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Running Start

by shrift

Notes: For Te, because she turned me into a F/GL junkie. Beta by Nestra. Spoilers through "A Better World".


He'd acted like it was a gimmick, like his death had been some neat trick. Kept spouting nonsense about how he was the conscience of the Justice Lords, practically gloating about how they'd all lost their way when their Flash died.

Like a smart-mouthed, wrong-headed, speed-freak of a foolish boy was their humanity.

Except not even Batman had disagreed with Flash, and nobody was as contrary about being right as the Bat.

John swore and squeezed his temples between his middle finger and thumb. He'd flown back to the Watchtower over an hour ago, after doing one last sweep to see if anyone had needed their help while they'd been gone. Well, not gone -- kidnapped and imprisoned. This was his own head, and he could tell it straight. He'd been killing time and hoping to find a distraction. Hoping for something to hit.

But it was all quiet. Nothing to do but think here in the dark, staring at the ceiling while his ring recharged.

He didn't like to think about Flash being dead. He didn't like to think about it at all, because it was too close to what he'd felt about the world ending when he was growing up.

Maybe Flash was their conscience, their sense of humanity -- but all that really mattered was that he was important. Too important to lose, apparently. Each member of the Justice League had his fair share of demons, even John, and without Flash around to distract him from them, maybe he could slip. Start causing pain intentionally. Kill people like he'd thought he'd done to the population of an entire planet.

He'd want to get even with the bastard who killed Flash, and it wouldn't matter how he did it, because --

Seeing Shayera hurt had made him angry. That was an easy emotion to feel. A friend got hurt and John got mad. Maybe he felt more for her than that, maybe not. He was content to let it be what it was and not push anything.

It wasn't like she needed him, and wouldn't she eventually want to find her way home? Standing in the way of that wasn't something he wanted to do.

But what he felt about Flash was this tangle of feeling, threaded with exasperation and grudging fondness. And need, because --

He knew deep down in his bones that Flash would let him push as far as he wanted without ever letting him cross any important lines. And that's why pushing Flash was so fiercely tempting, because while the results might be wild and unpredictable, it was safe.

John gave up on sleep and got out of bed. He might as well admit to himself where he wanted to be, because it certainly wasn't here.

Flash answered his door in the space between the first knock and the second, confirming John's suspicions that he hadn't been to bed yet. "Hey, GL," Flash said. "Nice jammies."

John looked down at his green sleep pants and refused to feel uncomfortable. "Thanks."

Flash opened the door wider and flung out an arm in welcome. "Taking a midnight stroll? You know, I stopped and smelled the roses today, and it wasn't all it's cracked up to be."

"Don't you ever sleep?" he asked, shouldering past Flash, who closed the door behind him. All the lights were on, the TV flashing colors, and racy magazines were scattered over the coffee table.

"You're one to talk," Flash said, his grin wide. "Sorry. I'm supposed to -- dude, it's like I've forgotten how to entertain guests, it's been so long since I've had any. Want something to drink? I have -- okay, no I don't. Water? Whiskey?"

It was a bad idea, but, "I could use a drink," he said.

Flash stared at him for a split-second, which for him might have been something like an eternity. "Right," he said, and then blurred off, returning almost immediately with two glasses and a bottle of liquor. "On the rocks?"

"Neat," John said, and sat down.

Flash poured two fingers of whiskey into a glass, glanced up, and then poured a third. John took it from him and watched Flash pour his own drink, filling it considerably higher and tossing it back faster than John could blink, expressive face twisted in a grimace.

"So," Flash said, fidgeting. "Not that I mind the company, but what brings you --"

"You did good today," John interrupted. "Did any of us tell you that?"

"No, uh... not really," Flash said, zipping away and returning with a bag of Funyuns, emptying it in record speed and mumbling a thanks with his mouth full.

John sipped at his drink. "You did good."

Flash flushed a little and looked down at the floor, but after a moment he smiled. "Yeah, well, I'm kinda disappointed. You all got to meet your evil twins. But me? Nooo."

"You are your own evil twin," John said.

Flash waggled his eyebrows underneath his mask. "Heh. You think that if I used that line, Hawkgirl would finally agree to a date? 'Cause I'm --"

And for some reason, all at once John felt everything he'd been feeling since they'd found out about the other Flash, and he clenched his hand into a fist and thumped his thigh hard. "He died."

Flash zipped to his side, and the room hadn't felt cold until he started getting warm, what with Flash's metabolism making him into a living space heater. "Hey, what --"

"You died," John said.

"Yeah, I got that part," Flash said, looking worried. "Alternate dimensions always suck when you're us. This isn't breaking news."

John wanted to shake him. "Why did it have to be you?"

Flash looked away and tapped his blurry fingers on his knees. "Actually, I'm kind of glad it was me."

"What?"

"I mean, who else could it be?" Flash asked, and that stiff smile was all wrong on his face. "And besides, I didn't always use my powers for good, you know. For a while, I just used them to impress girls, which was pretty pointless because none of them wanted me."

And then Flash pulled off his mask and ran his hand through his hair. It was short and reddish-blond, rumpled and slightly damp. It was no surprise that he looked painfully young and handsome, and John was more conscious than ever of the gray in his hair.

"It was nice," Flash was saying -- no, Wally, but in his head, they really were the same person. "To know that I did something right, that I mean something to you guys."

"You --" John said, but couldn't continue, because how could he not know what he meant to the rest of the League?

"I know it sounds corny, but I don't want to do that again," he said, pouring another glass of whiskey and knocking it back almost faster than John's eyes could track. "Not help people, I mean."

"You did notice that they all went insane after you died, right?" John asked.

Flash grinned. "Yeah, but did any pretty girls come to my funeral is what I wanna know."

"You don't get it, do you?" John said, slapping his hand onto Flash's chest right over his heart.

Flash blinked. "Ow?"

"You're our heart, Flash."

"Sometimes I think I'm the only one of us who's got a heart," Flash blurted. "Wait -- I didn't mean that."

"Yes, you did," John said, struggling to suppress a smile.

Flash looked sheepish. "Okay, but only a little bit."

"That's why we need you," John told him. He took a breath. "Why I need you."

Flash just stared at him, his jaw dropped and sitting as still as he ever got. John grabbed a fistful of his slippery uniform and yanked him forward into a kiss. He didn't bother with finesse, just pushed his way into Flash's mouth with rough lips and tongue, John's thumb edging along his cheekbone. Flash's mouth tasted a little harsh from the whiskey, flavored faintly with salt and grease from his junk food habit, and so, so warm.

He gave the roof of Flash's mouth a parting lick and pulled back, dropping his hand. Flash's eyes were open wide, more hazel-colored than pure blue, and edged in reddish-gold eyelashes. His Adam's apple bobbed, but he remained silent, and John's mouth went sour when he realized that he must have made a mistake.

John decided now would probably be a good time to leave.

He paused at the door. "Sleep well, Wally," John said, and walked out of the room.

He tried not to think as he made his way through the dim hallways leading to his own rooms in the Watchtower. He didn't want to think about repercussions, that he should have just stayed in bed, or that maybe the endless parade of women was a big neon sign.

When John opened his bedroom door, he found Flash lounging on his bed and kicking his heels against the mattress. "I thought the evil you was looking at me funny," Flash said. "He was checking me out! Hey, do you think Batman was checking me out? Because he's never that friendly to me unless he has a serious head injury."

John stood in the doorway and growled.

"Hey, you don't just kiss and guy and leave," Flash said, sitting up on his elbows. When John didn't move, his expression turned nervous like a light switched off. "Unless, uh... I should just... go now, and... see if Batman has a concussion he didn't tell anybody about because he totally would do that sort of thing. Bye!"

Flash's voice sped up on the last two sentences, his agitation smashing his words together as he zipped off the bed. John barely managed to shut his bedroom door in time to keep Flash from leaving, his blurry body coming to a stop so close that it made John's eyes cross before he speed-stepped back a few feet.

They stared at each other for an interminable moment.

"So this is pretty awkward, huh?" Flash said, rocking back on his heels.

John crossed his arms. "What are you doing here?"

Flash spread his hands. "Hey, you kissed me, dude."

"I wanted to," John said.

"You -- wait, what? Since when?"

"For a while now," John said, risking a smile. "Who else on the team pinches you when you ask?"

Flash gestured helplessly. "Hey, you're all Mr. Butch Marine guy! How was I supposed to know?" At John's upraised eyebrow, Flash said, "And why am I wasting time arguing?"

And then Flash was pressing him against the bedroom door, his uniform warm and smooth against John's skin. Flash's kisses were enthusiastic, deep and wet, his hands touching John everywhere in reach. John tilted his head and sucked Flash's tongue into his mouth, startling a moan from the back of the other man's throat. He closed his hands around Flash's hips and walked them backward toward the bed. John pushed and Flash fell onto the mattress, bouncing on his back, legs and arms splayed. He kicked off his slippers and climbed onto the bed after him, walking forward on his knees and watching Flash struggle with the hidden catches of his uniform.

"We're still stuck in that alternate dimension, aren't we? Evil Batman knocked me out and I'm making all of this up in my head, right?"

John reached out and helped pull off the top of Flash's uniform, making a satisfied noise at the expanse of bared skin. John rolled off to the side and slipped off his pajama bottoms.

"Because I'm lucky, but I'm not that lucky, and oh god."

He caught Flash staring at him intently, his boots off, but still wriggling out of his pants.

"You're -- okay, I'm definitely dreaming, and I don't care. Fuck me?" Flash finally got his pants off and flung them to the side, turning over the bed. He was all broad back, narrow waist, and strong, strong thighs -- and an ass that was an engraved invitation to sin. "C'mon, fuck me."

It nearly killed him do it, but it wasn't like John had been expecting to get lucky anytime in this century, so he flipped Flash back over and dove in for a sloppy kiss, curling his hand around the upward-curving length of Flash's cock. John kept kissing him when Flash wriggled beneath him, hooking his thigh around John's hip and arching his back, rocking their hips together.

Flash pushed his head back into the pillow, breathing hard, his hands dragging down John's back. "God, you gotta let me suck you sometime," he said, his mouth shiny and red.

"Yeah," John said, because no one would say no to that. At least, no one sane.

And Flash's skin was sweaty and sliding against him, nipples hard, and warm all over like a vibrating electric blanket. His cock was hard and wet, a darker shade of flushed than anywhere else, rubbing and catching against John's dick, heel digging into the back of John's thigh. He rested his weight on one elbow and sucked at the side of Flash's neck, the tang of sweat and alcohol prickling his tongue.

"I want to suck you stupid," Flash said, panting. He arched his neck toward John's mouth. "And, shit -- you need to fuck me so hard I -- oh."

John rubbed his thumb over the slick head of Flash's cock, and Flash closed his eyes and bumped up his hips urgently, his long legs pulling at John's body and making the small of his back ache, hands closing hard on his arms.

"You like that?" John said, lips pressed to his ear.

Flash made a high, wild noise as John did it again, rubbing his thumb hard until Flash came all over his flat, sweaty belly. His face was flushed, eyelashes spiky with sweat, and he just didn't stop moving after he came, his skin hot and wet all over, and the groove of his hip just perfect for John's dick.

When Flash opened his eyes, he looked dazed, but he stared right back at John, sliding his hands down John's back and squeezing his ass.

"I wanna see you come," Flash said, his voice thick and sounding sated. He squeezed his hands again and arched up to bite John's lip. His breath caught in his throat, and he buried his face in Flash's neck, coming hard, helplessly pushing his dick against Flash's yielding body.

John slowly slid to the side, his breath harsh in his own ears, sweat tickling under his eyes and his chin, and on the back of his knees. Flash stretched out next to him, and there was a moment of sweet silence.

Until Flash's stomach growled. Loudly.

He opened one eye to see Flash grinning at him sheepishly, his hair standing on end, and still very, very naked.

"Got anything to eat?" he asked.

John groaned and dropped his face onto his pillow.

"Hey, I'm a growing boy!" Flash said. "Okay, not a growing boy, but come on! I need to be fed after sex. It's in my user manual, man."

"You have super-speed," John said. "Get it yourself."

"Huh. Okay," Flash said, and there was a woosh of displaced air as he sped off.

John kept his eyes shut, determined that he wouldn't check to see if Flash had just run to the kitchen naked. A few seconds later, he smiled when he once more felt the warm press of a body next to him on the bed.

"So," Flash said, "time for the all-important question, GL."

John frowned and sat up a little on his elbow. "What?"

"Would you kick me out of bed for eating crackers?" he asked, and shoved a heaping handful of orange squares into his mouth.

John squinted at him. "It's a killing offense," he said, "but I'll give you a running start."


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