A/N: I'm in love with Wally West. There, I said it.
The Flash was moving before his companions heard the sirens, his cup falling from midair with a messy splash as he sped away, displaced air sucking at their clothes like a vaccuum. The other heroes traded quick glances; Batman ignored them and their unneeded display of comraderie and followed him in the most likely direction.
A department store was on fire, and as Batman arrived, Shayera and Green Lantern close behind him, Flash flitted into view amidst the heavy rolling smoke. He had a young woman in his arms, and he set her on her feet in the street before turning to disappear back inside and return not half a second later with a little boy. His half-covered face was a stranger's mask of determination, concentration - focus. And yet he still touched the boy's hair softly in a wordless reassurance, offering the child a smile and recieving a tearful one in return.
And as the sobbing woman scooped her child up and thanked Flash in a voice choked with relief and gratitude, Batman found himself studying the tilt of his lips and wondering what thoughts were racing through the speedster's hyper-accelerated mind. He didn't have much time for observation.
"Lucy's still in there!"
Flash whipped around, so fast he was nothing but a blur; and maybe he hesitated for a fraction of a second, it was impossible to tell - then he flickered and was gone as the building groaned ominously.
All within a moment's time. Batman watched the doorway, waiting for the red blur that would speed out with two fractions of the same second to spare -
The flames danced higher and firemen started shouting - then the police were moving everyone away and the front of the department store crumpled, folding in on itself and bringing the rest of the building with it.
The collapse was too loud to be real; the roar of the fire faded to the background as the gathered civilians stared in silent horror that was slowly mounting into what would become hysterics -
"Daddy!" Heads craned toward the voice that carried so well, and then relief rose up like a balloon in a cacophony of voices as Flash - covered in soot, his costume's torn, blood on his face - cheerfully (wearily) trotted over to her father to hand her off.
"Sorry we scared you, Michael," he said evenly, even looking apologetic despite having saved lives. "I couldn't go out the front, the fire - "
The man reached around his daughter and clasped Flash's hand tightly, eyes so full of thanks that Bruce Wayne might have looked away, even if Batman didn't.
"You should have saved her in the first place," someone said suddenly, and the crowd shifted, murmurs spreading until the speaker stepped up to reveal a man in a suit who looked at Flash with something close to disgust. "What if her father hadn't said anything? What if she had died? What kind of hero are you, to save everyone but a little girl?"
That kind of person was the kind Batman couldn't stand. Asking for the impossible at every turn; even when things turn out okay, they should have turned out better.
Everyone in the Justice League dealt with it, soldiered through it. People expected their heroes to be infallible and they just weren't, but they had to try to be. It more or less came with the territory.
But the Scarlet Speedster looked stunned, staring at the man like he didn't know what to make of him. It was shock that would quickly turn into hurt, and from the way Shayera's fists tightened on her mace and Green Lantern's glowing eyes narrowed fractionally, Batman wasn't alone in the bubbling rage that threatened to boil up his throat when Wally's eyes fell and he turned his head away slightly, obviously struggling to pull up the hero facade - a hero, a League founder, but still a young man who could've died making sure no one else did.
And then, quite suddenly, the young woman from earlier strode over, child in hand, and slapped the man across the face. The slap resounded in the sudden silence like a gunshot.
"How dare you," she said quietly, eyes burning. "Who do you think you are?"
"New here, obviously," another man spoke up, eyeing him in obvious distaste. "Or he wouldn't think he has any right to speak that way."
"C'mon," Flash said, surprised as he reached out - more of a calming gesture than anything, as he didn't step forward to restrain them. "Let's calm down and let the firemen do their job. No one got hurt - it's a happy ending, right?"
The woman glanced over her shoulder at him with unmistakeable fondness and the man who'd sprung to his defense shook his head almost ruefully. "Thanks to you. This asshole could stand to be a little grateful."
Flash smiled, and it was like he'd never known hurt. "To each his own. Now come on, scoot. Seriously, building on fire right behind me." Several people laughed, and the rest of them smiled; they began to disperse, the suited man getting plenty of unpleasant looks from the rest of the populace. Flash caught up to his two defenders and spoke to them with a shy smile, recieving a kiss from her and a pat on the shoulder from him.
"Never change," the woman told him, brushing a hand through her son's hair. "We're proud of you, Flash."
And when Wally turned to him with an impossibly wide grin on his face, embarassed and at the same time so happy he was nearly vibrating- Batman couldn't help but smile.