Dick ducks out of the way of the paw swinging towards his head, darts backwards in the narrow space where they're fighting the creature, whatever it is—Dick has some theories on that front, less superstitious than the stories they'd been fed earlier and more based on advanced tech. He puts the what on hold though, trying to avoid getting knocked over the sheer drop to one side or pinned against the rocks on the other. The how is occupying all his attention: how are the still-green Titans going to beat this thing?
Not that any of them are new to battle, just new to battle with each other. Which turns out to be their biggest problem. Donna flies into battle with the beast, but none of them has the strength of an Amazon to back her up, forcing her to retreat. Wally can run circles around it, but they don't yet know how to utilise that. And Dick...
He thinks he's got an eye on a weak spot—and if this thing is a machine it could shut the whole system down—so he signals to Garth to catch its attention, so Dick can get close. And forgets that Garth wasn't trained by Batman, doesn't know the hand gestures that allow Gotham's Dynamic Duo to operate without words.
He remembers, of course, when he gets in range of the beast and its attention snaps towards him without anyone else to distract it. A paw lashes out again and Dick rolls backwards, out of the way, only to find when he tries to stand again his feet hit air, find no purchase, and his whole body starts to tumble over the edge.
A massive, stupid oversight, and one that's going to hurt. He tries to find a handhold, something on the sheer rock face to slow his descent, but he's already picking up too much momentum. Plan B is his grappling hook and his hands fumble over his belt in an attempt to get the device free. But the fall—abrupt and unexpected—is nearly paralysing. His hands shake, his movements are too slow, and the trees beneath the cliff are approaching at rapid speed. Plan C is to tuck, try and redirect the landing, and hope he doesn't break anything.
Something flashes past his vision, faster than his fall, faster than he can track, and then all at once, his descent slows. Or it feels as though it does. The rocks of the cliff still rush past his vision and the disconnect makes his stomach turn. He twists his head the other way instead, and is greeted by a vision of brilliant yellow.
They skid and stumble to a stop in the forest and Dick pitches himself out of Wally's grasp, bends over and takes heaving breaths to combat the dizziness and nausea.
"Sorry," Wally says, setting a cautious hand against Dick's shoulder. "Flash can do that without the motion sickness, but I—" His words are cut off by a crash and the crack of trees right behind them.
They both spin, and Dick focuses on his breathing as he prepares for a fight, but falling off the cliffside apparently did the job on the creature because the body lies unmoving, and sparking. Dick takes a second to feel pride in at least one thing turning out as he'd thought.
"Thank the goddess you're both alright!" Dick looks up to find Donna—with Garth in her arms—floating towards the ground. "When Robin went over the edge..." she says.
"Guess I really owe you for the save," Dick says, turning to face Wally. "Thank you."
He shuffles his feet and scratches the back of his neck with one hand. "I mean, anytime Boy Wonder. Know you'd do the same for me."
"I guess we also really need some more team training."
"No chance I can use the fact you owe me to get out of it?" Wally asks.
The floor of the balcony creaks ominously underneath Dick's feet, the terrified faces of the civilians trapped out here beside him lit by the glow of the fire inside. It's an easier rescue than remaining in the hotel, providing someone gets them down before the fire eats away at the support inside and the balcony crashes down beneath them.
It would be a great time for Robin to step up and help, except Dick Grayson had come to the event tonight, not Robin, and there's no way to escape the eyes of the four people he's sharing a balcony with—none of them the companions he'd shown up with. It's both a blessing and a curse that he'd been separated from the other Titans. Donna's openly Amazonian, with no need to hide her double life, Wally's quick enough that he can slip away from a crowd before anyone notices he's gone. At least Roy's likely suffering from the same frustration as Dick.
The balcony creaks again and bends under the strain.
One of the girls in the group shrieks. "We're not gonna make it," she cries.
"We'll be okay," Dick says, glancing quickly over the edge of the balcony. They're far enough up to suffer some serious damage and really Dick would like the rescue to arrive before he has to try his own. "Help will be here soon."
He slides a hand into his pocket. He could drop the smoke bombs he's carrying—it would be easy enough to blame the result on the fire—and use the confusion to get the group to the ground. As long as he managed to avoid getting his face caught by the onlooking cameras he could blend back into the crowd before anyone really figured out what happened.
Then one of the support beams snaps under the blaze and the entire balcony tips sideways, slanting enough to dislodge everyone on it. Dick makes a grab for a railing, locking fingers around one of the posts and reaching his other hand towards the girl who'd spoken before, trying to stop her from falling only to misjudge their combined weight and the strength of the ageing wood under his hand.
The post snaps, wrenching free, splinters cutting into Dick's hand, and sends Dick and the girl tumbling, careening over the edge. It's hard to control his free fall when someone is clinging to his arm, screaming and terrified, but Dick attempts to brace himself around her to at least soften the blow.
And then a rush of air slams into them, a localised whirlwind that knocks the breath from Dick's body and slows the fall. They hit the ground in a controlled crash, gasping for air. Dick pushes himself upright and winces as it drives the splinters from the railing further into his palm. An unneeded reminder that there's a good reason he wears gloves when he's doing this as Robin.
The others from the balcony appear in a blur, one by one, and one girl promptly throws up over her shoes. Dick can sympathise; Wally still struggles with bringing others along with him at speed and not leaving them with motion sickness.
Dick stands, and slowly starts trying to pull the splinters from his hand.
"Hey." Red gloves cup around his fingers and when he snaps his attention up Wally is frowning at his hands with concern. "That looks pretty bad." One of Wally's thumbs runs gently against the side of Dick's hand and he pulls it away sharply, feeling his face heat up, awkward and embarrassed in a way he hadn't expected from Wally's care.
"Other people to save, Kid Flash," he mutters, covering his overreaction.
"Right." Wally grins at him and winks. "Back in a flash."
There's a moment when Dick thinks the new suit might have been a miscalculation. Oh sure, he'd been complaining about the cape from the second he'd first put it on, had told Bruce repeatedly that it threw off his balance. New identity, new costume, and it seemed like an obvious choice.
He'd figured it would be like riding a bike, going back to the simpler lines of the costume he'd first learned the trapeze in and ditching the cape along with it. Maybe it was, except with the added complication that between then and now he'd learned how to ride a unicycle, had spent years perfecting it, and the extra stability of a second wheel threw him off balance.
He dodges a kick from the Villain Of The Week—they hadn't gotten to names before the fighting started—shifting the backwards momentum into a handspring to put some distance between them and overbalances, prepared for the drag of a cape that isn't there anymore. He only stumbles back a few extra inches but in a rooftop fight that's the difference between shingle and air.
His foot hits nothing and he starts falling, slipping over the edge of the roof because of his embarrassing oversight. He reaches for his belt first, before remembering that also went with the costume change: the grappling line relocated to his wrist braces.
He's running out of the building rushing past his vision when he shifts his arm up, aiming to at least take some of the momentum out of his fall and hopefully prevent himself from breaking any bones. And then his momentum drops away entirely, replaced by a familiar swooping sensation in his stomach.
The sight of bright yellow is familiar and reassuring and slightly confusing, given Wally's firm departure from the Titans.
Dick doesn't get the opportunity to ask about it though, not until after they reach the rooftop once more, falling back into their old teamwork—something that had become a partnership over the years, in a way Dick didn't have with anyone else on the team—and making quick work of the villain.
They deposit the unconscious man with the police and take to the rooftops again.
"You know," Dick says, "I had it covered."
"Oh, I have no doubt." Wally grins at him, the smile less boyish now that he's lost the last of his baby fat, every angle of his face a little sharper, eyes a shade or two darker. It makes Dick's stomach swoop in an entirely different way. One he's not thinking about, can't think about. Not since Wally quit. "Figured I'd lend a hand anyway."
Dick turns his attention to the city instead, telling himself it's just smart to be on the lookout for trouble. "Thought you were retired," he says. "Didn't expect you to come to my rescue."
"Really? Because I remember promising to always be there to save you."
The wind breezes through Dick's hair, pulls away at some of the walls he's built around himself.
"I mi—" Dick starts.
"Yeah," Wally interrupts him softly. "Me too."
"So come back." Dick blames the emotional whiplash of Wally's appearance for the words. He'd made sure not to let anything but support for Wally's decision slip through until this moment.
"I can't," Wally says. "Not right now." Dick thinks it's more a case of won't, but he's not looking to argue semantics. "But maybe... you could call me sometime? When you're not too busy saving the world."
He's gone before Dick can formulate a response.
The rooftops are slick from the downpour, and Dick's footing isn't helped any by the... alien slime. He's trying not to think about that—murder mystery turned alien invasion wasn't exactly planned—and it's thankfully easy to compartmentalise whilst he's looking for a route off the roof before it collapses underneath him.
Maybe it's too much to ask Wally for a rescue when he's been tearing apart the house and the summoning ritual, and making sure the civilians are cleared, but when the blur of red finally pulls to a stop beneath him—crystallising into the Flash—the roof shakes and heaves and Dick's running out of options.
He doesn't have time to think any further, but he's well practised at jumping from things: direct the momentum, focus on the landing. Trust Wally has the same idea, or can adapt fast enough to get the same idea.
A hand locks around his arm, pulling him from open air to an unstable balcony. It's an incremental improvement, but not their final destination.
"I've got you!" Wally shouts over the debris crashing down around them and the rolling thunder of the storm.
"Thanks. Now get us out of here!"
He barely finishes saying it before Wally's grip shifts from around his arm to around his body, lifting him in a bridal carry and putting distance between them and the collapsing building. There's a twisting, fluttering feeling in his stomach that he can no longer blame on the superspeed—not since Wally became the Flash, not since he gained more control over his powers and finally learned how to stop giving passengers motion sickness.
It's getting to be a problem, now that Wally's back in the field and back working with Dick, a familiar rush and comfort all at once.
They stagger and stumble to a stop within the property gates, just in time to watch the dust and alien portal clear, and even with his feet back on solid ground Dick feels unstable. They're still out of sight of the police cars pulling up, and Wally's hand is still resting against Dick's back. It's friendly, companionable.
Dick allows himself a second before pulling back, putting on a well-practised mask of nonchalance. "Tell me that wasn't fun," he says.
Wally shakes his head. "Next year," he says, lifting his hands over his head in a stretch, "I'm picking where we go on vacation."
"Right." Dick rolls his eyes, well aware his exasperation is undercut by the curl of his smile. "You said that last year too."
The robot is H.I.V.E.'s most recent attempt at destroying the Titans; a hulking mass of metal and machinery, seemingly impervious to everything they've thrown at it so far—Starfire's starbolts, Tempest's magic, and Arsenal's numerous explosive arrows all doing little more than knocking it off course and pulling its attention.
With Cyborg otherwise occupied it's starting to look like the only way to take it down is to use its own weight against it. By doing something like dropping it from a great height.
"Titans!" Dick calls out. "Fall back! I've got an idea."
"Because that always works out so well," Wally says, suddenly beside him. It's great, having Wally back on a team with him, although it leaves Dick feeling reckless in more ways than one. He grins, feeling the sharp pull of something slightly manic.
"Hey, we're not dead yet." He slides a pair of explosive wing-dings from one of the suit's hidden pockets. "Now back off." Wally doesn't for a long second, then takes a step backwards, then another, before Dick adds, "And get ready."
The first wing-ding finds a crack in the outer plating, not enough to cause any serious damage but enough to stick, enough to draw the attention of the H.I.V.E.bot when it goes off. And with the rest of the Titans no longer engaged—refocusing their efforts on the far less dangerous thugs that came along with the robot—it's enough to keep its attention.
Dick takes a step backwards, towards the edge of the ledge they're fighting on, and makes a deliberate motion of stumbling, of appearing unsteady. The bait works, and the H.I.V.E.bot charges, picking out a weak point and chasing it with murderous determination. Dick finds the edge with his heels and a moment before contact throws himself backwards.
The second wing-ding sticks into the rock face at the top of the cliff—just in case the H.I.V.E.bot has the precision controls to stop—and explodes in a shower of clod and stone, bringing a landslide over the edge, and the machine tumbling with it.
In the space of a blink, he stops falling, curls himself into Wally's grasp with a smile, and trusts his teammate will bring them to the base of the cliff, a safe distance from the crush of metal and stone.
They stop before the crash hits, loud enough to penetrate the ringing of blood pounding in Dick's ears. He still feels the manic smile across his face as he steps out of Wally's hold. He finds the H.I.V.E.bot through the dust and rubble, flipping his mask between heat and regular vision in an attempt to catch sight of any movement.
"I think we got it," he says.
"Would it kill you to tell me your plans before you throw yourself off a great height?" Wally drags a hand over his face, smearing sweat and dust and failing to wipe any of it clear. Dick still doesn't think he'd mind kissing Wally in that moment, although it's probably the adrenaline rush. "Or are you trying to give me a heart attack?"
"It's a calculated risk," Dick says, "against letting whoever was controlling that thing overhear a plan."
Wally shoots him an indecipherable look: exasperation, fondness, and something Dick can't read all rolled into one. "You're gonna send me to an early grave, Wing." He wraps an arm around Dick's back, lifts him into a bridal carry. Even without the rush of free fall it still sends butterflies through Dick's chest. "Come on, last I checked there were still a dozen of H.I.V.E.'s least favourite goons to hand a beating to."
"Based on the fact the boss man sent them after us." Wally winks, and takes off running.
The waves of the river lap gently against the dock as Dick sits, cheek resting against one bent knee and stares out at the water. If pressed he would say he's keeping watch, although it's an obvious lie—the cameras and monitors inside the tower do a better job of surveillance than one man by the river—and his focus is completely internalised.
He's proved a poor watchman when he doesn't hear footsteps on the wood of the dock, doesn't notice he's not alone until the corner of his vision is filled with red and he turns just enough to catch Wally sitting down next to him, both feet dangling just above the water.
"Garth says you were looking for me," Wally says by way of greeting.
"Not actively." Dick had admitted to Garth that Wally was on his mind when the Atlantean had slipped from the water half an hour earlier after a visit home. Maybe sending Wally out was an attempt to halt Dick's introspection. "I... have been meaning to speak to you."
Wally tilts his head up, catching the rays of the late afternoon sun. He makes a hum to show he's listening and closes his eyes.
Somehow it's easier without Wally watching him. "I guess I've been thinking," Dick says, "about us."
Wally doesn't respond for a moment, and Dick watches him with a sideways glance, watches the way his fingers trace out the grooves of the deck beneath him. "Us as in the team?"
"No. Us as in..."
Wally does look at him then, head tilted, eyes painted gold and green by the light. Dick's chest feels tight, his stomach twisting around butterflies. "Us as in you and me?" Wally suggests. There's a tiredness in the lines of his face—and when did they get to an age it showed? Dick could swear they were just teenagers forming this team yesterday—but there's a softness too, and a tenderness Dick wants to drown in.
"I don't think there's anyone who knows me as well as you," he says.
Wally chuckles. "Is that your way of telling me I should already know what you want to say?"
Wally slides a hand over Dick's arm, warm even through the layer of his suit, fingers curling around his bicep. Dick feels a dizzying moment of headrush, like he's falling. As though he hasn't already fallen, as though it hasn't taken years to reach this moment, the point of no return unidentifiable by now. It's still terrifying to tip forward, further towards Wally, and close his eyes to focus on the warmth of Wally's breath, the undercurrent of mint through every exhale. He was probably chewing gum before he came outside—a nervous habit he'd picked up from Roy.
For one brief, panic-inducing moment Dick thinks maybe Wally had known how he felt and was looking to let him down easy. And then Wally's lips catch against his own in a soft kiss, barely more than a brush. His fingers squeeze tighter around Dick's arm and one of them makes a quiet sound against the press of their lips—Dick's not sure which of them it is, or if it matters.
Wally pulls back, just far enough to press their foreheads together, and slides his hand further up Dick's arm, over his shoulder and neck, cupping it against his jaw. "I thought you would have gotten the message at some point," Wally says quietly. Dick can feel the words in gentle puffs against his lips and he darts his tongue out as though he can taste them. "When you fall, I follow."
If he'd intended on saying anything else it's cut off by Dick pushing forward for another kiss, hand's finding Wally's—against his jaw, against the wood of the dock—and holding on.