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DCU The Flash #15 Home (Lightning Strikes Twice)

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posted by King Clown alias King Clown on Tuesday 8th of February 2022 10:03:38 PM

Police and Ambulance sirens sounded out through the night. The road outside Aubrey's Diner was destroyed, as were the surrounding sidewalks and buildings. Trees were knocked down and glass riddled the cracked road, the cars that were parked along the curb were now flipped to the side. Joe stood outside the ambulance, watching as August's head was wrapped in gauze by a paramedic. The dark-haired man sat with his head down, hands folded between his legs. "Everything is fuzzy after that," August explained, looking up to Joe. "It was like, one second I had Jesse pinned and… and was screaming, begging him to free Wally. Then the next… I was floored, Wally was free, Jesse was unconscious next to me, and B… Flash was on the ground and looked mangled to hell." Joe crossed his arms, watching as Jesse's unconscious form was wheeled into an ambulance. His eyes shifted to Flash, another paramedic wrapping up his wounds. Flash was different now than he was before. As Joe watched the hero, he noticed how his eyes shined. How he smiled. It gave Joe a moment of peace, even through everything that had happened… it almost… gave him hope. "What's going on with Wally?" August asked, grabbing hold of Joe's attention. "Is he okay? I hardly got to check on him." "He said he was hungry." -^- August stepped into the west house, his blazer slung over his shoulder. He swiftly kicked off his shoes and plopped onto the couch. Joe followed behind him, hanging his coat on the rack and gently shutting the front door. "Daniel asleep?" August asked, closing his eyes and leaning his head back. "Probably, he's got classes starting back up tomorrow," Joe replied, sitting down on the chair in the room. There was a silence that followed. Both men sat peacefully in the living room, the only noise being the occasional car passing by outside. Even with his eyes closed, August could tell Joe was staring at him. He'd broken the law, broken Joe's trust. Even if he wasn't sorry, he knew it was wrong. "Why?" "Hm?" "Why'd you… do it?" Joe repeated, leaning forward in the chair, folding his hands together. "Why go out there alone?" August raised his head from the pillow, eyes locking onto a family portrait sat on the TV stand. "I… don't know," he mumbled, turning to look at Joe. "I just… everything that's happened… everything the city has faced in the last year… just sitting around as a bystander… sitting around hoping that someone would sign a paper telling me I could help… it didn't feel right." "I know." "What?" "I know it doesn't feel right, August," Joe frowned, shaking his head. "I know what it's like to… to feel that weight… that pain of feeling powerless. I've been a cop for all my life and… and I've seen monsters walk free, angels have their wings torn away… I've seen things that I know were wrong… but we aren't like the Flash, August. We aren't people that can change the world with a simple symbol on our chest. We can't fight for change the way he does, it just isn't how the world works, son. When you try… you only end up hurting those around you." "Joe," August frowned, "you can't keep blaming yourself." "If I were home that night… if I wasn't out hunting for him… maybe I could've stopped him," he said, looking up at August with tears in his eyes. "I told you we aren't gods, August… because if we try to be, one mistake can rip our world apart." "I won't be a cog, Joe," August replied. "You say fighting for change like him won't work… then I won't fight it like him. I'll fight it like me." "By brutalizing people in alleyways?" Joe asked, his voice raising slightly. "By risking your life out there on your own?" "If that's what it takes." "I don't want to lose you, August!" Joe shouted, standing from the chair. Tears now fully fell from his eyes as his lips quivered. "You don't know how dangerous it is out there! Do you know what I felt when I found you bleeding out next to your brother?! Do you know how scared I was when I lifted you from a pool of your own blood? You were so cold, August… if I found you even a minute later… if Jorge let one more of those bullets hit you instead of him… I would've lost a son that day… I can't lose anyone else." August stared at the man, rubbing the tears forming in his eyes. "Dad… what's wrong?" Joe and August both turned to the stairs, spotting Daniel, still half asleep. "It- it's nothing…" Joe said, walking towards the stairs. "Get back to bed, you got class in the morning." August watched as both Daniel and Joe walked up the stairs, leaving him alone in the living room. He sighed, looking down at his bruised knuckles. "I can't lose anyone else either." -^- Two Days Later -^- Barry walked through the snowy cemetery in costume, the suit repaired from the damages he'd taken. The last two days had been different, to say the least. After the incident, he'd kept a close eye on Wally, but the boy had gone back to his home in Keystone, making it rather difficult. He still made frequent "drive-by" runs past his house, just to make sure he was alright. The walk through the field made him anxious. Over the last two days, a proper grave was placed for Bivolo. Barry knew he needed to visit, but he couldn't until his costume was repaired. Now, as the snow crunched under his boots, he dreaded it. The pain brought on from his failure was alleviated, but he could never truly move on… not until he said goodbye. Barry's head tilted to the side as he entered the back corner of the graveyard. Standing at Bivolo's grave was a lone woman, ice white hair blowing in the wind. She wore an orange shearling jacket, the fabric falling over her thighs like a skirt. She was still, eyes locked onto the grave below her. As Barry took his place next to her, she gasped, looking up at him. He could see tear stains on her cheeks. "F-Flash…" she mumbled, taking a step back. "Sorry to disturb you," he replied, raising a hand apologetically. "I'm only here to pay my respects." "Oh…" she mumbled, lowering her hands. "How'd you know him?" Barry asked, looking to his right. "If you don't mind, that is." The woman was silent for a moment, staring down at the headstone. "He… he was my brother," she said, bringing her hand up to wipe another tear. "A real good one too." Barry's eyes widened, taking a good look at the woman's face. He opened his mouth, but words didn't follow, instead he turned back to the grave, giving her a simple nod. "Why are you here?" She asked, not looking away from the stone. "I know… to pay respects, but why?" Barry smiled slightly, looking up at the snow fall. "Bivolo… he wasn't a bad person," he explained, looking back down at the woman, "him, Rory, Snart… none of them were. They're all victims. They were pushed into a corner at such a young age, they had nowhere else to go and were forced into a lifestyle that… a lifestyle that brings them nothing but pain. It doesn't excuse them for what they've done but… the world isn't black and white. If we start painting people like Bivolo in one color… we'll never see what they can truly be." The woman was silent as more tears rolled down her eyes. Barry smiled at her, turning back towards the entrance. He paused, turning back to the woman, still standing at the grave. "Tell Snart that I'm sorry," he said, a single tear running down his face. "I'll make sure no one dies next time." -^- Two Weeks Later -^- Wally smiled as he looked at the West household. He loved he and his dad's apartment, sure, but there was something about this place. It truly felt like his home. It was where he truly felt the meaning of a family. Walking up the sidewalk, he gave a quick knock on the door, smiling brightly as it opened. "Hey auntie!" he said, waving to the woman. "Hey, Wally, Rudy" she replied, giving the two a small smile and stepping to the side. "Daniel's in the kitchen and Joe's out back with August." Wally nodded, taking note of Iris' odd smile. "Barry not here yet?" he asked, taking off his jacket and hanging it on the coat rack. "You know him," Daniel said, walking into the living room holding a beer and a plate of food, "late is his middle name." "That's true," Wally said, fist bumping his uncle. Walking into the kitchen to grab a plate, Wally looked out into the backyard through the sliding door. "Uncle Joe does know he can cook food inside, right?" Daniel stepped behind Wally, taking a sip of the beer. "He loves that grill… even in the middle of January," Daniel said with a chuckle. Joe turned towards the sliding door with a tray of burgers in his hands. As he did, one hand instantly shot forward, pointing at Daniel and making him nearly drop the tray. His lips began to move but the words were inaudible from inside. "Oh shit…" The door slid open, Joe storming inside and slamming the tray onto the counter. "I know I didn't just see my twenty year old son with a bottle in his hand," Joe said, crossing his arms. All anger left Joe, a disappointed frown spreading across his face, as he looked at Wally who now held the beer bottle. "Woah, Wally," August said, walking in after Joe and shutting the sliding door behind them, "didn't take you for the rule-breaker type." "Daniel, who do you think would've bought this?" Iris asked, shaking her head. "Woah, you guys are letting Wally drink?" Everyone turned towards the front door, spotting Barry who was frozen in place. "He did," Daniel said with a smirk before receiving a smack against the back of the head from Joe. "Hey!?" "He didn't see you holding it through the backdoor, jackass," August said, opening one for himself. "Few more months before you can have one of these." Daniel's eyes rolled as August taunted the drink in his face. "Barry's also a special kind of idiot," Iris said, greeting Barry with a kiss. "He could solve a Rubik's Cube in a minute, but also thinks 'Can you warm me up, babe' means turn up the heating unit…" "It's the middle of winter," Barry replied, flushing red with embarrassment. "I don't think that's a fair… point..." Barry's words trailed off as sparks of blue began appearing around Wally's body. Looking around, he could see everyone was moving slowly, all except Wally, who scratched behind his ear at normal speed. "Oh, crap," Barry muttered. "What's wrong," August asked, standing up straight from where he leaned on the wall. "I forgot I dropped my cell in one of the vents at Mr. Jones' restaurant," Barry lied, rubbing the back of his head, all while keeping a close eye on Wally. "I was gonna ask Wally if he could help out." "It's fine, Barry, I got you," Daniel said, walking toward the coat rack. "No, Daniel," Barry said, stopping the man. "I-I appreciate it, but… you're too tall." "It's fine," Wally said, pulling his jacket off the rack. "I'm sure we'll be quick." "You sure, Wally?" Barry asked. "I don't mean to interrupt, I know you just got here." "Really, it's fine. Better now than later." Barry turned to Rudy, who nodded. "It's fine, just don't take your eyes off him." "Got it. Alright, let's go, Wally." -^- Barry stepped out of the cab, thanking the driver as he shut the door. Wally hopped out after him, looking at the building with a confused expression. "I haven't actually been here… what's with the lightning branding?" Barry chuckled as he walked to the door. "It's the slogan Mr. Jones went with," he said, ushering Wally inside. "It was something about vegetables charging you up." "Oh, that's corny," Wally cringed, looking around the restaurant. "So where's the vent?" "I… I lied about the vent," Barry said, closing the door behind him. "I… needed to talk to you." "Why lie then?" Wally asked in a cautious tone. "Well I… I couldn't say it in front of everyone else… and it's probably better to show you," he said, extending his arm outwards. Vibrating his body, lightning sparked around him and his body shifted in place. Wally's eyes lit up and his jaw hit the floor. "Y-y-you…" he stuttered, pointing at Barry. "You're him… you're the Flash." Barry stopped vibrating himself, nodding slightly. "A little over a year ago, I was hit by a bolt of lightning," Barry explained. "You know that already, but it wasn't the end of it. The reaction of the lightning paired with chemicals that were in my lab changed me. It awoke my innate metagene and activated my connection to the Speed Force, the… very complicated source of my speed… our speed." "So why are you telling- wait, did you say our?" Wally asked, eyes widening once more. "When Jesse's machine was activated, there was no way I could get you out…" Barry said, looking down at his hand and clenching his fist, "but I wasn't going to just stand by. I doused you with the chemicals from my lab as you were struck by the lightning. The chemicals that changed me. You didn't go into a coma like me, but I've already seen it, even back at Joe's just now. You're connected to the Speed Force… but you have blue lightning." "I… I have powers…" Wally said, plopping onto one of the booths behind him. Tears began to fall from his eyes as he laughed to himself quietly. "I actually have powers…" "You do… and one day… if you're willing," Barry said, lowering to a knee to be eye level with Wally, "I want you to be able to help me save lives. My Robin, I guess." "O-o-of course!" Wally said, nodding his head rapidly. "I-I just need a suit and-" "Slow down, Wally," Barry said with a chuckle, placing a hand on the boy's shoulder. "This job is very, very dangerous and we don't know the extent of your powers just yet. I'm gonna train you. Mr. Jones and Jay'll help out too." "You told Mr. Jones?" Wally asked, tilting his head. "Who's Jay? Do Joe and August know? Does Iris?" "That… was coming up," Barry said, standing back up. "Mr. Jones used to be a hero, the Black Vulcan. Jay, on the other hand, was the original Flash." "Jay Garrick?!" "That's the one," Barry said, chuckling at Wally. "Now the other thing. You can't tell… anyone about this, Wally. Not Linda, not Daniel, not Iris… not even Rudy. One slip up could cost them their lives…" "Yeah… superhero 101, I suppose," Wally mumbled. "So what do you say," Barry asked, extending his hand out. "Partners?" Wally smiled, accepting the hand. "Partners." -^- April 7th, 2002. 2 Years Later -^- Barry walked through the doors of Vulcan's Veggies, a smile on his face. Jay sat at one of the booths, typing away on a laptop. The man slid into the booth, sat across from his mentor. "Pied Piper is now in a cozy Iron Heights cell," he said, taking off his mask. "Nice work, kid," Jay said, looking up from his laptop. "You've built yourself up quite a rogues gallery these past two years, more than I ever had." "I guess people are bolder these days," he chuckled, zipping behind the counter and back, now holding a soda. "Watcha working on?" "Just getting Wally's work permit cleared," Jay mumbled, finishing his document and closing the laptop. "He should start here on Tuesday." "That's good," Barry said, placing the now empty glass on the table. "Having three teachers around that much will surely be a big help." "You are correct about… that…" As Jay trailed off, Barry turned around, spotting what Jay did outside the window. Standing alone on the street was a deep red figure with blood red eyes that glowed in the night. "It can't be…" Jay mumbled, shooting up from his seat. "Barry, you-" Barry blitzed from his seat and through the door, finding himself face to face with the figure. "Who are you?" he asked, lightning sparkling off his torso. "Does it matter who I am, Barry?" he asked, lightning of his own generating around him. "You know my name…" "I know everything about you… for I am your rival." "If you know everything about me, then you know you can't beat me…" "Barry, stop!" Jay shouted from inside. "That's Edward Clariss! "He's The Rival!" Barry ignored his mentor as he pulled his arm back, sending it forward towards the hooded man. As his arm traveled towards his foe, the world around him turned to slow motion. Barry's body slowed, nearly to a stand still, but everything around him still registered. The Rival didn't slow down. In an instant, Clariss reached forward, grabbing hold of Barry's fist. Barry's eyes widened as the villain's other arm came upwards, crashing into his forearm. He watched in horror as his radius and ulna split, destroying his arm and stabbing through his flesh. Blood began to spray from the wound, but Clariss was still in motion. The hand that held Barry's fist let go, dropping the hero's arm and causing the wound to tear wider. Clariss drove his fist into Barry's chest, the punch echoing as it connected. A second hit was sent to Barry's ribcage, a third followed shortly after, targeting the shoulder. Barry watched as a fourth, fifth, sixth, and seventh crashed into his body, all spread along his torso, no blow in the same spot. He could see the air ripple following each hit, like even the slightest movements from the man broke the sound barrier. Clariss reeled his arm back, his fist sparking with blood-red lightning. For a single moment, a sharp grin filled with malice spread across the man's face. The villain drove his fist into Barry's gut, sending a current of red lightning through the hero. Like time had restarted itself, Barry felt every blow in an instant. A gatling gun of punches, each hit breaking the sound barrier and echoing out sonic booms. Barry could feel every bone in his torso shatter, each hit further obliterating his insides. Clariss' final strike caused Barry to vomit as the blow connected, every ounce of air being ripped from his lungs. His body flew backwards, crashing through the window to Vulcan's Veggies and crushing a table as he landed. Barry tried to lift himself up, but screamed in pain, forgetting about his destroyed arm. He watched, terrified, as Clariss stepped through the shattered window, eyes glowing red with malice. "Clariss!" Jay shouted as he ran to Barry, sliding to his knees to hold his successor. "It's me who you want, not him!" "J-Jay..." Barry mumbled, his vision fading. "He's... He's as fast as me..." "No..." Clariss interjected. "I'm much faster." His head turned to Jay as red lightning sparked all from his body. "I don't care about you, Garrick... not anymore." Jay' heart dropped as Clariss stared at Barry, his twisted smile illuminated under the hood. In a flash, he was gone, leaving Jay alone in the building with Barry's broken body. He was gone, leaving Jay alone with his failure. ---------------------------- NEXT TIME: Flashback, a Blast to the Past!

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