Disclaimer: DC owns the DCU. Impulse created by Mark Waid and Mike Wieringo.
Reset! - Chapter One: Divergence
The grandson of Barry Allen, the second man to run as the Flash, Bart Allen was born in the thirtieth century with his speed powers on full and grew up at a hyperaccelerated rate in a virtual reality world. With death from old age before his third birthday threatening him, his grandmother, Iris Allen, returned to the past with him. She brought him to her nephew, Wally West, the third man to run as the Flash, for help. After his powers were stabilized, Bart took on the name Impulse and the elder speedster known as Max Mercury took him on as a pupil and ward. They located to the town of Manchester, Alabama, where they eventually moved in with Max's daughter, Helen Claiborne. One day, while Max was investigating an anomaly in the Speed Force that gave all of the speedsters their power, he vanished into it.
Got all that? Now to resume the story in a house in the suburbs of Manchester...
Bart lifted his chin in defiance. "No!"
Green eyes locked onto yellow ones in a battle of wills. "Look, Bart, I really don't have time to argue this!" Wally tried to keep his patience and temper, but Bart had an unerring talent for inspiring annoyance and irritation. A glance at the red costume he wore as the Flash reminded him of his duties and he tried his best to channel his uncle Barry in moments like these. "You should stay with Jay Garrick in Denver right now. He'll take up training you." Now with Max's disappearance, Wally wanted someone to take over the task of mentoring Bart, but that mentor would need far more patience than he could muster. No amount of trying to channel his sainted predecessor would help him if he had to handle Bart for more than a half an hour. He wasn't this much of a pain to Barry, was he? He still couldn't figure out what he had done to deserve dealing with a timelost, ADHD-addled speed-teen.
Bart's expression was still resolute under the thick mop of unruly chestnut hair. "But Max is gonna come back soon, right? Why do I need to move, if I'm just gonna come back?" When Wally didn't reply fast enough, he glared. "We are going to find Max."
"As soon as we have an idea where he went to, yes." Wally let his breath go and steadied it. "We can't just run off without a plan and look under every random rock on the planet. In the meanwhile, I want Jay to pick up where Max left off in training you."
"I don't have to move for that," Bart countered, "You said yourself that I can cross continents in the time it takes for kids my age to cross the street! I can just run over to Jay's whenever we're going to train." He turned a frantic glance to Helen. "Manchester is my home! I have friends here! I don't want to leave!"
Helen was leaning against the kitchen counter with a mug in her hand. "He's right, Wally. He can run to Denver anytime he wants to. Besides, I think I would start to get lonely with things so quiet around here." Gripping her cup, she stared down into the dark coffee. "It shouldn't take too long before I have a full house again."
When she looked to Wally, he couldn't hold her gaze and he looked away. "Are you sure you can handle Bart alone?"
Over Bart's indignant protest, she nodded and replied, "He may be three years old, but he's not a toddler. Actually, I'm thinking that he can take over a few more household chores, maybe learn to cook dinner a few nights a week. He's only got a few more years before he's legally an adult and has to fend for himself. Jay can teach him the superheroing while Max is gone. I'll teach him the rest." She turned her full attention to Bart. "Does that sound like a deal? If it's just you and me for now, we'll split the chores."
Over Bart's eager agreement, Wally raised an eyebrow at Helen. "Are you sure you want to do this?" He was already hearing the fire alarms at the thought of Bart cooking. "Are you sure?"
"If he doesn't behave, I ship him out to Jay." Helen speared Bart with a wicked grin.
Then Wally looked to Bart. "Are you sure you want to do this?"
Bart replied with an emphatic "Yes!"
Helen set her mug on the counter. "Well, if that's the deal, then it's effective as of right now." She scribbled a list on the notepad next to the refrigerator and gave the page to Bart, along with some money. "Here, go pick these up at the store. Normal speed, Bart. We'll start off simple on the cooking. I don't feel like eating sandwiches tonight. Remember, normal speed."
Once Bart was out the door, Helen turned her full attention to Wally. "Why aren't you taking up his training?"
He crossed his arms, knowing that this question was coming. "I don't have the time or the patience he needs. Jay will do a better job at it."
"How much time do you think Jay will really have for him? Isn't he already a mentor to other kids? And with Joan sick, he'll want to be with her." Helen's eyebrows drew together, deepening the crease between them. "Do you think he'll have the time or the focus he'll need to help Bart readjust? And what about Bart? He needs the support of the friends he has here after all that's happened. He's lost his best friend and then the closest person he has to a father. Yes, Wally, that's how close they've become. Once Bart leaves here, he can't come back without the mask. Not without raising a lot of difficult questions."
After a quiet moment, Wally managed his reply. "I don't like the thought of him being here without supervision that can keep up with him. He's a good kid, but he's a disaster waiting to happen."
"If you're that worried about him, why don't you stop by more often?" Helen refilled her mug with some fresher coffee. "I know you two won't ever be Flash and his sidekick, Kid Flash. Maybe that's the problem." When Wally tried to interrupt, she held up a finger to silence him. "But he still looks up to you, even though he may not reach out to you anymore."
Wally was quiet while Helen filled a second mug with coffee and handed it to him. Staring into the depths of the dark liquid, he tried to look past the reflection. "If he gets to be too much or goes too far out of control, call me," he told her, "You never asked for this job and I don't think it's fair to burden you with it."
Helen paused with the mug halfway to her mouth. "With all due respect, Wally, I have asked for it and I don't consider it a burden. I have never objected to Impulse being in my town or my home and I consider his presence here a blessing. Yes, he's young and inexperienced and he makes mistakes, but he's a boy, for crying out loud! He can't help being what he is."
"He's a boy with superpowers," Wally countered, "His mistakes can mean people being hurt or killed."
Helen's expression hardened. "Have you been watching the news or reading the papers at all? Normal teens make mistakes where people are hurt or killed every day. They don't need superpowers to do that. Look, I understand your concern, but Max will be back soon enough and I can handle Bart in the meantime. I promise I'll call if I need your help."
"All right," Wally finally conceded. He set his mug aside and slipped his cowl over his head. "I should get going now. I'll stop by to check up on things here when I can." He opened the back door and disappeared, leaving only a rush of wind to close the door behind him.