Disclaimer: I don't own Justice League Unlimited or Teen Titans.
As Wally walked through the foyer of the Metro Tower, he heard someone approaching from behind. From the way the footsteps were spaced out, he knew it could only be one person.
"Keep it down, would you?"
Flash couldn't help but grin. "The whole secret identity thing again, Ralph?"
Elongated Man put a stretched finger to his lips. "Not everyone needs to know my name, you know."
"It's not like you hide it or anything." Wally smiled mischievously. "And besides, if anyone finds you out, you can just disguise yourself as a vase again."
"Oh, ha ha. I'll have you know that those were the most traumatic three days of my life."
"Yeah, it would have been if it actually happened," Wally replied, smiling as he reached the elevator and pushed the call button.
Ralph just grumbled unintelligibly. As the elevator doors opened, a smirk emerged on the stretchy hero's face as he saw who was inside. Wally's, on the other hand, disappeared. There, in the elevator, stood Fire. With a nervous smile, Wally stepped in, glad that Ralph was there to punctuate the awkward silence that would follow. Ralph's smirk took on an evil quirk.
"Y'know, I think I'll take the stairs. I need the exercise."
The doors to the elevator shut before Wally could move.
Flash hung his head in defeat as he grit his teeth.
What is it with this damn elevator? It must be cursed or something.
It had started happening as soon as he took up working in the Metro Tower. Every day, he would come to work and get in the elevator. And every day, Fire would get in too, prompting some awkward and horrible silence to ensue. As was happening once again now. He looked over to the green haired Brazilian, who had also looked over at him. He offered a small smile, and she replied in kind.
Flash decided to just ignore her, as he always did when he was stuck with her. He scowled at himself.
What're you doing? Haven't learnt anything from what you just went through?
Wally scrunched up his face.
He turned towards Fire, the easy Flash smile on his face.
The green haired woman looked over at him as though he were some alien creature. Wally wasn't surprised. He hadn't said more than a few coherent words to her in this elevator for some time.
"Um… good morning."
"How are you? We haven't talked since that Blackhawk Island thing, am I right?"
Her face still slightly numbed with surprise, she just nodded. "Uh… right."
The Fastest Man Alive cocked his head to the right. "So? How've you been?"
"I-" she cleared her throat. "Good. I've been good. You?"
He shrugged nonchalantly. "Eh, you know. Same old, same old. A few supervillains here, a few natural disasters there… the usual." Fire let out a small laugh, and Wally surprised himself. The smile on his face became genuine. The anxiety faded away.
He was just talking to a co-worker.
The elevator doors opened, and with an ease he hadn't felt for a long time, he pointed down the corridor.
"Hey, our shift doesn't start for another half an hour. You want to grab some coffee in the commissary?"
Fire's smile grew. "I'd love to."
His blue eyes flitted over to the clock in the corner.
4:00 AM. I guess that's not too bad.
His eyes itched for him to rest. A yawn forced its way up his chest, and no amount of rigorous Bat-training would be able to stop it. He stretched out as he yawned noisily, the chair creaking as he straightened his back. Something compelled him to stand, and he pushed himself to his feet, rotating his upper torso left and right to stretch his arms and wake himself up.
He briefly wondered why he was up so late, but one glance at the computer screen refreshed his memory. And yet, he still had to wonder why. He remembered clearly what he had said to his friends at the Observatory a week ago.
"It just… wasn't important. He's a ghost; I'm going to leave him dead."
He shook his head.
"He's a ghost."
The ex-Boy Wonder walked over to the table and sat down, again tapping away on his laptop to find any other appearances of the mercenary. He had found nothing. Slade had disappeared off the face of the Earth after his 'death'. Dick grit his teeth.
Only for him to reappear out of nowhere to torture him yet again. Something hot surged through his veins, and Dick suddenly stood, angrily swiping out with his arms and flinging the flat monitor across the screen. It shattered on impact, keys and circuit boards clattering to the ground noisily.
Collapsing back into the chair, Dick rubbed his eyes with his hands, sighing loudly. Why was he doing this to himself?
"He's a ghost."
He looked over at the phone.
Would Bruce know?
Would he tell me if he did?
He looked up to see Kori stood in the doorway to the bedroom. "Are you all right? I heard a crash…" she looked over to the shattered remains of the laptop. Her eyes glared at him accusingly.
"What was the error this time? Did you forget to update the antivirus program?"
That brought a smile to the raven haired hero. "No… it's nothing like that."
"Then what is it?"
He looked over at the laptop.
"He's a ghost."
He looked up at Kori.
"I'm going to leave him dead."
"…nothing." He stood up and walked over to her, gently leading her back into the bedroom. "C'mon. I'm tired, and we've got a dinner date tomorrow."
"Really? With who?"
He closed the door without looking back.
A dark shadow moved away from the window and made its way up to the roof. Once there, it paused. He briefly pondered going back and telling him.
"Having a change of heart, are we?"
The Dark Knight turned in alarm, a batarang at the ready. No-one could sneak up on him like that. He remained silent as Slade emerged from the shadows, his hands behind his back confidently. Somehow, Batman knew he wasn't here to fight him. He slowly put away his weapon, slotting it into his belt.
"Better off this way?" he cut in, his voice overbearing with an infuriating smugness. His singular eye thinned. Batman could almost see the smirk beneath his ghoulish mask. "So much for your vaunted morals."
He turned and ran off the rooftop, dropping down the gap between the two buildings. The Dark Knight ran to the ledge, and was unsurprised to see that the mercenary was gone without a trace.
He looked back to Dick's room in silence, his expression remaining stony and impassive.
Without a word, he pulled out his grappling hook and swung away.
She scowled as the teenage speedster tapped the buttons indescribably fast. Kid Flash looked over at her hopefully.
"Aw, c'mon Raven! I need someone to play against!"
She looked over at the brown haired boy warningly. "No."
Bart made a face and put up his nose. "Fine."
Sighing, the dark empath attempted to get back to her meditation. She closed her eyes and began to find her center. She focused on her breathing, letting it be the only thing that she could feel. She let it surround her, drawing her in…
Her eyes snapped open. "No!"
The young Flash threw his hands around, exasperated. "Oh, but… c'mon! There's no bad guys around to bother us! I just thought we could-"
The monitor screen flashed, indicating an incoming call. Casting one last warning gaze at Kid Flash, she floated over to the screen and accepted the call.
"Hello! Would you be interested in heat conserving double glazed windows?" The grinning visage of the Flash appeared on the screen. Bart beamed.
"Hey Wally. What's up?"
"A lot, actually." His face lit up as her remembered something. He snapped his fingers. "Oh yeah, get over here; I've got something cool to show you."
A brown eyebrow rose. "What is it?"
"It's something cool."
Bart's eyes thinned suspiciously. "But what is it?"
"Would you just get your Kid Flash butt over here? I want to show you this cool thing already!"
"Just show me over the screen."
"No, it-" Flash stopped himself, gritting his teeth. "It's something you have to see in person. Just… get over here!"
Kid Flash threw his arms up in the air in surrender. "All right, fine! But if this is a prank, I'm never coming to your apartment again."
"Trust me; you'll like it."
With one last cautious glance at Wally's grinning face, he sped out the door and towards Central City. Raven looked back at Wally.
"What is it?"
"What, like I'm gonna tell you? If you wanna see it, you've got to come here as well."
"Well, we're all having dinner tonight anyway, aren't we?"
His face remained blank.
"You suggested it, remember?"
Flash laughed. "Oh, yeah… the dinner thing. Yeah."
"Just ask Shayera. She'll know what you're talking about."
She walked back and sat on the sofa. "So… you said you've been pretty busy. Anything new?"
"Uh… oh yeah! I got a new job!" he said, his face lighting up with the excitement of a five year old.
A deep purple eyebrow cocked, Raven smiled slightly. "A new job? What are you doing?"
"Don't laugh now," he said, still trying to hold back his excitement. "But I'm with the Central City Crime Scene Investigations unit."
The dark empath began coughing uncontrollably. At least, she hoped it came across as coughing. She laughed so rarely, she didn't have much experience covering it up. Flash's eyes rolled beneath his mask.
"Yeah, yeah, yuk it up. But it's a cool job."
"What's a cool job?"
Wally turned to see Bart stood behind him.
"I got a job with the Central City CSI."
Kid Flash burst out laughing, and Wally scowled. "It's not that funny."
Raven shook her head. "But… how? You just… asked for a promotion?"
Wally shook his hands. "No, no nothing like that. There was a criminal's car in the police garage where I work, and I noticed something that the other CSI guys must've missed. Everyone has an off day, I guess. Anyway, they had an opening, and since I have the qualifications anyway, one of the higher up guys asked me if I wanted the job."
"You… have qualifications?"
"Yeah. I didn't go to college just for the booze, y'know."
Raven nodded, visibly impressed. Wally raised a finger, a cocky smile on his face.
"But that's not all," he said, adopting his best game show host voice. "Yesterday, I went and had some coffee with Fire, the green haired Brazilian beauty."
Bart jaw fell in the background. Raven's eyebrows rose in surprise.
"Really? This is the Fire that you've been afraid of since she joined the League?"
"Hey, I wasn't afraid of her. She was just… intimidating. Anyway, we've had coffee this morning, too, so… that's cool. She's really nice, too. Not just smoking hot."
Raven nodded. "Well… that's great, Wally. I'm happy for you."
Wally bowed theatrically. "Thank you, madam. And you? What have you been up to?" He leaned closer to the monitor, winking at her. "Anything on the old romance side of things?"
The dark empath shifted in her chair uncomfortably. "Well… I-"
"Who is it? Someone on the team? It's someone on the team, isn't it?" He turned and looked at Bart. "Who is it?"
Bart shrugged. "I dunno. I didn't even know she was dating anyone on the team. I didn't even know she dated."
"Well, thanks for that," Raven murmured, causing Bart to sink slightly.
Flash, meanwhile, was nowhere near giving up. "Who is it? Vic? Garfield? It's Garfield, isn't it?"
"It's Garfield! I knew it!"
Bart's eyes nearly popped out of his mask. "No way! You and Beast Boy?"
"It's not Garfield!"
"Oh, it so is, dude."
"I'm going to finish this conversation now."
"Okay, okay, I'll leave it alone." He paused for a moment. "So, Garfield huh? What's that like?"
She turned off the monitor. At the Justice League Metro Tower, Flash turned to his teenage sidekick.
"It's so Garfield."
Although there were many false tales she had spun to the League when she was undercover, many were also true. For instance, she was a good detective. Through her own admission, she wasn't as good as Batman, and the insane leaps of 'logic' made by the Question were beyond her comprehension, but she could follow up leads and find missing people pretty well.
And that is exactly what she had done. She regretted having not told Wally what she was doing, but he had been through enough in the previous week, and had finally seemed to make peace with his past. To pull him into this would only drag him back down again. She was taken from her thoughts by the sight of her quarry. She had managed to track her to a small village in Eastern India, though why she was living here, Shayera had no idea.
It was hard to believe she was the same girl that Wally had been searching for so diligently. Gone were her gothic clothes, as well as the horn styled hair. The only thing that Shayera could recognise her by was her pale skin, which was hidden well by the robes that covered her. This in itself Shayera thought was strange. From everything she had heard from Nightwing and Raven about her personality, she seemed to be the type to flaunt her figure.
But then again, that wouldn't work well with the whole 'disappearing' thing. She cautiously made her way over the low rooftops, following the robed figure back to her home.
Shayera landed on the rooftop as silently as possible as the robed woman stopped at the door.
"What do you want?"
Shayera looked around for anyone else that she could be talking to.
"Yeah, you. You may as well come down from the roof; I've known you were following me for a while."
The winged woman dropped down off the roof and landed beside her. "Then why didn't you do anything?"
The robes shook, and Shayera surmised she was shrugging. "I had to finish my shopping."
She walked forward and unlocked her door, walking through quickly. Shayera watched the door as it remained open.
"Are you coming in, or can I close the door?"
The Thanagarian shook herself out of her reverie and entered the small house. It wasn't what she was expecting. It looked… comfortable. But, what some people called comfortable, others called boring. And Shayera had had Jinx pegged as one of the people who would call a comfortable life boring.
People were surprising her left and right lately.
"I'd ask you how you found me, but that's not really important, is it?" She seemed to pause, as though waiting for a response.
"Why are you here?" Jinx said, removing her robe and tossing it nonchalantly on the back of a nearby chair. She carried the shopping bag into the kitchen, but paused in the doorway.
"He's not… here with you, is he?"
Shayera shook her head. "No. It's just me."
Her eyes thinned. "Then… why are you here?"
"I wanted to know… why you left Wally."
A thin smile spread across her pale features. "Which time?"
"Either. It's probably the same reason for both, right?"
The thin smile remained, and she sat down. "It's not as though I didn't care for him. I did. That's what made the whole thing so… infuriating, you know? I was happy enough to be a member of the H.I.V.E, and then… boom, in comes Kid Flash. And in the space of one night, he's started to confuse me about everything I've been certain of in my entire life. But he was right. I liked the criminal stuff, but it just didn't feel… good anymore."
"So you decided to become a hero?"
She let out a snort of derisive laughter. "Right. I only became a hero in the first place because of him. He convinced me to help them beat the Brotherhood, and I was glad to do it. Looking back, I'm not sure if it was because I actually wanted to be good, or if it was a vengeance thing, or if it was just him that convinced me. But, I stayed afterwards, taking orders from the guys I was fighting months before. It drove me crazy. I couldn't do it."
She looked over at Shayera, her pink eyes staring directly into hers. "But it came so easy to him. He made it seem as though it was nothing. And for a while, that helped me too. But it didn't last."
"So you decided to leave," Shayera said, more in an understanding tone than an accusatory one.
Jinx just nodded. "I didn't know what I wanted. I was confused, I admit that. I was young; all young people are stupid and confused. But I knewwhat was wrong for me. And being a criminal was not suited to me. Being a hero didn't work either. So I had to find something else. He didn't want to admit that I couldn't be a hero."
Shayera nodded. "That sounds like him."
"Look… it was better that he found out earlier on. What would have happened if I had continued on like nothing was wrong, pretending to be something I'm not… until it all exploded out in the open? Do you know what that feels like?"
"I've… got a general idea."
A silence filled the room. Though not particularly awkward or comfortable, there was something unsettling about it. Shayera's earpiece beeped quietly, and she put her hand to it.
A few nods later, and she ended the transmission. Jinx smiled.
Shayera nodded and turned. As she reached the doorway, she paused, looking over her shoulder at Jinx.
"Jinx… he only did it because he cared about you."
She didn't say anything. She wasn't even looking at her anymore; she was looking blankly away at the bag of food and clothing she had bought earlier.
Shayera turned away, and with a beat of her wings, was airborne once again. Ignoring the amazed gasps of idle passers by, she went on to her mission.
Jinx walked into the kitchen and over to the window ledge, where a picture of Kid Flash and Jinx together rested.
As Wally West sat in the restaurant, only one thought dominated his usually busy mind:
That's a big burger.
He was once again in Louie's Diner. The giant limo sized burger was back. The previous talking burger incident forgotten, Wally rubbed his hands together in anticipation, licking his lips.
"I'm so hungry, I could eat two."
Another burger appeared on top of the first. Wally grinned.
He opened his mouth and moved forward when the burger opened, a familiar yet muffled voice coming through.
Flash's head fell. "Damn."
His eyes opened slowly, the world coming into bleary focus. Getting up out of the chair slowly, he struggled over to the door and fumbled with the bolts for what seemed to him like an hour. Gradually waking up, he managed to unlock the door, revealing Shayera waiting in the doorway, an impatient hand on her hip.
"What were you doing?" She cocked an eyebrow. "Did you fall to sleep again?"
Flash shook his head slowly. "No. I was just…" He paused. "Fine, I was sleeping. I've had a busy day. Besides, it's only because you were so late."
Shayera sighed. "I'm not even going to have this argument again. We told the others we'd be there by 7:00."
Wally snorted, waving a dismissive hand. "We'll be fine, it's-" he looked over at the clock. "-7:30."
"Can we go now?" Shayera asked, failing to hide her smile. Wally nodded when his eyes suddenly widened.
"Yeah, but I gotta show you something quickly."
The Thanagarian red head rolled her eyes. "Wally, I really don't-"
"Trust me, this is cool. Bart liked it."
Shayera put a hand over her eyes. "Oh, joy."
He whizzed over to his chest of drawers. Pulling out a yellow ring, he looked back at her.
"Huh? What do you think?"
Looking at it closer, she realised that there was a Flash symbol engraved on the ring.
"It's… nice, Wally. Can we go?"
He raised a finger in protest. "Wait wait wait. You haven't seen the best part yet. Watch this."
Squeezing the ring, the symbol flipped open, and a limp trail of red and gold sprang out. Wally dashed into it, spinning around and sending his clothes flying in every direction. He stopped spinning and grinned, now in his full Flash costume.
"That's-" Shayera paused. "-impressive. Where did you get the money to do that? I didn't think your new job paid that much."
"Actually, they're not that expensive." He looked at the opened ring. "It's just kinda hard getting the costume back in."
Shayera smiled. "Come on. We're still pretty late."
Flash smirked. "Not if I have anything to say about it." He looked at her back. "Wow. That spell from Zatanna really worked, huh?"
She nodded in agreement. "Between this and the brown hair, I don't think I'll get recognised."
Wally ran around the room in a blur, taking off his Flash costume and getting dressed at such speed that Shayera could barely see anything. Putting on a fresh Flash ring, he headed for the door, gesturing for her to go first. After locking the door behind them, they made their way to the streets below. He turned to his Thanagarian friend.
"Should I get us there 'Fastest Man Alive' fast, or-"
Shayera put up a hand. "Maybe we should just get the bus."
He shrugged. "Okay."
As they joined the large group of people waiting to get on the bus, Shayera couldn't help but feel a small knot in her stomach. Even after being forgiven by the League, she couldn't help but feel nervous around the public. She felt an arm wrap around her shoulder, and she looked over to see Wally smiling at her reassuringly.
"Hey, anyone makes trouble; they'll have to deal with me." He tilted his head forward so he was looking up at her. "Okay?"
A content smile spread across her face. "Okay."
The bus arrived, and everyone stepped on. Wally was about to push his way on, when his conversation with Clark at the Daily Planet entered his brain.
"You could show some more manners, you know."
"Look, Clark, they aren't exactly the most polite people in Central and Keystone. If you nicely step aside to let people get on the bus before you, you don't get on."
Remembering the tired look on the Man of Steel's face, he stopped himself and stepped aside, letting the others pass before him. Some thanked him, some didn't.
But it didn't matter.
Because they got on the bus.
They sat next to each other in silence, looking at the various sights of Central City in idle curiosity.
"So where are we going?"
Wally smiled. "Louie's Diner."
Shayera smiled back. "Good."
They rode on.
(A/N: That's all, folks.
Now, I know that Flash will eventually end up with Linda (Wally and Linda, to me, are as sure a thing as Lois and Clark), but I thought that he could at least date Fire for a while.
Also, I wanted this to be lead in of sorts to 'Flash and Substance'. I'm not going to spoil it for those of you who are yet to see it (February 11th in the US), but I will say to look at Flash's demeanour in the episode, and the way he responds to Linda. That, to me, shows that he's moved on from his old attitude.
I definitely wanted to put a full stop on the whole Dick/Slade obsession thing, too. He's grown from being the pseudo Batman clone he was in season 1 of Teen Titans, and I wanted to show that. And just to reinforce the point, I put Batman in there too to show the opposite end of the spectrum. Neat, eh?
There are other aspects of this Epilogue that lead into 'Flash and Substance' too, but I'm going to leave that for you to see.
And finally, I wanted to thank those of you who reviewed (and reply to some of the anonymous ones):
Lins – ah, my first reviewer. Thanks for your reviews.
Balletangel19 – you got some good stories goin' on. I particularly like the Flash/Hawk prank one.
TouchofViolet - 'It's Gotta Be Love' is such a great story.
ChunkyMunky241 – Man, your advice and reviews are great, and I appreciate that you criticized as well as praised. You really helped give me to get the next chapter out. Keep up 'Many Times, Many Ways'.
Iamhollywood – I hope you post that Creeper/Fire/Ice story you had in the works; I want to see it online, dammit!
sokerfreek922 – And thanks to you too for being honest with your reviews. It's great to see 'great, keep going!', but it helps more to see 'great, but…'
Gotham's Princess – It's thanks to you that Nightwing was even in this story. Come to think of it, half of the Titans references are because of your reviews. Thanks for increasing my knowledge of the Titan comic world in general – I had no idea that Wally had dated Donna.
Gizmo – I'd just like to thank you for your reviews here and on (shameless plug) my Teen Titans story, 'A Strange Business'.
stephie1974 – Hey, one review's cool. Anything to keep my review count going up!
TonyStarkakaIronMan – Your advice on the fight scenes was invaluable; the Slade versus everyone else fight in Chapter 6 was much better than it would have been.
4musketeers – Thank you for your reviews. Can't say much more than that.
Meichan-24 – Thanks for your reviews, too. Sonic the Hedgehog stories, eh? I'll have to read some.
Silverswords – Thank you very much for your offer. I'll probably be e-mailing you about some comic info for a story I have in mind.
dee-unlm1t3d – Thanks for reviewing (cool name, by the way).
Meiriona – I was waiting for you review – you're pretty much the authority on Jinx related stories. Hopes for an update of 'Shreya to Jinx'.
Itsa C. Kret – after reading your profile, I can't help but agree with you about grammar and spelling (though I tend to be more anal about my own work than others )
God of Static – Thanks for your reviews. I can always use more praise.
Me – Damn, you knew it was Eclipso from the beginning? You are a good detective.
Hhgbh – Thanks for your reviews, and thank you for pointing out the one thing I forgot about in Chapter 8 (Bibbo)… grrrrrr…
Shay Bo Bay – Thanks for your reviews too, and yeah… Batman and Wonder Woman are a fun pairing, if not entirely healthy…
Doza – I'm glad you liked it! Thanks for reviewing!
And… thanks to anyone else who reviews this chapter.
So… yeah, review.)