This was not crash. Everything about this was definitely not crash. Wally gone, this was not part of the plan. Everything had gone to plan, except Wally. He'd heard about Wally in his time. Great guy, always running toward danger, not away from it. Had more quick saves under his belt than a really obsessive gamer.
So why couldn't he save himself?
This is the question Bart finds himself musing on as he stands in an interrogation room in STAR Labs. It's a few days after everyone's had time to mourn Wally, and one of the first questions that remained, courtesy of Batman, was this: "Who are you, how did you get here, and why are you saying you're Flash's grandson?"
Hence the room. He was locked in with Batman. He saw Martian Manhunter and Superman outside, but they didn't follow them in. Bart wasn't a super smart guy, but he figured he could piece together why these three specifically were here with him: Batman, supposedly a master detective, would probably detect any facial tic or nervous glance that would indicate he was lying. Superman would listen to his heartbeat to make sure it remained steady. And Manhunter would scan his mind, looking for anything fishy. Bart would've been impressed if he wasn't so offended that they thought he was lying. Granted, they were in space for nearly four months and hadn't heard of him, but still.
"State your name," Batman began.
"Bart Allen," he answered. Normally he'd add the title "Impulse", or be a smart ass about it, but he didn't want to give the impression that he was better than them. Because he wasn't. He had respect for these three as much as he did for Barry and Jay.
"How old are you?"
"Tell us exactly when and how you arrived here."
"It was," Bart ran a hand through his hair, "mid February? Forty years from now. I was working on the time machine with Neutron-er, Nathaniel. We'd been building it in secret for months, and had conducted small-grade tests, but I was the first and only one to go back in time this far."
Batman said nothing for a while before nodding at the teenager to continue.
"The mission, my mission, was to travel back in time and do two things. The first was to save Barry Allen-er, Flash-from Nathaniel exploding and wiping out a portion of Central City. In my time, Flash suffered heavy injuries and could barely move, and painfully, at that."
"And the second?"
"To stop the Reach from putting Blue Beetle on mode and using him to take over the Earth," Bart swallowed a lump in his throat. He knew what would come next.
"How does he help them conquer the Earth?"
"By...by killing or capturing Earth's heroes. The valuable ones like you, Black Canary, Wonder Woman, Rocket, Superboy, Nightwing, they get captured and put on mode. The others...were killed. Any hero or human not captured or killed was part of the resistance movement scattered across the globe."
"And why were you the one sent back?" Batman asked.
Bart shrugged. "Because they figured that Flash is where the invasion started. With Central City attacked, it was easy for the Reach to charm their way into using that as a central hub where they could pump their additive through the Midwest. Then, they'd move onto the East and West coasts, and eventually, the entire world." He backed out of his chair and stood up.
"Look, I know you're skeptical about me being a time traveler, but it's true. If it weren't for me, Blue would still be on mode and you would've been stuck in space while the Reach took over the planet. I couldn't let that happen!"
"No. I know what this is about. You want to know if I'm still willing to take up Kid Flash's mantle."
"No," Bart crossed his arms, "I'm not willing to do much of anything now. Can't even run without thinking of it. Of him. It wasn't supposed to end like this." It barely came out of his mouth. "We were supposed to celebrate after...Chicken Whizzees, burgers, shakes. I'm 13! He was family, my family! I watched him die and I couldn't do anything. I can run super fast, but when it came down to it, I was too slow."
"It does seem to be a typical speedster habit." Batman walked over to Bart and removed his cowl.
"When I was 8 years old, I watched my parents die right before my eyes. I watched my first son to do the one thing I couldn't and overcome his tragedy. Others, such as Zatanna and Beast Boy, have managed to do the same."
"Why are you telling me this?" Bart asked slowly. He was surprised that the Dark Knight had let him see his face-shocked, really-but given that Bart more or less knew who he was, it had no effect on him.
"The three of them are here, still fighting, Bart. Do you think they don't want to give up, to pack it all in?" Batman put a hand on his shoulder. "I know how you feel. Most of the people on your Team do. To give up would be to not only dishonor the memory of those who died in your time, but Wally's as well."
Bart sighed. He wanted to argue, to throw everything Batman had said right in his face, and yet...he knew it was true. Ultimately, he was no different than Zatanna, or Beast Boy, or even the original Robin, from what he'd heard back in his time. Nothing would change that.
"I'll talk to Uncle Barry tomorrow about getting my own suit," Bart said. "Shouldn't be hard, and maybe we'll go on patrol a bit, too. Then I'll report back at the Watchtower."
Batman nodded and put his cowl back on. Bart swore there was a hint of a smile, but it vanished just as soon as it appeared.
"Oh, and by the way," Bart smiled, "it's an honor to meet you, sir. I heard a lot about you from your sons."
"Robin and Nightwing-"
"Not them. Whoops," Bart smacked his head. "Spoilers! Guess I spoke on Impulse."
Bart's laughter was drowned out by three simultaneous groans.