Under Stormy Skies
"Mr. Falkoff! Mr. Falkoff! Wait, wait, I'm here!"
The whole bus turned to look out the windows to see their erratic classmate running up the ramp, red hair flopping in the wind in his attempt not to miss the fieldtrip everyone had been looking forward to since the beginning of the school year. All week, the class had been talking non-stop about this trip, and most students had actually made it to school early for once. No one, though, was surprised to see Wally West as the straggler who almost missed the bus, least of all their highly unamused teacher. Gregory Falkoff had been teaching science in the Central City Public School system for over twenty years, and never in all that time had he had a student so consistently tardy, attention deficit, problem-causing, and generally lazy as Wally West. It grated on his nerves, especially because the boy had consistently been winning science fairs since the fifth grade. There was no reason for him to be barely passing his class.
"Mr. West," the middle-aged man greeted coolly, staring down his crooked nose at his student who had just made it to the doors of the bus, surprisingly not panting despite the heavy exertion he had clearly juts undergone. "I see you decided to join us—at your own leisure, of course."
Wally grinned nervously, a hand scratching the back of his head. "Sorry, sir, but my uncle dropped me off today, and, well, he's always running late." He giggled slightly, as if at his own personal joke, but that was almost commonplace with the teenager. "And he signed me in and everything, and Ms. Leroy gave me this note for you," here he handed over said note, "and told me I was on this bus." The teacher huffed to himself as he glanced over the seemingly valid and unforged tardy note before moving out of the way and allowing the boy onto the bus with a flippant wave of his hand. The redhead grinned wider and flashed the greying man a thumbs up before making his way to the back of the crowded bus. He clearly wasn't paying much attention to where he stepped, as he didn't notice the foot suddenly barring his way until he was already tripping over it. It took most of his willpower to just let himself fall and determinedly ignore his usual bullies high-fiving and the rest of the bus laughing at his predicament as he continued to the back where he saw his best normal friend, Hunter Zolomon, waving him over. An empty spot was next to the brown-haired boy, and Wally wasted no time in plopping down in the seat, continuing to ignore the laughter that had yet to start dying down.
"You are so full of it, you realize that, right?" Hunter commented over the din of noise from everyone talking at once as the bus pulled away from the ramp.
"Hey, that was a legitimate excuse this time, I swear," the perpetually late redhead responded, ruffling around in his backpack to pull out a half-eaten bag of chips.
"No, I think Hunter's right," a black-haired girl leaned over the top of their seat and smirked down at the two of them. "You eat, drink, and sleep crap, Wally."
"See? Linda agrees with me. You were about to miss this trip, weren't you, Mr. I've-been-to-S.T.A.R.-Labs-before?" The brown-haired boy shot his friend a rather pointed raised eyebrow, even as Wally practically pouted in response.
"I was not!" he protested half-heartedly while shoving a fistful of chips into his mouth, knowing that it was futile to argue with his friend. "My uncle is even worse about being on time than I am, but I stayed at his house last night, so he had to drop me to school." That wasn't strictly the truth by no stretch of the imaginations, even if his excuse was mostly legitimate. While it was true that Barry Allen was never on time for anything (whereas Wally could make it at least half the time and absolutely hated being late), it was never without justification—even if neither of them could justify it to most people. But sometimes, say, on the way to school and work Captain Cold would decide to rob a bank and the Flash and his trusty sidekick Kid Flash would have to take care of it. It was not their fault that the "secret" part of "secret identity" dictated that they never actually told anyone the truth.
Besides, Wally had totally spent the night at his Aunt and Uncle's place, so that part was completely true.
"You're just lucky you have such a great friend who's willing to beat people off with a backpack to save you a seat."
"Yeah, I told him to just let someone else take it: let it teach you to be on time for once," Linda added in, and Wally glanced up at her with one of his patented flirtatious grins.
"Aww, babe, you know you love me," he replied before leaning over Hunter to glance out the window at the passing scenery. "But I mean, hey," he continued dramatically, sitting back up as he got his fill of the city going by and shoving another handful of chips into his mouth, "at least the day's off to a great start. Extreme tardiness, public humiliation, my one true love tearing a hole through my heart—how could it possibly get any worse?" Linda and Hunter both snorted, and picked up an earlier conversation ("You would know what we're talking about if you had gotten here on time."), leaving Wally alone with his chips and, after a bit more shuffling in his backpack, a rather interesting romance novel he had "borrowed" from Aunt Iris's bookshelf. The redhead had meant his final statement facetiously, but about forty-five minutes later, at the start of the class tour of S.T.A.R. Labs, things started to take a sharp turn for the highly inconvenient.
Wally wasn't normally one to ask for things, and history had proven that the times he did either went extremely wrong or extremely right (but, more often than not, a mixture of the two). For instance, when he was ten and spending the summer with his very favourite aunt and soon to be favourite uncle, he had only wanted to meet the Flash—in his firm belief (to this very day, in fact, not that he was biased in any way) the coolest superhero ever to exist—which had happened, as well as finding out that it was actually his uncle. And then he had spent the summer randomly being kidnapped by supervillain idiots who had no idea he was connected to the Flash in anyway beyond, "Oh, look, cute child makes great hostage!"
And then, the year he turned twelve. All Wally had wanted was to recreate the accident that gave Uncle Barry his powers—something that had happened, and rather successfully, to boot. What he hadn't planned on was his still-developing pubescent body to react negatively to the change, causing his body mind-numbing pain every time he tried to use his newly gained speed. Thankfully, he had gotten over that glitch with both mind and body relatively intact. And then, of course, there was this year's Independence Day.
Kid Flash still wasn't certain whether it had gone extremely right or extremely wrong. While there was definitely no Justice League membership coming to any of the sidekicks any time soon (especially not Roy, who had more or less defected to hippy-status and proclaimed the League "the Man"—but how cool was the new outfit and solo-act; Red Arrow made a lot more sense as a name than Speedy, anyways—and absolutely refused to have anything further to do with them), they had managed to garner some respect, their own team, and a new friend along the way, so it could be considered a win on that hand.
So Wally's history was very clear in that respect. The things he asked for he got, more often than not. The satisfaction of the experience, however, was oftentimes balanced out by an opposite and not always equal reaction. In the future, he would look back on this moment and decide that if he had just remembered this simple fact about his life, things would have turned out vastly different. As it was, he didn't, and walking in the back of his group's tour of the Labs with a couple of his friends, Wally was desperately wishing for anything to distract his usual group of bullies from slowing down to mess with him.
The worst part of having high school bullies was not, in fact, the humiliation he suffered at their hands on a weekly basis. It was the knowledge that he was a superhero. He could stop them as easily as breathing, but the unwritten laws of Secret Identities dictated otherwise. It was exceptionally frustrating because they did everything so slowly. Waiting for them to do something as mundane as give him a wedgie was like watching a turtle (of the non-teenage mutant ninja variety) try to hurt you…and letting it. In the split second it took them to come up with one "brilliant" insult, Wally had usually thought of about two hundred to use in reply—not that he ever did. Getting bullied was, quite simply, really, really boring.
"Oh, no, guess who just looked this way."
Wally looked up at the frustrated comment to see Jared Morillo glaring towards the front of the tour group, where a couple boys were whispering amongst themselves and shooting the occasional glance back, completely ignoring the tour guide droning on about the gene splicing they were currently being shown. The dark-skinned Hispanic boy seemed to grow angrier with every glance thrown their way.
"You know, they would leave you guys alone if you didn't let them walk all over you," Linda commented from next to Wally, peering around to speak at Jared. If Hunter were still there, he would probably make a comment in agreement, but Wally had been moved from Mr. Falkoff's group to Ms. Leroy's as the middle-aged teacher wasn't in the mood to deal with his least favourite child prodigy.
"And what would you recommend we do—fight them?" the black-haired boy shot back.
"Well, I'm not recommending violence, but a little backbone might go a long way, yeah," the girl replied.
"Oh, I can see it now," Wally cut in, ribbing his friend who could be even moodier than Superboy sometimes, "Jared vs. Owen—a fight for the ages. I'll see you in the next life, dude." The dark look he received was met with an even broader grin.
"And what about you?" Jared snapped. "I don't see you in a hurry to sign up for a round of smash the ginger."
"Well, maybe I just have more important things to worry about than those bull-headed idiots." Because Wally had bull-headed idiots of a whole other league to deal with when he wasn't in school…not the least of which was Robin.
"Yeah," Linda giggled, "like your total fangasms over the Flash."
"I do not have fangasms!" he protested.
"Oh, come on, Wally, we've all seen the inside of your bedroom," Jared was snickering, now, too, "You could give the Flash museum a run for their money."
So his bedroom was themed. It was perfectly understandable considering that not only was he the man's sidekick, he was his nephew, too.
"It's completely not my fault that Flash is the coolest hero ever," he defended rather grouchily. He tended to get rather pissy when people called him out on his fanboyness. Especially when Robin did it because Dick completely knew the man was his uncle.
"Flash is so not the coolest hero ever. Batman is the coolest hero ever," Jared corrected.
Batman was so completely overrated in Wally's opinion. He said as much. "And I know for a fact that the Flash is, like, ten times more amazing than Batman will ever be," the redhead sidekick added for good measure.
"You sound like you've sat down and talked to both of them," Linda retorted.
As a matter of fact, he had.
"Well, Batman's just an urban legend, anyway." Robin was so going to kill him for using that argument. "And the Flash has Kid Flash."
"Yeah, don't you just wish that were you," Jared snorted.
As a matter of fact, it was.
"I wonder what they're like in real life," Linda mused. At the blank looks from her friends, she clarified: "Flash and Flash-Kid."
"Kid Flash," Wally corrected automatically. Honestly, could no one remember the name? It wasn't that hard.
"Kid Flash, Flash-Kid, Flash Jr., whatever. You know who I mean. But what do you think they do when they're not fighting crime and supervillains and such? Do they, like, hangout in their secret lair all day? Do they have regular lives? Does the Flash have a job, a wife? Does junior go to school?"
No, yes, yes, yes, yes. Not that Wally would ever say that out loud.
"Are you kidding?" he laughed in reply. "If that were me, I would never go to school." That was such a lie, but what they didn't know wouldn't hurt, right? "Who has time for stuff like that when you're saving the world? I would totally abuse my power to pick up girls." Jared nodded firmly in agreement, and Linda snorted something under her breath that sounded rather suspiciously like, 'Men.'
Before the redhaired speedster could reply, though, a sharp whistle from the front of the group cut through the din of chatter and the students turned to face their teacher. Ms. Jennifer Leroy stood before a set of rather imposing doors and met them all with a broad smile. The young, twenty-something teacher was almost the complete opposite of the cynical, middle-aged Falkoff. Friendly and easy-going, she was also extremely approachable in a way that often reminded Wally of Black Canary. Jennifer Leroy had no problems at all dealing with students with short attention spans, and rather than getting irritated, she took the time to individually help them all. In fact, she had given Wally the idea that had won him the science fair last year. The teen had desperately hoped she would be teaching him again this year, but as the Central City School System would have it, he'd gotten Falkoff instead. Falkoff, who was also bitter that even after working in the school system for almost as long as the woman had been alive, she got the position as head of the science department instead of him.
"Okay, group!" the young teacher called. "I know this trip has been kind of boring so far, but I figure most of you will be interested in the next part, so please pay attention." A slight pause, before she added, "That means you, Wally." There was entirely too much laughter from the front of the group, but the redhead shrugged it off with a genial smile. The tour group stepped through the doors into a lab that looked identical to the two that they had already walked through.
"This, students," the doctor leading the tour—Mentz, the young sidekick thought the name was—began, "is where we do most of our metahuman research. Any crimes committed by anyone with any sort of special abilities usually gets processed through this room. Here, we work with the Flash a lot, as he likes to stop by on occasion. Speaking of the Flash, we've also been working with him to find out exactly how his abilities work…" The doctor droned on, with Wally in rapt attention. This was something Barry had mentioned to him, but only in passing detail. He was getting a more complete idea of what they were doing now, even if the doctor was careful not to give any important details away.
Unfortunately, three eggheads with attitude problems seemed like they wanted to ruin Wally's good day.
"Ugh, I knew they were going to come over here," Jared muttered to Wally, watching the three bullies carefully slip towards where the two of the stood. Linda had wandered away and was now engaged in a conversation with some of her girl friends.
"Hey, asswipes," the ringleader, one completely annoying Owen Mercer, greeted Wally with a shove. The extremely patient speedster just glared back.
"Oh, yeah, asswipes, that's creative," he muttered irritably. They were completely ruining all the interesting things that scientist guy had to say about Uncle Barry.
"Are you tryin' to say something to me?" the bully growled, not liking the response he was getting. Wally glowered but didn't say anything. The last thing he wanted to do was cause a scene of some kind on a field trip and end up suspended or expelled for it. Then he'd be forced to stop his "extracurriculars" for however long he was in trouble at school. Otherwise, he would have had a smart comeback for the loser and his two—well, for lack of a better word—henchmen.
Seemingly satisfied with that respone, the idiot turned to Jared. "You have my money, loser?" With a frustrated sigh, the Hispanic boy pulled out some cash and handed it over.
"Does anyone have any questions?" the scientist suddenly boomed from the front of the group, and the much under appreciated Kid Flash sighed to himself as he realized that he had just missed the end of the presentation.
"I have a question," an unfamiliar voice spoke up, and the whole group turned to see several armed men guarding the entrance to the lab. "How many kids do I have to kill until you give me what I want, doctor?"
Wally kindly took a moment to reflect on the fact that there were armed hostile men on his school field trip. Why the hell were there armed hostile men on his school field trip? Armed hostile men that were after something, clearly (and here, the redhead mentally slapped himself for pointing out the obvious). Of course they were after something. They wouldn't be here threatening students if they weren't after something.
It had only been ten minutes since the men had interrupted the information session—and they had wasted no time in rounding everyone up, including shepherding Mr. Falkoff's group into the rather large laboratory. They had forced the students into small clusters against the wall, each with their own guard, and were currently holding a gun to Ms. Leroy's head while the leader shouted questions at Dr. Mentz. Wally bit his lip as he looked around, fingers tapping impatiently as he tried to figure out what to do. Most of the girls, including the teacher, were crying, and the rest of them and most of the guys didn't look that far off from breaking out into tears, either.
"I'm sorry, I don't know what you're talking about!" Dr. Mentz continued to protest.
"Doctor, we both know you have it!" the leader snarled back, gesturing to a couple of his men. The two of them yanked the sobbing female teacher up and dragged her to the centre of the room. "Be grateful I'm not starting with one of the kids!"
Wally's fingers tapped harder and faster, becoming a blur as he wondered what to do. There was no way he could change fast enough and take down all those goons at once, not when he had so inconveniently left his patented Flash ring in his backpack at the entrance to the Labs. And it wasn't even any of the regular crew, either. At least with one of the Rogues, he would be safe in the reassurance that the only people really in danger were the scientist-doctor-guy and Mr. Falkoff, what with their policy about women and children and all.
"I'm such an idiot," he muttered to himself, nervously watching the proceedings. "What do I do?"
"What do you do?" Jared whispered angrily to him, having overheard the last bit. "Are you stupid or something? No, scratch that, you are. You're not some kind of superhero, Wally—" but the redhead had already tuned him out, his brain suddenly switching into overdrive as all his functions began to speed up. Everything around him was suddenly going in slow motion, getter slower and slower with each passing fraction of a second, and the unmasked sidekick saw the hammer on the gun pointed at his favourite teacher's head going down, and then the finger was squeezing the trigger and a bullet was about to come out of the barrel. In what wasn't even a second to everyone else but registered as much longer in his mind, Wally was across the room, pulling Ms. Leroy out of the way of the bullet and slowing back down to normal time. The bullet hit the floor with a ping! and everyone started at the abruptness. Their initial thought was clearly, 'The Flash!', but, no. Their teacher was out of the way, Wally West next to her, and no one was quite sure what had happened. No one except the ringleader and Dr. Metz, who seemed to figure it out at about the same time, both turning to look at the red haired boy who knelt next to his teacher.
"You!" the guy in charge announced loudly. "You're that…that Flash Brat!"
"It's Kid Flash," Wally complained loudly, ignoring the way his classmates were suddenly whispering amongst themselves as they began to process exactly what had just happened. "Honestly, it's not that hard to remember! It's not Flash Brat or Flash Kid or Flash Jr. or Flash Boy, or Flash-Tot," which he had, on one memorable occasion, actually been called, "It's Kid Flash, okay?"
Before the man could answer, slightly taken aback by the young hero's forwardness, Wally was accelerating again, sliding past and around the guards, careful to disarm each one as much as he could. He wasn't moving nearly as fast as his mentor could, but Kid Flash was sure he was nothing more than a blur to everyone else in the room as he took the time to break all their weapons before decelerating to a stop.
"And I really do not appreciate the way you tried to kill my teacher. I mean, god, even supervillains have more respect than you do," the redhead continued once he was stopped. His hands were on his hips as he glared at the confused gunmen who were looking for their weapons. "And—oh, damn, Flash is going to kill me for this. I just ruined my whole 'secret identity' thing…and for idiots who aren't even competent!" Okay, so they were actually fairly competent; they just hadn't planned for one of the students involved in their holdup to moonlight as a superhero in his spare time. Wally wasn't thinking about that, though, as he made quick work of them, barrelling into each one with enough force that he was sure they wouldn't be getting up anytime soon. The only thing on his mind was that two whole classes of high school students (as well as a whole group of baddies, two teachers, and one well-respected scientist) knew his secret identity.
The bad part of moving so fast was that while he could process things faster than a lot of computers, he was still a teenager and, as such, it sometimes took his brain a while to catch up to his actions.
With a frustrated sigh, the perturbed sidekick slid back to his teacher, helping her up.
"Ms. Leroy? Are you all right?"
"Um, yes, I—wow. You just…Wally, you…saved me…Flash Boy…" and then the shocked teacher, who had been staring with something like awe, passed out in a dead faint. The redhead sighed again and rested her down before zipping back to where he had been sitting barely a few minutes ago in the space of less than a second. There was, after all, no real point to him pretending to be as slow as everyone else anymore. Seconds ticked by where no one did much more than stare at who had previously just been the school's weird science geek, each stretching out longer and longer as Wally's nervous mind sped up restlessly until finally he couldn't take it anymore.
"You might want to call the police," he suggested as patiently as he could, and Mr. Falkoff and Dr. Mentz hurriedly snapped to attention, the teacher pulling out his cell phone as the scientist hurried over to the locked lab doors to call down security.
Everyone else, including his friends, continued to stare.
Author's Notes: So, this is a fic I've had unfinished for a while; some of you might recognize it from waaaay back in round three on the anon meme. Well, I figured it was about time I posted it up here for everyone else's reading pleasure. This one doesn't have any pairings so far, and I don't plan on adding any. Enjoy!
And please be so kind as to drop a review, they really do give inspiration to weary writers~