This is one of two short stories partly inspired by the first two pages of Flash #16 (New52). While the story takes place in the confines of the New52 universe, I’ve decided to retain some of the pre-Flashpoint histories as well as some creative licensing for the interest of the story and to allow the tale to be more deeply couched in reality. The physical template of Barry Allen/Flash I am using actor/model Kellen Lutz and as a physical template of Iris West I’m using actress/model Laura Haddock. However the characterisation of Barry and Iris will be based on a combination of various sources.

The Flash, Iris West etc. are all properties of DC comics.

 

 

Barry Allen was standing beneath the scalding hot shower of his Central City Brownstone apartment. He was trying to unwind the muscles of his powerful 195 lbs. 6’0 muscular frame. The last two days had been absolutely gruelling. First he had been involved with a battle with the Justice League fighting Vandal Savage’s henchmen. Then there was the soiree he had attended last night with the rest of the Central City CSI team at city hall. Barry and the rest of the CSI team had attended the function on indirect instructions from Director David Singh. He had wanted to make an impression with some of the influential attendees who would be there who could influence the departments’ budget. Singh wanted the team to take advantage of the popularity of the spate of CSI shows on TV. It would help a great deal if the members of the team could make nice and answer all the questions. Barry hated every minute of it, he was not crazy about parties, they wore him out. But with Patty by his side (she monopolised most of the conversation) he got through it. Barry had not ended up getting home until 1am and after that he was too tired to get up for his daily 5 am work out at the Cross Fit Gym. So he had ended up going in the evening instead.

Barry had wanted to skip his work out. But he had already skipped two workouts this week and it was starting to show. So right after work, he downed a protein drink and made the cross town trip to the Central City Cross Fit Gym where he worked out for a full hour, under the guidance of the instructor Mike Right. A former alpine skier and search and rescue pilot. He had razed Barry all through his workout accusing Barry of slacking off. When he arrived home the apartment was empty, Patty was still at her class at the local community college where she was studying cake decorating. He wanted to do nothing but strip off his clothes and slide into bed. But he couldn’t, first he had to wipe a layer of grime and sweat from his work out from his body. He was just about finished his shower when he heard the buzzer at his door.

He was tempted to ignore it but after a full two minutes whoever it was decided that they wouldn’t stop. Grumbling, Barry stepped out of the shower and wrapped a towel around his waist, and marched to the front door. He opened the door and found Iris West standing there. She was wearing a white dress blouse black skirt and high healed black pumps. She carried a black satchel over her shoulder. Her blue grey eyes widened considerably at seeing how he was dressed. Then recovering quickly, her eyes slowly drank in the sight of his perfect form, a smile playing on her lips. It partly annoyed Barry, yet a part of him was enormously flattered.

“Well,” she said, her gaze still lingering on his body, “Looks as if I caught you at a bad time.”

“Iris what are you doing here?” he asked.

“I need information on a story,” she said bringing her eyes back to his face.

“At this time of night?” he asked incredulously.

“I tried calling you all afternoon.”

“I was working on an important case and I was at the gym,” he replied, “Besides I generally don’t like talking to the media.”

“I need to file a story and I have an hour to do it. Before the guys go to press. I just need for you to confirm a something on the Corbert murder. I have a few questions. Can I come in?”

Barry wanted to send her away, but decided that there was no point. Iris West was one of the most persistent people he knew. She always got what she wanted.

“Come in,” he said stepping backwards to allow her inside. She stepped through the door and looked around.

“Wow,” she said nodding approvingly, “This is very nice. Are you alone?”

“Yes,” Barry said shutting the door behind her, “Patty’s taking a course at one of the nearby colleges.”

“I see.”

“This way,” Barry said leading her towards the kitchen. She placed her bag on the one of the stools along the outside counter and took a seat on the one next to it. She opened her bag and took out a Moleskine reporter notebook and a pen.

“I’m surprised that you didn’t try someone else on the team,” Barry said.

“Forrest is out of town at one of his sons ball games. And Singh was not to be disturbed.”

“So I’m second choice?”

“No,” she said slowly, “You’ve always been my first choice. But you just seemed to be preoccupied with other things lately. And I don’t want to intrude.”

“Never seems to have stopped you before,” he said.

She shrugged.

“I know when to push and when to pull back,” she replied, “Besides I thought that I would give you some breathing room, after the last time we spoke at length.”

Barry knew that she was refereeing to the last time they had spoken at length. It was about a year ago over breakfast. The meeting had not ended well. In fact it had ended with Barry blowing up at her and walking away. Although they had seen each other in public places they had never spoken again intimately. Barry often found himself wondering…

“So what do you have for me?” he asked.

“It’s the case of Stan Corbett,” she began. Stan Corbett was one Central Cities most prominent and philanthropic citizens. He had made his fortune working in the Tech industry 30 years and had invested his money in various businesses and industries all over Keystone and Central City. He had passed away some months back shortly after a trip to Thailand.

“I didn’t work on that case, but I am familiar with it.”

“The case was pretty much cut and dry. Corbett was pushing 70 and a two pack a day smoker. It’s pretty much assumed that he died due to health causes.”

“Right….”

“The toxicology reports said that he died due to breathing in insect repellent on a trip to Thailand. But Marjorie Heron, his common law wife and heir was on the self-same trip and didn’t show any symptoms.”

Barry looked at her.

“Are you suggesting that she had something to do with his death?”

“I just find it convenient that she escaped with her health relatively intact and he didn’t.”

“That’s a pretty big supposition Iris,” Barry said, “You’d need to have something more substantive to offer up that accusation.”

“I know but,” she replied tapping her chin with a long manicured finger, “I just discovered that Heron was an assistant pharmacist about ten years ago. She would have had a knowledge on how to get her hands on poisons such as dimethylmercury. Which is odorless, tasteless, and kills over a long period of months. She could have easily inserted it in his food months ago. Killing him slowly.

“That’s a good theory” he said surprised he touched her arm affectionately, “How did you come up with it?”

“You taught me everything I know about poisons.” she asked looking at him, “Remember?”

“I did?” he asked, “I don’t remember.”

“Oh yeah. Over several cups of coffee at Jitters. Well I drank the coffee. You had milk. You walked me through forensic procedures,” she said, “We made one heck of a team.”

There was no mistaking the double meaning of what she had said. The problem was that Barry thought that she was right. It had been a year since she had approached him for anything besides rudimentary information. He suspected that it had more to do with him freezing her out than it did with her not wanting to see him.

“Yeah we did,” he said thickly staring at her. They stared at each other for a moment before. Barry cleared his throat, “Can I get you anything to drink?”

“Some water would be nice,” she said with the smile that warmed him.

Barry slid off the stool to stand up and the towel slid from around his waist towards the floor. Revealing Barry’s full nakedness and erection. He froze in embarrassment. It was only later that he wondered why he had not put gone and put some clothes on after he allowed her inside the apartment.

Iris caught the towel. And drank in his nakedness. She had seen better looking men before, better built men before. But none of them exuded Barry Allen’s quiet power.

“Wow,” she said softly, “And to think that I let this all go.”

“Give me the towel Iris,” he said reaching for it.

“Why?” she asked half laughing and holding it out of his grasp, “Don’t be so shy. Do you honestly think that you’re showing me something I haven’t seen before?”

“Give me the towel Iris now,” he emphasized his voice was hard and urgent.

“Okay then,” she said passing it back to him.

Barry grabbed it from her and tied it around his waist.

“I think that it’s time that you left Iris,” he said tightly.

“Yeah you’re right,” she said gathering her pen and note book. She began to stuff them back into her bag. She was about to put it over her shoulder when she looked at him for a moment before saying.

“I don’t know how you do it…..”

“How I do what?”

“How you keep on pretending that…,” she paused frustrated, “You know …Barry. You made a mistake in walking away from me more than a year ago.”

“I didn’t walk away from you Iris. You were using me to get information your brother’s case.”

“That’s not true!” she said defensively, “Well not entirely.”

“What do you mean not entirely true?”

“Yes I wanted…I needed information on my brother’s case. But I wanted you a hell of lot more before Daniel got into trouble. We had a good thing going and I wouldn’t want to jeopardize it by manipulating you.”

Barry swallowed.

“Why didn’t you say anything?”

“Because I wanted to make sure that you felt something for me as well. And the fact that you immediately thought that I was only getting close to you in order to get him free. Just demonstrated that the feeling wasn’t mutual.”

“I…that’s..not true.”

“What’s not true?”

“I liked you…I like you a…lot.” Barry had not meant to bite out the final part. But it had been something he was repressing for years. And something he wanted to say whenever they were in close proximity. He was always drawn to her.

“Well,” she said, “The truth comes out.”

Unconsciously Barry reached up to stroke her cheek.

Iris put her bag back down and stepped closer to him, gazing up into his cerulean blue eyes.

“We both made a mistake Barry,” she said softly, “One that we need to rectify right now.”

She pulled his head down for a kiss, without hesitation Barry pulled her into his arms and kissed her back. With her free hand she removed the towel from around his waist and took his cock in her hand and began to stroke. He felt so hard and heavy, solid just like the man himself.

Barry wanted to say no. He wanted to pull away. But the truth was he had fantasized about this moment ever since he had first met her. Having her in his arms, molding her to his body…being with her intimately….It was still beyond him why they had never slept together before. Whenever they had been together in the past the sexual tension had been so thick you could have sliced it with a knife. He exploded against the hem of her skirt and she pulled away. Barry’s face was red.

“Amazing huh?” she asked softly her forehead pressed to his, “Imagine what the real thing will feel like. That’s what you want isn’t it?”

“Yes,” he said hoarsely and kissed her again. This time he grasped her up around the waist and hoisted her up onto the kitchen counter. Hurriedly they both began to strip off her clothes when the phone went off.

“Damn I have to get that,” he growled.

“Ignore it,” she hissed.

“I can’t. The ring tone. It’s Patty.,” he said pushing her away. He snatched up the cell phone lying on the kitchen counter

“Hello?” Barry said. His face blanched, “Oh hey Patty. How are you. Are you out of class yet….no I don’t want anything…maybe you can pick up a new filter for the water jug. We’re on the last one. Okay then. See you soon.”

He hung up the phone his hand shaking.

“You should leave,” he said thickly turning back Iris.

“Do you want me to?” she asked.

“You know you have to Iris. She can’t come home and find you here.”

“Okay then” she said. Adjusting her clothes, “If you want to talk some more. You know where to find me.”

“This can’t happen again,” he said picking up his towel and tying it around his waist.

“Is that what you really want?” she asked staring at him. Barry opened his mouth to silently as if to say something but no words came out.

“I’ve made a decision. I have to live with it,” he said thickly after a moment.

“Nothing is final Barry. You and I both know that.”

“It wouldn’t be fair to ..”

“No. It wouldn’t. But neither is knowing that you’re with her and want to be with someone else,” Iris sighed, “Look. If..this is just physical for you. Then we’ll leave it at that. And forget it. But if it’s something deeper for you. Then..you can contact me. I’ll give you your space and time to decide.”

She touched his cheek. Barry looked as if he were in anguish. However whether it was about almost cheating on his girlfriend or having to let Iris go. She wasn’t sure. And she picked up her bag and was gone.

Part Two

Two weeks later Iris was at her desk working on a story, on a double murder suicide which had taken place on the interstate high way the night before. She had just been given the official forensics details from CSI Forrest at the Central City Department. It took all of Iris concentration to focus on the story since all she could think about was a naked Barry Allen and being in his arms. The nights were the worst times, because all she could think of was having him at her side and being made love to him by him, slowly and exquisitely.

Whenever she was at the gym, she found herself comparing the bodybuilders (especially the blond ones) to Barry. Any restraint she had achieved from the last year or so in banishing him from her thoughts as a potential romantic partner, had collapsed and the feelings had returned in a hurry after being at his apartment and hearing him admit that he liked her. Their not being together was due to a huge mis-understanding. And the fact that both of them were too proud to put each other straight. Iris prided herself on being an independent woman, but even she had to admit that some times that got in the way.

Iris had met him a little over a year ago just after court proceedings of a murder investigation. She had recently joined the Central City Citizen as a Crime Reporter, and was in the midst of working various stories on the crime beat including murder.

She had just seen Officer Allen give testimony that was instrumental in seeing a serial killer being put away. Iris had been impressed by his thorough and business like manner. It was clear that he knew what he was doing and what he was talking about. She had also been impressed by how well he wore a bow tie and nicely filled out and wore a cheap suit as if it had come from the tailors. He wore his blond hair short, almost like a crew cut, as if he kept it that way because it required little maintenance in the morning. He wasn’t ugly, but he was far from handsome. His face was broad and plain almost as if he had grown up on a farm. His most distinguishing feature were his piercing crystal blue eyes which were filled with seriousness. Iris was immediately intrigued. She wondered what lay beneath that no-nonsense exterior.

When she had approached him after the hearing and introduced herself. She asked him if he would mind standing in as her source for forensics issues. As she expected, he had tried to blow her off. She had surmised from watching him that he was probably not into small talk and didn’t have that much time for the press. But she politely and pleasantly persisted, inviting him out for coffee and asking him if he would answer only a few small questions with relation to forensics. So that she could understand them better and where he was coming from. Eventually Officer Allen relented and agree to meet her the next day for afternoon coffee.

Eventually the meetings to get information on forensics became more frequent and more extensive, and turned personal. Iris liked being with Barry and enjoyed his company. He was actually very smart and intelligent and knowledgeable in various topics. And unlike other men she had dated he was humble without trying to please her. If she pushed him on something, he would gently push back. With her looks, Iris was used to having good looking men chase her. But Barry was different. He just seemed to be so unconscious of how appealing he was. He was one of the few men who was sexy without even trying.

She began to wonder why it was that he wasn’t hitting on her..or didn’t ask her out. For awhile she had even thought that maybe he was gay. Except for the fact that there had been times when she had risen up from the table to take a private call or go to the washroom and she could feel his eyes keenly checking out her behind. It was impossible to for her to deny that the sexual tension that was between them had been far more intense than what she had ever experienced with any other man.

She had thought that they were getting somewhere, until of course that morning at breakfast, when he had insinuated that she was only using him to get information on her brother. Iris had been so angry and hurt that she didn’t bother to correct him. She had decided right there and then that Barry Allen wasn’t the kind of man she thought that he was, and she decided to forget him. She kept her distance and began to cultivate other sources inside the department. Most of them were helpful (With the exception of Patty Spivot who was cold to her). But unfortunately none of them appeared to have any interest in forensics beyond the normal 9-5 job. They weren’t like Barry. So she ended up using one of the PHD students at the local university instead. He was a bit weird (in fact he was a conspiracy nut), yet she couldn’t deny that he was valuable.

Iris began to date other men. Due to her line of work and her looks she was not lacking for the pick of the litter when it came to potential beau’s. But it did not seem to matter. No matter who she saw she couldn’t get rid of the throbbing itch she had for Barry Allen. Which she did her best to repress, especially when she found out that a month after their blow up he had begun dating and was now living with his co-worker Patty Spivot, a neurotic little shrew with an over-valued sense of her own importance. And who seemed to like to brag to everyone within earshot that she had a doctorate in biology from Harvard. Well if that’s what Barry wanted then it was all for the better.

Or so she thought until the other night when she had gone over to his apartment. If she had not already been on edge about meeting her deadline, and the implications that which the story might have to her career. She might have controlled herself better and not have brought up their past relationship. But seeing him as he was and being in such close proximity to him had made her forget herself and everything just came out. For the longest time, she had thought that her feelings for him were just a result of her female vanity and a bruised ego. But after he had kissed her she realized that it was much more than that. She had fallen in love with the CSI a long time ago. Kissing him the other night, being in his arms feeling his naked skin against hers and left her on a high which she was yet to come down from.

She had not been in direct contact with Barry Allen since that evening at his apartment. Not that she had not seen him since. The first was at a crime scene. The second time she had seen him was at lunch last week at a trendy sports bar in midtown Central City. Iris was having lunch with Matt Bomber the former QB for the Chicago Bears and now one of the chief reporters and anchors for ESPN. He was in Central City covering the college draft. Iris had interviewed Bomber several times when she was a rookie reporter in the sports department at a Chicago newspaper. And they had kept in touch after he had been given a job at ESPN. Iris suspected that he was attracted to her, but she had never encouraged it, especially given the fact that Bomber had been married at the time. She made it a firm point not to get involved with married men, or men who had girlfriends. Which was she was slightly rattled by the fact of what had happened between her and Barry Allen at his apartment two weeks ago.

But almost a year of pent up desire and seeing him standing there like that in his kitchen. Half naked with a towel around her waist made it so that she could not resist. And when he pulled her into his arms, it was as if it was meant to be. As much as she wanted him, she was glad in hindsight that they had not gone all the way. She did not plan on being the other woman, and if they were ever to be together she did not need the cloud of an affair hanging over their heads.

It was while she and Matt were being shown their table by the server that Iris noticed Barry. He was sitting at a large table, most of which she recognized as being the Central City CSI team. Barry had glanced up when they passed by and he done a double take at seeing her with Bomber. Forrest and some other team members called out to her, and she merely smiled and waved. Barry just stared at her, but she noticed that Patty was glaring at her.

The seating arrangement in the restaurant was arranged like a rectangle with an open space in the middle which occasionally hosted bands or for dancing. Bomber and Iris were seated along the railing opposite from where the CSI team were seated. About 20 minutes into their lunch, Iris noticed the Central City CSI team get up to leave. As they all gathered in the main area of the restaurant. Iris saw Barry staring at her and Bomber. The expression on his face was one of curiosity and bewilderment. When Bomber leaned in to tell Iris something, he placed a possessive hand over Iris’ arm, Barry’s cheeks visibly reddened and Patty Spivot grabbed him by his coat and dragged him out of the restaurant.

Iris was about to print out her story to have it proofed when there was a commotion over at the corner by the large flat screen tv. Several of her colleagues gathered around to see what was playing. Curious Iris rose from her chair and walked over to see what was playing. The tv was tuned to CNN which was showing a battle between the Justice League and Vandal Sauvage. You could barely see the Flash, he was just a red streak.

“Wow look at him go,” Maria Alfred the young department intern said. She was a lousy investigative reporter. But seemed to be attuned to be every form of gossip. Whether it be in entertainment, City Hall or even in the meta community. Iris saw that she would have a wonderful career ahead of her covering the showbiz beat.

“Who?” Iris asked.

“The Flash,” Maria said.

“The Flash,” Iris said with a shake of her head.

“I think he’s kinda of hot.”

“Most women seem to like Batman or Superman,” Iris commented.

“Batman’s too arrogant and Superman is too milk toast. I think The Flash is just right. Man that ass….”

Iris looked at Maria and shook her head in disbelief. Maria grinned and went on.

“Besides, rumour has it that he’s a Central City Boy. Our very own hero in Central City. Say Iris Are you going to get an interview with the Flash?”

“Probably not,” Iris said with a small laugh, “I don’t think that I’m his biggest fan.”

“Why don’t you?” Maria asked, “Rumour has it that Lois Lane was nominated for a Pulitzer based on her interview with Superman. And Vicky Vale got her job at FOX based on her feature on Batman. And a 25% salary increase. Might be something that’s right up your alley”

The salary increase piqued Iris’ interest. She still had a massive student debt to pay off.

“Sounds intriguing. But how would I get in touch with him?” Iris said half joking.

“I hear that the Justice League has a PR firm,” Maria replied.

“What?” she asked startled, “A PR firm? You must be joking.”

“No not at all,” Maria said, “They have a website and everything. Check it out.”

Iris went to her computer, and did a search on the Justice League. There was a big splash page on each member along with the details on each member and their role. There was also contact information at the bottom with an e-mail address.

Iris sat down and sent an email to the e-mail address on the website requesting an interview with the Flash. She was not expecting a response. But the following week, while sitting at home watching the news, she received a phone call on her cell phone. It was from Catherine Guivere the head of Guivere and Associates saying that the Flash would meet her for a brief interview. After a brief negotiation. The meeting was to take place on Friday evening at 6pm on the roof top of the Central City Citizen.

Part Three

The Flash rose carefully from the round table at the Hall of Justice. He had just attended the weekly meeting at the Watchtower. The meeting had been more of a formal procedure than anything else, with a lot of house keeping than anything else. Which suited the Flash just fine given the bumpy week that he had had. Just that morning his girlfriend and live in partner Patty Spivot had thrown down a plate down at the floor in a fit of anger and frustration.

It had been a difficult two weeks and it had started shortly after his encounter with Iris West. Patty had arrived home about half an hour later. By this time Barry had changed into a t-shirt and a pair of sweat pants. He had done his best to clean up the kitchen and erase any signs that Iris had been there. Including spraying the kitchen with deodorizer to mask the smell of Iris’ perfume. But it didn’t seem to matter since Patty was excited with stories about what she had learned in her cake decorating class. She showed Barr different ideas she had for making a cake for her cousine’s birthday party. She seemed oblivious to the fact that Barry was un usually quiet. About half an hour later, they both settled down in front of the tv to watch Patty’s favourite weekly night time soap opera. Ten minutes into the show, Barry’s attention had zoned off somewhere else. His mind began to replay in active detail what had happened in the kitchen with Iris. The way she had tasted when he had kissed her, the smell of her perfume and herbal shampoo, how she had felt in his arms. All soft yet still strong. Then the way she had removed the towel from around his waist and had taken him in her hand as if he had belonged to her, and then how she firmly and slowly she began to stroke his cock expertly as if she knew his pressure points and how he loved to be touched. Barry had wanted to reciprocate in his fantasy he had in great detail. Instead of the hurried almost sex on the kitchen counter. He had scooped her up into his arms and carried her into the bedroom. Once there he had slowly undressed her, taking the time to kiss every inch of her exposed skin. Before pleasuring her with his mouth for a full half hour. He then went on to imagine what it might feel like to have her naked beneath him, and to be inside her. Him holding both of her hands above her head for a long slow ride…which he was sure (or he would make sure) that both of them enjoyed it. Barry did not have an extensive line of conquests. But he always made sure that the women he had taken to bed enjoyed themselves and received their pleasure. Valentina Korshunova, his first serious affair and the wife of his faculty advisor it graduate school had made sure he learned that.

He had not fantasized like that about any woman since he had joined the League and accidentally caught Wonder Woman coming out the shower with nothing but a towel around her waist. And the thing he knew that made it even better was that he knew that Iris wanted him the same way as well. Why the hell hadn’t they..why hadn’t he done something about it?

Barry had been so engrossed in his fantasy that he had not noticed that the program had finished and Patty had made a move to get up to go to the kitchen. She had asked him if he had wanted something to drink.

“Sure Iris,” he had responded.

“Iris!” she exploded.

“Sorry I meant Patty.”

“You’re thinking of her aren’t you?”

“No Patty… It’s just that I remembered that I need to…I was…I was just speaking to her earlier and …” Barry couldn’t finish. It didn’t help that he had been sporting an erection that could have pitched a circus tent. Patty had noticed and stomped off to the bedroom slamming the door.

Things had not improved much a week later during a staff lunch at O’Malley’s sports bar and grill. Barry had been sitting at the table, trying to be social with Patty beside him. When he saw Iris West walk in with Matt Bomber, the former Quarterback of the Chicago Bears and now anchor for ESPN, dressed to the teeth in a tailored Emenegildo Zegna suit. Bomber had his hand on the middle of Iris’ back as if she was his girlfriend or something.. He wondered what Bobmer’s connection was to Iris. Were they dating? He knew that Iris had given him his space to make up his mind but if she had moved on… When the CC CSI team got up to leave, Barry had spotted Iris and Bomber together at a table. She was laughing at something he said, and Bomber placed his hand over her arm in a way that insinuated intimacy. To Barry’s surprise he found himself becoming jealous, he could only stop and stare at them. Unfortunately Patty had noticed him staring at them and dragged him away.

When they had gotten home that evening Patty had read him the riot act and that he had to get his priorities straight. And he had better have an answer as to where he wanted their relationship to go by time she got back from her conference in Chicago next week. Singh was supposed to have gone on a four day forensics seminar. But when he had to turn it down due to having to settle a family matter in India. He decided to send Patty in his place. Barry hated to admit it but he was looking forward to the break from Patty. He had tried to deny it for a long time, but he now had to admit that he had only pursued Patty because of his perceived rejection from Iris and because he felt that he owed her for standing by his side. Despite his attraction to Iris. The truth was that he had grown tired of Patty a long time ago. Her toxic attitude which was a result of her insecurity made her intolerable to be around. More than one time he had wished that he had kept his old apartment instead of moving in with her. Barry was seriously beginning to start to think about his future. Whether that be alone or with a very pretty female reporter so be it.

Barry remembered when he had first met the reporter. He had just finished giving testimony at court two years ago when she had run up to him and approached him outside on the court house steps. She introduced herself as Iris West, one of the new crime reporters for the Central City Citizens.

She wasn’t what Barry would call beautiful, but she certainly was striking. She was in her late 20’s stood at about 5’7 inches tall with blue grey eyes, and chestnut brown hair which spilled down to her shoulders. She wore a simple tailored blue sweater and grey fitted skirt, and high heeled black pumps. Her conservative garb and gait did little to hide a woman who obviously kept herself in great shape and watched what she ate. Barry almost had to struggle to keep his demeanor professional…..

She had asked him about the case and he had just testified in. He had tried to brush her off with a no comment, and that she would need to speak with the head of the department. But she wasn’t to be deterred. She mentioned that she had just recently started on the crime beat and liked to be very thorough in her stories. She would appreciate it if she could get some help from the Central City police department especially the Crime Scene Unit. Would Barry mind being her ally in the department? She wasn’t asking for confidential information. She just needed to bounce ideas off his head once in a while. Could they discuss it over lunch or coffee once or twice a week? Seeing that she was unwilling to take no for an answer. Barry agreed to meet with her.

At first Barry just wanted to assume that their arrangement was just professional. He simply considered Iris to be an ambitious young reporter who was looking for any kind of edge that she could get. He knew how cut throat the media business was, especially the print business, with circulation falling rapidly. He had planned on simply sitting with her for about 15 minutes, and answering whatever questions she might have had with relation to forensics and leave it at that. But that wasn’t the way it panned out. Their conversations would start off with discussions about the aspect of forensics pathology. But that would soon turn onto other topics. Barry had never been given to doing small talk. But he did not feel that way when he was talking with her. Barry never found himself at a loss for words with her and their conversations flowed easily. She didn’t cut him off when he discussed science or something that was out of her purview. She either listened attentively and asked him questions so that she could understand better. Barry found that he began to like her. She was a very charming woman without trying. She was self-confident without being pushy or shallow.

Eventually they began to share their backgrounds and interests. She had grown up all over the Midwest. Eventually settling in Keystone City with her mother after the marriage fell apart. She had gone to the University of Missouri and then on to Columbia School of Journalism. She had a voracious thirst for knowledge and had decided to use that thirst as a career as a reporter. Barry had grown up in Fallville Iowa. But his family had moved to Central City when he was just a young boy. Barry loved all things scientific and decided to couple that love with his desire to help others towards becoming a forensics detective. He had gone to SUNY Plattsburg and then went on to do his graduate studies at the University of Chicago. Both of them were fitness junkies. And considered the gym their second home away from home. Barry was a member of the Central City Cross Fit. Iris worked out at cities Title boxing club five times a week. Barry began to feel that they were making a connection that he found appealing especially given the fact that her background and interests were different from his.

Eventually his thoughts began to turn to other things when he was around her. He wondered if she would consider going out with him. He wanted to ask her out but was hesitant to do so. At first he thought that it was due to the potential conflict of interest. Her being a crime reporter and with him being a police forensic scientist. But eventually he understood that wasn’t all that there was. There was some kind of inner road block that he was encountering which was interfering with the attempt to take the next step.

Apart from a few affairs, Barry never considered himself to be much of a ladies man. In all of his adult life he had only had an extent of maybe six relationships. Only one of them which he would have considered to be serious. He had not even started dating until he had gone off to college. During his last year of high school he had joined the track team as a sprinter. To be a sprinter involved a lot of weight training to which his surprise he had gained a love for. In addition he had found that weight training and working out made him stronger and it also helped him gain more energy and decrease stress. In just over a year due to a combination of proper dieting and a rigid exercise program Barry added on almost 40lbs of muscle to his 6′ frame. It was during his second year that the women started to notice him. Barry had lost his virginity at a fraternity party. His friend Manuel had invited him to a keg party. There were a lot of sorority sisters in attendance including some of the schools most famous female athletes. Barry being an extreme introvert hated every minute of it and had ended up downing more shots that he had intended to. If it had not been for the alcohol, Barry was sure that what happened next would have occurred. He was soon approached by Danielle Cummins the captain of the women’s rowing team and a woman who set to be part of the women’s Olympic rowing team for Team USA. At 5’10 she was only 2 inches shorter than he was, but she was gorgeous as hell and Barry was impressed by her level of confidence.

She had begun to flirt with him, and the next thing he knew she was dragging him upstairs to one of the bedrooms. Barry had little recollection of what had happened next. But he found the experience enjoyable. It wasn’t until later that he had found that he was nothing but the result of a bet amongst the female rowers as to who could actually bed the quiet sprinter. Danielle had not been serious about him.

He had dated a few other women at school. But it wasn’t until he had gone away to graduate school and had gotten involved (by accident) with the wife of his faculty advisor, a Valentina Korshunova that Barry had really found out how pleasurable sex really could be. Korshunova was only about 10 years older than he was, but she was the most beautiful and sophisticated woman Barry had ever met. She had moved to the US with her husband from Russia, who was on loan to the University of Chicago for five years.

He had met her several times over the course of several weeks. Sometimes she would be at her husbands office when Barry had dropped by. Barry had also met her at his faculties advisors house when had gone over there to drop off a paper. But it wasn’t until two months later that the affair had really started.

One Friday night, Barry had been in his room attempting to study but found that he couldn’t concentrate. So grabbing his work out gear he headed over to the athletic complex for a workout. Being Friday night, the complex was next to deserted with one staff member. But he had seen Valentina there. He nodded to her and she merely smiled. It was after Barry had finished his workout and was standing under the showers in the men’s change room, that she had come to him-naked. Surprisingly, Barry didn’t even think about saying no, or turning her away. It had been an intense and torrid affair. He and Valentina got together whenever feasibly possible and given the fact that her husband was often away on lectures. Getting together was often possible. The affair went on for months and only ended when the advisor walked in on them together in bed. When the Advisor had asked his wife how she could betray him like that. Valentina had responded that she needed some consolation for him screwing around with his students. Barry had stumbled out of the house ashamed and mortified that he had been used like that, again for the second time. Fortunately he had already been given a job with the Central City Police Department. And as soon was he permitted he left Chicago and never looked back.

Barry admittedly had mixed feelings about what had happened with Valentina. What he had done was wrong. But then again he had never felt so alive as when they were together. That feeling had only been replicated twice. The first was when he had gained his powers as The Flash. The second was when he had spent time with Iris West. And what made it even more meaningful was that there had been no physical contact.

Barry had seen a few women over his time at Central City. But none of them really held his attention, and many of them couldn’t abide his tendency to be late or his intense work hours. Patty Spivot, his coworker in the crime lab seemed to show great interest in him. But the truth was that her eagerness to please and touchiness turned him off. By time he had met Iris West, Barry had more or less given up hope in finding a woman who liked him for himself and who could hold his interest. But Iris was different. She had an infectious laugh and a smile that could light up a room. He liked being with her and was comfortable with her. He was determined to ask her out but he had to be sure…

He began to make some discreet enquiries to Forrest who had been in the forensics office for 20 years and was familiar with a lot of the goings on around Central City as to her romantic status.

Forrest had told him that while there were certainly links of her having dated the anchor at the news station, fellow journalists, a hot shot defence attorney and even a hockey player. There was nothing concrete to suggest that she was seriously involved with anyone. But there seemed to be one skeleton in her background. She had a brother by the name of Daniel West who had just been picked up recently in a homicide investigation. It was some sort of falling out amongst drug dealers and West was charged with murder.

Barry never thought about anything further about Iris’s brother. He was just excited to find out that she was single, and he wanted to ask her if she would consider going out with him. Maybe for dinner or for the weekend. A quiet get away to one of the nearby resorts. Big Cedar Lodge was a nice one he had heard a lot about, and it would be quiet at this time of year. Barry was determined to ask her the next time that he saw her. Their next get together was supposed to be in two days at a nearby café for breakfast.

The day had been a particular windy one and Barry had been running late again. But he was feeling particularly buoyed due to his intense workout at the gym, which he had used not just to get in shape…but to dispel the nervous energy he had inside. Iris was sitting at a table on the terrace. Beside her sat her customary black leather satchel. She said that it was a gift from her grandfather for having gotten straight A’s during her final year at an all girls Catholic high school. Barry could tell that the bag was being used to hold down files. One from which she was reading from. He rushed up to her and apologized for being late. She merely smiled (with the way that always managed to warm him) and took up her bag and began to stuff the files inside the bag. She then placed the bag on the ground beside her. The waiter came up to them and took their order. Barry was anxious to ask Iris out but decided to wait until after they ate. By this time they had been getting together for months and had ceased to start off their conversations by talking shop. But still Barry decided that he would rather wait until after they ate. It turned out to be a life changing event. A huge gust of wind came by and had blown over Iris’ bag. Files and pages had spilled out from her bag and onto the ground. The wind picked up some of the pages and blown them here and there.

They both ran around trying to collect the documents from her bag before the wind could carry it any further. Barry was about to hand one of the pages to Iris when he saw that ‘Daniel West’ was written at the top.

Immediately Barry was overcome with the old feelings he had as a child of being picked on and being used by women. He accused Iris of manipulating him and only fostering a relationship with him for her own personal gain. The look on Iris’ face was one of consternation. But she never bothered to correct him. Barry saw her silence as confirmation and he stomped off angrily. By the end of the week he had asked Patty Spivot out. Two weeks later when she suggested that they move in together he had agreed. He did his best to shove the thought of Iris West out of his mind.

Whenever he had entertained any sort of whimsical feelings about Iris in the past, that maybe he had made a mistake of writing her off too quickly. He would try his best to suppress them by telling himself that she had no genuine interest in him apart from using him to help her with career and personal problems. He would also try and follow that up with notions that Patty was the ‘right’ woman for him. But he realized how hollow it sounded. More so now since he discovered that Iris actually liked him.

He had to do something.

Batman came up to him after the meeting.

“Are you okay?” Batman asked.

“Sure Bruce. I’m fine, why do you ask?”

“You just seemed a little preoccupied.”

“It’s just some personal stuff. It’ll pass.”

“Alright,” he began, “Catherine Guivere the head of our PR firm received a request from a reporter from the Central City Citizen, a certain Iris West, asking for an interview with the Flash. Are you interested?”

“No thanks Bruce,” The Flash said, “I’m not really big on chit chat and self-promotion.”

“I understand what you’re saying. But I do know that she’s one of the League’s biggest detractors. If you could go into answering a few questions it might go a long way in getting public support. Then that would lead to government support, and would give us more room to maneuver.”

“I don’t know Bruce,” The Flash began. He wasn’t sure how close he could be to Iris West without wanting to touch her. Even if he was in his Flash costume. He was sure that he wouldn’t be able to focus and concentrate.

“You’ll do fine,” Batman assured him, “Look you’ll have to deal with the media some time or the other. And we need them on side to prevent the public from panicking and seeing us as a threat. There are dangers out there that the governments and military can’t handle. They need us, and we need to show them that we are not a threat.”

“Okay then,” Barry said, “I’ll do it. But…there’s something that I have to take care of first. I might need a favour or two from you….”

Part Four

The Friday of the following week, Iris West found herself on the roof top of the building of the offices of the Central City Citizen. It was 6pm and she was wearing a fitted long grey skirt which hit her just below the knees and a long sleeved salmon pink cashmere blouse with frills down the front and high heeled red shoes. She was carrying her purse which contained her iphone. Guivere had been very specific about the conditions. She had to be on time and she wasn’t to bring along anyone else. Iris was all alone, the office had cleared out an hour ago for happy hour and the weekend festivities. Iris had kept the meeting with the Flash under wraps. The only person who knew about it was her editor. Surprisingly she wasn’t nervous about meeting the superhero. She wasn’t easily scared or impressed and she certainly wasn’t impressed by the notion of meeting a superhero. To her they were just slightly more powerful athletes.

On his last night in Central City, Matt Bomber had suggested that they have dinner. The other unspoken part of the invitation was more than clear. He wanted to take her to bed. And Iris was more than tempted, Bomber was a very good looking guy, a fitness nut who kept himself in top shape (he even had a part time modeling gig as an underwear model for Fruit of the Loom). Unlike other jocks, he was well-read and had actually attended classes at Princeton while on a football scholarship. He was also easy to talk to and great company. But Iris was not interested in a fling. She was still thinking about Barry especially given the piece of news she had recently heard.

Maria had come to her earlier that afternoon with a piece of gossip at the CC police department. She said that her ‘source’ had said that Patty Spivot had a minor melt down in the office and Singh had sent her home to cool off. Rumour was that Barry Allen her coworker and live in boyfriend had broken it off with and moved out the apartment that they shared together on the weekend. Maria went on to insinuate that maybe now this was the time and opportunity for Iris to move in. Shocked, when Iris went on to ask what made Maria possibly think that she was attracted to Barry Allen. Maria said that it was an open secret that Iris liked the CSI.

But if this was the case and Barry had moved out. Then why hadn’t he gotten in contact with her? Was he not interested in her apart from the physical. That notion hurt Iris more than she cared to admit.

Suddenly he appeared before her, even in the dimming October light she could see the startling red of his costume.

“Hello Miss West,” he said quietly. His voice was barely above a whisper.

“Thank you for meeting me,” Iris said straightening up.

“It’s my pleasure,” he replied.

“It is? Why?” she asked curious.

“I look forward to the opportunity to meet with the members of the press, so that the public can get to know more about us.”

“Is that what you really want?”

“I…I just want the public to know that we are on their side and that they don’t have anything to fear. And you’re the best conduit for that.”

“I’m also one of your most vocal detractors.”

“Yes I know,” he said.

“And yet you still want to meet with me?”

“Yes. I think that if I can convince you of all people. Then what we’re trying to achieve will be taken a bit more seriously.”

“Thank you Flash,” Iris said with a small smile, “But I don’t think that I’m as influential as you like to think.”

“Oh I think you are,” he said, “Otherwise your stories wouldn’t be placed above the fold of your newspaper.”

Iris arched an eyebrow. He actually paid attention to that?

“Have you eaten yet?” he asked changing the subject.

“No I haven’t.”

“Would you mind if we conducted the interview over dinner?”

“So you can ply me with drinks and take advantage of me?”

“It will be totally hands off,” the Flash replied raising two gloved hands in protestation. Unless of course you want me to touch you.”

That was a strange way to put it. But Iris was too curious to back out.

“Okay then,” she said, “Where are we going?”

“Not too far,” he said, “Do you mind if I take you.”

“Of course,” she began. But stopped, “But how?”

“I’ll carry you,” he said.

“What do you mean you’ll carry me?” she asked puzzled, “You mean in your arms?”

“Yes,” he replied looking her over carefully, “If you trust me to carry you.”

Iris had seen him in action moving steel beams and men who were twice her weight.

“Let’s go,” she said. She put her purse over her shoulder and gripped it in her arms. The Flash approached her slowly, looked at her with an expression that could only be described as affection and picked her up in and lifted her into his arms. The feeling of being carried by the Flash could only simultaneously be described as being caught in a tornado and riding a roller-coaster.

The Flash took them some place with a balcony. Iris didn’t recognize where they were at first. But it was somewhere near the river front. The view was spectacular. She looked out over the balcony.

“Where are we?” she asked.

“The balcony to one of the private dining rooms at the 360 Degree Restaurant.”

The 360 Degree Restaurant was the restaurant located on top of ‘The Needle’. The Needle was the cities concrete observation and communications tower. It was located just outside of the financial district and provided a splendid view of the riverfront and miles and miles into Keystone. The restaurant was probably one of the most expensive and exclusive places in Central City.

“You actually booked a room on top of the 360?” she asked surprised.

“The PR firm did it for us,” he said, “They thought that we should meet somewhere more..friendly.”

“Wow,” she said amazed, “You really have pulled out all the stops!”

“Um if this makes you uncomfortable..” Flash said, “We can go somewhere else if you like.”

“No that’s okay. This is just fine,” she said, “I’ve been in Central City for some time now and I’ve never eaten here before.”

“Neither have I,” he replied, “I thought that we’d eat inside. It’s a bit chilly outside.”

“Okay,” Iris replied. He pulled back the sliding doors. The room was dimly lit with a small intimate table in the middle of the room.

Flash pulled out a chair for Iris to sit down. She placed her bag on the chair beside her and took a seat. Soon a man in his late 50’s appeared, he was thin wearing an immaculately pressed suit. The Flash smiled at him.

“Good evening sir,” he said, “Madame.”

“Hello Alfred,” The Flash said.

“You two know each other?” Iris asked surprised.

“Just passingly,” The Flash said, “Alfred’s a mutual friend. I believe that he arranged all of this.”

“Are you ready to eat or would you like to wait?” Alfred asked.

“No,” Iris said looking at the Flash, “I’m actually famished.”

“Ready when you are Alfred,” The Flash said taking a seat across from Iris.

They started out with a roasted beet and goat cheese tart, candied ginger, crushed walnut vinaigrette salad as an appetizer. The main dish consisted of sesame crusted Atlantic salmon, warm soba noodle salad, Asian greens with Tamari Vinaigrette. And it was topped off with a desert of warm apple and vanilla crumble and Neapolitan ice cream. It was all washed down with a bottle of Banfi Chianti Classico.

All through the meal Iris peppered him with questions.

“So..why don’t we start out with you,” she said.

“Me?” Flash asked.

“Yes how did you get your powers. Are you a mutant, were you born with them? Or did they just develop over time, or what?”

“It was a freak accident.”

“Care to elaborate?” she asked.

“No,” Flash replied, “Not only for privacy concerns. But also due to the fact that I don’t want anyone trying to replicate the manner in which I got them.”

“Ah so it can be replicated?”

“Maybe but, it would take some luck as well,” Flash replied, “Otherwise it can be very dangerous and lead to death.”

“Understood. How did it feel when you gained your powers?”

“Strange at first. But the more I used them. The more natural it felt.”

“It must be an amazing feeling.”

“It is,” he replied.

“And the reason you took on the name ‘The Flash’?”

The Flash smiled.

“It was due to the name of a comic book character I read as a child.”

“Never heard of him,” Iris said, “I’ll have to ask my cousine Wally about him. He’s a sci-fi and comic book nut.”

“You probably wouldn’t have heard much about him,” The Flash said, “His book didn’t last long. He wasn’t as famous as Captain USA, The Count or The Web.”

“So this Flash was the only reason you decided to become a superhero?”

“No,” The Flash said quietly, “I did it in honour of a loved one.”

“So you were influenced by tragedy?”

“Partly. And it was the way I was brought up. To help others.”

“So that explains it,” she said taking sip of her wine.

“Explains what?”

“I mean why you do what you do. With your abilities you could make a fortune in pro sports. Or even worse hiring your skills out to the highest bidder. There are a lot of crime syndicates who would love to use your…talent.”

She noticed his jaw tighten at that. And his blue eyes flash with anger.

“No,” Flash said, “There’s enough misery in this world. I don’t plan on adding to it. And like I said that’s not the way I was brought up.”

“Well it’s good to know that there are still some people in the world who are motivated by good deeds,” she replied, “So if you’re acting completely from altruism. Then what’s the cost of up keep?”

“Are you asking me how I make a living?”

“Well yes,” Iris replied gesturing towards his plate of food, “I can see that you need to take in food. And I guess that you need to sleep and place to live.”

“No I’m not Flash full time. If that’s what you’re getting at. I have another life.”

“Doing what?” Iris asked innocently.

“Nice try Ms. West. But that’s confidential.”

“Well you can’t blame a girl for trying. By the way you can call me Iris. I hear Ms. West and I look around to see if my maiden aunt is around.”

“Iris then,” he replied, “How did you end up with that name?”

“I was named after my grandmother. You wouldn’t believe the hell I received in grade school because of it.”

“Somehow I think that you handled it well.”

“You know the saying. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger,” she said taking a sip of the wine.

“And you’ve been through many hard times?” he asked curiously.

“No more than most people,” Iris said briefly thinking back to her childhood, “But this interview isn’t about me. It’s about you and the League.”

“What?” The Flash asked innocently, “No sharing?”

“It’s going to take a bit more than just a meal at an expensive restaurant and nice bottle of wine for me to get naked.”

Why the hell had she said that? She thought in frustration afterwards. She normally was more guarded with her words. She wondered what on earth had prompted her to say that. She was behaving as if she was some 16 year girl desperate to impress the high school football quarter back.

“I meant for me to go into depth about myself,” she stammered.

“That’s okay, I know what you meant” The Flash said smiling, there was a twinkle in his eye that she found endearing, it reminded her of someone else….

“So Flash. Where do you and the rest of the League meet?

“That’s confidential.”

“Can you tell me if it’s in the US.”

“No.”

“No it’s not in the US or no you can’t tell me?”

“The later.”

“Okay then,” she said sitting forward in her chair, “What about financing. Who takes care of that?”

“Goldman Sachs.”

“Are you serious?” she asked

“No I’m joking,” he said smiling, “I can’t go into that.”

“How many members of the team are there?”

“So far? Seven.”

“Are you planning on expanding?”

“If need be. But that hasn’t come up yet.”

“Okay then,” she said, “Tell me how you all got together.”

“We all came together trying to avert a disaster and take down a bad guy.”

“Darkseid?”

“Yes that’s right. But I had met Green Lantern before that.”

“He appears to be a bit of show man doesn’t he?”

“Yes you could say that.” The Flash said laughing.

“Are the other group members? Are they heroes for the same reasons that you’re a hero?”

“I never really went into the how and why other team members decide to put on costumes,” The Flash said thoughtfully, “But yes I believe that their reasons are similar to my own. They want to use their powers to help others.”

“Batman doesn’t have any powers though does he?”

“Sorry?” The Flash began startled.

“I understand that Batman doesn’t have powers.”

“I can’t comment on that,” he said.

“And let’s get down to the crux of the matter,” she said leaning in, “You heroes…sure you do a lot. But you also do a lot of harm.”

“And how’s that?”

“First of all, many of your battles and fights take place in major metropolitan areas. Are you not concerned about the damage you do to people and public property.”

“We’re very careful to keep it the fights away from heavily populated areas,” The Flash replied very seriously.

“Maybe,” Iris replied, “But you do have to admit that you do cause a lot of death and destruction.”

“I think that we can admit that would probably happen regardless,” he said, “The people who do the attacking are out to hurt and maim others.”

“True,” Iris conceded, “But we have a military which is in place to defend us.”

“Not these kinds of threats Iris,” Flash said seriously, “Things have changed. Threat levels have been ramped up. It’s not just people like me who have powers. Bad guys have them as well. It’s like you asked me earlier about why I don’t rent my powers out to the bad guys. That’s not who I am. But there are plenty of people who have abilities like mine who would do just that. It’s up to people who have hearts like mine to stop them.”

“A bit of a frontier mentality.”

“I’m a proud American,” The Flash offered wryly, “The country was built by frontiersmen.”

“I’m serious Flash,” Iris said, “I respect what the Justice League is trying to achieve. But I also think that it’s dangerous for you to be taking justice into your own hands.”

“We don’t operate in a vacuum,” the Flash responded, “We do consult with the authorities.”

“But you don’t take marching orders from them?”

“We consider it to be a partnership. We work together.”

“Which leads me to my next question. Financing Flash. Who pays the bills of the League.”

“Like I said before that’s confidential,” Flash said, “But I assure you that we take care of our own bills ourselves.”

The truth was that Cyborg, Lantern and himself contributed very little when it came to operating expenses. Their main contribution was in their own personal up keep.

Batman, Aquaman and Wonder Woman who were all wealthy in their own right contributed about 75% of the money and funding. Superman added where he could (how Flash did not know) and the rest of the money was contributions in the form of supplies from the US government.

“So you’re saying that there are no tax payer monies involved?” Iris asked.

“I’ll just say that we have our supporters,” Flash replied his voice polite but firm.

“Financially or politically?”

“A bit of both.”

“I just want to circle back to the use of your powers for a moment.”

“Okay…”

“You claim that your goal and the goal of the League is to help others. But what happens if that were to change?”

“How do you mean?”

“Saving the world and playing hero can be quite the power trip. Especially for people with your powers and capabilities. Power can corrupt.”

“None of us are angels and none of us are perfect,” The Flash said, “But the people I serve with..do what we do because we feel that it’s our responsibility and our purpose. I can tell you a lot of things. But one of them is that not one of us do what we do out of a sense of wanting to be powerful and rule over others.”

“But you are human beings. And people change.”

“That’s true,” The Flash responded. He leaned forward slightly over the table, “But can I tell you something off the record?”

“Of course.”

“I see what you’re getting at Iris, and you do have a point. But what I am trying to say is that should even if one of us go rogue. There are six others of us who are prepared to stop even him or her.”

“Doesn’t sound like a very congenial or trusting relationship,” Iris said taking a sip of her wine.

“We get along fine,” The Flash said, “But our primary job is to protect the earth…that comes before any sort of friendship.”

“Understood.”

“Good,” The Flash said smiling and sitting back in his chair, “So…Iris. He said. It seems as if you know all about me. But I know precious little about you.”

“I’m not subject of this interview..remember?”

“Yes but I’m curious.”

“About?”

“What got you into journalism?”

“I’m nosey,” she replied, “And I like the written word. So I decided to combine my two interests and became a journalist. What about you?”

“What about me?”

“When you’re not running around in red pajamas saving the world what do you do?”

“Like I said before that’s confidential.”

“Oh you must be able to give me a hint.”

“I serve the public.”

“Yes I know as a super hero.”

“As a civilian as well.”

“Are you a civil servant?”

“I’m a servant to society.”

“Okay then,” Iris said leaning back in her chair. Just then Alfred appeared and removed the dishes from desert. He asked if there was anything else that they wanted. Iris said no, but to her surprise The Flash asked for a bottle of wine. Alfred came back with a 20 year old bottle of Chablis.

“Are you trying to take advantage of me?” she teased.

“Of course,” Flash responded, “It’s my job to seduce you….oh my God.”

Iris laughed.

“I meant…” he stammered.

“Looks like we’re both getting loose slips of the tongue tonight.”

“I’m so sorry Iris…” he stammered.

“Hey it’s okay,” she replied reaching across the table to place her hand over his. To her surprise he took her hand in his and squeezed it slightly.

Why did it feel so familiar, Iris thought.

“So how am I doing so far?” he asked thickly.

“It’s working. Your significant other must be really happy with you.”

To Iris’s surprise, the Flash paused.

“There is a significant other?” she asked.

“No,” he said shortly, “Are you interested?”

“I’m not really not into men in uniform,” she joked

“Are you really?” he asked surprised.

“Yes..why do you ask?”

“I was under the impression that you were seeing Matt Bomber?”

“You mean the former NFL football player?”

“Yes.”

“I don’t know where and how you would come by that information,” Iris said after a brief laugh, “No I am not dating Matt Bomber.”

“Oh,” The Flash replied as if relieved.

Were her eyes deceiving her, or did she just notice the tension in this guys shoulders release as if relieved? Iris’ mind began to race. It really couldn’t be… Was this Barry Allen?

“We’re just old friends. I interviewed him a few times when I was working at a Chicago paper. But apart from that I only know him because he’s now an anchor for ESPN, and we both work in the media.”

“Oh okay,” The Flash said smiling, “Is there anyone you are seeing?”

“You seem to be quite interested in my love life.”

“You just seem to be a very intriguing and intelligent woman. I’m just curious to know what sort of man could keep up with you.”

“To answer your question. No I am not seeing anyone right now. I’m pretty much married to my job.”

“It must be quite a thrill to keep you captivated.”

“I’ve been a professional journalist for the last five years. But I’ve only been a crime reporter for about the past two years.”

“And how is that working out for you?”

“It can be tough, especially in these days of the 24 hour news cycle. On the surface it can seem to be very glamorous. But there’s a lot of leg work and tedium involved. But it’s fun. I enjoy it.”

“You cover a lot of murder investigations?”

“That’s where most of the interest lies,” she said.

“How do access a lot of your information?”

“The usual sleuthing and access to public records. I have a…cordial relationship with the police,” she said, “Understandably, they like to protect themselves. So they’re careful not release the wrong information. I also am careful to not needlessly antagonize them,” she paused, “You’ve mentioned that you’ve noticed that much of my stories are above the fold.

“I’m a fan of yours,” The Flash said, “You’re very thorough. Like take for example the work you did in investigating the murder of the Tech billionaire Stan Corbert. I admire the way that you only printed the facts as you knew it and didn’t go for some wild conjecture.”

Iris froze at this, to hide her discomfort she raised her glass of wine to her lips and drank to buy some time.

“Well, you have to be very careful in these days of the 24 hour news cycles. Screw ups can lead to law suits and end careers,” she pushed the chair out, “I think that that the wine has finally gotten to me. I’m going to take run to the ladies.”

The Flash rose to his feet as she left for the washroom which adjoined the dinning room.

Once inside. She stared at herself in the mirror for a long time. Could it really be? Could it be Barry Allen beneath the mask? She hadn’t even started to work on the story regarding the poisoning of Stan Corbert. She hadn’t dared to go to her boss, too afraid that he would try and demote her. Yes the story would help make her career and might open doors. But on the other hand it could also slam doors shut in her face, not to mention lead to a financially crippling law suite. Iris was all for taking risks. But not being stupid.

Corbert Tech bought a lot of advertising in the Citizen, and they also had a lot of connections who also advertised in the Citizen. After Iris had left Barry’s apartment she had ended filing the story as she had originally written it and left out any conspiracy theories that she might have had. One she did not have enough evidence and two she was so emotionally rattled by what had almost occurred between her and Barry that she did not feel that it was her place to go ahead with it. So she just left it as it was. The funny thing was that the only person that she had shared that bit of information with was Barry Allen. Knowing full well that he wouldn’t disclose it.

Then the questioning about Matt Bomber. She had seen the way that Barry was staring both of them as he had left the restaurant. Barry Allen as the Flash? Really. Now that she had seen him half naked, she certainly could admit that from seeing the Flash up close and Barry up close the build was the same. But then again what guy didn’t work out? The awkward questions as to whether or not she was dating….

Barry seemed to be so…what straight laced, and so conservative. She couldn’t see him putting his life in danger to save others… But then again she remembered how he had given her what for that morning. There was plenty of fire beneath that ice. But then again he was so kind…she could see that if he was the kind of man who had gotten his powers due to a freak accident wanting to help others. Especially after what had happened to his mother. The skuttle butt around the office was that his father had killed his mother and Barry spent hours upon hours trying to find out who his mothers real killer was and to set her father free. She decided that she had to go home and process this. She glanced at her phone it was steadily approaching 10′ o’clock. She and Barry…er the Flash had spent almost three hours talking. It almost reminded her of old times when she and Barry would almost eat up an afternoon just chatting. She shook her head and left the ladies. She found Flash standing by the huge open window looking at the view. Iris marveled for a moment at the breadth of his shoulders. His V-shape. And yes Maria was right. He did have a nice ass….

“Trying to escape?” she asked coming back inside the room.

“No,” he said, “I’m just examining the view. It’s not that I get to take in a view like this very often.”

“With your powers you should be able to enjoy any view that you want,” she said joining him.

“True,” he admitted, “But unless there’s some kind of emergency. I don’t put on this costume. Besides. It’s nice to have company to enjoy it with.”

“Thank you,” she said, “Well Flash, I really enjoyed our time together. But I should be getting home.”

“Are you sure that you have all the information that you need?”

“For now,” she said, “If I need anything else, I’ll make sure to contact your PR firm.”

She reached inside her purse for her phone.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m going to call a cab,” she replied.

“I’ll take you home,” he volunteered.

“What? Are you sure?” she asked.

“Yes of course,” he said, “I can have you home in less than a minute. If of course you weren’t too shaken up by the last trip.”

“No of course not,” she said, “If it’s not out of your way.”

“It’s not,” Flash replied, “Besides it’s the least that I could do.”

“For a member of the press?” Iris asked smiling.

“Yes,” The Flash said, “But I really enjoyed your company.”

“I enjoyed it too,” she said, and she realized that she had meant it.

She looked up into his face, he looked as if he were about to kiss her, but instead bent down and scooped her up into his arms. She clutched her purse to her chest. She leaned against his chest, she could feel his heart beat against her arm. For some reason she found it comforting.

“Ready?” he asked softly.

“Yes,” she replied.

It wasn’t until after they left that Iris realized that she had not told him where she lived.

Part Five

Two days later The Flash appeared at the Watchtower for the weekly Justice League meeting. He found Batman in the monitor room busily working before the banks of computers.

“Am I the first to arrive?” The Flash asked.

Batman turned to face him.

“Barry?” he asked surprised, “You’re here early.”

“I think you mean on time,” The Flash said wryly taking a seat in the adjoining chair, “Where’s everyone else?”

“They haven’t arrived yet,” Batman said, “How did your interview with Iris West go?”

“It was great,” The Flash said smiling broadly.

“Alfred confirmed as much.”

“Alfred listened in on our meeting?” Flash asked surprised.

“No,” Batman replied, “He’s too much of a gentleman for that. He just told me that you seemed to be getting along well. Further I received a message from Catherine Guivere. She’d like to see you again.”

“You mean Iris?” The Flash said with excitement.

“Yes,” Batman said bemused.

“Did she say why?”

“No,” Batman said, “There were just a few things that she wanted to follow up on.”

“Where does she want to meet?”

“The location was to be determined,” Batman said, “You know you can speak with her over the phone.”

“No,” Flash said, “I don’t mind meeting her face to face.”

“All right then. I’ll let Guivere know. I get the impression that you know her personally?”

“She’s a crime reporter Bruce. She’s always hanging around the department.”

“Is that just it?” Batman asked.

The Flash opened his mouth, he was tempted to lie but then again he realized that this was Batman he was speaking with.

The Flash sighed.

“Look…it’s complicated…”

“Un-complicate it for me,” Batman said, “Were you lovers?”

“No!”

“But you are attracted to her?”

“Yes I am. But it’s not like you think. This is not just a physical thing. I like her Bruce. I always have. I’ve only been able to confess to it lately and she likes me as well. We started off as professional colleagues…and it started to turn into something else. Until we hit a mis-understanding a few years ago. Our wires got crossed and it was only resolved a few weeks ago.”

“And what about your live in girlfriend?”

“That’s over,” The Flash replied looking away, “I ended it. I moved out of our apartment about two weeks ago.”

“You have? Where are you staying?”

“At a nearby motel. It’s expensive..especially since I’m still paying rent on the other place. But it’s the best I can do for now until I find a suitable place that’s available.”

“Why are you still paying rent on your previous place?”

“Patty’s not letting me out of the lease.”

“I see,” Batman said, “And you really couldn’t tough it out with your ex until you found some place to live?”

“I thought about that,” Flash said, “But the thing is I don’t love her anymore and we’re just fighting all the time. The stress is getting to me and is affecting my performance both and work as well as here.”

“Does the change of status with your ex have anything to do with Iris West?”

“Yes it does a little. I like Iris. I always have. But the truth of the matter is, even if it wasn’t for Iris. It still does not cross off the fact that I no longer want to be with Patty. I’m grateful for all that she’s done. But I don’t love her anymore. I only got involved with her because I..I thought that Iris didn’t like me. It’s a damn big mess.”

“Does she know about your feelings for West?”

“Yes,” The Flash said blushing.

“But “Well at least you’re attempting to fix it. It’s better that you break it off now than later when it’s more difficult.”

The Flash looked at him surprised.

“What is it?” Batman asked.

“I thought that you would want me to continue with Patty to protect my identity and the League.”

“Under other circumstances I might have. But there’s no point in you ‘pretending’ to be in love with your ex when you’re pinning for another woman. The pretense will just be too difficult and affect your performance in other parts of your life. Not that I’m saying that this won’t be problematic because it will. We’ll need to run interference before she decides to reveal to the whole world that you’re Flash.”

“She wouldn’t do that,” Flash began.

“Wouldn’t she?” Batman said, “She refuses to let you out of the lease. It might be that she can’t afford to. But I suspect that it’s to punish you. By the way how did she know that you had a thing for West?”

“She always knew. Iris and I..used to see each other informally. It was supposed to be work related. Just coffee once a week to answer whatever questions she had had related to forensics. But..”

“But?”

“But to tell you the truth Bruce. Maybe 20 percent of the conversation was related to work. The other stuff was just her an me talking about this that and anything else. I liked being with Iris she was easy to talk to. I think that basically everyone knew that I was on friendly terms with Iris….and that basically I had a massive crush on her.”

“And what happened after that?”

“I..I’m not sure. I want to say that it’s her fault. But really it was mis-communication. I found something out about her. She had a brother who was arrested in Central City in a homicide. And one morning she met with me over breakfast with his file in tow. I saw it and over-reacted. I blew up at her and accused her of trying to use our friendship to try and manipulate me. Shortly after that I asked Patty out. I thought that I had gotten Iris out of my system but..it turns out that I didn’t.”

“Barry…I am a bit puzzled as to why you blew up at her,” Batman began carefully, “Of all the members on the team you seem to be the most calm and most level headed. I can see Lantern going off half cocked but not you.”

To Batman’s surprised The Flash’s lower half of his face became almost as red as his costume.

“You know I’ve gone over and over in my head a million times what happened after that morning. And each time that I saw her since. I..I’m not like you and Hal. I’m not used to women falling over me. I’m the nerd who everyone picked on or ignored.”

“You were picked on?” Batman said with disbelief. At 6’2 210lbs the Darknight only out flanked and out weighed the Speedster by 2 inches and 15lbs.

“Yeah all the way in grade school and up to high school. I didn’t start lifting weights and seriously working out until I hit college. Before that I was just a skinny kid who liked science and comics. I guess that I never shook off that image of myself. And I could never really think that a woman as pretty..no as gorgeous and sophisticated as Iris West would seriously be interested in me for myself. The guys at the station say that she used to date some of the biggest anchors on tv. Even some athletes.”

“I think you sell yourself a bit too short Barry.”

“You think so?”

“Yes I do.”

“You know I..I thought that the fight I had with Iris. I just thought that I would end up forgetting about her and move on. And that’s what I attempted to do with Patty. But I just realized that I couldn’t forget Iris. I knew that she was avoiding me—not that I don’t blame her. But it still didn’t help that she’d start creeping into my head. And I was happy whenever I saw her.”

“That’s rare,” Batman said folding his arms across his massive chest.

“Yes it is. What was happening between us…”

“Chemistry?”

“Yeah that’s it,” The Flash said snapping his fingers, “Chemistry! I thought that after our fight..our mis-understanding that it would change..But my feelings…our feelings or each other never really went away. And it was pretty evident whenever we were together. And two weeks ago it just all came back in a rush.”

The Flash paused for a moment, before going on.

“I think that Patty knew that she was basically a consolation prize.”

“Well this is a bit of a bind. But I can help you out with some place to stay until you find an apartment. Wayne Properties is part of a property development consortium that is involved in the construction of a series of condo towers down by the river front, near the financial district in Central City. One of the buildings was just finished last month. You can move into one of the empty units ..rent free…until you find a place of your own. I’ll have one of my agents call you tomorrow.”

“Bruce,” Flash said blushing, “I can’t.”

“Yes you can. Or we’ll call it an IOU. That ring you invented to hold your costume. Is a technological marvel. I might want to get you to invent something for me from time to time.”

“Sure Bruce I’d only be happy to,” The Flash said happily he would never have thought that the mighty Batman much less Bruce Wayne would have asked him for advice.

“You know it’s only after the League was formed and I found out your real name, that I discovered that we recruited for you hard along with Lexcorp and some of the other top bio tech firms. But you turned us all down, even though you now would probably be making twice as much as you do now. In fact I can see you being a director even before you hit 30.”

“Uh..thanks,” The Flash said blushing.

“Why did you turn us down?”

“I wanted to help others. And my mother’s death I wanted to solve it. I thought that becoming a police officer would be the best way to achieve both. Of course this all happened before I got my powers.”

“Understood,” Batman replied, “If I can be of any help…”

“Thanks Bruce. But this is something I want to solve on my own.”

Batman nodded. He paused before saying.

“I did some checking into Iris West as well.”

“You did?”

“Yes,” Batman said.

“She’s an ambitious woman. Very ambitious. But she’s also a very ethical journalist. I don’t think that she’s the kind of woman who would reveal your identity for profit or spite.”

“How do you know that?”

“Her track record,” Batman said, “She had the opportunity to reveal some very lurid information on a prominent politician who had acted as a source for her at city hall. But she decided instead to pass on it and not expose him, although it certainly would have helped with her career. She’s a loyal woman. And will play fair with you as long as you play fair with her.”

The meaning was loud and clear. If Barry were to get involved with Iris West everything had to be above board. There could be no infidelities.

“Understood Bruce,” The Flash said, “In the meantime. This other thing we discussed….”

There was a chirping sound signifying that someone had arrived on the . The Batman rose to his feet.

“Looks as if Wonderwoman and Superman have arrived. Let’s go into the conference hall. We’ll discuss a strategy for dealing with your identity later.”

Part Six

The following Friday evening shortly before 8pm. Iris West sat in her living room waiting for the Flash to arrive. She sat wearing a pair of black yoga tights and a short sleeved lulu lemon baby blue t-shirt.

Her cell phone sat on the coffee table before her, before her. Her pen and Moleskine reporter note book were at her side. Catherine Guivere had gotten back to her the day before saying that the Flash had agreed to meet her for a follow up interview anywhere she desired. Half jokingly Iris had suggested that they meet at his place. There was a brief pause before Guivere added that was a un suitable location and that Iris should nominate somewhere else. Without hesitation she suggested her apartment at 8pm on Friday.

The tv was on mute and turned to CNN. But she did not pay any attention to it. Instead her attention was completely engrossed with the tablet which sat on her lap and showed a picture of a young police cadet Barry Allen. It was the only picture she could find of him. He had virtually no online presence besides his Linkdin profile (which had no picture). She took her fingers and covered the top half of his face and the bottom half of his face leaving only his eyes. She stared at him for a long time trying to compare it to the memory she had of Flash and Barry. But it was hard. Given the dining room at the 360 had been dimly lit. And Barry’s cadet photo did him no justice. She then then began to do a Google search for uploaded images of the Flash. Most of the shots were few and far between given the fact that his movement he was only a blur. The close up pictures were not in profile. Which Iris found strange given the fact that everyone had a camera on their cell phones. She then did a search for Batman, Superman and Aquaman. Same results. It was then that Iris decided that someone was scrubbing the pictures from the net either that or the search engines were removing the images from the results.

There was a knock at the door. Iris rose to her feet and opened it.

She found a tall broad shouldered young man, in his early 20’s with longish red hair. He had piercing green eyes. And he wore jeans and a leather jacket over a white T-shirt. It was her cousine Wally West. Wally’s and Iris’ father were brothers. Like Iris Wally too came from a broken home. He had grown up in Nebraska. But had moved to Central City two years ago to attend university. Iris knew that he idolized her. Mostly because she had over come her difficult background to become a successful journalist. Much of Wally’s decision to attend Central City University was to be close to Iris. They were eight years apart.

“Hey cuz,” he said bending down and giving her a kiss on the cheek.

“Wally what are you doing here?” Stepping back to allow him inside the apartment.

“You called me.”

“That was last week.”

“Well you know how it is, team practice, studying. Girls,” Wally said making his way towards the kitchen.

“You’re a busy man,” Iris replied drily.

“You said it. Anyway I was in the neighborhood and thought that I would drop by. I’m going to a party. What’s all this?” he said gesturing to the catering dish of a platter of wraps, a bottle of sparkling wine and a jug of water and two glasses that was spread out on her kitchen table.

“I’m expecting a guest,” she said.

“So you’re dating again?” he asked, “Is he coming by? I’d love to meet him.”

“Yes..I mean no. It’s not a date. It’s an interview for a piece I’m working on.”

“I’m curious to see which guy can be good enough for my high maintenance cousine to invite him over.”

“This is not a date Wally,” Iris said colouring, “Do you really think that I’m high maintenance?”

“I’m not calling you a bi- I meant stuck up. But you’re always so well dressed.”

“I work in the media Wally,” she said drily, “I’m expected to look my best. Otherwise no one takes me seriously and I don’t get interviews. Looking like a slob hampers my job and my ability to make a living.”

“Oh yeah,” he said reaching down to pick up a wrap. He stuffed it in his mouth before Iris could admonish him. He grinned. He swallowed before adding, “And you just seem to be so choosy. Not that I don’t blame you after Uncle -.”

Wally stopped before he could mention her fathers name.

“Uh sorry,” Wally stammered.

“No that’s fine you can say it. I might as well face the fact that he’s the major reason I’m as picky as I am. It’s one good thing I got from having grown up with him. Being more picky. I might as well weed out the jerks at the start.”

“Hey if you need for me to weed out the jerks for you, I’ll do it anytime.”

“Thank you,” she said kissing him on the cheek.

“Speaking of which…what happened to you and that cop?”

“Which cop?”

“The CSI. The nerd who’s built like a hockey player.…Alex Brett or…something.”

“You mean Barry Allen,” Iris said.

“Yeah him,” Wally said opening the fridge and taking out a diet soda, “I thought that you had the hots for him.”

“Why does everyone automatically assume that I am attracted to Barry Allen?”

Wally grinned.

“Probably because you used to spend so much time with him. And the way you seem to hang on his every word.”

Wally had run into them sitting at her favourite Jitters location on more than one occasion while he was in the city.

“Are you telling me that I’m that obvious?”

“Yeah you were,” Wally said, “Almost like a groupie.”

“Oh my God,” Iris said blushing.

“But I sort of got the impression that the feeling was mutual. What happened Iris, did he turn out to be married?”

“No,” she said glumly, “I…he lost interest. He’s with someone else now.”

“Oh really?” Wally said softly, “Then it’s his loss. You’ll find someone else. I mean look at all those pro-athletes you used to interview.”

“I have no interest in dating pro-athletes Wally.”

“No? Too bad, I could really use some cheap seasons tickets to see the Central City Sharks.”

“Get out!” she said horrified.

Wally laughed and grabbed another wrap from the platter.

“Tell me what do you know about the Flash?”

“The Flash?” Wally asked his eyes lighting up, “You mean the superhero? He’s so kick ass. Everyone likes Superman. But I think that The Flash is incredible. I saw him take down ten thugs at once. It was awesome!”

“That’s nice. But I understand that he’s not the first one.”

“What do you mean not the first one?” Wally asked frowning, “Have you seen more of them?”

“No,” Iris began, “I mean, I read that there was a comic book character based on him.”

“If there was I never heard of him…” Wally said slowly, “Actually that’s wrong. The comic book shop where I buy my books. The dealer has some old vintage comic book in a display case that were printed during the Vietnam War. There’s a character called the Flash. But he sort of disappeared after the war was over. Didn’t catch on with fans. Pretty ironic that we have a real life Flash now huh?”

“Yes it is,”

“Anyway I have to go,” he said.

At the door Wally gave her a playful bear hug.

“Love you cuz.”

“I love you too Wally.”

The Flash showed up at 8:30pm. Just like Barry she thought, late. He appeared on her balcony. Looming large against the lights being cast by the buildings behind him. He slid back the sliding doors and stepped inside the room. The expression on his face was serious. But when his eyes met Iris he smiled.

“Hello,” he said sliding back the door and stepping inside the living room.

“Hi,” she said rising to her feet.

“Sorry I’m late,” he said, “I had an emergency to attend to.”

“That’s okay,” Iris said, “The food just arrived half an hour ago.”

“The food?”

“Yes,” she replied gesturing to the kitchen, “You were so kind to me the other night. I just thought that turn around was fair play.”

“You didn’t have to do that,” he said.

“I know…,” she said smiling, “I just really enjoyed our talk and I thought that our follow up conversation would be better over a meal.”

“This is a nice apartment,” he said looking around.

“Thanks,” she said, “I scrimped and saved for years for the down payment. Central City is a bit more expensive than I thought that it would be. But I’m glad I bought it. It’s a nice place.”

“So you’re settling here then?”

“I don’t follow.”

“I thought that you might want to head to New York or LA, and become an anchor woman.”

“No that’s not what I want. Not yet anyway. I love the newsprint business. Maybe one day but not now. Central City is more exciting. But I’m not ruling out being an anchor entirely. Channel 7 has asked me to apply for a reporters position. I have an interview next week.”

“I’m sure that you’ll do well.”

“Thanks,” she asked “The kitchen is right this way.”

Iris led the way inside the kitchen. The Flash stopped when he saw the bottle of champagne on the table. He picked it up.

“This is something.”

“Well I am guessing that if I’m going to ask you for another interview then there should be some sort of incentive.”

He was only a few feet away from him. Iris had to force herself to move out of his way, otherwise she would reach up and kiss him.

“You mean apart from seeing you again?” he asked.

“You can see me anytime,” she said pouring the champagne into the glasses, “I’m not promising to you be an extension of the League’s PR firm, but it would be nice for the odd interview here and there. People are very curious about you and what you do.”

“Just my civic duty,” he replied. She passed him his glass and took it.

“So…” The Flash began taking the glass, “What are we drinking to?”

“How about a new beginning,” Iris said, “A new start. Between you and me. I meant me and the League. A less adversarial relationship.”

“Okay.”

“Do you want to sit in the living room?”

“No,” he said, “I like this kitchen. It’s a bit more cozy and lends to easier conversations.”

“So,” Iris said reaching for her phone. She fiddled with it for a moment then placed it face down on the counter between them, “I just wanted to ask you a some more questions regarding your own personal motivations.”

“Okay.”

“You said that you became the Flash in order to help others.”

“That’s right”

“How would you describe yourself?”

“How do you mean?”

“Your personality are you introverted or extroverted?”

“What would you say I am?” he asked leaning in.

“I only met you for a few hours remember?”

“But you must have gained some sort of impression.”

“I’d say that you’re an introvert. But you can make an effort for someone or if the something matters to you.”

“That’s a good call,” the Flash said sipping his drink.

“Are you from the mid-west or some other region of the country?”

“I’m from the Midwest,” he replied.

“Rural or one of the cities?”

“I’d say I come from an urban upbringing.”

“What was it like growing up?”

“I would say that I had the typical up bringing of your average American. I had my shares of ups and downs.”

“More half full or half empty.”

“Life is what you make it Iris.”

“Ah I see, so you’re an optimist?”

“It’s the only way to be,” he said.

“Optimist it is,” she said smiling.

“Are you pessimistic?” he asked.

“No more so than your average journalist,” she replied, “But are you asking me if I am soured on life? No.”

“And why is that?”

“I don’t expect life to be perfect or without it’s share of bumpy rides,” she said, “I also try not to allow myself to be influenced by other people’s actions and short comings.”

“That’s a good philosophy to have.”

“A very practical one,” she replied, “So I take it that your identity is secret and not widely known to the public.”

“No it isn’t.”

“And how many people know who you really are?”

“Only the necessary ones.”

“How about your parents?”

Iris noticed that it was then that he seemed to stiffen at this.

“Your parents. They do know that you’re the Flash right?”

“That’s personal.”

“I mean come on,” Iris said taking a bite of her wrap, “You must be able to give me some insight of what their reaction is to your super-heroics.”

“No I can’t,” he said quietly, “Because they don’t know.”

“Is there a reason why not?”

“For their protection,” he said, “Besides there really isn’t a valid reason for them to know.”

“I can tell from speaking with you that you’re a highly intelligent man,” Iris said changing the subject.

“Thank you,”

“How is your daily life impacted by your heroics?”

“How do you mean?”

“I mean that, presumably if you’re not independently wealthy. Then I assume that you hold down a job of some sort. I’m curious to know how you balance your life. It must be tough to be burning the candle at both ends so to speak.”

The Flash paused for a moment as if thinking.

“I manage. Lucky for me things are never that exciting or unstable in the world that I have to be in costume all the time.”

“And then which one comes first. Your regular job or your super-heroics.”

“I make time for both,” Flash said, “But helping others is of first importance to me.”

“Where do you see yourself in five years?”

“Is this a job interview?” he asked smilling.

“I am just asking if you plan on keeping this up indefinitely. Or if you plan on doing this for a limited period of time before hanging up your yellow boots and doing something else.”

“I’d like to be Flash as long as feasibly possible.”

“What about your potential partners?”

“What do you mean?”

“I was just wondering how your extra curricular activities as the Flash affect your..er..romantic life. The last time we spoke you mentioned that there wasn’t a significant other.”

“No,” he said quietly.

“You have dated though?”

“Yes of course.”

“And were you the Flash when this relationship happened?”

“Yes.”

“And was your wife..girlfriends. Aware that you were the Flash?”

“Yes.”

“When was the last time that you were in a relationship?”

“Awhile ago.”

“Do you mind if I ask what ended it?”

“It didn’t work out.”

“Is it your decision or your ex’s?”

The Flash paused again.

“It was mine,” he said quietly.

“The hero business must be rough on a relationship huh?” Iris said with a small laugh.

“No. It had nothing to do with that.”

“Do you mind me asking what ended it?” she asked.

The Flash looked at her for a moment.

“I got into it for the wrong reason,” he replied.

“And that is?”

“Security, stability. Because she wanted it more than I did. And I felt that I owed her,” he said, “Because I was on the rebound from another relationship.”

“I see.”

“And what about you?”

“What about me?”

“Why aren’t you seeing someone?”

“I’m pretty much married to my job,” she said.

“I find that hard to believe,” he replied, “A beautiful and famous woman like yourself should have many admirers.”

“You’re just saying that to butter me up,” she said wagging her finger playfully.

“I’m not trying flattering you,” he said stepping closer to her, “I’m being very sincere.”

“To answer your question. I don’t have a trail of admirers.”

“No?” he asked stepping closer to her.

“No,” she said with a small smile, “I actually not as popular as you would like to think.”

“And why is that?”

“I’m too outspoken for one. And too picky on the other.”

“I thought that would be a good thing.”

“On one hand yes but it does have its’ draw backs. I mean I’ve learned a lot over the years and now I know better that in some situations it’s better to shut your mouth. But still…”

Iris didn’t bother to add that part of the reason why she was so picky was due to her experience growing up under a father who was basically an ignorant brute, and who had made the family life a living hell. Ian West was a college jock who had gone to a Notre Dame on a football scholarship. He had coasted by on his good looks (Iris looked like him) and his talents as an athlete. He had been poised to enter the NFL until he had climbed into his vehicle drunk one night and gotten into an accident. He had damaged his leg so badly that it had effectively ruined his football career. West lost his college scholarship and had to drop out of school. He had also made the mistake of impregnating his under age girlfriend whom he had ended up marrying mostly at the behest of her father who threatened to have him arrested for statutory rape. Being a molly coddled athlete, with little interest in academics made it hard for West to cope with life’s difficulties. He soon began to drink as a coping mechanism.

West had tried to make a go of it as an insurance salesman, but could not hold down a job due to his alcoholism and short temper. The family had ended up traveling around the Midwest as West bounced from job to job.

Ian West had often come home drunk smelling of booze and the cheap perfume of strip clubs and wailing on the entire family. It wasn’t until Iris was about 12 years old that her mother left her husband and took the children to Keystone City to stay with her sister. The family had remained there for five years, living in a cheap apartment in a rough neighborhood. Her mother worked two jobs to support the family. But she had enrolled Iris in an all girls Catholic high school which had a reputation for being strict but turning out successful students.

Iris looked the miserable circumstances and decided that she would do whatever it took to have a better life. She knew that getting a good education was her ticket to a better life and she applied herself.

Unfortunately her brother Daniel with no male guidance had allowed his anger to consume him. He drifted off into a life of petty crime which began to escalate into drug dealing.

Iris’ main escape from the drudgery and difficulties of her life was through reading. She especially became captivated with international news, history and the way the world worked. As a result she decided that she was going to become a journalist.

Iris got a partial scholarship to Missouri State university, and managed to get herself a job working at the Missouri Tribune. At first she worked on the advertising desk, mostly doing sales. But she was allowed to pen the odd article, and eventually was allowed to shadow some of the reporters on stories. She also got a job as one of the writers at the University paper that came out once a week. After a year there she was promoted to associate editor.

It was tough work, but it gave her skills she needed and which she learned to use as a reporter. During her final year at Missouri State she applied to all of the top journalism schools in the country and was pleased when she got admission to Columbia. Between that and studying and writing papers, there were some nights when Iris was only able to get an hour of sleep. But thanks to an unshakable work ethic which she had gained from having attended Catholic school. She had learned that it was better to pay now than later.

The experience of growing up with her father and her mothers poor choices, especially when it came to men. Taught Iris what kind of man she wanted to be with. No un-educated jocks, no men without ambition, no men with big or fragile egos. Not many men met her strict criteria. But Barry Allen had. She also found that she liked him because he was stable and easy going and fun to be with, and despite his on the surface boring personality, she found that he had quite the sense of humour.

For awhile she had thought that she would have only been interested in men with a more glamorous background. The pro athletes, high powered businessmen, the anchors the politicians…. But it had been a boring an ordinary police scientist who had captured her heart and…libido.

She looked at him for a moment, deciding to test the waters.

“There was one man who I was seriously interested in once,” she said reaching for the bottle champagne, “But it never seemed to pan out.”

“Why’s that?” The Flash asked watching her pour the wine into the glass.

“I liked him. But I don’t think that he liked me. He’s really serious and I think that he mistook me for some shallow journalist who was just looking for a story.”

“Is he famous?”

“No. But he is well connected and does work for the government. Anyway. He’s with someone else now. Some coworker of his who’s probably exactly what he’s looking for.”

“I think he’s a fool to have let you go,” The Flash said.

“We were never really together.”

“Still maybe if you had said something about the way you felt. It might have been different.”

“It would have been tough,” she said thickly, “I’m your classic type A personality. I don’t do vulnerable very well.”

“I see,” he said, “No room for someone in your life?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

“I was under the impression that you were seeing an ex-NFL football player”

“I am? Who?

“Matt Bomber.”

“You mentioned that before. Do you mind telling me how you got that idea?”

The Flash paused.

“I saw you together.”

Iris allowed it to slide.

“I don’t know how you came by this information. But no I am not dating Matt Bomber. We’re friends that’s all.”

“I understand that before you got into crime reporting, you covered the sports beat.”

“Yes I did for a few years in Chicago,” she replied, “I had no idea that you were so up on my life.”

“Well I to prepare myself somehow. It’s just perfunctory information that can be found on line,” The Flash said.

“Well so much for discretion…”

“I just thought that given the fact that given the fact that you were around them. Those would be the type of men you would be attracted to and see.”

“Those aren’t the kind of men I’m interested in. Don’t get me wrong. The glamour is appealing. But it also gets old very quickly if there is nothing else there to back that up.”

“And what else would you be looking for?”

“Substance. I mean every woman says that she wants a man who is kind and sweet. But I’d just want someone who can keep up with me. And there aren’t that many type of guys around.”

“What about the guy who you were interested in?”

“I liked him. He was really smart and knowledgeable in many areas. He was surprisingly well read. But he didn’t like me. I think that he just mistook me for a shallow journalist who would do anything to push her career.”

“He was wrong. I don’t see that at all.”

“You haven’t read my piece on you yet.”

“True,” The Flash said, “But I, we the League did look into you and if we had seen any sign that you were un-ethical or would do anything for a story. Then we wouldn’t have granted you any access. I wouldn’t be here right now.”

“Thank you Flash,” Iris said seriously, “That’s very kind.”

“It’s the truth.”

“You know Flash it’s just too bad that you have this secret identity thing going. We might just be well suited to each other.”

“Do you think so?” he asked.

“Yes,” Iris said smiling, “I mean apart from the way you fill out that nice suit. You’re a nice guy. Smart. Earnest and you like to help people. You’re also honest. I like that.”

“I see those qualities in you as well Iris,” he said stepping closer to her, “And I like them.”

“Thank you,” she smiled.

“Would you give me a chance then?” he said, “To be the man you’re looking for?”

“Maybe but…”

“But…”

“I’m just wondering,” she said touching The Flash emblem on his chest, “Are you the fastest man alive in every respect?”

“Not every respect,” he said placing a hand over hers and pressing it to his chest, “I can be very, very slow in other areas.”

“Care to show me how slow?” she asked smiling.

“I look forward to it,” he said pulling her close, “Come here.”

He kissed her.

If Iris had any doubts that it was Barry Allen beneath that costume they all vanished with the kiss. She couldn’t forget that kiss. She had fantasized about it ever since it had first happened. Iris allowed The Flash to take the lead and determine the pace, as much as she wanted to get inside the bedroom. She did not want to appear desperate. They kissed inside the kitchen for a full ten minutes. Flash’s tongue slowly and deliberately massaging hers, while with his right hand he massaged her ass, for a full ten minutes, until Iris broke the kiss.

She pulled at the spandex on his arms.

“How does this come off?” she asked.

“Why?” he teased, “Do you want to see me naked?”

“I think you know the answer to that question,” she smiled.

The Flash stepped back and raised both of his hands. It was then that Iris noticed the bulge on his middle finger beneath the gloves. The Flash touched the bulge on his right hand with his left hand and the air shimmered around him for a brief second, his costume rose up from his body in strips and disappeared into the ring.

All that was left standing before her was a man, lean and muscular wearing white boxer briefs and the mask.

“Wow,” she said, “That was amazing.”

She reached up and touched his mask.

“But what the rest of your costume Barry?”

He froze

“How did you know?” he stammered.

“How did I know?” she asked, “Barry I pretty much figured out that it is was you after dinner at the 360. The Corbert case. You’re the only person I shared my theory with on his death being a murder. Then there was all your questioning about my dating Matt Bomber.”

“Oh,” was all he said reddening.

“Yeah oh,” she replied smiling, “And then of course there’s this.”

She reached over and took his right hand and raised it.

“When you dis-robbed. I saw the ring that you always wear. You’re the only person I’ve seen wear it. All of these factors went into proving to me that Barry Allen was the Flash.”

“I forgot about the ring,” Flash stammered, “I would never have thought that you would have noticed that I was wearing it.”

“Barry,” she said kissing him, “I’ve noticed a lot of things about you. From the way you laugh. To the sexy way that you move. To the way that your right eyebrow arches when you’re concentrating.”

“I had no idea…that you thought about me so much.”

“Now you know,” Iris said smiling, “Can I take off your mask?”

“Yes,” he nodded. Iris reached up and removed it from his face. She gasped in horror at seeing the large purple bruise on his forehead.

“Oh my God!” she said, “What the hell happened to you?”

“Oh that,” he said rubbing his forehead, “It’s nothing.”

“What do you mean it’s nothing?”

“It was worse before. I had an open cut. But my speed force healed it. That’s just a residual injury. It should be gone in the morning.”

“How did it happen?”

“Patty threw a glass at me. And it broke on my forehead.”

“Oh my God!”

“I should have dodged it,” he said, “But I was surprised and I guess I kinda felt that I deserved it.”

“Deserved it why?”

“For everything that happened.”

“Barry whatever happened between the two of you it doesn’t give her the right to assault you. No one has the right to treat you like that. No one,” Iris was so taken aback by her anger that she had to stop. Exhaled. Barry looked at her in surprise, he didn’t expect that sort of reaction out of her or to know that she cared so much.

“You can call the police,” she added.

“No I can’t, it will just make things more complicated. Besides I just wanted to get out of there as soon as possible.”

“What made you go over there in the first place?”

“I went to see her before I came here. That’s why I was late. I tried to see if she would let me out of the lease. I thought that with the elapsed time she might have cooled off.”

“Barry I could have told you not to go. A person like Patty Spivot holds on to grudges for a 100 years. But it doesn’t explain why she threw a glass at you.”

“She asked me if I slept with you.”

“You told her no right?” Iris asked, “Please don’t tell me that you elaborated on what happened between us at the apartment!”

“No.. of course not,” Barry replied, “But I when she pressed why I was breaking it off and I had moved out. I told her that it just wasn’t working out for us anymore. And I was no longer in love with her and wanted to move on. Patty then began to call me bad names and threw a glass at me that was on the counter. I just left.”

“Well I guess that means I’ll have to take you to bed and nurse you back to health,” she said taking his face in her hands.

“I hoped that you would say that,” Barry said and with that he bent down and scooped Iris up into his arms and carried her off towards her bedroom.

Part Seven

Barry Allen lay on his side gazing at a sleeping Iris West. She had drifted off to sleep awhile ago. But Barry’s found that he could not fall asleep, because his mind Would just not shut down. Normally when his mind wouldn’t shut down it was due to some worry or problem. But this was the first time in years that he found that his mind could not shut down because he was happy. Finally. He thought he finally had the woman he had always wanted. Not only did he have her, but he had found that she wanted him just as much. It meant a lot to Barry. Especially coming from someone like Iris whom he knew wasn’t easily impressed or given to superficialities. She actually valued him as being someone important.

When he had received the invitation to come to her apartment for the second half of his interview he was not sure what would have happened. He had thought that the first interview had gone well. And was happy when he had heard that she wanted to see him again. Soon he was alerted by the sound of a chirping at the base of his right ear. It was the JLA’s communicator that had been implanted at the base of each team members right ear which allowed for communication. Without a hesitation, Barry touched the base of his right ear.

“Flash here,” he said softly.

“Flash,” came Cyborgs voice on the other end, “You’re needed on the Watchtower immediately.”

“Will do Flash out,” Barry touched the base of his ear once again. He paused for a moment and exhaled deeply. Then he leaned over and kissed Iris on the forehead before slipping from beneath the sheets. There was no time to look for his underwear. He was certain that they had been buried in the bedclothes. He gently touched the ring on his middle finger to release his costume. He was dressed in less than two seconds. He sped from the bedroom towards the balcony. But stopped he raced back to the kitchen tore sheet of paper from the note pad on the counter and wrote Iris a quick note. He had wanted to celebrate their first night together by cooking her breakfast but that would have to wait.

He arrived at the Watchtower 15 minutes later. When he attempted to apologize, Aquaman cut him off and told him to sit down and catch up best he could. Aquaman and Batman were taking turns in leading the League. They rotated duties every six months. It was a reasonable compromise and cut down on the fighting as to who was in charge between the two alpha-males.

It turned out that Cyborg had managed to intercept a communication from Moldavia. A Lord Havok (Alexi Nikolai), the leader of a terrorist group called the Extremists had built an army of androids and they were poised to invade the EU parliament. As the European branch of Justice League Europe had recently disbanded due to infighting, it was up to the Justice League to step in and pick up the slack. Ostensibly the reason for the Extremists attack was due to wreak terror and chaos. But Aquaman’s intel had discovered that the Russian government was behind it. They were trying to stop the drilling in the North Caucus sea by a consortium that had backing of the EU. After a quick strategy session, Aquaman had provided the team with the game plan. After a brief consultation, it was decided to call in some reinforcements, including Shazam, Hawkman, Zatanna and Black Canary. The League was already talking about extending an invitation to more heroes to join. They were transported to the North Caucuses where they confronted the Extremists.

The battle had been tough and bloody, lasting for several hours. The Flash had always taken these kinds of attacks and battles in stride and with grim determination. But this time it was different. He felt as if he had been given a dose of extra energy which had been supplied to him by what had happened between him and Iris West in the last 12 hours. He was not only fighting the Extremists due to the fact that they were bad. But due to the fact that they might hurt the people he cared for.

People like his Iris.

It was midafternoon when The Justice League returned to their secret hide out in the Taurus mountains in Turkey. There was a brief debrief and a recap of the battle with the Extremists. The League had routed the Extremists, and the team had fled. But the League was sure that they would be sure to make another appearance. Aquaman dismissed the meeting and everyone rose to return to their individual lives. If Flash had not been so pre-occupied by thoughts of seeing Iris West he might have noticed the lingering look that Black Canary was giving him.

“Hey buddy,” Green Lantern began nudging him, “What’s that big smile on your face for?”

“What smile?” The Flash asked.

“You were grinning like an idiot the whole time we were battling those Extremists’. If I hadn’t known better I would have said that you got laid before you came here. Spivot really that good?”

“GL come on,” The Flash said to him harshly, “Don’t be a pig.”

“Sorry,” Green Lantern said shrugging, “I’ve been hanging around the guys at the base too long. But seriously. What are you so happy about?”

“I’m not with Patty anymore,” The Flash said, “We broke up some weeks ago. I’m with someone else now.”

“Oh really?” Green Lantern said raising an eyebrow, “So you met someone knew?”

“Not exactly,” The Flash said, “I’ve known her for awhile.”

“So when can I meet her?” Green Lantern began, “I would sure love to..”

“Well done gentlemen,” Batman said coming up to them.

“It would have been nicer if that had come from Aquaman,” Green Lantern groused, “That man is never satisfied. Anyway I gotta jet.”

“Thanks Bruce,” The Flash said to Batman after Green Lantern left.

“You’re welcome,” Batman said, “Personally I would have punched him…But. Did my agent contact you?”

“Yes,” The Flash said, “Last week. I got the keys and moved my stuff over last weekend.”

“And how about the second part of your interview with Iris West. Or is the smile on your face self explanatory?”

“It went well,” The Flash said politely.

“Good. Have a nice evening then,” Batman said.

When The Flash arrived back on earth. It was already evening in Central City. He quickly showered and changed into some civilian clothes before putting on his Flash costume again. Then he ran all the way to Chicago and picked up barbecue food from LEM’S BAR-B-Q.If he couldn’t cook Iris breakfast. Then dinner would have to do.

He knocked at her apartment door. She opened it a minute later. She was wearing black slacks and a long sleeved purple t-shirt. Her hair was tied up in a pony tail. She smiled at seeing him.

“Hi,” he said somewhat sheepishly.

“Hello,” she said, “Come in.”

Barry stepped through the door.

“So you got my note then?” he asked.

“Yes. Yes I did,” she said closing the door.

“The League had an emergency to attend to. I was hoping that we would be finished sooner but…”

“Barry it’s okay,” she said, “I understand that you have this other life. As well as being a cop. It will come first. I do appreciate you leaving me a message though.”

“I didn’t want to leave you with the wrong impression,” he said, touching her face with his free hand. Iris smiled and reached up and kissed him. That was Barry, always thinking of others. The truth of the matter was she had been slightly alarmed when she awoke to find him gone.

She didn’t think that Barry was a hit and run kind of guy. But still…it invoked memories of a one night stand she had at university. Where she had hit it off with one of the boys in her English literature class.

There was a boy she had fallen for during her freshman year at university. He was in her English class. She liked him because he was polite and intelligent. They had gone out a few times for coffee and dinner. And two weeks into the relationship, Iris had slept with him in her dorm room. When she awoke the following morning. It was to find that he was gone. When she approached him the next day in class, he had given her the cold shoulder. The incident had traumatized Iris so badly for months that she hardly left her dorm room except for classes and to go to work. She had never spoken about it with anyone else. But it shamed her so badly that since then she made sure that she would refrain from any kind of sexual contact with a guy she dated until she was sure about his character.

A wave of relief had flooded over her after she had found the note in the kitchen. She had ended up getting dressed and going to her Saturday morning Spinning class at the gym, and then spent the remainder of the day working in her kitchen.

“I er brought you a gift,” he said holding out the bag filled with take out.

“You did?” she asked, “What is it it?”

“Here,” he said handing her a paper bag, “I wanted to cook your breakfast but was called away.”

Iris took the paper bag and noticed the receipt for Lem’s Bar-B Q.

“Lem’s Bar-B Q?” she said, “You mean you went all the way to Chicago to get this?”

“Yes I did,” he replied, “I used to have them when I was living in Chicago and working on my masters.”

“Oh yes?” Iris asked, “I worked in Chicago. But I never heard of them.”

Iris headed for the kitchen and placed the food on the counter. But Barry stared at the kitchen table strewn with her lap top and notes.

“What’s this?” Barry asked gesturing to the computer.

“Oh I was just typing up our interview. I was just getting to the part about your sexual prowess.”

“Really?” Barry asked horrified.

“Of course not,” she said, “It would never get published. Besides I want to keep that part of it for myself.”

“Oh yeah?” Barry asked pulling her into his arms again.

“Yes,” she said, “I liked last night it was amazing.”

“It was,” he said, “I’ve wanted to…be with you like that for a very long time. You don’t know this but the morning that I saw you with your brothers file. I had planned on asking you out.”

“Really?” Iris asked with surprise.

“Yes really,” Barry said with a grimace, “There’s this resort I wanted to take you to. I thought that we could go away and get know each other better.”

“Like this?” she asked kissing him.

“Yes like this,” he replied, “But I just don’t mean in bed. I mean in other ways too.”

“You know part of the reason that I didn’t say anything to you was because of your reaction. It just seemed so disproportionate…As if I had hurt you or insulted you or something..”

“It wasn’t all you Iris. It was just me as well. Well mostly me.”

“How do you mean?”

“I’m not used to getting attention from women like you. Well the right kind of attention anyway.”

“What do you mean?”

“My experience with women hasn’t been good. I was in a few…relationships..where I was essentially used.”

“I see.”

“And I thought that’s what was happening with you all over again. When I saw you with your brothers file.”

Barry paused. Iris was tempted to interrupt but allowed him to continue.

“And when you didn’t respond to my accusation. I saw it as confirmation that I was right.”

Iris cursed.

“No,” she said softly kissing him, “It wasn’t that at all…Let me start from the beginning. Barry when I first met you. I knew that there was a lot going on with you. I mean beyond just you being an introverted and somewhat nerdy scientist. I could see that you had issues. But there was enough going on with you that I was intrigued to find out more.”

“Really?” The Flash asked surprised.

“Yes really,” she replied, “Yes I needed you as a source. But I didn’t just approach you so that you could use you for work…”

She smiled and kissed him.

“I saw a great deal of substance..something solid and good…. beneath the reserve. And like a good reporter..and a woman I wanted to know what that substance was.”

Barry looked at her in shock. He would never have had expected to hear this in a million years. That Iris had thought so highly of him.

“Iris I wish that you had said something,” he stammered.

“Now that everything that’s happened. I sort of wish that I had. But at the time. I thought that…due to our talks you would have seen that I actually liked you. But when you didn’t. I just thought that you weren’t interested in me. And I guess that I have my own issues to deal with as well.”

“How do you mean?”

“I have a few un-written rules in my life Barry…and I know how weird this is going to sound considering what happened between us weeks ago at your apartment. But I don’t chase men. If he’s not interested I’ll let it go. Which is why I didn’t say anything to you that morning.”

“Oh…”

“I hope that I didn’t give you the wrong idea about me because what had happened at the apartment. I was already on edge about something else and when I heard you admit that you actually liked me. I just couldn’t…. That kiss..”

“Was initiated by both of us,” he said firmly, “I don’t think any less of you it. I kissed you back remember?”

“Yes but..”

“To tell you the truth I should have put some clothes on the moment I let you inside. But the truth of the matter was…I liked you ogling me.”

Iris laughed and kissed him.

“I had no idea that you were such an exhibitionist. But for now on I only want you to show your skin to me.”

“Okay. Barry paused and said, “You were always there Iris. Always. The situation would have been the same with someone else. I was just..running away and acting on my own insecurities. You told me to decide and I have. If this was only a physical thing….I wouldn’t be here.”

“Really?” she asked softly.

“Yes really.”

“What are you doing next?”

“I’ve moved my stuff out. I’m staying at a friends condo. I’m in the process of apartment shopping.”

“Well you can stay here until you get settled if you like.”

“No I’m good for now and thanks but…” he said pointedly, “I want to be with you Iris. I’ve always wanted to be with you. But we’ll need to take this slow. I made a mistake in moving in with Patty too quickly.”

“Understood,” she said kissing him, “Does Patty know that you’re the Flash?”

“Yeah she does,” he said.

“I heard that she had a melt down at the office. Did it have anything to do with your break up?”

“It wasn’t mentioned,” Barry said taking a lock of her hair between his fingers, “But that’s pretty much the undercurrent. Singh is mad at her. I have a feeling that he’s thinking of having her transferred to Keystone. If she doesn’t quit first.”

“Are you afraid that she’ll blow your identity?”

“She might,” Barry replied, “But I don’t think she will. Besides, we..I have a contingency plan just in case she’s tempted to it.”

“May I ask what it is?” she asked.

“No..you’ll see.”

“You know I didn’t hear from you after I heard about the rumour that you had moved out of the apartment that you shared from her. I took it to mean that you weren’t interested in me beyond the physical.”

“No,” he said, “There were some things I needed to take care of first.”

“Including this interview?” she asked smiling, “Did you really plan on seducing me this way?”

“I hoped,” Barry said, “I just hoped that it might end differently.”

“You know Barry,” she said touching his jaw, “You didn’t have to do this.”

“Do what?”

“I meant…revealing to me that you’re the Flash. You could have just let that part out over time. Suppose I wanted to reveal your identity for profit. Or even revenge?”

“Like I said before Iris,” he said leaning in and kissing her, “We checked up on you. You’re not that kind of person. Or journalist.”

“No..but the whole woman scorned thing and all. That..”

“The other night at the apartment told me the exact opposite.”

“Well I’m glad to see that you don’t consider me to be just another self-serving journalist.”

“Many words come to mind when I think of you Iris. Confident, classy, positive, kind. Stubborn.”

Iris smiled at the last word.

“But the words jealous, petty and spiteful aren’t in the equation.”

“Well I guess that the five years that I spent at Catholic school taught me something,” she said with a small smile.

“I had no idea that you were religious.”

“I’m not. My mother is. I just don’t believe in mis-treating others,” she paused and Barry saw that there was something else there. But he did not press. There would be enough time to share each others backgrounds.

“Well Iris,” he said smiling and taking her in his arms again, “It appears as if it’s something we both believe in. It’s why we are perfect for each other.”

Part Eight

Two weeks later Iris West walked into Chatters. Chatters was a hip and happening bar and restaurant in Central City. It tended to cater many of the young urban professionals. Many who worked in the media, IT and City Hall. If you needed information regarding the goings on in the state and Central City. Chatters was the place to be. And a place to see and be seen. Iris was told that it was the best place to be, shortly after she had first moved to Central City as a journalist.

Her interview with the Flash had just been published and released that morning and already the requests for interviews were pouring in from various agencies. Iris had been given more than one job offer. And more offers for money for details to the Flash’s identity and the secrets of the Justice League than she could count.

Iris felt that she would be on a career making high. It was the lucky break that she had been looking for. If it had not been for something slightly more important to her. Still she was grateful for the attention. It helped to shield her from another form of gossip. That she was some kind of home-wrecker. Maria and some of her fellow contacts in the police department had informed her that Patty Spivot was working over-time bad mouthing her and accusing her of ‘stealing her boyfriend’. Spivot was also making accusations that she had slept with the Flash to get her interview. So far Spivot had been ignored. Due to her un-pleasant personality most people took her accusations as nothing but the jibes of a petty jealous woman. But there just needed to be a few people..a few jealous colleagues who would be willing to look into the story.

She and Barry had decided that they would keep their relationship discreet. They would avoid dropping by each others places of business unless necessary and there would be no overt displays of affection if they were seen together at work. But Iris had no plans on hiding the fact that she was seeing Barry Allen. The fact was that she had done nothing wrong. She was ‘there’ long before Barry had taken any sort of interest in Patty Spivot. In fact given what Iris had seen of Barry, she was certain that he would not have ended the relationship with Patty had there been any sort of benefit. But Patty’s toxic behaviour, her jealousy and insecurities, had turned poisoned the relationship and turned him away.

Still Iris was afraid that if the wrong type of people started taking interest in what Patty said they might start to dig deeper and discover Barry’s secret. Something needed to be done.

Iris was immediately greeted by two tables filled with software technologists. One of them a thin non descript fellow merely nodded to her. It was more than just a greeting. She used him unofficially when she needed his hacking services. She walked over to them and chatted briefly. She looked around the room to see if the person she wanted to meet was there. She spotted him a clean cut guy wearing a business suit. He was flirting with one of the waitresses. She walked over to him.

“Hello Massimo,” she said pleasantly. Massimo Ludvic face fell at seeing Iris. The waitress left.

“Iris,” he said, “You really are the talk of the town.”

“I’m just todays news I’ll be forgotten tomorrow.”

“If only that was the case. Have a seat.”

Iris took a seat and sat down.

Massimo Ludvic was one of Central Cities more eminent property developers. There was also a rumour that he was really a connected to the mob. His uncle was Tony Buenarotti the head of the Buenarotti crime family in Chicago.

“What did you want to see me about?”

“I have a friend,” she began.

“You mean someone who isn’t a super hero?”

“Yes,” she said, “I have a friend who’s looking for a place to live.”

“And?”

“He’s taken a real shine to one of the units in that new renovated loft warehouse that you constructed in the Stockyards. But the rent is a bit above his pay grade.”

“And?”

“No, I want you to rent it to him at market rate.”

“You have to be joking! There’s a waiting list to get into that building. I have people offering more than the asking price!”

“I know. But I’m not asking for you to give it to him forever. Just two years. That’s 24 months. Think of it as an investment. The twelve thousand you’re missing. Is a heck of a lot less money than you would have to pay out in additional alimony if your ex-wife found out about the extra money you made last year at our gambling operation.”

“Okay,” Massimo spat, “Twelve-.”

“Twenty four, “Iris said firmly.

“Twenty four months. But that’s it. And this is the last favour you get out of me.”

“Of course,” Iris said, “You have my word.”

“Speaking of which,” Massimo said leaning in close, “I might be able to set you up for life if you told me who the Flash really is.”

Iris gave him her sweetest smile, although she felt like slapping him.

“That I can’t tell you,” she said, “Because I don’t know. I’ll be in touch Massimo.”

And with that Iris rose from the table. She spotted Maria and some other co-workers from the Citizen standing at the bar. She began to make her way towards them when her phone went off. Iris looked at the display and saw that the number was unlisted. She answered it. In the background she could hear the loud sound of rock music and a crowd of people.

“Hello?”

“Iris?” came an all too familiar male voice on the other end, “It’s me Barry.”

“Hi,” she said.

“Where are you?” he asked.

“I’m at Chatters,” she said, “How about you?”

“I’m at O’Grady’s.”

O’Grady’s was a bar and pub which catered mostly to police officers.

“Oh?” she asked, “What are you doing there?”

She knew that Barry wasn’t big on socializing and crowds.

“Simmons is having a stag party. I was invited.”

“Is there a stripper?”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.”

“I don’t see a dancer. Is the tv on where you are?”

Iris looked up at the tv over the bar. It was turned to CNBC.

“Yes,” she said.

“What’s showing?”

“CNBC”

“Good,” he said, “Make sure that you’re watching in about 10 minutes. There’s something that you really need to see.”

“Can you give me a hint as to what it is?”

“No,” he said, “You’ll see.”

“Okay then…”

“Are there a lot of people there?”

“It’s the after work crowd. Most people are pretty buzzed because of the weekend.”

“Make sure that you’re near the tv in about ten minutes and people see you.”

“Okay. Are we on later?”

“Yeah,” he said, “We’ll meet at my place for dinner.”

Iris signed off and put her phone back in her purse. The bar tender put a glass of red wine down in front of her when she reached the bar.

“I didn’t order this,” she said.

“It’s from the table over there,” he said gesturing to the table at the far side of the room. Iris turned and saw John Blanchet one of the cities chief councilors and a contact. She raised the glass to him.

A group of people, mostly members from NOW! Magazine came over and chatted with her and her co-workers. They asked her brief questions about the Flash. Iris gave them as much information as she could divulge. After she had finished writing the interview she had allowed Barry to read it. Most of the interview consisted of her observations she had made at the 360 Degree restaurant. Minus his flirting. She also made sure to include her observation that she thought that Flash was sincere about assisting people.

It wasn’t a puff piece, she made sure to insert the interview with various questions about the concerns about the Leagues autonomy and the questions as to what should happen if they ever went Rogue. Word was that the US government was already in works in forming their own superhero team that would take down the Justice League. Barry had given her some few remarks. But he said that the whole League would have to go by it in order to have it approved. Most of what came back was fine. Although it was asked that the information regarding material support from the US Government be removed. Politicians were worried that the notion they were funding an independently run superhero group would not play well with tax payers. Iris had ended up changing the story to read that the Justice League had a cooperative relationship with the US government.

Iris chatted with the group, but kept her eye on the tv. She wondered what Barry wanted her to watch out for. She did not have to wait long. About 15 minutes later. There was a news story about a fire in Lockwood. Lockwood was a suburb of Central City that had a lot of fabric mills. It was known to be the fashion capital of the mid-west and house a lot of garment factories, which paid its’ worker sub-standard wages.

The CNBC Affiliate channel news reporter was talking about the fire being arson. The camera panned in to show a blaze consuming a large warehouse which looked as if it had been built during the civil war. Although the volume on the tv was on low, the close caption read that there were workers trapped inside, and fire-fighters were trying to contain the blaze. Almost as if on cue. There was a red streak coming from the building. And the Flash suddenly appeared with two women in his arms. He had no sooner placed them down safely than he ran back inside. He did this about six times until it appeared that the building was clear. He laid the last person on the ground who did not appear to be breathing. The reporter started to speak about something else that the crime scene unit was called in.

When the Flash had laid down the last body. The reporter ran up to him and shoved her microphone in his face and asked him questions. But that was not what caught Iris’ eye. In the background behind the reporter and the Flash she could clearly see the Central City CSI Team. Including officer Barry Allen.

Part Nine

Five months later, Barry Allen was lounging in bed watching Iris West get dressed. She was standing before his full length mirror fixing her hair. It was shortly after 7am. They had gone to a party the previous night and returned to Barry’s new loft afterwards which he had moved into the previous month. Iris West was getting dressed to return to her apartment across town.

The Loft was located in a renovated warehouse near the stockyards of Central City. Barry had been approached by the property manager, who told him that there had been a reversal of his application for rent. It was being given to him at a discount due to the fact that he worked for the city. Barry happily accepted it. He liked the loft. It was 1500 square feet. Large enough to comfortably hold his personal effects, nautilus machine and make shift lab, which he had closed off with glass.

“You know you can skip your spinning class and spend the rest of the morning in bed with me. We can go to Muncies’ for brunch. Then come home and watch a documentary or a movie or do something else if you like.”

What that something else was, was very clear. Iris laughed.

“Thanks Barry,” she said laughing, “But as much as I love you. I can’t miss this class. Not after stuffing my face with all that cheese cake last night. You really should have stopped me.”

Barry climbed out from beneath the covers and walked over to her. Naked. Iris marveled at his physique. But she marveled even more at how no matter what he ate he was still lean. The man could tuck away more burgers in one sitting than what was healthy. He said that it was due to a mystical power called The Speed Force. Iris told him that if he bottled it. He could make a fortune selling it as a weight loss drug.

He slipped his arms around her and placed his chin on her right shoulder.

“Do you mean that rhetorically?”

“Do I mean what rhetorically?”

“That you love me,” he said.

Iris looked at his eyes in the mirror and paused.

“No,” she said quietly shaking her head, “I mean it for real. I do love you.”

Barry sighed and kissed her neck.

“It’s the first time…you’ve said it. For the longest time I wasn’t sure…”

“I’ve always loved you,” she said turning to face him, “That’s what this is all about.”

“I understand why you haven’t said it before.”

“Yes we were going to take things slowly..and see how it panned out.”

“I think that this is turning into something wonderful,” he said taking her in his arms, “The sex is amazing. But it’s more than that. I like being with you. For the first time in my life I feel comfortable around someone all the time.”

“Well that’s good to know,” she said, “I like being with you too Barry.”

“I love you Iris. This is real. It’s not us making up for lost time. Or pretending.”

“You know maybe I can skip the Spinning class. There’s one later at 11 am.”

“Or maybe we can burn calories another way.”

And he scooped her up into his arms and carried a laughing Iris back to bed.

 

THE END…………….

 

 

 

 

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