A/N: HOLY SHIT THIS DID NOT WANT TO GET WRITTEN! Honest to goodness, I had about 3/5 of this written back in April and then, as my AP US History teacher used to say, fit hit the shan. Between school, having to start on my thesis and my muse deciding to take a vacation, I couldn't get any of this to work until just a few days ago. I cannot apologize enough for the wait for this, but hopefully now that I have my muse working again, I can get back to this story again and a few others.
Anyhow, sorry for venting. Here goes nothing! Enjoy!
P.S. As per the usual, thank you to everyone who had read, reviewed, followed and/or favorited this story. Honestly, I don't know where this story would be without you. The comments especially give this a little more life
P.P.S. Let me know what you think of this chapter either via comments or by PMing me. I am concerned that I should have upgraded this story from a T to an M rating. I may have gone a bit darker with this chapter. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED!
Len failed entirely to muffle the cry of pain that slipped out of his mouth as Wells suddenly broke the first bone in his right thumb, the crack still ringing through the lab as Barry let out a yell of alarm, redoubling his efforts to get free.
Wells met Len's gaze as he glared up at the psychotic speedster and Len tensed. He knew exactly what was coming next as Wells adjusted his grip, breaking the next bone and eliciting an even louder cry of pain from Len despite his clenched teeth.
"Stop it! Leave him alone!" Barry's voice cracked and Len tried not to look at him, knowing what kind of desperate look the young man would be giving him.
"No," said Wells, "I won't. I told Mr. Snart if he attempted an escape I would put a stop to it. And now I'm going to." A twisted smirk made it across Dr. Wells' face and Len felt the pit of fear in his stomach growing. "Were you aware that the human hand has 27 bones?"
"No—!" Barry barely had the word out before Wells had broken the last bone in Len's thumb, a barely stifled yelp escaping from the criminal. Len's vision blurred for a moment, feeling himself slipping toward the painless oblivion of unconsciousness. "I said stop it!"
"And why should I?" snapped Wells, "Because you asked? Because you want to take the punishment yourself rather than be forced to watch pain inflicted upon someone else? I've known you too long, Barry, to think that breaking you involves only you. After all this time, you've never changed. The way to break you has always been to break others. To destroy the people you care about and leave you helpless to protect them."
"Why? Why do you want so badly to break me? What did I ever do to you? I didn't even know you until you killed my mother!" Barry strained desperately to get free again, his eyes catching Len's finally. God, he looked desperate... The kid seemed at a loss for what to say next and Len gave him the smallest of nods. He knew exactly what Barry was try to do. He was trying to distract Wells from him. Unfortunately, it wasn't going to work. Wells wouldn't look away from Len no matter how hard Barry tried to garner his attention.
"You didn't know me, Barry. Not then. Not yet. But I've known you for so much longer than that. Long enough to know how much a thorn in my side you're going to be. I know exactly what makes you tick. And what makes you break."
Wells grasped Len's index finger and the thief had all of a millisecond to prepare himself as Wells broke the first bone in this finger, Len coming within inches of blacking out this time. A quick slap to his face yanked him back from oblivion and Wells chuckled darkly as Len glared at him. He had to look so pathetic right now… "Now, now, Mr. Snart. No passing out on us. We still have 23 bones to go and I want you awake for every second of this."
"Wells, stop! Please! We get the idea! No escape attempts or you start breaking us apart. Just let him alone!" Barry yelled, "You don't have to do this."
Wells turned his gaze toward Barry at this statement, allowing Len a short reprieve. If Barry could distract Wells long enough, maybe he could finally pass out and end this pain. "…since you seem so desperate to protect your…nemesis, Barry, how about I give you to choice on what his punishment is? Because he is going to be punished, no matter what you say or however much you try to delay me."
Wells was gone and back in the blink of an eye and Len immediately roused as something cold pressed up against his hand, a chill running up his spine. The twisted doctor now had the Cold Gun held to Len's hand, the weapon warmed up and ready to fire. "Now, Barry, you have two choices. Either you allow me to continue breaking the rest of the bones in Mr. Snart's hand, or I freeze his hand solid, something I doubt he could recover from unlike you." Wells kept his gaze firmly on Barry who could only stare, remaining silent and still. "If you don't answer me quickly, Barry, then I'll make sure it's both hands rather than just the one."
"Barry," started Len, "Don't listen—"
Wells clamped his free hand tightly over Len's mouth, stifling the rest of his words. "No, Barry. You listen to me."
Barry met Len's gaze, swallowing hard. Unfortunately, Len knew the choice the kid was going to make and sadly, he agreed with the choice. "…option one."
"Which option, Barry?" said Wells, his tone almost sickly sweet, "I want to hear you say exactly what you want me to keep doing…"
Barry swallowed again, his gaze dropping as Len saw a look of utter defeat cross the kid's face. "…continue breaking the rest of the bones in his hand…"
"Better," said Wells, removing his hand from Len's mouth and lowering the Cold Gun, "Now order me to do it."
Barry's eyes shot up in alarm and Len felt a swell of untempered rage toward Wells who was smirking ominously at Barry. There was only one way to stop Wells from being the victor here. "Barry. Just do it."
Barry's eyes met Len's in an instant and the thief saw the torment in the kid's eyes. Honestly, he didn't want this to happen either.
"Just do it, Barry. It's not like we have a better option available right now." Len took a deep breath. "I can handle this."
Wells chuckled. "Oh I don't think so, Mr. Snart. Considering what your father put you through… This is going to be far, far worse."
Len wanted to snark back at Wells, but couldn't find the energy, keeping his gaze on Barry. "Barry, do it."
Barry gave Len one last agonized look before turning away and focusing his gaze on the ceiling, his eyes pricking with tears as he swallowed hard. "…continue breaking the rest of the bones in his hand."
"Louder!" snapped Wells.
A dark, disgusted look passed across Barry's face and his hands clenched into fists. "Continue. Breaking. The rest of the bones. In his hand." He glared at Wells. "Happy?"
"Very." Wells' twisted grin made Len feel sick to his stomach, especially as the dark speedster took a step toward Barry. "Except, one small thing…"
Len let out a quick yell of alarm as Wells suddenly appeared near Barry, grabbing the young speedster's head and forcibly turning it to face Len. Wells tightened the band across Barry's forehead, fixing it place despite the young man's valiant yet futile struggles.
"I want you to watch this, Barry. I want you to see exactly what I am doing to him. If I see you shut your eyes for longer than ten seconds, I will start cutting his fingers off, understood?" Hissed Wells into Barry's ear.
"Please… Just stop this," begged Barry, glaring straight at Wells despite his predicament, "You don't have to do this. We got the message."
"That's mostly true," said Wells, his tone chilling Len to the bone. Or was that the shock setting in? "I don't have to do this anymore and I'm certain you both got my message." Wells looked back toward Len, a despicable smirk on his lips. "But the fact is that I want to do this. And no amount of pleading and bargaining on your part is going to change that. So…"
Wells was gone and back in the blink of an eye and Barry suddenly had a cloth stuffed into his mouth, muffling his scream of protest. "Just sit tight. And enjoy the view."
Len tensed as Wells made his way over, walking this time rather than flitting about. Wells was relishing this opportunity to hurt them both and all Len could do was sit here and take it. Just like he used to. And there wasn't a damn thing he could do to change that.
"Now," said Wells, practically purring with perverse pleasure as he loomed once more over Len, "Where were we?"
Len merely swallowed and closed his eyes, steeling himself for what came next. He didn't have to wait long before his world was once more consumed by pain and darkness.
Hartley wasn't surprised that Cisco had driven them to the police station, but he was surprised when he pulled their car into one of the lower level garages rather than to the parking lot. As they entered, he spotted Caitlin as well as a man and a woman. He instantly recognized the man as Mick Rory, Leonard Snart's partner in crime and one of the original people who had kidnapped the Flash. The woman however…the woman was new.
Caitlin noticed their arrival and immediately walked over toward them, clearly shocked to see Hartley. "Cisco, how did you…?"
"Felicity helped me find him. It's a long story. Hartley's here to help though." Cisco glanced toward Hartley, giving him a nod of affirmation and…was that trust? It was crazy how much things had changed over the span of just a couple of hours.
"I'm here to stop Wells," said Hartley, "I'll help you get in, but after that, I haven't decided."
"And if we need your help anyway?" The woman strolled over, looking deadly serious and decidedly annoyed.
"Then you'd better ask nicely," replied Hartley, "I'm only in this to screw over Wells."
"And I'm in this to get my brother back." The woman crossed her arms, fixing Hartley with a glare, "And if you get in the way of that happening, you're going to wish you were dead."
Hartley looked the woman up and down, immediately piecing together who she was. "Snart's sister, are you?" The woman gave him a look. "Well, if it means anything, I don't plan to screw you over. But I'm in this for me. Not the Flash. Not your brother. Me."
"Careful, Hartley. You might actually convince them that you're heartless."
Hartley froze at the familiar voice, turning to see Ronnie Raymond had entered the room, Professor Stein not far behind him, both eventually stopping right in front of Hartley. "…Raymond."
"Rathaway," replied Ronnie. He suddenly stuck out his hand and Hartley found himself shaking it on instinct. "I wanted to thank you."
Hartley hesitated. "For what?"
"For telling Cisco about what had happened to us." Hartley swallowed. "I know you used it as a sort of bargaining chip to get Cisco to let you out, but I'm still grateful."
"We're both grateful," corrected the professor, reaching out to shake Hartley's hand himself, "You saved our lives."
Hartley merely nodded, finding himself oddly emotional about the whole affair. He forced himself to keep a straight face. Now wasn't the time for sentimentality. He turned to Ronnie. "My pleasure. So they called you in to help them get in too, right?"
Ronnie nodded in reply. "Well, two heads are better than one. I think between the two of us, we'll manage to find a way to get in."
"You must be the two we've been waiting for," interjected Lisa.
"Took you long enough," added Rory.
"Well, let's just say it was a long flight," replied Stein.
Ronnie grinned ever so slightly at Stein's comment, but only for a moment as a look crossed his face and he fixed Mick Rory with a dark glare. "So you're the one that kidnapped Cait and threatened to burn her…"
Rory straightened up, meeting Ronnie's gaze and trying to look tough despite his broken arm. "Yeah. What's it to you?"
A not-so-nice smile crossed Ronnie face and Hartley could only stare as the engineer suddenly decked Rory with a right cross, sending the man stumbling. "Touch my fiancée again, and I'll be the one lighting your ass on fire."
"Ronald, perhaps we can deal with this another time." Stein put a hand on the younger man and the tension seemed to immediately ease out of Ronnie's shoulders. "You know, sometime after we've handled the situation with Dr. Wells."
"Agreed," said Lisa, "But if you punch Mick again…"
"Lady, I don't plan on it. I think one punch was enough of a message," replied Ronnie.
Mick Rory turned back to them, rubbing his jaw. "Yeah… I got it. Nice punch."
Ronnie smirked at this. "Thanks."
Hartley rolled his eyes and cleared his throat, drawing everyone's attention. "Now that we've all gotten that out of the way, can we please get to work now? I'm pretty sure we all want to get this done sooner rather than later."
"Agreed," said Ronnie. He turned to his fiancée. "Cait, do we have somewhere we can look at blueprints?" He nodded toward the pile that was in Hartley's bag.
"I'll talked to the Captain and see about getting us a table or something down here," replied Caitlin, "Cisco, you should come with. You'll probably want to let the Captain, Joe and Oliver know that you're back and they don't need to set up a rescue party for you too."
"Right. I'll join you," said Cisco. He sent Hartley a quick nod before following Caitlin up the stairs and out of the garage space, leaving an awkward silence in their wake.
Hartley sighed and took a seat on a mechanic's bench. Well, he was here. That was the easy part. Not unlike Dante in The Inferno, they were all in Limbo right now, waiting and planning their decent into Hell without any expectation of what they would find once they got there. He fiddled with his gloves, trying not to think about what was to come. He had a feeling that he wasn't going to like what they would find in that first circle of Hell…
Henry watched as Dr. Snow returned from the garage with a young man who, if he recalled Barry's description of his friend, could only be Cisco Ramon. The duo headed straight over to the Captain and Mr. Queen, the two gentlemen having convened in the Captain's office. From Joe's desk, he'd watched as the station settled into a state of managed chaos, the flurry of officers running about having died down to a crawl, but the station still in red alert status. Most of the officers had gone home already and their replacements were already out on patrol, but the bullpen had remained a very stagnant state of still tension.
Henry glanced at the clock on the wall. It was late. Normally, he would have been in his cell, half-asleep or reading, whichever one caught him first. If it was a good book, he'd be up for another hour longer before sleep would over take him. Sleep was boring when it was one of only six things you could do a day. Well, more like seven or eight, but Henry wasn't one to go into that much detail. Despite the sudden change in his situation and the fifteen years in prison, there was little chance that he would even sleep a wink were he given the chance. And he had been given such a chance, Joe having asked if he wanted to come back to the house for some shut eye. Henry had politely declined and despite some pressuring by Iris and Detective Thawne, he had managed to convince them to leave him at the station.
Realizing that he was out of range to heard what was being said to the Captain and Mr. Queen, Henry stood stiffly and walked over, trying to catch snippets of the conversation as he approached. The conversation however halted the moment they spotted him. "…so what's going on?"
"Nothing much at the moment," said the Captain, "Mr. Ramon here just returned from retrieving a former engineer of STAR Labs while Dr. Snow has informed me that her fiancé and his…counterpart have arrived."
Henry frowned. "Counterpart?"
"Dr. Martin Stein," replied Dr. Snow, "He and Ronnie were accidentally fused together during the particle accelerator explosion. We were able to separate them about a month ago and now they can combine at will into a metahuman called Firestorm."
Henry nodded in understanding. Well, with at least as much understanding as he could. "So what's the next step?"
"Mr. Raymond and Mr. Rathaway need to go over the blueprints to the lab and see if there are any discernible weak points," replied the Captain. He turned to Dr. Snow. "Have them both come up here. I can set them up in the conference room."
The young doctor nodded and left with her colleague, but not before shooting Henry a sympathetic look. He had a feeling he'd be getting a lot of those.
"Is there anything that I can do?" asked Henry. The Captain hesitated. "Look, I know I've been in prison for a long time and my medical license hasn't been renewed in a long time and I'm certainly no vigilante or metahuman, but there has to be something I can do to help instead of just sitting here waiting for something to happen."
"How much do you knew about what's been happening?" asked Mr. Queen.
"I know Barry's been running around the city and trying to save the world and apparently the man who I thought was helping him stay safe was actually the man who put him in danger in the first place." Henry looked Queen in the eye. "I know that he trusts you and considers you a good friend. I think you're dangerous, but under the current circumstances, I could care less. And I know you'll do whatever it takes to help Barry. That's enough for me."
Mr. Queen nodded carefully. "You're right. I will do whatever I can to help get Barry back safely. But at the same time, I need to make sure that we're not having to worry about keeping you safe at the same time. If Wells sees you're a free man, he's going to do whatever it takes to use you against Barry."
Henry shrugged, trying not to feel slightly insulted. "Mr. Queen, I know I'm not a warrior, but I need to do something to help get my son back besides sit here on my laurels hoping he returns in one piece. Even if its sharpening arrowheads or helping to search for a way to get inside STAR Labs, I'm here. Use me."
Queen opened his mouth to reply only for the Captain to put a hand on his arm, stopping him. "Maybe we can use your help, Dr. Allen. Between helping the engineers with the maps and Dr. Snow with our patient downstairs, I'm sure we can find something for you to do."
Henry let out a small sigh of relief. "Thank you. I can't tell you how much I appreciate this."
"I know," said the Captain, "Believe me." He gestured toward the stairs. "Please follow me. We'll see what we can do."
Henry nodded, following the Captain down towards the basement. The former doctor glanced back to see Mr. Queen following them, the slightest look of pain set in his features. The man was uncomfortable with this, even though the Captain was. Henry made a note to himself to ask the archer later what had him so bothered. For now, Henry needed to keep himself busy and try not to think about what horrors his son could be facing at the hands of Nora's killer.
Len moaned softly as his blackened world brightened, slowly coming into focus on a blue padded ceiling. He glanced around, finding himself in an exceedingly small room with three walls lined with the same padding as the ceiling and the fourth a piece of transparent glass. He moved ever so slightly to sit up and immediately regretted it as he put weight on his hand, blacking out once more.
When he came too again, Len sat up carefully, avoiding moving or touching his hand at all. He remembered what had happened in the lab mostly. After his middle finger bones had been broken, he'd passed out for sure or maybe been he'd just gone into shock. Either way, he didn't have a clue where he was.
Len hesitated to look at his hand, knowing how ghastly it had to look. Ever so slowly, he brought it up to his face and immediately wanted to throw up, shutting his eyes quickly to dispel the feeling. His hand was swollen, bruised and clearly in horrible shape. Wells had been right. It was worse than anything his father had ever done to him.
Shifting to sit up against the wall behind him, Len felt his hand brush something beside him. He looked down to find a first aid kit. Well. Wells was indeed full of surprises. Despite his pleasure in torturing Len, he still wanted him alive and largely in one piece. Len tried not to shudder as a thought crossed his mind. Wells still had something planned for him. Something that Len was sure he did not want to find out anytime soon.
Len opened the kit, not at all surprised to see that there were plenty of splints, rolls of medical tape and even a couple of instant cold packs in the mix. As much as Len hated to admit it, Wells was a sadistic asshole, but he was right. He was always one-step ahead on everything.
Pulling out the supplies, Len began slowly fixing himself up. The seconds after he reset the first break, Len knew exactly what Wells hadn't given him. Pain raced through Len's hand, a scream escaping his mouth as he struggled to remain conscious. Son of a bitch… Wells had conveniently left the first aid kit without any painkillers.
Len took a deep breath, glancing skywards before grasping the next break to set. This was going to be rough.
Oliver watched as Henry talked with Cisco, Caitlin and the other members of Team Flash. They had welcomed Henry's presence with open arms, finding small things for him to help with thus far. As much as Oliver was happy to see this, he felt largely uncomfortable being in the same room as them.
"Mr. Queen." Oliver turned to see Captain Singh enter the room again, having led Mr. Rathaway and Mr. Raymond up to the conference room to work on the blueprints. "…you're not one for dealing with stuff like this, are you?"
The emerald archer paused, confused by the Captain's comment. "…I'm afraid I don't understand what you're asking."
"Dealing with fathers and their sons," replied Singh, causing Oliver to wince, "…I understand that there was a bit of a discrepancy regarding the death of your father. You said that he died when your boat sunk." Singh eyed Oliver carefully. "Your actions and behavior say differently."
Oliver hesitated, taking in a deep breath. "…I don't know what you're talking about…"
"Despite your consistent string of lies to maintain your secret identity, Mr. Queen," said the Captain, "You are a terrible liar."
Oliver managed a sad smile. "…that's what everyone tells me…"
"Then I'm not wrong when I said that something different happened with your father than what you told the courts and the media."
"No." Oliver dropped his gaze ever so slightly. "You aren't wrong."
Singh remained silent for a moment, the only sound in the garage being that of the conversation between Cisco and Henry regarding a particular film series. He was clearly choosing his next words carefully. "Your father did something to save your life, didn't he? Something that cost him his own?"
Oliver merely nodded. He had to admit that the Captain was good. "…and?"
"And as a result, you want to make sure that Dr. Allen doesn't put himself in a similar position as your father by keeping him out of all of this." Oliver managed a minute shrug at the Captain's observation. "Would you rather that you left Dr. Allen out of this and he decided to go off on his own and endanger himself otherwise?"
"No." Oliver swallowed. "…so that's why you're letting Barry's dad help? To keep him safe?"
"More or less." Singh let out a long sigh. "I've seen too many fathers lose their children. Dr. Allen already lost his wife and almost fifteen years of his life to the same monster that has his son. If I can help him in any way, no matter how small, I'm going to do it."
Oliver didn't reply. He didn't have to. Captain Singh's reasoning made perfect sense. It also answered a question that had been lingering in his mind. "…I need to go make a call. Thank you. For helping."
Singh nodded, waving him off. "Go. We'll be here when you're done."
Oliver nodded, casting one more glance at Henry before heading upstairs. He needed to have a talk with Felicity about something.
Sitting on the edge of the examining table, Barry massaged his arms where they had been rubbed raw, the friction burns healing terribly slow due to his lack of speed. He didn't dare look at Dr. Wells who stood off to the side, watching him. After Wells had left Snart in a cell downstairs, he'd returned and released Barry with the warning that if he caused any trouble or tried to escaped, Snart would be the one to suffer the consequences. Needless to say, Barry wasn't willing to test Wells' word after what he'd just had to watch.
"I expected more bravado from you, Mr. Allen," said Wells suddenly, causing Barry to flinch, "After the events at the farmhouse I guess I expected…more."
Barry clenched his teeth, holding back the retort that he so desperately wanted to unleash on his former mentor. He had to keep his head about him for Snart's sake as well as his own.
"I'm waiting, Flash." Wells' tone was impatient and venomous, prompting Barry turn around and give the murderer a distasteful look. "You don't have anything to say to me?"
Barry took a deep breath. He had a billion things he wanted to say to Wells, but nothing seemed to want to come out. Except the only question he'd ever wanted answered. "…why did you kill my mother?"
Wells let out an almost bored sigh. "Of course you would ask that first. Of all the questions in the universe, you would want the answer to your life's greatest mystery." He paused, contemplating something. "Actually, the answer to your second greatest mystery really."
"And my first was?" asked Barry, exasperated.
"The answer to who was under the mask of your mother's killer. Me." Wells gave Barry an almost pleased smirk.
"Yeah, well, I know that now," hissed Barry. Exactly what did Wells want him to say? Something that would get either Snart or himself killed?"
"Yes. And no." Barry narrowed his eyes at Wells and the villain grinned. "I'm not Harrison Wells."
Barry tensed. "...what?"
"I. Am not Harrison Wells." Wells, or whoever the man was, walked toward Barry, stopping in front of the young speedster. "Harrison Wells was simply a mask I put on to set my plans in motion."
"Then…" Barry shuddered inwardly. The mere thought that the scientist he had always admired had been one who had killed his mother was unbearable. "Harrison Wells never existed…"
"Oh no." Barry looked up at the man sharply. "Harrison Wells existed. I simply took his place in the universe."
"You're saying that you killed Harrison Wells," said Barry warily.
"Yes. I am." The man shrugged. "His death, however, was necessary to make things right after I tried to kill you."
The moment the words were out of the man's mouth, Barry scrambled off the table, his heart hammering in his chest, pulsing with fear. "What?!"
"You see, Barry, I wasn't there to kill your mother." The man stepped toward Barry and Barry took a quick step back. "I was there to kill you. To end you before you could become a greater Flash than you are today. Except you, the future you, managed to snatch you away before I could follow through with my intentions. After that, with you gone, I went for the next best choice. If I had to destroy the Flash before he could exist, I had to take something precious from him. So I killed your mother instead, destroying your future. Until I realized that in doing so, I had destroyed my own as well."
Barry tried to process what the madman before him was saying, every fiber of his being screaming to run even though he knew he didn't stand a chance. "What are you saying?"
The man gave Barry a disapproving look, as if Barry should have picked up on something by now. "What I'm saying, Barry, is that I won't be born for another one hundred and thirty six years."
Barry hesitated. "You're lying. That's impossible."
"Is it, Barry?" The man met Barry's gaze. "We both know time travel is possible. What happened in your house fifteen years ago proves that. And I should know. I was there after all."
Barry stood stock still even as the man began to circle him, the young speedster lost in his thoughts. It had always been like this, hadn't it? Since the day this man had killed his mother, he and Barry had been at the same game. Cat and mouse. Predator and prey. The hunter and the hunted. One always ahead of the other. Ahead, apparently, in more ways than one.
"I can see you have your real question ready, Barry." The man stopped his circling, standing directly behind his prey. "Ask it."
Barry's tongue felt like lead as he tried to speak, his words coming out in a much more defeated tone than he would have hoped. "...if you're not Harrison Wells, who are you?"
Barry sensed rather than saw the menacing yet pleased grin spread across the Reverse Flash's face, the man's emotions seeming to roll off him in waves. "My name is Eobard. Eobard Thawne," stated the man as he placed both of his hands on Barry's shoulders causing the young speedster to wince, "And we…have a lot to discuss…"
A/N: So...yeah. Please let me know what you think!