Don't own Justice League. Never will. WB and DC got dibs that I don't. Takes place around the first season of JLU, pre-The Return.
Onions and Cakes
by Alba Aulbath
"Dr. Milo, the Replicant is no longer in our hands. And, ultimately, it failed against the Justice League."
"To be fair, the Replicant didn't really have a chance to absorb enough material to be considered a threat to the likes of them, especially someone like the Flash."
"...Regardless, Milo, this was a waste of our efforts. The Replicant is gone. Volcana is back in custody. The 'noir' chemicals are gone. The Martian is theirs again, and we will have to silence Pierce Tan. You have made quite the disappointment, not to mention your other efforts..."
There was a smirk in his tone. "The funny thing about the 'noir' chemicals. They're completely active right now, without anyone's realization. The public and the League won't know - at least not until the last minute."
"And you are to say, Dr. Milo...?"
"That we are still capable of using the chemicals to our advantage. We still have a weapon."
"This'd better be good, Alan."
A sigh. "Look, John, you know I wouldn't be here if it wasn't important. Guy was caught up on the other end of the solar system, so I had to make the message."
"Guy? Isn't he busy...?"
"Yes, exactly. He thinks that Hal might be coming to Earth - or at least, around the area."
"That thing isn't..." Tone was frustrated, then he conceded. "Why does Guy think he's coming around here?"
"Says that Hal is backtracking. He might come back to see Barry."
"He can't. If Flash..."
"That's up to you, John. I know you've gotten fond of him, but you have to remember what we're doing. What all of us are doing - you most of all."
His voice became soft. "Yeah, I know. I'll keep an eye out." Pause. "You really think he's coming here?"
"It's what Guy said. And he's been on this case for years now; you take his word for it, not mine. But if you want an opinion, that's something else."
"And what is your opinion?"
"That the truth might be more important than Guy's case."
Hesitation. "The Guardians..."
"The truth for friendship or to obey the Guardians. It's a tough choice, but you know what I'd choose. But I'm not you."
"...No. You're not, Alan."
Though typically there were members of the League who were treated in the medbay on and off - ranges of damage varied per person considering vulnerabilities and superpowers, but regardless - the fact that three heroes who were hardly regulars of the medical bay were having to spend a night in it was a bit of a surprise.
And the Flash was being quickly amused as the Question had, about eleven times so far, attempted to talk Diana out of making him remain in the medical facility. She had simply told him no on all ten accounts until the eleventh she said:
"Question, you keep trying to smart-talk me and I'll make you stay longer." While she held up a fist.
Even the detective knew better than to aggravate the Amazon much further than that.
While the Question was on a bed in the corner with a laptop, remaining completely silent as if no one else was there, the Flash was seated at the end of the mattress and was speaking with J'onn. Generally, just playing catch-up in regards to the League, what had been occuring. A couple had made him laugh; after all, he almost felt guilty for having missed out on Green Lantern, Batman, Superman, and Wonder Woman having been turned into children to face off with the Brat from Hell, otherwise known as Mordred.
Also, the very idea that Diana had been turned into a pig - Flash was real sorry he missed out on that.
Though even the young speedster could tell, gradually, that there was the temptation to speak with one another on a more personal level; J'onn had something to say, and Flash was sure that Pierce must have either told or shown him something. While he wished he had a bit more privacy than that, he couldn't blame either one of them.
But then again, he wasn't too fond of speaking about it with Question no doubt overhearing, even if he already knew quite a bit. Maybe they could have had a mental conversation, but the Flash felt more comfortable speaking outloud.
The whole thought-speak thing with J'onn... well, the red-suited hero knew his mind would wander constantly and was quite fast - maybe too much for the Martian to completely follow and probably give him a killer headache. The Flash would simply have to speak outloud with him.
"So what's up?" Flash took the initiative.
J'onn seemed to hesitate. "...Are you comfortable, speaking now?"
"Hey, don't worry about it." The Flash pointed a thumb over his shoulder towards the detective typing away. "He knows plenty already anyway," he decided. "'Sides, it's important, right?"
"Yes. ... I would... ask that you don't entirely blame Pierce for what happened."
The Flash shook his head. "I don't. I'm pretty sure he was forced into it. I know 'im, I can't blame 'im for what he was forced to do. An' really, it makes me feel better knowing you aren't mad at him."
"I can't." J'onn paused. "...Not after he requested that I read his mind."
Easily, that caused the Flash to pale a bit behind his mask. It wasn't the lack of trust he had for the Martian, but considering his unfortunate background he did prefer to bask in the fact that he could just hide his past from everyone else. Generally, it made it easier to be able to smile it off as if it never happened, most of the time.
"Yeah?" The Fastest Man frowned. "So what'd you see?"
Again, the psychic seemed to hesitate as he glanced in the direction of their resident paranoid detective; the Flash shrugged, in his way of telling him not to worry about it and just say it. That was enough of confirmation for the Martian. "Primarily... Barry's grief, for what happened to Iris. Her unborn child." J'onn frowned, in his silent way of offering his condolences for something that happened a few years ago. "Because of the man that calls himself Cobalt Blue, he attacked both Iris and you. Barry blamed himself. I didn't quite catch why."
"Cobalt Blue was Malcom Thawne. He was Uncle Barry's older brother. I dunno how exactly, but he ended up being adopted by some folks. Guess his life was so crappy he blamed Barry for it." The Flash leaned back a bit where he was seated.
J'onn nodded. "...I also saw something you did not, in regards to Barry." This quickly had the speedster's full attention. "There was something Pierce saw, in which I did. There was a cloaked man who was speaking to Barry before... I believe he was responsible for wiping his memory. But in turn, this wiped Cobalt Blue's memory completely. Perhaps because they are siblings - I do not know. Pierce did not hear very much. A Green Lantern named Guy Gardner had approached Pierce days afterwards, telling him it was a being called the Spectre. Because of his energy signature being a way to be connected to him and therefore allowing him to track Spectre easier, both Cobalt Blue's memory and Barry's memory could not be tampered with."
The Flash remained absolutely silent.
However, there was someone else who intervened the growing silence. "So, that's how the Lanterns are involved," the Question mused. "And why someone like Kyle Rayner wouldn't know anything about it. Even after a few years, he's considered the rookie. The Guardians and other Lanterns wouldn't share a secret like that with him."
"Would G.L. know?" the Flash muttered seethingly.
"Let you think about that, Speedy."
J'onn granted the detective his glance of disapproval before turning his head back to the Flash. "Pierce was forced to keep silent about it. That is why he was incapable of telling you; he was not willing... which is why he worked so hard to find ways to help Barry regardless. ...But there is something else. Barry's memory wipe was... voluntary."
There was immediate denial in Flash's tone. "No," he said sharply. "Why would he do that! I mean... seriously, why would Barry want to forget us? WHY?"
"Maybe he had to, if it'd wipe out Malcom's memory," the Question pointed out helpfully as he typed away at his laptop. "Convenient. If Malcom forgets, then he couldn't attempt to harm the people important to Barry. He forgot everything, which rendered him helpless. Human. Incapable of hurting, and incapable of remembering why he was angry. Barry might not have wanted to forget, but he was willing to do it if it'd save you and Iris."
That might have been the truth, but it wasn't something that Flash wanted to particularly hear from Question.
"But then afterwards... the Green Lanterns insist to keep his memory wiped, if it'd help them track Spectre because of the energy signatures his powers leave behind. Pierce convinces you to separate yourself from both Iris and Barry, legally. Barry, when he regroups himself and knows what he wants to do, decides to become a cop and can no longer be part of Central Labs. Iris only talks to him when she has to, same with Pierce. You check on him every so often when you can. Which is why you had your little vacation." The Question finally turned his head away from the screen. "Right?"
Again, the truth wasn't something he wanted to hear from the likes of him. The Flash just grumbled and wished he had something to eat.
"Personal reguards is something I'll respect to an extent. But don't forget what you dedicate your life to, and the reason why." Question tilted his head.
"What's THAT supposed to mean?"
"Don't spend too much time dwelling, like you have been. Like what everyone else just about does." The detective folded his arms. "After all, it almost cost you a few people. Didn't it."
The Flash glanced at J'onn briefly, then lowered his head, frowning. "So what, no vacations, Smart Guy?"
"No. Just don't forget. The League needs some of its members more than others."
Flash considered that, then raised a brow. It had almost been the Question's crafty way of saying the Justice League really did require the Fastest Man Alive.
Whether or not he thought so.
"That's gotta be the nicest thing you've ever said." Flash smirked faintly.
"I'll let you think so." The Question turned his attention back to his laptop, as if he had said nothing at all during the conversation.
The red-suited hero looked to the Martian; the former shrugged and the latter smiled faintly.
That was satisfactory enough.
During the night, before sleep was induced, there tended to be thoughts. Sometimes fearful ones that would keep the individual awake for hours before their body shut down for rest. Sometimes angry ones. Sometimes...
The Flash had considered what the Question had to say about the Green Lanterns. Maybe he had been a little bit right; they had forced some things to happen. Like his separation from his aunt and uncle, forced to return to living in the orphanage until he was of age to move out and get his own place. Maybe.
However, he considered; had John just been his friend because he had to watch over him?
He frowned and shook his head. No way; not John.
But he thought about it, back in Central City when the Flash had first been controlled by Grodd to nab the isotopes. He thought about when he had briefly been in custody of Barry and Detective Morillo, and John had been swift to his rescue.
"Thanks for sticking up for me back there." And Flash felt a sharp pain in the back of his head when he had been smacked by Green Lantern. "OW!"
"What were you THINKING?" Flash had assumed Green Lantern meant about the isotopes. "I wasn't thinking ANYTHING."
"I wasn't thinking ANYTHING."
"Obviously," Lantern snorted.
Had it been about Barry, or because of what the Flash had done then under Grodd's control? The Flash couldn't tell now. John bailed him out, but even G.L. said that if the cops wanted to keep him there, they wouldn't have been able to. Aside from relying on the law to back him up, why had John been in such a rush to help him?
Simple. He cared. It had nothing to do with Barry. Zip.
No, John wouldn't lie to him. The Flash was sure of that.
...But hell if he didn't feel a little less comfortable with him now.
Sighing, he shut his eyes to sleep.
Days had gone by. The Flash had announced he was no longer on vacation and was more than happy to return to action in the Justice League, which satisfied several. J'onn had also made a swift recovery and had quietly and quickly gone back to work. It was all well and good.
Eventually the Question had been allowed to return to his quarters on the account that his wounds had been treated and were healing steadily. Only, it was likely he wouldn't be put out into a mission again anytime soon. Which was fine; he had his own invesigations to pursue.
He had been going over some notes he had managed to snag from the harbor before the explosion. It wasn't much, it was enough to make him feel he was confirmed to think that things were far from over.
It was some form of chemical, in the notes. Specifically, another form of organic compound. Unlike the Replicant, it had some form of ganglia that allowed it to think beyond pure instinct. While it also worked based primarily on celluar memory of a person, it was capable of strength. The notes suggested that Pierce had completed this chemical, but it also seemed to conclude that there was something too dangerous about it. After all, the scientist hadn't used it on Barry.
But it meant that the people behind the completion of the Replicant also likely had the information and access to the chemical. Possibly had it prepared to use against the League, no doubt. While it was fortunate that the Replicant was in custody, possibly of Central Labs now - the Question hadn't checked yet - things were far, far from over.
(Keep on your toes, Speedy.)
Early morning, he had gone to his mailbox and took the envelopes inside. Junk mail was trashed, bills set aside, and there was an envelope he did not recognize.
Barry Allen set his coffee down to the table, pushing up his glasses as he opened the envelope.
Who knows Wally West? was written.
There was a photograph of a laughing red-haired young man, someone Barry felt he should have known but could not quite remember.
You do, the letter teased.
Barry had almost considered tossing away both letter and photograph. It wouldn't do any good. It was significant in a way he didn't know.
He placed the photo on the refridgerator, so it would not be forgotten.
Barry Allen knows Wally West.
So don't forget next time.
The cop considered a second time, then pocketed the letter for later.
Vic Sage was signed at the bottom.
Barry Allen could only smile helplessly at the photo, unable to laugh back.
Next: The Question, Green Arrow, and the Creeper are sent to follow the trail of destruction of someone unknown. The Flash struggles with the lack of trust between friends and allies, and must come to a decision.
To be seen in the sequel to "Onions and Cakes":
Running a Marathon on Jupiter
A quick conclusion, that hopefully settled some loose ends. Anything that isn't understood here, hopefully, I can explain in some other notes in the upcoming fic. I would like to note for those who know, obviously, about Barry Allen: in this continuity, he wasn't the Flash. Only Wally has been so far, though Barry being a former father figure to him is also significant.
The quick scene in Flash's mind was part of the episode in Justice League. It was "The Brave and the Bold", where whom I consider Barry Allen made his appearance with Detective Morillo. (I call them that, I dunno what Bruce Timm and the others call them by) I highly doubt that the scene was nearly as significant as I made it out to be, but it sure helps with the conspiracies rolling around. Also the fic series is an attempt to help suggest the reasoning why we really don't see John and Flash 'hang out' anymore. Flash makes a quick connection with J'onn in "The Ties That Bind", which may or may not be as significant as I make it out to be. I think it is, though, and it's something to elaborate on the upcoming sequel to "Onions and Cakes".
Also, the brief dialogue with Alan Scott was a request I couldn't possibly refuse. I know little to nothing about him other than he's the original G.L., so I kind of just threw him in there. Tee-hee. Hope that was all right.
To the loving audience:
Dacker Spaniel: Gawrsh, one of the best JL fics? Makes me blush, it does! Lucky for you, J'onn also makes an important role in the upcoming sequel to "Onions and Cakes", so hopefully you'll enjoy that.
morring star: Done and done! SHAZAM.
HawkAngel XD: I hope this is still considered great. Glad you were pleased with your review. :D
Ben: Alan Scott made his quick appearance in the fic. My intention was for it to be Guy Gardner, but I figured that he could just be mentioned and make a later appearance sometime. After all, I live to please.
Red Tigress: The Question is just so damned FUN to write. He's a bit creepy, maybe not quite sane in the head, but he's brilliant in his own right and also witty and sharp. I really like him. He's also not particularly heartless, but I think he keeps people, when it comes to anything personal, arm's length away and doesn't want attachments. He's here to help in his own sneaky ways, even though he doesn't plan on making friends with anyone anytime soon. The Flash-Replicant battle was fun to write, and glad you enjoyed that. I'm sure that if it was animated or something, it'd have been more appealing. :D