Author's Note: This is the side story to my other fic 'Rogue's Status.' I definitely recommend reading that one first. I mean, theoretically, this could be read as a stand alone, but you'd be real confused, so I don't recommend it. Thanks for continuing on with this story guys! Read, review, and enjoy!
"Am I supposed to dress this fancy?" Wally asked anxiously.
Hartley clucked his tongue at him, "If you told me where you were going, I'd be able to properly answer you. I'm working with what I have right now."
Wally scowled, "Well, I don't know either. He said that it was going to be a surprise, but that I should dress nice. That's the only answer I got. Don't blame me!"
Cameron called out from his spot on the bed, "Don't mind him, Hartley. Wally's just nervous because he's going on his first date. He's worried that he's going to screw things up right from the get-go. Poor street kid turned supervillain going on a date with a superhero who won't tell him his identity. He's worried that everything that could possibly go wrong would go wrong."
"First of all," Wally said, glaring at his friend, "That's incredibly not helpful. Second of all, if I didn't know you and your peculiar brand of awkward, that would have sounded so mean." He glanced at himself in the mirror, watched as Hartley held an outfit up against him as he stood there. It was simple with small little accents that made it Wally's. It was a plain white dress shirt (Wally had protested against that, certain that he was going to spill something on himself, but Hartley wouldn't hear any different) and black slacks. His socks, completely covered by the pants and nice black shoes, were physics themed, covered in little equations that only made sense to a very small number of people. His cuff links were little lightning bolts. When he'd first gotten them for Christmas, he'd been mildly offended because that was the Flash's symbol, but they ended up growing on him. He may not be associated with the Flash (the opposite, actually), but he was still a speedster and he had gotten his powers from the explosive power of lightning and his own powers left trails of lightning behind him when he ran. Lightning was an essential part of who he was.
Cameron ignored him, staring at his phone and laughing, "This site on dating advice says, 'Brush your teeth, bad breath will make us think that you have a rotten soul and it's trying to escape out of your mouth.' That's so apt right now."
Wally glared at him, expression flat and unamused. He opened his mouth to say something, but James chirped, "Have you brushed your teeth, Wally?" before he got the chance to speak.
Sighing, Wally closed his eyes and resisted the urge to pinch his nose only because Hartley was still holding ties up to Wally's chest and Wally really didn't want to accidently get in the older teen's way at the moment.
"Okay, okay. I've got this! I found this website with eleven steps that will make sure that you get her – er, well, I'm just going to assume it counts both ways, so, him – to agree to that second date. Let's see, be normal. You're screwed there. Um, be on time? We might be able to manage that one if Hartley stops hen-picking your appearance." Cameron neatly dodged the projectile that Hartley threw at him, but James was not so fortunate. He was beaned in the forehead and knocked off the bed. He didn't seem to be getting back up again. Cameron kept going, "Dress well and take pride in your appearance. I think it's going to be impossible to not be dressed well at this point. You got to take pride in it! Are you proud? We'll figure that out later. Okay, have a well-designed date. Pretty sure that's your boyfriend's purview at this point since he's planning it. Skipping! Barely let her in the plan. Also under your boyfriend's responsibilities. You're the girl in this relationship now, in case you were wondering. Compliment him. I'm assuming you have something to compliment him on since you decided to date him. Have a conversation. Meaning, don't just talk about yourself. That'll be hard for you. The only things you know how to talk about are yourself and science, which is lame."
"Is there anything actually useful in here?" Hartley growled, poking Wally when he started to slump.
Wally resisted the urge to put his head in his hands, "Why did I let you guys in here while I was trying to get ready for a date?"
Cameron kept going, heedless, "Prepare your first date questions and conversation starters. You two used to text a lot, right? I'm sure you can get something in there to help you think of conversations. And if you freeze, you can just slow down time until you think of something else. There, that was useful. Happy? Let's see… know when to go for the first date kiss. I mean, you guys have already kissed, so… still counts? I mean, don't pressure him and don't let him pressure you. Land a second date. I feel like one of the steps to landing a second date shouldn't be landing a second date. I don't know. I feel like that's kind of redundant. The last one just says to keep in touch, which I'm sure the two of you can manage. The whole texting thing again."
"I hate my life." Wally moaned as Hartley discarded another tie.
Hartley glanced upwards at him, something almost pitying flashing across his face before he gave a put-upon sigh and said, "Look, Wally. It's going to be harder for you than it would be if you were with a stranger. When good friends try to go for a relationship, it's harder because they feel like something should be different in their conversations, in their actions. They push too hard for romance. They forget that the reason they fell in love with each other was because of their friendship. This is just a conversation between two good friends with romantic undertones. You're on your first date. It doesn't have to be ridiculously romantic when you already know each other. The romance part will come with time, let the friendship carry you there."
Blinking, Wally nodded, "That's… surprisingly good advice. Speaking from personal experience?"
"He's speaking from experience reading his fan fiction!" James chirped, magically on the bed again. Wally twisted around slightly to stare incredulously at James. The kid was a ninja when he wanted to be.
Hartley turned bright red, "James!" The whole room laughed. Hartley sighed loudly and threw down the ties in disgust, "You're going without a tie. I can't find one that works. Now, are you two meeting at the restaurant or are you meeting somewhere else? He's not coming here, is he?"
"No, of course not. Who do you think I am? There's no way I'm going to burn a safe house this early in our relationship. And we're meeting at the park where we met each other. I figure he's going to take me through the zeta beam since I already know where it is. Maybe bring me somewhere in Gotham? Or somewhere else? We could literally go on a date pretty much anywhere in the world between the two of us." Wally answered, affronted at the beginning, but more musing by the end.
Squinting, Hartley looked his outfit up and down for a moment before tilting his head side to side, "You need a jacket. If you're meeting outside in January, then you definitely need a jacket. And yes, I know that you're wearing long sleeves and an undershirt. I don't care. If you don't get cold, then at the very least he's going to get cold and it'll be romantic to give him your jacket. Or you'll be even warmer if he wants to lean into your side as you walk or something."
"Really?" Cameron asked, leaning forward on his stomach.
"Oh, so now you're interested in my dating advice?" Hartley asked scathingly.
Cameron frowned and shifted slightly, "Pretty sure you're the only one in this group who's actually gone on a date before. That pretty much makes you the expert."
"I've gone on dates! I have! Me!" James yelled, waving his hand in the air.
Cameron raised his eyebrows, "Seriously? How far you'd get?" He was smiling softly at the oldest teenager of their group. James shrugged and winked, and Cameron started laughing, clutching his stomach and falling back on the bed. James beamed down at him, happy to have gotten someone smiling. Wally smiled back at his family, glad to be able to say that with out the instinctive anger and fear and frustration. He was glad to be able to be here with these people, glad to have people help him through his first date, glad to have a first date in the first place.
Sure, the family was dorky and stupid, and they got in way too many fights. They were in desperate need of a woman's touch in all of their houses. They were so illegal it wasn't even funny (like, several life sentences per person, illegal). They were messed up and broken and a complete mess. They were the best family Wally could have asked for.
Hartley murmured quietly, "You're getting an unbearably sappy expression on your face." Wally gave a small smile and a huff of a laugh before looking back at himself in the mirror. Hartley continued softly, "I know the feeling. It takes a little bit of getting used to. Everything feels normal and then, next thing you know, you're abruptly reminded that this is your family and you can finally think fondly on that word. You're reminded that these people care about you in a way that not even you care about you. I'll be honest and say that even when you get used to it, the feelings never fade. There will always be moments when you'll look around you and be surprised that this is your family."
"I'm not sure I'd want the feeling to fade either way." Wally said, just as softly.
He and Hartley shared a smile before Hartley stepped back a little bit and patted him on the shoulder, "Looks like you're ready to go. And before you even say anything, you are not running there. I worked hard on this appearance and you are not screwing it up. Get one of the adults to go drive you."
"What? So they can complain about having to drive me and make fun of me about my first date all in one go? That sounds like a fabulous idea. Really, I'm impressed." Wally said archly.
Hartley rolled his eyes, "Idiot." He didn't grace them with any more of an answer, instead stalking out of the room and towards his own.
After a second, James chirped, "I'm going to go with him. Have fun on your date!" And then he was gone, disappearing down the hallway.
Wally turned to Cameron and did a full circle, arms out, "What do you think?"
"I think I'm happy for you. I think I'm happy for me too. And so thankful that you brought me here." Cameron said in a moment of seriousness.
Trying to adopt a sarcastic smile, Wally realized that the only thing he could do was grin at his friend and go for a hug. Cameron rolled his eyes, but he was clinging just as tightly to Wally as Wally was to him. Wally whispered, "We got out, together. We did it. You're a Rogue now and we're going to treat you right. We're your family now."
"You think I'm going to be adopted too at some point?" Cameron asked, a laugh in his voice, but a serious glint in his eyes.
Wally nodded back, just as serious, "I'm starting to sense a pattern. They'll wait until you're comfortable and then they'll find some way to make sure that you're ready. They'll track down your family members and get guardianship transferred to them."
"How did you know you were ready? To let go of your family?" Cameron asked worriedly.
"I'm not sure it's the same between the two of us. I was always ready to let go of my family. That was never the problem. My problem was that I wasn't ready to get a new one. You've got the opposite problem. I think you'd have to talk to one of the others about that." Wally answered with a wince. His family had never really been a family. It hadn't been all that much of a hardship to let go. Sure, there were times when he wondered where his mother was. There were times when he reminisced on the times before he'd realized that what his parents were doing was wrong. There were times he desperately missed the feeling of warmth he'd had with Uncle Barry and Aunt Iris. But there were never times that he regretted finding his own way in the world. It led him here and he was never going to complain about that.
Letting out a little sigh, Cameron nodded and stepped back, "Okay, I get that. Anyways, you better get going. You're going to be late for your date at this point!"
"Fashionably late!" Wally called as he started out the door.
Cameron called back, "It's never fashionable when you're on a date! Apparently! That's was the website said!"
Wally laughed as he went down the stairs as quickly as he could without potentially ruining the work that Hartley had done. Digger glanced up as he made his way down the stairs, "For a bogan, you certainly clean up nice."
"For a what? What did you call me?" Wally asked, weaving through the living room and heading towards the kitchen where he was pretty sure Sam was.
Digger called back to him, "Look it up, mate! I'm not going to define all of my proper English for all you seppos!"
"Stop calling us weird names!" Mark called from the tool room where he was rigging something for a heist. Digger just chuckled and took a swig of his water.
Rolling his eyes, Wally headed further into the house, finding himself in the kitchen. Sam was in the process of recording a heist plan from Mick. He kept asking Mick to back up and repeat things which was making both of them short tempered. So, not only were they irritable, they were in the middle of something that couldn't be interrupted. Fantastic. Just Wally's luck. With the kid Rogues either not possessing a driver's license or not old enough for one, Mark, Mick, and Sam all working on heist things, and Digger immersed in his television show, Wally had to ask Len to drive him. Awesome. He was going to be not only be made fun of and subjected to Len's complaining, but he was also going to have to suffer through the riot act, lecturing him on not making a mess of the situation. Why was this his life?
Groaning, Wally dared to interrupt the two Rogues, "Hey, where's Len at?"
Mick glanced up and narrowed his eyes at Wally's appearance, "What are you dressed up for?"
Wally ignored him and turned pointedly to Sam who shrugged and muttered, "Probably in the backyard. Might be in the freezer. Said he wanted to do something with his gun, so both are viable locations."
"Thanks. Good luck on your heist!" Wally called as he made his way towards the freezer, which was closer.
Sam called back, "Thanks! Good luck on your date!"
Smiling, Wally got to the freezer and checked it, pulling it open. He barely dodged the blast of ice that came flying out at him. Wally put a hand to his chest and hissed, "If that was anyone but me, or maybe Cameron, that would have been practically lethal."
"It's a new formula. I was going to test it on whoever opened the door. Theoretically, it shouldn't be too dangerous, just inconvenient." Len drawled, glancing down at his gun.
Wally shook his head, "Unbelievable. Well, now that you've messed up my hair, want to drive me to my date?"
"Why would I drive you? Nevermind, I know the answer to that. Fine. Let me put my gun away properly. And maybe grab something warm. This parka is quite good at keeping out the chill, but even so, I was starting to get a little cool." Len muttered as he walked past Wally.
Staring incredulously, Wally asked, "Would you have just sat in that freezer for however long it took for someone to go get you? You know that the only one who would actually muster up the energy to go look for you would be Mick, and he would actually kill you if you shot him with your cold gun, right?" Len made a noncommittal sound and disappeared upstairs.
Wally shook his head in consternation. His family was unbelievable. And absolutely crazy. When did it become normal to talk about heists and get your adopted father (it was really, really weird to think about Len that way) out of the freezer? Wally supposed it never really became normal. He just became weird. Well, weirder.
Len came downstairs a moment later, dressed in a new parka, this one without the frost that had formed during a long stint in the huge freezer they owned. He motioned quickly towards the car and walked towards it with purpose, as if it was Wally who had made Len wait. Unbelievable. Wally couldn't help the way his lips curled up at the corners anyways.
Dick twisted as he glanced at himself in the mirror. This was okay, right? Just the right level of fancy for the restaurant they were going to. He'd been nervous about the idea of bringing Wally to a fancy restaurant at all. It didn't entirely seem like their thing? Like, Dick knew that they didn't really have a thing. This was their first date. Still, their interactions had been at a park, at an old diner, and at the Cave. The Cave was where most of their interactions came from, but Wally was a prisoner there, so Dick really couldn't extrapolate data from that. There really was no way for him to tell how Wally would react to a fancy dinner. He hadn't said anything bad when Dick had mentioned that he should dress nice; he'd actually seemed excited. Had he ever even been to a fancy restaurant?
That was a sobering thought and, officially, not one that Dick was going to think about on date night. He did not need that thought weighing him down. If this was his first time, though, Dick was going to make it the best time. It was going to be wonderful and perfect and asterous and totally not whelming. He was good. It was good. Everything was good.
Roy's voice cut through his nerves, "Are you done preening?"
Dick scowled back at him through the mirror, "I have plenty of time for preening, thank you very much. And I have plenty to preen about." He sent Roy a smug smirk. The archer in question just rolled his eyes.
"You have managed to… how do you say it? Clean up nice?" Kaldur attempted awkwardly, lips quirking up in a little half smile at the laughs he received.
"Yeah, that's how you say it." Roy snorts, rolling his eyes.
Kaldur gets that little oh-so-innocent smirk that means he's about to be a troll before he asks, "And when will you be cleaned up nice for your first date with Cheshire?"
Roy turns as red as his uniform, blushing horribly. He coughs awkwardly into his palm and mutters, "We might have skipped the first date and went straight to third base."
"Aha! Told you! Training for baby making!" Dick shouts, victorious. He can vaguely hear a choking sound outside his door before the footsteps that had been passing by gained speed. Oops. Bruce probably didn't need to hear that.
Kaldur raises his eyebrows at Roy, at once impressed and slightly frustrated. Roy sighed and scrubbed a hand through his hair, "Well, we were yelling at each other. About the whole, you know, clone thing." Dick did know, and he almost wished he didn't. It had been more than just a little shock to find out what Roy was. At the moment, the knowledge was kept between Cheshire, Wally, Kaldur, Dick, and Roy, but Dick felt like they were going to have to expand their membership a little further, soon. Cheshire was chasing down old Light haunts, Wally was networking like no one's business, and Kaldur, Dick, and Roy were leading their own search, but they weren't finding him. The original Roy was very well hidden. Roy continued after a minute pause, "Then, it was kind of like… she just up and pushed me against the wall and kissed me? It led to one thing and another. I'm pretty sure that's what's called 'angry sex', too. I don't know. But, I don't particularly mind, either. We've just kind of settled into this pattern. We eat our meals together and patrol together and we sleep together. She's gone a lot on her searches, but when she's home, she does little tasks around the apartment to neaten it up and organize it. I don't know. We haven't really made anything official, but neither of us really like talking about feelings, so it's not that surprising."
Dick's smile was a little softer, a lot more genuine when he responded, "Congratulations! I'm happy for you."
"As am I." Kaldur stated with a smile.
Dick grinned at the Atlantean, "Now, all we've got to do is get you a girl. Or boy. You do you."
"I am afraid that I am not ready to consider the idea of a romantic partner. I had truly believed that Tula was the one and I will need some time to recover from that." Kaldur gave them a sad smile before laughing slightly, "Besides, I am not sure that there is anyone that is even interested in pursuing a relationship with me."
Roy rolled his eyes, "As much as I'm loathe to say this, I think you've got a real chance with Artemis. I think you two might actually be good together. Again, I am very loathe to say that and it will not be repeated outside of this room."
Dick's brow furrowed, "Wait, as much as I'm all for Kaldur and Artemis getting together, are we sure that Artemis isn't dating Zatanna? Because, sometimes, it's kind of hard to tell."
"Nah, Zatanna's in a long distance relationship with some guy who calls himself Nick Necro up in New York. I heard her and Artemis talking about it when I was grabbing something from the kitchen one time." Roy said.
Dick frowned, "Huh, never would have guessed. Well, there you go, Kaldur! She's open for your attempts at a relationship!"
Kaldur gave him an indulging smile, "Alright, I will keep that in mind for further interactions. For the mean time, I suggest you finish up soon. We will have to depart quickly to reach the meeting point on time."
Dick glanced over at his clock in alarm. And yep, they had just wasted a ton of time talking about relationships. That was awkward. Quickly straightening his hair and settling his favorite pair of dark sunglasses over the bridge of his nose, Dick glanced at himself in the mirror, turning this way and that. He turned around, towards his friends, and asked, "Yes? No? Am I good?"
"You're good." Roy said, nodding his approval, expression serious to show that he was being genuine. Kaldur gave him the same response, a proud smile adorning his face.
"Okay. Okay, we're good. Let's go then. I've got my phone. Communicator is out because I will only be contacted for a serious emergency. Bruce knows where I'm going. You guys don't so you can't creepy stalk my first date. Alfred approved the restaurant and went ahead and made a reservation for me. I'm dressed. I've got my sunglasses. We're good. Golden."
"We are good." Roy agreed, standing up and stretching out.
He yawned, jaw cracking slightly as he did so. The three of them headed out of Dick's room and down the front stair case. Alfred and Bruce were waiting at the bottom of the steps. Bruce's expression was settled in a frown that Dick knew meant lecture. Sure enough, Bruce started as soon as Dick reached the bottom of the stairs, "You know to keep your glasses on at all times? And to not let him pressure you into anything? Make sure he doesn't steal anything while you're on your date. I will not allow this relationship to continue if that happens. You have the credit card and something to identify you as Freddie, the person who the reservation is for?"
"Yes, yes, got it, and yes. I'll be fine, Bruce." Dick groaned, darting in to give Bruce a quick hug before heading towards the front door.
Alfred sent him a quick, amused, proud smile and commented idly, "I believe what Master Bruce meant to say is that he is very proud of you and that he hopes your first date goes well."
"Thanks Alfred. And Bruce." Dick smiled widely, heading out the door with Roy and Kaldur flanking him, "I'll see you guys later tonight!"
The two of them waved to him from the door, talking quietly to each other about something or another (probably Dick, if he was being honest). Dick got into the car Roy had grudgingly borrowed from Oliver and they set off. Next step: his first date.
Author's Note: And there we have it! Chapter 1! I was going to put the date in this chapter, but then the lead up ended up being so long and I wasn't sure who's POV I wanted it in, so I just decided that would be next chapter. So, for updates? It won't be every week – most likely. I'm going to try to update as often as possible, but I'm focusing most of my efforts on 'The Circus' instead. The aim for this story is to fill in the time between chapter 65 of 'Rogue's Status' and the epilogue. Hopefully, I'll be able to do that before I start working on the sequel. We'll see. Thanks for reading!