First in my 365 day series of one-shots (more info on my profile).
January 1st) "ab inito" adverb: from the beginning.
Ab inito it was supposed to be easy. And it was...on paper. Get to the past, save Flash, save Nathaniel, save the world.
Except that "save the world" was about as broad as the ocean is wide. How much dare he reveal about his future to the people of the past? How much could he tell any one person so that that future could be averted? And was saying anything actually more harmful than helpful? He couldn't be sure of any of these things.
His code name was Impulse; he figured he could figure it out as he went along.
And then he met Jaime Reyes. At first Bart just got close to him to keep a watchful eye on him and take him out if he ever showed signs of turning into the Blue Beetle he knew, Superhero Code be damned. But the more time Bart spent with Jaime, both in and out of costume, the more he felt his priorities take a shift.
No longer was the broad "save the world" number one on his list of things to do, that slot was now taken up with "save Jaime."
He wasn't sure exactly when his priorities had changed. It happened little by little, over time, so slowly that he hadn't even noticed until it was too late to even try and stop. So he had to accept it and figure out what to do from there.
And, to be logical, by saving Jaime he would also be saving the world. It would be a somewhat round-about way of doing it, and even if he was successful in accomplishing this task there were a number of other ways the Reach could take over the world. But still, saving Jaime would throw a wrench in the Reach's plans, perhaps long enough for Bart, or some other hero, to find a more permanent solution.
But coming to that conclusion didn't ease any of the guilt Bart had as he felt he was betraying the world. His selfish thoughts and actions could doom the entire world to what he had experienced, or worse.
And so, because there was no one he could talk to, he thought about it. Over and over, choosing different actions to take, how he might be able to save Jaime and destroy the Reach without anyone ever finding out he had put the need of saving one single person over the entire world.
And worse case scenarios played out in his mind too. What if the Reach did get Jaime on mode? What if, after saving Jaime, the Reach still took over the Earth and enslaved everyone and they all realized he knew this would happen and could've stopped it, but for his own selfish reasons, did not.
But even after all of that he was sure, if it came down to choosing between the entire world or Jaime, he's choose Jaime. But that didn't mean he didn't spend long hours thinking and rethinking his decision, wondering if it really was the right thing to do. Looking for a solution that could be used to accomplish both.
"You alright, hermano?" a familiar voice cuts through another of Bart's thinking sessions.
"Hmm? Oh yeah, fine. Why do you ask?" Bart shifted in his seat a little as he glanced up at Jaime.
"Well, you're staring at TV static and Superboy left five minutes ago."
Bart didn't say anything else, just pulled his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs, concerning Jaime all the more.
"Are you tired? Getting enough sleep?" Jaime's concern showed through his voice.
"Yeah. I'm just...thinking."
Jaime knew it had to be more than just that to get the normally talkative speedster to be silent, and if it was only 'thinking' then it had to be something serious, something Bart shouldn't have to face alone. "...Anything I can do?"
Bart's hair obscured his face as he shook his head no.
Jaime observed his best friend who seemed to be trying to make himself as small as possible for a few more seconds before plopping down on the couch next to him. "Alright. I'll be here if you need me."
Several minutes passed in silence before Jaime's internal discussion (...argument?) with his scarab was interrupted by soft sobbing.
Turning his full attention to Bart so fast a speedster would be proud, Jaime asked him again, a bit softer this time, "Bart, what's wrong?"
Bart's face was buried in his knees to stifle his crying, but he still managed another shake of his head, refusing to let Jaime in.
Feeling utterly helpless at not being able to do anything for him (and Bart didn't seem to want his help in the first place) Jaime finally took matters into his own hands and pulled the smaller boy into a hug. It was awkward at first because Bart was sitting sideways and Jaime had to wrap his arms around the younger boy's legs too, but Bart repositioned himself after a short while so he was clenching the front of Jaime's hoodie while sobbing into his chest.
"I-! I'll s-save you," Bart was finally able to get words out between his sobs, "I don-don't care wh-what happens to the w-world, I'll s-save you!"
Jaime wasn't entirely sure what he was talking about but would save that conversation for another day, right now the impulsive superhero needed to be comforted and that's what Jaime planned to do, for as long as needed. Because it wasn't good for any person to have that much...anger? sadness? depression? bottled up. It needs to come out at some point or it will eat away at them.
And Jaime was rather thankful that he was with Bart when he needed him.