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do i dare or do i dare? [userpic]

The Flash (TV) fic: Stand (1/1)

December 18th, 2016 (06:25 pm)
discontent

feeling: discontent

Title: Stand

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

A/N: Unbeta’ed. Set in S1. A fill for my fighting square on hc_bingo.

Summary: The hard part is for the boy who spent his life running to learn to stop, to stand, to fight.



-o-

The lightning chose Barry for a reason.

That’s what he’s been told. That’s really what he tells himself. After all, there aren’t a lot of other ways to make sense of this kind of thing. Who really knows how to explain things like that? Superpowers? Supervillains? Heroes?

It all changed in a flash.

All puns in intended.

The hard part, of course, is for the boy who spent his life running to learn to stop, to stand, to fight.

No matter what.

-o-

The punch lands across his face, the force of it throwing him to the ground. It’s followed up by a kick to the ribs and then another to the stomach. He ends up on his back before a fist drives into his chin again and again and again.

Everything dims.

The pain rises.

Barry can still hear the voices in his head telling him to get up, get up, run.

-o-

Everyone has a weakness, that’s what Dr. Wells says. You just have to find it; you have to exploit it. They can do that, together Dr. Wells, Cisco, Caitlin, even Joe. They can do it together.

That’s all well and good, but it’s still Barry who’s throwing the punches and running up walls.

It’s still Barry who’s taking the hits.

This is what they never tell him: everyone has a weakness, even him.

Someone, someday will learn how to exploit that, too.

-o-

“You’re going to die,” the man seethes, and he laughs. The sound is almost gleeful, bordering on hysterics. “I’m going to kill you.”

Blood is streaming down his face now, and his head is pounding hard.

The massive hand wraps around his throat, forcibly picking him off the ground as if he is a child. Barry gurgles, but can’t do much more than that to protest.

“And I’m going to love it,” he says, eyes alight with terrifying joy as his fingers squeeze tighter into his throat. “I’m going to love every single moment.”

-o-

Cisco calls him the Heartbreaker, since he gains strength from the emotions of others. The stronger the emotion, the stronger the kickback. This is how he’s managed to exact revenge on everyone who has wronged him in Central City. This includes several members of high ranking crime syndicates, and he single handedly decimated a whole branch of a motorcycle gang.

Honestly, this doesn’t seem so bad to Barry, who fights crime in his day job and his night job. But the Heartbreaker has had some collateral damage along the way, and now that he’s targeting a hospital that once tried to commit him for psychiatric evaluation, well, it’s time for the Flash to get involved.

The thing is, this dude doesn’t just break hearts.

He breaks bones, too

Barry knows this, because he’s pretty sure several of his ribs are broken -- and rebroken -- within the first few minutes of their confrontation. His wrist still smarts sometimes from their first altercation, which Barry had escaped only with his speed. Since that time, Joe has tracked Heartbreaker’s movements and Cisco and Caitlin have worked with Wells to devise a precise plan of attack.

“Think of it like an overdose,” Caitlin had explained. “If he metabolizes emotions, then he has limits, even as a metahuman.”

“Our analysis of the blood sample we gathered from the last crime scene indicates that too much emotion affects his bloodstream,” Wells continued. “Like a massive shot of adrenaline.”

“The body can only handle so much, though,” Caitlin added. “Too much…”

“And he’s out,” Cisco concluded, beaming.

“So,” Barry considered. “All I have to do is…”

“Let him get really, really mad,” Wells said with a nod. “And he should take care of it himself.”

This had sounded well and good bad in STAR Labs.

In action, not so much. Because running in circles didn’t make the Heartbreaker mad enough. No, the only way to do that was to stand and fight.

More to the point, stand and lose.

-o-

That hadn’t been the plan of course.

Barry knows about plans, though. He knows they don’t work out the way you think they will. He knows sometimes they don’t work out at all.

“Your body can’t take much more!” Caitlin is screaming.

He’s about to pass out, but the Heartbreaker isn’t done yet. He throws Barry, his superpowered strength propelling Barry against a brick wall with a meaty thwack. He’s losing track of the broken bones at this point, which are healing at various stages of speed. His cells are fast, but not this fast.

“Barry, we’ll find another way,” Wells says.

The Heartbreaker advances on him, looking maniacally gleeful. He all but roars, his entire body pulsating with raw energy that vibrates so strongly that Barry can actually see it. The man is about to come out of his skin, and he’s positively electrified as he picks Barry up like he’s a child.

And manhandles him into the air.

“Dude, just run,” Cisco says, pleading a little. “Just run.”

That’s not the way this works, though. Barry’s come too far to stop now. The Heartbreaker has too much strength, too much power. If Barry doesn’t stop this now, then he’s just empowered the guy to do anything he wants. That kind of outcome is unacceptable to Barry.

Besides, Barry’s not sure he can run now.

Even if he wanted to.

-o-

Barry’s used to not getting what he wants. Really, he is. He watched his mother die, and he watched his father go to prison for a crime Barry knew he didn’t commit. He watched Iris all in love with another man, and he watched all his hopes and dreams stay one step ahead of him, no matter how fast he ran.

It’s not about what you want, sometimes.

It’s about what you can do.

It’s about fighting, even when you might lose.

It’s about fighting, even when you know you’ll lose.

Because Barry’s not used to getting what he wants in life, so he knows there are worse things than losing a fight.

More than that, he knows there are many ways to win.

-o-

On the ground, Barry can’t remember exactly what happened. He remembers being slammed -- repeatedly -- into the ground, and he remembers his arm nearly being ripped out of its socket. He remembers his leg being snapped in half like a twig, and he remembers the feeling of every rib shattering in his chest.

Breathing is difficult at this point, his lungs struggling to fill with air. He can’t lift himself off the ground anymore, and his vision is blurred and faltering.

Above him, the Heartbreaker advances on him for what they both know is the last time. He’s actually glowing now, his muscles trembling from the overexertion. Through his own heavy breathing, he looks down at Barry with abject joy.

“Thank you,” he says, voice ladened with uncontrolled emotion. “For the best night of my life.”

Barry is about to say your welcome, but his throat sort of doesn’t work anymore.

It’s a moot point anyway, because the Heartbreaker is overcome. Joy, anger, elation, hatred -- all of the above, it doesn’t matter -- and the sensation is enough that it takes him to his knees. He laughs and cries all at once, unable to control the emotion. He lets out a scream so loud that it shakes Barry to his core.

It’s too much.

For both of them.

The glowing intensifies until it’s burning through the man’s skin. His scream pitches upward as his entire body starts to come apart, building toward an inevitable and horrible conclusion.

The explosion is bright and instantaneous, the blowback a wave of pure energy that almost crushes Barry to the ground. The rush of it engulfs him, and the last thing Barry thinks is well, this is it.

The lightning chose Barry for a reason.

And this is it.

-o-

It’s probably not a surprise when Barry wakes up.

He has to admit, lying there in STAR Labs with Caitlin hovering over him, it is a bit of a relief.

Relief, and pain.

He doesn’t even try to sit up when he’s inundated with it, waves of aching and nausea that make him want to close his eyes all over again.

“I still haven’t found a painkiller that will be effective on you,” she says, by way of apology. “I mean, there are plenty of things I could concoct, but trying something that powerful on your system is a bit of a risk.”

Barry grimaces. “Usually it doesn’t hurt this bad.”

“Usually you haven’t broken just about every bone in your body,” she says, scolding him now. “Honestly, Barry, he ruptured half your internal organs. You should be dead right now.”

This is not particularly encouraging. Again, though, it’s not surprising. “I should be a lot of things,” Barry says, trying to better regulate his breathing to control his pain. “But the lightning had different plans.”

“That doesn’t justify your reckless behavior,” Dr. Wells says. Barry turns his head to see the doctor coming down the ramp into the room. “We told you to run.”

Cisco isn’t far behind. “Yeah, man,” he adds, walking up alongside Caitlin to give Barry a sage nod. “What’s the point of having a superpower if you’re not even going to use it when you need it?”

Barry sighs, letting out a long, tired breath. “It’s not the superpower that makes the hero,” he points out. “Otherwise there’d be a lot of superheroes running around Central City right now.”

“True,” Well says, tipping his head knowingly toward Barry. “But you can’t help anyone if you’re dead.”

“Look, you told me to use his weakness against him,” Barry rationalized.

“But not against yourself,” Caitlin chides. “We would have found another way.”

“I know, I know,” Barry says, giving a half hearted shrug on his bed. “But being so fast, running so much, it’s taught me the value of standing still sometimes.”

“Sometimes, sure,” Cisco says. “But not when you’re being beaten to death!”

“I’m not sure you understand just how close you came,” Wells tell him.

Barry does, though. Barry understands better than they think he does. Because when you’ve spent a lifetime running, the moment you stand is always one you know, risk and consequences and all.

“I’m sorry,” Barry says instead. “And thank you, for being there for me. All of you.”

It’s pretty clear they all want to lecture him, but his openness makes it hard to hold any kind of grudge. Especially since they all know that everyone’s right in this situation. Some fights are the kind that everybody loses.

Or everybody wins.

“He’s gone, right?” Barry asks. “The Heartbreaker?”

There’s a moment of hesitation -- none of them want him to get off that easily -- but the moment of concession is just a second after that.

“Of course,” Dr. Wells says with a small sigh. “We tracked the energy released in the blast and concluded that there would be nothing left of him.”

“The dude incinerated himself,” Cisco says with an impressed nod.

“He literally imploded with his own emotions,” Caitlin explains.

Barry makes a face. “I guess you can’t always go with your feelings, then,” he says. “Man.”

“No, you can’t, Barry,” Well says pointedly. Then he shrugs, his expression softening. “But sometimes -- possibly -- you can.”

It’s not just about science, what they do. It’s not just about Barry’s metahuman powers. It’s not just about police work either.

It’s about all of it, and more. It’s about what they all bring to the table, it’s about who they’ve become. A team.

More than a team.

“Anyway,” Wells says with a perfunctory nod. “You need to rest. Extensively.”

“Your body is going to take some time to heal,” Caitlin warns. “Even with your fast healing abilities, you did significant damage.”

“We literally had to scrape you off the ground,” Cisco says with a slightly sickened expression. “It was pretty nasty.”

“All the more reason to keep healing,” Wells says. “We’ve kept Joe away for as long as we can. We figured if he saw what you’d managed to do to yourself--”

Barry winces again. “Yeah, that wouldn’t be good.”

“For any of us,” Wells agrees. “So, rest up, Barry.”

“And don’t do anything stupid,” Caitlin orders.

Cisco winks at him. “For a little bit, anyway.”

Barry grins at them. “I’ll do my best.”

Because Barry’s been running most of his life, and the lightning gave him a reason to run farther, faster than ever before.

He watches the others go, back to their work.

The lightning also gave him a reason to stand still.

He smiles, letting his eyes close again as he listens to Wells’ chair on the walkway, Cisco’s tinkering in the lab and Caitlin’s typing at the keyboard.

And it’s the best reason of all.