by Hitman 44077
A short time later, no longer dressed in her Polara costume, Frances Kane arrived at the door of her apartment wearing the same articles of clothing she’d been dressed in when she got back into town by bus. Waiting to meet her there was Wally West, who also wasn’t wearing his Flash costume, but rather a pair of red shorts, yellow tank top, and a pair of worn tennis shoes. “I didn’t expect you to be out of costume,” Fran said, feeling both surprised and pleased at that. She placed her suitcase down on the floor.
“I had more than enough time, plus I didn’t want to draw any unnecessary attention towards us,” Wally said, a smile slowly starting to form on his face. Looking down at Fran’s suitcase, Wally bent down to pick it up. “Here,” he said, “let me get that for you.”
Fran returned a smile of her own in appreciation, and said, “Thank you. You know, I stopped by your place earlier, but you weren’t home. I left a note for you and left my key to your place there.”
“I know,” Wally said softly, looking solemnly at Fran. “I read it while I was getting changed. I wish I’d been home when you stopped by, but today’s little activities kept me busy.”
“Yeah,” Fran said, understanding what Wally meant. “I guess we’d better go inside.” Before she could reach for the keys to the door of her apartment, she cautiously paused, remembering what Wally had told her only a short time earlier. She turned to Wally and spoke softly. “How bad is it inside?”
Wally recognized the look on Fran’s face, the look of uncertainty and fear, and calmly answered the woman he still had deep feelings for. “You’d be surprised,” he said, trying to cheer her up. “It’s in a lot better shape than it was when I found it.”
Fran paused a few seconds, nervous over what she’d be facing, but finally removed her keys from her purse. A few seconds later she opened the door, and together the two walked inside the apartment.
As Wally placed her suitcase on the floor, Fran walked around the area slowly, taking a glance of the scenery inside her apartment, and though there were definite differences, she seemed to take the sight well. “I expected far worse, but why was it ransacked, Wally?” Fran asked, confused.
“I’m going to tell you the answer right now,” Wally said firmly, his eyes meeting Fran’s own, “and I need to start by being honest about certain matters. If I’d been this way initially, some of what happened might have been avoided.”
“All right,” Fran answered, prepared for whatever answer Wally was about to give her.
“You know I missed a few dates with you, and I wasn’t around all that much. There was the investigation into the disappearances of various people who were family or friends of Barry. I also aided the JLA in an effort to stop Amazo,” Wally said, turning toward a window and looking outside.
“Yes,” Fran said, seeing that more was about to be revealed.
“Fran,” Wally said, turning toward the blonde-haired woman, “there was another reason I wasn’t around. You remember the disease I had — the disease that was in remission?”
What Fran had expected to hear was something vastly different. She answered Wally in a shaky voice, her eyes growing wide as things started to make sense. “Y-yes?”
“My remission period ended, Fran,” Wally said. “The disease returned, and I was much sicker than I could have ever imagined. I found out after visiting Dr. Mackenzie Ryan at STAR Labs in New York. He did a number of tests on me and found out that I’d burned away the antimatter which was keeping the disease in check.”
A horrified look began to grow on Fran’s face, and she spoke, shaking. “Oh, my God. Why — why didn’t you tell me?!”
“Fran, when I found out, I don’t know. It’s hard to put in words. I started to feel like I was losing control of my life. I was dying, and I started feeling much like I did before, when I had the disease the first time. Part of me wanted to say something to you, but I didn’t want to scare you.”
“Wally,” Fran said, moving toward him and hugging him, “I knew about the disease the first time. You could have confided in me!”
“Like I said, Fran, I felt much like I did when I retired as Kid Flash. All of the doubts and fears started to take a toll on me. I took a leave of absence from the JLA, because I felt like a liability when I had one of my attacks on the battlefield,” Wally admitted.
“Did they know? I mean, about the disease?” Fran asked.
“Superman did. He actually took me to a planet called Rokyn to see if his uncle could find a cure for my disease. Unfortunately, there wasn’t any luck,” Wally answered.
“Is — is that why you visited the Titans… and Raven?” Fran asked.
“Not exactly,” Wally replied. “I didn’t go there in hopes of a cure. I went there to tell them about the disease. In some way, I wanted to make right and say my peace to them, something I should have done as Kid Flash.”
“You told them about the disease… and not me?” Fran asked, her voice starting to fill with hurt.
“Fran, I was in bad shape. I felt I needed to say goodbye to them, because I knew I didn’t have much time left. Like I said before, I should have told you first, and I am sorry that I didn’t. Raven, ironically, attempted to heal me, and that failed. Afterwards, she and I talked. The kiss she gave me, it wasn’t out of love or passion, it was a kiss of compassion and sadness. And I allowed it, because that was her way of saying goodbye,” Wally explained calmly.
Fran began to understand, nodding her head slowly. Wally then continued to speak. “Not only was all that happening to me, then there was the mess with Manfred Mota, the reason your apartment was vandalized.”
“Manfred Mota? Was he the individual who was kidnapping the people your uncle cared about?” Fran asked, placing her hand on Wally’s face.
Wally placed his hand over hers and answered her. “Yeah. He was the mastermind. He had it in for the Flash, no matter who was wearing the costume. He even went as far to have Doctor Alchemy rob Barry’s grave and plan kidnappings for my folks, my grandpa, and you.”
“That’s beyond… anything I could have ever imagined!” Fran said, sickened by the means Mota had taken to achieve his goals.
“Ironically, I think our argument saved your skin, Fran, not that you wouldn’t have been able to protect yourself. By leaving town, you avoided a potentially dangerous situation,” Wally said as he remembered what happened.
“So… you stopped them, right?” Fran asked.
“Yeah. I saved the day, I guess you could say, but I nearly died. (*) I probably should have, the way I pushed myself, but I had a guardian angel looking out for me,” Wally said, a small smile starting to form in his face.
[(*) Editor’s note: All these events occurred in The Flash: Terminal Velocity.]
“You mean you’re cured?” Fran asked, starting to grow hopeful.
“Yeah,” Wally said, a full smile showing his happiness. “I know how you hate conversations about the space-time continuum, but thanks to someone special, I’ll never have to worry about the disease again.” (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See The Flash: Back to Speed.]
“Oh, God, I’m relieved, Wally. I am so relieved,” Fran admitted, flashing a smile of her own.
“That’s what happened in a nutshell. I conquered both my fears and doubts, and I’ve put the past to rest along with the disease. That’d be great for some, but it’s not enough for me. I still have something to say to you, Fran. My heart never left you. My love for you never diminished. I need to hear what you have to say,” Wally said.
“Wally, when I left, I still cared about you, but I felt you cheated on me because you kissed Raven. I understand the truth now, and I’m grateful that you told me. In the time I was away, however, I dealt with several issues,” Fran said. “You brought up Raven, and I think, deep down, I was always afraid of her, that she’d lure you away from me. I remember, back when you were Kid Flash, you’d talk about her all the time, despite being manipulated by her. I realized a more painful truth, Wally, than just the heartache of a simple breakup. I realized just how painful it’s been to be without family. Sure, there’s my distant cousin Betty, but outside of her and my mom, I’ve got no one. I was afraid to lose you, because I love you, and you’re so special to me. I didn’t want to be alone. But here I was, by myself, doing my own thing in San Francisco and having to face my fears by being alone. (*) I had friends like Sarah and Karen, but for the most part, I needed to solve this by myself. Well, that and another issue.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Titans West: Arrivals.]
“What other issue?” Wally asked.
“Well, it seems my magnetic powers have grown considerably. At first it seemed slightly painful to use, but I’m at the point now that I believe I’ve mastered it. And I finally understand firsthand what it’s like to risk one’s life on the battlefield when everything’s on the line — to put on the costume and try to make a better place for the world. I think… I think I’d like to continue doing just that,” Fran said.
“It’s not easy, Fran. We don’t win every battle, and there have been losses on the side of good. But I know you. You already proved yourself in the invasion,” Wally said. (*) “And you proved it again today.”
[(*) Editor’s note: See Titans West: Shake, Rattle and Role.]
“I appreciate that, Wally,” Fran said, proud of Wally’s vote of confidence. “In fact, I was reminded of myself when Luna Nurblin was dealing with what her mother did to her and her father. It’s given me a stronger resolve to accept things and understand that I need to face today, instead of reflecting on the mistakes of yesterday.”
“Sounds like good advice,” Wally admitted.
For a few seconds, there was silence after Wally had spoken. The two looked at each other, each focusing on their time together, and finally, after several minutes, Fran initiated the conversation.
“So, where do we go from here?” she asked cautiously, concerned.
“Honestly?” Wally asked.
“Honestly,” Fran answered.
“Fran, I love you. You taught me love. What we share is unlike anything I’ve ever experienced. When I thought Mota had you, I was so worried that he’d hurt you or worse. I don’t know what the future holds, but I want to spend it with you,” Wally said, pouring his feelings forth.
“I love you, too, Wally,” Fran admitted as a few tears began to drop from her eyes. The couple embraced and shared a long-overdue kiss, something they’d not engaged in for several months. Slowly, the couple released their kiss and hugged, and Fran spoke again. “I really wasn’t sure if we still had a chance left. I’m so thankful we do.”
“Me, too, Fran,” Wally said, smiling at the woman he loved with his heart and soul. “Me, too. By the way, I have a surprise for you.”
“Oh, yeah?” Fran asked. “What is it?”
Using his super-speed, Wally grabbed a picture frame, which he’d placed his copy of a photo that they’d taken together a few years earlier, and handed that to Fran, along with her copy of his apartment key. “I hope this is OK,” Wally said softly, smiling.
“Oh, Wally…” Fran said, smiling as her eyes began to tear, and she held the picture and key in hand.
The couple shared another kiss, and with the past behind them, knew they’d exorcised the ghosts that had haunted them both with one simple thing — the truth.