"Happy birthday, Wally." Artemis said softly, putting flowers on Wally West's grave.
It was November 11th, the famous speedster's birthday. Most of the public had gone to the Hall of Justice to pay their respects, but only a few knew of his actual grave's location. Those few included Tigress, Impulse, Blue Beetle, Nightwing and Aqualad.
Bart walked up to the grave, standing next to Artemis. He was wearing his civilian clothes; it was hard enough to wear the Kid Flash uniform on a normal day. He felt like he was betraying Wally, as if he had given up on ever finding him. He hadn't, though. He knew Wally was alive.
Heroes never die.
Bart knelt down in front of the gravestone. "Thanks for the chicken Wheezies." he said, smiling a bit. "They were crash. And… don't worry. I'll find you."
He stood up and walked over to Jaime. He was standing awkwardly to the side; Bart knew he and Wally had never been very close, but Bart needed someone to be there for him on this day. Jaime was the first person who came to mind.
"Hey, hermano." Jaime muttered, trying not to disturb the mourning members of the original team. "How're you holding up?"
Bart glanced down. "Well, Wally was someone I revered back in the future. I couldn't believe I was even related to the famous Wally West. He was one of the greatest heroes that ever lived, so he can't be dead. There's no way Wally West would never let himself be killed."
"Bart…" Jaime put his hand on Bart's shoulder. "Just because we have superpowers doesn't mean we can't be killed. We're not immortal."
"But he was." Bart pulled his shoulder away. "He has to be."
"Okay, let's get off this topic." Jaime said, trying to make things less depressing then they already were. "We can… well, I guess we can go get some food. Mourning does make you hungry, right?"
Bart let out a small laugh. "Okay. Do you want to say goodbye first?"
Jaime hesitated, then shook his head. "I… I really didn't know him that well. Besides, it's partly my fault that he died. I could've saved him. I had sixteen seconds to save him, but I did nothing. I should've acted sooner. I really don't think… well, I can't face him ever again. Even if it's just his gravestone."
Bart grabbed his hand and stared into his eyes. "Hey. What happened to Wally was not your fault. There was nothing you could've done. If anyone is to blame, it's me. I… I should've slowed down, I should've listened to Barry. I could've stopped all of this!" HE oaused, then suddenly let go of Jaime's hand. "But it's okay, because Wally is still alive."
"Wally is alive." Bart said, ending the discussion. He turned around and started to walk away from the gravestone that haunted his dreams. "Come on. Let's go get that food."
Jaime and Bart sat at a table in the nearest diner, facing each other. It hadn't been that hard to find it; Bart had just ran around Happy Harbor until he found a good place to eat.
They both stared at their drinks, hoping the other would come up with something to say. But there was nothing to say after coming from the funeral of Wally West.
Jaime, however, decided he wouldn't be deterred. "So when's your birthday?" he asked suddenly.
"What?" Bart asked in surprise, looking up from his drink.
"When's your birthday?" Jaime repeated. "I was just thinking, since I really don't know that much about you…"
"Oh." Bart said. "Well, if you want to know more about me… My favorite colors are red and white, hence the Impulse outfit. I like summer better then winter, my favorite retro move is Avengers, and I lived with my parents until they got put on mode and I was made into a slave."
"Wait, what?" Jaime said. "I'm so sorry, hermano. That's awful."
Bart shrugged. "I really don't remember much about them. What was really awful was what happened next. When they found out about my metagene, they collared me and sent me to control the populace. Eventually I was able to break free, build a time machine, and come back here."
"I'm so sorry." Jaime said. "I… I had no idea."
Bart shrugged. "That's in the past, hermano. Well, more like the future… well, past for me, future for you. Anyways, we got kind of off topic. What were you asking me?"
"What your birthday was." Jaime said. "But it's fine, you don't have to talk about your past if you don't want to."
"No, it's fine." Bart said. "Besides, I don't remember what my birthday is anyways."
"What do you mean? You can't remember your birthday?" Jaime asked. "But… it's your birthday. How can you not remember your birthday?"
Bart shrugged. "I just… don't remember it. It's not that big of a deal, so can we just drop the subject? Please?"
"But how… How could you forget something like that?" Jaime asked.
"Jaime, this conversation is totally making me feel the mode, so can we please talk about something else?" Bart asked.
Jaime sighed and slid down his seat. "Okay. I mean, I still don't know much about you. If you're comfortable talking about it… could you tell me about your life? You know, before you came here."
"Well… it was awful." Bart said, shrugging. "When the Reach captured me, they sent me after people who resisted them. I tried to help the rebels, but eventually they caught on. And after punishing me, they started sending Reach operatives with me."
"Okay, then let's not talk about that part of your life." Jaime said, sitting up and grabbing Bart's hands. "Talk about… something that made you happy. Why don't you tell me about your parents?"
"Well, because I really don't remember much about them." Bart said nonchalantly. "The Reach got me at a young age, so there's not much I remember. Just their deaths."
"Oh, come on, you have to remember something about them!" Jaime said. "I mean, they are your parents. Do you remember what they looked like?"
Bart shook his head. "I told you, it was a long time ago. Can we please just drop the subject?"
"Okay, okay." Jaime said, raising his hands in defense, before putting them back to the most comfortable position- on Bart's. "Do you remember their names?"
"I- well of course I do." Bart said, trying to sound nonchalant.
"So… what were their names?" Jaime asked.
Bart hesitated before opening his mouth to respond, but Jaime cut him off. "Oh my god, you don't even remember their names! Bart, are you okay? Have you hit your head recently?"
"Jaime, have you not been listening? I'm fine. I just need you to leave me alone!" Bart said, yelling the last few words and attracting the attention of the other diner customers. "Look, I'm sorry, but I really can't deal with you asking me all of these questions. Please, just… don't follow me." With that, he walked out of the diner, just a tad faster then normal.
Jaime groaned and glanced back down at his drink. "And he didn't even leave any money."
Christmas day. Bart was staying at Jaime's house. He had taken to sleeping over there when the memories of Wally were too much to take. Even though they had fought on Wally's birthday, they still remained steadfast friends, and eventually grew even closer. They both had started developing feelings for the other, but there was no way they would ever admit it.
Jaime had continued to question Bart about his past, but every time, Bart told him that he didn't remember. Eventually, he stopped asking. Bart's future was an apocalypse, after all. If he didn't want to talk about it, he probably had a good reason.
They both sat in front of the tree, looking at the small number of presents that sat under it. Jaime's mother was relatively poor, so she couldn't afford anything too expensive. However, the one thing she refused to do was let her kids go without presents on Christmas.
"So…" Bart said, glancing around at the numerous decorations hung up on the normally sparse walls. "How does this whole Christmas thing work?"
"Oh my god." Jaime said, staring at Bart in disbelief. "Hermano, please don't tell me you've never celebrated Christmas."
"Well, if I did, it was a long time ago, and I don't remember it." Bart said, shrugging.
Jaime rolled his eyes and laughed. "Well, hermano, first things first. I am going to teach you all about Christmas."
"Why does that absolutely terrify me?" Bart said, trying not to laugh but failing miserably.
"It'll be fine." Jaime said, grinning. "See, Christmas was originally a holiday celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ, but now it's become so commercialized that no one really remembers what it's about."
"But why is it so commercialized?" Bart asked, confused.
"Well, somehow people decided that they should give presents on Christmas, but-"
"But wait." Bart interrupted. "People… they don't really give presents, do they. I mean, why would they?"
Jaime shrugged. "I don't know. Because it's nice? Because it makes people happy?"
"But… what do they get in return?" Bart asked. "I mean, no one's so selfless that they would just give stuff away."
"They don't really get anything in return." Jaime explained. "Well, at least not anything tangible. Christmas… it brings people closer. Giving something they really want, well… It makes you feel like you're part of a family."
Bart looked up at Jaime, meeting his beautiful brown eyes. "I know the feeling." They stared at each other for a few more seconds, before breaking eye contact and looking at something else awkwardly.
Bart noticed something on one of the tags on a present. "Hey, Jaime." he said, crawling closer to get a better look. "This present says it's from Santa. Who's that?"
"Well, he's…" Jaime sighed. "I guess he's kind of like a superhero. With, you know, a secret headquarters in the North Pole. I guess."
"A secret headquarters? You mean like Superman?" Bart asked excitedly.
Jaime laughed. "Yeah. Like Superman. Actually, he and Superman are pretty good friends. But that's not the point."
"What are his powers?" Bart asked eagerly.
"Well… I guess he can travel really fast." Jaime said.
"So he's like me?"
When he saw Bart smiling, Jaime couldn't help but smile. He couldn't believe anyone could get this excited over a holiday. "Sure." he said. "Exactly like you."
"So what does he do?" Bart asked. "Like, you know, Batman wants justice, Superman fights for truth, liberty and all that crap… what does Santa do?"
"Santa… he… well, he flies around in his… Santasleigh… and he saves little children from unhappiness." Jaime lied. "Then, once a year on Christmas, he goes to everyone's house and gives them presents. To, um… show that he cares?"
"But-" Bart hesitated. "If he saves kids… why didn't he save me?"
"Bart… I've already told you this." Jaime said. "Heroes aren't immortal. Even Santa, well… he probably went down fighting the Reach."
Bart shook his head. "Heroes never die." he said resolutely.
"We are not having this conversation." Jaime said, reaching under the tree and grabbing a present. "Here. You ready for your first Christmas present?"
"Yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes yes-"
"Bart! Calm down! Here it is!" Jaime said, handing Bart the red and white wrapped present. "Merry Christmas."
Bart tore the wrapping paper off, revealing a small white box. He looked at it hesitantly before glancing up at Jaime, as if asking for permission.
"Go on, open it!" Jaime said encouragingly.
Bart hesitantly opened it up to reveal a sweatshirt with the Flash symbol on it. He glanced up at Jaime.
"Well, you told me your favorite season was the summer." Jaime said. "And it's going to get really cold here, so I thought you might like a sweatshirt."
Bart grinned. "You are the best, Jaime." He paused. "Crap! This means I have to get something for you!"
"No, Bart, you don't-" Before Jaime could get through half of his sentence, Bart had disappeared through the door. A few seconds later, he came back, holding a bag of Chicken Wheezies.
Jaime laughed. "Oh my god, did you seriously just get me that?"
Bart shrugged. "It's to replace all the ones that I've taken from you. Because that's actually really nice for you to let me eat them, and I do appreciate it."
Jaime started laughing, then froze. "Wait. Where did you get those?"
Bart shrugged. "Some convenience store down the road. I left them money, but I was in too much of a hurry to actually buy it, so…"
Jaime rolled his eyes and laughed. "Oh my god, Bart. Look, let's just enjoy this bag of Chicken Wheezies and hope that the police don't trace you back to this house."
Bart smiled. "Sounds good."
Bart decided not to mention that this was the first time he had ever felt like part of a family. He had never known his family; or, at least, he didn't remember them.
New Year's eve. Eleven fifty three. Bart was staying at Jaime's house yet again. They sat in Jaime's basement, staring at the screen of a cheap TV Jaime's mother had They were both extremely tired from having to spend the past few days fighting at night, but they refused to miss the new year. They were superheroes, after all; they were used to it.
"Seven more minutes." Bart muttered, rubbing his eyes. "How long do we have to stay up after that?"
"As long as we want." Jaime responded, lying down on the carpeted floor. "I for one am going to try to stay up all night, but you can do what you want."
Bart lay down next to him. "Well, if you're going to stay up all night, then I will too."
Jaime smiled, a blush slowly working its way across his cheeks. Hopefully, Bart wouldn't notice.
"Man, this place is really small." Bart said, yawning. "Wanna go outside for a bit?"
"But that means I'll have to get up." Jaime said, moaning.
"Oh, come on." Bart said, pushing himself up. "Don't make me drag you. That would not be crash."
Jaime groaned and pushed himself up. "Fine. But if it's too cold outside I'm blaming you."
Bart grinned. "Well, I know I'll be fine. I've got a sweatshirt." He grabbed Jaime's hand and started pulling him towards a door that led to the backyard. "Now, come on!"
Bart led him through the door and out into the chilly night air. The moon shone brightly in the sky, easily lighting the small, fence enclosed backyard that Jaime used to play in when he was little. The sky didn't have a single cloud, so every star shone as brightly as possible.
Bart glanced up and smiled. "You know, when I was on the run, I used to spend the nights looking up at the stars." he said. "But there were so little stars then, and they were all in different places." He turned to Jaime. "There's not much that's more beautiful than your night sky."
Jaime smiled, thankful that the night concealed his returning blush. "You know, when I was a kid, I practically spent my life out here."
"Really?" Bart asked. "What did you do?"
"Pretended I was a superhero." Jaime said, laughing a bit. "I would put on this red cape and run around, pretending I was Superman. Sometimes I'd even get people to yell out, 'It's a bird!'."
"That's actually one of the most adorable things I've ever heard." Bart said, laughing.
Jaime smiled. "Yeah… now, when I think of that, all I can wonder is, 'Why are people so interested in a bird when other people are getting killed?'" He leaned up against the wall of his house. "But at nights, I'd lie down and stare at the stars. I never really saw any of the shapes that people told me about, so I made up my own." He slid down the wall until he was sitting. "Almost every night, I would sit in this spot and write down all of the constellations I made up." He glanced over at Bart and smiled his devilish smile. "You want to come over here and try?"
Bart grinned and ran towards Jaime, sliding on the wet grass until he was next to Jaime. He turned around and glanced at the stars. "Um… ooh! What about those, over there?" He pointed out in front of them, to a group of stars near the horizon. "Don't they kind of look like a bug?"
Jaime squinted in the direction that Bart was pointing. "I have no idea what you're talking about, hermano. It looks more like a blog of lights to me."
"Oh, come on!" Bart said. "How can you not see it? Look, those are the wings, and those are the legs, and the rest are the body."
Jaime rolled his eyes. "You're just seeing things. Let me show you how a pro does it." He glanced around the sky, then pointed at a group of stars to their left. "See? Those are a cat."
"What? No way." Bart said. "That's a house."
"How is it a house?" Jaime asked. "Do you see the ears? And the tail, right there?"
"No, that's the smoke rising from the chimney." Bart argued. "And there's the triangle top, and there's the actual house."
"No way, hermano." Jaime said. "That is a cat, and you are an idiot."
Suddenly, Bart's watch beeped. He glanced at it, then looked up at Jaime, grinning. "One minute."
"Well, then, there's something I need to tell you." Jaime said. "This is probably going to come out really badly, but… here goes." He took in a deep breath and let it out. "When I first met you, I thought you were a horrible human being."
"Hey!" Bart said.
"Just let me finish." Jaime said, smiling. "You seemed obnoxious, rude and uncaring towards other people's feelings. But when I started to get to know you… everything changed. You showed me who you really were."
"And who's that?" Bart asked.
"You're smart. You're funny. You're strong." Jaime said. "And even though you've been through so much pain, and hurt, and loss… You manage to smile every day. And that just makes you even more amazing."
"…and the countdown to the new year begins now!" an announcer from the TV said. Oblivious, Jaime continued on with his speech.
"You are the most amazing person I've ever met, Bart."
"Every time I look at you, I feel proud to be able to call you my friend."
"And this may be selfish, but I want more than that."
"I want you to know how I really feel about you, Bart."
"I want you to know how much I care."
"I want you to know how much I would sacrifice for you."
"I want you to know how I feel every time I see you smile."
"I know we have our differences, but I don't care."
"Bart, there's been something I've wanted to say for a long time."
"And I think now's the time to finally say it."
"I love you, Bart."
As the TV erupted with cheers of joy, Jaime did the one thing he'd wanted to do ever since the day Bart had rescued him from the Reach; he leaned over and kissed him.
Bart immediately reciprocated; he had been in love with Jaime ever since they had first talked at Ted Kord's monument. But he had been afraid to tell Jaime, because even if Jaime felt the same way, he knew it could never last.
But for the moment, he didn't care. All that mattered was that he was happy. Just this once, he would be selfish.
After all, the earliest thing he could remember was meeting Jaime.
Finally, they broke apart, staring at each other and grinning.
"It's still a house." Bart said, breaking the silence. They both immediately burst into laughter, Jaime falling to the ground and Bart falling on top of each other.
They were asleep within ten minutes.
Valentine's Day. For the first time in a very long while, Bart decided not to stay at Jaime's house. He decided he shouldn't be afraid of living where Wally used to live. After all, Wally was still alive.
However, that didn't mean Bart wasn't going to spend the whole day with Jaime. It was one of the last days they were going to be with each other, so he might as well make it a good one.
He stood outside Jaime's door in the freezing cold, wearing the sweatshirt Jaime had given him two and a half months ago. He was holding a pink, heart shaped box filled with chocolates inside. He had wanted to give something to Jaime, but he didn't know what. He decided to ask Barry, and the chocolates were the result.
The door swung open, revealing Jaime in a loose T-shirt and baggy pants. His hair was sticking up, and he was rubbing his eyes, indicating he had just woken up. "Bart, what are you doing?" he asked. "It's seven in the morning."
"I wanted this day to be special." Bart said, smiling innocently. He held out the box of chocolates. "Here. It's for you."
Jaime raised an eyebrow and took the box gingerly, hoping he wouldn't drop it. He opened it to see the assorted chocolates.
He broke out into a grin. "Bart, you are the most clichéd boyfriend of all time."
"Well, I could return them if-" Bart started to say, but was cut off by Jaime leaning over to kiss him.
The broke apart, but continued to stand close to each other, not wanting to move away. "I love you, Bart." Jaime whispered.
Bart smiled. "And I love you." Suddenly, he pushed Jaime away. "Now go take a shower! We have a lot of stuff to do today. I've planned out the entire day! Well, with the help of Barry."
"Oh, that cannot be good." Jaime said, grinning. "And while I'm taking that shower, there are some Chicken Wheezies in the pantry."
"What are Chicken Wheezies?" Bart asked, confused.
The smile immediately disappeared from Jaime's mouth. Bart had answered a lot of questions by saying he didn't remember, but…
"Bart… do you not remember the first time we talked?" Jaime asked cautiously.
"I… yes. Yes I do." Bart said.
"Bart, I know you." Jaime said, concern appearing on his face. "I know when you're happy, I know when you're sad, and I am very good at telling when you're lying. Why do you keep forgetting everything?"
Bart looked away. "It's not important. I don't want to ruin this day."
"Bart, this is important." Jaime grabbed Bart's hand. "What's wrong? You can tell me."
"I'm dying." Bart whispered.
"What?" Jaime said. "Bart, what do you mean?"
Bart turned towards him, tears threatening to fall from his eyes. "I'm dying." he said again. "We won, Jaime. We won, but that changed the future. And changing the future means that I never came back. My entire life is fading from existence, and soon I will too."
"No, that's not possible." Jaime said. "You… you can't die. You said it yourself, heroes never die. And you, Bart, are most definitely a hero."
"But I'm not." Bart whispered as a tear feel from his eye. "I'm not a hero, Jaime. I killed people. Good people. The Reach forced me, but still… It was my hand that killed those people. I'm not a hero, and I'm going to die."
Jaime shook his head. "No. No, you are not going to die. We'll find a way to save you, Bart. You can live!"
Bart shook his head. "Jaime… this is a good thing. The world isn't an apocalypse any more, it's a good place. You saved the world. You can be happy."
"But how can I be happy if I don't have you to be happy with?" Jaime asked.
Bart smiled a sad little smile. "You won't remember me."
"I will never forget you, Bart." Jaime said. "Never."
"See, this is why I didn't want to talk about it." Bart said quietly, looking down. "I just ruined Valentine's Day."
Jaime reached out and wiped the tear away from Bart's face. "No you didn't." he said. "Because you're going to live, which means that we can go through today without being said."
Bart looked up. "How can you believe that?"
Jaime smiled. "Because I believe in you. You always told me that heroes never die. I always told you that you were wrong. But I think, for the first time… I believe you.
March 16th. After the many romantic holidays finally came to an end, Bart and Jaime continued to date, their love for each other growing stronger each day. However, Bart's memory also grew smaller each day. Bart tried not to bring it up, but not a day went by where Jaime didn't question him about it. Now, Bart could barely remember the past day. But he didn't mention that.
He didn't want Jaime to worry
He did, however, want to say goodbye. So here he stood, once again in front of Jaime's door, hoping he would answer it before Bart disappeared.
Finally, Jaime pulled the door open. Bart immediately ran in and pulled Jaime to his room.
"Woah, Bart, what's this all about?" Jaime asked, laughing.
Bart shut his eyes as he entered Jaime's room, trying to keep the tears away. "It's nothing." he said. "I just… wanted to talk to you."
"Bart… what's wrong?" Jaime asked, concern creeping into his voice.
"Nothing." Bart said, opening his eyes and staring at the wall.
"Bart, I know you too well." Jaime said. "What's wrong?"
Bart turned around, no longer caring if tears would fall. "Today's the day."
"Bart…" Jaime whispered.
Bart shook his head. "Please, just… don't talk. It'll hurt too much if you talk." He walked over and sat down on Jaime's bed. "I… I don't remember much." he began. "And honestly, I don't remember many people. I don't know who my friends are, who my family is, or even where I'm from. But, for some reason, I've always been able to remember you." He glanced up at Jaime. "I will always love you. I don't care if I never even met you, I will love you."
"Bart, you will live." Jaime said.
"No, Jaime, I won't." Bart said. "Wally didn't, and neither will I. We aren't immortal. We can die. We will die. But I don't want to die without saying this to you."
"Say what?" Jaime said, a single tear slipping down his cheek.
Bart glanced down. "Jaime…" he started. He paused, then looked up at Jaime, confusion showing up on his face.
"Who are you?"
"Oh, god." Jaime whispered. "No, please… please don't leave me."
Bart laughed a little. "Um… why are you crying?"
"Bart, please, remember me!" Jaime yelled, grabbing Bart's shoulders. "I can't lose you!"
"Remember you?" Bart asked. "I… I don't really know who you are…"
Suddenly, one of Bart's hands started to glow. He glanced down at it. "Okay, what the hell is going on here?"
"Bart, please, just listen to me." Jaime said, tears falling from his eyes. "Your name is Bart Allen. You call yourself Impulse. You don't care about secret identities because you think it's retro. You love Chicken Wheezies, and you love me. Please, Bart, don't leave me!"
The light started to spread from Bart's arms as Jaime talked. Soon, it almost covered Bart's entire body.
"I…" Bart glanced at his shiny body. "I think… I think I do-"
Suddenly, the light around him flashed in a stunning display of beauty, and then…
"Why am I crying?" Jaime muttered to himself, looking around. How had he gotten to his room? And why was there an empty bag of Chicken Wheezies lying in the corner?
Bart Allen stood in the Hall of Justice, looking at the holograms of long dead heroes. Currently, he was standing in front of someone he had never heard of- Blue Beetle. He wasn't sure what made this one different from the other one, apart from their costumes, but for some reason he felt like he needed to see this one.
"Hey, kid." someone said from behind Bart. Bart turned around to see a ginger man walking towards him. "What do you think?"
"Well, this place is totally crash, if a bit depressing." Bart said, shrugging. "I think it's nice that they decided to honor everyone."
The man smiled. "And what do you think of Blue?"
Bart shrugged. "He looks like a badass. It sucks that he had to die, though."
"Let me tell you something that I learned a long time ago." the man said, kneeling down. "Heroes never die. Whether they faked their own death, or it's just fate… they never die. Blue is out there, somewhere. And I can promise you that he wants to be found."
"Um… okay." Bart said. "I mean, I really doubt that, but… sure."
The man nodded and got up, starting to walk away.
"Hey!" Bart called after him. "What's your name?"
The man turned around and smiled. "Wally West."
The dead hero turned to walk away, and Bart turned to face the boy who haunted his forgotten memories.