by Hitman 44077
Wally West and Raven entered the infirmary within Titans Tower, and he made his way to an observation table. The New Titans followed closely behind as Wally sat on the table before laying down. Raven made her way to the table as well, stopping behind the speedster, and began preparations in order to heal her friend. It was a tense moment all would remember.
“This isn’t what I thought I’d be doing today,” Wally said, trying to ease the nerves of all present. “But I’m glad you’re all here with me right now.”
It wasn’t as if Wally were immediately at death’s door, but the New Titans, whom Wally knew better than most, felt they needed to say some words to their friend in case they didn’t have an opportunity later on.
Nightwing and Starfire made their way toward Wally and stopped at the side of the table. “Both of us have been through a lot together, probably from the first moment we faced Mister Twister with Garth,” Nightwing said, almost finding it hard to believe that he and Wally had once been boys. “You’ve probably been my oldest friend over the years, and I know we’re going to have some more adventures before we ride off into the sunset.” He reached out and gripped Wally’s hand with his own. “Keep strong, bud. I have faith things’ll turn out for the best.”
Nightwing slowly let go of the grip, and Starfire spoke to Wally next. “I pray to X’hal that your health and strength are restored, Wally. You mean as much to me as the rest of the Titans, and I hope the disease can be vanquished.”
“That means a lot to me,” Wally said with a small smile.
Nightwing and Starfire made their way back to the spot where they had been standing, holding each other’s hands, hoping that they could transmit their prayers into a sort of physical strength for their friend.
Artemis approached next as Arsenal followed closely behind. She bent down to Wally’s level and spoke, doing what she could to remain strong. “Watching you go through this, it reminds me of the love and support you gave me after the Crisis ended. Both of us lost someone close to us, but you set aside your grief to help me with my own. I can never thank you enough,” she said with a sad smile as a tear dropped from one of her eyes.
“Donna,” Wally said solemnly, “I’ve behaved in different fashions… some ways that have made me ashamed of myself. You, however, have always been selfless. You cared more about others than you did for yourself. I just wish I could’ve done more for you back then.”
“You did more than enough, Wally,” Artemis said, maintaining her smile. “And I’ll never forget that act.” Artemis stood back as Arsenal moved forward to speak.
“You know, Wally,” Arsenal said, “this has been a hectic month for me. I’ve had to deal with a lot in my life, but I don’t want to lose you. You’re too good a friend to die.”
“Roy, sometimes things are out of our control. The disease is one of those for me,” Wally admitted. “Rest assured, I’m not about to give up, though. I have a lot more to do before I die.”
“I’m glad you’re not a quitter, pal,” Arsenal said with a smile, somewhat reassured. “It’s easy to fall into that trap. I know all too well.”
Artemis and Arsenal walked back to where Nightwing and Starfire stood, even as Changeling, Cyborg, Jericho, and Kole moved toward the scarlet speedster.
“Usually, I just kid around, but you know that,” Changeling said, trying to keep a good feeling going before he grew quiet. “I just… well, I just don’t want to lose another person that I care about. It’s hard to accept, you know? I was dying once, too, so maybe I understand a little of what you’re going through. After the death I’ve seen with my parents and the Doom Patrol, it just hurts more and more. Maybe I’m not making any sense, but–”
“Gar,” Wally interrupted, seeing the toll taken on his former teammate. “It’s scary and infuriating. I understand, and I’ve accepted it. I’m just looking to the future.”
“You know, Wally,” Cyborg said, “when you were talkin’ about the old times, you made references to your behavior. We butted heads a few times, but I was too stubborn to admit what a jerk I was back then. The Titans were the best thing to happen to me, and I would have thrown it all away for nothin’.” Cyborg closed his eye and spoke once again. “I’ve done some stupid things.”
“Vic, both of us grew up, and we became the men we were meant to be,” Wally said, determined. “The Titans made it possible for all of us to reach that level. We have tighter bonds than other teams — it makes us like a family.”
“You are different,” Cyborg said, opening your eye. “Much different than the Wally West I met for the first time a few years ago. You’re a friend I can be proud of.”
“Likewise, Vic. Same with everyone in this room,” Wally said, grateful for perhaps the first time that Raven had manipulated him those few years ago into rejoining the Teen Titans.
Cyborg and Changeling moved back as Kole Weathers spoke to her friend. “Wally, from the moment I first met you, you seemed so wise, and you treated me like a friend. You didn’t even know me all that well, but you made such a difference to me. This might sound stupid, but I look at you, and it’s like you’re an older brother to me. And I’m proud to be able to say that about you,” she said as her eyes began to tear up.
“I learned a lot from you, too, Kole,” Wally said calmly. “The times we’ve spoken… I don’t think I would’ve faced my past if I hadn’t met you. Because of you, I was able to finally tell my folks about the disease the first time I had it. I also managed to reconcile my roles as Wally West and Kid Flash, rather than just trying to be one or the other, thanks to our talks. You’ve proven to be the hero I knew you could be, and that makes me very happy.”
Jericho slowly walked toward the table and stared at the speedster with compassion. Neither man had ever gotten to know each other fully over the nearly three-year period, but he knew he had to convey his feelings to the man whom he’d replaced as a Titan. Using sign language, Jericho made his feelings known to Wally, thanks to Artemis communicating the message verbally for the mute Titan.
“He’s saying that over the years, both of you never got to know each other as well as he would’ve liked,” Artemis said as Jericho finished with his sign language. “He’s glad to call you a friend and hopes with the future, the two of you will forge stronger bonds.”
Wally was moved, as he never knew how to feel about Jericho. Though he’d been glad to quit the Titans, there had been a part of him that was jealous of Jericho replacing him as a member. “I would like to do the same, Joseph,” Wally replied, no longer carrying any type of animosity toward the mute Titan. “Hopefully, after all is said and done, we can start right away.”
Jericho smiled as he used sign language again to convey his response. “‘I would be more than happy to, my friend,'” Artemis translated aloud, a small smile on her face.
As the conversations died down, Raven had finally finished with her preparations. She addressed the man whom she’d once manipulated, ready to undergo any dangers in order to cure him. “Wallace, I am ready to begin,” Raven said aloud in her haunting tone of voice.
“All right,” Wally said calmly, yet determined. “Let’s get started.” Wally continued to lay on the observation table as Raven stood over him. “You sure you want to do this, Raven?”
“Yes,” she answered, her voice soothing to her concerned friend. “Just relax.” She placed her hands on his shoulders as Wally closed his eyes, and began her attempts to cure her friend of the disease that was killing him. Clouds of brimstone smoke began to form on the floor as Raven continued the healing process.
The New Titans watched as the process continued, worried about both of their friends’ welfare. Raven continued, though a toll was starting to take on the young empath. She was openly sweating, fighting against the normal pain she was accustomed to from her efforts over the years, but remained calm.
“Is it working?” Nightwing whispered to Artemis, even as both watched Raven continue to struggle.
“I don’t know, Dick,” Artemis whispered with a horrified look on her face.
The process continued as Raven kept feeling the pain building inside her body. Sweat continued to drop from her immense pain, and she closed her eyes tightly. Tears dropped from her closed eyes, though it wasn’t due to the emotions of the situation, but rather the pain building in her body.
Wally opened his eyes, only to see his friend suffering through pain. “Raven, look, you’d better stop,” he said, his concern growing for the empath. “This is starting to hurt you.”
Raven, through gritted teeth, answered the speedster. “I… am fine, Wallace. I will succeed… despite the pain,” she said as she released one of his shoulders to hold her head, which was now throbbing at an incredible rate.
How much more can she handle? Arsenal thought, still feeling concern for the woman he’d recently broken up with. His face was generally the same expression as the other Titans — horrified and somewhat scared.
“Raven, please, stop!” Wally said, not wanting to cause her any more physical pain. “This isn’t working. Maybe–”
“I… must c-continue… Wallace,” Raven said, barely audible through her pain as she placed her hand back on his shoulder. “I — I cannot… f-fail you…”
“Please, this is doing too much to you,” Wally pleaded, fearing that she would feel the effects of his disease within her body.
Raven was oblivious to Wally’s words as the pain continued to build. Finally, the inevitable happened. Raven jerked back as her body shook, unable to deal with the pain any longer. “AAAHHGGH!” she screamed, her only way to lash out at the pain wracking her body, and she slowly fell to the ground.
“Raven!” Wally screamed as he sat up on the table. Artemis ran to her friend lying on the ground and cradled her for a few seconds. Wally moved off the table to approach Raven as the disease kicked in once more. He fell to his knees, clutching his chest, and screamed in pain himself. “YEARGGHH!”
Nightwing and Cyborg ran to Wally, who did his best to fight against the pain. “Wally!” Nightwing screamed, not knowing what to do for his friend. “Look, let’s get you to a–”
Through gritted teeth of his own, Wally addressed Nightwing. “N-no… Dick. I-I’ll be fine.” He slowly stood up, as it took forever for the pain to fade. He checked for blood on his mouth and was grateful that there was none. “Never mind me — how’s Raven?” he asked, more concerned about her than his own health at this moment.
Raven slowly stirred in Artemis’ arms, raising her hand to her forehead as she began to recover. “I… I will live, Wallace, but…” the empath said, as regret set in. “I — I failed you, Wallace. I have never dealt with such a strong force as that. I managed to absorb some of your disease, but not all. I am so sorry.”
“Raven, there’s nothing to apologize for,” Wally said with understanding as he moved toward her. “I’m just glad you’re OK. Can your body handle the effects?”
“Yes,” Raven said, her voice still filled with regret. “My body can purge sickness and disease. But what about your health?”
“Raven, let me help you to your feet,” Artemis said as she stood up and, reaching out to Raven, helped the white-clad woman to stand up. She rubbed her head and spoke. “Thank you, Donna,” she said.
Wally stood up as well, now that the pains had faded away. “Right now, I’m not worried about me. Just you.”
“Wallace…” Raven said, unsure of how to act. “I would like to talk to you… about many things.”
“We can do that,” Wally said, reaching out to Raven’s hand and holding it softly.
“Raven, will you be OK?” Nightwing said, worried that she would still feel the pain she’d placed herself in minutes earlier.
“I will be fine, Richard,” Raven said, her haunting voice reassuring the young detective. “Right now, I’d like some time to talk alone with Wallace. We will be in my living quarters.”
“OK, Raven, but if there’s any change, let us know,” Nightwing said.
As Wally and Raven slowly left the infirmary, the New Titans weren’t sure how to react to what they’d just watched. “I have never seen Wally in that amount of pain,” Nightwing said to Cyborg. “It’s no wonder he quit a few years ago.”
“Yeah, that has me worried a great deal. I don’t even know what to say other than it was disturbing,” Cyborg confided.
“Raven’s pushed herself far before in efforts to heal others, but back there, man, it was unreal!” Changeling said, his seriousness still intact.
“It puts the time she healed that young kid and absorbed the effects of the drug use into her own body to shame, and that was frightening in itself,” Artemis said. “But now, Wally’s one step closer to dying. And there’s nothing we can do to save our friend.”
“Wally’ll find a way,” Arsenal said, trying to remain strong. “He always has.” But Arsenal’s thoughts told a different story. Thing’s are just falling apart for me right now. I don’t know anymore. I’ve got to be a responsible parent to Lian, and the breakup with Raven is still tearing at me. And now this with Wally. He never made the mistakes I made, but he’s got to deal with something killing him. It’s so damned unfair. Maybe it’s time I left the team — not forever, but for the time being. Until I have things straightened out with my life.
Wally entered Raven’s living quarters first, and after Raven herself entered, she closed the door behind her. Wally walked to a chair and sat down, even as Raven sat down on the edge of her bed. “I’m sorry I put you through that pain, Raven,” Wally said, solemnly. “The disease is unlike anything I’ve ever felt before.”
“It is all right, Wallace,” Raven said, trying to soothe his concerns. “I understood the risks involved, but I held onto the hope that I could help you.”
There was a minute of silence between the two, as both individuals weren’t sure how to say what was on their minds. Finally, Wally spoke. “Raven, you said you wanted to talk. I’d like to do the same. There was always so much left unsaid between the two of us.”
“Wallace, it is time to say these things,” Raven said as she reached out and held his hand briefly. “I will start at the beginning.” Raven let go of Wally’s hand and spoke. “When I needed your help, as well as the others in my quest to stop my father, you understand I manipulated your feelings.”
The memories cut deep, as Wally faced issues that he’d laid to rest two years before, but he wouldn’t allow himself to fall back into the timeframe of the past. “Yeah, I remember… and it’s something I’ve accepted,” Wally admitted. “I didn’t mean to interrupt. Go ahead.”
Raven spoke. “It is all right, Wallace. You also understood that I was trained to be emotionless, so that I could not be used as a pawn by Trigon. During our time together as Titans, I once said there was an attraction between the two of us, but I refused to allow it to grow into more because of my fears. But the longer I knew you, the more I began to care about you. I denied my feelings for so long, but it continued to grow into more than I thought was possible. My feelings grew into love for you, despite my denials, and I could never admit it to you for fear of unleashing Trigon.”
The revelation hit Wally almost as hard as the revelation that he was once more dying. “You… you loved me?” Wally said, as if he were the Kid Flash of three years before. “I can’t… I never believed that was possible.”
“I have many regrets, Wallace,” Raven said, her haunting voice filled with emotion. “I regret manipulating you, I regret hurting you when Phobia twisted my emotions around, and I regret never telling you about these feelings before.”
“That encounter with the Brotherhood of Evil finally made me accept that I could never love you, Raven,” Wally said, a hint of regret in his voice. “I turned to Fran afterwards, and it grew into the love I’d sought for so long. But there was always something there when it came to you, Raven. I helped the Titans when Trigon took you over, and I saw a nightmare image where the two of us were making love. It wasn’t me, and the form you possessed at the time — that demonic form — I can’t tell you how many nightmares I had after that affair had been taken care of.”
“After I was freed of Trigon’s control, thanks to the Titans and yourself, I vanished as you may remember. I was free from the horrors Trigon presented, free to experience emotions… and to love. But by that time you had moved forward with your life and with the woman you love,” Raven said before pausing. She wiped a tear from her eyes and continued. “I couldn’t bear to hurt you any further that I had already, nor did I want to cause a rift between you and Frances, who’d cared about you as much as I had.”
“Raven,” Wally said, reaching out with one hand to rub Raven’s cheek, “there were times I wished that I could have had more with you. But why bring this up now?”
“Within the past few months, I developed what I thought was love with Roy, Wallace,” Raven said as her memories filled with the fun times she’d experienced with the red-haired archer. “But I was manipulated by Eros, just as Lilith and Azrael were. I believe that Eros used the feelings I’d had for you and turned my emotions to Roy. I learned exactly how it felt to be in your position those few years ago, and it shook me.”
“I didn’t know,” Wally said, his eyes filled with compassion. “Sure, there were some similarities between Roy and myself, but I never suspected that Eros would do this to you… or Lilith and Azrael.”
“I am not certain if I should have remained silent about these feelings, Wallace, but after the revelation that you were dying, I knew that, whatever happened, I needed to say these things to you,” Raven said as she stood up and moved in front of Wally. “I could feel that you have little time left as I tried to eliminate the disease killing you, and I didn’t want you to die without working through these issues.”
Raven bent down to Wally’s level. She slowly brought her hands toward his cheeks and moved her head forward to his. Their lips touched as Raven slowly kissed Wally’s mouth. It wasn’t a kiss of passion, but rather of sadness and compassion for all that the two of them had experienced in the time they’d known each other. Though Wally hadn’t initiated this kiss, neither did he fight against it. Raven slowly pulled away as she addressed Wally one more time, her eyes filled with sadness. “I am so sorry, Wallace. So terribly sorry… for everything.”
“Raven,” Wally said as he cupped her face softly, his face displaying a sad smile. “You’ve given me a sense of peace. I think now, no matter what happens, we can move forward as friends, instead of living with the regrets we had no control over from the past. Thank you.”
It wasn’t exactly awkward, but without anything further to say, Wally brought his hand back to his side and slowly stood up. Neither individual looked back at the other as Wally walked to Raven’s door and slowly opened it. Walking out, he shut the door behind him and slowly walked down the hall.
Raven sat on her bed and pulled her hood over her head. She placed her hands over her eyes as the sadness overwhelmed her. She wept openly, if not loudly, over the plight of the man whom she’d once cared about so deeply. The grief and the memories were all that remained.
Wally continued to walk until he spotted Nightwing and Artemis. He tried to smile, but he felt broken inside. Without words of their own, the two Titans walked toward their dying friend and hugged him, their own grief spilling forth.