flashhwing on tumblr has this really cute headcanon that Dick and Wally have dinner together every night. They were also kind enough to let me take that sweet headcanon and angst it up a little bit
Wally always loved the idea of family dinners. He remembers being very little—maybe six or seven—and going over to his friend Jeremy's house one day after school. He had stayed for dinner and Jeremy's whole family was there. Both of his parents and his younger brother. It wasn't this magical moment straight out of a movie, but it was . . . nice. And so, so different from the few family dinners he's had. He doesn't remember what they ate, but he remembers the atmosphere of the room. They were relaxed and the parents asked all of them about their day and they listened. There was no yelling or tenseness, just a family eating dinner together.
Jeremy didn't see the novelty and kept asking to be excused so they could play outside before Wally had to go home. Wally remembers feeling nervous as he waited for the inevitable yelling, but it never came. Instead, Jeremy's dad was smiling and shaking his head in what seemed like amusement, assuring Jeremy that there would still be time to play after dinner. After the second or third time, Jeremy's mom pursed her lips and took a look at his plate, then told him to take three more bites.
Jeremy shoveled the forkfuls into his mouth and then they ran outside to play, Wally offering a quick thank you to Mr. and Mrs. Whoever as he went. Later, he saw the couple talking quietly as they did the dishes and put away the leftovers together. They both had soft smiles as they caught up and listened to music—and Wally knew right then that he wanted that. He wanted the family dinners, wanted the shared clean up as soft music played in the background. He wanted the normalcy of happy, comfortable family dinners.
He didn't really think about how he didn't have family dinners until that night. A lot changed that year, though. He started to realize that his family wasn't normal. He realized that other dads didn't hit their kids and threaten their moms. He realized that family dinners that ended in broken glass and tears weren't normal, and fuck, he just wanted a little piece of normal.
When Aunt Iris started dating the guy who would soon become Uncle Barry, he got to see that little piece of normal more often. He spent a lot of time over there. They had happy family dinners and routine clean up with soft music playing in the background just like Jeremy's family. Wally knew that those dinners didn't happen every night, but they always happened when Wally was around, and he got the feeling that they happened a few nights a week even when he wasn't there.
Dick had family dinners, too. Alfred made them dinner every night, and Bruce was there almost always. Dick used to joke that Alfred forced him into it and that if Dick hadn't been there waiting, Bruce wouldn't leave his study. Wally would laugh, never once bringing up how much he wanted that. Wanted family dinners, wanted a dad who would force himself to do things just because his kid would be there.
He never got them, and he's still working on accepting the fact that he never will.
He'll never forget that first family dinner he was invited to. He and Dick had just been kids back then, far too young for dating. It had been intimidating, eating chicken across the table from the Batman, but Dick brought that feeling of comfort and normalcy Wally's come to associate with other people's family dinners. He talked about his day and traded dumb jokes with Wally that made Bruce's lips twitch, but mostly they ate and sat in each other's company.
He had a lot of family dinners at Dick's after that. The first time after they started dating had been weirdly anxiety-inducing, but Dick had later assured Wally that it was just him and that Bruce didn't hate him. Though, looking back, it had still had those key components of family dinners. Maybe even more so with Bruce acting as a protective father. (Another thing Wally would never get.)
Now that he's older, he thinks about family dinners a little differently. He still looks at them with this sense of longing, but he's also able to step back and analyze why he feels the way he does about them. Where it's all coming from. And yeah, he knows those dinners won't make every night magical or ensure that he'll have a happy (healthy, safe) relationship, but getting to spend every evening catching up with and just being with someone he loves sounds amazing.
When he and Dick decide to move in together, it dawns on him that he's now in a position where he can have that if he wants. And he does.
The two of them just finished dinner and are currently doing the dishes—that soft music playing in the background and those small smiles pinned on their faces—when he lets it slip. "I really like getting to spend time with you like this. We should do dinners together every night."
"Aww, babe that's really sweet," Dick says, drying off a pan with a towel. "We should definitely do it as often as we can."
"No." Wally shakes his head firmly. "Every night. I mean it."
"Look, I just don't think it will work realistically. I mean, we're vigilantes. We both have day jobs, you have school. It just won't happen every night. Maybe we move our goal to twice a week?" Dick tries to comprise.
Wally wraps his arms around him, pulling Dick close against his chest with still damp hands. "You eat dinner every night, right?"
Dick huffs out a laugh. "Yeah, usually."
"Then I'll just eat whenever you eat dinner. I don't care if it's six p.m. or three a.m., I want to make time for this."
"Wally," Dick starts with a sigh.
"Look, relationships take time and work, and I know how both of us can get; if we don't make it a priority, we'll push it off until we solve all of the world's problems. Dinners are just one way to prioritize us, and we are so worth the effort." Wally turns Dick around and leans his forehead against his. He ends his speech in a quieter voice, saying, "Plus, I really like knowing I'm going to get to be with you at the end of the day."
Dick tilts his head up and catches Wally's lips in a kiss. When he breaks, he nods and says, "Okay. We'll make time for it."
And they do. They don't even miss when Dick is in space for three days (thank you video chat). It's hard, and sometimes they eat dinner from hospital beds or rooftops. Dinner schedules are weird, and what food counts as dinner really cut it close some nights, but they do it anyway. They catch up, talk about whatever's on their minds. Some nights they're too tired to talk, but even just sitting with each other is enough to give Wally that now-familiar sense of warmth and calm.
Wally also learns a lot about Dick during those dinners. The third week into it, Dick had actually thanked him for talking him into it. Apparently, it reminds Dick of his parents; they had always made sure they ate dinner together, too. Even with their crazy performance schedules, they would find time to eat together, even if it was cold spaghetti on the porch at two in the morning with Dick fed and tucked into bed hours earlier.
Dick still has his family dinners at Wayne manor, too. A few times a month they go over and have dinner with everyone. It's usually fine, but every so often, Dick and Bruce get into a fight. The first time it happens, it makes Wally unreasonably angry, like they were ruining something sacred. It isn't until a few weeks after the second one that he realizes it's because it reminds him of his own family dinners, the ones with his dad.
Dick found him crying in the living room that night. He tells him about the secret "family" dinners he never told anyone about. Dick holds him tight and listens and whispers loving promises to him that Wally clings to. Wally never said anything back when they were kids, but he's sure Dick had suspected; that night on the floor was just confirmation. And it feels good to finally acknowledge it out loud. It's out there and real now, and Dick is still here. Things are going to be okay, and now Wally is getting those family dinners that Dick tells him he always deserved.
One night, Wally is at the library with a few classmates, trying to finish up a group project. It's mostly finished, but it's due in two hours—so cutting it close. He and Dick haven't eaten yet, and it's looking like it will end up being a too-tired-to-talk kind of dinner.
Wally's phone buzzes. He drags his eyes away from the laptop and slides his phone off the table to check it. He knows it's going to be a message from Dick, and really, Wally is just expecting a picture of something funny he found on patrol. He usually does that when Wally is stressed with school and stuck in the library. Sometimes he'll also send pictures of a finished dinner that will be waiting to be reheated when Wally gets back, but it's still a little early for that.
He doesn't get a picture tonight, though. Instead, what he gets two words: Home early
Those two words alone are code for "Something bad happened and you need to get to the cave now." It's so that, if something happens on patrol, they can get ahold of each other's civilian identities without drawing attention to themselves. But Wally still knows what it means. He knows it means Dick is hurt. Badly.
Wally feels dizzy. "I need to go." His voice sounds weird and his mouth is dry. He swallows and starts packing up his stuff.
"What do you mean? We still have like an hour left on this."
"It's fine." Where are his keys? He knows he put them in the front pocket—where did they go?
"Is everything okay?"
"Don't go, you're the only one who knows what we're doing."
Screw the keys, he'll leave his car here. Not that he was actually planning on driving all the way to Gotham anyway. "See you Tuesday."
"Shit, he is actually leaving right now."
He calls Dick's cell, but, unsurprisingly, no one answers. He tries one of his comms, but no one is on. Calling the cave is no good either. When he comes racing into the Cave, he finds Tim sitting on some sparring mats, hands gripping his hair like that alone is keeping him together. His Robin uniform is torn and covered in blood.
He should ask if Tim's okay, he should make sure the kid's okay. "Dick?" is all Wally can manage to croak.
Tim's lip quivers. "I don't—it happened so fast, I—" he shakes his head and his eyes are staring at a memory Wally can't see. He sits on the mats next to Tim and they wait in silence.
He doesn't know how long he and Tim sit there like that. Long enough for the adrenaline to start tapering off and make Wally yawn.
When Alfred comes out of the makeshift OR, Tim immediately tries to run past him and toward Dick, but Alfred grabs him by the shoulders and says something to make Tim head toward the showers instead. Then Alfred is walking toward Wally, but Wally can't bring himself to stand and meet him halfway.
"Has Master Tim told you anything?" Alfred asks.
"No." He couldn't bring himself to ask. He didn't even know Dick was going to be in Gotham tonight, and after getting a look at Alfred, he's wondering what Dick's chances of ever leaving Gotham again are.
"Alright then." Alfred sits down next to him on the mats and fills him in.
Apparently, they had been breaking up an underground auction, but comms went down. Dick had gone to find Tim, but when he did, Tim was caught in a losing fight. Dick got him out, but not before a bigger group had gotten Dick down. Tim left to get Bruce's help, and by the time they got back and found Dick, he was beaten unconscious and being auctioned off. He hadn't been breathing when they got him back to the cave.
As far as injuries went, recovery would be long. One kidney had been hit so badly they had almost needed to remove it. On top of that, he had a bruised liver, a broken femur, a linear skull fracture, blood loss, a crushed left hand that might require more surgery later on, and then too many bruises and cuts to count. His chest got the worst of it, though: significant bruising, multiple rib fractures, flail chest, one punctured lung, and pulmonary contusions. He has a chest tube in and is intubated, and probably would be for the next few days.
And now Wally has to go in and see it.
Alfred had made sandwiches at some point, and somehow one has been pushed onto his lap. He has one of Dick's hands trapped within his own, rubbing it with his thumb like that back and forth motion will remind Dick's heart to keep beating.
He hasn't eaten for hours and his stomach is starting to feel like it's collapsing in on him. He rips off a piece of the sandwich and pops it into his mouth. He eats his dinner next to his boyfriend, but they don't catch up and the silence is far from comfortable. He doesn't really taste the food, just rips, chews, and swallows. Then repeats that mechanical process until it's gone and his stomach is temporally silenced.
This is the worst family dinner he's ever had. And he's had a lot of bad ones.
"How's your IV?" Wally asks the body lying in front of him. "Does it taste nutritious?"
It's just him right now. Him and Dick. Bruce and Tim are on patrol, and Alfred is manning the comms. It's day three of this, and Wally just misses him.
"Oh, mine is okay. Some kind of vegetable soup and bread with what you would think is too much butter. But really, is there such a thing?"
The monitors beep and Dick doesn't smile around the tube.
Wally sets the empty bowl down on the table, then leans forward onto the bed, right next to Dick's head. "You know, you promised me family dinners. You're really going to quit, what, four months in? That's not like you."
The monitors beep and Dick stays still.
"I know you'll be okay and you'll get through this, 'cause you're you and I personally think you have some kind of contract with Gotham where in exchange for protecting her she protects you, but that's not the point. The point is that I'm going to be here no longer how long it takes. We're a team now."
He looks over his shoulder, not quite sure why. Whatever he finds or doesn't, he decides it's safe to climb up onto the cot. He pushes himself close to Dick sets his hand on top of Dick's hair. He reaches for his phone with his other hand and pulls up some music. He turns the volume down low, then settles the phone between their ears. He relaxes against Dick again, stares at him until a small albeit pained smile comes to his face.
"You'll never guess what I found in the library earlier."
Dick is on the ventilator for five days. Wally doesn't leave the manor during that time, and Wally eats all of his dinners down there right next to Dick for every single one. He spends most of his time there with Dick, dinner or not, but he always makes sure to be there for dinner. He knows it must be ridiculous, but it's habit. He finds he can't eat dinner without Dick anymore. And maybe the routine will help Dick heal. Talking is supposed to help, right?
This has been the first time that talking to Dick hasn't been easy. Part of that is that most of the time someone else is down there with them, the exception being dinner; everyone has caught on that that's Wally's time. Wally doesn't know why it surprised him—house of detectives and all that. Everyone has carved out their own alone time with Dick, and everyone respects it. But being apart from Dick is hard, being with Dick is hard. It all comes down to the fact that while Dick's body is there, Dick isn't. And that's what's putting everyone on edge.
Needless to say, he doesn't even have the energy to think or worry about the lectures he's missing. He's sure he received an angry email from his classmates about their project, but that's for later-Wally to deal with. Right-now-Wally is watching his unconscious and unbreathing boyfriend.
That last part should change soon, though. Alfred started weaning Dick off the ventilator yesterday afternoon, just a few hours after he removed the chest tube. Dick's lungs have been doing really well, too, so Alfred has decided it's safe for him to come off of it.
"All right," Alfred says as he puts on a pair of gloves. "Will you be staying for this, Master Wally?"
Wally nods and squeezes Dick's hand a little harder. "Uh-huh."
"Very well." He turns to Bruce, tells him, "You can suction now."
The procedure doesn't take long, and Wally can't help but grimace when they finally pull the tube from Dick's throat. They put an oxygen mask on him and adjust the medication (again) so that it will be easier for him to wake up. The fingers on his right hand start twitching not even an hour later, but he's still nowhere near consciousness. Wally sits and waits in a tense silence, Bruce and Alfred right across from him. They have no idea what to expect when Dick wakes up. He could be fine, there could be serious deficits, he could be vegetative.
These facts swirl around Wally's head, but they don't seem to have an effect on him. None of it will be real until it's happened, and right now, Dick is just sleeping. (Just sleeping.)
Wally has switched to petting Dick's hair when Dick's arm suddenly jerks and his head turns to the side. Wally straightens and takes his hand away while Bruce leans forward, his chair squeaking against the floor in his haste.
"Dick?" Bruce asks, and he's rubbing his thumb into the side of Dick's wrist. "Dick, if you can hear me, open your eyes."
"Nngh," Dick mumbles through half-closed lips.
"Dick," Bruce says, louder and firmer than before. "C'mon, chum, you need to wake up now."
Dick's eyes peek open, then fall again before rising again and focusing on the face in front of him. "Hhh."
"Shh." Bruce pushes Dick's hair back. Tells him, "You're alright. Does your throat hurt?"
"You had a tube in for a few days. But you're okay now."
"Breathing hurts," Dick insists, closing his eyes again and bringing his hands to hover shakily over his chest. And his voice, fuck, his voice is so quiet and barely there. Like it hurts too much to breathe deep enough to talk.
"Your chest took most of the damage. Broken ribs, flail chest, pneumothorax, bruised liver," Bruce lists off. His eyes flick to his watch, then he stands. "I'll get you something to help the pain." He rests his hand in his hair for a moment, then Bruce looks over at Wally, saying, "Wally's here."
Dick follows his gaze and finds Wally. He reaches out his hand. "Waa."
Wally just buries his face in Dick's offered hand, kissing it gently and never letting go. "Thank god."
Alfred checks Dick over, eases their worries by confirming that there are no signs of brain damage. The biggest problem will be preventing pneumonia, but with everything Dick's chest has been through, there's not much else they can do but wait and see. (And by see, Wally thinks they mean start treatment as soon as something looks suspicious.)
Just coming out of sedatives, Dick isn't really with it. He's in a lot of pain, though, and he falls asleep again pretty quickly. After his vitals remain stable for three hours, he gets switched over to a nasal cannula and Alfred says it's okay to move him up to his bedroom. Wally couldn't anticipate how relieving that little change in scenery would be.
Late that afternoon, Wally is just starting to doze off when he hears the sheets rustling.
He pushes himself off of the arm of his chair and sees Dick's blue eyes scanning the room. "Babe, hey."
"Hey," Dick says with a smile, eyes focusing on Wally. His voice is still quiet and soft, both from exhaustion and the pain Dick must be in whenever he inhales.
Something makes Dick frown. "Did I miss dinner?"
"You've been out for almost a week, babe." Wally frowns and blinks at him, thrown and concerned by the question. He woke up during Bruce's designated time, and while he had still been in a lot of pain, Bruce had said he was coherent. Had things changed? Is something wrong? Where's Alfred?
"I meant tonight," Dick clarifies, nodding over at a tray where Wally's dirty dishes are still sitting. Wally lets out a relieved breath as discreetly as he can. "But, yeah, I guess I missed a lot of dinners. Sorry about that." He brings his hand up to rub at his throat.
"Don't worry about it." Wally pushes a strand of Dick's hair back. "But—and this is just for the record—I ate dinner next to you every night, so, technically, our streak is still going. And you didn't miss tonight's dinner; that was just from lunch. Well, second lunch."
Dick breathes a laugh through his nose, but it still makes him wince.
"Do you need anything?" Wally asks. "I can go find Alfred if you need more meds."
"No," Dick is quick to assure.
"Are you hungry?" Wally asks.
"I don't know. I guess I should be." Dick rubs his forehead with his non-broken hand. "Definitely nauseous, though. Morphine?"
"Think so," Wally answers, peering over at the bags. "Alfred gave you some anti-nausea stuff. I take it it's not doing anything?"
Dick is biting his lip and staring into space; Wally knows he's not really listening anymore. "It was bad this time, yeah?"
"Yeah. Recovery is going to be a few months, and I don't think Alfred is going to let you out of the manor anytime soon."
Dick closes his eyes, shakes his head slowly instead of speaking.
"Do you want to rest some more?"
Dick shakes his head again.
"We could watch something, or—"
A knock on the door and Alfred steps in.
"Good afternoon, Master Dick. How are we feeling?" Alfred asks, a tray in his hand.
Dick looks over at him, shakes his head and mumbles something too quiet to make out.
"I know it hurts, sir, but you must try to take deep breaths." Alfred inclines the bed a little more and then hands Dick a pillow. "Try placing this over your chest while you take some deep breaths; it will help with the pain."
Dick does as he's told, and while it doesn't make him wince, it doesn't look comfortable.
"Has the pain been tolerable?" Alfred asks. "It's about time for your next dose, so now would be a good time to adjust it."
"What you gave me last time was fine," Dick says. Wally was told he asked for more when he woke up with Bruce, and that in itself says something. "Talking just hurts."
"Yes, between your chest and the intubation, it likely will for a while longer. Is it in your throat or your chest?"
"Both, but more here." Dick points to his chest, which the pillow is still covering.
"I brought up some ice chips and a throat spray. Would you like those now, too?" Alfred asks.
"Uh," Dick looks over at the tray. "Just the ice, thanks."
Alfred nods and starts checking Dick over while Dick soothes his throat with the cool ice. When Alfred finishes, he starts stacking Wally's dishes onto the other tray and hands Dick his lunch. "Anything else?"
"Is Tim back yet?" Dick asks. He stayed home for school on Thursday and Friday, but Bruce has been forcing him to go since Monday. Dick hasn't seen him yet, and the last time he did see him, he was pulling him out of a mob. So, understandably, he's been a little anxious.
"Master Bruce should be back with him in less than twenty minutes."
Dick nods, checks the clock.
"I'll be back in an hour. Do call if you need anything." And then the man is gone.
They end up putting on some nature documentary, and Dick does his best to eat a sufficient amount of food while breaking for the occasional deep breath. When Tim comes home, Bruce pops in to check on Dick and then he and Wally excuse themselves to give them some space. After that, it's Alfred's turn, and by the time everyone else comes back in, Dick's sleeping again. He sleeps through the regular dinner time, so Wally snacks on an apple to tide himself over.
The others are having a pre-patrol nap and Wally is finishing up some reading for tomorrow's class when Dick finally wakes up.
"Hungry?" Wally asks, snapping his book shut with a grin on his face.
Dick smiles back. "Starving."
Alfred made some kind of noodle casserole for dinner. Easy to swallow and absolutely delicious. Seeing as Dick can't really focus on breathing, eating, and a conversation right now, it's one of those quiet dinners where they mostly just enjoy the other's company. But it doesn't matter, the shared dinner still makes Wally feel all warm and like Dick's finally home.
When they're done, Dick asks him to put on some music. Wally does, then he puts their dishes on the side table and lies down next to Dick. Wally tells him about all the weird things his family did while he was out, and Dick makes a comment every now and then, but mostly just listens to Wally talk. When he runs out of things to say, he pulls Dick a little closer and they just listen to the music and take each other in.
They have full bellies, small smiles, and soft music. For the first time in days, Dick is truly here and Wally is truly happy. Everything is as it should be.
Thanks for reading! Feel free to leave a comment and/or kudos below if you enjoyed it