This was intended to be the second of two short stories I wrote based on a scene in the first few pages of Flash #16 (nu52). I had originally intended on just branching out from that scene, and taking an alternative track. But as I began to give it more thought, the story started to expand. Some points have been borrowed from the previous story. But in all this is a completely separate story. 

As with the first story Flash: The Scarlet Letter, the story is primarily based on the events of Nu52. But I have also decided to take some creative licensing. There have been many influences for Barry Allen/Flash. But the main influence has been the writings of Cary Bates and the portrayal of the Flash/Barry Allen by Jim Krieg in Flashpoint and actors Matt Bomer, and James Norton. The physical influence for Barry Allen/Flash is actor James Norton.

Iris West is primarily based on a composite of various current and former CNN anchorwomen and reporters. Physically I have based Iris on actress Laura Haddock.

Central City is based on Kansas City Missouri, Keystone is based on Detroit Michigan. Flash/Barry Allen and Iris West etc. are all properties of DC Comics.

Part I

PROLOGUE/ April 15, 2011

Barry Allen stood outside the Gotham City Central Train Station. In his left hand he held his suitcase, over his right shoulder was his lap top brief case for his trip back to Central City. He wore a simple standard off the rack suit and tie. Which had taken to a tailor to have it adjusted so that it fit better and flattered his 6’0 185lb trim muscular physique. It was the usual suit which he wore to work, which would not incur too much negative attention from the front line officers and detectives at the CCPD department. Darryl Frye his foster father and the current police captain had warned him that the CCPD department was not a place to exhibit his sartorial style unless he wanted to incur jealousy or suspicion that he was on the take from the mob..or worse showing off. So he kept his display of vintage clothing to a minimum at least at work.

Barry briefly thought to the type of the first rate wardrobe that he might have been able to afford (and wear) if he had said yes and accepted the offers from some of the top bio tech firms in the country. Monsanti, Wayne Bio, Alegris, Lexpharm along with others, had courted him very hard. After he had turned down Monsanti, the recruiter had upped the offer by 30%. Barry would have been pulling in six figures just to start with.

Barry had always been meticulous dresser, he was a meticulous about a great deal of things. He could not help it, it was in his DNA…it was his Myers Brigness. He had the seriousness of the melancholy and combined with the calm laid back attitude of a phlegmatic.

Back home he had two designer suits which he only brought out on special occasions. The first one was a black suit from Canali the other one was a Navy woven fine virgin wool suit by Tom Ford which he had been lucky to find at The Salvation Army in Chicago. The clerk had told him that a stockbroker had just retired and was getting rid of his entire work wardrobe. Barry was just lucky that he had got the last two.

Barry had gotten his sense of style from his father. Which was why he was always scouting out vintage clothing stores for old designer suits. Barry had learned a great deal of things from his father including the importance of being neat and tidy.

Dr. Henry Allen had been a fastidious dresser always conscious of his appearance. In fact Henry Allen had been fastidious about a great deal of many things. Including his wife and son, if everything wasn’t all perfect then he would be sour and angry. The matter had come out during his trial, and it was why the jurors had not found his testimony at his trial to be compelling. They had merely found him to be an arrogant and controlling man who had struck out at his wife after she had served him with divorce papers.

If he had accepted the job offer from Monsati his financial troubles would be over, he wouldn’t have a massive student debt which needed to be paid off, and he wouldn’t be working for a tyrant like David Singh who appeared to be more fixated on office politics and looking good at city hall, as opposed to accuracy in fighting crimes. But he wouldn’t be happy either. This way he was making a real difference in putting the bad guys away. Justice was very important to Barry. It was what had been instilled in him growing up. Good Midwestern values. Community, helping others, sacrifice and selflessness. It was something that he felt deep down into his bones… along with.

“Barry!”

Barry turned and saw Iris West walking towards him. She was wearing low cut black jeans, a blue denim shirt and a black leather jacket.

Barry had originally met her two days earlier. Despite their brief time together Barry felt as if he had known for her for almost a life time.

Barry had been on the job as a newly minted graduate of the Central City police academy and a CSI in the crime lab for only one month. When there had been a black out in the Gotham City New Jersey. When a nationwide all persons bulletin had been sent out to police precincts nationwide for assistance. His police captain had sent him to Gotham to help out.

Barry had been assigned to ride around with two senior police detectives Harvey Dent and Spencer Thompson. Both of them barely held their contempt at having to chaperone a newly minted police officer with a gung-ho and do-gooder attitude. They took to calling him The Eagle Scout due to his propensity for rushing in and doing good.

But Iris was different, she shared his enthusiasm to help others and get to the heart of issues. Iris was working as an intern at the Gotham City Gazette, and in the process of working towards her journalism degree at the Columbia School of Journalism in New York City.

A series of events had caused Barry and Iris to work together, where they had not only found a huge cache of hallucinogenic street drugs, take down a crooked cop and save each others lives. Just as the crooked cop was about to shoot at Iris he had flung himself on him just in time. It had been the first time that Barry had ever thrown himself in arms way before to help someone.

And when Barry had accidentally inhaled the hallucinogenic drug –Icarus- and began to feel his insides begin to burn almost killing him. It had been Iris who had saved him by detaching the cooling hose from the container and doused him with a blast of artic cold air that cooled him down and saved his life. Their near death experience had made it feel as if they had an unshakable bond.

He had really liked working with her. She was smart, intuitive, cheerful , determined and..

Gorgeous as hell.

Barry could barely take his eyes off of her. Iris was in her late 20’s. She stood at 5’7 inches tall, with thick chestnut hair that spilled down to her shoulders. She had a heart shaped face which lit up when she smiled and blue –grey eyes. And despite the layers she wore to protect her from the spring chill. Barry could tell that just from the way in which she carried herself, that she was in excellent shape.

But Iris West was a hell of a lot more than just a pretty face who looked good in snug jeans. There was a confidence and an elegance to her that was not forced or put on that Barry found rare in women her age these days.

Barry already felt as if they were partners. During the course of their being together , Barry had found that she was originally from Keystone. Central Cities sister city that was across the river. Her mother still lived there. Barry could not help but wonder if he could see her again.

“Iris,” he said smiling, “What are you doing here?”

“I’m here to see you off,” she replied, “I over heard Dent chewing you out and I wanted to make sure that you were okay. I stopped by the police station to see you. I was told that you had already left for the train station. I am glad that I was able to catch you.”

“Yeah,” Barry said smiling, “Well after what happened this last week, I pretty sure that they’re glad to be rid of me.”

“I think that you did a great job,” Iris said, “If it wasn’t for your determination. That shipment of Icarus would have hit the street, many more people would have been harmed.”

“I can’t take all the credit,” he said , “You helped me remember?”

“Yeah I remember we make a heck of a team. Sort of like Steed and Peel.”

“Who…?”

“It’s an old tv British tv show called the Avengers. It was about a secret agent team called the Avengers

“I never heard of it,” Barry admitted. The fact was apart from the news and sports he wasn’t much of a tv watcher.

“I’m not surprised,” Iris said, “Most people haven’t. I just know about it because one of the nuns who taught at the all girls Catholic Highs school I attended was an Anglophile and a massive fan of spy thrillers. Sometimes as a reward for being good or whatever, she would take a whole class and play an episode of The Avengers. She thought that the female protagonists would be great role models for us girls. There were three of them during the shows run. My favourite one was Emma Peel.”

“Oh really.”

“Yes,” Iris admitted her cheeks blushing slightly in embarrassment as if she had not planned on revealing this much to Barry, “I consider her to be my role model who I patterned my life after. She’s sort of my guiding light if you will.”

“Maybe we can catch it together some time. When you’re home,” he suggested.

“I’d like that,” she said, she reached inside of the satchel she was carrying over her shoulder and took out a small card holder.

“Here,” she said handing him a card, “This is my cell number and e-mail address.”

Barry looked at the business card it was professionally done. With one side her credentials and contact information. On the other side it read ‘ .’

“Wow! You have your own website?” he asked surprised.

“Yes. I booked it a few years ago. Fortunately it was free. I guess there aren’t many women with the name Iris.”

“How did you get that name..If you don’t mind me asking?”

“Not at all,” she said laughing, “I was named after my grandmother. You wouldn’t believe the hell I caught in grade school because of it. But I guess that it’s paid off in the end. It’s not a very common name..not anymore so it’s unlikely to be mixed up with someone else.”

“I don’t think that anyone will be forgetting you.”

“Thanks,” she said politely although her cheeks reddened slightly.

“Is your website up and running or have you just booked the domain name?”

“No the site is up and running,” Iris said, “Admittedly it’s not very much. Just writing samples of articles I worked on and some on camera interviews. And some photos that I’ve taken.”

“You’re a photographer as well?” Barry asked, “Wow! I’m starting to feel inadequate!”

“Don’t be,” she said laughing, “It was more out of a matter of necessity than anything else. When I was an undergrad at Missouri State. I worked part time on the student newspaper. We had a tight budget so everyone had to pitch in where they could. I often went out taking pictures for articles as well as maintaining the website.”

“That’s very impressive,” Barry said.

“And exhausting.”

“You seem tireless.”

“As do you,” she said, “I heard one of the cops grousing that you’re just a lab rat. And have no business on the police force. For the record I think that he’s dead wrong. I’ve been here for three months and I just can’t believe the level of indifference that some on the force have for the regular people. Especially those who live out in the narrows. They won’t even respond to a call or if they do they won’t show up until way after the fact. It’s really very sad. I like it that you care and want to help others Barry. It’s very noble.”

“Thanks Iris,” he said beaming inwardly at the compliment, “I am a CSI, but I went through the police academy. I am a fully licensed police officer.”

They stared at each other for a moment, before the spell was broken by the voice over the loud speaker.

“What’s next for you?” Barry asked clearing his throat, “Will you be returning to the Midwest?”

“Not yet. I have one more week here in Gotham. Before I have to return to New York to hand in a paper. I’m graduating from school in early May.”

“And you’ll be returning to Central City and Keystone after that?” Barry asked. He found himself surprised at the hopeful inflection in his voice.

“No…I’m still interviewing right now. So that’s really up in the air. I’m trying to get a job back home or close to home. My mom’s not exactly in the best of health. And I actually like it in the twin cities region. I guess that I am a Midwestern girl at heart.”

“I know that you’ll make it Iris,” Barry said, “This past week has shown me that you’re relentless and determined.”

“Thank you Barry,” Iris said truly grateful, “I appreciate the vote of confidence.”

Barry cleared his throat. He wasn’t good at asking girls out. Not that he hadn’t dated in high school or university. But he was an extreme introvert who didn’t go out of his way to meet people. Most of the relationships he had been in, had been initiated by women. With his clean cut good looks and athletic build he was not for wont of female attention. But despite her willingness to rush in to help others. Barry didn’t think that Iris West was the type of woman to ask men out. It would be up to him…

“You know Iris,” he began, “I would really like to—.”

“Final call for the 5:10 train to Central City, passing through, Pittsburg, Columbus, Indianapolis and Chicago.”

“Is that your train?” she asked.

“Yeah it is,” he responded.

“Take care Barry,” she said with a smile.

She reached up to kiss him on the cheek. But being unable to resist. Barry moved his head and the kiss caught him on the lips, his hands snaking to her back making the kiss deeper. For a moment Barry had wondered if he had been too forward. But after they parted she just smiled.

Just then then there was the call that there was only one minute to final boarding for the train to Central City. Barry turned and bolted for the entrance to the train station, his arm pumping the two bags in his arm. Over the clang of the train bell he heard Iris voice saying.

“See you around Barry Allen,” she said, “You don’t want to be late.”

March 5th, 2012

9:30pm

Barry Allen was inside the Central City Crime Scene Investigation Lab. The rest of the office had cleared out almost 4 hours earlier. But Barry had stayed behind in order to work on a case. And the cause of death of man who had been found by his neighbor in his home a week previously.

Normally Barry wouldn’t have been given such advanced duties, normally it would have been assigned to one of the more senior team members in the department. But due to the budget cuts, the department was understaffed. And James Forrest whom Barry had shadowed when joined the CSI team had suggested that Barry take care of it. Surprisingly Singh had not objected.

Not that Barry minded being there so late, He was a man science and loved chemistry and forensics work, ever since he had been a young boy. Further he was grateful for the fact that this all provided him with more hands on experience. Barry loved his work. Many people considered him to be boring and square. But the fact was that he enjoyed working on cases, the meticulous research figuring out things went together. And the reward that came with figuring out a mystery.

And of course there was the biggest mystery of all. The murder of his mother.

Although the event had happened more than 15 years ago, Barry could still see the murder scene as the day it had first happened. He practically relived it in his memory over and over again every evening.

The day had been one of the happiest days of Barry’s life. He had won the Central City Spelling Bea for his age group. He had been presented with a huge trophy and a certificate which he ran home and showed his mother. She had stooped down and embraced him hard.

“Nora. I need to speak with you.”

Came a stern harsh voice from the far side of the room. Barry looked up and saw his father standing there. In his tie and shirt sleeves. Barry was surprised to find his father standing there. His father was rarely home at that time of day, Henry Allen had been a work a-holic who spent most of his time treating terminally ill patients at the hospital. Barry was to later learn that his mother had met Henry while working as a nurse at the hospital.

His father barely acknowledged him, his attention had been completely fixated on his wife Nora Allen. Henry’s face was a sheet of white rage, in his hand he held a 8×11 manila envelope. Barry did not recognize it on the top right hand corner was the city hall seal. Nora’s expression changed from one of jubilation to one of dead seriousness. She turned to face her husband.

“Barry can you just step outside for a moment?” Nora said her voice tense.

“Can I go to the store to buy a comic book?”

“Sure,” Nora said,She reached inside of her pocket and passed him ten dollar bill, “Be back in time for dinner.”

Barry agreed and ran off to the nearby convenience store and picked up the latest issue of The Flash. The Flash was Barry’s hero and his greatest inspiration. He loved and admired the Flash not only because he was the fastest man alive, but also because he like Barry loved science. In fact the Flash’s whose real name was Jay Garrick owned a chain of laboratories. Barry hoped that one day he could be like him. The Flash wore a neat silver helmet that was fashioned like the god –the mercury. A red long sleeved T shirt with a lighting bolt across the chest, as well as blue trousers. Barry thought that it was the coolest thing on earth. Barry ambition was to one day be a scientist like Jay or maybe a doctor like his father.

Barry had been so excited by the days events, winning the spelling bea…and getting his hands on the newest and latest issue of the Flash. That he did not notice the stream of police cars that were lined up along the block leading to his house. It wasn’t until he saw his father being led down the garden path by the police that Barry understand the gravity of the situation.

Tears flowed down Henry Allen’s cheeks. The arrogance gone from his eyes. When he saw Barry he yelled at his son that he was not a criminal. Barry watched as the police opened the cruiser door. Placed one hand on Henry’s Allen’s head and made him get into the car. Barry was still haunted by the site of Henry looking at him out of the back window, the expression on his face a combination of terror and pleading.

Everyone had been so busy that they had not noticed Barry make his way up to the house through the door…just in time to witness the crime scene unit covering the body with green tarp. Barry had been frozen still as a statue. Only vaguely aware when officer Darryl Frye had placed his hand on Barry’s 11 year old shoulder and told him that it would be okay.

Darryl had been the one who had volunteered to take him in. Apart from an aunt, his mothers’ sister who lived in California who made it clear that she did not want to be saddled with a kid. Barry had no other living relatives. So Darryl had volunteered to take him in. Darryl had been a close friend of Nora Allen. They had met back as college students and had maintained a close friendship ever since. Sometimes Barry would come home and find them together in the living room or the kitchen laughing over a cup of coffee. It was funny, but it seemed that the happiest that Barry had ever seen his mother was in the company of Darryl Fry.

Barry was grateful for Darryl for taking him in. Not only because it had prevented Barry from being dumped into the foster system. But also because of the kindness he had shown him growing up. Barry had even admitted to himself that Darryl had shown him more kindness than his father had growing up. While Darryl had never spoiled him or let him get away with misbehavior. Darryl also had shown him more compassion and guidance than Henry. Darryl had had a tremendous effect on shaping Barry’s character and some of the most important instances of Barry’s life.

After spending two months watching Barry become almost catatonic with grief. Darryl introduced him to his neighbor who ran the Central City Speed skating club. Barry had been reluctant to join at first. But after a while he found that he liked it. All throughout junior high school, high school and even into university he had done speed-skating (when he had been forced to give up his skates in graduate school..he had replaced that with CrossFit). He rose each morning at 4 am and head over to the rinks to put in two hours of practice before heading off to school. Barry loved it. The speed and the grace which it gave him. No longer was a slow poke, out there on the ice he felt as if he had all the power in the world. He felt confident and invincible.

Barry had won a few championships here and there in high school—mostly as part of the relay team, and had been invited to join the Speed Skating club at the SUNY Plattsburg where he had done his undergraduate studies. He was a decent skater. Not astounding and certainly not good enough to make the US Olympic team, but he had been grateful for the opportunity that the sport (and training that went with it) had given him. It had helped to mold his character and give him confidence. It had helped him to deal with his grief, and in a way to channel his energy. He felt that he was closer to his childhood idol..the Flash.

The second impact which Darryl had on Barry’s life was in his love of science. Months after moving in, and watching Barry’s scientific experiments go bust. Instead of getting mad and yelling at Barry that he messed up the kitchen. He had set up a make shift lab in the basement, complete with an air conditioner to exhume the fumes from his chemistry experiments.

Barry would spend hours and hours experimenting with different chemical compounds. Barry’s specialty was watching the effects in which electricity had on various polymers.

When Barry had turned 16 years old, Darryl got him a summer job working in the police precinct. He mostly helped out doing odd jobs around the station, and run errands. It was there that he had met James Forrest a man who worked as a Crime Scene Investigator. And it was then that Barry had found his true calling and what he wanted to be. A Crime Scene Investigator. It would allow him to help perform a service by helping others, work on science and free his father from jail.

Sometimes after most of the staff had gone home for the day. Forrest would sneak Barry into the crime scene lab where he would show Barry the various equipment they used and procedures which were used to examine evidence and prove or disprove the guilt or innocence of people.

Barry was fascinated. He could hardly believe that science could actually be put to such a good use in fighting crime and bringing criminals to justice.

Barry entered his scientific experiments in various contest and won first place during his last year of high school. One of the judges, the head of the Chemistry department for the State University of New York recommended that he apply for a full scholarship to the school. Barry did and was given a full scholarship, including room and board to the Plattsburg campus. He had done so well that he managed to get this degree in three years instead four.

Although Barry had received a scholarship to do his undergraduate degree at the University of New York in Plattsburg. His graduate studies at the University of Chicago was all on him. He had taken a job at Innova Laboratories Inc. a company which specialized in developing synthetic fibers for various industries. Barry worked there part time as an assistant. He was mostly used to help out and help run tests. But he was also allowed to experiment on his own free time. Over a period of months he had worked on a project which allowed for a chemical to expand and become fabric when it made contact with oxygen. When the client decided that they no longer had funds to support the project. Innova shelved the work. But Barry had stored away the notes for a later date in case it would be useful.

During his final year at graduate school he had applied for a position at many private sector firms but he had also applied to a place in the Central Cities CSI department. Deciding that he wanted to move back to Central City to become a CSI was a non starter—there really was no other place where Barry wanted to live. Despite the tragedy that the city held for him. He liked it because it had a big city with a small town feel. Many described it as being a cleaner and safer version of Chicago. Due to the low cost rents, many companies held their Midwest head offices there. There were also several clothing and apparel companies that still operated on the outskirts of the city as well as in Keystone. The city had also attracted its’ share of IT companies. Besides Missouri was the home of Miles Davis his favorite Jazz musician.

He applied for a position on the department and was called in for an interview a month later. After a grueling set of interviews, Including with the Director David Singh who used every hostile interview tactic in the book to make Barry sweat—but Barry had retained his cool.

A week after he handed in is dissertation, Barry was given a job offer. Two weeks after that he enrolled in the Central City police academy for the 22 week training that was required for him to become a full fledged police officer. While there he had undergone training and taken courses including Criminal Law, Firearms Training, Emergency Vehicle Operation Training, Traffic Law, Report Writing, Crime Investigation, and Defensive Tactics. After he had finished his training at the academy he had taken the State of Missouri Certified examination. He had been subjected to two weeks of examinations both written and physical before he was qualified to move ahead.

But right now he was taking a break, a mug of his favorite brand of mint tea in one hand, the sound of John Coltrane wafting from his computer speakers and the latest issues of The Flash in the other. He had picked it up on his lunch break and was now in the process of reading it. Although the character had gone through the hands of several publishers. The characters book had never been out of circulation since Barry had been a boy. He had collected the book through Jr. High, High school and into university. Marv the owner of Comic Book Therapy, where he had purchased his books for the last 15 years had made sure to keep it on the top of his pull list. Barry had continued to collect comics for years, he found them inspirational and great escapist fun. He also liked them because he found that the characters had qualities which he admired in men and women. Bravery, nobility, responsibility and strength.

It was a refreshing change from the self-serving dishonesty that he encountered in his day to day life working as a CSI and a police officer. The level of politics with the CCPD and at City just drove him crazy, the way that the DA, headed by a weasel by the name of Eric Tanner who made no qualms about hiding his desire to run for state office. Then of course there was the Forbes family. Rob Forbes the mayor and his councilor brother Darren who appeared to be constantly in the media.

The latest issue involved Jay fighting on two fronts. As the Flash he was being attacked by his arch nemesis Rag Doll. And as Jay Garrick he was being investigated by the Justice Department who were accusing him of providing dangerous chemical weapons to a Russian backed oligarch.

Suddenly his cell phone went off. He reached out and picked it up.

“Hello,” he began.

“Hey there stranger,” came an alluring voice on the other end.

“Iris,” he said his mood picking up, “Well this is a surprise! How are you?”

Ridding on the train from Gotham, Barry decided to check out Iris’ website. He had to admit that he was thoroughly impressed by what he found. It was professionally and tastefully done. Consisting of a professional biography, articles, photos and accolades. There was even a link to a couple of on camera interviews she had done while working at the school news paper as an under graduate. Barry could not help but admire how friendly yet professional she was. She asked intelligent questions and steering the conversation in such a careful way to elicit a satisfactory answer. He also did a brief search into the British tv show particularly the character of Emma Peel.

Barry had not really expected to hear from her again. But she sent him a few e-mails after she returned to New York. And after taking about a week to screw up his courage he called her. To his surprise she had seemed happy to hear from him. They had remained in communication even when Iris landed her first job. It was as a cub reporter for the Minneapolis Star-Tribune in Minneapolis Minnesota. Iris had admitted to him that it wasn’t exactly what she wanted especially since the position was a one year contract. But she considered herself to be luckier than most since many of her classmates had not been able to secure employment at all.

They chatted almost on a weekly basis. And the more they spoke the more Barry began to realize that his original attraction to her in Gotham City was not simply due to their circumstances or due to the fact that she was attractive. He genuinely liked Iris, he found that she was assertive without coming across as pushy, abrasive or even worse desperate. Feminine without coming across as cute or ‘girlie’. Intelligent without coming across as a know-it-all. She displayed a great poise, charm and confidence which he found magnetic.

While Barry was used to getting attention from the opposite sex. He was not used to them maintaining that attention. They eventually found him too boring and could not understand why he wanted to spend his free time either training for and competing in endurance competitions, attending forensics conferences, going to Jazz clubs or coaching kids at the Central City Speed Skating Club. Eventually they would end up calling it off. Not that Barry didn’t mind. To be frank he found most of them to be boring and shallow. And to be honest after a few dates he began to find being with them a chore. They usually had nothing to say apart from complaining about their lousy jobs, their ex-boyfriends or some drama from their childhood. But this wasn’t at all the case with Iris.

She was a great conversationalist and knowledgeable on all sorts of subjects. But most of all she seemed to be genuinely interested in what he had to say. Whether it be on forensics, science and mysteries. She asked him intelligent questions, and did not just nod as if she were eager to please. Unlike Patty Spivot who seemed to have a very little sense of self and was eager to please. Iris had her own opinions but never came across as being contrary just for the sake of being contrary. Barry had found being with her exhilarating and exciting.

During every long holiday weekend Iris would make the long 5 hour drive down from Minneapolis to Central City after work on Thursdays to visit her mother in Keystone. Of that time she would spend at least one single day with Barry. They would either go out to catch a film, a play, attend one of the showings at one of the cities art galleries or museums.

During their get together’ Barry had found that they had really managed to get to know each other. Barry liked Jazz, Iris liked dance music. Barry liked baseball. Iris liked hockey. Barry liked Baroque art, Iris like The impressionists. Iris saw herself (not surprisingly)as a liberal Democrat. Barry was a moderate Republican. Barry’s idea of a great vacation was attending scientific conventions on quantum physics. Or training for and attending endurance competitions such as Crossfit and the Spartan Games. Iris’s idea of a great vacation was learning about new cultures. She had spent the summer of her freshman year at university travelling around Japan and Korea and teaching English.

Iris enjoyed reading murder mysteries and history books, especially involving the American political system. Apart from the comic book ‘The Flash’, Barry liked reading scientific journals. Barry’s main idea of fun was having a night in just chilling in front of the tv with a German watching a sci-fi thriller or attending a baseball game. The Chicago Red Sox were his favourite team. Iris’ idea of fun was dancing at a club. She was by no means a party girl. But never felt more alive than when she was surrounded by the pulse of a loud base whether that be on a dance floor or a spinning class. Barry was a member of the cities Crossfit club. Iris belonged to World Gym. Known to be a haven for bodybuilders. Iris had been an avid fitness junkie since her days at an all girls Catholic High school in Keystone run by Ursuline nuns called St. Josephs Morrow Park. She also took martial arts on the side, something which she had been involved in since she was 16.

Barry did find that they both liked old movies from the 1930’s,40’s and 50’s. They had caught a few films during her infrequent trips back to the Midwest. Despite the difference in interests. Barry had found that their biggest bond seemed to be their interests in justice and the fact that they both seemed to dislike superficial things.

Despite Iris’ cheerful and up beat personality, he could sense that there was something else going on beneath the surface. One evening after they had caught a matinee at the local art-house cinema. They had stopped at a local Italian restaurant which served in-expensive but plenteous pasta. Barry and Iris had been in the process of chatting and discussing the film and waiting for their order to arrive. When they noticed a man who had been sitting a few tables over stand up and begin yelling at his children. Barry noticed that Iris’ visibly became agitated. She kept glancing over in their direction and made a move to rise. But stopped when one of the servers approached the table and the man calmed down.

Barry heard Iris mutter something under her breath that sounded like ‘pig’. But he wasn’t sure.

“I’m fine,” Iris said, “It’s been awhile since we’ve chatted. “How was your tournament?”

Barry was an avid endurance athlete. He entered at least two contests a year, one was the Spartan Race and the other one was Urban Crawl. He had gotten into the competitions on the recommendations of one of the members of the Cross Fit club he belonged to when he had been at graduate school in Chicago. He loved entering the races because it was a great way for him to test his metal both physical and mental. He also was involved in training a bunch of school kids for speed skating races and often traveled with them for competitions around the Midwest. Between that and work most of his time was accounted for.

“It was great,” Barry said, “I just competed in the Spartan Race Indianapolis last weekend. I came in 15th place overall and I’m still trying to recuperate.”

Iris laughed softly.

“I should come and watch you compete one day,” she said, “Anyway I am just calling to let you know that I got your e-mail, thanks for the information it really helped.”

“You’re welcome,” Barry said grinning, “I don’t mind helping where I can. I actually admire the fact that you put an extra effort into what you’re doing.”

“Well I like being thorough,” she said, “Besides I don’t look well with egg on my face. I should send you a finders fee.”

“Oh come on Iris,” he said turning a shade of red, “You don’t have to do that. It’s not all everyday that I can discuss forensics with someone outside of work. Most people’s eyes just glaze over with boredom.”

“Well they don’t know what they’re missing,” she added, “Besides you’re a great teacher. And I owe you a lot. If it hadn’t been for you. I wouldn’t have this job or I would have been kicked down to covering sports and entertainment.”

Iris told him that she had originally been hired by the Star-Tribune to cover community events. But when the senior crime reporter had quit suddenly for a job at Time. She had been promoted to the crime desk. There were many murder investigations that she had covered, and many she had even solved with Barry’s help.

“You’ll be happy to know that I’m not calling to pick your brain about work,” Iris said.

“No?” Barry asked.

“No. I just wanted to let you know that I’ll be home this weekend,” she said, “Well I’ll be in Keystone visiting my Mom. It will be my first real vacation home since Christmas. I really could do with the break.”

“Well, I would love to see you when you come home.”

“I’d like that too,” she said there was a brief pause, “I might have some news to share with you.”

“And you can’t tell me on the phone?” he teased.

“The news isn’t final yet….but it will be by time I’m in town. And it has a lot to do with you. So I want to share it with you in person.”

“Now you really have me curious!”

Iris laughed.

“Really I’d love to share it with you now. But I can’t. Not yet. How about we make it a celebration over dinner?”

“Sounds great.”

“Okay then. You pick the restaurant. I’ll let you know when I’m in town.”

“Where are you now?” he asked.

“I’m at home. Actually I’ve been home all day,” she said, “I’ve been working on a story all day. I just decided to take a break and find out how you were doing. Where are you?”

“I’m at work,” Barry said.

“You’re still at work? She asked surprised, “Why?”

“But we’ve been busy here and I work best at night,” Barry said, he did not want to add that he was working independently on his mothers’ case. He normally did so at home in his makeshift lab. But there were far more facilities to be used at work. And the neighbors had started to complain about the smell that was coming from his

“Well that’s pretty diligent,” she said. There was a brief pause before she added, “But you know the saying. All work and no play makes Jack or Barry a dull boy….we’re going to have to do something about making you loosen up a little.”

“Oh really?” he asked, “Like what?”

“Oh you’ll see,” she replied, there was a beep on the other end of the phone, “Look Barry I have to take that. It’s one of my sources. I’ll see you this weekend then?”

“Absolutely,” he said.

They both said their goodbye’s and signed off. Barry put his cell phone back down on the desk and stared at it for a long time, his mind still on Iris West. Barry’s mind could not help but linger on the last portion of what Iris said about making him ‘loosen up’. He was sure that he had not been mistaken about the inflection in her voice.

Barry would be lying if he denied that he had not thought about what it would be like to sleep with Iris West. He thought about it all the time, especially after one of their dates, or their lengthy talks. There were several times at the end of one of their dates when he wanted to suggest that she come back to his place (he couldn’t suggest going back to her place, as she stayed with her mother when she was in Keystone, and the first time Barry had picked her up, her mother wouldn’t stop gushing over him. Calling him a ‘hunk of a man’..He understood after that why Iris always chose to meet him in Central City as opposed to having him pick her up).

But he was not interested in a fling with her and he wanted to make sure that the interest was mutual. The kisses they shared at end of one of their dates told him that she was. But she always pulled back and merely told him that she really loved their time together and would call him before she drove back to Minneapolis. Barry guessed that she was not into long distance relationships and wanted to take things slowly. He saw other women casually in the meantime, but they just did not have that same effect on him that Iris West had.

He was only brought out of his reverie by the sound of hollow thud from behind him. Barry turned around, his eyes scanning the back of the lab behind him. He noticed that there were some papers flying to the ground and he looked over to the left side of the room and saw that the window in the back was open and there was a strong gust of wind blowing through it.

The building had been an old one and was fitted with windows that could be easily opened from the inside, Instead of permanently sealed all year round. Someone in the department had left the window open in the back, either to let some air in, or in order to dissipate the smell coming from new batch of chemicals which had been brought in earlier that day. The store room where they were normally stored was being painted. He rose to his feet and went to the back of the room and began to pick up some of the fallen plastic containers which had fallen to the ground by the gust of wind.

Barry glanced at the clock on the wall. It was 9:40pm. Twenty more minutes and would catch the 10pm bus that drove past police head quarters and up across town to where he lived, after that it would be a 10 minute hike to his apartment. Barry decided that he might as well finish working on the experiment he had started earlier before he had decided to take a break.

Barry was about to reach up for a bottle of ninhydrin, his mind still on Iris West.

She had sounded very excited on the phone. He wondered what the good news she had wanted to impart to him. From the excitement in her voice Barry surmised that what she had to tell him had to be important and most likely having to do with her career. He knew what a hard working and ambitious woman she was always pushing herself forward. She had mentioned to him briefly that she was aiming to for work on network tv.

It would be a call for a special celebration. But he couldn’t take her to the usual mid-level restaurants in Central City. Maybe one of the five star rated ones like Scaramouch or the new Japanese place that had opened up on Hawthorn. Or even better he might take her home to Darryl’s place and fire up the barbecue on the patio deck. He happened to know that Darryl would be away for the entire week on a fishing trip up in the wilds of Michigan. Barry would have the entire house to himself. It reminded him of the time that he had Lucy Farris his first real girlfriend and fellow speed skater over on a Saturday night. Barry had cooked for her, nothing fancy just burgers and hot dogs. Then they had retired to the couch to watch a DVD, then the evening had turned to something…else. It had been Barry’s first time, and it had been completely initiated by Lucy. It was strange but in retrospect he realized that most of the relationships he had been in were initiated by the woman.

But not this time…he would make sure that he let Iris know how much he….

Suddenly there was a roll of thunder and a flash of lighting which came through the open window an struck Barry. Throwing Barry against the chemicals. Barry’s body crashed against the shelf holding the chemicals and the chemicals

It had only been a matter of seconds, but for Barry it felt like an eternity. He literally saw his life flashing before his eyes. The pain was almost unbearable, as if he was simultaneously being stabbed all over his body by a thousand tiny daggers, but at the same time he felt a rush of indescribable power in his system. His body was wracked by seizures and he could feel his body being doused not by the rain outside, but by a mixture of chemicals. His muscles felt weakened, and the last thing he remembered was crashing to the floor like a rag doll.

When Barry rose to his feet an hour later, it was to discover that he was completely soaked to the skin in chemicals and his head was throbbing from where he had been hit when he had been thrown against the metal shelves. He slowly climbed to his feet and looked around. Well this was a hell of mess, he thought..thank God the chemicals had not gotten into his eyes. He rose to his feet, and cleaned up the mess the best he could. Singh would never believe the fact that he got struck by lighting, that was the reason for the mess in the office. Anyway Barry decided that he would deal with it tomorrow. He looked at the clock on the wall, it was just before midnight. With any luck he would catch the bus that passed by the station home. He went back to his desk gathered his belongings and left.

He had just reached the floor below when he saw the bus pulling out from the bus stop.

“Hey wait!” he cried running after the bus. But a funny thing happened. He out ran out to catch the bus and when he stopped…..he found himself standing several blocks up from it. Barry stopped for a moment, he thought that maybe he was being delusional, that he had merely inhaled the fumes from the spilled chemicals and was delusional. What he needed was a long hot shower and a good night sleep.

The following morning, Barry woke up out of bed at 6:30am showered dressed, ate a quick breakfast and went downstairs to catch the 7:30 bus to work. He was standing at the bus stop, about to check his messages on his iphone. When he noticed a mother and her young son crossing the road. The boy was lagging behind his mother as if did not want to follow.

There was the sound of car wheels screeching in the distance. Barry looked up and saw cherry red Mustang speeding around the corner directly into the path of the lagging little boy.

“Hey! Watch out!” he shouted and he was soon running in the direction of the boy.

He dashed across the street snatched the up the boy and was the side walk of the other side of the street. And grabbing the boy scooped him up and arrived on the other side of the street just moments before the car could hit them. The youngster stared up into Barry’s face with a mixture of awe and excitement. The mother ran up to them.

“Miles are you alright!” she shrieked grabbing the boy and pressing him to her body.

“Yeah Mom. I’m fine,” the child replied still staring a Barry.

“Don’t you ever do that again,” she began shaking him, but stopped and looked at Barry, “I don’t know how to thank you.”

“It’s no problem at all,” Barry replied.

“How…how did you do that?” she asked.

“Just lucky I guess,” Barry said with a shrug.

Over the next few weeks, Barry spent every moment when he was not at work, experimenting with his new found powers. He dug out his old physics text books from college and read them, along with every paper he could find online as well as at the local university regarding the newest findings in physics journals. Researching the use of speed and how it could be incorporated. It took him a lot of trial and error

He also discovered that his movement, which he dubbed the ‘speedforce’ only kicked in when he supremely focused in zen like state. A trance. So if he were to just trot across the room at work his super speed would not kick in.

He was not sure how he would describe it, but being under the speedforce meant more than him just moving at a supreme speed. It was as if he was enveloped in a protective shield that moved him along so that his body and physique did not suffer the physical effects which would hurt his body. This included any cuts or bruises which he sustained. While making dinner one night the knife he had been holding to cut some carrots slipped and sliced through the index of his left finger leaving a gash that was about half a centimeter deep. Barry gasped in pain and ran his cut finger under the tap to stop the bleeding. When he examined his finger again he noticed that the bleeding had stopped.

It was a miracle, in all the years he had been alive he never would have thought that it would happen to him. He was now a meta human with extraordinary powers. Not only could he move at the speed of light, creating vortexes charged with electricity and enabling him to even run across open water without sinking. He could also control every molecule of his body, and vibrate through solid matter.

He wondered how he could start to use his powers. He could lend it out to the government. But then again despite his respect for the military, he did not want to spend his life taking orders from them and being under their thumb. He thought long and hard about what he should do about it. He could become a hero and rescue people full time. Maybe join the police force and help that way. That would be nice, think of all the attention and notoriety he could assume. But Barry decided that’s not what he wanted. He wanted to protect his privacy.

It was during his monthly trip down to the Comic Book Therapy to pick up his monthly stash that he decided what he would do. He would become a ‘super-hero’ and don a costume.

But which one? Then it hit him, he would become like his childhood hero, Jay Garrick, The Flash. But unlike the Jay Garrick who wore no mask at all. Barry would wear one, that way he could work anonymously, and still keep his regular private life. Jay Garrick did not have a secret identity. He wore no mask and everyone knew that the same Jay Garrick who ran Garrick Laboratories was the Flash. But Barry did not want that. He was a private man who valued his privacy. He wanted to use his powers to help others..no. It was his duty to be a service to others. And then he wanted to slip back into his life as a CSI.

Barry set out designing his costume based on the full bodied suit that speed skaters wore. A full bodied costume which covered him from head to toe like sheath or full bodied condom. But in the place of goggles, he made a cowel with only the eyes visible.

He choose the colour red, as in red hot it was also the same colour of the uniforms worn by the US men’s Olympic speed skating team. Around the fore-arms and the waist his covered it with a jagged yellow lines for contrast.

The cowl he designed so that it would fit over his entire head, only revealing the lower half of his face. Over his eyes were two red lenses. Barry was certain that his features were bland enough that no one would recognize him. Further he had mastered the ability to move almost at imperceptible super speed, so that it was impossible for anyone to make out his features. On both sides of his head, over his ears he put two antenna’s which he modeled as being wings, similar to what Jay Garrick wore on his helmet along with god Mercury.

The next question for him to what make it out of. He experimented with various latex, not to mention Polyester and Elastane. But they were too flimsy and disintegrated under stress.

It was one evening while pouring through his old note books from graduate school which he kept in a box in his closet, that he came across a notebook which he had kept from the time he had worked at Innova. He looked through it and instantly recalled the material they had been working on that had got scrapped and that Barry had worked on in his own spare time. He had not been able to finish it. But maybe he could do so now. Over the next several weeks he worked on the fabric. Doing various calculations, varying the ingredients which went in to making the material. Until he came up with something that was just right.

He made the costume thermally stable, suitable for high speed travel. The suit was made of highly compressible synthetic silk with ultrasonic welded components. The key to the suit´s effectiveness was the bonded outer layer of ultra-smooth Teflon which aided in thermal dissipation and eased the high speed passage through atmosphere or other media.

The biggest issue was how he would wear the suit. He could carry it in a bag, but that would be too cumbersome and given his absent mindedness he would be sure to forget it. He could wear it underneath his clothes but it would be too stifling and warm, and it would be easy for it to be seen. Finally he came up with an ingenious idea one Saturday evening while lying on the couch and watching a dvd for the latest Star Trek movie. He was immediately struck when he saw one of the characters wearing a ‘Star Fleet Academy’ ring. It was a silver ring, flat across the top with the emblem of the United federation of planets on it. It was then that he decided that was what he would do. He would conceal the costume in a special compartment inside ring that he had made. Whenever someone asked him about his ring, he said that it was a class ring which he had customed designed in honour of the speed skating club he belonged to at SUNY Plattsburg, the SUNY Lightning. Plattsburg was small enough a university and no one really cared about speed skating that it would invite any further prodding.

The ring was simple, almost like a toy one would get out of a candy machine. The crest was round and an inch in diameter. It was made out of special alloy and coated with gold, Across the top was a lightening strike. The suit fit into the ring through a series of carefully calculated folding’s. It was compressed so rapidly that great heat occurred as it is placed inside the ring. As the suit cooled, a partial vacuum was formed which held the ring halves closed. The suit formed its own seal against the only opening, which was released with tiny studs at the sides of the top. When the ring opened, the synthetic silk molecules uncoiled and absorbed atmospheric gases, expanding to full size very rapidly. He wore the ring on the middle finger of his right hand, like a fraternity ring.

Barry had originally decided to work in silence and be discreet. But after foiling two robberies, saving people from fires and rescuing people from a collapsed building. People were beginning to talk, chat rooms buzzed and the media had taken notice. He was caught on camera more than a few times, and people tried to talk to him for interviews. But Barry would just smile and take off. This wasn’t about him. It was about others. But it did not stop them from trying to pin him down and giving him a name. Barry was called everything from The Lightning, the Bolt, The Flame, The Streak, The Blur and Red Hot. But it wasn’t until a reporter interviewed Mel the proprietor of the Comic Book Therapy and he showed him an old issue of The Flash. That the name stuck.

Barry decided that if he was going to be called the Flash. He might as well incorporate the identity of his true predecessor. So in honour of Jay Garrick his hero (and his mother) he placed a white circle measuring about 8 inches in circumference in the middle of his chest. And a yellow jagged bolt of light across. Barry could not help but both feel embarrassed and yet also honoured. He was not only seen as the cities favourite son, but the savior of the Midwest region.

The day that Barry had completed and put on the costume had to be one of the proudest days of his life. He looked like the god mercury come to life. The vibrant red of the costume made him almost shine and glow. And he could not help but marvel how the fabric clung to every contour and muscle of his body like a second skin. Showing off every hour he had spent flipping tires, doing deadlifts and doing box jumps at Crossfit. He would have to cut back on the German lagers and the deserts for now on.

Eventually the media began to report of other similarly powered super humans. They were being called ‘meta-humans’. Much of them like him, they began to help the police in fighting crime, saving lives and doing good. Eventually they had all met and banded together in order to fight even greater threats that neither of them could combat alone. There was Hal Jordan. The Green Lantern who had his powers bestow on him by an extra-terrestrial organization called The Green Lantern corps. But also Superman Clark Kent who was a meta or an alien who had come to earth as a child. Secretly raised on a farm by a kindly human couple. Jonathan and Martha Kent who had instilled in him old fashion American values such as doing what’s best for the community and helping others. And of course there was Batman whom he had first heard of when he was working in Gotham City. It was debated whether or not The Batman was a myth or a vigilante. Barry remembered that Dent hated him and considered him to be trouble. But The Flash had discovered that Batman was very much real. In fact his first words to The Flash was to compliment him on doing ‘Tight efficient work’. It had been one the proudest moments of The Flash’s life. There was also Wonder Woman, one of the hottest and most beautiful women that The Flash had ever seen. It took a long time for him to be around her without losing focus.

Barry Allen who as a child had not only been cut from team sports as a child. Was now seen as the hero of the Midwest and the part of an elite superhero unit. He felt as if he were living in a dream.

October 14, 2012

Singh walked up to Barry and dumped a file on his desk.

“Hey golden boy,” he said gruffly, “I have a new case for you.”

Barry picked up the file.

“What is it?” he asked.

“It should be pretty cut and dry for you. It involves a bar brawl.”

Barry opened the file and looked at it. The name was Daniel West. He opened it and saw a tough looking man in his early 20’s with a scowl on his face. But there was something familiar about him which he couldn’t put his finger on.

“Wrap it up quickly Allen,” Singh began, “Don’t take forever on this one.”

“Okay,” Barry said.

September 10th , 2012

It was 5 minutes past 5pm when Iris West unlocked the door to her Central City one bedroom apartment. If she hurried up, she might be able to make the 6pm spinning class at the YMCA. It had been almost two weeks since she had been able to attend a spinning class..or go to the gym for that matter.

And she really needed this work out to decrease the amount of stress she had been under. And Iris was definitely under a lot of stress.

She had just moved into the apartment three weeks previously after spending a week staying at her mothers’ house in Keystone after moving from Minnesota. She could have stayed with her mother. But Iris wanted her privacy. Her mother was a good person but unbelievably nosy (not in a good way) and Iris did not want to have to have to explain her every move or to be spied on.

Michael Clark, of the Publisher of the Central City Citizen as well as several newspapers across the Midwest, had contacted her about six months ago after reading an article which she had written on the life of Jamie Nordstrom an all star rookie who played football for the University of Minnesota. The story covered how young Jamie who had grown up in a primarily working poor neighborhood. His father had died in work related accident when he had been 12, And his mother suffered from Parkinsons, was left collecting disability. Jamie was mostly left to take care of his two younger siblings. But that had not stopped Jamie from excelling at school and going on to win a football scholarship to Georgetown University and then getting a draft pick from the LA Kings.

It was a story that was both inspiring and yet lacked any sort of pity. The story had first run in the Minnesota Star-Tribune, then ran in syndication in other papers across the country, including the New York Times. After Clark read the piece and saw Iris name he remembered that she had applied to him for a position on his staff. He invited her to re-apply for a position on his staff. She sat for an interview, first with Don Lessing the editor of the crime desk, then with Edith Roth the editor in chief then with Clark himself. She had been invited back two weeks later for dinner with Clark, his wife and Roth. Then a month later (the weekend before she saw Barry) she had been given a formal job offer as one of the reporters on the crime/city hall desk. Clark told her that he had been impressed with the amount level of hard work that she put in and her penchant for accuracy and going the extra mile. Especially in these days of race to the bottom journalism, where fact checking wasn’t always a priority.

Iris had been ecstatic at the offer, not only because it would put her back in Central City, but also because the offer had just come at the nick of time. One month earlier her editor at the Star-Tribune had called her into his office. He told her that although he was pleased with her work, the fact was that the paper was still bleeding readership and could not afford to keep her on. Her contract would not be renewed and she would be out of a job in a month. It was a blood bath out in the media, especially with sales of newsprint and magazines falling.

If it had not been for the offer, Iris would have had no choice but to move back home with her mother, and try to get job as substitute teacher, teacher of English to new immigrants (she had taught English as a second language during the summer of her sophomore year in Korea and Japan) or worse get a job as a receptionist or administrator. Her mother had told her that she could get her a position working at the post office tracking and tracing lost parcels. That was not what Iris wanted to do. The offer had not only come in the nick of time, but it would allow her to remain in the Central City region.

She loved the news business and was grateful for the job working at the Citizen. She liked living in the Gem Cities area, it was cheaper than living in major metropolitan cities like New York, Chicago and LA, and further given to the low tax rates and state incentives it was becoming a major hub for Tech firms. Further being in Central City would allow her to be closer to her ailing mother, whose pack a day smoking habit was finally catching up with her.

It would also allow her to finally take action on something she had wanted to do for over a year. Start a serious relationship with Barry Allen.

She could never forget their first encounter in Gotham City. He was different from the usual muscle headed cops she had run into during her time in Gotham. Granted he was a CSI and not a frontline officer. But still he was just different from most men she had met period. It wasn’t his looks. Iris had been around plenty of good looking men. Besides that in and of itself was not enough to strike or keep her interest.

There was an innate animal magnetism and which could be seen in how he carried himself and moved, almost like a predatory jungle cat which stayed in her mind. Barry stood at a strapping 6 feet wore his hair in blond shag, just shy of police force regulations. A broad handsome face which was just irregular enough to make him not be too good looking, and the most piercing crystal blue eyes she had ever seen. When he looked at her, she felt as if he were gazing into her soul. He was serious, strong, yet incredibly sexy and passionate. And the fact that he was willing to run into danger and helped saved her life that stuck with her. Iris was very a very loyal person and she valued loyalty in others.

One hour in Barry’s company, Iris knew that she was smitten. But she played it cool. She had to she knew first-hand the danger and recklessness of jumping into a relationship and being swayed by superficialities. She had first-hand experience in that. First from having watched her mother’s disastrous marriage with her father. A handsome ex-college football superstar whose dreams of joining the NFL had been killed once he had been injured. With the inability to cope with life’s difficulties Ian West had taken to drinking. He often came home drunk and would take out his anger on Iris, her mother and her younger brother Daniel. It wasn’t until Iris was 12 years old that her mother managed to screw up the courage to leave her abusive husband. She had bought tickets on a Greyhound bus and had gone to Keystone Missouri. A city large enough for them to disappear in and which, at the time, was known to have plenty of factory jobs. To this day Iris could never forget the week they had spent living in a women’s shelter. I had had a great impact on her life and had a great deal in forming the kind of journalist she was.

And of course there had been the relationship she had been in a year ago during her first year at Columbia. She had met her then boyfriend Logan Saunders through her roommate at a party. He was a commodities trader at JP Morgan a graduate of Brown and Harvard Business School. And looked as if he stepped out of the pages of a mens wear catalogue. They had hit it off, and when he called Iris the next day to go out for dinner she accepted. Iris had to admit that she had been flattered by the attention from Logan. As attractive as she was, and as used to male attention. She could not forget that she was a Midwestern girl at heart from a primarily working class background. She never put herself down or sold herself short, but she did not expect someone with Logan’s background, his father was the partner at a prestigious Connecticut law firm and a long time Democratic party operative. But she would be lying if she said that she was not impressed by the outer trappings that Logan presented. He dressed well drove an Aston Martin DB.

Logan had a beautiful apartment near The Flat Iron district. It was spacious and well lit. Iris found herself spending almost more time there than she had at the small cramped rental she shared with her roommate in Washington Heights. Logan had suggested that they move in together, and Iris had been more than tempted. Logan’s place was big and he would cover the rent. But she did not want to give up her independence, besides Iris had to admit that she was a bit old fashioned in that department.

They had dated for more than five months and Iris thought that they had been doing great until one evening after work. Iris had gone over to Logan’s so that they could have dinner together.

They had just finished dinner. Logan had been in a lousy mood. He said that one of his clients shafted him on a trade and he was now in the dog house with his boss. Iris tried to cheer him up but Logan was not to be mollified…instead just grunting a response and downing a bottle of wine. Iris was a bit alarmed by his drinking. She knew that the traders sometimes celebrated a successful day of trading by drinking champagne in one of the private clubs. She also wasn’t blind to the fact that many of them celebrated in other ways. She had walked more than one time to see the girlfriend of one of the traders benched over a line of cocaine. They had not even flinched at seeing the site of Iris watching them. They went on to tell her that most of the traders did coke. It helped them to keep up and work hard.

Iris sometimes tagged along, but more often than not she refrained from drinking. Not that she was a prude, she enjoyed the odd glass of wine and beer. But alcohol did nothing positive for her, and it wreaked havoc on her diet so she often refrained from touching it.

Seeing that Logan’s mood wasn’t getting in a better mood she excused herself to go and start on the dishes. Logan wasn’t to be put off he followed her into the kitchen ranting and raving about his boss and how he was an asshole whose ass he was going to kick one day.

When Iris dropped a pan he lashed out at her and grabbing her by her bicep he yelled at her. The expression on his face was a familiar one filled with animal like rage..one she had seen countless times on her father’s face, when he had beat her mercilessly with his belt during one of his drunken stupors. Iris had always been left feeling humiliated and small by that experience. And she determined that she would never let anyone treat her like that again.

The karate skills which she had been taking in one form or the other since she was 15 and had learned that her muse Emma Peel was adept in the martial arts kicked in.

With her free hand she took the bottom flat of her hand and hit him so hard beneath his nose that his head flew back and there was a sickening crunch as his nose broke. Logan let out a cry of pain. Iris did not bother to wait to see what happened next she ran into the living room, grabbed her purse and coat and charged out of his apartment.

Logan tried calling her several times. But Iris never picked up. Finally when he came by to see her one day before her classes. Iris told him that if he ever came near her again she would let the cops know that he abused cocaine. He left her alone after that.

Iris buried herself in her studies, work and going to the gym. She had not thought about dating again until she met Barry Allen.

When she had returned to New York from Gotham City,she had sent him a few e-mails providing him with updates on her life. Iris had been thrilled when he had called her a few days later. And after that point they had retained a constant communication, Including when she had moved to Minneapolis. She enjoyed their outings on her infrequent trips home. The time they had spent together watching films, seeing art shows and watching concerts. But it was the face to face conversations which they had which she found the most enjoyable.

Iris had never considered herself to be much of a people person. Sure she was interested in other people’s stories and human psychology. But she did not have a constant need to be around people all the time. She partly attributed it to having spent so many years moving around as a child, and the next was from the mis-treatment she received at the hands of her father. It took a long time to get rid of the negative programing that he had drilled in her head. As it was she generally considered books to be her best friends. But there were some people whom she greatly valued and liked spending time with.

In all her life, Iris could probably count the close friends that she had on one hand. The first one was Rachel Stanton, whom she had been friends with all through St. Joseph’s Morrow Park Catholic Girls School. Iris and Rachel had been each others’ constant companions while in High school. They studied together, were on the same varsity teams (basketball and volleyball) and volunteered together the same soup kitchens. Both of them in their own way they were rebels. Rachel against her Baptist preacher father who was the head of the largest African American church in Keystone. Her father had been flabbergasted when he found out that Rachel had converted to Catholicism and was joining the army.

Rachel had won a scholarship to the Virginia Military Institute and had served as a Lieutenant in the army for 5 years. Rachel’s plan had been to join the sisterhood and become a Camelite nun after she left the army. Which was something Iris had found amusing at the time given how boy crazy Rachel was. But it was not to be. Just 6 months before she was to be discharged. Rachels’ convoy hit an IED in Syria and Rachel had been killed instantly. Iris spoke at her funeral.

The next closest friend she had was Tyler Beaureguard she had met while studying at Columbia. He was from Mobile Alabama and every inch the Southern Gentleman. Polite, intelligent, charming and impeccably groomed. He used to call Iris a real ‘Georgia Peach’. Sweet on the outside with a tough pit. Iris would have married him in an instant. Except for the fact that he was gay. He now lived with his partner and their 5 cats in the suburbs of Atlanta. He wrote technical journals for a pharmaceutical company. Iris still kept in touch with him. He had sent her tickets to fly down to Atlanta so that they could spend the weekend together.

There was also her cousine Wally West a student at Missouri State in Central City. Wally was eight years younger than Iris and used to spend many of his summers with her family in Keystone. He hailed from a small county in Nebraska by the name of Blue Valley. His father Rudy West was an ex Marine Corps lieutenant who ran a long distance trucking company. Much like her father, and her uncle, Rudy West was an arrogant man who felt that he could cruise by on his looks. He had spent most of his time running a trucking business and womanizing and drinking. Hardly any time with his wife and son. Wally’s mother Mary would send Wally to stay with her ex-sister in law as an excuse to get away from the small county and see the big city. But Iris was certain that the main reason that she sent Wally to see them was to get him away from the constant fighting that was at home.

One day when Iris complained to her mother that she didn’t want spend her Saturdays looking after Wally, her mother revealed to her that if it had not been for Wally’s mother they wouldn’t be in Keystone and would still be stuck in the abusive situation with her father. Mary had given her mother money so that she could get away from the abusive situation. And lent her money for several months so that Maureen could rent a house and support Iris and Daniel until she found gainful employment. The two women remained close. Ever since then, Iris had spent time looking out for Wally.

When Wally had been younger he had taken to tagging along behind Iris and Daniel. He had especially liked Daniel because he drove a motorcycle, smoked weed and got into fights from which he always won. He also admired the fact that Daniel seemed to always have some hot ‘babe’ on his arm. Daniel got him a job working illegally under the table working at one of the garages. He mostly served as a goffer for the mechanics on duty and doing cleaning up. But he had learned a great deal of things as well. Iris had tried to be a better influence on Wally but it was hard. The boy wanted a male role model and a father and Daniel had done that for him in spades. That was until Daniel ran into trouble and skipped town. After that Wally had begun to focus his attention on Iris.

The one good thing going in her favour that Wally was a science geek who liked physics. His secret goal was to work on the space program. But he had thought that he would never make it to college…until he found out that Iris had gotten herself a partial scholarship to Missouri State University and was working diligently on getting her degree and getting into Columbia.

Wally saw that through Iris what could be done with his life and..to boot it did not involve skirting the law. So he applied himself and entered the Central City campus of the University of Missouri. He was currently in his last year working on a degree in Mechanical engineering. Iris saw him from time to time when he dropped by on weekends to visit her mother in Keystone. But generally Wally’s life was consumed with studying, partying, playing sports and working as part time mechanic at a garage. He was a major gearhead and loved nothing better than tinkering with engines. Wally had served as the little brother she never had.

Now he stood over 6 feet tall, with a shock of red hair and piercing green eyes. Aside from science he was an avid sports fan and played for the men’s field hockey team at university. Iris had been to a few of his games and she could see what a menace he was on the field. He was also girl crazy and seemed to have a new girlfriend every week.

WWlkdld

And Iris found that the third closest person on that list had to be Barry Allen. Yes she was attracted to him, but she also would be denying that she enjoyed spending time with him. He was charming not in a slick or phony way. But in a way that was sincere and genuine. He was kind and considerate without coming across as if he was eager to please.

If she said something that he disagreed with he would gently push back. He was intelligent, widely read and humble a rare combination. He had a quiet confidence about him which she liked. And she liked the fact that he genuinely seemed to like her and believe in her as a person. Iris could often tell within 15 minutes if a guy was only interested in her because of her looks. And spending time with Barry made her feel that was not the case at all. He took an interest

After moving back to Gem Cities she had come across a few people who had known him from his days in high school. The word was that Barry had been a bit odd, he was a geek in the body of a hunk. He ran the science club and was a member of the cities speed skating club even as a teenager when other boys his age were into hockey and football. He often dressed up for school, not exactly preppy, but at the same time very GQ. He was very polite and rarely swore and displayed a great deal of old school confidence. Not surprisingly, she had heard, he had attracted a score of girls to him without even trying. And Iris could see why. Barry Allen was sexy as hell. It took all of her self control to say good bye at the end of one of their dates and not suggest that they rent a hotel room or suggest that she come home with him (going home to her mothers was out of the question). As much as she liked Barry she didn’t want to get involved in a long distance relationship. Not while she was still stuck up in Minnesota, not that she ever thought that either she or Barry would be tempted to cheat if they were apart. But she knew that more often than not being apart for a long time ruined things.

Another reason she was happy to see him was that Barry was one of the main reasons that she had been offered the job at the Citizen. If it had not been for his insight into the circumstances behind the death of Jamie’s Dad. Then Jamie’s family would not have been given the insurance money and Jamie would not have been able to go on to University of Minnesota and been a first round draft pick for the LA Kings. The night that the story had broken and the insurance company had settled with Jamie’s family. Jamie had insisted that Iris join him and his family for dinner at the cities biggest steakhouse. It made Iris proud. She wasn’t just some muck raking journalist who fancied herself speaking truth to power. She was really making a difference in people’s lives.

The weekend she had returned to Central City to accept her job offer. Barry had taken her to Scaramouche, and up scale pasta bar and grill restaurant in Central City located in one of the office towers in the financial district. It had been a Saturday night and it was raining heavily outside. Barry had called asking if she was still keen on going out. Without hesitation Iris told him yes. She was burning to see him and give him the good news which she had just received earlier that day. Two days after her conversation with Barry Iris had received the phone call that she had been looking forward to. Michael Clark called her up and offered her a job with the Citizen.

It was all Iris could do to keep her composure. She immediately accepted and he told her that he would courier her over the paper work to fill out and complete. All throughout her drive down to Central City, Iris felt as if she were on a high. She drove faster than she normally did and was surprised that she had not been stopped for speeding. As soon as she signed off on the paper work. Iris knew how she was going to celebrate.

Iris chose a white imitation Ralph Lauren open back dress that skimmed her figure.

He had picked her up in a car. He was wearing a dark blue immaculately pressed suit, light blue shirt and red bow tie. Had it been any other guy Iris would have considered it over kill or a sign of him showing off. But not with Barry Allen. It actually suited him very well. He looked like a leading man out of an old film from the 1950’s. The shirt really set off his crystal blue eyes.

She knew she had been right not to laugh when she noticed several avaricious female glances when they had entered the dinning room. Sorry ladies, Iris thought wickedly, he’s mine. Barry was excited at hearing the news and congratulated her. He blushed furiously when she informed him that part of the reason for her getting the job was due to his assistance in helping her.

They had spent more than two hours talking and laughing. Until Barry suggested….

Would you like to have some coffee?” he asked.

Sure,” she replied after a brief pause she added, “But how about at your place?”

Barry looked at her for a moment getting her meaning loud and clear.

Okay then,” he said softly, his crystal blue eyes lighting up. Barry called the waiter for the cheque.

They had just been about to get up when Barry’s phone went off. Iris felt her spirit sink visibly fall when the expression on his face became ashen. Barry fished the phone out of his over coat

Barry Allen,” he answered, “Yes Director Singh. I understand….I’m about 15 minutes away from there. I’ll be there.

Barry hung up the phone and looked at Iris.

Something important?” she asked trying to keep the disappointment out of her voice.

Iris I am so sorry..” he began, “There was a gangland shooting and I have to work this.”

I understand,” she said squeezing his fore arm, “We’ll do it another time.”

I’ll call you. I promise.”

When Barry got back in touch with Iris she was in the middle of Iowa. She pulled off to the road to take his call. He was profuse with an apology stating that he had been the only CSI on duty that weekend and had to work two double homicides alone.

Again Iris had reassured him that it was okay. She would probably be back in the Gem cities region at the end of the month, once she tidied everything up. And they could get together then. But it was not to be.

Her first day on the job at the Citizen Roth dumped five file on her desk and told her that they were important stories that she had to start working on. The most important story involved a story which involved Central Cities embattled mayor Rob Forbes. A slovenly overweight man who was looked down on by the rich and left wing intelligentsia. But the purported champion of the working poor. It was hardly a secret that Michael Clark the cities publisher was contemptuous of him and never missed a chance to feature an article or commentary that would embarrass the mayor. Apart from Clark’s thinly disguised contempt for the mayor. There was also the fact that stories featuring the mayor exploits drove up sales (and advertising) by 25%. Roth assigned her to work on stories covering the mayor as well as other crime stories. While she was assigning the previous reporter who was covering the mayor on the latest new phenomenon (which also drove up sales) on Superheroes. Most notably the Gem Cities protector ‘The Flash’.

Iris was grateful that she had not had to cover the Flash. Sure he was a rockstar and an interesting phenomenon, but as far as Iris was concerned he was nothing more than a vigilante a glorified pro-athlete that had taken the law into his own hands. The scuttle butt at police head quarters was that some cops liked him others hated him. She had asked Barry about him briefly and not to her surprise he told her that he thought that the Flash and other superheroes were cool. He then went on to excitedly tell her at late that the Flash has powers which were very similar to a pulp comic book hero that he used to read about as a kid.

The fact that Barry collected comics did not bother her. After the fiasco with Logan, she realized that she would rather date a guy who read comic books than one who was a drug addict. Everyone had eccentricities of one form or other. Her mother collected stuffed bears. Not everyone understood why she enjoyed old British spy films and tv shows.

Further after the fiasco with Logan Saunders, Iris realized that reading comic books was the least sin you could have. Besides…Iris already knew several police officers on the CCPD and lawyers who read them. And Barry was never inappropriate with his hobby. While she had been dating Logan, one of his Hedge fund friends had invited him over to his weekend retreat by Cape Cod for dinner. They had arrived early, and the friend had shown them around his beautiful art deco home. The place was the classic bachelor pad complete with guitars on the wall. He then showed them to a hermeneutically sealed room which was sorounded by shelves with long white boxes.

He informed them that his parents had split up when he was younger and he had not seen much of his father growing up. Superheroes had served as being role models for him, and were partly the reason why he was where he was now. Seeing that the guy pulled in seven figures a year, drove the top of the line Jaguar F-TYPE and wore tailored Italian suits. Iris surmised that the collecting comic books was the least bad thing anyone could do. It was certainly better than being addicted to coke or weed.

Currently the Citizen was working on an angle in which the mayor was to be implicated and it was important that all the information was double checked, triple checked and quadruple checked for accuracy. It was a story that Iris lived ate and breathed. It was her major make or break chance. To show Michael Clark and Edith Roth that they had not made a mistake in taking her on. She hoped that someone who was as careful as Barry was and valued accuracy as much as she did would understand. She promised that she would make it up to him…

Unfortunately things did not go the way she had planned….

June 11, 5:15PM

Iris was about to grab her purse and satchel in order to meet with Barry for dinner when Edith Roth appeared at her desk.

“Ah-ah,” she said, “Where are you going?”

“Home,” Iris began, “It’s five and I have a date.”

“Cancel it, “Roth said abruptly, “I need you on deck tonight. Legal came down and said that we’re being sued by Conrad Brown for the piece we did on his insider trading activities. I need everyone to go through the evidence with a fine tooth comb. We’re meeting with his lawyers at 9 tomorrow morning. The conference room in five minutes. I’ve ordered dinner come on.” And she was gone.

Iris hesitated for a moment and put her purse and bags down at her desk. And picked up the phone on her desk and began to call Barry Allen’s phone number.

June 25th 6pm….

When Iris West stepped inside her apartment she was met with the sickening sound of “splash” beneath her feet. She looked down and noticed that all the entire floor was covered with water. She felt her temper flare as she realized that her land lord had not fixed her kitchen pipes. She would have his head on a platter, but first she would have to call Barry Allen and cancel their dinner date….

July 5th… 7:05pm

Iris West was sitting in the back of a cab on her way to the Golden Ox Steakhouse; it was Central Cities most famous steakhouse and had been in operation since end of World War I. She was on her way there to meet Barry Allen for dinner. It was the first time they both had when their schedules did not conflict. When suddenly her phone went off. It was her work phone and the number in which she gave out so that her sources could contact her anonymously. Iris was tempted to ignore it and let it go to voice mail. She could address it later…but the fact was that she was currently working on two very hot stories and she still had to pass her probation with the newsapaper. She answered it.

“Iris West,” she began.

“You that reporter looking for dirt on Mayor Forbes?”

Iris ears perked up.

“Yes I’m looking for information on Mayor Forbes.”

“I have evidence that he was at a crack house last week. Smoking up.”

“What kind of evidence?”

“Evidence on a cell phone.”

“When can I meet you to see it?”

“How much are you paying?”

“Depends on what kind of information you have.”

“This will be well worth your time and money trust me.”

“Where and when can I meet you?”

“Malvern Collegiate. Out by the sheds. Be there in 10 minutes or I phone the next reporter on my list. And with that he hung up. Iris spent 10 second debating what she should do.

“Driver…” she called to the cabbie, “There’s been a change of plans. I need you take me across town to Malvern Collegiate. Right now.”

As the driver changed directions. Iris began to dial Barry Allen’s phone number…

July 14th…5:12pm

Iris sat inside the waiting room at St. Michaels’ hospital in Keystone. She was sitting beside her mother who was still waiting to see a doctor. Her mother had been waiting there for the better part of the afternoon.

Iris inwardly fumed at the slow progress, but St. Michaels’ was under staffed and not funded like most government services in Keystone. Unlike Central City which was a booming metropolis and a financial hub. Keystone was more of a working class city where most of the citizens worked either at the big three car plants, or the businesses which supplied them with parts. As it was the tax revenue wasn’t nearly as high enough to keep the hospital staffed with the services it needed.

When her mother had moved the family there 15 years ago. Her mother had worked in a variety of clerical jobs. Until the boyfriend she had been dating at the time managed to get her a job inside the post office. Maureen Connor had sorted parcels for 2 years straight until she was promoted to a clerical position consisting of tracking and tracing parcels. She did not consider it a glamorous job. But it provided steady benefits including health care insurance and a pension. Iris had been in a particularly good mood when she woke up that morning. She had gone to the gym and then to work. But what placed her in good mood was the fact that she was going to be meeting with Barry Allen. She had asked him out and had gone so far as to make dinner arrangements at Scaramouche the restaurant that they had last been at together..and the time she had almost gone home with him. She was certain that the significance of the invitation would not be lost on him. Iris fully intended that there would be nothing that would stand in their way tonight. She had even co-opted James Forrest in her plans to find out which night Barry was on call on the force. So unless there was some major emergency Barry Allen would be all hers. She had just returned from lunch when she received a call from her mother’s friend Maggie at the post office saying that her mother had a heart attack and had to be rushed to the hospital. Iris had immediately dropped everything she had been doing and rushed over. Her mother had been in emergency the better part of the day. There had been a truck pile up on the interstate, resulting in serious casualties and other people being sent ahead of her mother. Iris fumed as the clock ticked along to 6pm. Finally she reached into her bag and brought out her phone and began to dial Barry Allen….

****/

She and Barry had met each other a few times, over coffee (well she drank the coffee, he had tea) at the local coffee shop where she basically just peppered him with forensics questions…before dashing off. She hated to be so…impersonal…but the fact was that Roth was ridding her hard to make sure that all the information that she had been working on regarding the mayors connection to the hit on Alderman Landry was correct.

Currently the Citizen was working on an angle in which the mayor was to be implicated and it was important that all the information was double checked, triple checked and quadruple checked for accuracy. It was a story that Iris lived ate and breathed. It was her major make or break chance. To show Michael Clark and Edith Roth that they had not made a mistake in taking her on. She hoped that someone who was as careful as Barry was and valued accuracy as much as she did would understand. Iris promised herself that she would make it up to him..as soon this story with the mayor was put to bed. But in the meantime…

Iris had just dumped her purse and satchel on the living room couch when she heard her cell phone go off. Cursing softly she fished the phone out of her purse.

“Hello?” she said breathlessly.

“Iris,” came a quivering voice on the other end which she recognized as belonging to her mother.

“Mom?”

“Yes it’s me. I..”

“What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

“No I’m fine. It’s..it’s your brother Daniel,” Maureen Connor replied.

Iris felt her stomach involuntarily clench at hearing her mother mention the name of her brother.

Both Iris and her brother Daniel had grown up under the same difficult circumstances. Under the hand of an alcoholic and abusive father who had kept the family in terror, until Iris’ mother had finally had taken the steps to leave her husband when Iris had turned 12. Her mother had moved the family to the working class suburb of Charleston in Keystone City, where the family slowly began to rebuild their lives. Iris had studied hard and obtained a partial scholarship to Central City campus of Missouri State University. She had lived at home and scrimped, saved worked two part time jobs while doing her studies and working at the school newspaper so that she could achieve her ultimate goal of getting into the Columbia School of Journalism in New York City. The most prestigious journalism school in the country.

Iris’s brother Daniel on the other hand had not applied himself. He had instead used the anger from the abuse he had experienced and embarked on a path of self-destruction. He had drifted into a life of petty crime and had spent the last 10 years drifting in and out of trouble. The last time Iris had heard from Dan he had been in Chicago. She had no idea at all that he had been back in the Gem Cities region.

“What about Daniel?” Iris asked unable to keep the anger out of her voice.

“He’s been picked up on a murder charge in Central City.”

“I see,” Iris said, “And what do you want me to do? The last time I spoke to Dan. I told him that it was the last and final straw. I won’t be helping him if he got into trouble again. I have a life to lead Mom and if he doesn’t care about himself, I can’t do it for him.”

“I know Iris. I know,” Maureen Connor said, “But you know how it is with him.”

“Mom we discussed this before. Dan has had the exact same opportunities that I did. I worked my..I worked hard to get where I am. I didn’t get a free ride.”

“I know that but ..”

Iris had always felt sorry for her mother. She knew that she had been a weak woman who had a hard time defending herself. She had been a pretty girl in high school who had had the misfortune of getting pregnant by the first year Freshman at Notre Dame. Her father had disowned her. Although he had come around during Iris’s last year in high school. Where he had assisted the family by giving Iris some money to help with her University fees.

“But you’re a crime reporter in Central City. You must know several people at the district attorneys office or police force that can help you.”

“Mom I just moved to Central City two months ago…I hardly know any of the cops that well,” Iris began carefully, “Besides, they aren’t my friends. I don’t and can’t get any special favours.”

“What about that nice young man you were dating.”

“You mean Barry Allen?”

“Yes him. He seemed so nice and kind…Maybe he can help you.”

“Mom for the umpteenth time. I am not dating him..and I can’t get any special favours. It’s illegal and unprofessional.”

“You must be able to do something.”

“Okay then,” she said with holding a sigh, “I’ll see what I can do. What’s the name of the lawyer who is representing him?”

“Hold on..he’s with legal aid,” Maureen said, “I have it nearby. Just wait.”

Maureen came back after a minute and gave Iris the information which she wrote down.

Iris hung up the phone. She cursed softly. There wasn’t much she really could do on her end. She didn’t have that much pull with the police department. She did a computer search for the name of the lawyer that her mother had given her. She then picked up the phone and left a message with his office.

It took a week for her to see him. But the lawyer said that evidence against her brother was tenuous but not rock solid. It would all rest on the forensics lab results. Iris thought long and hard about what she should do next. She had only been in Central City as a crime reporter for six months. She had developed a fairly good relationship with the Police Department. It helped that she was pretty, well mannered and charming (vestiges of attending an all girls catholic school). Her maxim was that you caught more flies with honey than with vinegar. It also did not hurt that she had grown up in Charleston. Charleston was a working class neighborhood that was mostly consisted of Irish Catholic stock. Many of the cops in the CCPD came from that neighborhood. They liked Iris because she was from the old neighborhood and had done well. More to the point she wasn’t stuck up and often dropped by one of the watering holes to play pool or to socialize. Iris knew how to tone down her alpha career woman tendencies when necessary. She had spent her four years while at Missouri State bussing tables on weekends at various bars near the car plants in Keystone. Thursdays and Fridays (pay days for the workers) were the days she got her biggest tips. She knew how to make the workers feel special without sending out the wrong message. Most of the men some of them past their prime enjoyed the harmless flirting and attention from a pretty young woman.

She wore a short black skirt which barely covered her ass and would have sent the Nuns at St. Joe’s into a fit. But it helped to get her into Columbia. Anytime she had been tempted to skip a work out (heavy squats) or cheat on her diet, she just had to remember the amount of money that she would get in tips.

Iris walked into the visitors lounge. Her brother was seated there in an orange jumper.

Although he looked thinner than she remembered his face was still marked with the hard angry look that she had seen on so many prisoners before. Hard, angry, entitled. It’s what got them in trouble to begin with. Iris placed her bag on the table and picked up the phone. Daniel gave her a smile. She noticed that his teeth were yellow. He had not only started smoking when he was 10 but had graduated to pot and crackas well by time he was 15.

Gilly, one of the servers whom she had gone to St. Joes’ with and who now worked at O’Reilly’s Bar and Grill as a server, told her that Daniel had become muscle for the Finley Boys Gang and had moved up to Chicago or the East Coast. The latest rumour was that he had fallen in with the Hell’s Angels.

“Hey sis,” he said his voice rough and scratchy.

“Dan,” she said coldly.

“You look…uh real fine. That’s a nice outfit.”

“This is not a social call,” she said, “I need for you to tell me what happened.”

“I got into a fight with a guy and he had a heart attack.”

“The police said that you hit him hard in the chest.”

“I punched him yeah,” Daniel said rubbing the knuckles of his right hand, “But I didn’t him hard enough to kill him. He had a weak heart and was jumped up on crystal meth. He was an old dude.”

“So your old habits have caught up with you,” she said drily.

“Spare me the lecture sis. I already have Mom on my case.”

“The only reason I am here Daniel is because Mom is on my case. Why she bothers with you is beyond me.”

“I don’t know sis. Maybe because it’s my charm,” he hissed, “Maybe it’s because I add some excitement to her life.”

“I didn’t come here to listen to your crap.”

“Then you can leave.”

“Don’t tempt me. Please don’t,” Iris began her temper flaring as it normally did when it came to her brother, “The lawyer said that the case is shaky. The guy you hit was a member of the Hell’s Angels. Since when have you been running with the bikers?”

“I don’t. I was sitting at O’Reilleys a few days ago and this jackass comes up to me and tries to pick up fight.”

“Out of the blue? For no reason at all?”

“Who the fu-heck knows what he was mad about? He was some old biker who tried to intimidate me. I decked him and he fell like a ton of bricks.”

“The lawyer says that it’s basically a slam dunk case,” Iris said, “The only way that you’ll beat this charge is on a technicality.”

“Why don’t you talk to that cop you’re seeing?”

“I’m not seeing any cop Dan,” Iris said.

“No. They don’t earn enough for you.”

Iris was tempted to get up from her chair and leave, But controlled herself.

“Who said I was seeing a cop?” Iris asked.

“Mom,” Daniel said, “She said that he’s some big wig at the CCPD. You hang around him all the time.”

Iris silently cursed. She just wished for once that her mother could keep her mouth shut about her personal life and not exaggerate.

“That’s not exactly true. He’s a…friend and a contact that’s it. But I don’t have any pull with him at all. He’s not a judge.”

“Look sis,” Daniel snarled, “You owe me big time.”

“I owe you squat,” Iris said hotly, “You had the exact same opportunities that I did. It’s not my fault that you dropped out of school.”

“Fucking Princess,” he said with a sneer that unnerved her, “That’s what you’ve always been. Parading around Charleston as if you were untouchable. Remember the McCoulough’s?”

Iris felt a pit in her stomach. The McColoughs’ were the prominent street gang in the neighborhood. It primarily consisted of four brothers, Kevin, Doug, Michael and Ian. All of them were high school drop outs and were mostly known for being muscle for the Smalley Brosnan the crime lord who had a grip on the vice and the drug trade in Charleston. He was also known to be the mastermind behind some of the big time bank and jewelry robberies in the Gem Cities region.

Kevin was the eldest one and always made it a point of flirting with her in his crude and vulgar way. Iris had no interest in him at all, but she could not help but notice that Daniel appeared to like hanging around with them.

When Iris had turned 15, and started to develop a woman’s body, the advances became more pronounced, to the point where she began to take the long way home, where she would not have to pass the locations where they normally hung out. It had been one of the reasons she had taken up Krav Maga at school and until this day trained in martial arts once a week.

One day they suddenly stopped and neither Kevin McColough nor his brothers, nor any of their cohorts troubled her. Iris had wondered briefly why. But afterwards she assumed that they had just gotten the message and understood that she had no interest in him and had moved on to someone else. The look on Daniel’s face told her the exact opposite.

“Yes,” Iris said stiffly.

“There’s only one reason those animals never touched you. And believe me they wanted to. But I put them in their place. So you owe me big time.”

“You really are a piece of work,” she said disgusted, “You’d really stand by and let people…hurt me or Mom.”

“You don’t get it do you?” Daniel snarled, “We were nothing in that neighborhood. If I hadn’t made contacts with them. There are so many ways that they could have come after us.”

“Dan, I’ll do what I can to help you out. I’ll ask around for professional advice. But I won’t be manipulate my friends in order to get you out of a jam. I don’t operate that way and I don’t plan on joining you in prison. I’m only doing this for Mom.”

September 15th,

7:35 am Barry walked into Sunrise All Day Breakfast Cafe. The name was quite ironic given the fact that it was some of the worst weather seen in Central City for the last month. Summer was definitely slipping away and fall was coming with a vengeance. Although it was 10 degrees outside the weather was blustery. But Barry wasn’t bothered by the weather. He was happy that he was going to be meeting with Iris West.

Although she had moved to Central City some months back. They had yet to sit down for any kind of face to face meetings apart from a couple of rushed encounters at a coffee shop and when she had cornered him as he was on his way to lunch. They had tried several times to get together, but Iris had ended up cancelling each and every date. He had understood that this must be a rough time for her. Having to make a good impression at her new job, her ailing mother as well as trying to settle in. Barry understood how rough it was. Life had been hectic for him as well when he had moved back to Central City settled down in his new apartment, trying to pass the police academy qualifications to be a police officer, then trying to fit into the CSI department and get the respect of the regular officers. He wanted to cut her some slack. But at the same time it irked him that she could either not make time to see him or she broke all of their dates. But at the same time..she seemed to find the time to see about issues regarding her work. Barry considered himself to be a kind a generous person. But he did not like being used and he could not help but sense the feeling that Iris was using him.

After the last time she had broken off their date, he had almost suggested that it might be best if they re-connect sometime in the future. But Barry had not wanted to give up on Iris..he knew that she was one of a kind and he did not want to lose her. Not without giving her a fair chance.

He found her sitting on the terrace. She was wearing a navy blue scuba knit line dress and cream coloured sweater.

She had her head buried in a sheaf of papers. A large cup of coffee sat on the table before her. Iris was a coffee nut, she was forever drinking the beverage. She said that she had become addicted to it while she was an undergrad. It helped to keep her energy up, and since then she had been hooked on it.

Barry had never been a fan of coffee, he preferred tea. But since he began hanging around Iris he had developed a taste for Jitters premium blend Blond roast. Iris she had such an effect on him….

“Hi,” he said walking up to her. She looked up startled for a moment.

“Sorry did I frighten you?” he asked concerned.

“Hello,” she replied smiling and regaining her composure, “No I was just absorbed with stuff..”

She took the sheath of papers she had been looking and placed them back inside the folder and in turn placed the folder inside her black leather satchel.

“Sorry I’m late,” he began taking a seat from across from her.

“No that’s okay,” she replied recollecting herself, “It gave me the opportunity to catch up on some reading.”

“I was a bit surprised to hear from you last night.”

“And why’s that?”

“Well you’ve never ever asked that we get together for breakfast before,” he began, “All the other invitations were from me.”

“There’s always a first time for everything,” she replied, “Besides. It’s high time we got together. I’ve been cancelling all of our dates and I thought that if we got together over breakfast then, there would be very little chance of something happening to mess up my plans. I really should have done this before.”

“Well I’m just glad that we could get together,” he said, “Although I would like to have a night out on the town with you.”

“Would you now?” she asked.

“Yeah, there’s a performance of Don Giovani at the Kauffman Center until the 18th. I’d love to take you to see it.”

“I’d like that too Barry,” Iris said gratefully. It was so nice that he still thought of her, “It’s been ages since I’ve been able to go to a concert or a show.”

“I’ll see about getting you tickets,” he suggested, “Closing night? It’s a Friday.”

“That sounds fine Barry,” Iris said, “I’ll make the time.”

“We can go catch dinner afterwards. The Fishhouse is within walking distance or we can go to Fatty Cue’s.” Fatty Cue’s was one of the Central Cities most famous barbeque houses.

“The Fishhouse is better. I’ve blown my diet with late nights working. I’ve been pigging out on chips and too much carbs.”

“You look fine to me.”

“Thank you Barry,” Iris said blushing slightly. She placed her hand over his and squeezed it in gratitude. When other men flattered her in the past, Iris brushed it off as a cheap insincere come ons. She knew they had ulterior motives, either to use her as a trophy get her into bed or both. But not coming from Barry Allen she knew that he would not say anything he did not mean. It was then that she felt his ring.

“What’s up with the ring?” she asked.

“Oh this?” he said glancing at the ring and touching it affectionately, “I’ve had it for a long time. I had ordered when I was on the speed skating team at Suny. I don’t wear it that much, Only once in awhile.”

“Do you miss it?” she asked.

“You mean the skating?”

“Yes.”

“I enjoyed it a lot,” Barry said, “But I’m too busy with my career now. I still coach at the center though.”

“You do? Who do you coach?”

“Just a bunch of kids. Mostly high schoolers.”

“I should come catch you one day.”

“Oh Iris it’s really nothing.”

“Can’t be nothing,” she said, “If you’re taking personal time to coach others.”

“Speed skating and athletics have done a lot for me,” he said seriously, “They helped to build my confidence. When I’m out there on the ice. I feel almost invulnerable.”

“I know what you mean,” Iris began, “It’s sort of the same way with me when I’m at the gym lifting weights or do spinning. I hate it when I work out. But afterwards I feel as if I could walk on air.”

Barry agreed, it probably contributed to the way in which she carried herself like a queen.

Iris took his hand and looked at it more closely.

“Are you sure that’s it?” she asked, “It has nothing to do with The Flash?”

“No..” Barry said blushing, “Well not entirely. I designed the crest myself and based it on the emblem on the costume that the super hero wears.”

“I see,” Iris said laughing, “I’m going to guess that the vigilante had the same idea as you did.”

“The vigilante?”

“You know,” Iris said, “The Scarlet Speedster. The Gem Cities very own mascot.”

“You mean the Flash?”

“Yep that’s him,” Iris said taking a sipping from her coffee.

“I take it that you’re not a fan?” Barry said seriously.

“Barry I know that you’re a comic book fan and all but…”

“But..”

“Comic books are one thing. But this is real life. The appearance of all these meta human beings makes me nervous.”

“What is that?”

“Because of what I’ve seen and know of human nature. People don’t always do nice things Barry. People can be kind and from what I have seen of The Flash and this ….Justice League so far show that they are benevolent. But what would happen if they decide to turn on us. I’ve seen footage of Superman. The guy has awesome powers and has done so much. But…God help us all if he should turn rogue. Everyone has a breaking point Barry.”

“Maybe. But I’d like to think that he and the other metas thought about that long in advance. From what I’ve seen he must have thought long and hard about it before embarking on his life as a superhero.”

“You mean like the fame, the glory and the adoration from women?”

“I am sure that it doesn’t hurt,” Barry said with a smile, “But those factors don’t help when you’re being beaten to a pulp by Girder.”

“I guess so.”

“Have you ever thought of interviewing him?”

“You mean the Flash?”

“Yes.”

“No. I don’t think he wants to talk to me. Not considering what I wrote about him last month after his fight downtown with Captain Cold and the amount of property damage it caused.”

“I read that,” Barry said, “You were pretty harsh.”

“You wouldn’t believe the ton of hate mail I received because of it. After that my editor said that I should just stick to the crime desk. ” she said, “The Citizen already has a team of reporters who are assigned to follow his every move and all other meta human activities.”

“A team of reporters?” he asked surprised.

“Yes,” Iris replied, “The public is absolutely fascinated with The Flash and other metas. Circulation goes sky high whenever we do a feature on them. We even hired a fitness instructor on a part time basis who writes articles on how to get abs like the Flash. It’s crazy.”

She paused for a moment.

“You must be pleased.”

“Well yes,” Barry replied, “I mean it’s nothing that I would have expected to happen..at least in my life time.”

“How so?” Iris asked leaning forward slightly as if interested.

“I mean..,” Barry began, “The emergence of these meta humans could represent the next steps in human evolution.”

“So you think that they could ultimately replace us?”

“Well I wouldn’t go that far,” Barry said, “But with their special powers. They could be the next step on the evolutionary ladder.”

“I had no idea that you thought about this.”

“Well I am a science geek. I’m interested in how the world works as well as the uncanny.”

“But I have to disagree with you a little,” she said.

“On what?”

“The next step on the evolutionary ladder bit. The metas we’ve seen all so far….have been full fledged adults.”

“How do you know that?”

“Just by the footage I’ve seen. Superman, Wonderwoman and the Flash and so on….are not kids. If they had adopted or been born with their powers don’t you think that it would have manifested themselves earlier on?”

“Well maybe they did,” Barry said, “And we haven’t heard anything about it. Maybe they were bidding their time to reveal themselves to the world. Waiting for the right time.”

“Maybe,” Iris said nodding, “Speaking of which. Have you met the Flash?”

Barry paused as if unsure how to answer her.

“I met him once or twice,” he said.

“Oh really?” she asked, “Under what circumstances?”

Barry paused again as if thinking. He had to provide Iris with a satisfactory answer, one in which he knew that would not prompt her to do any further digging. She might not be covering the Flash, she was still curious enough about The Flash to probe further if she thought that something was amiss…

“The first time was during a fire..which turned out to be an arson investigation. The second took place during an explosion at a factory where two workers were killed.”

“Wow that’s interesting,” Iris said, “I’m a bit surprised.”

“Why is that?”

“I would have thought that he would have stuck around.”

“Contrary to what you might believe Iris. The Flash is really a good citizen. He stood by to answer questions.”

“So he’s a citizen of Central City?”

“I don’t know,” Barry said.

“But you just said that..” she began.

“I meant in general,” Barry added quickly, “He’s a good citizen..or member of the community. He wants to help people.”

“I am really curious as to who he is. He must come from the Gem Cities region. Most of the footage of him has been covered in the upper Missouri area.”

“So it seems,”

“Have you ever wondered who he is?”

“No, not really.”

“And why not?”

“I have enough on my plate as it is..with work and all.”

“Yes I can imagine,” Iris said leaning back in her chair. She raised her hand up off the sheaf of papers and soon the papers went flying all over the place.

“Oh my God!” Iris screamed. Both she and Barry jumped to their feet and began to run around picking up the papers. They managed to get most of the papers and sat down breathless.

“Wow that was close,” Iris said.

“Yeah,” Barry began. He was about to hand his collected sheath of papers back to him when he noticed the name at the top. It read Daniel West.

“Daniel West?” he asked puzzled, “You know him?”

Iris stared at Barry for a moment as if unsure how to proceed.

“Yes. He’s my brother,” she finally said. Barry felt a coldness come over him as he realized what this was all about. It appeared as if Iris had no genuine interest in him. He was just a means and way of propping up her career and assisting her with personal problems.

“So this is what this is about? You initiated a relationship with me to get information on your brothers case?”

“What?” Iris barely choked the word out.

“Daniel West was arrested five months ago. Shortly after you moved to Central City. Is that why you wanted to see me? To get inside information on your brothers case to help release him?”

Iris cheeks reddened.

“Is that what you really think this is about?” she asked with a coldness he had never heard before. But he refused to back down.

“All I know is what I see Iris,” he said, “Ever since you’ve moved back here. You’ve cancelled all of our dates..the only ones you’ve kept are the ones which involved you picking my brain for forensics questions. I know that you’re an ambitious woman Iris who will do anything to get ahead. Including using people.”

It was only later that Barry wondered why he had said that last part. He was not normally that harsh with people. But he had ended up shrugging it off when she had not countered him.

He slowly rose to his feet.

“I should be leaving.”

Iris said nothing. Barry left.

Tuesday, November 9th, 2012

You want to go out for lunch Barry?” Patty Spivot asked coyly. Barry looked up from the test he was running.

“No thanks Patty,” he said, “I already have plans.”

“What kind of plans?”

“I have an errand to run,” he said giving her a slight smile that did not reach his eyes.

“I can come with you if you like?”

“No that’s okay,” he said.

“Hey Patty,” James Forrest called.

“What?” she demanded turning around to face the older CSI.

“Can you come over here and look at these samples? I could really use your advice…”

As Patty made her way across to James desk, her back to Barry. James winked at Barry. Barry nodded to James silently thanking him for the save and grabbed his jacket and made for the door.

The last thing he needed right now was to spend any time with Patty Spivot. Especially considering what he had just undergone. During the last few months things had gone from bad to worse.

Shortly after Barry had adopted the persona of the Flash he discovered that for every hero who had powers. There were at least five people with powers who were intent on using their powers for selfish reasons, whether that being in petty crimes, wreaking havoc against society or renting out their powers to criminal groups or nefarious governments. Needless to say the heroes more than had their hands full. One of the Flash’s nemesis’ went by the name of The Weather Wizard was able to manipulate the dements using his powers. He used his power -mostly to commit crimes, but he was not averse to flexing his muscles and showing off by conjuring up the odd tornado and catching cops in their vortex.

Which he was doing at the moment. The Flash chased him all over Keystone…he had tried to direct him outside of the city, but the Weather Wizard seemed to be having none of that and refused to move from the down town core. The best that The Flash could do was have him move to Krieg square, the huge open square that was sorounded by City Hall, The headquarters for the School board and the state courthouse. It was mid morning and most people were inside.

The Weather Wizard had spent the entire time taunting the Flash. Which he gamely ignored the Flash and his alter ego Barry Allen was not given to being easily angered. He also knew that getting angry was not going to help him in any way. He also knew that he Weather Wizard was trying to bait him. Barry Allen had dealt with more than his case of jerks all of his life and refused to be intimidated by them now. As soon as he had seen the directions that the Weather Wizard was headed in he pretty much figured what the villain was going to attack the civilians. Marden was more of a showboat not much of a strategist. The Flash had contracted the security desk and advised them that they should get everyone down the basement.

“Ha! Ha! Ha1! ” the Weather Wizard fairly chortled, “You can’t stop me because you are such a putz!”

The Flash was about to say something when he spotted something behind Marden. Over Marden’s shoulder there amongst the crowd was Iris West. She had a trench coate around her shoulders and beside her with a protective arm around her shoulder was Eric Tanner the Assistant District Attorney and well known lothario. The Flash could not help but wonder if Iris was now seeing him. The Flash was momentarily distracted enough for the Weather Wizard to almost hit him with a lightning bolt. The Flash dodged the blast just in time.

The Flash generated a tornado and imprisoned locking down the Weather Wizard and handed him over to the cops. But not before taking another look at Iris West who was still staring at him. Tanner had his arm around her shoulder and shouted something at the Flash that he could not hear. Iris looked genuinely puzzled as to why he was staring at her.

He had been so rattled by the scene that it had gone on to affect his performance in a League battle with a group called ‘The Cold Warriors’. The Cold Warriors were a gang of cold themed villains among who included his main nemesis Captain Cold. The fight had taken place in Antarctica where the Cold Warriors had tried to take over an oil rig in the sea and to commandeer any profits that The Flash had been so distracted that he had allowed Cold to hit him with a blast from his stun gun.

Flash had been momentarily incapacitated and the Warriors had managed to escape. On their way back to the Watch Tower during the debrief of the battle. Batman, who’s turn it was to do lead the League. Coldly went over the video of what happened. He then finished with a remark that said,

“A little more diligence and attention to what we each do will go a long way to prevent defeat next time.”

The Flash knew the remark was aimed at him. The Flash felt shame deep to his bones. He knew that he had not performed well, but the admonishment stung even more coming from Batman. The Flash felt bad that he had let down a man who had such respect for him.

And his dating life had been atrocious. After the blow up with Iris West, Barry had gone full tilt back into the dating pool.

He made some foolish choices, much of which he had regretted. First in dating a series of women he had met, mostly from his time at Crossfit. Big mistake. While many of the hard core female members (those who worked out diligently and watched their diets) were attractive. That’s about all they had in common with Barry. None of the women which he saw he could hold his attention. They either were shallow or they couldn’t abide his being late, or had very little understanding that his career as a CSI (he didn’t mention being a superhero) came first. Some of them had kids, which he felt had its’ own set of complications which he did not want to get involved in. Barry usually ended just breaking it off.

Then of course was the Halloween party he had attended in Seattle, hosted by the newest Justice League Member Oliver Queen AKA the Green Arrow. Barry had not planned on attending but Hal Jordan the Green Lantern had insisted on his attending. People had shown up in costume, although it was recommended that League members not wear their super hero costumes. Barry had dressed up as Connor Kenway, the half native half British hero, from the video game Assassins Creed 3. Connor was his favourite character from the franchise, because he was heroic, humble, brave and honest. Just like Barry himself.

Queen had decided to throw the bash not only as a means of ingratiating himself in with team, but also because his lawyers had just unlocked his fortune from a corporate raider and he was now rich again. The party had been held at one of the Trinity night club. The Champaign had flowed and the women were plentiful. Barry had half been surprised to find that Arthur Curry had shown up with his wife, as did Bruce Wayne with a stunning woman who practically oozed sexuality. Barry had no idea who she was, but she wore a scandalous black gown by Anthony Vaccarello which bared her hip bone and left little to the imagination with its wrap around neckline and crotch brushing slit. No man in the room could keep his eyes off of her, which seemed to be her intention to begin with. She appeared to bask in the attention and even more so the jealousy from the women. Barry had done some mingling, surprisingly he had found himself the focus of much female attention. More than usual, Connor seemed to be quite popular amongst women. After awhile the noise and the crowd got to him, he pulled back his hood and retreated to the side of the room where there was a large open bar and a big screen tv that was showing the football game. Barry ordered a single malt scotch and settled in to watch the game. He had been there five minutes.

Barry drifted off into the crowd. But was left alone for very long. A young woman wearing a blue and red Gabby Sky Cap Sleeve Fit-and- Flare Dress walked up to him. Barry recognized her as being Caroline Corr the anchor for Sportsnet.

She appeared to be very taken up with his Assassin Creed outfit. She told him that her brother had introduced her to the game and Connor was her favourite lead.

When she suggested that they go back to her place for a drink, Barry didn’t have to think twice. Corr was pretty she had a winning smile, and lovely blue eyes, and an exuberant personality. She wasn’t as elegant as Iris West. But for what he was feeling now, he felt that he needed something.

For Barry it did not matter that Corr had not genuine interest in him, because he had no interest in her either. All could think of was Iris West. He still did not understand why given all their interactions they had not slept together.

When he woke up in the morning it was to find a large man red faced mad standing over him. If it had not been for his super speed, the guy would have pulverized him. Barry dodged Avery’s fist and kicked him in the stomach sending him across the room. Corr was screaming at him. Barry quickly grabbed his clothes and darting out of Corr’s apartment.

It was only later that Barry realized that it was Scott Avery the NHL hockey player and notorious enforcer for the Seattle Buckaneers.

He had thought that he had left the nights of the one night stands behind. He might not have gone home with Corr if she had not flattered him or for that matter reminded him of Iris West.

After that incident he buried himself in his work.

He knew that he was probably living up to some impossibly high standards (which he had picked up from his father). But the fact was that he was almost selfish with his time and wanted the time he spent with someone to mean something. It was why he constantly thought about Iris West.

Barry had always marched to a beat of different drum from the time that he had been a little boy. It was part of his melancholic nature and personality. He had never been interested in the things that other boys had been interested in.

The death of his mother and the incarceration of his dad had forced Barry to grow up quickly and it had given him a quiet intensity and maturity. Barry was much more polite, stable and confident than many of the boys around him. And then of course there was the fact that when his coach at the Central City Speed skating club had encouraged him to start lifting weights to increase performance on track. Barry had found that he had taken to it and quickly added 50 pounds of muscle to his 6 foot frame. Lanky string bean had disappeared and was gone was a muscled god. Unlike a lot of guys his age, he was not prepared to swan around in loose jeans and sweat pants. He took meticulous care about his appearance. A trait which he had learned from his father, but also because it helped to focus his mind. Being unkempt bothered Barry a great deal. During his final year of Highschool he had taken to visiting vintage clothing stores and Salvation Army outlets to look at old suits. He had quickly garnered the nick name ‘Esquire’ after the men’s fashion magazine.

His sense of style had got him a job at one of Central Cities most upscale men’s haberdasheries at the tender at of 16. Barry had worked there part time for two years straight until he had gone off to college. His confidence and humility and genuine kindness had garnered him repeat business and referrals.

He particularly remembered one customer. Chris Cratt. He was well over 300lbs overweight and slovenly in appearance, his khakis were wrinkled his t-shirt covered with food stains. He came into the store one day clearly looking out of place and unsure of what he wanted. Both of the full time employees made themselves scarce and left young Barry to take care of him. Barry stepped forward to ask him what he wanted. He said that he needed a new outfit for an important meeting he had. Barry studiously ignored the mans’ appearance and spent the next hour in helping him pick out items that would help him make a good appearance. The man had dropped almost five thousand dollars worth of clothing on the store and a healthy commission for Barry.

It turned out that Cratt was an inventor and had just developed a new app and was going to meet with execs from Google to see about selling it. And he had to make a good impression and not look like the usual unkempt IT guy. Barry showed him a suit in his price point and had him fitted for alteration.

The guy returned two weeks later beaming from ear to ear. He informed Barry that the deal had gone through and he had received a million dollar offer on his app. He thought that part of the reason it had gone through was that he had given such a great performance…the suit had made him feel like a business man and not some unkept IT developer who pigged out on fast food and lived in a basement apartment. He said that it was all due to the way in which he felt in the suit and the help that Barry had given him. He not only used Barry to help him buy more clothes, but made sure to send his friends and colleagues Barry’s way. Over the year Barry had earned a healthy commission which given him enough him pocket money and extra money for university that his scholarship had not covered.

The girls noticed how polished and well groomed he was, and this as a result brought their attention in droves. Barry had hardly been without a girlfriend throughout high school and into college. He was a not a ladies man, by any stretch of the imagination, but he certainly had enjoyed himself. Especially on road trips with the skating team when the groupies would show up at the after competition parties…Some of them were the hottest girls that Barry had ever seen. He had never thought that any of them would have looked at him twice before. Part of him still felt like a geeky science kid. His athletic build and looks said otherwise. He had never been a lothario like Manuel or Hal or some of the guys he had spent time with on the skating team. He genuinely liked women and did not believe in using them to shore up his masculinity or to validate his self worth. But he would be lying if he said that he didn’t partake and enjoy in the odd one night stand here and there between steady girlfriends.

After Barry went to graduate school and became less interested in just hanging out with the boys and having casual flings. He wanted something deeper. He had wanted to be in relationship with a woman who could keep up with him or who at least respected for himself and was not put off by his love of all things geeky. Many of the women whom he had dated could hardly believe that such an attractive man could be so boring.

But Iris had not been like that.

Barry remembered the second time he had gone out with Iris. It had been on the Saturday of the memorial day long weekend. Barry had picked Iris up at the bus station in Central City (he had managed to scrimp together money and bought a used BMW 581i off of a lawyer he had met at the station). They were going out for lunch then then they were going to the Belger Art Center.

But first Barry had to make a pit stop to the Comic Book Therapy to pick up his monthly ‘stash’. Normally would have picked them up earlier in the week but he had been extra busy at work and Singh was watching him like a hawk at work making sure that Barry did not sneak out at lunch. Bytime Barry left work at night it was after 8 o’clock and the shop was closed. Saturday was the first opportunity.

Barry had been prepared to park a few doors down the street so that Iris would not know where he was going. But she insisted on accompanying him into the store. Seeing that it was too late to back out, Barry gritted his teeth and allowed her to follow him.

He had half expected her to recoil in revulsion or disgust, but Iris did nothing of the kind. She actually took great interest in what he was doing and mentioned that her cousine Wally was also a comic book fan. Barry had been shocked. She took a look at the books he bought, and Barry could not help but notice how her eyes lingered over the male super heroes. He made a note to watch his figure. Iris wore a green diamond sheath dress ( Barry had noticed that unless it was cold Iris often wore dresses) and low heeled white sandals. Barry’s discomfort disappeared and was replaced with pride as every man in the shop stopped to stare at her. She spent five entire minutes flirting with Marv and asking him questions about the popularity of comics and the appeal.

Over lunch she asked him some additional questions about his collecting comic books and then asked him what he thought of the emergence of the meta humans who were virtually comic book heroes come to life. When the Flash had appeared on the scene, she had begun to question him about the Scarlet Speedster, and could not help but comment that the character seemed to have the same powers as the comic book character.

He could lie but what was the point? Besides the best secrets were the ones that were kept out in the open. He told her that he found it was an exciting phenomenon. Fiction was coming to life. These new metas might really be the next step in human evolution. Barry admitting that he was a fan of the character, was hardly apt to raise any red flags. There were men who were bigger than he was, more daring than he was (known to be) with whom people would associate as the Flash. Famous celebrities who admitted to being comic book fans and fans of the Jay Garrick including Roger Sutter of the Minnesota Wild and Calvin Bryant of the Central City Chieftans and the Andrew Ono the man who had won the most gold medals in an Olympic Games he also happened to be an inspiration for Barry. Barry had actually flown out to watch him compete the first in Salt Lake City Utah for the men’s championship. The second time was up to Calgary Alberta in Canada. He had even hung outside the training facility where the team had trained to get Ono’s to get him to autograph his t-shirt. Tim Brady the quarterback for the Minnesota Vikings had even hinted that he might be the Flash.

Barry dropped her off outside of her house and she gave him a long lingering kiss that told him that she looked forward to seeing her again. And it had been then that Barry had realized that what he had with Iris was not just a friendship. It took awhile for Barry to admit it but the reason that he had been so affected was because he had fallen in love with her and had been hurt because he had felt that the feeling had not been mutual…and she had used him.

But the main reason that reason that Barry had wanted to go out to lunch alone…was that this was the day in which the verdict for the Daniel West murder trial was coming down. He had received a notification via e-mail that said that the jury had finished their deliberations and that the verdict was due after lunch. Barry had wanted to sit in the verdict personally.

Since it was he who had practically ruined the entire trial.

Soon after Daniel West was arraigned, Alexandra Cabot one of the Assistant District Attorney’s came to Barry to speak to him about the testimony that he was to give at Daniel West’s trial. She told him that the journey selection had not gone the way she had hopped. The defense had been successful in stacking the jury with blue collar workers none of who had anything beyond a high school diploma. All of them were residents of Keystone and most of them either worked in low level retail jobs or factory jobs. There was an unspoken rivalry between the twin cities. Keystone which had been the dominant city of the two and known as the engine of the Midwest. Had lost it’s luster when factory jobs had been shipped over seas and the tech industry had been on the rise. Central City had benefited from the technology boom, with many IT companies, banks and insurance companies re-locating to the city due to the tax breaks as well as the lower cost of land. As a result many people who lived in Keystone held a resentful inferior complex. It was very much a bastion of votes for the Democratic party.

Cabot informed Barry that when he gave his testimony he should keep it as simple as possible, this was not the time to impress everyone with his education and knowledge as CSI. Most of these people would not be impressed with his credentials and if they even got a whiff of some kind of intellectual superiority they would vote against the prosecution.

Barry acknowledged what she had to say and agreed to keep things as simple as possible. Barry had intended on keeping things clear and simple as possible. Until he saw Iris West sitting in the visitors gallery looking poised, polished and perfect. And at once he was reminded at all once all over how she had used him and played him for a fool. All plans that he had for keeping things simple for the jury went out the window. He became more fixated on showing the jury how bad her brother (and by extension) she was. It wasn’t until afterwards that he realized how foolish he had been. After Barry had given his testimony, Barry could tell by the expression on the jurors faces that he had lost the jury.

He had been completely unprofessional in his behavior and had allowed his emotions to cloud his judgement. It had been the first time ever that he had realized how much he had allowed Iris West to get under his skin.

He had tried to make up for it during the cross examination with the defense but by then it was much too late. The defense attorney, a public defender, five years out of Harvard Law school and an associate at Butler and Jaffe LLC. Pounced on him and ripped his testimony to shreds. He accused Barry of being sloppy in his work and said that due to his inexperience (being only in the CSI department a short time) and his sheltered background he had not been as meticulous as he should have been. He was privileged man…a part of the big blue wall of the police department. Barry did not dare to bring up the fact that he had experienced similar adverse circumstances due to the fact that it might bring up the fact that his father was now in prison for killing his mother.

He then introduced his own forensics expert, a forensics professor at the University of St. Louis who questioned several points of Barry’s work, that should not have mattered. But by then it had mattered. Barry was not surprised when the jury came back with verdict o within two days. He had never felt so small as when the verdict was read out. He felt incompetent and stupid.

He had been sitting in the back of the courtroom. He looked around the court room and could see the West family, Maureen, Iris and a young man with red hair (whom he had assumed to be Iris’ younger cousine Wally) sitting beside her. When the verdict was read out there was a cheer from the West family which made Barry’s skin crawl. Daniel was released from the prisoners box. He shook his lawyers and hands and embraced his family. When he saw Barry sitting in the back Daniel West’s face became a cloud of rage. The rest of the family turned and saw him there. Iris genuinely looked puzzled, her mother looked annoyed. Wally grinned at Barry and gave him both middle fingers. Iris swatted down both of Wally’s hands in a move that was designed to chastise Wally.. Barry had seen enough and left the courtroom both in disgust at the result of the trial and of himself.

Word of the not guilty verdict had gotten back to the station before Barry did. Many of the cops looked at him with disgust. Singh had been apoplectic with rage he called Barry into his office and berated him for a full half hour. He called him incompetent and careless.

The only word of encouragement he had received was from Forrest who had slapped him on the back and told him that it happened to all CSI’s. These defense lawyers were slick and always managed to trip them up. But Barry knew that it was mostly his fault. Darryl didn’t say anything to him. Knowing Barry’s tendency to beat himself up he probably knew that he did not have to.

Barry suspected that if it had not been for Darryl and the fact that they were short of staff he might have been fired. As it was Singh assigned Barry to menial tasks and working on cold cases. He was not allowed to do any senior level cases and was certainly not allowed to give any testimony in court cases. Although Barry was convinced that had less to do with the a choice by Singh, than it had to do with the District Attorney’s office requesting that he not be used to give testimonies. Barry would have spent several months in the dog house professionally if had had not solved a cold case involving the disappearance of a four year old girl 10 years ago. After painstaking research not only determined where the body was buried but the killer as well.

The news made headlines across the city and the state and was seen as a triumphant coup for the Central City CSI department and the police department as a whole. Barry was just relieved to have the pressure off him. Two days after the news came down he received a courier package at the office. It was a card and a five year old bottle of chardonnay—his favourite brand of wine. It was from Iris West. The card said “Great job”- Iris West.

Barry had been tempted to give the wine to department administrative assistant and chuck the card. But he decided to keep it as a reminder as to not allow his emotions or anyone to get the better of him again. He kept the card under a plastic sheet on his desk, the bottle of wine on his kitchen counter. He saw it every morning when he got up to make a cup of coffee (a new addiction he had acquired thanks to Iris West). He would often stare at the bottle wanting to conjure up some kind of resentment. But being unable to do so.

Soon the holidays were upon him and Barry forgot all about the fiasco of the trial. Over the past month he was happy that he had made a difference to the lives of several people both in The Gem Cities region. He had also been instrumental in a save against Prometheus that the League had a battle with in London. The outcome of the battle had been caught by the world wide press and the League received enough good press, to the point that much of the pressure which they were receiving from various governments dissipated and they were allowed to act with freer reign.

Batman came up to him afterwards and shook his hand a huge grin on his face and he congratulated him on his excellent work. A week later Barry received a phone call from the manager of Indpendence Audio Video, the cities premier electronics dealer. He told Barry that a friend in Gotham City had offered him a gift of the sound system of his choice and was calling Barry to arrange for an appointment so that he could come over and chose the system of his choice. Barry went over the next day after work with his favourite Coltrane CD’s. He chose a receiver and turn table by Anthem and speakers made by Sonos.

December 31 st, 2012, 11:55pm

Barry stood milling with the other crowd members outside of McAllister Square near city hall. It was just below freezing and Barry wore a pair of jeans, a black turtle neck, Danna mountain boots and a black MEC parka which he had bought back during his graduate school days in Chicago.

Throngs of people, mostly in their teens and early 20’s stood around him. Laughing and socializing. He could already smell the booze and the weed. Up on stage the latest act a rock band who he had never heard of was playing away as if for dear life. He was already starting to get a pounding headache and wished for the umpteenth time that he had not volunteered for this event. It was told that he would be the best fit for this type of event because he was relatively still young. He was almost 30, but was positive that given the way he dressed and stood there was no way on earth any of the kids in here would mistake him for one of them. Hell Barry had not even fit in when he was in high school and college. The only thing that really prevented him from getting his ass handed to him on a daily basis was the fact that he was an avid speed skater and worked out. His height and bulk discouraged anyone from taking a swipe at him. Darryl had also helped when he took him in. After seeing him being bullied one day while in Junior high school. Darryl had told him that no one had the right to bully him and taught him some basic boxing moves. Two days later mild mannered bookish Barry Allen had been suspended for an afternoon after knocking the local bully flat on his back. He had been left alone since.

Christmas had been quiet. He had visited his father in prison on Christmas eve and then gone home and watched a movie. On Christmas day he went out for Christmas dinner with Darryl to the house of his girlfriend, an attractive divorcee in her mid 50’s. She had her two college aged daughters whom she constantly tried to fix Barry up with. But he lied and said that he was already attached. He hit Oak Park Mall for the boxing day sales. He picked up a few shirts for work and some chinos. Later that day he had touched base for a late lunch with a few of the guys he had gone to speed skating with as a kid. One of them was in town visiting his parents from Cincinnati where he now lived the other one worked as fitness trainer at a nearby gym.

The other days he had gone in to work and worked on cold cases. Two nights ago, Darryl had told him that they had overbooked people to take New Years eve off as a holiday and they would be short of patrolmen to staff the New Years Eve’s festivities at McAllister Square. Would Barry mind filling in that night? Barry agreed to. He filled his time with some other activities, but he could not help but feel that there was a void in his life that was missing and he knew what that was.

Barry had always been more of solitary man. Sure he socialized and had a few friends he called on. But he had never felt the need for constant companionship. That was until he had met Iris West. For the longest time he had assumed that he liked spending time before because she was gorgeous and sophisticated and intelligent. But the truth of the matter was that he now knew that he enjoyed being with her because she was one of the few people who actually really understood him and whom he had no qualms about opening up to. He had to say that whenever he was with Iris he thought happy thoughts about the future and settling down….

“Cheer up,

“This is not my kind of thing Patty,” Barry said quietly.

“Why don’t I get us something to drink,” she asked.

“That would be great,” Barry said. He could do with a moment or so of relative privacy.

“What do you want?” she asked.

“Just water,” he said.

“Nothing stronger?” she asked almost cheekily.

“We’re on duty remember?” he said, “Besides I don’t drink alcohol when I’m out and about”

“We’ll have to do something about that later,” she said cheekily before leaving.

Barry groaned inwardly. The last thing he wanted to do was spend an evening with Patty Spivot. He didn’t know how he could get it through her head that he had no interest in dating her. She wasn’t his type. She demanded too much attention, she was too clingy and liked to use her background, her father was an exec with GM and she had gone to Harvard as a means of trying to look important. Many of the frontline officers and general staff at the station couldn’t stand her. Word was that she had barely gotten through her training at the police academy and only passed her qualifications because her father had made a generous contribution to the Police Union. She had been ushered swiftly into the CSI department. Her main reason for joining the CSI team was due to watching it on tv. Patty’s being here was his doing. He had made the mistake of telling her that he had would be helping out with the News Years festivities and she had gone straight to Fry and volunteered herself. Now she was making a pest of herself by practically hanging on to him. Barry could barely wait for the whole thing to be over so he could get away from her.

Barry milled through the crowds a bit more his eyes carefully scanning the crowd for trouble. Suddenly his eyes finally rested on a woman who had her back to him she stood a few yards away from him. Barry was not the only guy who was checking her out.

She wore a form fitting red ski jacket which reached her at the waist, grey-black fox fur shortboots, a red tuque with a pom-pom. But what stood out to Barry the most was the fact that she wore black leggings which perfectly outlined her muscular shapely legs, topped off by a perfectly round behind.

He smiled as he took in her form. The smile disappeared when she turned her profile slightly to the left and he saw that it was Iris West. Barry felt his cheeks begin to flush as he remembered the court case and how she had used him. He wondered if he should move away but it was too late.

As if she sensed him watching her, Iris slowly turned around to see him standing there. She looked surprised at first, but then smiled. It only took Barry a few seconds to decide whether or not he would speak to her. He decided that he would, he walked over to her.

“Hello Barry,” she greeted him politely.

“Hello Iris,” he replied.

“I didn’t expect to see you here on all nights,” she began. Iris was aware that he did not like crowds.

“I’m on duty,” he replied.

“Oh really?” she asked surprised, “You’ve decided to join the rank and file?”

“No. Da- Captain Fry asked if I’d fill in for the New Years ever festivities at MacAllister Square because we’re a bit short staff due to Christmas Holidays. He also think that I’ll blend in better because I’m close in age to the students.”

“Right,” Iris said nodding.

“What about you?” he asked knowing that she was no more a fan of crowds than he was.

“I’m working as well,” Iris said.

“Are you really?” Barry asked,” Have they transferred you to the entertainment desk?”

“No,” Iris said smiling wryly, “I’m still on the crime slash city Hall desk. The mayor is supposed to make an appearance tonight and I’m responsible for covering him.”

“The Citizen really is getting quite the mileage from the mayor,” Barry said, “I’ve been following your stories. It’s quite a read.”

“What can I say,” Iris said with a shrug, “The mayor is the gift that keeps on giving. He moves almost as much papers as the Flash.”

Barry could hear the sound of contempt in her voice at the heroes name.

“Still not a fan of the Flash huh?”

“No,” Iris said with a shake of her head, “He’s a showboating glory hound. I find his actions to be reckless. Especially in how he brought down the building last week. Millions of dollars in property damage.”

“He was trying to prevent a bigger tragedy. In trying to stop the Weather Wizard.”

“Which also leads me to the second reason I don’t like him. With his actions and appearance on the scene. He just encourages a bunch of psychopaths and sociopaths who are looking for attention.”

“I hardly think that the likes of Captain Cold and the Weather Wizard need an excuse to cause mayhem.”

“That’s what my cousine Wally says. He’s a Flash nut. But I still think that those nut jobs would be a bit more…restrained in their actions if the Flash wasn’t around. As it is right now The Flash being on the scene just encourages them to act up and show off more than they already do, ” Iris paused for a moment and gave him small smile, “But enough about the Flash. How was your Christmas?”

“Very nice,” Barry said, “I spent it with Darryl, his girlfriend and her two college aged daughters. How was yours?”

“Uneventful, “Iris said, “Thankfully after the year I had. I could certainly do with the peace and quiet. It was just me , my Mom and my cousine Wally. We attended Christmas Mass. Went home, made dinner ate and watched a couple of dvd’s. We went to bed early because we wanted to be first in line for the boxing day store crashers. That was more exhausting than anything else. But other than that I have no complaints. I did some work but that was it.”

She finished with a shrug.

“That sounds nice,” Barry said, “I take it hat you’re very close to your cousine Wally.”

“Fairly close,” Iris said, “He used to spend a lot of his summers with us..it was an excuse for him to visit the big city and to get away from the fighting at home. His parents are finally splitting up after years of fighting. Not that I don’t blame Wally for coming to see us. His Dad, a trucker was hardly ever home and when he did come home he spent most of his time—hanging out in the Legion with his army buddies. It really was no wonder that he turned to Dan as a substitute Dad.”

Barry could never figure out what had prompted to say what he said next.

“Not much of a substitute if you ask me,” he muttered. Iris heard him and looked at him sharply her blue-grey eyes lighting up with anger.

“Wow Barry,” she began, “I really can’t believe it. You really are a sore loser.”

Barry stiffened.

“What are you talking about?”

“Don’t play dumb,” Iris snapped, “You know damn well what I’m referring to my brothers trial. The fact that he was acquitted—and that you were humiliated on the stand at court.”

“Your brother got off on a technicality.”

“My brother got off Barry because the jurors couldn’t stand your smug pompous holier than-thou attitude. Most of them probably hadn’t a clue what the hell you were talking about and it didn’t help that you sounded condescending. Didn’t the ADA tell you that the jurors were primarily stacked with blue colar workers who hadn’t gone beyond high school?”

“It shouldn’t matter,” he began huffily, “I presented the facts….”

“Seriously Barry?” Iris began disgusted “You are so arrogant and self-righteous it’s not funny. Thank God we never went further than we did. Now that I’ve you for who you really are.”

For some reason the admission seemed to hit him harder than the punch he had received last week from The Icicle.

“Get off your high horse Iris,” he began hotly, “You really are not one to talk. You’re a selfish ambitious woman who uses others for selfish reasons.”

“You’re right Barry. I am an ambitious woman. I make no apologies for that at all. I love my profession and I make no apologies for working my ass off to get where I am and to grow my career.”

“Oh I can see that,” he replied, “You certainly made powerful friends since the time that we’ve met. I saw you with your boyfriend Eric Tanner.”

“Eric Tanner?” she began, “You mean the district attorney? Who the hell told you that I was dating Eric Tanner?”

“I..I saw you together one time. He had his arm around you.”

“I don’t know how that could be,” she said, “Since he’s never touched me. Except for once during an evacuation at City Hall. When the Flash was fighting that maniac the Weather Wizard. He tried to feel me up under the guise of protecting me. I made sure that I was never alone with him again after that.”

“Oh,” Barry began embarrassed but recovered quickly, “That doesn’t discount the fact that you tried to use me.”

“You’re talking about that morning at breakfast aren’t you?”

“Yes I am. You tried to use me to get your brother off.”

“No Barry I didn’t,” she said fiercely, “That’s the conclusion that you jumped to without any facts.”

“You had your brothers court papers with you Iris. Are you trying to tell me that you didn’t invite me out to ask about his case. Which I was the acting CSI on.”

“I ..I invited you out..”

“So you’re admitting it?”

“No,” she said slowly, “Not really.”

“What do you mean?”

“I invited you out to ask you some general questions about my brothers situation. If it was possible to hit someone that hard and have them die. I had no plans on asking you anything specific to his case. And I certainly had no plans on asking you to colour the truth so that my brother would get off. I just wanted to ask you general questions…that I’ve asked you several times before.”

“And you expect me to believe that?”

“I frankly I don’t care what you believe Barry,” she responded, “You know if I really wanted to hurt you and embarrass you I could have done so in other ways.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your dad Barry. He’s in Iron Heights right now for killing your mother.”

Barry froze at hearing this.

“How did you…find out?” he stammered.

“Dan’s lawyer saw your name on the sign in sheet at Blackgate and wondered what you were doing visiting there. He did some checking and he discovered that you were visiting a Henry Allen. After that it was pretty easy from there to figure everything else out. You told me that you lost your folks in a home invasion. But it was really your father who killed your mother.”

“That is not true…” Barry hissed, “That’s not true Iris. I…he was framed. I’ve been working for years to exonerate him.”

Iris shrugged as if it either were not important or she didn’t care.

“And you were going to bring this up?” Barry asked, “To humiliate me on the stand?”

“No. It was the defense attorney who wanted to bring it up. I had to persuade him not to. I told him that it made no difference to the case and would just come across as petty.”

Barry was speechless.

“I…” he began, “You really did that?”

“You two need a room?” Came a voice off to the side.

Barry and Iris turned and found a tall young man in his late 20’s, he had bushy blond hair and a beard. He wore a blue and white ski jacket with a lanyard around his neck and a name tag which read “press”.

“Cameron?” Iris began shocked, “How long have you been standing there?”

“Only long enough to wish that I’d brought popcorn to enjoy the fire works,” he grinned.

“Man you are impossible!,” Iris said shaking her head.

“You’re Cameron Kennedy?” Barry asked him, “The reporter who forced the mayor to retract his statement?”

“Yeah that’s me,” Cameron said grinning proudly.

“Wow,” Barry said, “That’s no small feat.”

“No it wasn’t,” Cameron said, “What the mayor said was false and libelous. I have never had sex with an under aged girl. Now their mothers..”

“Cameron you are such a pig!” Iris said shaking her head in disgust.

“You’re very daring,” Barry said, “To have taken on the Mayor like that.”

“Oh I’m nothing compared to Iris here,” Cameron said, “She puts the ‘I’ in intrepid. I thought that I had guts. Until I began working with her.”

“Really?” Barry asked smiling at Iris.

“Cameron!” Iris protested.

“Take for example last week,” Cameron continued, “Iris gets this major tip that Dave Forbes is meeting with Sammy Botticelli the head of the Botticelli crime family at Bazookas. She wants to get proof but doesn’t know how. So you know what Iris here does? She sneaks in. And dresses up as one of the strippers. And puts a small video camera around a charm she has in a necklace. She films the whole damn meeting. I saw it because I was sitting in the back. You should see Iris up on stage. Wearing this big blond bouffant wig and she’s dressed up in this school girl costume. Never knew that she had those moves!”

“Is this true?” Barry asked turning to Iris.

“It’s nothing…Cameron’s exaggerating,” Iris began colouring, ” I was just doing my job.”

“No she’s not,” Cameron said, “She probably would have gotten more information. Except for the fact that Botticelli liked what he saw and called her over for a lap dance. Then Lasso recognized her and she got thrown out. Still she had enough proof that it warranted a write up in the Citizen two days later. This woman is fearless. She can probably kick Wonder Woman’s ass.”

“I really can’t take you anywhere can I?” Iris said exasperated. Barry looked at Iris with a new sense of appreciation.

“And you are?” Cameron asked Barry changing the subject

“I’m Barry Allen,” Barry said shaking Cameron’s hand, but he was still looking at Iris.

“So you’re Allen the Eagle scout,” Cameron said nodding, “And Iris’ boyfriend.”

“What?” Barry asked puzzled.

“No he isn’t!” Iris stammered nervously her cheeks were red, “Barry isn’t my boyfriend.”

“He isn’t” Cameron began puzzled, “But there’s a picture of you two with your arms around each other over your desk at work…”

“There you are!”

Suddenly Patty Spivot showed up.

“Miss me?” she asked wrapping her arm around Barry’s.

Barry groaned inwardly. Could she be more pathetic? He didn’t even bother to look at Iris. Cameron was barely concealing a laugh.

“I was looking all over for you.”

“I was just talking to Cameron and Iris here,” Barry said trying to extract his arm from her grasp.

“Oh,” Patty said sulkily when she saw Iris. It was no secret that she didn’t like the pretty female reporter, “Hi.”

“Hello,” Cameron said.

“Hello Patty,” Iris said politely, “Are you two working here together?”

“Yes we are,” Patty said before Barry could reply.

Iris’ phone went off and she looked at the screen.

“Then should let you two love birds be,” Iris said nudging Cameron, “My source said that the mayor should be here any minute. Time to torment the Mayor. Happy New Year to you both.”

“Shit,” can you believe those tights,” Patty began sourly when Iris and Cameron were out of earshot, “What a slut.”

The remark caused Barry’s temper to flare. Not only due to how he felt about Iris, but also because it revealed how petty Patty really was. He extracted his arm from her grasp.

“Patty that’s not a very nice thing to say,” he countered harshly.

“It’s the truth,” she said in almost a whine, “I bet you anything that she’s sleeping with half the force. That’s the only way she probably gets information.”

“You’re dead wrong,” Barry said turning on her harshly, “I happen to know that Iris West worked very hard to get where she is. Unlike some people I know.”

“And what is that supposed to mean?” Patty asked hotly.

“You were given virtually everything on a silver platter. As you like to remind everyone, your father put you through Brown then Harvard and he bought you place in the CSI department. It’s all common knowledge that you practically flunked the police qualifications. The only reason you got a place on the force was because your dad gave them a generous donation.”

“And like yours didn’t?”

“Sure Darryl provided a great reference. But I passed all my qualifications. On my own and earned my way through school. The way you look down on people who come from a blue color background or don’t have a college degree. Which is why it will never work between you and me. No matter how much you try and bad mouth women like Iris West. I have no interest in . I am not interested in any sort of relationship with you beyond the professional.”

“You really are a stuck up asshole you know that?”

“Maybe I am,” Barry said folding his arms across his chest, signifying that the conversation was over.

Patty stomped off in a huff. Barry had not meant to be so harsh, but he was sick of her haughty attitude and the way she spoke about Iris West did not help things either.

Barry milled around some more, but the crowd was dissipating. People were either going home or to private parties. Barry received a text message from Hal Jordan. Midnight was yet to reach theWest Coast, and Hal said that he would be ringing in the new year at a party with some of his old Air Force buddies at a club, a lot of ‘Honey’s’ would be in attendance. Barry was free to come in and join. Barry had said that he might come over..but that was not what he had on his mind. All he could think about was Iris West and their exchange. He could not shake the words that had come from Cameron about the fact that Iris had a photo of them both over her desk at work.

Barry had remembered when the photo had been taken in front of the Belger art gallery. It had been a sculpture done by John Brown, the famous New York sculptor. The piece had been called “Safekeeping” and it was made out of Bronze. Barry thought that it looked like a chair. But Iris insisted that it represented the tension between couples. They debated the significance for about five minutes. An elderly woman came by and asked when they were getting married. Without missing a beat, Iris smiled and asked ‘how could she tell?’

The woman had remarked that it was due to the way they fought, as if they were very much in love.

Iris then told her that they were getting married the following summer and took out her cell phone from her purse and asked if the woman would mind taking a picture of them for posterity. The woman happily agreed, and Barry and Iris posed as if they were a couple in love about to be engaged.

That was Iris always doing some sort of practical joke she had a very dry sense of humour. But the fact was that Barry had been proud when Iris had suggested that they were married. He did not know why, but the image that remained with him for days. Given the fact that they were in that complicated grey area, of being more than just friends but neither a couple. Neither of them had brought up their future dreams, beyond Iris sharing that she might want to have kids one day.

As much as they had talked in the past. They had never gone in deep about their their respective family histories. He knew that her parents had divorced when she was a kid and she had moved to Keystone when she was 12 with her younger brother and Mother. She said her father lived somewhere in Arizona but she did not keep in touch with him very much. The way in which she had told him the news made Barry think that not only did she not keep in touch with him but she had no intention of doing so. It was fine with him. He did not need to know the further details of her life. He had been pleased with what he had seen of her, she was very close to her mother, and took care of her. She also loved her cousine Wally like a brother. Barry assumed that if she had not been in contact with her Dad she must have had good reason for it.

As for Barry he had only shared with her that he had lost his parents due to a ‘home invasion’ when he was younger and had been taken in by Darryl Fry a family friend. Iris had not pried further. If it was one thing he liked and admired about her, was the fact that Iris knew when to let something drop and not pry. She was charmingly persistent. But far from obnoxious and knew how to give someone their space to open up. It had been one of the reasons he had been attracted to her.

Barry had forgotten all about the picture and the statue until Cameron brought it up. He had not thought that she thought anything serious about it. Barry had a copy of the shot in his computer but nothing besides that. He was surprised to learn that Iris had it displayed at work. He wondered if she had done so as a reminder of it being a joke or something else… he was determined to find out. But first he had to finish this shift.

Barry milled around the crowd, his eyes alert for anything. But his mind still on Iris and what she had said. Had she really asked the lawyer not to bring up his fathers’ time in prison? Barry knew that it was easy for anyone with resources to find out that Henry Allen was in Iron Heights. But he knew that most people wouldn’t. No one would confuse the mild mannered CSI with one of the many men who were in jail for domestic abuse. It’s not as if Henry Allen had ever been a famous doctor who ended up in the media. Even in going through old newspaper reports, Barry had found that his mothers murder had only merited an inch of coverage, it was over shadowed by more important things such as the Central City Diamonds drive for the pennant.

Iris could easily have allowed him to be embarrassed in the court room, it would have gotten her brother off more easily, by making him look like a hypocrite. But for whatever reason she decided to have it suppressed, what made it even more moving for him was that she really had no tie to him.

Suddenly Barry’s ears perked up as he was made aware of a commotion. It was in the area of a crowd a few yards away. Barry shouldered his way through the crowd. He found a large beefy looking young man who was wearing a Missouri Chieftans football team jacket.

Barry walked up to him and cut in between him and his girlfriend. The guy outweighed Barry by 50lbs and 2 inches.

“Hey buddy you wanna calm down,” Barry began.

“Fuck you,” the guy began he made a move to push Barry aside, but Barry easily side stepped him, moved behind his back and pinned his arm to his side and had him on the ground and cuffed him.

“You were saying?” Barry asked coldly.

The guy bucked beneath Barry but without much success.

“Get off me asshole!” he screamed.

“You’re under arrest,” Barry began.

“You can’t do that!” the guy yelled, “You’re not a cop!”

“Actually I am,” Barry said taking his badge out of his pocket with a free hand and flashing it before the guys eyes.

“Fuck!” the guy swore. Barry read the guy his rights called in the arrest and moment’s later two uniformed officers were there accompanied by Darryl Frye.

“That was a great take down son,” Darryl told Barry. Barry shrugged.

“Well the six weeks I spent at the police academy weren’t all for nothing,” Barry joked, “Not bad for a lab rat huh?”

“Don’t let the joshing from the guys on the force get to you. Policing is complex work and we appreciate guys like you who think before acting. Guys who fly by the seat of their pants tend to bring lawsuits. You think through and save us money. Believe it or not your work on the Morin case went a long way to presenting the case towards city hall why our budget shouldn’t be slashed.”

“Thanks Darryl.”

“Speaking of flying by the seat of ones pants….you really should have a chat with that friend of yours.”

“Which one?”

“That pretty reporter you used to hang around with. Ilsa…Indra..”

“You mean Iris,” Barry said a lump forming at the back of his throat as he thought about the argument that they had had an hour earlier,” Iris West. She’s a reporter at the Citizen.”

“Yeah that one. Iris. Don’t know how I forgot that name…At any rate you really need to talk to her. She’s taking the muck raking journalist act a bit too far with the mayor. The mayor might be amused and flattered by the attention, But I can tell you this. His brother and the pet attack dog that they hang around with. Sandro Lasso sure ain’t. The Forbes depend a lot on the Mayor being in office to get kickbacks and the like for their business DeLux We can’t protect her. We can only investigate after the fact if something happens to her….you need to tell her to be careful.”

Barry bristled..if anything happened to Iris. If Lasso or one of the Forbes brothers so much as touched a hair on her head.

“I’ll have a talk with her,” he said soberly.

“Thanks Barry. I just thought you’d like to know. I remember how tight you two seemed to be. I thought that you were an item.”

“No…we were..we’re friends.”

“Anyway. I knew that you wouldn’t forgive me if I didn’t warn you and something happened to her.”

“I appreciate the warning Darryl. I’ll go and find her right now. I’m sure that she’s still milling about.”

Barry took out his cell phone and tried to call Iris. No answer. He tried again. He stared at his phone for several minutes. He made his way to a clear part of the parking lot and using his powers quickly checked each car until he found Iris’ blue Ford Fiesta in the parking lot. The motor was still cold. But he was startled by the sound of someone moaning. He looked around puzzled and went to the other side of the car and there he found Cameron Kennedy lying on the ground beside the passenger door struggling to get up. The light from the over head parking lot lamps showed a healthy discoloration. Given the distance to the nearest building, Barry couldn’t move Cameron without being seen.

Barry glanced around and seeing that there was no one in sight he rubbed his hands together as fast as possible until they were burning. He then shoved both of his hands under Cameron’s coat and his arm pits to provide him with some warmth. As soon as he saw Cameron stir to consciousness he removed his hand.

“Ugh..”

“Cameron?” Barry began, “Let’s get you inside.”

Barry crouched down by the door and watched as Cameron struggled to regain his consciousness.

“You doing okay there buddy?” Barry began, “Start on the partying a bit early?”

Cameron looked Barry his face filled with confusion.

“What…Allen?”

“Yeah it’s me,” Barry said. “The Eagle scout.”

“Where am I?”

“You don’t know?” Barry asked.

“No..I,”

“You’re sitting inside Iris’s car. In the parking lot of McAllister Square.”

“I am?” Cameron asked startled.

“Yeah you are.”

“Where’s Iris?”

“That’s what I came here to ask you. Do you know where she is. I have to find her.”

“The last time..the last oh shit..” Cameron groaned slipping further down inside the seat.

Barry became more alarmed by Camerons’ state. Suddenly a thought came to his head. He reached up behind Cameron’s neck and felt a huge bump the size of an egg. Cameron let out a yell. Barry witnessed such a bruise once before and it was down in the Bat cave where Batman had invited him one night for a second opinion on the death of a member of the Court of Owls. Batman had wanted to know Barry’s (he had been dressed as the Flash) opinion on the cause of death was caused by pressure applied to his internal jugular vein or some other method. Batman had then went on to show him how it could be applied. Batman had informed him that it was a very difficult move to apply and more often than not did not work. The move had been created by the Zhonghua Martial Arts school of Kung Fun in Jilin Province in China. It was a very exclusive school and was not open to many people. Even so the move was shown to only the most elite students. If the move or the practitioners of the school were joining organized crime or even the Owls then things were very dangerous indeed. Barry had to wonder what or how Cameron had managed to acquire such a bruise.

“Cameron,” Barry began gently but his tone had so much seriousness that Cameron looked at him slightly alarmed, “I need you trace back and tell me we what happened after you and Iris left me.”

“We went off to the press gallery to watch the show…I asked Iris if she didn’t want to go to the parking lot where the VIP’s drove up so that we could talk to the mayor….she said no. She said that we could do that later. She knew an easier way to get in. We stood near the front and watched while the Mayor gave his speech and as soon as he left the stage, Iris nudged me and we left and went back behind McAllister building to this alleyway. I thought that it was odd, But Iris told me to trust her, she knew what she was doing….about five minutes later the Mayor shows up with his goon Lasso. Iris walks right up to the Mayor and wants to know what he has to say about the video where he’s smoking crack. The mayor stammers some response that he hasn’t a clue what she’s talking about. Before Iris can respond…Lasso gets up in her face, he pushes his hand in Iris’ face and tells her to back off. I get angry and push Lasso away and yell at him not to touch her. The next thing I know I feel something hard on by neck and….that’s all I remember except for you standing her over me.”

You’ll be okay Cameron,” Barry said seriously, “But you should get yourself to the hospital to have that bruis checked out. Let me call you a cab..” Barry took out his cell phone from his pocket and dialed a taxi company.

Just wait here. Someone will be here soon.”

I told Iris we should have seen the mayor somewhere more public,” Cameron asked rubbing the back of his neck,” But she didn’t want any of the other media organizations in the Gem City region to find out what she’s up to. It’ no secret that she’s been after the mayor and that he likes her. She’s a good journalist. But she can be reckless…what are you going to do next?”

I’m going to find Iris,” Barry said firmly.

January 1, 2013, 1:30am

Juan Morrillo excused himself from the party and went into his kitchen to get more rum to add to the punch bowl. The new years party was still going strong. Puerto Ricans loved a great party and everyone really needed to cut loose the tough year. He had been glad that he had gotten this night off, seniority and the foresight to ask it off back in July had factored into it.

He had opened the fridge when he felt a slight breeze behind him. He frowned and wondered if his brother in law had left the kitchen door open again to sneak smoke. The man was so absentminded..

He took out the rum and turned around…almost jumping out of his skin as he saw the large athletic figure of a man standing by the kitchen counter the two horns…no the two wings jutting out at the sides of his head.

It was the Flash. The Gem Cities own guardian angel. Morillo had seen the hero half a dozen times during the course of his police work and unlike other cops wasn’t resentful of his actions in helping out the police department. The guy was more buff and muscular up close in person. His wife had the hots for the Flash and was continually pestering Morillo to get in shape like the superhero.

Carojo!” he exclaimed, “Flash you gave me a freaking heart attack!”

Sorry Detective,” The Flash said in that odd metallic voice of his, “But I really need your help. Where can I find Sandro Lasso?”

Lasso? You mean the Mayors…bodyguard?”

Yes him.”

What do you want to mess with him for?”

I think he might have taken a friend of mine, and I have to find her.”

Have you checked his condo?”

Yes he’s not there.”

“Then you might want to check out the Boom Boom room on 12th street. If he’s not there you might want to check out his girlfriends place on Spruce street. The numbers’ 14 I think. If he’s not there then he has to be at the soccer club he runs down on Davenport. It masquerades as a social club and a soccer club. But it’s his main office and where he sells drugs out of. His office is in the basement behind steel doors.”

Thanks,” The Flash said and he was gone.

****/

January 1 1:47am, 2013

When Iris West awoke, She had a pounding headache, that was ten times worse than any hang over that she had experienced. She tried lifting her head but found that with every inch that she tried to lift her head, her neck screamed out in agony. She vaguely became conscious that someone in the room was yelling. She slowly lifted her head and found that she was in some sort of room..a lounge with couches and tables. Off to one side sitting at the tables was a bespeckled man. Standing over him to one side gesticulating wildly was Sandro Lasso.

You see anything on that phone yet?” she heard a male voice bellow. The voice sounded very familiar, a voice with spoke to someone whose mother tongue was not English or had grown up in a southern European home.

No,” someone replied,” I can’t crack the password.”

What the fuck do we pay you for?” Lasso demanded

Iris became alarmed and tried to get up but found that she couldn’t because she was tied down to a chair.

It’s not that easy,” the guy with the glasses said in an almost whine. He glanced past Lasso and looked at Iris, his eyes widening in surprise as he saw that she was awake.

Why don’t you ask her she’s awake.”

Lasso spun around and found Iris staring at them. He angrily stomped over to her. Iris tried to flinch out of his reach but found that she could not move, she was tied to some sort of chair. Iris mind began to race, the last she remembered was confronting the Mayor in the alleyway next to the grand stand at McAllister Square. The alleyway was a six foot space which space which separated the main performance building from a large warehouse which was used to temporarily store props and equipment.

She knew that the Mayor would show up here, because this was where the drug dealers hung out after concerts and the Mayor would sure to be here to score some blow. As she expected his enormous figure appeared with Lasso and some other thug in tow. Iris waited in the shadows until he appeared before springing forth from her hiding place. Behind her she could feel Cameron clutching at her sleeve and whispering for her not to do it. He told her that this was too isolated and Lasso was too dangerous. And if anything happened no one would vouch for them. Iris ignored him, this was the type of opportunity she had been waiting for, for weeks. The Mayor had been keeping a low profile and when he was out he was usually covered by a phalanx of bodyguards. She knew that this was one appearance that he would be seen at. And when her source told her that two of his usual bodyguards were seen at a pre News Years eve party practically falling over themselves drunk. She knew that it would be the perfect opportunity to ambush the mayor.

Wake up West,” Lasso demanded

What..” she began, “Where am I?”

Listen up!” Lasso snapped, ‘What’s the password for your phone West?”

What?”

The password to your phone you stupid bitch,” he snapped waving her cell phone in her face, “What is it?”

A-S-S-H-O-L-E,” Iris sneered.

Lasso slapped her so hard that she felt her lip split. Iris felt her temper flare. As she was immediately flooded with memories of her father hitting her with his belt.

You really are a fucking bitch you know that,” Lasso snarled, “The only reason I didn’t finish you off before was because of the Mayor. He thinks he’s going to fuck you. Forbes…three wives and he still hasn’t learned a fucking thing about women. You don’t think I don’t see what you’re up to in that cheap get up?”

Do you think I’d have the video on that phone? You really are nothing but a dumb ape Lasso,” Iris sneered,” You think that the Forbes are going to stick by you when you? You aren’t anything more than their fall guy. When they go down they are going cut you loose and then we’ll see who is really getting screwed.”

It was clear by the look on Lasso’s face that he was not pleased with Iris’ response.

Where is it?” he bellowed at her.

Go to hell,” Iris snapped. Iris would rather die right here than capitulate to the wishes of Sandro Lasso

You know. You have a smart mouth. I’ll give you something that will shut you up and make you act like a proper woman,” he walked over to the desk and opened one of the drawers. He extracted a long rectangular box about 6 inches in length. Lasso took out a small rectangular box about the same size of a glasses case. He opened it and to Iris’ alarm he took out a syringe and fiddled with it for an instant before plunging it into a small

I have a few girls who I have working. Sometimes they aren’t so cooperative. But this helps to loosen them up. A lot. Maybe when we’re finished here I’ll offer you up to the mayor myself.”

Lasso took a rubber band and strapped it over Iris bicep to cut off the flow of blood to her fore arm. Lasso took out a butterfly knife and slit the sleeve on Iris turtle neck sweater all the way up to the elbow.

Hey Sandro do you really think that’s a good idea.”

Shut the fuck up Howie. If you can’t help with this get out. But I need to remind you if that damn thing gets out..you’ll be lucky to get a job flipping burgers at McDonalds. Now get your ass over here and hold her down. You too Steve.”

Iris struggled against her binds, but it was of no use, it was as if she was locked down by iron bars.

She watched helplessly as the crack went into her arm.

****/

January 1 1:53 am, 2013

When the Flash burst through the doors of the Central City Sharks Soccer Club. To his dismay he found Iris tied to a chair. With Lasso standing over her laughing.

He found Iris West strapped to a chair her head hanging down on her chest. Standing over her was Sandro Lasso. Two other men stood off to the side.

The Flash quickly knocked down the two goombah’s. But grabbed Lasso by the shirt front and raised him off the ground.

What did you do to her?” he screamed.

I gave her something that will shut her fat mouth,” Lasso sneered. The Flash raced to Iris side and took one look at her torn sleeve and the blood spouting from her vein and realized what happened. Lasso had injected her with some kind of narcotic.

What did you give her Lasso,”

Guess,” Lasso sneered.

The Flash grabbed Lasso by the shoulders and raced out the door until they reached the top of the Crysler building the 2nd highest office tower in Central City.

The Flash grabbed Lasso by the ankles and held him over the building to the street below.”

Put me down!” Lasso screamed.

What?” The Flash sneered

I said put me down.”

Okay.”

The Flash released Lasso and he went hurtling down the 52 stories to the pavement. The Flash ran down the building passing Lasso’s screaming body. Then just when Lasso had reached the 10th floor,

The whirled his arms to create a vortex that would soften Lasso’s fall. Lasso fell to the ground like a heap of bricks.

Let’s try this again Lasso,” The Flash said grabbing Lasso by his shoulders and slamming him against the wall, “What did you give Iris West?”

I…it was crack”

How much?”

I don’t know. 4-10 cc’s…” Lasso stammered.

The Flash belted Lasso hard against the side of the head. Five c’s of crack was enough to induce a heart attack in someone who had built up a resistance to cocaine it would be fatal for someone to someone like Iris West who didn’t touch the stuff.

I’m generally not an angry or violent guy Lasso. But you crossed the line big time with Iris West. If you had harmed her more than you did…I don’t know what I would have done you. You are going to back off from Iris West and confess to every single thing you.”

With that he tied up Lasso and left him on the floor of the sidewalk. First making sure to call in his location to the police.

The Flash then raced to Iris’ side and unfastened her, she was fighting for consciousness. He hoisted her into his arms.

“Stay with me Iris,” he said softly he did not use his Flash voice which occurred when he made his vocal cause vibrate.

Iris briefly lifted her head recognizing his voice.

“Barry..” she began.

“Ssh,” he said kissing her forehead. Iris opened her eyes and they widened surprised when she saw it was the Flash.

“Flash!”

“Yes it’s me,” he said, “The showboat.”

Just then he heard the sound of a squad car outside. The Flash looked down and sighed with relief at seeing Morillo was among them. Morillo was one of the more honest cops and on the force and wasn’t partial to the mayor, especially after he made a racial slurs about ‘spics’.

Morrillo took one look at Iris West unconscious in Flash’s arms and ascertained what happened.

“I need to get her to the hospital,” Flash said, “We can talk there.”

And he was gone.

January 1, 2013 1: 37am

Flash was fortunate to find one of the ER doctors, whom he recognized as being David Weiss from his interaction with the police force, talking to one of the nurses on staff. He turned and at surprise at seeing the super hero dash into the room with an unconscious woman in his arms. He rushed to The Flash’s side.

“I need your help,. She suffered an overdose of drugs,” The Flash said.

“How long do you know that she was out?” the doctor asked.

“I don’t know,” The Flash said, “I think about five ten minutes.”

“Do you know what she was given?”

“Crack I think,” The Flash said, “5 to 10 cc’s.”

The doctor gave the nurse some instructions and she picked up the phone.

Two orderlies took Iris from his arms and placed her on a gurney. They then headed for the emergency ward. The Flash followed.

“You can’t be in here son,” The head nurse said stopping him

“I know but..”

“She’ll be fine. We’ll do our best. You probably saved her life. Just wait here.”

The Flash stood outside his arms across his chest concerned. A nurse came up to him.

“Is there anyone I can call on her behalf?”

“I..” The Flash began, “Try Maureen Connor in Keystone. I don’t have her number. Wait…”

The Flash was gone and back in less than 30 seconds. He gave the nurse a piece of paper.

“This is her mom,” he said, “Call her.”

For the next few hours The Flash stood in the background. He was frantic with worry and had to prevent himself from pacing back and forth. He saw it when Maureen O’Connor came charging through the doors to the building followed by her nephew Wally West. She stopped to talk to the emergency nurse, her frantic voice carrying throughout the room.

“Oh my Baby!” Maureen gushed.

Wally stopped to gawk at the Flash.

“Holy crap!” he exclaimed, “Are you the Flash?”

“Yes I’m The Flash.”

“Really?” Wally asked his green eyes shinning, “I was on the track team in high school. I was a sprinter. Now I do decathlon. I’m the captain of the men’s lacrosse team. Oh man this is a dream come true. The guys on the team will never believe this!”

Whenever Flash appeared outside of Iris’ room. The nursing staff would appear to coo over him. He answered their questions when possible and deflected the more overt come ons.

The following morning Captain Fry and Detective Juan Morillo showed up.

The Flash had trained himself a long time ago trained himself to separate his Flash identities so that he wouldn’t be tripped up. He had to if he was going to be working with the police.

Dr. Weiss met the two police officers.

“How long will she be down?” Frye asked.

“It will take about a day to flush it of her system. She should be down for a few days. She’ll need time to recuperate. Do you know who did this to her?”

“It was Sandro Lasso,” The Flash said over from the wall where he was leaning.

Frye walked up to the Flash.

“It’s Central Cities own celebrity,” Frye said drily.

“Captain,” The Flash replied, “Didn’t expect to see you here. Isn’t this a bit beneath your paygrade?”

“I’m always interested in anything that involves the Mayors staff.”

“I wouldn’t call Sandro Lasso a member of the mayors staff,” The Flash responded, “He’s an animal that needs to be put away.”

Morillo laughed, but Frye silenced him with a look.

“So you’re responsible for this?”

“Yes,” The Flash said, “I rescued Iris West.”

“How did you know she was taken?”

“I heard it on the bandwidth,” he said touching the wings at the side of his head.

“You and me are going to have to have a little chat one day about your propensity to interfere with police work.”

January 3, 2013 12:37am

The Flash sat in the chair opposite from Iris West. He had been doing this for the last two days while she had been held under sedation as the crack cocaine was flushed out of her system. The Flash had been by her side for almost the entire time. His alter ego Barry Allen, had booked some well over due holiday time, Barry Allen booked some well over due holiday time off, ostensibly to go to participate in a Tough Mudder competition in Arizona.

Apart from a few emergencies he had to attend to with the League, he never once left Iris side. After being shooed away a few times by the nurses, he either disappeared until they did their rounds. Or went to vibrate mode. He had discovered that if he vibrated at such a high speed he was rendered virtually invisible.

Most of the time he just sat across from her, other times he held her unconscious hand in his own. He did not know what he would do if he lost her..Over the past two days all this mind could do was frantically think about the lost opportunities. When he had seen Iris slumped over the chair unconscious with the needle sticking out of her arm he had felt his heart jump and his temper flare.

One thing he liked about being the Flash and being in the Flash costume that it gave him the opportunity to cut loose and be himself. Many people considered Barry to be an Eagle Scout. Mild mannered and boring. Eagle Scout Allen was what he was called. But that wasn’t the case at all. Barry had a temper, which he had inherited from his father. He didn’t blow up, but he was prone to brood and sulk sometimes.

It was a trait that he had picked up from his father and which he struggled and fought to go against. It was why he had been grateful for Darryl Fry taking him in. Darryl had modeled ideal masculine behavior for him. He taught Barry that restraint was the biggest type of strength that there was. And working alongside someone like Superman had taught him that was truly the case.

But it was still a part of himself that he could not do away with completely. Having a methodical and analytical mind he was apt to go for black and white thinking. Instead of the shades of grey. He had learned over the years to curtail that part of his personality since he knew that it ruined and spoiled relationships. But there were times when it did come out. Like the morning at breakfast with Iris West when he had accused her of only being interested in him to help her career. At first he had over looked what he had said to her, chalking it up to righteous anger…especially when he had seen her with Eric Tanner. But as time went on, he had developed a nagging feeling wondering if at least should have enquired more about what she said. He knew that Iris was an ambitious woman. But she never struck him as the type of person who would back stab or use people to get what he wanted

Sitting across from Iris right now all he could think about was all of their encounters, and the almost missed opportunities. He could not help but replay their last argument and wondered if she really meant what she had said that it was good that they had not ended up together. He had to…

Suddenly he saw her stir awake in bed, he was alert at once, her eyes slowly fluttered open her eyes slowly looking around the room as she tried to adjust her eyes to her surroundings. Her eyes widened in surprise at seeing him there.

“F…Flash,” she began startled, “What are you doing here?”

“Hey take it easy,” he began he was on his feet at once and at her side.

“I didn’t expect to see you here…where am I?”

“You’re at the hospital,” he said, “Do you remember anything of what happened?”

“Um…,” she began. The Flash paused as he waited for her to collect her thoughts.

“The last I remembered was that Lasso had me strapped to a chair at some club..”

“That’s right,” The Flash said, “He injected you with crack cocaine, I guess to get information out of you. But the dosage he gave you was too high. You overdosed and almost had a heart attack.”

“Oh my God,” Iris began horrified, “Did you bring me here?”

“Yeah I did.”

“And now..?”

“The doctors flushed the cocaine out of your system. You should be clean now.”

Iris thought back to all the times she had been at parties in New York where she had left early when the coke was brought out. She had made it a serious point to avoid any kind of narcotic. She knew how addictive it was and how it was ruinous to people’s lives.

“How long was I out for?”

“Two days.”

“Does my Mom know where I am?”

“Yes,” The Flash said, “The nurses phoned her. She and your cousine they arrived here shortly after your were admitted.”

“Oh..okay,” Iris began,” she rested back on the pillow and looked him over carefully, “How did you come to find me?”

“I heard it over the police bands that you were abducted.”

“You monitor that?”

“Of course.”

“Oh wow,” Iris said, “I don’t know what to say. ..I guess that I owe you big time.”

“For what?”

“I mean..that hatchet job I wrote up on you months back in the Citizen saying that you were nothing but an attention seeking glory hound. I was so wrong.”

“I don’t blame you Iris,” The Flash said with a slight smile, “You were only acting on the information that you had at the time.”

“What time is it?”

“Shortly after 1am.”

“Oh,”

“Are you hungry? He asked, “I can call the nurse.”

“To tell you the truth Flash. Right now I would kill for a cup of coffee.”

The Flash smiled.

“I’ll be right back,” he said.

He was back in less than five minutes with a large Jitters coffee cup

“A double espresso macchiato,” he said, “Just the way you like it.”

Iris was practically speechless.

“Gosh Flash you didn’t have to do that..”

“It’s no problem at all,” he said.

“You found a Jitters location that’s still open?”

“There’s one on West 8th street still open for the club crowd,” he said he walked over to pass her the cup. Iris sat up to receive the cup but her hand was still too weak. It tipped over and some of the contents fell on the Flash’s right hand.

The Flash yanked his right hand away in pain.

“Oh damn!” Iris exclaimed alarmed. She grabbed at the rest of the cup with both of her hands, “I can’t believe that I did that. Are you okay?”

“Yeah I am,

“Let me see your hand.”

“Iris really it’s nothing.”

“No it isn’t. Please let me see your hand,” she insisted. The Flash slowly gave her his right hand and she slowly and she pulled back his glove. He had strong forearm. Iris took his hand in between both of hers. She examined his hand carefully. His hand felt strong, but soft. Clearly he wasn’t used to manual labour, but yet should feel all that coiled power in it.

“Iris it’s really nothing,” he stammered.

“No it isn’t,” she said she took the edge of the bed sheet and wiped his still damp hand.

Smiling she lifted his hand to her lips and gently blew across it.

“That feel better?” she asked softly.

“Much,” he replied his voice thick.

It was then she noticed the gold ring on his middle finger there was a lighting strike across the crest. She had seen it somewhere before…Suddenly the door opened, it was the night nurse. The Flash snatched his hand away from hers and suddenly he was gone.

Over the next several days Iris received a parade of visitors.

First was Captain Daryl Frye and Morillo.

They asked her to give her statement about what happened. Iris gave them generalities of what she had experienced.

“You’re playing a dangerous game there young lady. These are very dangerous and unstable people you are dealing with. You almost died,” Frye said, “It’s what I told Barry. He promised to speak with you.”

“Barry?” Iris asked amused.

“Yes. I saw him the night you were taken. I asked Barry to have a talk with you. He cares about you very much.”

“Obviously not enough to come and see me,” she replied almost petulantly.

“That’s because on vacation in Arizona. Participating in one of his endurance races. I thought that he would have had enough excitement as a cop,” Frye replied frowning at her tone.

“Whatever the case is. It was the Flash who responsible for saving me. Not Barry,” Iris paused remembering her manners, “Look Captain…I’m sorry. That came out wrong. I…I’m just tired and confused.”

“I’ll let you get some rest,” Captain Fry said going for the door, “But it was Barry who called in the fact that you were missing. That’s what led to that…ma…the Flash saving you.”

Edith Stern and Michael Clark. Edith Stern came by in the afternoon. Stern had brought her a ‘get well’ gift consisting of a Moleskine reporter notebook and a Kaweco fountain pen. Clark gave her a box of Lindt chocolates. They both said that they were happy that Iris was okay and that she should take off as much time as she needed. But Iris knew that they both expected a detailed write up of her ordeal in a future issue. Clark barely held back that they would make sure that all the sordid details would be printed, and that Mayor Forbes would not be able to wiggle out of this one.

Wally came by the next day. He was wearing an open leather jacket, a Flash T-shirt, and motorcycle boots it was topped off with a belt buckle which read ‘Harley Davidson’. He was carrying a large black canvas shopping bag.

“Hey kiddo,” she said.

“Hey cuz” he said coming over to her side and giving her a kiss on the cheek, “I brought this for you.”

“What is it?” she asked opening the bag.

“A copy of the latest New York Sunday Times and your iPad. I loaded it with a weeks worth of podcasts from that online station you like listening to Monocle 24 and NPR.”

“Thanks,” Iris said truly grateful. She looked him over carefully, recognizing that the brown leather Carmine Bomber jacket he sported was new as was the pair of Harley Davidson motorcycle boots. Iris was familiar with the jacket as she had seen several guys on Wall street sporting the very same design or similar.

“Nice jacket,” she said, “It’s an Andrew Marc isn’t it?”

“You recognize it?” he asked,” Yeah it is. You like it?”

“Yeah I like it a lot,” Iris said, “But I thought that you were a starving student. Did you get a raise at the shop or did your folks spring for it?”

Wally worked as a part time mechanic at New Port Customs autos.

“Naw. This is all from Dan.”

“Daniel..” Iris began frowning, “He’s still around?”

“No,” Wally said, “He told me that he was skipping town for awhile. He got a job in Chicago. This was a combined going away and Christmas present.”

“Shit,” she swore.

“Hey don’t be like that,” Wally said crossly, “Dan’s a good guy. He was probably framed by that stuck up prick Barry Allen.”

“Wally!” she admonished, “Don’t say that, it’s not nice.”

“Why shouldn’t I? He tried to put Dan away.”

“Dan got into trouble all on his own. He didn’t need help from Barry Allen. In fact if it hadn’t been for Barry’s testimony Dan would have been in prison.”

“Honestly Iris,” Wally continued, “I don’t see why you’re so stuck on Allen. He doesn’t deserve you. I bet you that ass-I bet you that jerk hasn’t even come by to see you.”

Iris paused for a moment and shook her head no.

“No,” she said trying to keep the hurt out of her voice, “He hasn’t.”

“See what did I tell you. He’s a jerk who doesn’t deserve you!. Now the Flash on the other hand. That dude is someone you should really hook up with.”

“The Flash?” she asked bemused. Wally was always trying to hook her up. He insisted on vetting on her boyfriends.

“Yeah the Flash. Now there’s a great guy. Not only did he save your life. But he was on the look out for you.”

“Yes I saw him when I woke up.”

“No man. He was here more than that.”

“What?” Iris asked startled, “You’re kidding?”

“No not all. He was there in the waiting room. The nurses had to shush him away. I really think the dude is into you. He’s even promised to make an appearance at my Lacross practice next week.”

“I..I really don’t know what to say…” Iris began, “The Flash really stayed with me?”

“Oh yeah,” Wally said, “If you don’t believe me ask the nurse. Brittney. She’s the cute blond with the great a-.”

“Wally,” Iris admonished him.

“Sorry,” he said grinning, “I got carried away. Really you should ask her. He’s your type.”

“My type?” Iris asked although she suspected that she knew what he was talking about. She had inherited her mothers taste for strong well built men. No other need apply….

“The dude is seriously jacked!”

“And how would you know that it’s not padding?”

“Trust me it ain’t. I saw him up close. It’s real.”

“Whatever the case is. He’s a vigilante who wears a mask. The prospects of a relationship working out full time are unlikely.”

“Maybe he’ll make an exception for you!” Wally crowed. Wally and Iris chatted for another half an hour before he said that he had to get back to his apartment to finish a paper. Iris spent the rest of the evening reading the Times. Then she fell asleep to the sound of Monocle’s podcast. Her dreams filled with The Flash picking her up and taking her to Paris.

/

Cameron Kennedy was the last to arrive Iris. She was sitting up in bed busily scribbling on her new moleskine pad.

“Hey there,” Cameron said grinning.

“About time you showed up,” Iris said jokingly, “Hope that you’re not grabbing my bi-line on the Mayor.”

“How can I when you’re the main story?”

“Have you heard anything about the Mayor?”

“He’s still on vacation in Bermuda. Un-available for comment. Lasso is waiting on a bail hearing. He won’t talk to the press.”

“Figures.”

“I come bearing a peace offering”

He held out a large Jitters coffee cup and a small brown paper bag.

“So you got my text then?” Iris asked.

“Yes I got your text,” he said handing her the cup and the bag, “One Jitters Caramel Macchiatto with two shots of espresso and extra caramel. And one oat fudge bar with lots of fudge.”

“Oh thank you God!” Iris exclaimed. She opened the bag and took out the bar and sunk her teeth into it.

“Well I hope this makes up for me not coming sooner,” Cameron replied a bemused smiled on his face as he watched her eat.

“Actually if it’s anything I should be buying you coffee.”

“I’d prefer a nice bottle of Veuve Cliquot.”

“Don’t push it,” Iris said. Cameron came from a wealthy family and had not discarded his extravagant tastes, ” Edith said that you were attacked by Lasso and his goons. I’m guessing that I have you to thank for calling the cops.”

“I wish. No that wasn’t me.”

“Who was it?” Iris asked puzzled.

“It was your buddy. Barry Allen.”

“Barry Allen?”

“Yeah,” Cameron said,” he found me lying by your car and asked me what happened. I told him and then he was gone like a bat out of hell.”

“Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure. When I came to. I was sitting inside your car with Allen standing over me. He said that he was trying to find you. And asked me what happened. I told him. But you know what’s really weird.”

“What?”

“He reaches behind my neck and sees that I have this huge goose egg. I don’t know how he figured it out.”

“He’s a CSI remember?”

“I know but…”

“Barry’s the kind of guy who tends to think outside the box. It’s why he’s so good at solving cases,” Iris said with a slight frown, ” His Dad—Captain Fry was here yesterday telling me that he asked Barry to talk to me about not messing with Lasso. But I didn’t think that he’d follow through on it.”

“Why not?”

“Barry Allen doesn’t exactly like me.”

“You’re kidding me right?”

“Of course not. You saw us fighting on New Years eve.”

“Yeah I did,” he said, “But that was all show. I could cut the sexual tension between you two with a knife.”

“You watch too much porn.”

“Come on Iris be serious. He’s crazy about you.”

“No he isn’t. If he had half the feeling you seem to think he does about me. He would have shown up to visit.”

“Maybe he doesn’t know you’re in the hospital.”

“His Dad…his foster father is a Captain on the police force. They are very tight. Fry came by to see me yesterday, he had to given the fact that the mayors involved. Barry’s down in Arizona participating in one of his endurance races.”

“What makes you think that Allen hates you?”

“A few months back he accused me of using him to advance my career.”

“And did you?”

“Of course not!”

“Allen doesn’t look like the type of guy to fly off the handle like that. If he did it must be for a good reason.”

“Like what?”

“Look,” Cameron said leaning forward and placing a hand on her forearm, “Iris I love you to bits and pieces. But that same stubborn determination you have in taking down bad guys. Can work against you at times.”

“Please don’t be shy Cameron. Just tell me how you really feel!”

“Come on,” he said, “You know I’m serious. Allen might have been a jerk to you for who knows what. But he was instrumental in saving your life.”

“He was doing his job.”

“Not the way he was acting that night. It was as if it was all personal.”

Iris shook her head in disbelief. Cameron paused for a moment before adding.

“You love him don’t you?” he asked, “That’s what this is about. Isn’t it?”

“Oh my God you are almost as bad as my mother!”

“We both worry about you finding a husband.”

“Funny.”

“Listen Iris. Think about what I said. Look into what he came looking for you and why it was The Flash who saved you. Maybe they are best buds,” Cameron said, “If anything it might give you a story to write.”

Iris stared at Cameron for a moment before nodding.

“Okay,” she said softly.

Iris spent the remainder of the day hooked up to a tube. She read through magazine and listened to podcasts from NPR that Wally had been kind enough to upload for her. But she found that her mind would not settle down. So she brought out a note book (again courtesy of Wally) and began to write.

January 6, 2015 2:35pm

Iris was sitting up in bed staring out the window. She had just taken a break from writing. It was the first time since she had been admitted to the hospital that had the opportunity to sort out her thoughts and feelings get down what in words what had she had be experienced. She was still raw from what she was feelings. But she knew that whether Roth pressured her or not, she would expect some sort of account that would make headlines in the weekend paper. It would be excepted to either wide the piece herself. Or give a detailed and highly interview to one of the staff writers. Most likely Cameron Kennedy or Paul Wheeler since Cameron was still too close to the story and Wheeler was a crime reporter who had also covered the Flash.

The Flash, Iris thought bewildered now there was a name. Just a year ago she had written a scathing article about him and his exploits saying that the ACLU or justice department should look into his activities. Then here she was being rescued by him. She was positive that if it had not been for the Flash she would be dead. She mulled over their exchanges.

When she came to at Lasso’s all she remembered seeing was a red blur and then she slumped over bodies of Lasso and his goons. Then there he was…the Flash crouched at her side, shaking her by the shoulders begging her not to pass out. She had thought nothing about it at the time…that he was just doing his ‘job’, making sure that she did not overdose. But now given what Wally had told her about The Flash holding almost constant vigil over her. Iris could understand if he wanted check in her on to see how she was doing. But a constant vigil? That really just didn’t make any sense at all. And then there was the fact that the Flash had been there when she had woken up. She could not help but wonder if there was something else going on.

When they had first spoken Iris could not help but feel that by the way he looked at her that he was familiar with her. While she had not solid evidence, given the fact that his eyes were covered. But the way he spoke to her was as if they had met before…

She thought about the ring on his middle of his finger. Where had she seen that ring before? Given the popularity of the heroes, there was a ton of Flash related merchandise in the stores. Wally must have had five Flash shirts alone…not to mention statues, posters and a backpack. But the ring..she had never seen it before except for one time.

There was a light tap on the door and it was opened revealing Dr. Weiss.

“So how are you feeling?” he asked walking into the room.

“A bit cabin feverish,” Iris replied.

“I can see that,” he said, nodding to the piles of magazines and newspapers that surrounded her, ” “But I have some news that will make you feel better.”

“You mean I can go home?”

“Yes. But not so fast. The drug is out of your system. But you’re still weak. I’ll need for someone to escort you home.”

“I’ll have to make some phone calls,” Iris said.

Iris picked up her cell phone and began to make call. First she tried her mother, but her mother couldn’t come by until later. She had already used up all her vacation days and was keen in to get in some over time.

Wally, didn’t pick up the phone, she didn’t bother to leave a message because he was notorious for not picking up his messages until days later. Iris didn’t want to disturb anyone else because it was the middle of the work day. She sat and fumed. She would be stuck at the hospital until at least 8pm until after her mother got off work.

The doctor arrived back a half an hour later.

“Any luck?” he asked.

“No,” Iris began, “Everyone’s still at work and I don’t want to call them. I feel just fine. And if anything happens I’ll sign whatever you put in front of me to absolve you of any responsibility.”

“Sorry Iris,” Weiss began with an apologetic smile, “It’s hospital policy. We need to release you into the care of someone…”

“I’ll take her home.”

Iris and Dr. Weiss turned around and found and found the Flash standing behind them.

“Flash you almost scared the hell of out me!” Iris said startled.

“Doctor I can take her home,” The Flash said, “If it’s okay with Iris here.”

Iris looked at the doctor and shrugged.

“Hey I’m good..he did save my life after all.”

The doctor looked skeptical.

“I don’t see why it would be a problem,” he said, “But I’ll have to clear it with hospital administration.”

The doctor came back ten minutes later, accompanied by a woman in her mid 40’s wearing a mauve polyester suite and white blouse. Her hair was cut short. It was obvious that she was excited at seeing the Flash. She kept nattering on how grateful she was for what he had done for Central City and how he had helped quench a fire that had almost made her condo go up in flames. She insisted on having her photo taken with him, which the Flash obliged. Afterwards she asked Iris to fill out some paper work and had she and the Flash sign. Iris was then instructed to change into her street clothes. The nurse would wheel her down to the front lobby and the Flash could take her from there.

Iris changed into the fresh change of clothes her mother had brought for her. A pair of underwear, long yoga tights and an oversized sweat shirt which read ‘Columbia’. Iris thought that she must have been quite the sight, with no make up and un kept hair. It was a good thing she had gone to the hair dressers just a week before her ordeal. She was thankful she had made it to the shower that morning. But The Flash didn’t appear to be fazed. Ten minutes later she was down by the front doors. The Flash was waiting for her.

The Flash bent down and scooped her into his arms.

“Are you ready?” he asked gently. She nodded.

It was like a gust of wind. And before they both knew it, they were standing on the balcony to her midtown apartment.

It was for the first time that she had seen the Flash up close. For some reason he had stopped a few feet away from her staring at her hard. It was the first glimpse she had ever had of the superhero up close. His costume looked even more vivid in the over cast day. And his costume resembled that off a speedskater/sprinter. She could fairly see the muscles straining against the fabric. She had seen pictures of him before, but seeing him up close in person was a completely different thing. She could practically feel the power that was coming off from his body. She wondered why he was staring at her. Iris was used to male attention, but this was different on a whole other scale. It was as if he knew her. Was she upset about the article she had written on him? The article had not been a direct slamming of him, it was more as a quote from one of the front line officers in a murder investigation. That the Flash was a nuisance and this interference might impede court cases.

Sure she wrote articles, but she focused mainly on crime an investigating.

“Thank you,” she said, “Would you like to come in for a drink?”

He paused only for a fraction of a second before nodding.

“Yes I would.”

For a moment Iris did not want to allow the Flash inside her apartment, she was sure that she hadn’t cleaned it before she left for MacAllister Square. But if her mother had come by to pick up her stuff, she probably would have straightened out the place. One look at her desk and she saw that she was right. Her mother had indeed been by and done some cleaning up..and snooping.

“This looks cozy,” The Flash remarked looking around the apartment. Two of the walls were covered from wall to walls with shelves of books. There was a tiny neat desk on the other side

“Thanks,” Iris said, “It’s one of the oldest buildings in the area. I was really lucky to be able to rent it. Although I’m certain that the landlord is trying to get rid of me.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Because of the way and the time he takes to do repairs. I’ve been flooded twice since I moved here. I spent virtually all my time when

“Oh..” the Flash said slowly.

“But I fixed him,” she said with a sly smile.

“How?”

“I had one of my colleagues from the Citizen give him a call and tell him that he was going to be featured in an expose she was doing on slumlords. My pipes were fixed the problem didn’t occur again. That’s the power of the press for you!”

“Certainly is,” he said smiling.

“You know I could use that same power in helping you.”

“And how so?”

“I could do a feature on you.”

“What just for rescuing you?” he asked, “You don’t have to do that for me Iris.”

“But I want to,” she said.

“I understand how you feel..your gratitude for what I’ve done. But what’s the saying..you’re too close to the story.”

“It hasn’t stopped me before,” she said, “Beside I will be writing a story on what happened to me. And you’ll be featured in it.”

“Iris, I wish that you wouldn’t do that,” he began.

“I have to,” she said, You’re part of the story. I can’t leave you out of it. Especially given the fact that you rescued me. You helped take down Lasso. That’s something that can’t be overlooked or ignored.”

“Come on,” she said, “The kitchen is this way. As she went into the kitchen she could feel The Flash’s eyes on her behind. She at once felt self conscious but not as if she were under any threat…

“I think my Mom’s been here,” she said looking around the clean kitchen.

“Why do you say that?” The Flash asked he stood at the doorway to the kitchen.

“Because the kitchen is cleaner than I left it. I’ve been so busy lately that I wasn’t able to give the place a good cleaning. Let me see if I can find anything in here to eat.”

She opened the fridge door and it was just as she expected, her mother had come by and thankfully gotten rid of all the perishables. Which Iris thought was great, but there was nothing left to eat. She didn’t even have crackers or snacks in the cupboard. Being a fitness freak, she did not keep any refined starch in the house.

“Well my Mom, God bless her, cleaned out my fridge. But she didn’t load it with anything. I guess that makes sense given the fact that she didn’t know how long I would be away…I really wish that I could offer you something to eat. What do you like to eat Flash?”

“You know the usual. Chicken breast. Turkey. Lean steak.”

“Really?” she asked surprised, “I would have thought that given the speed that you move at you would expend more calories.”

“I do,” he admitted, “I enjoy the odd burger. But I just find that I feel much better. Much healthier,.”

“I understand,” Iris said smiling.

“Do you like Japanese?”

“Oh I love it ,” Iris said, “It’s one of my few indulgences. There’s a place I used to visit about twice a week when I was studying in New York. Sadly there’s no place in the Gem cities region that’s comparable.”

“What was it called?” The Flash asked.

“Morimoto.”

The words were no sooner out of her mouth than did Iris realize her mistake.

And he was gone. Iris went into her bedroom and changed into a pair of yellow slacks and a white denim shirt. She went back into the kitchen and found the Flash standing at the kitchen table. Sitting on the table were five containers.

“What’s this?” she asked walking up to him.

“Japanese,” The Flash said proudly, “All the way from the Big Apple.”

“Flash..you really didn’t need to do that…I don’t know what to say,” she stammered.

“It’s no hassle at all,” he said with a proud smile, “Think of it as a welcome home present. Are you hungry?”

“Famished,” she replied.

Iris sat the table. She didn’t have many guest much less a celebrity like the Flash. She shared a box of pizza now and then with Wally, when he came over asking her to proof his university papers. And her mother would come over with dinners. But given her hectic schedule she had not really had much of a chance to entertain. Not that she ever really did, in general when meeting up with friends she had preferred to do so at clubs or restaurants. She did this so that she could leave when she felt like it. But for some reason she did not feel as if she would be anxious for the Flash to leave.

When the food was served they both resumed seats across from each other. After some general chit chat about the food Iris began to ask him some general questions about being hero. She asked him about his relationship with the Leauge. To which he gave some general answers.

Afterwards, Iris suggested that they take the bottle of wine and retire to the couch.

“It’s strange that you chose the Flash,” she said pouring him a glass of wine and handing it to him.

“Why?” he asked.

“Because there’s a comic book character by that name….I have a friend. I mean my cousine Wally—I think you met him.”

“College aged guy with bright red hair?” The Flash said smiling, “Yeah I met him.”

“I hope that he didn’t overwhelm you. He can be a bit intense when it comes to things he’s really into.”

“It’s not thing I haven’t experienced before.”

“So how are you liking the celebrity thing?”

“I wouldn’t call myself a celebrity.”

“You must be kidding,” she scoffed, “With all of the attention that the press gives you and the rest of the League.”

“Not all members of the press adore me,” he said pointedly leaning slightly over the table, “Or are easily impressed with me.”

Iris could not help but blush slightly. She knew that he was referring to

“Well I’ll have to change that I guess after this…”

“Relax I was just teasing,” he said placing a reassuring hand over hers, “In fact I’m really glad that you wrote what you wrote. It shows that you aren’t easily impressed and have a lot of depth. And can think for yourself. I like that in a woman.”

Iris raised an eyebrow.

“You do?” she asked.

“Yes.”

“I am guessing that in your line of work you have the pick of the litter when it comes to female companionship.”

“There are female admirers. But it’s not something I take advantage of.”

“Oh come on Flash,” she said, “You can’t mean that. I’ve seen footage on more than one occasion of you guys kissing women.”

“You have?” The Flash said, “Who?”

“That guy who dresses up all in green the Green Hornet..”

“Oh you mean the Green Lantern,” The Flash said not without a hint of consternation.

“Yeah that one,” Iris replied, “He seems to always have his arms around some woman. And I can tell that he likes the attention.”

“Lantern is a bit of a ladies man,” The Flash replied slowly, “But I am not like that.”

“No?” Iris began, “I mean with that square jaw and that body I’m sure that there are many women who wouldn’t mind spending an evening with you.”

“Like you?” The Flash asked leaning forward.

Iris cursed herself silently for opening the door wide to that remark.

“No I’m too shy for that,” she replied grinning.

The Flash laughed.

“I find that hard to believe,” he said.

“And why do you say that?”

“Your quite the intrepid reporter. The way you go after a story.”

“Work is one thing,” she said, “I have to be daring or else I’m out of a job. I don’t get the story. And I don’t get a story, I’m out of job and I don’t eat.”

“You can do other things.”

“Sure. But I love writing and being in the news business. I really can’t see myself being happy doing anything else.”

“Taking on the mayor will be a big coup for you.”

Iris shrugged.

“Taking on a big politician is always big for any journalist,” she said taking a sip of her wine, “But the truth of the matter is. It’s not the only reason that I do what I do. The Mayor..Forbes aren’t really good for Central City or Keystone. Sure the cities doing better than it was before with the tech boom, mostly brought in by low taxes. But it can better. I know Rob Forbes is really great at helping the poor and all. But the fact of the matter is he can’t deal with the pressure of office, which is why he does drugs. His brother just uses the city to fund and enhance their public business.

“Seems as if you care a lot about justice.”

Iris smiled.

“I think that we both do,” she said.

“We make a heck of team,” he said reaching out with a gloved hand and rubbing her forearm, “Sort of like Steed and Peel?”

“What?” Iris asked taken aback for a moment.

“I..I mean..you know Steed and Peel from the Avengers.”

“You’re actually a fan of that?” she asked curiously.

The Flash face reddened slightly.

“A friend of mine is,” he stammered.

“A friend?” Iris said smiling, “Well I guess that it’s a small world. You know what! I feel like some ice cream. How about some Ben and Jerry’s rocky road?”

Iris didn’t wait for a response, she was already out of her seat and headed towards the kitchen.

Iris mind began to race frantically as she opened the freezer door. She was positive that there wasn’t any ice cream there but she really needed to stall for time. It really couldn’t be Barry Allen? Could it? Only a hand full of people knew that she was into the Avengers and Mrs. Peel. It’s not something that she shared with a great deal of people. But if it were Barry…it would explain a few things, the ring she had seen on Flash’s hand. She had seen it only on one person before. Barry Allen. The voice she had heard at Lasso’s, she could have sworn that it was Barry Allen’s and her surprise on opening her eyes to discover that it was The Flash. And of course the words from Captain Fry that it was Barry who had called in the fact that she was missing. It would explain how the Flash had found her so fast. Because Barry Allen was the Flash! Iris wanted to confront him. But felt that she needed more information.

“Damn,” she said, “Looking through the fridge there was nothing there but a few bags of mixed frozen vegetables, “Looks like I am all out.”

Steeling herself she turned around to face the Flash who was still sitting on the couch. But the expression on his face had changed.

“I can get some if you like,” he began getting up.

“No of course not” she said walking over to him, “It’s probably all for the best and my figure after all that time lying down and the hospital food. You know you would have thought that a place like that would serve less carbs and sugars!”

I should leave,” he said softly.

She nodded. She walked him to the balcony.

Thank you again Flash,” she said.

You’re welcome Ms. West,” he said warmly.

You can call me Iris,” she said, “After my ordeal I think that we should at least be on a first name basis.”

Okay then Iris. It is.”

Are you going to tell me your name?”

Nice try,” he said laughing, “But no.”

Well you can’t blame a girl for trying! Seriously though, what you did was amazing. I don’t know what would have happened if..”

Despite herself Iris began to shake. Flash gently pulled her into his arms and held her close. For a moment Iris buried her face against his strong shoulder, before looking up at him.

I’m usually not such damn mess,” she began her voice quavering.

Shsh it’s okay,” he began. He took her by the shoulders and pulled her towards him and kissed her.

I’m ..” he began to apologize.

No that’s okay,” she said smiling, ” I’ve never been kissed by a superhero before.”

There’s a first time for everything,” he said kissing her again. They parted breathing heavily.

I..I don’t,” Iris began thickly, “I just don’t want to be alone tonight.”

You won’t have to be..” he said and he kissed her. Then scooping her up into his arms carried her into the bedroom.

January 12th , 2013. 5:30pm

Iris glanced over at what she had written on her lap top once more before giving a satisfactory nod and saving the document. She then rose up from her kitchen table and walked over to her coffee maker to pour her umpteenth cup of coffee for the day. She had been up since 8 am this morning busily working on her story. Which she expected to make that Saturdays papers once it had been approved of by The Citizens legal team. The story had involved her ordeal and kidnapping. In order to have it be free of bias Cameron Kennedy was writing part of the story. But in general the story was considered to be Iris and she was in charge of the finished product.

It was Roth’s intention that the story be finished in time not only in order for it to hit the Saturday paper but also in advance of the city council meeting that was to take place on the upcoming Monday

Mayor Forbes had to attend that meeting and could no longer dodge the attention given the fact that the opening session occurred on Monday. Everyone knew that Sandro Lasso was sitting in prison waiting a bail hearing. On the charge of forcebale confinement. The skuttle but had been that he was in jail due to his drug dealings. They did not know that his charges also were in relation to having kidnapped Iris West.

Iris had worked on the story ever since she had arrived home. Apart from working closely with Cameron. She had also worked with Roth and Clark who had come by every day to discuss what she had written and what she had found.

Clake had hired a security detail to watch over Iris to make sure that she was safe. But the fact of the matter he shouldn’t even have bothered to. Because Iris West had her own guardian angel in The Flash who had guarded her body in more ways than one. Even now just thinking about it sent tingles all over her skin.

Iris wasn’t given to one night stands, especially with men that she barely knew. But costume or no costume she knew very well who it had been she had spent the night with.

Barry Allen. Barry Allen was the Flash.

She had no proof, but the circumstantial evidence was overwhelming, the ring on his finger, her discussion that she had with Cameron earlier, Barry’s fixation with the comic book character and of course the mention of the reference to the British tv show the Avengers. And she couldn’t even touch on the long lengthy foreplay.

The night had been better than she could have ever imagined. She had imagined for a very long time what it would be like to sleep with Barry, despite his good looks she thought that he might have been more conservative in the bedroom.

He was anything but.

While he had never been rough with her..in fact he had been very mindful of her pleasure…but he also had not been shy about what he wanted. Inside the bedroom he took her in his arms and treated her as if she belonged to him. And only him. They made love three times that night.

Their couplings were intense. Iris did not have a long sexual history. She had had dated only 5 men in her life and slept with only 2 of them. She had never been a serial dater and made sure that there was some commitment before going to bed with them. They had been middling lovers, and she had enjoyed her liaisons to an extent. But it was nothing like being with The Flash. Every where he touched he she felt as if her skin were on fire. Their liaisons were exilerating. The tagline which was applied to the Flash that he was ‘the fastest man alive’. That certainly didn’t extend to his prowess as a lover. He was remarkably slow and tender, yet firm. He made note of her taking her pleasure, but he wasn’t wimpy and took the lead. And to her surprise he never jumped up and left after they were done.

She could have confronted him at any time about his true identiy. But the truth of the matter she diddn’t want to. She was curious to see if he would reveal himself on his own. She wasn’t sure whether it was a combination of her life and death experience or the fact that she was in love with Barry Allen. But whatever the case was she did not want it to end.

They had spent the last three nights together. The Flash would show up at around 9pm, he often brought some pastry from an exotic local, they talked about various issues. Their conversations always ended with a kiss and something more.

This morning when she had woken up it, was to a steaming cup of her favourite Jitters coffee and a croissant. The Flash asked her what her plans were for the weekend and wanted to know if she would go away with him to Mauii for the weekend. He told her that a friend had a private villa and had agreed to lend it to him. The Flash could have them there by sunrise Mauii time on Saturday and back Sunday evening Central City time before work. She willingly agreed.

Over the past three days she went in her mind what had happened that morning at the Sunrsise café last fall. To be frank, Iris had been less offended at him yelling at her for digging for information on her brother…than she was in his accusation that she was a manipulative woman who used people. Iris was well aware that she had a pushy and abrasive side. It got her into trouble some times. But it also helped her in other times.

But Barry’s accusation had stung her to be told that she used people. Especially given how choosy she was about the people she allowed into her life. Did Barry not understand that by allowing him to get close to her she was showing him what she thought of him as a person. She decided right then and there that if that’s what Barry Allen thought about her, then it was all for the best that they never be together. She buried herself in her work and dated as casually as possible. Mostly a few guys she met at her gym or guys (mostly lawyers) she ran into at City Hall and the Courts.

But on the inside she was still smarting from the rebuke she had received from Barry Allen, so much so that she actually considered going along with the defense attorney’s suggestion that they embarrass the CSI on the stand with information that his father was a murderer and wife beater. But in the end Iris couldn’t do it. That would have been petty and small and Iris felt as if she were above that. Never in her life had she expected Barry to have a meltdown like that on the stand. He sounded like a pompous university professor lecturing an un-ruly student. No wonder her brother had gotten off the hook. If Iris had not been on the receiving end of that behavior (that morning at Sunrise café) she would have thought that it was his double.

She planned on confronting him very soon. But first she needed to do something else. The story on Rob Forbes had not been the only story she had worked on. She had been busy doing internet searches on the speed skating team at State University of New York Plattsburg campus. She spoke to the registrar’s office to discover who the coach was during the time Barry had been a student at the school. She found out that he had left and was now coaching for the team at North Carolina Chappell Hill. It took her three tries to get in touch with him. She had managed to contact five other men who had been on the team with him as a student. What Iris found out had been illuminating.

She heard the distinct sound of a rotary phone coming from her cell phone. She looked up the number and smiled before picking it up.

Hello…Yes this is Iris West…..Mr. Weider…so good of you to return my call..I understand you’re in charge of the Tuff Mudder franchise…”

*******/

January 17th, 2015, 5:30pm

Barry Allen was on the ice at the Greenwood Park, Sports and recreation center. He was in the middle of coaching a group of 16 young people ranging in the ages of 12-17 years old in Speedskating. When he noticed a flash from the corner of his eye. He turned and looked up in to the stands and saw Iris West wearing a black leather jacket blue jeans. She had a camera in her hand she was taking pictures. When their eyes met, Iris lowered the camera and smiled at him. He nodded and went back to instructing the students.

Barry had not expected to find Iris here. This was the first time he had seen her up close and out of costume.

When he had brought her home and she kissed him the second time, Barry knew that there was no way on earth he was going to resist what came next. He was not going to turn her down.

The Flash had been propositioned more than one time. Sometimes it was deliberately, like a groupie’s attraction to a rock star. At other times it was due to the woman being grateful to him for saving his life. But The Flash always politely refused, that wasn’t what he was in this business for. He wasn’t in it for the adulation or the women. He knew that other meta heroes (including Lantern) operated that way. But he didn’t.

Not only due to the fact that he had wanted her for a long time, but after her ordeal with Lasso, he had wanted to do nothing more than hold her in his arms and protect her. The night they had spent together had been awesome. Barry had had sex before with women, but sleeping with Iris was on an whole different level. Being deeply in love made it completely different. The feel of her naked skin against his the way she clung to him, pulling him in deeper. He felt as if they were truly one.

He had thought that a one night with her might have been enough. But he really did not want it to end. He had returned to her the subsequent nights and then on their third morning, after the a snowy day. He had asked her if she felt like going away with him that weekend to Mauii. And she said yes.

The Flash had a standing favour from Michael Halton the CEO of Halton Hotels for the use of any of his Hotels anywhere in the world after foiling a hostage taking by Captain Cold at one of his resorts in Colorado. The Flash had planned on taking him up on the offer, by asking Halton for the use of his resorts in Mauii.

That had happened three days ago. The Flash had not been able to get back to see Iris due to an emegergency with the League and a serious crime he had to investigate for the police department in Keystone. But he had called her each day at noon to see how she was doing.

Barry vacillated back and forth whether or not he should see Iris and tell her who he was. Darryl had revealed to him her ordeal. And by rights he should have dropped by her place to see how she was doing. But he felt nervous and uneasy about doing so. What if she figured out that he was the Flash? And how would she feel that she slept with Barry Allen after what she had said to him on New Years eve?

About an hour later he looked up to see whether Iris was still there. She was. He dismissed the class and skated over to her. Iris walked down from the bleachers to his side. Iris took another photo of him.

“Hello Barry,” Iris said with a small smile.

“Iris,” he said, “I’m surprised to see you here.”

“Well I wanted to see you in person,” she said, “I dropped by the station and one of the guys said that you had left for the day and I would probably be able to find you either here or at Crosfit.

“Yeah,” he said, “I volunteer my time and coach one evening a week and on Saturdays. I had no idea that you were still taking photos.”

“Once in awhile,” she admitted, “I’m writing an article, a bit of a side project on the real heroes of the Gem City region. So the newspaper won’t assign Cameron or one of the other photographers to come out with me….”

“I..I’m a hero?” he asked.

“Of course you are! All the cases you solve and the coaching. You deserve spot on the cover of the Saturday supplement.

“Iris…” Barry said colouring slightly, “I really wish that you wouldn’t do that.”

“Why not?”

“Because, this is really nothing….I..speedskating really helped me when I was younger. It helped to develop my confidence, and I just wanted to pass that along to other kids.”

“Barry, there’s no need to be modest. There are lot of people who have your skills who wouldn’t do this. You deserve the praise.”

“Still I really wish that you won’t run the story.”

“Okay then,” she said slinging the camera strap over her shoulder, “I won’t unless you change your mind.”

“I probably won’t,” he said smiling, “But thanks. I’ll let you know if I change my mind.”

“Anyway. I just dropped by to thank you for your help. It was really great that you came to look for me. ”

“Darryl recommended that I talk to you about Lasso.”

“I’m glad that you did,” she said smilling, “I really didn’t expect you to. Especially given our fight before.”

“Iris that was separate. I couldn’t allow you to get hurt. You’re okay now?”

“Yes I am,” she said smiling, “Thanks to you. I also realize that we haven’t done a lot of talking since I moved back out here to Central City.”

Barry coloured slightly.

“I know that morning at breakfast…when I blew up at you…”

“Barry it’s okay…”

“No…I was out of line that morning. You’re right I said some very harsh things. I didn’t mean to…I just,” Barry didn’t want to continue because he was afraid that he might say the wrong thing, “Iris I’m just sorry.”

“Barry…,” she began, “Yes..you’re right. I was upset and mad at you about that but….I know that it’s partly my fault.”

“What?” Barry asked puzzled.

“Over the last couple of days, I’ve started to think…I realized that “To be frank I knew that it must have seen as if I was taking you for granted. Since I moved back out here we haven’t really spent any time together. I cancelled all of our dates, and only kept the ones which were work related. I realized that I must have given you the wrong impression, that I was only interested in you for my own personal gains. When that wasn’t the case at all.”

Iris paused and took a deep breath. Apologies weren’t something that came easy to her.

“I do understand that I sometimes come on strong and have the habit of forgetting everyone and everything around me when I am in the pursuit of a story. I know it’s a fault.”

“Oh,” was all that Barry could say.

“I just had a lot of things going on. First with work, then I was having problems with the apartment I rented, then there’s my mother, she’s undergoing treatment for breast cancer and I had to take care of her. I should have explained this to you. So you weren’t just left with the impression that I was blowing you off. Or I was only interested in you for my own selfish reasons.”

“Iris I..” Barry began his face turning red, “I…I’m glad that you came and said something.”

“Well I thought that I owed you an apology and we should clear the air.”

“Apology accepted,” he said, “How about lunch sometime this weekend?”

“Oh I can’t,” she said colouring.

“And may I ask why not?”

“I’m going away.”

“To your mothers or for work?”

“No, nothing like that. I’m actually seeing someone. He’s taking me away.”

“You mean Eric Tanner?”

“Eric Tanner? You mean the assistant DA?” she asked frowning.

“Yes I thought..”

“Oh hell no. The guys a creep. I would never go out with him. No I’m seeing someone else.”

“Well I am glad that everything is working out for you Iris,” Barry said, “I hope whoever this guy is makes you happy.”

“Thank you,” she replied, “Actually…I’ll let you know who it is.”

“Who?” Barry asked carefully. Iris looked around carefully to see that no one was looking.

“It’s the Flash?”

“Who?”

“The Flash,” she gushed.

“The Flash?” Barry asked, “But I thought that you didn’t like him.”

“I thought so too. But changed my mind after he rescued me. He stood a constant vigil over me while I was in the hospital and we really hit it off. I like him a lot Barry. He’s taking me to Maui this weekend for dinner. I am so excited.”

“Well I’m glad that’s it’s working out for your Iris,” Barry said solemnly.

“Yes it is,” she said, “And it’s all thanks to you,”

She leaned over to kiss him on the cheek. But unconsciously Barry moved his head and the kiss caught him on the lips. He pulled Iris close making the kiss deeper.

“What would the Flash say?” she asked after they had parted.

“I don’t care,” Barry said, “But he’ll have a hell of fight on his hands.”

“Will he?” she asked taking his right hand she raised it to eye level, Barry noticed that she was staring at his ring.

Barry’s cheeks coloured.

“How long have you been the Flash?” she asked.

“Iris you’re mistaken.

“Am I?” she asked and raised his ringed hand.

“When did you figure it out?” Barry asked there was no use prevaricating with a woman like Iris West.

“It’s been a couple of days,” she said, “I put two and two together. Further..Flash just showing up like that because you asked him to? That’s way too much of a convenient answer. And of course there’s this. I noticed it the other night when you were sleeping. I had thought that I saw it before, but couldn’t remember where. You told me when I asked you about it…that you had it specially made in honour of your speedskating club. I looked up the year you graduated from SUNY, I contacted your coach, I even dug up about five of the guys who skated with you. They told me that the team didn’t make a ring…or even have a ring made. That means only you. I think that I knew it was you in the costume when you kissed me. ”

“You could have revealed yourself to me you know.”

“I wanted to,” he said, “Maybe I should have stopped you when you first kissed me but I had wanted to….”

“Sleep with me?” she volunteered. Barry coloured and she grinned, “Barry I’m not some 16 year old girl with stars in her eyes about these things. I’m flattered to know that I do something for you.”

“No…I mean yes,” he stammered, He paused and for the first time “Iris it’s more than just that. Part of the reason why I never just called it quits earlier was because I like…” he paused if he was going to be honest about being the Flash he might as well just be open about everything.

“It’s because I love you. I always have. And I just wanted to show you how much.”

Iris eyes crinkled as her face lit up in with a smile.

“And I love you too Barry Allen. That’s the real reason I slept with the Flash…because I knew that it was you beneath the mask. And after all the things we’ve been through. I wasn’t going to let you go.”

“Really?” he asked astonished.

“Yes really,”she smiled.

Barry pulled her into his arms and kissed her again. They stood like that for several minutes until they heard cat calls from the ice. Barry and Iris turned to see some of Barry’s young students laughing.

“Let’s take his somewhere more private,” he said thickly.

“Okay,” she said, “I can’t wait to look into your eyes.”

Barry smiled.

“I guess that for now on I’ll have to be more careful with the ring,” he said.

“No,” Iris said shaking her head.

“No?” he asked, “Why do you say that?”

“Because for now on,” she said pulling him in for another kiss, “I’m going to be the only person who sees the Flash naked.”

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THE END…………….

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