’t die in his sleep. 

Alfred told Wally to talk to him. To keep him responding and have a conversation to give him something to focus on. After that he and Batman both left the room and Wally alone with Dick. This was a lot to process in one night. His superhero boyfriend had been raped and drugged right in front of him and nearly died. Could still die. And it was up to him to keep him awake so that he didn’t die. He didn’t even realize he was crying until he had to open his mouth to breathe better and a small sob came out.

“Hey, Dickie..Stay awake okay?..Mom will kill us if anything happened to you…”

He gave a small laugh when he saw Dick’s eyes open a little to look at him. At first he hadn’t thought that Dick had heard him but then he saw his lips twitch into a tiny smile and so he kept talking. He talked about school, Jason, life. Anything and everything because he was going to bring Dick back from this. 

Alfred and Batman walked together until they were watching the medical bay of the cave from beyond the threshold. 

“Is the boy going to be okay Alfred?”

“Physically, yes. He’ll heal. But what exactly happened?”

Alfred of course knew about Robin being Batman’s partner. He was also aware that his charge wanted to take on a charge himself. After listening to the events of the night he looked into the room to see Wally brushing Dick’s bangs away from his face as he spoke down in a hushed tone. 

“It seems that your partner already had a partner sir.”

Batman nodded.

“That might be a problem in the future. If Dick becomes reliant on Wally..”

Alfred only raised an eyebrow. Bruce was much easier to deal with than Batman but the cowl did nothing to perturb the old butler. 

“Reliant...Perhaps Wally is the Alfred to Dick’s Bruce, sir.”


Eventually Dick was given the all clear to sleep and promptly passed out on the cot to sleep the drugs out of his system. Wally sat next to him while Batman stood on the other side. Alfred had gone somewhere else in the meantime. Wally was in the middle of realizing that he was in the freaking Batcave when Batman spoke. 

“Wally. How close are you two?”

“What exactly do you mean by how close am I?”

“What exactly is your relationship. This isn’t meant to be threatening Wally, I have an important question for him when he wakes up and I want to know how you both would respond.”

“He stole my purse. And now we’re dating.”

The ginger gave a soft sad smile down to his sleeping boyfriend as he remembered the first night they met. It was a simpler time then. Even though neither of them had realized it. 

The cave was silent for a moment while Batman thought over his next words carefully.

“Where is he living currently? Does he need a home?”

Wally had to double take at what he was seeing. The Batman was hesitating? He wasn’t dumb. He knew where this was going to be heading.

“Um..We’ve been staying at a motel. He was staying with me in my house but there was...conflict.”

The cowl was instantly directed at Wally and there was no doubt that concern was writhing under the material.

“What do you mean by conflict?”

Wally shrugged slightly and looked back down at Dick.

“My dad isn’t very, what’s the word...Supportive. But it’s fine. We have a nice room and we’re fine.”

Batman sighed a little while planning his next words. He had to be so careful with how he said this or he would lose his chance to even ask the question to Dick. 

“Wally, he needs a home. A real home. And a family. I understand that you two are close but if something happens you have nowhere to get any space. Not in a safe way. Wally you have to understand…”

Apparently it was the wrong thing. Because the next thing Batman knew Wally was yelling at him. 

“I don’t even know who you are and you’re going to try and take him from me?”

His voice wavered and nearly cracked at the end and showed Batman just how scared and worried and sad the teen really was. He wasn’t angry. He just didn’t know what else to do and didn’t want to lose Dick. Even if he did know that Batman was right. 

“I was hoping to show both of you at the same time.”

Wally was about to ask what he meant when Batman was pulled off his cowl. The next thing he knew he was face to face with Bruce Wayne. 

“Holy smokes…”

“You can come here whenever you want to. And this is all his choice. But you have to understand Wally, he needs a real home and family.”

After the initial shock of the identity reveal faded Wally knew Bruce was right. He’d said he could come visit too, it wasn’t like he was losing Dick all together. And even then. What if Dick didn’t accept?

“Whatever he picks I’ll support him.”


Two hours later found Bruce and Wally bonding with each other. Both of them sitting on either side of Dick’s bed. Bruce had yet to put the cowl on but he hadn’t changed out of the batsuit either. He knew that Dick would probably be out of it for a little while and didn’t want to startle him after such a taxing night. 

Eventually the small bird on the bed let out a tiny squeak while his hands started moving like he was looking for something. Instantly both Bruce and Wally grabbed a hand and held them. When Dick made a confused face Bruce spoke.
“You’re safe Dick. Welcome to the Batcave.”

Blue eyes fluttered open and started taking in his surroundings. He looked over at Wally and then his eyes landed on the Bat emblem before moving up and realizing that there was no cowl to cover the man underneath. He certainly recognized Bruce Wayne.

“Holy shit..”

Wally laughed and rubbed his thumb in a circle on the back of Dick’s hand. 

“Yeah that was my reaction too.” 

His face shifted to worry as he looked his boyfriend over.
“How are you feeling?”

Dick made a move to sit up before pain lanced up his body and he flopped back down onto the pillows. After taking a quick stock of his body and his memories his eyes went wide.

“Did that...happen? … He. The Director..he- I didn’t- I couldn’t-”

The memories were ramming into him like a train. He felt dizzy and sick and Bruce grabbed a trash can just in time for Dick to throw up. He was shaking and mumbling. After a few moments they realized he was begging them to understand. 

Wally smoothed his bangs down and whispered to him until his breathing came back under control. It was hard to ignore the purple bruises on his neck. 

“It’s not your fault. You’re okay.”

Bruce watched all of it and smiled softly at the interaction between the two of them. They worked well with each other. After a few more moments Wally looked at Bruce. 

“Do you want me to let you two talk?”

At Bruce’s nod Wally kissed Dick’s forehead and left the room leaving a very confused and worried Dick behind. 

“Since you showed me who you are does that mean we’re really official now?..”

“Yes.”

“I’m...sorry. For what happened...I shouldn’t have panicked like that just now. Shouldn’t have been caught to begin with-”

“Dick. Listen to me when I say this.”

He waited for a nod from the boy before continuing.

“What happened wasn’t your fault. I actually had a question for you.”

“Okay?....”

He had to get his mind away from the trauma. There was one way to do that. Now was the time. 

“Do you want to come live here? As my son?”

Chapter Text

Jason was walking around the city. The sun was setting and it was making out to be a nice night, weather wise. He could only guess how it would be crime wise. Dick had told him ahead of time that Batman and him would be working a case and that he wouldn’t be meeting him for training. That left him a whole night to himself. Sure he could have been at the motel, but he kind of felt like he was intruding on the place. Wally and Dick both told him it was okay but it was their place. Not his. 

Turning the corner of the streets Jason saw a whole slew of police cars. Not too uncommon for Gotham. Crimes happened all the time. The part that was unusual was the Batmobile high tailing it with Wally’s truck following it close behind. Something happened. 

He didn’t care that he wasn’t a hero in the sense of Batman and Robin but Dick had been teaching him detective skills and he intended to find out what happened. With no further hesitation he pulled out the domino mask that Dick had given him the night of the bomb. He ran over and ducked under the police tape. Staying close to the shadows and moving so no one knew he was there. 

He stepped out into the light next to a new looking officer. She looked fairly startled. Whatever happened had to have been rough. Jason had to hide to sinking feeling he got when he recognized the building. He knew exactly where Dick had been put in Juvie. 

“What happened here?”

He kept his voice low and quiet and hid the smirk when he saw the officer jump.

“Uhm. Kid you shouldn’t be here.”

“I’m where I’m supposed to be. What happened?”

“Look, kid, I don’t know who you think you are bu-”

“I’m Robin’s partner. You know, Robin the partner to the Dark Knight.”

“Nice try. They just left. Heard the car myself. If you’re his partner then he can tell you.”

“Officer. Listen to me. This is important.”

“You’re not a cop, I can’t tell you anything.”

“Please.”

It was a tense few seconds of silence before the officer caved at Jason’s expression.

“Fine. No way the press doesn’t spill the story by morning anyways. The Director of this place has been connected to multiple counts of sexual assault, molestation, and rape.”

“Of adults or?”

“Kids. We found a whole bunch inside that were victimized. He was drugging them to keep them quiet. What a sick bastard.”

Jason felt the world drop out underneath him. Dick had spent so much of his life locked inside this building with a serial child rapist. Had he been a victim? Would he have ever told him? He made sure to keep his voice even when he spoke.

“Where is he going?”

“Probably Blackgate kid. Don’t worry. He’s behind bars.”

“He should be in the ground.”

Jason was gone before she could respond. Vanished back into the shadow.

The Director would have hell to pay if Jason had something to say about it. No one should ever hurt another person like that. Especially Dick. He’d been through too much already. 


The cave was so silent it felt almost suffocating. Dick wasn’t sure that he’d heard right.

“I don’t want to replace your parents. And this is completely up to you. You don’t have to-”

“You...want to adopt me?...for...for real?..”

Why was it so terrifying for him to have hope?

“If you want to.”

“And I could...I could live here?..”

“You would become my son.”

“...yes.”

“What?”

“Yes. Please. Please adopt me. Please.”

Words couldn’t properly explain how happy Dick was that this was happening. There were way too many emotions hitting him at one time and sure it might have just been the amount of drugs in his system but he was so happy he started crying. He wanted touch. Contact was always something that he enjoyed and even after the trauma he’d just endured he wanted to be touched by someone with care in a kind way that showed him he wasn’t dirty and that he was still loved. His legs still weren’t fully cooperating but he wanted hugged. Bruce seemed like he wasn’t sure what to do so Dick decided to show him. He didn’t even care that he looked like a child while making grabby hands at the goddamn Batman. All of it was worth it when he felt the strong arms wrap around him in a tight hug. He knew he was safe. 

What Dick didn’t know was that Wally was standing right outside the door. He listened to the whole interaction with a bittersweet feeling in his chest. Dick deserved this. He deserved to be happy. Being a hero was his whole dream and now he was getting it with Batman. He just was scared of the change. It was a good one, knew it was. But he didn’t want to lose Dick. He pulled out his phone and sent Dick a text. He knew he wouldn’t see it for a little while but he wasn’t about to just walk away without an explanation. 

“I’ll be back later.”

He was gone before he could see Dick’s confused expression when he glanced to his phone.

Dick was left with Bruce in the room to talk to him about random things. To get his mind off the events of the night. He was trying to just focus on the now. To focus on the things that were going to happen rather than what had already happened. He tried his best to ignore the numbness in his lower body. Dick and Bruce chatted with each other for the next two hours. By then he was getting his legs responding again and Bruce was helping him walk around a little so he could get them used to holding his weight again. Trauma did things to a person’s body. 

Wally came back and knocked on the door frame. Immediately Dick lit up with a smile. Only for it to falter a moment later. He reached out a hand towards his boyfriend and Wally went right over to him only sparing a quick glance to Bruce. 

“Wally...I take it you heard?”

“Yeah. Bruce and I talked about it a little before you woke up.”

“We’ll still be together all the time. I promise. Bruce said you can come here whenever you want.”

The cave was silent again for a few moments when Dick’s face went serious and he turned to look at Bruce. 

“So how are we doing this? Why would Bruce Wayne just adopt a random street rat? It doesn’t make sense, the media will see that.”

He gave a quick worried look to Wally before turning it back to Bruce.

“If we get caught Wally and Jason are targets.”

Dick didn’t even think about it before grabbing Wally’s hand and holding it tight. Wally was his first safety. He wasn’t going to lose his boy. 

Wally squeezed his hand back and gave Dick a reassuring smile.

“Dick I’ll be fine.”

Bruce just thought about the whole scenario for a while. 

“We tell the media that I’ve been searching for you. That I was there that night and I knew how you were feeling. I lost both of my parents and so did you. I wanted to give you a home, but I couldn't find you until recently. That’s what we do.”

Wally only nodded at the explanation. It made enough sense to him and he knew the media would eat it up. Not only was it a cute and heartwarming story but it also gave Bruce someone to carry the Wayne fortune. The media would have a field day on it. 

Dick nodded along with what Bruce was saying but kept the focused look on his face.

“So then what do I do? Do I go back with Wally tonight? Or do I stay here?”

Alfred was the one who answered. No one had even noticed him come into the room. 

“I believe Master Wallace has already set up your things in your new room here.”

Dick raised an eyebrow and scrunched up his nose before turning to Wally.

“That’s why you left?”

Wally just smirked and shrugged in response.

“It was nothing. Wanna go check out your new room?”

The red head bounced with excitement and Bruce gave them both a fond smile. These kids were something else and restored a lot of his faith in the city he loved. He touched Dick’s shoulder and gave him a small nudge.

“Come on, let’s go check it out.”

Once they were close to the room they covered Dick’s eyes and Wally grabbed the doorknob. 

“It’s not the best, I didn’t have a lot of time, but. I hope you like it.”

The next moments left Dick awestruck. Bruce uncovered his eyes to show him an absolute massive room. There was a plushie that Wally had won him up on one of the dressers and folded neatly on the large bed was his favorite hoodie and the Batman plushie. 

“Holy crap…”

Bruce definitely saw it but at this point Dick didn’t really care. He didn’t care about the embarrassment he cared that he had the best boyfriend in the whole entire world. He lunged at Wally and grabbed him in a tight hug. Both of them ignored the wet spots on his shoulder. 

“I love you. I love you so much.”

“Can’t… Breathe…”

Wally teased him even as he hugged back. He was sad that they weren’t living together anymore but he loved Dick with all his heart. It wasn’t like they were breaking up. 

“I love you too.”

They stayed in the hug long enough that it took Alfred clearing his throat for either of the boys to remember that they weren’t alone in the room. Dick gave Wally a quick peck on the cheek and Wally oh so desperately wanted to shower his boy with kisses. Until he remembered that Dick’s soon to be adoptive father was standing just a few feet away and that his father was also the Goddamn Batman. Both of them blushed a little when Bruce had to clear his throat for their attention and Wally looked at his shoes.

“Sorry.”

Things were going to be okay. They might be changing. But so long as they had each other things were going to be okay.

Chapter Text

The next day Dick, Wally and Bruce went and talked to Mary to explain what was happening. She had let him stay in the house and was willing to continue letting him there even though he wasn’t paying anything. She deserved to hear it from them what was happening not the press conference. The day after Dick had gone to school with Wally as per usual while Bruce called his special announcement to the Gotham press. He even had plans to pick him up after to show that he was serious about taking him in. 

News like this however, spread around the city like wildfire. Including into Gotham Academy. The football team had been in the locker room when they got wind of the new development. They all knew exactly who the kid was. So when they saw Dick in the halls between classes they didn’t waste any time pulling him into one of the empty classrooms. 

“Is it true?”

“Is what true?”

“Bruce Wayne said he’s adopting you? What kind of blackmail do you have on him that he’s saying that shit? Why would he ever care about trash like you?”

Dick stayed calm.

“Because we saw the same things. He’s been looking for me-”

He was cut off by a punch.

Wally and Dick had made plans to meet up with each other between their classes. When Dick didn’t show he began to get worried and looked around the halls along the route he knew Dick would have taken. Both of them were protective enough to have memorized the other one’s schedule. When he found the room and saw the football player gearing up for the punch he pulled out his phone and hit record. He let it go. Let it go until another punch had Dick doubled over and coughing his lungs up. At that point he called it. Wally opened the door and tsked at the jocks. 

“You move again and I send this video to every media station in Gotham. And you face the wrath of Bruce Wayne.”

The group instantly began to scatter.

“You wouldn’t.”

Wally gave him a dry laugh and hovered his finger above the send button.
“You clearly are underestimating what I’m capable of. Three...Two~...On-”

“Okay fine. Delete it and I’ll leave him alone.””

Wally raised an eyebrow.
“I don’t think you understand how this works. You do as I say and then I delete the footage.”

“How do I know you won’t just send the video?”

“You have to trust me scumbag...just head towards the door then I’ll delete it.”

The last guy grumbled as he stalked past Wally and out towards the hallway. Once the two were alone again Wally turned his attention to Dick who was pushing himself up using the wall behind him. 

Dick just raised an eyebrow at his boyfriend.

“You like watching me get beat up?”

He smirked a little as he wrapped his arms around Wally’s waist and rested his head against his shoulder.

“Thank you.”

They spent the next few minutes like that. They were already late for class so it didn’t really matter all that much. They enjoyed it. Their life was a chaotic mess and they needed to be able to hold onto each other for a little bit. Idle chatter was their friend until Wally slipped up.

“Let’s go home.”

He realized what he said and held Dick tighter as he remembered that Dick doesn’t live with him anymore.

“Is Bruce picking you up or can I have the privilege of driving you home?”

“Uh...Bruce is picking me up. When he gets off work. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t sit together while we wait?”

He fidgeted a little. Dick knew Wally was uncomfortable with the whole thing still and he didn’t want to make it worse for him. 

“Oh...yeah okay.”

Wally reluctantly broke the hug and took Dick’s hand softly as the two of them made their way to the next class. 

The day ended and the boys left the school together. Heading out to where the parent pick up lane was and sat down on a brick railing that lined the school drop off zone. They sat close enough their thighs pressed together and held hands.

“So, how was your first night sleeping in the manor? Not gunna lie it was so quiet and weird not having you snore in my ear.”

Dick gave him an affronted look before lightly slapping him upside the head. 

“I do not sore.”

Wally just laughed.

“Dude you sound like a lawn mower.”

He laughed again and made an over the top exaggerated fake snore just to be obnoxious. 

Dick just laughed at him and snuggled closer to his side. It was cold outside and Wally was perpetually warm.

“It was weird though. It’s so big and dark and empty but...and it’s great don’t get me wrong. But, I missed you. I missed cuddling with you. I missed being in constant contact, and being alone again just...I dunno. It reminded me of the night after my parents died. Just alone.”

The lot was mostly empty by that point leaving the two to be as schmoopy as they wished with no judgement. Wally kissed the top of Dick’s head. 

“I’m only a phone call away Dickie. Say the word and I’m there.”

Sometimes he wished he was as fast as the Flash so he could make that happen. 

The boys snuggled with each other until a black expensive car rolled up in front of them. They knew it was Bruce but neither one of them made a move to get up. Bruce rolled down the window and called out to the duo.

“You ready to go?”

Wally just held Dick closer and nuzzled his face in Dick’s hair.

“Don’t go yet. I’ll miss you.”

“I have to…”

Bruce waited patiently for the two to untangle themselves from one another. Dick pulled away and looked at Wally longingly before an idea struck him and he turned to Bruce. 

“Can he follow us to the manor?”

Bruce gave a slight nod and Dick turned back to Wally with a new excitement on his face. 

“Ready to go?”

Wally pulled him in for one last kiss before letting him go.

“See you soon.”

Wally pulled out his phone on his way to his truck and sent his mom a text telling her where he was going to be. 

Dick hopped in the car and missed the slight pinch between Bruce’s eyebrows. At this rate he and Dick were never going to bond. The boy only knew Batman, he didn’t know Bruce that well. And they couldn’t get to know each other well if Wally was always there. He waited until the truck was in his rear view mirror before starting to drive.

“Listen, I know you and Wally are close, and I won’t force you to stop hanging out with him, but, I think maybe tomorrow he doesn’t come to the house? We can give Alfred the night off, order a pizza, get to know each other some more not as our super counterparts?”

He was tapping on the wheel and watching Dick’s face out of the corner of his eye. He could fight criminals every day of his life and not be worried, but one thought of potentially hurting the boy he’d come to see as a son and his heart was all twisted in knots. 

Dick mulled it over before nodding his consent.

“It makes sense. Since you adopted me we need to know things about each other. It’s a good plan.”

Dick didn’t think Bruce actually wanted him. Why would he? The Jocks were right he was just some street trash. There was no way someone with the social status of Bruce Wayne or the goddamn Batman actually wanted to have him as a son. He wasn’t operating under Father Son rules. He was working with Mentor Partner rules. After all, what other reason could Bruce have had for taking him in other than wanting Robin closer to Batman?

The car fell silent for a few moments before Bruce spoke again.

“Dick, you know this is more than a plan right?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean I didn’t adopt you to be convenient.”

“But you did it so Batman and Robin could stay closer. It makes sense. Why else would you do it?”

Bruce may have had a hard exterior but he was soft on the inside. That just struck him right through the heart. 

“I did it because I care.”

Dick paused a little and Bruce could see the confused look on his face as he watched out the window.

“I know you do. Robin’s important for Batman-”

“You are important Dick. You. As Dick Grayson. You are more than Robin to me. That’s why I wanted to adopt you.”

“But I’m a street kid and you’re-”

“We both lost something we should have never lost. I see a lot of myself in you. I want to teach you and watch you grow. And maybe someday I can give you back part of what you lost.”

Dick didn’t bother trying to hide his gobsmacked expression. He was trying to formulate what words to respond with when he saw Bruce’s face harden. There were paparazzi absolutely covering the manor grounds in front of the gate. The place was swarmed. 

Wally’s truck pulled up behind Bruce and the press was on him in a heartbeat. They all wanted interviews and didn’t know which vehicle Dick was housed in. Wally was lying if he said he wasn't nervous about wading through the amount of people by himself. So he did what any sane person would have done and called Dick.

“Uhm. Yeah so, how are we going to get inside?”

Alfred was their unlikely savior. He came out of the manor gates and shooed the press away like they were a pack of rodents. He got Dick and Bruce through the gate before going back out for Wally. Once they were all safe behind the gates of the manor with the flashing lights of the press behind them Wally let it all sink in. Holy crap. That really just happened. 

“Is it going to be like that everyday?”

They made their way into the manor and closed the door to have some privacy. All of them pulling off their coats while Alfred vanished away to prepare dinner. 

“Yes. For a while at least. Every media station in and around Gotham want to know the inside scoop.”

Wally nodded as Bruce turned to Dick to see that he was also very clearly shaken up by the whole experience. 

“I’m sorry about that. It will get easier. I promise.”

Dick just took a deep breath before looking up at Bruce.

“I just haven’t seen that many people looking at me like that since the circus.”

He looked over to Wally and gave him a smile before looking back to his adoptive father.

“It’ll slow down though...right?...”

He was worried. He knew what the football team did when they learned he and Wally were together and didn’t want that to happen with Bruce or Wally. He reached out and took his boyfriend’s hand. After all, Wally was his safety net. 

The two boys went up to Dick’s room to hang out with each other in peace. Bruce and Alfred talked to each other while dinner was being prepared. It was hours later when Wally left the manor. He’d had a great dinner and was once again reminded that Alfred was a literal god when it came to making food. He had to leave though so Bruce and Dick could get ready for their patrol. On his way home he started to think about it. Dick did so much to protect him and keep everyone in the city safe. But he wanted to protect Dick. He just wished he could be there for him in a second. If he had been faster then he could have stopped Dick from being taken by the Director as Robin. If he just had enough speed to back him up…

He was a Central City kid. He hailed from the home of the Flash. He was a chemistry genius. If anyone was going to figure out how the Flash got his powers it was going to be him. He was going to protect his boy, even if it killed him.  

Chapter Text

That first night that he got the idea Wally stayed up reading every article he could find about the Flash. Everything that was out there about his powers or origin story and everything between. Weeks had gone by and to say that his relationship with Dick was tense was an understatement. Wally had been so distracted with working on his little project that he hand Dick had barely hung out with each other. They saw one another at school, sure, but that was about it. When they went home Dick was spending time with Bruce and training and Wally was working on how to be something better than a lame high school student. Even when they did hang out with each other he was distracted. He was paying more attention the the words he was reading on his screen than his boyfriend in front of him. But all of it would be worth it right? 

Dick would finally have a proper hero for him. 

Dick was starting to get worried though. He noticed that Wally wasn’t nearly as active as he used to be but if something was really wrong then he would tell him right? He let it go by for two months before he snapped. 

They’d been studying at the manor together. Both of them sprawled on different parts of the room working in comfortable silence. Normally their study sessions had been to read and do work for the first half hour and then give up and cuddle and play video games. Dick wasn’t even paying attention to his textbook anymore. He eyed Wally as he read things off his laptop and jotted down notes. Highlighting sections of printed articles and focused. He tried to make small talk but Wally just ignored him and continued to work.

“Did I do something?”

That at least got Wally to look at him.

“What? No.”

“Are you sure? You seem...distant.”

Wally was back to his work. Giving a single shrug and highlighting another section.

“Busy studying I guess.”

Dick was trying to figure it out. He was being groomed as a detective, the least he could do was figure out if something was up with his boyfriend. He came up nearly empty, but he didn’t like the conclusion he’d come to.

“Is there someone else?”

He was hating himself. It sounded like some basic thing a girl would say to a boyfriend who’s doing nothing wrong and he doesn’t think Wally would cheat but it was the only explanation he was coming to. 

“Are you not happy anymore? You-..you barely talk to me anymore Wally. I. If I didn’t do something then why? Why are you just ignoring everything I do? It’s like I don’t even exist to you anymore. Outside of this thing you go to see and even then it’s like you’re being forced. If you aren’t happy just, just tell me. Please? I just want you to be happy. Even if it’s not with me.”

He was sad and scared and angry and nervous. A ball of emotions watching Wally intently for any sign that he could be lying with his response because Dick had to be sure. He had to be sure. His heart was too fragile to lose someone again.

Wally sat down all of his things and scooted over to Dick. He was looking right at him when he spoke. 

“No. No. Dick no way. There isn’t anyone else. And I’m very much so happy with you. I’ve just been working on a project. A secret project. But I think it’s almost done. And as soon as it is, I swear, you’ll be the first to know.”

He hugged Dick close to him. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that Dick liked physical affection. Wally wanted to tell him. He did. But he didn’t want to tell him and make plans with Dick only to have the experiment not work. He didn’t want to get his love’s hopes up for nothing. 

Dick melted into Wally’s chest. He believed him. It would make more sense than cheating and Wally didn’t lie. 

“Just make sure whatever it is that I still have you.”

Wally felt Dick hug him back and buried his face in his boyfriend’s hair. Dick was crazy smart, with both of them working together the chance that the experiment failed would drop drastically. He kissed the top of Dick’s head and whispered to him even though they were the only ones in the room. 

“Do you want to help me with my project? It has to stay top secret. Not even bats can know. It just stays between us.”

He pulled away from the hug and held Dick by his shoulders to look at him better. Dick took a moment to process the excitement and worry on Wally’s face before nodding.

“I’d be honored to help..and I promise I won’t tell anyone.”

He even went so far as to sticking out his pinky finger to Wally. The one thing in the world that could not be broken as his parents had taught him. Wally laughed and gave Dick a quick kiss before standing and locking the door.

“So. I’ve been working on this for a long time.”

Dick squinted his eyes in confusion.

“You are so weird...you aren’t planning on murdering me are you?”

Both of them laughed and Wally shook his head as his grabbed his laptop.

“I think I found a way to safely mimic the Flash’s experiment.”

He turned the computer to show a ridiculously long document and showed off his notebooks of equations and every other thing one would need to create this kind of statement. Dick flipped through the pages and scrolled down the document before his face settled into a carefully blank look. 

“This all looks fine and dandy but are you sure it’s safe? What do you mean mimic the experiment? Wally. What are you trying to do?”

“If I have powers then I can help you-”

“You already help me. Besides do you realize how dangerous this could be? Flash was in a coma when it happened to him.”

“But I can help-”

“If you live. Wally. You already help me enough. And it helps me to know that you’re safe and away from all the danger.”

Dick wasn’t expecting the glare that leveled over Wally’s face.

“Oh. So. I help you by staying out of your way. Cool.”

He slammed his laptop closed and started shoving his papers and things in his bag. Dick just shook his head.

“That’s not what I meant and you know it.”

“No. Dick. What exactly do I know? I know that you don’t trust me. I know you don’t think I”m capable of pulling this off.”

Wally was hiding his heartbreak. He wanted Dick to help him and instead he finds out that he isn’t trusted. He hadn’t even realized he was frustrated to the point there were tears in his eyes. Dick was trying to understand. He grabbed for Wally’s bag to try to stop him as he turned towards the door to leave.

“I don’t want to lose you.”

“I think you already did.”

Wally stormed out of Dick’s room and down the stairs. He didn’t want to be there. Surrounded by the things of the Bat and be reminded of all the things that people thought he wasn’t capable of doing. He stormed right by Alfred and barely heard him call out.

“Dinner's almost ready master Wallace.”

“Not hungry.  Bye Alf.”

He didn’t hear the door slam behind him. 

When Wally got to his truck he just replayed the last five minutes in his head over and over. So much had gone wrong. Rain drops splattered against the window shield as storm clouds hung over the city in the distance. Thunder rumbled faintly and none of it helped his mood. If anything it just made him want to lash out even more. He punched the steering wheel and accidentally hit the horn. The loud noise snapping him out of his thoughts and letting him drive away. When he made it back he saw a note on the counter. Both his parents gone for another “business” trip. He was alone again. Alone like that Friday so long ago. It was even raining like it had then too. But this time there was no purse and no person to share the house with him.

Chapter Text

Dick skipped dinner that night. He’d gone down to the cave to get ready for patrol and Bruce didn’t comment on his silence as the usually chipper boy got into his uniform. Normally part of the Robin uniform was having the normal comm system in his ear for Bruce and then an earwig for it that allowed him to connect to Wally. It was more convenient for him to have it designed like that than it was to be carrying two separate comm systems for his mentor and boyfriend. That night he didn’t even take the ear wig for Wally. Dick was stressed and confused and he just needed time to think everything over. 

Gotham was blanketed in a storm. The first of many for the week. Lightning and thunder crashing and cracking above their heads as the dynamic duo sped out to the streets to fight crime. 

They’d been fighting a group of muggers who were trying to form themselves into a gang that would go for higher profile crimes. It was better to stop them while they were forming before more people got hurt and Dick could guess the people all had rap sheets longer than his arms. He dodged punches left and right, the movement so ingrained in him that he didn’t even notice his mind began to wander back to his conversation with Wally.

A thug got a good punch to the side of his head and sent the bird stumbling back a few steps. He thought he’d be able to jump back in at that point but before Dick could make his move there was a meaty hand wrapping around his throat and slamming him back into the brick wall of the alley. Dick glared at the man but saw the green of his eyes and froze. Green that looked so much like Wally’s. Wally who might hate him now.

Bruce was too far away to get to him. But when Batman saw his precious Robin being choked and not fighting back his punches lost a bit of their restraint. He could tell Dick’s eyes were open. Why wasn’t he fighting?

“Robin!”

That snapped Dick back into reality. Get a grip Grayson. He tried to claw off the man’s hand but it only seemed to make his squeeze around his throat tighter. Black spots were showing in his vision before the hand was just gone. So was the man. Dick blinked a few times from his new place on the alley ground and saw Batman beating the thug into the ground. He coughed and filled his lungs with air knowing full well that his throat would be a necklace of bruises. 

He had to move. He was useless out on patrol like this. He had to go see Wally. Had to fix things before they were too late. He was just getting in the way like this. A quick little ‘I need to leave’ to Bruce was all he gave before running from the alley and down to Wally’s house. 

He climbed the fence in the back and stood by the same tree he had that first night. The rain running down his spine and he almost laughed at all the similarities. Wally was in the kitchen again. Making himself some soup with a pack of crackers sitting on the counter for him to nibble on as his notebooks and laptop sat on the island. So he was still working then. Dick could smell the food from the cracked window and marveled at the fact that Wally was such a good chef. Even something as basic as canned soup smelled good when it came from him. It was either that or the fact that Dick was head over heels for him. 

He took a deep breath and shivered slightly as the wind rushed by him. At least Wally was okay. He didn’t look angry anymore. He seemed focused. Dick didn’t really want to bother him if he was busy. That just wasn’t fair. He rubbed a hand against his throat and realized far too late what was about to happen. 


Wally was confused. When he’d opened his computer to work he’d just gotten angrier. But he was torn. He was upset about the things that were said but he also loved Dick. And he didn’t want to lose him for anything. He’d just decided to make himself some food when he heard the sound. A cough from outside. He froze for only a second before shaking it off. No one was there, he was hearing things. 

And then he heard it again. 

He moved over to the door and opened it up a crack, Dick’s warning from the first night still in his head.

“Hello?”

He nearly jumped out of his skin when he saw a shadow shift in the back. He saw the red tunic and the R symbol as Dick slowly crept out from behind the tree and coughed again into the crook of his arm. Suddenly he wasn’t angry anymore. Wally ran over and tucked himself to Dick’s side to support him as he guided him out of the rain and into the kitchen. Talk about repeating the past. 

“What happened?”

“I’m fine.”

Wally could see the bruises ringing his neck and knew instantly that something happened and his boyfriend was most certainly not fine.

“You don’t look fine.”

“It’s nothing.”

“If it’s nothing then why would you come here? I stormed out, remember?”

The anger was starting to come back a little as he remembered what Dick had said. He missed Dick’s twitch of fear.

“I shouldn’t have come. I’m sorry.”

Wally shook his head but didn’t close the space between them. He wasn’t sure where they stood with each other but he knew he still cared and if he let Dick go out and he got hurt worse or killed? He would never forgive himself. 

“You don’t have to go. I just. I showed you the research because I trusted you. I wanted you to help me. To help me become something greater than just me. But, you didn’t have the reaction I expected… Do you not trust me to be in the field? Do you think I will be a liability? Is that why you were so clearly against it?”

He wanted to understand. He wanted to know why Dick, the boy who had defied all logic by using his heart, would say no to something like this. Something that Wally had thought he’d be all for. Something that fit with exactly what Dick had done with himself.

“No. No Wally I trust you with my life. If it wasn’t for you then I would have been dead months ago. You have a heart of gold and you are so amazing and bright and you lit up my world when it was dark and you let me get bright. But...But if you do this. If-, if you become a speedster. Then you’ll be out there with us. And you’ll be an amazing hero. I know that. You will be so, so good out there. And I’m not worried about being undermined I just. Gotham. She’s...Gotham’s different, from everywhere else. Meaner. And she has a habit of breaking lights. Burning them out until they’re just more smog in her air. It’s dangerous out there. And I’m, I’m selfish. Because I love you. And I want your light all to myself and I want to keep it safe and I don’t want...I can’t. I can’t lose you out there Wally…”

Dick’s eyes were on the tile between them. The space that both of them were too scared to breach.

“But it feels like I’m losing you anyways…”

Wally didn’t notice his eyes welling up during Dick’s little speech. He knew that Dick was the type of person that would spill out their heart if you got them going. He knew Dick wouldn’t lie to him. And Wally felt like such an asshole for yelling at Dick when all he’d been doing was trying to protect him. 

He closed the distance and latched onto Dick like it was the last time he’d ever seen him.

“I’m sorry. I”m sorry for being distant, for being angry, for being a shitty boyfriend. But Dick. I can’t just not try. I understand you’re worried but I’m doing it with or without your support. I’m sorry.”

He pulled away and wiped his face. Both of them were overtaxed in the emotional department and the last thing Wally wanted to do was be clinging if this was the end of their relationship. Dick looked at him and moved closer. Their chest nearly touching and he looked Wally in the eyes. 

“If I can’t change your mind then I want to help. I want to keep you safe as long as possible.”

They hugged each other again. Not a hug of desperation or grounding. Just a hug to show that the other one was there. To show that there was love and care and one of protection. They stood like that for a few moments before bending and reaching to kiss each other. The moment seemed perfect. The night so similar to the one that they first met what better way to show it. They were an inch apart when Dick’s comm went off in his ear, Bruce’s voice loud enough for both of them to hear him telling Robin to get moving.

Wally squeezed their bodies together before letting go.

“Go be a hero. We can continue this later.”

With a parting kiss Robin vanished to defend Gotham and Wally turned back to his computer. It would be this week. The storms would be perfect. He’d make sure Dick didn’t lose his light.


Over the next few days the boys tracked the weather movements and hung out at every single opportunity. They worked tirelessly on the experiment to make sure everything was perfect. Every chemical measurement, every bit of equipment. They were at Wally’s house sitting in the living room. Dick combing through the equations again to make sure there was no error when Wally spoke up.

“Tonight's the night.”

Dick glanced out the window where the dark storm clouds were already swirling in the sky. He hadn’t told Bruce what he and Wally were doing. But he had told him that they were doing a project together, he just said it was for school. 

“Are you sure? Maybe we should wait a few more days?” 

Yes, he agreed to help. But he was still nervous about the whole situation. What if they got a chemical wrong? It wasn’t like they were talking to the actual Flash. Wally had excitedly chatted the day before about finding out who his aunt was dating. A CSI that apparently worked on the site where the Flash was allegedly created. He’d said he got information from him but what if it was wrong? Lightning lit the room as thunder nearly shook the house out of its foundation. 

“Dick, this storm is practically a perfect replica of the one Flash used. I don’t know when we will have an opportunity like this again.”

Wally was excited and anxious. This was it. After tonight he would be able to help Dick as more than just a voice in his ear when he went out on patrol. Dick could see the hope there. He could see the excitement in Wally’s eyes and he couldn’t say no.


They found themselves in an abandoned warehouse. They needed an open space where there would be no civilians around to see or get hurt in the process. Dick was waiting outside the building so he himself didn’t get hurt. They both knew that lightning needed to come down and they both knew that even being near a lightning strike could be lethal. Wally made him wait outside in order to know that he’d be safe. Although it did nothing to ease the nerves threatening to strangle Dick. 

They were on comms. Which is perhaps the only reason Dick wasn’t kicking down the doors to be in the warehouse with his boyfriend. It had been hours. Both of them sitting around and waiting. The storm would die out soon. Wally’s voice filled Dick’s ear.

“I’m calling it. This was a bust. I’ll be do-”

The lightning bolt was blinding. Loud, shuddering, deafening, thunder booming overhead and shaking Dick’s heart out of its rhythm. 

“Walls?...Wally??”

He couldn’t stop the mild hysteria that crept into his voice. The comms had nothing but static and safety be damned he needed to know. 

Dick ran with everything he had in him to the doors of the warehouse and tore them open. He knew his breathing was picking up but he didn’t care. He had to know why Wally wasn’t answering. When he got to where the experiment was set he nearly threw up. There was the love of his life, laying on the floor, glass from the chemicals shattered around him and sticking out of his body. Smoke wafting off his ash colored skin. It looked wrong. No smile. No laughter. Bright red hair dulled out with dust and smoke in the air making the whole scene hazy. He couldn’t hear him breathing. Couldn’t see his chest moving. 

Dick ran over as fast as he could and slid through the glass to Wally’s side. He knew glass was cutting into him but he couldn’t bring himself to care. He just cared about the fact that now he knew Wally wasn’t breathing. He brought his shaking hand to Wally’s throat and sobbed. 

Two hands on top of each other over his heart. Push in a steady rhythm and then breathe. The tears sliced down his cheeks but Wally wasn’t breathing, his heart wasn’t beating. He couldn’t lose him. 

Dick reached a hand to his comm and switched channels to the Batcave.

“Robin?”

“Help. Help. Please-”

He was aware he sounded hysterical. He felt like he couldn’t breathe but he had to make Wally breathe again. He needed to hear him laugh, to hear him say he was okay and make fun of Dick for crying like a baby. He shook Wally’s body to try to get any kind of response from him. This wasn’t fair this wasn’t fair this wasn’t fair. 

“You promised you wouldn’t leave me Wally. You promised!”

He didn’t know how long it had been. His arms felt like they were about to fall off and he could feel himself breaking. Wally was still under his hands and Dick gave in. He folded himself over Wally’s body and cried into his chest. The sobs coming out so hard they shook his entire body. 

“You promised you wouldn’t go...I love you. Please don’t leave me…”

He could hear the tires of the Batmobile in the distance and buried his face further into Wally’s singed shirt. If only he could will him to breathe again. Dick faintly heard the warehouse doors open and the running steps of his guardian as he cried out his words.

“Please wake up…”

Chapter Text

Bruce took in the scene in seconds. The glass shards, the chemicals, the tears down his adoptive sons face and the unmoving body next to him.

“What. Happened.”

He moved forward and saw the burns over Wally’s body. He couldn’t afford to be kind right now. He had to do work in order to even attempt to save Wally’s life. He needed to know what happened. Dick wasn’t in uniform, they weren’t patrolling the streets. He didn’t mean to raise his voice but it happened anyways.

“Back away and tell me what happened.” 

Dick didn’t waste time backing away from the still smoking body of his boyfriend, he knew he had to let Bruce work. He just wished he could get his breathing back under control.

“Flash experiment.”

Bruce didn’t spare the second to give his new child an incredulous look, instead he scooped Wally into his arms and hit the comm link in his ear. 

“Flash. We have a problem.”

Dick barely knew what was happening. There was a burst of wind and then suddenly the scarlet speedster himself was standing in the room with them. Dick wasn’t expecting the startled gasp he gave. 

“Wally?”

He immediately took the red head out of Bruce’s arms as Bruce issued the orders.

“Take him to the cave. I’ll meet you when I can.”

Another rush of wind and lightning and Flash was gone. Dick just stood in shock.

“How did Flash know Wally was Wally?...”

“Dick, there is so much you two don’t know. But we need to know what happened. Everything. Down to the T. What. Why. How. Everything.”

They made a trip to Wally’s house so Dick could grab every file he could think of. When he got back he didn’t noticed the look Bruce gave him. He couldn’t be Batman right now. Dick didn’t need a hero he needed a father. Adoptive or not. He had to let the boy process things before he could get all the information out of him. Wally was important to Dick, he had to let the worry run its course.

The two of them made their way to the manor and found Barry and Alfred working over Wally, checking for his bodily functions, functions like heart beat and brain activity. All Dick could really focus on was the fact that there was a heart beat there. He followed the people and activity in the room and saw Flash without the cowl for the first time. 

He knew what Barry Allen looked like. He knew that he was dating Wally’s aunt Iris. 

“You’re Flash?...”

Barry was with them in less than a second. A focused look on his face as he stared down the two bats.

“Dick, give him the folders.”

He’d almost forgotten he was holding them. Immediately he handed them over and Barry was back to working. Flitting through the files to see what chemicals they had used and what their equations were and couldn’t help but be impressed. The only issue was they’d mixed up one of the chemicals. He knew he had to balance Wally’s chemicals. 

Robin was supposed to be smart. He was meant to be this great protege to the Bat himself and yet he’d let this happen. He let his soon to be nephew try to kill himself. Hell, he’d helped him try. He stood there and did nothing. There was going to be hell to pay for that. Retribution the kind only a meta could retrieve. 


He’d done all he could. Barry stepped away from Wally’s still body and looked at him. It was a waiting game now to see if he had balanced his chemicals fast enough. Alfred had left the room once he was no longer needed in there. It was a bit of time, sitting in stifling idling silence, before Bruce spoke up.

“Do you want to stay the night?”

“I have to make sure he’s alright.”

A stiff nod and Bruce was leaving the med bay to make up the room for Barry. It left the speedster and Dick alone in the room. Unfortunately Barry needed an outlet for his frustration and his target was left right there. 

“How could you?”

“What?”

“How could you just stand by and watch him do this?! Don’t you care about him at all?!”

Dick bulked at the statement and stared up at Barry. 

“Of course I do I love him.”

“If you actually loved him you’d protect him so that he didn’t do this! This is your fault! If Wally dies it’s on you. Hero.”

Dick looked down at Wally. He seemed muted. All of his colors less vibrant. All of his life smothered in the smoke of an explosion miles away and hours ago. He looked to the monitors the ones showing life hanging just by a single thread. He was scared to touch him. Barry’s words sinking in and striking where he knew they would hurt and leaving him with the terrible realization that his fears were confirmed. He had been worried about this. He hadn’t wanted to lose Wally but because he failed to stop him Wally could die at any second. 

He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t know how to stop the overwhelming tidal wave of emotions that threatened to consume him. There was too much, it was too much. He just wanted to get away. 

He did the only thing he could think of. The one thing that erased the pain when he was on the streets. He ran. He focused on his breathing. The sharp inhales and exhales, the beats of his heart. Count. One, two, three, four. He put on his suit. A blur of movement the rough feel of Kevlar covering his body and he moved to his bike. He needed out of the cave. Away from the pains of all that was happening. 

He had to do something. Had to work. If he was so thrown into his work then he wouldn’t be focused on his worry, focused on the fact that the love of his life could be dying and it was all his fault. 

He revved the bike and bolted from the cave like a bat out of hell. Out into the very same storm that had struck down upon Gotham and inspired Wally to take actions on the plan that has him laying out in the cave. Heart beat unsteady, breathing weak and shallow, skin so pale it was like all the color was sapped from his body.

Bruce stepped down into the cave. Barry was carding his fingers through Wally’s head but Dick was gone. If he knew anything about his partner it was that Dick would sit by Wally’s side until death pulled him away unless something happened. 

“Where’s Dick?”

“I don’t know Bruce. I hate to be that guy, but family comes first. He left like 15 minutes ago.”

Bruce took a deep breath. He couldn’t blame Barry for being more focused on Wally than Dick. 

“Keep me updated on Wally. I’ll be back.”

He knew Dick had a tendency to blame himself for things. He didn’t respond to them but he knew Dick was waking up with nightmares about juvie. Waking up from things he didn’t have any control over. There was no telling what the boy would do when he blamed himself for something like this. He put the bat suit back on and geared up to leave. He had to find his boy before something happened. Patrolling while upset was one of the most dangerous things a hero could do, powers or not. Being upset meant that they were distracted. Being distracted meant that a villain could get to them. 


The fight was lasting long. A group of thugs sneaking in the shadows and surrounding the distracted bird before he realized they were there. It was going just fine until one of them threw a smoke bomb. The yellow gas started filling up the alley and he saw the guys leaving before the world tilted. The alley seemed to stretch around him and distort until a voice cut through clear. The voice he was scared he would never hear again. 

“Dickie, Dickie, Dickie.”

He whirled around to find Wally, but it wasn’t the Wally he wanted. His face was burnt, blood and melted smeared flesh hanging and dripping down his body. Glass shards woven into his clothes and chemicals soaking his body. 

“You let me die Dickie, why’d you do that?”

Dick backed up into the alley wall at the same time ‘Wally’ moved forward. Bruce came from the left, Barry on the right.

“I should have never taken you in. You aren’t a hero.”

“You killed my nephew because you didn’t stop him.”

“You never loved me.”

“You used him Richard, you should have stayed in juvie.”

“You should have died with your parents.”

“I should have left you with the Director.”

“I hate you Dick.”

“Killer.”

“Murderer.”

“Worthless.”

The words went on and on. The three of them boxing him in and trapping him and Dick fell to his knees. He felt like his heart was going to burst. He didn’t want this. He didn’t want to cry, didn’t want to be weaker than he already looked but the burning in his throat and the pressure behind his eyes wouldn’t let him stop it. The tears fell hard and fast, his throat almost closing and choking on the words as he tried to say them.

“I didn’t kill him. It’s not my fault. Please listen…”
He tried to look at them, tried to plead with them, but they wouldn’t listen. They just kept going. Over and over again, killer, murderer, liar, worthless, waste, criminal. It wouldn’t stop he just wanted it to stop.


Bruce pulled up the tracker he’d woven into the Robin suit once he got in the Batmobile. The second the location showed up on his screen he was driving. Dick needed him right now, whether he realized it or not. 

By the time he got there he felt his heart drop to his stomach. Dick curled on the ground in the back of the alley, knees to his chest and staring right at the wall across from him. He was alone. Skin gone pale and eyes wide under the mask. Something was wrong. His breathing was wrong. He was muttering and mumbling and after stepping closer he could see the bruises on Dick’s skin. Dick wasn’t reacting to the sound of his footsteps, something both Robin training and years on the streets ingrained into him to do. 

“Robin?”

He heard the whimper clear as day. Dick curled up even tighter and dug his fingers into his scalp and pulled.

“I didn’t mean for anything to happen.”

The broken tone, the position, Bruce knew what fear gas looked like. He’d been on the receiving end too many times not to. Immediately he was at Dick’s side and trying to get his boy’s attention. 

“Dick. Dickie look at me. Breathe. You’re okay. It’s fear gas, it’s not real.”

Masked eyes looked right through him. Like Bruce wasn’t even there. Though from Dick’s perspective he was, and he was screaming.

“You’re a worthless hero! You can’t even save the people you love!”

Barry chimed in.

“You murdered Wally! This is all your fault!”

Wally just tilted his head and smirked.

“You killed me.”

The smirk fell, replaced with some feral look that was just so wrong on Wally’s face.

“I wish I never opened my damned door. You should have fallen with your parents.”

Dick was hyperventilating. There wasn’t enough air. He couldn’t breathe. Bruce was picking him up in a heartbeat and running to the car to get him back to the cave. He knew fear gas was lethal depending on the dose and formula. For all he knew he was too late. The toxin could already be causing irreparable damage to Dick’s body, his heart could give out if he wasn’t given the antidote in the proper amount of time. 

Yes he hated listening to the boy’s muted screams and choking whimpers. Yes he hated hearing every hitching, terrified breath. But at least that meant he was still alive. At least Dick was breathing, scared or not, there was life. 

And then the tension bled out of his body like someone had shot a water balloon. He dropped limp and silent against the batmobile passenger seat. No sound. No fear. No nothing.

Chapter Text

The Batmobile screeched into the cave and in seconds Bruce was running to medical with Dick hanging limply in his arms. Barry could hear Bruce yelling for Alfred and looked up at the sorry sight. He almost felt guilty. Almost. Dick was the reason Wally was comatose at the moment, he wouldn’t put it past the boy to pull a stunt for some pity. Still, there was the chance that it wasn’t a pity move. 

“Is he okay? What happened?”

Bruce laid Dick out on the cot and brushed his hair out of his clammy face. He hooked him up to machines to read out his vitals and breathed a sigh of relief when he saw a heart beat fill up the screen. Still alive. Still alive but on the verge. 

“I, I don’t know. He left and he has fear gas in him. He kept saying it wasn’t his fault, that he didn’t kill Wally.”

Silence echoed through the cave. Barry was debating for a moment to tell Bruce why Dick had been saying those things but a look to hill barely breathing nephew had him decide against it. He wasn’t going to give counsel to the people who helped murder his boy. Wally wasn’t dead, yet. He could be at any second. He had no reactions, no responses to anything. There was no telling that he’d ever wake up. If he ever could wake up. He played it so that Bruce would just think it was the toxin talking out of his wounded bird.

“He’ll be okay Bruce. He’s a fighter.”

The conversation was cut short as Alfred stepped into the room and got to work on the newest Wayne. After a few minutes and the antidote safely administered he declared that Dick would be okay.

“He suffered a fairly bad panic attack but the young sir should recover after some rest.”

Bruce sat down to watch his boy through the rest of the night. If Dick woke from a nightmare before the toxin was out of his system he would be right there. 

Alfred moved across the room and checked over Wally’s vitals. It was odd to see the usually exuberant boy laying so still on the cot. Both Barry and Bruce could tell he was thinking about something before he turned to Barry and spoke. 

“There are some tests I would like to run.”

“Okay? So do them? Why do you look so concerned?”

“They are to test to see if he is brain dead.”

There. The realization clicked and Barry quickly shook his head and looked down.

“No. No Wally’s fine. He’s a fighter too. He can do this, he’ll make it through this. He has too.”

“Master Barry-”

“I said no Alfred.”


It took the whole night. Dick woke up early the next morning, groggy and feeling all kinds of confused but sane and awake. He talked quietly with Bruce about the night before, one glance over to Barry having him leave out the entire conversation they had when Bruce wasn’t in the room. Alfred was doing the tests. 

They needed to know. If Wally was really brain dead then there would be no point in wasting resources as sad as it sounded. You don’t come back from being brain dead, there was no way. So the group of them sat around in the medical bay while Alfred performed the tests. Bruce kept an arm around Dick’s shoulders and Barry standing with his arms crossed at the foot of Dick’s cot. It was quiet. So quiet. Quiet enough that it was loud in the cave. The chirping of the bats above them in the main section. The vent systems kicking on and maintaining the temperature. The rustle of sheets as Alfred moved and the beeping of monitors. They were all watching intently, every move Alfred made, every expression that found itself home on his face. The three of them watched it all. So when Alfred made one final check and went still they all caught it. None of them could see his face but the bats in the room could tell that it wasn’t good news. When he did look up Alfred’s face was a professional calm with sadness and concern in every crease and wrinkle. 

“Don’t say it.”

“I regret to inform you all, Master Wally is no longer truly with us.”

“His heart’s beating. He’s alive.”

“His brain function is gone. Sir-”

“What do you know?! We should have taken him to a hospital! Or better yet he should have never done this experiment in the first place!”

Dick sat in shock on his cot. Blue eyes staring at the floor as he struggled to take in the news that the person he loved was gone. It was so weird. Wally’s heart was still beating, his body was still alive, but that person that was in there. The person that he fell in love with. He was gone. 

Bruce didn’t know where to go. He cared about Wally, it hurt to see him go but he wasn’t the priority here. Barry just lost his nephew and he was a dear friend of his. But Dick just lost his boyfriend, and Dick was his son. He looked between the two of them until he saw a single silent tear track its way down Dick’s cheek. There was only one choice after that.

Bruce pulled Dick into his side and held him close. The shakes started soon after and moments later Dick was wiggling his way out of Bruce’s arms and back towards the wall shaking his head and still staring down at the floor.

“I’m a killer...I...I don’t deserve it…”

He bumped into the other cot. The cot that housed Wally’s still body. A corpse with a beating heart. The tears kept coming, drop after drop, flooding his eyes until he had to blink them out in order to see clearly. He wanted Wally back. He wanted to be hugged by him and told that it was okay. He wanted what he couldn’t have. He was a kid again kneeling in his parents blood the night they fell. Reaching out a hand Dick interlaced his fingers with Wally’s pale ones.

“Master Dick….”

The sight seemed to snap Barry out of it. In less than a second he was on the other side of Wally’s cot. Pulling him away from Dick and everyone else and cradling him in his arms. He didn’t want to see Dick. He wanted him as far away from Wally as possible. And then some. 

“You did this! You let him do this! He died because you didn’t stop him!”

Bruce was frozen. So was Dick. None of them thought that was going to happen. That Barry would snap at them like that. He was grieving yes and that made sense but to Bruce he couldn’t understand. Why was this Dick’s fault? He wasn’t the one who had Wally do it, from his understanding Dick tried to stop him? Barry wasn’t the only one upset and he needed to see that. 

“Barry!”

“Dick did this! He let Wally do it! He’s the reason he’s dead! You stupid Bat’s and your goddamned mission. He was a kid!”

Barry didn’t realize he’d started vibrating he was so angry. Electricity started zapping around him, hitting the machines and sending sparks in every which way. Alfred left the room. He could tell when a conflict was about to arise and how to get himself to safety. Living with the Batman taught him that much at least. Bruce could handle himself. Dick was scared. He ducked down as sparks exploded above his head, some of them grazing and burning him. Dick was the target. 

Bruce quickly placed himself between his friend and his child. He wasn’t about to let Dick get hurt in his own home.

“Barry stop! You’re going to kill us!”

If this much electricity in the room kept up then the machines would explode. Being this close to the explosion could kill them. 

Barry didn’t even look like he had heard them. So Bruce did the only thing he could do. He grabbed Dick, scooping him up into his arms and he ran out of the med bay, out of the cave and up into the manor. 

Barry let go. He let the emotions overrun him and cried into his nephews chest. There was no way to bring Wally back. The lightning and sparks around him filled the room. Shattering screens and sparks raining overhead. A thunderstorm of emotions and electricity locked in the dank cave that hid one of the pillars of the Justice League. He let go.

Up in the manor Bruce grabbed their coats and the three of them left. It wasn’t safe to be inside with Barry below them at the moment. They needed to leave and check the damages later. By the time they reached the car Dick was barely holding onto his emotions. Bruce could see his shoulders shaking and how hard he was trying to hold back tears. Could see his resistance to talking in case his voice shook or cracked in fear that he wouldn’t be able to stop his emotions from swallowing him. They were driving aimlessly. No goal in sight until Dick spoke up, quiet and short.

“Let me out.”

“Dick…”

“I need to be alone right now.”

“It’s dangerous.”

“I’ll be fine. It’s the Gotham park, I just, I need some time. Come get me when we’re going home…”

Bruce and Alfred shared a quick look through the mirror before Bruce sighed and put a hand on Dick’s shoulder.

“Be safe. Call me if anything happens.”

A nod was all he got from his boy before Dick was climbing out of the car and walking over to the heart of the park. It felt like the world was crashing down. He just had to think. He needed time to think. What was going to happen now? What was he going to do without Wally at his side? What-

“Dick?”

He looked up. Jason. Perched on the swings and looking at him with so much worry that it made him feel sick to his stomach. He killed Wally. He didn’t deserve this. Jason’s knuckles were bloody, like he’d gotten into a fight. He looked scared too.

“Dick are you okay?”

There it was. That question. That question he’d been asked so many times before when he was 8 and his world was breaking for the first time. That damn question again and again by people who didn’t really care but one look at Jason’s face and he knew he did care. He did care and that made it so much worse.

He broke. The tears slicing down his face and his shoulders shaking because the sobs were coming out now and he couldn’t stop it. His head hurt so much from the pressure of holding them back, his lungs seizing up by the hefts and god why did it hurt so much?

Jason was with him in a heartbeat. Arms wrapped around him and guiding him down to the ground when his knees started shaking. He didn’t talk, which Dick was thankful for, he just needed time right now.

They stayed like that until Dick ran out of tears. Jason still didn’t let go of the hug. Something must have happened.

“What happened Dick?”

How could he answer that? How could he tell his little brother he’d killed his boyfriend?

“Dick?..”

He couldn’t do this. Anxiety curled around his heart and it squeezed and Dick couldn't do this. 

“It wasn’t the Director was it?..”

Jason knew about that? 

“No. No it wasn’t him-”

“Then what happened?”

He pulled away from the hug. He had to look his little brother in the eye for this.

“Wally’s dead.”

Silence. That’s all that was there before Jason processed the words.

“What?”

“Wally’s dead Jay…”

“How? What happened? He wasn’t out on patrols-”

“I killed him.”

He couldn’t look at him. He wanted to but he couldn’t. He couldn’t see the hatred that was sure to show on Jason’s face. He couldn’t see the disgust.

“Dick, I’m sure you didn’t.”

“He wanted to help. He wanted to get speed, to be like the Flash, I-”

The words came spilling out. One after the other like his mind was playing the scenes of a disturbing movie on loop. At the end he was shaking again. No more tears but dry sobs. Arms wrapped around him again as Jason pressed close like a service dog.

“It wasn’t your fault Dick. That wasn’t your fault.”

They stayed like that for hours. Just the two of them talking and holding each other close. They were brothers, whether they liked it or not they were family. Family always took care of each other. Always.

Chapter Text

Wally couldn’t be gone. He just couldn’t be. Barry wouldn’t allow it. How was he supposed to tell Iris that her darling nephew was gone? How was he supposed to tell Mary and Rudy that their little boy was practically murdered by his so called boyfriend by doing the Flash experiment. To be like him. If there wasn’t a Flash then maybe Wally wouldn’t have been so interested in this. If he hadn’t given them a list of things that were in the lab then maybe they would have stopped. He thought it had just been a curiosity. Not something that he wanted to recreate. This wasn’t fair. Wally wasn’t supposed to get killed. Maybe it was his fault. If he’d done better?
No.

Dick was there. Bruce had talked about the boy. About how smart he was and how talented he was. He should have known better. Sure the boy basically grew up on the streets but he should have known better. He should have been able to see that this was a bad idea and done something to stop Wally from going. He wanted nothing more than to go back and take Wally away. But he couldn’t He knew better than to mess with the timestream. He just wished he had another chance.

The lightning danced around him and the cave like the beautiful calming power that it was. The speedforce had a way of leaking out when he needed it. And right now he needed all the comfort he could get. He just wanted Wally back. He bowed his head into Wally’s chest and closed his eyes. He was a kid. Just a kid. He didn’t deserve what happened to him. 

He didn’t notice when the body in his arms started breathing different. He didn’t even hear the quiet murmur as the body slowly regained consciousness. 

“..Barry?...”

He didn’t notice until there was a jerk as Wally fully realized where he was. 

“Barry what happened?”

Barry couldn’t help but look at his nephew in shock. Wally was brain dead. People don’t come back from being brain dead.
“Wally?”

“Barry what happened what’s going on?”

It was then that Wally saw the Flash suit. Saw the uniform that meant so much and inspired him to do what he did. 

“You…”

“We can talk about this later. For now you need to rest. I’m taking you to Central.”

They were gone before the Bat’s came back to find the room empty and destroyed. 


He’d been in his room at Barry and Iris’s house for about three days by this point. He wasn’t allowed to have any tech in his room or use any since the residual electricity was still in his body and would fry anything he tried to use. Still, he couldn’t help but wonder where Dick was and why he hadn’t come to talk to him at all.

Wally had tried to ask Barry about it but the only answer he’d gotten from his uncle was “not yet”, whatever that meant. He’d been running tests on Wally almost every day but the social interaction was, lacking. To say the least. He knew he had scared his uncle. 

According to Barry after the experiment went off Dick called Bruce and got them to the Batcave. From there he was declared brain dead and Barry had denied the truth and shocked him on accident. The shock turned out to be exactly what he needed as they then all saw him virtually come back to life. According to Barry waking up in his arms was not the first time he’d woken up. According to Barry Dick was fully aware that Wally was alive. 

Barry had run the tests. 

There was no speed. 

The experiment failed. 

It sucked. It really sucked. Apparently he’d been marked as brain dead in Gotham. He’d apparently been gone for a while so he had to completely leave his life behind. Starting up school in Central City and he couldn’t go back to the place that he’d called home for basically his whole life. The dinner that Barry told Wally was something to be seen for sure.

Iris had made Wally his favorite and the three of them had sat at the table together. The dinner was peaceful until Wally brought up the topic. 

“So. Any news yet on those tests you ran to see if the metagene was activated?”

He wasn’t allowed to test it himself since Barry said his body still needed to heal. He’d said Wally’s experiment was much more violent than his was so he had to be careful to not kill himself for not being patient. 

“Uhm, actually there is.”

Immediately Wally could tell there was an issue. 

“And? Do I have speed?”

“Wally, the tests came back negative.”

No speed. He’d failed. Was that why Dick didn’t contact him? Because he’d failed?

“No way. We followed it almost perfectly.”

“Yours was way more intense than mine was Wally. I got struck on luck, you had a lightning rod. The speedforce is picky, maybe it just didn’t have you marked. But think, this is a good thing.”

“How is this a good thing Barry?!”

“It’s a good thing because now you won’t be running head first into danger. You don’t need to be worried about the world. The closest to life or death situations you should be in at this age is prom. Not bombs, or aliens, or anything like that.”

Wally was about to answer when Barry’s phone rang. He couldn’t see the caller ID but he did see the annoyed look flash over his uncle’s face before he hit decline.

“Wally-”

“I need time to think.”


Days turned to weeks. Still nothing on the front of him getting his speed. He’d started up school in Central but hadn’t made any friends yet. He didn’t want to join the track team again. It was a mockery of the things that he’d failed to do with the experiment. He didn’t need to be reminded of the life that he’d left behind. 

A boring school day, a boring dinner, nothing seemed to have the life that it used to. Barry had given him a phone but he couldn’t connect to any phone number outside Central. He was starting to get suspicious about why exactly Barry was so careful about making sure Wally didn’t leave. What happened. He loved his uncle and yeah he trusted him but still. This was something he was tired of being hidden.

When he got home from school Wally went to his room and pulled out his laptop that Barry had gotten from his house. Mary and Rudy knew he was alive. But Barry had said they thought it would be good for him to stay in Central where someone could look after him better if he was going to be reckless. He only googled one thing. 

Robin. 

Immediately articles flooded his screen, blurry pictures, news reports, blog posts, what have you. He was struck with a bead of pride that things seemed to be going well for Dick in Gotham before he saw one of the headlines. 

“Robin, Hero or Villain?”

He didn’t waste time on clicking the article. 

It read out that the brightly colored bird that had gained himself a reputation of being the light to Batman’s darkness had gone off the deep end. Said that Robin had stopped smiling or laughing, that he was darker than the Dark Knight himself. Robin was reportedly sending criminals to the hospital over the GCPD lockup. That didn’t sound right. Dick wouldn’t act like that, he was a good person. The article was making it out like something or someone had made Robin snap, trying to say that it was a bad thing for kids to be in the hero business. He scrolled back up to the top to see what kind of dim witted reporter would write something like this when they clearly don’t have all the facts. Some idiot named Clark Kent. He said Robin was someone that Batman should be looking to remove from the scene altogether instead of coddling an upcoming criminal. This dude seriously had the gall to call Robin a criminal? Wally would like to see him do something about the crime rates in major cities like Gotham. He’d be screwed if he had to deal with any of it. 

If that was Robin covered then what about Dick Grayson?

He typed in a new search that pulled up press releases of Bruce announcing Dick as his adoptive son. He saw the things from the circus and then found a new one. A news release form a week prior. Dick had won a mathlete competition at Gotham Academy. He didn’t even know he had fully joined the mathletes. They’d talked about it a little but Dick was still on the fence. Said he would only do it if he didn’t have Wally taking up his time. He’d meant it as a joke. Wally had taken it as such. But now? Maybe Dick just wanted him out of the way. 

Thinking all of it over was making him mad. He hated his situation. He hated every single second of it. He didn’t blame Dick. He didn’t blame anyone but himself. If he hadn’t been an idiot about doing the experiment, if he hadn’t ignored Dick when he said to wait, if he had just been a little bit better, a little bit smarter, if he hadn’t failed, if he’d just been faster. 

It was then he noticed that his bedroom door was opening at a painfully slow rate. Like someone was dragging it out to be creepy but failing utterly. He looked around quickly and noticed that his clocks second hand was ticking away at a much slower rate than it should have been. Wally froze. That was way too weird. ONly the moment he stopped moving and pulled out of his headspace everything went back to normal. He was staring so intently at his clock he’d almost forgotten Barry had been coming into the room to talk to him until he spoke.He totally missed the first thing that Barry said but he had other things to be concerned with at the moment.

“Uncle Barry?”

“Yeah?”

“What did it feel like when you got your speed?”

Barry heaved a world weary sigh and looked at his young nephew. Wally had been asking him for Flash stories since he’d found out. He knew the kid was beating himself up about all of it. About not getting the experiment right. He just wanted Wally to see that not having superpowers was a good thing.

“Kid. You’re lucky you’re even alive-”

“You’re talking so slow right now.”

“What? What are you talking about I’m talking normal I…”

Oh. Barry froze as he realized what exactly was happening. Wally had just had a delayed reaction to the experiment. He had speed. He was tapping into the speedforce. He saw the face splitting grin spread over Wally’s face. Dammit why did his boy have to be so happy about having speed? Didn’t he know that this thing almost killed him?

“Ohmygod this is great! Dick’s going to be so excited to know it worked.”

Barry put a hand on Wally’s shoulder to stop him.

“No.”

“What do you mean ‘no’?”

“Dick hurt you. He almost got you killed Wally. You can’t seriously want to tell him this stuff worked. What if he tries to hurt you again?”

“Dick didn’t hurt me. He would never hurt me-” He put the pieces together.

Barry wouldn’t let him have any way to contact Dick. Robin had gone dark in Gotham. Dick hadn’t tried to reach out. Being declared brain dead.

“Barry. Does he even know I’m alive?”

Another sigh but this time Wally was backing away from him with muted horror on his face. Barry wouldn’t. He’s a hero. He’s the Flash, there’s no way.

“I already told you Walls. He knows. He was there.”

“You also said he got hit with fear gas.”

“He was awake with the toxin out of his system. And I even told him later after we were sure you were okay before I took you here. Trust me Wally Dick knows.”

Why would he lie? What reason did Barry have to lie to him. Flash was his hero long before he got the idea for the experiment and long before he knew he was his Uncle. What reason could Barry possibly have for lying about something like this?

Wally nodded a little and looked at his shoes.

“Then why hasn’t he visited? It’s been weeks. He wouldn’t have just left me.”

“Wally, I don’t know why he hasn’t. I was thankful when you were okay. I told the entire League for fucks sake.”

Barry had to make Wally believe him. He had to keep him close. Especially now that he had speed. He’d say anything to make Wally stay. Even lie about telling the League. The truth was he hadn’t spoken to Bruce since any of this happened and he surely didn’t tell the league anything since they’d go running to Batman. 

Wally believed him. What reason could Barry possibly have to lie about this stuff. He just wished it didn’t hurt so bad to believe. Maybe that Clark guy was on to something. He was totally wrong about Dick being a villain, but maybe he was right that Robin wasn’t as good a person as they all thought. Maybe he was the kind of guy to use and move. He’d done it on the streets enough, maybe he’d done it here. He hated the idea of it. Because even if it was all a scam, even if Dick really had been faking it all, he still had Wally’s heart. He leaned into Barry for a hug. 

“I guess he just didn’t want a non hero boyfriend.”

“If that’s the case then he doesn’t deserve a hero boyfriend. Speaking of..let’s go. We have training, Kid Flash.”

Barry reached out and ruffled Wally’s hair. Now that he had speed there was no way Barry was going to keep him in the house, so it was better for him to train him and teach him and keep him safe as Kid Flash out on patrols rather than fight him and have him run off and get killed. Wally was just giddy at the prospect at being a hero. He could push Dick from his mind for now. He was going to prove that he could make a difference with or without Dick at his side.


A month had passed since Kid Flash first hit the streets. Central City beaming and adoring their new speedster and Wally was taking up every second of it. The news reports would talk about the happy yellow speedster and ate up every moment they got with him. Gotham news reports were another story. Robin becoming more and more violent every day. Punishing people much harsher than the Bat rules generally dictate. The Gotham Academy football team had even been caught by the angered bird while stealing drugs from a closed pharmacist. Robin had sent five of the members to the hospital. 

The news of the two kid heroes had spread virtually everywhere. The Justice League members asking Barry who his partner was but he never told them. He never said a single word about Kid to the League. He said it was for his safety and privacy. No one would know who he was if he had anything to say about it. 

Barry told his partner that he was going up to the Watchtower for monitor duty and to not go on patrol. 

“Can I at least go for a run? Not patrol, I just want to stretch my legs. School nearly killed me when I kept getting yelled at for bouncing my legs.”

“Fine. Just make sure you’re safe and take your suit. We don’t want someone to see Wally West running at superspeed.”

He’d changed and run. Sure he could have stayed on his normal running route through the city and on the outskirts. But while he was eating his pre-run snack he’d been watching the news from his old city. He’d seen the segment about Robin taking out the football team. Seeing a blurred picture of Robin made him feel things he wasn’t entirely sure how to explain. He was mad, upset, hurt, lonely. Just looking at Dick made his heart twist and pull and he didn’t like it one bit. There was only one way he was going to solve this. 

Pulling his goggles over his eyes he set off on his run. 

Kid Flash was going to pay a certain bird a visit.

Chapter Text

The bats had gone back to their cave to find it empty. No sign the speedster and his nephew were ever there aside from the fried and mussed up bed. Bruce and Alfred had taken to cleaning the area while Dick had just stood in the doorway. He couldn’t get his body to move. He couldn’t get his limbs to answer him. He just stood there staring at the bed and picturing Wally in it. Picturing him sitting up and laughing and eating the weird jello stuff that Bruce would make him eat if he got hurt to keep his strength up. Pictured him lying there basically lifeless on the white sheets. No brain activity. No hope of returning. Wally was dead and gone and it was all his fault. He’d never get to see the love of his life again because he hadn’t been a good enough hero. 

Wally had made him into Robin. Wally was the reason he was still here and if the world wanted him in it then it had to be for a reason. Dick decided then and there that Robin would complete the mission. Robin would protect everyone. He would never let anyone he loved die. Never again. 

Robin had become darker than the Dark Knight in Gotham. The city saw it, everyone knew it. At Gotham academy the kids would talk about the fact that Robin had taken down some criminal and sent them to the hospital. That Robin was vicious. The news was doing stories trying to debate on if Robin was really a hero or if he was going rogue to become one of the most ruthless villains the world had seen. 

Dick doubted he’d be worse than the Joker. Jason and him had been talking about it the other day at the park, the Joker was definitely the creepiest of the Gotham rogues. Dick just hated his smile. He was starting to hate smiles. 

The thought gave him pause. 

He’d been out on patrol with Bruce when his thoughts started getting to him and asked for some alone time. So there he sat, perched up on a tall building in downtown Gotham, right across the street from one of the many museums dedicated to the city’s rich past. It was funny in a way. The boy from the circus who was always known for his smile was beginning to hate smiling. He used to thrive on smiles and then his parents fell and trapped him in the same city as the Joker. The Director. Sickening smiles that came with sickening acts and Dick had to stop himself from going into a panic just thinking about those nights. He didn’t let people touch him anymore. Barely had any contact with human beings outside of combat. He just didn’t know how to keep his emotions trapped down. He didn’t want a wrong touch to send him back to the nights in the Juvie. Or to have one finally pass through his walls and send his emotions and grief crashing out like a tidal wave of pain. Jason had hardly left him alone. He stayed as close as he could without knowing Bruce was Batman. Dick had told him he’d been in the right place at the right time and that was why Bruce Wayne had taken him in. He still wasn’t comfortable with Bruce and Jason being with each other. He wasn’t sure how Bruce would react to the boy’s brash attitude and he couldn’t lose another person. Not after the ones he’d already lost. Losing Jason would be the same as nailing his coffin shut. 

Deep breath. It isn’t happening. Calm down. 

He was looking out over Gotham. Despite everything she really was a beautiful city. Lights that reflected off the clouded smog filled sky. Smells of hot dogs and stale coffee, the sounds of life coming from almost everywhere. A city of gunpowder and beauty. It was funny how the world put certain people in certain places. It was like he and Bruce were built for this place. Built for it’s skies to be their playground, its caverns to be their home. Then he saw it.

A yellow streak heading from the outskirts of the city. Running around the streets and buildings like it was looking for something. But what was it? The closest thing he could think of was Flash but he wasn’t yellow. Reverse? Dr. Zoom? Why would one of Flash’s rogues be in Gotham? What did they want? 

And then the streak was blasting up the side of his building and stopping on the other end of the roof. 

Dick was expecting to be killed in a second. If that didn’t happen then he was ready to turn around and see some villain there to kidnap him and hold him as ransom against Bruce or the League. He’d never met anyone other than Batman or Flash. Superman had apparently come into Gotham without Bruce’s permission but Dick had been at school and therefore never actually met the guy. That was neither here nor there however as he took in the figure stood on the other end of the roof.

The guy seemed to be around his age. Yellow and red suit that looked like some blurry pictures from Central City. Superspeed obviously as there was no equipment visible that would have allowed him to make it up the side of a building or move that quickly around the city. He seemed to be eyeing up the Robin suit and as Dick looked closer he could see notable Green eyes under the cowl. Green eyes, red hair, superspeed. Everything Wally had wanted. He felt sick to his stomach looking at him but the guy was beginning to pace and Dick still didn’t know if he was a good or bad guy. 

The two circled each other on the roof for a few moments before Dick decided to call out to him, his hand edging towards his belt with every second.

“Who are you?”

“Kid Flash. Surprised you haven’t heard of me Robin.”

“So am I.”

“You can put your hand down. I’m not here to fight you. I’m Flash’s partner I just want to talk.”

For some reason Dick believed him. Maybe it was the fact that he looked and sounded like Wally, maybe it was something else. 

“Why are you in Gotham?”

Any ease the speedster in front of him had had was gone as soon as the question left his lips. Instead his expression shifted to something dark, hurt.

“Thought I’d pay a visit to someone who I thought was special to me.”

He had to get information. Bruce didn’t know Barry had taken a partner. There was no reason to hide that kind of information.

“Oh? Sounds like there’s a story there. Tell me the details, names and all. I’m a pretty good listener. And detective.”

“Uh huh. How about partner?”

The words sounded forced. Like they were painful for him to say out loud, almost like if he said them he’d be admitting something. But Dick couldn’t figure out what. Not yet.

“For Batman? He chose me so what does that say? What? You jealous you aren’t the only kid partner?”

Before the speedster could answer an alarm blasted from the museum across the street. 

“Duty calls.”

The red lights flashing high enough to reflect on both their faces and Dick looked down to see the situation. A truck and at least ten goons heading into the place. He watched them punch the security guard who came running up to meet them and suddenly Dick wasn’t on the roof anymore. He was flying down and attacking without anymore thought than he needed to stop them. No sooner did they see Robin did they try to run. Each and every one of them a different mix of fear on their face.

“It’s Robin we gotta run!”

They were down in minutes. Kid Flash standing off to the side and helping the security guard up and sending him outside to watch for the cops and guide them to the proper place before glancing up to see Robin moving onto the other rooms and following. He caught up easily with the heated bird and noted with a bit of a shock that Dick wasn’t smiling. He knew his ex-boyfriend well enough to know that if he wasn’t smiling then something was very, very wrong. 

“Those guys looked pretty scared back there.”

“Yeah, well, it’s Gotham and they’re criminals.”

“Still…”

“No one asked you to come along KF.”

“Where are we going?”

“To find the boss. I recognize these guys. Drug traffickers moving up and trying to become arms dealers. My guess is they broke in here to set something up for tomorrow’s exhibit opening.”

Sure enough when they got down to the new exhibit hall they found the boss. Tucking in a gun behind an expensive old vase. Wally thought it was almost comical how wide the guy’s eyes got when he saw Robin. The other half had a mini heart attack at how fast Dick moved for a non-speedster. Dick wasn’t next to him anymore. No, Robin had his hand around the guy’s throat and was demanding answers.

“Where did you get the guns.”

“I don’t know! I’m not the leader. I just lead this team!”

“Bullshit.”

“I’m telling the truth!”

“Don’t lie to me.”

The hand around his throat got tighter and Wally could see the terror in the man’s face. He was really telling the truth and Dick didn’t believe him. Dick was going to kill this guy.

Robin was rearing up to punch the guy bloody when a red gloved hand stopped him. 

“Robin! What the hell dude let him go!”

“No!”

“Why not? Why are you doing this? This is too far and you know it.”

“I have to stop them from hurting anyone else. I can’t let anyone die again. Kid Flash let go.”

“No. You know this is bull. You know you can’t save everyone so why are you so-”

“Because I lost someone!”

The yell shocked both of them. It was like he hadn’t meant to say it and both of them stood there in silence. Dick’s harsh breathing and the guy’s crying before Dick glowered and delivered a sharp punch to the man’s temple to knock him out.

“He meant everything to me and I got him killed.”

Wally stared at him for a moment before going to speak

“You mean W-”

He was cut off by his communicator. Barry’s voice coming over the channel and interrupting the whole scene.

“Kid. Where are you? Captain Cold escaped. Let’s go.”

“Got it Flash. Be there soon.”

He turned back to Dick and looked him over. Closer this time. Without the malice. To be honest Dick looked like a mess. He looked like he was running on fumes and would fall apart the second someone tried to touch him. It didn’t make sense. Immediately he thought of himself, how Dick hadn’t put it together, but Barry said Dick knew. Maybe something else had happened, Jason? He knew how much Dick loved that boy. He needed more information. But his commlink in his ear was telling him that he didn’t have the time to do that.

“I’m sorry to hear that...but I’m sure you didn’t get him killed.”

“What do you know anyways. Just leave Gotham.”

“I mean, I kinda have to. Flash is waiting for me but, I’ll be back. You can tell me about this person you lost...gotta run.”

As soon as the speedster was gone Dick stood in the store and steeled himself against the world. He could hear the police sirens coming close and knew he either had to leave right then or risk being caught and talking to the officers that arrived on the scene. He grappled his way out and sat on a roof. 

Sure he could go talk to Jason. The boy was really great company and was very good at distracting him, but he didn’t want to burden him anymore than he already had. So he resolved to just stay on the roof and try to clear his head with the altitude. 

He wasn’t sure how long he stayed up there. Long enough that the cold had gone the whole way through to his bones. He just stared at the city lights, thinking about all the good times, all the bad times. His thoughts were drifting into the darker spots of what would happen if he just jumped when he heard someone land behind him. He didn’t care who it was, hero or villain, his heart wasn’t going to take that much more strain from someone that looked exactly like Wally but it wasn’t. It couldn’t. Wally was dead.

A dark mass sat down next to him and immediately he knew who it was. Bruce had found him. They didn’t talk, they didn’t need to. But an arm came around his shoulder and tugged him in close to a warm side. Bruce’s large cape falling around him and protecting him from the world and he didn’t stop himself from wrapping his own arms tightly around the older man. He didn’t stop it as his walls broke down. He let the tears finally fall down his face and he clung to the Bat symbol like it was the only thing in the world that could hold him together. At this point it might just be. He didn’t want to be alone anymore. He just wanted to stay safe in Batman’s arms. The only place a Robin could ever truly be safe, tucked in with their Bat. 

Dick broke down.

Chapter Text

A few days went by after that night. Dick had done some extensive research on Kid Flash without telling Bruce about it. The research stayed in the dark, the Bat knew full well who his little bird encountered that night. Dick still went to school like usual, still did his homework, still acted up the rich boy thing so his cover would be safe. But no one saw the darkness in his eyes when he saw the places he used to walk around with Wally. No one saw the misery on his face when they talked about the ex track team captain. No one saw what was really happening.

He was at school like normal. Listening to his classmates talking about how Robin was looking to kill someone. He’d had to hide his scoff at that accusation. Sure he was grieving and hurting but that didn’t mean he was going to kill someone. He went to his classes, the football team and Artemis leaving him alone for the most part. He was just trying to act like he was normal. Until the speakers of the school listed off the nominees for Homecoming King and Dick’s name was there. 

He wasn’t even signed up for something like that so why was his name being blasted out to the whole school. Everyone in his class turned to look at him. Some of the girls eyeing him up like he was just a piece of meat while some boys looked at him like he was a threat. He didn’t want the crown, they could have it if they wanted it. 

For the rest of the day he was getting dirty looks and appraising ones. He was approached by people he’d never met before in his life. Asked questions that were getting more and more personal until he finally couldn’t take it anymore and fled to the bathroom to try to calm himself down. He ducked himself into a stall and leaned against the wall. 

He didn’t want to be here anymore.

At first he was happy about getting to go to school. It was something he’d never experienced before, but now? Now it was something that was taking his time up without any real benefits. He could be training, or helping Jason on the street, or anything else that could actually help his city be safe rather than sit in a desk and be prodded like he was a frog on the examination table. 

The day came and went. He’d told Bruce about the whole homecoming issue but was told that it would be okay. It was a necessary evil. Dick understood. He did. But he didn’t want to do it. It was like the galas they were forced to go to and pretend to be idiots while the upper crust insulted him from behind their champagne glasses. Bruce would take him home and they would sit together. 

The more Dick thought about it the more he didn’t really understand why everyone said Batman was heartless. He was one of the kindest men that he’d ever met. After Wally Bruce would check on him more than before. He’d make sure he wasn’t alone and that he was feeling alright, he gave him space when he asked for it. Bruce was always there when he woke up screaming from a nightmare. He was always there to hold him while he cried himself out. Bruce was his dad. And he wouldn’t trade him for anyone.


The weeks seemed to blur around each other. An endless cycle of school and patrol. He’d found that Flash had taken up Kid Flash not too long after Wally died. After he murdered his boyfriend. For all that Barry had screamed and spat he didn’t seem to be grieving that much. Dick knew that wasn’t fair, everyone grieves in their own way. But it still hurt no matter if it was fair or not.

He was sitting in his last class of the day when the speakers flared up again. 

“Attention students. The results are in for Homecoming King and Queen. Our Homecoming queen will be Miss Artemis Crock.”

The class erupted in little cheers and whoops. Dick had to stop himself from gagging and rolling his eyes, he pitied the poor soul that had to be her homecoming king. The class quieted down again just in time for the next part of the announcement. 

“This years Homecoming King will be our very own, Mister Richard Grayson.”

Again the class erupted in cheers but Dick barely heard them. He wanted out. No. He needed out. He was so not doing any of this. He didn’t even want to go to homecoming let alone be the homecoming king. 

The second that bell rang he was gone. Bruce was waiting outside the school, immediately the world’s greatest detective knew something was wrong. He knew Dick was having a rough time at school lately but he hadn’t seen him that upset after a school day in a while. 

Dick explained once they’d gotten home.

“Not with her Bruce. I can’t be near her. Not just because of all the things she did, she’s- After all that happened, after Wally I- Bruce I can’t-”

His breath kept catching in his throat, he couldn’t breathe, he didn’t register the tears running down his face or his knees shaking. He didn’t realize his hearing had faded until it came trickling back to have Bruce holding him on his lap and talking him through breathing. Minutes went by with Bruce gently rocking them both in the middle of the floor until Dick had calmed down enough to stop crying and breathe deep again. 

“Dick, you have to go tonight.”

“Bruce-”

“I’ll be there. Or at least near by. If anything happens you can send me a signal and I’ll be right there. Okay?”

He just nodded. He knew he had to go to the dance. Why would Dick Grayson pass up the chance to party? Sure he was nervous but he knew Bruce would keep him safe. How could there be any danger if Batman was there to protect him?


When Dick showed up for the dance he stole the party instantly. Everyone was looking at him and he knew how to keep them watching but not knowing. Striding into the room and making small talk with the random people who came up to him. It was funny how many people forgot they used to make fun of him since Bruce had taken him in. He kept his hands in his pockets and fingered the small device that would let Bruce know if he needed help. One push of a button and either Bruce Wayne or Batman would give him all the backup he needed. 

While he was talking Dick mentally counted the people in the room. He counted the windows and doors, every way in and out and every threat. Artemis was surrounded by the football team in the corner of the room. All of them talking to each other and her arms wrapped around the neck of one while another held her by the waist. It looked like she was the teams pass around girl and she had no problems with it. Whatever, it wasn’t like she was a good girlfriend anyway. 

Dick boded his time till the crowning by standing on the edges and drinking some of the punch the teachers were serving out. Any time someone tried to get him a new glass he’d refuse. He had way too many issues with people drugging him to get him to do something for him to be comfortable with a classmate getting him a new drink. His hand never really left that button in his pocket. 

He watched the principal climb onto the stage near the speakers and straightened himself out. It was time. After this he could sneak away and go home and get ready to patrol. He just had to tough it out for a little while longer. 

“Hello everyone, I hope you’re all having a good time?”

The crowd cheered a little but it was clear they just wanted to get back to dancing.

“I know you’re all eager to party some more but if I could please have Miss Crock and Mr. Grayson come up on stage?”

They both moved. Artemis walking up the stage like the queen bee she was. Towering above everyone and smiling like the cat who’d caught the bird. What a gross metaphor. Dick watched her every move as he made his way to the stage. If she wanted a power move here then he was going to make sure she struggled to get it. 

When he stepped up onto the platform he made the room look at him. He made sure every eye was on him and even went so far as to wave and wink at a few of his peers. Stepping on the other side of the principal from Artemis he reached up and brushed his bangs back in a way that his muscles pulled on his dress shirt. He made eye contact with a couple classmates and gave them another wink as he dropped his arm and his hair flopped back down into his eyes. 

He knew he was attractive. And he knew damn well how to use it to his advantage. Bruce would be proud. 

The principal cleared his throat and continued on. It was a boring speech, one that served no real purpose. But then the crowns were being pulled out and placed on their heads. Dick did what he had to. He smiled and he waved at his classmates and played up his rich boy persona. He acted like he didn’t have a care in the world. 

It wasn’t long before the crown was sitting atop his head and they were released back into the crowd. He was about to start sneaking away when he noticed the music still hadn’t started up yet and turned to see what was happening. He didn’t think there was anything else they would need the homecoming king for but he couldn’t be sure. He’d never done this before. When he turned he saw the whole track team standing on the stage and a projector set up behind them. The new captain took the microphone from the principal and looked over the crowd.

“As you all know. Our old captain, Wally West, died this year.”

The crowd was silent. Quiet enough that the breathing even seemed too loud for the situation. 

“To honor him we decided to make a video in his honor.”

Dick didn’t recognize the boy who was speaking. He wasn’t part of the whole assault on Wally and him then. Which meant that this kid might actually be trying to do something nice to honor Wally. He’d stay for this.

The video started off with slow music. Old footage from a track meet with Wally giving all of them a pep talk. Shots of him running and him around the school. There were clips of him goofing around with his teammates and the music gave all of it a somber but also inspirational tone. Dick could feel his breaths shake slightly as he tried to keep the tears at bay. That smile that he missed so much. Those eyes that had saved him in the dark. And then the video turned to show the picture of him and Wally together on the couch, the one that Artemis had taken and started so much with. There was footage of Wally getting called out names, footage of him and Wally walking to class together and words like “fag” “Worthless” “Gay boy” showed up on screen.

Laughter erupted from the corner where Artemis was sitting on a table with the football team. One look at the boy who had started the video said that he didn’t know that was there. He rushed to shut it off and his own team stopped him before the teachers came to stop the brewing fight. Even though Wally was dead people would never stop coming after them. It was never going to stop. If he hadn’t been there then Wally would be at this dance. Wally probably would have been homecoming king. Wally would have been loved and appreciated and he would have never been made into a laughing stock of the school. If they had never met then Wally would still be alive. 

If it wasn’t for Dick stealing that stupid purse then he wouldn’t have taken the light out of the world. 

He needed to get out of there. The walls felt too close, every person near him too warm. It was too much and he didn’t want to be there. So he ran. Momentarily forgetting about the button in his pocket he ran out the back doors of the gym and tried to loop around the building to where he knew the car would be coming to get him once he pressed it. 

A hand grabbed him by the back of his jacket and pulled him back. If it wasn’t for his quick reflexes he would have been completely knocked off his feet. The football team surrounded him. Suddenly Dick was very aware of the fact that there weren’t any lights back there and there weren’t any cameras. He was on his own back there. He tried to reach into his pocket to grab the button but was slammed up into the wall before he could.

“Oh what’s the matter Grayson? Running away? The party just started.”

“Fuck you.”

“You wish you could Gyp.”

“What do you want?”

“We want some fun. We put all that effort into getting that video up there and you just ran away without fully watching it.”

At the mention of the video Dick squirmed against his captor. He was done being pushed around. And he had to get Bruce there. Seeing him fight and struggle made the whole team converge. Soon there wasn’t any time for talking as everyone was punching and kicking. Dick just reached into his pocket and pulled out the button. Bruce would come soon and he could go home. 

A punch landed to the back of his head. 

Dick was on the ground a second later blinking stars out of his eyes and watching his only hope of salvation be crushed under the feet of meat head future thugs as they kicked him over and over. 

Who knew, maybe they’d kill him.


He wasn’t sure how much time had passed. His body had gone numb and he was dimly aware of blood running down his head and face. There was probably blood on other parts of his body but he couldn’t feel it to know. The world had gone quiet and slowly he opened his eyes to see Bruce kneeling in front of him. 

He knew Bruce was worried and he knew he probably should have been too, but at the moment he didn’t really care. Dick reached up slowly and Bruce wasted no time gathering his little boy into his arms and holding him close. He didn’t know what happened. But Bruce was there so he knew he was safe. He would always be safe there.


The weekend came and went. Dick healing up and Bruce calling the school to have the whole football team expelled. Dick told him everything that happened and Bruce had made sure there was hell to pay for it. 

He was allowed to go out as Robin again and watched the city lights. Bruce was finishing up some loose ends down below and let Dick get some altitude to clear his head. He saw the streak of lightning before Kid Flash once again came to a stop behind him. 

“Kid Flash.”

“Hey Robin.”

“What do you want?”

Dick didn’t really want to do this. Not after that video. He wasn’t sure how he could handle seeing someone who looked so much like Wally after that. But Kid Flash was stepping close and looking at his face with a worried frown. Sure, he was still a little banged up but he didn’t look that bad. 

“What?”

“Nothing. You just seem a little off.”

“You don’t know anything.”

“Okay, maybe we got off on the wrong foot here.”

Dick rolled his eyes at that.

“Maybe. What are you doing in Gotham Kid.”

“I want to talk to you.”

“About?”

“I want us to be friends.”

“Really?” The disbelief and sarcasm practically dripping off Dick’s voice. “You want us to be besties? What, braid each others hair?”

To anyone else it seemed like Robin was just being an ass to Kid Flash. But Wally knew Dick well enough to tell when he was feeling to much and just putting it all into angry to hide the hurting. 

“No. Not if you don’t want to. I just think it would do some good for two young heroes to have someone to talk to about this stuff other than our mentors.”

Dick thought about it for a little. Turning away from the speedster to look at the twinkling lights of Gotham.

“What do you say Rob, give it a chance?”

Wally had taught him that closing everyone away wasn’t always the best idea. Sure it kept him safe but it also kept him alone. Sometimes life hurt. That was just a fact. But if you spend so much time running and hiding from the pain you will never really live. Maybe he could give friends a chance.Maybe a chance wasn’t such a bad thing?

Dick sighed and turned back around.

“Let’s get out there KF.”

Chapter Text

Sometimes the world just didn’t know when enough was enough. It was just one thing after another with no breaks for any superhero or vigilante ever. 

In Central city there had been a mass breakout, the rogues nearly took out half the city, STAR Labs had a chemical leak and the basic run of the mill criminals all went completely out of their minds leaving the city to fall into a crime spree free for all. And that was just in one week. Barry had been training and teaching Wally at every chance he got and the young speedster was doing extremely well in light of all things. He got his own solo runs, told Barry it was to clear his head and keep him happy, where he’d run to Gotham and hang out around Robin. Though there wasn’t too much of that in the last week. The two had become fairly good friends through the last month, some might even call them best friends at this point. Wally had tried his best to get Dick to spill about what was going on but he never spoke more about the topic of who he lost past that first night really. Wally was willing to wait. He figured out the balance between Gotham life and Central life and walked the line. Eventually sure, he would fall into one over the other but for the time being it worked. 

In Gotham there had been three Arkham breakouts, five shootings, four robberies, a chemical bomb from Scarecrow, a riddle test from Riddler, and Joker almost blew up the GCPD. They’d even enlisted Jason to help with some of their evacuations. Dick could tell that Bruce was watching him and couldn’t help but smile at the way the two of them would interact. Both of them were stubborn, all three of them were actually, but Jason and Bruce butt heads with each other so often that it was comical. Jim got to see first hand when the Dark Knight sighed in utter defeat as the two young kids he was working with teamed up and punned him to death. Jason had told Dick all about how checks kept coming in for him that let him get food and other things he needed. Some anonymous donor. Jason knew it was Batman. Just not who Batman was, though Dick was pretty sure it was a close connection, he was just scared to make it. 

All in all, things were going well again. Dick was starting to recover, Robin becoming less violent and more of the light he used to shine in the dark. He and Jason would goof around and train together in the parking lot. Bruce had even taught Jason a few things. Dick was pretty sure the only thing keeping Bruce from adopting Jason was the fact that he still had parents. If it wasn’t for that he’d have already taken him in. 

It was a Saturday. A boring, quiet, normal Saturday for once. A way to end the chaotic week and maybe, just maybe, the world was giving them a break. Maybe the cities realized that their heroes were tired and were letting them rest a little before going back to business as usual. But of course it didn’t stay that way.

Every Leaguer got the alert on their comms at the same time. An armada of alien ships had entered into earth’s atmosphere. No one knew what had caused it but once the landing area was deduced it was all hands on deck. A town in the middle of absolute nowhere was the target and none of them could figure out why. But still, in case the Justice League failed to stop the new threat governments across the world were telling people to stay inside. 

Bruce and Dick suited up as fast as they could and only made one stop on their way to take down the aliens. A small hole in the wall book reading store that Jason loved to spend time in. It was right next to a bakery and many times Jason would steal the bread they threw out at the end of the day and read some books in the store while they were open. They found him sitting in the corner reading one of his favorite books in the store. 

Jason was going to be the only hero in Gotham for a little while. After a few times of going out with them to help with emergencies Jason had requested a suit and made himself a name. Dick thought it was laughably cliche but Jason thought it was cool. When telling him the situation Jason was on edge while taking the duffle bag to suit up as Red X in the shadows of the alley. Bruce left for the Batmobile while Jason and Dick said their goodbyes. Dick just finished lecturing him about staying careful and vigilant when Jason latched onto him for a hug. Normally his pseudo brother wasn’t the huggy touchy one so it hit a warning bell in Dick’s head.

“Make sure you come home okay? You’ve been reckless before in emergencies. Maybe Wally isn’t here anymore but you still have me and Batman. Bruce too but I’m still not sure how to feel about him.”

“Jace. I promise I will do everything in my power to come home safe and sound okay? What could go wrong?”

Dick chuckled at the glare he was getting from Jason before the mask slipped over his head and hid his features. 

“It’s an alien invasion Rob. Haven’t you ever seen a movie? Just be careful, I don’t want to have to beat up Batman for taking you to get hurt.”

After that the boys split their ways. 

The Batmobile roared onto the site they knew the battle was going to take place. Leaguers were left and right watching the dynamic duo. This was the first time they had ever seen Robin in the flesh. Some still thought he was a myth that Bats had made up in order to seem more threatening that he had a near assassin child at his side. One quick look around and Dick saw Flash glaring at him from the sidelines before a yellow blur ran to his side. 

“Robin!”

“KF.”

“An actual alien invasion. Glad you’re here to help. I feel safer already.”

Dick was about to respond when Barry cleared his throat to get both of their attentions. He ignored the way he saw Kid Flash’s face deflate as he walked back to the older speedsters side. Superman and Wonder Woman both moved towards Batman. 

“We need a plan.”

“We need to know who we’re facing. Here’s what we do.”


The battle was hard and a mess. Canons blasting from all sides, lasers and shouts and screams. Dust clouds with dirt spraying into eyes and mouths, ringing ears and hot blood pumping through veins and splashing into the air. 

The aliens were ruthless but the heroes were unrelenting. Batman and Robin back to back with each other surrounded completely by mushy creatures and robotic beings. High tech weapons all aimed and poised to kill them. Both sides were taking hits but so far, neither had gained or lost any ground. The duo was fighting with everything they had. Spinning and punching. Flying and kicking. They were actually making a decent dent in the bit that surrounded them until a laser got too close to Robin’s landing spot and flung Dick off to the side and into the ground. His ears were ringing, he didn’t have time to just lay there but he couldn’t get his vision to fade to normal from the blinding white he was seeing. He felt an alien get above him. Fleshy goo smothering his body and smothing sharp pressing into the side of his throat.

All he could think of was the weight above him. He couldn’t breathe. He couldn’t move. 

Not now, not now, not now. If I stop fighting I stop breathing. Focus. 

The weight was gone. Finally Dick was able to blink his sight back as his hearing started to return. Batman was hovering above him. Blood trickling from under the edge of the cowl and dirt streaking his face. Dick doubted he looked much better since he could feel that whatever weapon had been against his neck broke skin a little. There was a gap in the fighting long enough for Bruce to turn and kneel down next to him. As he was helping him sit up Dick saw the rest of the fight. The heroes were slowly winning but they had to cut off their numbers. Take out the mothership and the rest would follow. The aliens would be forced to retreat. 

“Robin.”

“Go. I’ll be okay.”

The duo was up and fighting their way through to the middle while Bruce talked over the comms to every hero able to fight. Founders and powerhouses were heading up to the mothership to fight while other heroes were keeping the aliens from leaving the perimeter they’d set up. Dick was staying to fight on the ground. Dick caught sight of Kid Flash splitting from Flash and running towards him. 

With the plan in action Robin and Kid Flash worked in tandem to hold of the alien forces. Back to back, heavy breathing matching each other. They were in for a long trip. 


Hours later, after a brutal and hard won fight, the aliens started to retreat. The league was still up in the ship but the aliens on the ground were gone. Heroes who had been watching the perimeter were too far and started to slowly trickle to where they were needed most. 

Robin and Kid Flash huffed for air standing next to each other in their battle field of rubble. They each sat down on slabs of one of the destroyed buildings. Both of them so streaked in dirt and ash that the colors of their costumes seemed mutilated. Both their masks a bit tattered and holes in tears covered their uniforms. There were burns on Kid Flash’s arms and legs. Cuts on his torso and a thin line of blood from his lip and temple. Robin had cuts visible on his arms and legs. Three on his side and he knew once he was out of his suit majority of his body would be black and blue. The worst of it though was the cut on his neck and his cheek. He couldn’t tell if they were deep enough to need stitches but he felt fine for the time being. Though that was probably from the amount of adrenaline pumping through his body. 

“You know,” Kid Flash started the conversation. Watching the scene before them and knocked their shoulders together before continuing. “After all of that we should have to trust each other.”

“Yeah?” Robin laughed. Tilting his head back to watch the ships as they began to fly away while the mothership stayed in place. “Something about fighting for hours for your life forms a bond between people.”

“Exactly. So. Robin, you have anything you wanna say?”

He thought about his response for a moment before opening his mouth. Closing his eyes against the onslaught of feelings and memories the dark squire prepared for what he was about to say. 

“The person that I lost. I...I think I can tell you his name. But uh, before I do I need you to understand what he meant to me. And how it was all my fault that he died.”

Kid Flash sat forward. This was what he’d been trying to wriggle out of him since he first found Robin again that night. This was the information that had been his goal. 

“He saved me. I’d be dead without him. He helped me become Robin. He was my whole world. And then Batman found me, but we were still together more than not. He started a project.” There was a small pause while Robin eyed the boy in front of him with sadness pooling behind the mask.

“You’re everything he wanted. He wanted speed and I helped him. I didn’t stop him. And then he died. He died because I wasn’t a good enough hero.”

Kid Flash felt his mouth go dry. He knew the answer. He knew what Dick was going to say when he asked this but he had to make sure. There were too many things that would happen after this. 

“What was his name?”

“His name was Wally West. And I miss him every single beat of my heart.”

Wally felt his whole world shatter around him. 

“You don’t know...he. He never told you did he?”

He had to stop the rage from clawing its way out of his chest when he saw the confusion and small trace of hurt on Dick’s face. 

“Who?”

Wally just shook his head. He wasn’t about to take this out on Dick and the cut on his face was still bleeding.

“Let’s get you fixed up first Rob..”

The bathroom of the building they were sitting in was surprisingly still intact. Once they were inside Wally locked the door while Dick perched himself up onto the counter. Wally rummaged through some of the cabinets and rubble until he found enough to do a quick patch up of Robin’s cheek. Everything was quiet for a while both of them just watching each other before Wally spoke up again. 

“Flash lied to me. He said he told you. He said he told you and you didn’t care or you didn’t want to deal with it. I should’ve been smarter. I should’ve done something.”

“KF what are you talking about?”

He steeled himself and made sure to look Robin right in the eyes for what he was about to say. He deserved it after all of this.

“Wally West didn’t die. It was a delayed response but he… I was fine.”

He quickly tugged off the cowl and looked at Robin.

Dick didn’t know what was happening. Had he hit his head? Did rubble hit him? Was he currently buried alive and hallucinating or trapped in a dream realm? He looked like Wally but, different. His jaw was more pronounced. His features just a bit sharper. The freckles sticking out even behind the dirt and grime and making his eyes shine even brighter in contrast. He wanted to think it was just a dream. A dream would hurt but it wouldn’t hurt as bad as Wally having been there the whole time and Flash lying. But he could feel the bandage on his cheek. He knew the touch he was feeling while he’d been cleaning his wound was real.
“...Wally?...”

“It’s me.”

“I...I thought you were dead I..”

Tears began to leak out from under the mask as he gingerly reached out to touch Wally’s face. He was real. He was really real. His shoulders started to shake slightly while he fought to keep his breathing even and failed. 

“You were alive. This whole time you were alive... I almost...I…”

Wally just looked at him. He wanted nothing more but to hold him until the pain went away knowing that he was the reason it was there. But he didn’t want to make Dick feel cornered after everything that had just happened. Lucky for Wally Dick grabbed onto him and clung like his life depended on it. Wally was so relieved he almost missed the words that left Dick’s mouth.

“I thought I killed you.”


The League came down to earth and watched as the mothership parted from their skies. Most of them were cheering and happy. All but two. Two who were more concerned for the fact that the young teens they’d had with them were not where they were meant to be waiting. Clark took notice almost immediately that something was wrong and looked around to see why. Bruce gave him the standard glare in return but he figured it out. 

Robin and Kid Flash were missing. 

Clark wasn’t exactly fond of the little bird at the moment. He’d gone to Gotham to talk to Bruce about pulling the kid from the hero game all together but of course had been denied. He almost hoped the boy would have proven him right at this battle but when he’d looked to the dynamic duo he saw exactly why they were named what they were. So he listened close and locked onto two heartbeats in a half destroyed building nearby and lead the League over to see what was happening. 

What they found made every single member pause. Robin clinging onto Kid Flash while Kid had his head buried in Robin’s neck. 

Flash stepped forward and called out to the duo.

“Kid. It’s time to head home.”

They broke apart from each other at the words. The League saw that Kid’s mask was gone but that meant nothing to most of them. To Bruce it all finally clicked into place and broke his heart when he saw the tears on his boy’s face. He felt the rage soon after but quickly locked it back inside when he saw Dick’s face. He saw the rage and pain that had built up and knew that Dick was about to explode. Despite how angry he was with Barry he knew who would win in the fight and he wasn’t about to let Dick become a killer tonight. Bruce got between them just as Dick reached the speedster. He wasn’t expecting his little bird to level his glare on him.

“Did you know about this?”

Bruce didn’t want to admit to the fact that he’d missed something this clear in front of the entire League but also wanted to calm his boy. He said nothing. In turn making Dick’s rage take another flare and he lifted a hand to strike at his adoptive father. Bruce was fine with that. He had enough kevlar on that he probably wouldn’t even feel it and he’d rather Dick release his rage on him than on Flash who was standing cockily behind him. The scarlet speedster had another thing coming if he thought there wouldn’t be hell to pay for this. 

Wally grabbed onto Dick’s wrist before he could land his strike and spoke quietly that only the Bat’s would hear.

“Dick. Don’t. He didn’t know.”

“Wally. You don’t understand what I went through. I thought you died. I thought I lost the best thing that ever happened to me. I lost the love of my life. And that man took him from me. He made me feel like a killer. He made me feel like your death was my fault.”

He pointed to Barry by the end. Seething with rage and Bruce adjusted so he was blocking Dick from Barry’s view. He wouldn’t get to watch this. Barry only cleared his throat at the act and spoke up with so much disinterest in his voice it made Bruce sick.

“Kid Flash. Time to go.”

“No. You didn’t tell him. Why.”

“Don’t question me. I did what I had to do.”

“I’m not leaving with you.”

“It’s an order. Wally. Let’s go.”

They stood their ground. A conversation playing out completely in their looks. But no matter how strong willed Wally was he couldn’t disobey a direct order. He gave one last look to Dick and squeezed his wrist gently.

“It’s okay. I’ll see you soon.”

And then they were gone. Both of the speedsters flashing away with a blast of wind and lightning leaving the Bat’s behind with the League watching their every move. Bruce was ushering Dick back into the bathroom when he heard Clark mutter.

“This is why children shouldn't be in this business.”

Bruce only glared at everyone until they left and he was able to shut and lock the door once again. Dick was still angry, not that Bruce blamed him in the slightest. He held Dick close and even closer when he started thrashing against him. Shushing him and keeping a hand cupped around the back of his head. Dick needed to let the anger out in order to get to what he was actually feeling. They’d done this before after patrols. A few moments after the thrashing started it turned into shakes and Dick wrapping his arms around Bruce’s mid section. Burying his face into the kevlar Bat symbol and processing. 

“What did I do?”

“You didn’t do anything Dick.”

“I...god the League hates me now. I ruined everything for all the kid heroes because I couldn’t hold my anger. God Barry was right. I’m dangerous. I don’t deserve Wally I-”

“Dick stop. You reacted just fine. If you hadn’t been reacting that way I would have. But the League would have been decimated against us both.”

“I feel like I’m losing him all over again Bruce..”

Bruce only held him tighter before scooping him up and cradling him to his chest. 

“You’re safe. Let’s go home.”

Wrapping his cape around his boy to hide him from view Bruce left the bathroom and headed straight for the batmobile. He knew Clark was watching. If the man wanted a story then he would have to fight for it. After Dick was home safe Flash and Batman were going to have some words. No one hurt Robin and got away with it. Ever.

Chapter Text

FLASHBACK

 

It hadn’t been long since he’d escaped Juvie. The nightmare that was held within those walls. The whole place was a mess. But he had other things to worry about at the moment. 

It was cold on the streets. Snow flitting down around Gotham. The only reason Dick knew it was the New Year was because of all the TVs in the store windows. Fireworks in the sky and cheers coming from the streets and buildings. 

Dick sat with his back against the wall of the trashy building he was sleeping in for the night. An old apartment building. The top floor abandoned because of a fire. Charred remains that were blocked from all the ground entrances, but for a circus kid the climb was nothing. He shivered in his hoodie, wrapping it closer around himself in the process. Closing his eyes Dick tried to take in a deep breath. It was his first New Year without his parents. His first start alone. 

He sat there in silence. Thinking about everything that had led him to this point in his life. Listened to the families out on the streets as they laughed. Felt a pang of jealousy that they got to be happy while he couldn’t. Then came the guilt. He didn’t want others to suffer like he was. It was hell. And he wouldn’t wish that upon anyone. 

A thump came from the other side of the floor. At first Dick would have thought it came from an animal that had somehow managed to get up there. But then he heard footsteps. Shaky ones, and the heavy landing of a body into the floor. He knew those sounds all too well after Juive. Someone was up there with him. And they were hurt. 

Slowly and quietly Dick made his way to the doorway into the hall. He peeked around the corner expecting to see some thug or criminal hiding out there after being chased away by cops or by a guard dog. Instead what he found was a boy that looked about his age. Dirty and tangled black hair and a tattered red hoodie hanging off his body. It was clear that the garment was too large for the boy. Maybe he’d grow into it when he was older. His nose was bleeding, bruising on his cheeks and jaw, the starts of a black eye, but there was no swelling yet so that was something. The boy lifted his head to make eye contact. A glare in the green-blue eyes. He was trying to act tough, trying to posture himself to seem like a threat. But Dick had seen a lot of that in Juvie too, he knew that look. He knew the fear that hid behind his eyes. 

“Who are you?” The boy pushed himself up as he spoke, the glare never leaving his face. 

“I feel like I should be asking you that since I was here first.”

“None of your business. You another street kid?”

Dick hesitated before responding. Before he wouldn’t have had to think about his answer, but after Juvie he didn’t know who he could trust. Actually that was a lie, he knew who he could trust. 

No one.

“Don’t bother answering, I think I’ve seen you before.”

That threw Dick for a loop. Where would he have seen him before?

“The fire pits on the east end last week. Saw you while I was selling the hubcaps I stole.”

He remembered seeing the stack of metal, remembered seeing a kid over there but he hadn’t realized that kid was the one selling the stuff. The boy moved again but this time was cut off by himself with a wince. His hand moving to his side just above his hip before falling back towards the ground. When the light came in through the window Dick could see that the hoodie was wet with blood. 

Dick didn’t waste anymore time. He ran over to the other boy, deeming him harmless for the moment and checking him over for any other wounds.

“What’s your name?”

“Why do you want to know?”

“Because you’re losing blood and it’ll be easier to call out to you if you start passing out if I know your name.”

The boy seemed to think it over for a little before finally responding to him.

“Jason. What’s yours?”

“I’m Dick. Nice to meet you Jason. How about we make a deal and not try to hurt each other while I fix you up okay? And then you can spend the night here with me. Talk to me while I grab the first aid kit and do this.”

Whereas most kids in his position wouldn’t have thought of a first aid kit, Dick did. Growing up in the circus meant that people got hurt all the time and he knew it was essential to have some way of treating those wounds. All the injuries there also meant that he would learn a thing or to from the circus medics. Who would have thought that knowledge would save him now?

At first Jason wasn’t talking very much. The most he did was groan or grunt as Dick cleaned out the wound on his side. It looked like someone had slammed his side with a beer bottle and it shattered on impact. If the glass shards Dick was pulling out were anything to go by. 

“How did you get up here Jason?” Dick was looking for something to make the boy talk since he seemed much closer to passing out now than he did earlier.

“Climbed.”

“This is four stories up.”

“I climbed. It’s a safe place. Not usually people here.”

“What happened?”

Another pause. Dick was about to see if he was still awake before he responded, his voice so quiet Dick had to strain to hear him.

“My dad.”

The two words sent Dick’s heart straight into his stomach. He finished cleaning the wound as best he could and placed a bandage over top of it. He didn’t have stitches so taping it up was the best he could do. If anything happened he’d heard about a free clinic he could take him to.

“Jason, do you have anyone?”

There wasn’t a response. Looking away from his bandaging job Dick could see that his eyes were closed. A fine layer of sweat covering him while the grimace melted off his face leaving him look so much younger than he had earlier. Dick couldn’t help but frown. If Jason didn’t have anyone who actually looked out for him then Dick would. Sure he was suffering on his own but he was used to hashed together families. This would be nothing different. Kids on the street had to stick together after all. 


A few days had gone by since that night. Jason staying with Dick for the most part. Letting him take care of him and finding food for the both of them. When Jason had shivered at night Dick had given him his hoodie. The two had bonded quite a bit since that first encounter. Jason talked more about himself and so did Dick. Neither of them really had any friends so they made the deal to stay together and not tell anyone about each other. Or at least not to tell anyone about what they talked about. 

Jason had been healing up nicely. Even going so far as to walk around outside with Dick and help him find stuff for their hidden home in the air. They were careful not to get caught but both of them knew not to get too comfortable with where they were. Getting comfortable meant it would only hurt more when they eventually lost it. Jason made some treks home, sneaking in to check on his mom and leave money, avoiding his dad at all costs.

When he made it back to the charred building he was surprised to see that Dick wasn’t back yet. Shrugging off his worry Jason did a check of the place and settled down for the night, combing through what they had and what they would need to look for on the streets in the coming days. It felt like hours before Jason heard the window slide open and light feet hit the ground. Dick had told him about his circus background and once he knew it was easy to tell. Down to the way he moved Dick appeared to be born to fly. And then the world had clipped his wings. 

Jason listened for the footfalls but something was wrong. They weren’t even paced and careful like they normally were. They were still Dick’s but they were stumbling, tripping on themselves and shuffling against the floor. The closer the footsteps got the more Jason could hear, including the labored breathing coming from the older boy. 

In seconds Jason was up and heading to the hallway only to nearly run smack into Dick as he turned the corner.

Saying he looked like hell was an understatement. 

His skin was white as snow, sweat dripping from his temple down to his chin, his eyes looked dazed. Something was very, very, wrong.

“Dick?”

“Jay..”

Before he could continue Dick’s eyes seemed to flutter closed on their own accord at the same time his legs gave out and he slid to the ground. Jason barely caught him before he could make a loud enough thud to wake the people down below them. 

“Dick? Hey, what’s wrong?”

Opening his eyes again Dick slurred out his next words. He was so not okay.

“Don’t feel good…”

Jason could feel the heat radiating off of him. He remembered Dick saying something about getting sick since he left the circus. Maybe it was just another bout of it? Jason hoped it was. 

He put an arm around Dick’s shoulders and helped him to stand on shaking legs before guiding him over to the makeshift bed. It got cold in the night so they normally huddled together in order to conserve their warmth. 

Once he got him situated Jason got a scrap of cloth they’d found and opened a window that faced towards the back of the building. Scooping snow off the sill and onto the fabric he came back and laid it gently over Dick’s forehead. Dick had helped him to get better, Jason sure as hell was going to return the favor. They’d bonded too much to not do that for each other. 

“You’re an idiot Dick. What if you’d collapsed out there? What if you never came back?”

“Sorry I worried you…”

“Just stay alive Dick. I don’t want to lose you too.”

Dick’s eyes were closed at this point. Jason knew he was tired, that he probably didn’t know what he was saying, but his next words still sent emotions he didn’t know running through Jason’s heart.

“Love you little brother.”

Jason only paused for Dick’s breathing to even out before he responded.

“Just sleep, Dick. I’ve never had a big brother before.”

Looking out the window to see the snow flitting down around the Gotham lights Jason finally curled up next to Dick to sleep. Maybe family wasn’t as bad as he’d thought. At the very least, he was starting the new year with a new brother.

Chapter Text

PRESENT

The two speedsters finally made it back to Central City. Iris had all of half a second of silence before all hell broke loose. Wally squaring off with Barry, a glare on his features and making Iris take pause at her nephews tone. 

“Why didn’t you tell him. You lied. Does that mean nothing to you?”

“He’s the reason you’re like this. You were taken away from me. If he knew you were a hero, he’d want to spend more time with you. He is dangerous. I don’t want you spending time with him.”

“Well he knows I exist so good luck with that Barry.”

“Wally. You will not see him if you want to be Kid Flash.”

He was stunned. Barry couldn’t be serious. Kid Flash meant everything to him, he couldn’t just lose it. It was like asking Barry not to be the Flash. It just wasn’t feasible. 

Barry was gone the next second. Taking his suit off upstairs and leaving a stunned Wally in his wake. 

Iris was watching her nephew close. She loved Wally dearly and had no idea what was happening with this whole situation. Barry hadn’t told her anything but something had clearly gone on. Moving over to Wally she lightly touched his shoulder. Only to have him flinch away from her. 

“Wally…”

“Did you know? Did you know that he lied?”

“I don’t know what’s happening. But maybe you could tell me?”

He paused a little thinking it over before nodding a little. 

“Okay, why don’t you get changed and then meet me in the kitchen. I’ll make you something to eat.”

“I don’t want to see Barry.”

“If he comes down I’ll kick him out.”

Another nod from her fiery nephew and then they split their paths. In under a minute Wally was back down with her. A pair of sweatpants hanging off his hips and a dark green t shirt on. It hurt her to see the bruises and scrapes that covered his skin. Their battle was a tough one. It was easy enough to tell with the amount of wounds on his body.

“What’s going on Wally?”

“It’s almost Christmas, and he lied to me. He lied. And he doesn’t care.”

“What did he lie about?”

“When I was in Gotham. I was dating a boy...Don’t tell anyone this, but, I met him when he stole my purse…”

He explained everything. From how they met to Dick becoming Robin. Everything. He saw the sadness in his aunt’s face as he explained the fact that he had to tell his boyfriend that he was alive. The quiet rage in her eyes when she fully realized what Barry had done. It felt nice to talk to someone, but he knew it wouldn’t last. Iris and Barry were an iconic duo. Later in the night Barry would probably make something up to tell her and make her side with him. Apparently he was good at that. 


In his room Barry finished pulling on his shirt when he heard his communicator go off. Steeling himself for another mission he answered it, only to hear the deep growl of the Dark Knight on the other end. 

“The boy deserved to know.”

If he was talking about Dick or Wally, Barry didn’t know. But it didn’t really matter either way. 

“No, your boy needs to stay away from Wally. Wally was doing great without Dick. Just keep them apart.”

“Do you know what you’re asking me to do Barry?”

“Do it for our boys. It would be best for both if they had distance.”

Bruce had been all for a civil conversation until that moment. He knew how much Dick was hurting because of all of this. And he would do anything to keep that hurt away from his little boy.

“That’s bullshit Barry and you know it. These boys were together. They were each others anchors. And you took them away from each other. Dick spiraled. He became a version of himself that scared me. He lost everything to him.”

“I thought I lost everything to me. When your boy let Wally try to replicate the experiment. He could’ve been gone forever Bruce.”

“But he’s back. Dick did what he thought he should have. And the experiment wasn’t his idea.”

“I don’t care. He didn’t stop him. He can’t see Wally.”


Weeks passed since that crisis and the world had certainly noticed a difference in her heroes. Batman would not work with Flash. The two simply would find an alternative way to beat whatever foe had come up and they would never be placed on teams together. If the mission needed it without any other way then they would work together. But there was never any speaking. Nothing but glares and the atmosphere around them was always tense and terse. 

Kid Flash was different too. It was all over the news and blog sites. The once happy and exuberant teen hero had shifted into dull and quiet. He never spoke on the field anymore aside from very tense, “Yes Flash” “No Flash”. There were no more jokes or playful flirting. Only seething looks and work. Central City was curious to know what happened but asking either of the speedsters just seemed wrong for them. The Flash’s had done a lot of good work for them and it was never Central’s way to criticize their heroes. They’d build the Flash museum in under a year while all the other cities were still trying to figure out if they’d like to arrest their heroes instead of acknowledging the work they’d done. 

Things were tense in the hero world but they were still functioning. The public was just waiting for the day the rope snapped. Robin had eased on his methods in Gotham, become a little more like his mentor in the fact that he hid all his emotions. He laughed more than before, happy and light to the press and hostages he rescued but dark and sinister to any villains who had the unfortunate luck to have him coming after them. A bat through and through. 

It wasn’t until Superman got into trouble in Metropolis that the rope started to fray. 

No one was really sure what happened, though Batman and the League strongly suspected Luthor, but Superman had been hit with a mind control substance that had been laced with kryptonite. He’d been wreaking havoc on downtown before Batman and Robin showed up with Wonder Woman at their sides. The three had tried to restrain him, talk him out of whatever it was that was happening in his mind but nothing seemed to be working. He grabbed Diana and threw her far down the street before turning to Bruce and slamming him into the ground to start beating him. Cameras caught the whole thing. From Superman pinning Batman to the first hit. They caught the blood leaking from the Dark Knight’s lips, they picked up the snap of his ribs as the fist landed again and again. It was a wonder that the Bat wasn’t dead yet, let alone conscious. 

They most certainly caught Robin flipping over Superman and placing himself between the out of control hero and his mentor. The people hiding and watching the fight collectively held their breaths. Robin was much smaller than Batman, a single hit would be likely to kill him. They watched as the red and blue hero pulled back to strike, they watched the horror hit Batman’s face, they saw the resolve on Robin’s. They could see Robin’s mouth move but they didn’t hear the words that came out. All they knew was whatever he’d said made Superman pause. Long enough for Diana to come behind him and put super proof cuffs on his wrists. 

He’d dropped like a rock after that. Wonder Woman and Robin staring at each other before Robin turned and dropped to his knees at Batman’s head. Shielding his mentor from the cameras like he knew exactly where they all were. Considering he was a bat he might have known they were there. 

The next day Clark Kent had written an article for the Daily Planet talking about Robin’s strength of will and potential. It was a stark contrast to the articles he’d written about the young hero before. Looked like he just had to see him in action in a city outside of Gotham. 

On the watchtower that same night Clark went to Bruce while he was in the monitor womb. Security camera footage showing that Dick had come up with him and was practicing in the training room. Flipping over the robot dummies and fighting, a glance to the skill rank nearly had him choke. Dick was fighting on the same level experience that gives him and the other powerhouses a run for their money, and he didn’t even look tired yet. Though Clark also knew that the only reason he was up there to begin with was because Flash wasn’t. Bruce was his best friend, and he wanted to know what was happening before it became something that put others in danger. Even though Bruce wasn’t one to do that he was still only a man and he could make mistakes. 

“What’s happening Bruce?”

“You’ll have to be more specific than that.”

“You and Flash. What’s going on?”

“That’s a long story Clark.”

“Okay. I have the time.”

“I’m busy.”

“You’ve been reading the same report for three minutes, you’re just watching Dick. Tell me.”

Heaving a world weary sigh he did as requested. Explaining only the facts of the situation to Clark and the barest amount of detail for the privacy of the boys. He didn’t really care about how Barry would feel about the details but Dick and Wally deserved more than to have every bit of their lives explained without their knowledge. 

Clark took all of it in stride for his credit. Even frowning and offering up an apologetic look when he realized he’d been so harsh on a grieving kid.

“I don’t think either of you can keep them apart. And I’m not saying that you would Bruce, but from what I’ve seen from Dick he’s a strong boy. If he wants something he will find a way to get it. Wally seems to be the same way despite the fact that Barry seems to be doing everything he can to keep him from seeing any of the other heroes in the community. You said Wally got Dick out of Juvie? They’ll find a way.”

The two looked back to the screens to see Dick clear the level he’d been working on. Huffing for air a couple times before calling out to the computer to increase the difficulty. Clark had to shake his head at it all. Dick was so much like Bruce it was surprising to know that the two weren’t actually related to one another. 

“I know that. But Barry refuses to accept it.”

“I’m sure it will all work out B, it always does.”

Another look as Dick started to fight again, fists raised and shoulders squared. It was clear to see the influences from his past in his fighting. The grace from the circus, the grit from the streets. A Robin that balanced the line between the dark and the light. 

“For both their sakes I hope it does.”

Chapter Text

Time had passed. Dick couldn’t tell anyone how much time exactly but it felt like years. Knowing that Wally was alive and not being able to go and see him was torture in and of itself. He decided to change it. 

Having done his research when he found out Wally was in Central, Dick knew where he was going when he donned the Robin suit and left the cave on his cycle. He’d checked the security cameras around the city. Wally was the only one on patrol when he left, sure that could have changed but he knew Barry was occupied for the moment. 

It didn’t take him long to find Wally. The speedster taking a break from his patrol on top of a building that was near enough to downtown that they could smell the food from the street vendors wafting through the air. Red hair sticking out of the yellow cowl, the suit outlining every way that his body had changed. He scuffed his feet as he walked over to him. When Bruce had been teaching him stealth he’d scared Wally multiple times by sneaking up on him. Seeing the green eyes turn to look at him, he offered up a small smile. Both of them knew the situation was tense. 

“Wanna talk?”

“Flash said-”

“Flash is at Watchtower for monitor duty. We have time.”

Wally nodded a little. He missed Dick and wanted to talk to him desperately but he also didn’t want to lose being Kid Flash. He didn’t know if Bruce had threatened Dick like that, but he doubted it. Despite his reputation Bruce really cared for Dick. Knowing Barry wouldn’t catch them gave him a little bit of respite. 

Dick read every expression on Wally’s face. He knew something had happened to scare him into being this quiet. It just wasn’t Wally’s personality. He also knew though, if something scared him then what he needed was someone there to anchor him back. They were the same in that way. 

Closing the distance between them was easy. Clinging onto the other, breathing in their scent, pressing close so there was no room for air between their bodies. That was all easy. It felt like second nature. It felt good and calm and happy.

Letting go was going to be the hard part.

“What are we going to do Rob? Flash isn’t going to let us be together.”

Wally mumbled everything into Dick’s shoulder. Burying his face into his boyfriend’s (not boyfriend?) neck. He didn’t want to lose Dick. 

He felt more than saw Dick smile in response. 

“Who said he could stop us?”

“That’s great and all, but there’s a lot more than sneaking around to this. I could lose Kid Flash. And I don’t know if I’m ready to do that for-....”

“For me?”

Dick pulled away slightly. He needed to look Wally in the eye for this but he didn’t let go. He wasn’t ready for that just yet.

“Not like that. I just, I don’t know how to word this. I don’t know what to call you anymore.”

“What do you mean?”

“Do I call you my friend? Do I call you my ex? My boyfriend? Are we still?...”

A few seconds of silence fell over the roof before Dick answered.

“Do you still want to be?...”

“Of course I do. But Flash-”

“Flash can’t fight how you feel. And he can’t take away Kid Flash. Because like it or not that’s who you are Walls. You are Kid Flash, Kid Flash is you. That’s not something that can be taken away.”

“Yes he can. He can take the suit.”

“He can take the suit if he wants to. I’ll help you make a new one. We make you a new name. Everything. He can’t take away who you are. No one can. You believed I could be a hero, you helped me make Robin. But you never saw yourself as a hero until now. Even though you were my hero from day one. Powers or not.”

“My boyfriend’s Robin.”

“And mine’s Kid Flash.”

They stayed like that for who knows how long. Snuggled into each other’s arms, relishing in the contact that they’d been denied since that day in the field. The city was quiet. 

Right up until an alarm shrilled through the air from the center of downtown. So loud that it reverberated off the walls around them and beat into their skulls with an urgency that went unmatched in the generally quiet city. The two heroes pulled apart from each other to identify which direction it was coming from.

“Rob I gotta go.”

“Let me help.”

“I can’t. Flash will find out you were here. He’s gunna take Kid Flash away from me I can’t-”

“Okay. You take it. But I’ll be close by in case you need me.”

“Fine.”

They went. Watching the villains inside and Wally near vibrating next to Dick before running in. 

Captain Cold, Heatwave, Trickster. Not exactly a combination that Dick was comfortable with Wally fighting alone. He had his Gotham equivalents. Mr. Freeze, Firefly, Joker. If those three ever teamed up it would be lethal for sure. So just watching while his boyfriend fought the three of them below made his heart clench every time he didn’t see if the hit landed or not. 

It went fine for a few moments. Watching the quick fight, the blasts of lethal cold, the flames firing from the gun. The weird contraptions from Trickster. Wally was dodging and handling them all with relative ease. Until red lightning burst into the room and suddenly Reverse Flash was slamming Wally into a wall. The villains had teamed up. They’d been looking for Flash but they’d gotten Kid instead. 

Captain Cold aimed his gun and fired just as Reverse shifted. There wasn’t enough time for Wally to get out of the way. The blast slamming into his chest and tearing a scream out of his lungs. Icing him into the wall so that his feet didn’t even touch the ground below him. His temperature was plummeting, he couldn’t get his body to cooperate to shatter the ice. Whatever Cold had done to his gun it had made it ten times more lethal. If a human got hit with it they’d be dead in seconds. 

Dick was moving the second he heard Wally scream. Sneaking into the building and swallowing down his rage and impatience when he heard Reverse begin beating his captive lover. He’d knocked out Cold and Heatwave. Glaring up when Trickster saw him and scaring the false clown into running away. He’d catch him later. What mattered now was Wally, who was barely making any sound as Reverse hit him over and over. The civilians that had been held captive were watching in awe as the small bird moved with the shadows. The rage rolling off him in waves while he made his way over until he was standing just behind Reverse. 

“Let him go.”

The older speedster turned. Looked him over for about two seconds before laughing. 

“Or what? You’re a tiny little human.”

Behind his back, shielded by the cape Dick slid a small needle out of his utility belt and tucked it between the fingers of his gloves. He only had one chance at this. He had to do it right. 

Reverse was directly in front of him in the next blink. Dick moved faster than he thought he could to punch Reverse right in the solar plexus. The strength of it actually pushing the villain back some and knocking the wind out of him for a moment. 

The civilians watched in awe but Dick didn’t have time for any relishing of the watchers. Years on the streets had him building up a lot more strength than most people his age. Reverse went to laugh before he stumbled slightly. A dawning look of realization claiming his features. 

“What did you do to me?”

“Funny. For a tiny human like me huh? I hit you with a speedster proof paralytic. You’re going away for a long time.”

Just as the villain collapsed to the ground Dick whirled around to his boyfriend. Cupping Wally’s face and trying to get a response out of the too pale and too cold ginger. He was starting to drift in and out of consciousness, not a good sign. Dick tugged a portable blow torch out of his belt and began warming the ice to try to melt it. He had to get Wally out of there. The civilians were slowly picking themselves up out of their corner and moving to get to the doors. The sounds of them moving were the only reason Dick didn’t hear the tell tale woosh of another speedster entering the scene. The civilians gone and the criminals taken out of the building in seconds. And then Flash was on them.

“What the fuck did you do.”

Dick wasn’t about to put up with any of it. Wally needed him, not Barry. So the older hero was just going to have to wait. 

“I saved him.”

“Back away from my boy.”

Barry was shoving Dick away harshly the next moment. Flashing over to his nephew and vibrating his hand against the ice to melt it and crack it away from Wally’s freezing body. Dick watched the whole scene. He didn’t want to make things worse for Wally but he was also going to lash out at Barry if he stayed near him for much longer. 

Casting one last look to Wally he pulled his eyes away and leveled a glare at Barry.

“Get him warm.”

He was about to leave the building, grapnel already aimed at the rooftops when he heard Barry practically growl out his words.

“Don’t tell me how to raise my boy.”

The speedsters were gone after that. Dick shaking his head and getting back to his bike before making way for Gotham. He was going to have to talk to Bruce about all of it. See what they could do to try to make Barry see what he was doing was wrong. 


The comm unit buzzed incessantly on Bruce’s desk. He could tell who it was from the name showing on the bottom corner of his work screen. Dick had been out all day and he’d just wanted to do some last minute work for WE before he came home so the two of them could spend time together. 

After finding out that Wally was alive Dick had been everywhere emotionally and Bruce was doing everything he could to try to keep him balanced. Giving him someone to talk to was a big part of that. 

“Flash.”

“We need to talk.”

“And?”

“Meet me at Watchtower in five minutes.”

He was about to respond but the link was closed before he could. Huffing slightly he made his way to the cave, suited up, and left. Whatever conversation he was about to have he knew just by the tone of voice Barry used that it wasn’t going to be a pleasant one. 

He found Flash waiting in one of the unused, soundproof meeting rooms on the watchtower. Pacing around like a caged animal and locking glares with Bruce the moment he saw him. There wasn’t a single moment of peace before Barry was ranting. 

“You need to keep Dick on a leash. I don’t want them to see each other. You are a father. You should understand where I’m coming from. I understand we can’t keep them apart forever. But we can limit their interaction. Please.”


The argument after that had lasted hours. By the time he was finally home again he found Dick sitting in the cave waiting for him. Working on something on the computer in his Robin uniform. Bruce knew that what was about to happen was not going to be pleasant for anyone involved. The part of him that was Bruce wanted to fight it tooth and nail and protect Dick at all costs, but the part of him that was Batman knew that it had to happen. 

Dick looked up and hopped out of the chair, coming over to him and talking. The mask wasn’t on his face. This was going to be so much worse looking him in the eye. 

“I tried to save him but then Barry got all bent out of shape and-”
“Dick. Listen to me, you can’t see him anymore.”

Dick felt his heart stop at the same time Bruce felt his rip in half. 

“Why the hell not Bruce?”

His voice was deeper than normal. A sign Bruce had learned meant he was hiding his pain under anger. 

“Flash-”

“Barry is a piece of shit who didn’t even tell us Wally was alive!”

“Language. Richard. Mind your attitude, Flash is a hero and he deserves respect.”

“What hero stops people from being happy. That goes for you too, Bruce. You know what Wally is to me. How can you condone this?”

“You’ll recover-”

Bruce didn’t know who he was trying to convince more with that. Dick or himself. His only reward was seeing hurt and anger flare in his child’s eyes.

“Like last time? Bruce. Think very carefully about what you say next because I am not in the mood for this. You have to see that this is utter bullshit.”

“Richard.” It was easier to call him that in times like this. Try to keep it formal. Keep it in Batman’s range because Bruce would have caved. “Enough. I can’t talk to you when you’re like this.”

“Like what? Independent? You can’t stop me. Neither can Barry.”

“I will take your gear from you. You can’t see him if you aren’t Robin.”

Dick had turned his back on him, was about halfway to the stairs when he spoke and Bruce saw every muscle freeze before Dick turned back to him. Utter betrayal burning on his features. 

“What did you just say to me?”

His voice was dangerously quiet. Rage and pain lacing every words. Bruce could swear those were tears forming at the corners of his eyes. But he didn’t relent.

“You heard me.”

Dick stared at him. Confusion, hurt, anger, all of them blending into something treacherous on Dick’s face. A shake of his head and then Dick was gone. Storming out of the cave and to his room and slamming the door so harshly that the bang could be heard even from everywhere the manor connected to. He sighed deeply, changing out of Batman and back into Bruce Wayne. On his way back into the house he ran into Alfred. The butler’s stern expression giving way to just how angry he was with his first charge.

“You need to take that back Master Bruce. You know what Robin means. You know there will be repercussions for this.”

“I know Alfred I just-”

“Don’t explain it to me. Explain it to him. As far as that boy’s aware at the moment he may have just lost his father for a second time. In addition to his partner.”

Bruce knew he was right. Alfred was always right. He knew that doing this was going to hurt Dick but instead of explaining everything like he should of done he tried to pull the authority card. With someone with a past like Dick’s he should have known that wouldn't work. Everything he’d done recently he’d done to try to keep Dick safe. And now he was the one hurting him. 

Making his way up the room Bruce noticed how late it had gotten. The sun was already under the horizon. The sky glowing with the faintest embers of its life left. Painting the world in it’s dusk tinged colors and shadows. He knocked on the door lightly, listening for any sounds of distress from inside the room.

“Dick?”

Nothing. Though it wouldn’t be surprising if the boy was ignoring him after what he pulled in the cave.

“Dickie please open the door.”

Nothing.

“I was wrong. Can I come in and explain to you? I’m sorry I did that, it was wrong of me and I want to make sure you’re okay. Can I come in?”

Still nothing.

After knowing that Dick tended to take many things to heart, learning that in Juvie his thoughts had gone down a dark road when he’d thought he’d lost everything the silence from the room made him nervous. 

Dick wouldn’t have tried to harm himself, would he?

The thought made Bruce feel like ice had settled itself into his core.

“Dick, I’m coming in okay?”

He opened the door slowly, he didn’t want to startle him if Dick had put in headphones to ignore him. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting. But an empty room with a wide open window was certainly not it. 


Robin took to the skies of Gotham. Rage and pain blending together to make him a force. Heaven help any criminals he ran into. Bruce and his rules. He’d seen the regret on the man’s face when he turned back. He’d seen the pain he knew he was causing. Barry had said something to Bruce to convince him to say something. But it was the way he’d done it. If he’d explained what happened then maybe he wouldn’t be upset. But as it was he didn’t want anything to do with anyone at the moment. 

Landing down on a rooftop he stopped to take a breath. His world felt like it was suffocating him. He felt like he was drowning in the anger. But the anger was better than the alternative. To actually feel the pain at the betrayal Bruce laid on to him. 

The quietness of the height was calming. Until he heard a set of footsteps behind him. At first he’d thought it was Bruce coming after him but after another step he knew it was too heavy. Bruce didn’t sound like that. Whirling around he saw the outline of a man in the shadows. It was too dark to see any real features on him.

“Who are you?”

“I’ve been watching you Robin.”

“Who. Are. You.”

The man stepped into the light. Black and orange armor glinting in Gotham’s dim light. One eye visible behind the mask.

“My name is Deathstroke.”

“What do you want?”

“As I said I’ve been watching you. The Bat isn’t out with you tonight, based on your posture and attitude I’d say you’re fighting with him at the moment.”

“What’s your point.”

“What do you say to coming with me. No more Bat. No more oppression from the big league heroes. Equals. Training. Freedom. No one to tell you that you’re wrong for going after what you want.”

“You don’t know who I am.”

“You’re Robin-”

Dick glared at him harshly. He was done dealing with people who thought they knew who he was. What he was.

“Robin’s dead.”

Turning back to the edge of the roof and pulling his grapnel off his belt he waited. When he didn’t hear any footsteps following he turned back, the glare never leaving his expression.

“Are you coming?”

The smirk could be heard under the mask as Deathstroke spoke. 

“Excellent.”

Chapter Text

Time was passing faster than anyone would have wanted.  Wally hadn’t talked to Dick in a month and a half. That day with Cold and Reverse Flash was the last time they’d seen each other. He tried texting him, calling him, hiding away from Barry to try to get in touch with his boyfriend but there was never any response. He’d been completely isolated after the whole incident. No friends at school and though Iris said she’d talk to Barry he didn’t seem too phased by what he had done. It meant he couldn’t really talk to her either. That or Barry lied to her too. 

He sat on the edge of his bed and scrolled through the messages he’d left to Dick. Barry had told him Bruce and Dick talked and they were banned from speaking to each other. He’d thought Dick would fight back. He always fought back. Wally scrolled up to the top one and pressed play.

“Hey Dick, listen I don’t care if Barry hates me forever. I can’t lose you. We are all we need.”

“If this is about me not being able to chose I didn’t mean it like that. I love you. You know that.”

“Dick? You there?”

“Hey Dickie. You’ve been on my mind a lot recently. I understand you might be scared but I’m not. I know I need you. I’m not sure how long you plan to stay away but please come back soon.”

“Dick, I miss you. Bruce won’t contact me, Alfred won’t respond to my calls. Barry says you guys are done with me…maybe I’m just a problem. Maybe your life would be better if I left you alone.”

“I don’t know how long I can take this.”

“I love you.”

“This is my last call. I don’t know what to do anymore. I lost my entire world and I don’t know why. I’m sorry I was apparently a shitty boyfriend. A shitty best friend. I won’t bother you anymore. I love you Dick. I’m sorry.”

At first he’d gone out as Kid Flash, faking being happy so the city wouldn’t worry. Faking being alright so everyone thought he was okay but on the inside he felt like he was cracking apart. Eventually the idea of running seemed so draining that he’d just curl up on his bed and try to sleep the problems away. It worked for a little while until his stomach would wake him up saying he had to eat something. He only ate the minimum he needed. It felt like weights were cemented to his body. Paining and drawing on every movement he made. 

Iris called him down for dinner. Mundane in anyone else’s eyes but a chore in his. 

He hadn’t eaten yet that day. Getting away with it because he’d been at school. It was funny, the way school used to entertain him and now he was checked out of listening before lectures ever started. He didn’t even want to eat anymore. He just wanted to sleep. He just wanted it to be over. There was no point if he couldn’t talk to anyone. No point if no one would hold him the way he needed to be held. There was never any damn point. 

Wally quickly snapped to attention the moment Iris asked if he was okay. Barry and her both looking him over. He hoped the concealer he bought hid the circles under his eyes enough to hide them. 

“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine. Just thinking about the homework I’ve got.”

It was enough of an excuse that it explained him zoning out but they wouldn't question him. He fake ate his food and moved to the kitchen fast enough that they wouldn't see the plate still full of food. He tried to ignore the way speeding made his head spin. 

He went to his room after that. Laying down on his bed and putting his phone to his ear again. He had a saved voicemail of Dick. It was the only way he could hear his voice.

“Walls hey, do you know what the deal is with Mrs. Chad? She’s nuts about English and I don’t know why she gets so mad every time I try to explain Aster. It makes sense! Anyways, you’re probably eating and then coming over. I’ll see you soon, love you babe!”

He almost couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in his eyes. The only thing stopping him from crying himself to sleep being the creak from outside his door. He knew what Iris’s footsteps sounded like. 

“Come in.”

She opened the door with a pitying expression.

“Hey kiddo.”

“What do you need?”

He didn’t mean to sound dismissive but he didn’t really want to talk about his problems to her.

“I’ve noticed you’ve been a bit distant recently,”

A bit? He thought reporters were supposed to see these things.

“Maybe a run will help clear your head? Speedsters aren’t meant to be inside all day you know.”

All he did was nod. Seeing his reluctance to speak Iris turned and left the room. She didn’t know what she was going to do about Wally but she knew it was going to start with her giving Barry a piece of her mind. He’d been a key part of isolating Wally from his old life and it had gone on more than long enough. It was going to end tonight, whether he liked it or not. She’d call Bruce Wayne if she needed to. Hell, she’d call the league if it got her happy nephew back. 

Wally stepped out of the house. Running clothes covering his body but no mask. He planned to be going too fast for people to see anyways. Taking off down the street he felt the lightning wrap around his body. Maybe that was the only real thing anymore. Everything else felt like it was made out of plastic. It made him feel sick to his stomach. He couldn’t help but think of his past while he ran. Thinking of something to try to anchor him to the world he wished he was still in instead of the blurring one around him. 

He thought about the first night he’d spent with Dick. How jumpy he’d been, how untrusting he was. He thought about the first time they’d kissed. The argument they had, Dick showing up to fight for him only to get arrested. The fear but resolution in his blue eyes. God Wally missed those eyes. 

He thought about when he bought Dick the Batman plushie. He thought about them coming out to his parents together. About story telling and his mom baking them a cake. He wanted to go back. Be held by her again and cry into her shoulder. Maybe she’d be real. 

But maybe she wouldn’t recognize him. Wouldn’t recognize the broken boy before her and the thought of it sent daggers into his chest. Stabbing into him and he didn’t realize he was hyperventilating until he tripped and stumbled at god knows what speed and flung himself into a ditch on the side of the road. He just wanted his mom. He felt like a little kid saying it but he wished he still was a kid. His whole body hurt. He didn’t want to move. He didn’t want to breathe when every breath led to more pain. 

Green eyes filled with tears and Wally cried until he couldn’t anymore. Making a move to stand up before his legs gave out and he went crashing back into the dirt. The cold wrapping around him and biting into his already abused skin, bruises and cuts marring his body. Pale skin reflecting the light of the sunset above him. He stared at it before mumbling to himself. His voice sounded hollow even to his own ears.

“Maybe I can just fade into it. Run into the sun and never come back.”

For the first time in a month and a half a real smile came onto his lips. 

He closed his eyes.


Barry came back from his patrol to find Iris waiting for him at the door with a glare on her face.

“What’s wrong?”

“What’s wrong? Barry use that brain of yours and give me a guess.”

“Iris, we said giving Wally space was the best option. Give him time to adjust.”

“That time has come and gone Barry. You know it has. You’ve isolated him and I let you but now that boy needs people to talk to. He had a boyfriend, you had no right to break them apart.”

“Dick was dangerous-”

“Dick tried to talk him out of the experiment. The only reason he was involved was because he wanted to try to make sure Wally was safe. You want to talk about people being dangerous to him then look at yourself.”

“Iris-”

“I’m not done. Barry I love you. You know that. But how would you have felt if my dad tried to break us up because he thought what you did was dangerous to me? You do realize that me being close to you puts me in danger. Everything we do is dangerous. You once said our romance was the only thing grounding you sometimes. Why would Wally be different?”

When he couldn’t come up with a response Iris stepped closer to deliver her finishing blow.

“You’re going to go talk to him. And you are going to apologize. You will then call Bruce and explain how wrong you were. And then you will ask to see Dick and apologize to him in person. Fully. For the way that you treated him. None of it was his fault. Then, and only then, will you be allowed to sleep in the bed with me again.”

Barry had the decency to look ashamed of himself.

“I just wanted him to be safe.”

“I know. But sometimes life needs to be a little dangerous to make it real.”

“What do I do?”

“Start with apologizing to Wally. He went out for a run earlier but he should be back by now.”

Barry walked up the stairs to the room. Deep down he knew what he was doing was wrong. But he needed someone to blame. If he didn’t blame Dick then he would have been blaming himself and at the time it seemed to be the better option. But he was wrong. Iris was right. There was nothing he could really do that would make any of it better. That didn’t mean he wasn’t going to try.

Knocking on the door he waited for a response. When none came, he tried again, this time calling through the wood too.

“Wally? You in there bud?”

Nothing.

“Listen Kid, I get it if you don’t want to talk to me okay? I’ve been a real jerk. I want to apologize but I want to look you in the eye while I do it. I want to make sure you know how sorry I am.”

Still nothing. Barry sighed slightly before putting a hand on the knob.

“Wally? I’m coming in okay?”

He found an empty room on the other side. Looking around his eyes caught sight of a small piece of paper sticking out from under a book on his nightstand. Curiosity won over and he lifted the book to see a picture of Wally and Dick together. Probably from their earlier days as Dick looked smaller and had a rather ratty looking hoodie on. He looked sickly too. The empty room and the picture made him think worse again. Did Bruce have no respect for boundaries? Sure he was about to break them but that didn’t mean anything for the moment. He tapped his comm link to turn it on and called right to the Batcave. When the line picked up he didn’t even give Bruce a chance to answer.

“Where is he.”

“Who?”

“Wally. Where the hell is he Bruce? Is there no respect anymore?-”

Bruce cut him off sharply.

“I don’t even know where Dick is. You think I know where your boy is Allen?”

He hung up after that. There was something in Bruce’s voice. Pain? Worry? Genuine fear? All of it turned his anger to worry. If Bruce didn’t know then where did Wally go? Robin hadn’t been showing up in reports so he guessed Bruce took the mantel from him. Without Robin it wouldn’t have been Dick. Wally was missing. 

He dashed down the stairs to where Iris was sitting, she saw the fear instantly.

“What’s wrong?”

“Wally’s not in his room.”

“Call him. He might still be on his run.”

For a moment Barry almost smiled. She was right. He was panicking over nothing. Wally was fine. Until they heard the phone ringing upstairs. Barry felt like he was stuck to the ground. Iris taking the initiative and running up the stairs. When she came back down with Wally’s phone in her hand it was silent for just a moment.

“Oh god. Barry, it’s going into the negatives tonight, he’s in shorts and a hoodie. He’s not dressed for this if he’s still out.”

Worst case scenarios flooded each of their minds. Iris set to the streets in her car to look around town. Barry suiting up as Flash and running everywhere he could think in effort to find his missing nephew.

He was really truly missing.

And for the first time Barry panicked and blamed himself fully.


Bruce rubbed his eyes down in the cave. He’d been looking for Dick all day through the computer and he was about to head to the streets to look for him there. The call from Barry had set another seed of concern in his chest. Sure he hadn’t seen Wally in a while but his heart had practically adopted him when he saw how close he and Dick were. Hearing that he was missing too only added to everything. 

He thought about what he could do from the cave to try to help. He and Barry may not have been on the best of terms but that didn’t mean Wally should suffer for it. It only took him a moment to realize what he could do. Dick and Wally had made their own comm system. They almost never took it off. Even in civvies. It may have been a long shot but it was the only chance he had to help before he took to the streets of Gotham. 

He didn’t think anything would happen at first. Until a ping of a location lit up the screen. A bridge line that looked like the middle point between Central and Gotham. It looked like he’d been running here. He sent the location over to Barry before turning around and heading to the car. The stress was eating at him but he wasn’t going to stop until he found his boy. He’d get answers tonight. He was going to make sure of it. 


Jason was back in the fighting ring. Watching and listening in on thug’s conversations. It was always good to keep an eye out for stuff. Especially since Batman hadn’t taken him to the cave yet. Or since he didn’t even know Batman’s name. That was fine, he just wished he had a little more trust. Maybe a little more tech. 

Everything was going fine and normal. Just a regular night. Until the doors burst open and Deathstroke the Terminator came in. Jason wasn’t stupid. He knew the guy was a merc and he knew he was one of the most dangerous ones out there. There was a reason they called him Deathstroke. What he wasn’t expecting was for there to be a small shadow following him. Jason only questioned the shadow’s identity for a second before he knew.

Dick was the only person he knew that could flip and fight like that. 

The question was why the hell was he working with Slade.

The building cleared but Jason tucked himself into the shadows by the ceiling. He needed to know what was going on. If Dick had been mind controlled then he needed to figure out how to get him out of it. Observation and then he was hunting down Batman. 

“Go ahead Slade. I’ll meet you outside. I’ve got something to do.”

“Dealing with our friend in the rafters Renegade?”

“Something like that.”

The mercenary looked directly at him. He didn’t even search the rafters, he just knew. It sent shivers down Jason’s spine. But then he was leaving. What was happening? As soon as the doors closed Dick’s posture dropped into something much more relaxed. Something much more him.

“You can come down now Jace. You’re safe.”

“What’s going on? Why’d he call you Renegade?”

“That’s my new name now.”

“Why? What happened? Where’s Batman?”

As soon as Batman left his lips something unrecognizable flickered across Dick’s face before it went back to neutral. Something he knew for a fact Dick was faking.

“Why don’t you ask him. He’s out on patrol right now. You can find him and follow him into the cave.”

“Why can’t you tell me? What happened to Robin?”

Another look. But this time Jason could tell that the expression was pained. Batman did something. That much he was sure of. He’d hurt Dick.

“Robin is dead now Jason.”

Dick reached into a pocket of his belt before handing it over to Jason. The Robin emblem of his suit. Torn off by the looks of it.

“Give this to him. Tell him you found it on a rooftop near Grand Ave.”

“Dick what the hell is happening?”

A bang came from outside before Deathstroke’s voice echoed in.

“Are you coming apprentice?”

Dick’s face hardened before he looked back to Jason and shoved the emblem into his hand.

“Listen to me Jay. Follow him into the cave. Tell Bruce I’m pissed. Tell him I said Robin’s dead.”

“Dick-”

“If I stay any longer Slade might hurt you. I’ll find you again Little Wing. Right now there’s a time limit.”

Dick turned his back and left. Leaving Jason to think on the whole exchange that just happened. Something happened. Something bad. And it all started with Batman.


Barry’s comm system beeped in his ear before reading out a set of coordinates. He knew the only person it could have come from was Bruce. He didn’t know how, or why, but he was thanking every god he knew that he had. Bruce had no reason to help him. But he did. He set off in the direction. Wally had to be there. He just had to. And he had to be okay. God please let him be okay. Let him be fast enough to help him if he’s not.


Bruce had found nothing. He made his way back to the cave. Speeding in and parking the car. 

When he got out he wasn’t expecting Red X to throw a punch at his head. 

He sidestepped it easily. Years of experience teaching him to always be aware of his surroundings, especially when he wasn’t expecting a fight. The boy must have followed him in without triggering the security systems. It was smart to follow the car. Get in while the defense was down. But there was still the question of why now? Jason had been working with him for months at this point. Never once had he asked to see the cave, or asked about his identity. Bruce Wayne and Batman were still two different people to him. 

“Red X.”

“Batman.” When Jason said his name it came out in a near snarl. Something was very wrong with the boy. The question now was what. And then Bruce saw it. Clutched tightly in Jason’s other hand. The Robin emblem.

“What the hell did you do.”

“What are you-”

“Don’t lie to me Bruce! What the hell did you do to Dick?!”

Jason wasn’t supposed to know. How did he know? He supposed it wasn’t that hard of a connection if people looked hard enough but still. He said it with so much certainty that Bruce was almost positive someone told him.

“Jason calm down.”

“Don’t fucking tell me to calm down! I just found out Dick’s basically a criminal now and you’re sitting here doing nothing? If he hadn’t talked to me after Renegade busted the fighting ring I was at I would have never known. So what the hell did you do to him that he’s not Robin anymore?”

“You talked to him?”

“Answer me. Then maybe I’ll talk.”

Jason was volatile at the moment. Anything might set him off but he was hurting so Bruce was not about to deny him that. It left him with only one other option. Pulling the cowl off his head Bruce started to explain.


Barry finally reached his destination. At first he didn’t see anything. The sun gone behind the horizon and the cold hitting him even through his suit. For a moment he worried that the coordinates were wrong. Then he saw a bit of red hair behind a bush at the side of the road. 

He wasted no time in getting over there, but what he saw made him want to throw up.

Wally’s skin was white as snow, the only coloring coming from the bruises and blood from the cuts that covered all his exposed flesh. His lips were blue, purple and ghoulish shadows covering him. He looked like a corpse. All of it dangerously close to bringing up memories of the last time he thought he’d lost him. Barry knelt and checked his pulse. Feeling the slow beat only bought him a moment of relief. He had to get Wally warm. Had to get him help. Had to fix him.

He had to fix everything.

And there was only one place he could do it.

Cradling Wally as gently and securely as he could Barry took off in a sprint for Wayne Manor.


Bruce finally finished explaining before Jason spoke up. He was seething.

“Bruce. How stupid do you have to be. Robin wasn’t yours. It never was, and it never will be. How the hell did you think that was a good idea?”

“Barry was being unreasonable. I knew how he was treating Dick. He said if there was another contact that he would make sure Dick wouldn’t talk to Wally again. Barry’s no killer but I wasn’t about to risk Dick’s safety, emotional and physical, with him. I thought it would go over better from me but I was wrong with how I went about it.”

“I thought threats didn’t work on Batman.”

“They do when it involves my kids.”

“‘Kids’? There’s more than one?”

Bruce sighed deeply before running a hand down his face.

“You count too Jason. If you want to be.”

There was silence for a few moments before Jason’s shoulders finally dropped from their tense position.

“You make it hard to be mad at you when you act like that Old Man.”

It wasn’t a clear yes. But Bruce had spent enough time with him on the streets to know that it was close enough for the time being. Jason shifted before he continued.

“He’s calling himself Renegade. Deathstroke took him under his wing. You better do something fast because he’s royally pissed off, he said Robin's dead.”

Bruce had already opened his mouth to respond when the gust of wind hit them. Both Bats whirling around ready to fight only to find Barry standing there with his cowl down. Panic on his face and Wally hanging limp in his arms. 

“Please save him.”


Renegade and Deathstroke were running the rooftops together. After leaving from talking to Jason Dick had brushed it off like it was nothing. Slade actually gave him freedom to do things. Though Dick had made certain the man knew he refused to kill anyone. Presently they were on their way to finish up their current job. Stop the fight pits and weapons rings around the city. They were bad for the business of their client. That was all the information Slade would give him. Dick had been angry at first but then realized it didn’t matter. None of it mattered as long as Slade didn’t try to control his actions. As long as he gave him space. 

They reached the warehouse that contained the final weapons ring of the night. The reason he and Jason had their time limit was because their client apparently wanted to talk to some of these guys. They’d said it was optional but preferable. For them that meant if it got bad Slade was probably going to kill them. Dick had huffed but he didn’t stop it. Slade gave him room so he was going to do the same. That was the deal. 

The fight started fast. Both of them dropping down from the skylight and for a brief moment Dick wished it was Bruce behind him rather than Slade. And then he remembered Bruce trying to take Robin from him. He remembered the pain he felt that night. The freedom Slade was giving him. And he focused his energy into fighting. 

All of it was fine until more men flooded into the building. This was too many people. Even for both of them. There were too many without using lethal force. Dick was still determined though so he kept going. Even made a decent sized dent in them before he was grabbed from behind and clutched by a thug into a tight hold. He only caught a glimpse of the needle before he was thrashing and yelling out for Slade. 

Deathstroke turned sharply just in time to see the syringe plunge into Dick’s neck and his apprentice fall limp against his captor.

It was the final straw he needed. Dick was much too skilled for Slade to lose him like this. He pulled out his guns and killed the final thugs in the room before running over to his young shadow. Checking his pulse and breathing it seemed he was alright, but he highly doubted whatever the drug was that it was a simple sleeping agent.  

He called their client on the way back to his base. Money was being transferred to his account as he cleaned the wound’s he and his apprentice had gained through the night. Dick was strong. Angry and filled with untapped potential. Eventually he was sure he could get the boy to break out of the teachings of the bat and join him fully. He knew the short fuse was tied to the Gotham vigilante. But it was fine. He was a patient man.

It took hours before Dick began to stir. When he finally opened his eyes Slade was right there to help him. He’d been hit with his fair share of chemical agents in the past and he wanted to make sure Dick wasn’t going to suffer from any long term effects. Chemicals in Gotham were always wild cards. 

Confusion was the first thing on Dick’s face when he registered his surroundings. In a second he was up and pressing himself into a corner. Eye’s wide and staring right at Slade. The panic was clear in every bit of the boy’s body.

“Richard. What’s wrong?”

He shook his head a little before responding

“Who are you? Where am I? Where’s Bruce?”

Chapter Text

Slade took stock of Dick’s position. The boy felt cornered and with his skills cornered was very dangerous. Sure Slade knew he could take him but his intent wasn’t to hurt the boy. Especially with a potential gift that he had here. 

“My name is Slade. Bruce is on a mission right now, he asked me to get you safe. Are you hurt?”

Dick hesitated. 

“How do I know you’re telling the truth? Where’s Bruce?”

“I told you, he’s on a mission.”

“What happened?”

“We were all working together. It turned out to be a trap. You were hit with a chemical agent. Bruce told me to get you safe while he finished the mission. You were unconscious for a while. So again I ask, are you hurt?”

Dick only looked Slade over a bit more. Taking in the room, calculating. It was a pity he remembered Bruce, otherwise Slade would have told him he was the one who saved him from the streets. The boy’s loyalty to the Bat was deep though, if his attention on finding him was any indicator. 

“...I don’t think so. Why can’t I remember anything?”

“It must be a side effect of the drug you were given. Give it time kid. Your memory should come back.”

It’d be no good for Dick to be fighting him every step of the way. It didn’t matter as long as the kid got his memory back the spark and allegiance would be back. If he didn’t, well then Slade would have some work to do.


Bruce worked on Wally for over an hour. It took too long to get him stable again. But all that meant was Barry and Jason standing alone while waiting. Jason saw Wally. Dick had told him what was going on. The only person who would tell him what was happening and now Dick was off with some criminal doing god knows what. He was mad at Bruce but he understood. He knew why he’d done it. If Bruce hadn’t called both him and Dick his kids then he probably would still be angry. But the man had gotten the lecture he deserved. All they could do now was get Dick back so Bruce could explain and apologize to him. 

The person he was really mad at was Barry. The man had caused all of this, from the looks of things Wally wasn’t in a fight. Which meant that Barry had hurt him to the point of no return. Jason could still remember when he felt things like that. When he felt like the world had abandoned him just like his mother. When living out on the streets was taking everything out of him and he started to wonder if maybe he just wasn’t meant to be alive out in this world. Until he got an older brother to make him feel like he belonged. 

Two older brothers. A dad. Meeting Alfred a few times and the way Dick talked about him, a grandfather too. A family.

And he could lose all of them because of Barry.

Bruce was still working on Wally. He wouldn’t let anyone in the room other than Alfred. They didn’t know what was happening. Yet Barry had the audacity to turn to him and give a once over of the Red X uniform.

“Who are you?”

“That doesn’t matter.” He couldn’t help the venom that leaked into his voice. 

“Fine. I just need to know that Wally’s okay.”

“Maybe if you weren’t the reason he attempted then I’d understand that. But honestly you don’t have a right to know how he’s doing.”

“What?”

“You heard me.”

Jason kept the glare on his face. The rage in his tone, his posture, everything. Barry needed put in his place. If he’d somehow bullied Bruce into following then Jason was going to do it. He’d do what Batman couldn’t.

“Listen, I don’t know who you think you are, but Wally is my-”

“He’s your nephew. But you treated him like trash. Him and Dick. Both of them meant the world to each other but you isolated them. Tore them apart. My guess is you kept Wally away from everyone he could actually talk to. Forced him to only be able to go to you but he was too smart to actually go to you so instead he ran himself into the ground. Am I right so far? Or do I need to go on?”

Seeing Barry’s stricken expression Jason moved forward. Squaring his shoulders and looking Barry directly in the eye.

“You stripped him out of his old life. He had his parents. His dad was an ass, from the stories he told me. But let me tell you as a kid who’s been beaten his whole life, it is so much better to have a physical wound than an emotional one. You can deal with pain. You can handle bruises, treat your wounds and bandage them. You heal. You get anger and venom and spite but you heal. When your alone, when you get isolated, that’s the stuff that kills you. Losing the people you love. Feeling like you’ve been ripped out of your home and all the support you had. Suddenly losing it to be by yourself. That’s the killer. That’s the one that makes you want to run until you can’t anymore. That’s the one that makes you smile at death. That’s the one that makes you want to end it to go somewhere better. So don’t tell me what to do. Don’t tell me that you deserve to see him and worry about him. As far as I’m concerned you’re the one person he shouldn’t see right now.”

Barry still didn’t answer. Leading Jason to take steps forward until they were less than a foot apart from each other. Jason was much shorter, but he wasn’t backing down. 

“I don’t care what good you think you’ve done with your life. None of it matters. What matters is the fact that you had a kid to take care of and you fucked it up. So let me make this very, very, clear to you Flash. I don’t care who you are. I don’t care what you’ve done. Stay the hell away from my family.”

“Let me explain-”

“You don’t get to explain. There’s nothing to explain. You threatened Bruce with his own kids, stupid mistake. Because the Bat may be scary protective. But the birds he keeps by his side are more than willing to break you if the Bat doesn’t.”

There was a snarl on his face by that point. Barry was looking ill with every word he said. Jason would have kept going if it wasn’t for Bruce’s voice calling out to them from the other side of the cave.

“That’s enough.”

Neither of them moved until Bruce put a hand on Jason’s shoulder.

“He’s had enough.”

“He has to pay.”

“Jason.”

Hearing the sternness in Bruce’s voice made Jason step back slightly. He saw the shame on Barry’s face. But he wanted to make the man really see what he did.

“Barry. Jason’s right. What Wally did...The only thing that would have caused that…”

“Was me.”

The only sound in the cave was the squeaking of the bats above them.

“You said he was stable.”

“He had slight abrasions. Cuts, bruises, fractured ribs, I’m guessing those came from a crash landing if he ran until he collapsed like it looks. His blood sugar was dangerously low. Severe hypothermia. If you had been any later he wouldn’t have made it.”

“Will he...will he be alright?”

“Physically he will heal. Emotionally…”

“What if..What if he stayed here with you. If he comes back with me he might..”

Barry put his head in his hands. 

“God how did I mess up so bad?”

“All of this depends on what Wally wants to do. If he wants to stay he can. If he wants to go back with you, he can.”

“Is he awake?”

“No. He won’t be for a while. But sleeping means he’s healing. So it’s not a bad thing.”

“If he wants to go back to Central. Call me. I...I can’t risk hurting him more. Before I go though, where’s Dick? I want to apologize to him. For everything.”

“We don’t know.”

“What do you mean you don’t know?”

“I got this one B. We don’t know where he is Barry because everything that was happening made him leave. He’s gone.”

“Bruce…”

“Save it.”

“Jason can you go check on Wally? Just make sure he’s alright.”

“You said he was sleeping.”

“He is.”

Jason sent both the adults in the room a look before huffing and turning away towards the med bay. Once he was out of ear shot Barry looked back to Bruce.

“He’s a tough one.”

“He’s been through a lot. You deserved most of that.”

“I deserved all of it Bruce. He wasn’t wrong. I’m the reason that Wally…”

“Wally’s strong Barry. You made mistakes. A lot, of mistakes. But what happens next is all Wally’s choice. Adults have made the choices for him far too often don’t you think?”


Slade had finally left Dick alone. He didn’t want to be near the man anymore. Something was wrong. Everything about this felt wrong.

Dick paced around the small room he was in. Bruce wouldn’t have sent him off with someone else. If he’d been hurt then Bruce would have gotten him out himself. The name Slade felt familiar too. But not the way that it should have if he really had been working with him and Bruce. It felt familiar in a warning way. Like Bruce had warned him about Slade but he couldn’t remember. Ever since he woke up his head felt fuzzy. Like something was blocking his memories from flowing the right way. He felt wrong. Shaky and confused. Whatever that drug was it was something he had no interest in experiencing it again. 

He was getting nowhere like this. He had to sort out his head and then work from there. 

Taking a seat in the middle of the floor he closed his eyes and started to think. What was the last thing he could remember? Where did he remember hearing the name Slade before? What was actually happening?

He remembered waking up and feeling nothing but panicked at being in an unfamiliar place. Seeing a man he didn’t recognize over him. Too many times that had happened already and he didn’t know if he could take it were it to happen again. Focus Grayson. Something felt wrong about all of this. Something was off about Slade. Focus. 

They were standing in the batcave. Bruce was warning him about all the different villains in Gotham. As well as the ones the League had faced off against. Being Batman’s partner meant that he would be a target and needed to know how to defend himself. There was a man. The orange and black. The one eye. Deathstroke. It had to be him. A villain. 

If a villain had him then there was a chance that he had Bruce. He had to get a signal out. If he’d been kidnapped away from Bruce then he’d be looking for him. He had to get back. He had to escape. He had to get back to Bruce. 

Without wasting anymore time he jumped up. Ignoring the way his head span a bit when he did. He was going to get out of here. Back to Bruce. 


Bruce walked into the med bay to find Jason sitting right at Wally’s bedside, Alfred behind him clearing up the last of the equipment they’d used to stabilize Wally. 

“Where’s Barry?”

“He left.”

“Good.”

“Jason.”

“You can’t honestly think he deserved to stay after all of that can you?”

Bruce made his way over and put a hand on Jason’s shoulder.

“No. He deserved it. But I want to make sure you’re okay. Don’t take the weight of the world on your shoulders.”

“You weren’t going to do it.”

“I will from now on. You boys, all of you, you’re my kids. I won’t let anything hurt you. So don’t take it all on yourself. I won’t lose you to the dark too, Jason.”

“I’ll hold you to that Old Man.”

It was silent for a few moments before anyone spoke again. Jason had his head low, the fight seemed to leave for the most part. He actually looked like the child that he was.

“What do we do now? How do we get Dick back?”

“We wait. Right now we wait for Wally to wake up. When he does we focus all our attention on bringing Dick back home.”

“And then what?”

“Then it ends. All of it.”


Dick made his way through the bunker he was in. That’s what it looked like at least. Some sort of safehouse that Slade was housing him in. All he had to do was find a communication console. All he had to do was find a way to send Bruce a signal. Something to let him know he was okay. Bruce would take it from there. 

Turning the corner he found a computer. All he had to do was hack and he could get out. One more moment and Bruce would come to get him. He ran to the keyboard. His head spinning, vision blurring on the edges, his stomach knotting. Something was very wrong with him. But he was so close. And then he’d be alright.

He logged into the system. All he had to do was attempt to get into the cave servers and his position would be marked. The code filled the screen and Dick could have burst into tears right then and there.

And then he felt a prick in his neck. His body stopped responding. His legs giving out under him as the floor rushed up to greet him. He felt like he couldn’t breathe. His vision tunneling to black as he tried to speak but he recognized the mask above him.

“Why’d you have to run little bird?”

Wakefulness, he decided, was much too overrated for him to give it much thought.

If this was the end, Bruce would find him. He’d find him and move on. Batman was still Batman without Robin by his side.

Chapter Text

When Dick woke up he was hanging by his wrists in the middle of a padded room. If something hadn’t been wrong before it 100% was now. His shirt was missing but a quick check of his body showed him that his sweat pants were still on. At least nothing physical had happened yet, he wasn’t sure he’d survive if something happened again. 

Shaking his head to rid himself of that train of thought he took stock of the room he was in. There was no furniture, the ring he was hanging from above him sturdily attached to the ceiling so there was no way to use that to get out. No vents if he managed to get out of the chains around his wrists and he highly doubted the door would just be unlocked for him. The only thing he had left to do was wait. Maybe getting to the code screen would be enough. He prayed that was the case with Bruce and his paranoia.

He lost time for a little. Nothing keeping him actively occupied leading to his mind wandering. His memories felt like a big slushie in his brain. He still felt like his muscles were weighted down with lead, every movement after being still for so long sent his stomach twisting into knots. He tried to sort through the disaster of his mind but every thought that got too close to the present just made him want to vomit. Something was wrong with him but he didn’t know what. It wasn’t likely he’d figure it out either with his head the way it was at the moment. He knew his name. He knew his history. He was in the circus. After his parents were murdered he was in Juvie. After that came the streets, meeting Jason, meeting Wally, Bruce. From there on it was hazy. Bruce adopted him, keeping Robin close or something else he couldn’t really remember, but he knew the man cared about him on some level. If Robin was missing Batman definitely knew. Wally was….where was he? Wally had talked to him about doing the Flash experiment, they’d argued about it. It was dangerous but if there was no way to stop him then he might as well join him to keep him safe. They went to do it and then...then…

Dick felt his heart stutter in his chest as he hung there. Wally was dead. His heart wasn’t beating. What happened after that? Where was Wally, what was happening?

He was violently ripped out of his remembering when the door slammed open. He didn’t see it, behind him then. He could hear the sound of armor coming towards him and then the cold tip of a sword against his bare spine. Instantly Dick stopped moving, he wasn’t risking getting paralyzed right now. Not when he didn’t know if he had a way out outside of himself. A deep voice came next to his head, he wished he could see the face instead of feel the mask brushing against his shoulder.

“Now, Robin, why did you run?”

“Take a guess.”

The sword pressed into his skin slightly and he had to fight the urge to flinch. He wasn’t going to give this guy any more satisfaction than he had already. 

“Don’t test me boy. Why did you run?”

“I knew you were lying about B. Knew I shouldn’t be here. Looks like I was right.”

The sword left his back as Slade came around to his front. The mask of Deathstroke being kept firmly in place but Dick could practically feel the glare coming from the man.

“At least you retained your attitude. I might have to kill you if you didn’t. No need for an apprentice who doesn’t have fight in him.”

“What are you talking about?”

“You came with me willingly you know.”

Dick went still on the chains. He what? It had to be a lie. Why would he leave Bruce?

“I found you sulking on a rooftop. I knew Robin had skills but after you came with me and I saw you in action first hand I could tell the Bat was restraining you.”

“You’re lying.”

A fist was connecting with his face before Dick could continue. Pain exploded from his chest before he could recover from the first blow.

“Don’t talk back to me kid. Or you’re going to be in a world of hurt.”

He could almost hear the smirk in his voice. It wasn’t a good sign. 

“You don’t control me.”

He wouldn’t give up. He had to get back. He had to find Wally, had to get back to Bruce. Had to fix whatever was wrong with him. Even as he saw Slade draw his sword up and Dick closed his eyes. He only thought one thing. 

Bruce. Help me.


Jason and Bruce were sitting next to Wally for what felt like hours. Alfred had come down a few times to check on all of them and offer them snacks to keep their strength up. Jason had asked Bruce about everything that Barry did. After hearing all of it he couldn’t help but want to hunt the speedster down and break his legs but looking back at Wally he knew there were other priorities for the moment. 

This whole situation was a mess. Dick had acted weird when Jason thought back to seeing him out there. He almost seemed like he was slightly intimidated by Slade but not to the point that he would leave. It made sense especially if he was angry at Bruce. He sighed a little thinking about how everything had turned into such a huge mess. Bruce glanced at him curiously.

“What’s wrong?”

“I’m just thinking.”

The only sound was the beeping of the heart monitor before Bruce spoke again.

“Penny for your thoughts?”

“When I talked to Dick, something seemed off.”

“What was it?”

“He seemed on edge. Worried, he made it sound like he went willingly. And he probably did. But he also seemed a little scared of Deathstroke.”

“We can’t jump to conclusions but I don’t like the idea of Dick being alone with a criminal of that caliber.”

“I don’t want to wait.”

“We can’t rush this Jason. The more we try to force something the more likelihood we make it worse.”

The cave fell back to silence, both of their hearts heavy with contemplation.


Dick panted through the sweat and blood running down his face and body. It had been an hour since Slade first came into the room. He’d been punched too many times to remember and sliced with the sword enough times to make him a little dizzy with blood loss. Slade had treated him after he started zoning out during the beat down. Patched him up while saying something about not losing his apprentice.

The whole thing unsettled him on a different level than the other things he’d endured. With all the other times he’d been used he knew on some level they would use him and then stop. They’d leave him alone. He’d known if he could get through that one night he could get out and be safe and free and happy again. Now though, now he felt like he was never going to get out. He felt like he was trapped inside his own personal hell and there was no way for him to get out. 

As soon as he was alone again he tried to think again. His head felt even more like mush than it had before. Thinking made him nauseous. His arms hurt, his whole body hurt. Everything felt like it was pressing down on him all at once. There was nowhere for him to run, no one there for him to turn to. He was alone and he might never get out. 

Hanging his head so no one would see it Dick let a single tear fall. He wished he could wake up from this nightmare.


The first thing Wally noticed was the fact that he was so cold. He felt like he’d sat inside an ice cream freezer after going a couple rounds with Captain Cold. 

Barry’s gunna flip over this. 

The second thing was the beeping of the monitors around him. Hushed voices and a warm echoey space around him. It felt familiar but he couldn’t place where until he opened his eyes. The dark space, the faint squeak of bats in the distance. Even down to the smell he knew where he was before he saw Bruce sitting by his side, along with Jason in a dark suit. He tried to talk but all that came out was a small quiet groan. Immediately both the heads in the room turned to look at him. Jason grabbed a glass of room temp water and tilted the straw to Wally’s mouth. Once he was done with his drink Bruce offered him a kind look.

“How do you feel?”

Wally shrugged a little. Dick wasn’t down there. Why? Where was he?

Bruce must have read the question on his face considering his next words.

“He’s missing right now Wally. But we’re trying to find him. We’ll get him home.”

Wally didn’t know if he heard right. Dick was missing? Was he kidnapped? What happened? Oh god, is that why he stopped answering? He was about to...and all that time Dick could have needed him. 

“What happened?”

“That’s not important right now.” Jason cut in and shifted a little so he was fully facing Wally. “How do you feel?”

“‘M cold.”

“Anything else?”

He thought about being honest, looking around for Barry. If he was there then he was going to lie but if he wasn’t-

“Barry’s in Central. Jason gave him a full lecture on his behavior. Could have given me a run for my money.”

“Is he mad?..”

He saw Bruce soften at the same time Jason stiffened.

“No. He’s only mad at himself. Not at you. You’re welcome to stay here. You don’t have to go back to Central. And before you ask no, you aren’t fired from Kid Flash. But you do have to heal before you go out there.”

“You want me to stay?”

“If you want to you can. This door will always be open to you.”

“I...I want to stay...If I can..if it’s okay.”

“You can always stay.”

There were a lot of emotions for him to handle. After so long of feeling nothing but sadness and pain there pure joy he felt was overwhelming. He was lucky Bruce could read his feelings so well and leaned forward to give him a hug. It lasted longer than Wally thought Bruce would be comfortable with but the man didn’t budge until he pulled back. 

“Thank you.”

“After what you’ve been through you deserve it.”

Jason looked mildly uncomfortable. Like he was intruding on the situation and figured Wally would rather have this conversation one on one with someone rather than have a full audience. He carefully snuck away from the edge of the bed, sharing a look with Wally on the way out to convey as much understanding as he possibly could to the older boy. He didn’t deserve what happened. Flash and Deathstroke were going to have nightmares of bats for months when he was finished with them both. No one would touch his family.  

Wally looked back to Bruce after the door to the med bay was closed. There was no way Bruce didn’t know what happened, what he’d tried to do. What he’d meant.

“I’m sorry…”

“Don’t apologize. You were hurting. With all that happened I’m surprised you held on for as long as you did.”

“I just..I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I couldn’t..I thought…”

So many emotions were showing up. He couldn’t handle all of it. There was too much. 

“I stopped eating, I didn’t think...I just wanted someone out there and I thought Dick hated me. He wasn’t answering but he’s really been-.. Do we know if he’s okay?”

“You’re on an IV right now to boost your glucose levels. Heated blankets to warm you up from hypothermia. The largest concern right now is trying to get your speed healing to kick in. After that you should be alright to run by tomorrow morning. As for Dick, Jason spoke to him. He’s alright. That situation is..complicated to say the least.”

Wally nodded a little but there was some light back in his eyes. It never ceased to surprise Bruce at the resilience in these boys. They’d all been through so much but they always came out stronger for it. Still, that didn’t mean he wouldn’t do everything in his power to keep them safe from ever enduring that much more trauma. 

Wally was about to ask another question when a startled call from Jason bounced into the room. 

“Bruce!?”

Both him and Wally looked up sharply. Bruce standing to leave to see what was wrong before Wally grabbed onto his sleeve. 

“I’m not staying in here.”

“Wally there could be an intruder-”

Jason came running into the room at that moment. His eyes wide and for the first time in a long time they saw him scared.

“I was searching for Dick on the batcomputer. I- You need to see this.”

Wally looked at Bruce. The two of them having a silent debate on whether or not the red head was going to get out of the bed. In the end Bruce was wrapping him in a blanket and helping him into a wheelchair to go into the other room. After all the trauma his body had been through Bruce wasn’t willing to risk his health further by having him walk and move around on his own just yet. 

The trio made there way back to the screen, Jason rewinding the footage and pressing play. They all watched Deathstroke and Dick fighting back to back. They watched the goons flooding the screen. Wally felt his world lurch as he realized what exactly he was seeing. 

“Is he?...”

“He’s calling himself Renegade but…”

They watched the needle plunge into Dick’s throat. Watched him yell out for Slade and fall limp. They watched Slade kill everyone in the room and through it all Dick didn’t so much as twitch. He didn’t move when Slade picked him up and left. As the footage ended none of them spoke. Just scared at the blank screen thinking through what they’d watched. 

“There’s nothing else. That’s the most recent thing there is.”

“Why was Dick working with him?”

“It’s a long story. Right now we have to figure out what he was injected with and try to find where he is. Wally you should rest. Jason and I can search and we will get you if we find anything.”

“Bruce if you think for a second that I’m not going to help you hunt him down then you’ve got another thing coming.”

“Uh.. B?”

The argument stopped before it fully began, both of them turning to Jason as he stared down the screen in front of him.

“What is it?”

“It looks like someone tried to get into the cave. They just pulled up the code screen and stopped. Nothing tampered with. They closed out. Think it’s a fluke?”

Bruce looked over the screens himself, both of the boys watching him to see what his thoughts were on it all. It didn’t seem to be anything of importance until Bruce put pieces together. 

“What if it was Dick.”

“What?” Wally and Jason practically spoke in unison but didn’t pause to acknowledge it. They were more concerned with what Bruce had just suggested. 

“If that chemical had a reaction and he wanted to leave but couldn’t. I taught him how to get my attention if he was ever in the situation where he couldn’t reach over comms or any other conventional method. To try to hack the cave system and I would be able to track down the threat.”

“If he’s reaching out then he’s in danger or at least feels like he is.”

“He’s with Deathstroke Jay. Yeah he’s in danger.”

“You didn’t see them. They were a team when they fought. They worked together. Dick went with him willingly but...Bruce we need to get him.”

“We will.”

All of them silently made the promise that when they did they would make sure Slade fully regretted laying hands to coax away their bird. No one messed with the Batfamily.

Chapter Text

Wally was ready for it to end. So much had happened since that damned Halloween party that it made it feel like his life was just one drama to the next. It felt like forever ago that Dick had been hidden behind his tree in his backyard. Since he’d pulled him into the house and made him food. It felt like years rather than months since they’d started really talking, since he bought him that Batman plushie. They didn’t know it at the time but their lives had been so simple back then. Those were the days that they didn’t worry about being kidnapped by supervillains. The days that they didn’t want to kill themselves because they felt so alone in the world. For Dick every day was a struggle to survive but he still managed to find happy things if what Jason had shared was any nod to it. Wally went from being the captain of the track team to a superhero in his own right. He went from being Mr. Popular at schools to being a no one. 

There was trauma in it too. The outing, the fight that got Dick sent to Juvie. The Director and his sickness. The football team, League, Flash. So much had happened to them but they were almost done. So close to it being over and them being free that the thought made Wally’s stomach turn to butterflies despite the atmosphere hanging in the Batcave. 

He’d healed a while ago. Physically speaking. He and Jason bonding quite a bit over the time and Wally had almost forgotten how it felt to actually talk to another person. There were still emotional wounds and it would probably take him a while to fully move on from what happened. But he didn’t feel like dying anymore so that was something nice. Alfred’s cooking and Bruce and Jason’s watchful eyes made sure that he was getting enough food too. It was a nice change of pace to have a goal and conversations and people he knew cared for him around him. People who let him make his own decisions. He hadn’t talked to Barry at all since he’d been at the manor. Jason and Alfred had made the trip to Central to get his things from Barry’s house. 

He remembered Jason’s face when he came back. The rage and anger that simmered just under the surface but the fierce protectiveness reserved for anyone he considered his family. It never ceased to make Wally smile that he was considered part of it. Things had gotten better but he knew that if he wanted to really try to heal and put the past behind him then they were going to have to get Dick back and soon. The worry for his missing boyfriend was going to do him in at this point. Even going into his phone to listen to old messages and videos of Dick just to hear his voice and praying that those wouldn’t be the only things he had left of him. 

The cave turned into a haze of motion. Jason and Bruce had found the location they thought Dick had tried to access from after days of hacking and searching to try to pinpoint the signal after that night. Even that felt like forever ago. 

One week had passed since then. No word of Deathstroke or Renegade anywhere. Jason had filled Wally in on everything that happened in Gotham in Bruce’s stead. Harsh words and some yelling later and Wally was sitting off to the side feeling useless as they hunted for his missing boyfriend. The location pinged finally and all three of them were ready to go. All in their suits and ready to bring home their missing bird. Slade had kept Dick hidden from them for so long, if he really had tried to hack then he was in danger and they all felt the worry coiling in their chest like a suffocation wrap around their hearts. Bruce’s fingers flew over the keys of the computer trying to find out what the situation inside was. He knew there was no way to make Jason and Wally stay but he was going to make sure they were as safe as possible on this rescue opp. 

There was nothing but silence in the cave until the screen sizzled and a video feed crackled on the screen. At first it was nothing but static but slowly the image came in. White padded walls, chains, blood running down a shirtless form hanging from the ceiling. 

Dick

Deathstroke walked around him like a predator. The moment his eyes found the camera a chuckle came out from under the mask.

“Took you long enough Dark Knight. I had assumed you’d come to collect your bird once he made the sad attempt to get out.”

Dick heaved for breath on the chains. Sweat and blood dripping down his face, the way his muscles were clenching suggesting that he was fighting the urge to vomit. The tip of Slade’s sword moved under his jaw and traced down to his chin as Slade continued.

“Do you understand me Richard? You left willingly. You came to me. Is this proof enough for you that you are mine?”

Dick’s eyes opened with fury burning inside them enough to try to glare a hole through Slade’s one good eye.

“You’re wrong.”

“You see Detective, he’s having some issues with memory. So if this feed doesn’t work enough for me to get him to see what really happened, then I just might try something else on him.”

Dick stiffened despite the chains. All of them in the cave could see him test the restraints again despite knowing it was useless.

“What are you talking about?”

“Try to remember Richard. Remember the rooftop. Remember the suppression from the Bat. Remember that you killed Robin.”

Wally had known that Dick said that but hearing it come out as a taunt from a villain made his insides twist into knots. Dick looked like he was about to be sick. His skin lost all its color, past being white to nearly being gray. His eyes fluttered like he was about to pass out before Slade grabbed him by the hair and pulled him forward.

“Do you remember?”

“Go...go to hell.”

Slade made a tutting sound before pulling a syringe from god knows where. He held it up for Dick to see and laughed as the boy struggled to recover. Exhaustion bled out of every inch of Dick. He wasn’t going to make it at this rate. 

“After you woke up I went and got a sample of what they injected you with. No real way to reverse it that I’ve found but I couldn’t look a gift mouth in the horse then. You see, you’re skills are still here. So if I erased the Bat from your mind then you would be mine.”

Dick struggled harder. Everyone in the cave went tense at the words and what they meant. They knew Dick had no way to get out. They knew they wouldn’t get there in time to stop it. All the three of them could do was watch as the needle pierced into Dick’s neck and the substance vanished from the vial. 

Dick went limp almost immediately but there was nothing else after that. Slade began moving to take him down from the chains. Lowering him to the ground just before Dick began convulsing on the floor. Blood frothed at the corners of his mouth, his shaking getting worse and then the screen went black. Slade hadn’t been expecting that. 

The cave was quiet for all of two seconds while they processed what they’d watched before Jason was moving and yelling.

“We needed to be there yesterday.”

The plans were already made in advance. They’d figured that Dick wouldn’t be in a good condition and being partnered with the Batman tended to have them ready for just about anything. Bruce would go in to distract Deathstroke, hold him off and feign it out as him being there alone. Red X had yet to be confirmed in the official public eye and was not confirmed to be working with Batman outside of any major events. Kid Flash was supposed to be in Central so no one would be expecting them. While Bruce and Slade fought it out Wally and Jason were to go in and get Dick out. Once they were clear, assuming Slade wasn’t finished by then, Bruce would meet them out and they would go back to the cave. 

As all of them piled into the batmobile and sped through the streets with the coordinates on lock. All Wally could think of was the look on Dick’s face and the words Slade had said. There was something wrong with his memories. That drug was doing something to him but they didn’t know what. He’d been having a seizure the seconds before the screen went dark. What if it was all prerecorded? What if they got there too late and Dick overdosed on whatever drug Slade gave him. What if they were too late to save him and they were rescuing a corpse.

He didn’t stop his worrying thoughts until Bruce slammed on the brakes and the car suddenly jolted forward, forcing him back into reality. They were there. A building that didn’t even look like it was run down. Like it was an apartment complex. He heard Jason spit out a curse before looking to Bruce. With the cowl on it was hard to read the man but one thing was very clear. He was pissed. They all were. Dick was special to each of them and he was being hurt. Right beyond those walls. 

“It’s registered as an apartment building. Fake tenets listed for it, they could be thugs waiting inside. One thing certain is this is where the video transmission came from as well as the attempted hack coming from the lower levels. I will hold them off and make a distraction on the upper levels, they expect Batman to be here. You two make your way to the bottom and get Robin back.”

They both nodded. Yellow cowl and skull fixed firmly over their faces to hide the unease they both felt with such a large responsibility. It was part of the job but having it be someone close to you was a whole other story. It made more sense why cops would pull off cases when they were close to it. It wasn’t just the risk of being a hero anymore, it was personal, it would hurt on levels more than physical if they failed. 

The mission started. 

It was weird, on some level, to think of it as just another mission. But they had to. If they didn’t then the worry and fear and pressure could get to them and they had to be at 100% if they wanted this to succeed. Bruce drew the fire almost the same second they stepped into the building. Wally running with Jason in his arms into a side hallway, a blur of color while the goons focused on catching a Batman full of rage. They only watched for a moment before taking off and searching every room they could. Wally would check each room while Jason stood on guard in case any goons turned an unfortunate corner. They had yet to be spotted by anyone but they also hadn’t found Dick yet. Wally just hoped when they found him they found him still breathing. 


Bruce threw punch after punch against the goons. Tenets marked for the sake of hiding but really they were just bodyguarding the safehouse of an assassin. The paycheck must’ve been great. With every goon knocked out it felt like two more pulled up in their place. It was fine. If it was what he needed to do to get his boys home together then he would do it. Every wound on Dick’s body was burned into his mind. They were there because he hadn’t gotten to him in time. Because he had threatened Robin in a way that no one else could. Because he had failed as a mentor and a parent. 

The image of his small body on the ground, seizing and convulsing, blood frothing from his lips, it made him sick. It would keep him awake for months. Dick would survive this. He had to. If he didn’t….

He would. 

Dick was strong. And if he didn’t make it through this then Bruce sure as hell was going to make Slade regret it. He wouldn’t kill him, no, only because death would be too light a sentence. And he wasn’t going to send the man who harmed his little boy to spend time with him in the after life. No. Bruce would keep Slade alive on earth. But he would find him and break every bone in his body. Maim him the point he would be beyond recognition and shatter him. He would wait until he was healed and then do it again, and again, and again. Do it until Slade was terrified of every single shadow he ever saw. Until the man couldn’t be anywhere if there wasn’t light in every bit of the room. And when that time came he would bring the darkness with him. Make Slade hurt and repent for every single scrape on Dick’s body. Every bit of suffering his boy had gone through he would put Wilson through. 

He might even do it if Dick lived. 

The part of him that was Bruce screamed for that mentality. That his little bird couldn’t be dead. That Dick was strong enough to beat this and that they’d find him in time. They would get him to the cave and to Leslie and he’d heal. He’d go back to being himself and Robin would fly at Batman’s side. No parent should ever have to bury their child. 

But then there was the part of him that was Batman. The part that saw every wound, analyzed the way he had heaved for air, the look in his eyes. The part that knew what that seizure could mean. That they would find him far too late to help. Cold, pale skin. Glassed over unseeing eyes and coagulated blood pooling and cooling into a sticky circle around a long gone corpse. The part of him that knew on some level that he was thinking about his partner and wanted to pop the skulls of the goons like they were nothing but clementines. 

Every hit was a takedown. Every move full of power and had anyone seen him it would be clear why people put “Goddamned” in front of his name. 

The last thug fell. He didn’t even have time to relish in it because of the movement across the room. The orange and black armor glinting as Slade stepped out of the shadows and into the light. 

“I was wondering how long it would take you to get here. If you even decided to come for the bird. We both know he left rather angrily.”

“Where is he Slade.”

“Safe.”

He said it like Dick hadn’t looked seconds from death the last time he’d seen him. 

“Where. Is. He.”

“Patience Detective. I’ve had him in my care for so long now, you should know I take care of my apprentice. He just needed discipline is all. We both know that he came with me willingly. I gave him choices.”

“But not the choice to leave.”

“No. No I couldn’t give him that when he showed me so much promise.”

“Last chance. Where is Robin.”

Slade drew his sword from its sheath and took another step forward.

“If you want him, you’ll have to go through me.”


Jason just focused on what he had to do. Keep Wally safe and keep running. Keep looking for Dick. They’d find him and then they’d get out. He had to stay on task. Don’t think about it. He kept repeating the mantra over and over but it wasn’t doing him any good. All it did was make him focus more and more on the way Dick looked. That defiant edge he carried with him everywhere. Toughened skin from the outside, from a world that wanted nothing but to hurt them. 

One more hallway down, only three left. No sign of him yet. They were on the final floor. Don’t think about it. 

Don’t think about Dick struggling to stop himself from crying as he talked about Wally after they thought he was dead. Don’t think about the first time he met him as Robin and how he might never see him like that again. Don’t think about all the ways Dick saved him. Saved him from the loneliness, saved him from turning into a criminal. Don’t think about the blood on his body. Don’t think about never seeing him protect someone again, don’t think about never hearing one of his dumb puns again, don’t think about losing him. Don’t think about it, don't think about it, don’t think about it. 

They were turning to leave the hall. Another one down, two left. Running out of places for Dick to be and Jason didn’t know what would be worse. Finding him or not. If they didn’t then Jason could hold on to the hope that his big brother might still be alive. That the videos were faked somehow and Dick was alright. That he would find him when Renegade went out and he’d be able to yell at him and hug him and punch him and just let out everything he had locked inside his heart. But if they didn’t then they had to start over on finding him. And if it wasn’t a faked video then Dick needed help fast. 

But if they found him, and he wasn’t alive? It felt like that night the bomb had flung Robin out of the window. The first time he’d seen his big brother as the superhero he was. If they found him and his heart wasn’t beating, if they couldn’t get it to beat again. It would be like that night, losing Robin. Losing his brother. The one person he could really count on since the day he met him. 

Four guards turned the corner the same time they did. 

They moved for their guns. Jason moved faster. The Red X uniform covering him to turn his movements from a human to a ghoul. The skeleton mask lurching forward in hurried movement to knock them out before any weapon went off to alert others that there was something going on. They were so close. And Jason would never forgive himself if he was the reason they were too late to find Dick and save him. 

He’d saved Jason too many times for him not to return the favor. He wouldn’t let him down. He wouldn’t let Dick get hurt. He’d been the protective brother for so long, it was Jason’s turn now. 

One gunman down.

Don’t think about it. 

Don’t think about Dick’s heart stopping after the seizure. 

Don’t think about it. 

Two down, two left.

Don’t think about it.

Don’t think about finding a cold stiff body instead of his brother. Blood staining into porcelain skin. Glazed eyes. Overdosed on unknown drugs just like his mom. 

Don’t think about it.

One left.

Don’t think about it.

Don’t think about his laugh. The two of them sitting up in their burned little home. Dick teaching him how to pick pockets. How to charm old ladies into letting them eat leftover food. The bear hugs and cuddles he pretended to hate but secretly loved. Dick and him huddled for warmth. Playing in the snow on rooftops or in back alleys. Dick taking care of him. Dick being the only family he had out there. How he could be dead. How he’s probably dead and these people are stopping him from getting there to try to save him. 

Don’t think about it. Don’t think about it, don’t think about it, don’tthinkaboutit, don’t-

Jason’s fist hit the man’s jaw so hard they heard a crack as he made contact. His head snapping back at the same time his knees turned to jello and he dropped. No more thugs. No more issues. No one getting between him and his brother. The hand on his shoulder almost sent him flipping Wally and taking him down. The yellow material was the only thing that stopped him. 

“You okay?”

“Ask me that after we find Robin.”

He thought Wally wasn’t going to respond as he walked past him to carry on down the hall. If he hadn’t been paying attention he would have missed his quiet words. 

“Yeah me too.”

They went back to silence. Neither of them really in the talking mood. Too wrapped up in their own minds and worry. You’re such an idiot Dick, making all of us worry about you like this. 

Wally was running in and out of each room. Checking for anything they could use. They’d made it to the last hallway. The last chances. With each room they could feel their hope fading. Slade tricked them. Dick wasn’t here. That or he was dead. Bruce hadn’t told them anything over comm, radio silence on that front, so they could assume Dick wasn’t up there with him and Deathstroke. 

And then he noticed Wally wasn’t moving. He was just staring into the last room and oh no.

Jason was at his side in a second. He didn’t know what he was going to see, if he even wanted to see. But he knew he had to see. He needed to know if Dick was okay. He didn’t know what he expected to see. But it wasn’t what waited for him on the other side of the door. Dick, wounds patched up roughly and sitting up in the middle of the room. Awake, though the confusion on his face was clear. Slade’s words came rushing back and settled like ice in his veins. 

“You see Detective, he’s having some issues with memory.”

“Dick?...”

Did his brother remember him? Could he remember him? Did he even know his own name after Slade nearly OD’d him? Could they get him back if he didn’t? 

Dick flinched. Jason felt like he’d been shot. He watched while Dick’s eyes clenched shut and his hands ran through his hair. He didn’t dare even breathe until Dick’s shaky voice reached his ears.

“Jay..Jason?...”


Bruce and Slade had been fighting for god knows how long. The two of them battling in ways that anyone else would have been dead long ago. Neither of them letting up in order to keep their stake in Dick’s location. Bruce had broken Slade's sword, but Slade had torn off the utility belt. 

Finally Bruce saw an opening to attack. It was unlikely that Slade was getting sloppy but there was always the chance. He dove to punch the man between the ribs just to have Slade's hand grip him around the throat and slam him into the wall. 

The pause that followed left a silence ringing in the air of the building. 

“Risky move, Bruce.

“I’ll take it if it gets my kid back.”

“All it gave you was a quick death.”

Before anything else could happen the comm buzzed in Bruce’s ear. Jason’s voice coming out and this close, in this quiet an environment with Slade’s advanced skills there was no way he didn’t hear it. 

“B. We found him. Confused but he knew who I was. Kid’s in there talking to him but I don’t think he really knows what’s going on. We could use some help. Is Slade gone?”

“You brought back up.”

“Slade-”

“No.”

The mercenary backed off and looked over his opponent as Bruce stood his ground. If Slade thought for even a second of laying a hand on Jason or Wally Bruce would end him where he stood. No matter what the cost. He was not letting someone hurt his boys. 

“You win this round Detective. When he leaves you again, I’ll be waiting.”

Slade pulled a smoke grenade from who knows where and detonated it, when it cleared he was gone. Bruce knew he was many things but a liar wasn’t one of them. Carefully he took stock of his injuries and made his way to the lower levels while lifting a hand to his comm. 

“Slade is gone. I’m on my way. How bad is he?”


Jason paced outside the door. He could hear murmuring but nothing else from the inside. He just wanted Bruce to get there and them to leave. Once they were in the cave he could take off the mask and really look at his brother. Check him over and they could fix him and everything would be okay after that. It had to be okay. 

Wally sat in front of Dick on the floor. The cowl pulled back and hanging from his neck while he looked his boyfriend over. He was being careful. They needed to get Dick out but they needed to assess him before they started moving.

“Hey Dickie.”

“Wally?...”

He couldn’t help the shaky laugh that bubbled out. He was so scared Dick wouldn’t remember him. 

“Yeah, you got yourself in a little bit of trouble huh.”

“I can’t...I don’t know what’s happening...you.. Wally you’re dead.”

Suddenly the floor wasn’t under him anymore. 

“What?..”

“We did the experiment..and you’re brain dead...Am I dead?..”

“No Dick-”

“If you aren’t there then I don’t wanna be alive…”

The words made Wally’s heart ache at just how mutual that feeling was. They really had a problem. But they could deal with it once Dick was in a clearer state of mind. He didn’t remember him coming back. The reveal. Lots of things to explain then but not enough time and none of it was pertinent at the moment aside from getting Dick out of there. 

“I’m not dead. You aren’t dead Dick. Look at me.”

Blue eyes locked onto green and Wally forgot how to breathe for a moment. He’d almost forgotten how stunning Dick’s eyes actually were. 

“I’m right here okay? I’m here and I’m not going anywhere. But we have to get you out of this place okay? Bruce is on his way. And when he gets here were going to get you checked out and all better alright?”

“How do I know you’re real?”

He reached out and grabbed Dick’s hand with his own. Praying to whatever god was out there that Dick could feel his warmth through the glove. 

“You used to tell me about your life in the circus remember? You’d tell me about flying up in the air and I asked how you knew when it was the time to jump. You said-”

“It’s just a feeling…”

They said it at the same time. Wally feeling his heart lift at the meaning behind it. Dick wasn’t too far gone in whatever drug Slade had given him. They could probably fix whatever damage it caused. There was a good chance. Though the seizure was still something to worry about. 

“You just have to trust me.”

“I want to but...Everything feels so confusing and I can’t...I can’t grab onto anything. I feel like I’m spinning I just-”

Wally cut him off with a kiss. Right to the lips. Warmth radiating from both of them. Wally tasting like blueberry pancakes and Dick tasting like blood. When they pulled apart Wally was leaning forward on his knees. And Dick’s eyes looked just a little more focused. 

“Was that real enough?”

All Dick did was nod before reaching out and grabbing onto Wally. They could do this. Just a little bit longer and they’d be okay.


Bruce found Jason pacing in front of the door. Immediately worry flooded his system and he ran forward. Just to see Wally propping up an exhausted but alive Dick. The world could have been ending and he wouldn’t have cared. He had his boys. 

“Dick?”

“Hi Bruce.”

He assessed the damage on his boy's body. Slade must have patched him up expecting Dick’s memory to be more out of sorts than it apparently was. It was good news but they still had to get him out and back to the manor for a proper clean and patch up. 

“Let’s get you home okay?”

Dick nodded a little as Bruce scooped him into his arms. Sometimes he forgot just how small Dick was. It was always a little jarring that this was the same boy who fought crime with him on the streets and took down people triple his size on the nightly. 

They made it to the car, to the cave. Leslie and Alfred waiting for them and taking in Dick’s wounds instantly. Bruce had even managed to sample the drug that Slade had given him to try to figure out just how it was affecting him. 

The prognosis came back.

Dick’s sleeping form only being shown for a moment before the door to the med bay was closed and the waiting family members looked to the two saviors before them. Sure, Bruce, Wally, and Jason were superheroes. But without Alfred or Leslie they wouldn’t get very far. 

“All he needs is rest.”

After everything that happened they’d all make sure he got it. 


A month passed since then. Dick still sometimes got a little mixed up on memories from being held captive. His story never fully complete because of blank spots or just, unreliable information from the amount of the drug running through his system. The League wanted to speak to Bruce about it. About everything that had happened. Wally, Dick, Deathstroke, everything. The only thing that had been holding them off was that Dick was still recovering. But now that he was preparing to go back out on patrol as Robin Bruce knew he couldn’t keep them away much longer. From his experience it was easier to give the League what they wanted for something like this. 

Jason had moved into the manor. A hallway dedicated to his boy’s rooms. Dick and Jason next to each other and Wally’s across the hall. The three of them bonded immensely in their month. Enjoying the freedom they had and finally after the traumas that all of them had been dealt, they began to heal. 

They were all in uniform in the cave. Robin play fighting with Red X while Kid Flash laughed and ran circles around them. Poking in when he felt too left out just to have the two bats drag him into the roughhousing fully. They knew it was too early for patrol but didn’t complain about putting on the uniforms. 

When Dick had first come out in the Robin suit he looked at himself in the mirror for a long while. They’d worried he was spacing when he spoke up.

“I missed wearing these colors.”

The words were a reminder to all of them how much had happened in such a short amount of time. 

He looked back at where the boys were laughing with each other. They seemed happy like this. Was he really about to bring up old memories again? Was he really going to make them relive it to the League?

There was no other choice. He had to. It wouldn’t really be over until they did this. And the boys needed it to be over. They needed to have the closure after what happened in order to fully move on. Wally and Dick especially. Flash was going to pay his hell today. 

Bruce explained to the boys that they would be going to the watchtower to explain everything. It was bad enough he was having them relive it so soon, he wasn’t going to have them go up there unprepared. And if someone said or did anything that he deemed out of line they would be leaving immediately. He’d informed Clark of such ahead of time. 

Jason seeing the watchtower for the first time was interesting. The mask hid his reaction from outsiders but the ones who knew him could tell that he was shocked by it. 

“This is the most amount of white I’ve seen in one building that wasn’t a hospital.”

Dick had laughed while Wally rubbed a noogie onto Jason’s head and dodged the oncoming punch using his superspeed. 

Bruce felt like he was leading them to slaughter. Right up until Dick pressed against his side and looked up at him. 

“I’m okay. With doing this. We talked about it, Wally, Jace and I. We’re all okay. We know why we have to do it. You aren’t doing anything wrong.”

He put his hand on Dick’s shoulder and squeezed. 

“Where would I be without you chum?”

Dick grinned up at him and shrugged a little, though not enough to knock Bruce’s hand off.

“I don’t know. Probably be a lot mopier. You were pretty grim before B. Now come on. I don’t like waiting.”

They’d stepped into the room. Wally pointedly looking away from his uncle and Barry refusing to make eye contact with anyone during the entire retelling. They explained everything from the moment Dick and Wally met each other to the present. Dick needing a little bit of help explaining more recent things from his captivity but the entire League remaining silent during all of it. Bruce had briefed them on the boys conditions and they now knew better than to mess with the daddybat.

When they finally finished the League felt like they’d just heard something fictional. Like they hadn’t just heard things that happened to the boys standing in front of them. Like one of the villains in the story they’d heard wasn’t sitting at their table like one of them. 

Bruce had ushered the three of them out of the room before the League made any major moves but that didn’t mean they didn’t hear the screaming through the closed doors as they walked away. Barry wasn’t getting out of this without a proper punishment. Bruce knew Clark and Diana would deliver. 

Making it back to Gotham Bruce watched the three young heroes before him. He couldn’t possibly be more proud than he was right then. Seeing them all smile and laugh with each other. Seeing Dick and Wally kiss each other knowing that they could finally be together without fear of repercussions. 

Now it was over. 

It was finally over. 


Years passed since all of it. Dick had turned 16 a little over a month ago. Jason was sitting in the lounge working on his homework for one of his English classes. Kid turned out to be a top student. That meant Wally, Alfred, and Bruce all had to deal with the two of them saying street smarts were book smarts all the time. Wally was in his room playing games, Alfred was cooking, Bruce was down in the cave. Now was the best time to talk to Jason about this. He’d already explained his plan to Bruce who was nervous about his little boy leaving the nest but accepted that Dick needed the change. Wally even had his own version of the plan. The only people left to explain it to were Jason and Alfred. But Jason had to come first. What he was about to ask wasn’t something to be taken lightly. 

“What do you want Dick? I’m busy.”

“Yeah, doing homework.”

He stepped further into the lounge and sat down on the edge of the couch. He had to word this right or Jason might go nuts. 

“What’s wrong?”

Or he could just tell there was something off about his older brother and jump on it himself. Jason had taken to hero work like a duck to water. Or a bird to the sky. 

“Nothing’s really wrong Little Wing. I just wanted to talk to you about something, ask you something.”

Jason’s attention was fully on him now. The kid had grown. They all had. It was scary sometimes to see the line of bulk Jason would grow into. 

“Let me explain this before you start talking okay?”

He took a deep breath. No going back now.

“I’m not going to be Robin anymore.”

He could see that Jason wanted to talk but stopped himself. He’d made a deal. 

“I need a change. Robin has a lot of meaning to it. You know that. But Robin was me when I was younger, before everything got so complicated. I don’t think I can be what Robin needs to be anymore.”

“So..what are you gunna do?”

“I’m still going to be here in Gotham. But I’m going to start patrolling Bludhaven too. I’ve already got a new suit in the making and once it’s down Bludhaven will have someone guarding her doors. But I’m just across the bridge if anything happens on patrol. And we both know that’s not very far with a speedster in our midst.”

“You’re still living here?”

“Yes. I’m too young to have an apartment there but Bruce has a safehouse or two around the city in case I need a quick place to crash. You know the drill. Always be prepared.”

He tried to joke around with his little brother but the look on Jason’s face was still contemplative. 

“You pick out a name yet?”

“I was thinking about calling myself Nightwing.”

“That’s lame.”

“As lame as Little Wing?”

“Mm maybe not as lame as that.”

“Aw. Well if you hate me calling you Little Wing so much, what if I started calling you Robin?”

Jason froze almost as quickly as Dick realized what just came out of his mouth. That was the main point of him coming in to talk to Jason but he hadn’t meant it to come out that bluntly. Jason stared at him for a moment trying to find something in his face, what? Dick didn’t know. 

“Are you?...Did you just ask me to be Robin?”

“Batman and Robin are kind of a duo now. Someone’s gotta take up the mantle and I can’t think of anyone I’d rather have in my family’s colors other than you Jay.”

Jason kept staring at him until he nodded so hard Dick thought his head might just pop off his broadening shoulders. 

“Yes.”

“What?”

“I’ll be Robin.”


Bruce had called him to come back to Gotham. To bring Wally too. That he had something to tell them both that he didn’t want to say over the phone but in person. The tone of his voice alone was enough for Dick to know that it wasn’t good news. But after hanging up the phone no one would answer. Not Bruce, not Jason, not Alfred. No one. There wasn’t anything on the news about a crisis but you never knew with Gotham. 

When they’d gotten there and Alfred opened the door they knew it was really bad. Wally stood just behind Dick’s shoulder. Both of them on edge and ready for anything but what they were about to get. Dick already had the suffocating feeling that he knew. He’d talked to Bruce already and he was looking at Alfred. 

“Where?”

“He’s in the cave.”

Wally would have offered to run them both down there but he knew Dick had to take this at his own time. So as he watched Dick run to the cave entrance Wally turned to look at Alfred while he closed the door. He could see it in the man’s posture. He knew as much as Dick did what happened. Without missing a beat Wally hugged Alfred tighter than he’d ever hugged the man before. Alfred was grieving as much as the rest of them. He could get the details later. For now, his grandpa needed him. 

Down in the cave Dick ran into the medbay and froze. Bruce had his hands steepled in front of him. His eyes dark as he look at the all too still body laying on the bed. The all too still body of his little brother. 

“How hurt is he?”

“Dick…”

“No. He can’t be that hurt, there’s no machines- He’s sleeping right? He can’t be-”

The lump in his throat cut him off before Bruce’s arms wrapped around him. He could see the wounds covering Jason’s body. The gray color to his skin, the waxy look. He knew there was no way he was alive but the thought of losing Jason, the one person who was there the whole way through it all, it felt impossible. He clung to Bruce for a long while. Clung until his legs went numb but he didn’t cry. Bruce did. He felt the tears on his shoulder and only clung to his dad tighter. Jason’s body laying there in his sight until the image felt burned into his eyeballs. He waited until Bruce pulled away, his whole body felt numb of everything. It didn’t feel real yet. 

“Who.”

“Dick-”

“Who. Bruce.”

“Joker. He split us up without me noticing. Beat Jason with a crowbar, blew up the building just as I got there. I couldn’t get to him in time.”

There was silence where there should have been the sound of a heart monitor. 

“I need to go.”

“Dickie-”

“I’ll be back.”

Bruce could see the unshed tears in his boy’s eyes. Dick needed to move to feel it. When he said he’d come home he would. Bruce would make sure of it. He wouldn’t fail again. 


Dick made his way to the little burned down home they’d had. Climbing to the window and slipping inside before anyone could see him. It was a wave of nostalgia to be back there. It felt like so long ago that this was the place they were calling home. The dusty, ash coated ground. The memories they’d made. He walked to the doorway he turned from. Looked back at the window he’d just come in from and remembered the first time he met Jason. Remembered sitting with him at the window late at night and watching people when they were sure they wouldn’t be caught. He looked at the corner they slept in and felt his throat closing around tears. The headache pushing against the back of his eyes as he tried and failed not to cry. Jason had come back here at some point. He didn’t know when. But on the old ratty mattress they’d used sat a small plushie of a Robin. 

A Robin that deserved so much better than he got. He was only 15. 

A Robin that still smelled like his little brother that he’d never get to see again.

And for the first time in a long time, Dick curled up in the corner of his little burnt home, clutched onto the bird that he’d never see again, and he let himself cry. 


Dick watched Bruce move around with the new kid. He’d said someone had deduced their identities but when he and Wally ran over to find out what was going on they weren’t expecting to find a kid in the cave. All of them had been darker since Jason died. Dick and Wally had gotten an apartment in Bludhaven and lived there primarily. They still came back to the manor often to visit but it wasn’t the same as before. Wally had taken to calling himself the Bludhaven Flash to try to bring a little bit of light back into the person who used to be his favorite hero. Now if Dick and Wally were ever out and about and someone asked who his favorite superhero was his redhead would always say Robin. It used to be a taunt over the birds when Jason was still alive that Wally would never specify which one of them was his favorite but now they never asked. Robin had died a brutal death. And that should have been left at that. But watching the kid stand up to Bruce and loudly proclaim that Batman needed a Robin Dick couldn’t exactly disagree. 

Bruce had gotten dark after Jason’s death. They all had. It was something that weighed heavily on all of them. Bruce put Joker in a body cast. As soon as he was released he did it again. Dick beat him to it the third time. They’d only stopped because Jim threatened to arrest them if they attacked again. 

Dick couldn’t help but remember when he’d given the mantle over to Jason in the first place. Telling him that someone had to be Robin because Batman and Robin were a duo. You couldn’t just break them up even if one Robin leaves the nest. Maybe he could try again. The kid, Tim he reminded himself, had potential. He’d figured out Batman’s identity after all. That took skills. From what he could tell Tim didn’t have many people to rely on. If Robin meant family then Dick wasn’t going to turn down the potential for a new member who seemed to need one. 

He finally moved over to where Bruce and Tim were talking to each other. “Talking” More like a stare down. Entertaining when you think about the age gap and realize that it was like a mom cat staring down a kitten that’s about to paw off the fish bowl and get them all in trouble and wet. His presence finally breaking them off as they both turned to look at him. Bruce noted the absence instantly.

“Where’s Wally?”

“Probably eating you out of house and home right now. The usual. Wanna go get him while I have a chat real quick?”

Bruce looked between him and Tim for a minute before stalking off to find the speedster before Alfred had a conniption. There were rules in place for food consumption in the house and if Wally didn’t follow it then he’d find a fridge stocked by Dick Grayson alone and it would only be cereal. 

Once they were alone Dick noticed Tim’s posture drop.

“Are you going to yell at me too?”

He could hear the defeat in his voice. Tim definitely needed someone. Dick wasn’t about to send him out there without giving him what he needed.

“No.”

Tim looked up at him sharply.

“I actually wanted to say good job. Not many people can figure out who we are. You should be proud of yourself. Though, I overheard something. I want to clarify it.”

“Okay?”

“You want to be Robin?”

Tim hesitated for a moment before responding. It looked like he was choosing his words carefully. 

“Batman needs a Robin. I know that after Jason...passed, Batman’s gotten darker. Someone has to be out there with him. Watch his back, keep him safe.”

Dick looked him over again. He was small, but he had no room to talk, he was 17 and just starting to finally fill out his shape. Tim was young and could always improve. He was moving them both across the cave and talking before he even realized he’d made his decision. 

“Robin has more meaning than that Timmy. Robin is the light to Batman’s darkness. He is the colorful shadow that soars next to the black. He is the smile and laughter in the screams and sorrow. Robin is innocence. Robin is courage, hope, light. He’s the goodness of Gotham fighting back against her plague. Batman is the night. Robin brings in the dawn. Even though the sun always sets.”

They stopped in front of the glass case Dick looked at far too many times to be healthy. The shredded, blood stained, Robin suit hanging suspended in time within its glass prison. Jason would have laughed at it. Something so fragile holding something that still reeked of smoke from the explosion that killed him. He’d have laughed if he wasn’t dead. 

“This isn’t something you take lightly. This isn’t something that’s a joke. That you just say you want to do. You could die. At any moment, any turn. Batman is a loner, Robin is the collective. Robin is family. Do you understand? You put on this suit and you become family. I don’t want to lose anymore family so you need to think very carefully. Are you sure you want this?”

Tim was silent for a while. Dick didn’t know what he wanted. For the kid to say yes and show the courage that Robin had or to be sensible and say no and live his life. He was so wrapped up in his thinking he almost missed Tim’s question.

“Do you think I could make him proud?”

Tim’s eyes hadn’t left the Robin suit in front of them. He had taken in all the information, the risk to his own life, all of it. And the one question he had was if he could make the passed Robin proud. To see if he could make Jason proud. Dick knew deep down at that moment that he was looking at the third Robin.

“I know you can kid. Someone’s gotta do it. Like you said, Batman needs a Robin.”

Tim turned suddenly, and Dick saw the fire burning in his eyes. 

“I’m going to do everything I can to make you both proud. I’ll be Robin the best I can be. I promise.”

He was so different from him and Jason but it felt right. Dick smiled and looked at Jason’s suit. For a moment he thought he could see Jason standing inside of it giving him the nod to go ahead. He turned back to Tim and nodded to him. 

“I know you will Baby Bird.”


Red Hood had been tormenting Gotham for the last three weeks. Every time he surfaced he knew just a little too much about the bats. He’d fought Batman, he’d fought Robin, but every time Flash and Nightwing showed up he ran. It was like he was scared to fight them. They were both content with scaring off the villain until Robin was beaten while Batman was stuck across town dealing with a bomb threat from Joker. He’d sent his bird to patrol the other half. Tim didn’t question it since he knew how the previous Robin died. He knew better than to fight against Bruce about something like that. So he wasn’t expecting to be jumped and beaten by the Red Hood. He called for backup but Bruce was too far out. Dick and Wally on the other hand, were there in a Flash. Both of them were knelt down next to Tim trying and failing to keep him from passing out. Dick was the one who saw the movement and flash of red jump off the building. 

“Get him to the cave.”

“What? Where are you going?”

“Hood’s not getting away this time.”

Dick followed just far enough to not be noticed. Wally's yelling echoing off the building behind him. He had been content with them coming home with minor scrapes and bruises. The largest wounds being on their egos. But to beat his little brother till he passed out he wasn’t going to stand for that. Red Hood was going down now. He followed from his distance until he watched the villain climb into an all too familiar window. 

No.

He was not letting the Hood touch anything that was left of Jason. That burnt home was theirs and no one else’s. He’d rather die than lose that place to Gotham’s darkness. He climbed in through the window in time to hear a bang from the room he and Jason used to share. Dick was two seconds from bursting into the room when he heard the sounds of crying. That didn’t match the profile for the Hood. If there was a hostage then he couldn’t go in guns blazing. He needed a plan. His hand was lifted to his comm, finger on the button when he heard it. 

“Why’d you show up Dickie?”

No voice modulator. Deeper than he remembered but he would recognize it anywhere. Dick was around the corner in a heartbeat and staring right at a ghost. Jason was taller, more muscular. He filled out his frame. Broad shoulders and sharp jaw. His eyes were a bit greener than he remembered and there was a white patch in his hair but it was him. 

“Jason?”

A gun was trained right at his head but Dick didn’t care. Jason was there. Jason was alive. 

“Why the hell are you here.”

Jason was the Red Hood. Jason was the killer who just beat Tim to a pulp.

“Jason…”

“I said why the hell are you here.”

“I followed you.”

“Why?”

“Seriously? Because you beat up Robin. I was planning to come give you a taste of your own medicine but now that I know it’s you-”

“You what? Don’t want to stick the dagger in any deeper? Don’t want to twist it around some huh? Aren't going to beat me and cart me off to Arkham cause you've got a new Robin so it doesn't matter does it? That’s surprising I thought that’s what you and Bruce liked to do. Just kick me around like I don’t exist.”

“What are you talking about?”

“I can forgive Bruce for not saving me. But another Robin? Did he even wait before I was in the ground? Did you?”

“Jason it wasn’t like that-”

His eyes flashed even greener, Jason's voice raising in pitch and Dick could see the hurt and pain clear as day. Jason was broken.

“I was your little brother! I was the one you gave your suit to! I thought I meant something to you but you just replaced me too!”

If there was anyone beneath them their home was outed now. 

“I thought you cared. I thought that if anyone was going to care then it was going to be my big brother. But I came back to find out that you just got another bird. And the rage was so strong from the pit that I…. I thought if I got rid of him then everything would be okay but then you know what he did? He tapped out. Like you taught me to do when we sparred in the park. I beat the kid so delirious he tapped the ground twice and I couldn’t-....”

The gun wavered in his hand but didn’t drop.

“If Bruce had shown up I could have made myself angry again. I could have hidden in it and I could have been okay but it was you. It just had to be you. Dammit Dick don’t you know I can’t kill my brother?!”

The gun finally lowered but Dick didn’t move. Jason needed to get this out and he was worried if he moved then it might trigger something else. 

“You wanna know why I came here? Because after seeing you with the replacement I didn’t think I could go home. What am I saying, I can’t go home. There isn’t a home for me anymore. Nowhere but this place. The only other place I felt safe outside of the manor. Our little burnt home. But it looks like I fucked all that up too.”

Dick finally stepped closer. He didn’t miss the way that Jason flinched away but he didn’t stop either. He kept going until his arms were wrapped around his little brother. His little brother who was now taller than him. It was a lot of information to handle. A lot of questions that needed to be asked and answered on both sides. But something else needed to take priority. 

“You always have a home with me Little Wing. I promise.”

Dick tugged Jason until they were in their corner. Pressed together on the ratty mattress that was almost totally flattened to the ground. He held his little brother and refused to let go. Even when he struggled. Even when he gave up. He held onto his brother. And if either of them cried they didn’t talk about it. 


The manor was a chaos house of sounds and sights and smells. So much happening in every direction that it was hard to focus on any one thing at a time. Bruce was at the head of the table, Selina to his right and Kate on his left. Duke, Steph, Barbara, Cass, and Luke lining down the side after the Batwoman. Dick, Wally, Jason, Tim, and Damian lining down after Selina. At the other head they finally convinced Alfred to sit down. For holidays they’d managed to convince the old man to take a break and join them at the table for dinners. 

Bruce looked down the table at his family. First had been Dick, and then everyone. He thought about it for a moment, how much his boys had all grown. How Dick had gone from not trusting anyone to wearing his heart on his sleeve. He still had traces of the streets influence, still woke up screaming from nightmares of Juvie or the Director, still spaced out sometimes when he got too stuck in his own head but he was happy. His spirit hadn’t been broken even after everything he endured. Wally was the one to thank for that. If it hadn’t been for him none of this would have been possible. 

If Wally hadn’t helped Dick into becoming Robin he would have never found him. If Wally hadn’t stepped in and shown Dick that not everyone is cruel when he did, would he still be the same Dick Grayson they all knew? Wally had dealt with so much through his life. They all had. But his boys were exceptions to the rule when they didn’t wind up damaged from it all. They only seemed to come back stronger. 

Jason still showed his street roots full throttle. He joked about death often enough to give Bruce gray hairs but he would sometimes go into Bruce’s room at night. Just to make sure he was alright. They didn’t always talk to each other when that happened but Bruce could still see the kid in him. The one that just wanted to be loved but didn’t want to shurk his pride. He didn’t want the family dead, or even hurt anymore. He’d stopped killing, learned to control the rage and had become a hero again. Bruce was proud. Would always be proud of him for that. 

Tim had grown into a fantastic Detective. Once again leaving Bruce thinking that without Dick and Wally being there that day if he would have ever allowed the boy the chance to be Robin and prove his worth to both Bruce and himself. Tim was leading teams in other cities. Organizing with Clark’s son with what they were calling Young Justice. 

Damian was still new to the family but Dick had taken him in easily. They all had in retrospect. Damian was rough and fought with just about all of them but they all had enough experience with that kind of thing to not really pay it much mind. They knew the kid didn’t mean it. They knew he loved them, even if he’d never admit to it out loud. 

Dick was approaching 25 now but Bruce still saw that 13 year old kid. He and Wally had been together for so long that it felt like they were just made for it. He was the only one who knew what was going to be announced tonight. So when Wally stood up and tinked his spoon against his glass to get everyone’s attention everyone stared confused while Dick and Bruce made eye contact and did a simultaneous eye roll. 

“Ladies and Gentlemen of the terrifying Batclan.”

“That you are a member of.”

“I have an announcement. Actually, Dick and I both do.”

In a room full of detectives it was more than enough. But he still wanted to say it. So while Dick shoved his face into his hands Wally’s smile grew to unholy proportions as he spoke. 

“We got engaged!”

The room erupted. Everyone yelling and cheering over each other. Dick was embarrassed but still let Wally pull him up to kiss him in front of everyone. Damian’s disgusted noises getting a chuckle out of all of them. 

“Only you guys would get engaged on Valentines Day.”

Once they’d all settled and offered their congratulations it was Steph who finally drew the question.

“How did you two even meet? It feels like you were always a package deal ever since I came into things.”

Tim rolled his eyes, Damian groaned, Jason huffed out a laugh with a, “here we go again.” Bruce only smiled. Wally practically glowed as he dramatically began the story. 

“Our tale is deep, dark, and dramatic. Heart stopping moments full of pain and joy and everything between. It was a dark and stormy night. A Halloween Party. A party every Gotham Academy student wanted to be at….

Bruce understood every gap they left untold. Every trauma they didn’t retell. The ones who knew never commented about it. But one look at Dick’s excited, happy, living, blue eyes and Bruce knew he had finally, truly, had his family.

Chapter Text

PLEASE READ THIS

 

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Each one of you are absolutely amazing. Thank you so so so much for supporting me with this story. Every comment, every block of hearts, every bit of feedback and comfort in the hard times was greatly appreciated. There are more of you out there who deserve the whole world and I mean this for every single one of my readers out there. Thank you so so so much for reading this massive story. This is the first full scale novel I’ve ever written and it means the world to me that you all read it this far. I can never thank you enough for all your kind words and support. But I wanted to try to give something back to you here. Up above are the usernames I recognize in a second because of this story. Every time I get an email from Archive and see one of your usernames I get excited. All of you are amazing and this story would not have gotten this far without all of your support. 

I am still writing all the time and have plans for many more stories. The next big one that has my heart is an original that I hope to publish someday. I have learned things while writing this story that I don’t think I’d have learned if I didn’t do it. I wouldn’t be writing this if it weren’t for all of you amazing people. 

All of you have been here for each heartbreak of the story, you have been here for their joy, their growth, their pain. Mine as well. And no words or acknowledgments will ever be good enough to repay that fully. So I say this here and now,

Thank you my dear Reader. Without you none of this would have been possible. Thank you for being here.

Thank you to my amazing partner in crime for always putting up with my terribly dark and twisted ideas. Thank you for dealing with me always hurting Dick because I have a problem but never complaining. Thank you for giving me a real life Birdflash romance. I can never thank you enough for being the love of my life. Happy Valentines Star.

Thank you all so much for reading. Thank you so much for commenting and letting me know what you think. After today there are no more Friday updates for The Boy With The Gucci Purse. Happy Valentines Day.

- Icechild