IV.

Hey…Uncle Barry?

I'm not really good at words. I don't think anyone in our family's good with words, which kind of sucks, but maybe that's why we try to make up with jokes. Maybe…we tell jokes because it's a lot easier, and because we're braver than everyone else—everyone who tries to stay quiet like it's suddenly a new rule that we have to follow. But we—you and I could never keep our mouths shut. You especially, because I swear to god you bought a joke book from the forties and used those as your punch lines.

I didn't visit your grave much.

It was going to be one of those things, I thought, where I would visit your grave every day, talk to you every day and tell you every one of my screw ups. Aunt Iris does that. She visits your grave every day, tells you how your day's gone, and then comes back home. It's why she comes home late—why she leaves so early in the morning. I picked up all your chores.

Did you know because you were the Fastest Man Alive, you had like seventy-billion chores? They're so annoying. But…it's okay. I like doing them. Trimming the hedges is a little weird because I totally got a splinter yesterday, but…it's alright. I'm fine with it.

Do you remember that ice cream parlor you used to take me to? Mr. Macadamia's? I…I take my team mates there now. It's small and rundown and not many people know about it but—they like it. The owner thinks it's cool that I'm bringing friends now, since your death, and they like it. The hot-fudge ice cream sundaes don't taste the same without you. They never will.

Hey, do you remember my first mission? When I was with you as Kid Flash?

I'd…it was a simple mission. Captain Boomerang had a girl hostage, and you told me to follow behind you because Captain Boomerang was tricky?

I…I told you that I could handle it. That you trained me well, and all I wanted to do was show off and have you praise me. But I'd screwed up. Going for the hostage head first, he had a trail of marbles and banana peels, and I slipped over them and nearly gave myself concussion. But I saved her. She was in my arms, you apprehended Captain Boomerang, and I saved her.

Then you yelled at me. I could have killed myself, you said. I didn't think first. I was impulsive and nearly got myself killed, and one of us started crying. I told you I was stupid—incompetent, and if I couldn't be the sidekick to the Flash and be smart, then I didn't deserve to live.

You…you told me you were yelling at me because I was so full of life and nearly lost all of it. That you were yelling because I was a good sidekick, and your favorite nephew, and I said that was stupid because I was your only nephew. You didn't care. You told me to stop crying, hugged me, and said that you loved me as a sidekick. That you were scared and proud.

You said…keep running. But never run away.

"You look good." Artemis nudged me in the arm and I stared at my long shelf full of souvenirs.

"Better than you," I snorted. Then…hugged her. A small smile curtsied across my lips and I buried my face in the scent of her hair. "Thanks, Artie."

There were times where I thought you were weird. You never made sense, you spoke too fast, and Aunt Iris banned both you and me from coffee in the morning for more than obvious reasons. You were always late for things, used to ruffle the gel out of my hair and I would yell at you for it. You were a little ditsy, and always talked about science.

"So my future self totally said you should never get into disco."

"Um…okay?"

"Just go with it, dude."

And I wanted to be like you so badly. I wanted to make sense of what you were saying, be so ditsy that people still loved you for it, and to love science. But the thing was, I couldn't be you. I can't be you, because it's psychologically and physically impossible.

I can't be you.

I can't…vibrate without making things explode, I can't keep a smile if there's suddenly a monster with four-gazillion arms, and I can't stop in the middle of running without the need to decelerate.

So when I run, I won't be you. I'll go by every lesson you taught me; every little skill that you said, and maybe crack a joke or two that doesn't belong in my brain. I'm going to run at my own pace…and be a hero at my own pace. I'm going to be what I want to be.

"You ready to go?"

"Yeah," I said slowly. "…Bats."

He snorted, and we left through the zeta-beam tube for a new mission.

"Recognized, 02: Batman."

I'm…

"Recognized, 04: Flash."

I'm going to honor your legacy the way it should be.

PS: What the hell is with the chafing factor of this uniform? Sheesh.

End