Breaking Your Own Heart (Fanfiction)A Story by Ann Elise Monte
(A Young Justice fanfiction) Robin is afraid of letting anyone get close to him, terrified of getting hurt again. Kid Flash tries to help him let go of that fear.
Artemis had a habit of barging into Wally’s room at the most inconvenient moments, which made him regret ever telling her his passcode. Usually, her intrusions ended with the pair making out on Wally’s bed, but this time was different.
Wally was halfway through changing into his civilian clothes, having just arrived after a hard training session with the Flash in Central City, when Artemis barged in. Wally yelped, holding his t-shirt over his bare chest.
“Ever heard of knocking?” he squeaked. Artemis rolled her eyes at him.
“Just put your shirt on. I need to talk to you.”
Wally threw his t-shirt on over his head, getting his arms stuck in his haste to get dressed. “What’s the occasion?” he asked when he finally sorted himself out.
“I need you to call Robin.” Judging from the look on her face, he’d done something to piss her off. Majorly.
“What’d he do this time?” Wally sighed, adjusting the communicator in his ear. It sometimes got dislodged from its usual resting place at high speeds, but the cowl usually stopped it from flying off into the great blue yonder.
“Zatanna’s crying.” Artemis’ scowl deepened and Wally just wanted to smooth the creases on her forehead. She wasn’t wearing her cowl for once. “You do the math.”
Wally awkwardly scratched the back of his neck. “Uh, they’re fighting?”
Artemis raised her eyebrow.
“What? Oh. Robin broke up with her?”
“Apparently he told her that she needed somebody who could give her the love she deserved.” Artemis snorted. “He practically said, ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’ Ugh. I want to strangle him… but Zee wants to know what’s going on with him. He’s been kind weird all week.”
“And you want me to find out what’s up?” asked Wally.
“Duh. You know him best.” Artemis gave him a knowing look, the reasoning behind which was completely lost on Wally.
“Yeah, I guess I do. Why are you looking at me like that?”
“Because you’re an idiot.”
“Thanks, babe. You sure know how to make a guy feel special.”
Artemis offered him a small smile, which softened her features. “Talk to Robin.” She gave him a quick peck on the lips.
“I’ll give it a shot,” Wally said slowly, still trying to puzzle out his girlfriend’s expression. “I can’t promise he’ll tell me anything, though. He likes his privacy.”
To Wally’s surprise, Artemis leapt at him, wrapping her arms tightly around his waist. She usually didn’t act quite so spontaneously. More often than not, she was on the receiving end of Wally’s fits of affection, not the other way around. She preferred a steadier pace.
“That’s all I can ask,” she said into his shoulder, her voice strangely tight.
“Hey, Arty, you okay?”
Artemis drew back, plastering on a smile. “I’m fine, Wally. Get talking to Robin. I need to get Zatanna some ice cream and help her bemoan the entire male species. Nothing against you.” She kissed him on the cheek and left the room. Putting aside her strange behaviour for the moment, Wally sat on the edge of his bed, frowning. Robin had spent weeks practically fawning over Zatanna before they finally got together on New Year’s Day. It seemed unlike him to just drop her like this. Then again, Wally had been so preoccupied with the dizzying joy that was finally having Artemis that maybe he hadn’t noticed his best friend’s relationship going south. The explanation felt false to him, though. Wally had always been acutely aware of Robin, where he was, what he was doing, picking up on those little cues that everybody else missed.
Since Batman had recently started keeping tabs on the team communicator frequencies, Wally pulled out his phone and called Dick instead. Knowing him, he had probably retreated home the instant he dropped that little bombshell on Zatanna. He didn’t like hanging around the rest of the team when he was upset, no matter how many times Wally had tried to convince him the team was there for him if he needed them. Dick was the sort of person who felt the need to project a cheerful image at all times, even when he felt like curling up into a ball and dying.
Dick answered after a few rings. “Zatanna told you.”
Wally was so used to Dick’s poor phone technique by now that he was able to leap right into the conversation without stopping to orient himself. “Actually, it was Artemis. Zee’s… uh, well, she’s kinda crying.”
Dick’s sigh was audible through the phone line. Wally had enough practice reading the little sounds the kid made in place of words when he was particularly upset to know that he sincerely regretted hurting Zatanna.
“Why’d you do it?” Wally asked him. “I thought things were going great for you two.”
“They were.” Dick let out another sigh, which lasted for at least three seconds.
“You trying to blow someone’s house down?”
“Yeah. Yours.” A little humour had returned to Dick’s voice, but Wally didn’t delude himself into thinking he was actually feeling better.
“If my house can withstand a speedster, I’m pretty sure your little bird lungs won’t even shake the curtains,” Wally replied. “Come on, dude. Spill. Why’d you break up with her?”
Dick sighed yet again, soft and airy and tired. Wally would have missed it if he hadn’t been paying such close attention to every little noise he heard through the line.
“I swear to God, if you sigh one more time, I will reach through the phone and strangle you,” Wally said irritably. “Come on, kid. Use your words.”
“You wouldn’t understand.”
“No, I’m serious,” Dick said quietly. “You’ll think I’m an idiot and yell at me.”
“I won’t yell,” Wally promised. “I’m worried about you, dude. This isn’t like you.”
Despite Wally’s earlier threat, Dick let out one final sigh. It was half-voiced and sounded like it had snagged in the younger boy’s throat on its way out. Wally was distressingly familiar with that particular sound. It was one Dick only made when he was close to tears.
“Okay,” Wally said. “Don’t worry about it right now. I’ll come over and we’ll talk face-to-face. You at home?”
“Sorry.” Wally made a crackling sound into the phone. “You’re breaking up.”
“I ca… hear… gotta go.” Wally hung up and rushed out the door, grabbing his jacket.
He found Dick in Alfred’s rose garden in a quiet corner of the property, running a finger along the petals of a pearly-white flower. Wally recognised it as the type Dick laid at his family’s graves on the anniversary of their deaths. Dick usually didn’t go near the rose garden except for when he was upset.
“It’s worse than I thought,” Wally said dramatically, drawing level with his friend, who threw him a glare that was rather weak for his usual standards.
“I’m not in the mood, Wally.”
“Okay, sorry.” Wally threw an arm around Dick’s shoulders and steered him to the stone bench nearby. “Now that I’m here, talk to me.”
Dick sat heavily on the bench. “I don’t know how to explain it in a way that’ll make you understand.”
“I’ll keep an open mind,” Wally replied, sitting down beside the younger boy. “Just talk.”
Dick tugged at the sleeves of his coat, more to avoid looking at Wally than for any practical purpose. “You’re going to think I’m crazy. It’s not the sort of thing you’ll really get when you’re… happy. You’ve got everything you could ever need, Wally.”
“Says the billionaire’s kid.”
“There are plenty of things in this world that money can’t buy,” Dick said irritably. It was the first time he’d raised his voice above a murmur all day. “Family, for instance.” His gaze was fixed on the white rosebushes. The anniversary wasn’t that far away, which could possibly account for his mood.
“You have a family,” Wally said. “I know it’s not the same as having your folks back, but you’ve got us. Bruce, Alfred, the team... me.”
“And all of it could be gone in an instant,” Dick said softly. “I get too attached to people, Wally, and I end up getting hurt. Again.”
“That’s it, isn’t it?” Wally said shrewdly, the revelation washing over him. “You’re scared of getting in too deep with Zatanna and having your heart broken. Oh, Dick.” He understood that kind of fear, even if he didn’t agree with Dick’s way of coping with it. He also understood that, for him personally, that fear was fairly abstract. He’d been lucky enough to avoid the sort of tragedies Dick had already suffered in his short life. For most teenagers, heartbreak was generally more limited to relationship breakups, but Dick’s definition and understanding was much, much broader than that. And far more painful.
“You think I’m being stupid, don’t you?” Dick said quietly.
“No, I don’t.” Wally pulled Dick closer, wrapping both arms around him. “I know it’s hard for you to let people in. We knew each other for years before you were comfortable enough to tell me your identity.”
Dick relaxed into the hug, crawling into Wally’s lap. “I just… I don’t know if I’m ready to leave myself open for… you know.”
“You’re trying to protect yourself.” Wally started rubbing circles into Dick’s back. This position wasn’t alien to either of them; Wally had often comforted Dick in this way when he was falling to pieces.
The autumn wind had a steely bite to it. Being a speedster, Wally didn’t usually notice the cold, but Dick shivered, prompting him to pull the younger boy closer to lend him his warmth. Dick wasn’t wearing gloves, which was unusual for him. Then again, they were in the rose garden and Dick liked feeling the petals between his uncovered fingers.
“Look, Dick…” Wally hesitated, carefully arranging the words inside his head before he released them into the air where he couldn’t take them back. “You’ve been through a lot. I get that. But you can’t hide away from everyone who loves you because you don’t want to get your heart broken again.”
Dick was slowly shaking his head. “I don’t know what else to do, Wally.”
“Anything’s got to be better than what you’re trying to do right now,” Wally said sternly. “Maybe you’re safe from other people hurting you, but you’re hurting yourself. You’re breaking your own heart.” He squeezed Dick against his chest. “It’s okay to be scared, Dickie.”
Dick sighed against the older boy’s jacket, a free gush of air that seemed to deflate him upon its escape. “I don’t know how to do this.”
Dick lifted his head to meet Wally’s eyes, biting his lip nervously. “There’s something I’ve been keeping secret for years. I guess I was scared… of rejection… or even if I wasn’t rejected. I don’t know.” He looked away, releasing a short laugh.
“Come on, dude,” Wally encouraged. “You can tell me. I won’t laugh, I promise.”
Dick’s eyes flicked back to Wally’s, suddenly intense… like a storm. His brow was set in that determined half-frown that Wally had become so accustomed to after working beside the boy for so long. He barely had time to register Dick was moving before he felt the boy’s lips against his. The moment stretched like taffy, twisting and wrapping around the two boys, tying them together. Dick’s hands were on either side of Wally’s face, Wally’s hands wrapped tight around Dick’s waist.
The moment finally stretched to its breaking point and snapped apart as the boys separated. Wally’s breaths burned in his lungs. Dick was staring at him again, the determined expression gone, his eyes still intense.
“Some secret,” Wally breathed, his heart swelling to take up all the space his lungs needed to function. Dick laughed softly, his expression caught between amusement and shock at his own actions.
“I’m sorry,” he finally said, just as breathless as Wally.
“Don’t be.” Wally pressed his lips to Dick’s cool forehead. “I don’t mind.”
“Artemis…” Wally groaned as her weird behaviour suddenly made sense. “She knew before I did. I… oh my God.” Now all he wanted to do was bury himself in the ground and never see the light again. “I’ll talk to her about it. She hasn’t killed me yet, so I guess everything’s gonna work out okay. She’ll understand. You know, if you want to be my…” The word jammed itself into Wally’s teeth and collapsed onto his tongue.
“Boyfriend,” Dick finished for him. “And I do.” He let out a long, shaky breath, closing his eyes. It wasn’t really a sigh, not this time. “You have no idea how much I want that.” His hands migrated to Wally’s shoulders to keep him balanced on the older boy’s lap. “More than anything.”
“Then it’s a deal.” Wally caught Dick’s lips with his own, grabbing a fistful of the younger boy’s jacket. “Sealed with a kiss,” he whispered, giggling softly against Dick’s mouth. “You have to talk to Zatanna, though.”
“I will.” Dick smiled brightly, his eyes sparkling and lighting up the dreary Gotham afternoon. “I’m not scared anymore.”
They left the rose garden together, hand in hand. Wally felt the weight of Dick’s heart in his hands and silently made a promise to himself to take care of it better than Dick had. He vowed to never break Dick’s heart. Nobody, not even Dick, was allowed to do that.
© 2013 Ann Elise Monte
Ann Elise Monte
Fantasyland, beside a mass grave of dead story ideas, Australia
AboutI'm an nineteen-year-old Australian university student. I write Young Adult fiction and my longer works tend to contain strong fantasy and romantic elements. My shorter works have more variety because.. more..