This has actually been finished for a few weeks now, but I'm just now getting around to posting it. Enjoy the angst!
"I didn't have a choice!"
"There's always a choice."
"It's not like you were the only person I didn't tell."
"Like that makes it better?"
"I'm sorry, okay? I was just trying to do what was best for the mission."
"Was it worth it?"
Dick used to look at Wally and think he didn't deserve him, but in that "how did I get so lucky?" kind of way. Now he looks at Wally and knows he doesn't deserve him, but in that "how can he stand to look at me?" kind of way. The kind that makes his empty stomach churn. Wally yells at him after he finishes, and it's not enough. He knows he hurt people—he knew he would before he did it—but dealing with it is something he could never truly prepare for. He doesn't bother mentioning that it wasn't just him that came up with the plan because it doesn't matter at this point.
He expects Wally to leave after that. Break up with him, cuss him out, punch him even. But Wally doesn't. And that makes it worse.
No. Instead, Wally glares at him and shakes and goes quiet. He re-stitches the wound on Dick's stomach and fixes him dinner before he says he's going out. Dick is told to stay put. And for once, he listens. He crawls into their bed and cries. He doesn't deserve to break down, not after what he did and the pain he caused, but he does anyway because the look Wally had in his eye was enough to push him over.
About an hour later, he hears Wally come home. He opens the door to their bedroom, probably just to make sure that Dick didn't run off. He stands in the doorway, just watching him. Eventually, Dick sits up and looks at him. "I'm sorry."
"I'm sleeping on the couch."
It hurts. But he deserves it. He deserves so, so much worse.
Dick wakes up early the next morning and finds that sure enough, Wally slept on the couch. He doesn't wake him up. He leaves a note on the coffee table letting Wally know he went to Gotham to check in. He knows Wally will be mad, but there really is a lot of work to be done. Taking last night off put him behind, and he can't afford to fall even further behind.
When he gets home later that evening, Wally is there. The couch is being used as a couch again, but the pillow and blanket are still close by. He wonders how long he'll have to sleep in that cold, empty bed.
"Where have you been?" Wally asks, and Dick doesn't know if he's relieved or terrified that he's speaking to him.
"Um, I went to Gotham to check in on how things went with Riddler last night, then I went into the station for a few hours before heading off to the Bludhaven base. I did some training with the Team, and then I caught up on some files and tried to track down Kaldur, Artemis, and M'gann."
Wally clenched his fist but doesn't comment. Instead, he says, "I want your case files. Everything you've been keeping since this little scheme of yours started."
Dick swallows. "Okay." He puts his bag down on the counter and pulls his laptop out. He doesn't open it right away, just rests his hands on it, frozen. A beat passes, then he turns his head halfway towards Wally and says, "You didn't tell anyone, did you?"
He bites his lip but doesn't look away. Because this is important; they've come so far, and they can't risk it all blowing up in their faces when they're so close.
"No, okay? I kept your little secret for you."
Dick nods, holding back the "thank you" that Wally doesn't want to hear. He opens his laptop and inserts a USB. He walks over to Wally and sits down on the couch, but not next to him (half on top of him) like he normally would. He opens the necessary files and hands them over to Wally. "This is our communication record, and then the other files are Kaldur's log, the intel he's retrieved, records specifically about the Light and their partner, the Reach, the Team's interactions with Aqualad, and then all of the precautions taken to keep this a secret."
Wally scrolls through it wordlessly, and Dick just sits there, unsure of what he's supposed to do with himself. Wally side-eyes him every now and then, but other than that—nothing.
He kind of wishes Wally would just yell at him some more.
"Have you eaten today?" Wally asks, but there's no concern in his voice. It's still anger, and Dick thinks his actions might have made it permanent.
Dick has to think. He doesn't think—wait, yes, he had a protein bar that Alfred had handed him when he left the Manor. But that was hours ago, and that probably explains the dizziness Dick's experiencing at the moment. "Yeah."
"A protein bar, a few hours ago."
Wally scoffs but doesn't have to say anything else for Dick to kick into action. He pushes himself off the couch, mumbling an "I'll find something in the fridge." as he does. Wally doesn't say anything verbally, but there's this sense of "you better" that hangs in the air.
Wally spends the next hour and a half reading through the files, and when he finishes, he doesn't say anything. Just closes the laptop calmly and slides it onto the coffee table. He stands, looking almost dazed, and announces that he's going on a walk, that he needs some air. Wally clearly went on more than a walk, though, because he's gone for almost two hours. He comes back with windswept hair and flushed cheeks. He has a paper bag of takeout held in one arm against his chest, and he doesn't even tell Dick to come to the table, just gestures at him impatiently. They eat in silence—Dick chewing slowly as he watches Wally out of the corner of his vision, waiting for him to snap at him—and it's not until they're halfway finished that Wally finally says something.
Wally lets his fork drop with a clatter and looks up at Dick with an angry expression. "Has it ever occurred to you that Kaldur might be playing you too? That he's a triple agent?"
Dick glares at him, already getting defensive. "Kaldur wouldn't—"
"He almost killed you!" Wally yells as he stands, eyes wild.
Right. The explosion. Dick lets his shoulders drop; he can explain this. "It was all in the flash drive. He knew we would have to pursue to make it look legit, and that's exactly what happened." Dick stays seated, tries to remain level-headed and calm. "But he gave us time to get out. We just—we got caught in the debris field."
"Do you even hear yourself?"
"The cave is—was—just a place!" Now he's standing, and his defensiveness is turning into anger. "Worth sacrificing if it means advancing the mission," Dick huffs. There are tears building up in the corners of his eyes and he so wishes he was wearing a mask. "Look, I'm sorry you lost all of your souvenirs."
"Are you serious?" Wally shoves him back into his chair. "I don't care about that junk; I'm worried about you!"
The next afternoon, Dick sees Wally come out of their room with a bag slung over his shoulder.
He quickly sits up from his lying position on the couch, but he can't bring himself to stand up and move towards him. "Wally, please don't leave. If you need to be away from me for a bit, I get it. But I'll go. You don't need to."
"I'm going to Central. Bart and Barry asked me to come over, and I'm planning on staying there tonight. Either Barbara or Tim will cover Nightwing's patrol route. I told them to stop here first for a debriefing and to check in on you since I won't be here."
"Wally, I'm fi—"
"Can we agree that you'll stop lying to me?" Wally snaps. "At least for the rest of the week?"
Dick pushes himself deeper against the arm of the couch.
"Do you have any idea what you put us through?" Wally continues. "What you put me through? Just because you don't care about what happens to you doesn't mean I don't. And after everything that has been happening—or not happening—you are not putting me through losing you. So, you're taking a few days. Clear?"
Dick nods, eyes glued to the floor because he can't bring himself to look at Wally.
"I'll be back tomorrow."
After two weeks, things significantly calm down. Wally and Dick are sleeping in the same bed again, and Dick is able to do vigilante work without Wally's gaze threatening to kill him. They're not back to normal—still tense, hurt feelings and arguments lingering in their air—and Dick is starting to realize that they won't be for a while. He knew that going in, but he didn't realize just how long "a while" was going to be until now.
When he gets onto the apartment's fire escape after Bludhaven patrol that night, he sees that the lamp in the living room is on. He crawls in, surprised to find that Wally isn't there studying. He does that sometimes, most nights if he can. He'll stay up studying while he waits for Dick, just to make sure he gets in okay and that nothing is wrong. It's not really something he used to do, but—he's worried. He thinks Dick is doing too much and it's like he's waiting (preparing) for Dick to slip up. Dick's kind of waiting too.
"Everything go okay?"
Dick jumps. He's off his game. "Thanks for the warning."
Dick waves him off, starts taking off his suit. "How long have you been standing there?"
"I was in the kitchen and heard the window open."
"Are you still heading to Gotham?"
Dick nods. "Yeah, just need to change." Wally's still watching him, he looks like he wants to say something. "What?"
Wally shakes his head. "Nothing, forget it. Just—be safe tonight, okay?"
"Yeah." Dick looks at the worrisome bags under Wally's eyes. "Get some sleep."
Wally nods, a silent promise. "Are you coming home tonight?"
"Probably. I'll text you either way."
"Okay. Night." Wally waves at him and heads for the bathroom.
Dick heads to their room to change into his Batman uniform, not wanting to waste time going to the Cave to change. He wasn't expecting a kiss or a hug, but still, not getting one makes him feel hallow.
Wally's still in the bathroom when Dick leaves, and he hears the shower running. He leaves through the window again, still not feeling like himself but feeling less empty now that he can focus on night's plans instead of his and Wally's fragile (but healing) relationship status.
But within two hours he's inhaling mouthfuls of Joker gas and he can't get enough oxygen in. His laughter is filling the room, blocking out all of his other senses. He's choking on the sound, stomach contracting so painfully he wonders if it's still possible to pull Wally's stitches. Joker's getting away, and by the time his vision fades out, he's still alone. All alone.
When he comes to, there's a needle in his hand and a nasal cannula in his nostrils. He turns his head to find Alfred. "The others okay?" Dick asks, and damn, his throat hurts.
"Both in good health, Master Dick. Miss Barbara went home shortly after you were stabilized, and I sent Master Tim up to bed about an hour ago. You, on the other hand, received an unusually large dose of Joker gas."
Dick grunts in approval. His chest and stomach definitely hurt enough to prove that. "Joker?"
"Recaptured and being moved back to Arkham as we speak. And thanks to your efforts, he wasn't able to release his venom upon the rest of Gotham."
Right, Dick had set it off in the warehouse. He knew he wasn't going to be able to get to Joker fast enough, so he shot down the hot air balloon and released the gas in the warehouse, hoping the gas wouldn't travel too far out of the lot's vicinity. It had just been him and Joker in there; no harm done.
Calculated and hopeful as the plan was though, Dick had to admit, it was still reckless. Effective yes, but reckless all the same. Wally wouldn't be pleased. "You didn't call Wally, did you?"
"Why, of course I did," Alfred says, raising an eyebrow like he doesn't know Dick and Wally are . . . tense. "Once you were stabilized, I called Master Wally to fill him in on tonight's escapades. I told him you were stable but that I would like for you to stay here for observation. He's on his way here from Bludhaven now."
"Yes, he did," Wally's voice sounds through the Cave.
"Ah, Master Wally." Dick didn't even hear him come down the stairs. "Can I get you something to eat? Or perhaps a warm beverage?"
"I'm good, but thanks, Alfred," Wally says, smiling, turning the keys in his hands.
"Very well. If everything is alright, Master Dick, I shall take my leave."
"I'm okay, Alfie."
Alfred nods, standing up from the chair at Dick's bedside. He pats his shoulder once, and then he's gone.
Wally doesn't speak until Alfred's footsteps become inaudible. Then he sighs, looks at Dick and says, "You know I love you, right?"
"Yeah." He wasn't sure, actually. After all, you can be worried about people you don't love. He does it all the time as Nightwing. And you can definitely be mad and angry with people you don't love. After the betrayal that Dick put Wally through—after he made Wally mourn one of his best friends—well, Dick wouldn't blame him for hating him. "I love you, too."
"You just—you scare me sometimes, babe."
Wally hasn't called him that since their big argument, and it feels so amazing on his ears.
"I'm sorry," he says, because what else can he say?
"It's who you are," Wally tells him, walking closer. "This is your life, and no matter how much I hate it sometimes, I can't ask you to give it up. Or the things that go with it."
Dick's heart is racing from the uncertainty of not knowing what Wally will say next.
"But I can tell you that I'm always here for you," Wally says, grabs Dick's hand tightly in his own. And Dick squeezes it back, clings to it like the lifeline it truly is. "Don't get me wrong, I'm still pissed and I don't think I'm ever going to be happy with how this played out, but—" Wally shrugs "—it's a tough situation, things are complicated. And I know this has to be hard for you, too. So, I'm here for you, and I'm asking you to let me be there."
Dick tugs on his hand, pulls him into a hug. It feels like home. "I miss you," Dick tells him, whispers to him.
"I miss you, too," Wally says back, and Dick knows he means it.
"This is almost over, I promise."
Wally nods, breathes him in. "Good. Just don't die, okay?"
For the first time in a while, Dick is able to keep his promise to Wally. But Wally doesn't return the favor.
He feels like someone punched a hole through his chest. He's on his knees somewhere in the Arctic, right where the love of his life just vanished.
"Wally!" Dick chokes out in this broken voice that he can't recognize.
"He wanted me to tell you," Barry is saying, his hand resting on his shoulder as if that can keep him grounded.
"No." He can't listen to this, this isn't happening. This can't be happening; Wally wasn't even supposed to be here. This wasn't supposed to happen.
"He wanted me to tell you that he loved you," Barry finishes, and he sounds like he's on the verge of tears, too.
Dick leans into Barry, letting himself sob, not caring who's watching. It hurts too much, this is too much.
He doesn't know how long he's there, but at some point, numbness starts to mix with the pain. He ends up at the watchtower. Batman is there in front of him.
"Wally," Dick sobs, leaning into Bruce.
Bruce wraps his arms around Dick and holds him tight, but they're not the arms Dick needs. Bruce knows that, Dick thinks, but those arms are also the only thing holding him together. He's shaking so hard, and without those arms, he thinks he'll fall apart and shatter (and maybe that would be best, maybe then he could be with Wally).
When Dick's shakes and sobs finally let up, he feels numb and wrong and like part of him (all of him) is missing. Before he has time to reflect on that, Bruce rumbles, "Let's get you home."
Dick lets himself be led out, he lets himself be taken back to the manor. He changes into sweats and an old t-shirt. He lets Bruce tuck him into bed and smooth out his bangs like he used to do when Dick had nightmares as a kid. He closes his eyes and lets himself be taken away by those same nightmares he used to stay awake to avoid back then, hoping that, by some miracle, they'll replace this nightmare.
Because the light in his life is gone, his home is gone. And it's his fault. His fault.