Chapter 1 [Hours after “Running to Stand Still”]
After the events of the previous day, Christmas Eve had passed in a fairly nondescript fashion in Central City. The Trickster and Weather Wizard were safely behind bars at Iron Heights. The citizenry had (for the most part) gone to their church services, parties and other activities safely before going home for a safe night’s rest.
Around 2 AM, the heavy dark overcast released its sugary flakes of bliss allowing them to begin accumulating on the ground below.
And perhaps to allow the Flash his time off, Santa, it was said by a couple of onlookers, did a few passes overhead but that’s the topic for another story.
Still the peace was deceptive as memories stirred in one dwelling at least far below…..
Nestled within her one bedroom apartment on the city’s northwest side, Patty slept uneasily for some reason. She tossed and turned in her bed bunching the sheets and rolling herself up in a makeshift cocoon of sorts. Her face beaded with sweat despite the room’s relatively cool temperature.
It really was a conundrum of sorts. She’d had a wonderful time at the Wests’ Christmas party on the previous evening. She’d made new friends with Jay Garrick and Caitlin Snow. She’d received Iris’ and Joe’s approval for her feelings for a certain forensic chemist. She watched the long overdue reunion between her partner and his long lost son, Wally.
Best of all she’d caught her impromptu “bobsie twin” under the mistletoe collecting not just one but two powdery sweet lip locks from him in the process. She stared deeply into his mysterious eyes and shared in the energies flowing between them both. That had been wonderful….
Still there was something else about his eyes…..
Perhaps it was a trick of the mistletoe or maybe the heat of the moment. She had sworn she saw a surge of energy in those eyes. She’d received a mild shock from the first kiss as well. Although she didn’t say anything, her scientist had readily given her another of their ‘pleasant memories’ without further ado.
Her mind asked questions. She knew Barry loved her. She had no doubt he was an honest and decent guy who’d rush out to help anyone he could. He definitely loved Joe and Iris as if they were his own family. But she couldn’t let the static go….or his track record for that matter….
…a track record surrounding Barry’s disappearances relative to a certain crimson speedster’s appearances….
She’d heard from others around the precinct how Barry had suffered a freak accident in his lab as lightning struck an experiment causing an explosion and knocking him into a months-long coma. From the time he’d awakened, he seemed to be more secure and certain. Yet he was also more secretive it seemed to them….
Both Barry and Detective West….
And that brought her back to the Flash. Who was he? Obviously his powers had a connection to the failed particle accelerator at STAR Labs. Still why was it that every time that he appeared, Barry was nowhere to be found? And why was it after the dark speedster badly beat the hero, her boyfriend went MIA on her refusing to let her be with him?
Why, Barry? Why are there so many questions? She rose from her crumpled bed and padded across the carpet toward the kitchen. There she slowly tossed two hastily spooned out amounts of coffee grounds into the coffee maker and started it perking. She shook her head.
What was it about his eyes anyway? It was driving her nuts…..
Then it hit her. She remembered the events of earlier that week. She recalled as the Flash had saved her from her own recklessness and blind hate. He’d lifted them out of the warehouse just prior to an explosion. He’d stopped her from taking the revenge on Martin that would’ve ruined her life….
…that would have taken Barry away from her…..
Both times she recalled the Flash’s concern and issues coming to the surface. She’d responded the first time by saying I’m seeing someone. Despite his saying he was doing the same, she’d opened up to him as she hadn’t anyone else prior to that point about her past confessing her guilt over her father’s death to him. He listened and seemed supportive…almost as if he was teasing her with some knowledge about herself….Then came the exclamation when she was about to shoot Martin in cold blood….
The heartfelt plea broke the hero’s usual reserve. It also wasn’t in his usual distorted sped up tone. It was a normal tone….
…It was her scientist’s voice….
Barry? How could it his voice? How? Unless…. She rubbed her forehead as the facts came together in her voice. “Damn! Can he be?” She poured herself a cup of coffee allowing her tongue to imbibe the energizing nectar. As her mind snapped awake, the details all blurred into focus.
Barry had to be the Flash….
And Joe West, her partner, knew. He knew.
That has to be why he shut me down on the whole Dr. Light case! Maybe Barry had dealt with her already? Speaking of dealing with stuff, who was that bastard beating Barry up like a rag doll? Will he come back? Too many questions and I need answers…. She gulped a couple of more times from her cup and gazed outside of her window down onto the city below.
In Dawn’s rainbow spectrum, the streets glittered with a sugary frost. Only a few hearty souls tromped through the cold toward their destinations on that Christmas morning.
She saw her clock read 6:45. “Too many questions.” Now she wished that she didn’t have her shift…even if it was a short one. Still she had her duty and recalled painfully what could happen if she blew it off.
Get through it, Patty. Then maybe Joe, Barry and you can have a talk. We can do this. Barry, I hope you can see I’m not a threat. With that she headed for the shower.
That shift promised to be a long one indeed…..