As seventh grade wore on, Kid Flash kept patroling and kept answering calls. He felt like he had the respect of the guys in the Jump City Fire Department but that he was still fighting to get the respect of the guys on the police force.

At school, he was very attentive to any mention, whatsoever, of Kid Flash. He was happy to find that Flash's protege seemed to be immensely popular at his junior high. The boys were impressed with his super power even if they tended to snicker at the uniform he wore. The girls thought he was cute. They seemed to like that a boy had to wear a uniform like that. He overheard hushed whispers about Kid Flash and he saw girls share pictures of the young speedster accompanied by shrieks. But, paradoxically, Wally West's desirability was nearly non-existent among the girls at school. They pointedly excluded him from their parties. One girl even gave invites to Aaron, Jeff and Stevie but refused to let him come to her party.

But still he soldiered on. He got to see Aunt Iris at Thanksgiving and Christmas that year and that made a lot of things more bearable for weeks afterward. That included whichever stupid jerk at the Jump City Chronicle had captioned the picture of him at the ballet school.

Late one afternoon, out on patrol, he heard sirens in the distance and started to join a chase just as he heard it called in over the JCPD dispatch system. There was still a huge slug of after work commute traffic clogging the roads. The crook being chased got to an area of downtown Jump City where traffic was gridlocked with horns blaring everywhere and jumped out of his car. He got way ahead of the cops chasing him, turned one corner, ran down another street and turned another corner. There, he ducked into the marble columned doorway entrance of the Jump City School of Ballet and peeked around the edge of the doorway looking for cops.

"I don't think they see you," said Kid Flash suddenly beside him in the doorway.

"Ahh!" the guy half shouted and jumped.

"Why don't you just come along quietly?" Kid Flash suggested to the now frantic guy. Maybe he was frantic or maybe he was on some kind of drug. The guy's eyes didn't look quite right. He panicked and tried to run and tried to fight. He tried to run through the building to another alley behind it. Kid Flash stopped that and quickly knocked the guy out with a couple good punches in a hundredth of a second. He held him there in one of the bouncy hardwood floored ballet workout rooms waiting for the cops. Only a photographer for the Jump City Chronicle got there first. He took a picture of Kid Flash surrounded by ballet dancers with his hand on the crook's collar. In the paper next day the caption under the picture, which took up a quarter of the front page, read BALLET DANCER NABS CROOK.

When Kid Flash saw it, he just shook his head and rolled his eyes. It wasn't that he couldn't see some similarity in their attire. Hell, before he'd left the school he'd said to one of the boy ballet dancers in tights and everything who'd come running in response to the commotion, "You guys have it easy. Try wearing this," he'd said pointing to his own suit.

"What is that?" asked the boy, seconded by a nearby ballerina.

"It's . . the stuff intense embarassment is made of," he muttered then sped off.

But there was worse to come a week later. He was on patrol. It'd been a couple days since he'd gotten a call. He sped through the Jumpton neighborhood up to Jump Hill then circled back down toward the center of the city. Way ahead of him, down a straight city street, several blocks up, he heard an alarm go off and saw a big guy, NBA power forward sized, take off down the street with people now running out of some sort of hipster cafe pointing at the guy.

Kid Flash turned on the speed. "Uh . . guy? You just rob that place?" he said jogging easily beside the guy who was sprinting as hard as he could.

The guy started to pull a gun. Kid Flash tackled him and after knocking him to the ground at the street corner added a half dozen hard punches in less than a second. The guy sort of crumpled. Kid Flash emptied all the bullets out of his gun onto the sidewalk with a series of metallic tinks and then jammed the gun back into the guy's jacket pocket.

After doing this, he noticed that a crowd had gathered around him where he held the huge crook by the collar. They gave him a round of applause and he bowed his head slightly as thank you. Kid Flash didn't think anything of it. Crowds were always gathering around him at the end of patrols or chases. It was nothing new. But he started to perceive that there was something odd about this crowd. Glancing around he saw a dark skinnned hispanic boy only a little older than him behind him to one side staring at him and biting his lower lip.

"Mmmm dat ass!" the boy joyously exclaimed.

Kid Flash froze. He held out his free arm toward the others on the opposite side of the circle trying to forestall their jumping on the boy for being gay.

"Oh . . he must mean that girl there," he said pointing to a skinny girl with long flowing blond hair with her back to the rest of the group as a way to rescue the boy. She was hardly Kid Flash's idea of a girl with a great booty. She barely had any but she was the only girl in the immediate vicinity.

And then she turned around and was revealed to be a he, a boy with delicate features wearing a shirt like a blouse over girl style skinny jeans.

Kid Flash gulped. "Come on guys . . leave him alone," he gestured to the boy who made the comment about his buns. But nobody in the circle of bystanders was saying or doing anything aggressive toward that boy. In fact, another boy also behind him over his other shoulder chortled a nasally, "Mmm, yes, dat ass!" in agreement and the entire circle of onlookers gave cheery laughs in agreement.

For a moment, Kid Flash was thrown. What the . . ?!

Then he glanced around frantically and saw a marquee advertising an older broadway musical to one side, a marquee advertising a performance of the Jump City Ballet and another advertising performances of the musical Rent. He saw all the chichi upscale clothing shops and the street names on a nearby street sign and then it dawned on him. He was in the theater district, "theater district" being the politically correct code phrase for the gay district of Jump City.

He glanced at the crowd around him. All men and boys of varying age and all smiling at him in an overly obvious way that he hoped to be able to avoid when he finally met Bat Girl or Wonder Girl.

"Dat ass? Ha! Dat package!" laughed another boy in front of him to one side in a voice that sounded like a sort of gay Austin Powers. Kid Flash couldn't refrain from glancing quickly down at the usual smuggling a mango into the country bulge at the front of his suit. He groaned quietly.

"No, definitely dat ass," countered an older man and to Kid Flash's mortification, the crowd around him now broke out into a surreal gay version of the old Lite beer great taste versus less filling argument with half the crowd shouting "Dat Ass!" and the other half responding "Dat package!"

"Dat ass!"

"Dat package!"

"Dat ass!"


"Guys! Guys! Guys!" he interrupted shouting. "I'm . . I'm not very old. You're-you're not supposed to be treating a boy my age like this."

He wanted to take even more offense but he remembered how Flash had told him, in typically over intellectualized Flash style how not having any fat, especially not having a soft 'baby' face and having, how had Flash put it? Oh yeah, a reproductive organ a standard deviation in excess of . . Kid Flash had interrupted. A big one? Flash had sighed. Yes, a big one. People subconsciously take these as markers for physical maturity and age and will guess you to be a few years older than you are. Mostly this was good. If the cops knew he was 12 instead of the 14 or 15 they might've thought he was, they'd be even worse jerks toward him. But this was a different crowd.

They were a bit more subdued now, till the dark skinned hispanic boy pointed and objected softly, "But . . dat ass!"

"Look!" Kid Flash turned toward him. "I'm . . . ," he realized he couldn't say how old he is as part of protecting his secret identity.

"He's not legal is what he means to say. Right? You aren't, are you?" said a guy in his 30's off to one side.

"No. And . . thank you. At least, um . . I don't think I am. How old is legal?"

"Sixteen in this state!" answered a chorus of most of the bystanders.

Kid Flash shook his head at their all knowing this.

"Do you do something special for your glutes?" asked a middle aged man to one side as the crook was recovering slightly, groaning as he did so and inspiring Kid Flash to tighten his grip on his collar.

"What? No."

"You don't do, like, lunges with heavy dumbells?" asked a man from the other side.

"No! I'm-I'm just . . this is the way I am."

"Nobody's buns are like that naturally."

"Mine are!"

"How do you get that suit to be so tight?" asked another.

"Yeah," laughed someone else and chuckles broke out all around him.

Kid Flash sighed in exasperation. His face was nearly as red as the bottom half of his suit now. "Flash invented the suit. I don't know exactly what's in it."

"Oh, we can see exactly what's in it!" chuckled another and there were more laughs all around.

"Look, guys, this is all sort of . . complimentary but it's also kind of, I don't know, . . disrespectful to me."

"No it's not!" responded the dark skinned hispanic boy. "We completely respect dat ass!"

"Dat package!"

"Dat ass!"

"No-guys! Guys! Stop that! You've-you've gotta work with me here. I'm trying to be a good guy. I've seen where the cops patrol here in Jump City and where they don't. If you live in one of the mansions on Jump Hill in the north end of town you practically have to dodge police cruisers to get in and out of your driveway. But they underpatrol the Jumpton ghetto neighborhood and this area. And . . and that's not right. No one deserves more protection from crime than anyone else because of how much money they have or how they look or . . who they kiss or . . or for any reason. So, you gotta help me out. The same cops who don't patrol here look down on me because . . well, for whatever reason. They treat me condescendingly and act like they're professionals but I'm not, like I'm just some kid playing at this. So, just . . chill when the cops arrive, okay? I-I have to look professional. Allright?"

He looked around the circle of bystandars surrounding him and the captured crook on the street corner, visually extracting a promise. Everyone gave a nod, large or small and just as he was finishing looking around the circle, sirens wailed close and two police cruisers came skidding to a halt right in front of them.

When the cops got out of their cars and came through the crowd, no one spoke in the exaggerated nasally drawls they'd been speaking in just a few minutes ago. A couple bystanders conspicuously looked at their watches and noted that it had taken the cops almost 10 minutes to get there. They wondered aloud if anyone on Jump Hill ever has to wait 10 minutes to get response to a 911 call.

The cops, who'd gotten out of their cruisers with smirks and eye rolls, oh christ, the . . "theater" district, now looked sheepish and embarassed instead.

Kid Flash explained to them all the details of exactly how he'd captured the guy. The owner of the cafe that had been robbed stepped forward and told the police what had transpired. Two older men bystanders gave their names to the cops saying they'd witnessed the apprehension and that it was just like Kid Flash had said.

One sighed and nodded his head at Kid Flash as he finished his explanation. "Little mister by the book," he frowned.

"You have some kind of rule against fraternizing with civilians or something?" the other man asked the cops as they were stuffing the perp into the back seat of a cruiser. The cops looked at him quizzically. "Little Joe Friday here," he gestured to Kid Flash, "wouldn't even speak to us except to confirm details of the case. Just the facts, sir. Just the facts."

Kid Flash had a few more words with the cops and then they drove off to JCPD headquarters with the handcuffed perp in the back seat. Once they were down the street and out of sight, Kid Flash turned back toward the crowd with a smile. "Thanks guys. That was . . really cool."

"Thank you," responded a couple voices from the crowd.

Kid Flash waved with one red gloved hand, then crouched slightly, coiling for a sprint start, and sped off but not quickly

enough to miss hearing one last time, in an awed whisper. "Mmm dat ass!"

Many, perhaps even most of the residents of Jump City didn't realize it but from that time forward, Kid Flash was a favorite of the gay community. For a few years they were low key about it. After all, he wasn't legal. Most didn't even think he was on "their team". But by speaking, unsolicited, about the pattern of police neglect which they'd all suspected and how he tried to counter it, he won a lot of fans. The weekly free paper distributed in the theater district even had an issue a few months later with the entire cover devoted to a picture of Kid Flash with the caption, OUR HERO.

But the road to full acceptance by the Jump City Police Department wasn't as quickly traveled. Kid Flash answered calls all through seventh grade as professionally as he could. He was pretty sure, by the school year, that most of the officers in JCPD took him seriously. It can be hard to say with certainty when someone passes a tipping point in receiving respect but with Kid Flash and the Jump City Police Department it was almost certainly the Turk Kazmir incident.

Turk Kazmir was an officer in the JCPD for 10 years. He started in the force straight out of college. College boys were typically regarded as wusses by the guys out on the streets. The college boys all seemed to want to go straight from being handed their diploma to a cushy desk job as a lieutenant or a captain. College boys didn't want to actually get their hands dirty patroling on the street. College boys weren't willing to mix it up with perps. They resorted to using their firearms too quickly when a good forearm or fist could have resolved things way short of threatening deadly force.

That was most of the college guys in JCPD, but not Turk Kazmir. Turk stood six one and weighed 170 when he first joined the force. He wasn't the biggest cop but when it came to breaking up a barroom brawl, he was the first one through the door every time. When it came to running down a fleeing suspect in one of those chases where some wired up kid would run through traffic then go over two chain link fences and through a closed window, Turk was the best. He was not only the best on the force at dealing with them but Turk seemed to love the adrenaline high of these situations. He seemed to crave it. And at first it was all cool. Better than that, he was a budding legend, the young star of JCPD. But then there was the divorce. That was the first chink in the armor of Turk Kazmir JCPD star. Turk's wife initiated the process and there were dark rumors that Turk didn't stop punching once he went off duty. But there was nothing official and the legend was so strong that it made it over this obstacle.

Turk continued to make some amazing collars and his reputation in fights only grew. When, finally someone in a bar gave it to Turk just as well as he'd gotten it from him, using karate, Turk plunged into martial arts and became a black belt. A year or so later when a huge guy in a drug house wrestled him to a standstill and was only arrested because another officer put a gun in his face, Turk changed again. Weightlifting, and some whispered steroids, created a new 220 pound Turk. But not long after that, the complaints started. Maybe there had been complaints before but never anything on paper.

Turk had always fought willing combatants. But now there were complaints from battered and bruised suspects that they hadn't tried to resist at all, that officer Kazmir had made them fight. The first two times it was drug gang soldiers who'd complained. These were guys about whom the question wasn't innocent or guilty but 5 to 15 or 15 to life. The legend of Turk Kazmir kept rolling. Then there was the Bellamy case. Turk beat the hell out of a guy named Bob Bellamy who was a suspect in serial killings. He looked just like the composite drawing from witnesses. But the guy turned out to be completely innocent. And he sued Jump City and won millions.

It was only a matter of time after that. One more mistake and Turk was going to be bounced off the force. Despite explicit warnings, he couldn't help himself and he went MMA on another suspect. Turk was fired.

He didn't know what to do with himself. Policing was as perfect a job for him as there was. It mostly steered his adrenaline junkie ways into constructive activities. Nobody on the force was quite sure what Turk was doing for a year's time. He didn't have many real friends on the force. Then one day, suddenly, there he was, at JCPD's downtown headquarters. Turk looked mostly the same but even bigger. Maybe 230 muscled pounds now. At first, it seemed like he was just dropping in to say hello. He went all around the building. But his attitude was even more aggressive than before. On the tiniest of pretenses, he half challenged to fights three different cops with whom he'd had disagreements in the past. They all backed down. No one wanted to fight Turk Kazmir JCPD legend and hyper agressive black belt. It seemed like he was just about to leave, and a bunch of cops would get to heave sighs of relief, when suddenly he knocked out one cop at the drug lockup with a single punch then slammed the head of another into a wall leaving him on the floor groaning. He took a running step and kicked the door of the drug lockup off the frame.

Another couple officers heard the commotion and came running. They found Turk inside packing into a backpack 200 pounds of cocaine recently seized from a drug cartel courier. He threw the first officer who tried to stop him into a wall and even with the backpack laden with 200 pounds on his back, when the other officer tried to take him on with martial arts, he whupped him, too. From there, Turk stormed down one hallway as an alarm went over the building's public address system. A dozen officers gathered at both the front and rear entrances to the building. They braced for impact, frantically trying to agree on how to take him down. It didn't matter. Turk climbed down the side of the brick building. In the year off the force he'd done some rock climbing.

Wally West was in the basement of the Wests' house trying to figure out why experiment #792 of his Kessler-Zeiss chemistry set wouldn't quite work right when his ring signalled him. He was holding a test tube filled with light blue liquid up to the light to see if any white precipitate had formed on the bottom.



"Ow! Damn ring." He nearly dropped the test tube before returning it to the stand and running upstairs.

A quick glance after closing the door to the basement revealed only his sister and two of her friends.

"I'm gonna go write some computer code with the guys," he said to her and headed for the door. They snorted laughter behind him but, as expected, showed no more curiosity. Once outside he ran up the street, into some woods and a fraction of a second later was in his Kid Flash suit and sprinting for JCPD headquarters.

Once at Winston's desk, he got a 30 second synopsis of the life and career of one Turk Kazmir, much longer than Winston usually took to give him the lowdown on a situation.

He sped out the building looking for a white Chevy Malibu, the car one cop had glimpsed Kazmir getting into at the street corner. after him. He saw one on the interstate north of JCPD headquarters. Speeding up to it then running beside it he saw what he figured to be the backpack in question in the back seat and a guy fitting the description of Kazmir beside it. He was so intent on making that identification that he didn't notice till the guy was pulling the trigger that the guy in the passenger side front seat had a big 45 caliber pistol pointed at him.

Pow . . Pow . . Pow . . Pow!

"Hey! Don't do that! Someone could get hurt!"

The guy had sort of ugly face cast in a permanent scowl. He double scowled now because he thought he'd hit the colorful little freak with all four of those shots. But the little bastard just kept going. And his cheerful tone drove the guy crazy.

"I didn't sign up to fight no cape!" he shouted to the others. But then the kid in the red and yellow was gone. Or was he? Scowl face spun around on his seat looking for him. A second later Kazmir in the back seat shouted and pointed over by the left rear wheel. But then there was no sight of him there. Then the driver saw something in the side view mirror on the right side and pointed over there. Scowlface leaned out the window ready to shoot a few more rounds but then the kid was gone from there, too. And then, with a tremendous thud the whole car seemed to drop and all three of them hit their heads on the roof inside. The driver whipped the wheel over to take an exit he'd nearly passed but there was something wrong. The car had no push. The back wheels were dragging and throwing out sparks. Out one window they saw Kid Flash retrieving their back wheels and rolling them off to the shoulder.

The car made it to the bottom of the exit ramp and Turk and the others jumped out as sirens wailed louder, approaching from all directions. The other two tried to run back up the ramp. Afterward, one admitted that they intended to carjack another vehicle up on the interstate to try to escape.

They got halfway up the ramp before a blur of red and yellow stopped 10 feet from them. "You guys wanna come along quietly?"

"Fuck!" shouted one realizing their predicament.

"Fuckin' cape!" grunted the other pulling his gun from his waistband. Then, suddenly, Kid Flash was right there inches from him pulling the gun from his hand and throwing it aside. And just as he belatedly tried to wrestle for it, he was hit in the face an impossible number of times in a fraction of a second. He slumped to the concrete.

The first one held his hands up. "Not fightin'! Make sure you tell the cops that! I didn't fight! I didn't shoot at you!"

Kid Flash zipped away and back and then faster than he could take it all in, the guy found his hands cuffed behind his back and himself lowered into a seated position against a jersey barrier.

"Got it. You took the smart way out," said Kid Flash suddenly materializing out of a red and yellow blur in front of him and then turning into a blur again that headed down the ramp. A second later, the guy saw the blur circle back from below him to the top of the ramp three times. And when he looked up there, there were orange traffic barrels and cones blocking any more drivers from taking the ramp.

Down below, Kid Flash found a peculiar scene. Within a circle of police cruisers and officers was that Turk Kazmir dude, 230 pounds of loving a fight. And, predictably, he wouldn't surrender without one. Or without three so far. There was no way out for Kazmir. Any escape was physically blocked by police cruisers or police officers. There was literally not room to walk between them all in the circle they made around him on the pavement at the bottom of the ramp. In the middle of it was the camping backpack full of cocaine that Winston had mentioned to him. Turk Kazmir stood beside it shouting "Come on! If you guys are cops instead of me, you should be able to take me down!"

There two officers being dragged out of the 100 foot diameter circle. They'd apparently gone in to take on Kazmir and he'd kicked their asses. Bad.

Kid Flash zipped beside the police captain who seemed to be in charge of things. He was frantically talking to a subordinate. "What do you mean?! How could there be 30 of us here and not one guy has a taser?!"

Kazmir suddenly zeroed in on a cop right next to Kid Flash and advanced a couple steps toward him. "Lindstrom! You bastard! You testified against me at the hearing! Why don't you come out here like a man?!"

Kid Flash saw that Lindstrom's hand had gone to his service revolver at his hip. But even if one of them wanted to shoot Kazmir, they couldn't now. They were in a circle around him. There would be other cops behind him no matter who fired.

Kid Flash was about step forward to end this when another big cop did. This guy had a SWAT outfit on and he was taller and heavier than Kazmir. In about five chop socky seconds, Kazmir knocked him out with three sets of kick punch combinations. Emboldened, he roared at the whole circle of onlooking cops.

Kid Flash stepped forward, casually walking up to the much larger Kazmir.

"What?! You guys are afraid to face me so you're sending a little boy to do your dirty work! Go ahead," he snarled to Kid Flash. I can't be hurt by someone as scrawny as you."

"Um . . yeah. You can," said Kid Flash and in a fraction of a second he sped forward, punched Kazmir on the jaw three times then zipped back to where he was. Kazmir shook his head slightly.

"Ouch, little man. Is that all you got?"

Kid Flash zipped forward, a red and yellow blur to all watching and kicked Kazmir in the mid section sending him flying six feet backward onto his ass.

"I've got more than you could ever handle, no matter how many roids you do," said Kid Flash and he took up a martial arts stance motioning Kazmir to come forward with just the fingers of one hand. "Always wanted to do that," he muttered quietly to himself.

A furious Kazmir advanced but may as well have hit a force field four feet out from where Kid Flash stood. Every time he tried to move forward a red and yellow blur would result and it would end in Kid Flash punching Kazmir or kicking him back onto his ass. Finally, Kid Flash didn't wait for Kazmir to get up but advanced on him as he was just getting to his feet and there was a blur of red and yellow punching. Kazmir went jelly legged and slumped to the pavement.

"Tell the other guys in your cell block that you got your ass kicked by a little boy," Kid Flash leaned in and whispered to him.

The other cops all rushed in now and cuffed and hauled off Kazmir. Kid Flash got a few pats on the back and he also noticed that nearly every cop cast a glance toward him at some point, a glance that would have had a thought balloon along the lines of "Shit. The kid really is tough."

This incident went a long way toward his getting respect from the JCPD. As the year had gone on, Wally had tried to talk with Uncle Barry about this and other troubles he was having but Uncle Barry just didn't seem to understand. Wally was hardly inclined to criticize people along those lines but Uncle Barry was such an incredible nerd sometimes it was amazing. He never seemed to get that Wally didn't want to let himself be humiliated in order to preserve his secret identity. It was weird that it just didn't register with him. Maybe part of what annoyed Wally about this insensitivity was following Uncle Barry's suggestions.

One time, Uncle Barry was quizzing him to see if anyone seemed to even entertain the possibility that he, Wally West, might be Kid Flash. Your mom? Ha! No way. Your father? Are you kidding? Your teachers? He got all the way down past the people whose lawns he mowed to his sister's friends. Wally replied that he was in the clear with everyone. No one did. He mentioned, of hand, how his sister had laughed at one of her friends who noted how his hair was similar to Kid Flash's.

Uncle Barry stared.

Wally sighed. No!

Uncle Barry stared.

Wally's shoulders, almost his whole body drooped. He cast one last pleading glance at Uncle Barry. Come on! Don't make me . . !

Uncle Barry gave him an airtight look back. No maybes. No qualifiers. You have to.

Wally limply nodded.

The next time his sister had that friend over, Wally got in an argument with his sister, protesting her calling him a nerd and finished by ostentatiously spinning around after his last words to her. He took one step and promptly tripped on the edge of the living room carpet, going flying, and fell to the floor in such a way that he planted his face in the big piece of custard pie that he was carrying. His sister and her friends fell on the floor laughing at him. They totally missed him mumbling, "Happy, Uncle Barry?"

Uncle Barry didn't seem to appreciate how much Wally hated setting himself up to be laughed at. Aunt Iris understood. Even though she was a woman, Aunt Iris seemed to understand everything.

But sometimes she wasn't available. She was often away somewhere investigating something for a story she was writing. Wally would be worked up over something, cops whose asses he could kick in a fraction of a second disrespecting him or dumb media people or things at school. He would call her number and get her voice telling him he'd reached 555-5309 and a beep. He'd feel of wave of disappointment and then have to make a huge effort to keep that out of his voice while leaving a message. "Hi, Aunt Iris. Just me . . Wally. Um . . give me a call when you can."

Once, after not reaching her, he talked everything through with Chan. Oh, Chan wasn't there. And he didn't call him. Wally couldn't bear to talk to his former best friend now that Chan was living in Star City with his family. No, he talked to imaginary Chan, parallel universe Chan. Chan who had stayed in Jump City, of course stayed best friends with Wally, and to whom Wally had inevitably revealed his secret identity. Chan would have guessed it anyway. Wally was sure of that.

He commiserated with Chan in his bedroom, still wearing his Kid Flash suit.

"Hey, listen to how well Flash and J'onn J'onnz improved the sound on the scanner pickup." He motioned for Chan to lean in close. He imagined Chan leaning over the back of his shoulders to put his ear right next to his right ear wing. He pressed on it and you could hear the Jump City Police dispatcher. Only the sound was perfect, no hiss, static or distortion.

Wow, dude. Much better than before.

" . . yeah, so anyways, today, this fat cop had the nerve to snicker at me!" He looked to his left and imagined Chan shaking his head in sympathy.

Just like that one last week?

" . . yeah, just like that one last week. Some guy who just transfered to JCPD from Star City."

Maybe he was only snickering at the suit.

Wally shook his head. "He made some stupid remark about his biceps being bigger than my waist. So I said 'yeah, so are your jowls' But, so what if he had been? I have to wear the suit. You know that."

Look, you're my buddy and all . . . and you're in really rad shape but . . damn, the way it shows your buns and your equipment!

Wally shrugged. "What can I do? I have to wear it. Besides, it doesn't bother me nearly as much as it used to, even the-the dance belt thing," he said looking down at said undergarment.

Chan just shook his head and chuckled at Wally wearing a suit like that. He could never quite get used to it.

Wally grinned just imagining Chan's smile. He pantomimed a mild punch back at Chan after Chan had punched his shoulder. Sigh. Talking to Chan used to be so easy!

"You'd be like this, too, if you'd only gone to Keystone City with me that time. And you can't wear a suit like this unless you've been . . speedsterized like I was."

It obviously made a difference in you, too. You weren't like . . that before. Your body is . . OFF DA CHAIN!

Wally chuckled. He could just hear Chan shouting, "Your body is OFF DA CHAIN!" He laughed out loud now.

It was an in joke between Wally and Chan about how Aaron, Jeff and Stevie, but especially Stevie would use rap or ghetto catch phrases to try to sound cool. Wally and Chan would repeat the same phrases only even more bombastically. Stevie would think they were going along with him but it was about making fun of Stevie as much as anything else.

So, at one point, somehow, the phrase that Stevie had latched onto was "Off Da Chain!" He used it almost universally. Something could be good or exceptional or crazy or have practically any attribute or he could just be bored and Stevie would let out this slightly whispered assessment, "That shit is off da chain!". So, Wally and Chan took to not just whispering it but shouting it at the top of their lungs as they jumped up with both hands raised. "OFF DA CHAIN!" And Chan then modified it to apply to anything having to do with him personally, "OFF DA CHAN!" He and Wally could barely avoid bursting into giggles. And then some of the time, Stevie would correct them, as if he were some sort of ghetto authority, pudgy pasty faced Stevie living with his white bread family in their gadgetastic McMansion in a rich neighborhood of Jump City.

"Dude, dude. You have to say 'Chain'."

"But I'm Chan."

"He's right, Stevie. He's Chan."

"That –sigh- it doesn't matter, West! That's not how it goes. It's'Chain' not 'Chan'."

"But it sounds cool when he does it that way."

"I'm Chan."

"He's got you there, Stevie. He is Chan."

In short order they would get Stevie to fume and walk away. "Forget it, West! You and Chan are hopeless. I don't know why I bother to try to introduce you to a little bit of cool so that you don't seem like such hopeless nerds."

He'd correct Wally and Chan about their use of that and other ghetto slang and Wally and Chan would pretend to have no idea about what he was saying. They'd intentionally say things wrong just to annoy him. Chan once called it going into deep nerd cover. And Stevie would buy it every time. Wally and Chan would fall over themselves laughing as soon as they were away from Stevie.

"And you could've been OFF DA CHAN!"

Wally smiled and sighed. If only.

If only Chan had been speedsterized, too, instead of staying Chan and then having to move to Star City. He felt his eyes almost watering and quickly changed out of his Kid Flash suit into his civilian clothes. He flopped down on his bed. On the one hand it felt sort of better to have even a pretend conversation about this stuff with his best friend. On the other, this burst of thinking about his best friend made him ache for his companionship.

But Chan was in Star City now. Even though he was a Flash and could run to Star City the way other boys could run down the street, it didn't change things. Being best friends wasn't about being able to do a skype call once a week or for him to zip down to Star City now and then. It was about always being side by side. It was about being able to say anything and not having to say a damn thing. He and Chan spent so many hours sitting next to each other reading books or flopped across Chan's bed doing homework and not saying a word. They didn't need to and they had all the time in the world to say something. Until they didn't.

Wally had tried to avoid thinking about Chan since he'd moved. He knew it would feel terrible like this. And he somehow sensed that he had no idea how to make it feel any better if he did start thinking about Chan. His friendships with Aaron, Jeff and Stevie weren't developing into anything more. Hell, they were falling apart with his unexplained departures and failures to show up where he'd said he would. And it wasn't as thought he was making connections to other kids at school. He was only getting more and more isolated.

He lay there on his bed for two hours just thinking about his best friend. He, a speedster, didn't even get up to eat! The most shocking thing about what finally jarred him out of this deep emotional rut was that it was Uncle Barry who did it.




Wally looked at his finger. His ring was shocking him but the shocks were coming three at a time. That wasn't a call from the Jump City Police Department. That was two zaps at a time. This was a call from Flash. A part of him welcomed the distraction even as he realized it might mean that Flash was in real trouble.


In between blinks he had his civilian clothes off and his Kid Flash uniform back on. Before he blinked again, he was sprinting along the interstate leading east from Jump City and heading to Keystone to meet Flash. As he neared the City he pressed on his right earwing and listened in to the police scanner frequency but there was nothing going on, crime-wise, in Keystone. But maybe Flash was fighting a super villain and needed his help. He sped past the police building where Uncle Barry worked and a moment later Flash was running alongside him and motioning for him to pull over into the parking lot of a closed down strip mall.

"Are you okay?!"

"I'm fine, Kid Flash. I just wasn't sure how to discuss something with you over the phone. What with all the stories of excessive surveillance that you read, I didn't want to compromise our identities or three more."

"Huh? Three more? What's this about?"

"Well it occurred to me and to Green Arrow and Black Canary that it would be a good thing for you and Speedy to meet."

Flash paused to see how he took that and was pleased at the way his protege's face suddenly brightened.

"So, this weekend, Green Arrow and Black Canary and I are going to the Justice League's satellite, the Watchtower and we thought-"

"I can go up in the Watchtower?!"

Flash nodded. "Yup. And we thought it might be a good thing for you and Speedy to meet and you two could tour the place and stay over a couple nights."

"Oh my . . ! Wow! That'dbegreatFlash!Ohboy!TheWatchtower!IactuallygettogoupintheWatch tower!There'slikeafreakingtonoftechupthe rethatdoesn'texistanywhereelseonearthand Igettoseeit!IgettogoonaJusticeLeaguefaci lity!"

"Um . . . yeah."

"Sorry," chuckled Kid Flash and he slapped his palm to his forehead. "I accidentally speed talked."

"Can you spend next weekend up there?"

Kid Flash nodded at super speed. He wanted to laugh. His parents wouldn't even notice he was gone.

"How 'bout, um," he paused to try to achieve some simulation of nonchalance, "isthereanychanceBatGirlorWon derGirlmightbethere?"

Flash smiled and Kid Flash hung his head at totally blowing it by slipping into speed talking again.

"I'm not sure what other young heroes might be there. But, Bat Girl and Wonder Girl might be there. Or maybe Robin."

Kid Flash rolled his eyes. Robin! Little midget fascist in elf shoes.

"So, meet me at 6 p.m. on Friday at the intersection next to police headquarters in Keystone City. Mr. Terrific'll beam us up and we'll go from there. Okay?"

Kid Flash nodded excitedly.