"Bye!" said Wally cheerfully to his teammates as he walked to the zeta beam in the cave. It announced his departure and he suddenly found himself in Central City.
The smile slid off his face as he turned and ran in the direction of his house. He really wasn't looking forward to going home. His parents were going through one of their rocky stages. He had noticed it around the time he had started school, when he came home after a mission to find his parents screaming at each other.
At the time he had snuck upstairs, hoping that they would work things before morning, and as it turned out, it had been better in the morning. Unfortunately, it all went to crap two nights later when his Dad stormed into the kitchen and started yelling at him mom. Again he ignored it, but it became harder to ignore the third, fourth, and fifth time he caught them arguing.
He had thought it would get better with time, but over the past couple of months things had gotten worse, the occasional fights were becoming more and more frequent.
His father worked for some factory during the afternoon shift from three in the afternoon to eleven at night, he typically came home after midnight, and his mother worked a typical nine to five, so the only time the two saw each other—and Wally for that matter—during the week, was late at night, which was when the yelling typically started up.
This gave Wally, who usually got in between midnight and three in the morning, a front row seat to a lot of their nastier arguments.
It finally reached a point where Wally would stagger in every night, exhausted from a mission or patrol, desperate to lay down and get some sleep, only to be kept up by the sound of angry voices from across the hall or down the stairs.
He didn't understand exactly why his parents had been fighting so much lately. Every so often he caught phrases like "not paying bills", "where have you been", "you're not doing enough," "Don't you care about me," being flung between the two, but he still wasn't sure why this was happening.
Every once in a while Wally found himself wondering if his parents were going to get a divorce. Of course, this thought wasn't new. His parents' relationship with each other and with him had never been all that good. There were times in his childhood when Wally found himself walking on eggshells; worried that one little mistake would finally destroy their delicate family structure.
What Wally didn't understand was that his family was already beyond saving. He didn't know that by running towards home, he was leaving everything he cared about behind. He didn't have the faintest clue.
Wally ducked into an alley to change into his civvies, and he walked home casually, checking his watch as he walked up the steps to his house. It was one am on a Thursday, he remembered this fact later because it was the last thing he saw before his life fell to pieces.
Wally opened the door and blinked hard, trying to figure out what he was seeing.
His father was standing over his mother, who was curled against the wall, crying.
"You lousy—" the rest of the man's sentence was lost in a snarl as he, raised a hand to strike his wife.
Wally saw it fly in slow motion and his feet moved.
A blur zoomed in and blocked the punch that the man was about to throw at the cowering woman.
Wally West stood there facing his father, looking horrified.
"Dad, what are you doing?" he whispered, his eyes wide.
Wally saw the fist heading towards him, but his mind was blank with shock; he didn't even register the fact that his father was attacking him until the clenched hand collided with the side of his face. Wally was knocked sideways into the wall, and he leaned against it for support, gasping is surprise. His mother screamed.
"Don't you interfere you runt!" he barked before turning back to his wife.
"Is he even mine?" he demanded, gesturing at Wally
"Y-Yes! Rudolf, I swear, it was only a misunderstanding!" she gasped, horrified.
"Well misunderstand this", Rudolf yelled moving to kick his wife.
Wally pushed himself off the wall and dived at his father, knocking him down.
Rudolf grunted as he hit the ground. By the time he got back up both his son and his wife were gone.
Wally stopped running as he reached a park near the edge of the city that was lit by streetlamps. He set his mother down on a bench, gently.
"Mom—" Wally didn't even know how to finish the sentence. He touched his mother's swollen face, his eyes filling with tears. "Mom, why did he…why?"
Wally looked devastated as her stared at his mother.
"I d-deserved it" she sobbed. Wally's eyes widened with shock and horror.
"No! Mom, this…this is not okay! He has no right to—wait! How long has he been doing this?" Wally demanded.
"Oh, baby, he's never hurt me before! I—I just—I was with another man and…well I was drunk and…well your father found out and…Wally, I deserved it."
"You were cheating?" Wally asked, shocked, then he shook his head.
"Wait no, that's not the point, he has no right to hit you! No right at all!"
"He didn't mean it, Wally, he's never done it before. I'm sure if I just go back to the house and talk to him…" she looked up with watery eyes that just begged him to drop it.
"No, Mom!" said Wally vehemently.
"Wallace West you take me home right this instant!"
"I'm sorry, but I can't."
"I'm begging you!" she screamed, and Wally blanched. She was using the exact tone she used when she was arguing with his dad. The thought made him cringe.
"Please, this is embarrassing enough without you making a fuss over it" she said, looking at him brokenly "Please, let me fix things. I messed up, baby, please take me back and fix it"
Wally looked at his mother's expression, and felt torn. He hadn't seen this coming, he honestly hadn't. It had never even crossed his mind that his father was capable of doing such a thing. He didn't know what to do.
A part of him wanted to do what his mom told him to. He just wanted to rush home so his parents could make up and go back to the way things were, when his mother didn't cry every day and his father didn't shout—but…but the bruises on his mother's face…
"No, Mom" said Wally quietly. "No, we can't go back there tonight" Wally still had no clue what to do but he did know that heading back home right now was not a good option. Though the man had never been violent before, Wally knew that his father could be in a rage for hours at a time. There was no way he was letting his mother anywhere near him right now.
"Wally, we have nowhere else to go!" his mother exclaimed, still crying.
"We'll go to Uncle Barry's" said Wally automatically. Uncle Barry will know what to do. Uncle Barry always knows what to do. He thought.
"No, we can't" said his mother frantically.
"No, Wally! Iris is Rudy's brother, we can't tell her about this, it'll mess things up for her and Rudy. Besides, Iris and Barry wouldn't understand. They don't understand our family, but you do, don't you Wally? You know he doesn't mean it. You know he loves us. He won't do it again."
Wally felt his resolve cracking; his mother sensed this and hit him with the trump card.
"Come on Sweetie-green-eyes, do it for me?" she begged, using the absurd nickname that she'd been calling him for as long as he could remember.
Wally sighed; he was beaten and they both knew it.
"Well, I guess we can go home…" said Wally hesitantly, "but let's go to a diner first or something. Just wait a bit while he cools off."
"Thank you baby" his mother said, kissing his cheek. Wally nodded, wondering if he was doing the right thing, and picked up his mom, speeding towards the nearest twenty-four hour diner.