Kid Flash sped through Jump City and its suburbs again and again, running circles one, then two, then three then four then five miles across cutting across the interstates and any other streets in his path. Cross traffic was literally standing still for Kid Flash, as he moved so fast that his tight red bottom and yellow topped uniform was barely a faint blur to motorists.
An average person somehow moving with him would have only seen a blurred transition from sights that generally suggested the warehouse district of the city to sights that looked like the highway interchange area to sights that looked the downtown to southern residential areas, each whisking by in a fraction of a second. But Kid Flash could see every detail on the streets and buildings, every expression on every pedestrian's face as he patrolled on long, speed force aided, impossibly fast strides.
He poured on the speed. "Eight . . . Nine . . . Ten! There. Ten!" He stopped on the steps of City Hall and caught his breath, bending over hands on knees next to a couple tourists to whom he winked as they snapped pictures of a real live superhero. He'd like to have gotten away before they asked for an autograph but it took him a minute to regain his energy once exhausted. He signed and zipped away, just a red and yellow blur heading down a boulevard.
He'd promised to do ten circuits of the City in his usual fashion before finishing for the day. And it was important to him to be finished. Usually, Kid Flash looked forward to finding a bank robbery or theft or assault of some sort to thwart both for the challenge and to know that he wasn't patrolling in vain. But this afternoon was special. He didn't want to be waiting around for cops or emt's at the credit union while the minutes ticked away, because some guy with a ball point pen in his jacket pocket had gone up to the teller's window. Not today.
It'd been two weeks since he'd last seen her. Those eyes. Those lips. That face. That figure.
He hadn't thought of much else since then. It had nearly driven super energetic Kid Flash crazy , to know that he could probably find her in a second but that he couldn't. He shouldn't. He'd gone back to his tiny bedroom in his family's worse than modest little house and peeled off his Kid Flash uniform the night of their first meeting, took a shower and then jumped into his bed and thought about her.
He wondered exactly what it was he was feeling for her. This was new. This was deeper. This wasn't like with the girls in school or that he'd met at raves. "I can't blow this. I can't blow this" he told himself over and over while music played softly on his clock radio. "I can't approach her like a-a jerk". She really is different. She's special. Beautiful and brainy and strong willed. I-I've got to be mature . . smart about this.
Kid Flash lay there in his bed looking at the swirls in the plaster of the ceiling for 3 hours, as though it was a magic eye ceiling that would reveal the answers to his questions if he just stared long and hard enough. But the answers didn't come to him at once like suddenly seeing the embedded magic eye picture. And they weren't revealed answers. They were decisions that he came to after much hard thought. He decided he couldn't see her right away. He had to give her time. He was asking her to make a huge change in her life. He couldn't expect her to do that all of a sudden, almost on the spur of the moment. If Jinx was going to leave the life of a villain it couldn't happen overnight. He had to give her time to mull over the idea. He had to give her time. He had to let the possibility soak in. If he didn't, her strong will would just become resistance and she would push him away and push the idea away. Can't push her and can't save her. Have to just offer her a hand and-and show her.
He smiled at the irony of he being the one to fix her life given how his was going. He'd been a clean cut kid at 11 years old, an athletic, brainy, upbeat kid whom the parents of other kids wanted their kids to hang around with. He thought he had a handle on his life. He thought his life would follow an upward trajectory in every way even though his family didn't have much money. It stood out in a community with a per capita income in the top 2 in the U.S. It seemed that everyone else's parents drove Mercedes or BMW's if not even more expensive cars. One family he knew had a Rolls and a Bentley.
The small West home of mismatched sidings and paints was smaller than the guest house that some of the other families had. Other kids seemed to bring the newest gadgets available to school. Wally didn't have any of them, not an ipod, dvd player, phone or anything. But, in elementary school, nobody made too much of it and his friends didn't seem to care. He knew things weren't quite right in the meager West household. He was envious of his sister for getting all his mother's attention and wished his father were around more and not gone so much on sales trips. But, he was one of the top students in his class, an all star in little league, junior league football and on the swim team. Things were going his way.
Then it happened. He became Kid Flash. He could still remember the burst of white light from the window next to the shelves of chemicals. He remembered the weird feeling of the lightning coursing through him, paralyzing him for a moment but somehow not quite being painful. How could that be? And he remembered the way all those chemicals that had shattered and spilled on him, drenching him from head to toe had almost seemed to soak into his skin. He tingled head to toe. All those acids and things in glass containers with skulls and crossbones splashed on him and shot through with a skyful of electricity and it didn't hurt. He didn't have burns or marks or discolored skin anywhere. How could that be? He remembered feeling drenched from head to toe, at first, of wiping orange hair dripping with chemicals out of his eyes but then, when Flash had come to his aid, his shirt and pants were half dry.
He remembered the complete feeling of wonder at what he could then do. Super speed. Cars, planes, even jets practically standing still compared to him sprinting along. He remembered the weird awe of seeing the world seeming to stop while he sprinted on. And he recalled the tremendous pride when he first pulled on his Kid Flash uniform.
At first, he thought it would only make his life better, that it was only this incredible bonus to a life already on a steady trajectory upward. And maybe it was, at first. At first, Flash was like a second father, or maybe Wally's first real one, teaching him all the things he had to do as a Flash, how to use his powers best and looking out for him. Here's the key to vibrating through a wall, Kid. If you vibrate your molecules, like this, as you reach the speed of sound, Kid, you can avoid a sonic boom. Running on water? You can do it easy, Wally. Here's how. Patrolling with Flash was fantastic! It took Wally hours afterward to calm down. He still wondered how he ever kept the secret to himself. How did everyone not guess? The teachers at school wanted to put him on as much ritalin as the law would allow. He was already a very energetic kid but now it was like his gasoline had been replaced with rocket fuel.
But somehow, things fell apart. Maybe it was only the naive view of an 11 year old that things were fine before that, Wally now realized. Maybe the cracks and gaps and problems were always going to spread and make his life crumble. Flash stopped patrolling with him so much. He had other things to do, Justice League, and being with Aunt Iris among them. He didn't know that he was the only semblance of a father that Wally had. And Wally had gotten really good at using his Flash powers. He could vibrate through walls with no trouble. He could run on water, create whirlwinds with his arms, and do just about everything else that Flash could do. Wally was proud to be able to patrol on his own and Flash was proud of Wally. But Wally missed being around Flash, especially after the excitement of his first few solo missions faded.
And now that he was patrolling and fighting crime on his own, it seemed to take more of his time and energy. He couldn't just pull on his uniform and follow Flash through a wall. He had to think things through and plan things for himself. He felt a greater sense of responsibility for protecting the people in the metro area around him. The more rescues he made, the more lives he saved, the more people there were whose images he would conjure up whenever he thought of doing something else instead of more patrolling. He would be in class now, ignoring a lecture or what a friend was saying to him and wondering where Captain Cold might have stashed those bearer bonds, what Gorilla Grodd wanted with the psychology institute's equipment or where those home invasion thugs might strike next, what was the pattern to their targets.
His pals had begun to feel an odd distance between them and Wally when he first became Kid Flash. He had a euphoria about something but would never explain it to any of them. And he quit all the sports he played. No more baseball. No more football. No more swimming. He seemed to be overflowing with energy and excitement but walked away from his only apparent outlets for using it, again, without anything close to a reasonable explanation to his pals. Then, it seemed like he was avoiding them or didn't have any interest in being with them.
He'd tell them he would be over Timmy's house with the rest of them to play Timmy's new video game and never show up. He would promise to meet Jeff and Aaron to work on their science project and the two of them would end up doing it themselves. He would be walking down the street or riding bikes with them, and out of the blue say "I gotta go", take off around a corner and be gone. He couldn't tell them that his ring, inside which he had his red and yellow Kid Flash uniform, had vibrated twice indicating a police call for help or three times meaning a call from the Flash. Even when he was there physically, they could say something to him and it was even money whether or not he'd respond. They asked him what was up, was something wrong, what was he thinking about? He never said. They still liked Wally but there was no Wally there anymore, not for them, and they had no idea where he'd gone.
He kept his grades up. If anything they were even better which was bizarre to his friends and other kids because it seemed to them that Wally never paid attention in class, just staring blankly ahead, his thoughts elsewhere. He went from being a teacher's favorite to a whipping boy even as he went from A's to A+'s. He'd never been a pet. He was too much of a wiseass to suck up and never tried to say the right thing. But now the teachers all disliked Wally to varying degrees. They hated that the kids all knew he wasn't paying any attention to their lectures and yet getting better grades than ever. It became an expected thing, something the other kids looked forward to, Wally seeming completely zoned out staring ahead into space, a teacher angrily calling on him and then Wally answering a question with ease. The kids got to laugh at both Wally and the teacher. It was great.
And sometimes Wally was lost in thought not about a supervillain or a crime syndicate or a daring daylight robbery but about his family. As he went into puberty, his mother, who'd always favored his little sister, now acted as though Wally was nearly invisible. The last Christmas, he'd gotten one present to her seven. He had to shovel snow, rake the yard, mow the grass, do the dishes, take out the trash and any other chore there was. She had none. That he could do them all at super speed didn't change the unfairness. His mother had no idea that he was Kid Flash. She got an allowance. He got none and had to make pocket money by doing things like mowing and raking neighbors' lawns. Worst was the simple lack of interest. Wally's last report card of two A's and four A+'s had garnered him five seconds of her attention. His sister's straight B's had been received with everything but a victory parade. When his father was away on sales trips, his mother would plan dinners for her and his sister and not even think of including Wally. He would come home and find that just enough food for two had been cooked. His mother would always say that there hadn't been enough for him , too. She repeatedly criticized him for his appetite, as if slender Wally could do anything about it. Sometimes they even went out without him. He didn't complain or shout or argue about it. It was simply the way it was. He just took the opportunity for Kid Flash to patrol more.
And then there were the arguments. Maybe they'd always argued, Wally decided. Maybe he'd just gone to bed too early to hear them before. They always seemed to occur around midnight. Or maybe the problem with the door made them more audible. The door to Wally's little room, a converted breezeway to a garage that had been torn down years ago, and about half the size of his sister's room, had somehow gotten out of alignment or something such that it didn't completely close. It would kind of stick in place but some sound came through. The arguments were so horrible, his father and mother saying such hurtful things to each other that Wally cried the first few times. He felt silly, a superhero crying, but it hurt him terribly. He wanted them to be a real family. People wouldn't say those horrible things in a real family. But, over time, he became inured to it. He only wished not to hear it. He would roll over onto his stomach and pull the pillow tight over his ears. How could he fight that? What could even a superhero do about that? What good was it to be a superhero if you couldn't do anything about that?
He got called in to see the school guidance counselors three times. Wally didn't particularly like them, so it didn't bother him at all the way it drove them nuts that he didn't tell them anything to explain the change in his personality. It didn't bother them that the teachers were wasting his time. He wouldn't let it bother him that he was wasting theirs. He was never going to tell them about being Kid Flash. Let them imagine whatever they wanted. They asked him questions that he knew were tentative attempts to determine if constantly somber Wally was doing some kind of drugs. Wally carefully gave them answers that didn't tell them anything but let them believe that if they wanted.
And then to complete the transformation to a new Wally, he started dressing completely differently. The genesis of it had been an idle remark to Flash at a birthday celebration for Wally's Aunt Iris, Flash's star reporter wife. Wally mentioned how proud he was of his physical condition and that even other kids were telling him that they were impressed with his muscle tone. Flash told Wally that that was no good. He had to do everything he reasonably could to hide what he now was. Aunt Iris had noticed Wally's worn out clothes and wanted to buy him some new clothes anyway. "Something to camouflage a budding orange haired apollo of a speedster a bit better" she said with a pat of his side. Wally blushed as red as the bottom half of his uniform. Aunt Iris was always saying nice things like that, as if trying to make up for everyone else.
The next Monday, Wally showed up in school wearing his new civilian uniform, hugely oversized pants that gave no hint of the speedster's butt somewhere within them, a plain shirt or t-shirt if it was warm, floppy large either way and a dark red knit hat with a yellow stripe. His orange hair was just too distinctive Flash and Aunt Iris told him. How many boys could there be with hair like Kid Flash and built like him? Better to hide it and not have people remember it. He wore his knit hat everywhere. It seemed sensible to Wally. But everyone at rich kid junior high took it as a sign that clean cut Wally was completely gone, replaced by rapper Wally or druggy Wally or some other disreputable version of Wally. The huge pants certainly discouraged any association of Wally with Kid Flash. He found himself constantly having to pull them up to avoid their dropping to his ankles and the shuffle they forced him into was anything but fast.
His mother and father hated Wally's new clothes. Thug clothes and lowlife clothes they had called them. They had always sort of liked to take credit for clean cut Wally. And they didn't like Aunt Iris butting into their family but Wally thought they had changes of heart when they realized that their skinny son with the 25 inch waist wouldn't outgrow extra long 34 inch waist jeans and work pants for years if ever. Money that would have been grudgingly spent on Wally could be spent somewhere else.
Money was an increasingly big issue in other ways. Wally remembered one of a library full of books he'd read was a sociology book that talked about the "calcifying of social strata in early teens on the the basis of affluence". It seemed so dry when it was a general discussion of the issue in a book. Being routinely mocked and looked down on for his family's relative poverty made the issue real for Wally. It didn't seem like such an issue when he was younger. But now kids seemed to always be cracking jokes about the dilapidated look of the West home, about his mother's rusting, 10 year old Chevy, the fact that he never went anywhere on vacations, didn't have his own phone, tv or video games and paid the special reduced rate for school lunches that only very poor kids paid. The party line was clear. You don't have money, West. You're a second class citizen.
The idea that he had the key to the good life and would help Jinx get there, was a bit ironic, even to Kid Flash. He sighed looking over at the cracked clock radio he'd gotten for a quarter at a flea market. 3 A.M. If she knew how this was driving me nuts that'd show her how I feel, he told himself then yawned and minutes later fell into exhausted sleep.
The next two weeks were so odd for Wally. He went to school like always, getting on and off the bus in front of the boarded up house two doors down like always. But when kids made fun of his clothes it really meant nothing to him. Wally had tried to treat it as nothing before but it still grated on him a little bit. He'd clench his jaw just a bit, narrow his blue eyes just a bit. He couldn't help it. Imagining how he might punch his tormentors in the face a hundred times in a second helped a bit.
But now, kids leaned over from the seat in front of him and smirked "That shirt some more of the Goodwill collection, carrot top? Ahahahaha!".
Wally tucked a stray orange lock back under his knit hat. Thanks for telling me. But he felt nothing from the taunts, nothing at all. Not a thing. He stared blankly ahead. Hmmmph. She's anesthetized me to any other strong feelings. He smiled in the face of their name calling. It was true. Another reason to like her. Even the incredible boredom of the last days of 8th grade were easier to deal with. He didn't get furious at the stupidity of it all the way he'd been increasingly getting. What a double edged sword that decision to read a whole library of books had been. He knew so much more that was useful in patrolling, in dealing with crooks and investigating cases. He knew so much more than he needed to know for 8th grade. How could he sit there and listen to a lecture about chemistry when he'd read chemistry books to have a greater base of knowledge as Kid Flash? It went from tedium to torture to sit through it.
But in the two weeks after meeting Jinx, he had a single focus for his thoughts. The boredom of the lectures didn't anger him now. However, he became even worse at hiding his disinterest, sitting there and thinking about Jinx in her short black dress and her blue and black nylons, replaying her every word and gesture in his mind. Twice in the two weeks he'd decided to wait before going back to her, he found himself suddenly looking up to see a teacher beside him almost shouting at him to get his attention.
"Earth to Wally West! Come in Wally!" Mrs. Corcoran had half shouted from a foot away as all the other kids laughed in pre-Calculus class. Wally just looked at her. Yeah? She pointed to the board.
"For the last time! Go to the board and do the problem there, Wally or I'm sending you to the principal's office. You don't get to ignore me just because you're getting an A"
Wally got up from his desk and hiked up his huge pants. They'd fallen halfway down his white boxer clad speedster butt. The kids in the class giggled. He shuffled to the board and didn't bother to show the intermediate steps of the solution. He just wrote "X 7, Y -32" on the board, tugged at his drooping pants again and made his way back to his desk past an unappeased Mrs. Corcoran.
"That's not funny Mr. West. Your attitude is not cutting it. You-"
The bell sounded ending that class period. Kids surged out. Wally picked up his books and tried to make his way out of the room but was stopped by Mrs. Corcoran as he passed her desk.
"Wally! Hold on a minute"
He stopped and hiked up his pants and faced her with a blank expression.
"Is-is there something wrong, Wally?"
"Are-are you on ritalin, Wally? The change in your energy level . . ! Maybe they need to reduce your dose. I-I remember a couple years ago, you were so jumpy they wanted to put you on a high dose of ritalin . . but I-I thought your parents wouldn't spend any money for it. Did they-"
"No ma'am. I'm not on ritalin"
"Is there . . " she glanced around the room to be sure that all the other kids were gone and put her hand on the side of his knit hat covered head in a gesture that was actually very sympathetic. "Is there anything wrong at home. I know some kids may have . . may have more than you but is there anything else going on at home?"
Wally just stared at her. You mean besides sometimes drunk salesman dad not being around much, and when he is, regularly scheduled screaming matches with my mother who has less than 1 as much interest in me as in sis?
"Everything's fine" said Wally.
Mrs. Corcoran sighed and let him go with a shake of her head. He thought that she would probably not bother trying to figure him out any more. His former friends had just about given up. They were pretty much all in the former category or getting there now. How many times say he would be somewhere and not show up? How many times could he blow off all the stuff that made up friendships and have them still be friendships? He didn't blame them.
Yeah, this superhero gig is nothing but gravy. Yessirreee. Must be awful sweet to live in Titans Tower and if you spend the afternoon fighting Dr. Light then go back to your pad and get to tell everyone "I was fighting Dr. Light". You don't have to insult your childhood friends by just stammering and staring back at them when they ask you where the hell you were.
And then there was Aaron. Wally's best friend going into junior high and then, slowly, step by step driven away like the others as Wally spent progressively less time around him, blew off commitments to be here or do that and started dressing in that giant pants and knit hat style that none of them did and going to raves. And then, just a few days before Wally, as Kid Flash, had met Jinx, Aaron had seen Wally with Speedy.
If only Speedy had zipped up in the alley! Ugh! What a stupid little thing to get wrong and to have screw things up! Kid Flash had given Speedy a piggyback ride a few hundred miles and had stopped in an alley, near a mall in the City. Of all the bad luck! Just as they were leaving the alley, kitty corner across the street from one of the mall entrances, there was Aaron with his mother and sister getting dropped off at the door by their father. Just as Aaron glanced in that direction, Wally and Roy emerged from the alley in civilian garb smiling at each other. It had been a terrific mission. They'd worked with the Teen Titans, well really only Cyborg, to help stop a Brotherhood of Evil scheme and had squashed it. They came out of the alley, had a celebratory hug and then Roy realized he hadn't zipped up when he'd gotten out of his uniform and zipped his fly. They crossed the street and Wally saw Aaron staring at him. Instantly he guessed what the look was. Oh my god. Aaron just saw . . he doesn't understand . . he-he thinks Speedy and I are . . gay. Wally wanted to convince himself otherwise but the disgust, the disappointment on Aaron's face, the way he turned away, as if embarrassed, at having seen Wally's shame. Wally knew what Aaron was thinking.
And, all of a sudden, he started hearing cracks to that effect. He wasn't sure what, if anything, Aaron had told anyone. Maybe they just ran out of jokes about how poor the Wests were. "If your sneakers don't have adidas stripes, they've got duct tape stripes, you just may be a West. Ahahahahahahahahaha!". "If your mom buys you 34 inch waist pants so that she won't have to buy you any new clothes till you're 40, you just may be a West. Ahahahahahahahaha!". "If both your car and your house are two different colors of paint, you just may be a West. Ahahahahahahaha!". "If, for you they're called Nike Frees because you swiped yours out of a Goodwill box, you just may be a West! Ahahahahahahahaha!" "Hey, White Trash, I mean, Wally . . Ahahahahaha!"
His sister didn't much hear cracks like that. It was all directed at him. Any spending money was directed to her. She wore much better clothes. She wanted dancing lessons? She got dancing lessons. All Mrs. West's attention went to Wally's sister. "I could probably come and go in my red and yellow, my Kid Flash uniform and mom wouldn't notice or even care" he thought to himself.
But, though he didn't change his ways, Wally sincerely regretted the loss of his friends. "Poor Aaron. Now he really thinks his friend is gone" thought Wally. "He sees me acting weird and disinterested at school for so long and then charged with delight and hugging Speedy. If only I could tell him. It didn't have anything to do with Speedy. It was the joy I get in being myself, the real me, the incredible new me that I can't ever show you, the Kid Flash me that can run thousands of miles an hour and do all sorts of super speed, Flash tricks"
And, in the last year, Kid Flash had come to take up more and more of the waking hours and Wally West fewer and fewer. At first, the whole superhero thing had been kind of a weekend or special occasion thing. But he spent more and more time in his red and yellow Kid Flash uniform and why not? He was getting better and better at patrolling, at being a superhero. He was getting better and better at stopping all kinds of crimes. The name "Kid Flash" and his picture were turning up in the papers more and more. They stopped referring to him as the "swizzle stick slender speedster" or the "bolting boy" or the "boy wonder speedster". Ugh. He hated that ripoff of Robin's tag. They gave him grudging respect now. Without him, how many of their readers would be dead or injured or impoverished?
The police, too, showed Kid Flash increasing respect. When he'd first started, as an 11 year old, it had been humiliating for some of them to have the job that they were paid to do done instead by a boy that size. They'd worked with Kid Flash more than three years now and their regard for him had grown more than the boy himself.
And there was the pure joy of the incredible physical feats he could accomplish. There was joy in being so perfectly conditioned. There was pure joy in being so fast that time was subjective. He could move so fast that it was almost as though he had one clock in him running at a completely different speed than the one that set the pace for the rest of the world, sprinting between cars on the interstate that might as well have been oil paintings for how much they moved compared to him. He ran home past lawns being watered, drops of water that had shot out from sprinklers hanging in mid air as though they could just as well be bubbles floating gently upward.
There was also joy in the purity of the missions and the patrols. While the West family was empty of love in ruins around him and school was nothing but pointless drudgery, the missions had a point. The missions reasserted that the world had a moral compass and made sense. What kept him from despair over his evaporating friendships were things like saving a woman and her baby from bank robbers who'd taken them hostage and the joy in her tearful eyes as she thanked him. All the rescues, all the lives saved and all the arrests of the various bad guys charged Wally's soul like the speed force had charged his body.
He was focused like a laser as Kid Flash where he was distracted as Wally. He was cocky and buoyant as Kid Flash where he seemed depressed as Wally West. Maybe he was so buoyant as Kid Flash as a reaction to being so depressed as Wally West. Not long before meeting Jinx, Wally said it aloud to himself. "Kid Flash is the real me, now. Wally West is like some filler identity or something". He would spend six hours in a completely subdued mood at school sometimes not saying a dozen words or taking a single step faster than a trudge, then get home and practically explode with energy upon pulling on his Kid Flash uniform and racing out to patrol an entire metropolitan city area.
His weakness was his lack of stamina and he sometimes wondered if he wasn't at least subconsciously being the quiet stoic at school to save energy for the part of his life that really mattered. Why give precious energy to Wally West when it could go to Kid Flash?
But the schizoid way his life was developing didn't satisfy him. Worst of all were those times when he saw Titans Tower from some of the hills around Jump City. He would stop, midpatrol and stare, oblivious to the gawking of people right next to him. That was what he wanted, to live amongst other heroes, to be able to be himself 24 hours a day and to be able to be social, to talk about the work he was doing, the work of saving lives and protecting people on which he was focusing his life. Finally, in the middle of the two weeks of waiting, Kid Flash acted on his wish and sprinted across the water to the Tower from Jump City.
He'd never been there before. His one mission working with Speedy and Cyborg had involved their meeting at a location Speedy told him about not far from the Xinothium storage structure that was the intended theft target. Wally was surprised how normal the entrance looked, all navy blue and silver like the Tower itself but very similar to a normal apartment building with an outer door and a buzzer. A glance at the door and glass walls as he pressed the buzzer, though, revealed that this glass was very thick and slightly odd in color, probably super strong.
"Hello? Hello? This is Kid Flash"
"I can see you" said the disembodied voice of Cyborg from speakers somewhere near the entrance.
"Um, may I please enter. I'd like to discuss something with you."
"Is it an emergency?"
"No. It's not."
"Well . . . um, okay. 11th floor lobby okay?"
"Sure!" Kid Flash chirped, pushing open the door and then speeding up the stairs fast as he could. He was there before Cyborg was. He thought his request might be laughed at or considered so weird that they didn't know how to deal with it. An application? But Cyborg just reached behind a desk and handed a form to him. Just the waiver to allow the Titans to screen you, Cyborg told him. Wally nodded solemnly. The first piece of information was his real name. "Everybody freaks about that", Cyborg told him. But he assured Wally that his name would go nowhere. It wouldn't even go into the main database. Wally signed the release and finished the rest of the form.
"Good luck, man. That job with you and Speedy was sweet. Nice and professional all around."
"Thanks. I liked working with you guys. I'll, uh, I'll work on the required resume.
He wrote up 32 drafts of a resume on yellow legal paper. With the help of one of the business books at the city library, he finally settled on a format for it and typed it out on a computer at school at super speed when no one was looking.
When he met Jinx, he hadn't had a date in months as Wally West. Even that had been a date not kept. He was on the way to the house of a girl in his class, maybe the smartest girl, attractive, too, in an understated way and not scared away by the new image Wally projected. He was was just a few blocks away, walking as Wally West, when his Kid Flash ring vibrated twice.
"Not now!" he shouted to an empty street. But again, there they were, two quick vibrations. It was the signal to Kid Flash from the police, over a super high frequency, that they need his help.
"Damn! he grunted and finished the word wearing his Kid Flash uniform. He stored his clothes back home at his bedroom and sprinted for police headquarters.
He apologized profusely to her the next day. But, though she was polite, she wouldn't give him a second chance.
"My friends and my mom said I was stupid to agree to a date with you, Wally. They all said you would do something like that or worse. It's all over school how Timmy and Jeff and Aaron are fed up with you. But I said you were really a nice boy underneath the odd clothes and everything"
"I tried to be there, Lauren. I tried. I swear."
"I can't tell you"
"Oh. Well that explains it."
"Well, I'm not going to lie to you. But I-I just can't tell you about it. Can't you trust me?"
For a week, Wally would see her in the hallways or class and want to speak to her but she never so much as looked at him. She would walk past him to a clique of girls and Wally would see her speak to them then all the others look his way and laugh. What a maddening thing! There he was, his picture in the papers and on tv. "Kid Flash Saves Lost Boy" "Kid Flash Rescues Scout From Certain Death" and he couldn't take any credit for it even though he was Kid Flash. But he got all the blame for whatever he missed while being a hero.
Maybe having a girlfriend as Wally West would've delayed the transfer of his life into his being Kid Flash and away from Wally West. But the opportunity had passed and now his thoughts were of a girl who only knew him as Kid Flash. For two weeks, he restrained himself from going to meet her. As great as the lure of having half of his life be a full, working thing, he held back. He had a wet dream about her, one night, that was absolutely incredible. He would have sworn that she was really there in his arms.
But only the neighbor's cat, a little abyssinian named Empress, who sometimes came in through the open window and purred atop the warm body of the fastest boy alive, ever kept him company in his twin bed with its lumpy mattress and old quilt sleeping atop him on two other nights.
In some odd way, the girls at school seemed to sense the depth of his interest in a girl. They looked at him differently. He wasn't just the cute but poor orange haired boy with the blue eyes. It seemed to Wally that they talked to him in a subtlely different way, more seriously somehow as if they could sense, in some obscure way, that he, himself, was much more serious about a girl. Even Lauren cast a glance or two his way.
At last, the day he'd settled on arrived. When the bell rang ending school, Wally shuffled through the hallways at his usual clip, pulling up his drooping pants every few steps as necessary, nothing out of the ordinary. But his heart was racing.
Oh god, I'll see Jinx again! He felt like his life was about to move forward again. The moment he was out of sight, he stepped behind a hedge, pulled off his clothes and pulled on his skin tight Kid Flash uniform. He sprinted home and vibrated right through the wall into his room. His mom's car wasn't there. Oh yeah, he remembered. Sis's dance recital. With no one around he walked around the little house in his Kid Flash uniform, enjoying the feel of casually being Kid Flash in the West house. After a snack and some orange juice, straight from the carton just to annoy in absentia his mother, he took off on patrol.
When it was over, he started looking for her. Fast as he could, he sprinted through the areas around the HIVE Five's lair. No sign of her and he was able to eavesdrop on a conversation between Gizmo and Billy Numerous outside the lair. A few idle words seemed to indicate that she hadn't been around.
So, Kid Flash centered his search on other areas of the City. Where would I go if I were she? Hmmm. Kid Flash sprinted through one of the cheaper apartment districts. He came around a corner at top speed and saw, from behind, a tallish girl dressed in goth black but with pink hair.
He circled around to approach her from the front. She turned a corner and there, just a half block ahead, smiling at her, was Kid Flash.