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Not a Normal Nightcap

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Iris was glad she’d brought the alcohol.

“Hey.”

Linda looked up at her friend, who appeared startled for a second before she noticed the bottles in her hand. Iris was glad for the light laughter she’d induced as she slid onto the corner of her desk.

“I wish I could’ve kept the gloves at least,” Linda said, pulled out of her wan mood by the mere thought of alcohol thrumming in her veins.

Iris laughed into her bottle. “What would you have done with them?”

“Raves,” Linda said, as if it were obvious. “Duh.”

They both laughed, but Iris wasn’t blind. She wasn’t one to ignore her friends in distress either.

“That is not what you were thinking about,” she informed her, letting the silence hang momentarily.

“I was thinking about a lot of things…” Linda shook her head, trailing off. “Like how everything that’s happened to me the past few days is the best story I can never write.”

“Ooo,” Iris agreed wholeheartedly, clinking her bottle against Linda’s. “Tell me about it.”

“Do you ever get used to it?” Linda asked, all yearning curiosity with a touch of awed resignation.

Iris sobered up and considered the question carefully. She dallied only a few seconds before answering.

“Keeping a secret that big?” She paused only a moment more. “No.”

“It’s pretty heavy,” Linda remarked lightly, but the words still felt ripped out of her.

When she turned to get up and leave, Iris let herself feel the wave of emotions – both past and present – flooding over and through her.

She thought of the biggest secret she had right now. The one she shared with her mother. That she had a brother. Her father had a son. And no one knew but the two of them.

Obviously in this specific moment, Linda was overwhelmed by hiding the Flash’s identity. And just the enormity of what being the Flash was all about. Iris wondered how she’d gotten so used to keeping quiet. This closely-held secret involving her brother now seemed so much bigger.

But Linda’s raw emotions made her wonder why she had no dire need to unveil Barry’s secret to the city, to give him the credit, and not keep him hidden behind a red mask. If the Flash had been anyone except Barry, she would’ve been on a high every time she worked with him to solve crimes. As it was, she definitely enjoyed making a difference in a way she wouldn’t have just fishing for stories on her own. But the thrill wasn’t there like she had expected it would be.

Maybe because whether she wanted to admit it or not, things were still a little weird between her and Barry. And he had kept secrets from her last year, big ones. His being the Flash was only half of that liar's shiny penny.

Not that she really held that against him anymore. Still.

“I need a good night’s sleep,” Linda said, pulling Iris out of her complicated thoughts, as she walked past her friend to leave. “I’m gonna head out.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Iris said in response, then took another swig out of the bottle. She needed it.

“Oh, hey!” She called out before Linda made it to the door. “If we’re going to be the Flash’s sidekicks, we should probably join CrossFit or something.”

“Oh, yeah.” Linda curled her arms inward, going for muscular and causing them both to laugh.

Iris stared fondly out the glass door as Linda bid her final farewell. Then she turned back to the slight disarray of their desks and wondered if she’d be staying for a while.

Some movement out of the corner of her eye made her turn towards the door one more time. In a flash – a blue one – horror struck her. She was too late to make it outside and save her friend, even if she’d somehow been able to do that without being frozen in fear.

“Linda!” she shouted into the empty darkness.

Goosebumps sprinkled across her skin as her heart raced, oxygen escaping her in a never-ending gasp.

Linda. Zoom. Linda. Zoom. Zoom took Linda. Her friend. Who she thought was safe. Zoom took her. Zoom took Linda.

Barry.

She needed to call Barry.