What's this? I'm alive?
Indeed I am.
Dedicated to IronicVeghead, for simply being amazing.
Wally stood in front of the familiar house, allowing the cold winds to whisper down his neck and between his clothing as he reflected on the meeting with Paula Crock which had not even happened an hour ago.
"So tell me, Wally, if it's okay to ask, of course. But how exactly did you become Kid Flash?" The relaxing and curious tone of Paula Crock made him smile. She was warm and welcoming, not scared and worried like his own mother.
He launched into his story- not one to leave an insisting lady hanging. After all, the story had to be the greatest of all time.
"The Flash jumped at the opportunity of having me a as a sidekick- naturally,"
He was about to continue, but stopped to glare at Artemis as she kicked him under the wooden table.
"Ow! Hey!" He glared at the smug face of Artemis.
"Uh, Wally, I'm pretty sure that's not what Flash said," Her tone was teasing- and he rose to the bait.
"Oh, yeah? And how would you know what he said nearly three years ago?" That's when he crossed his arms; almost certain he had won their little battle.
"Because, Kid, I actually talked to him- something which you've been oblivious of."
Unless ... she had spoken to his Uncle. Damn it, Uncle Barry!
He simply groaned and deflated slightly- his confidence blown through. But he wasn't one to give up on this story- especially not an amazing story like so.
He continued on, explaining some of the actual chemicals used for the experiment. Artemis, he realized, actually seemed to understand the formula- which wasn't exactly surprising, at least. She did study in the same field of science as him, he suspected. He honestly never really bothered to ask.
Wally knew he had gone on about the story probably longer than whatever he should have, but it was nice to feel so relaxed and at ease with an adult. Even with Barry and Iris, he was always on his guard. His uncle worked in the forensic side of science- any little clue about Rudy could probably blow it for Wally.
He remembered thinking at one stage that Paula and Aunt Iris would, most likely, get along famously.
As much as Wally had tried to delay the trip back home, he knew he couldn't exactly stand outside of his house all night. Hopefully, his luck was still burning through fine and Rudy was actually asleep- not watching the TV and still awake- ready for Wally's return.
He took another look at the house, and then realized he was referring the building to a house. Not a home. Just a very familiar house.
A home was supposed to make you feel safe, warm, loved and protected. The qualities the house was very much lacking. He mused himself by thinking that standing alone in an alley at Gotham was probably safer than whatever the hell was in his house.
His thoughts flashed back to the house he had just been in- Artemis's small apartment which she shared with her mother. No, not a house. That was a home. It may not be very flashy or big, but it was home. Home to Artemis, anyway. Wally rubbed the bridge of his nose in irritation.
He could run. Run away, far from his issues and father. But his mother couldn't. She wouldn't leave Rudy, bound for some strange reason. He didn't really understand how their relationship actually worked- but he knew his mom would probably be better away from Rudy. His opinion, anyway. She seemed to think different- or in another way.
Wally's hand went to his back pocket of his jeans, searching for the house key he usually had stored there. His heart sank when he realized there was no key in his back pocket. His shoulders slouched and he groaned, aware it was probably well past his curfew and if he knocked... Well, Rudy would answer the door and Wally knew it wouldn't be pretty for him. And, right now, he couldn't deal with that. He honestly couldn't deal with any more blows. His body was still recovering, after all, and people (namely the Gotham kids) suspected something. He didn't need to have to deal with that either.
He listened intently for any volume of sound in the house and sighed in relief when he realized they were both most likely asleep as there was no sounds detected. Didn't need to disturb them anyway, from a rare thing like sleep.
Grabbing out the one object he did have in his back pocket, he began typing a message to his mom. He knew his mom always left her phone in the kitchen - and therefore wouldn't hear it when it sent out a ringtone for the newly received message. She would, however, see the message in the morning and it would probably save her from having a mild panic attack in fear that her child didn't return home the night before for some horrible, dark reason.
Hitting the send button, he backed down the front steps and began slowly walking to the shut down cafe which held the zeta. Maybe he could simply go back to Gotham to check in Artemis's apartment for his key. Or maybe Artemis would give it back tomorrow. She was probably asleep anyway. 'Debriefing at eight', he thought dryly.
Wally didn't know where he wanted to go. He could go to Gotham, and visit either Artemis or Dick. But he knew Bruce wouldn't exactly appreciate a late night visit by any means, and besides, the Dynamic Duo was probably doing their 'Dynamic Duo Thing' in Gotham. Running into Batman (which he had done literally one time) wasn't exactly, right now, on his 'Top 5 Things to Do' list.
He could go to the Mountain and crash in the spare room- but that idea was crushed when he realized he hadn't gotten any luggage or clothing. And that was strange enough- crashing at Mount Justice without baggage. And M'gann could most likely pick up on his distress which he knew was pretty damn obvious right now.
His feet seemed to have their own thoughts, knowing he had to at least run somewhere. And that somewhere seemed to be near the Zeta.
Wally didn't argue with his feet, allowing them to take him through to Gotham by Zeta. They seemed to stop thinking, as they shuffled slightly- unsure of which direction to go so he led them to their destination. He walked down the shabby alley, careful to keep his guard up- after all, this was Gotham. Pretty much a bad guy around every single corner. Walking cautiously, knowing clearly where he was going now, he made his way through yet another alley.
And that's when his warning bells rang crazily in his head. 'Never go down dark alleys in Gotham,' he thought.
Slowly turning around, knowing there was another couple of presences behind him that probably weren't friendly (this was, after all, Gotham's alleys) he turned to see a flicker of movement.
Narrowing his eyes, he knew there was a presence, or two, definitely there. His body was about to go into a running stance, but he realized he was in his civvies. Running, in his case, probably wasn't a fantastic idea. He was about to calmly walk out of the alley in the other direction.
Well, that was the plan anyway. Turned out, the plan changed when there was a gun pointed at his chest.
Not like his plans ever worked anyway.
"Ah, how about we put the gun down and talk this out?" Wally tried his charming grin, but the guy holding the gun only seemed to grip the trigger tighter. That's when Wally felt it- he had a gun pointed behind him, as well as in front.
Today really just was not his day.
He did a quick mental scan of the situation. Two guys with two ordinary guns. Black typical hockey masks and jackets. For someone like Kid Flash, these goons would be a piece of cake. But for Wally West? Not so much.
He was already planning a strategy to get out of the situation without hinting towards his speed.
As it turned out, he shouldn't have bothered. He only got a chance to take a quick glance behind him as he heard a familiar cackle before two batarangs were impaled in the thieves/muggers coat hoods- effectively pinning them to the alley wall.
Wally realized he had groaned more that night than what he usually did in a week, because he was groaning as his mind pathetically helped with 'Aw man, I'm in for it now.'
Maybe he could get out of this one. Maybe he could dash over to Artemis's, grab the key, run to the Zeta and run back to the house with the key and deal with the Bat's later the next day.
Right, so not easy. Batman and Robin soundlessly jumped off the top of the building beside the alley, landing next to the crooks. Wally decided to use his civvies to his advantage.
"Uh, thanks!" He said innocently, already backing off down in the other direction. A glare from Batman stopped his footsteps, clearly demanding the answer to the question of why Wally was in his turf- especially this late at night.
Wally leaned casually against the alley wall in pretend relaxation. What it really was, though, was an attempt to ease the pain off his ribs. Usually by this time, he would be taking some pain killers (but then again, usually before this time he would be beaten up once again) and probably in bed, prepared for another sleepless night. He was really ready to crash- the fatigue was catching up to him and it would only be a matter of time before he collapsed face first on the pavement to take a nap.
His eyes began to flutter close, the thoughts of taking a nap seeming like the best thoughts he had ever had. A nap. Just a little nap couldn't hurt anyone, could it? The pain was dulling as he let his mind wander and body and senses relax.
"Dude, snap out of it!" His eyes flashed open in alarm, meeting the irritated face of Dick Grayson. Or, as of right now, Robin.
"Uh, sorry, guess I'm just a little tired." Was Wally's sheepish response to the Boy Wonder, who seemed to raise an eyebrow- it was a little hard to tell with the mask on.
Before Robin could reply, his mentor cut in.
"Come with us," was the Dark Knight's only words before he disappeared within the shadows.
"Aw come on, the ninja thing?" Wally complained, eyeing Robin carefully in case the younger teen decided to pull the same annoying move like his mentor had. After all, Wally couldn't exactly go with them if he didn't actually know where they went.
Robin just smirked, knowing what Wally was thinking, and turned to the opposite direction in which Wally wanted to go.
"Hey, you know, I'm kind of going to meet up with someone..." Wally gestured behind him- the direction in which he wanted to go. Artemis's house.
Dick just raised a questioning eyebrow, "Want to argue with Batman?" His tone was fairly light and playful, but it didn't matter to Wally.
"Well, someone's got to do it," Wally managed to grit out, his patience running thin. He knew he had more than a sufficient reason for being so snappy- dealing with a violent dad, painful injuries, losing his house key and now the god darn Batman. But Robin didn't know this, and therefore ended up glaring at the speedster.
"Jeez, someone's not feeling the aster," He commented clearly more to himself than Wally, as he turned to face the hanging unconscious crooks and fiddling around with some equipment. "There, the police are now notified." Again, more to himself.
Wally forced himself to calm down, knowing Robin meant no harm. Batman though...
He pushed himself off the wall, biting back the small cry that formed, "Got any painkillers?" He asked the Boy Wonder, beginning to walk slowly in the direction he did not want to go. The kid seemed a little surprised by the question, but nodded. "After you see Batman."
"Look, Rob, I'm tired and sore. I just need to find my house key and go back home and sleep untilthree P.M." He didn't like admitting any weaknesses, but he was really getting desperate. At this point, he was going to say 'To hell with Batman's orders' and simply run off- damning the consequences.
And that's when Wally realized. Maybe he could open up. Show them that Wally West wasn't exactly always cheery- Not always the hero. He was the kid who saved many lives, but couldn't even save himself from his own father's abusive actions. Maybe the Team could help.
And then, just like per usual with these thoughts, reality crashed down on him. The sympathy looks, the issues of where to put Wally for living, and not to mention the many issues of explaining to Artemis (and Conner) she/they wasn't the only one suffering from a more-than-crazy father... It made him keep his mouth shut. After all, he can last until he is eighteen. He can.
Wally decided that if he couldn't look for his key, then he would have to get someone else to. Slowing his already slow walking pace, Wally grabbed his phone and began texting Artemis.
Dick appeared next to him without a word, trying to look over his shoulder to see the screen. Wally used his own height to his advantage, raising the phone slightly to disable any unwanted spying from short people- namely, Robin.
Wally managed to hit 'Send' before Robin decided to whip out his wrist computer and hack into his phone. Smugly putting his phone away, he took a glance at Robin.
"What's up with Bats, anyway? I didn't think having an amazing superhero like me on his turf would bother him this much." It took a bit of effort for the words to come out- tiredness was rapidly kicking into effect.
"It doesn't bother him. Well, largely, anyway. I don't think so anyway- but the guy is really hard to get a read on. Maybe he's just suspicious of you and Artemis, especially when it's this late at night." Dick explained.
"Aw come on! I left my house key there by accident! I swear, really, nothing is going on," The words were rushed by the end- a little freaked out by what Batman could be thinking.
His only reply was Dick's creepy little cackle, which he had long since gotten used to. Admitting defeat, the young hero began walking, wistfully looking back in the other direction.
Each breath was becoming a little harder to take in and exhale, and he was about to just go and sleep on the floor as his legs were going to give out at any moment now. Robin appeared next to him, walking confidently but yet casually alongside him. Dick waved the packet of painkillers in front of him, Wally swift long grabbing it with the help of his speed before the young ninja changed his mind.
Swallowing down four tablets, he glanced sheepishly at the ninja beside him. "You know, dude, I seriously left my key at her house."
Dick shrugged, "I know. Although I have to ask- what were you doing at her house anyway?"
Wally sort of dead panned at the question. "Uh, visiting?" Well, it was true.
Robin seemed to roll his eyes, "No kidding." He was about to keep speaking, but the Dark Knight materialized in front of them. Wally had long since gotten used to the ninja acts- didn't mean it didn't annoy him though.
Wally shuffled along, hoping the painkillers would come into effect very soon- he didn't know how much longer he could stand up for. He didn't even notice Dick walk away from his side and reappear next to Bruce who was now infront of him.
And that's when Wally realized just how screwed he was. He was in Batman's territory, had no house key, was barely able to stand up and he was under suspicion.
Yeah, really not his day.
"Wally," Batman began in his chilling voice, making Wally tense and temporarily forget about the pain.
Wally attempted to hide his irritation, knowing it probably wasn't a good idea to annoy The Batman.
"Where are your injuries from?" Wally instantly glared at Dick. He knew the kid had told his mentor of his suspicions. God darn mother-
He cut that thought short, glaring challenging at Batman. "What injuries?" And damn it, he was so out of character that he was probably only making the duo more suspicious, but he couldn't help the snap.
Batman returned the glare, as did Robin. "I've told you guys- Captain Cold just got a lucky shot."
They clearly didn't believe it.
"Captain Cold, and all other ice villains, are in Belle Rav. And they have been so for the past week. Do not lie to me. Where are your injuries from?"
The tone made Wally just want to curl up and cry. But he would never, ever do that in front of the Bats. Instead, his glare sharpened.
"Look, Batman, I need that key to get home. So how about you go stop a bank robbery or something whilst I go make my way back home so I can deal with anything that dad-"
Oh, crap. He stopped abruptly, eyes widening as he realized what he had done. He had slipped up for the second time that night.
"You live with your parents, yes?" Paula's question was innocent enough. If only Wally knew how much trouble it would get him in to.
"Yeah, in Central." His reply was short, only managing to say it before he took another bite of the chocolate cookie in his hand.
"Is the Flash your dad?" Wally should have expected the question- after all, he did wish it was true.
"No, my dad is a-" An ass. An alcoholic, abusive and a very manipulative man. Unfortunately, as much as he wanted to say the words, he knew he couldn't. He tried to fix his slip up, "My dad is a normal human- no meta or anything."
Paula smiled, but Wally detected something else. He brushed it off though, deciding to worry about it later.
Oh god. Wally knew that he was now officially screwed over and may as well be buried 12 feet under. Paula Crock was beginning to see something.
He cursed his stupidity. He really needed to make sure his tongue slowed down- otherwise he knew he may as well be blurting he was being beaten up by his own dad.
He looked up from the dirty street floor, almost flinching at Batman's hard glare. These slip ups... Before he knew what he was doing, Wally was walking backwards and mumbling excuses.
He let his feet lead the way. If his mind led the way... Well, he'd probably end up through a wall. His mind was so clouded that he could barely see straight. He was running, (the only thing he seemed to be good at now) and breathing heavily, not caring he was running in civvies.
If anyone figured it out, Wally knew his life would probably not get any worse. Once again, he was standing at Artemis's door, ready to knock.
"Mum... That's... That's crazy. No way is Kid being... Well... Abused."
And that's all he heard before his legs finally gave out, his mind not helping as he fell.
Yeah, he was so screwed.
Ayyeee! Hehe, this feels like a filler chapter to me, but it is part of the plot. Oh dear. I have a nasty habit of cliffhangers, don't I?
Honestly, I was so scared to even touch this story. I was so overwhelmed by the response on this story I was scared this chapter would totally screw it. Uh...let's hope not.
So please review? ^^