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Quick Thinking

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Batman was super-smart.  Like, scary smart, but pretty much everything about Batman was scary.

Flash was super-fast.  Which was different.  Regular speed people didn't really get that.  Like when Shayera said, "Think fast," and threw an orange at his head (still with the little produce department sticker on it--4013), that wasn't thinking.  If somebody threw something at you--especially if it was at your head and they had an arm like Shayera--you either tried to catch it or you moved.  Flash could just do both as fast as some people blinked.

Well, Batman had probably figured it out--that thinking fast wasn't always thinking fast.  Batman tended to look at Flash like he was a moron more often than anybody else.  Okay, so Batman tended to look at everybody that way, but Flash felt like he got the bat-glare for idiots a lot. 

Well, maybe John looked at Flash like that too.  Almost as much as Bats.  And Shayera.  And J'onn, but that could've been a "What is this thing you humans call whatever" look.

But Superman never gave anybody that "You're an idiot" look, so that was something.

Flash wasn't stupid (at least he was pretty sure he wasn't).  It was just that once you were moving around the speed of sound, sometimes you really didn't have time to think. 

Normal speed people could say, "Hey, should I go left or right?  Wait, is this even the right neighborhood?"  Flash just had to move before he hit a wall or a car or a person.  There was just so much stuff that you had to kind of let your reflexes take over.  Like deciding whether to catch the orange or duck--if you stopped to think about it, it'd hit you in the face.

Well, Shayera had a mean arm, but Flash still had plenty of time to decide if he should catch it and throw it back or grab it half way or just disappear before she actually let go.  (He ended up moving behind her and saying, "You missed" before her eyes could finish telling her brain that he'd vanished.  Shayera hated that, but, hey, you shouldn't waste fruit.)

But Shayera didn't throw like a building coming up on you when you would've been tearing past everybody on the Autobahn.  Superman didn't throw like having to figure out if a car traveling at 60 mph and a superhero traveling at 100 mph were going to collide.

Flash still couldn't solve any of those stupid math problems because you either knew or you had to be invulnerable.  But you should probably be able to figure it out in, like, a fraction of a second even if you were since...Flash had seen what happened when somebody like Superman or Diana got thrown into a car.  It looked a lot like a car getting hit by a tank.


Batman was giving him The Look.  Contemptuous bat-glare, or maybe patronizing bat-glare?  One of the "Duh, Flash" versions anyway. 

Getting any bat-glare made Flash want to hide behind something or maybe just hang out in the next state until Bats was in a better mood (so, okay, forever) but Flash was an adult.  And a superhero.  A founding member of the Justice League and everything.  Batman probably couldn't do anything horrible to him.  Physically horrible, anyway.

Flash squared his shoulders and held his chin up and looked like an upstanding member of the superhero community (which he so was)  He tried the Flash-glare, but apparently that still wasn't a thing (or if it was, it didn't work against one of the Batman's many dirty looks)  So, Flash went with saying the first thing that came out of his mouth. "I'm not stupid."

Batman looked at him.  Flash reminded himself that Batman probably wouldn't drop him off a roof.  Supes and Diana would veto that.  Or at least catch him or something.  You know, if Batman tricked him into forgetting that he could outrun him.  Which sounded crazy, but there was a good chance there was Bat-amnesia spray on the utility belt.  Right between the shark repellent and the emergency kryptonite--which he actually carried, so maybe running would've been the best idea.

Batman was still looking at him--oh, actually it wouldn't have been that long for anyone else.  "No.  You're not," said Batman.  (Oh, right, stupid Flash reminded himself)  "Try to remember that next time."

Flash grinned.  Then he realized it probably wasn't a nice thing--like, "Don't screw up next time.  I am vengeance."  But then he decided that it was Batman.  He grinned again.  "Batman doesn't think I'm stupid," he said to Shayera.

"Uh huh," said Shayera.


Flash wasn't a little afraid of Batman.  That would be ridiculous.

Flash was kind of terrified of Batman.  Which was the completely normal response to a guy like Bats.  Superman and Diana weren't scared by his whole "I am the night" thing, but that only proved you had to be Superman or Wonder Woman not to find Batman scary.

Not that he ever actually mentioned this to anyone.  It'd be like admitting you were afraid of the dark--or of the dark because there was a good chance 220 pounds of crazy guy dressed like one of nature's creepier mammals was going to land on you.

And it wasn't exactly a bad thing.  Being completely terrifying even in broad daylight--actually extra terrifying because Bats managed to get extra cranky when he hadn't slept in a few days--was like Batman's super power.  Well, that and not tripping over his cape or getting it stuck in doors and stuff. 

If he had to choose, Flash would probably have gone with being able to wear a cape.  Capes looked awesome--it was just the wind resistance and getting caught in things and possibly strangling aspect that was a problem.  Or getting sucked into a jet engine even though Flash didn't have to worry about that, and Superman said that never happened.  Everybody knew Superman didn't lie, and when he and Batman stood there with their capes billowing majestically in the wind (because they knew the secret to standing in just the right place so your cape billowed majestically behind you instead of hitting you in the face) you'd believe anything.  It was just the most superheroic thing ever.  Even if 90% of the superhero community didn't wear capes because they were impractical and a total pain in the butt and usually just made you look stupid.

Actually, even though Batman was scary, Flash really needed to stop staring at him when he was doing the "heroically standing on rooftops (but really waiting to jump on some thug" thing.  Because Batman probably noticed.  And Flash would've preferred to say, "I am totally afraid of you" than "Man, you look so cool right now."  Both of which were the kind of things you said when you were not the kind of hero who could just stand on the edge of a roof, waiting to scare the heck out of somebody, and look like you belonged on a lunch box.

Except being on lunch boxes was apparently on the secret don't do this list with commercial endorsements and, you know, being able to afford food and new boots for your costume.  He knew it was about doing good and helping people, and Flash was completely okay with that, but "doing good" was supposed to be the "doing good" part, not going broke trying to do it.

He'd been mad enough about being considered selfish because he'd like to not be a charity case himself to forget that Batman was scary.  Especially since Flash didn't have a utility belt full of limitless bat-credit cards or a bottomless bat-checking account.  So he'd been mad and when he got really mad, it was hard to put up with how slow everybody else was, so he really wasn't going to think before he spoke.  Or before he just went off on the Justice League's Scrooge McDuck.

There'd been a long silence (well, long for Flash) that gave him plenty of time to think, I just yelled at Batman.

"Are you finished?" Batman had asked.

Flash figured he was.  Thanks to the job that didn't really pay enough to cover his superhero expenses, he had a pretty good idea how long it'd take for anybody to find his body and what it'd look like by the time they did (although it'd be faster if Superman helped.  He probably knew where Batman would hide the bodies of people who called him an uptight jerk.  Also X-ray vision).

In less than a week he'd gotten a new pair of boots with a note saying that if they were acceptable there'd be more, and if they weren't, give a list of modifications.  And other than the little bat at the bottom, that was it.  When Flash had tried to thank him and apologize for calling him an uptight jerk who should maybe invest in some empathy the next time he picked up some batarangs (which was a stupid word anyway), Batman had just gotten technical.  Did they fit right?  Were the soles lasting longer?  Was there enough traction? 

And Flash had said everything was great, but that the color was a little bit off before he could stop himself.  But Batman had just nodded, and one of Flash's old and busted pairs had disappeared, and Flash had realized that Batman could've broken into his room in the Watchtower and stolen his shoes anytime he wanted to.  The bigger mystery was why he hadn't, but, hey, free boots.


If you were going to get injured (and Flash was unfortunately in the half of the Justice League who easily could), it was really great if you could heal at super-speed. Completely worth having the kind of metabolism that made you have to eat like a hummingbird.

Unless you broke something because then you had to make sure it was set correctly within fifteen minutes or half an hour. And you definitely shouldn't get knocked into a bunch of boxes and land on it during that half hour. Because that really, really hurt, and you'd end up having to ask weird questions.

"You want me to break your arm," said Batman.

"No," said Flash. "But I think I messed it up, so it's not healing right. And John's somewhere in the Delta Quadrant doing Green Lantern stuff, and everybody else has super-strength. I mean, I'd try it, but I'm pretty sure I might puke. And pass out." He decided not to mention that by "pretty sure" he meant that had happened once.

"Superman can be more precise," said Batman. "And he only has to do it once."

"Would you let somebody who can bend steel break your arm?" Flash asked.

"No," said Batman. "You should go to a doctor."

"Yeah, should've gone to a doctor," said Flash. "All those times you didn't."

"Fine," said Batman. "But you're going to do what I tell you."

This apparently involved a car ride and a blindfold.

"Do I have to wear this the whole time?" Flash asked as somebody who was hopefully Batman or at least nicer than Batman helped him out of the Batmobile and started to lead him...somewhere.

"Do you want my help or not?"

Flash was no longer sure what the answer to that was. Since Batman thought helping included not being able to see and possibly a cave. Actually, even though he couldn't see, Flash was pretty sure the temperature and the slight echo and the fact that he'd been told several times in the Serious Bat-Voice not to even think about ignoring Batman's lead--all that probably said cave.

He wondered why it was so easy to picture Batman just living in a cave (oh, wait, he'd heard Batman and Superman talking about their secret hideouts. Maybe you got those once you mastered Looking Cool in a Cape).

"Is this a ledge?" Flash asked.

"Yes," said Batman.

"So, hypothetically--"

"We probably wouldn't be able to find your body."

"Oh." That might've been an exaggeration, but Flash didn't really want to find out. "You don't always walk this slow, do you?"

"Only when I'm dragging someone who doesn't know when to stop asking stupid questions."

Flash couldn't decide if recovering faster after you blacked out from pain was good or bad. The pain was definitely bad--but was it really "blacking out" if you couldn't see anything?

"As much as I enjoy tending to your many unnecessary injuries, I can endure a night or two without dealing with the wounded," said...somebody. With an accent that was either Brilliant Professor or Supervillain. "So there is no need to find a replacement for those rare mornings on which you return unscathed."

Probably professor--Flash could just imagine this guy refusing to accept a late paper.

"Unless we're just putting on a brave face for the Flash's benefit?"

Flash was so pleased with the instant recognition (and possible fan-following among academics or evil doctors) that he almost missed the way Bats said, "I'm fine." It wasn't the kind of tone you used with your sarcastic history professor (who also set bones for you). It was kind of like the tone Wally West used for relatives who asked if he was eating enough.

Once he was allowed to take the blindfold off (in the car, not the Secret Bat Operating Theater), Flash started to ask, "So..."

"A friend," said Batman.

"I didn't think you had any," Flash said (without thinking).

He expected the usual bat-glare. Instead, Batman smirked. (Maybe it was a smile? By Batman standards, anyway) "If it makes you feel any better, he is getting paid."

"You're serious," said Flash.

"I'm always serious," said Batman.

Flash could easily outrun the Batmobile. Not in a Charity Race with Superman way. At least, he was pretty sure Batman knew he could outrun the car (unlike Superman, who just could not accept certain facts. At least it was a good cause). And now he could see again, so it wasn't like he actually needed a ride anywhere.

But since Batman wasn't going to point that out, Flash figured he wasn't going to ask to get kicked out of the Batmobile.

"Being bat-friends," said Flash. "How's the benefits package?"

"Competitive," said Batman. "But I've been told the hours are terrible."

"And the boss is a real--"

"Don't push it."

Flash didn't push it. Well, not for another ten minutes anyway, but that sometimes felt like a really long time for him.