When Wally awoke, he really wished he didn't wake at all.
Every part of his body felt heavy, and his chest was on fire. He couldn't part his eyelids, feeling like they were glued together with some form of enhanced super-glue. Even breathing was a challenge, with his breaths coming out short and laboured.
The only comforting thing he could feel was the warmth of the object which snuggled comfortably against him. Unable to open his eyes to identify the object snuggled beside him, he slowly and painfully raised his arm to allow his fingers to roam over the object.
Wally, on any other day, would have immediately recognized the thing he felt as hair. But this wasn't any other normal day and couldn't instantly recognize the object he felt on his fingertips. He immediately tensed and his eyes broke free of the invisible glue which stuck his eyelids together to face the white glare of the medic room which was very dimly lit.
When his eyes focused on the mane of blonde hair spread out over his torso and he immediately relaxed. He closed his eyes in relief, but the emotion was soon replaced with sheer panic and pain.
Memories slaughtered his mind, leaving no mercy with any details. When his mind decided to revisit the memory of the beating he took the day before, his chest seemed to alight with a new wave of pain. That, along with waking up, was something Wally wished didn't happen.
He stared down at the snuggled blonde archer, wondering what she was doing there and also what the heck the time was. He glanced out at the window, squinting slightly at the new brightness. The sun had only just risen, and Wally deduced the time to be something around 7:00 AM.
Wally glanced around, avoiding the urge to move. After all, there was no need to wake Artemis up. She seemed perfectly content with her head tucked somewhat between his arm and chest and her legs entwined with his with a thin medic sheet on top of them.
Although the pain was horrible, Wally knew he was most likely dosed up and was only experiencing a little taste of the pain which his body was in. He attempted to study his wrapped chest, but was unable to see anything because of the mane of blonde hair which also covered his chest. A strap around his right wrist concluded that it was sprained. Other stinging cuts he could feel were stitched up, and he knew that this entire shebang would probably put him off missions for a while.
The whole thought of being put off missions really didn't help with the whole situation. And then that thought seemed to strike an entire parade of thoughts which relinquished any sort of happiness or content left deep within him.
They're all going to think you're a failure.
Rob won't ever trust you again.
Artemis is sympathetic.
They're all sympathetic.
They'll never think the same of you ever again.
Oh seriously just shut up.
Wally couldn't deal with the voices. He'd deal with them once he dealt with everything else first. Like somehow waking the archer and hoping she wouldn't kill him.
'Seemed to do the trick in Bialya….' A small voice piped up in his head.
He sighed, deciding he may as well. "Hey, hey beautiful. Wake up." His voice was raspy and had that exhausted tone to it, but he was rewarded with a groan from the archer, her body automatically stretching as it woke. She took only a moment to process where she was, slowly looking up at him. His mouth stretched into a fake grin which she seemed to see right through.
"You alright there, Miss Thing?" His voice was slightly clearer, but still had a scratchy tone to it.
"Fine," She managed, slowly sitting up. She made a disgusted sort of sound when she saw her hair, which was a tangled mess at the back. Artemis examined her hair before sighing, flinging it over her shoulders. "And how about you, Kid Mouth?"
At least their name-calling habits didn't change. "Oh you know, totally peachy."
A comfortable silence settled between them, and Artemis was just about to speak up before she was interrupted by the door opening.
Wally didn't recognise the brunette woman. She shut the door behind her, looking up from her clipboard. "Ah good, you're both up," She began, giving them a sort of strange look. "I would have checked on you earlier, but you were both asleep. Sleep for you, Wally, is something which you'll be doing a lot of in the next week. Lots of rest and recovery for you."
Wally groaned. She was clearly stating that there was strictly no running. Artemis began to slide off from the bed, but Wally stopped her with his hand grabbing her wrist. He really didn't want to be left alone with some woman whom he barely knew. Especially when he was in a state like so.
Artemis studied him for a moment before settling back down to sit on the bed. The woman began again. "I'm Doctor Ruddick, by the way. The League's most trusted doctor, so there's no need to feel unsafe. Or Isodelle, if you prefer. Now, Wally, how exactly do you feel?"
She gave him a stern look and he sighed. "Sore."
"As expected. Your injuries are to quite some extent. Certain, ah, cuts began bleeding again and you've got a lot of stitches. Sprained wrist, bruises and a couple of broken ribs also are included. The main issue was the, uh, carving."
He held up his left hand. He didn't want to hear it. Especially when she called it a carving. It twisted his stomach to think of the word. People carved objects, trees and paper. People didn't carve into their own kids.
She immediately stopped her sentence, understanding written over her face. "You're allowed some more pain killers in about three hours. If anything starts hurting in particular more than what it is now, just tell someone."
Wally nodded and she took that as her que to leave. She shut the door gently behind her.
Instead of the familiar comfortable silence, an awkward one replaced it between the two teens. "So…" Artemis began, "I take it you don't want to talk about it?"
Wally didn't answer with words, but rather a raspy laugh. "No, no. I'll have to later anyway, so I may as well leave it to then."
Another awkward silence. Wally cleared his throat.
"Y-" He hesitated, and Artemis gave him a quizzical look.
He sighed and began again, "You won't think differently of me, will you?"
It wasn't a question Artemis prepared herself for. She stared at Wally and her eyes softened.
Wally was supposed to be the clown. The jokester who could cheer anybody up with a joke or just by embarrassing himself majorly. Wally was Kid Flash- a well known hero. Heroes were strong and invincible. She knew what Wally was thinking. That everyone's perspective of him would change because of something which he had no control over.
Alright, inspirational speech time. "You're strong, Wally. Just because we found out something doesn't change our perspective of you. That scar right there," She gestured to his chest, "it doesn't change you. So you shouldn't let it change you."
Wally sort of just tilted his head and studied her. She rolled her eyes, "God, you're annoying."
"There we go," Wally grinned, and was rewarded with that sentence by a (gentle) slap behind the head, "That's the Artemis I know."
She resisted rolling her eyes the second time. "Seems like you and me have another thing in common."
"Yeah. We've got jerks as dads."
It was nice to hear Wally laugh again.
When Artemis left, explaining that she still had her standards to keep, Wally let the smile fade. His eyes clenched, fighting off images and memories. Stubborn tears came to his eyes, but he blinked them back. His dad, as Artemis said, was a jerk. He didn't deserve any tears from Wally.
But it was hard. It was so, so hard. To know your own flesh and blood, your very own father, despised you. That he didn't care for you. That he scarred you because that was his way of 'love'. Some kind of love it was.
Sadness was replaced by anger. Anger at himself, his dad, Rob, his mum and the world. He wanted to throw things, smash things and scream at things. Scream at someone. Eventually, his anger took over his common sense. He sat up; ignoring the pain it brought him and threw the pillow which he had just slept on at the wall. His anger quelled a bit, but then flared up again when he realized that he had just caused himself more pain. His ribs screamed and his chest hurt so badly. He breathed out raggedly, clenching his eyes.
God, it couldn't be happening. Why him? Why him?
He didn't fight the tears. God, he felt weak. He hated feeling weak. He wanted to be up running, saving girls and the world, doing homework, studying, flirting and fighting the bad guys.
He didn't move, realizing that yeah, he had just pulled his stitches. Wanting to throw something else, he was stopped by the sound of the door opening. His eyes quickly jumped to the pillow on the floor then to the door.
Wally didn't know what he felt when his uncle stepped in to the room. Relief, safeness, happiness and joy were probably what he should have been feeling. But instead, he felt cautious and a bit fearful.
Now that he was somewhat fine, would his uncle lecture him? Would he even put Wally back in line of duty after this?
The first thought was immediately relinquished once his uncle gently hugged him. "Oh god, Kid. Jeez. I- Oh god." His uncle muttered, letting go after a quick scan. Wally smiled at his uncle who was in a bit of a crazed state. Wally could understand why.
The only sort of lecture Wally got after all was about pulling his stitches. In response, he pointed to the pillow and his uncle only raised an eyebrow, but dropped it.
"Your aunt has been called in. Believe me, I thought all the crew members would be set alight with the looks she was giving them," Barry inquired.
Wally smiled at the thought, "It's okay. I get it."
Another silence filled the room. "Where is he?" Wally finally asked.
Although he would love to continue the love-fest between himself and his uncle, anger was still lingering. It was directed at his father, and Rudy became his focus. His dad needed to pay.
He realized that, usually, this was not the type of thinking he would do. But, of course, it wasn't a usual day.
Barry faltered. "We… We don't know."
Wally nodded, expecting as much. His father was good at hiding. But maybe this time, he would be found. After all, he was being hunted down by Batman himself.
Another silence. Barry cleared his throat, opening his mouth once to say something but stopping himself. He eventually persuaded himself to continue.
"Wally… the main deal is the scar. It's permanent…"
"Well, isn't that what scars are?" The disapproving look his uncle gave him for joking immediately shut Wally up.
"Doctor Ruddick suggests that the scar was given to you before you got your powers. Please, Wally, please tell me she's wrong."
And god, how Wally wished he could tell his uncle that Isodelle was wrong. That this was just some miscalculations on her part and the scar would fade completely in time. But Wally couldn't tell him that. So he told him nothing at all. His uncle sighed, "Alright, I get it. You don't want to talk, and that's only fair."
Another silence. These silences were beginning to grate on Wally's nerves. He hated the silence.
Barry and Wally stayed in the room, smiling like nothing was wrong. Barry even told Wally of how he planned to surprise Iris for the wedding anniversary in a month's time. At one stage, he even slipped Wally a double scoop strawberry swirl ice-cream which tasted like heaven. The laughter had hurt Wally's stomach and his chest had protested majorly, but he kept on laughing. Because Wally West was meant to laugh and joke, not mope and feel sorry for himself.
Eventually, the good time came to an end.
"Kid, I'm sorry, with patrol off last night villains think I've taken the day off. There are major bank robberies…" His uncle trailed off, guilty at the thought of leaving Wally.
Wally smiled, "It's fine."
"I'm sorry kid. I- I really do wish I could stay."
"Get out the door before I get up and push you out of it."
His uncle hugged him, wishing to never let go. He finally left, and the room was filled with silence again. Wally didn't mind.
"Rudy's been tracking Wally," Dick opened up the evidence on the computer screen to show Bruce, "He's hacked into the school history to look at his reports and the list goes on from there," More typing was done, and files appeared.
"All of his hacking has been done through Internet Cafes. From history, I don't think he'd be able to pay for his own internet anyway. As soon as the domestic violence charges were laid, Mary filed divorce and got everything except Wally, which was by her choice. Rudy was behind bars for about a year but was granted bail. Trying to find the guy who actually paid the money for the bail, though. Rudy managed to get a cheap flat somewhere around in Central and has been located in numerous pubs and clubs. He also gained a few drink driving tickets. His files are more… private than anyone else's and from what I can find; someone is working to keep him under protection."
Bruce leaned forward, interlocking his fingers below his chin. "And your lead?"
Dick rubbed his eyes, tired from the events which had occurred. "He goes to the pub every Friday night around seven-" He was cut off by the sound of something beeping.
Barry's voice entered the Cave through the small communicator, "He's awake."
"Good, we need some answers," Batman's gruff voice replied to the speedster, who just seemed to just sigh and turn the communicator off.
"Bruce, you can't be serious! He's just been domestically abused and you want him in for questioning?" Dick whirled on his legal guardian, disbelief written all over his face.
"I am very serious. If Rudy appears at the pub tomorrow, seeing as it's Friday, I need all the evidence I can get."
"Bruce, please! I know he's distracting himself from it now to relieve himself from the pain, but when you begin questioning him you'll be pulling him right into something he doesn't want to be involved. He won't be able to deal with it, Bruce, so why try it anyway?"
Bruce sighed, irritated. His ward was on to something, as much as it pained him to admit. But he needed answers and evidence. And he needed more information on that scar. But maybe pushing the boy wasn't the best idea, especially since the boy didn't want to be pushed.
"You can talk to him," Bruce declared, "And get some answers."
"No way. Go get your own answers through someone else. I'm going to go talk to him, but not for answers. I'm going to talk to him and be the great uplifting best friend who should already be there right now."
Before Bruce knew it, Dick was storming out of the bat-cave. Dick was tired and exhausted and more than a little snappy, Bruce knew. His best friend had also kept some major secrets from him, and to find out like… well, this was probably more overwhelming than anything else.
Dick was, after all, only thirteen years old. Bruce had to remind himself that he had been through harder stuff than most people around the world and was only just beginning his life. Bruce knew he had been pushy and was slightly guilty over the fact, but he still needed those answers.
Bruce Wayne took one last glance at the evidence on the screen before closing it and pulling over his cowl. Batman was now looking for answers.
And he would get them.
Hey guys. I'm so sorry about the wait. I'm way out of practice (I've had to trash this chapter about 4 times before I was somewhat satisfied.)
I've been at Nationals and another home state competition, so I've been a bit busy. I should be okay now with updates because it's the 7 weeks holiday.
I know this chapter probably isn't that great, but hey, I decided to go for it.
In case I don't update within the next week or so, MERRY CHRISTMAS to you all. I wish you all the best and hope you all stay safe. Enjoy the holidays!
(And if you don't celebrate Christmas, then happy holidays!)
Oh, and anybody notice the change in my pen name? ;)
(Please review? :))