Mow lawns. Eat.

Talk to Aaron, Jeff and Stevie. Eat.

Read and eat. Go to Keystone City and patrol with Flash. Eat.

Read. Eat. Sleep.

This was, more or less, each day of Wally West's life from late June through July that year. He was sort of shocked at how . . routine his life was. He had never gotten that sense of superhero life from reading Spiderman and other comic books. Everything was a crisis in Peter Parker's life and then a fight to save the world, or at least the city, against, say, Doctor Octopus. And, usually, the crisis in his life and the fight to save the world, or city, would overlap. And no sooner was Doc Ock dispatched than Kingpin or Electro was there to start another fight.

But it wasn't like that at all.

He was shocked to find himself bored. Him, a superhero!

He had so much down time, so much dead time, tons of it. Even when he was doing something it mostly seemed like dead time now. He could have done all 15 of the lawns he was now mowing in just over an hour if he didn't have to pretend to not be what he was. He had to do the work much more slowly than he could. He had to eat more slowly. He had to do everything slow around his family and friends. He was stretching out everything he did in life and still he had tons of empty time. Tons! He was living two lives and he still had all this dead time. What the . . ?!

Flash had told him to run through the streets of Jump City until he had memorized all of them. And for a day or two, that's what he would do to kill time. But he could only do so much of that. Flash had told him to only run through Jump City and run to Keystone and patrol with him. That was all the super speeding he was supposed to do. Flash had made Kid Flash promise that he wouldn't do anything else.

But he was so bored. So. Bored.

So, he'd yawn or sigh, consumed with ennui, and decide to do something. He was a scientific boy. He was curious about the world. There were dozens and dozens of places he wanted to see. So . . why not? He could run across oceans now. It wasn't any big deal. So . . why not? At first he felt very guilty about it. He'd pull on his Kid Flash uniform and glance around furtively as if someone might be watching him or see him and know that he wasn't supposed to be there in Paris or Venice or London or Hong Kong or Singapore or Miami, as if it was a small neighborhood and someone would tell his parents, or in this case Flash. But then he realized, no one knew that he wasn't supposed to be there.

So, he got comfortable with satisfying his existing curiosity about these places.

Sometimes, he'd watch a documentary on TV about Machu Picchu in Peru or Chichen Itza in Mexico or Angkor Wat in Cambodia. And right away, or the next morning, he'd sprint there. It would only take him a minute at most now, to go anywhere on the planet no matter where it was. These places were fascinating and they were practically right there, as close to him as being two doors down the street was to most kids. How many kids would not sprint over to look at Chichen Itza if all they had to do was run two doors down the street?

So, he had ways of dealing with boredom. But, he didn't try to patrol or fight crime in these places. He was just your typical red and yellow unitard clad sightseer.

He tried to spend more of his oodles of spare time with Aaron, Jeff and Stevie but somehow it was harder for him to get along with those guys now, without Chan being there, than it had been with Chan around. Chan and his family had moved just a week after the end of school. It was so depressing. He would never have admitted it but his eyes got teary during that last hug of Chan. Chan knew. But the other guys didn't and he wasn't about to tell them. That seemed way too girlish, but it was true.

Now that Chan was gone, he thought maybe his friendship with the other guys would build, but it didn't. Maybe part of it was getting over Chan. He wasn't sure. It just didn't seem like that feeling transfered to the other guys even thought he wanted it to. He thought maybe it was the whole secret identity, just the feeling of it. that there was this thing, the most important thing in his life, that he couldn't share with them. He and Chan had shared everything. And now he couldn't share the most important thing in his life with Aaron, Jeff and Stevie. How do you get past that, he wondered.

Another problem was that it was summer and often, at any of his rich friends' houses, everyone would go swimming. He couldn't. He couldn't let his friends see the way he looked now. How would he explain that he was suddenly 5 inches taller and in better condition than seemed physically possible? Everyone would go swimming and Wally would mutter any excuse he could come up with and slip away.

He could feel his connection to his pals slipping away. But he didn't know what to do about it. He tried to think of some way to make things better with Aaron, Jeff and Stevie but as long as he was Kid Flash and couldn't tell them anything about his being Kid Flash, it seemed impossible.

And it wasn't just his civilian life that had become unsatisfying. Even patrolling with Flash had gotten boring. He quickly realized that, while he also had super speed and ran right alongside his mentor, Flash really didn't intend for him to do anything. He didn't send him up ahead or tell him to go to the left while Flash went to the right or have him hit some crook while Flash held him. He'd give a curt "I'll take care of this" or "This isn't for rookies, Kid Flash" or something like that. It was exasperating to Kid Flash. It was as though Flash was out on his normal patrol of Keystone City and he, Kid Flash, was supposed to just run alongside him but not do anything except watch him lest he get hurt.

At first he did this without complaint. Maybe it wasn't too ridiculous at first because he got to see how Flash interacted with the police, how he dealt with crooks, how you were supposed to fight crime with super speed.

Okay. Fine. But after a couple weeks, it annoyed him. But he kept with it, doing his part as a pure sidekick. He did what he was supposed to do. Only after a couple more weeks did he timidly put a question to Flash whether it might not be a better use of his abilities to not, you know, completely just shadow Flash in everything he did and always stand back for Flash to fight crooks? He knew by now how to do this.

To Kid Flash's irritation, Flash didn't seem to listen or maybe he failed to try to understand. He just sort of brushed off his words. Kid Flash sighed in frustration and wondered if this wasn't Aunt Iris's doing. Did she tell Flash that, okay, he could patrol with him but that he had to go ridiculously far out of his way to make sure Kid Flash didn't get hurt? He wondered.

But he kept with it several more days before, finally, he couldn't take it any more and when a call came into his right ear wing that the Keystone City police were after crooks fleeing the scene of a jewelry store robbery in one of the city suburbs, Kid Flash took off before Flash did. "Got it!" he shouted over his shoulder and sped off toward that suburb, listening to the tiny speaker in his earwing for updates about the crooks' whereabouts and altering the route by which he sped towards them to make the most direct interception. He reached the speeding Dodge Challenger a split second ahead of Flash and reached into the driver's side window and pressed the trunk release. While the car was still zooming along a boulevard at 80 mph, he removed the lug wrench from the trunk and, while the car was still going 80 miles per hour, removed all the lug nuts from the left rear wheel.

One crook pointed at what must have seemed a red and yellow blur back there and shouted, "Hey!" as Flash also arrived. Flash looked very mad but what could he do when Kid Flash tossed the lug wrench over the car's trunk toward the right rear wheel? Flash caught the wrench and then removed all the lug nuts on that tire, again, while the care was still going 80 miles per hour. A split second later, each speedster gave a slight pull to the wheel on their side and both wheels suddenly came off.

With a trail of sparks and grinding sounds of friction, the musclecar ground to a halt. With a blair of sirens, three police cruisers now stopped ahead of the crooks forming a barrier in that direction and another two behind them. Quickly, a cop produced a bullhorn and advised the crooks to throw their weapons out of the car and come out with their hands up.

One seemed about to. The other one, in the driver's seat, seemed to have the idea that he would fight it out in some Tarantino-esque spectacle or something. Kid Flash saw him reaching for a gun and simply rushed up to the driver's side door and took it from him, wrenched it out of his hands. He zipped over to the cop with the bullhorn and handed him the gun, muzzle down.

Flash went through all the usual post apprehension formalities with the cops as well as the news people. But there was a slight undertone, a different sound in his voice, something very unusual for Flash. He was mad. Kid Flash didn't care. He laughed out loud when the two crooks were being led away and the driver was berating the other one for setting off the alarm.

Once all that was done, Flash sped off and Kid Flash simply followed him. But Flash didn't wait to get home. He stopped in a half deserted strip mall parking lot and started berating him for "freelancing" and not listening to what he'd been told. But even Flash could see that Kid Flash didn't much care.

"You're not listening to me, Kid Flash!"

"I'm not gonna just ride in your sidecar. I appreciate the tutoring in using my speed, in dealing with the cops and with the crooks but this stuff with just running alongside you while you do everything is freaking nuts."

Flash gave a sigh. "I . . I promised your aunt I wouldn't let you be hurt."

Kid Flash nodded slightly. Knew it!

"I'm not exactly itching to be hurt, either. But I can do more than this. This . . the-the way things have been is . . insulting. I have super speed. Okay, I'm small compared to most crooks, but show me the one whose ass I can't kick."

It took several more minutes of discussion and negotiation. Flash tried to limit things as much as possible but Kid Flash was insistent that he be allowed to take a more active independent role when they patroled together. And he demanded the right to patrol solo in Jump City.

Flash said no.

Kid Flash shrugged. "How are you gonna stop me?"

Flash was taken aback.

"You'll have a hard time patrolling in Keystone City if you're spending all your time in Jump, standing over me in my bedroom keeping me in time out, making sure I don't put on my uniform and run off."

It took a couple more iterations of Flash saying no and Kid Flash casually responding that he'd just patrol anyway, whether Flash liked it or not before Flash finally relented. And, being Flash, everything had to be scientific and orderly and above board, not just haphazard.

So it was that, in early August, Kid Flash met Flash at the edge of Jump City and together they raced to Jump City Police Department headquarters. They spent a half hour in the huge brick building downtown as Flash dealt with one of their tech guys and the dispatchers. He'd called in advance, so they knew he was coming.

Kid Flash wanted to laugh. What a bunch of jock sniffers! The way they practically swooned over Flash and sucked up to him! They weren't nearly so obsequious toward him. It was hard to say exactly what was behind the looks they gave him. They were all gosh, oh boy, cheery when first introduced to him. But it became clear that they didn't have any interest in him at all, only in Flash. He shrugged. So what? He was the one who'd be responding to calls from JCPD, not Flash. Though, Flash had sort of answered for both of them as he finished setting up the high frequency signal that would send pulses to their rings.

"And when we send out a call, you'll respond?" one technician had asked. Flash had put his arm around Kid Flash's shoulders, clearly indicating them as a team even though it would almost always be Kid Flash.

"Yup."

He and Flash had run off while the excited tech guys and dispatchers were still talking amongst themselves. At the agreed upon time, 6 p.m. on the dot, the dispatchers sent out the signal.

"Ow." Kid Flash looked down at the ring on one finger as . . ZapZap . . ZapZap . . ZapZap he received pairs of electric shocks from his ring. That was the code Flash had decided on. Two zaps at a time for a police call. Three zaps was a call from Flash. Four would be a Justice League matter. "Does it have to be that strong?" asked Kid Flash thinking of the unwelcome prospect of getting four such zaps in rapid succession in the unlikely event of the Justice League calling him.

"Well, it's got to be enough to wake you up when you're asleep, Kid Flash. If a call comes in at 4 a.m. you won't be able to fight crime if you sleep through it, will you?"

"I guess not," Kid Flash conceded, staring at his ring still wondering if there was a way for it to be a little more gentle.

"Now, press your ear wing and check on your receptiion of JCPD dispatch."

Kid Flash nodded and pressed on his right ear wing. A casual conversation between a dispatcher in JCPD and one in one of the city's suburbs played in his ear.

"Good reception and volume?"

Kid Flash nodded. He and Flash sped back to JCPD headquarters. Flash told the tech and dispatch guys that everything worked fine and he and Kid Flash sped off from a bunch of smiles and waves.

All the next day, Kid Flash kept looking at his ring, his Flash ring with the lightning bolt symbol on it. He kept expecting it to go off at any moment. He imagined the twin zaps on his finger and then racing to JCPD headquarters and the cops being all frantic. "Save us, Kid Flash! It's Captain Cold!"

"Save us, Kid Flash! It's Slade!"

"Don't worry," he imagined himself calmly telling the cops, "I'm Kid Flash. I'll handle it."

He started trying to figure out how he would leave each situation and have it be inconspicuous. He was mowing the lawn of the Prendergasts, an old couple a quarter mile away from his house and tried to figure where he could leave his civilian clothes if he had to change on the fly. Then, he was over at Aaron's house and couldn't make himself follow the conversation among Aaron, Jeff and Stevie because he was more concerned with what excuse he would give to slip away and go into action as Kid Flash.

But, like the watched pot that never boils, the watched Flash ring never buzzes with a call from the Jump City Police Department. He fixated on it again the next morning to the point that he even started wondering if the ring wasn't working. Maybe it had picked up the JCPD's call that first time but wasn't picking up any calls since then. Maybe they needed his help but he was just shuffling around in his oversized civilian clothes, doing lawns and hanging out with his friends.

What if they're pissed off at me for not responding?! What if they start to doubt whether they should trust me?

Wally took a few deep breaths to calm himself. He wished he'd asked Flash how often the Keystone City Police called for his help. Even if Jump and Keystone were different, at least he'd have some idea what to expect.

He went back to his house and flopped down on his bed with an accusatory stare at his ring.

Stupid thing zaps much too hard anyway. Why should it be set to zap that hard during the hours when I'm going to be awake? All the freaking programming that goes into it, all the figuring that Flash and J'onn J'onnz did and they couldn't figure out how to do something with a clock set to Jump City time?

He gave another sigh and started reading. He'd gotten a book from the library with some information about a couple of experiments that he'd run using his Kessler-Zeiss chemistry set. They wouldn't come out quite right, the precipitates they formed weren't nearly as pure as they were supposed to be. And he couldn't figure out why. So, he lay there reading about these complex chemical chain reactions and typical problems that researchers encountered when running them. The book was intended for college student, not 12 year old boy scientists.

He got totally engrossed in it, so much so that, when his finger first stung, his immediate reaction was to just move his hand, thinking maybe he was pressing on top of one of the mattress springs. But then he realized what it was.

"Oh my god!" he whispered.

His ring was zapping his finger in pairs of zings at a time.

Zzzzt-Zzzzt . . . Zzzzt-Zzzzt . . . Zzzzt-Zzzzt!

In a fraction of a second he had his clothes off and had pulled on his Kid Flash uniform. In another fraction of a second he'd vibrated through the wall of his room and was on the streets of Jump City. He raced to JCPD headquarters then up the steps to the front door and up four flights of stairs to the desk at room 417 where he'd been told to go.

There, behind the desk, was Winston, the african american officer he and Flash had met two days before.

"Kid Flash reporting, sir!" he half shouted from right in front of the desk.

"Hi, um, Kid Flash." He glanced left and right. "So . . . is Flash due any second?"

Kid Flash shrugged. "No idea. But not likely."

"Oh, so you're the only one coming?"

Kid Flash nodded, unconcerned. "Where am I needed, sir?"

"Well, they're, uh, they're down at the SWAT room. We've got a . . situation they're gonna respond to."

Kid Flash sped off. He wasn't sure which room was the SWAT room. But it wasn't that big of a deal for a speedster. It was only one building. He went down one floor to three and searched the entire floor. There was nothing that seemed like a SWAT team's room. He zipped down to two and then to one and filling the hallways of both floors with red and yellow blurs.

Finally, he went down to the basement level and there, in a large room with dry wipe boards at the far end and filled with school style steel tube, one piece desks with chairs. He zipped past some big guys wearing all kinds of protective gear into the room, stopping at the front of it. He couldn't quite tell who was in charge so he just stopped there and announced, "Kid Flash, reporting for duty!"

Ongoing conversations in the room stopped. They all stared at him.

He looked around at them as they were all looking at him.

Their expressions weren't what he would have expected from the Keystone City Police Department. No joy. No relief. No . . . "we're saved!" There was a sort of look like someone might have on their face when they got something in the mail that they'd bought at Amazon and it turned out to only be half as much as they'd expected.

At least, that's what Kid Flash could see on the faces he could see. There were twenty four SWAT guys in the room or maybe it was just one guy twenty four times. Because they all looked alike. They were all over six feet tall, a bit heavier than they should be and almost every one had the same generic mustache. Kid Flash squinted a frown at the weirdness of it.

It was made worse by the fact that they all wore the same outfit, black, steel toed boots, two layers of pants, three layers of tops including dark body armor. On top of that, they were dark knee pads, elbow pads and dark visored riot helmets. Everything was dark. At their sides, they had, holstered, riot batons, guns and tear gas grenades.

And then, there was Kid Flash.

One of these things is not like the others.

Impossibly well conditioned, 12 years old, five foot four, just over 100 pounds and not wearing any padding but a bright red and yellow suit that fit him tighter than anything any of them had ever seen fit anyone.

"Where's Flash?" grumbled one of them to his left.

"Flash isn't answering this call. I am."

"Curtis told us Flash would be answering calls," muttered another to his right, apparently putting words to what many of them were thinking as grunts of "yeah" and "that's what I heard, too" filled the room.

"Flash might answer some calls but almost always, it'll be me," said Kid Flash.

There was a pause and a silence in the room that was unmistakeably disappointment. Then there was a shuffling about and fidgeting, a sort of precursor to taking action against this superhero bait and switch they seemed to feel had been pulled on them. We don't get Flash? We get this scrawny little kid?! What?!

"Well," on of them stepped forward, motioning for the others to calm down and then turning to Kid Flash. "Are you, uh, are you cleared to be doing this? I mean, you got, uh, parental signoff or whatever else is necessary?"

"I'm ready to go," answered Kid Flash.

He couldn't help but sense that the leader and all the others would have been just as happy if he'd had to run off to get signatures on a form or something, whatever these guys imagined that a yound superhero did.

"Okay, guys," said the apparent leader. "Let's get down to it. There's been a hostage taken at 25th and Figueroa and-"

But another mustached doofus SWAT guy wouldn't move on. He stepped toward the leader and pointed at Kid Flash. "Wait! How do we really know he's anything more than somebody's skinny ass kid in his sister's ballet outfit?"

Snickers from a third of the room.

"Uh, mister. I've got a super power. I'm a Flash."

"Well, then bring it on."

"Oh, it's been brought."

Pause.

"Oh, I get it. You want me to do a super speed trick for you." He scratched at his chin. "Hmm. Okay. Give me the home address of one of you guys and I'll get your mail."

The SWAT doofus scowled. "What'd that prove? 157 Sycamore, but-" he nearly spat toward Kid Flash. He'd barely finished saying his address before there was a slight whoosh in the room and Kid Flash was back in front of him with four envelopes. He tossed them one after another to the SWAT doofus. "Verizon bill . . . water bill . . . solicitation from the Salvation Army and . . uh . . something from the makers of cialis."

The SWAT doofus grunted and angrily clutched the four envelopes as the SWAT leader stepped forth again. He pointed to a map on the table. "Here's the situation. One Derek Morgan 5th place in the olympic trials as a powerlifter four years ago. Has anger management issues and is believed to have stolen a virtual arsenal of guns from the Jump City Fish and Game Club two nights ago. Last night, he knocked over a convenience store-"

"You should've called me," muttered Kid Flash.

"This guy's like six seven and three hundred pounds of muscle," said another SWAT guy.

Kid Flash looked right at that SWAT guy and shrugged. So what?

But his silent assertion of his superpoweredness didn't seem to have convinced many of them. He sighed.

"As I was saying," continued the leader loudly at first. "He knocked over a convenience store yesterday and today it's believed that he approached his ex-girlfriend in the street and when she wouldn't have anything to do with him he decided she would whether she liked it or not. Witnesses to his manhandling her called the police and when he saw multiple vehicles responding to the scene he's believed to have fled into the small building behind Jump City Bodega taking her hostage along with an old man who tried to stop him."

The SWAT leader pointed at the map and indicated three different buildings on the map where snipers would be positioned surrounding the small warehouse. "The rest of you will go with me and sargeant O'Reilly. We'll do the usual front and back code 416 till we get an opening."

Everyone started hustling out of the room toward three big black vans, like UPS delivery vans only with seats. Kid Flash had two burning questions. "Um, Captain?" he tugged on the leaders sleeve outside the room. "What am I supposed to do?"

"You, um, stay in reserve till uh . . just the right moment."

Kid Flash sighed. It was a lame ad lib. But he only nodded and sped off.

Before they even had any of the vans in gear he was standing next to a cop crouched behind a car door on the street facing the small building in question.

"That's Derek Morgan in there?"

The cop crouched behind the door nodded then took note of to whom he was talking, an impossibly well conditioned skinny boy in an impossibly tight red and yellow suit.

"Who . . who are you?"

"Kid Flash," he casually tossed over his shoulder to the cop while never taking his eyes off the building. "So, what's the situation?"

"The situation is that that huge motherfucker in there is hopped up on PCP and you could probably shoot him with his own gun and he'd barely notice it. But he's got a couple hostages and Manny at the bodega says there are twenty or thirty propane tanks in there so we're afraid to shoot at him but he feels free to shoot at us. "

Right on cue, there was a thunderous gutteral shout from the building. M-fing cops, something to that effect as far as Kid Flash could tell. Then, Bang-Bang-Bang! Bang-Bang-Bang! Semi-automatic rifle fire.

The cop crouched more tightly behind the car door and looked over his shoulder as the pre-teen speedster suddenly zipped away, just instantaneously disappeared from next to him. Then, a second later he was back with a handful of bullets. He poured them into the cops hand.

"Look like . . . point two two threes to me," he said with a nod and then a raised eyebrow. Right?

"Um, yeah . . . say, did you just catch all those?"

Kid Flash gave a yeah, no big deal nod.

Inside the building, Derek Morgan was mad. Only now he was even more angry. Where was that sound, that satisfying puncturing of cop car sheet metal from all his bullets? He looked over at that stupid old man and Suzy lying tied up on the floor. Just the sight of them made him even more made. He gave a bellow out a small hole he'd made in the flimsy wall of the building and then stuck the gun out and fired ten more rounds as fast as he could in a spray across all the police cruisers out there.

But . . what the fuck?! Again, no sound! What was going on here?! He turned back into the building. Had those little jerks at the Fish and Game club loaded a clip with blanks?! He vowed to kill them extra painfully.

Outside, Kid Flash zipped back beside the first cop hed encountered, crouched behind a car door. He poured another red gloved handful of bullets into his hand.

"Definitely point two two threes." he nodded as he poured.

Just as he finished, there was a screech of tires and the big black SWAT team vans pulled up at the scene. And looking up to the buildings he'd seen pointed out on the map in the SWAT room, Kid Flash saw snipers setting up. The SWAT team guys all piled out of their vans and took cover behind whatever was available. Some of them had some sorts of riot shields that they set up and crouched behind.

But the word went out to them about the hostages and the propane tanks stored all throughout the interior of that building. Kid Flash could see the SWAT guys getting impatient and frustrated as the minutes went by. The SWAT team leader was crouched behind the next car over and Kid Flash could hear the intermittent pleas from the lower ranked SWAT team guys to be allowed to do something. The pleas became particularly insistent after Derek Morgan again fired a series of rounds at the surrounding police vehicles.

"How 'bout you pussies send out your toughest guy and me and him fight it out to decide this!" he bellowed loud enough to be heard blocks away.

He fired off some more rounds. Again, Kid Flash zipped away and caught them all. He finished a blur of movement beside the SWAT team leader, into whose hands he poured the ten cartridges he'd caught in mid air.

The leader was arguing with another mustachioed SWAT guy who wanted to let the snipers try and take him out.

"Are we just gonna sit here and let that psycho take shots at us without firing back? If we can't let the long guns up on the roofs do their thing, then what about shooting a tear gas cannister and rushing him?"

"Did you not hear me when I told you he has an old man hostage, too? You know we can't shoot into an enclosed location with an innocent old man. His respiratory system might not take it."

The first SWAT guy reluctantly nodded.

"So, we're just gonna sit here?"

The leader was about to say yes when Kid Flash raised one red gloved hand. "Um . . Captain? Why don't we just take him up on his idea?"

The captain shook his head. This is what happened when some little kid tagged along. "I just told McCallister that we can't do that."

"No, not his idea," said Kid Flash pointing to the other SWAT guy apparently named McCallister. "I mean his," he said pointing toward the building.

"Huh?"

Inside the building Derek Morgan was glaring angrily at his semi-automatic rifle. It had been the same problem. No metallic pings. No thuds of bullets into steel. No crack of bullets into windshield glass and spider webbing of fractures. "What . . the . . fuck?!" he roared.

He had stepped one foot up on a low table and was about to bend the rifle barrel over his knee in a pure release of rage when he heard a funny sound combining a "whoosh" and something like a phone vibrating and suddenly there was an orange haired kid in a red and yellow suit standing next to him.

"There's nothing wrong with the gun," said the kid in the impossibly tight uniform.

He stared incredulously. "Where the fuck'd you come from?"

Kid Flash nodded over his shoulder. "Out there."

"And who the fuck are you, skinny ass?"

"Kid Flash. Fastest boy alive. I caught all your bullets those last 3 volleys you shot out there. You've really got an anger management issue."

Morgan let out a furious grunt and swung at the skinny kid but he moved out of the way easily leading to Morgan punching through some sheet rock on the inside wall of the building.

"Well . . that's no way to prove me wrong," added Kid Flash and he took a look around as he was backing out of the path of Morgan's telegraphed roundhous right. The interior of the place was pretty sparse. Aside from a few tables and chairs and some empty cardboard boxes the only things inside the darkened interior of the building were two dozen large propane tanks scattered haphazardly about and a young woman and old man gagged and bound with duct tape over in one corner.

"Anyway, you shouldn't be so mad. I mean, we're taking you up on your challenge," he said calmly standing his ground as the more than a foot taller and triple his weight former power lifter advanced toward him.

"What the fuck are you talking about, squirt?"

"Your challenge. Don't you remember? Send your toughest guy in here to fight me and we'll decide things. Well . . here I am!"

Morgan's expression went from befuddled to angry to convulsed with laughter. "You?! Ahahahahahahaha!"

"I know it's not fair but I'll kick your ass and there's really nothing you can do about it. Tell you what I'll do. You tell me how you want to lose this fight to me and I'll try to work it out so that it turns out like that. Is there a particular way you want me to kick your ass?"

Morgan's eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. "Ain't no way I can lose to some skinny little douche bag weighs a buck nothing and wears some kinda fruit suit."

"Actually I weigh a buck nine. But I'm good looking, not butt ugly like you . . . your-your mom accidentally diapered your head when you were young . . . didn't she?"

This last remark did the trick and an already advancing and snorting with rage Morgan swung, right-left-right-left at the pre-teen speedster. But, to his immense frustration, the brightly clad kid was impossible to hit. He was right there in front of him but every time he swung at him the smirking kid moved just inches past the arc of the punch, snickering "Nope . . Not that time either . . missed again!". Morgan swung harder and faster, edging his way across to the back wall of the building with a score of attempts to smash the smirking kid but nothing connected.

He bent over now, hands on knees, breathing hard and Kid Flash zipped right up to a spot in front of him. "So . . do you want to be knocked out with punches or kicks? I mean, I want to be fair about this. I'm a superhero and you're just a big doofus who's gonna be fat in a few years and have trouble seeing his feet without the help of mirrors. And then there's the cost of all that diabetes medicine. I-"

Morgan lunged at him with another punch, hitting the wall with his fist on this one and from the lack of give, Kid Flash expected he'd hit a stud in the wall behind the cheap paneling. There were several cracking sounds like bones breaking in his hand.

"Whoa. You actually came close that time. Okay, not really but losers deserve encouragement, too."

Morgan had spun around now and whatever pain he felt in his broken hand he was immediately turning into anger at the pre-teen speedster. He grunted and snorted like a bull and then charged toward Kid Flash in the center of the room. Kid Flash shook his head at the ridiculousness of it. He could have dodged this even if he was only Wally West normal skinny kid.

Morgan's roaring, grunting charge ended in the sheet rock of the far wall. His head went through it but it didn't seem to much hurt him. He spun around more furious than ever. "Stand and fight you little stick man!"

"But, I am fighting," said Kid Flash from the middle of the room. "And I'm letting you take all these shots at me first. I could hardly be any nicer about the whole deal."

Morgan charged at him again. This time, Kid Flash stepped out of the way and tripped him as though they were acting out a Bugs Bunny cartoon. Morgan went flying and came down hard on the concrete slab floor. Kid Flash winced. That one seemed to have hurt him a bit. Morgan got up quickly but was a bit unsteady on his feet.

"For the last time! Fight, you little faggot!"

All Morgan saw was a yellow and red blur come toward him in too small of a fraction of a second for him to quite grasp. Then his head was snapping back over and over, again, too fast for him to quite grasp. Then he was falling to the floor unconscious.

Kid Flash stepped back out of the way as the ex power lifter hit the floor with a thud.

"Faggot? Really? I'm the one in middle school. That's all you can come up with?"

After a sigh, he zipped over to the young woman and the old man and untied them. "Stay here a second," he told them and went to another corner of the building where he found a white rag. He tied it on the end of a broomstick and waved it out a window. He heard chatter from the police outside indicating that they'd seen it. He threw the front door open and started dragging Morgan out into the parking area in front of the building. It was embarassingly difficult as the guy weighed 300 pounds and there wasn't much he could do with his speed to make a simple task of physical strength any easier. Finally, leaning forward as though into a hurricane force wind, he got the unconscious Morgan out the door and onto the pavement.

The hostages had already made it past him to the police barricade when the other SWAT guys came forward.

"So . . you beat him up?" the SWAT leader asked still not quite believing it.

"Uh . . yeah. I am a Flash," answered the offended speedster.

He went through all the usual post event formalities, making sure the civilians were okay, describing things for the police and briefly talking to the press. But while he was proud at having done his job, the single lasting impression he came away with was how different things were than they seemed to be for Flash. Just his size and age had everyone according him no respect, giving him no credit for what he could do with his super power. Huge doofus Derek Morgan insisted on swinging at him and charging at him even after trying to hit him multiple times and seeing that it just wasn't going to happen.

As he sped away from the scene back toward his house, Kid Flash wondered how long it would take for him to get the respect he was due.