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First Impressions

by Victoria Bishop


"Calm down, kiddo," Barry Allen laughed at his young nephew's impatience as they walked through the Justice League's cave. "They aren't here yet. Do you think you could settle for meeting some grown-ups?"
"I guess..." Kid Flash's voice trailed off as a tall, dark-haired man dressed in green approached them.
"Hi, G.L."
"Hello, Flash." The two men shook hands. "Well?" 'G.L.' grinned.
"Kid Flash, this is Green Lantern. I believe I've mentioned him once or twice."
Kid Flash swallowed hard and nodded, quickly taking Green Lantern's offered hand. The emerald ring on Lantern's index finger dazzled him for a few minutes and he realized suddenly that the man was speaking to him.
"...keeping the old man in line?"
Kid Flash blinked and looked up, "What? I--I was..."
Hal Jordan smiled, "I said how are you at keeping the old man in line?"
"FLASH?!" Kid Flash asked indignantly. "He doesn't need to be kept in line."
Both men laughed. "He's a good kid, Flash," Lantern chuckled as he mussed Kid Flash's red hair.
"Flash?" Kid Flash took an involuntary step back as a huge form emerged from the shadows.
Flash followed his nephew's gaze and smiled, "Hi, J'onn!"
"Hello, Flash," the enormous green man replied with what Kid Flash suspected might be his version of a smile. "Hello, Kid Flash."
"'d you know--nevermind."
"Kid Flash, this is the Martian Manhunter," Hal said, grinning at the boy's reaction.
"'re not really from...uhh, it's nice to meet you," Kid Flash gamely stuck out his hand.
"The feeling is mutual, Kid Flash," J'onn returned, surprising the young speedster with a gentle handshake.
"Don't look so worried, Kid Flash, he's harmless. Just stay out of his Oreo supply."
Kid Flash turned, and his eyes widened at the sight of the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. "Uh..."
"I'm Wonder Woman. We've all been looking forward to meeting you."
"You have? Why?" Kid Flash blurted, then flushed deep red.
Hal tried unsuccessfully to stifle a snicker as Wonder Woman smiled reassuringly at Kid Flash. "Because Flash has told us all so much about you, child."
"Speaking of which. Aquaman and Aqualad won't be able to make it today," the Amazon continued. "He just called in."
"Why not?" Hal asked, involuntarily rumpling Kid Flash's hair again when the boy's face darkened with disappointment.
"It seems they had a run-in with the Ocean Master last night."
"Is he okay? Aqualad?" Kid Flash asked. "Well, Aquaman too, I mean."
"Well, Aqualad was pretty banged up, I'm afraid," Wonder Woman spoke directly to Kid Flash. "He'll be all right, thought. He's just not well enough to make a journey up to the surface."
"That's good--that he'll be okay, I mean."
"Yes, I know what you meant," Princess Diana smiled, then looked at the rest of her teammates. "He said not to cancel on their part, though. We'll introduce Robin and Kid Flash to one another and Aqualad can meet them both another time."
"Is Batman here yet?" Barry asked.
"I think I might have heard him come in," Diana replied. "We can go check."
"Great. Kid Flash and I will catch up to you," Barry fixed the trio with a meaningful look.
"Right. See you later, squirt," Hal chucked Kid Flash under the chin.
Once they were alone in the hall, Barry turned to his nephew. "You okay, kiddo?"
Kid Flash nodded hesitantly.
"They didn't spook you or anything, right?"
Kid Flash shook his head, giving his uncle an indignant look.
"And you're not nervous about meeting Robin?"
Kid Flash shook his head again.
"Or Batman?"
"Or Superman?"
Another shake, not quite as vehement.
"You're sure?"
A nod.
"Positive?" Barry grinned.
Even more vigorous nodding.
"Then stop biting you lip, kid. You're going to cut yourself."
With a start, Kid Flash pulled his lower lip from between his teeth.
"We're going to have to break that habit of yours, Kid Flash. Otherwise pretty soon everyone will be able to tell when you're nervous or upset." Barry led his nephew to the doorway of the meeting room just as Batman and Robin arrived. He didn't nudge Kid Flash in right away, but allowed the boy to accustom himself to the sight of the entire Justice League of America in one room.
Kid Flash watched in amazement as Robin self-assuredly entered the meeting room, returning greetings from Green Arrow, Green Lantern, Hawkman, and the Martian Manhunter; and taking hair-mussing from Superman--Superman!--and teasing from Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Hawkwoman all in stride. He couldn't help but contrast Robin's relaxed manner with his own stuttering nervousness a few minutes before. 'Great. I look like a two-year-old compared to this guy'. He couldn't even imagine cracking-wise with Superman as Robin was doing. He had barely been able to focus on the Martian Manhunter's unusual features for any length of time, let alone look him in the eye as Robin did. When Wonder Woman dropped a kiss on his forehead before heading into another room, Robin flushed slightly, but didn't turn beet red up to his ears as was Kid Flash's wont to do. 'What is he going to think of me? He's going to think I'm a complete idiot, that's what'. Kid Flash was suddenly struck with the familiar feeling that he was somehow lacking and he did something that he'd never before done in his brief super-hero career. He decided to back out--literally. He would have gotten all the way out of the room if he hadn't bumped into his uncle.
"Kid Flash?" Barry's voice was quiet and concerned.
"Uhhh...Flash, I...well, maybe um...don't you think it would be better if...if...we waited until uh, Aqualad was well enough to all three of us could the same time, I mean."
"That's nice of you, Kid, but Aquaman already told us that wasn't necessary, remember?"
"Oh, yeah."
"Kid Flash, are you okay?"
"Uncle Barry, I...I...don't think I...want to do this..."
"What do you mean you don't want to do this?"
"I mean I don't want to meet Robin--I want to go," Kid Flash tried to step around his uncle, but Barry grabbed his shoulders.
"Now hold on just a minute. You--Kid, don't bite your lip--you're been pestering me to meet Robin ever since you found out I knew him. Why this sudden change of heart?"
"You know that's not a reason."
"Well, look at him--he's perfect."
"Okay, maybe not perfect, but he's sure better than me. I mean, look at him. He doesn't stutter, he doesn't say anything stupid, and I'll bet he doesn't bite his lip."
"That's true, he doesn't. And by the way, you are again."
Kid Flash sighed.
"Look, I've met him. He's very nice."
"He'll think I'm stupid."
"No, he won't. He probably remembers what it was like for him when he first me the Justice League."
"Did he mess up?"
"No, and neither have you."
"Yeah, right. Look, I'm sorry, okay? I'm sorry I bugged you about meeting him and I'm sorry I'm chickening out now. But I can't do this. I can't! I'm sorry."
Barry had never seen Kid Flash in this kind of a panic, not even when confronting some of their deadliest foes. Although he couldn't quite fathom the boy's fear in this case, he wasn't about to put him through what would obviously be a painful experience just for the sake of civility. "All right then, I'm not going to force you to meet him. But I do have to stay for the meeting."
"I know."
"Come on. I'll take you to the lounge where you can wait for me."
"'Kay," Kid Flash followed his uncle down the hall away from the meeting room. "I am really sorry about this, Uncle Barry," he said miserably. "I don't know why I'm so..."
"Don't worry about it, kiddo. I understand."
"You do?" Kid Flash looked at him hopefully.
"Well, parts of it, anyway. Now just wait here," Barry gestured towards a blue sofa in the corner of the cave's "living room."
"Okay," Kid Flash sat in the indicated place. "Uncle Barry..."
"We'll talk about it when we get home, okay, Kid?"
Kid Flash nodded.
"And stop biting you lip."

"Sorry I'm late," Barry said as he walked into the meeting room.
"Story of your life," Black Canary laughed.
"Hey," Hal craned his neck to look behind Barry. "Where'd Kid Flash go?"
That got Robin's attention. The black-haired boy turned from the conversation he and his "Uncle Kal" were engrossed in and focused his bright blue eyes on Barry. "Hi, Flash."
"Hi, Robin. I suppose Wonder Woman already told you that Aquaman and Aqualad weren't able to make it today."
"Yes, I was sorry to hear about that."
"Well, I'm afraid I've got more bad news. Kid Flash...well, he's not feeling very well today, either."
"What? What happened to him?"
"I guess you could say he came down with a bad case of nerves."
Robin frowned in bewilderment.
"He's not quite ready to meet you yet, Robin. I think he needs a little more time to build up his confidence."
"Well, just tell him everyone get nervous about meeting the Justice League."
"It's not so much the Justice League he's so nervous about meeting, Robin. It's you."
Robin's eyes widened in surprise, then he broke into a grin, "C'mon, Flash."
"I'm serious, Robin."
"He's scared to meet me?"
"At the moment, yes."
"But why?"
"I'm not entirely sure myself, Robin. Maybe some other time."
"Perhaps we'd best get on with the meeting, then," Superman suggested. "So you can take Kid Flash home."
"Sounds like a good idea to me," Barry agreed.
"Wait a minute, I--"
"Robin, that's enough," Batman said simply, and Robin fell silent.

Within fifteen minutes, the Justice League was so engrossed in discussing their most recent cases that they didn't even notice when the slim figure clad in red, green and yellow slipped out of the room.
Robin stuck his head through the open doorway and quickly scanned the lounge. Almost instantly, he spotted the boy dressed in yellow and red sitting in the far corner and reading. He contemplated how to approach the situation and decided to just make it up as he went along. "Hi!" he called cheerfully.
The redhead started and then looked up. His eyes widened when he recognized the person addressing him. "...hi..."
"Do you mind if I come in? They're all in a meeting and I'm bored."
"Uh, no, I don't mind."
"Thanks," Robin walked towards the boy, his hand outstretched. "I'm Robin."
"I know," Kid Flash replied, quickly standing to shake hands. "I'm Kid Flash."
"I know," Robin grinned.
Once done with the handshake, both boys were silent, neither one certain how to proceed. They studied one another intently, until finally Robin asked: "Do you always bite your lip when you're nervous?"
Kid Flash immediately pulled his lip from between his teeth. Somewhat nettled, he shot back: "Do you always fix you gloves when you're nervous?"
Robin's arms immediately fell to his side. "Actually, I do. Batman's been trying to break me of the habit, but I keep doing it. No one else ever noticed before, though."
"It was a wild guess," Kid Flash admitted.
"Good guess," Robin smiled, dropping onto the sofa. "So... have you met them all yet?"
"All? I've met Green Lantern, Wonder Woman and... oh, the Martian Manhunter."
"Scary, isn't he?"
"Yeah, a little."
"Well, once you get to know him better, he's not scary at all," Robin assured him. "He's actually really nice."
"That's good. I mean, of course he is because what would he be doing with the Justice League otherwise, but..."
"I know what you mean."
Both boys were silent again, until Kid Flash worked up the nerve to ask: "How old were you when you started doing this?"
"Eight," Robin replied matter-of-factly, not noticing how his companion's jaw dropped. "Well, almost nine."
"Eight? And you've been doing this for three years?" Kid Flash started to smile. "We must be the same age, then. I'm eleven."
"I'm ten."
Kid Flash frowned.
"I'll be eleven in November."
"Oh, I see," Kid Flash nodded. "My birthday was in January."
"How long have you been doing this?"
"Not nearly as long as you."
Robin rolled his eyes. "What difference does that make? You weren't born with your powers, were you?"
"No, I got them the same way Flash got his. I--"
"Oh. Okay."
"Okay? You mean you know how Flash got his powers?"
"Sure. Well, the simplified version, anyway. He was hit by a bolt of lightning at the same time that a bunch of chemicals were spilled on him, right?"
"Did it hurt?"
"When you got your powers. Did it hurt?"
"Well...not really. I don't remember much of what happened, exactly."
"I guess not many people hit by lightning do," Robin grinned.
"I guess," Kid Flash grinned back, beginning to think that this might not be so bad after all.
"You hungry?"
Kid Flash laughed, "If you knew me, you wouldn't even have to ask."
"C'mon, then. I'll show you where the kitchen is and we can filch some stuff."
"Sounds like a plan," Kid Flash said, standing.
Five minutes later, both boys were sitting at the kitchen table, each with a soda in front of them and a bag of potato chips between them. "So when did you get your powers?" Robin asked.
"Last summer. Flash wanted me to have alot of training before I actually started fighting the bad guys. For the first month, I had some trouble stopping--I slammed into a whole lot of walls, but I've got to hang of most of it now. Flash says I still have to work on control, though."
"Ooohh, control," Robin grimaced. "I've heard that word a few billion times."
"Yeah. Batman's really big on control. Really big."
"I guess he kept you in training for a long time, huh?" Kid Flash said around a mouthful of chips.
"Not really. I went out after a couple of weeks. 'Baptism of fire' he called it."
"He your dad?" Kid Flash blurted suddenly.
Robin's expression froze.
Kid Flash immediately regretted his question when he saw the anxiety in Robin's eyes. "Sorry. I'm sorry. Flash told me some heroes are really big on this secret identity thing. I shouldn't have asked."
"S'okay." Robin looked down for a few minutes. "No, he's not. Well, sort of. He took me in after my folks were killed."
Kid Flash wanted to kick himself. "I'm sorry, Robin."
Robin nodded, then smiled slightly. "Let's make this even. Is Flash your dad?"
"Wish he was," Kid Flash sighed, then noticed Robin's curious look. "No, he's my uncle. I spend alot of time with him and Aunt I--my aunt, 'cos my parents are...having problems."
"Oh." Robin said, giving Kid Flash a sympathetic look. There was a long silence during which the boys did little more than look at each other. "My real name's Richard--but most everyone calls me Dick," he said suddenly, knowing Batman would be furious with him.
Kid Flash blinked in surprise, wondering how Robin knew exactly what he was thinking. "Mine's Wallace--Wally for short."
The boys grinned at each other in unison.

It seemed like a good start.