Time feels different to a speedster. One second can feel like an eternity when you move faster than, well, everything. The pain Barry felt in that singular second for Mari's lifeless body to collapse to the ground was enough to drive him mad. The emotional pain he felt was compounded by the literal pain of the arrow in his foot as he tried to run and catch her; and at the end of that second all he felt was powerless.
All The Flash could do was look into the scared eyes of a woman who died trying to help him.
"Ahem," The Rival echoed. "A thank you would be nice."
Barry's head shot up and gave The Rival a steely gaze.
"You want me to thank you?" Barry fumed. "You just killed my friend!"
"That arrow in your foot doesn't look very friendly."
A blur of motion as Barry swung his arm to grab at The Rival, but the dark clad speedster laughed due to being out of reach. Instead, he took off his cowl and crouched down to be at the same level as the pinned Barry.
"My name is Edward Clariss," The Rival introduced. "I'm going to let you live…for now. Once you're all healed up, come find me so we can find out who is the fastest; fair and square. But right now…"
Clariss paused to stand up and donned his cowl once again. He turned his attention to Wally, who was now up and ready to fight.
"…It's your turn," Clariss challenged.
"Bring it on!" Wally accepted.
Both of them disappeared with a crack of thunder as they took their fight elsewhere in the city.
Barry broke off the back of the arrow and pulled his foot out of the shaft. He stumbled as he tried to put weight on it. He wouldn't be running on it for a little while.
Instead he fell to his knees again, head held down as what was left of Team Arrow surrounded him. Oliver had his bow drawn and Sara took position behind Barry. Laurel crouched down to confirm Mari's status, and shook her head after briefly checking for a pulse.
"This is all your fault," Oliver growled.
"This wasn't supposed to happen," Barry emitted.
"But it did, Barry," Sara averred. "You know what you need to do to make it right."
Barry shook his head, tears streaming down his cheeks as he quietly sobbed.
"I'll go back," Barry cracked.
Sara let out a sigh of relief, and Oliver lowered his bow.
"As soon as my foot is healed I'll go back to yesterday," Barry babbled. "I know who The Rival is now. He told me his name. I'll go back, find out where he lives and-"
"Stop it, Barry! Enough!" Sara chided. "When will you learn that you travel back in time for a do-over. That's not how the world works."
"No, you're wrong. There has to be a way to fix this."
"Sounds like the only thing that's broken is you," Oliver spat. "Get up. You're coming with us."
Pain shot up Barry's leg as Sara and Oliver pulled him up into a standing position. He waited for the inevitable click of metahuman cuffs being slapped on his wrists to dampen his powers. Except that click never came.
That's right, Barry thought. Cisco never worked with the CCPD to invent the dampening cuffs.
The only thing left to do was to stall for time and wait for his foot to heal enough for him to at least get a burst of speed away from his captors.
"Where are you taking me?" Barry asked.
"To the Waverider," Sara answered.
He let out a small yelp and dramatically held his foot in his hand.
"What is it now?" Oliver groaned.
"My foot is killing me."
"You'll live," Oliver grunted, pushing Barry forward.
Barry feigned that there was too much pain in his foot and stumbled forward, landing face first on the ground.
"We don't have time for this; his foot will heal any moment," Sara explained.
"Maybe we should call the others to bring the ship here. Especially since..." Laurel suggested, nodding towards Mari.
Giving one last harsh look at Barry, Sara nodded and stepped away from the group to make contact with the rest of the Legends over her comms. Oliver and Laurel stood guard over their captive as Barry thought about how to escape. He would need some kind of distraction to be able to avoid the Canary Cry.
"You did what?!" Sara exclaimed. Apparently she was not pleased by the response of her teammates. "Well, we still need the Waverider. Can you have Gideon fly here on auto-pilot?"
Another second goes by and then Sara gave her thanks before returning to the group.
"The Waverider is on it's way," Sara announced.
"What was with the shouting?" Laurel asked.
"They found another way to undo what Barry did."
"I thought he was the only one that could change things back," Oliver persisted.
"I didn't know there was another way either. It's still good that we captured Barry because we need to keep him out of the way until it's done."
The ground beneath them began to vibrate, and a column of earth sprang up and knocked Oliver square in the chest. He went flying back, landing ten feet away with a groan.
"Ollie!" Laurel shouted.
The earth continued to quake, and The Sisters Lance looked in all directions to find out the source. They saw a blond haired man standing calmly in the field and turned to face him.
"I'm sorry for the intrusion," Julian Albert quipped. "I actually don't mean any harm, but the Green Arrow has a penchant for shooting first and asking questions later."
"Who are you and what do you want?" Laurel raged.
"I'm just a simple archaeologist looking to retrieve an artifact," Julian replied, pointing towards Mari's necklace. "I found one of it's siblings; but I'm looking to reunite them all."
"You're not going anywhere near her," Sara asserted, stepping into a fighting stance with her metal staff.
"Suit yourself," Julian sighed.
More columns of earth began shooting up from the ground; however the two sisters were prepared and expertly dodged the attacks coming at them. Barry lay on the ground, thankful the 'archaeologist' was ignoring him. He rotated his foot, wincing slightly at the movement but not as much as he did a moment ago. It was almost time to make his escape.
The two sisters continued to dodge column after column of earth sprouting towards them, yet they weren't able to get any closer to their attacker either. Julian slowly crept forward towards Mari and her totem. Laurel let out a Canary Cry, crumbling a column as it sprung out at her. She leapt forward to do the same to Julian. The ground she landed on became soft like quicksand, and she quickly started to sink as she fought to free herself from it.
"Don't move! It'll only make it worse!" Barry cautioned.
"Get me out of here!" Laurel pleaded.
"I can't reach you!" Sara cried out as she now dodged double the amount of attacks.
Oliver still hadn't regained consciousness, and it was uncertain just how bad his condition really was.
Lightning sparked in Barry's eyes as he tapped into the Speed Force to flow throughout his body and heal his foot. Unable to wait any longer, he ran on the quicksand to save Laurel. The sensation of walking on something so viscous was slightly unnerving. He pulled Laurel up as he ran past, and then set her down next to Mari.
A throbbing pain from his foot spiked up to his spine. Barry ignored it and took off running to make his escape before Laurel could give her thanks. He made it a point to knock over the Julian Albert on his way out, and watched the city blur by, albeit a slower pace than usual.
The world came back into focus as he landed in the couch of the brother-sister crime fighters' hideout, letting out a groan from the pain from his foot. The bleeding had started again, so he grabbed a towel to try and stem it.
"Oh my God, Barry!" Iris yelped. "Are you okay?"
She asked the question while remaining in her seat, her eyes darting back and forth between Barry and the screen in front of her.
"Yeah…I'm fine. It's just my foot," Barry breathed.
"How bad is it? Can you run?"
Barry shook his head.
"I barely made it back here. Why?"
"Because I think Wally could use your help," Iris shuddered.
Barry sat up in the couch and looked over at the screen which showed live news footage of Wally's and The Rival's trails of lighting popping in and around a skyscraper. Even though it was happening so fast, Barry could tell that one of the streaks of lighting was struggling to keep up with the other. The slower one was just barely shorter than the other, and the faster one would pause for a fraction of a second to let the other catch up. If he was there in person he would be able to make out which one was Wally, but the camera's frame rates made it impossible to know for sure. Once again, he was powerless to do anything but watch.
Streaks of lightning shot back and forth, crawling their way towards the top of the building. The camera panned upwards to keep up with the action, and the reporter on the scene exclaimed there was another person standing at the top of the roof as if waiting for them. The footage showed the blurred silhoutte of a man in a yellow suit, which could almost be mistaken for Kid Flash if not for the ominous glowing red eyes.
"I don't believe it," Barry trembled.
"Who is he?" Iris inquired.
The camera suddenly panned back downwards, and showed the image of Kid Flash falling down the length of the skyscraper, clutching his stomach. Iris gasped in terror at the sight of her brother silently hitting the ground, the camera being too far away to capture the thud of his landing.
"Wally!" Iris choked as tears flowed out of her eyes. "Barry I know you're hurt but can you-"
In a painful instant, Barry was at the site and searched around the building until he found Wally laying face down in the middle of the small lawn that encircled the building. At first Barry was thankful that Wally had landed somewhere soft, but then his face grew somber as he noticed the grass beneath him was stained red with blood. He suspected The Rival had stabbed him either with an object or a vibrating arm.
There was no sign of either The Rival or Reverse Flash. Barry decided to grab Wally before his luck, if he could call it that, ran out. Another burst of speed and he and Wally were in the cortex of Ramon Industries, collapsed on the ground.
"What the hell happened to you?" Cisco shouted. "And why the hell did you come here?!"
"We need your equipment so Wally can get treated for his wounds," Barry explained.
"What are you talking about? I don't have that kind of equipment. This is a tech company; we have foosball tables not surgery tables."
"You don't have any medical equipment at all?" Barry complained.
"What did I just say? You need to take him to a hospital, man."
"I don't…know if I still can," Barry panted.
He looked down at his foot, and it was torn completely open, with blood pouring out from the gaping hole of what originally was a small arrow wound.
Cisco instantly gagged at the sight and ran for the nearest trash can to vomit.
"When you're done…call 9-1-1," Barry instructed. "We're going to need an ambulance…"
"Is he going to be okay?" Laurel asked as she watched beams of light span across Oliver's injured frame.
They were in the medical bay of the Waverider, with her and Oliver taking up both chairs. Oliver's wounds were considerably more serious than hers, his breaths were ragged gasps as he suffered from broken ribs, possible deflated lung, and who knows what else.
"I'm sure he'll be fine," Sara reassured. "Just let Gideon do her thing. That goes for you too."
Sara pushed on her sister's shoulder to lay her back in the chair. Laurel reluctantly complied, turning her head to make sure she could see how her boyfriend was doing.
After a few short minutes, Laurel's eyes closed and she fell asleep, the sedative Gideon administered earlier finally taking effect. Sara kissed her sister on the cheek, and quietly stepped out of the room.
"Gideon?" Sara called out.
"Yes, Ms. Lance," Gideon responded over the hallway intercom.
"What are the chances Oliver will make a full recovery?"
"I'm afraid Mr. Queen's prognosis is not very optimistic. It is unlikely that he will make a full recovery. He has several internal injuries which are difficult to treat."
"Is he…is he dying?" Sara stammered.
"I'm afraid I don't know the answer to that."
That's a yes, Sara thought.
Shouting could be heard coming from the bridge, and Sara decided to get some answers as to what exactly happened today. As she approached she overheard the contents of the conversation, mostly revolved around whether the crew should have split up or stayed together to prevent the current catastrophe.
"Without Barry Allen willing to restore the past I thought we had no alternative but to set Thawne free so he can carry out the task on his own," Captain Hunter defended.
"Well, we let him go and nothing's changed," Jefferson countered. "Right, Gideon?"
"That is correct. The current timeline has not reverted back to it's original state," Gideon answered.
"What is Thawne waiting for?" Dr. Stein pondered.
"Oh, I don't know," Sara interjected. "Maybe he's out there trying to kill Barry, which has always been his goal! How could you be so stupid, Rip?"
"He seemed rather agreeable," Captain Hunter faltered.
"Well, yeah! He would agree to anything if it led to you setting him free!"
"Blondie has a point," Mick agreed.
"Oh, now you say something," Jefferson hissed.
"I like a good prison break," Mick clarified.
"Now we not only have one rogue speedster, we have the Man-in-Yellow, this Rival jackass, and some guy who can control dirt. Not only that, but Oliver is critical, Laurel is injured and too distraught to fight, and Mari…"
Tears welled up in Sara's eyes as the memory of what she saw came back to the forefront. The rest of the crew bowed their heads in a natural moment of silence.
"Things may look grim, Ms. Lance," Captain Hunter empathized. "But we still have work to do. We need to restore the timeline before it's too late."
"You go on without me then," Sara refused. "This is your mess, now. You clean it up."
She stormed off the bridge, leaving the rest of the crew to think about what to do next.
"So…how are we going to fix this?" Ray asked.
"I'm not sure," Captain Hunter dismayed.
The West family gathered around the dinig table, tearing open a box of pizza Barry had just brought back from their favorite pizzeria in Coast City. Joe and Iris laughed as they fought over who would get the largest slice, and Barry used his speed to take it before they had a chance to settle it. The sound of Wally's car exhaust system shook the walls momentarily as he pulled into the driveway. Joe forgot about the pizza and rushed to greet the son he never knew he had until barely a month ago. Barry smiled from the head of the table as he witnessed the pride in Joe's face when Wally walked through the door.
Everything shook again, and Barry's smile faded as he looked around for any sort of cause. He felt disturbed that no one else seemed to notice the seismic event. The table and the scene at the other end of the table elongated, stretching to where he could barely make out the difference between furniture and people. Barry burst into super speed, trying to catch up with the rest of the West family; and failed. He was left behind in empty black nothingness.
Barry shot up from the hospital bed gasping for air, a sense of fear overwhelming him, yet he couldn't remember from what exactly. The sensation faded the way most dreams do, and no matter how hard he tried to focus he couldn't remember a single detail from it. Only the rapid beating of his heart validated that what he felt was true and genuine fear; almost like he lost something very important to him.
"Barry! Are you okay?" Iris voiced her concern from the side of the bed.
"Yes, I think so," Barry mumbled. "How's Wally?"
"Doctors say he had a bad concussion, and he is in surgery right now for his stab wound. Doctors say they'll know more after the surgery."
The look of concern in her eyes for Barry left him with a warm feeling, but also a sense of uncertainty. Like something about the situation felt misplaced.
"I appreciate the concern," Barry said. "But shouldn't you be with your brother? We barely know each other."
"Maybe in this time, but according to you we've lived most of our lives together," Iris replied. "A part of me can feel it too."
"What are you talking about, 'this time.' What other time is there?" Barry questioned.
"The one where you said we grew up together because that 'Man-in-Yellow' killed your mother and your father went to prison for it."
The fear returned in full force as the sensation of loss overwhelmed Barry once again. His eyes darted back and forth as he desperately searched his memories. He remembered telling her that story earlier today, but that was all it felt like: a story. As impersonal as recalling the plot to a movie. The weight of lived experience behind it all but disappeared.
The only thing that felt real was the sight of watching his mother get murdered in front of him as a child, and again as an adult when he stopped-
"Thawne is still out there!" Barry remembered.
Barry threw the covers off himself and looked down at his foot, which was wrapped in gauze. He flexed his foot back and forth, and felt stiffness but no pain. He unwrapped the bandage and saw his foot was all healed up.
"What's going on?" Iris asked.
"Where's my suit?" Barry pressed on.
"Mr. Ramon has it back at his company. He didn't want it known that he was helping Kid Flash so he took them off you guys when the ambulance was on it's way. Now answer me, what is-"
The rest of her question was lost as Barry broke into super speed, retrieved his suit, and returned to Park Plaza. The once vibrant city landmark looked like it had been hit by several bulldozers, as dirt columns protruded from the lawn and chasms spotted the ground. Blood also caked the ground in two spots, and he remembered about Mari and Oliver.
"Real tragedy isn't it?" a familiar voice cackled from behind.
Barry turned around and glared at the Reverse Flash, or rather Thawne, as he was speaking with his cowl off.
"This is all your fault," Barry accused.
"How is this my fault? I didn't do anything."
"Liar! I saw you at the site where Wally got hurt. I bet you were the one to stab Wally just so you can get back at me. You probably told that archaeologist where to find me and keep me distracted."
"You mean that kids is your friend? Well that's good to know for later," Thawne sneered.
"No, you planned everything."
"That's where you're wrong! That stupid British guy barely let me out of that little birdcage you made for me a few minutes before…what's his name? Wally?… got hurt. I went there thinking it was you in a fight and I just wanted to watch you suffer. Just like you are now. No…this…this is all you Flash."
All Barry wanted to do was punch that vindictive smile right off of Thawne's face. But a part of him knew that his nemesis was telling the truth. All of this madness started way before Thawne was released. And with his memories of that other life almost completely gone, he knew he was out of time.
The only thing left to do was to make a choice: leave all his friends to die in this time, or allow his parents to die in another.
"We need to go back in time," Barry admitted to himself. "To that night."
"To do what?" Thawne asked.
"You know what I need you to do," Barry faltered.
"Yeah. But I want to hear you say it," Thawne prompted.
Barry took in a deep breath, and searched for the strength to say what's next.
"I need you to kill my mother."
"I hate you," Barry glared.
"And I hate you" Thawne retorted. "And I sometimes wonder which of us is right."
Thawne lowered his cowl and held up three fingers to countdown when to start running.