And I'm back ! A big thank you to all the lovely people who reviewed, favorited and followed this story, I really appreciate it.
I just wanted to quickly mention before this chapter that you might think Bart's a bit OOC, but to me the Bart that's in the future is different to the Bart that's in the past so I've written him how I think he would have been before 'getting into character' and going to the past. Hopefully it's not bad.
Without further ado…
Chapter 2 – But This Swift Business I Must Uneasy Make
A familiar sensation woke Bart, one he detested. It was the feeling of the electric shock on his inhibitor collar going off. He only let out a small cry of pain as he'd learnt a long time ago that making excessive amounts of noise would draw attention and too much attention was never a good thing.
The pain cut off as quickly as it had started leaving Bart somewhat numb, but then he heard something that confused him.
The words all blurred together in a jumbled mess that Bart could barely comprehend. Someone was sorry? That was new. He could feel something tugging at the collar around his neck so he gave in to curiosity and dragged his heavy eyes open.
The first thing he realised was that he wasn't outside anymore; never a good sign. He looked over to his left and saw something that was definitely not a good sign. Some man with red hair was fiddling with his inhibitor collar but stopped when he noticed Bart was looking at him. As Bart struggled to sit up the strange man grabbed him by the shoulders and he was… smiling? Nobody smiled anymore. There was definitely something suspicious about this guy.
"You're awake! Thank goodness, I was so worried when I set off the collar, I thought, you know, you might die or something." The man rattled out the words in an odd fashion, like he was embarrassed to admit he cared about Bart not dying.
And then Bart had a dreadful thought. This man wasn't one of those people was he? He pushed the hands off his shoulders and shuffled away from the stranger. As he took in their surroundings, his whole body tensed – they were in the sewers.
"Hey, look, calm down. I did just save you back there. We need to get that collar off you, do you know how?"
The words didn't really register to Bart. All he could think about was that the man stood between him and the only way out of this dark corner they were in. And it terrified him. He silently cursed his body as it shook in fear.
"Hey, you're alright, calm down."
The man reached out to Bart but he swatted the hand away.
"Bart, just listen to me."
And that was it. Bart was officially freaked out.
How the hell did this strange man know his name? He didn't want to find out.
He scrambled to his feet, and with all the strength he could muster, Bart punched the man in the face. It must have taken him by surprise because, despite how weak the punch was, he fell over.
Taking the opportunity, Bart ran. He had to get out of the sewers.
Exhaustion and pain were starting to get the better of Bart when he finally found a ladder leading to an exit that wasn't blocked off from the destruction overhead. New bruises were beginning to form on top of old ones because of the beating Blue Beetle had given him. He didn't know how much further he could go before he would collapse.
Nonetheless, he was thankful to discover it was night time when he arrived outside – it would be much easier to avoid the Reach in the dark.
Now what am I supposed to do?
Many thoughts flooded Bart's head. Where was he going to go? How long could he survive out of the camp? He couldn't go back there now, the Reach would kill him instantly.
Staying in the city also wasn't an option if the rumours were to be believed and Bart was almost certain they were. He wasn't the only one who had seen things in the shadows.
Suddenly there was a noise behind him, down in the sewers – probably the man from before. A nearby building that was half destroyed seemed like Bart's best option, so he ran inside and hoped the man hadn't seen him. Worse than that, he could faintly hear a Reach patrol in the distance.
This day had become a nightmare.
What could he possibly do? It felt like certain death was approaching him from every side.
Having sat himself down in a dark corner of the building, Bart gripped his head in an effort to stop it from spinning. He was all but drained of energy and the chilled night air wasn't helping. As the sound of the patrol drew closer, he began to wonder if he should give up and hand himself to the Reach. It was while he sat with his thoughts that a large gust of wind swept through the room from somewhere. He shivered.
"Hey, are you ok?"
A strangled yelp escaped Bart's throat in surprise before a hand clamped over his mouth. The strange, red haired man had appeared from nowhere and was squatting in front of him.
"Shh," the man breathed through gritted teeth, "They'll hear us."
Bart didn't care. He'd rather a swift death by the Reach than the unknown fate he'd face with this man.
But he was too weak. He couldn't fight him off, try as he might. The hand wouldn't budge from his face and the man wouldn't let him go. His strength was rapidly leaving him as he tried to push the man away.
"Bart, please calm down. Let me explain."
The man was starting to panic – the Reach patrol was nearly upon them.
Bart took small comfort in this fact.
"Please, just trust me."
And Bart really no longer had a choice. He stopped his futile struggling as the last of his energy left him. Waiting limply in the grip of the man for his fate, he scrunched his eyes closed.
To his surprise, the cold grip of death did not greet him. Instead, he felt himself scooped into the arms of the man while the wind started to blow fiercely through the room. He forced himself to re-open his eyes and was stunned by what he saw. More precisely, what he didn't see. The world had become a blur around him. The man was carrying him while running. Running at an impossible speed.
It can't be.
All my family are dead.
I'm supposed to be the last speedster.
How can there possibly be another?
He looked up at the man's face and saw he was now wearing an odd pair of goggles. Bart knew those goggles. They had belonged to Kid Flash. Wally West.
With a slight shake of his head he tried let the silly notion leave his head. It was impossible.
Then again, nothing about this day had been normal.
Maybe, just maybe, this person was exactly who he suspected it to be. So he let the man keep carrying him, and for the first time since he could remember, let himself feel the smallest amount of hope.
Next chapter will be called "What Seest Thou Else in the Dark Backward and Abysm of Time?"
Anyone who knows where I'm getting the chapter names for this fic from will be showered with imaginary flowers.
Please feel free to review, all constructive criticism is welcome.