Chapter 1 [Two Days After “Mistletoe”]
The inter=holiday week flowed by slower than normal for most. With school out, the children and teens spent precious vacation time with family, friends and significant loved ones. Adults enjoyed a few lingering yuletide festivities building toward the New Year between reduced shifts in the workplace. Shoppers snatched up sales wherever they might be.
Old Man Winter worked to keep everyone indoors as well. Big downy soft flakes cascaded the city with their icy cover. A chill hustled passersby toward the next shelter. The melting wet would freeze again with sunset leaving pockets of glare ice in its wake.
Perfect weather for planning and managing internal activities it seemed…..
In his sanctum three floors above the main police bullpen, Barry toiled away on several procedures. Along with Patty and Joe, he’d examined a particularly brutal crime scene. He’d struggled to deal with two tortured, raped and stabbed victims, a blonde lanky man and a brunette slightly overweight woman, left strewn across the living room carpet. With a practiced eye and calm, he maintained professionalism as he swabbed several spots. He’d secured pertinent fibers for analysis. He secured a pair of bullets from the wall setting them in a sterile baggie. He chanced upon a tiny bone shard in the wound bagging that for safekeeping as well.
As he performed his tasks, he would occasionally sneak glances at her. He admired her grace in the wake of such carnage. He noted how she conducted interviews with witnesses calmly and pointedly discerned facts from fictions. He smirked in her direction before going back to his tasks.
For her part, she let her eyes shine at him as well. His presence strengthened her resolve boosting her ability to do her job. She scribbled down notes on her pad to compare with Joe’s back at the precinct.
Now Barry tested the samples waiting for results. He sipped on a warmed over coffee while waiting for the desired chemical reaction to take place. Granted he wanted to bust the perps behind the heinous act. As he had advised Patty a week prior, he couldn’t just go rushing off to bag anyone….
…even if he was the fastest man alive….
Can’t go for revenge. He sighed recalling how his respective obsessions with the Reverse Flash and Zoom had hurt himself and his friends. Can’t be putting Patty, Iris or anyone else at risk! Get facts! Be focused. That’s what Oliver would tell you! His back twinged at him on cue. Nice that Zoom still elicits psychosomatic pain. Wonderful! He torqued his midsection back and forth while attempting to ease the residual stiffness there.
As he did so, he noted that the chemicals in his test tubes had changed color signaling for a completed reaction. Forgetting his pain momentarily, he returned to his workstation. With a clean set of tweezers for each test tube, he set up each sample on its own respective glass slide. Then in turn he observed each subject under the microscope in all of their individualized glory. He typed in a few notations on his laptop between each glance and change of latex gloves.
Within the hour, his exams had yielded details on the mystery killer. A blood stain from under the female victim’s fingernails yielded an AB positive blood type. Residual hairs on the man matched that result as well as his own O type. Ballistics discerned that an armed services type revolver had discharged the shells and powder stains from the wall. “Finally! Something constructive.” He exhaled sharply before setting the laptop down on his desk. After a careful glance over his shoulder to insure nobody could see, he typed up his report at eye-numbing speed saving it before even a minute had passed. Then he printed a copy and inserted it into a file folder. “Maybe a lead.”
“You do have a way with finding answers. You know that, right?” a welcome voice presumed.
He turned to find Patty watching him. He grinned at her welcome presence. “Uh…hi. I was just about to tell you about this report actually. How long…?”
She shrugged. “Long enough to watch you break the sonic typing record. You really should be more careful, Barry.” She approached him with a slightly weary gait in her stride. “Don’t worry. Nobody else saw you.”
“You have my back. Don’t you?” he queried hopefully.
“Always.” She allowed him a wry smile. “I could use another memory though.”
He chuckled. His eyes shone warmly at her. “As if I’m going to say no?” He leaned close to her. His lips locking onto hers. For the briefest of interludes, the couple lingered in Amor’s blissful journey buoying each other’s spirits up with their affection.
She broke the connection first. “Sorry. We do have to remain professional, right? Rain check maybe?” She squeezed his hand gently. “Hopefully?”
He nodded in affirmation. “Definitely. I just need to drop this off with the Captain. Then how about we…maybe…do dinner? Just pick the spot.”
“Pick the spot?” She scratched her head in wonder. “You mean like drive across town or…you know…?”
He caught the hint clearly. “Anywhere you want as long as we can get to it on the ground.”
She smirked. “When I was in San Francisco a year ago, there was this amazing restaurant in Chinatown. Think maybe we could do that and watch the sun set over the bay?”
He nodded. “Yeah that’s definitely doable.” He checked everything over to make sure his equipment was in order. Then, after making sure that he had the report in hand, he took her hand and led her out of the lab. “Definitely doable.”
The couple caught the elevator to the bullpen area. For that minute or so ride, they allowed themselves warm glances into one another’s eyes and sharing of smiles not to mention emotions. They indulged in another kiss before the doors snapped open again. As they walked through the half-empty bullpen, their countenance shifted back to the professional police norm not giving anything or anyone away in that regard.
Barry knocked on Captain Singh’s door. “Just give me a sec. Then we can head out.”
“I’ll hold you to that,” she teased while heading back toward her desk.
At that moment, Singh opened his door and considered Barry not to mention the envelope in his hand. Despite the respect he had for the budding forensic scientist, he wasn’t about to give Barry an inch. “Good evening, Allen, have something for me? We could sure use a break in that homicide case.”
“Yes, sir.” Barry handed him the envelope. “Results just came back ten minutes ago. I know you’re probably heading home but….”
Singh allowed Barry a brief nod. “You’re okay, Allen. Trust me I can use news like this.” He opened the envelope and perused the findings. “This fits in with the ME’s report. Nice work, Allen. Really appreciate this.”
“You need me to stay and work on it some more?” Although Barry had his other plans, he didn’t want to leave that particular crime unsolved.
Singh shook his head. “You’ve done enough for today, Allen. I’ll hand this over to the Night Watch Commander. She’ll take it from there. Have a good night. I’m going to do the same.” He grabbed his overcoat, shut the lights and locked his door. “See you in the morning.”
“You too, Captain. Thanks,” Barry expressed. Admittedly he felt relieved that the trip west hadn’t been interrupted by duty for once. He crossed the bullpen to where Patty talked with Joe. He considered how the partners had eased things since her arrival earlier that year. Walls had come down. Whereas both had been stone faced and untrusting, now pleasant thoughts and a few laughs could be heard. “Hey, guys. All set?”
“Paper work’s set for tonight. I was going to do pizza if you’re in?” Joe supposed. Seeing the duo grinning at each other, he rolled his eyes. “Let me guess…date night again?”
“Sure why not?” Barry supposed nonchalantly while casting a glance toward her.
“We’re heading out for Chinese,” she noted before smiling at her boyfriend. “Sorry. Maybe another time, Joe?” She gave Barry’s hand another squeeze despite their agreed upon stance to maintain professionalism.
Joe reclined back in his seat. After things hadn’t worked out between Barry and Iris the previous year, he’d worried about his younger charge. The failed relationship with Linda Park hadn’t helped matters. Seeing how things had sparked between Barry and his new partner relieved him to say the least. He definitely approved of how things were going between them especially since she’d accepted the Flash’s role in things….
….that being said however, he still couldn’t resist twisting the needle a bit….
“Out for Chinese, huh? You two just get around, don’t you?” Joe grinned. “Yeah the dumplings at Shang Lao’s are great. Maybe try the Wor Bar too?”
She considered the notion for a split second before revealing, “Actually, Joe, Barry and I…are well…”
Looking at the couple’s anxious looks, Joe connected the dots readily. “Uh…okay…Guess you’re going all out. Can I ask where?”
“Ming Sa’s,” Patty noted while looking around to make sure they weren’t being overheard. “It’s a place I love…in San Francisco.”
“San Fran…?” Joe glanced at Barry who nodded. “Guess you can do it. Okay. Just keep your head down and stay out of trouble for one night, all right?”
“Sure, Joe. We’re going to be just fine.” Barry pulled his ski parka on over his sweater. “Ready?”
“Always. See you in the morning, Joe. Want anything from there?” she concluded.
“Maybe some dumplings if you think of it? Otherwise don’t be too late, guys. We still have work tomorrow?” Joe snickered. “You two are really cute together. Just kiss her already.”
“Already did,” Barry noted; his smile spreading at that particular memory. “Gotta run. Later.” He hustled with her toward the elevator and the secluded parking garage underneath.
Joe shook his head. “Going to the Pacific for Chinese. Only you, Barr.” He glanced toward his partner’s empty chair. “Seriously. Hope they have fun.” With that, he grabbed his own coat and headed toward his own car. “Hope Iris and Wally are okay with beef and onion….”
It was already one of those nights it seemed….