Funny, Isn't It?

By Nikoru-chan

DISCLAIMER: Impulse, Robin, Batman and the Flash all belong to DC, AOL Time Warner and whomever else. This does not include me. No profit is being made from this work of fanfiction.

It's funny, isn't it, how a family that knows all my 'secrets' can still not know me at all.

The Flash knew all about me, courtesy of Aunt Iris, before he'd ever even met me, (though to be fair he **had** laid eyes on me for a fraction of a nanosecond). But he never really thought about the implications of what he'd been told. Kid raised in video-game isolation, only now stretching out legs to run properly, power's killing him, blah blah blah.

He did a great job of saving my life, whether I wanted him to or not. Didn't want all that much to do with me afterwards, but still, I owe him for that.

Batman called me 'Impulse'. From thought to action in a single synapse. At least, that's the popular theory among those who spend time considering such things.

Life's not a game. If I had a dollar for every time someone told me that . . . But they're wrong. And yet they're right.

Life's **not** a game, but a game is a life.

And I can't even take credit for that spiffy little one-liner, though it so beautifully summarises my thoughts.

It's funny, isn't it, how it wasn't family who first picked up on it. Wasn't even Batman, though I guess that's coz he has better things to do. His junior clone, however, apparently doesn't.

Robin stopped me in the hall at headquarters the other day, and we pulled out the chess set and started talking. I'm clueless, but not brainless, so I don't think he minds talking to me, and both of us like chess. A sedate game, but one that's more fun than all the other video games I have because it's you against an opponent who's always changing. Even winning doesn't mean the game is over – you can still play again. Don't tell Max I said that. He'll take away all my videogames, and while they're a poor filler for all the digital wizardry I grew up with, they're still all I have.

The strange thing was, he was asking my advice. Nothing major, just a bit of speed force trivia, but **he** asked **me**. When I finally managed to heave my jaw off the floor and answer him, he even thanked me like an equal. That's one thing I always like about Robin, he treats me as an equal. A slightly flighty equal, but not like the brainless kid everyone else seems to assume I have to be.

Today I got the guts to ask him why.

"Reincarnation." He moved his knight.

"Huh?" I countered with a bishop.

"You know the concept? When you die, the soul lives on and gets reborn, so you live the next life until you die, and then the cycle repeats itself." His castle entered the fray.

"Huh?" Monosyllabic intelligence, that's me, apparently. I moved out a rook. Need a bit more space over my side of the board.

"The catch is, you don't remember your past life. So you're still you, but you're a different you, and you get to learn and rediscover stuff and all." Another bishop, this one his, stepped out.

"Huh?" Oh, what a stunning conversationalist I was turning into. My own knight leapfrogged onto the board.

"It's just . . . I was thinking, the other day, how that was like you. Only not." Pawn one square forward.

"Meaning?" I fidgeted, sending my queen spinning from the place I'd left her a few moves earlier.

"You told me once that you'd grown up in a VR. That 'entire life scenarios had been fed to you at super speed'. So really, before you even got here, you'd already 'lived' dozens, if not hundreds of 'lives'. I mean, even if they were all designed to keep you busy and teach you to be a superhero on the off chance you survived the experimentation, they were still 'lives.' With the technology available in the thirtieth century, I'm sure they felt and seemed as real as I do to you." Castle takes Bishop.

"So what?" //Don't tell me someone is actually starting to understand?!// Knight takes castle.

"So now it's like you've lived these lives, but rather than forgetting them with each subsequent 'reincarnation', they're all there. Which is a great database for you to build on, but also means you're thoroughly convinced – subconsciously or consciously – of your own immortality. Die? Game over? Doesn't matter. Start again. And given how ludicrous some of our adventures are, staying with that kind of thinking doesn't seem all that unreasonable." Other bishop takes knight. "Check."

For once, I am speechless. I settle for shifting a castle in front of my besieged king.

"And I guess I could say over and over, that 'life is not a game' and it wouldn't reach you at all. It wouldn't be fair, either. It would be me trying to force you to come to my point of view, without me making any effort to see yours." His queen enters the fray.

"What're you saying?" I seem to be spending an awful lot of time asking questions today. The chess suddenly seems unimportant next to the conversation. A game is less important than talking? But someone's reaching out for me here . . . I shift my queen. "Check."

"I'm trying to meet you half way. 'Life is not a game', but I'm doing my best to see that a game can be a life. And you've lived a lot of them, gained all that useful experience. So why on earth **should** I treat you as a brainless kid?" His queen sweeps away my castle, his statement sweeps away my breath. "Check mate."

And he's right. It is.

It's funny. Most people can't pinpoint when exactly they 'grew up' that crucial little bit extra.

I can.

Oh, not for every 'life', but certainly for this one. I 'grew up' playing a game. Kinda appropriate, isn't it?