“Roscoe, darling, I know you wanted the Flash dead, but I just can’t bring myself do it....to take his life!”
A tear is shed, dramatically.
“...I just can’t give him such a peaceful end!” Lisa Snart sobs, eyes wet but blazing with fury. “I won’t kill him. I’ll kill his girlfriend, I’ll kill his parents, I’ll kill his dog, I’ll kill anyone he’s ever MET! And then I’ll trap him in a coffin, bury him alive, and SET him on FIRE!”
Much as she would like to, she’s not just going to run after the Flash trying to shoot everyone he stands next to. That would be fun, but it wouldn’t be revenge. Revenge involves planning! Forethought! Research!
...a lot of research.
There’s nothing like having to read two hundred newspaper articles about a man you hate to stoke the flames of your anger appropriately, that’s for sure.
Articles about the Flash fighting Len and his friends; articles about the Flash joining the Justice League; articles about the Flash’s early misadventures in his first few weeks of superheroing. Boring and unhelpful. She knows the Flash is vulnerable to extreme cold, dammit! Everyone knows that, oh my god, Len only brags about it literally all of the time.
“I didn’t go on the internet and control-F through several hundred digitized newspaper articles to NOT learn about the Flash’s secret emotional weaknesses,” Lisa says, disgusted.
So far she has learned that the Flash does something newsworthy at least once a day, her brother is way more ridiculous than he acts in front of her, and Central City continues to be terrible—but at least the CCPN reporters have a decent sense of humor. She still hasn’t forgiven them for calling darling Roscoe a “twirling turkey”, but the sheer number of ridiculous nicknames they’ve given the Flash does help.
Boring, boring, irrelevant, irrelevant but hilarious…
Better idea, says a small voice in Lisa’s brain: Instead of combing through thousands of newspaper articles, why not just find one of the writers and ask?
It is a stupid idea that will almost definitely not work.
Article 257 of 1120 pertaining to your search, the CCPN website says.
“Alright, let’s go.”
There is a beautiful woman waiting outside Iris’ office.
“No,” Iris says at once.
She really is gorgeous; golden blond hair in big curls setting off the highlights of her brown skin, sparkling gold eye makeup to match her hair, and a smile that makes Iris want nothing more than to sit down next to her and listen to her talk. For hours. About anything.
It’s a feeling she doesn’t trust. —And the black minidress doesn’t make this feel any less like the opening to one of those films about good men being seduced away from their noble work by bewitching femme fatales. Iris is not a gritty detective dude, thanks, and she is going to listen to her common sense.
“It’s Ms. West-Allen. And whatever it is, the answer is no.” Iris has two deadlines and Barry’s life-threatening superhero adventures to worry about tonight; she’s not eager to be adding ‘extremely suspicious-looking lady’ to the list.
She looks up at Iris pleadingly, almost glittering with earnest feeling. “Ms West-Allen. Please. I just want to ask your opinion on something; it’ll only take a few minutes. Promise!”
“No, goodbye,” is Iris wants to say, but.....alright, she’s curious. And slightly flattered that someone went for the old ‘blonde bombshell who desperately needs your help’ routine on her. The deadlines aren’t honestly that serious, and she could do with a distraction from Barry being off Justice Leagueing doing who knows what kind of dangerous bullshit without her, so what she actually says is “Come in. You’ve got five minutes.”
The woman settles into the office’s second chair like she’s going to be here a lot longer than five minutes, which is annoying, and grins up at Iris. There seem to be...sparkles?
“Thank you! I’m Lisa, Lisa Starr,” she says, and shakes Iris’ hand with both of hers. “I need you to tell me about the Flash’s weaknesses.”
Oh. Ohhh. So that's what's been bothering Iris this whole time. She should probably call for help, or something, but....
Iris cups her hand behind her ear theatrically. “I’m sorry, what was that?”
Lisa coughs. “I said, I just want to know your personal opinion of the Flash. As a person! Strengths, weaknesses, that sort of thing. You’ve written a lot about him, so I thought you’d be the best person to ask.”
Iris taps her pen against the desk. “Okay. Now that you’ve asked, why should I tell you?”
She’s sort of expecting the death lasers to come out now, but ‘Lisa Starr’ doesn’t seem fazed at all.
“Because, Miss West--” she leans forward, grinning even bigger, “if you don’t, I’m going to have to ask someone else.”
And Iris will never, ever see her again, or get more than the slightest hint of what’s possessed a glamorous probably-supervillain to go around asking random reporters about their opinions of the Flash.
Dammit, she got me. As someone who became a reporter because she couldn’t just let things go, that’s a practically irresistible hook.
“Fine,” Iris says. “And it’s West-Allen.”
Miss West’s analysis of the Flash had been about what Lisa expected; the Flash’s most easily exploitable weakness is his compassion for others, particularly those he has an emotional connection to. No known traumas or other easy weak spots, at least none Iris West knows of -- and as the reporter who has met and spoken with Flash by far the most times of any, she’d know if anyone would. (Lisa checked; Iris West-Allen has a byline on two-thirds of CCPN’s superhero stories from the last three years, including dozens about the Flash. From before that, Iris West has hundreds.)
The Flash’s strengths aside from his speed: his intelligence, his charisma, and (reportedly) his compassion, again, though Lisa would privately like to dispute that.
She doesn’t have any special advantages, but it looks like Plan A is good to go.
Lisa, crouching in the bushes some distance away from the Flash and the (good-looking) woman with him, silently cheers. She had been afraid she’d have to settle for some less poetic means of revenge, but it looks like she’s in luck: the Flash does have a girlfriend. She can kill her right in front of him and watch the happiness drain from his eyes.
She can almost see it; first, she traps the Flash in Roscoe’s energy-top. He struggles, trying to vibrate his way out, but no matter how he tries he can’t break free. Next the girlfriend goes down, freeze-dried with Len’s gun. The Flash cries out; he knows right away she’s dead, but he can hardly believe it. Grief washes over him like a tidal wave: his eyes go dim, his hands shake, and he falls to his knees and screams in sheer anguish.
Then Lisa steps forth from the shadows. “You!” the Flash gasps.
“Yes,” Lisa says. “Me.”
“How could you do such a thing?” He’s crying, and it’s very satisfying.
“An eye for an eye, Flash. A tooth for a tooth.... a lover for a lover.”
Well, that’s the plan, at least.
Lisa tries to freeze-dry the Flash’s girlfriend. She fails.
Lisa tries to hypnotize the Flash into killing his girlfriend. She accidentally hypnotizes him into bringing her flowers instead.
Lisa tries to freeze-dry the Flash’s girlfriend again. It goes less well this time.
—Look, she is prepared for the Flash to move faster than a speeding bullet and grab his girlfriend out of the way. She is prepared for the Flash spotting her before she can get off a second shot. She is not prepared for the Flash’s girlfriend (who looks, from close up, surprisingly like Iris West-Allen) to tackle him out of danger and then throw a pen at Lisa, because nobody could be prepared for that, what the fuck.
Lisa makes a noise like a surprised cat and books it before the Flash can get up.
“Oh my god,” Lisa says, slumped over a coffeeshop table. “There has to be a better way to do this.”
‘A lover for a lover’ is so symmetrical! It’s poetic! It’s perfect! And it’s not working. Lisa likes to think she’s a bit brighter than those hapless criminals who do the same thing over and over and lose every time, or at least somewhat better at forward planning. Killing the Flash wouldn’t be satisfying; killing his girlfriend is, to put it bluntly, a failure. (And, if his girlfriend really is Iris West-Allen, a terrible idea to begin with. Does that make the Flash’s secret identity her husband? Wait, no, she doesn’t care.) She could move on to killing his family and friends, but honestly that feels inelegant and unoriginal. And less fun.
She drums her fingers on the tabletop. What else, what else…
“Of COURSE!” she exclaims, and everyone in the cafe turns to look at her.
“Just had a breakthrough, don’t mind me.” She’s going to take the Flash’s girlfriend from him, and she’ll do it in a way he could never, ever predict.
A dating kind of way.
The Flash might have been able to seduce Mrs West-Allen away from her husband -- or be her husband, possibly, but Lisa is dismissing that as unimportant -- but little did he know there was someone waiting in the wings to steal her away from him!
Lisa, overcome by pure feelings of vengeance, ignores the barista asking repeatedly if she is finished in favor of clenching her fists and raising her face to the sky, happy tears streaming down her cheeks. This is just as good—no, even better than her original plan! Who knows how callous the Flash might be; he might be one of those pigs who wouldn’t even care if his girlfriend bit it. But to see his lover stolen away by someone better, and have to know every day for the rest of his life that she is happier with someone else than she ever could have been with him...he’ll spend days dwelling on his every possible inadequacy, fall into despair, and go on to live a long life of bitter sorrow!
“Excuse me, miss? Your mad laughter is disturbing the other patrons.”
Through careful and keen observation, Lisa has learned that Barry West-Allen is:
1. a huge nerd
3. definitely the Flash.
This took her approximately 3 minutes to learn, because Barry West-Allen is apparently stupid enough to be all of these things right out in the open, where anyone hanging from a tree peering through his kitchen window with binoculars could see him. In this period of time, he has tripped over the carpet twice, read one and a half chemistry books, and washed an entire sinkful of dishes.
So this is the sort of man Iris West-Allen likes. Hmm.
Wider investigation turns up few other results. Apparently Iris married her first serious boyfriend, who happened to be a superhero, and does not appear to have given matters of romance any further thought.
Depressing. And unhelpful.
Now, she could track down a nice young man and hypnotize him into being Iris West-Allen’s ideal boyfriend and make them fall in love. That would take a few days, but she could do it. Or....or she could try to do this the other way. The fun way.
Oh, who is she kidding. Lisa is never not going to take the fun way.
Lisa Snart’s Absolutely Foolproof Plan To Steal The Flash’s Girlfriend
(who is too good for him anyway)
1. Be gorgeous and attractive (already done)
2. Help her with ....reporter things? whatever those are
3. Make nice with her family and friends
4. Prove better than the Flash in every possible way
5. Take her on dates that do not involve mortal danger, unlike the Flash
6. Save her from mortal danger once or twice in case she likes that sort of thing
7. Be an awesome girlfriend
8. Laugh while the Flash cries
“Miss We~est,” Lisa sings, breezing past the receptionist with a pair of takeout boxes. As expected (read: communicated ahead of time by the hypnotized receptionist), Iris is working through lunch to meet another too-close deadline. “I brought lunch for Central City’s hardest-working reporter! Cindy told me your favorites, and I’m not even going to use them as a bribe!” This time, anyway. Lisa makes no guarantees about the future. She sets the boxes on Iris’ desk with a bright smile.
Strangely, Iris is not receptive to her charms.
“If you’re going to be here, you’re going to be useful,” Iris says, and shoves a flash drive at her. “Go through this and tell me if you find any pictures of guns or engineering diagrams or anything like that.”
“Cold,” Lisa says mournfully, getting out her laptop. “You are a cold woman, Iris West.”
“If you wanted me to be nice, you would have waited until I was done with these articles,” Iris tells her, pushing half the pile on her desk into the other half of the pile on her desk to make room for Lisa’s laptop and the food. “But I won’t say no to food. What’s the occasion? Did you try to kill the Flash?”
“Ahaha,” Lisa says. “What a great joke! Who would do that.”
She can’t tell if Iris is buying it or not; she forges on. "All my Central City friends are either dead or not speaking to me," she explains quite truthfully—Len's always blown hot and cold, as bad a pun as that is, and Central's merry band of costumed crooks have always been his crowd more than hers—"so you're my first choice of lunch date.”
She pauses for a bite of food. It really is good. “And why do you need me to look for guns?”
She’s managed to ask just as Iris herself is taking a bite, and gets glared at for her timing. Iris takes out her phone and taps on it for a few seconds, then swallows her food and shows Lisa the screen.
“See this guy? Harold Holmes, he runs a tech design firm out in Keystone. They’ve picked up some projects that STAR Labs dropped for safety concerns, which really isn’t my area, but—” she leans in close to Lisa over the desk, so close that Lisa could count her eyelashes, if she wasn’t too busy staring at the curve of Iris’ mouth, the little scar on the side of her chin “—there’s a rumor he’s trying to replicate Captain Cold’s gun.”
Lisa is a little busy being blinded by the stars that have suddenly appeared in her eyes, so what Iris actually said doesn’t penetrate for a moment. When it does, a little thrill of shock runs down her spine. Someone’s trying to copy Len? God, why?
The rest of lunch goes surprisingly well, considering. They stick to their work, mostly, Iris to her writing and Lisa to clicking the ‘next’ button over and over very hard. Iris shoos her out at the end of her lunch hour (pictures of guns found by Lisa: zero) but Lisa lingers for a moment.
“I brought lunch but I really came to give you these.” She produces a pair of tickets from her bra, not having any pockets and not wanting to lose them in her computer bag. “I don’t know if you even like ice skating, but I have a part in the Futura Ice Show this weekend if you want to come watch. Bring a friend, give them away, whatever. Bye!”
This seduction thing is going to be interesting, that’s for sure.
Lisa Starr, long-running performer in the Futura Ice Show, Olympic-class ice skater. Lisa Starr is her stage name; real name unknown. Maybe Iris can ask someone at this weekend's show.
From Central City, been traveling with the Futura Ice Show since she was twenty. No known history of supervillain activity, nothing illegal linked to her stage name in any capacity.
Iris is going to keep an eye on Lisa Starr.
Lisa had spent half an hour arguing with her manager over doing one last show—she’d made a vow, okay, a serious and dedicated vow to her dead boyfriend about not skating again until she’d avenged him, but the manager begged and pleaded and wheedled, and, well, here she is. The Central City Palace rink looks just the same today as it did when Roscoe began teaching her.
No time to get distracted by happy memories, though. She’s here on a very serious mission. A girlfriend mission. The ticket-puncher had, as bribed, kept an eye out for someone meeting Iris West-Allen’s description (gold brown skin, long hair, and a smile that could power the sun) and confirmed the woman in question had arrived about fifteen minutes early, too late for Lisa to talk to her before the show.
Probably intentional, knowing Miss West.
All Lisa has to do for the next hour is one: skate and two: watch other people skate. Nothing complicated about that. This should be easy. The easiest.
She and Roscoe used to kiss in that little alcove, right over there, that space between the ostentatious door frame and the spot where they always put the costume racks. They’d just been kids, really, back then, barely out of high school. Roscoe was making grand plans about destroying half the world, and she’d laughed at him and his ridiculous ideas. “No, babe, I can do it!” he’d said. She hadn’t meant he couldn’t do it, just that it was probably a very bad idea, but she’d laughed anyway and said “Of course, darling.” He was always doing that, coming up with really stupid ideas and then figuring out how to make them actually work. He could have been a professional inventor, probably, or taken over a city, a country, but no; he wanted to beat the Flash, or failing that, to stay with her.
God, she misses him. What she wouldn’t give to see him one last—
“Miss Starr, you’re on in five!”
She smiles at Marty to let him know she’s heard him, and checks her makeup again. Stupid waterproof mascara is never as durable as it’s advertised.
The show goes tolerably well. She changed back into her regular skates for this one, not sure how skates that make their own ice would work on a pre-existing rink, and everything was like old times. She might be taking a leave of absence, but damn if she isn’t going to go out with a bang. Her jumps are good (though she does flub one slightly, turning the catch into extra leverage for an unplanned flourish) but her spins are truly the best in the business.
Second to none, now.
Iris West-Allen’s List of Secret Weaknesses
1. Chocolate-covered strawberries even though the chocolate always breaks and gets everywhere
2. Adorable nerds (see #5)
3. Liquid eyeliner. She is bad at it.
4. Cute girls
5. Barry Allen, as she will admit
6. Willingness to believe people she likes even when they’re obviously lying, goddammit
7. Athletic types -- dancers, runners, etc.
8. That one risotto Barry’s mom made when they visited last March, how is it so good
9. Finding slightly deranged behavior cute
10. People who are good with her tiny adorable nephew
11. Making fun of Barry Allen; she loves him but she cannot resist
12. Interesting mysteries.
“Did you see that?” Iris asks Barry excitedly. “I don’t know much about skating, but that was so fun to watch! Especially the lady who gave me the tickets. I’ve never seen anyone spin that fast in my life!”
“I have,” he says, distracted.
“Oh, right!” she says, and laughs.
Now that contact has been initiated and reciprocated, it’s time for Lisa to implement phase two.
This would be so much easier if she could just hypnotize someone else to do it. What kind of nutjob dresses up in a spandex costume and tries to fight crime?
It’s totally different from dressing up in spandex to commit crimes, a matter Lisa has some prior experience with. There’s all this extra baggage. If you’re a crime-fighting superhero, people expect you to have morals, of all things, and “I want to impress cute girls” just isn’t going to cut it.
Whatever, she’ll figure it out. If Lisa is going to be a superhero, she is going to be the BEST goddamn superhero anybody’s ever seen. She will stop crimes and the Flash will show up just in time to witness her amazing victory speech. He will cry about it. Huge snotty sobs in front of everyone.
She takes it back; this is going to be great.
In Lisa’s opinion, being a superhero involves way too much waiting around for people to commit crimes. She could be doing heroic stuff right now! Punching people! Saving orphans!
As she skates above the streets of Central City, it is silent. Lisa could almost believe she’s the only person in the world, all the changing lights and moving cars just distorted reflections bouncing back. She can almost understand what heroes mean when they say “my city”; she could even believe they’re right.
You could believe a lot of things, up here, alone.
She goes lower. Now the noise creeps in, late-night traffic humming, drunks singing their way home (on a Wednesday! for shame), trees rustling, raised voices in an alleyway.
That last one sounds promising.
Three men surround a girl, leaning in close. Great, she found some crime, now Lisa just has to kick these jerkbutts’ asses from here to Gotham City.
She remembers this spot from when she was a kid, the alley between 6th and Vine. The clear view of about two-thirds of the sky is blocked by a fire escape, once you’ve passed the midpoint going south, which they have. So….
She could dangle one of Roscoe’s knockout gas tops down from the fire escape and wait with the girl till she comes round, but that’s not very heroic. You know what’s heroic? Lasers.
“Oh my god,” the girl says. “You could have killed me!”
Well, technically, yes….
“But I totally didn’t!” Lisa says, and attempts to high-five her.
Iris stares at all her scribbled notes, thinking.
Lisa Starr, a.k.a. Lisa Snart. She must be Captain Cold’s sister, or cousin, something like that. Certainly not his wife.
Dead or not speaking to me, she said. For trying to kill the Flash? Or for not doing it already?
Every time Iris learns something new about this woman, it’s connected to something she still needs to find out.
So it turns out that Lisa is perfectly suited for superheroing, except for getting so bored with the ‘wandering around for hours waiting for somebody to do something bad’ part of being a hero that she could kill someone. Which would be bad for her hero cred and, therefore, her career as The Woman Who Stole The Flash’s Girlfriend, so she is not going to do that! Almost definitely.
And worse, wandering around looking for trouble is something the Flash is naturally better at than she is, which is not allowed. She is going to beat him at everything, dammit, heroism not excepted.
Okay. New plan.
“LEN, QUIT PLAYING BEER PONG WITH YOUR FRIENDS! WE NEED TO TALK!”
Len puts his head down on the table and groans.
Mirror Master elbows him. “You know she’ll just keep yelling until you come out.”
Lisa, Len thinks uncharitably, would do no such thing. There has never been a time when she would rather yell from a distance than right in his ear. He gives her twenty seconds before she breaks a window to shout at him from up close.
He didn’t even tell her where the new hideout was.
Lisa is wearing a skating costume, complete with ice skates*, and an orange domino mask. He doesn’t even want to ask, really.
“Brother,” she says urgently. “How do people become superheroes.”
Len should have stayed inside. He should have stayed in bed this morning. He should have been an only child. “No.”
“Len, come on!”
"I said no! Lisa, what the hell do you think you're doing?'
"Beating the Flash at his own game. Obviously."
Oh no, no, no. He recognizes that look, and it means nothing but trouble. "Do you have a new boyfriend? Is Roscoe back from the dead?"
"Don't be silly, Len," Lisa says, tossing her hair. Which means, in ten-foot flashing neon letters, YES, I ABSOLUTELY DO.
Well, fuck. He can't wait to see what his sister's terrible taste in men has wrought this time.
*The ones he made for her, thought better of, and threw in a closet, that she’s absolutely not supposed to know about. Dammit, sis.
This is what Iris has been able to get out of Barry and the STAR Labs team, with some anecdotal evidence from her dad:
For something that, as far as anyone can tell, was built by a high school dropout in his garage, Captain Cold’s gun is a very well-designed machine. It does exactly what it's designed to do: stop the Flash cold. By dropping the temperature to absolute zero, it stops any and all motion, making it the perfect counter to Barry’s speed.
Notably, Leonard Snart does not usually use it to freeze people; he freezes the water vapour in the air around them, allowing his victims to be safely unfrozen later.
Theoretically, there are a lot of ways to use an absolute-zero gun that don’t involve bodily harm, fighting the Flash, or even breaking the law. Looking at her notes on a man whose business reputation is mainly for picking up projects no one else was willing to touch, whose personal reputation is basically nonexistent, and whose old military buddies describe as “morally bankrupt”, she suddenly can’t think of any of them.
So talking to Len was a bust. Lisa should have remembered, he would never give advice when he could be pissed off at you for bothering him instead. Alright: how do people superhero? The Flash, obviously, just runs around until he finds trouble, which is both tedious and a waste of time for anyone who can’t run faster than the speed of light. Superman and Supergirl can hear things happening from hundreds of miles away. Green Arrow....makes speeches about poverty? What the fuck does Green Arrow even do.
Lisa doesn’t have magic knowledge powers, okay.
Ehhhh, screw it. Being a superhero is basically the same as being a supervillain, right? Only for JUSTICE. And that she knows how to do.
She calls a few of Roscoe’s old buddies first, to check. A lot of them genuinely like her, though some are ticked off by being woken up in the dead of two o'clock in the afternoon. (Meeting people for shady deals in the middle of the night is just not conducive to early mornings, as you might guess.) No one's heard anything much about Len's gun, apart from the usual fairy tales about bio-cryonics ("I heard he froze a corpse and then brought it back to life!", that kind of thing, you know) and the ones convinced Len is actually a wizard. Apparently there’s some new guy running around calling himself ‘Chillblaine’, which could be related, and rumor has it he wants to kill the Flash. What else is new.
Lisa thanks them for their time and moves on to her list of 'Roscoe's scumbag ‘friends’ whom I wouldn't freeze if they were on fire', which is much, much longer, and potentially more useful. For this, anyway.
"Yes, I would love to meet you in the middle of the night for an illegal weapons deal! Two o'clock Thursday morning? Perfect, see you there."
Honestly, this hero shit is too easy.
The weapons deal does not go exactly as planned. Sure, Lisa has her victims in a force-field waiting for her to take them down to the police station, but everything else is a bit...worrying.
She’d been under the impression this illegal weapons deal was going to be for something like a few crates of guns, grenades, that kind of thing. Instead, there is only one gun, and it looks suspiciously familiar.
She really doesn’t know all that much about her brother’s toys, compared to him—she can’t build one in a day by herself—but this certainly looks like Len’s gun.
Lisa knocks on the force field. “Hey! Where’d you get this?!”
“I’ll kick you!”
More grumbling, but the one she talked to on the phone volunteers “The new guy. Chillblaine.”
“And where’d he get it?”
Shrugs all around.
To check the gun, she shoots a wall with it, ignoring the muffled shrieks of her captives inside their force field. She didn’t shoot them, they’ll live.
The wall has a shiny patch. The gun shot something, but that doesn’t look like ice. It looks like... metal?
Lisa shows up to Iris’ house ten hours later with a bouquet of roses and a flash drive of stolen phone records.
Barry Allen answers the door, of course. “Hel...lo?”
His eyes go very wide. Good. She is still, despite her romantic heart, properly terrifying.
“Is Iris in? I have something for her.”
“I….sorry, she’s in the shower. I’ll give it to her for you?”
Lisa weighs the wisdom of allowing Barry Allen to do anything for her. Even he probably can’t fuck up handing his wife something. Then again, he might fall on the stairs and die from a head injury, which would mess up her plans. “I’ll wait, thank you.”
He trips loudly over something in his rush to get away from her. It’s very gratifying.
“I’m sorry to bother you at home, Iris,” Barry hears the blond-haired woman say. “But if you’re still looking into Mr Holmes, you might want to look through this, and I thought you should get it right away.”
Barry is hiding in the dining room, listening intently. That woman is beautiful and terrifying. And not just because of the way she glared with murder in her eyes when she saw him at the door. (Well, probably not.) It feels like being around her would be hazardous for his health, but he doesn't feel right leaving Iris alone with anyone who gives him that kind of vibe.
“I...thank you, Lisa.” Iris sounds surprised, but also very pleased. “Wherever did you get these?”
“I…...obtained them in a mysterious and entirely legal way?"
Iris makes a finger-guns noise. "Good answer."
“Oh, right!” Her voice gets quiet enough that Barry can’t make out everything. “...New....Chillblaine. Something with......gun, maybe.” There’s another few sentences, but he can’t hear the rest. Then, back at normal volume, “This research stuff gives me a headache! I’ll leave the rest to you.”
Iris says, warmly, “Stop by again sometime.”
He catches sight of the blond woman as she leaves; she has a smudge of Iris’ lipstick on her cheek, and she’s positively glowing.
Lisa keeps running into Barry Allen, which is unfortunate, but she’s actually starting to enjoy her new hobby of making scary faces at him until he runs away.
Lisa hits the attacking man with her new not-a-cold-gun and sighs. This week Lisa has to stop three separate people from murdering Barry Allen.
Actually, come to think of it, she has had to stop a truly surprising amount of people from killing the Flash since she came to Central City. It is frankly amazing that someone as terrible at everything as he is has managed to remain alive this long. (Other amazing things: the sheer lack of imagination every one of these people have. Death? Really? That’s all?) They just keep coming back and trying to kill him again and again.
Geez. You’d think they’d get bored of the whole thing at some point.
Iris stares ahead at her laptop, not really seeing the screen. She’s typed and re-typed the headline NEW HERO IN TOWN? so many times it’s lost any actual meaning.
The problem with this whole a-maybe-supervillain-wandered-into-my-office-and-I-didn’t-mention-it thing is that she likes Lisa. They've met like three times—well, four, if her suspicions are correct—and yet.
Lisa is great—she's gorgeous and over-the-top and really, really funny, though most of that is probably by accident. She looks really sophisticated and mature, but she’s actually ridiculous. If she really is a supervillain, she's definitely Iris' favorite. And now that she might not be one...
“Hey, isn’t that the lady who was shooting at me last month?” says Barry, around the popsicle hanging out of his mouth.
Iris squints at the very blurry photograph of what is supposed to be a blonde woman shooting laser pistols at the leader of Central City’s very small drug empire. “Maybe? I think she—”
“Oh my god, lasers!” Barry waggles his hands around, trying to non-verbally show how cool he thinks people shooting lasers (at anyone) are. “Man, I can’t believe she didn’t shoot lasers at me. Some people have all the luck....” He trails off. “...sorry. You were saying?”
“I was saying, laser pistols aside....well, never mind. Anyway, I think I know her.”
Barry touches her shoulder, gently. “I’m sorry.”
“If you’re right...it means someone else is lying to you.”
Iris just shakes her head. She can’t explain how it’s not the same. From Barry, from her father, she has an expectation of honesty. She never dreamed they would be anything other than truthful with her. From Lisa, she would like honesty but she’ll take outrageous lies, poor excuses, and bright smiles. She wants to take them, examine them, put them all together to discover the shape of the truth they hide.
Lisa's worst fears have been realized: Allen is contagious. Next she’ll be taking up running and killing people’s boyfriends.
Why is this happening.
This guy is really...overenthusiastic. Lots of gesticulating, and talking really fast. She can’t understand a word.
“You really need to cool down,” she says, skating in closer so she can take him out more easily.
“COOL DOWN?” he shrieks. “DON’T TELL ME TO COOL DOWN. Taunting me, as if you don’t know!”
“I don’t,” Lisa says, skating around him at neck height. “Nor do I care.”
“My research! My work! My identity! You gave them to that no-talent hack who splashed them all over the front page!”
He gestures so hard he loses his balance and ends up choking himself on Lisa’s ice trail.
Lisa ends up going through his pockets to find out what on earth the guy was talking about, and comes up with three credit cards, ten business cards, an expired driver’s license, $20 in cash, and what looks like half a cyclotron.
She glances at the name on the business card, at him, and back at the cyclotron.
"Wait, THIS guy is Chillblaine?" Not that Lisa had expectations, exactly, but wow.
Then again, this is probably what she should have expected from someone who picked Len as his supervillain model.
Now that she’s finally got time to sit down and read it, Lisa can say that the article on Harold Holmes (a.k.a. Chillblaine) is really something. The phone records Lisa gave Iris are only the tiniest piece of it; there are dozens of pieces like that, little things that all stitched together make up a damning whole. All laid out like this, it seems so clear and simple, but Lisa knows that every bit of information here, every word, is hours of work.
Out of a huge random disconnected mess Iris has fitted little bits and pieces together so perfectly that the end product is like a crystal; every angle perfect. You look at it and think: of course. There’s no other way it could be.
She looks at Iris’ name on the byline and thinks about her; about Iris alone in her office late at night, writing; about Iris meeting people in dark alleys to ask them questions; about Iris, at home, drinking coffee while she reads through the news on her phone.
About Iris, smiling at her.
Oh, this is trouble. Forget stealing the Flash’s girlfriend; Lisa wants to keep seeing Iris West.
“Barry,” Iris says to him one night over dinner, “I think Lisa’s trying to date me.”
“Is that so,” Barry says evenly, retaining masterful control over his facial expression. He vividly recalls Lisa staring at him from over Iris’ shoulder and making throat-slitting motions. Lisa sending Iris a bouquet of roses. Lisa hugging Iris for an unnecessarily long period of time. “Gosh.”
“I’m not really sure what to do about it. I like her, but….. it’s kind of weird, right?”
Barry is definitely not the best person to ask about this. He gives the only answer he really can.
“I’m not going to stop you doing anything you want, of course,” he says. “Just….be careful.”
He has always been worried that Iris will leave him, a fear that hasn’t gone away at all over the years. Even now, he's afraid she'll meet someone else and be happier with them. But.....she's known Lisa for a while now, Lisa who is gorgeous and scary and hates Barry Allen with a passion, and their relationship hasn't changed. Barry and Iris are as solid as they've ever been, as they've always been. Maybe there's nothing to be afraid of.
“Oof!” Lisa actually falls off her skates when she sees Iris West-Allen standing in front of her. This is slightly dangerous, seeing as how she’s thirty feet in the air, but honestly the embarrassment is worse. Look, who expects your seduction target (that you, ahem, might also have some feelings for, of the maybe romantic variety) to show up looking like that when you’re busy bringing rocks to a gunfight?
And by that Lisa means, well, she means determined, mostly. Like she’s going to ferret out every secret Lisa’s ever had and write them down and hug them close. It is a REALLY good look on her, dammit, and Lisa is caught between admiration and envy because there is no way her own determined expression looks that good.
Iris’ hair is billowing in the wind on the building rooftop, and her eyes are bright, and her mouth is set firm, and honestly the embarrassment is worth it just to see her at all.
“HELLO, CITIZEN,” Lisa says in her best heroic voice.
“Iris West-Allen, Central City Picture News. Would you be Central City’s newest superhero that we’ve been hearing so much about?”
Lisa skates forward and attempts to shake hands, but this is difficult when your attempted partner is holding a tablet and a microphone and does not wish to co-operate with you. She does not succeed.
“I don’t know where you’ve been hearing so much about me, but yes. I’m the Golden Glider.”
“From your skates, I presume.”
“Ms Glider, do you mind if I ask you a few questions?”
“Go right ahead.” She’s done interviews before, as Lisa Star, and she can feel herself settling back into those patterns again.
“How do your powers work?”
“Well, that’s a little personal, isn’t it? I can tell you about the skates, though -- they manufacture their own aerial ice, so I can skate in any direction.”
“So you have other powers.”
“I have other means that I use when necessary, yes.”
“I’m sorry, but I have to ask this. Do your skates have any connection to the notorious rogue Captain Cold?”
Lisa grins at that. “You’d have to ask him.”
“Why Central City? There are dozens of cities out there that don’t have any heroes at all, why did you choose to start here?”
“It’s my hometown. Nowhere better.”
“Can you comment on the events of last weekend, when you reportedly trapped two police officers in a twenty-foot glass prison until their fellow officers could arrive?”
“Yes. The officers in question were affected by something” their own sense of macho bravado, probably “posing a danger to the populace, so I wanted to keep them contained until someone with authority could restrain them.”
She can tell Iris wants to ask more about that, but it looks like she’s afraid of scaring Lisa off.
“Now, if you thought asking about your powers was personal, I’m not sure what you’ll think of this one! Why did you decide to become a hero?”
Lisa laughs. “Actually, that’s one I’m happy to answer! It would be great if I could say I wanted to fight for justice, wouldn’t it? I’m not that cool, sorry. Someone close to me died recently, and the police aren’t investigating the man who killed him.... oh, I have a second reason! I wanted to impress somebody.” She looks Iris right in the eye and tries to put every ounce of that falling-off-her-skates giddy feeling into her smile.
The sun glare is hiding Iris’ expression, now. “I think if they know about you, they’re probably impressed.”
“Did you see this?! I can’t believe they’re calling her the hero of Central City!”
“She did save the city from collapsing into a magical sinkhole, Bear.”
Look, he was GOING to save the city from collapsing into that magical sinkhole. By...running really fast. Somehow. She just got there first. Which, okay, if you can beat the Flash to saving the day you probably have a right to call yourself whatever you want, but that doesn’t mean he can’t complain about it. He’s fought evil wizards before too! He’s even won!
Hypnotism, seriously. Who saves the day with hypnotism? What is up with that?
He’s the hero of Central City, damn it. She can stick with being a hero.
“Miss We~est!” Lisa carols. Central City Picture News is getting used to her by now—either that or they’ve put in soundproofing. “I bring flowers! And, more importantly, secret correspondence between a certain politician and a certain hired killer—oh, who’s this?”
A frankly adorable child with little teeny braids has wandered out of Iris’ office. He’s wearing a big t-shirt with the Flash symbol on it, which is not endearing at all, but he is young and small and has plenty of time to learn better.
“Why are you using my aunt’s name wrong?” he asks.
“Small child, I am using it completely correctly, the other way is too long and” (she adds in a whisper) “her husband is weirrrrrd.”
“I heard that!” Ears like a bat, Iris West.
Lisa grins. “I’m sure you did! Now, kid,” she says, crouching down to put herself at eye level, “is she your favorite aunt?”
“Who are you?”
“Not what I asked, but I’ll assume your answer is yes, because how could it not be? I’m Lisa Snart, but you can call me Aunt Lisa.”
“What are you filling my nephew’s young ears with?” Iris calls through the door, as if she couldn’t hear perfectly well.
“Nothing, Iris”/”Nothing, Aunt Iris,” they chorus.
“I don’t believe either of you,” she says, but Lisa can hear the smile in her voice. “Lisa, come keep Wally entertained in my office for like five minutes while I take this call outside.”
Lisa and Wally immediately get along like a house on fire, which is to say, with loud noises, occasional screams, and great danger to passers-by. Lisa is very good with children by nature, due in no small part to the fact that she will gladly give them access to things the children themselves call ‘super cool’ and which any responsible adult would refer to as ‘unbelievably dangerous’. Lisa is of the opinion that children should begin developing their talents as early as possible, and if some of those talents happen to involve, say, shooting things with a cold gun or hypnotizing people with opals, that’s just the way things are.
Wally has indicated an interest in chemistry, and an entirely unreasonable fondness for his uncle. Lisa figures she can steer him towards a profitable career in bank vault melting, mad science, or the making of extremely unconventional guns, all of which are extremely bright and promising paths for a young man.
It is at this point that Iris comes back in and asks Lisa to please not make her ten-year-old nephew into a supervillain.
“I’m just trying to secure his future!”
When Wally has to go back to his parents he cries for a good five minutes about how much he’s gonna miss Aunt Iris and Uncle Barry and Aunt Lisa, even though he’s only known the last one about three days.
“It’s just a few weeks, Wally, okay?” Iris says, hugging him close.
“Obviously you can date anyone you want, but are you really going to date someone who tried to kill me?”
“That might have been an accident!”
“She was shouting DIE FLASH DIE, how accidental is that?!”
“She was not.”
“She might as well have been!”
“What’s one little attempted murder between friends, Barry.”
Barry, whose friends almost kill him all the time, sighs.
“So this is kind of sudden,” says Iris’ voice from her phone, “but Barry and I had a dinner reservation at Medici’s tonight, and he just got called up for a work emergency. Are you free?”
Sadly, this is completely true and not a blatant excuse for Iris to have a romantic dinner with her, as Lisa knows from the five o’clock news broadcast. The Justice League is apparently fighting some sort of misanthropic mountain monster in the southwest, and they look like they're going to be tied up for a while; last she saw of Allen, he was buried under several tons of rock and mud, and almost definitely unavailable for a dinner date.
“Give me fifteen minutes to get dressed and I’m yours,” Lisa says into the phone pressed between her ear and her shoulder, throwing a rock she found on the ground through the window of her vict- ...er, evil-doer. He is immediately enraptured by it. As an experienced performer, Lisa can do clothes and makeup in five minutes, and her apartment is six minutes away; she has plenty of time.
Iris looks stunning, of course; she’s wearing a low-backed dress in blue, with a simple gold necklace. Her hair is up, which she doesn’t usually take the extra time to do. Allen must have been called away right before they left; Lisa’s not going to fool herself into thinking Iris would do it for her.
“We’re over here,” Iris says, leading her over by the hand.
They don’t talk, except to decide on food and drinks. Lisa thinks Iris must be worrying over Allen, which is ridiculous; if twenty people in the last month and a half haven’t managed it, a few clods of dirt aren’t going to do him in. “I’m sure Allen is—”
“We need to talk about some things,” Iris says at the same time.
“Look, Lisa,” she says, while Lisa stares straight ahead. “I like you. But I’m married to Barry, and I need you to respect that.”
Lisa closes her eyes for a moment, holds it, and nods. In her bag she has twenty different kinds of jewels, and she can picture them very clearly. One is to create a bubble-shaped force field, for capturing people; one is to dazzle and bewitch, to buy her extra time; one is to hypnotize; one is to confuse and bring memory loss....
“I don’t know what we’re doing here—what we’ve been doing here—but I’d like to find out.” Iris’ voice is warm. “But if we’re going to do that, I need you to respect Barry and my relationship with him.”
Lisa opens her eyes. “Iris, I—”
Of course, Lisa is a superhero, so in hindsight she doesn’t know why she thought this night would get better from here.
As the costumed robbers start issuing demands for restaurant-goers to hand over their valuables, Lisa and Iris dart glances at each other. The Flash is unavailable, and the Golden Glider isn’t just going to appear out of nowhere.
“I’ll distract them,” Iris says quietly. “You go...change clothes.”
And then she’s out of her chair and striding towards the masked villains, her heels clicking on the floor. “Iris West-Allen, Central City Picture News!” she calls out. “Could I trouble you for some quotes, sirs? Ma’am?”
The whole time Lisa’s quick-changing into something approximating her Golden Glider outfit (you can’t fit that whole thing in a tote bag, okay, she’s lucky to have the skates) one thought keeps running through her head: I thought I was supposed to be the dashing one!
But by the time she gets back to the dining room, both the robbers and Iris are gone.
“Okay,” Lisa says to herself. She can do this! This is easy! She rescues people all the time! Well, okay, like…ten times ever, but those have all been recent. She has experience, is the point. When in doubt, she can always shoot somebody and things will work themselves out—which is probably a terrible way for a hero to look at things but, like, who cares. Not her, is the important part.
But usually she doesn’t have to worry about her potential girlfriend (girlfriend~ some part of her still sings happily, despite the situation) getting, you know, killed. Not that she has to worry about that now! Probably.
She can’t find any trace of them from the air, no suspicious black cars or pile of discarded masks or anything.
Why did they take her? To draw out the Flash? (A monumentally stupid idea, but she wouldn’t put it past them.) To threaten her into suppressing some information? To kill her in secret?
In the end, finding Iris is surprisingly simple; two telephone calls, a very anxious twenty minutes, and deciphering her contact’s idea of ‘directions’. “They grabbed her to get you, Glider, so they’re expecting you. Have fun.”
...minus the death-defying peril aspect, it is pretty fun.
“We’ll get you yet, Glider!” cries a man in a turtleneck with an attached face-mask, waving his fist in the air. Then he turns and flees.
Lisa skates over to a small, forgotten corner of the abandoned warehouse, where a gorgeous woman has been watching the death laser battle with some amusement.
“Dashing reporter Iris West, with whom I have no personal acquaintance! We should go.”
Iris laughs and clings to the Golden Glider as they skate away romantically into the night.
“I cannot believe I am doing this,” Lisa says to herself.
Not that she hasn’t saved the Flash before from similarly mortal danger, but not in such a...dramatic fashion. And she doesn’t even have the excuse of saving him for worse torment later, as she strongly suspects that she’s never going to get to give him the end he so dearly deserves. Because Barry Allen dying would make Iris sad.
This is, with only medium hyperbole, the worst day of her life.
Oh well. This will boost her hero cred in the eyes of the city! She can always get revenge on Barry later, provided he’s alive! Iris will be happy!
It’s only the last one of those that’s actually remotely convincing even to herself, but, well, good enough.
Her brother is keeping the Flash on ice, so to speak. Barry Allen is (she can say with unfortunate experience) an extremely difficult man to keep still, and if he can move, he can escape. Despite the large amount of Flash-traps everyone has cooked up over the years, the only reliable way to keep him from doing this is to keep him from thinking. She has, in her (sadly brief) career of hunting the Flash—cut down in its prime as it was—always focused on grief to keep him from getting it together enough to vibrate his way out of her traps. Panic is also a useful emotion in this instance.
Len, on the other hand, has opted for enough horse tranquilizers to kill a normal human being.
Unimaginative but classic, she supposes.
“I-Iris?” Barry mutters as she heaves him onto one shoulder.
“Nope. Not in the least. Oh, what am I bothering talking to you for, you’re not even awake.” Correction: this is the most embarrassing day of her life, including the time she fell down on the ice twenty-seven times and Len caught it all on camera.
She comforts herself that Len’s day is about to be very much worse, as it befits siblings to share their burdens.
Honestly, he only put up eight traps—half of which only really work when the person they’re aimed at tries to vibrate through them—so he has only himself to blame. It’s her responsibility to make sure he learns from his mistakes.
Laughing, Lisa uses her laser gun to cut a hole in the exterior wall (again, brother: sloppy) and punches the piece of wall out heroically.
“OH MY GOD, LISA,” Len shouts as she skates away, the Flash unconscious (but alive) in her arms. “WHY DO YOU ALWAYS DO THIS.”
Halfway home, Barry’s eyes flutter open.
“You saved me.”
“Yeah, sure,” Lisa grumbles. “This doesn’t make us friends or anything, Allen, so don’t go getting any ideas.”
“ ‘Course not....” he trails off, smiling. He’s fucking ignoring her, isn’t he. It’s just like him.
Iris is so happy to see Barry home safe, she hugs both him and Lisa at once and kisses both of them. Lisa, riding the residual high of being pissed off about having to save Barry Allen from the jaws of potential death, can’t help but feel her anger melting away at the sight of Iris’ golden smile, hard as she tries to hold onto it.
It comes right back when Barry hugs her too, though.
After that, Barry starts acting weird around her. And by ‘weird’, she means ‘like a normal human being’. He’s stopped flinching at shadows! He doesn’t check every corner for potential traps! He smiles at her! It is literally the most irritating thing he has ever done. Possibly the most irritating thing anyone has ever done.
“Iris, what nefarious deeds is your husband plotting?!”
Iris just laughs at her like that’s a ridiculous thing to say, what, like Allen hasn’t hatched diabolical plans before.
BARRY ALLEN, Lisa texts in all caps on Iris’ phone, YOUR WIFE HAS BEEN KIDNAPPED BY EVIL SKY PIRATES, PLS GO SAVE HER ASAP.
in space can’t get back for two days, her nemesis texts back. sky pirates not my thing anyway?? run fast =/= flying
YOU ARE USELESS. WILL RESCUE IRIS AND TELL HER ALL ABOUT HOW YOU REFUSED TO COME SAVE YOUR OWN WIFE FROM EVIL PIRATES
please don’t text and skate at the same time lisa ok
“Lisa, the Justice League’s in trouble, could you, like....” Barry waggles his eyebrows suggestively.
“Could I what,” Lisa says flatly.
“You know,” he says, and waggles his eyebrows again. “The thing!”
“I have no idea what you are talking about. Stop speaking to me.”
Barry gives her a thumbs-up. “I knew you’d come through!”
Look, no matter what Allen thinks, she was going to go fight against the evil time-travelling Napoleonic clone armies attacking the city anyway. She’s a hero! That’s what heroes do!
“Thanks for the help, Glider,” the Flash says sincerely. “The League’s really glad you could make it.”
“Shut up, Flash,” she tells him.
Honestly, she’s got more important things to do right now than worry about Barry Allen.
It’s a thought that comes back to haunt her later, when she’s staring up at her ceiling late that night. Speaking plainly, tormenting the Flash just isn’t as important as it used to be. Sure, he makes hilarious faces, but...she’s got other things to do now. She has hero work, she has Iris. She even has Barry Allen’s dumb ridiculous face. If she sat down now and really tried to get revenge on The Flash, like he deserves, she’d have to give up things she’s not willing to let go.
Even for Roscoe, which is a startling realization. She loved him; real, true love. She would have given up anything for him. She did give up skating (here she glances guiltily at her Golden Glider skates sitting in the corner, but those don’t count; it’s not the same thing, not at all) and that was her whole life for years.
The next day, she goes to the graveyard, and sits down to talk for a little while. She tells Roscoe about her life now, all the strange startling turns it’s taken. “I mean, a superhero! Me!” How Central City is home again, after all these years. How his friends are doing: the same, mostly, but they miss him. Like she does.
Lisa takes a deep breath, in and out.
"I love you, Roscoe. You deserve to be avenged. The Flash is going to pay for every moment of your death. But I can't put my life on hold for you.
"Goodbye, lover." She kisses the stone of his grave, and when she walks away she doesn’t look back.
“Have you ever been ice skating?” Lisa asks, during one of their ever-more-frequent lunch dates. It’s November now, edging towards Thanksgiving (when Wally will, no doubt, be visiting again, and regale them all with tales of the fascinating science things he’s learning) and the first snow can’t be far off. She can taste the ice in the air.
“Not since I was little,” Iris says. “I don’t think I even remember how.”
Lisa flaps a hand at her. “It’s easy! You’ll get it in no time.”
They go that Saturday, and it’s wonderful. Iris falls twice, laughing, but eventually they manage to hold hands and skate smoothly together around the rink. Iris keeps worrying about bumping into people. “No, no,” Lisa says. “Don’t stop and think about it! Trust your reflexes, okay?”
“That’s what I’m doing!”
Lisa detests happy endings—too pat and too cloying—but there’s some kind of symmetry to this one, like a crystal; so many things that came before only glints and reflections of this reality. She’ll take it.
Here—on the ice, watching Iris’ eyes sparkle in the lights—she’s sure. This is the life she wants, and no other.