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Title: Better Late
Summary: In Endgame, Wally accidentally transports himself a universe or four over, into a world where there is no Flash or Justice League. At least, not yet.
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His first instinct was to go home.
Although Wally loved the place he shared with Artemis in Palo Alto, there was no denying that "home" was still his parents' house, still Central City.
It was that same instinct that made him finally slow down as he approached his destination. Wally couldn't even remember how long he had been running. It seemed somehow much further than it should have been just coming down from the Arctic. He couldn't remember leaving the frozen wasteland either. His path to the outskirts of Central was a blur, and Wally wondered why his uncle hadn't stopped him earlier or come with him, or anything.
At first, as he entered the city, Wally wondered if he had gotten lost after all. He was usually able to unerringly orient himself on cross-country or cross-continental runs, but he had been barely able to tell up from down after… whatever had happened with the Reach's doomsday weapon.
The city, maybe Central, maybe not, looked completely different - wrong. Some of the buildings looked almost familiar, but Wally was hard-pressed to say he recognized his hometown.
"Uh, excuse me!" he called out to a passing older couple. They, and every other person in the vicinity, had been staring at him since he had dropped from his sprint into the realm of normal sight, slowed to a jog and finally stopped altogether.
The couple were looking at him with ill-disguised nervousness. Definitely not the reception he was used to as Kid Flash, or any superhero at all.
Something was wrong.
"This is Central City, isn't it?" Wally asked, his voice trailing off uncertainly.
The older man's eyes narrowed. He squared his shoulders and asked gruffly, "Why do you want to know?" His wife gripped his arm tightly, fear beginning to appear in her eyes.
"I'm just… looking for my family," Wally answered, bemused. Something was really wrong.
"We don't have anyone like you here," the man said, still strangely hostile.
The woman, however, looked more sympathetic and a little more at ease, now that it seemed like Wally wouldn't attack them (like he would!). "Are you… like that Superman fellow, from Metropolis?" she asked, and it took him a moment to realize that she was asking if he also fought crime.
"Uh, kinda," Wally answered. A small part of his mind noted that at least they knew about Superman. The rest of him was too busy feeling queasy. "Yeah, I'm a superhero."
They clearly didn't know the term. But that was weird too. Sure, Superman was the first, but others followed not long after.
His eyes darted around the street, the buildings, the people, trying to make sense of what was going on, what was out of place. He couldn't put his finger on it. Something…
There. His gaze stopped on a metal box, selling newspapers. Without thinking, he sped over to it and crouched down to peer at the front of the paper on sale. Behind him, the couple jumped in surprise as he disappeared from their sight, only to reappear elsewhere. They backed away nervously and hurried away.
Wally was too stunned to notice.
The Central City Chronicle's latest issue, displayed in front of him, was for August 20. It had been June 20, when they had faced off against the Reach's final plan. 'What happened to July?' Wally wondered, but only for a moment.
In the next instance, he noticed something far more stunning.
August 20… 1999.
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AUGUST 20, 1999
He was in the past.
Wally rubbed his eyes tiredly. It sounded ludicrous. But, well, it wasn't impossible. Few things were, for a superhero. He even thought he'd heard this sort of thing happen to a couple heroes. And hadn't Bart traveled back in time?
But Bart had used a time machine. How exactly did being hit by the escaping kinetic energy of a world-destabilizing doomsday device send you back in time? Seventeen years, no less. (Well, sixteen years and ten months.)
How was he going to get back? Wally wondered. Bart had ended up stuck in the past, and he had at least understood what he was doing. Would Wally have to take the long way back, waiting seventeen years to be reunited with everyone?
What other choice did he have? Wally considered himself smart, a genius of sorts, but space-time continuum things really weren't a field he knew anything about. And who could he ask for help? There was Superman, he supposed. The civilian couple had mentioned him. But there was no League, not for another four years.
There was no Flash.
Barry had only begun his career in 2000. He had replicated the experiment to gain the Flash's powers late 1999. He had probably not even met Jay Garrick and learned how to conduct the experiment yet…
Jay Garrick. Wally stopped suddenly, feeling almost thunderstruck. Of course! Uncle Barry might not be the Flash, but that didn't mean there was no Flash. Mr. Garrick could help him!
There were plenty of flaws in that plan, but Wally didn't pause to consider them before he sped off. Jay probably wouldn't be living in the house he and Joan occupied in Wally's time, but he only needed to reach Lampert, the company the first Flash had worked for in his youth and which had continued strong even into Wally's time. Even if Jay had already retired, they would know where to find him.
It wasn't until he reached Keystone that Wally began to feel as if something was far more wrong that he had realized. Even more than Central, Keystone looked utterly alien. Worse, it looked… desolate.
There were entire swaths of the city that had been destroyed in what looked like a super-powered battle, a one-sided one at that. Or maybe several, judging by the different types of damage. Wally had seen the signs before, a hazard of living in a world of people with great powers and technology. But… these were old. Some looked as if it had been many years, and there was little if any repair work done.
It was also as if the city had just… given up on fixing itself. That wasn't right, not in Central, not in Keystone. The Flash would never let things get that bad, even if he was semi-retired.
Wally's stomach dropped away as he finally reached his destination. The tall spire of Lampert's renovated home office was gone. An entirely different building stood in its place. Even as Wally dashed across the city, hoping that he'd simply gotten turned around, he knew he wouldn't find the building that should have been there. The lab wasn't there. The Garricks' house wasn't there. The house his family should have lived in was occupied by people he'd never met.
This wasn't the past. Not his past anyway.
At least the library was still where it had been when he'd visited it so often as a kid. It was even, amazingly the same building, if in a slightly different color. However, the answers Wally found among the archives were the opposite of comforting.
There was no Flash. There never had been one.
There had been a man named Jay Garrick once. He had become a rather renowned scientist, publishing many scientific papers. He had, in fact, gotten a very lucrative position away from Keystone, his hometown, decades ago.
There had also been someone named Barry Allen. His name Wally found on a list of victims from a vicious supervillain attack on Central City.
In Wally's timeline - in his world - that disaster had been stopped by the Flash. It had been the source of Barry's admiration for the Flash. Here… there was no Flash. No one to protect Keystone or Central.
No one for Wally to turn to.
In this world, he was alone.
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Notes: For those wondering, there is a rhyme and reason to the dates. According to the best sources I could find, the DCAU Justice League was formed in 2001. Also, it seems the world it inhabits is Earth-12, compared to YJ's Earth-16.
JLU wasn't all that heavy on continuity, so I'll be fudging some details. Please ignore that JLU Flash refers to having a "Grannie Flash", a mother, and an uncle, those last two being alive and capable of visiting. Also, the ages of everyone on Earth-12 are completely made up.
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