Author's Note: This was just an idea I had for a fic that I decided to try out. Let me know if you like it and want me to continue. By the way, I know that I should be working on my other fics, but I just really love writing Wally fics. So this is what you've got instead. Read, review, and enjoy!
Wally winced slightly and shifted. Experimental wiggling of his fingers and toes told him that they weren't broken, but the skin seemed bruised in a few places. Attempting to sit up brought a fiery pain to his abdomen, so he stopped trying that in a moment in favor of moving his head. A small bolt of pain spread out from his temples, but that wasn't anything new. A little headache he could deal with. Lifting his head, he concluded that he probably wasn't concussed, but the blood gushing out of his nose and the throbbing pain settled at the bridge of said nose led Wally to the conclusion that he probably had a broken nose. He sighed softly, wincing as the air blew through his nose and caused a spurt of pain. At the rate he got his nose broken, he would end up having a crooked lump there instead of an actual nose.
After a moment of adjusting to the pain, Wally again made the effort to sit up. He had figured out that his ribs were most likely broken, or, if not, then badly bruised. He resisted the urge to sigh again, knowing that it would only cause more pain. Wally knew that fathers weren't supposed to hurt their sons. He knew that mothers were supposed to at least pretend to care, but he still didn't think that they were bad people. He would even go so far as to say that he loved his parents. They were the only people he really knew and they said that they loved him sometimes. They told him that they were the only people who would ever put up with him and take care of him and that was the same thing, right?
Besides, it wasn't like the kids at school liked Wally. Most eighth graders didn't like nine year olds in their grade. Evidently they found it offensive that someone so young could end up in the same grade as them. It didn't help that Wally had unruly ginger hair, pale skin, and bright green eyes. It only gave them an excuse to call him a soulless freak. It didn't matter that no one at school liked him, Wally told himself firmly, forcing himself to stand up from the living room carpet where his father had left him after his latest 'lesson'. He could always come home where his parents loved him. Right? That's all that's supposed to matter. As long as your parents love you, you're alright. Wally nodded to himself confidently, regretting it immediately after the pulsing pain took over his consciousness for a second. Whatever he had done this time to be taught a lesson must have been pretty bad for his dad to have beaten him up this much.
Wally was never quite sure what he had done wrong when his dad punished him. The ginger thought that was a little odd since he was supposed to be learning from his mistakes and how could he learn from his mistakes if he didn't know what mistakes he made? But he didn't question his father because Rudolph West was, well, his father. And parents always know what they're doing, right?
Wally frowned slightly as he absentmindedly grabbed some Band-Aids and a bowl of water to clean himself up, moving very slowly for fear of jostling some ribs. Wally looked over at the clock and frowned deeper. It was almost two in the morning! He must have been out for quite some time. He better be quieter about what he was doing. He didn't want to wake his parents up with any needless noise. He'd found that they were a lot nicer when they got a full night's sleep. Wally grabbed some Resolve and a towel from the kitchen before starting to clean up the speckles of blood on the carpet from where he had been lying. He wanted to make sure that the house was very clean for his parents when they woke up in the morning.
Quietly and vigorously scrubbing the floor with possibly broken ribs was a lot more painful than it should have been, Wally thought vindictively. He wished he was like the Flash and could heal super fast. At least, Wally assumed the Flash could heal really fast. It was the young ginger's theory that whatever happened to turn the speedster into a speedster must have sped up every cell in his body. It was the only way Wally could explain the way Flash could phase through things. He must have been able to vibrate his molecules fast enough to go through solid objects! So he could either speed up his cells by choice or they went that fast on a regular basis. Either way, the scarlet hero of Central City should be able to heal quickly. It made the most sense to Wally, the ever dedicated fan of the Flash.
Of course, he wasn't allowed to have any Flash merchandise in the house, or talk about Flash in the house, and he couldn't really talk about the superhero at school either since everyone there hated him. Wally shrugged to himself again, not really caring. He had scores of notebooks hidden across his room with notes about the Flash written in a code he had developed. He had determined that once he made a friend (and he would, he just knew it), he would teach that friend the code and they could mess around and confuse the other kids with their superior intellect.
Wally had always known that he was smarter than the average kid, but he hadn't thought much about it until he listened through the door in one of the parent-teacher conferences. The teachers had gushed about how intelligent he was and how they absolutely recommending letting skip a grade, or maybe more than one grade. They called him a genius. Wally honestly couldn't remember the last time his little family had seemed so happy. Rudolph (Rudy) West and Mary West had scooped Wally up and told him how special he was and how happy they were that they had such an amazing kid and how they loved him so much. It was the moments like that that convinced Wally that his parents did, in fact, love him.
Of course, it was getting harder and harder to convince himself of that fact. As the years went on and their financial situation got progressively worse and Mary's drinking started to become a problem and Rudy gambled all of their money away and Wally stopped getting straight one hundreds as school became harder, his parents got progressively less happy, beating him more and telling him how much of a freak he was and how they hated him. He ignored their comments most of the time, convinced that the only reason they said that was because they were stressed and the alcohol was getting to them. They loved him. They had to.
Wally's eyes opened slightly as he heard something crackle at the front of the alley he was in. He pulled himself up from where he had been sleeping and pulled his backpack closer to himself. What was going on? The ginger stayed low to the ground and edged his head around the side of the dumpster to get a clearer look. Captain Cold was standing right there in front of some frozen police officers! Wally knew that he would eventually get a glimpse of the Central City Rogues since he was, in fact, in Central City, but he never thought he was going to see one up close and personal in the little alley he had been calling his home for the past couple of weeks. Then Wally caught sight of what was in the hand that Cold wasn't using to hold his cold gun. It was a huge bag of cash from a bank! He must have just robbed one.
The ginger bit his lip slightly. He knew this was a bad idea. He could feel it in his bones that he shouldn't do what he was about to do. That didn't stop Wally though. Reaching into his bag and pulling out a domino mask with white screens to cover his eyes, Wally swept his hood over his head and activated a locking mechanism that instantly made the hood stiff. Within a second, he was off.
The young speedster couldn't help but laugh as he sped through the small street, quickly gaining speed and weaving around the frozen people. He ducked under Cold's gun, watching as the man ever so slowly turned to see Wally, but he was gone, already on the Rogue's other side and snatching the bag from his grip. Soon he was speeding down the alley again. As he reached his sleeping spot, he slowed slightly to grab his backpack so he could make a clean get away. That was his mistake.
A beam of ice latched onto his back and quickly spread, encasing all but his head in the frozen liquid. Wally hung his head, already mentally berating himself for being so stupid. What was he thinking trying to steal from a Rogue? They lived to steal and he just occasionally stole things to stay alive! Ugh!
Suddenly Captain Cold was standing in front of him, grinning triumphantly. At least, he was until he saw just who he had trapped with his gun. The man's gruff voice rang out, "Who are you, kid? You're not the Flash."
Wally, who apparently decided he wanted to get killed, responded quickly, "No, really? I couldn't tell. This entire time I was convinced I was the Flash. What a shame, really."
Cold's jaw tightened and he fingered his gun lightly, easily getting his threat through to Wally, "I wouldn't mess with me, kid. I don't like hurting children, but I can make exceptions. Now I'll ask you again. Who are you?"
"None of your business. And I'm not a kid!" Wally answered defiantly. Once again, not his best move.
Cold raised his arm to do something; Wally wasn't sure what. It looked like he was about to backhand him, but he could have been trying to break the ice to get the bag of money back, but either way the man was stopped when a voice called out from behind them, "Captain Cold!"
Wally paled as he recognized the voice and within a second the Flash was zooming past him, chasing after the Rogue who was futilely attempting to make an escape. Uncle Barry. Wally remembered a time when he idolized the Flash and his Uncle Barry was just one step below him on the hero scale. Little did he know that they were both the same person. He had been ecstatic when he first found out, but he still hadn't told his Uncle that he knew his secret. Too many things had happened. Wally mentally shook his head and started vibrating. He needed to get out of this ice trap and grab his stuff before the Flash came back around. Uncle Barry hadn't seen him since he was eleven and that was four years ago, but there was still a chance he would be recognized.
The final ice chunks fell off just as Flash turned the corner. Before the fastest man alive could blink, the teenager was gone; backpack slung over one shoulder and a bag of stolen money held in one hand.
Captain Cold frowned as he pressed himself against the wall of an alley, remembering another alley from two weeks ago. There was something about that kid who'd had the gall to steal right out of his hand and then run away when the Flash came running back. Apparently the kid had taken the money so he wasn't just trying to be a mini-hero like Snart had originally thought. He was a thief. Cold had told the other Rogues about the kid and asked them to keep an eye out for him, but when all Cold had seen of him was the bottom of his face (the rest being covered by a domino mask and a hood) it made it kind of hard to find the kid. Weather Wizard whipped around the corner, hiding next to Cold behind the dumpster. They heard Pied Piper's melodious notes and Trickster's high laugh as the two distracted the police (and hopefully the Flash) while Weather Wizard and Captain Cold made themselves scarce, waiting for Trickster and Pied Piper to circle back around and get into the alleyway where Mirror Master would get them all out. Heat Wave, Captain Boomerang, and Mirror Master were supposedly already back in the hide-out with the stolen items.
Weather Wizard panted out, "You gotten a chance to check the alley yet? Make sure there isn't anyone already in here?"
"Not yet." Cold replied, practically emotionlessly. He didn't do emotions.
Weather Wizard nodded to him and the two of them started creeping down the alleyway, Weather Wizard facing one side and Captain Cold facing the other. They both had their respective weapons held at the ready. They were about halfway down the alley when Weather Wizard raised his hand, signifying a need to stop. Cold muttered, "What did you see?"
Weather Wizard frowned, "I dunno. I think it's a dead body."
"Is it a dead body or is it not a dead body?" Cold snapped.
"I told you, I don't know." Weather Wizard snapped back.
"Why don't you find out?" Cold forced through his teeth.
Weather Wizard made a disgusted sound and said, "No way, you do it. I don't want to touch some dead body." Cold growled at him and the two switched places. Now that Cold could see the body, he could agree with Weather Wizard's assessment. He really could be dead or alive. It was a young teen, probably thirteen or fourteen. He had the brightest red hair Captain Cold had ever seen and it was unruly and tangled and matted with blood. His skin was pale, but he couldn't tell if that was because of blood loss or if he was normally that pale. It might have been both. There were freckles ranging across his cheeks and nose. As Cold's eyes raked over the body, he realized that the teen had probably gotten the living daylight beaten out of him recently. The teen was bruised and there were cuts and stab wounds and some of his limbs were at awkward angles, signifying a break. Cold sighed and pulled his glove off, pressing two fingers to the kid's neck.
Apparently the cold pressure of his fingers woke the kid up because eyelids flew open and a hand was gripping his wrist weakly in seconds. Cold's eyes widened minutely as he stared into bright emerald eyes. The hand holding his own seemed malformed and he figured there were probably broken fingers on that hand. It wasn't holding his wrist very tightly either. It seemed like the kid was using all of his effort just to keep his arm in that position. Cold called behind him, "Well, he's alive."
Weather Wizard must have caught some of the curiosity that was coloring his leader's voice because he turned around slightly and saw the teen gripping Cold's wrist limply. He raised an eyebrow and said, "What do you want to do with him?"
Trickster's voice interrupted whatever Cold was about to say, "Do with who?"
Pied Piper sighed and said, "Probably the only other person in the alleyway."
"Oh!" Trickster chirped, practically bouncing over to where Cold was crouching on the ground. Cold resisted the urge to sigh and instead watched as terrified green eyes settled on Trickster. The blond villain cooed slightly, plopping down on the ground and easily sitting cross legged. He leaned into the beaten teen's personal space (the kid was still holding onto Cold's arm so he was uncomfortably close to Trickster as well) and chirped, "Hi!"
The kid coughed, a painful thing that shook his whole body (and Cold realized that his body was painfully thin), "Hey."
Pied Piper and Weather Wizard had crowded closer at that point, leaning over them and observing the kid together. Captain Cold's eyebrows drew together as he thought. He'd heard that voice before, but where? Trickster was already talking again, "You don't look so good."
"I don't feel so good." The stranger groaned, attempting to curl into himself, finally letting go of Cold's wrists. As the teen moved, however, Cold caught sight of the backpack lying underneath him. And suddenly he knew where he'd heard that voice before.
Cold's accusing voice broke over whatever Trickster had been about to say, "You stole that money from me two weeks ago."
The kid's eyes rolled back over towards him and those green eyes widened in recognition. Suddenly the kid was scrambling to get up, coughing at the attempt and grimacing every time he shifted. Weather Wizard and Pied Piper both started to try to gently keep him where he was, but he was determined to get away. Piper glanced up at Cold desperately, unsure about what to do. Cold just nodded and Pied Piper sighed. Not wasting another second, Piper raised his flute to his lips (the other Rogues covering their ears out of habit) and played a tune. Whatever he played worked and the kid slumped back down to the ground, asleep. Piper's voice was concerned as he asked, "Should we get him to a hospital?"
Weather Wizard responded sarcastically, "Of course we should. No one's going to be at all concerned about a group of Rogues walking into the hospital with some random beaten up kid. No one's going to try to arrest us at all."
Piper scowled at him and said, "What do you suggest doing then? Taking him back to the hideout is a much better option."
Weather Wizard scowled right back, "I never said we should bring him back there."
"If you don't have a better idea, then don't say we can't do mine." Piper snapped.
"Just because I don't have something else doesn't mean that yours isn't stupid." Weather Wizard glowered.
"Can we maybe focus a little? We have a bigger problem than some half-dead kid on the ground. Flasher will be here any minute and, hopefully, Mirror Master will be here sooner." Cold drawled, getting annoyed at his team's antics. Honestly. It was a wonder they hadn't killed each other yet.
Trickster chirped his opinion from the ground where he was still sitting cross-legged, "We should take him home! I mean, how cool would it be to have a speedster on the team?"
At that, the whole group froze, turning to look down at their second youngest (although he often acted younger than anyone else in the group) member. What he said… actually made sense. How better to fight a speedster than with a speedster? Their successful crime rate would double – triple even. If they brought this kid back to base and tended to his wounds and fed him and stuff, surely he would feel indebted to the Rogues. It was obvious that the kid lived on the streets. Why else would Cold have run into him twice in old alleyways? Once he realized how much more fun it was to steal on as big of a scale as they did, he'd join them in a heartbeat. Cold was actually starting to like this idea. Apparently that was obvious because Pied Piper started protesting immediately, "Oh no, no, no. That is not a good idea. We don't bring people back to our hideout for a reason. Just because he stole from you that one time doesn't mean that he's a legitimate thief. For all that we know, the moment we have him patched up, he'll make a run for it and tell everyone where we live. He might even be working with the Flash!"
"Do you really think that Flasher would let someone he worked with get into this sorry state?" Weather Wizard pushed. It was obvious that he'd come to the same conclusions as Len had.
There was a moment's pause where the kid groaned from his spot sleeping on the ground and Piper finally capitulated, "Okay, fine. Whatever." For the first time in a while, he sounded like the moody teenager he was.
"It's decided then." Cold announced. It always made him feel like an awesome leader when he said stuff like that – not that he'd ever admit that out loud.
"What's decided?" A distinctly Australian accented voice came from behind him.
Captain Cold turned around to see Mirror Master, Captain Boomerang, and Heatwave peering at them through an old, cracked mirror that was leaning against one side of the alleyway. Cold grunted out, "We're taking this kid back and treating his wounds. He's the speedster that stole that cash a couple weeks back."
"Why would we want him here?" Heatwave grunted back, eying the kid's beaten body wearily.
"Think about the advantages of having a speedster on our side." Mirror Master said thoughtfully, eying the body with a much more optimistic expression. "That doesn't really matter at the moment. If we're taking him back, then you should probably get him through. We're running low on time. You are, in fact, being chased by law enforcement after stealing some pretty valuable valuables."
"Yeah, yeah. We're coming." Weather Wizard responded gruffly, hefting the kid up. If Cold hadn't worked with the man for so long, he wouldn't have recognized that the metahuman was being as gentle as he possibly could given the time restraints. The man walked through the mirror, Pied Piper dragging Trickster along immediately afterwards. Cold took one last look around the alley and spotted the kid's backpack. He scooped it up and made his way through the mirror, stomach clenching painfully as nausea overtook him. After all this time, he'd have thought that he'd have gotten used to traveling through the mirror dimension.
Apparently transportation via mirrors didn't agree so well with the kid either because the trip woke him up and had him dry heaving into a trashcan that Sam always had on hand for when they got back from the mirror world. Despite his earlier reservations, Mick was there gently rubbing circles on the kid's back, trying to get him to stop his dry heaving. A few moments later, the kid stopped and fell backwards a little bit, towards the mirror he'd just come out of. He lay there panting for a little bit, his eyes closed and his nose scrunched up in pain. Another few moments later, his eyes opened and he blinked blearily at the Rogues, "Where-," He was cut off by a cough that had his whole body shaking again. Mick moved back to his side and tried to keep him at least sitting upright while he coughed.
Len got the drift of what he was trying to say, though, and answered, "You're at the Rogue hideout. We figured that a hospital wouldn't be the best choice."
The kid, his voice finally back but still hoarse and croaky, said, "Ha, yeah. Hospitals are a no go. Central City might be a place of metahumans, but people still don't like them. Hospital people even less." Huh, Len hadn't even thought of that. He guessed it made sense. The rest of the country toted Central as a place of sunshine and un-ending joy, but they didn't realize that it could be just as bad as many other cities. People here were still jerks and they still had a slum and their homeless population was pretty high too. Central was a good place to live, but it still wasn't all that it was cracked up to be.
Hartley pushed his way towards the kid on the ground and set down the heavy duty first aid kit they had. Len hadn't even seen him leave to go get it. Voice soft, Hartley offered a glass of water and a couple of pills to the kid, "Here, these'll make you feel better." The kid eyed them warily and Hartley sighed sharply, his voice gaining a little bit more of his usual attitude, "It's just pain medication. We aren't trying to get you hooked on some mysterious drug. Moron."
The kid's head fell back against the mirror, "No thanks."
Mark frowned, "I don't think you can really afford to say no to pain meds, kid."
"I'm not a kid." The ginger frowned before sighing (wincing as he did so – there were definitely injured ribs involved), "Look, you obviously know I'm a speedster. That means my metabolism is off the charts. By the time the pain meds would start working, they've already made it through my system. Basically, they're useless to me. So there's no point on wasting them." Len's eyebrow rose. Did Flash have to deal with that, too? That couldn't be fun.
Hartley frowned in concentration, "Okay then. Can you tell me any injuries you know of? We can start by dealing with those and then we'll deal with the rest later."
The kid scowled, "I don't know. My left leg is broken in, like, three places. Most of the fingers on my left hand are broken and the wrist is definitely sprained. My ribs are bruised on my right side and broken on my left – maybe cracked. It's hard to tell the different sometimes. Black eye. Bruises all over. Stab wounds on my left leg, my left arm in two places, and the left shoulder. Why do you even care? Why didn't you just leave me there?"
Digger responded before the others could, voice heated, "Did y' think we'd just leave ya there? Ya needed help."
"Yeah, but – Ow! Hey!" The kid glared vehemently at Hartley who just glared back. The kid's voice was starting to sound a little less rough, "What do you think you're doing?"
"I'm trying to set your bones." Hartley scowled.
The kid gave him a scowl to match, "They're already healed. You've got to break them again and then set them."
"What?" Mark asked in horror.
The kid kept up his scowl, "Speed healing has it downsides too. I was too busy being beat up and then being unconscious to set my leg so it healed in the wrong position." He glared at the leg as if it had personally offended him. Len was starting to grow a little bit of respect for what Flash had to go through. If it was anything like this…
Hartley stood up, his hands in the air, "I'm not qualified to deal with that." He stepped back a little bit and stared at the others as if that would get them to step up to the task. None of them wanted to break this kid's leg!
The kid sighed exasperatedly and said, "I can do it myself. Jesus. For a bunch of villains, you're all pansies." At first, Len was offended at the kid's nerve, but then he realized that the acid words the kid spewed were a cover up for his pain or fear. That thought was proven when the kid gripped his leg and started talking again, "Seriously. Don't you, like, maim people on a regular basis and eat kids for break- breakfast or- or somet-thing?" Each little hiccup in his words was punctuated by a loud snap as he re-broke each broken part of his leg. He sat there, breathing harshly for a moment before he moved onto his fingers, audibly gritting his teeth and snapping his fingers back into place.
Mark decided to rise to the bait, "We're not like that." He snapped, "We're not some sort of monsters like those freaks up in Gotham are."
"You're villains." The kid snapped back, nose scrunching up in pain again as Hartley stepped back in and started setting the bones.
"That doesn't mean that we're evil. We do this because it's fun. The Rogues have a strict moral code of conduct." Len inserted.
"Oh, sorry. I didn't realize." The kid actually sounded contrite. At least, until he kept going, "So, what? You only eat babies on Thursdays?"
"We don't kill. Period. Unless it's for revenge. We'll kill for revenge." Digger growled out.
That seemed to finally shut the kid up because he narrowed his eyes at them for a moment before letting his head lean back against the mirror with a small thunk and a little groan. Hartley continued cleaning his wounds, motioning for a new bottle of alcohol or a new bandage from time to time. James was sitting next to him, handing him the items happily and murmuring a little tune to himself. There was a long moment of silence before Sam spoke up, "Say, what's your name, kid?"
"Not a kid." The ginger muttered rebelliously.
"Answer the question, runt." Digger snapped.
There was a long stretch of silence where Len didn't think he would answer before the ginger finally let out, "Wally."
Mick laughed and Wally opened one eye to glare at him. Mick shook his head and said, "Sorry, but that's a stupid name."
"Yeah, well, I didn't exactly get much input into that decision. I was a little bit not born yet." Wally shot back sardonically. This kid really had a mouth on him.
Sam continued pushing, "You're what? Twelve?"
"Seriously?" Wally yelped, "Do I seriously look twelve? I'm fifteen!" Even Len's eyebrows rose at that. If he'd had to guess, Len would have said that the kid was thirteen, maybe fourteen if he was really pushing it. Fifteen wouldn't have even occurred to him. How malnourished do you have to be to get that small?
"Do you even eat?" Hartley asked incredulously. He'd gotten Wally's dirty, torn shirt up while they were talking and was probably going to take a look at the injured ribs, but it was obvious what had taken his attention away from that. Len couldn't drag his eyes away either. The kid was a literal stick. He didn't have a bit of meat on him! All of his ribs showed (at the very least making it easy to tell which of them were broken) and his stomach caved in slightly. He looked like one of those people they show from prison camps or something. It was awful.
That set the kid scowling again, "I already told you I have an enhanced metabolism. I need at least 10 K calories a day to eat enough to keep me alive. When you're homeless and jobless, food intake decreases quite a bit. It's not like I can get enough food from dumpster diving."
Len's eyebrow was raised when he drawled, "You had quite a bit of money from a couple of weeks ago. I can't imagine that you couldn't have bought enough food with that much money." Inwardly, though, Len was wincing. He couldn't imagine how hard it would be for a homeless kid to get that much food all the time. There were people with steady incomes who would have a hard time feeding that.
Wally's eyes grew sad and he drew in on himself, "I used some of it on food! It's just… I was gonna keep it but… there was this orphanage and it was obvious that they weren't getting enough funding to take care of themselves. What else was I supposed to do? I couldn't just leave them like that!" He'd grown defensive by the end, finishing with, "I kept some for myself, but then one of the gangs near the alley I was staying caught wind of the money I had and I was too busy running for my life to spend the money on food. I would have just given them the money and scrammed, but I knew that group and they don't care if you give them the money or not. If you didn't go straight to them with the money, then they were going to beat you half to death and take the money no matter what."
"That's what happened to you?" Mark asked quietly, some of his earlier annoyance fading.
Wally just nodded miserably. Len, against his will, felt his heart go out to this kid. He had some balls stealing from the Rogues and then snarking at them when they tried to patch him up, but it was obvious to Len that it was all just a defense mechanism. He recognized that particular strategy from when he was a kid and his sharp tongue was the only thing that kept him alive among his father's associates.
Len decided to put himself back into the conversation, "We can stop them from ever doing that to you again. You don't have to worry about dumpster diving or being picked on by local gangs for not giving them your… earnings. You won't ever have to find an alley to sleep in again." Wally was looking at him suspiciously and Len had the strange experience of watching a bruise on the kid's temple go through the stages of being a bruise over a matter of moments. Len continued once he was sure his words had soaked in, "Join the Rogues."
Author's Note: Please let me know what you think! I'm going to ask for two reviews before I come out with another chapter!