The Flash: Terminal Velocity, Chapter 14: Heading West

by Hitman 44077

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Inside Titans Tower in New York, Wally West stood with his oldest teammates, Nightwing and Artemis, as they released their hug. “I’ve really got to thank you two,” Wally said, trying to keep his tears from dropping as he put his mask back on. “These have been the hardest days in my life after Barry’s death. Not that it makes things easier, but I’m glad I could count on my friends.”

“This hurts deeply, Wally,” Nightwing said as he removed his own mask to wipe his eyes before putting it back on. “I don’t know if things will turn out better for you, but you’ll always have friends here.”

“That’s right, Wally,” Artemis chimed in, trying to keep calm after the emotions shared minutes before. “We’ll do our share to help you. It seems like a nightmare, though.”

“To a large degree it is, Donna,” Flash admitted. “God, there’s so much I have to do. With all that’s happened, I need to do certain things. I need to talk to my folks, and Fran, about the return of the disease. I need to make a will, something I’d never considered at this stage in my life. It’s… it’s so damn difficult to accept. There’s points where it seems as if I’ve finally accepted the fact that I’m dying again, and then there’s points where I’m so incredibly scared of the inevitable.”

“Is there any way we could help right now?” Artemis asked with some hope.

“All of you have helped me so much already,” Flash said. “I wish I’d been this way two years ago instead of feeling the self-pity that my life was turning into at that point.”

“How’s Raven?” Nightwing asked, concerned for his friend’s welfare after the strains she’d placed herself under while trying to eliminate Wally’s disease.

“She’s doing OK… for the most part,” Flash said as he remembered the kiss between the two. He felt somewhat guilty, even if he hadn’t initiated the kiss. “I don’t know how to put what we’d discussed into words.”

“Out of all of us, she may have changed the most over these past few years,” Nightwing admitted. “Sure, we grew up, or we accepted things that we didn’t think were possible, but she became a completely new person. She has life within her now, and she isn’t afraid to live, with Trigon dead.”

“Or to love,” Flash said quietly before changing the subject. “Look, it’s already dark outside. I’d better head back to Central City.”

“Not alone, Wally,” Nightwing said in a serious tone. “I saw the pains you went through earlier. I’ll take you back to Central City in a T-Jet. And I’m not taking no for an answer, got it?”

The Flash smiled at the offer of his friend. “OK, Dick. I’ll take you up on that.”

“Do you want to see the others before we leave?” Artemis said.

“No,” Flash said with regret. “They’re my friends, but right now, I’ve really got to talk to Fran… about a lot of things.”

“We understand,” Artemis said. “Look, I’ll stay with the others, while the two of you head west.”

“Donna?” Flash asked.

“Yes?” Artemis replied with a question of her own.

“I love you… all of you,” Flash said, his voice filled with emotion. “Thanks for being my friend.”

“Oh, Wally,” Artemis said as the tears dropped from her eyes. The two hugged once more as Nightwing stood in silence, feeling a loss though it hadn’t actually yet occurred.

In the span of fifteen minutes, the Flash and Nightwing walked toward a T-Jet, but before they could enter, Arsenal walked inside the hangar where the T-Jets were stored. “I’d like to join the two of you. Is that OK?” Arsenal asked, trying to keep strong.

“Yeah, sure. I’d like to talk to you a little more about what’s happened lately,” Flash said, hoping that his friend was doing well after the news Raven gave him during their talk.

The heroes boarded the T-Jet as it took off for Central City. Minutes into the flight, Flash began talking to Arsenal as Nightwing set the T-Jet on auto pilot. “I didn’t know that you and Raven broke up, Roy. I’m sorry,” Flash confided, even as he felt the guilt of Raven’s kiss linger in his head.

“There’s nothing to be sorry about, Wally,” Arsenal said, though the hurt was still evident in the archer. “We discussed it like adults, but it didn’t make things easier. She cares a great deal for you, Wally, even after all this time.”

“I know, Roy,” Flash admitted. “If it makes you feel any better, it took me a long time to move away from the feelings I had for her. I’ve been happy with Fran, but I cared about Raven so much. I can understand the pain you’re feeling.”

“I know we were both manipulated, but it doesn’t make it easier for me to accept,” Arsenal said, a tinge of anger pouring from his voice. “I don’t even know what to do anymore. And now I find out that you’re dying. I screwed up big-time, but you’ve made the most of the time you have.”

“It wasn’t the easiest times in my life, believe me,” Flash said with a nervous chuckle. “I made a few mistakes, even after adopting Barry’s identity. You know about that episode.”

“About your identity? Yeah, but it’s not as if you’re hounded, either,” Arsenal said. “You’ve been accepted as the scarlet speedster.”

“But I wasn’t infallible, Roy,” Flash said, as his guilt slowly grew. “We just have to do our best. If we do it right, then that’s great. If we don’t, we learn so we don’t make the same mistake again. If you care about Raven, then you’ll need to give this some time. Let Raven decide over the next six months or so. Things may have changed at that point, but believe me, when it comes to love, don’t let yourself think that there’s only one woman for you. If I’d been that way, then I wouldn’t have Fran.”

“Weren’t you supposed to be the pessimist?” Arsenal said with a grin. “I guess it has been two years.”

“You’re stronger than you know, Roy. That’s why you’ll get through the pain of the breakup,” Flash said.

The T-Jet began to slow down as Nightwing walked toward the sitting speedster. “Well, we’ve made it,” Nightwing said. “I’ll park this thing and let you out.”

“Thanks, Dick,” Flash said with appreciation. “This helped me a great deal.”

“No problem. Would you like us to stop by or anything to help you here in Central City?” the detective asked.

“No, once I solve the mystery of these abductions, then I’m going to hang up the boots for a while. I don’t want to leave this world without a Flash, but I also understand the faster I run, the faster I’m going to end up dead. This is probably as hard as a decision I’ve ever made, but for all involved, it’s the only choice I’ve got,” Flash admitted.

“Then we’ll respect that wish. But if you need us, whatever you do, don’t hesitate to call us. We’ll help you in any way possible,” Nightwing said as he offered his hand to Flash. The two shook hands, and Arsenal spoke.

“You do what you’ve got to, and I know you’ll win,” Arsenal said, offering his hand to Flash as he and Nightwing released their grips.

“Thanks for the support, Roy,” Flash said, shaking his friend’s hand.

Nightwing landed the T-Jet on the roof of Wally’s apartment building, and Flash walked out. The two New Titans waved to their dying friend and took off, heading back to New York. Flash waved at his friends as well, then opened the roof’s door leading into the building. After shutting the door behind him, Flash felt the guilt nagging at him as he headed for his apartment.

I feel bad for Roy, the Flash thought as he continued to walk. I couldn’t bear to tell him about all that transpired between Raven and I. There was no love attached to that kiss. Raven and I both know that. But I still feel guilty. Should I have pulled away? Should I have hated her like I did before? Do I even tell Fran about this?

He walked to his apartment door and opened it, walking inside, but never expected to see his girlfriend already inside waiting.

The Flash stared at Fran, never expecting that she would be waiting for him. As he moved closer to her, he noticed that she was visibly upset. “Fran?” Flash said quietly as he slowly pulled his mask off his face. “What are you doing here?”

Fran looked at her boyfriend as she struggled with her emotions. “You were supposed to stop by tonight, and you never showed,” she said as she clumsily wiped the tears from her eyes. “I can understand your responsibilities to Central City, and your desire to solve this mystery, but it seems that something’s… something’s changed with us.”

“There’s been a lot of changes with what’s going on with me right now, Fran–” Wally said before being interrupted by his girlfriend.

“What is it?” she pleaded, barely able to maintain her composure. “You haven’t called, and you seem distant when I talk to you, as if there’s nothing left between us. Have I done anything wrong?”

Wally’s guilt grew as he reflected on the various reasons that he’d not been able to devote more time to the woman he loved. “No, you haven’t done anything wrong, not in the least,” Wally said as he prepared to explain why he’d been out of touch.

“Then what is it?” Fran asked again as she stood up from the chair she’d been sitting in and walked toward Wally. They stood face to face with each other.

“I haven’t been as honest as I should have been with you, Fran,” Wally said with remorse. “I’ve done more in the past few days than I’ve told you about. But I’m explaining everything now.”

Fran stared at Wally as if she wasn’t sure how to respond. God, what can he mean by that? What secrets is he keeping from me? Fran thought as Wally’s words continued to ring in her ears. “You haven’t been honest with me?” she said quietly.

“I had my reasons, Fran. The past few days, I’ve made some trips to New York–” Wally began.

“New York?!” Fran said, disbelieving. “Why? Did the Titans demand more of your time than I needed?”

“That’s cold, Fran,” Wally said, sensing her anger and growing annoyed at her insecure behavior. “There’s more to it, but yeah, I did see the Titans.”

“You keep breaking promises to me, Wally,” Fran said as her grief began to grow. “I want to be with you, but am I that much of a burden?”

“No, you’re fine. Look, there’s a lot of things you don’t know, and–” Wally said before being cut off.

“You saw Raven again?” Fran asked with anger.

Wally paused, as he didn’t know how to answer his girlfriend’s question. But the silence was enough to give Fran her answer.

Why?” Fran screamed, her body full of tragic emotion. “Why do you have to see her? You said you didn’t–”

“–Love her… and I don’t, Fran,” Wally said, trying to reassure her. “The truth is, when I saw her, we — we took care of unfinished business.”

“And how did you manage that?” Fran asked with sarcasm.

“We dealt with ghosts of the past, among other things,” Wally said quietly, not wanting to hurt Fran anymore than he already had.

“She’s bad news, Wally! She tried to kill you once, and that was before the Trigon incident. What is it about her that would make you go back to her again and again?” Fran asked.

“Look, I assure you, there’s nothing left between us. No attraction, no love, nothing period,” Wally said as he grew serious. “But we both needed to move forward. And I’ve got to be honest. Raven kissed me.”

In this moment of vulnerability, and this most painful revelation from the man she loved, Fran closed her eyes and turned around, shaking in anger and emotional hurt. She wept quietly, as Wally could feel the pain of his girlfriend. “Raven kissed me, and I should have pulled away. It wasn’t love, trust me Fran,” Wally said, trying to ease the pain. “I know you’re upset–”

With Wally’s words, Fran sharply turned around and slapped his face as hard as she could manage with her right hand. “Upset? Upset?!” she said as the tears flowed on. “The man I loved for years, who I trust more than anyone, he goes and kisses the woman he’d pined away for the past three or so years! You — you cheated on me, Wally! Me!

The slap, as hard as it was, wasn’t as sharp as the pain building inside Wally’s soul. “I didn’t initiate it, Fran. You have no clue as to why I’ve been busy, and I need to explain why.”

No! No more words, Wally!” Fran said, her hurt and anger evening out as she turned back around. “I didn’t think I had to worry about this obsession with Raven again, and I was a fool to believe that!”

“Fran–” Wally said as he reached out to her.

No! I don’t give a care about your explanations. You’ve demonstrated that already with your kiss. We’re through, Wally. We’re through,” Fran said as she shrugged Wally’s hand off her shoulder.

“I’m not going to let you walk out on me, Fran,” Wally said, determined. “I love you too much to let you do that.”

“Not enough to avoid a kiss, though, Mr. Fastest Man Alive?” Fran said angrily, drying up the last of her tears. “I’m leaving! And… if you truly do love me as you claim, you’re going to stay away from me!”

“Fran…” Wally said as his thoughts told a different story. Oh, God, I want to tell her about the disease, about the fact I’m dying again. But I’ve hurt her so deeply. Maybe… maybe this is for the best. I don’t want to hurt her any more than I already have.

Fran grew quiet as she stared at Wally. She almost felt that there was more to what had actually been said, but no more words were spoken. The tears came back as Fran quickly left Wally’s apartment, and Wally himself began to quietly weep as he heard his door slam shut.

What happens from here? the two thought separately, not sure how to pick up the pieces of the seemingly broken relationship. Fran walked quickly downstairs to the apartment entrance and entered her car. Starting her vehicle, she sped away toward her apartment where she felt she could decide on her next options without Wally’s interference.

***

Frances Kane walked inside the apartment she lived in, still hurting from Wally’s betrayal. She slammed her door shut as the revelation continued to settle in. “How could he do this to me?” she muttered as her feelings remained the same. Her tears continued to drop from her eyes, though she did what she could to stop crying. “I want to believe him so much, but I know better. It’s always the same. His role as the Flash, the Titans, the JLA, and Raven again.”

Walking into her bedroom, Fran stared at a picture of her and Wally, which rested on her dresser. “We… we had love. And Raven had to come between us once more.” Fran walked to her dresser and picked up the picture. She continued to look at the man she’d loved. “You assured me that you loved me, Wally,” Fran said with bitterness, “but apparently, I couldn’t compare to her.”

Fran released her rage as she threw the picture frame at a wall, where the glass broke, embedding the photo underneath with shards of the broken substance. She stared briefly at the sight before placing her hands over her eyes and weeping some more.

There’s nothing left. Nothing! Fran thought sadly. I moved here to be close to Wally and to escape the anger of my mother, but now I have nothing left for this city.

Fran slowly walked to her closet and removed two suitcases. She looked at them, almost with a false hope that something could work between her and her former boyfriend. But the reality of the situation made it painfully clear on what she needed to do. “I have to leave him behind, as well as this city,” Fran decided with sadness. “There’s too much pain attached here.”

She began packing her belongings, from clothes to other necessities, making sure she had everything she needed to start over. Once that was settled, Fran stared at her phone. I almost wish he’d call, and I shouldn’t feel that way, she thought, still hoping that there was a chance Wally still cared about her. But I know he won’t — not after what I said to him before I left.

Fran picked up her suitcases and placed them outside her apartment door. She then locked the door behind her and carried the suitcases to her car. Upon placing the suitcases inside the vehicle, she drove toward the nearby bus terminal. If I had more money, I’d just take a plane, Fran thought as she continued her drive. And maybe if I wanted these damn powers, I’d fly off by myself. They’ve caused me as much pain from a mental standpoint as the love I had for Wally, and that’s not fair. And physical pain, too!

Arriving at the bus terminal, Fran parked her car on the street. Upon exiting and locking her car, she approached a ticket booth, her suitcases in her hands. She didn’t have to wait long, due to the fact that evening had set in, but she was anxious to get away from any reminder of Wally West.

“Can I help you?” one of the ticket sellers asked. Fran placed her suitcases down on the ground and answered the man in the booth.

“Yeah. I need a ticket away from here. I don’t care where. Just something far from Central City,” Fran said, trying to stay composed as her hurt continued to gnaw at her heart.

“There’s many places away from Central City, ma’am,” the man said. You seeking to go east?”

The remark caught Fran off-guard, as it reminded her of the events that led to her breakup. “West,” she said civilly, though the irony of the direction also reminded Fran of Wally’s surname. “I want a ticket for a trip out west — as far as I can head.”

“Any preference on a location, ma’am?” the man said.

“No. Not really. I’ll deal with that when I get there,” Fran said, feeling more composed.

The worker typed in various information and found a bus ready to take off in the next ten minutes. “It’s going to be a little pricey, but I found something to your liking. Way out west. It’s going to cost ninety-nine dollars. Is that OK?” the worker asked.

Fran reached into her purse and pulled out a check-book. She wrote a check hastily, but readable nonetheless, and handed it to the worker. “Yeah, it’s fine.”

The worker handed the ticket to Fran and spoke. “Bus Terminal 14 is right around the corner, ma’am. That’s the bus going west.”

Fran smiled blandly and responded. “Thank you.” She picked up her suitcases and headed for the bus that was taking her away from Central City. She managed to reach the bus before the bus driver could close the door, shouting “Wait! I have a ticket!”

She handed the ticket to the gruff-looking bus driver, who inspected the ticket. Seeing that it was legitimate, the driver spoke. “There’s not too many people on the ride tonight, miss. Just find a spot anywhere, and we’ll be on our way.”

Fran quickly made her way to an empty section, where she rested her suitcases on a seat before sitting down herself. The bus slowly started, and it began its trek toward the west. As it continued to plow forth onto a nearby highway, Fran stared outside a window, still saddened by the events that had occurred.

I want to hate you, Wally, Fran thought as the tears began to drop again, but I can’t. Right now, though, I need to run away from this… to get my head straight, to fully deal with all you said earlier. I’m not holding out any hope for us, but this might help us in the end. As for the ‘whole story,’ this situation you wanted to tell me, I have my own issues, too. Maybe when all is said and done, if somehow we can become friends after what happened today, then maybe we’ll learn to trust each other with our issues.

Fran slowly closed her eyes, trying to drown the pain in her heart and soul by slowly falling asleep on the bus as it continued its trek out west.

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