Special thanks to Talia Whita 14 who help me with my English!

Disclaimer: I don't own Young Justice or anything famous.


THE LEAD

|NEW ORLEANS

|SEPTEMBER 17, 00:17 EDT

Richard John Grayson was not the kind of man who gave up something easily. When he wanted to find something or someone in this case, he would search every inch of the known galaxy. And he always knew from the very beginning, deep in his soul, that his best friend had never died. In fact, Wally West couldn't be dead. And it was not because he was in denial. No. Not at all.

The fact that there was no body, that Wally just disappeared into thin air, was the first clue that led him to the idea that he was not dead. The second clue was that the redhead disappeared during a storm of speed energy.

Once, the former Kid Flash told him about a sort of… heaven for speeders. A dimension of pure speed energy where the speeders went when they went too fast. It was his only lead right now. Dick already spoke to all of the witches, magicians and other meta-humans he knew or could find, and all of them gave him the same answer: search for the speed force. So, he searched for information, and kept on searching no matter what it cost.

"What do you know about the speed force?"

The woman laughed when he murmured it against her skin. His hand went under her top, stroked her waist and Dick heard her moan. He smiled slightly and pressed her more against the wall and the fingers of this unknown woman twirled into his dark hair.

"I already told you that I can't tell you anything. I made a promise to my people, and we never talk about what we know. Plus, I don't know anything about what you want."

Dick groaned and the woman took that as a sign of excitement. It was more a groan of exasperation. They had been busy for more than thirty minutes and usually they had all cracked by now, but this magician seemed pretty stubborn. But Dick never gave up. His mouth found her neck and his lips touched her white skin. She moaned again. She was close to breaking; he knew it.

"And if I give you a little…compensation?"

She laughed and he touched her blond hair. He closed his eyes, and he imagined red hair. Long red hair. When he looked at her brown eyes, he saw big, ocean blue eyes. He smile at this sight and went back to the woman's neck. Dick didn't even know her name.

"A big compensation, at least."

She had a very pretty laugh. Not as pretty as her laugh, but still, any man would be hypnotized by it. He attacked her neck more vigorously. He shouldn't let thoughts of her distract him. He had other things he needed to do.

"You still sticking with the no?"

"Okay, okay, I give up." Dick looked at her and she stared at him. "What do you want to know about the speed force?"

"I want to know how you pull someone out of there."

She raised an eyebrow and bit her lips. "You seem smart. You have to know that it's difficult to-"

"Skip the explanation," He interrupted her, not smiling anymore, "go to the important part."

"I see someone's a little…frustrated." The blonde rolled her hips against his body. "Don't be so grumpy, love. I'll tell you what you want to know."

He froze, not moving – not even daring to breathe - looking at her with the serious expression he's always had since he suit up as Nightwing.

"For getting out a speedster from the speed force, you need to recreate enough speed energy, like-"

"A storm?"

"A storm of speed force, if you want; like the one that my people felt a few weeks ago." Dick frowned but said nothing. "Have I answered your question?"

But how could he pull Wally away from the speed force even if he had enough energy? What would he have to do? Could Wally get out of the speed force on his own, or will he need someone to help him? Probably. He needed to find more information, but the magician didn't seem to know anything else. So Dick nodded slowly and their lips touched again. To be honest, she kissed very well and she smelt like vanilla and cocoa. Odd mix, but yet delicious.

"Well, well, well, it's getting hot in here, isn't it?"

The former Boy Wonder jerked away from the woman he had been kissing as if she was poison, and looked at the redhead who was smirking behind him.

"Roy, what the hell are you doing here?" Dick exclaimed, amazed by this sudden apparition.

"Taking care of you. Now, get off the nice lady's face and bring your ass to the bar. I made a long trip to get here and found you, and I really, really need a whisky."


|PAOLO ALTO

|SEPTEMBER 17, 23:08 EDT

Artemis looked at the girls who had been invading her living room for the past four hours. When she came back from her mission, the girls had already been waiting for her in the kitchen. All they said was that they were there to give moral support and stick together, because Cassie thought that since Wally's death the team was tearing apart. And she wasn't wrong. But Artemis didn't feel like throwing a party or even talking to anyone right now. Not even to her best friends. All she wanted was to be alone with Brucely and eat ice cream while watching a good gore series. Of course, the girls didn't even want to hear her protests.

The blonde looked across the room. A slightly drunk Karen Beecher was currently making some of her famous margaritas – the third time that night - with M'Gann who seemed extremely eager to learn how to make it as well. Meanwhile, Cassie was playing with Brucely, who appeared to like her a lot, with a tennis ball she found behind the sofa at the beginning of the party. At least, one of the inhabitants of this house was having fun. Artemis sighed. She heard Zatanna and Rocket doing some karaoke, singing a song by Bruno Mars, (Grenade) the favourite singer of the young magician. They haven't stopped since Zatanna found a karaoke DVD, under a bunch of stuff. And Barbara was nowhere to be found.

"You know, at least, you could pretend to be happy."

Crap, she really had to stop doing that. Artemis didn't bother to turn around to look at the redheaded girl sitting on the couch next to her, a margarita in her hand. Barbara smiled softly at her. Not a smile of pity that everybody gave to her, but her blue eyes, that were once so full of light, were now dead.

"Can you stop doing that ninja thing? You practically gave me a heart attack!"

"What ninja thing?" Her laugh filled the air and Artemis smiled a little.

"You Bats are so freaking crazy."

"Thank you."

The blonde archer stared at Zatanna and Rocket who just ended with Grenade and began Just The Way You Are. Artemis actually liked this song. It was Wally who made her listen to it when she heard it the first time. She sniffled. Stop. Not now.

"You want to sneak out, don't you?" Barbara asked as she looked at her friend.

"How do you know?"

"It's not hard to see it. You seem… somewhere else. Well, I don't blame you, you know since-" But the young Crock cut her before she could said anything else.

"Please, don't talk about that, or him. Tonight I'm supposed to think about… everything except that." Artemis met Barbara's blue eyes. "And I really don't want to talk. Like at all."

"So…What do you want to do tonight?"

"Girls, here is another litre of margarita made by yours truly! Tell me what you think 'bout it!"

Artemis sighed and looked around her. She really didn't want to sing along with Zatanna and Rocket, and getting drunk was an even less appealing idea. And, apparently, Brucely was very happy with only Cassie.

"Well, how about you tell me where Dick Grayson is?" Artemis asked and Barbara pressed her lips together.

"You want the truth? I don't know." She seemed pretty upset, and sad.

She saw Barbara bite her lips. A new song started, and Zatanna became even more excited.

"'Cause you make feeeel like, I've been locked out of heaveeeen!"

"You've been to his apartment a few times?"

"Yeah, like the first few days after the REACH invasion. After that, I kinda stopped seeing him."

"Why?"

"Issues. Plenty of bad issues."

Artemis bit at her lower lip. She knew that the relationship between Batman's two protégés have always been…complicated. Nobody's known exactly if they were best friends or lovers. Wally never told her, maybe because he himself didn't know. Barbara turned her head to observed the girls who were singing and a muscle above her eye twitched with slight annoyance.

"You want to talk about it?"

"You really want to hear about the problems of your friends to forget your own problems?" Barbara asked. Damn, why did she have to always be this smart?

"For too loooong, for too looooong oh oh oh oh!" The voices of Zatanna and Rocket filled the air, getting louder by the minute. Artemis hoped the neighbours didn't complain.

"Yep." She didn't even bothered to lie.

"Unfortunately, I don't want to talk about mine. So hush, and drink your margarita. Karen is, indeed, really good at it."


|NEW ORLEANS

|SEPTEMBER 18, 01:45 EDT

"So, why are you in New Orleans, Roy?"

They were sitting at the bar, the redhead drinking the whisky he wanted for hours and Dick drinking bourbon, which was better than the beer he had been drinking alone in his apartment for the past few weeks. Dick looked at the magician he was with earlier, who was now drinking and laughing with her friends, probably others magicians, her "people", like she said.

"I already told you, I'm here to take care of you." The archer responded simply. "Because, apparently, you can't do this alone."

"Is it Bruce who sent you here?" Dick raised an eyebrow. "Because if this is Bruce, you can tell him that I can-"

"Slow down there, Boy Wonder! I haven't talked to big bad Bats for weeks."

"So, who send you here? Tim? Artemis? Oh, wait, I know! Barbara?" He tried to guess and Roy sighed.

"No one sent me here Dick. I came on my own, because you need help."

The redhead emphasized the last three words and the younger man crossed his arms over his chest as he spoke again.

"I don't need help. I'm fine."

"Yeah, I can see that," Roy said with a sarcastic snort, "first, you locked everybody away and exiled yourself in your apartment for what? A month maybe? And now, you are here in New Orleans, far from your home, using your charm to try to find a way to get Wally back. But you have to face it, Dick, like everybody did: Wally is dead."

Dick bit at the inside of his cheek as one of his closest and oldest friends said the words he denied every day. Roy looked at him, waiting for his response. After a few moments, Grayson talked again.

"What do you really want, Roy?" And he saw the archer roll his eyes.

"I told you: I'm here for you."

"Listen Roy, do I have to remind you that a few months ago, it was you in my place? I have nothing to learn from you."

It was a low blow, Dick knew it, but he couldn't help himself. He wanted to be alone, doing his research on his own, not with a friend who reminded him of how big a failure he was right now and what he was doing didn't help. Lucky for him, Roy didn't seem to care too much.

"Yeah, I know that. Besides, Wally was my friend too. So I can understand what you are going through. The only one who can really understand what you feel." The former protégé of Green Arrow explained and Dick sighed.

"Listen Roy…I…I just want, need to be alone for a little while. Can you understand?"

This time, it was Roy's turn to sigh. Dick slap himself mentally as he made the decision to not tell Harper about the information of Wally being perhaps not-so-dead. He was already sceptic about what the magician had just said to him a few minutes ago, and the information may be totally false. It could be some sick joke for all he knew And he hated lying to his friend's face but he couldn't bear the weight of giving Roy false hope. Not now.

"Yes. Yes I can."

Dick said to himself that once he had more concrete information, he would tell everybody about Wally. And then, he would get his best friend back and Artemis will have her soulmate back.


|HAPPY HARBORD

|SEPTEMBER 18, 03:45 EDT

There was someone in his apartment. Mal could hear the footstep of the unknown person who wasn't even trying to be quiet. He looked at the clock. 03:34. The lights blinked at him mockingly. The young man groaned loudly at the sight of the hour and returned into his sheets…

Until someone sat down almost on top of him. Malcolm opened an eye with a sighed. He only saw black skin and dark hair but it was enough for him to know who was there. He knew this person too well.

"Karen? What the hell are you doing up in the middle of the night? In my apartment?" The new Guardian asked, mumbling into his pillow.

"'Just wanted to see you!" Was all she said.

Malcolm made an unsuccessful attempt to wake up and barely managed to get himself to sit upright. His girlfriend was here, sitting on his bed with an alcohol-induced smile on her face. He remembered that she had said this morning that she had a party at Artemis' house tonight. He thought it would be a sleepover and that she wouldn't be home before lunch.

"At three thirty in the morning?" Malcolm frowned as Karen started laughing.

"Oops!" It seemed that she wasn't aware of the time. "I didn't see what time it was when I left the girls."

"And why aren't you with your friends right now?"

She bit her lips in a way that always made Malcolm go crazy and he raised an eyebrow.

"Well, Artemis didn't want to have party and she went to bed at midnight…or something like that? I don't remember." The scientist started. "We organ…or…crap! We or-ga-ni-zed all that for her but she insisted on acting like a real party-pooper."

"You can't blame her. She's going through a lot of things, sweetie. Give her some time and don't give up. I'm sure she will be okay one of these days." He tried to reassure her and leaned forward to kiss the top of her head.

"Right. Anyways. Raquel fell asleep one hour ago on Artemis' couch. She drank too muuuuch margarita."

"Margarita? As in your infamous margarita?" He asked, interested.

"Yep!" She popped the "p" and smiled at him. "And I had no idea she could hold her liquor as well. I had to make like six batches. And she drank a lot. Like, a lot, y'know?"

"Damn…" Mal mumbled under his breath.

He knew that Karen's margaritas have always been very…strong. He had to taste all of her experiments, and the last he remembered gave him the worst headache he ever has. But it was also delicious. Maybe it was because of that that it has always been hard to stop drinking them.

"And the others?"

"Cassie went home at midnight 'cause her parents didn't want her to stay. Y'know, 'cause she's a minor." She lied next to her boyfriend who wrapped his strong arms around her. "Zatanna disappeared, like literally, when I went. She didn't seem to be drunk. By the way, who knew that she loved Bruno Mars?"

"Not me." He answered as he started drawing circle on her right arm. "But I must say I'm not surprised. I mean, you know, his songs are very sweet and always talk about love and all, and Zee is a sweetheart. It seems pretty logical to me."

"That's exactly what I thought," She continued with a yawned. "And Barbara stopped talking when we started talking about boys when Artemis went to bed. It was really weird, like she had a guy who broke her heart or something like that… Y'know, we thought it was because of Nightwing. Silly, huh? I…think she left first."

"Are they all home now? Well, except Raquel?"

"I think so."

"So you should sleep, sweetie. You must be exhausted."

He didn't have to tell her twice.


|MOUNT JUSTICE

|SEPTEMBER 19, 18:59 EDT

Her head was killing her. Literally. Zatanna posed a glass of aspirin on the table in front of her and smiled fondly. Raquel growled. She hated having a headache and this one was particularly terrible. But she loved having a decent party, and last night had been really fun.

"Thanks, Zee." The black girl thanked her with a small smile.

"You were pretty out last night!" Her friend laughed.

"Tell that to Karen and her margarita… It's the devil in glasses!" Raquel growled before finishing her glass. "Where is she anyway?"

"I think she is with Mal. He called me this morning." Zatanna explained. "He wanted to know if I arrived safely at home last night."

"He didn't call me!"

"You were at Artemis'. I suppose Karen told him, huh?"

"Right."

They became silent as Kaldur entered the Mount Justice's kitchen. Raquel suddenly found her feet really interesting and the leader of the team passed in front of them without even looking at her. In fact, he avoided her.

"Ladies."

"Hey Kaldur!"

"Kaldur'ham."

The tension was horrible. The Atlantean took a bottle of water from fridge and quickly left the room without another word.

"Whoa. The tension between you two is…" The magician started.

"Horrible? Terrific? Awful?" Raquel tried with a whine.

"You two never talk since…y'know?"

Kaldur and Raquel had been dating for a few months after Savage tried to take the control of the league five years ago. Then Tula and Garth came to the Team. They ended things after Raquel had seen how he looked at Aquagirl when she wasn't looking. She understood at that moment that her boyfriend still had feelings for the girl, and strong feelings. They had always been awkward around each other since that day. Then Tula died, Raquel moved to the Justice League and she rarely had opportunity to talk to Kaldur. After he 'betrayed' them, she had been devastated, of course, because he had been her boyfriend and she always told herself that she had to have noticed something was wrong with him when they were together. Finally she met Adrien, and recently he proposed to her. It was perfect. And then Artemis 'died'. And then Nightwing's plan had been revealed.

"Not really."

The way Kaldur had met Adrien had been…really, really awkward. He came to her apartment a few days after the end of the invasion. It was Adrien who opened the door. There was nothing more to say after he saw the ring on her finger. He looked devastated.

"And..." Zatanna tried.

"And what?" Raquel raised an eyebrow.

"Do you still love him?"

"Do I still love him? Maybe." The new Justice Leaguer said. "I mean, my heart is still beating faster when he's around, and sometimes, I catch myself thinking about what a 'us' would have been, if everything had been different. If he really ever loved me. But I don't want to be with a man who hurt me that much, who lied to me about everything. And I love Adrien. He's funny, smart, and sexy as hell and he makes me feel good."

"It look like you really thought about it." Raquel bit her lower lip.

"I did. I had many nights alone for that."

"Team, suit up and meet me at the briefing room in ten."

The Kaldur's voice interrupted them abruptly. The girls saw the younger members running to suit up the fastest. They walked through the girl's shower as Wonder Girl ran to them.

"Where is Batgirl?" A panting Cassie asked as she joined the older girls. "I through that she would be with us for this mission!" Cassie always liked being in missions with Batgirl.

"Sorry Cass', no Batgirl today! She is in Gotham with Robin. A thing with Black Mask, I think."


|GOTHAM CITY

|SEPTEMBER 19, 21:56 EDT

Batgirl pulled off her helmet as she looked at the sky. Robin was here, on the top of one these buildings, watching and waiting for the 'fun part' as they called it. The part where the bad guys would be here and the two vigilantes would kick their butts. She really liked working with Tim. He was serious during the mission but he always seemed to have fun when the fight began. Barbara always thought that it was Dick who taught that to the young hero. But it was still not the same what it had been with her best friend.

"Robin, do you see them?" She asked him through the communicator located in her ear.

"Yes." He responded quickly. "But no sign of Black Mask."

"It was something we should think about," The red-head sighed. "Artemis said it was the same thing the other day at Star City with the others. This guy rarely makes this little business by himself. He uses minions."

"But he does the big jobs which he can gain a lot from himself?" Tim guessed.

"Exactly."

They went silent again. It didn't bother either of them. Barbara always liked the silence, feeling everything around her, the wind and the natural sound of the city. And Tim always loved not talking because he could think properly, understand things he couldn't while he was talking or whilst someone was talking to him.

"Black Mask is here!" Tim suddenly said.

"Are you sure that this is him?" Barbara asked as she frowned.

"Absolutely sure." The young teen affirmed firmly.

"Then let's go, Robin!"

Their mission was simple: stop the drug exchanges and capture all of the people they can. The two of them appeared like shadows in the alley, between the fog and the waning moonlight. The sound of Batgirl's bike echoed in the street as Robin jumped from the building.

"Crap! The Bat-brats!" One of the guys screamed like a girl.

The pathetic dealers were already scared. Of course, the reputation of the Bat-Clan has always terrified the criminals of Gotham, even in the early Batman days, when the founder of the family fought crime alone.

Taking down the little dealers was in fact the easy part. Batgirl just had to throw a punch right in the jaw of the taller and sweep away the gun of his mate with her leg before Robin punched him in the guts. The smallest tried to escape, trying to steal Batgirl's bike. As swung his leg over the seat, she appeared in front of him, an evil smirk on her face.

"Leaving so soon?" She purred, adrenaline making everything sharper.

"I'm not afraid of you, little girl!" He shouted at her.

"Little girl? Little girl? Really? That's the best you could come up with?"

He hit the ground before he could say something back. Meanwhile, Robin threw a batarang at the last of them. He hit the wall, knocked out cold by the weapon. And then, an evil laugh filtered through the air. Deep, one of those that gave you nightmares.

"Well, well, well, what have we here?" Black Mask said as he appeared from the shadows. Alone. "The two Bat-brats! Where is the third? Y'know, the blue bird."

"Not here." Batgirl growled at him.

"It is such a shame, I really like him."

An armada of body guards appeared around their boss. Glock, AK47. They all had some of the more powerful weapons in the world. Taking them down was more difficult than the drug dealers. These ones were not afraid of them, or, at least, they hid it very well.

Barbara always thought that Black Mask was a pathetic guy who wanted misery for everybody, but she never underestimates his skills. She jumped and threw a punch at one of the big guys. He stopped her just in time before using her arm as leverage to toss her violently against the wall. Her vision went fuzzy but she saw Tim flew over the guy. Batgirl stood up quickly and took the gun off one of the man easier than she thought possible and punched him before going after another guy.

"Robin! We have to get Black Mask! He's our priority!" She yelled as he beat the crap out of the henchmen.

"Understood!" He noted.

She threw another punch, and another, and another, and another, and another again. Each one of the kicks were blocked by this big guy. Finally she feinted to the left, flipped away to build up momentum and ran right at him to tackle him. His head struck the tar of the road with a sickening crack. A soft groan escaped his lips but he did not move further. Barbara looked around her. Three guys were surrounding Robin, and Black Mask was nowhere to be found. Did he escape once again? Bruce will have their heads for letting him get away so easily. And then, suddenly, Tim screamed.

"BATGIRL! LOOK OUT!"


to be continued...