Part 0: Shadow of Youth
Summary: Just as a freak accident saves Flash from his own metabolism (but not without leaving some changes of its own) an unknown player is gathering information on the League's greatest weakness…
Disclaimer: The DC characters are not mine. I'm just playing with them. They'll be returned…eventually, not in good condition but that can hardly be blamed on me!
Author's Note: PLEASE READ THIS SO YOU ARE NOT CONFUSED LATER! I was on some website and I read a bit about what the producers (or somebody) envisioned for the 'Flash' character of JL. Long story short: Wally is the first and, so far, only Flash. No Jay Garrick, No Barry Allen and no Bart Allen. I've included the characters under a similar premise in regards to their influence in Wally's life but they are regular people. Also, Wally was never in the Teen Titans (hence why he's pretty inexperienced about some aspects of the whole super hero thing). However, I like Dick Grayson and the whole Bat-family, so Dick and Wally do know each other. It will be elaborated on in the story. Enjoy!
Chapter 1 – A Posteriori
Out of his earshot the team of doctors discussed his latest blood work. They were some of the best medical minds on earth but they were no closer to helping him. He turned away from them and back to the view. Far beyond him the earth, half cast in shadow hung nearly motionless. It was mesmerizing. He wondered briefly how he hadn't noticed before. Sure he'd seen the view for the years that they'd been up here but he never took the time to admire it.
"Yeah, it's pretty," he'd told his Aunt Iris when she'd asked him what the earth looked like from the watchtower. He thought she'd looked a little disappointed but she'd brushed it off as Wally simply being mile-a-minute-Wally.
He hadn't been wrong but he hadn't been entirely right either. The earth was beautiful, marvellous, wondrous, and all those other nice words he didn't know. He hadn't really felt awe like this in while. Then again he hadn't moved this slowly in a while either, so he had a lot of time to notice things he'd overlooked before.
The whole tower seemed a lot bigger. And the kitchen was a lot further away than he remembered. Details about the architecture of the tower suddenly became apparent and he could appreciate, somewhat, the effort that must have gone into the design. He was sure John could go on for ages about the design but Wally wasn't that interested. Of course it figures he'd notice these things now, when the tower was being decommissioned.
Every so often he felt the vibrations as the tower was torn apart. The canon was already gone. There was a ton of damage from the CADMUS assault by the Ultramen but there was no point in repairing it. They'd secured the areas and started to take apart the rest of the station. The useful parts would be saved. The rest would be dropped into the Pacific Ocean. Wayne Enterprises had been given salvage rights to the remains. Wally thought that was only fair since Wayne Enterprises had funded the project in the first place (although only Wayne and the big seven knew it).
He was sad to see it go though. The tower had become his home; the league, his surrogate family. Now it seemed like it was over.
A sigh pasted his slightly parted lips. His stomach rumbled painfully. He didn't move. He was just too tired. They had already stabbed him with two IVs, each dripping some complicated concoctions that he couldn't pronounce. All he needed to know was that they were supposed to help curb his metabolism.
Stupid metabolism. Since the incident with Luthor and Braniac, his metabolism had been stuck in hyper-overdrive. The problem was he couldn't ingest enough to meet that demand. He wasn't worried though. His body would just work it out some how.
He didn't notice his eye's becoming heavy or the darkness creeping across his vision as fatigue claimed him. The Doctor's watched from a distance and a few shook their heads in dismay. They exited quietly.
"How is he?" Superman had been in the next room watching his friend through the observation window. He'd only just convinced John and Shayera to take a break. While they were somewhat awkward in each other's presence they'd been mostly by the young hero's side since the end of the press conference. Flash had managed to put on a strong front at the time but he'd all but collapsed when they'd returned to the tower. That had been three days ago.
"Metabolic rate is still off the charts. He's severely hypoglycaemic. What little fat stores he has are being rapidly exhausted."
"Can't he just eat more?"
A different Doctor answered. "We're giving him high-calorie food whenever he's awake but he hasn't been able to keep it all down. Even if he could there's no way he could get all the nutrients he needs."
"What other options do we have?" Superman didn't like the looks that passed between the physicians.
"We're giving him some drips to keep his blood-glucose up and deliver some nutrients but this won't due in the long term. We've also put him on methimazole and propylthiouracil but it's not having a significant effect. We either need a new way of meeting his metabolic demands or we need to slow down his metabolism."
"And if you can't?"
The Chief Doctor answered. "He'll die of starvation. So long as we keep supplementing his intake he'll last longer but unless something changes it's inevitable."
Superman looked at the dozing hero. "Have you told him?" They couldn't afford to lose him, not after all that had occurred. It seemed that no matter how many precautions they took to avoid it Wally was going to end up dead.
There was a pause before they responded to Superman. "Uhm…Batman did."
+JLU+"You told him!"
"There was no point in keeping it from him. It's his health."
"You couldn't wait for the last results-"
"Nothing was going to change?" Batman continued to peruse the medical database.
"You didn't know that. You just assumed you knew best!" Batman turned and glared at him. This was an old argument. It surely hadn't been resolved then and now was not the time to reopen the debate.
"He needed to know."
"It wasn't your place to tell him."
"He doesn't need you to hold his hand."
"We just don't want him to think he has to handle this on his own."
Batman transferred some data to a portable device and logged off the computer. "He's been handling things on his own for a long time. I'm sure he's used to it." He walked out leaving an angry Kryptonian in his wake.
Clark was overreacting, a common occurrence when he was faced with a problem superhuman abilities could not solve. Sometimes there was nothing you could do and you just had to sit back and watch. Of course Batman was a man-of-all-trades and he could always find something to do, some way to help. It kept him sane and focussed.
Watchtower personnel, superhero and normal alike, parted for Batman as he passed. Batman knew he deserved his reputation. He'd fostered it himself and for the express reason of striking fear into those who would cross the law. Strangely, or perhaps inevitably, he had begun to stir fear in those who had done nothing wrong and even those who were part of the solution, not the problem.
Batman wasn't much of a social person –he left that silliness for Bruce Wayne the playboy (another carefully cultivated image) to handle so he didn't care what the others thought of him but did take note of it. There was little that got past him. The psychiatrist in him whispered something about control issues.
To most he was the Dark Knight, Gotham City's masked avenger, the one justice league member who you don't want to cross even when he's in a good mood. He liked it that way. The Flash though had grouped Batman with all the others as just another guy in a costume. It had bruised the ego Batman claimed not to have at first, but he'd gotten over it. So he didn't stand out from the rest of them in the Flash's mind. Big deal. His patent-pending Bat-glare worked as well on Wally as it did on the other. Besides, he'd known the Flash for a long time (even though the young man didn't realize it) so he'd had a while to get used to the unusual way the Flash saw the world.
Still, sometimes even Wally was wary of Batman. He wasn't sure how he felt about that. Sometimes though, he did like the idea of being just another guy the way the Flash saw him, and all of them.
"Are you supposed to be out here?" Superman's cousin asked.
"I have nowhere better to be." He shrugged and continued slowly down the corridor. Kara stood and watched. It was a pretty surreal experience watching The Flash walk when he usually would have been gone so fast you didn't know he was even there.
"Do you need help?" He looked a little wobbly.
"Hey, I may not be as fast as I used to be but I'm not crippled." He walked a few more steps before looking back to where she had stopped. "But I never turn down the company of a pretty lady." She couldn't see his eyes through the white covering without using her x-ray vision but she could almost picture the mischievous green eyes. Or maybe they were blue. She couldn't quite decide.
"Alright, I'll be a lady and walk you home," she said with a smirk.
He said goodbye to Kara when he arrived at his room and went in. She'd looked a little surprised when he'd told her that he wasn't' going to the kitchen. He was still a little surprised too. He was hungry, so hungry it hurt –and not the usual hunger pains. This pain went beyond the pangs of an empty stomach. This was just pure pain in his midsection and he was too tired to do anything about it.
He'd put on a good front in front of Supergirl but once she was gone he slouched. He cold barely stay upright and decided it wasn't worth the effort. He stumbled to and collapsed on his bed. He pulled off his mask sighing as the clingy material was shed. Changing out of his whole costume was and option but he wasn't planning on staying in the tower much longer. He'd been up here for days and there was no guarantee that the Doctors would find a cure. However, he was guaranteed to be loosing out on much needed income since he'd missed so many days of work.
Being a mechanic for the Central City PD didn't pay a lot but he usually scraped by. Rent and living expenses ate away at a lot of his income as did tuition. He was enrolled at Central U in his second year of study and hoped to be done in one more year. Until then he'd have to manage with a budget stretched so thin it was translucent.
He glanced at the clock mounted at the wall and was surprised to find that forty minutes had passed. It was now past four and he was missing one of his classes. He couldn't stay here any longer. He didn't want to be too far behind the rest of his classmates and with everything that had happened recently it would take more than super speed to catch up.
Wonder Woman stood next to Green Lantern in the command centre. They were both reviewing the decommissioning process and scoping out the site for the new watchtower. Construction would start soon. It would be located in Metropolis. The mega-city was a hub for international trade, politics and art. The inhabitants were used to seeing people in costumes flying by, and Metropolis was second only to Gotham City in the number of super-powered/super-psycho criminals per capita.
They managed to score some waterfront property and blue-prints of the new facility were already being drawn up. John had already given his input into project. His background as an architect did come in handy every now and then. The plans were quickly being approved and contractors had been jumping to build the structure. It was Gaskel a subsidiary of Wayne Tech that got the main contract.
The base would be equipped with all the good stuff from the old tower but the newest feature would be the water access port for sea-vehicles and the more marine heroes of the league. It would also be a good place for stealth deployment of their forces.
Batman had encouraged them to add a subterranean network. They weren't sure exactly what they'd use it for but as the Dark Knight had said, "just in case". They had already planned for three complete basement levels so Batman's addition wouldn't be a problem. The type of earth at the site and the water currents of Metropolis harbour made for some tricky engineering but it had all been figured it out.
"It's going to be nice," said Diana.
John nodded and continued to look over the map. He wasn't thrilled about the site but he knew the first three rules of real estate: location, location, location.
The Watch Tower was supposed to be a military installation. He wasn't fond of the idea of mixing the military and political aspects of the league together into one building.
An embassy, Superman had called it. Rotating staff, some areas open to the public –to Stewart it sounded like a recipe for disaster.
"Is something wrong?" the Amazon asked.
He sighed. His glowing green eyes shifted to her. "I hope we know what were doing."
Wonder Woman was going to try to reassure him but a blinking indicator caught her eye. Tapping a few buttons details were displayed. "Someone's setting a new destination for the teleporters."
"Who?" There were only a few people authorized to use the teleporters without supervision. It was just too easy to make an error and accidentally redistribute your molecules across the solar system.
GL sighed as though he'd been expecting Flash to try and make a break for it. He'd been apprised of Flashes condition and had stayed with the speedster most of the time until his duties pulled him away. Why wasn't he in the Med Bay?
John tapped a few commands into the computer while Diana watched curiously. She wasn't a computer expert but she'd managed to figure out a thing or two. It looked like John was placing a lock out on the teleportation system. Flash could set and reset his destination but the teleporters would be offline until either he or one of the other five founding members changed it.
"I'm going to see what the kid is getting up to."
Stewart soon entered the atrium housing the teleporters. This area of the station was still mostly untouched. The teleporters would be one of the last few components to be removed as they still required their use. Whether they'd install it in the new headquarters remained to be seen. J'onn was really getting fed up with the unreliable technology.
The red suited hero glanced over his shoulder and saw his friend approaching. "Hey GL. What's up?" His voice was dull and tired fuelling John's worry about his health.
"Aren't you supposed to be in the Med Bay?"
He shrugged. "They can't do anything for me, except stab me with needles, so I'm going home." He was unconcerned with his failing health. Somehow his body would balance it out, he was convinced.
"Have you cleared it with the Doctor's?"
Behind the mask Wally rolled his eyes. John's concern was nice but he'd been getting nothing but concern from everybody. "Yes, mom." Lantern scowled making his younger companion laugh. "Look, I just need to get back to my life. I've got a big test in two days that I'm not ready for. Besides their taking apart the station and I can't rest properly with all that noise." He hoped to use GL's concern for him to get what he wanted and by the contemplative look on the dark man's face, it was working.
"Ok-" Wally pumped his arm in triumph. "-but you have to check in every twelve hours-" the arm fell. "…and I'll take you back to your apartment."
Flash shrugged. You can't win 'em all.
About ten minutes after the Green lantern had left the heroine with the red hair, brown-gold wings and fierce attitude strode into the command centre head scanning side to side obviously searching for someone. "Where's GL?" It was very near a demand.
"He's taking Flash back to Central City." Wonder Woman's voice and manner were softer than Hawkgirl's and the juxtaposition of the two crime fighters only magnified the contrast.
"I thought he was supposed to stay in the Med Bay."
"Ill or not, it's impossible for Flash to stay in the same place for very long." They both smile at that and a comfortable silence grew between them.
"So…" Diana started hesitantly.
Hawkgirl's eyes narrowed. Whatever the Princess was about to say, Shayera knew she wasn't going to like it.
"What's going on between you and John?"
"I don't think that's any of your business."
"It was just a question." Princess or not, Wonder Woman was just as fierce as Shayera. Flash had been right all those months ago. Even with all the differences they were too much alike and neither of them would admit it.
After an awkward pause Shayera left. She knew it was only natural for her team-mates to be curious. When they'd pulled Wally out of the speed force Shayera and John had been by his side, providing comfort while he was still so confused. After everything that had happened they were all feeling pretty raw. Emotions that were usually well shielded from others slipped through the cracks.
Upon their return to the watch tower, and once Flash was stabilized, she and John had gone off to talk. Well it had started as talking and gone further. The battle still fresh in their mind, the possible loss of their close friend, their family member, looming in the uncertain future and they had turned to each other for comfort. Thankfully or unfortunately they had been interrupted by a call from Superman just as the kiss had escalated.
So they kissed a few times. It wasn't a big deal. Shayera paused in a random corridor. It was a big deal because she didn't know how much of what she'd felt was just because of leftover adrenaline and how much was because she really wanted to try again with him.
Shayera had been searching for John intent on talking this out, until she'd gone to the command centre. They'd both been semi-avoiding each other since that day and that kiss –only together when they were with Flash –but she wanted to confront this head on like a true Thanagarian soldier. Of course when she was informed John wasn't around, she couldn't deny that it had been a relief. Some brave warrior she was.
+JLU+"I just don't know what to do?"
"Have you tried talking to her?" It was the obvious first step but also the hardest. There was no response from the glowing green guy next to him. "I'll take that as a no."
"How can I? I've already lost her."
Flash scratched his neck. "I don't know…" he drawled. "People don't usual kiss people they don't like." John just sighed.
They were just entering Earth's atmosphere. Safely enclosed inside Lantern green bubble they were free to talk about anything. And as usual, where there was John, there was Shayera, even if only in thought. He couldn't keep his mind off her. Even in the Med Bay Wally had heard some rumours about the two and after more than a little needling by the annoying younger hero John had related the details of the "conversation" he and Shayera had had after the battle.
Flash was really happy for him. Sure he used to have a crush on Shayera but that seemed like ages ago. Now he wanted two of his best friends to be happy and with each other.
Green Lantern had tried dating Vixen and while to the casual observer they'd made an awesome couple and Vixen was undeniably hot, they just weren't a match for each other. Now, John and Shayera, Wally thought they were a match made in heaven. All he had to do was convince John of that. Looking at the older man it was clear to Wally that the ex-marine was brooding again and only making himself more depressed and angry. He felt compelled to offer some advice.
"John, you have to try. If you don't, it'll be like loosing her all over again –like losing a piece of your family. And that would suck."
"How would you know?" John scoffed his thoughts sufficiently dark that he didn't think before he spoke and consequently hurt a person he cared about.
Flash was a little taken aback and tried not to get defensive. "Hey, better to have loved and lost… yadda yadda yadda…"
They were just touching down outside Central City as John replied. "Look when I need advise about stuffing my face and bad pick up lines I know whom to go to. For deep and meaningfuls, I have other sources." He just wanted to end this conversation. He couldn't realistically see his relationship with Shayera improving and he didn't want to dwell on prospects that could never be.
He didn't notice the ephemeral flash of hurt that his callous words produced. "Why's that? Because you need to have a family to know how it feels to miss them?"
"That's not what I meant." John's tone was sharper than he intended and this time he saw the eyes of his friend narrow.
"That's sure as hell what it sounded like." Before either of them could lay down any more remarks they'd only regret later, Flash took off. The trail of dust quickly settled in the calm air and the Green Lantern was left to contemplate his stupid words. Wasn't he always lecturing Wally to think first?
"Do as you preach," the man whispered to himself.
He'd find Flash later and apologize. Hopefully by then they'd both be a litt;e more clear-headed.
End Chapter 1 – From What Comes After
Ok...this chapter didn't turn out exactly like I had planned but we'll get there. Anyway about this story…La Juenesse is supposed to be a fairly short story about Wally, his past and how he is perceived by the other members (and I've added a little action just for fun). Part 0, as you may have guessed, is the introduction to a bigger story that I'm writing. Flash and Batman are my favourite so you'll see a lot of them in the story. Will it be slash? I don't know yet (but probably). We'll see where my muse takes me.