Notes: Present day is 2012. Full YJAM prompt below with story tidbits. Thanks for editing, shadowinthedark13. Merry Christmas, itswallie! Happy reading, guys~.




"Agent West, remove your hood."

Silent and obedient— though grinding his teeth and his jaw with fury and impatience— he tilted it back.

The shine of moonlight framed the tall, cloaked figure, fell upon the carpeted steps of the ceremonial alter; the newly lit candles surrounding the two contrasted the pale, weak glow.

"I sense unease with you, my child," spoke the Cult Master in taunting, soft tones. "Does not being one of the Manhunter acolytes fulfill your desire for a thrilling occupation?"

Rudy West stuck his chin out.

"I want power, not a job," he objected, sourly.

The cloaked figure nodded with some understanding, and then returned the respectful gesture of pushing back his cloaked hood—revealing his stature to be of a bald, dark-skinned man with clear and strikingly green eyes. "Don't all men…?" A leer revealing several teeth appeared on the man's strong, bony features. "You desire a woman."

Rudy confirmed, "I am engaged, yes."

A mindful hum. The Cult Master stepped down from the very top stair of the alter, his deep red and velvet cloak draping out behind him like a veil of blood upon the steps—an accurate description considering their brand of justice. "Within our circle, we do not permit ourselves to lower our facades. Not to our acolytes like yourself or to our lower-ranking followers."

"What the hell are you talking about?"

"Our true form." The man's human features began to fluctuate in and out of existence like the candlelight—grotesquely metal; green eyes square-like and radiating an contemptible, ghastly effulgence— and Rudy shook his head quickly, blinking out his vision and clutching onto his stomach. A small rush of nausea. "Did you bring what was required, Agent West?"

Recovering from the eerie symptoms, he approached, retrieving and setting two cylindrical, orange containers at his feet. Rudy remained bowing as contents were scrutinized.

"And this will guarantee us a son?"

"Your DNA and your wife's DNA is necessary from you—and taking into account the knowledge that you both are infertile, I would assume it is only human that your anxiety strengthens." Rudy's jaw started tightening again. "However, you must be patient a bit longer. Do you remember your prophecy upon your arrival to this temple?"

At further, weighed silence, the Cult Leader replied, "You were instructed to marry the secretary, to snatch her out of the affairs of the inspector from the Interpol … and you have done very well." Striking green eyes crinkled around edges of smooth, dark brown skin as he grasped Rudy by the shoulders with muscular hands, brotherly in his manner. "Your reward for your efforts shall be that burning desire to be quelled: An heir. A powerful son."¹





The lilac bushes in the backyard fully bloomed with life, separating from caressing each other as the four-year-old intently explored the garden and crawled onto his knees through the dirt. He squinted with an open eye through his magnifying glass at undergrowth where three or four sticky, grayish chrysalises hung.

He poked one, mouth rounding in awe when the encased creature scuttled.

"Wally, lunchtime!"

Sipping on her lemonade from the back screen door, Iris watched and laughed as her darling nephew ran towards the cottage, his little blue-jean overalls dirtied from the afternoon play. A smudge of mud clung to his grinning, freckled cheek. A trickle of fresh blood ran down his calf from a scrape.

"What happened to your knee? Hmm?" she asked, raising a stern eyebrow on him.

"I tripped outside," Wally said, a solemn frown puckering his little mouth. "…Am I in trouble, Aunty Iris?"

"No, but you are covered in dirt. It's a good thing you are getting a bath tonight."

Iris's warm smile reappeared as her nephew pouted with childish frustration, and she stretched out her hand not cradling her watered-down lemonade. "Come on, little man. Let's clean up your boo-boo." His pout darkened. His reddish bangs flopped against the bridge of his forehead as he shook his head wildly.

"Why not, Wally?"

"I dun want stingy stuff."

"But it's going to make you all better," she explained gently, and Wally's magnifying lens tapped against his side with a dissonant rhythm. "Don't you want to get all better, Wally?"

A long pause.

The little boy nodded with similar aggression as his head shook. His green eyes peered up into hers with such unusual timidness and he took her free hand slowly, purposefully.


Barry's personal laboratory in the basement remained locked during most hours of the day. Raising a child from infant to toddler to preschooler had necessary precautions.

Grabbing the spare key, Iris unlocked the door, climbing into the semi-fluorescent, cool workspace and trying her best to not wrinkle the paper forms in her hands. She joined him wordlessly at a long desk. Barry's white-coated shoulders slumped with exhaustion.

"I heard he cut himself outside."

Irish pushed out a long sigh from her lips and yanked away a long, flat stand of her hair from her cheek. She shifted the forms and her hands behind her back.

"Nothing happened. I didn't feel any temperature when I put him to bed."

Barry's left hand propped up, fingers screening across the thin manila folders scribbled on with blue cheap pen ink: "Sepsis"; "Records of rare oxalate crystals"; "effects of Sutherlandia frutescens".

His voice hoarsened, "You know he has—"

"—a very rare blood condition," she recited, glaring slightly at Barry who jerked in his steel chair towards her and then dropping her expression. "I know he is a delicate boy. I know he's special." Her thumb dug sympathetically into the crook between his shoulder and neck, rubbing.

Her husband dropped the side of his head against her side heavily when Iris moved closer, his drowsy, blue eyes shut and quietly agreeing with her words. "Barry, we can't just lock him away in an ivory tower somewhere until you can find a cure. Wally needs to grow up knowing anything is possible and that he can do anything if he works hard enough for it. He doesn't need any more limitations. This isn't going to get easier on him as he gets older unless something miraculous happens."

"They're eventually going to take him away from us, you know… " Iris trailed off her afterthought, biting her lip.

Barry tugged one of her wrists into the open, raising it to his lips, nuzzling away the charm bracelet and pressing them firmly to her pulse point.

"I'm sorry."

So exhausted.

"For what it's worth, I believe in you."

"It means everything," he said.

A quick, dry kiss.

Her fingernails raked affectionately through his buzz cut of gleaming, blond hair before Iris turned away, before he settled forward in his chair to slump back over the paperwork. The Central City Police Department kept him busy with files and archiving and various tasks past normal working hours and he complained often about it. He never complained about this paperwork.

The bottom of the adoption forms smudged fresh with the perspiration from her fingertips.



[Present Day]


Complete and utter humiliation— self-loathing and embarrassment that meshed up to develop a horrible, pulsing knot inside his gut— didn't even begin to describe how this felt.

They all knew M'gann still had some trouble controlling the full extent of her powers. No more practice sessions with fake apocalypses inside their heads although mind-links were relatively safe.


(That could be the only verdict now.)

Red Tornado, M'gann, and Conner were the current and permanent residents of Mount Justice. No one else spent most nights here. Alone.

Alone and… well, about two-thirds of the permanent residents are teenagers in love.


-The tips of gauntlet-fingers clawed against his scalp, tightening and yanking into red hair and a moan to follow; "Got to…stop this"

-Wally's tongue dragged along a row of teeth as his hip pinned back, roughly up against the corridor wall by another greedy, darkly colored gauntlet, nerves alight with sensation; "unh..I-I know"


Artemis was probably getting a good laugh hearing about the loss of control. A damn good one.

Wally rubbed his palms against the sides of his face, body shivering a little at the memory of how aroused he had become under the influence of telepathic and emotional control. His plaid-blue, pajama-slack knees nudged together on his mattress edge. All of this because of… Supey and Meg had thought they had been alone in Mount Justice, and they were… very much in love. Oh, yeah, and their established mind-link had been powerful enough to bleed out to anyone by chance passing the outside of the bedroom.

He should just go home.

Artemis was probably laughing.


-Head tilted back, panting. Dick's grasp stayed firm on his head, arching his neck and his mouth back from covering Dick's jaw with sucking kisses and, oh god, he just wants to; "Gotta…"


Someone had to.


-M'gann's horrified realization short-circuited the hold. Adrenaline and excitement and irresistible want vaporizing; gauntlet-tips sliding out of Wally's hair; a low, caustic breath; "-s'fine"


Lesson learned.



The quartz clock inside his study hall ticked slowslow.

Maybe it was just him… or did the second hand just tick backwards?

Wally slouched down in his cramped, rigid seat with a groan, flinging his arms out in front of him to grasp his desktop.

Just eeeend already.

Several of his classmates glanced over with momentary curiosity and various levels of amusement and irritation. The substitute teacher for his study hall sent him an aggravated but completely wordless eye-narrow. Before Wally could start twitching and buzzing along with the clock, just to get the tension out of his cramping muscles, a grinning Tommy Moon in the seat behind him elbowed him between the shoulders. The other boy jerked his head towards the tanned, long-limbed girl a seat over to the left. With a look that said 'why not go for it?'

Betty Dunn. Junior. Moderately approachable. Friendly on a good day. Wearing a purple-striped skirt that flared. Short skirt. She had runner legs without making the sport effort.

Wally cracked his fingers in front of his chest, grinning back 'oh, just watch the master at work'.

He cleared his throat to catch her attention from doodling on a piece of notebook paper, going for a second time with no response and ignoring the encouraging smack and chuckle from Tommy. "Soo…" Wally lowered his voice to a whisper when she finally indulged him by giving a smile (forced, long-suffering), eyeing the terracotta plant on her desk, "Growing jalapeños on your free time?"

"They're pods," she whispered back, showing him a better view of the lime green buds by scooting her pot near the edge of her desk. Wally's stomach did a small flip. A sideways glance to him with a little more interest, and then she aimed a cautious one for the study hall teacher reading. "It's for Miss Reynolds in homeroom. You heard she's retiring after spring break, right?"

Wally shook his head with his same dauntlessness, expression feigning slight concern.

"That's… so sad."

"It's totally lame," Betty added, a strand of her light brown hair falling over her lips starting to curl upwards. "The herbs smell nice. You wanna—?"

Examining her for the permission, Wally slowly reached out to take up the pot from her hands, his lightly-freckled fingers lingering over hers—ooh, yeah, she was even cuter when her cheeks dimpled like that—and his stomach did a bigger flip. He took a small whiff of the sweet-smelling plant.

Nausea? Couldn't be— her eyes weren't as blue as— Dick's shuddery laugh against his cheek, heated; we can't—

His throat and insides of his nostrils swelled, burned with irritation.

"You okay…?"

He blinked at her, tried blinking out the jolting dizzy spell. Train of thought lagging. His throat hurt—stomach—

"Bett, you and I should uuhh—"

Wally's fingers in his right hand scrambled for his desk, stiffening, balancing him up from the new, thin coating of vomit on the floor. His slickened lips felt hot. His temples. His eyelids. Fingers loosened. He missed the sensation— as everything grew soundless, dark— a screaming, frightened Betty jumping out of her seat, Tommy's arms wrapping hurriedly around his chest.²


The pillow crinkled with its papery surface under his head when he regained consciousness.

"Don't get up too fast, young man," the nurse urged, heading for a water cooler as Wally adjusted into an upright sitting position and glancing around at the office. Okay… this sure as hell wasn't a place in Keystone High School he was used to seeing. Ever. Oh god, everything in his mouth tasted nasty. He accepted a cone cup of plain water from the nurse, sloshing a bit around before spitting the remainder back into the cup, and looking sheepish as she snatched it from him to dump.

Wearing a nicely pressed shirt and draping a lightweight coat over his shoulder, his uncle got up from a guest chair. "Hey, kiddo." Wally rubbed his wrist against his forehead, smirking.

"They called you instead of my mom and dad?"

"No one picked up. They needed to call someone responsible for you," Barry clarified, giving the younger boy a relieved smile and a squeeze to the shoulder briefly— perceiving Wally's demeanor as empty of feelings he might have kept towards his legal guardians, empty of both negativity and positive emotions in general. Those few instants were… morbid.

"Are you feeling dizzy?"

The seventeen-year-old bowed his head to the side. "Think I'm good. Umm, stupid question…" Wally could feel himself wince internally. "…Did I pass out?"

"According to your classmates, you started to indicate signs of illness and then proceeded to faint." The nurse scoffed, "That bug has been going around so I'm not surprised."

A feeble noise. "I…don't get sick," he insisted.

"That's what they all think," she countered, jamming a thermometer sternly under Wally's tongue. "You keep that right in there." Olive green eyes peered beseechingly at his mentor; a whimper. Barry stepped in front of Wally to use his adult charm and politely request a moment alone with him, providing an excellent window of opportunity for the younger to pull out the digital thermometer from between his lips—the numbers spiking higher and higher above what was standard human temperature estimate and tuck it away sneakily into a nearby cabinet drawer.

The nurse stepped out, grumbling under her breath and smoothing the wrinkles out of her white belted uniform. Barry raised his eyebrows at his partner flashing him an innocent smile.

"How are you feeling now?"

"Pretty good." Wally began, rubbing his fingers through his red hair. He then admitted, deflating, "Hungry, actually." His spirits lifted immediately when Barry presented him with a couple meal bars from his jacket pocket. They really weren't as terrible as they could be; to someone who was staaaarving, they could be tasty.

Wally wolfed down a peanut butter one as the older speedster checked him over. "You really don't know why you started becoming sick?"

"I said I'm fine, okay?" He mirrored Barry's pointed frown. "My immune system doesn't let me get the flu. It's gotta be a fluke is all."

"I'm not trying to baby you, Wally, believe me. I know you're capable of dealing with a lot of things."

A stab of guilt pierced into Wally's conscious when the blond man pressed a hand to his face. "…I just want you to tell me if anything strange happens," Barry mumbled.

Wally's lips straightened together.

He offered, "I mean, alright, I passed out in front of a girl I was hitting on… but other than that…"

Barry's features lightened. "Oh no," he grimaced for the snickering teenager. "Not the best way to impress her."

"Yeah, she's probably not gonna talk to me again," Wally agreed, letting one of his legs dangle from the examination table. "Did anyone say if I upchucked on her gift?" he asked.


"Yeah, she was giving one of her teachers this jalapeño plant. Umm," Wally mused, distracted with the recalling, "it wasn't really jalapeños, they just looked like—"

Barry interrupted him sharply, "What kind of plant was it then?"

The teenager shrugged.

"I don't know… it looked like something she grew herself." Wally's eyes stared right up into Barry's—the faintest traces of anxiety. "Why…?"

And he was less encouraged with the ambiguity.

"… …It's nothing to worry about. As long as you feel fine."





The Nebraska rainstorm howled deafeningly against the little windows.

"I don't think we're going to be able to drive out in this, Barry."

"What a shame." Barry motioned out the pitch-black window with a finger, smiling mischievously, "Hey, do you think their unused dog house could fit both of us?"

His girlfriend made a sarcastic, twittery laugh, backhanding his shoulder, "Haha, I don't like staying over with my brother either but could you please consider putting up with it for another night?" Barry's eyes followed the path to where Rudy had been standing at the fireplace, crystal tumbler of scotch half-drained, before the beefier man had excused himself for the restroom.

He nodded. "Where did your sister-in-law sulk off to?" Barry questioned, wrapping an arm cozily around the red-haired woman, Iris' hand skimming over his ribcage.

"Coffee, I think—"

The shattering noises of delicate objects. A crash.

Mary's screeches from the kitchen barely outmatched the wails of a newborn, thrashing helplessly against the smooth, clean surface of the laminate countertop and the silky cushion of what appeared to be unfurled, gigantic crimson flower pedals. One of her husband's arms encircled her rail-thin waist, helping her up from sinking to the kitchen floor as Mary's knees went limp with shock.

"WHAT IS IT? WHAT IS IT DOING IN OUR HOUSE?—!" The color to Rudy's own sweaty face blanched a gray-porridge color. "KILL IT—KILL IT NOW!"

Before anyone could move—perhaps to even aid the command— Iris broke from the sidelines at the doorway, marching up determinedly between the couple and the faded, powder-blue countertop. She scooped the crying, pink newborn into her arms, staring menacingly at Mary. "You can't kill a baby, are you insane?" Iris's voice trembled with barely concealed anger.

"You didn't see it!" The other woman hissed at her, and Iris quietly blinked away the spittle flying, protectively cradling away the baby's head. "It came out of THAT— it ain't natural!"

Barry observed, walking over and shifting a lengthy, crimson petal for further guarded inspection, "Looks like a cocoon of some kind." As softly as he could manage without harming the whimpering newborn, the speedster rubbed away some aureolin-colored pollen from the tiny eyelids with his thumbs. A pungent and bitter scent. Almost made his insides cringe. "Someone used a plant like an enhanced uterus for a human DNA baby? Who could have you been doing favors with to get this sort of technology? What about the repercussions for this? For him?"

Rudy growled, clinging onto his hysterical wife, "What goes on under my roof is none of your business, Allen."

"Mary is obviously upset about this. Maybe you should sit her down in the living room?" Barry suggested, more calmly this time. A relaxed expression. "Don't worry… I'll take care of everything." Despite their antagonism, something must have put the other man in a sort of ease—he led Mary out of the kitchen, away from the mess of broken ceramic mugs and boiling hot coffee.

Iris backed up when the blond man faced her, a fierce glint in her olive green eyes.


"Listen to me, we're taking him with us." He fished out the car keys. "The rain should slow down in the next half an hour. Plenty of time before we get on the highway."

Quickly, she grabbed her coat on the hanger near the screen door as Barry rustled around drawers near the dishwasher, coming across a box of saran wrap, bundling up the plant samples he extracted. Iris's coat went around the naked, pollen-dusted baby who seemed rather content with being held in her arms. "He's going to get freckles," he called out suddenly to her.

She grinned broadly at the prospect. "And why do you say that?"

"Why wouldn't he?"

Barry's fingers tickled the angle of her lightly freckled cheek, admiringly. "The melanocortin-1 receptor MC1R gene variant is dominant in both sides of your family, isn't it?"

"What is he exactly?" Iris asked, watching her boyfriend snatch up the clear plastic-wrapped samples and his jacket from the kitchen table.

The screen door tilted open.

"Isn't it obvious?" Barry declared, kissing her forehead cheerfully and opening the oversized, canary yellow above the three of them. "He's your brand-new nephew. Congratulations, Aunty."



[Present Day]


With all the buildup of polluted car exhaust—the gloom and doom city atmosphere; the sensation of every building towering overhead, every shadow out for bloodshed—there just were no stars to be seen. No matter how many times in the past Wally had shown up in Gotham City, he had never seen a clear night. At least it wasn't December, aaugh—icy streets provided less friction.

There were at least half a dozen other zeta-beam locations designed on this end of the coast. Ones that weren't this close to this city. Ones that he could still run over to and…—

"What the fu—?"

Artemis rolled her cowled eyes at the speedster, her hand pushing on the bolded "Out of Order" sign.

A swoosh! of air against fabric. A figure dropped down nimbly from the fire escape high above the alleyway, causing Wally to flail slightly in place and jerk around towards the direction of the noise. "—whoooooa—!—!" His eyes went big in his goggles before he recognized the humored Robin giggle. Wally lowered his defensive stance, deadpanning, "Man, I really hate when you do that."

"So, wait, you're not used to Bat Junior over here sneaking up on you?" she sniggered. "Gee, and I thought you two were brosexual life-mates or something like that."

Warmth crawled up his face.

Dick however did not indicate any discomfort and pushed his own hand on the telephone booth's sliding doors, inches from hers.

"Your C-O-U-S-I-N sure goes to a lot of spelling bees in Gotham. The school must have a lot of funds going for all that gas for the buses." He pointed out, smirking widely, "Last week, too?"

Wally made a face. "Wait, there's more like you—OWW—" he grunted out when a scowling Artemis socked him in the bicep, stepping into the charging zeta beam and vanishing.

Leaving just them.

Just them.

The speedster slapped his light spectrum goggles over the crest of his head. Don't think about anything awkward don't think about

Dick took a step back from its entrance, gesturing out an arm dramatically and clearing his throat. "Ladies first, KF."

The comment from Wally's mouth came out automatically, his grin.

"Then why did Artemis go first?"

Another fit of Robin giggles—no, a genuine reaction this time— and Wally didn't mind getting to the briefing late, even with Kaldur's less than pleased focus, or even Batman's grumpy one.

A blue-glow holographic map floated in front of everyone in the monitor room. "These are your coordinates." Batman instructed, tapping a few times on the blue-glow keyboard at his fingertips, "Tomorrow, you'll take your transport into the Knysa-Amatole forests located in Tsitsikamma." Another image popped up. "Intel has revealed certain members of the Injustice League taking up illegal trade."

Conner frowned, speaking aloud, "Illegal trade?"

"Something other than Kobra and Joker venom."

"And we're to determine this for ourselves and put an end to their operation?" Kaldur specified.

"You will also gather more information about how far it has spread on the continent." The map faded away, and the monitor room lights dimmed back on. "You'll need rest. Dismissed." On his way towards the elevators, Wally heard Batman address him. He waved off his teammates—M'gann staring with polite bemusement before the elevator doors shut—and jogged to the older hero.

A chuckle. "Don't worry, someday a real rain'll come and wash all the scum off the streets."

Wally's movie trivia-bred humor, predictably, made no temperamental dent in Batman's emotional armor.

"You will be considered inactive until further orders." Wally's mirth paled away.

"…what?" he said, hesitantly.

"The new mission will be heavily compromised with distractions."

"…I don't get it."

"Flash has requested that you be pulled out." Batman suggested, brusque in his manner of turning attention from the speedster, and still perceptive, "I would take disagreements up to your mentor."

Oh, definitely.


Late nights visits were usually welcomed. Far as he knew.

Smoothing her fingers into her thick, brown ponytail, Iris greeted him in the foyer with a soft, gladdened whisper, smelling like her cooking—spinach and chili-bean steak. His stomach rumbled faintly. Wally did not hug back. He yanked at his Kid Flash cowl, lightning bolt ear cups dangling against the backs of his broad shoulders, and he gave a heated look at Barry closing up the sash curtains.

"You're keeping something from me." Barry's hands froze. "Or else why would this mission be any more dangerous than when I broke my arm in three places? Or stopped an explosive volcano?"

His aunt touched the side of Wally's clenched features, condoling, "Honey, please—" He stepped out of it, seething. Iris smiled forlornly, lowering her suspending arm.

"Sit down, Wally." Barry nodded to a recliner. "Your parents wouldn't approve of this… but there are a few things we've been meaning to explain to you."

Wally grumbled under his breath, "About time." He plopped down on it, crossing his lycra-yellow arms as his uncle took the one to his right side.

"You know your mom and dad aren't capable of having kids," Barry reminded him, patiently.

"They got a surrogate, right?" Wally's exposed, olive green eyes ticed back towards the foyer. "You and Aunt Iris raised me until my parents took me back."

"There's… more to that." His forehead wrinkled in confusion. "It wasn't exactly a normal birth. You were born through an artificial womb. Created by the Manhunters with your mom's and dad's DNA. But they placed them in… in what seemed to be a cocoon. A plant-like cocoon that kept itself in a form of protective stasis until you were fully developed."


Barry reassured him, leaning forward on the suede armrest, "Your genes are—were—completely human when you were born."

"The problem was how frail you were," Iris added, "Sometimes you would get so sick playing outside. Your uncle and I never quite figured it out back then with the blood condition."

"I tested every plant biology across the globe until I could find a match for the one you came from. The nearest I could find was in South Africa."

Wally carded his bright red, gloved fingers through his hair, tilting his head forward and touching the heels of his palms against his brow line. "So…" he acknowledged after silence fell around them, raising his face back up, grimly, "You've been hiding the fact that I'm a bigger freak… and because of this, that's why I can't go on this mission?"

"Many people would cultivate the plant's extract to cure their ailments, both in historical accounts and in current practices." Barry shook his head with almost identical grimness. "…You stand a good chance of the opposite effect happening, god forbid if you put an open wound to it."

"But wouldn't hyper-accelerated metabolism cancel it out?" His stomach felt taut and weighed down with cold iron. "I've been poisoned a bunch of times and lived…"

The whites around Iris' eyes reddened suspiciously. She twisted her head away to discreetly swipe the wet corner of her left eye. "We hoped that would that be the case," she murmured. "But then at your school, Wally, you started feeling ill." The potted plant. Wally groaned to himself. Dammit.

Barry got to his feet, patting his knee. Iris disappeared upstairs. "It's only a few days."

"What if… something goes wrong out there?" Barry frowned thoughtfully down on him. Wally insisted, seriously, "And I could have been there to help?"

"Do you really think your teammates are incapable of handling themselves without you there?"

Gut feeling is all.

"..I don't."³



He sorta did.

No use fighting it.

The Bio-Ship on course remained oblivious to his presence—or so Wally had assumed, you know, excluding the Martian's telepathic abilities, and Kryptonian's super-abilities, and the military-trained Atlantean's abilities, and two ninjas… crap, okay, bad assumption—until M'gann's voice floated into their mind-link.

{"Wally, I believe it would be a good idea to make yourself known. Artemis is threatening to drag you into the cockpit."}

{"Heh. You got it, gorgeous."}

He marched out from the corner of the med-lab to where the rest of the team waited for him, head held high despite the overwhelming consensus of disapproval.

Conner remarked from his chair, glancing around the softly-lit cockpit, "I wasn't the only one who knew he was back there, right?"

"You were not, Superboy," Kaldur agreed, rubbing a temple.

"Can't really turn the ship around. We'd lose daylight."

Wally jabbed a finger at Dick lounging in his seat. "He has a point."

"Shut up, Baywatch." Artemis glared, "We're all gonna fry because you decided you couldn't take Batman's orders."

"Like we all haven't broken the rules before." The speedster snorted at her. "It's not a big deal, okay? It was a stupid reason anyway."

"You are certain of this?"

Wally nodded eagerly to the Atlantean boy, falling back comfort into his empty cockpit chair. Too eager. "Yeah…"


The voice, neither male nor female, jarred inside him.

But no one mentioned it later on.


The moving foliage constricted against his windpipe, against the ripped material of his muddied uniform, binding his wrists and legs together behind him.

Wally panted with breath he had been allowed, arching his wearied limbs and muscles to break out of capture. Screwed. They were all so screwed. A tripped security trigger—rotten luck that it had been a guard-drone in the same vicinity where they had been surveying—and the Injustice League had a lock on them. Artemis shared a similar fate to his, not too far off. She bit down on a large, brownish-green vine mashed against her mouth with her bared teeth, choking out a harsh but victorious bark of laughter when an inhuman, painful shriek echoed and the vine retreated out of her breathing space.

"Kids these days." Poison Ivy sighed as if disappointed, and the archer's mouth opened to scream as something popped sickeningly audible and out of place. "Horrible tempers."

Through the cover of darkly leaved trees, Wally spotted two of his teammates losing their ability to struggle inside one of Poison Ivy's special holding pods. Emerald fingertips hovered across Wally's face, the vine around his neck loosening. "Bird Boy and your little Martian friend won't last in there," she confirmed, tracing her pinky finger seductively across the arch of his lower lip.

"You think so?" Wally jeered at her. Thunderous booms and crashes raged on in the mountain's distance. Conner and Black Adam fighting. Kaldur still missing.

Needed to… get out.

Poison Ivy bent towards him, pressing her warm cleavage into his armpit, pressing one of her fingers between his upturned lips. Rainwater. Cool. Silky inside his mouth.

"How would you like to know what it feels to be a man, little boy?"

Stomach cramps. The aphrodisiac coating the villainess' fingers swayed his vision a moment but his head remained clear. Pounded though. In the background, Artemis sobbed out large gasps.


"I can dig it," Wally replied, simply, grinning. Her ruby-red lips curled up, satisfied. "Buuuut… to be completely honest with you, I'm kinda passed the whole redhead phase," he said with a chipper and matter-of-fact tone, scanning his eyes apathetically over the length of her partially nude, emerald body, "Brunettes are the only ones that can do it for me now."

Poison Ivy snapped icily, eyes darkening, "How about losing your tongue first?"

"Kinky," he wheezed, still grinning, his constraints redoubled in strength. "Eeergh— can I get one l-last word in…?"

"What's that, sidekick?"


With that, a surge of high voltage electricity slammed into her from Kaldur's water bearers. The same electricity traveled up Poison Ivy's plant and Wally fought to breathe through the agony, tearing himself away from it and hopping onto his feet, shuddering all over. His chest still scratched up. Hands and arms mostly healed and caked in blood. Boots ruined. A flash of concern on his leader's face examining him. He shouted, "Just get Artemis out of here! I'll get Robin and Meg!" zipping towards the trees. Pick up velocity. Human battering ram time.

Wally raced up the trunk of the broadleaf tree, snagging his foot onto a branch before taking the chances of diving off the canopy before decelerating, and he reared his bloody, right fist to punch straight into the flowery, crimson pod. From the hole, yellowish-colored mucus splashed onto him, and Wally forced the sticky opening wider as the thick mucus oozed free along with his teammates.

Gagging, M'gann shivered, her long, red hair clumped flat against her skull with a mixture of the mucus and specks of pollen. "…Hi, Wally," she smiled wanly, "Thank you."

Dick spat out his rebreather, equally as gross-looking.

"Faster would have been nice."

Wally playfully smacked an open, dirtied hand to Dick's mucus-slickened arm, wincing at the contact and the squelching.

"You're welcome too, Robs."



The corner room, towards the further section of the Cave's med-bay, emitted white beams of sunshine through its single window. Wally's fatigued, ashen face turned in its direction.

"How's everyone doing?" he mumbled.

Dick leaned against the pale yellow wall. He watched Wally fiddle absently with his plastic fork, bending the tines back and sideways, swirling it around his brimming cup of chicken soup.

"Artemis is knocked out with pain medication. Conner recovered from the head trauma." The white-out eyelets to the Robin mask thinned. "How are the injuries?"

Wally announced with a faint, lighthearted smile, turning his face instead to his best friend, "Feel as good as new."

"Megann and I probably could have gotten out, you know," Dick reminded him, smirking. "Even with the Count Vertigo's psychic wave."

Olive green eyes rolled upwards. "Thanks, man, for dissing my generous act of heroism. Makes me all warm and fuzzy—." Wally's eyebrows drew together, as if puzzled, and Dick lifted up from the wall, frowning outwardly when the speedster moved around in his sheets, rubbing the front of his thin, white t-shirt. "Not to… kick you out or anything but… need to recharge…"

"Don't sweat it." Robin approached the cot, holding out his knuckles and Wally tapped them with his own— a fainter smile— before resting his head down on the cushioned, hospital pillow.

Another mumble.



Wally's lips twitched apart, but only soft, noiseless breathes escaped them.


Flash barged in the med-lab several minutes later, demanding to speak to Wally.

"He's lying down." Dick glanced over at a stony-faced Batman standing nearby, "Can it wait?"

"A violation of direct orders is a serious and punishable matter."

The red-costumed man went around the fifteen-year-old, pulling open the door. "He saved Miss Martian. And me." Dick informed his mentor, giving him a one-arm shrug. "Doesn't matter?"

A strangled and dismayed noise came from within the corner room. They discovered Flash staring open-mouthed at the tiny, spring-sunshine window of the med-bay private room. The sheets surrounding Wally's bed abandoned and littered instead with his gray boxers and his t-shirt. Fluttering urgently against the glass pane, a large butterfly.

"What is…?"

Upon closer observation, Dick caught sight of the gold-colored veining on red and black scalloped wings; the tiniest dots of green on the bottoms of the wings. Carefully, numbly, he placed his hand on the warm glass pane. The butterfly's legs scrambled over the tip of his middle finger exposed from his torn gauntlet, and Wally— living, breathing, smiling Wally— materialized instead, gazing at Dick solemnly, his cropped, red hair pressed into the clear glass where he set his weight to lean back, and Dick pulled back from touching the angle of Wally's neck, amazed— Gone.

The butterfly fluttered harder to the glass.

He pressed his hand back to the same space, waiting until the hairy legs— Wally's neck under his hand pulsed with the familiar tempo of a heartbeat.

Wally's voice inside his head, particularly annoyed, {That feels really weird. Could you stop?}

{This is happening.} Dick's hand shifted to a naked, freckled shoulder. He gave his companion an once-over. {Why did you take off your clothes?}

{Hey, dude, so not my idea.} Wally's eyes narrowed, cheeks reddening. {At all.}

{Why are you talking in the mind-link?}

{It's not—nevermind, I don't have vocal chords. How am I supposed to without them?}

Dick questioned, screwing up his unmoving mouth, {How did this…?}

{It's a long story. Barry could tell you most of it.} Olive green eyes peered over Dick's shoulder to both adults, sympathetically as his uncle pushing off his cowl, bright blue eyes wide.

{We'll have to call Zatanna's dad. Or—}

{That's not how it works.} Wally's arm rose, clasping onto Dick's caped shoulder opposite. A whisper. {I think… you're supposed to let me go.}

Dick's throat clenched with a dry swallow. {Why would I do that?}

{It will only make everything harder. And I don't want to fight you.}

{And you're giving up? What about not believing in the magic?}

{Magic. Schmagic.} Wally's hand on him squeezed, gratefully. {This feels good. I've been sick for a while but I don't feel -sick- anymore.} Green eyes softened. {I could even…} Dick's gauntlets clutched tightly the slopes of shoulders in front of him, muffling a needy exhale when his hips were caressed by deft fingers, and Wally snickered into the light, closed mouth kiss.

{At least it's consensual this time.}

Dick commented, raising an eyebrow above his mask edge when they stepped apart, {You're naked and Batman's watching.}

Wally shot him a mock-defeated glance. {Why do you gotta do that?}

Without ceremony, he gently dug the pad of his thumb into the center of Dick's pinched forehead.

{Message for Barry…—}

A blink.

"I'm not afraid," Dick said automatically, and he couldn't pick out the rationalization for what he was speaking as it went on, "And there's no point in trying to change me back." The flat of his leather-protected palm let out an audible, tiny squeak against the glass. The reddish butterfly opened and closed its paper-thin wings with a calm ease as it settled on the back of Dick's hand.

"I'm just sorry that I'm going to upset you and Aunt Iris. But I don't regret helping my friends."

A hot, stinging rush of moisture behind his eyes. The words forcing themselves out weren't

"I'm not mad at you, Uncle Barry. You were just trying to protect me. That's more than what my own dad would have done for me," he murmured, shaking a little.

A new hand appeared on Dick's shoulder. The blond man attached to it glanced down at him, smiling fondly through the glittering of tears in his own eyes.

"I love you," Dick finished, gasping aloud as the speech paroxysm broke.

Flash nudged him with his red-gloved hand, tapping on the windowpane, and Wally started knocking against the glass as if in a hurry—always with the dramatics, god…—.

"Why don't you and I set him free?"



The top line on the marble headstone epitaph read: "Wally West – His was a man's courage".

Sentimental enough, yeah, sure. Everyone cried. Everyone mourned. Everyone tried to comfort him.

Two months was considered still a fresh memory after all.

There wasn't anything to be comforted about. Not by anyone else. There wasn't even a scrap of him buried in that expensive, satin-lined coffin under the ton of dirt.

Only a handful of people knew that.

Dick's worn sneakers crunched gravel down the trail.

His comm.-link buzzed in his ear canal.

"How goes Nepal?"

"Enjoying the park." He passed over blue-green shrubs, shoving away the leaves from the Sal trees before heading into a darker, wooded area. "Good weather for an adventure."

"Whatever you are planning out there, be sure to not get arrested, 'Chester Honeywell'."

Dick chuckled into the transmission.

"Not with you keeping an eye on me, 'Amy Beddoes'."

A sarcastic grumble. "I didn't know you were interested in the migration pattern of the red lacewings¹²," Babs hmmed, "That's kind of romantic in an odd, ecological approach."

"Thanks for researching that, by the way."

"You seemed desperate." A curious tone. "You plan on meeting up with someone out there?"

He paused from cutting through around another line of trees. A big, astounded grin lifted Dick's expression.

"… …That would be something, wouldn't it?"

Another buzz. But not his end. "B is contacting me," she informed him, briskly, "I'll see you back in Gotham, alright? No getting arrested." A click.

Another step.

The woods cleared away out of his view into an open, secluded area— safari grass dipping to an invisible, heated breeze. A very… vividly red safari grass.

He continued on, wading through.

Pieces of the grass began fluttering away quickly into the air—living, blurring. Hundreds of butterflies rose and fell around him, some clustering, some scattering out of sight.

"You're not gone."


The disembodied voice jarred inside him.

But all had been silent.





¹ = Applied comic canon of Rudy West being a part of Manhunters (interstellar "police") and being told he would have a powerful son if he married his wife. And the inspector and Mary's job and her relationship with him. Fabricated everything else.

² = Betty Dunn is a canon DC comic character name. And Reynolds. Tommy Moon is also a fairly good friend of Wally West's from his school years. Haha. I have this weird habit never just having OCs and using extra comicverse people.

³ = Just for absolute clarification... it /is/ the Sutherlandia frutescens but mutated.

¹¹ = Both Dick and Babs' alias' are legit from canon somewhere. Heheh.

¹² = Wally's butterfly form is Earth-16's version of the red lacewings. Gold veining on the wings instead of white and the green "eyes".

YJAM Prompt:

"Could I maybe get a fic based off of the story of The Butterfly Child? Please?

Mary and Rudolph (or Iris and Barry if you so choose) are a childless couple who long for a child of their own. One day they find a large golden cocoon, but instead of becoming a butterfly, the cocoon opens to be a baby. Now the child cannot touch the plant from whence he came, or he'll turn back into a butterfly... But one day on a mission he finds that he has to to save a fallen teammate..."