Disclaimer: I do not own Young Justice
Mist: And now to continue to exciting adventure!
Kaz: About time.
Mist: I know. At least I made it really long this time…
Kaz: True, we have a rather long chapter.
Mist: Let's delay no more, enjoy everyone! Please Review!
Justice League File #3: Flash Back
They just had to bring Jay into this. Didn't they. It wasn't like Barry wasn't already out numbered in this morbid situation. Now they've brought in the one person Barry actually had trouble arguing with. It wasn't like Jay was a bad person, he just hadn't been the most supportive mentor. Barry swore that if Joan hadn't forced Jay to retire that the older speedster would still be micromanaging his life. Even before this Barry has been having a hell of a time avoiding Jay's 'advice' like the plague.
Which had been truly going rather well the past year. Considering the oldest speedster has been travelling.
No. Now Barry was sitting in the Watch Tower waiting 'obediently' as Jay spoke to the League in the next room over.
Naturally Barry had attempted to eavesdrop, but that didn't work. Batman wasn't kidding when he said he had bought the highest quality sound proofing materials.
He knew he was in trouble. Even though the mission had been a 'success' Barry has still deliberately disobeyed the order to not speak to the Rogues. After they dropped Hartley and James in the holding tank, Jay had made a point of telling Barry that he was very disappointed in him and they would discuss his behavior later.
Barry wished later would never come.
A useless wish that would surely go un-granted.
The door to the meeting room opened. Barry stood up and turned to watch everyone leave. Waiting to be told what was going on.
It really bothered him that he hadn't been allowed to join the meeting. He was still a hero like everyone else, they needed to stop treating him like a victim.
Jay was the first one out, having zipped ahead of the crowd at super-speed. "How's my favorite apprentice?" He asked affectionately, patting Barry's head. "Sorry that took so long. You wanted very patiently. I'm so proud of you."
Barry swatted at his hand. "I am NOT your apprentice anymore," he hissed. "Haven't been for 2 years."
"Behave, Barry," Jay scolded gently.
The scarlet speedster looked behind Jay and to his teammates. "Any help?" he requested.
"Sorry, not getting involved," Hal shook his head. He worried that his best friend felt ganged up on, but knew that they needed to be firm if they wanted to keep Barry from being harmed by any more villains. Or himself.
"Traitor," Barry huffed and crossed his arms.
"Now now, there's no need for that," Jay placed a hand on Barry's shoulder, giving it a gentle squeeze. "As it is right now you don't know what's best for you. We do. So until your mind has been repaired you're just going to have to trust us to take care of you. Or more accurately you'll be trusting me."
Batman narrowed his eyes. "We brought you in to consult on the matter, not to take over," He told the oldest speedster.
Jay flashed the dark knight a grin. "My apologies, but when it comes to the people I care about I can get a little over protective," he said. "It's not that I don't think you'll help him. I just know that I can do a better job."
There's that micro-managing over-confidence that Barry remembers. Always being told that Jay could do whatever he was doing better.
Batman fumed, frustrated. "You've helped enough, I assure you, and we all appreciate your assistance in apprehending the Rogues and keeping Barry calm while doing it. However," he paused, taking the time to figure out how to handle things without causing problems. "Barry is a member of the Justice League. So we will take things from here. And, with all due respect, I'm sure that Barry would much prefer to receive our assistance over yours."
Barry felt Jay's hand clench his shoulder. The scarlet speedster bit his tongue. For once he was going to stay quiet unless spoken to.
"With all due respect?" Jay repeated, then took a deep breath to calm himself. "Just who do you think you are? Barry is my apprentice! And it was under your watch that this was done to him! So what, now you want me to abandon him?"
"Former apprentice," Batman corrected, beginning to regret bringing the first Flash into this. "And I am not asking you to abandon him, just to step back and let us help him. You're retired Jay. Leave this to us."
"I'm coming out of retirement," Jay retorted. "Clearly I retired too early. Barry still needs me."
This was when things got too much for Hal, seeing his best friend becoming more and more uncomfortable with each passing second. "Barry's all grown up, with his own apprentice now," Hal said, glad when he saw Barry smile at his comment.
"A twelve year old whom enjoys spending his days with villains," Jay rolled his eyes. He hasn't seen much of the child, as he came into the picture after Jay began his travels. "Here's an idea. How about you take care of that child, and I take care of Barry."
Barry pushed Jay away. "I really don't need to be 'taken care of'," He insisted, trying to stay calm and not anger Jay further. "I appreciate what you want to do for me, but it's unneeded."
"Unneeded?" Jay gaped. "Barry, you were almost coerced into becoming a minion for a bunch of sadistic villains!"
Barry flinched when Jay snapped. "It wasn't like that," he insisted. "I was…"
"You were what?" Jay demanded to know.
The scarlet speedster shook his head, already hating what he was going to say before he even said it. "I was just confused for a bit," he said, even though he didn't believe it. "I didn't realize that I was making friends with the villains. But I know better now, and I hate those villains for what they tried to do to me. I'm sorry it took me so long to snap out of it."
Jay's expression softened at that. "I'm very happy to hear that," he said, giving the younger speedster a hug. "So I did help you?"
"Yes, you were a great help," Barry resisted the urge to roll his eyes. Hopefully this would get Jay to leave. "Thank you."
His former mentor chuckled. "I'll always help you," he promised.
Then, without warning, Jay grabbed Barry tightly and picked him up. Before the scarlet speedster could process what was happening Jay sped them out of the room and to the Zeta tube. He put Barry back down and then zoomed over to the controls.
"What are you doing?" Barry demanded to know as he watched Jay trying the controls.
"Helping you. Like I promised," Jay flashed him a smile as the Zeta activated. "Space is no place for a speedster. And that's where the League was planning on keeping you until you recovered. They felt it would be easier to keep you in line where you can't run off. But that's not the type of situation I want you in."
Barry groaned in frustration. "You know the League will come after me, don't you?"
"They can try," Jay chuckled, dragging Barry into the Zeta tube.
Within seconds the two speedster were stepping out of the Zeta and into the streets of Central City.
A tug on Barry's wrist got the scarlet speedster running and he began following behind his former mentor down the streets. As curious as he was as to what the other speedster was thinking he decided to stay quiet for now. Behaving would likely get him out of this situation faster than fighting and arguing would.
No. That would convince Jay even more that Barry needed his guidance.
Eventually Barry realized where they were going when Jay led him to the suburbs. They were going to Jay's house.
With any luck it would be a short visit.
To make things easier, Barry decided to himself that he would just agree with whatever Jay said. Pretend to be grateful that he 'snapped him out of it'. That way things would be over sooner and Barry could go home. Though Barry was definitely not looking forward to explaining to Wally what was happening. It was probably going to break the little guys heart.
Jay stopped at the door for a fraction of a second to unlock it before ushering Barry inside and shutting the door behind him.
"Make yourself comfortable, I'm going to put on some tea," Jay advised as he pulled Barry's mask off.
Barry forced a smile. "Don't trouble yourself, I really should be getting home," he objected. "Iris is going to worry soon. I told her I wouldn't be more than 2 hours and it's been 4."
"I called her not to long ago to let her know you wouldn't be home tonight," Jay said, motioning for Barry to go sit down in the living room.
Feeling defeated, Barry did as he was told.
Barry went to the living room and sat down on a cream colored over-stuffed couch. He tried his best to relax, but he was so frustrated that he couldn't do it.
Why did Jay want him to stay the night? He's already lied and told him he's been 'snapped out of it', so what gives?
Time would tell.
Barry heard Jay's footsteps approach from behind him. Tea must be ready.
It's only been like five seconds.
Confused Barry began to turn around so he could ask Jay if he needed him when he heard the footsteps get faster. Why was Jay using his speed? Last time Barry was here he'd been told super-speed was banned inside the house as Joan was annoyed by the mess they'd leave behind.
Speeding the rest of the way around, Barry just barely had enough time to get away before a metallic collar went around his neck.
An inhibitor collar.
"What the hell?" Barry exclaimed, arms flailing in exasperation.
Jay sighed and reopened the collar to try again. "I had hoped to catch you off guard," he said, offering a comforting smile. "It would have made it a little easier for you. And I'd rather not have to restrain you."
"You are not putting a collar on me," Barry growled, preparing to run away.
"It's just temporary," Jay assured him. "I only wish to keep you safe and out of harm's way until you recover fully. And for the record Barry, I know you too well to not notice when you're lying to me. You don't hate the Rogues. And that's what worries me."
"What's it matter now, they're locked up!" Barry reminded him.
"It does matter, because what's stopping you from breaking them out?" Jay voiced his concern, lining himself up to go at Barry again to get the collar around his neck. "I won't let you do that. Breaking a law. That is a line that you cannot uncross."
Barry pulled his hair in frustration. "I wasn't going to do that!" He insisted. He didn't think he needed to either.
"Shhh… just stay still for me for a moment," Jay said in a soothing sing-song way, ignoring Barry's protests.
"You never listen to me!" Barry snapped.
Jay ignored him again. He waited for his opportunity. Any second now.
In that time Jay lunged forward, intending to get the collar around his former student's neck. He pushed Barry backwards and against the wall to stun him for a moment, then he placed the collar around the scarlet speedster's neck. It was just about to click into place when Barry grabbed it and kept it apart.
"You've gotten faster," Jay remarked, almost proud. Surprised Barry caught the collar.
Barry glared at him. "Get this thing away from me!" He demanded. "This isn't funny!"
"It's not supposed to be funny," Jay sighed, trying to force the collar close. "You're not well, Barry. I just want to protect you. But I can't do that if I can't keep you in line."
"How is this any better than being stuck in space?" Barry rationalized.
"Simple," Jay gave him a reassuring smile. "This way you will receive proper help. From me. Someone who understands how your unique mind works. The League would never be able to figure it out in time. You'd grow bitter. Which would lead to you choosing villainy."
"I am not going to become a villain –I'm just dealing with things differently than everyone else!" Barry insisted, struggling to keep the collar from clicking into place. "The Rogues aren't like other villains. They're a family. And they-"
"They are just like every other villain where it counts," Jay snapped at him. "This 'family' thing that you see is nothing more than a delusion. They want you to see them as a family. One that they hope you'd want to join. I'm putting a stop to this before it goes any further. Now, just relax and let me put the collar on you. There you go…"
Barry's hand slipped from Jay suddenly pressing harder, and the collar nearly clicking into place. The scarlet speedster just had enough time to stick his finger in the mechanism to stop it. The sharp gears cut through the fabric and into his flesh. It hurt so bad Barry knew that the bone was broken.
Just because he heals fast, doesn't mean it doesn't hurt like hell.
A panicked expression replaced the calm on Jay's face. "Are you trying to hurt yourself?" he demanded to know, gently moving Barry's hand out of the mechanism. "You could have lost that finger if I hadn't stopped!"
"Maybe that would have made you stop trying to put the collar on me," Barry forced a laugh, trying to ignore the pain in his finger as he kept his grip firm on the collar so not to be caught off guard again by Jay.
"This is exactly the self-destructive attitude I want to put a stop to," Jay sighed, frustrated with the way his former student was behaving. If he just let him put the collar on this would all be over.
Barry didn't reply, just glared at Jay and waited for him to try again as his mind went a mile a second. The speedster was trying his hardest to figure out how to get out of this situation. Maybe if he waited long enough the League would get here and put a stop to Jay's attempts to collar him? That was assuming they'd even care. Really, the League were just as likely to just decide that Barry was better off with Jay and leave him at the mercy of his former teacher and idol.
The pressure increased again, but Barry stayed strong.
"You're making this harder than it has to be," Jay sighed. Maybe he was being too gentle? One look at Barry's finger and Jay knew it needed medical attention, which Jay couldn't give the younger speedster until he was collared and placated.
"I'm not going to be collared," Barry hissed at him.
"This is for your own good," Jay started pressing even harder. It was a morbid position he was in. From any perspective he looked like he was trying to strangle the younger speedster. The very idea of harming his student disturbed him, but he needed to ignore the feeling.
They continued to struggle, neither willing to give up. The pain in Barry's finger nearly made him give up, but he stayed strong. A few years ago Barry wouldn't have stood a chance, but he's gotten stronger. As least he could be proud of himself for that. Now even if he lost he could at least know that he had put up a decent fight.
A sudden jerk that Barry hadn't been expecting made Barry twist his hand –unintentionally slamming his injured finger into the collar again.
And his hand recoiled from the pain.
If Barry hadn't been looking at Jay's face he wouldn't have noticed the smirk on his former teacher's face when his hand let go. In that same moment Barry realized his mistake. Recognizing he'd let go.
A look of horror covered Barry's face as the world slowed down around him. His mind a broken mess. He didn't want to be collared.
He began to move his hand to grab the collar again, but Jay was already closing it around his neck. There was no way he'd reach it in time.
Not fast enough.
He shut his eyes, giving up. He just wanted it over with.
Barry felt an arm wrap around him, then the familiar feeling of being dragged at super-speed. He opened his eyes and was shocked to find the blurring image of the city around him. More importantly he didn't feel a collar around his neck!
Wait. Why was the world still a blur? Whoever was dragging him must be extremely fast. Even faster than Jay.
Barry didn't get to finish his sentence, as he was surprised by suddenly stopping and being dropped on the ground of an empty clearing in a forest. When did they even leave the city?
He must have blinked.
The scarlet speedster jumped to his feet and turned to face his rescuer.
Before him stood a man around his height, in a blue armored suit. Most interesting was a very familiar 'Flash Symbol' on the man's chest, and the wing designs on his ears. Actually, the man's costume appeared quite similar to Barry's. Just blue.
"Umm… thanks for saving me," Barry started, feeling awkward for staring.
The man in blue laughed at him. "It was my pleasure," he said, offering a grin. "I'm just glad I made it in time."
"Me too ummm…" Barry said. "May I ask who saved me?"
"I'm someone you know quite well actually," The man in blue replied, chuckling. "Or at least you will. In the future."
"Future? Are you-"
"A time traveler?" The man in blue finished for him, amused by Barry. "Sorry. I do that a lot. Everyone is just so slow. Even my old self."
"Old self?" Barry parroted, confused.
The man in blue chuckled again. "That's right," he said, pulling at his mask. "You're still so young and innocent. I can't believe you're me," he pulled it off, revealing his face, "Hello Barry. I'm Barry Allen of the year 2025."
The face of the man indeed looked like his own, but older. He reminded Barry of how his father looked when he was little. Was this man really him from the future?
Barry nearly fainted. "Y-you're me?" he gasped.
Future Barry chuckled at him again. "What a fun reaction," he remarked. "I used to be so easily excitable."
"I don't understand," Barry tried to wrap his head around this. "Why are you here?"
"What do you think? To save you," Future Barry replied seriously. "I remember this day all too well. It was the worst day of my life."
"Because of the collar, right?" Barry guessed, looking down at his hurt hand.
Future Barry nodded, confirming it. "That was just the beginning," he said gravely. "Oh Barry, you have no idea what you were about to go through. I bet you thought you'd go home tomorrow, right? Well no. You wouldn't have gotten to see Iris again for two years."
"Two years!?" Barry exclaimed.
With a heavy sigh Future Barry continued. "That's how long it took for Jay to brainwash me to his way of thinking," he explained. "I won't go into details of that year -it would give you nightmares- but by the time Jay let me out the world had changed. Iris had moved on and was dating another man. I was all alone, the only one I felt I had left was Jay. So I began living with him and letting him control me for another year. That's when the Rogues finally broke out of prison. First thing they did was 'abduct' me and helped break the brainwashing. I was so angry about what Jay had done to me that I decided to join the Rogues just to spit him."
Barry stared in shock, horrified that this could happen to anyone. "And the League did nothing?" he asked. Did his friends abandon him?
"Over time they stopped trying to convince Jay to let them help me instead. Eventually they seemed to have forgotten me," Future Barry lowered his head. "Even Hal."
The thought of his best friend abandoning him hurt more than the rest of the League combined.
"Of course, when I became a villain they noticed me," Future Barry gave a twisted smile. "They tried to lock me up. Thought I had 'lost it'."
"What did you do?" Barry asked, wanting to know more.
"I did what speedsters do best –I ran," The man in blue replied, pacing. "I got faster and faster. The more I let myself be true to my nature, the more powerful I became. Now I am speed."
Barry found the way he said it strange. Then again, he was looking at a broken man.
"I am the fasted man alive," Future Barry became a blur, then reappeared in front of his younger self. "And now. I'm going to help you become the same. Just a few years early."
"You're going to train me?" Barry asked, raising a curious eyebrow.
Future Barry grinned wildly. "That's right," he said. "I know I haven't mentored anyone since I was separated from Wally, but I can't possibly do a worse job than Jay."
Barry chuckled awkwardly. "True…"
This was all too much for Barry. When he woke up today he thought he'd just be spending a few hours at the Watch Tower being yelled at by the other heroes. Now he was meeting his future self after being rescued by him from his former mentor –whom was about to kidnap him for two years and brainwash him.
"So what do you say, little me –want to be the fastest man alive?" Future Barry offered.
Barry looked at him. The man held out his hand for him to accept. It made sense to take him up on his offer. Of course it did. If you can't trust yourself, who can you trust? But then again, this man is a self-proclaimed villain that seems to have at the very least been driven a little insane. What if he had dark intentions for his younger self?
But then Barry looked at his smile. A mirror reflection of his own. It was a smile full of hope.
Barry shook his hand. "Let's do this."
The man in blue's grin widened. "You won't regret this little me."
At the same time. In an undisclosed location:
Captain Cold sat in his cell, frustrated at his situation. He couldn't see or hear any of his Rogues. The cells were too far apart for that. The leader of the Rogues assumed that it was to prevent them from planning an escape. Not that it would stop them. No, Captain Cold had already formulating a plan to get out of this cell. For now he would sit and wait. Analyze his surroundings. Every good plan takes time. Fortunately, he always thought ahead.
For a moment the ice-themed villain allowed his thoughts to drift. Specifically to the scarlet speedster and the other speedsters.
There were only three speedsters in their world.
First there was the original Flash, Jay Garrick. A real piece of work. Still stuck in the old ways and refusing to believe that any other way could work. Cold remembers the oppressive way Jay treated his 'apprentice' Barry, back when they worked together. It was one of the reasons the leader of the Rogues so often offered Barry a spot on their team. He hated seeing the way the scarlet speedster was treated.
Speaking of sidekicks, Wally West was perhaps the sweetest speedster around. The youngest of the speedster, and the most open minded. Their baby was truly special. Captain Cold hoped that when he gets out that Wally hasn't been brainwashed against them. Cold had worried at first when he noticed that Barry was a mentor, as Cold didn't know if Barry would copy Jay's teaching methods. His worry was misplaced. Besides smothering Wally a bit, Barry was a very caring mentor. Wally clearly meant a lot to him.
That brought Cold to the last speedster, Barry himself. He's watched the young man grow from a frightened apprentice to an energetic hero. Captain Cold liked to think he was a part of that transformation. It worried the ice villain that Jay was back in Barry's life. He knows how this will go.
A knock on the door interrupted his thoughts.
"Yes?" Cold said.
A muffled voice replied. "Did you order a pizza?"
Captain Cold felt his eye twitch. "Just open the door, Evan."
A stream of giggles answered him before the door was opened, revealing a teen in a costume similar to Mirror Master.
"You took too long," Cold told him gruffly as he pushed passed him.
Evan hurried to follow. "Give me a break, I haven't travelled the mirror dimension on my own," he rolled his eyes.
Captain Cold sighed, his expression softening. "Let's get the others and go home," he instructed. "It's a good thing most people don't know about you yet. You're still in training. That came in handy today."
"Guess that means Barry really is on our side," Evan agreed. He was actually supposed to be going on his debut mission later that week. If that had happened he might have been captured too.
Captain Cold smiled at that. "Sounds like it. Now let's rescue him before Jay does anything."
Mist: And here's a chappy!
Kaz: Wait. Didn't Future Barry say the Rogues won't escape for three years?
Mist: He did.
Kaz: Sounds like we have a liar.
Mist: People will have to read to find out. Until next time!