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The Oubliette

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“I want him to know and feel pain,
so that when I alleviate it he’ll also know gratitude
…What I create I must control”
~ Kenneth Langtry

 

A vein of divinity runs through the line of his descent.

Success is the story of the Thawnes—all men and women of great power, all visionaries, all imperators of some fashion or another.

All villains.

~***~

He is privy to the inner workings of time, knows just how far back to turn the dial to change the current flavour of the future. This is, after all, how he has eliminated any who once sought to stand in his way. He visits them in the early hours of their life, you see, when they are soft and weak and mewling

And then he smothers them in their sleep.

Or he travels farther back and conspires against their conception. Sometimes he will target the father; occasionally the mother. His hatred does not discriminate. More often than not though, he will kill his enemy outright, the better to watch the light leave their eyes. That glassy stare, fixed solely on him…

It only seems right that he should be the last thing they ever see.

Barry Allen is almost an exception to this rule.

Almost.

Barry Allan captivates and frustrates him in equal measure; Eobard loves Barry just as fiercely as he hates him. The boy is cocky and willful and so unbearably bright, a veritable streak of lightning against the greasy backdrop of a vulnerable city. Here one moment, gone the next. Not too unlike the flutter of Eobard’s conscience from time to time—brief, but frustratingly still there.

What Barry is first and foremost therefore is elusive. Eobard has never been able to pin him down for more than a moment before the boy would be up and running again, laugh echoing after him into the night. Honestly though, that had once been a greater part of Barry’s allure, this business of playing hard-to-get, despite the fact that he’s sure Barry never intended it to be that way. This too—this blind innocence—had only served to sweeten the chase.

Oh, the things he wanted to do with Barry Allan…

He has since then grown to loath this shining boy. He is sickened mostly by Barry’s efforts to save all men, no matter their merit; this disagreement on who deserves to live or die has divided them severely. The boy has pleaded with him on numerous occasions to change his mind, but Eobard remains firm in his beliefs: the future should belong to him, because he has both the power and the will to seize it. What right does a weaker man have to take it from him?

Bitter as he has become, Eobard is still enthralled by the hero who had once inspired him as a child. Often, he is uncertain what he wants to do with his arch nemesis. Strangle him, he supposes; kneel over his lithe figure and slowly squeeze the life out of him. How fitting then that Eobard should be the last thing on Barry’s mind, to fill his vision and consume his final waking thought. A violation of the soul of sorts—to strip the boy of his last defences and crawl into his personal space, to cradle his broken body close to his heart as Barry slowly slipped away…

There is no real alternative, to be sure. He could try bending Barry to his way of thinking, but the boy’s values are as steadfast as his own. The only other option then lies at the far, opposite end of the scale: to completely ruin the boy first before ultimately killing him, to deny him a quick and painless death. He would destroy every single last one of Barry’s loved ones first before coming after Barry himself. Creep into the sanctuary of his home in the dead of night—beat him, molest him, do all manner of unspeakable things to him before putting the boy out of his misery. Maybe Eobard would draw it out a little, keep Barry alive for days. Or maybe Eobard would lose his patience and snap his neck fifteen minutes into his surprise visit.

It would all depend on Barry’s ability to entertain a guest.

In his darker moments, Eobard has come close to fulfilling this fantasy. He knows the people dearest to Barry and he knows how soundly Barry can sleep. It would be so easy…

But perhaps it is love that stays his hand. He can never be certain. Whatever the case may be, Eobard decides, after much deliberation, that he does not, in fact, want to see his once-hero completely unmade. He still wants a part of Barry to continue shining in the childhood image preserved in the back of his mind. To desecrate Barry as such would only ruin it, this last shred of his humanity.

Killing Barry in combat, however, is beginning to look like an impossible feat. That only leaves him with the option of turning the clock back once more and snipping the problem in the proverbial bud, although this eternal battle he has been locked in with the Flash has begun to deplete his energy. He can feel his powers waning daily. If he doesn’t act now, Barry will bleed him dry.

Ultimately, he knows he has no other choice.

Oblivion is the only solution.

~***~

He knows something is wrong long before he exits the wormhole created by the Speed Force.

He had wholly intended to kill Henry Allen—the morning after Henry would have proposed to Nora, in fact, because a small part of Eobard had actually wanted the man to perish in peace. He would have crept up behind Henry as he walked down the driveway to his car, braced Henry’s head between each hand and twisted. Quick and easy. No fuss.

Henry Allen would have died long before he hit the ground.

Instead, Eobard can feel his connection to the Speed Force blinking out of existence near the end of his trip, so he cuts his loses and slows almost to a complete halt. Part of him knows that he is many years too late now—eleven years, to be exact, because Barry Allen has already been born—but there is little he can do to remedy the situation. He is well beyond the point of no return.

Barry Allen will just have to die in his father’s place.

Except, the older Barry Allen is directly behind him, just once step shy of catching Eobard Thawne within the wormhole itself. The boy’s hand brushes his shoulder as Eobard sprints down the street to Barry’s childhood home, keeping up the pace as Eobard slips inside the once quiet abode. Nora is standing there in the kitchen, wine glass in hand, and Barry Allen—the younger Barry Allen is fast asleep in his bed, just a storey above his head.

This is where the real chase begins, this spiral of energy and light, dancing around a woman transfixed with fear. His nemesis knows that his hour has come at last, that tonight might very well be his last night on earth; that he has failed everyone, friends and Eobard alike…

True to his nature, the younger Barry Allen is a victim of his own curiosity. He stumbles into the kitchen shortly and is immediately mesmerized by the flashes of red and yellow weaving back and forth across the room, stopping just outside the circle of light at his mother’s behest. Great danger is at hand, but the boy inches ever closer despite her warning.

Eobard wonders if the boy understands that someone must die here tonight.

Despite Eobard’s best efforts, that someone is not Barry Allen. Eobard is so close, his hand outstretched, the boy paralyzed in fear, when the scarlet speedster intervenes. Barry scoops his younger self up into his arms and vanishes into the darkness, running off to god-knows-where. The other side of the country, for all Eobard knows. Far beyond anywhere he could ever follow now, that much is for certain.

In a fit of rage, he makes due with killing Nora Allan instead.

He doesn’t give it much thought really. The knife is simply there on the counter and she is already whimpering in fear, the only available outlet for his frustration. To be honest, he takes almost all his victims where he finds them, so he doesn’t fight this sudden urge to end her.

Flesh and muscle give way so easily beneath the blade. A solid, satisfying thwack to the chest is all it takes to still her racing heart.

In that instant, it feels so damn good…

But the sliver of what remains of Eobard’s humanity, the tiny bit wedged into the hollow of his own blackened heart, aches a little when she collapses to the floor at his feet. He both regrets this particular murder and relishes in it, for what better way to punish Barry Allen than to sever him from someone he holds most dear? Every action had its consequences, after all. Barry should have realized that long ago when he made it his mission to hound Eobard’s every step.

He clings to the idea that justice has somehow been served by her untimely death when he collapses in the middle of the street outside, the last traces of Barry’s energy signature fading into the night. Travellng forward through time is no longer an option for him; he can’t seem to connect to the Speed Force long enough to get up to speed. This trip has just about completely drained him.

He is stranded.

Eobard is so overwhelmed by the thought he simply kneels there and cries for the first time since he himself was a boy. It has been a long time since Eobard has been this powerless. He had always somehow managed to have a firm grip on the Speed Force...

Eobard hopes that Nora’s murder haunts the boy for the rest of his miserable life. He hopes that not a day will go by that Barry won’t wonder who killed her and why they felt she needed to die. He hopes it consumes him, that he’s institutionalized from the trauma…

As grief slowly gives way to anger, Eobard rises to his feet. He replaces his mask and tells himself that he has all the time in the world now without his nemesis trailing after him to figure out a way to get home. After all, in rewriting history, the Barry Allen that he knows has been completely wiped from existence. Eobard can now recreate the Flash as he sees fit. His enemy could serve as his ticket home…

But that will require another adjustment to history as it now stands. Two rather remarkable players will therefore have to be dealt with before the week is through:

Harrison Wells and Tess Morgan.

~***~

Harrison Wells and Tess Morgan are the brilliant minds behind S.T.A.R. Laboratories and, by extension, the particular accelerator that will ultimately give Barry Allen his powers as the Flash. Eobard has every paper they published memorized by heart. They were pioneers of their day, really, but their methods are archaic in comparison to what has been accomplished in Eobard’s time. Their research reads like beginner's algebra—daunting to the newly initiated, but practically child’s play to anyone with half a brain.

Eobard could do their work in his sleep.

Being well-versed in all these trivial publications is a boon to him though, because he needs to shorten the ETA on said work well before the twenty plus years it will take to create the Flash. This essentially means that he will personally have to undertake the many projects they'll attempt to tackle between now and that fateful day when the accelerator explodes. Without them, of course.

Murdering them is far easier than killing Nora Allen. He respects them, honestly, but more so what they are expected to accomplish in their short lives than as actual human beings. The history books state that they marry and throw themselves entirely into their work; that they don’t ever have children, but are content with their lives the way most people are when they’ve lowered the proverbial bar for themselves.

They’re both terribly mundane.

To be honest, killing Harrison is a little hard, but only because Eobard must absorb part of the man to do so. His body aches as he takes on his physical structure; Eobard has never attempted this trick before. It’s like trying to slip into a suit half a size too small for you, one that’s noticeably tight in the shoulders. It works, certainly, but it doesn’t in any way feel right.

Even worse, he gets a brief glimpse into the man’s mind before the transformation is complete. Fear, pain, anger, sorrow—an overwhelming cocktail of human emotions, coupled by a fading memory: Tess Morgan sitting beneath an umbrella on the beach, holding a napkin upon which S.T.A.R. Labs is drawn out in crude detail. She is smiling because she is in love with him; he is smiling because he is in love with her—

Harrison is in love with her, that is. Not Eobard. He has to remind himself of this fact as he settles into his second skin, the fading memory scaring him far more than he would ever care to admit. The thought that a part of the man’s psyche might live on inside of him is unsettling. With the work Eobard has set out for him, he can’t afford to be bogged down by a second conscience.

Thankfully, the sensation passes as Eobard crawls into the wreckage of Harrison’s car and waits patiently beside the cooling corpse of Tess Morgan for the police to arrive. She is a beautiful woman, he realizes, even in death. Regardless, he does not love her.

And when the ambulance finally comes to whisk him away, he thinks of her and the old Harrison Wells no more.

~***~

They try to treat him for a concussion and a broken heart, neither of which actually ail him. He’s strongly advised to go to therapy after the incident, but Eobard doesn’t need it. All he requires is a bit of peace and quiet, a moment of solitude so that he can figure out how to go about jump-starting S.T.A.R. Laboratories in Central City.

However, the first hitch in his plan—and perhaps the most severe—comes when he confronts Gideon for a little glance into the future.

The day immediately after the car crash, he had read in the present newspaper that Henry Allen had been arrested for the murder of his wife. While this has only sweetened his revenge against Barry, Eobard’s now concerned how this will actually affect Barry’s becoming the Flash. After all, there were only so many variables Eobard could change before he altered the boy’s future completely.

Initially, he assumes that Detective Joseph West will welcome the boy into his house and home—after all, Barry and Iris West are destined for one another—but pestering Gideon for newspaper articles or police records concerning the boy reveals only two things: first, that Barry Allen will be passed rapidly from foster home to foster home following his father’s incarceration; and, second, that the boy is destined to die a little under a year from today due to neglect.

To say that Eobard is stunned would be an understatement. In fact, for the first time in his life he actually feels a little lightheaded. If Barry Allen does not survive until adulthood, Eobard’s link to the Speed Force will never improve. It’s as simple as that.

As loath as he is to admit it, he needs the Flash.

Why Detective West, of all people, never steps up to bat to save the boy is beyond his understanding. He figures that it must have something to do with the fact that the detective has only recently become a widower himself. Raising one child as a single parent would be a daunting task; he might not feel capable of raising another, let alone one as traumatized as Barry Allen. Regardless of the detective’s excuses though, this leaves Eobard in a considerable bind.

Barry Allen cannot die.

Eobard is therefore left to do, perhaps, the one thing he does best:

He alters the past—albeit not in the way he usually would. Thankfully, technology is still somewhat in the dark ages now; hacking into government files is almost painfully simple. So he invents a person or two to better serve his purposes, and then, when he’s able to tap into his powers for more than a few seconds at a time, changes the physical paper copies on the other side of the country. After all, if anyone should go digging, Eobard needs everything to fall neatly into place.

By the end of it all, he’s changed enough records to properly set the stage, leaving enough digital evidence to suggest that Harrison Wells is a second cousin of the recently departed Nora Allen.

Social Services contact him by the end of the month to ask if he would be interested in caring for her son.