October 1 Update:

Ending of chapter 7 is not truly complete. It's readable, but a bit open ended due to reader review button paralysis. In other words...my Give A Damn got busted.


A/N: I saw a drawing on the net (Deviant Art) and was inspired by the artist's asking to write something based on it. Named after the the drawing

Characters: Wally West, Bruce Wayne, J'onn J'onzz. Universe: mixed with a reference to cartoon episode's Better World. This includes intact secret identities with two exceptions: I think that J'onn as well as Bruce knew who Flash was before Starcrossed. Also, I can't stand the name Hawkgirl. She wasn't a *girl* for Pete's sake. Anyone who thought she was a *girl* needed their eyes checked. 9.9

Edit note: MIXED universe. I always liked Wally's mask without the eye lenses as that seemed to better fit his open personality-and let us see his beautiful green orbs. He had switched to open eyes (like Barry's Flash cowl) for a long time once he learned how to make his own suit out of pure Speed Force energy. So here he has an 'open' mask unlike Batman who always has had white lenses over his eyes. Yes, I know Rebirth has redesigned Wally's uniform yet again and returned the 'hidden' look. I'm trying to get over that particular reversal. Give me time.

PG/PG-13 rated slash content.

Kyer does not own any of the characters depicted or mentioned within. Not even Wally. Just as well as he'd run rings around me.

Not Deleting: Every now and then I post something to which the responses are so absent I figure I might as well pull the plug. You can thank paineverlasting and wentworth360 for this story still existing somewhere other than in the dusty corridors of my external hard drive. Particularly the former who threatened to nag me. 0.0





(Song that helped inspired this deleted just in case prohibited by FFN:)

-Ever The Same song excerpt by Rob Thomas





There was a green glow trying to make its way through his eyelids. It wasn't a particularly threatening light, but it was tinting the thin layer of skin covering his eyes just enough to know it was there. Sunlight tended to be yellow and hospital rooms were always bright white with either a tinge of yellow or blue depending on the type of light bulb utilized, so...

Wally felt weird. Not right. Why was that? Batz would know. Batz always knew the why when things were askew.

Throbbing. Rending. Pain. Pain. PAIN.

He whimpered.

"Think of something else."

J'onn? Batz? I hurt! God, somebody, please help me!

The voice had been so faint, Wally wasn't sure whose it had been other than it was masculine. He could only pray his response had been heard.

Silence answered him.

I'm hallucinating voices. Oh God. Hurts.

The last was plaintive because the thought was for himself alone and maybe God. There was no one else. He was alone and in pain like he'd never felt pain before.


"A recollection of what is past. Think of something else."

There was the voice again.

It sounds smart. I bet it's Batman. Batz? It hurts! Help me!

"Think of something else."

Don't think of the pain and the pain would go away? He hoped that was Batman's plan and not his own thought. Batz was so very smart. No matter the question, Batman would find the answer and tell it to him. Wally'd take the info and run and run and run-

Running kept him safe, body and mind. Allowed him space to think at his own pace. Right now it was so hard to think, though. The memory of...

Pain. All encompassing, blot out the light-pain. There was light that was not light in darkness that was not darkness.

Batman knew the darkness; wasn't afraid of it.

Batman. Knew.

"Think of...Batman."



The Dark Knight. The Caped Crusader. The Bat. The Gotham Knight. Batman knew so many things and the why of them.

Except when it came to a speedster's practical knowledge on the Speed Force and how to socialize at a party. In those areas, Wally could literally run space-time rings around reserved and speed-deprived Batman. Not that Batman was an invalid or someone whom Wally should pity. The man had his bazillion dollar Batwing and Batmobile and could probably outrun most normal humans in a marathon.

Yet Batman for all his intelligence and money didn't have a connection to the Speed Force. It was something that Wally had always felt kind of bad about... because he'd been blessed by God with a quad-tripled menu order of velocity pastry while Batz and other normal humans had somehow missed out on even one crumb of the best pieces of the DNA pie.

On the other hand, Wally couldn't help but grin at the idea that fate had recompensed Batman with superior brain cells because even the universe had been afraid to leave Batman empty handed lest the Dark Knight take some sort of umbrage against said universe...and very likely whoop it's ass.

Be that as it may, in the final count-as far as Wally was concerned-it still didn't seem a fair trade. Feeling that exhilarating force of speed electricity that connected with all of time and the multi-verse rush through your every atom? That was like visiting Heaven's Disney World with an all-eternity ride pass. Who would trade mere intelligence for the ability to taste rapturous oneness with nigh everything?

Obviously, The Bat was really good at being smart and Wally respected that just as he was awed by the sheer power of Superman and Green Lanterns and the magical incantations of the magicians. Nor was he so self-centered that he could not at least imagine that Zatanna and Kyle might be experiencing paradise every time she used her magic or he called on the lantern's energy. You'd be stupid to assume that Superman was not feeling a kinship with Creation when he levitated on the edge of the upper atmosphere and basked in Sol's rays. Watching J'onn observe desolate Mars from the Watchtower tore at Wally's heartstrings, yet J'onn seemed at times to have a connection to the cosmos which was better than that of anyone else. The universe was above all...diverse with its gifts. Wally figured that Creation knew what it was doing and did it pretty well considering all it had to work with were rocks and gases.

For all that, being a speedster was-still-The Best Thing Ever as far as Wally was concerned even if the others laughed at this conceit because...because they just didn't know.

While most people complained a day rarely held enough hours to do this and or get together for that? Speedsters had a surplus of seconds and those were like days with which to do stuff. Hell, he could watch a hummingbird in flight and sense each and every tiny vibration of its molecules as it ever so slowly maintained its hover over a flower. The intensity of its vibrations shifted with it's movement so that he knew just when it was going to fly off by the tiny adjustments it made beforehand. Or he could probably start near simultaneous conversations with every superhero and otherwise cool person on Earth and still have time to admire the scenery and grab snacks while he zipped about waiting for their replies. What other enhanced human had the chance to meet everyone worth knowing in their lifetime and how sheer awesome was that?

Like The Batman.

Batman was cool and decidedly awesome and Wally was very glad he knew the man even if only professionally.

Okay, so he often felt like an ignoramus when Batz started talking all techie or fit together vague clues into a logical picture like they were a child's 50-piece jigsaw puzzle. Still, that was much better than feeling like a dunce while listening to another logic-challenged person yammer on when what he needed for a potentially life-shattering question was an answer to stuff like-

Where am I?

"Batz?" Wally fuzzily noted that the green lights were still on. Somebody was going to get a lecture on energy costs.

"Ssh...it's okay."

"Am I alive? He was aware that something was off-that he felt more out of it than he usually did; yet that knowledge didn't stop his mouth in time before he'd asked if he was still amongst the living; because-really-that just sounded like a stupid question even if he did feel half dead.

Batman said it was okay, so it must be.

And yet... his cotton-dry mouth frowned in realization that the something which was off feeling was not going away. Maybe the tingle in his brain was not technically wrong-but definitely was not quite right either. He raised his hand and heard dripping noises that sounded like someone had added wind chimes to the audio mix.

Yep, that was definitely odd however much it was stamped [Bat-Certified 'Okay'] and warranted further investigation even if that action made Batman go all sulky because Wally wasn't obeying his commands quickly and thoroughly enough.

Sulky Batman was scarier than regular Aloof Batman, but not as much as P.O.'d Batman which was a scary that was off the regular scale and probably needed a special Bat Scale to be measured accurately.

Wally tilted his head sideways in a prelude to opening his eyes and looking at his hand, but felt something lapping into a nostril. It didn't sting or burn or otherwise hurt in any way, really. Still, the sudden sensation of liquid entering his nose brought on a reflexive snort.

Softness was instantly under his head, supporting it and tilting it upwards again-nose now clear of what should really have been offending stuff, yet wasn't.

"I'm wet," Wally mused aloud in a way that suggested he thought the matter should warrant some interest-if only a little. He hadn't realized he was half drenched before and figured it was because the water must be sharing the same temperature as his skin so his body had canceled out the sensation while he'd been asleep. Like being in a sensory-deprivation tank for a long enough period of time, his nerve endings were ignoring the liquid.

God, that sounded so logical.

How long had he been asleep? For that matter, where was he and where had he been before he got here?

His eyelids felt like lead weights and resisted his desire to see where he was. Wally forced them open anyway. It proved to have not been worth the effort. His vision was all myopic-a Mr. Magoo level of blurry, too. He could just make out glowing green areas against velvety blackness. Nothing terribly informative.

What if he started to push himself upright, to get out of the...water?

Was it water? Even with a head stuffed with wool the liquid moved differently...alien different like it was alive in and of itself and that usually would have started alarm bells in his head. Wally knew intellectually that it should be a worrisome thing to wake up in such a circumstance-even though he didn't actually feel alarmed-and so he tried to get up because...


The pain had receded.

A strong hand pushed him back down into the liquid.

"Don't." One word; softly spoken, yet clearly a command not to be trifled with.

Batman? That had sounded a little more like Batz. But where had he come from? Had they been on a mission? Was one of them hurt?

He was hurt.

Running, hitting, bursts of fire and loud noises. Living metal. Tendrils around his body. Clicking. Pain.

"Stay. Safe here. Do not move."

"What?" Batz wanted him here? "Why?" He didn't particularly wish to be wet.

Or did he? It was not bad. The liquid was warm... soothing ...comfortable. It made him want to relax-which was ridiculous because the pain was almost gone and surely he was needed somewhere? If he'd been hurt then it stood to reason that others had been as well. He had to help them.

Batman's hand was on his chest just strong enough to keep him from getting up; not smiling or frowning or criticizing. Just there. Insistent. Patient. Waiting for Wally to realize something vital that Batman already had.

I'm missing something important.

His body felt at ease in the water. Was that right though? There was a niggling recollection at the back of his brain that he didn't normally lie down in water unless he was taking a bath. Come to that, he never voluntarily took a bath. Too slow. Showers were faster. Showers were better than sliced bread because bread really didn't need to be sliced to be eaten in a hurry. Step in, step out-done in a flash. A tub took forever to fill. Baths were what were foisted on him when he was too injured to protest the indignity of it or heal up in time to escape the hordes of Watchtower nurses eager to give him one.

Okay, there were no hordes of babe-acious Watchtower nurses on call wielding sponges and adoring smiles over skimpy white uniforms...just one or two old battle-axes in their 40's and sensible shoes who steered clear of him as much as possible to avoid his whining because healing took forever (relatively speaking) and used up valuable running free-around-the-planet time.

So baths were bad and showers were good and the movie Chariots of Fire was good, but was also bad since it didn't have nearly enough running scenes in it and the ones it did have were much too slow because some idiot director had a penchant for slowing down the film during what should have been fast moments.

He liked fast things. Things that didn't seem so slow.

Except for right now.

Right now he felt...slow. Kind of disconnected. And that was all right since he really didn't feel like going anywhere else anyway; being right here was perfect.

Wait...hadn't something felt wrong just a bit ago? If he concentrated, maybe he would remember what it was.

No, there was something bad if he remembered so he shouldn't do that; but he was curious, too, and even if he felt slow his thoughts seemed to be racing along speedster normal paced-okay?-as if they were searching for something to do-like they were at a loss and bored and wanted-needed a distraction because-because-something was missing and that wasn't right and-if he didn't have something to do he was going to go insane like from that pain and-and he was being squeezed and it hurt-even his brain-it was all-he needed to move!

Unintelligible sounds were in his ear. They made no sense to him. What use was gibberish?

Nothing made sense! All of this-weirdness-he needed to escape-run away from the scary weirdness that might be something bad!

The gibberish was changing...words...they told him to calm down. He should calm down because panicking wasn't going to help.

Concentrate on...


They were on a mission. Lives were on the line. Batman needed him to stay calm and concentrate on him. That was important. More important than rushing off because...why?

"Rushing off will draw attention to things that would hurt someone innocent."

Batman needed him to concentrate only on Batman to save a life. An innocent.

I have to follow Batman's direction in order to save the life of an innocent.



A knee was nudging against the underside of his thighs. He let it slip between his legs so that the muscle-bound limb was trapped between his own. It didn't stop there though, but continued until the thigh was touching against his while the rest of the leg from knee to foot was pressing down to trap his own appendage. At the same time as his right leg was being thus pinioned, another limb had moved in to prop up his left leg so that it bent at the knee. A foot braced against his heel.

Wally allowed it.

Nor did he experience more than a moment's unease when he felt a hand press up from between his legs to slide over his cod piece. Batman was saving a life and he was helping because above all things a hero helped others. Besides...it felt good and Batman was being really nice-and how many times was Batman really nice to anyone?

Batman had to be acting nice to save a life and if Batman could be nice for something so important then surely Wally could not make a fuss about it. So when bare fingers tugged around the lightning bolt design of his pants and started pulling up the back of his top, he obliged the hand by reaching down with his left arm to pull at the front of the wet material. Between the two his torso was quickly exposed while his frame continued partially resting against another body. The hand did not seem satisfied by this, however, as it ghosted back down his abdomen in order to poke at his belt hemline once more.

Again, Wally saw no reason to complain even though this wasn't normal behavior for Batman or something that he'd ever recalled his mentor warning him could happen while on duty as The Flash. In fact, when the softness supporting the back of his skull started to grasp at the material covering most of his head (ah-there was another hand, then!) he merely reached up and peeled back the cowl until no part of it was touching his face.

Secret identity? We're saving a life, here. Though I've never saved someone by acting this way. Shouldn't there be running involved? Was he doing this right? If only Uncle Barry had talked about this sort of thing back then instead of just how to vibrate and run over water. It was important not to screw this up for Batman and that innocent victim.

Concentrate on Batman.

There-Batman just smiled at him! It seemed he was doing the right thing after all and this was much nicer than pursuing thoughts of wrongness or memories or...whatever it was that was so unimportant. Indeed, it must have been the correct thing for now soft lips were sliding along his chin and a tongue tip was at his mouth, tasting his lips.

Wally decided he liked this and not the least because of the fact that the more he stopped thinking and just focused on Batman, the more the memory of pain and confusion faded away and the rightness of it all grew stronger.

Wally was being a hero.

He was saving a life.

"How is he?"

It was John who asked, but all the Founders had the same question on their faces. The Martian sighed and hoped they would take the news well. He'd done-was doing-all he could to save the speedster's life.

"Flash will recover, but it will take time. The collecting machine from Brainiac caused extensive damage to his body even as it was preparing to import and convert his soul into its data banks. Fortunately, I was able to interrupt the transfer and redirect his personality elsewhere before..blowing out its circuitry."

It had been most satisfying even if much of his mind had been too preoccupied in saving Flash to fully enjoy watching the scout implode.

The heroes looked sick at the thought that Brainiac's computerized drone had almost succeeded in literally stealing their friend's mind and turning what remained into pulp.


It was Superman who managed to get the query asked before anyone else; though really it was a rhetorical question. There had been only J'onn around Flash when the detestable pile of flexible metal and computer chips had managed to snag and hold onto the Scarlet Speedster. The others had been too far away dealing with Brainiac proper when the drone started crushing their youngest Founder with its many whip-like appendages. The ghost of Flash's agony-drenched screams still echoed in his ears.

J'onzz stiffened in preparation for any criticism of his action. "As his body was then in such a perilous state with its viability not certain, I thought it best to deposit his soul within a portion of my own mind until it can be safely returned."

"Flash is aware of where he is, J'onn?" Diana now spoke up, worry in her eyes.

"No," J'onn hung his head. "I fear he would not handle such a revelation well. Therefore, I have created an illusion for him. It is regrettable that I had not time to construct something more tailored for his immediate comfort and there were some bad moments when he started to become aware, but he is at peace now."

"An illusion?" Green Lantern knew all about creating mental constructs. It was how he controlled the power of his emerald ring.

The oldest League member hesitated. "Yes...a personal retreat of mine meant for meditation purposes. A mental shrine to the Martian deity of waters and wholeness. Water is-was-a sacred element to Mars as it holds so little of the life-giving liquid. Water's essence is calming and healing to both body and soul." His eyes closed, then opened and glowed. "Admittedly, it is not usual having such an...energetic spirit within a space meant for peaceful contemplation, but it was necessary. I will cope."

"J'onn..." A distressed Shayera looked at him. Her feathers refused to lie flat; their ruffled appearance testimony to her unease. Her speedster friend had never been one to settle down. How long before he fell to claustrophobia...closed in like that...closed in. He'd go mad. She shuddered in empathy, being subject to that particular phobia.

Stewart was entertaining close to the same misgivings-as were they all-for they had known the young man for quite some time now. Peaceful contemplation wasn't exactly The Flash's strong point. Harboring him had to be like an elder watching over a room full of hyper children-exhausting. If a weary J'onn lost his focus before Flash's body was healed enough to risk...potting it back in, what would happen to Flash's mind? Hell, what would happen to J'onn's?

"He was in great agony, Shayera. The drugs we have would have failed in alleviating it. That was the first concern as far as something driving Flash into madness. I am not belittling your issues on this. However, rest assured that as soon as his body has stabilized I will return his mind to it. His thoughts...are not something I asked to be privy to more than necessary, but I am an experienced telepath and am not unfamiliar with shunting aside errant alien thoughts. He gave a smile meant to reassure his team mates. "We will both be fine."

"All of us realize you did not have time to consider the ramifications of it, J'onn," Clark demurred, "but...well, Wally rather likes to talk and you enjoy your quiet time. That's like trying to mix oil and water as Ma likes to say. To be frank, either you're going to be miserable with no peace of mind or Flash is going to go nuts from loneliness."

"Everyone, I do appreciate your concern, but while we are currently not holding a conversation I have not left him alone. That would not be healthy for one of his personality." J'onn was beginning to want to grind his teeth in frustration. Really, how many times did he have to reassure them?

"No?" the others voiced in near unison.

Oh dear. He'd made them curious now, wondering just what was happening up there in a Martian's head where one speedster was holed up in the guest room.

"Flash was distressed by recent memories of trauma and sought comfort from another. I let his mind decide whose presence would ease his distress the most and it did the choosing. Suffice it to say, he is no longer in pain."

The other Founders looked at each other than back at the Martian.

"Who?" Clark blurted out. Obviously to a Kryptonian the word 'suffice' held no meaning. "Just what's going on in-"

Orange eyes glowed. "Superman, please do not ask me to divulge that. In respect for Flash's privacy, I will not answer."

Shayera frowned in disapproval before growling, "That little...he's dreaming he's with me or Diana, isn't he?" She rolled her eyes. "What am I thinking? He's probably got us both by his side along with every super model he's ever seen. If any of us are indecent, I'll hit him!" Diana blinked at her statement, not quite comprehending what her friend was so angry about. Flash was in J'onn's mind. Dreaming was surely an innocent... She flushed, recalling how Flash had acted upon first meeting her.


"No more questions." J'onn closed his eyes as much to signal that he was ending this meeting as to temper his rising annoyance with them. What did they expect him to do? It wasn't like he could-or would-just drop Flash's mind off in a plastic container and stick it in the freezer for later. "I think it best you all leave for now. I must concentrate on keeping the illusion intact."

"So, Flash, what were you doing all those hours while in J'onn's mind?" Shayera asked him with false nonchalance. "We know you imagined one of us in there with you."

About to take a sip of his drink at their break room table, Wally froze with the cup's edge just brushing his mouth.

"Probably stuffing his face at an all-you-can-eat restaurant; right, Hot Shot?" John snorted, but he was eying Flash somewhat carefully as the young man ignored their questions in favor of contemplating his beverage. Stewart's posture was even more rigid than normal. Flash was their close friend, but the thought that the speedster might have been entertaining Shayera even closer than one would a friend-however imaginary the scene-did not sit well with him.

Shayera tossed her head with a playful smirk, but her eyes likewise never strayed from the speedster's face. Flash had always had difficulty hiding what he was feeling and that made him easier to read than most-even when it was half hidden behind red spandex. Just his posture alone gave him away. "As long as you weren't doing anything inappropriate for a minor? Something like..." she paused to let the figurative mace drop just to see if anything got stirred up "...sex?"

Wally blushed crimson, choking slightly on a mouthful of iced mocha as his eyes went wide with panic. He sped from the room.

"That cinches it," Shayera growled, thumping her fist against a table top hard enough to crack it's surface. "He was-!"

With a blur Wally was back with Princess Diana in tow. Before anyone could react he had the Amazon's lasso off her belt and loosely encircling his neck. His green eyes were jade stones behind his mask; no hint of humor softened them.

"Since my head seems to be in the figurative noose with you all, I thought it might as well be made literal. Diana, ask me if I was doing some inappropriate mental shenanigans with anyone in this room-while either in or out of J'onn's noggin."

With some embarrassment, Wonder Woman asked.

"Nope, nada, zilch." Wally's grin was rather forced as he continued, "Even when dreaming -I- respect my friends privacy; besides, doing anything like that with someone who's practically my sister-" he turned his frosty glare from Shayera to spear it upon John "or brother-actually threatens to turn off my appetite. Can you believe that? Of course you can-I'm wearing Wonder Woman's magic lie detector." He lifted the golden rope back off his head. "And that should settle that. So give it a rest, guys." With a huff, he sat back down and finished his meal, pointedly ignoring them for the rest of his break.


Wally shivered at the cold way his name was spoken. He didn't bother turning around. What for? Either the speaker would be cloaked in shadows or his visage would not be pleasant. "Make it quick, Batz. I'm due for monitor duty in thirty seconds."

"I heard your statement to the others in the cafeteria."

Of course he had. What a surprise.

Wally grimaced at Batman's admission. Naturally, now would come the lecture on propriety and harassment in the workplace-never mind that he had not been the one to bring up the topic of conversation with John and Shayera. Best to let Batman get the point that he was irked over aired out quickly. He really did have monitor duty in a short while and for all he didn't like doing it, he'd signed up onto this showboat for better or worse.


"Keep your puerile fantasies about me to yourself."

Yesterday, Wally would have been shocked to hear such a sentence coming from Batz and directed at him, but after that little incident in the cafeteria? Wally momentarily closed his eyes as he grit his teeth, willing himself not to explode. It was not easy. His back was already up. "And what-besides your rampant ego-makes you think I hold puerile or any sort of fantasies about you?"

"Since awakening in your own body you have not looked me in the eye. That would not mean anything for some, but in you it's a sign of a guilty conscience."

"Your kidding. Seriously? You want eye contact? Better redesign that Halloween mask then. Kind of hard to hold a good stare contest what with those obscuring white lenses in that ever-present cowl you wear, Oh Dark Lord of the Gotham."

"What I want is professionalism from you at all times. I will not have some love sick puppy being distracted and putting the team in danger."

Now Wally did turn around. His eyes were unnaturally wide and glistening with tears.

"But Batz-give me a chance to show how...good I am!" he wailed in a high-pitched entreaty. The next second he was standing mere inches in front of Batman's face, all signs of levity gone.

"Listen up, Batz. Okay, so maybe it was you I was dreaming about in there. Don't worry though, I'm sure our relationship will remain platonic. You see, I respect you and what you can do. So much so that when I'm in trouble I instinctively tend to look to you to get me out of it. You're like the alpha leader watching out for the pack up there on the hill. You save our butts and we try to do likewise because we're alike-that is, we're family surviving in a hostile world. But desire you? Get real. You're one cold bastard, Batz. Oh sure there's a warm heart in there somewhere, but you've got it smothered in so many layers of insulating ice even Captain Cold is envious. Maybe he'll be interested in a stare-down date with you. Now, me? I like a bit of sunshine in my life. You know-warmth, light, laughter-signs of living life rather than watching it from the shadows? But stuff like that would cause your ass to shrivel up faster than the Wicked Witch of the West in a hot tub. So if that's all settled-and I really hope it is-I have some media feeds to go oversee."

He whirled about towards the monitor room, but at normal speed just to show he wasn't worried about any comebacks.

"Superman is dating Lois."

Wally stopped in his tracks. Considered it. Then lifted an arm and flipped him the Bird before walking on again.

Batman waited until he was certain the speedster was truly gone before he allowed the slightest of smiles to cross his lips.

Wallace Rudolph West was no Barry Allen. Whomever he ended up marrying was going to get an interesting life.


The greeting lacked its usual tone of joviality as he sat down frog-style in the co-pilot's chair of the Monitor Room and glanced at the various goings on depicted within the satellite feeds. Honestly, Wally didn't care about what J'onn might be thinking. He certainly did not care that Batman would not like his boot soles resting on the chair seat edge. He doubly didn't give a hoot that Batz frowned upon a grown man in a position of responsibility liking to sit in the same manner a five-year old boy tended to. Wally was too steamed.

If they were all going to act like jackasses over a stupid dream, why did they bother to save him?


"Sorry I'm late," Wally muttered into his knee caps. "Had a run in with Mr. Rules & Regulations otherwise known as the Greatest Stick-Up-His-Ass Alive."

It took the Martian only a second to figure out Wally had been talking to Bruce rather than Clark. (He wasn't supposed to know any of the others secret identities, but it had been unavoidable those first few weeks when he'd had to learn how to blot out errant thoughts from the multitude on his adopted planet. Wally in particular had not been able to stop from unknowingly 'shouting' who he was from the very beginning: "Hi! I'm The Flash-" [Wally West] "-the Fastest Man Alive!" 'Clark Kent' had leaked out from Superman during a trying battle of words with a nasty reporter; 'Bruce Wayne' had actually been supplied by The Man of Steel as well: [If only you knew that I'm Clark Kent of the Daily Planet, you hack. Bruce Wayne is Batman, not-] But J'onn kept all of this to himself, naturally, not wanting to upset or make them even more paranoid of the mind-reading alien in their midst.)

"You are in trouble with Batman?" From what he was getting from Wally's mood, there was more to it than a quick war of differing opinions.

"Yeah...sort of." The speedster snaked two fingers under his cowl in order to scratch at an irritation near his hairline. Sometimes it drove Wally crazy when he was patrolling his cities and got an itch because it wasn't always safe to take down his cowl even with reflexes as fast as his were. Not these days when there were things like digital cameras with professional stop-motion photography options. "Batman thinks I have a crush on him."

J'onn allowed himself a small smirk at that. He'd housed the man's mind after all and therefore knew a few personal things about Wally. Again, not that Flash needed to know this. "And you do not have this...crush?"

"No! Well...yeah...kinda." Wally drummed a quick beat against the smooth metal under seat of his swivel chair, considering his words. "But it's like I told him. I respect the guy, you know? He's good at what he does-saving people, stopping criminals, designing kick-ass space stations and designer toothbrushes that double as personal security devices." A calculated kick sent his perch spinning while he sat on it, chin comfortably nestled upon his knees; a fairly slow orbit in deference to the chair's rather low kinetic-tolerance level. As Batman had warned him on day one: 'It's not meant for a merry-go-round.' "Still, Batz is only one man in the team. Each one in the League has his or her strengths and weaknesses."

Eyes still on the screens and data feeds, the Martian titled his head a little in what he knew was a human gesture for 'go on'. Of all the League members, J'onzz was the most adept at multi-tasking. Wally apparently wanted to talk as he immediately started voicing his views on the the Founders.

"Batman is the ninja detective. If you're totally flummoxed over what's going on, you turn to Bats because he's like Einstein-ya know, if Einstein had been really buff when he was young? You can't get near him-not really-because he's mystical and almost ghostlike. But he always shows up like a guardian spirit out of the darkness when the shadows suddenly get creepy. He's the protector against the unseen.

Superman is Sir Lancelot on steroids. He's got brute power-utterly good for when you can see evil coming at you in spades and you really, really, really, need that indestructible force of Big Blue there plowing it aside for you. At the same time he's approachable. Easy going unless you muck up something truly royal. Supes can be kinda judgmental then, but it takes a lot to get him to a Bat level of grimness.

GL is...General Patton. Kind of stiff, gruff. If it wasn't for his suit, on first impression you'd call him colorless. Still, you just know that no matter how tough it gets, he's going to keep on there at your side because it's his duty to rid the universe of evil shit and he's got the willpower to fuel this kick-ass ring that will see the job done to the end. You can count on The Green Lantern. GL's controlled determination. Friendly, but in a controlled way. He finds it hard to cut loose.

Shayera is Mother Nature: temperamental. One moment she's all gentle and the next she's destroying stuff with gusto. Determined too. She's like GL's other-impulsive-half." Wally made a circular motion with his hand even as his whole body was sent rotating again in the swivel chair by a second well-placed kick. "That tao thing? Ain't nothing going to stop her once she sees an objective she can bash her way to and sometimes that's too wild for what's needed so she needs GL to balance her out. But she can laugh at stupid stuff...stuff that GL just doesn't get is funny unless you point it out to him. So they're good for each other even if they don't always realize it."

Diana...Diana is the Goddess of Devotion. She's devoted to ideals, to her gods, to her people. Give her a good cause to believe in and she's there to champion it against all naysayers. But she's not really a part of what she gets into. She keeps herself a bit separate because that's how she was raised...royalty from a society of isolationists come to save us ignorant savages. I've never seen her relax-really relax. Everything is so formal and proper. Sometimes I want to do something as improper as whisk her to a Sadie Hawkins dance just to see her reaction to us non-royalty or Goddess-blessed common folk having a good time. Bet she's never in her life heard a whiskey jug being played."

"And I?" J'onn asked with some amusement, wondering what the League would think of Flash's assessment of the team.

Wally smiled as he kept on spinning. (Thanks to his power, he didn't get motion sickness very easily. It took someone on the level of The Top to make him get dizzy.) "Oh, you're Yoda, J'onn. All ancient wisdom and knowledge. You've got smarts like Batz, but its tempered by a healthy dollop of caring. You're also pretty isolationist-and I think in your case you tell yourself it's because you're an alien here; but honestly, I think it's because you were alone for so long that you are afraid your social skills have gotten too rusty and are hesitant to relearn them at more than a minimum level. You're afraid of being burned by more than just physical fire."

"So what you are saying is that when you are uncertain of some nebulous danger, you dream of Batman; when the danger is more certain, you imagine Superman?"

Wally nodded. "Yeah. And if I'm feeling bored it's Shayera and Green Lantern and we throw a party at some arcade place with bashing games for Shayera and marksmanship ones for GL-with lots of pizza and soda for me. But if I'm feeling guilty over something, Diana drops by with a lecture."

"I see." J'onn half turned from the monitors. There was currently nothing going on that the local authorities couldn't handle. "And under what type of dream would I appear?" He had meant it as a light-hearted inquiry, but...

Wally had stopped the chair. His normally pale complexion was shaded several levels of pink. There was a blur of red as Flash abruptly left the room. J'onn immediately felt contrite. Before he could consider the empty chair before him for very long, another blur signaled Wally's return to it mere moments later-with a half drained cup of some refreshment in hand and both feet on the floor. A possible sign of readiness to take off again as container and hand were vibrating a little from nervousness. Food crumbs sticking around his mouth silently attesting to a snack binge.

"I am sorry, for my impertinence, Flash. That was not a question I should have asked under any circumstances let alone after what you recently experienced. You're privacy should be respected; especially by me."

"W-w-what?" Flash stammered. "No! God, J'onn, I-" The cup was almost instantly emptied; its remains finding their way into the nearest trash receptacle. "I-" Yellow boots made scuffing sounds against the floor as the speedster frowned and took in several long breaths. "It's okay, I mean it's just that..." He hiccuped several times in quick succession; the chair shaking slightly from an assortment of unconscious vibrations emanating from it's occupant.

"Please forget I said anything," J'onn started to say, feeling he really should have stayed quiet and let Wally do all the talking.


J'onn blinked. He wasn't certain if he'd heard correctly. Even if he had, he wasn't sure what the speedster meant by it. "Flash?"

Wally looked down at the floor, his face now red with embarrassment. "I said...you are in all of them."

"I...I'm sorry. I don't quite understand." And he truly didn't. But Wally must have decided J'onn had understood something false because his eyes widened a little.

"Aw-geez-nothing indecent!" He shyly glanced up at the Martian, then decided that he didn't feel that brave after all and went back to studying the floor's... flatness. It was an interesting kind of flatness. The kind of flatness you could study all day.



"It's like those dreams where you suddenly sense that someone's watching you dreaming." Wally began trying to explain. He wasn't sure he wanted to explain anything more, but he did owe J'onn his life.


"You mean that you dream of me watching you interact with whomever it is you are dreaming about?"

The speedster nodded. "Yeah. Because...um..." That itch had migrated. He nervously scratched the back of his cowl. "Well, like I was trying to say before. I like everyone. I mean, I want to like everyone because people are so different and I imagine they are all interesting in some way-er...'cept for the evil dudes because that would be-trying to get to know Darkseid would be like, really icky, ya know?" He sensed J'onn wordlessly agree. "But deep down I know that it's naive to think like that-or at least act like that all the time. Dangerous-because not everyone is trustworthy...?" He glanced up again to gauge J'onn's reaction and saw that the Martian was regarding him with a quiet intensity. He blushed again. "So...after the Justice Lords-especially that Superman-there's always this nasty thought that maybe... Well, maybe I'm too trusting. That I really need some kind of...chaperon to stop me from putting my faith in the wrong people even if they don't seem like the wrong people and Central/Keystone ends up with a Flash Memorial Museum rather than The Flash Museum with Luthor taking the oath and getting fried and...you know?"

"Quis Custodiet Ipsos Custodes?" J'onn inhaled with growing understanding. "Who guards the guardians?" Who guards -even other heroes- from the most powerful of them?

"Yeah," Wally still looked shaky. "I hate it. I hate having this niggling fear of my friends in the back of my head, but its there-it's not going away-and maybe that's ultimately a good thing to have-like the fear of falling off a cliff-not that I need to be afraid of that very much, so-the fear of doing something dumb? And you're...you could get in my head at any time you want even before I knew you existed-but you don't. I mean, I wouldn't trust that kind of power to Batman because there's this idea that Batz might eventually come up with what he sees as a good reason for doing it. And Supes says he doesn't use that X-ray vision for-recreational-purposes, but you never know and sometimes you lie in bed at night wondering if that birth mark is really known only to you and your doctor and...and...you start to sweat before you tell yourself you're being paranoid."

"Flash," J'onn's attention was now undeniably light years away from the monitors. "There was a Justice Lord of me as well."

The speedster shrugged. "I..do remember that. Yeah. But even that J'onn apologized first for tricking us. Nobody else did so much. Well, Lord Batz was pretty scared I'd somehow managed to kick the bucket despite all his grand preparations." He sighed. "I know it doesn't really sound logical, but-hey-when was my mind ever logical? At any rate, you're always there in all the dreams, silently watching over me...keeping me safe...except-"

"Except for one time," J'onn finished for him. "The time when your mind was encapsulated in mine and in order to keep you distracted from your fear...Batman made love to you."

"Yeah." J'onn watched Wally's Adam's apple bob up and down as the speedster swallowed hard. He was clearly remembering the dream that had seemed so 'off'.

"I wasn't there that time as your watching guardian, Wally, because...I was that Batman."

A faint exhalation, heavy with half-denied realization. "Oh."

The young human's mind was radiating pure confusion and it had the side effect of paralyzing his body. J'onn reached deliberately to push Flash's mask up and over unto his head. Fingers gently spreading out over reddish hair...searching. Trusting green eyes locked on his; nervous, yes, but not afraid-never afraid of him.

Not the eyes or face of a Martian...yet this mind's innocent acceptance of an alien watching him, guarding him...never questioning J'onn's stated morals...


"You were so beautiful in my mind."

Wally didn't move.

Just waited.



He trusted J'onn.

A/N: Wow. The more 'just a quickie' I decide to write-the longer it grows! This started as a simple 2,000 word 'looks-like-Batflash-but-ultimately-isn't' short for my drabble outlet and was based on that Batflash picture. Boy, did it morph! (And that was J'onn's fault as he was supposed to be fairly innocuous in this.)

What happened at the end? Was J'onn holding along with Wally a secret crush and now it's romantically out of the closet to both of their future enjoyment? Or was this something far more insidious with J'onn revealing how much Wally's concern about naivety and trust was not unfounded-plus how Lord Manhunter could be as manipulative and possessive as a Lord Superman could be? Honestly, I have no idea which reality is correct. I'm as mystified as you are because each time I went over it I couldn't decide. Possible it is that a certain Martian is doing shenanigans with my brainwaves. So take your own stab of what the ending signified and review it. I enjoy those suckers a heaping lot-especially if the comment is something I can respond to.