Disclaimer: Sadly, I don't own the rights to Young Justice, the comics or the show or any of the characters associated with it. I do, however, own a computer and therefore the right to whump them all however I like. *evil cackle*
A/N: Just so you know, KF has blue eyes. Why? Because I'm weird, and Wally had blue eyes in both Teen Titans and Justice League Unlimited. Color me biased.
This ficlet—well, it's not really a ficlet anymore—was inspired by Aedien's "Heroes Need Neroes", which is also a very good kidnapping!Wally fic. Feel free to check it out.
School was so boring!
Wally groaned inwardly as dropped his head into his folded arms. At the front of the room Ms. McEntyre droned on and on—something about solving a quadratic equation, which he already knew how to do. For Wally, anything that took six hours long was a waste of his time, and school was no different. In fact, school was probably the best example.
Six hours. Puh-lease. More like six months. Just like three minutes was more like three hours, and if he had to wait another three minutes (hours) before school let out, he thought he might scream.
Most of the kids were already packing their backpacks, all interest in Ms. McEntyre lost as their eyes glued to the digital clock, the red numbers seemingly forever stuck three minutes before the bell rang. Except for maybe Sarah Wheeler, whose attention was riveted on their language arts teacher like she held the Holy Grail in her hands. Sarah was one of those hot, teacher's pet chicks that Wally could never touch because of his reputation (but if he had to choose between the airhead, total babe blonde cheerleader Lexi and Sarah, he'd go for Sarah every time—much more interesting to talk to a hottie with a brain). Her hand was busy flying across the paper as she took an entire composition book full of notes.
Wally heard the bell first—or maybe he just reacted first, either way. He had to make sure he didn't blur the rest of his classmates in his hurry to get out and managed a brisk walking pace (which probably looked like a flat out sprint to everyone else).
"Hey, Wally! Wait up!"
If Wally hadn't recognized the voice he would've groaned aloud at the interruption to get back to Mt. Justice. Turning he spotted one of his civvie friends, Alex Jimenez, a short Latino boy with a sparkly sense of humor. He and Wally had been best friends for years.
"Hey, Alex," Wally said as his friend caught up with him. "What's up?"
"Nothin' man," Alex said, grinning as he shouldered his backpack. "We just never hang anymore, you know? You're always taking off to who knows where."
Wally kicked at the tile floor guiltily. He had a responsibility to the Young Justice team, but still—real life could be a bitch. "Sorry, dude," he said, and he meant it. He'd known Alex since before he became Kid Flash; it'd be good to hang out every once in a while. "Just got caught up with things. But we could hang out this weekend, sound cool?"
Alex's brown eyes sparkled as they flowed with the crowd, stepping into the warm sunshine. He held up a fist, and Wally pounded it, grinning. "Sounds great, dude. My place. I'll pick you up."
"Nah, I can walk," Wally said, shrugging.
Alex shook his head and grinned. "Whatever, dude. Later." He waved and they both moved to opposite ends of the school, heading for their buses. Kids bumped up against Wally as his red Chuck Taylors slapped against the concrete and he gave a satisfied sigh. Sometimes being a civvie had its perks.
That's about when the screaming started. Wally reacted instantly, whirling, his blue eyes scanning the crowd of students for the source. It wasn't hard to find; people were running and shrieking from the same direction. Wally was about to dart forward and then he remembered—he wasn't Kid Flash right now! He was Wally West, and Wally West didn't super-speed towards screaming people.
"Crap," he muttered, getting jostled as kids ran past him. He couldn't exactly change in the middle of the school courtyard, and he couldn't get past this crowd enough to get to a private place to change. This sucked.
Wally's head whipped to the right as Alex's voice echoed into his ears, followed by the unmistakable pop of gunshots. He couldn't see his friend, but his legs were already moving forward to get to him, and get to him fast. As he raced forward (probably a little faster than a normal kid would run, but hey, nobody's perfect, and drastic times called for drastic measures), the crowd thinned until only a few people, probably the ones who tripped on the way out, remained. Alex was on his hands and knees, unhurt except for a long cut on his arm that was bleeding sluggishly. Wally scanned the school grounds: no bad guys anywhere near his friend. So why did he call for help?
"Wally, look out!" Alex screamed. Wally skidded to a stop as he realized what that meant. Well duh—why would Alex be calling for help from his best friend? He wasn't—just warning him about—
Something hit him then, straight in the back. Wally fell to his knees with a choked gasp but recovered quickly, turning with a spin kick (he should use that in a break-dance sometime) and leapt to his feet. The sight that greeted him was an unexpected one. The man was tall and he was wearing a ski mask, but he was still just a man, and nothing more. Wally was honestly expecting a super-powered, badly-dressed, crazy-eyed villain he needed the rest of his team to finish off. This was just embarrassing.
"There you are," the man said, grinning as he reached towards Wally.
Wally recoiled, hands up. "Sorry I'm late," he retorted, unable to stop himself. "I had detention."
The man didn't react, and it took Wally a second (a second too long, but that was only to Wally, of course) to realize that he wasn't looking at him, but at something behind him. He started to turn when something white flashed across his vision and then suddenly there was a wet rag on his face.
Aw, crap. His eyes widened as his arms wind-milled, trying not to breathe. This was chloroform, and if this was chloroform, then he was being kidnapped. Kidnapped, as in, civilian kidnapped! He could very easily get out of this one as Kid Flash… but he wasn't Kid Flash. He was freaking Wally West!
Sometimes it sucked to be Wally West.
Flash was supposed to pick up Wally today. He cursed under his breath as he punched some goon in the face, taking down another with a swift kick to the stomach in the same second. Stupid—fastest man alive and he was going to be late picking up his nephew from school.
All because some idiot decided to rob a bank in his city!
"Look, guys," Barry said, trying his best to sound reasonable as he ran circles around the small gang of would-be thieves, "I'm sure you all have a very good reason for robbing banks right at this moment, but seriously, couldn't it have waited until an hour from now? Or even thirty minutes. I have somewhere I need to be!"
They didn't appreciate his sense of humor, of course. Seldom people did.
Flash rounded them all up quickly and wrapped them in a fire hose he found outside the building on the way in. He tipped a salute to the police chief as he raced past him, a streak of red taking off down the street. Quickly he ran into a nearby restaurant and changed into his civvies, leaving the customers wondering who he was as he raced outside to his car.
"Sorry, Wally," he muttered under his breath as he turned the corner to where Wally's school was. "I'm late, I know."
He nearly ran over a student, who was screaming and crying. Slamming on the brakes, the girl placed both hands on the hood of the car and shrieked, "There's a masked man with a gun at the school!"
Barry's heart dropped to his toes. "Wally," he breathed, yanking the door open.
"Batman to Mount Justice."
Robin looked up as Batman's face flashed across the large television screen in the training room. Something in his mentor's face looked tighter than his usual glare. "What's wrong, Batman?" he asked point-blank.
"Where's the rest of your team?" Batman demanded, ignoring the question. Robin bristled slightly and crossed his arms.
"KF's still at school, Artemis is reading, Supey's helping Miss M cook and Aqualad's meditating." His eyes narrowed behind his mask. "What happened?"
Batman didn't answer right away. Instead he fixed Robin with a steady stare, which Robin was unfazed by. Finally Batman said, "Gather the team up. Flash is coming by. He'll fill you in."
"Did he say 'Flash'?" Artemis repeated, closing her book as she got up from the couch. "Like, the real Flash?"
"KF's a real Flash," Robin said, slightly irritated. "But yeah, he did. I wonder what's wrong?"
"Recognized: The Fla—"
"Where is everyone?" Flash said rapidly before the computer had finished announcing his presence.
"We are here," Kaldur said, walking in with Conner and Megan.
Flash took off his cowl, revealing Barry's panicked, pale face and frantic blue eyes. "Wally's missing."
The elder hero ran a hand through his blonde hair. "I was going to pick him up from school, but I was a little late," he admitted. "By the time I got there some freak was unloading a gun on the school grounds. I went to change into Flash but when I got back out whoever did it was gone, and so was Wally."
"So you think whoever was pumping bullets into KF's school is the one who took him?" Robin theorized. At Barry's nod, he went over to the giant computer and typed a few commands into the keyboard on his wrist. A red dot blinked on the holographic screen. "This is his comm.," he said, pointing. "If we're lucky they didn't realize that KF's, well, KF, and left it on him."
"So we can track him?" Megan said hopefully.
"Where is he now?" Flash asked briskly.
The thirteen-year-old squinted at the screen. "Some warehouse by the docks off of Keystone City," he said, pointing. There was a slight whoosh, and the Scarlett Speedster was gone.
"He's worse than you are," Superboy told Robin, deadpan.
Robin scowled and pressed the comm link in his ear. "Robin to Batman."
"Flash just took off," he said, crossing his arms over his chest and resisting the urge to pout. "I was under the impression we were all supposed to find KF on this mission?"
There was a brief pause, and then Batman said, "You are."
"That clears that right up," Artemis retorted.
Batman pretended not to hear her comment. "Flash is waiting for you outside Kid Flash's school. I'd hurry—he doesn't like to wait."
"Sound like someone we know?" Robin said dryly. The five of them sprinted to the teleporter and vanished in a flash of light.
Wally woke up faster than most people would've, given the situation. His memory returned faster, too, which is why he didn't automatically kick the bad guy's butts as soon as his bleary blue eyes focused on them. They were in a van, he observed as the vehicle went over a painful bump. His hands had been cuffed behind him, but they'd neglected to restrain his feet, too. Wally smirked slightly, laying his head back down and closing his eyes. These guys were in for a rude awakening.
He was still in his civilian clothes but that wasn't usually an issue if he was moving fast enough. Most of the time he was a blur to the passerby—he knew because he'd seen himself on TV. All he really had to do was wait for a good time to knock the three men in the van out without them realizing they'd been duped by a kid.
But of course it wasn't going to be that easy. The van pulled to a stop and Wally forced his muscles to relax and play dead—er, unconscious. Light flooded in under his eyelids as the back door opened and arms scooped him up and out of the van. It took everything he had not to tense at the contact and he willed himself to lie limp as whoever held him walked a short distance and, before Wally could do anything, sat him in a chair.
Wally thought that moment would be a perfect time to "wake up". His eyelids fluttered open and then he jerked with a gasp as the cuffs were unlocked and then relocked around the bars of the chair. He caught a small glance at the man dressed in black standing before him before a dark piece of material was slid over his eyes as a blindfold.
He swore in his head. You couldn't run if you couldn't see.
"Wally West," the man in front of him said.
Kid Flash tensed, more annoyed than scared. "Oh, dude, you are in so much trouble," he snapped.
"Your uncle doesn't scare me," the man said. Wally froze. He couldn't possibly know that Barry was the Flash, could he? If he did, he would've connected the dots that Flash's red-haired side-kick was also his red-haired nephew, and nobody was stupid enough to kidnap a meta-human's side-kick, especially if they were family.
"He should," Kid said instead. He needed to play this one by ear—literally.
"Oh, but he doesn't," the man said, chuckling a little bit. "There is only so much a police scientist could do. But save you? I highly doubt it."
KF had to be careful not to slump in relief. They didn't know, thank God. But then why kidnap him? Wally West wasn't anyone important, and neither was his uncle. "You'd be surprised," he said aloud, playing along. "He's caught a lot more bad guys with nothing but a shoe and some luminal. And he has some friends in some high places." Insert inside joke here.
The man didn't answer, but his footsteps indicated that he was walking around the chair to stand behind Wally. Wally didn't follow him; he was the dumb, smart-mouthed kid in this situation, and he had to act like it—at least until the team could arrive and kick butt.
"What do you want from me?" he asked, trying to prompt a reason behind his kidnapping.
"Your uncle took my son away," the man said. "I think it's about time to return the favor, don't you?"
Wally froze again. Revenge was always a bad, bad thing when it came to being a hero, but this was a little ridiculous. "I don't understand."
"And you don't have to."
There was a bit of shuffling around, and then another voice said, "Smile for the camera."
The answer came with the blow to his ribs.
"Now I know how Kid feels," Flash retorted as the team made its way towards him. He stood with his arms crossed in the parking lot, away from the flashing police vehicle lights, suited up and tapping his foot impatiently. "You guys are so slow!"
"Sorry," Artemis retorted, "Kid hasn't outrun us in a while."
"C'mon, guys," Robin said, shaking his head, frustrated, "we can't bicker at a time like this! KF needs us!"
"Where'd you say the tracker was?" Barry asked, ignoring Artemis' eyeroll.
Robin pressed a few of the holographic buttons on his wrist computer. "Couple of blocks down that way," he said, pointing.
"You'll need a car," the elder Flash mused, looking around.
"Newsflash, Red," Artemis snapped, "none of us can drive yet."
"On the contrary," Kaldur said in his calm, placating voice, "I was taught to pilot surface-dweller vehicles when I took the apprenticeship of Aqualad."
"I can fly," Megan spoke up. "Give you some air cover."
"Good idea," Barry said. "Be right back." He sped his way through the parking lot until he came upon high school kids about hanging around a shiny, sleek black van. "Hey, fellas," he said, flashing them a grin. "Mind if I borrow this?" He climbed into the van and drove off with it, leaving the teens with their mouths gaping open.
Robin gave Flash an eyebrow as he stepped out of his newly acquired vehicle. "Did you just steal that car from a bunch of teenagers?"
"I'm giving it back," Flash said defensively.
"Whatever," Artemis said, climbing inside. "Lead the way, Red."
Kaldur's driving skills were more than appalling. To keep up with Flash's break-neck speed he crossed onto sidewalks, ran red lights, and sped the whole way there. When Robin finally signaled that they were coming up on the warehouse Kaldur swerved into a rapid donut and barely managed to keep from crashing the entire left side of the van into the curb.
Artemis and Robin fell out, Superboy looking unperturbed and Aqualad pleased with himself.
"Dude!" Robin exclaimed, looking a little green around the edges. "I thought they taught you how to drive in Land School!"
To his credit, Kaldur bowed his head in an effort to look sheepish. "It is much slower under water," he admitted.
"No time for that," Barry said, practically vibrating where he stood, impatient. "You said he was in this one, Mini-bats?"
Robin scowled at the nickname. "His tracker's here. I don't know if KF's here."
"I'll scout ahead," Flash said.
"Wait, that's not a—" A blur of red interrupted whatever Robin was about to say as Flash sped through the doorway of the warehouse. Robin sighed and finished his sentence. "—good idea."
"I like his style," Superboy said dryly, following at a slower pace.
"Let's go get sunshine back," Artemis agreed, smirking.
The warehouse was damp and dirty. "According to these logs," Robin said, beeping following him as he rapidly flipped through the internet on his holo-comp, "this used to be a fishing factory before an explosion caused it to shut down. Nothing on the owners so far, and—"
"Found Kid's tracking device," Barry said, back a second later. He held Wally's ear piece in his hand.
Aqualad glanced at Megan. "M'gaan?"
The redhead closed her eyes and shook her head after a second. "He's still out of my telepathic range," she apologized.
"Batman to Robin."
Robin pressed the ear piece in his ear. "Go for Robin."
"What did you find?"
"They removed his tracking device," he said, crossing his arms. "Megan can't reach him telepathically. We're back to square one."
There was a short pause, and then Batman said, "No, you're not. Come to Mt. Justice immediately. I will meet you there."
"What was that about?" Artemis asked, putting her hands on her hips.
Robin shrugged. "No clue. Flash, Batman says to meet him at Mt. Justice."
"Fine," Flash said shortly, and a few seconds later he was gone, dust billowing about the room in his wake.
They arrived at the mountain only a few minutes later with Flash's speed and Aqualad's break-neck driving. The teenagers at the curb barely had time to cuss Flash out as the Scarlett Speedster raced away in a streak of red. The computer announced their arrival as the teens and the Flash stepped through the teleporter.
Batman was already there, arms tucked in so his cape covered his arms and torso. He looked broody. He always looks broody, Robin thought. This shouldn't have been different—except it was.
"Tell me you found Kid, Bats," Flash said, practically vibrating in place impatiently.
Batman stared at him from under his cowl. It wasn't the famous Bat-Glare that he was so well known for, and that scared Robin more than he cared to admit. Finally he said, "Barry Allen has received an email."
Flash stared at him, dumbfounded. "Excuse me? How is this—" His voice cracked as the realization hit. "Oh, God, no."
"What?" Artemis asked, oblivious. "What does that mean?"
"Emails are usually bad when somebody close to you has been kidnapped," Robin said grimly. "Batman, this isn't what I think it is, is it?"
"We don't know yet," Batman said. There was a darker undertone to his voice that was more dangerous than usual—but Robin liked that he said 'we'. "It's your email, Flash, but it's an unknown sender and the subject line is Wally's name."
"Put it on screen," Flash said in a dangerously low voice.
Batman hesitated—no, that's not the right word. Batman never hesitates. Then his hand came up from out of his cloak and came up with the remote, clicking a button and pulling the email up to the screen.
"You kids sure you want to see this?" Flash asked quietly, looking at them.
Kaldur gazed at the rest of his team, asking silently if it was alright if he answered for them. At their nods he stepped forward. "We do."
"And we're not kids," Robin said. He realized with a shock that his voice had dipped, too.
There was a link in the email that Batman clicked, and then a video was loading. Robin's stomach clenched. Videos are bad.
"Smile for the camera," was the first thing that registered, even if the split second picture of Wally appeared before the words came out. Wally still looked like Wally—in the civilian sense. His hands were restrained behind him and he was sitting in a chair, a blindfold over his eyes, red hair still fiery as ever. His teeth were grit as the first blow hit him straight in the ribs. Flash ground his teeth, too, clenching and unclenching his fists.
The sucker punch was followed immediately by a backhanded slap across the face. The man never got in the picture enough for Robin to see his face, or much of his head for that matter. After the slap it was back to the ribs again, each blow leaving KF gasping for air and unable to receive it. To his credit, he didn't make a sound—not until the unmistakable snap of ribs cracking pulled a strangled scream from him. Even Artemis back up a few steps, unnerved at the beating Wally was taking, while Superboy tightened his fists so hard his nails dug into his skin and it hurt a little bit.
"Oops," the man said, backing up a few steps. "I may have gone too far right there." He didn't sound remorseful at all.
"You… think?" Wally ground out between pants. He was doubled over against the pain in his ribs, blindfold still on. Flash grinned fiercely at the retort—Wally was hanging in there.
"How fast can he heal?" Robin asked, not taking his eyes off the screen.
"Depending on how much food he's had in the past hour and a half?" Flash answered. "Pretty fast, on a good day."
"And on a bad day?" It was Batman who asked, surprisingly.
Flash was silent for a second. "He won't be able to take much more of this," he said finally.
That wasn't what Robin needed to hear.
Wally's sarcastic remark cost him as the man darted forward again and grabbed him by the hair. Then he pulled a knife from out of nowhere—came from his belt, Robin noted—and held up to Wally's neck. Wally froze at the cool touch of metal against skin, but his posture wasn't at all afraid to his friends—it was rigid and tense and he looked pissed, even blindfolded and tied to a chair and beaten to a bloody pulp.
"See what happens when you take away people you love, Barry?" the man called over his shoulder, not turning to look at the camera.
Robin could hear Flash's teeth grinding, even from here.
The man didn't wait for an answer he wouldn't get. He raised the knife high in the air and brought it down fast, and the scream was the last thing they heard before the screen went black, a plain white triangle blinking inside a small square, asking if they wanted to play it again.
Wally wasn't doing too good. He wasn't doing too good at all.
Everything hurt. The blindfold was still on, unfortunately, but he could feel the unmistakable sticky, hot liquid running down his arms and soaking his shirt. At least it's red, he noted, amused at the thought. Then the blood won't ruin it too bad.
He was aware that he was delirious. He's lost a lot of blood. He probably shouldn't go to sleep. That was a funny thought, too. Don't go to sleep when all you see is black? Wally laughed, or tried to. As soon as he took a breath fire raced from his chest to his lungs and then he was coughing, coughing hard, a liquid-y cough that sounded strange, even to him. That really can't be good.
Wally wished he had something to eat. His stomach wasn't growling at him—it probably has other things to worry about—but he could still feel the pull of hunger among the other aches of his bruised and battered body.
Whoa, that's a lot of 'b's…
Vaguely he was aware of the man in front of him. The guy'd been standing there ever since he plunged a knife into Wally's shoulder. Wally really wanted him to take out the knife—although something in the back of his head told him it was probably the only thing keeping him from bleeding out now. The man hadn't said anything. Wally didn't care.
"Sorry, kid," the man said gruffly, suddenly. "Nothing personal."
Wally would've laughed that time if it didn't hurt so bad. "Nothing personal?" he echoed. "Seems plenty personal to me."
It was a miracle he got that sentence out, complete with grammar and punctuation and everything.
The man chuckled. "Yeah, well. I'd say you'll understand when you're older, but…"
But you probably won't make it to find out. Wally heard the words the man didn't say. Even with the blood loss and the hazy pain and the numbness his body was trying to supply for him to repair the damage he could hear the words the man didn't say. And for the first in a long time, he began to feel afraid.
His earpiece wasn't in his ear anymore, he'd noticed during the beating. Did his friends know where he was? That he was missing? If they didn't already they know now. Three guesses on where that tape's going.
Wally giggled. It wasn't funny. Uncle Barry watching Wally getting the crap beat out of him wasn't funny at all. He shouldn't laugh.
He couldn't help it.
Artemis had never felt so helpless. She didn't like helpless. Helplessness was being weak. Artemis was anything but weak.
She felt weak now, watching the Flash, her rival's mentor and uncle, pacing holes in the floor. Robin and Batman were crowded around the computer console, doing their geek stuff. M'gaan was cooking, as usual. From the smell of it, she was burning it, too. Aqualad stood next to her, watching the two Bat-nerds do their thing. Lord knew where Superboy went.
They were all sort of in shock at what had happened. Batman had asked Flash if a stab wound could've been fatal to KF. Flash hadn't answered, and that was enough for the a resounding yes to float through everyone's mind.
Artemis didn't trust KF—she didn't trust anyone, actually, but him specifically. Of all the people on the team he seemed to be the most suspicious of her, and she couldn't help thinking that it wasn't just because she 'replaced' Red Arrow on the team, although that must've had a big effect on it. Wally was the closest to ever come to finding out her secret, that day in the desert where he'd saved her life and she repaid him by almost spilling her guts. To a boy she didn't even know! Either she was that cocky she could kill him without him ever finding out who she was or because he had this irresistible pull or liking to him that made her—her—want to trust him.
Her brain told her it was the former but in her heart she knew it was the latter.
Still, even their banter had taken on a more playful tone, more for the verbal practice than any accusation. She got the feeling he'd forgiven her for taking his friend's place on the team, and this was just his way of showing it. And Artemis, no matter how hard she tried, couldn't stay mad at him, either, for not trusting her—he shouldn't, anyways. This was her job.
But it was scary to see Wally in the chair like that.
As a civilian he looked vulnerable and weak—a lot like her at the moment—and despite her efforts, she could feel that familiar tug of pain with every blow he took. Artemis hasn't felt pain like that for a long, long time. That pain was the reason she made it a point to never have friends. And here she went and had friends again and look what happened.
The knife had been the last straw for all of them, at least. That knife could've killed Wally. Everyone knew it didn't.
"Barry," Batman called suddenly, waving the elder Flash over. Batman called Flash by his real name. It was unnerving, to say the least, and Artemis hadn't even know Batman as long as the others had. She watched as the man in red stormed over to the computer console. She'd never seen the Flash get truly, really angry, not on television and not in real life. It kind of scared her a little, how someone so usually happy-go-lucky could turn around on a dime, just like that.
"Did you recognize the voice at all?" Batman demanded.
The Flash put his hand to his head as if to run it through his hair and ran into his cowl. He scowled, taking it off. "I've been making a list of people in my head who would, but I don't remember, Bats, I just don't."
"That's fine, Flash," Batman said. His gruff voice almost sounded gentle… in a Batman-y way. "It'll come to you. Robin and I have narrowed it down, too. Obviously this man is after revenge on your civilian identity."
"Yeah," Flash said. "I'm a police scientist. Although we don't really get picked on when people choose to get revenge on people. That's usually the cops' department."
Artemis almost smiled, because it was such a Wally thing to say.
"Forget about that," Batman said. "We managed to get a partial on the face. Robin?"
"Got it, Batman," Robin said, typing a few commands on his wrist computer. An image came up on the holographic screen. It was blurry, but the unmistakable form of the man's face appeared. Barry studied it for a long time, blue eyes attentive.
"I remember him," he said softly.
"Good," Robin said, rubbing his hands together. "Name? Address? Anything?"
Barry looked at him with a grin that was not at all humorous and shrugged. "He's supposed to be dead."
Robin slumped. "Oh."
"Name, Flash." Suddenly Batman was all business again.
"Corwin. Michael Corwin." Flash ran his hand through his hair again. "I put his son away a couple years back, and then about a year ago the poor kid died in prison. He never got over it—tried to take me to court and everything. After he lost in court, he committed suicide—or so we thought."
"You thought wrong," Robin said dryly.
Batman shot him a disapproving glare, but Artemis thought she understood. The stress about worrying about one of their own was getting to them. The natural superhero—even one without superpowers—was sarcasm.
Barry didn't seem to mind, either. He cracked a small smile. "Yeah, well, some CSI I turned out to be, huh?" he joked.
"Hey, you caught the guy, didn't you?" Robin pulled up a picture of Michael Corwin. "I can run these through traffic cams," he offered.
Batman nodded. "Do it."
It only took a few seconds before they were tracking the van Michael Corwin had bought, under the false name 'Jack Nichols'. "There's Wally," Robin said, pointing at the traffic cam that caught a small bit of Wally's face and bright red hair. He was being held bridal style by a large man with blonde hair. He was unconscious.
Robin looked to Flash for confirmation. "Corwin's brother," he said, voice tight. "Guess he's in on it, too."
By now everyone was crowded around the screen, Artemis included. She hadn't even realized that her shifting from foot to foot had subtly ended her right behind Robin's yellow cape. She peered over his shoulder, trying to keep up with the pictures as they tracked the van.
"There's them getting rid of his comm.," Robin pointed out.
Finally, after twists and turns the van finally pulled to a stop. This traffic cam was in a good position, and it was video instead of just pictures. The saw the men pulling out a cuffed, unconscious Wally and bringing him inside an old Laundromat.
"He's still in Central City," Robin announced. He turned around to face the rest of the teams. "So now what?"
"We go get him," Flash growled, turning to do his speeding disappearing act again.
Batman caught his wrist before he could. "No, we can't."
"Excuse me?" His voice had dipped to an all new low and it sent shivers down Artemis' spine.
Batman held the Scarlett Speedster's gaze. "If you go in there as Flash you'll blow his cover," he said evenly.
"I don't have time to worry about secret identities, Bats," Flash snapped. "That's my family who just got stabbed and so help me, I am going to get him out of there right now!"
"You need to think this through," Batman said sternly, but not unkindly. "The last thing Kid Flash needs is to have his cover blown after all of this. Let's do this my way, okay?"
Flash glared at Batman, but his gaze softened as they fell on the teens in the room, staring at the two elder heroes unsure of what to do. "Alright," he said, returning to his friend's steady stare. "We'll do this your way."
Wally woke quickly. He hadn't realized he'd fallen asleep, but now that he had he felt so much more alert. Something was going on, and he wasn't quite sure yet. The blindfold was still on, so running was out of the question. His stomach growled annoyingly—but that was a good thing. That meant he was healing, and—oh, no.
The knife was still buried in his shoulder. It felt like an extra limb, now—an extra limb he couldn't use. The pain was still there but he could feel that the skin had already regenerated itself around the blade, the soft tissue it'd ripped starting to grow back around it. Please, no, no, no, no… He couldn't be healing that fast with the stupid knife in his shoulder! Then he'd have to rip it out again!
Wally took deep breaths. Don't think about it. If he could close his eyes he would've but the gesture seemed pointless now. He's worry about the damn knife later. Right now he could tell that something was wrong now, and he wanted to be alert enough to know what it was.
Playing dead—unconscious, you idiot, don't think of it like that—seemed like the best way to go, so Wally let his chin drop to his chest again, trying really hard to ignore the knife hilt sticking out of his shoulder. He listened hard—there was arguing, some crashing, and the unmistakable sound of a gun going off. It took everything he had not to jump as a thump told him someone just died.
Footsteps shuffled towards him again and he felt a cool hand against his cheek. Wally shuddered involuntarily. It wasn't his uncle's hand, he knew that, and it wasn't at all loving. The hand pulled away again and then there was the sound of a chair scraping across tile floor.
"Well, Wally," the man from earlier said. He sounded chipper. It was creepy. "I don't know if you can hear me but your pulse says you're still alive for now. It seems your uncle really is as good as you thought he was. He's on his way here."
Wally's heart swelled with pride. Of course his uncle would find him. He always knew he would.
"Unfortunately for Barry, that's exactly what I'm counting on," the man continued, and just like that Wally's heart dropped to his toes. "Barry will have a little surprise waiting for him when he gets here, and neither of you are going to like it, provided you live until he gets here."
The man gave a guttural laugh. Wally didn't think it was very funny. He heard the man get up and he could hear the beeping of a keypad. And then the man sat down again. "You see, Wally," he continued as if he didn't care that the boy he'd kidnapped couldn't hear him, "once dear old uncle comes crashing through the door, that C4 will go off and then nothing will survive."
He leaned forward until Wally could feel his rancid breath washing over his face. "Not you." Breathe. "Not Barry." Breathe. "Not me."
You're crazy, Wally thought desperately. Absolutely apeshit nutjob psycho crazy off-the-rocker insane. The man didn't get up again. They stayed like that for a long time, and Wally could hear the crazy man talking to himself under his breath. Wally really needed to get out of here.
But there wasn't much he could do blindfolded, let alone having the buddy system with a psychopathic murderer. Plus there was that stupid knife in his shoulder. His body's natural painkillers were wearing off, big time, and now his shoulder was screaming in protest, accelerating healing or not. And he was still hungry.
Oh yeah, and I'm gonna get blown to bits as soon as somebody comes to rescue me.
As soon as the thought left his brain something happened. The man was on his feet, yelling, screeching almost. There was a presence in front of Wally but he still didn't move; he didn't want to hope that he might be safe finally, that it wasn't another freak who did find out his secret identity and wanted a piece of the action. Fingers yanked off the blindfold and Wally figured that was proof enough, and yet try as he might he couldn't pry his eyes open.
"Wally?" he heard his uncle's voice and it seemed way too worried than it should've been. Do I really look that bad? "Wally?"
Distantly Wally could hear the man screaming in the background. He really wanted to open his eyes to see the psycho getting his butt kicked. Finally his crusty eyelids pulled apart and he blinked blearily on his uncle's face. Instantly it went from worried to relieved. "You're gonna be okay, kid."
"What took you so long?" Wally slurred. Then his handcuffs were snapped. Something in that action made him bolt upright, knife or not, and twist behind him in his seat to see Superman—holy frickin' kryptonite, what was he doing here?—standing behind him in all his blue chested glory. "Superman?"
The Man of Steel looked down at him and gave him a wink. An amazed smile spread across Wally's face before he could stop it.
Wally turned to find his kidnapper face-planting a wall, where Batman was holding him steadily. All around the building—why did it look like a Laundromat?—were members of the Justice League and Young Justice, all crowding either the man who kidnapped him or himself. Wally couldn't help the lopsided grin from plastering on his face as he turned back to see his uncle—who, surprisingly, was in his civilian clothes.
"C'mon, kid," his uncle said warmly, "let's get you home." He helped him up, an arm around his shoulders to make sure he wouldn't trip. As they walked towards the hole that Superman- or Superboy- probably made Wally noticed a large man with a large bullet hole in his head lying on the ground. He must've been Crazy's partner. That's gratitude for you.
"This is unbelievable!" the kidnapper shrieked.
Wally managed a tired smirk in his direction. "Told you he had friends in high places."
The man gave a roar of rage, managing to knock Batman—this was Batman we're talking about, right?—back a couple of steps. He reached into his pocket and that's when Wally knew this was all going to hell.
He didn't even remember the explosion.
He hated hospitals. Hated, hated, hated hospitals. The nurses he could handle. Even the needles, which almost always got stuck in his skin because of the stupid accelerating healing and he'd have to rip them again—he could handle those. What he couldn't handle were the questions.
They usually involved his parents.
Whatever parents he had left.
Luckily for Wally, though, this time was a little different. Barry had taken care of all the questions, so there was only a little aggravation when he woke up the first time.
When he woke up the second time his uncle was gone, and his best friend was in his place. Robin was still in uniform, sprawled out across the uncomfortable looking chairs and snoring like there was no tomorrow. Wally smiled and watched him sleep—in a totally non-creepy way—and when he woke they talked and it was normal.
The third time he woke up Megan nearly tore his stitches hugging him again. She'd baked him cookies, and they were actually pretty good this time, too. Roy was in the fourth time he woke up, clapped him on the uninjured shoulder and gave him a rare Roy smile.
Wally was out of the hospital by the fifth time he woke up, the second day. His shoulder had healed and, while he was out because of the explosion, his uncle managed to pull out the knife with minimal pain—at least, none he could remember.
His uncle had hugged him for a long time after that. So had his aunt. Even now, running alongside his uncle as they raced through Central City for baddies to put away, he could see the sideways glances the elder Flash was giving him. Wally assured him that he was fine. Barry never seemed to believe him.
Barry explained Batman's plan to scare Corwin into submission by having the whole league show up. Wally still didn't get it, and Barry told him that he didn't have to. That was fine by him.
They stopped by the cemetery on the way back to Mt. Justice and Barry showed him where John Corwin was buried. He stared at the headstone, brain calculating the kid's age in his head again and again. "He was nineteen," he said quietly.
Barry was quiet, too. "Yeah," he said finally. "It was an easy wrap-up for me. Easy evidence. Easy arrest. Nothing's ever really easy in this life, is it?"
Wally didn't answer. It was a rhetorical question.
All members of the Justice League, and Young Justice, made it out of the building unscathed from the bomb. Michael Corwin, however, hadn't. It was unfair closure to Wally.
Barry eased a hand onto his shoulder. It wasn't stiff anymore, but Wally tensed anyways. Then he turned and grinned at his uncle. "So, Chinese for dinner?"
The elder Flash gave him a sly look. "Race you there."
The two took off in streaks of red and yellow.