Summary: Tag for Infiltrator. Wally was bothered by nearly drowning more than he let on. And bothered by how unbothered all his teammates seemed to be about it. After the mission's end, he makes tracks for the Rogues' bar and has to wonder whether it's a good or bad thing that his villains want to kill Cheshire for him.
The bar went dead quiet the moment Kid Flash stepped through the door. He held back a cringe, but still nearly lost his nerve and almost backed out, away from the hostile gazes . . .
Except there was really nowhere else for him to go this time of night. In the US. Which he wasn't limited to, given that his powers let him run across oceans, but right now he was just so tired and the idea of even being near water made his stomach churn unpleasantly, and for a moment he could taste the chlorine water of the pool again, just like he had while he was vomiting it out of his lungs.
Wally stumbled and grabbed onto the wall. He heard the door click shut behind him and suddenly felt very much like a deer in the headlights of a very large truck. The eyes on him were still hostile, but maybe just a little softer now. The Rogues have always had kind of a soft spot for him, he knew by how they pull their punches for him, and since he's friends with their two youngest members, or their alter egos at least.
Unfortunately, those two didn't seem to be in the bar.
Again, Wally almost turned tail and ran, but again it was the idea of going back to . . . anything else that kept him there.
"Are Piper and Trickster around anywhere?" he asked, hearing a slight waver in his voice and grimacing against it. He sounded like a lost child. Pathetic and vulnerable.
"You've got some balls coming in here, Ginger," growled some random two-bit criminal who was probably looking to join the Rogues, and thought that he could get on their good side by putting Wally in his place.
Then, suddenly Hartley, or the Pied Piper actually, was there, standing between Wally and the idiot.
"Back off," growled Piper, showing an unusual amount of aggression.
The idiot hesitated and looked like he was debating between backing down and trying to go through Piper. "You know who that guy is, don't you?" he asked.
"Don't be stupid. Everyone here knows who he is," said Piper.
"And you're defending him?"
"Got a problem with it?" challenged Piper.
The idiot grabbed the front of Piper's shirt . . .
And promptly let go when every Rogue in the bar stood up and reached for their weapons.
"You're crazy," the idiot growled.
Suddenly the door flew open and in ran the Trickster. "Crazy? Did someone say crazy? I was crazy once! They put me in a white room with padded–"
"Don't even get me started on you, moron," the idiot snapped.
"Hey Keith," growled Captain Cold, as he stepped forward.
"What?" There was a look in Idiot Keith's eyes that was even more pathetic than how Wally thought he probably looked. That jerk off was actually looking hopeful that Cold was going to stand up for him against the three teenagers. What a dumbass.
"You want to stop bothering our kids right now."
"I only wanted to bother the Baby Flash, then your little –"
"You want to stop bothering all of our kids. Right now." Cold's voice lived up to his name. Even someone as stupid as Keith realized that backing down was probably the smart thing to do.
Keith stepped around Piper and ducked under James, moving toward the door. He managed to shoulder Wally roughly, knocking him off balance and making him stumble.
Keith hit the floor.
Captain Boomerang's weapon returned to his hand, and all eyes turned toward him. "It slipped," he said unapologetically, and sat down to return to his drink.
The Rogues all calmed now that Keith had been neutralized. Piper slung an arm around Wally's shoulders and steered him toward the bar. Trickster followed, gliding over their heads.
"Could I get five orders of fries, five burgers with everything, three chocolate milk shakes, two vanilla milkshakes, four bowls of chili and two plates of nachos?" Wally asked the bar tender.
"You get hurt?" asked Piper, trying not to let the worry sound in his voice. He knew what Wally ordering that much food in one sitting meant from experience. And the fact that he'd showed up at the Rogues' bar of all places definitely clued him in that something wasn't right with his favorite underaged speedster.
Wally was distinctly aware of how quiet the bar had gone yet again, and vaguely noticed that the nearest Rogues were leaning in toward him to make sure they caught his answer.
"Yeah . . . kind of," he muttered.
"I . . . kind of drowned." Something that his team had all apparently been okay with, but that Wally really wasn't okay with, despite him trying to play it off as a big joke, or just a slight drag with definite benefits (mouth to mouth with Miss Martian).
Drowning had . . . hurt. It had sucked. It had been painful and sickening and cold, and now thinking about it was even worse because, for a few minutes, he'd been technically dead. Not breathing, no heartbeat, brain functions ceased. His body temperature would have started to drop, then it would have only been a matter of time before rigor mortis set in, and his cells would start to decay, and he would be freaking dead, so all that wouldn't have mattered to him, except he was alive and it did matter and he couldn't stop thinking about it!
"You what?" Piper's reaction was the one he'd expected from his teammates, but never got. Anger and incredulousness and concern . . . those were what your friends were supposed to feel when you died, right? Except his own teammates hadn't . . . he'd had to go to his enemies' den to get that kind of reaction.
"Who did it?" demanded Trickster.
"Where was the Flasher while that was going down?" demanded Heatwave, not bothering to hide that he'd been listening in.
"I was on a mission with my team . . . some other teenage superheroes . . . so Flash wasn't involved at all. It wasn't my teammates' fault either, I screwed up –"
"The point of having teammates is so that they can watch your back, Kid. If they didn't get to you before you were drowned, that's on them as much as you," growled Heatwave.
Trickster had his rubber chicken out and was strangling it. "Who drowned you? You didn't just drown yourself!"
"An assassin. I don't know her name. It doesn't matter, it –"
"It does matter," Piper said flatly.
Wally felt a burning sensation in his eyes. Tears. And he realized that, as screwed up as it all was, this was why he'd come to the Rogues' bar. Because he'd expected this was how they were going to react, and that was what he needed right now.
"As if the first day of school wasn't enough, you have to deal with this too?" yowled Trickster, looking outraged.
There was a warm hand on Wally's back. Piper's. And Trickster was throttling his rubber chicken, since he didn't have an assassin handy to strangle instead.
Wally tried to play it cool, since that was what he did, both as Wally West and as Kid Flash. Because he didn't want to let anyone know how much things bothered him, or at least he tried to act like things didn't bother him, even when he knew no one present believed it for a second. "It's not like you guys didn't have a horrible day too –"
"I got locked in a locker. You let me out before I'd even been there three minutes. That's a far cry from freaking drowning, Wally!" growled Piper
"Yeah, well . . ."
"Getting pushed around a little bit doesn't compare to someone actually trying to kill you," Trickster agreed.
"We get pushed around more than a little at school," Wally said. He and the two youngest Rogues were all bully magnets at school. That was why they were friends. Because they had to stick together to survive. It had started out as a tentative alliance, but somewhere in the past few years their friendship had solidified. Now, even though they were enemies when both sides were wearing costumes, as long as at least one side wasn't masked, they openly had each others' backs.
"Trickster and Piper are right, Kid. Almost getting killed is a lot worse than getting a little roughed up," said Mirror Master, looking annoyed.
"You find out the bitch's name, you tell us," growled Weather Wizard, lightning sparking from his eyes.
Wally smiled. A real smile. "I never knew you cared."
Weather Wizard smacked him upside the back of his head and wandered off toward the other side of the bar.
"So you came here to unwind?" Piper asked, still with his arm protectively around Wally's shoulders.
"No. Yes. I don't know." Wally rubbed the back of his head.
"Well, we came here to unwind, even though Trickster and I only had to deal with the BS that is high school," Piper said.
"I'm so bummed that school is happening again this year," bemoaned Trickster.
"Of course Trickster was also out unwinding in a different way, that involved stuffing every keyhole in our school with gum."
"Oh? How'd that go?" Wally asked, a slow smile spreading across his face.
"Great! Tomorrow no key shall work! Oh! And I also broke into the entire football teams' lockers and filled them with fake dog vomit!"
"Wow, that's . . . that's got to be a lot of fake dog vomit," said Wally, trying hard not to laugh.
"I ordered four hundred cases of it," Trickster said proudly.
"Don't ask what his original plans for it were. Just don't," warned Piper. From his tone, Wally could tell that he really didn't want to know, so he let it go.
He stayed out until three AM with Piper and Trickster . . . or Hartley and James, as they were otherwise known. He stayed out until three AM with his friends. They watched him carefully, like they were still a bit concerned for him, and brought up the subject of wanting to kill the assassin several times, occasionally raging against the people who should have been protecting "their" Baby Flash. Through it all, Wally felt himself finally start to relax and unwind, feeling a little embarrassed when they went on, but altogether pleased.
He knew that when it came down to the bare facts, anyone would think that his situation was weird. Maybe even wrong. That his villains were more concerned for his wellbeing than his teammates. Or maybe that his villains were also his friends, and that they looked out for him, just like he looked out for them at school, but Wally wouldn't change it. Normal was overrated, and he truly believed that the world was a better place when you could befriend your enemies.
(In my headcannon, Wally, Hartley, and James are roughly the same age, and are friends at school. Because as we all know, high school can be a pretty rough place. You pretty much need a hero, or two, or ten just to get through the week sometimes. In lieu of any other teen superheroes, Wally settles for his villains, but as long as they've got his back, who's to say they're not heroes to him?)