Chapter 1: Alice
“Hi. So I need some help.”
Cisco yelps, throwing his screwdriver into the air. He spins, finding a short, short-haired brunette woman there. She’s a bit on the fluffy side, but well compacted so it’s hard to tell at a quick glance over. She’s got on brown, fairy-ish shoes, dark wash bootleg jeans, and a tucked in teal tank top. A tattoo of what looks like a feather peaks out on the left side. All around, she looks completely unassuming. But, so far, Cisco has learned better.
“How did you get in here?” He demands, standing and backing away, pointing a finger as he puts the desk and a good twenty feet between them. “I have the security code changed weekly!”
“It’s not that hard to guess the code spells Barry’s hero name in different languages.”
He can see when she realizes her mistake, the way her rhubarb colored lips drop as her hand covers her mouth and her eyes- a pale shimmer with a rubbed in dark pink and gold starting from the corner of the eye out to make them look bigger, black cat eye and mascara to make the hazel pop- get big.
“Uhm, sooo,” she drops her hand, seems to fidget really hard and looks ready to bolt, grabs the strap of her purse- how did he miss that fraying, pink and burgundy Vera Bradley bulging monstrosity across her chest?- so hard her knuckles turn white, “I might be, y’know, from another earth?’
She phrases it like a question. It doesn’t make Cisco feel any better at all. “Another earth?”
Cisco would swear to God his voice didn’t hit two octaves higher. She winces, reaches up to mess with the gold pendant resting below an iron Celtic raven on a silver chain.
“So clearly this is pre-season 2.” She stills at that, realization dawning across her face. “Oh shit, is this before Eddie dies?”
“Oh shit.” She yelps. “I’m fucking up everything! Oh shit!” She takes in a deep breath and shoves it out her chest, eyes watering, and she quickly wipes at her eyes in the hope of stopping them. “Oh fuck. No no no, I can’t cry now.” Following this, the extremely strange woman mutters, “I can’t get home, so I actually should be crying but you know I can’t right now ugh.”
She still cried, wiping away fruitlessly and trying desperately to keep her makeup in order. You could already see where the foundation was wiped off and an uneven parlor that didn’t match the rest of her body resided underneath.
“I’m so sorry.” She tells Cisco. “I must look,” she sniffles, tries again to stop the tears, “like I’m mad as a hatter.”
Cisco opens his mouth to say something, maybe comforting words, but apparently her own had upset and she sobbed out, “‘But you’d have to be half-mad to dream me up’.” She mumbled some other things, mostly quiet curses and Cisco finally drifted closer to this crazy younger woman to hear, “Do you even have Burton’s Wonderland here?”
Maybe the first thing he understood since she’d stepped into the Cortex and announced her presence. “We do. It was an okay movie for a re-imagining and was the usual dark Gothic style for Tim Burton.” He thinks about what she’d said earlier, blinks at her. “You were quoting it!”
She cracks a watery smile at him, nose wrinkling when she rubs away more tears. “Yeah.” She sniffles and it sounds absolutely disgusting, making Cisco wince and her look away in embarrassment. “Sorry. I ugly cry. But at least I’m not ugly sobbing. There’s be black tracks and it’d be really nasty.”
“Why not, uh, come sit down?” He offers, pointing to the nearby chair. “I’m really curious to know how you got here.”
After sitting down by the bank of computers, pulling her purse off to stick under her chair, she takes a few calming breaths.
“Well, I don’t even know how I got here.” She opens up with. “I was actually walking back to my car with my friend Amber from our friend Annie’s house after DND and then I got super woozy and passed out. Oh my god. Amber!” She sits up straighter. “She might have had this happen to her too! She just started the show! She doesn’t know anything!”
“Whoa, hold on!” Cisco grabs her shoulders and she looks into his eyes. She blinks, calming down. “Okay, first, I need a name. Your name. And second, what show?”
“Oh, jeez. I’ve been here how long and you don’t have my name yet?” She scratches at her arm, still unsettled, then says, “I’m Hannahlee. Most of my friends call me Hannah though.” Hannahlee scowls a little. “Ben is a shithead and calls me ‘Lee’.” She softens. “But it is an original nickname for me.”
“Okay, nice to meet you, Hannah. I’m Cisco Ramon.” He holds a hand and she shakes his hand, afterwards dropping her hand to her lap. “Now, what show? You said also something about a season 2 earlier.”
Hannahlee curls her lips in, looking down.
He ducks his head to hopefully get her eyes. He successfully does and she glances up, shy and scared. “You can tell me.”
“I need to know first.” She swallows, thinking fast by how she glances around, seems to calculate each word. Hannahlee whispers. “Is Eddie missing?”
Confused, Cisco says, “Yes.”
“So you haven’t found Eddie yet?”
Cisco’s eyebrows go up. They hadn’t even come close yet.
“Blink once yes. Two for no.”
He blinks twice. She pushes back from him fast, grabbing her purse. “I’m not talking with you here. We need to go.”
“We can’t just leave. I’m trying to find him right now, right before you came in.”
Hannahlee groans, it deep in her throat and exasperated. “God, on the risk of sounding like a Grade-A Mary Sue, you need to come with me if you want any of this to turn out right.”
Hannahlee looks over the Jitters menu. She looks at Cisco. “Do they serve hot chocolate?”
“Nope.” He shakes his head.
Crestfallen, she knows she’s asking for a water cup. She also has been wrong in all of her fanfictions and that’s honestly super embarrassing to learn. They reach the front of the queue and she smiles politely at the barista as she requests a water cup (god bless them for being free). Cisco moves to wait for his coffee while she fills her cup with water at the water fountain they have.
After sitting down, purse slung on the back of the chair, she takes a long sip before setting it down.
“So, does Iris know Barry is the Flash yet?”
Cisco looks extremely guarded. “Yes.”
“Bare with me here. I’ll explain in a minute but I need to know what is going on and what’s already happened. I’m waaay ahead of all this. Like, two years ahead.”
Cisco lets out a breath. “So you’re a meta.”
“No.” She shakes her head, scratching behind her ear at the hairline. Now that they’re closer and there’s no freaking out, Cisco can see ashen blonde roots. “No. Just- let me do this.”
“What about Eiling and Grodd?”
“And Eiling is free of Grodd?”
“Yes. Are you sure-”
She reaches over, grabs his hand as he flinches a little. “I am positive I’m not a meta. Now.” Hannahlee closes her eyes, taps at the counter with nails covered in chipping nail polish- shiny, metallic purple- to think. “Uhm, the wheelchair? I’m pretty sure that came after Eiling and the whole Grodd thing.”
Opening her eyes, she can see the alarmed glint to his eyes and the set of his mouth. “What about the wheelchair?”
“Okay. So this is before Rogue Air. Peachy.” Hannahlee laughs at her joke, then frowns, sad. “I’ve not even been here two hours and I miss Spot and my friends. This suuuuuuuucks.”
“Okay, so,” he lifts his hands, palms facing her like a protective measure and Hannahlee is extremely happy to know his vibing abilities haven’t come in yet or she’d be scared. He then presses them together and puts them against his mouth. “You clearly know things. And say things that imply… unappealing things. Cool, but unappealing things.”
“Like the fact you’re in a TV show?” She questions, going for the throat.
He winces. “Yes.”
“You’re on the CW.” She adds. “I don’t know if you-”
“Oh, we have it. Don’t worry.” Cisco closes his eyes. “This is both amazing and terrifying to know. Especially if you’re CW is as teen angst-ridden as ours. Vampire Diaries?”
“.... Pushing Daisies season 2?”
He rubs at his neck. “So you come from a place where this,” he motions around him, “is all a show. And it’s, what, two seasons ahead?”
“Yeah.” She nods. “I haven’t finished season 2 yet and season 3 just wrapped up for the summer. But I know what mostly happens. College is a bitch but Tumblr is my friend.”
Cisco nods. “What’s the show called?”
“Just do it.”
Cisco lets out a breath. “Not that bad.”
“Arrow has five seasons to Flash’s three,”
“That is not fair!” Cisco declares, upset by this. “Have you been watching it the whole time?”
“No. I was going home to start season 2 of Arrow when this happened. I was gonna get to see pre-PA exploding you, Caitlin, and Barry in action.” Hannahlee makes a face. “I can’t call them by their first names now that I’m here. It’s too familiar and weird.”
“Sure you can.” Cisco shrugs. “Until we can get you home, you’ll be here.” He grins, friendly and warm and the exact reason he was her favorite out of the STAR Labs team. “We help people, remember?”
Heat pools in the edge of her vision. “Cisco, what needs to happen for me to get home isn’t for another year, at least.”
His smile falls. “Oh.”
Pinching the bridge of her nose to hopefully stave off the tears, Hannahlee sighs. “So, I can’t really tell what’s going to happen, but I can drop hints. I’ve seen how this works in most self-inserts and dropped-in-OCs and keeping it a secret fucks over everyone.”
“So you think vegueing it will fix it?”
Hannahlee levels him a look. For being so short and un-intimidating, Cisco actually felt a fraction of intimidation. Then again, you were always told to beware the short ones.
“Yes. I already told you about the chair.”
“You’re right!” Cisco springs up, still holding his untouched coffee. “C’mon!”
“Why?” Hannahlee grabs her purse, following him as she tries to chug her water. It is difficult.
“We’re heading back to the labs!” He tells her. “I can call the team and hit two birds with one stone: introduce you and see what you were hinting at.”
She tosses the cup, jogging to keep up and thinking, I’m gonna die here because my parents were smokers, I stopped doing soccer seven years ago, and I’m a lazy ass who likes fast food.
“I should also mention you need to start coming up with a way to transport the metas out of the Pipeline.” She says as she gets into the passenger seat of the STAR Labs van. “Which, by the way, because this has always pissed me off, that's wrongful imprisonment and kidnapping. I have Issues with that, with a capital I and the trademark symbol by ‘issues.’ Many fans do. I hope.”
Cisco glances at her, defensive but willing to listen. “Good to know.”
Hannahlee smiles and buckles in, sinking into her seat so no pedestrians see her.
Chapter 2: The Middle
Today's song is by Jimmy Eat World!
Forewarning: As much as I love the Flash, I am not rewatching multiple hour-long episodes just to write a 2k word chapter. I’d lose interest really damn fast, as I’ve learned before. If I need something, wiki is gonna be my saving grace.
Hannahlee fidgets from where she’s sitting in one of the two computer chairs as Cisco waits for the others to arrive, looking over the tachyon device he found under Eobard’s wheelchair. He assures her it would be okay but, honestly, she was more realistic about this. Everyone’s faith had just been rocked off the shelf to shatter all over the floor by Eobard Thawne. Detective West might be more inclined to trust her because he never trusted Eobard to begin with. Barry would probably want to put her in the Pipeline (she’d probably have a break down if that did happen). Caitlin would be suspicious but, thanks to Cisco, she might be more inclined to listen. Iris was up in the air since she just found out about everything.
Barry arrives in a flurry of wind, lightning, and tenses when he realizes she’s there, eyes landed on her and pinning her to the rolling seat.
“She’s a friend.” Cisco assures, and she waves nervously at the speedster. “Long story we’ll explain after everyone is here and I address what we found.”
“I’m Hannah.” She introduces, standing and shifting awkwardly. She really didn’t want to be there anymore. “You’re Barry.”
“Yeah.” He rubs the back of his neck. “How do you know Cisco?”
Shit, shit, shit! Shit fuck! How-?????? She holds up a finger, giving a panicked smile. “Cisco!” She turns to the mechanic, rushing to his side. Hananhlee kneels at his side, whispering in a shitty quiet voice because she didn’t really know how to be quiet, “We never discussed this!”
“Long story, explain when everyone gets here.” Cisco tells Barry who is watching Hannahlee suspiciously now. Holy hell my luck is sheeeet . “What did you say this was for again?”
“He was using it to syphon tachyon particles and build up his speed.” Hannahlee tells him for the third time since they got there. “It was why he kept Barry so close and wanted him to go faster.”
“Because he generates more particles the faster he is!” Cisco realizes with excitement. The woman out of her out time and world grins, finding his out eagerness infectious.
“What are you guys going on about?” Caitlin comes in, Detective West and Iris behind them. The biochemist pauses, frowns. “That was under Dr. Wells chair?”
“Who’s this?” Detective West asks after getting an affirmative from Cisco.
Hannahlee flexes her hands against the soft leather of the armrest she was touching. She glances at Cisco who smiles at her.
“You are way too optimistic for what’s going on.” She tells him as they stand.
“Cisco, who is this?” Caitlin repeats.
“I’m Hannah.” She answers, wanting to either wake up from this or the ground to swallow her whole. “And I, I am.” Hannahlee doesn’t want to say. She hates this. She just wants to go the hell home.
“She comes from another universe. Something happened and she ended up here.” Cisco explains and she can see the other’s become defensive, watches Barry cross his arms and close off, Caitlin shift back, Detective West- already looking for a threat from her- narrows his eyes a little further. Iris is the only one who doesn’t close off. “I’ve already asked her questions and proved she’s telling the truth.”
“And what questions were they?” Detective West questions.
“Not very thorough ones.” Hannahlee admits, a little clammy, stomach roiling, shaking with anxiety she was fighting tooth and nail against. “In my universe, you’re actually a TV show. It’s like a,” she waves a hand, “superhero crime drama with a bit of teen angst and a surprising lack of Daddy Issues.” She nods to Joe with a small smile. “You really are an awesome dad, Detective West. A little over-protective at times, but still awesome.”
“That doesn’t prove anything.” Barry shakes his head. “We need concrete proof. Something Dr. Wells couldn’t tell her.”
“She knew about the tachyon device and how it worked.” Cisco points out.
“Eobard could easily tell me that.” Hannahlee says.
She groans. “God I wish I’d binged season one again instead of Sense8. I don’t remember when whatever happened anymore.” Rubbing under her eyes carefully, she straightens a little. “Eobard is who’s impostering as Dr. Wells. As we all know by now, the real Dr. Wells is dead.” She moves a little bit away from Cisco, pushing her hair back over her ears. “If you need more proof, I can show you where Eddie is- kinda, I’m not sure how far down he is- and tell you that you need to start figuring out a way to transfer the metas to a safe facility, uhh,” she has to think, “Barry got punch by Iris in the face when they were 12 and Joe first started teaching you two how to fight,” Barry looks embarrassed and Iris pleasantly surprised, “hm…” Flashbacks. What other flashbacks were there? I can’t think of anymore! But-!
Mauisse points at Cisco, “Redundant since you already believe me but when you were in Star City, you fixed Laurel’s sonic throat thingy.” She turns, facing the others. “You’ve already confirmed that the blood found where Barry’s mom died was Eobard’s and the blood of a grown-up Barry.” She’s still clearly trying to think. “Jesus, if this was months later I could prove this easier. There’s Tony’s death Eobard orchestrated. Uhm, the secret room? Would that work?”
Her eyes light up. “Leonard Snart! Oh, okay, so… completely left field on this, right? So, uhm,” she turns to Barry, “this may be kinda obvious but you actually believe he can do better, especially after some stuff that happens around Christmas next year but anyway .” Hannahlee is talking fast with little time to breath and Detective West’s eyebrows lift, looking a little humored while Barry is surprised, Cisco is getting a kick out of this, Iris is looking between the younger woman and Barry who looks to now be assaulted with words, and Caitlin wants to get on with the show. “Anyway,” she bounces on her feet a little, hands moving everywhere, pointing at Barry then away to motion to something, “you guys came to truce a couple weeks ago. And you coined the term ‘Rogues Gallery,’ which really amused Snart. OH!” You can practically see her train of thought shift. “In the original timeline Mark Mardon, that jackass ,” she nearly snarls the word, “put Singh in the hospital and caused a tsunami. Some things happened I really shouldn’t say but caused some friction between you and friends afterwards, then you had to run super fucking fast to break the tsunami down and instead went back in time, leading to you to catch Mark Mardon early and is what caused Leonard Snart with his sister Lisa and friend Mick to come back to Central!”
Hannahlee takes a deep breath, face clearly flushed under her makeup, and she’s still bouncing, shaking, looking ready to lose the contents of her stomach.
Then she ducks her head, lips twisting, anxiety skyrocketing from all she’d said. “Sorry. I ramble and then when I get nervous it gets worse.” She stops herself from saying more, less nice things about herself. No matter what, this was still a show a lot of kids watched and she’d keep it friendly.
“No need to apologize.” Detective West tells her. “Clearly you’re eager to be trusted. And that was a lot of information to comb through.”
“Frankly, I just wanna go home,” she says, rubbing her shaking hands together and finding she was still upset with all her “Hannah Babble” and nervous they’d put her in the pipeline. “But who can do it won’t develop the ability to do it for another year, at least .” God, she needed some orange juice right about then.
“We don't keep orange juice here.”
“Did I talk aloud?” She looks at Caitlin in surprise. “Oh my god, I really am a self-insert.”
“Getting us back on track, now that we know we can trust you, you know where Eddie is?” Iris asks, coming closer and looking extremely hopeful.
Hannahlee nods. “Yeah. He’s in some hidden room inside the Pipeline. Eobard made it when the place was first being built. Like with the secret room in the hallway.”
“And there it proves again she's clearly not from here.” Cisco says gleefully.
“Something I could have been told.” She reminds him and he frowns at her.
“Why must you ruin it.” He whines, just a little. Hannahlee can't help but grin at him.
“I'm being realistic.” She replies. “Besides, I ca–”
She's cut off by the flash of red lightning whipping through the Cortex. Something grabs her by the shirt, and she can't breath suddenly, like all the air has been ripped from her lungs and the room. Everything's a blur and then she's striking a wall hard, choking and coughing on the sudden surge of air around her. She crumbles to the ground, wheezing and muddled and is just able to make out Barry flinging himself against the glass of one of the cells they'd been put in, yelling and pounding away.
“E-” She gasps out and Barry is suddenly at her side, helping her sit up. She cries out when he touches the back of her head. Her hair feels warm and sticky. “ Bitch .”
“Interesting new companion you have, Barry.” He grins at them, hands folded behind his back. “But no matter, I'll still get what I wanted. And she'll probably die from the force of hitting that wall.”
She wants to scream at him. Instead she curls over, vision still blurry, and Barry is asking her to do something or say something. Her entire back hurts too much. Her head is pounding hard. She’s still struggling to get air back in.
Hannahlee knows when Eobard has disappeared. Barry loses what defiance he has, completely focusing on her.
“Hey, don't go to sleep.” Barry tells her. “If you do you might die.”
She laughs, coughs. There's a lack of tangy metal in her mouth so there can't be too much internal damage. He's pressing a hand against the back of her head, and she can feel it. Not the “touching my hair and skin” feel but the “you've got your fingers inside an open wound” feeling and it's so weird. She hasn't ever hurt her head before. Hasn’t ever been this hurt before period.
She shakes, struggles to stay awake. It feels like when she used to have to go to church, and she'd start to doze during service (she felt like the biggest asshole for it, Pastor Rob being really sweet and his children were funny, if a little wild). Barry smacks her cheek and she glares at him, then her eyes roll around a little and her lids start to droop.
“Hey!” Barry shakes her, mainly her shoulder, but it does the trick.
“Hm tayrd.” She mumbles.
The door can be heard opening with the hissing decompress of the airlock.
“Barry careful!” Caitlin warns. “She might have whiplash.”
“Hm she'll halp.” Hannahlee slurs then passes out.
Hannahlee wakes up in a hospital bed. Waking up is slow, and her chest aches and her back tingles. She moves to push her hair back and finds its wrapped in thick gauze.
The smell of alcohol and antiseptic hits her next and it makes her skin crawl. She wants to get out of there. The upside is she now knows what happened to her was all a dream. A really weird one, but a dream nonetheless. If she was actually in the Flash, she'd cry.
“Oh my god.” She closes her eyes, feels uncomfortable with how scratchy her throat feels, tries to ignore the steadily beeping heart monitor and the IV needle in her arm. All she could think of if she did was her Mom, laid in a hospital, wasting away, and it would do her no good to reflect on that. “It was all a dream. No Cisco, Iris, Caitlin, Barry, Joe. No worrying over Eddie. Just a car accident and me not actually being in a TV show.”
“I’d love to say you're right,” Hannahlee jumps, tries to turn her head and stare at Cisco, but can't. Cisco instead moves into her eyesight, leaning over a little but careful to not be too close. “Neck brace. Didn't break your spine or neck but we’re being safe. Despite the speed Wellsobard used to throw you, you're mostly unscathed. Three cracked ribs, mild concussion, bruising on the tailbone you'll be limping for a while over, and a twisted ankle.”
Hannahlee closes her eyes. “Y’know, I really wanna–” Her voice cracks and she bites her lip. If she tried to say something more she'd start crying. Hannahlee speaks anyway, voice hoarse and sharp, letting the tears fall and slide down her face to nestle in her hair. “Cry alone right now.”
“Okay.” Cisco frowns. His footsteps are fading away toward the general direction of the door. “You were right about needing to move the metas. And where Eddie was. Thanks.”
She throws a hand over her eyes, chest tight and throat clogged, eyes burning hot. She lets out a little sob, wants to curl into a ball, and instead settles for pressing her other hand over her mouth to stifle the wail she lets out.
I just want to go home!
Hannahlee sits in one of the wheeled chairs, dressed in STAR labs sweat pants and sweatshirt. They're amazingly comfortable and she’d wear them everyday if she could.
She's trying for the thirtieth time to call one of her friends. Like usual, there’s a dial tone and she sighs, ending the call and dropping the phone on the counter. In a small burst of aggression, she shoves it away and crosses her arms on the desk, burying her face in them.
Caitlin didn't want her out of the bed but she'd cajoled her way into sitting in the Cortex. She also had to mention her long history of visiting her sick Mom when every time she ended up back in the hospital, which was embarrassing and made her uncomfortable.
Barry arrives shortly after her outburst, in his suit. She used to want to have a chance to see it up close, to touch and feel what tri-polymer was like. Maybe see how the comms unit and vitals worked. She was shit at mechanics and clothes but it was still badass. Instead she scowls as her hair is whipped around, lifting her head to look at him.
He smiles weakly at her. “I'm sorry.”
She stiffens. Just a fraction. Just enough to let him know it happened. “It's fine. Involuntary self-inserts aren't fun at first.”
“I'd imagine they aren't fun at all.” He tells her, moving to sit. “How's your back?”
She presses her lips flat, motions to the crutches. “It hurts like Godd just tried to snap me in half. I'm still limping. I'd describe what like but you aren't one of my friends.”
Barry doesn't look offended. They've only know each other a day at that point. And he had been, rightfully, suspicious of her when they first met. Eobard trying to kill her had changed that.
“I'm also sorry you can't go home.” He decides to say. “I know it must hurt.”
She closes her eyes. “It's okay. I'll get to go home eventually. Hopefully.” Hannahlee feels the tears coming and bites down on the inside of her cheek. After a moment to get her emotions under control she asks, “When are the Snarts getting here?”
“Snarts?” She looks at Barry, realizes that she'd forgotten Barry didn't know Leonard was bringing Lisa along to help. “He's bringing Lisa?”
“Yes. She can drive big rigs.” Hannahlee reaches for her phone to mess with it, clicking the top button to light the lock screen up, staring at the background of her friends before it fades away. “If you need to get the metas to Ferris Air and then Lian Yu, you'll need her.”
“It's really disturbing having you know what I'm doing before I do.”
She smiles at him, thinking of what happens when the team gets there. “Don't get used to it. I can't tell you everything all the time.”
“While I was in Star City,” Barry begins, unsure, “I asked the Arrow to look you up.”
“Do I exist here?” She doesn't feel like telling Barry she knows who Oliver is (though she feels like it should be obvious).
“No.” Barry shook his head. “So I asked him to make you an identity.”
Her throat is a little tight. “You didn't have to. But thanks.”
Barry pats her shoulder, stands and leaves to go do other stuff.
“Barry!” She turns the chair around to see him. He turns to look at her. “Iris is really happy.” She watches his expression sour. “And I mean it. I can say without a doubt you make a great couple, but right now she loves him. And maybe…” Her hesitation is clear. “Maybe its better to find a new destiny. No matter what a piece of paper says, the future is always changing.”
Barry turns away from her, heading out of the Cortex, shoulders hunched and clearly upset with her. She lowers her eyes and opens the phone. She goes to her messages and clicks on Noemi’s name.
“Noemi,” she texts, “did you get this message?”
She clicks on the “Embarrassing Photos Squad” next. “Hey guys, anyone there?”
She goes through the list of people she knows and asks similar. Hannahlee doesn't receive a reply and her heart is hurting far too much. Her hands shake so she exits the app and closes her phone. She sets it down, presses her hands over her now makeup-less face and breaths in deep.
Calm down. Just ball all the hard emotions into a tight ball. Just like Harold taught you. Then put it in the pretty treasure chest for later. But don't shut out your empathy. You need that, Hannah.
Hannahlee expels the breath as she imagines locking the treasure chest and putting the key back around her neck. She leaves it and takes another breath in.
Good girl. Now focus on what's going on.
She draws her hands from her face, dashing away several stray tears. She takes another breath, this one to steady herself, and thinks.
Okay so, this is Rogue Air. Snart and Lisa are gonna show up soon. She nods. He's going to tell Barry he decided on what he can do to make Snart help. Then he and Lisa are gonna betray them at the pick-up point. She thinks about that. Barry is gonna be pissed. He’ll know I knew. They all will.
Hannahlee bites her lip. What if I convinced them not to? Can I do that? Isn't Mardon needed free later to free Snart after Family of Rogues?
She groans, wanting to slam her head into the desk. “Why is this so hard!?”
“Because knowing the future is a naturally annoying thing?” Cisco prompts as he comes in, chewing on a string of licorice. He holds one out to her and she wrinkles her nose a little.
“I don't like it. Too bitter.” Like my soul. Briefly her lips tugged up at the joke.
Cisco shrugs. “More for me.” He sits down. “Just saw Barry. He looked upset.”
Hannahlee looks away. “I might have said something he didn't want to hear.”
“Can I know?”
“Uhm.” Hannahlee weighs the pros and cons. “It has to do with his love life and someone who is unavailable.”
“Ah.” Cisco leans back. He smirks. “Did you have a crush on any of us before now?”
Her mind brings up the snarky asshole the team was going to be dealing with. She somehow keeps a straight face.
“Yes. But you weren't real at the time so I ignored it. Relationships are awkward and too much work that I don't want to deal with. So I'm still ignoring it.” She shrugs at his frown. “Commitment issues and I've been cheated on. I know the root of my problems.”
“So long as you're aware.” He spins his chair, booting up the computers. “We’ve been working on shutting down the Particle Accelerator but aren't having any luck. You have any ideas?”
He's fishing for answers that she honestly doesn't remember. “No. Other than you need to move the metas. I don't remember much of what happens next to this, Eobard being a shit head, Snart and his sister, and the ride to the runway.”
“Why would we go to a runway?” Cisco glances at her. She shifts in her seat, flinches as she jostles her ribs.
“I can't say.” Her tone is weak from the pain. “You got any skittles around here?”
“Plenty!” Cisco grins at her, concern still clear in his eyes, but he doesn't push. He stands, moving to get a small bag hidden under the desk. He opens it to reveal the rainbow colored skittles. “Caitlin’ll be back soon then she's gonna do another eval on you.”
“Yay.” She mumbles, digging out a handful of skittles. “Gotta love doctor’s visits.”
“They're not that bad.” Cisco reasoned. “She already took your blood and such.”
“That doesn't bother me.” Hannahlee shakes her head. “It's the smell. The sounds. It's… unsettling.”
There's a look of realization on his face. “Sick family member?”
“I really don't like talking about it.” She tells him, popping a couple of the green ones she'd taken into her mouth. As she chews, she picks out the yellows to eat next. “But to explain without saying more, I've been visiting them since I was a baby. I can't get away from them, it seems.”
Caitlin comes in soon after. She has a shopping bag and looks a bit sheepish.
“You're other clothes got covered in blood.” She explains, setting it down. “And I figured you wouldn't want to wear just these sweats. So I stopped by Walmart and picked stuff that was similar. I hope you aren't upset I looked at your sizes.”
“No, it's fine.” The yellows skittles go into her mouth and she picks out the purple. Reds and oranges are eaten together. “I guess I was going to have to shop at some point anyway.”
“Well…” Cisco and Caitlin look at each other. “You technically don't exist. So you can't. But you could still have one here anyway.”
She looks between them. “I know nothing about science other than the mitochondria being the powerhouse of the cell. Maybe balance electrons and some simple equations. There's also the fact your boss is currently out to kill us? I don't think he'd take the time to put me on the payroll.”
“You've got a point.” Cisco grabs some skittles. “Maybe Barry and Joe can pull some strings and get you a job as a secretary?”
Hannahlee grimaces, thinking of all the fights that get brought to the precinct. But other than maybe applying at Jitters or getting a shady job, it was one of her better options. Downside was she'd just upset Barry and they barely knew each other. He'd definitely not be feeling charitable, no matter how naturally nice he was.
“I'll… think about it. For now I just want to get through this. I can stay in the Labs until I can freely walk and have an identity.” She looks to Cisco. “How's the containment transport coming along?”
“It's coming along.” Cisco watches her throw the purple ones into her mouth. He grabs the nearby tablet, tapping at i and bringing things up. “If we can get someone to drive the rig, we’ll be fine.”
“Then to Lian Yu.” She murmurs quietly.
“What?” She looks up at Caitlin and Cisco.
She waves a hand. “Nothing. Getting ahead of myself.”
That's when Barry and Joe come in, talking and arguing. She remembers this part. Not clearly, but she remembers–
“Then lucky for you I figured out what it is you can get me. Hello, Detective. Nice to see you again.”
Leonard Snart makes his entrance and she feels her heart go double time as he smirks at Barry and Joe, then turns his eyes to Caitlin and Cisco, glancing over her. Hannahlee immediately throws the red and orange skittles into her mouth, listens to their clinks against her teeth, and turns to grab more so she doesn't have to look at him. Everyone notices and she honestly doesn't give a damn because she's never blushed before but now she is.
Goddammit. Remember: he's a killer and a criminal. Killer and a criminal. Shitty choice in boyfriend. Plus there’s Sara Lance. And you don't need an intimate anyone to be happy.
“Caitlin, Cisco, new comer.”
She relaxes just a little with how he doesn't ask after her name.
Small favors. My voice might crack if he asked my name.
“I thought about your proposal.” Snart goes on, addressing Barry. “You want my help, this is what I want: My fingerprints, dental records, DNA, criminal records, family tree, everything there is in this world concerning Leonard Snart. I want it destroyed. All of it. At CCPD, online, everywhere.”
Joe snorts but she knows his eyes are on her. “The brass on this guy.”
“You’be got a deal.” Hannahlee closes her eyes as Joe demands Barry to have a private word with him.
Caitlin touches her arm. “Hannah, come on. I'll do your check up now.”
Thank Brân .
She grabs the crutches Caitlin had got her but Caitlin shakes her head. “I'll roll you in on the seat. It'll be easier.”
“If you're sure.”
Cisco follows, bringing the skittles with.
“Oh my god.” He whispers, looking both angry and gleeful, when they enter the small medbay. “You have a crush on Captain Cold . That's why you gushed so much about him! That's so problematic.”
“Like yours on Lisa isn't problematic?” She asks sourly, crossing her arms.
Caitlin sighs, grabbing her stethoscope. “I don't care as long as you don't suddenly start dating him or decide to go evil or work with him.”
Hannahlee wrinkles her nose. “I can't be quiet to save my life. I'd suck as a thief. No thanks.”
“I'm not saying there's anything wrong. I just think it's funny you watched a show on heroes and have a crush on a villain instead.” Cisco offers her the bag.
Moodily, she murmurs, “He doesn't stay a villain.”
The biochemist and mechanic pause. “He doesn't?” Cisco asks, honestly surprised while Hannahlee wants to strangle herself for her fat mouth.
“Surprising.” Caitlin comments, then turns her to face the glass walls. Cisco moves to stand in front of Hannahlee, watching Snart and blocking her from view. “Sit up very straight for me and breath in deep. Out when I say so.”
Caitlin lifts her shirt and presses the cold metal to the woman’s back.
“Breath out. Slow.”
She does. Caitlin repeats several times in several different places.
“So how does that happen?” Cisco asks afterwards, turned back around. “He loves what he does.”
Hannahlee doesn't know how to explain, but she tries. “Some things happen. It has to do with Lisa. He gets help from Barry, however unwilling he was for it.” She grins at her lap. “What happened made him… not better . It couldn't. But afterwards. He became better. Barry sets him on the path and Snart just has to follow it. Mick isn't too happy about it. But, last I remember, he started to like helping the good guys, too.” She lifts her head, conflict growing in her, grin slipping away. “What's going to happen in the next couple of hours is going to… test that.”
“Is he going to betray us?” Caitlin demands, voice low.
Hannahlee presses her lips flat. “He's a criminal and a liar. He robs people and sometimes he hurts them.”
“So he does.” Cisco rolls his eyes. “How does he become good again? Because this isn't going to make us like him any more.”
“Cisco, this has to happen. I've been thinking and there's no way around it if we’re going to keep the timeline normal. Messing with it can really screw everyone over.”
“You're messing with it.” He points out.
“No I'm not.” She shakes her head. “I'm telling you things a little in advanced. Moving things along faster.”
“That's messing with time.” Caitlin assures.
“Maybe it is.” Hannahlee has to spin the chair so she can take her sweatshirt off and let Caitlin put the blood pressure cuff on. She keeps an arm across her chest as this happens. “But, so far, everything has been happening as it should be. So I haven't done much damage. I hope.”
“You hope?” Caitlin pauses in filling the cuff with air, looking at her sharply.
“I can't really remember much of each episode, okay?” Hannahlee feels extremely defensive. “This just happens to be in my current top five. But it doesn't even matter anymore because now you're real and you can't predict real people."
“You can, actually.” Caitlin smiles a little, buffing up the cuff again. “And if you've seen what we do then it's already a guarantee it'll happen.”
“Unless you do something drastic to change things.” Cisco adds. “Which case, then we’re unpredictable.”
“Like stopping what's supposed to happen.” Hannahlee sighs. “I've been trying to think of ways around it but to keep stuff in the future as it should, this has to happen.”
Cisco and Caitlin share a look. Hannahlee finds is disconcerting how much she trusts these people. She knows these people thanks to three years of following their stories. But at the same time she knows nothing about them.
“Then you shouldn't try to.” She looks at Caitlin, surprised. “Fix it, I mean. If this has to happen, that there's no way around it, then okay.”
Caitlin looks at her blood pressure and nods. “So you're still doing good. Has the pain medication worn off any?”
It had to where it hurt if she moved too much, but Hannahlee could put up with it. She didn't want to use too much pain medication.
“I'm good.” Hannahlee shakes her head, pulling the sweat shirt back on. “My chest feels a little tight but it's the bindings.”
Caitlin gives her a scrutinizing look. “You sure? I will poke you until you tell me the truth.”
“Yes. I'm sure.” She can't help but laugh. “I’m okay.”
They return to the Cortex but by then Leonard Snart had left. Barry was in his uniform and Joe had left, clearly upset with Barry.
“Going to erase Snart from existence?” Hannahlee jokes.
“Yes.” He confirms and watches Cisco and Caitlin’s faces fall.
“Well I'd get on that.” She replies. “Joe’s gonna be asking for a set of roadblocks to the airport and he's gonna get turned down.”
“It really is disconcerting how easily you talk about this stuff.” Cisco remarks. “But I like it. Keeps us ahead.”
She knows he's thinking of Snart’s betrayal. Wonders how he’ll fare being completely aware this time around.
Chapter 3: Back in Time
Today the song is brought to you by Huey Lewis and the News. <3
I found a crappy transcript of the episode and used that to keep some of the lines the same. But, like I said, I still won't be rewatching whole episodes. Besides, I think this makes it more fun.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I hear we’re going to be working together.” Lisa drawls, smiling saucily at Cisco who fidgets and looks away.
Hannahlee wants to push him into the thief, but refrains out of respect. There’s a bit of banter and then Barry breaks it up.
“Look, guys,” he begins, “we need their helps if we’re going to pull this off.”
Joe looks ready to argue then realizes something. “Why are you still wearing your mask? Snart knows who you are.”
Snart smirks at the detective. “And I promised I wouldn’t tell anyone.” He tilts his head toward Lisa. “That includes my sister.”
She gives him a playful smirk, declaring, “Jerk.”
He finally looks at her, looking impish as he drawls, “Trainwreck.”
Hannahlee feels her chest flutter and decides it’s high-time to move the hell out of the room again. She turns to Caitlin. “Hey, Cait?”
The biochemist looks down at Hannahlee. “Yes?”
“My ribs are starting to hurt. Badly.” It was very true. But she’d been feeling it for the last two hours, actually. She watches Caitlin’s tense posture ease into doctor mode. “And I’ve got a major migraine.”
“Alright. Let’s move you into the medbay.”
This time, Hannahlee goes without so much as a grimace, ignoring the brief trail of gazes on her. Caitlin helps her from the roller chair to the bed and moves to grab the stethoscope again.
“I should have checked you hourly.” Caitlin says. “I’m sorry.”
“It’s fine.” She shakes her head. “The migraine was small at first.”
“It could have been a buildup of pressure, Hannah. You can die from that.”
Caitlin goes through the breathing checks again, checks her ears, and shines a flashlight in Hannahlee’s eyes. “So you’re concussion hasn’t come back.”
“That can happen?”
“When there’s a massive buildup of pressure in your brain, yes. It’s similar to when you experience massive head trauma.”
“Jesus christ.” The younger woman breaths. “That’s terrifying.”
Caitlin gives a tired smile back. “On a scale of one to ten, how much pain are you in?”
Hannahlee doesn’t even need to think about it. She’d let the medication wear off and for two hours she’d been dying of pain. The throbbing in her ankle was nothing compared to her ribs and tailbone.
Caitlin blinks at the younger woman. Then her eyes narrow. “You let it build up, didn’t you?”
Usually, Hannahlee would lie. It was very easy to do so. However, she really wanted these people to trust her. “I did.”
“You can’t do this kind of stuff to yourself, Hannah. It’s not safe or healthy.” Caitlin shakes her head, moving to cabinets to find the right bottle. She untwists it, shaking out two pills. When she comes back, holding out the pills, she asks, “Why didn’t you say anything?”
“I don’t like pills. Or relying on stuff to take away the pain.” She answers honestly. “My family was big on pills when I was a kid and my grandad was fond of medication he didn’t need.”
Caitlin drops the pills into Hannahlee’s hand. “Well, if it’s any help, I’ll be the one administering your drugs. No need to worry about getting an addiction. I can guess when someone isn’t in pain anymore.” Caitlin smiles at her. “You’re just really good at hiding your pain until you give in.”
“Old habits die hard.”
“Yes, well, take those. Then we’ll go back.”
Hannahlee throws both into her mouth like she does skittles. She swallows them dry, trying not to cough with how they pull at her throat. “What were they?”
“Oxycontin. A regular dose for someone your age and in pain with no prior use of opioids.” Caitlin helps her back into the seat and they roll back in. “It’ll be another 30 to 40 minutes before it properly kicks in, but you should feel the pain starting to gradually wear off in five to ten.”
“Good to know.”
“Is the invalid coming with us?” Lisa asks, not sounding rude but merely curious.
“No.” Caitlin says quickly. “She’s on bed rest.”
“Don’t look it.” Lisa smiles at Hannahlee, sly and working an angle. “I’m Lisa Snart, though I’m guessing you knew that.”
“I am very aware.” Hannahlee agrees. “I’m Hannah.”
“You look pretty normal for working with the Flash and his friends.” She steps closer and Hannahlee feels warning signs go off.
Cisco is about to say something but, without thinking, Hannahlee opens her mouth to speak. “I am pretty normal. I was friends with Cisco in middle school. Stumbled in here at the wrong time and got caught in the crossfire of some metahuman stuff.”
“You don’t look much older than 20.”
Hannahlee smiles sweetly, eyes closing as she tilts her head a little to the left. “Thanks. I try.”
Lisa looks her over then smirks, turning away. “Don’t we have a plane to catch?”
Hannahlee waits until Leonard and Lisa have left to let her shoulders drop and panic ease.
“Oh my god,” she whispers to herself, “that was both the shittiest and greatest lie I ever gave.”
“Good thing she believed it.” Joe crosses his arms, eyeing the girl.
“She didn’t.” Hannahlee shakes her head. “Now go. You’ve metas to transport.”
“Will you be okay here alone?” Caitlin asks as everyone heads for the door.
“Yeah. I don’t think Eobard is aware I’m still alive. And if he is, I don’t think he’ll attack again so soon.”
“Maybe you should…”
“No.” Hannahlee touches her hand. “I can barely stand and you’ve got two hours left to transport these guys. Leave me here.”
Caitlin hesitates, then follows after the rest. Hannahlee sighs and leans just a little, ignoring the pull on her ribs.
She’s on the computer, scrolling through Tumblr, when she hears the sound of metal clanging around. She jumps, turning to see if it's Eobard or if the mission has already gone to shit and Barry was back to order her gone.
Instead it's a vaguely familiar face, with dark curly hair and cool brown eyes, and clearly as confused by her as she is by him.
“You know who I am?”
“Yeah.” She stares, really confused. “I actually really hoped that was a strictly “I'm gonna impress Kara Zor-el” look and not what you actually look like. Short, bald, cartoon you is a lot more funny.”
Mr. Mxyzptlk looks highly offended. “I will have you know this is eons of perfection perfected just to find the perfect mate. Kara Zor-el, beautiful and smart, will always have my heart.”
“And you'll–” She stops the witty response, really fond of the body and mind she has. “Nevermind. Why are you here?”
“I received a very strange disturbance in the Universe's and decided to come look.” Mr. Mxyzptlk explains. “Which led me right to you, a silly little conundrum. Clearly you aren't from here.”
“Of course I'm not.” Hannahlee frowns, confusion clearing with a sudden realization. “Wait. You can travel in time?”
“Of course. Being from the fifth dimension, time and the space between universes is a mere construct to us.”
She pushes off the desk to get closer to him. “Can you take me home?”
He takes a wide step back.
“Why ever would I do that?” He asks, looking positively flabbergasted with her.
“I know what's going to happen!” She tells him, hoping he'd have some sense to not let her stay if she did have knowledge no one should have. “Everything! Now and for the next two years. I can rearrange this whole world with a handful of words.”
He scoffs. “Like I care? This is just a single universe, and one without Kara in it. I have no reason to protect it.” He turns away. “Besides, if you upset things too much, a time wraith will kill you instead. If doesn't, this universe will fix itself or collapse in. Much simpler solutions.”
“Please.” Hannahlee asks, not above begging and not above begging for help. “Please. I don't want to be here.”
He turns, unimpressed. “No one like a being who begs, darling. It's beneath anyone.” He rolls his eyes, waving a hand. “Say I did take you home, how would I know? Hm?”
“Uhm, you're from a TV show?”
“Yes, I picked up on that when you mentioned “cartoon” me. A true atrocity. What universe are you from? There are plenty where I am a mere figment of a random mind drawn onto paper or typed up. I need specifics. Who’s president of your lovely America, historical moments, that kind of thing.”
“Uh,” she thinks for a moment. As far as she knew, the Giant Cheetoh wasn't president here or on Kara’s earth. “Donald Trump is president, There was the Black Plague, Disney is huge with Frozen and Moana. Black Panther just released a teaser and Wonder Woman a movie.”
His lip curls. “I know which that is. You're out of luck, darling. That universe is off limits to us. Has been since the Black Plague.”
“What?” She demands. “Why?”
“Because, unlike here or where lovely Kara Zor-el lives, the Black Plague wiped all your magic users. Any who survived later died during the witch hunts. The Black Plague killed people with magic potential too. It is a strain that targets inhumans. If I went there, I'd die. And bring it back and wipe out a whole other universe too.”
“You've got to be shitting me.” She throws her hands up. “Then how the fuck did I end up here!”
“That, darling, you will have to learn yourself.” He wrinkles his nose at her. “I'm leaving before you infect me. I am not going to be a Native American to your pillaging Christopher Columbus.”
He's gone in a purple haze of smoke, leaving her alone. She wants to scream.
After her chat with Mr. Mxyzptlk, Hannahlee rolls her chair into the medbay where she proceeds to climb into the bed. She's able to curl onto her side, just a little, if she doesn't let her tailbone move too much. Her head is pillowed under her hands, staring at the brightly lit Cortex.
Because of how late it is, she's starting to doze off when the wind carried by a person running impossible speeds comes in. She knows it's Barry and that he's angry before he even speaks, opening her eyes slowly to look at him. She's already quietly panicking and trying to keep her own emotional response to shut down back.
It didn't do anyone any good to suddenly not give a shit, especially when she does, in fact, give a shit.
“You knew Snart was going to do that.” He accuses, pacing the length of the room and tensed so hard his back looks ready to snap.
Carefully, Hannahlee pushes herself up. Her arms shake, just a little, and she can't do much more because her entire chest is suddenly gripped in pain. Luckily, Barry is still nice enough to help her. Then he steps back, putting space between them. She doesn't blame him.
“Why would you let that happen?”
“Because it had to happen.”
He scoffs. “It had to?”
“Yes.” She nods. “If I told you and you stopped Mardon from getting away, or put Snart and Lisa in jail, then things that have to happen months from now won't happen. And they have to happen. Otherwise the entire timeline will be disrupted and it won't be pretty.”
“He killed someone today!” He yells, hands in the air.
“Saving your ass.” She snaps back, surprised at herself. Usually she'd flinch back and not speak. Not know how to speak. “We both know Simmons wasn’t going to stop until you were dead, even at the cost of everyone else there.”
She can see Barry’s agreement, clear as crystal. So she goes on, “Snart won't ever admit it but he likes you. Not romantically or anything,” though I wish so , “but he likes your honesty and kindness. It's why he gave up trying to kill you, not just because it means there wouldn't be a “challenge” left if he did. The fact you still think he can do good is an added bonus. He needs someone in his corner, and even I’m a bit hesitant now that I've been in an actual room with him.”
“You could have at least hinted at it.” Barry reasons.
“When?” She asks. “Seeing as the only time I spoke to you alone, I pissed you off.”
“You didn't. You didn't piss me off,” Barry flounders, surprised. “You just upset me. It came out of left field and wasn't very appreciated.”
“I know it wasn't. But it had to be said.” She looks down at her lap. “I’m sorry I said it though. It's just,” she groans, rolls her neck back. “You spend so much time seeing and hearing about how you're meant to be, or this couple is meant to be, and you can't help thinking ‘do I get a say? ’ or ‘do they get a say? ’ And you really want to know.” She looks at Barry again, still tensed but now for a completely different reason. “You and Iris really are good together, but the thing is: what's your feelings and what's Fate’s design?”
Barry looks floored at this. Not upset or angry. Just floored by this realization.
“I hate to be the one to say this, Barry, but if Iris did fall in love with you at this point, would it be because of you or because of the news article?”
Barry pauses to think about that, can't seem to come up with an answer. And she knows she's right. She shifts down the bed, lowering herself as slowly as she can. She situates herself, head pillowed under her hands once again. “You've got Eobard to go catch with Oliver and Firestorm, I’d head out if I was you.”
Barry stares at her a split second too long then looks away. “You knew who the Arrow was?”
“Of course I did.” She smiles a little. “It was funny you thought I didn't, though.”
He sighs. “Get some rest.”
“You’re not kicking me out?” Hannahlee asks in a small voice when he turns to leave.
He pauses. “I've got no reason to.”
Then he's gone in a streak of yellow lightning and a ruffle of her hair.
I made a fake blog/ask blog for this story, found over at http://welcome-to-flashland.tumblr.com/ . Hope you stop by to ask questions or take a quick look around. There isn't much yet.
Chapter 4: You've Got A Friend In Me
Today's song is by Randy Newman and a classic!
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Hannahlee is forced awake by the sounds of people coming into the Cortex, talking loudly. Groggy, pain just peaking at the edges of her body, she forces herself into sitting up. She watches Barry, Joe, Cisco, Oliver, Professor Stein, and Ronnie come into the Cortex. She’s about to ask after Caitlin when she remembers that the good doctor was hit with Roy Bivolo’s powers. She feels shitty for forgetting about that happening, but is glad to see she was likely sent home by Cisco after reversing the effects.
She’s going to lay back down, maybe try to get more sleep, but Cisco sees her. She smiles at him, waves a little. He comes into the medbay, not looking angry and not looking happy to see her. So it was a win-win so far.
“Did you remember the thing with Bivolo happening?” He asks quietly and she shakes her head.
“I was about to ask you about Caitlin when I remembered.” She admits, looking down. “I never wanted that to happen.”
“Well it did.” He sounds angry, just briefly, then he sighs. Cisco sounds extremely tired. “What about Simmons?”
“I knew Snart would kill him.” She reveals. “He was a danger to everyone there and I still don't like that it happened but… I didn't let myself think about it either.”
“So you figured not thinking about it would keep the blood off your hands?”
She scoffs. “It was never on my hands to begin with. It was going to happen and I couldn't stop it.” She looks up at Cisco. “Like Caitlin said ‘if this has to happen, that there's no way around it, then okay’.”
“Not if there's a death involved!” Cisco argues, no real heat behind it.
“I'm sorry, Cisco. I am.” Hannahlee shrugs. “But sometimes the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few.”
“Don't quote Star Trek at me, that isn't fair.” He whines.
She smiles despite the conversation. “It's an apt description.”
He sighs, sitting beside her. “Tonight was a whole mess.”
“But you caught Eobard?”
“Then it's not that bad. Win some, lose some.” She scratches at the bandages around her head, uncomfortable suddenly. “How's Caitlin?”
“Embarrassed but she'll recover.”
She grins, pleased to hear that. “That's good.” She shifts on the bed. “So, the end of season one is in the next few days. I don’t know how many but-”
She goes quiet when she sees a green jacket coming towards them. Hannahlee sits up straighter, stomach knotting up in some cross between fear and excitement. She liked Oliver Queen but this man didn’t trust or know her, and that meant he probably wouldn’t like her either. That meant he’d treat her at arm's length, and was only making her a new life at Barry’s request.
He comes into the medbay, bow gone but quiver of arrows still present, hood thrown back and mask gone. He crosses his arms and with how his legs are positioned it feels like a bastardized parade rest and like he’s blocking the door. Not like she could leave but damn.
“Hi.” She squeaks, surprised at how scared she was suddenly. “You’re not wearing your, uh.” she motions to her face and then point at him, “is it mask or face makeup right now?”
He raises an eyebrow. “Barry told me about how you already knew my identity. Which, it was already curious you didn’t exist, but you knowing who I am made me concerned for his team’s safety and want to meet you.”
Her jaw drops. “Barry didn’t tell you?”
“Tell me what?”
How the fuck does Barry rationalize not telling Oliver Queen, the Green Arrow and who’s supposed to be Barry’s closest hero friend, that his really weird, new guest is from an alternate universe where this was all a bunch of shows in the same universe?
“I’m gonna punch him in the arm.” Hannahlee declares, already moving to get into the wheeled chair. She nearly trips into the floor but Cisco steadies her and helps her sit back down on the bed. “Cisco, do not stop me.”
“Hold on.” Cisco does get in front of her, holding up his hands. “Maybe Barry didn’t say anything for a good reason.”
She openly pouts at him. “Barry is supposed to trust Oliver above, like, all other people.”
“I’m waiting for an explanation still.” Oliver reminds them and the woman looks around Cisco at him, sighs, and drags her hands over her face until her fingers could tangle in her hair. She drops them to her lap.
“I’m from an alternate universe where you’re apart of a TV show and, apparently, I don’t exist.”
Cisco moves out the way after that, useless to stop the ball when it's rolling. She looks up at Oliver and he looks contemplative more than surprised or angry, doesn’t even act like she’s joking. Then he shakes his head. “You’re lying.”
Hannahlee purses her lips. “Want me to prove it?”
“Be my guest.” He nods to her. “But there isn't anything you can tell me that'll make me trust you.”
Hannahlee sighs, licks her lips. There’s a ball of nervousness in the pit of her stomach. She knows, for a fact, that she’s gonna regret this. “You asked for it.”
There’s humor in his gaze, a hidden skepticism and, while he looked relaxed, she could tell he was just as nervous and tense. It made her think of when she was younger and any second, her dad could get angry and go off. He was like her, waiting for the anvil to drop. It was strange to know such a reaction could be found outside of a house of horrors.
“Yao Fei and Slade Wilson, along with Yao Fei’s daughter Shado, taught you everything you know.” She starts, watches his left foot shift a little. “If not for Yao Fei, you likely would have picked up a sword or something else instead of archery. Or you’d be dead. Then you wouldn’t have been able to come back and defend the city from the people who failed it. Including Malcolm Merlyn, who sabotaged the ship you'd were on.” Oliver is super tense. “Want me to talk about your time on the raft before reaching Lian Yu? About your dad and the captain?”
“No.” Oliver lets out an unsteady breath and Hannahlee feels like the biggest jackass for it. “I can already guess you’re going to say things I don’t want shared with the peanut gallery.”
“I am sorry your pain is exploited for profit.” It is an honest feeling. Stephen Amell was an amazing actor (even if TMNT was a questionable acting choice). “I will say that, in my defense, until yesterday I’d never really thought about how this all exists in another world.”
Oliver is clearly uncomfortable now but she keeps going. “I'm not really a follower of the show, either. I don't have anything against it, or you, or anyone really, I just didn't start it when it began.” She ends with a mumbled, “Sorry.”
“It's… not fine.” Oliver admits and she feels Cisco drop a hand on her shoulder, fingers squeezing a little. It's surprisingly comforting. She really does appreciate Cisco and his empathy. “But I suppose it is what it is.”
Hannahlee smiles, weak and small. “I suppose.”
Oliver straightens his pose, hiding away what weakness he let show. She wouldn't bother telling him he didn't need to hide from her, knowing it would get a negative reaction from him instead of positive.
“I need to ask you a few questions for your new identity. Name, age, those kinds of things.”
“Oh, sure.” She pushes her hair back again. “If you have paper I can write it all down.”
“I'll go get some!” Cisco offers, clearly wanting out of the tense room, and leaves to do just that. She hopes he'll grab a pen, too.
“Do you know how to stop Ra’s al Ghul?” Oliver asks when Cisco is out of hearing range.
Hannahlee lightly flinches in surprise, thinks of Batman Begins and Liam Neeson. “I don't. I'm sorry. I haven't even…” Hannahlee shakes her head, changing the train of thought to something more understandable, “I've only watched what constitutes as the first six months after you got back from Lian Yu. I've only watched up to the fucked up shit Malcolm Merlyn caused in the Glades.”
Oliver closes his eyes, face pinched. She purses her lips.
“The only reason why I know who Ra’s al Ghul is because of another vigilante that isn't famous in this universe.” She explains. “And Ra’s didn't have a daughter named Nyssa there. He only had Talia.”
“What was the name of this other vigilante?” Oliver asks, curious, eyes still closed.
She looks down at her lap, grinning a little. “Batman. From Gotham. He's pretty goddamn scary to bad guys.” Her hands smooth over the soft material of the sweatpants. “People usually portray him as this mean guy, jaded by his parents murder, never willing to look past the wrongdoings to the mental instability of the people he's trying to put behind bars. He’s actually a super caring, nice guy, who uses a douchebag façade in the public eye.”
“Sounds like you enjoy his story.”
“I… do , but…” She shrugs helplessly, looking up at him. There's vague unease in Oliver’s gaze when he finally opens his eyes and meets hers. “I don't know much of it save the basic background and all the kids he adopts and takes care of over the years. I'm not big on comic books. I always preferred manga and regular books. Anything I know is vaguely secondhand from cartoons as a kid or from wiki.”
“Wiki isn't a very trustful choice.”
“Where I come from, the fandom wikis are usually extremely vetted. Maybe a little out of date for the lesser fandoms, but definitely truthful.”
“We’ll see about that.”
Cisco comes back in, clipping a few sheets of printer paper to a clipboard. He passed it to Hannahlee with a pen. She doesn't like the weight and feel of the pen, but beggars can't be choosers. She immediately jots down her name (Hannahlee McCullough), the year and date she's from (June 27th, 2017), and her birthdate with current age across the top, all words even and legible.
“What do you need to know?” She asks then.
“What level education you have, hobbies, the kind of things to help build a profile.” He leans against the desk pushed against the glass walls of the medbay. “We can use them to enroll you in school if you need it or get you a job cover or even both in some cases.”
Her brow furrows as she writes. “How the hell do you know all this?” She asks, pausing. “You spent five years on a deserted island. What am I missing?”
“Guess you should have watched more of my life.”
She feels like that was meant to be an underhanded remark but it didn't even make her feel a tinge of guilt let alone bad. Hannahlee had already said her peace and she refused to drag around these feelings anymore.
“Maybe when I get home I will.” She responds calmly. “But until then, I can't help you.”
Oliver does sigh. He gives a tight nod. “You're at least helping Barry?”
Hannahlee holds his gaze. “To the best of my abilities, yeah, I am. Some stuff I can't talk about, and I hate seeing the after effects, but it has to happen to keep the timeline intact.”
“Like with Snart?”
“Exactly like with Snart. What's coming up with Eobard too.” She side-eyes Cisco. “Kinda, anyway. There’s something specific I’m gonna stop.”
“Can you tell us?” Cisco asks, noticing her look.
“No.” She runs a thumb over the ink she’s etched into the paper. Some of it is still wet and smears across the clean, white paper, distorting the words. Her thumb feels cold. “I think if I did, you’d definitely try to stop it. And like with Ferris Air, it needs to happen.”
Cisco forces out a gust of air. “Who dies.”
That was honestly the easiest lie she had ever told. It surprises her. Hannahlee already has plans to stop Eddie’s death, but to believe it so wholly that she can lie to Cisco is amazing.
She picks up her pen, writing down more information.
“I was born in ‘97,” she tells Oliver, “but I’m from two years in the future. So, here, I’d have been born in ‘95.” She stills her hand. “I wouldn’t mind being in the year of the pig instead of the ox. It’s better than being younger than I really am.”
“You’re only 20?” Cisco lets out a heavy breath. “Oh my god.”
She laughs. “Technically, I’m 19 since I came from June 27, a little under four months to my 20th birthday.”
“That’s terrifying to know.”
She laughs again. “You’re telling me.” Her laughter abates and her smile falls, sadness and anger pushing its way up into her chest and trying to lodge itself in her throat and behind her eyes. Hannahlee clears her throat and finds its still hard to talk, realizing she won’t get to go to Europe with her family, that she’s going to miss college, and she’s not getting to go wine tasting with her aunt when she turns 21. No more DND with her coworkers. No cuddling with her dog Spot. No next year summer trip to California to meet Noemi for the first time. She’s going to miss an entire year of her life, and here she’s stuck writing down facts about herself, joking about her age, planning to save Eddie Thawne.
Cisco is kneeling in front of her and she realizes she dropped the clipboard and pen to cover her face and cry into her hands. She shakes her head, wishing she could pull her feet up onto the bed without hurting herself.
“C’mon, it’s not that big a deal. A couple months won’t make a difference.”
She lets out a harsh sob, gasping on breath after. “My whole life just ended, Cisco. I’m going to be missing for a whole year. They’re gonna think me dead.”
Cisco grabs the clipboard and pen. He walks over to the hooded archer, holding it out to him. “You should go. You probably have everything you need on there.”
He takes it, glancing at the crying woman, and nods. “She probably could use a friendly face.”
Oliver leaves and Cisco walks back over. He sits beside her, arm resting over her shoulders. She flinches, leaning out, and he pulls his arm back, allowing her to curl away and cry in peace. He glances at her, how she curls away from touch when upset.
“I’m sorry you ended up here.” Cisco offers without response. “You were handling it so well it didn’t seem real.”
He’s quiet after that, letting her sob and hiccup and rub at her face. When it starts to abate, she leans against his shoulder.
“I try not to think about it,” she admits sadly. “It hurts .” Her breathing hitches, tears still falling and now dampening Cisco’s shirt. “People always talk about wanting to visit their favorite shows and it sounds fun, but not for what feels like forever.”
Cisco debates on what to say, arms carefully lifting to wrap around her shoulders. “Guess you’ll have to count the days.” He ends up saying. “But at least you’ll have pleasant company. And, while I don’t know how Barry and Caitlin feel after today, you’ve got a friend in me.”
“I love that song.” Hannahlee whispers tiredly.
“Everyone does.” Cisco agrees.
I've made a playlist for the fic! Here's the link! If it doesn't work when you copy/paste it, lemme know.
Chapter 5: Wish That You Were Here
This chapter's song is from the lovely Florence + the Machine! I mainly chose it because it captures the element of having lost someone dearly cared for/a loved one has moved too far out of reach. Enjoy!
SLIGHT SPOILERS FOR SHIT IMMA WRITE LATER. THIS ISN'T A NEEDED CHAPTER BUT I WANTED TO WRITE IT. KINDA LIKE A SIDE STORY WITHIN THE STORY.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Noemi knows something's up when she doesn’t wake up with a “Morning!” text, or a long rant about something, or a link, or anything really. Hannah didn't leave for Germany until tomorrow.
She shoots off a quick text, a simple “good morning,” figuring Hannah might have been at work and been too busy to reply.
Noemi proceeds to go about what constitutes a usual day for her. Get up, get dressed, and watch her sister's kids. They're a rowdy bunch, but she loves the munchkins dearly.
At one point, while working on a paper and the kids sat watching Zootopia , she glances at her phone. It's early afternoon and still no text. She wonders if it's gonna be one of those days where they don't talk, but something heavy is settled in her stomach and the idea of the younger woman not texting back worries her.
She types out a simple, “Everything okay?”
She frowns as she sets her phone down.
Noemi looks up and smiles at her sister’s youngest daughter, Lila. “Yeah?”
“Can we watch something else?” The little girl asks.
“You don't wanna watch Zootopia?”
“I wanna watch heroes!” Micah declares, and Noemi raises an eyebrow. “Can we watch Batman versus Superman or The Avengers?”
“No, you can't.” Noemi sets aside her computer, grabbing the remote to exit back to the Netflix home screen. “How about the Flash?” Minimal cursing, campiest of the camp, good father figures and friendships and romantic loves, and the added benefit of watching hot guys. And it's not PG-13.
The kids look at each other. Lila doesn't want to, clearly. Micah is thinking about it. Maria and Jack, the twins, are completely on board and already climbed onto the couch because they're tired of sitting on the floor.
“Sure!” Micah sits back down, wiggling excitedly. “We were at the end of season one!”
“I guess.” Lila pouts a little. “I wanted to see Wonder Woman.”
“That's still in theaters, sweetie.” Noemi pats her lap. “Come and sit with Neho. I'll let you choose next.”
“Okay…” Lila still doesn't look convinced, getting up to sit in Noemi’s lap, arms crossed.
Noemi is distracted by her phone going off. She grabs it and is a little surprised to see it's from Stacey. They almost never talk.
“Have you talked to Hannah today?”
Noemi frowns, passing the remote to Micah. “Find what episode you were on.”
As Micah is clicking through the Flash episodes, Noemi replies to Stacey.
It's blank for a minute then she sees the answering dots in the bottom. The text comes in a moment later.
“Hannah went missing last night. No one has seen or heard from her since DND.”
Oh shit. “Wait, doesn't she do DND with a lot of people?”
“Amber was with her when it happened. Car was left, keys gone. She's gone.” There's a break in texts. “They think she was snatched.”
Fuck, fuck, fuck. “How's her aunt and uncle doing?”
“I haven't gone to see them. But I bet pretty bad.”
Fuck. Fuck fuckity fucker fucking fu–
“Who's she?” Noemi is snapped out of her thoughts by the twins. Maria is frowning at the screen and Jack is thoroughly confused. “She wasn't in the last episode!”
“Maybe she showed up at the end?” Jack shrugs.
Noemi looks up and nearly drops her phone. Hannah– and it is Hannah, with her dyed hair and fat purse and teal tank top, no one can convince her otherwise– is on the screen, sitting at Jitters across from Cisco, talking about something but the sound is too low.
She takes the remote from Micah. Noemi rewinds the episode and turns up the volume. She really hopes she isn't hallucinating because Hannah wasn't even in Flash the first time she watched, and certainly wouldn't have been 19 in season 1 either.
She hits play.
It’s clearly starting from where the last episode left off. Cisco is on one side of the Cortex and Hannah is stood in the entryway of the room. Cisco is pointing at her.
“So,” Flash!Hannah says, tone contemplative, “clearly this is pre-season 2.” Her expression seems to brighten with surprise. “Oh shit, is this before Eddie dies?”
“Eddie what?” Cisco’s voice went up two or three octaves when he spoke, eyes huge.
“Oh shit. I’m fucking up everything! Oh shit!” Flash!Hannah then devolves into tears, going on about how she couldn’t be crying and couldn’t get home.
Noemi reaches for her phone. “Stacey have you watched the Flash?”
"Watch rogue air from season one for me. I need"
Noemi pauses, can't believe she's about to hit send.
"I need some help.”
“So Hannah has an acting career and she didn't tell us.” Noemi can hear Stacey's shrug. “So?”
Noemi is scrolling through the Flash tag on Tumblr, reading the confused posts about the ‘new girl’ to the series, indignant outcries to the change in episodes suddenly, support for an original character that "emulated the interesting qualities Harrison Wells and Julian Albert brought with a ‘fangirl’ and ‘breaking the Fourth Wall’ twist". She had checked the Chronicles of Cisco blog and found some of it had been changed too. None of the actors or show creators had yet to say anything. This had happened overnight.
“Stacey.” Noemi shifts her phone, wondering what Stacey thought of her voice. This was the first time they had ever talked for more than a couple minutes, which always happened over text. “Listen to me. This happened in a matter of hours. This isn't ‘been here for months’. And when would she have had the time? You said it yourself, she spent everyday at home and if not there, then with friends or at work. No time to fly to Ontario and back every day, where the job demands 10 to 20 hour schedules and several weeks to film a single episode.”
Noemi rubs at her face. “This is so damn weird. How is this kind of shit even real?”
“Multi-verse theory.” Stacey opts, finally starting to sound nervous. “Must of stumbled on a weak space between worlds.”
“Into the Flash?” Noemi found it hard to believe. “C’mon.”
“Cisco can vibe universes you said, right?” Stacey asks. “Hannah has said the same thing. Maybe he left one?”
“No. His close automatically. And this took her to the past. Cisco can't do that.” Noemi pushes away from her computer, rubbing her face again so she wouldn't start crying. “Must be from the black hole in 'Fast Enough'. Probably ripped open but was too far away for the team to notice. Talk about shit luck.”
“So how are we gonna get Hannah back?”
Noemi looks at the TV playing episode one of season 2. It had opened on Hannah and Barry talking in a rebuilt Jitters. From what she could gather, killing Eobard instead of Eddie hadn't stopped the Singularity (it being something of a fixed point), but it stopped Barry from feeling like he couldn't be close to people. Jitters still got trashed. Ronnie was still dead.
Her eyes narrow on the speedster as he fidgets and touches her friend’s hand. Hannah– oblivious as ever– doesn't seem to notice as she takes a sip of her tea.
“She's gonna rip his heart out.”
“What?” Stacey asks, startled.
“Sorry.” Noemi shakes her head. “Started season 2. Barry is getting a crush.”
Stacey is surprisingly chipper over this. “He is her type.”
“Number one rule of self-inserts with Hannah: she ain't gonna let herself end up with someone. She'll make it an OC fanfic and change a lot of the character so it isn't her anymore.”
“Hm. This isn't a self-insert. Forty bucks she'll fall in love.”
“Fifty she doesn't.”
“Amber swears up and down this lady is a legit witch.” Stacey walks up to the place, a little shop with plants growing in pots all around, ivy crawling up the faded two-story building, called Eclectic by Nature. “Amber's gonna meet me here.”
“I'm concerned for you.”
“It's fine. I'll keep you on the line the whole time. You have the best theories and ideas.”
Four months they had been searching for a way to get Hannah back. They’d been able to watch to the season 2 finale, but it was like the rest of the show suddenly forgot about it. Fans were confused and angry. Hannah was still going strong at the end of season 2, going so far as to stop motherfucking Flashpoint, which still happens in season 3. Noemi theorizes it deals with their end. Something has to happen on their earth for season 3 to adjust or take Hannah on.
Stacey hated science. Noemi hated science. Amber hated science.
Hopefully magic- and this witch or Wiccan or whatever named Tevane- was the answer.
Noemi also had a bone to pick with Barry and she owed Stacey forty dollars.
Too quote Noemi when she read this chapter for any inconsistencies to herself, "Those last four sentences mean everything to me." Before I added that very last one concerning Barry and ten dollars. :)
Chapter 6: American Girl
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers get song title this week! The lyrics talk about a girl who falls in love, but the first stanza on its own always sounds to me like she's hoping to find something more in life other than a man.
Fast Enough is a heavy "I'm going to talk and figure things out" episode, with most of the actual plot being at the end of the episode. Barry spends most of it debating whether to go through with it and save his mom, while everyone else focuses on building Eobard's timeship or- in the case of Caitlin- getting their happy ending. Which I'm still salty over Ronnie dying, but, like, I love Jax waaay more.
In any matter, I decided to follow that idea, and seeing as you cannot legitimately make a timemachine in a handful of days, I made it a week instead. This allows some characters to become close (or attempt to) and make the next chapters events more plausible.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hannahlee, hair still wet and skin flushed from her shower, has just pulled on one of the new shirts Caitlin bought her– a pink tank top with a high collar– when Barry comes in, blowing papers all over the place. He’s in the Cortex while she's in the medbay and, belatedly, Hannahlee realizes she still hasn't pulled on pants yet. She grabs the blanket from the hospital bed and wraps it around her waist. He startles at her sudden flurry of activity and comes to stand at the door, just a little guarded.
“Eobard wants to talk to you.” He tells her.
She frowns. “Why?”
“He didn't say.”
Hannahlee purses her lips. “Have you talked to him already?”
Barry’s look darkens and she thinks of how the scene played out. Him slamming his hand against the glass of the cage, eyes bright with murder. Briefly, it reminds Hannahlee of the fact Barry has– or more accurately will– end up killing several people. And not accidentally.
She looks away from him. “I need to put on some pants.”
Hannahlee glances at him and Barry looks a little surprised. Then he glances at the bed and sees the jeans laid out and looks very embarrassed. He turns away, rubbing at the back of his neck.
“Sorry. I'll, uhm–”
“Wait where you can't see me?” She offers and he nods.
Barry is gone, not in a flash like he entered, but fast enough to blur. Hannahlee sighs and sits on the bed. Since yesterday, the bruising on her tailbone had gone down and, apparently, her cracked ribs had healed, as had her ankle. Caitlin had been confused. They all had. Sure, Hannahlee healed a little better than others but it's because she was resilient. But healing over night? Impossible. It made Caitlin run some tests on her blood (needles, ugh) and had the biochemist comparing it to Barry’s.
Other than blood type, they shared zero similarities.
Hannahlee pulls the jeans on, deciding she didn't want to put on her shoes. She heads out of the medbay, into the corridor that went down into the Pipeline. Her feet, still warm and skin-damp from the shower, chills with each step across the cold linoleum floors.
Everything around her still felt surreal, despite how much she's talked to everyone and interacted with them.
Up ahead, she sees Barry by the keypad. Hannahlee wishes it was Cisco or Caitlin, even Joe. Despite the fact he was nice to her, it was clear Barry was still upset over what she'd said concerning Iris. (With good reason, the show writers thought they belonged together. But playing into the “it’s their destiny card” had never settled well with her, even in Soulmate AUs.)
Barry moves to put in the code to open the Pipeline and she waits, ignoring his glance at her bare feet (nails painted a shiny pink-gold).
“Coy. Withholding valuable information. I know.” Hannahlee grimaces at cutting him off. “He's a jackass. A smart one.”
The door opens and there Eobard waits, impersonating Harrison Wells, standing in a lax parade rest. He smiles, a sharp edge to it that's unsettling.
“So you are walking around fine.” He comments.
No thanks to you. But she bites her tongue. It was hard to stand up for herself. “Just a couple scrapes and bruises,” she replies instead. “Nothing I can't get over.”
“The force I sent you into the cell with should have put your brains all over the wall,” Eobard tells her. “Like a pig’s when you smash its head with a heavy rock.”
For a brief moment she's startled, knowing he wouldn't say something so gory without reason. Then she remembers reading Lord of the Flies in eleventh grade and glares.
“Nice reference. You still read that stupid book in the future.” She crosses her arms, feeling safer that way. “Why did you wanna talk, Eobard?”
“An offer. Simple as that.”
A chill runs down her spine at his grin. It's like a crocodile’s before the bite. How she was ever under the impression this asshole cared about team Flash really is a wonder.
Instead of playing into it, she turns to leave, heading past Barry who’d stood a few steps behind her. “No thanks.”
“I can get you home.”
Hannahlee nearly trips. Her heart pounds out a heavy beat as she stops walking. Her eyes rise to meet Barry’s and he looks just as surprised by the seemingly philanthropic offer.
With a shake of her head, Hannahlee declines.
“You don't have the Speedforce anymore. No thanks.”
“All you and Barry have to do is help me get home. You come with me. In my time, I'll have my speed again.”
Her hands clench and she turns to him. For a long moment, she thinks of walking away. But then chooses not to, keeping a foot between her and the glass, nose scrunched, nostrils flared, and eyebrows pressed together to form a scowl. “Listen up, jackass, I'm not helping you. I don't care if all you want to do it get home. You murdered Barry’s mom because you couldn’t kill him. You murdered Cisco in the original timeline. You have killed Harrison Wells and his fiancé and countless others in the pursuit of getting home. And why are you stuck here? Why? Because you are obsessed with being faster than a man who was born 900 years before you, obsessed with destroying him for no reason other than the fact you are sick and twisted. To the point I'm disgusted being in the same universe as you.”
She's shaking. She feels like throwing up. Hannahlee rarely blows up like this and it's showing with how pale she must suddenly be.
“But never, ever, will I give you the satisfaction of going home. Not after everything you did.”
Feeling a little unsteady from having let all that out, she leaves quickly, bare feet slapping against the cool metal floors.
Hannahlee walks into the bank of computers, hands grasping the edge of the desk. She rocks back and forth, forcing her unsteady breath under control.
“Gah,” she forces out.
“There's nothing wrong with getting angry.” Barry says and she hunches down, shoulders up to her ears.
“Hannah, you can't keep emotions bottled up.”
Like I haven't heard that for four years on the second Tuesday of every month.
“I don’t.” She grits her teeth, clenches her eyes closed so she doesn't look at the counter. “But getting angry…”
Keeping her voice surprisingly steady, she states, eyes stinging, “You should go deal with Eobard.”
“He offered to help me go back and save my mom.”
It's quiet save for Hannahlee’s slow, open-mouth breathing. Her heart has steadied and her shaking is lessening. If she can relax, it'll pass.
“Why did you say no then?” Barry asks quietly. “…Does he do something?”
“No.” She shakes her head. “He genuinely wants to leave. But…” her hands clench the desk. “I hate him. I'd rather wait to go home then rely on him.”
Barry is quiet for another long moment.
“What happens if I save my mom?”
Hannahlee sucks in a deep breath. For a long moment she doesn't reply, instead willing herself to let go of the desk and turn around. She does, craning her neck to look Barry in the eyes.
“Barry, I can't tell you.”
He stares at her, gaze hard. Then he lets out a breath, look relaxing into something softer and much more sincere. “What do you think I should do?”
Hannahlee knows it's a double-edged sentence. And this is something she feels she can't influence. It has to be his choice.
“What feels right.” She swallows, looks away. “I don't think I can tell you what you should do. But just… think about what will happen to the people you know if you save her.”
Barry gives a single nod, steps back, and she's left alone with a flurry of wind and lightning that ruffles her shirt and kicks up papers she tries to hold down. Hannahlee lets out a heavy breath and looks at her hands, closes her eyes and imagines the little box.
Time to deal with her emotions.
Hannahlee moves into the spare break room where a couple of cots are set up. They were set up back when STAR Labs was fully functional and had a lot of people working a lot of long hours. Now it's a skeleton crew of three.
She sits on the cot, white and boring. Luckily, she’d only be living there until she got a job (once Oliver gave her, her new identity) and had saved up to get an apartment.
Her plans back home were to save up for another year and move into an apartment with her brother and her friend Amber, and maybe their friend Annie. But here she was, completely starting over and living in a fucking break room, on a dusty cot that was rickety.
Her chest tightens painfully and Eobard’s offer springs to mind. She shakes her head.
Barry would come back from the past, pissed off, and destroy Eobard’s way home. No use siding with the enemy for something impossible.
“God I hate this so much.”
She stands, pacing. She wants to curl up with her dog and sleep but Spot isn't there and this isn't her room. This isn't her house. And these people probably expect things from her, even if they don't know that they do.
Her stomach growls and twists into a knot. It reminds her that she hasn't been eating much since falling into the CW DC universe. She heaves a harsh sigh.
“Maybe I should eat a bit more…”
Hannahlee doesn't want to eat, but if she doesn't she’s going to end up sick or dead. She can't get home if dead.
So she leaves the room, heading for the cafeteria in hopes of finding bread, mayo, and ham. A plain sandwich, but she likes plain.
The kitchen doesn't have sandwich material but it does have a box of strawberry pop tarts with one package left. In the freezer there's a half-full box of eggos, so she pops one in the toaster as she munches on a poptart. She fills a plastic cup with water from the tap and it's her meal. Not much but she probably won't even finish the poptarts and single eggo waffle.
As she eats her mind wanders back to Eobard’s offer earlier that morning. It was weird of him to offer, especially when he didn't do anything without a reason. The only one she could immediately think of was because he didn't want the timeline upset even more than it was.
Eobard wasn't supposed to know she was from another universe. She'd never told him. Had Barry?
“No. Barry didn't even tell Oliver.” She mumbles around eggo. “Maybe the footage he has all around the city? He listened into the Labs?” It sounds right. But she isn't sure. It was nagging at her.
She ends up eating the eggo and both poptarts as she thinks, wrapped up in wanting to know why but not wanting to ask Eobard.
“It makes no sense,” she mumbles, throwing her trash away and cleaning out her cup before putting it in the sink. “None.”
“What makes no sense?”
Hannahlee yelps, nearly jumping out of her skin. She turns, facing Eddie Thawne who's confused to see her. She hadn't met him until right then.
“Uh.” She just stands there. “Hi?”
Eddie comes into the cafeteria, confused, curious, and a little wary. “You're the girl Iris told me about?”
“Oh?” Hannahlee is actually surprised by this. “What did she say?”
“You fell into our universe from a different one. Where you know all about us and what's supposed to happen.”
She gives a huff of laughter, it a little tired. “Yeah. That's me.”
“You're not exactly what I expected.” He doesn't sound disappointed.
That surprises her a little. Most people, in her experience, are disappointed upon meeting her. They expect someone older or younger, someone cuter, or much more style savvy. But Eddie isn't.
“What did you expect?” She asks.
“No idea.” He comes into the room then. “I mean, you come from somewhere where this is a show. So it can't be too different.” He pauses, thinks about it. “I guess shorter? Cisco made it sound like you're a hobbit.”
She frowns, feels just how severe it is. “Of course he did.”
An awkward silence then fills the room, saying just how little the two must have in common.
“Who–” Eddie falters. Hannahlee raises an eyebrow. “Do you know who Iris…?”
“Eddie, that's something I can't say.”
There's a bitter twist to his mouth and he glances away. Hannahlee bites her lip, aware that he knows about the newspaper article and how Iris and Barry should be together. Her shipper heart cracks and practically forces her to walk closer until she’s standing in front of him. For a second, she hesitates, fingers twitching, then reaches out and pats his forearm.
“You and Iris are perfect together.” She tells him honestly. “You need to stay together. You're two people who make each other better.”
Eddie looks extremely startled, but there's hope growing in his eyes and she can't help but smile while feeling like a gigantic douchecanoe. He grins, it has a boyish quality to it and it reminds her of why Eddie is one of her faves.
“Thanks. I think I really needed to hear that.”
“You did.” She agrees. “And you should totally go find Iris and propose like you originally intended before Eobard was a jackass.”
Apparently, she likes the word jackass as a descriptor for Eobard. Hannahlee wasn't complaining, however.
Eddie nods, backs away and turns to do that. As he goes she sees his jacket shift and sees the gun. Her blood runs a little cold and on a split-second whim she calls, “Hey!”
Eddie freezes, turns. “Yeah?”
“Could–” Hannahlee swallows the swell of panic at the idea, tries again, “Could you show me how to fire a gun?” His eyebrows hike up and she backpedals mentally, stuttering out, “I-I mean not right now, but sometime today? Where I come from it's not as… chaotic and I didn't need to know but, like, here it's… there's metas.”
He seems to get it, and nods. “Sure. I don't know if I can today but I can ask Joe."
That isn't what she wants. She wants to get that gun away from him come time for Eobard to “go home”. She has no idea how long it'll take to build the time machine– she didn't take notes, she never expected to end up here– and Hannahlee didn't think it took much more than a week. It's already been a day since they caught Eobard. It meant time was running out.
As much as she wants to save Eddie, she can't without training. Maybe if she's lucky, she can get it closer to when Eobard leaves. So she smiles, friendly as she can make it with her nerves getting so tight she's beginning to shake.
“Sure! I’m not in a big hurry.” She does a quick wave of her hand at their surrounding area. “I'm not really going out anywhere without money and an identity.”
Eddie, bless him, winces. “Yeah, but you'll have one soon.” He blinks at her, this sudden idea coming to him that it might not be a thing. “Right?”
“I will.” She assures. “Now go talk to Iris.”
It ends up being Joe who gives her a crash course in guns. It's the same day she asked, which surprises her and means Eddie won't leave someone hanging long.
Joe clearly has issues with trusting her, the way he unloads his clip with a sideways glance at her. They're in an empty lab, pristine tabletops all there is. He's set up a pair of bars equidistant from each other with wire across the top to connect them, the black outlines of people with the point system of a dart board spiraling out. She's shaking like a leaf.
“You okay?” He asks.
Hannahlee smiles, says, “Yes, I'm fine.” But she's not. Eight years ago her daddy tried to blow his brains out with a shotgun in what should have been the dining room, stopped by her jumping on his back and wrapping her arm around his neck to tilt his head far back, her brother Luke grabbing his firing arm and her mom’s scream of shock. His childish reaction to being stopped and the way Hannah, after Luke put the shotgun away, then tipped the gun case over to keep him out of it. Until that point she’d never touched a gun, and after she swore to never touch one again.
Here she was asking to be taught how to use one.
“Don't look it.” Joe slides the empty clip back in. “Look like you seen a ghost.”
“I usually do when not wearing makeup.” She lies, her face always red as a dying sun.
Joe gives her a “I ain't falling for that” look and she glances away. “So what does it feel like firing a gun?”
“You're ‘bout to find out.” He holds his gun out to her, barrel at the ground and handle pointing at her. “I'll position you correctly.”
She takes the gun in her right hand, watching how her hand shakes. His eyebrows go up when he sees it, looking her in the eye.
“Wanna tell me what's got you so scared?” He asks her, voice surprisingly gentle.
“It's nothing.” She replies, voice crackling on the edges. Hannahlee wants to throw the goddamn thing into a black hole, to be honest, but she can’t. It isn’t her gun and it isn’t her father’s. “Just me being stupid.”
“Don't seem stupid.”
Hannahlee takes in a shuddering breath. You're an adult. Act like it. Don't cry. “My dad tried to do something when I was a kid. It left a lasting impression.”
His eyebrows go up higher. “Wanna tell me?”
He nods. “Can't teach you when you’ve gotta shaky hand.”
“I can stop.” She promises, a little desperate, barely held together. “I just need to get it under control. Give me a few minutes.”
Joe looks unimpressed, but he nods. “Dunno why you wanna learn so bad, but alright. Get them hands to stop and we’ll keep going.”
She nods. Joe looks at her, one more time, then says, “Come find me when you do.” He turns and walks out, leaving his gun with her like it matters nothing and that leaves a ringing knowledge while he may not trust her, he does trust her need to come to terms with something in her past. When his footsteps fade, Hannahlee runs for a nearest counter, dropping the gun like it had been burning her, and stumbles back, shaking and gasping. She holds her right wrist, begging her body to quit, to stop showing just how bad her own childhood trauma was.
“You’re still a child.” She remembers Noemi once telling her over text, so late in the night she should have been in REM sleep by then. Her anxiety for finals had kept her up that night. “Just because you’re nineteen now doesn’t mean you aren’t. You’re still learning how to live and survive in the real world.”
It had hurt, reading those texts. It had made her heart ache because she’d never gotten to feel like a kid for more than a few minutes, even as the ‘baby’ of her family. She’d ended up crying, face pressed into her pillow to stifle any keening noises she’d make, unable to wake Jen and Jimmy across the hall. Then she’d turned her face, hands steady as she tapped out her reply.
“Thanks, Noemi. I needed that. Even though I don’t feel like that.
“I’ve gotta go to bed. I’ll talk to you tomorrow.
She avoided the conversation that should have happened following her ‘I don’t feel like that’ line. She hadn’t wanted to confront it, busy trying to keep people out of her head. Busy keeping her therapist out despite Harold’s honest want to help.
And here she was, trying to learn to shoot a gun to protect another person, having never addressed her own issues with guns. She sinks down, butt dropping to hit the floor. Hannahlee cries, knees pulled as close to her as able. She tries to think over what Harold would have her do, what he’d recommend. She doesn’t have the little green bars that would vibrate from one to the other, allowing her to calm and focus on her memories. She doesn’t get to have them in real life.
“Fuck.” She breaths out once, the word heavy and emphatic. Calm down. Deep breaths. Slowly in, slowly out. She was able to stop her crying that way, able to breathe normally and easily. She lifts her head, wiping at her eyes.
She stands up, staring at the gun laying on the counter, almost seeming to mock her fear of it. Hannahlee grits her teeth, nose scrunching a little in her grimace. She walks over to the counter, glaring at the gun. Anger and hurt wells up inside her. “I fucking hate you,” she tells it, venomous. “I don’t care if you can also protect people. You can aid in suicides and murders and war and I hate you. So what if you just sit there when not in use? You’re still evil. Your use for evil outweighs the use for good.”
She grabs the gun, is ready to throw it, then stops. She looks at it, eyes wet. She sniffles, rubs at her nose with the back of her left hand. “At least it was a shotgun Daddy tried to blow his brains out with. I don’t have to think about it every time I look at you.” She flips the safety on and heads out to find Joe, in the Cortex, talking to Barry. Caitlin is nearby. Ronnie is elsewhere with Cisco, figuring out how to make Eobard’s time ship.
Hannahlee hangs in the doorway, unsure. After a moment, she steps in.
He looks over, waiting. She wiggles his gun when she lifts it, barrel facing the floor. Her hand is steady. “I’m ready for those lessons.”
“That was quick.”
Hannahlee laughs, sounding like a warrior back from a war she didn’t want. “Trust me. It wasn’t. There’s things I need to address but without my actual therapist that ain’t happenin’.”
Joe comes over and Hannahlee sees the way Barry watches her, a mix of worry over Joe’s safety and confusion to know she may be more than her presented picture. Caitlin is still busy straightening up the medbay after the younger woman’s stay in it.
“How you feelin’?” Joe asks her as they go back to the room he’d set up. “You look tired.”
“I am, to be honest.” Hannahlee speaks softly. “But only mentally.” She laughs a little, brightening physically as she smiles, while mentally still feeling drained. “My usual state of being. Nothing I’m not used to.”
That makes Joe looked worried and it serves as a reminder that, while he doesn’t trust her and is a cop, his instincts as a father seem to always come first. She wants to shy away, knowing she can’t get attached to people she won’t be able to stay friends with in a year’s time, but she also has this unnerving need to be liked. Luckily, for once, the former wins out. She looks away, staring down the hall.
“So, according to The Mummy Returns, glorious sequel to The Mummy,” she brings up, turning into the training room, “you squeeze the trigger? What does that mean, exactly?”
“I’ll show you.” Joe states. “And what’s The Mummy?”
Hannahlee’s head jerks around, staring at him with wide eyes. He grins when he sees her expression, laughing, deep and loud and just like her dad’s when he’d pulled a particularly hard prank with great success. Her mouth drops open.
“Wow.” She says. “That was. That was rude. I nearly died of fear that you’d never experienced the amazingness that is the smexy Oded Fehr and Brendan motherfucking Fraiser. And one of my queens, Rachel Weiz.”
“’Queens’? Plural?” Joe raises an eyebrow.
“Dude, I am the happiest of locked doors, waiting for that one key.” She informs him, and remembering that Joe probably didn’t get that reference, especially with how his other eyebrow had gone up. Hannahlee takes a moment to think over all she’d said and how this was Joe West, not Noemi or The Girls or The Ladies. She sighs. “Doors represent sexualities. Regular door: straight; door that swings opposite: gay; kitchen door: bi; revolving door: pansexual; brick wall: asexual; and locked door: demisexual. I need connection to fall in love.”
Joe rubs at his mouth, not against what she’d said but clearly thinking over what she said. “How’d you come up with that?”
She twitches, just a fraction. Her answer is, “Tumblr,” wondering if he knows what that is.
“I’m guessing it’s like Twitter or Facebook?”
They enter the right room. Hannahlee shrugs. “Kinda? It’s more like a blogger site on acid and infested with Social Justice Warrior malware. With a lot of cute animal videos, memes, and sex.”
“That’s... interesting.” Joe chuckles, shakes his head. “Sometimes I really can’t keep up with this stuff.”
“Tumblr was founded in 2005.”
“Yeah. I’ll show you later and you’ll have a one-up on Barry and Iris, maybe. I know Cisco has one but that may have been a strictly out-of-canon blog. I dunno.” Hannahlee shrugs.
He nods, then grimaces. “Can ya not mention how this is all... fictional for you?”
“Oh, totally.” It maybe stings to hear that but she won’t admit that for understandable reasons. Meaning that she doesn’t want to actually hurt their feelings or make them feel uncomfortable. Even though it helps her remember that this isn’t real, that she’s from a place where heroes with superpowers and magic and cool gadgets don’t exist. Real heroes do every day things, like women standing up for women being harassed on the subway, or a white man coming to the aid of black man being wrongfully interrogated by a shit cop. Things that should come naturally. “Sorry.”
“No need to apologize, just a little weird to hear it.”
Hannahlee gives him another smile, apologetic and tired. “So,” she changes the subject back around, “now that we’re here, can you show me how to squeeze- not pull- the trigger?”
Joe nods. “C’mere, and hold the gun in your hands.”
She nods, and he shows her how to use a gun.
Hannahlee is sat at the computer, typing away at a word document. She’s making notes of what has happened to her so far, chronicling it down so she doesn’t mix anything up. If she can, Hannahlee wants to take the document with her back to her universe. It would be fun, maybe. It would at least be proof that what was happened had actually happened. She’d need to take photos too. Just simple ones.
“What are you doing?”
With a small shriek, heart beating against her throat as she jumps back away from the computer, Hannahlee spins to face Cisco, hand pressing harshly into her collarbone. He’s eating jellybeans.
“Holy shit, Cisco!” She whines as he laughs.”Uncalled for! Completely.”
“Sorry,” he responds, grinning at her. “Didn’t think you’d be so jumpy.” He comes close, leaning over her shoulder. Unused to the invasion of her space bubble from someone she barely knows, Hannahlee leans a little more to the side, sliding her chair over as she does so he can see. “Ooh, writing down what’s be going on? Sure that’s a good idea?”
“I’m not showing anyone outside the team.” Hannahlee shrugs. “And I want to keep everything in order for when I go home.”
Cisco nods, holding out the bag to her. She picks out a cherry and an orange one, popping them in her mouth to chew. “Sorry we can’t get you home faster.”
Same. She smiles at him anyway. “Let’s focus on Eobard and then worry about that later. How’s the time machine coming?”
“It’s coming.” A moment later he freezes. “Wait, did we tell you? Is this a canonical thing?”
The woman out of time and place grins, unable to help herself. “Yes, it’s a canonical thing. So I can’t really tell you anything.”
“Dangit.” Cisco shakes his head. “Man, this is so weird but cool. You only ever dream about this stuff.”
“It’s not it’s all talked up to be.” She tells him, thinking of how much she missed her friends and family, the familiar smells of her shampoo and the park near her house and hiding her face in Spot’s fur before going to sleep, wreathed in comfort. She suffered from this constant ache and it killed her inside, slowly and painfully. “I never even wanted this kind of thing to happen to me, though it was fun to joke about.”
“I can see why it would suck.” Cisco agrees. “I’d love to visit Middle-Earth, but realistically? Hell no.”
They talk a little more, Hannahlee lets Cisco read what she’s typed up so far. As they talk, she gets sucker punched in the gut with this painful yearning for a hug, to be held and have fingers card through her hair and say it would be alright. She’s careful to not touch Cisco afterwards, focusing on breathing through the hurt and pain, and keeping up a conversation.
“Oliver said he’ll be bringing your new identity by later.” Barry comes in.
She jumps, springing away from the computer again, and spins the chair to face him. “Really?”
“Yeah. He said there was some trouble with Social Security which is why it took so long.”
“I hope he didn’t need to crack any heads together.” Hannahlee jokes and, briefly, Barry looks evasive. She frowns. “He didn’t, did he?”
“Not…that I’m aware of?” Barry shrugs helplessly. “It sounded like it but Ollie didn’t elaborate.”
“Man,” Cisco whistles, “I sometimes think you could get Oliver Queen to jump through fiery hoops in hell for you.”
“They are the original BrOTP.” Hannahlee shrugs. “And there’s countless shit you guys do for each other. There’s even–” The woman stops herself, realizes she was about to talk about the Invasion! cross-over episodes. She bites her lip. “In the words of River Song, who is also Laurel Lance and Sara Lance’s mom here by the way, ‘Spoilers~’.”
“Okay, first, great use of that quote. Second, the power of acting and the ability to mask a native accent from another country is amazing.” Cisco holds up the corresponding fingers as he goes. “Third? I am actually very upset you know how to keep secrets.”
“Oh, trust me.” She smiles wryly. “I’m usually worse. My aunt doesn’t like talking to me about Marvel stuff because I can’t keep my mouth shut concerning the movies.”
She laughs. “Nope. It’s valid. I saw Winter Solider before her and ruined the ending for her.”
“Winter Solider?” Barry asks.
Hannahlee grins. “I can’t wait for you to see it because, like, who the hell is Bucky?”
“Anyway,” Cisco says, giving her a pointed look then addressing Barry, “when is he coming?”
“Sometime next week. There’s some issues going on in Starling and so he can’t come.”
Hannahlee thinks over what she knows of each season. “Yeah.” She drags out the ‘a,’ unable to say anything because she wasn’t 100% positive. “This isn’t the most stressful thing he goes through, but it’s bad.”
“Sucks for him.”
“Yep.” Hannahlee nods, turning to save the document and close the computer. “But I can wait. Not like I have rent or something to pay.” The last bit is muttered, not overly sad about it but wishing she didn’t live in STAR Labs where she was constantly reminded of her situation.
Cisco nods, having caught every word, and has a look on his face that makes her curious. “What?”
“Nothing.” He dismisses, then smiles and shoves a bunch of jellybeans into his mouth at her scrutinizing look.
“Barry, why do I have the distinct feeling Cisco is planning something devious?”
Barry glances at Cisco, seems to assess him, then says, “Probably because he is.”
“Dude!” Cisco cries around the jellybeans. “Bro Code!”
“I don’t even know what you’re doing so I can’t keep the Bro Code.”
“Even I know it’s rude to agree with the newcomer about how devious your friend is being.” Hannahlee tsk’s. “For shame.”
“Now this is someone who knows the Bro Code.”
Hannahlee smirks. “It’s also the Girl Scout Code.”
“Ooh, I knew there was a reason I liked you!” Cisco grins. “Girl Scouts are the best. Especially when its cookie season. I love Tagalongs.”
Hannahlee’s smirk grows into a grin. “Why not tagalong with me to get some when they cookie booths get set up?”
Cisco laughs and Barry groans. “Nevermind, I don’t like you. That pun was too painful. Even Captain Cold would call a timeout.”
“I think he’d tell me to chill, actually.” She near cackles at the duel groans. “I am on a roll today!”
Barry and Hannahlee find a seat up on the second floor of Jitters, out of the way of being seen. Like last time she has a water. He had an Americano.
“You’re the only one still holding out on me going back to save my mom.” He opens up without preamble.
She blinks, unprepared for this. It’s already a bit of a minefield because one wrong word could give him enough incentive to save Nora Allen when (and she hates how this sounds) the point is to let her die and teach Barry to let go. Convincing him it’s really okay, and him believing Hannahlee because she’s an outside source who knows what’s supposed to happen, isn’t very conductive to keeping Nora Allen dead (wow, she wants to cringe at how that sounds).
“No, I’m not.” She denies. “I told you to think about the people around you and to do what you think is right.”
“That’s the same as-”
“No, it’s not the same as telling you not to do it.” She cuts him off, frowning. “Barry, this is time travel. Fourteen years worth of it. Hell, what’s going on with me is technically time travel and it’s just two years, give or take a handful of months. It’s dangerous, as you learned with putting Mardon away, which brought Snart and Mick down on you, and that was a day.” When Hannahlee became such an expert on time travel, she didn’t know. “I’m sure you’ve already had it explained to you several times, by several people much older than you, so I won’t do it. What I want is you to be sure that you know what you’re choosing to do, that you understand the consequences.”
Wow. She can make speeches on command.
Hannahlee would have to think about that and make sure she tore a new one into whoever was writing the script. She didn’t do ‘speeches.’ She did ‘mumbled explanations.’ Or maybe Barry was like Captain America and she was Hawkeye, him bringing out the best in her.
That was disconcerting and oddly made her feel uncomfortable.
Barry shifts, looking distinctly uncomfortable at her word vomit. “I do understand the consequences.”
“Do you?” It comes out of her waspishly, angry like a kicked hornets nest. She wants to sink away, especially after his look of surprise. Her voice is softer but no less firm when she speaks again. “Sorry. It’s just…I’ve seen what it looks like when the timeline isn’t actually thought of first and it’s…” Hannahlee hesitates, tries to think of what she can to summarize Flashpoint and Back to the Future Part 2 and the season 2 finale of Legends of Tomorrow and countless other examples. “It’s not pretty.”
“So I have to think of what will happen to everyone here when I do that?”
“Essentially?” He nods. She sighs, closing her eyes. “Yes. Because one thing I can tell you right here and now? This isn’t like Back to the Future where you cause a completely different timeline that branches off from a changed point in time. This is, for you, real life, not fiction. You don’t get a Doctor to come along and set things right if you royally fuck up.” She scratches behind her ear, takes a sip of her water. “Is this all you wanted to talk about? Because, while I’m not opposed to getting outside of the Labs, I don’t really want people to start recognizing me. Keeping a low profile until I can get home is kinda important to me.”
“I don’t know if that’ll be easy.” He tells her. “And,” Barry messes with his coffee cup, taking the lid off and putting it back off, “it wasn’t the only reason I got you out. Caitlin asked me to.”
“She is such a mother hen.” She jokes. “More than I am.”
Barry grins a little at that. “I don’t see it from you.” His smile slips off. “And it wasn’t the only reason.”
Her own smile falls off. “Yeah?”
“Why did you ask Joe to teach you how to use a gun? I asked him and he told me I had to ask you.”
She couldn’t tell him it was because of Eobard, because someone had to shoot and kill the bastard before Eddie had a chance to shoot himself. She sets down her water, takes a slow breath. “I told Eddie when I first asked him it was because it was more dangerous here than on my Earth, which isn’t true. I could have just as easily been mugged or killed on my Earth. Joe didn’t really ask.”
“It has to do with something in the future.” She fishes for words, trying to keep the obvious out of it. “The other option is…I can’t let that happen, and,” she laughs, breathy and short, “I figured as a self-insert, I may as well save a few lives while here.”
“Won’t that mess up the timeline?” Barry narrows his eyes. “Exactly what you’re trying to avoid?”
“Hm.” Barry is right. But the thing is, she has an inkling whatever happens in season 2, outside of Zoom since the Singularity will be stopped when Eddie survives, will still happen. Eddie living or not doesn’t change that, Hannahlee is sure of that. “No. It won’t. Not if I make the bullets count.”
“You’re telling me,” he looks like he needs to process this, and like the woman sitting across from him is confusing and more than he expected, “you plan to murder someone.”
“No.” She shrugs, a simple lift and drop of her shoulders. “Just putting them out of commission.”
Damn. She’d never lied so easily before. A shiver runs down her spine, already wondering what she was becoming. Hannahlee has been in this universe for five days and already she knew what kind of fan she truly was. She was the kind of fan who would brave her own fears to kill to protect a character, one she hadn’t even liked the first time she had watched The Flash but, re-watching a year later, found she was… not protective, but appreciative of.
And she very much wanted him to stay in the story, and would try her damnest to keep it that way.
“Who is it you’re trying to save?”
Her eyes flick up- when had they dropped to the table?- to meet Barry’s, and she stares for a little, careful to not blink or squint or move a facial muscle. “I can’t tell you.”
“I can help.”
“You’ll mess it up, Barry.”
“No I won’t.”
“Your track record says otherwise.”
It’s a low blow, and he hasn’t even done half the shit that warrants that comment yet. If he ever will. But she doesn’t want to tell him what she’s doing.
She sees Barry puff up a little, like a sparrow hawk with ruffled feathers. It must have made her a sparrow, an annoying sparrow. She picks up her water, drinks it.
“I can’t tell you, Barry, for a multitude of reasons. Heh,” she grins into her water, a little giddy over saying ‘multitude’, “I love when I get to use cool words. Anyway,” she forces the smile away, “one reason I can’t being you are extremely impulsive when emotionally charged. See Mardon for Example A, confessing to Iris pre-realizing she loves you because you went back in time as Example B. Another is I’m probably going to be in deep shit for what I’m planning and don’t aim to take out the main characters with me, seeing as you all are why this even works. Third? Honestly?” Hannahlee hates talking a lot but she’s now living in a world where she has too to meet a time quota. Ugh.
Still, she sits forward, staring at him hard. He doesn’t squirm. Barry is listening and it’s the best she can hope for in such a situation. This entire thing was a clusterfuck and Eobard was playing everyone on strings except her, the sudden screwball, and she was going to keep it that way. “This is something I’d bring my best friends in for. Not you. No matter what I may know about you, now that I am here, I don’t know you anymore. You are a stranger. My best friends I can count on, no matter how unequipped for this we would be.”
“So you’re doing the one man job because you don’t have your friends here?” Barry asks, and maybe there is a bit of hurt in his voice but Hannahlee isn’t about to let her empathy get in the way. She won’t let any residual crushes she’s had for fictional characters get in the way. “That’s a suicide mission. You may be new, but you’re definitely apart of the team now.”
“I’ll be apart of the team when I earn my place,” she responds, and her voice is definitely a bit too high at the idea of being apart of Team Flash. Oh my god that’s so fucking exciting. ME A MEMBER OF- Hannah, shut the fuck up before your excitement shows. “And I haven’t. I don’t want to.”
Barry and her stare at each other, then he drinks his coffee which breaks eye contact, giving her the ability to look at everyone on the first floor of Jitters. They’re quiet a long time, the chatter of everyone else around them white noise. Hannahlee knows he really wants to push more- about time travel, about why she definitely thinks he shouldn’t save his mom, about what she’s planned with the bit of gun training she’s been practicing after the team has left each night- but he thankfully doesn’t.
“What do you think of karaoke?”
Hannahlee twitches, feels her neck creak and a cold fluid drain down the back of her neck from the jerky movement, surprised at the question. “Uh,” she has to repeat mentally what he said to get it, “I like it? But crowds scare the shit out of me so I only sing when alone. Or around friends. Or, y’know, I feel like it. Can’t sing either.”
For a moment she expects Stacey or Bailey to come from nowhere to shout, “You can sing! Don’t be so mean to yourself!” People laughing at you whenever you’d sing as an excitable kid, or being asked to specifically shut up as you got older and your voice changed, said otherwise. And when your own Chorus teacher asked you to sing a little quieter to your fellow Altos, or just not at all.
“Why?” She asks.
“The team has been working really hard and Cisco thought it would be a great idea for all of us to go to an open mic night somewhere tonight.”
“Like I said, I can’t sing and crowds scare me. And I would be the only one unable to drink.”
“You wouldn’t be the only one sober, though.” Barry points out. “And you don’t need to sing.”
It’s about then she realizes he’s trying to fix how pushy he’d been earlier. It was also something that meant she’d be around Caitlin and Cisco more, offer her the chance to get closer to them all. It made her feel stupidly happy, but she ignored it. Instead she gave an apologetic smile. “I wouldn’t feel comfortable, Barry. I’m sorry but I won’t go.”
“You sure?” He offers again, hopefully for the last time.
She gives a single dip of her head. “Yep. I’m sure.”
“Okay.” He sighs, and she turns back to the people around them. It was better than acknowledging she just shut out the team. Probably not for the last time.
Cisco asks Hannahlee if she wants to join them for karaoke that evening, then if she’s sure when she declines that grates her the wrong way and says just how much the woman needs to be alone. When they leave- Caitlin, Cisco, Iris, Eddie, and Barry- she’s left in the Labs alone.
But, she thinks to herself, staring at the opposite wall in the corridor she’s sitting in, earbuds in and listening to “Run to You” by Lady Antebellum, mind drifting the evil speedster, you aren’t really alone. Not like you want to be.
Hannahlee thinks over her situation, thinks about how easy it would be to convince Barry to save his mom. He’d forget this timeline and have no one to show up and make him fix it. Eobard would successfully go to the future and he could take her with, giving her the way home she so desperately wanted.
It just meant ruining the entire point of this series: forgiveness and learning to move on. Or, at least, that’s what she got from it.
With that thought, she pauses the opening to MIKA’s “Staring At the Sun.” pulling out her earbuds and rolling them up to put in her front left pocket. She gets up, shoving her phone into her back right pocket. Hannahlee heads for the Cortex, barefoot and curious.
Hannahlee was aware there was a code for access to the Pipeline. She stares at the panels for a little bit, wondering what it could be. Then she thinks, If the gate was Barry’s hero name, could this be similar? Like a birthday?
What birthday was the question. And Hannah didn’t know. She only remembered Barry’s because she’d been curious and Leonard Snart’s because of Tumblr. She highly doubted it was either. Cisco wasn’t stupid to use Snart’s birthday and Barry’s would be too obvious if you knew the gate code.
You can still try. She tells herself. Worse that happens is the entire place shuts down and Cisco gets a call that the Labs have been attacked. Best is you have to try again.
Hannahlee feels a flutter of nervousness in her stomach. Then she steels her resolve.
“You have questions.” She whispers. “Time to answer them, Hananh.”
Hannahlee opens the key pad and tapes out 0513. She hesitates for a long moment, wishing she had Stacey or Bella here to do it, then presses the asterisk down. For a long second her heart stops and she thinks she’s going to be in serious trouble with Cisco. Then the little light blinks green and the door opens with a hiss of cold air.
Waiting on the other side, mildly curious, eyeing her like one did a rat right when it finally went the right way in the test labyrinth for the cheese, Eobard stands in his cell. He smiles, careful and enigmatic and smug, aiming for charming probably. Maybe if she didn’t hate him so much, she’d think him pretty.
“Well, isn’t this an interesting development.”
The end of the season will be in the next chapter!
Chapter 7: In the Face of Evil
There are two songs this chapter! In the Face of Evil by the Magic Sword and Asleep by Emily Browning!
Ooooh, boy, this chapter kicked my ass lemme tell you. But thanks to the lovely, darling uruvielnumenesse (uru-viel on Tumblr) who is Noemi in this fic, it has been completed. I think my favorite sequence in the entire chapter was the dream bit.
As an side, I highly recommend listening to In the Face of Evil during the talk with Eobard, then Asleep when the italics start (its a dream sequence). After that, go back to In the Face of Evil!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
“I’m not here to beg you to take me with you, Eobard Thawne. I have questions.” Hannahlee crosses her arms defensively, hoping it will make her look stronger and braver than she truly is.
“Oh my, my full name. And yet,” he takes off his glasses and she can feel her shoulder muscles tighten, “I still do not know yours.” He steps a fraction closer to the glass. “Why not we make a deal?”
“I don’t make deals with murderers.” She sneers.
His eyes flash with red electricity, and if he wasn’t caged she’d be scared. He was, for the moment, a wild jaguar stuck in a glass cell. It still didn’t negate the fact he was dangerous, and she wisely took a slow step back, arms still crossed but flexing, eager to suddenly get out of there.
“Come now. I'm sure you've heard of quid pro quo? You seem to like books and it's a popular reference.” His smile is cruel, mocking, patronizing. She wonders if it's because she's a woman or because she's powerless. Either way she hates him. “I promise not to ask you to let me out or sabotage anything. Just questions and answers.”
You know better than to make a deal with the Devil, Hannah. You're not Clarice Starling, you're Will Graham. You're nothing but a piece of meat to be played with until your heart gives out or he kills you.
“What kind of questions?”
His smile grows. “Give me a name and I'll tell you.”
“I can leave.” Hannahlee threatens, already knowing she won't. He knows it too. It's clear with how he smirks, challenging her to do it with a, “ I double dog dare you.” “And I can tell Barry everything I know about you. Everything you've done and will do. I may not be useful to you , but I am useful to them . And until I can go home, I will be.”
“While you would have been useful, in more ways than one, I believe I can return home without knowing more about you.”
Eobard turns, walking to the back wall. Somehow he makes sitting criss-cross applesauce look regal. The annoyance at him is evaporated as everything slots into place with horrible clarity for Hannahlee as she stands there, waiting for answers she didn't have the charisma to finesse out of him. She takes two large steps back, arms dropping to her sides as he raises an eyebrow, as though asking without words, “ What's wrong?”
“Guess who feels like a stupid motherfucker for forgetting nothing good ever comes out of talking to you?” Her hands curl, she feels like a child. “Of course you only wanted me to go with you to the future to use what I know about Barry and the others.”
Eobard doesn't bother trying to deny her accusation, grinning so wide he shows a feline smile. “You cannot blame me for the attempt. Your knowledge of the timeline is… invaluable .”
“It's useless, is what it is, if you're helping Barry go back to save his mom, Eobard.” Her head shakes, displeasure hot under her tongue, something not sitting well. “I know this timeline. Not the original. It would honestly just be more beneficial to send me home.”
Sometimes Hannahlee can appreciate that, despite the fact he's an evil jackass, Eobard can admit to his faults. She thinks it came with his 15 years as Harrison Wells, but isn't entirely sure. She doesn't want to be sure. She doesn't want to know anything about this man and what he's done to get to this point, no more than she already does. It's horrible and disgusting and Hannahlee won't let her empathy put her in his head. Not anymore than it already has.
“While that does have some merit,” Eobard’s smile has dropped, “you know too much about this future to let you run around. You are an outlier, far more dangerous than me because you know nothing of time travel and it's elasticity. Killing you is easier.”
“I do know about time travel.” Hannahlee shakes her head. “You… Barry learns about it, later after all this. I remember. And there's another team that does nothing but time travel. I know I can't say anything beyond dropping a hint.”
“Just dropping a hint ,” he nearly snarls the word, “can destroy the timeline. Look at what has happened just from me being here for 15 years, impersonating a dead man!”
“And it's your own fault.” She spits, a feral cat to his wild jaguar. “Like I said before, you let your obsession get the better of you! It's your own damn fault you’re here!”
Hannahlee jumps back with a small, squirrelish shriek into the wall when Eobard slams against the glass, teeth bared, ready to grab her heart in his fist and pop it like a grape.
“Watch your tongue.” He hisses. “I may not have much of my speed, but if I must I will force my way through this. You are a blip–”
“I know I'm worthless.” She snaps his threat in half, still shaking but unable to back down. “I know that if I died I'd make no change to the timeline. I'm just some fan girl who ended up in a story. You don't need to remind me, Eobard.”
He draws back, not like he'd been slapped but as though he hadn't expected her to react like she had. She watches Eobard calm down, rage dying down into a ruffled ire. Hannahlee finds she can breath.
“I don't care what the hell you think of me, or of what I know, or my placement here, but the thing is I'm stuck here. And soon you won't be.” She tells him. “I may be worthless, but I am useful.”
She heads for the entryway of the Pipeline. She's about to hit the close button when he calls, voice even, “They'll never accept you, no matter your usefulness.”
She stares ahead, down the small ramp and into the empty Cortex. “I don't want to be accepted. That means attachment. I just… I just want to go home.”
Hannahlee presses the button and the door closes.
Hannahlee ties her hair back using a hairband Caitlin had given her, scrapping the too short, still wet strands in the front back. Eventually they'd fall into place at the natural part on her right side but until then she could see.
The water from the ponytail dripped against the collar of her shirt, cold and damp on her flushed skin, still warm from the shower she'd been out of it for hardly five minutes. It was uncomfortable but Hannahlee felt she didn't have the time to properly dry her hair.
Today, ready or not, Barry was going back to save his mom. Hopefully, he'd change his mind and come back to stop Eobard Thawne. If it came to that, she would need to knock out Eddie and shoot Eobard herself, saving Eddie and damning herself in the process. She would be robbing Eddie of his hard earned moment to be a hero for Iris, but Hannahlee couldn't let him die.
Hannahlee ignored how her stomach knotted and pulled in on herself, ignored how she didn't finally lay down to sleep until nearly three and woke again at five. She knew she needed to get a handle on herself, find some sort of rhythm to survive here, but Hannahlee was drowning.
Drowning in guilt and worry, pain and anger, fear –
She shudders when a particularly cold drop hits her neck, making its way past the collar of her sweatshirt and down, passing under the soft cotton of her bra, and into the crack of her ass. Hannahlee stands, leaving the communal showers the Labs had to find the Cortex and see what was going on so far.
She found Dr. Stein there, going on about something concerning the wormhole that Barry would be opening to the timestream. Hannahlee freezes, not having met him yet and hesitant to do so. She wanted to minimize her contact with people, both because of her inability to not become attached and her fear she'd then not want to go home.
Barry and Cisco see her, how her shoulders are hunched up and eyes a little big. Dr. Stein’s speech slows and then comes to a stop, him turning. For a moment he looks confused to see her, then recognition of some sort.
“You must be the young woman Dr. Snow and Mr. Ramon have mentioned.” He comes forward, holding out a hand. “I have several questions to ask you about your universe, as well as theories about how you came to be here, but that can be tabled for later.”
“Oh, uhm.” She takes his hand, shaking, and shooting a glare at Cisco over the professor’s shoulder for telling him about her. “Sure? I'm not really. Like, used to this? And I don't really know anything much that could be different.”
“We’ll just have to found out then, won't we, Miss…?”
“Hannah,” she nearly bites her tongue off in surprise. “ Hannahlee . McCullough. It's Irish.”
“Interesting.” He releases her hand, stepping back. “We have Ireland here.”
Hannahlee is tempted to say “I know.” She hadn't been sitting on her hands while here. There were books laying around the place, most about mechanics and sciences she couldn't begin to comprehend without some help, but there were history books. And Hannahlee loved history.
Before can decide what to say, Dr. Stein has returned to his lecture about the threats to the universe if Barry did go back.
“Wells knows.” Hannahlee near flinches after the words. But she doesn't as three sets of eyes turn to her. “I remember, vaguely, about the time limit being around 2 minutes. And the time machine needed a cobalt coating or something. He knows a lot better than me. I'm just repeating stuff I remember.”
“That is impressive.” Dr. Stein points out. “For you, it would have been a passing sentence, mere entertainment. Most don't remember something so specific.”
Her scoff is maybe harsher than it should be. “I'd agree if I didn't know how the mind works when you're a fan of something. I can remember sentences from books, whole scenes from movies and shows, paragraphs from history books, that I've invested hours in. Just like you remember almost everything about physics, fans do the same about their shows.” Awkward, feeling extremely like a species to be studied with how Dr. Stein marveled at her, Hannahlee shrugs. “It was fun, when none of this was real, and now… it just kinda hurts.”
It's silent for too long, dragging out into a pregnant pause. She looks at Barry. “You should go ask Wells about the specifics on the machine and time limit. You've only got so long.”
It's hard to breathe suddenly. Not like when she'd confronted Eobard. She only had trouble breathing. But here she feels like a ten ton anvil has been lowered onto her chest. She steps back, sneakers squeaking against the floor, echoing and almost like a record scratch. “I'm going to go for a walk around the building. It's too hot in here.”
Hannahlee doesn't run, but it feels like it. She can't get out of the Cortex fast enough, can't get to the exit doors.
They bust open. She scrambles to shove them closed, taking in deep, gasping breaths as her weight leans into her shoulders, pressing down into her hands flat against the glass doors. The cold damp around her neck is uncomfortable, settling an itch under her skin. She wants to yank it over her head, throw the sweatshirt away, but can't for propriety's sake.
Her forehead presses against the door, face hot against the cold glass. It was barely eight in the morning. The sun hadn't reached the side of the building yet, leaving her in cool, Spring shade. She drops her hands slowly, crouching down to hide in her knees.
“Breath,” she whispers, “take deep, steady breaths. You got this. You need to stop freaking out like this.”
Eventually, she sits, pressing her back against cold stone. She pulls her arms into her sweatshirt, wrapping her arms around her soft middle. With a small start, she realizes she's less pudgy. Still soft, but she's already losing weight with her loss of appetite.
“ Fuck .” Hannahlee closes her eyes, head tilting back. The ponytail digs into her head where it presses to the wall but she doesn't try to fix it. It grounds her. “Though I did want to lose weight, I didn't want to like this.”
Eyes closed, breathing evenly to keep calm, Hannahlee dozes off.
Hannah is heading down the sidewalk from Annie’s house, the road barely five inches from her on the left. Amber is behind her, talking about what she had planned for her character Kai and Hannah’s character Dorothea. It was an Avatar campaign, 30 years post- Legend of Korra , and while Hannah hadn't watched it she loved The Last Airbender and had agreed to Ben’s campaign.
She may have been a third of the way awake when she named Dorothea and decided making her an orphaned swamp bender raised by swamp spirits was the best way to explain away her weird name and incessant need to mother people. The jokes about Dora the Explorer and Dorothy Gale rolled in as soon as Ben saw the name, cackling.
(Hannah totally hadn't asked Amber to pass a Redd’s beer to her so she could take a swig and ignore the laughs and giggles. No matter how much good fun it was had in, her head was ducked and she was glad to have makeup on that night to hide her embarrassed flush.)
“Hey, Amber,” Hannah turns her head a little, glancing back at her, “if Dorothea and Kai’s characters are supposed to change personalities as one gets smarter and the other loses her daughter to the dark side, does that make us Harley?”
“Well I've been calling Kai our team’s Harley. We’re the Suicide Squad.”
Hannah grins. “Wait, but Dorothea is innocent over the politician’s murder, so she's Katana. Right?”
“For now.” Amber agrees. “Then Dorothea is gonna be Harley and Kai is more dark Superman.”
“Who can bloodbend.”
They step off the sidewalk onto the concrete pavement used for almost all parking lots, both big and small. The Mad Hatter is a simple burger and beer joint. Hannah had never been in but she certainly wanted to. She wanted to go with friends, and it was harder than most thought to get her friends to go to lunch with her. Everyone was busy with life, or weren't big on burgers, and Hannah struggled with the long bouts of nothing exciting happening in hers that had her staying up late, watching too much Netflix and Hulu, and hanging more with what friends she could wrangle together instead of trying to get a second job and prepare for college.
Admittedly, and she's hesitant to tell her immediate family this, but college– real college with dorms and FAFSA and grants and loans– scares the ever loving shit out of her. Hannah didn't know how to ask for help when she really, truly needed it so she tended to suffer when trying to figure out what to do. She knew she wanted to be an English teacher, and preferably in another country because of the fact that, while raised in America, she'd never been overly gung-ho and in love with it. Blame her dad, and his life of 20 years in the Navy.
“Hey, Amber,” she's unclipping her keys, from her side belt loop with one hand as she opens her phone to send Noemi a text, feeling a little shaky and mouth tasting sour under her tongue, “you've been in college before, and are going back again, can you show me how to–”
Her head lifts, about to hit send in the corner. She blinks at the change in her surroundings, the hush of the cars not unusual when it was eleven at night. But her car was no longer in front of her and Amber wasn't there. In fact, she wasn't even in The Mad Hatter parking lot. She was in… Hannah looks around, blinking as she takes in her surroundings. She digs into her purse to pull out her glasses, jamming them onto her face.
“A mall parking lot?” Hannah does a spin, taking in her surroundings. “What the fuck is this? Did someone slip me something and I'm imagining this?”
Amber doesn't answer. There is no answer except the crickets chirping, an occasional bird peep because some didn't go to bed like good little birdies.
Everything around her is changing then, and she's now in a small, padded cell, and Barry Allen is yelling, hitting the glass, trying to get free. There's a dull ache in her body, sprouting from her head and back to tangle against her soft nerves. She wheezes, can't seem to breath, and then there's Leonard Snart standing above her with a soldier’s rest, cold gun aimed at her.
He smirks. “Wonder what Scarlet is gonna do without his ace in the hole? Think they’ll be sad to see you dead?”
Hannah takes in a shallow breath. “They didn't know me. So no.”
“Hm.” He nods, and she wonders what his eyes look like behind the flare lends. Whether he looks victorious or bored. Oddly enough she still thinks he's pretty. “Family and friends will certainly miss you. Had the chance to go with Wells to get home and threw it away because he thought you had information and that scared you. Wonder what those friends of yours will think, or your brother will do when he realizes his sweet baby sis is dead?”
“They'll mourn me.” She agrees. “But move on.”
Ice layers itself across her skin as the cold gun powers up, and she finds herself standing in the penguin exhibit at Seaworld, in the same jean shirts and igloo blue, loose t-shirt she'd worn last summer. She's looking in at the Adelie penguins, feathers half gone and huddled together as it was spring for them, the Emporers and little hopper penguins on the other side, little snowflakes drifting from the ceiling.
“Want me to take a picture of you in front of the penguins, baby girl?”
She startles at her father’s voice, turning to face him. He's dressed in his naval uniform, white as freshly churned sea foam, blue stripes along the sailor collar. It's the same one he hadn't worn since she was a tiny girl, barely into kindergarten her second time when he’d retired.
“Daddy?” She sounds just like a scared little kid, and she's suddenly aware this is a dream when she realizes how young he is, pepper still in his mustache, skin darker from the sun always on his face and arms, a mischievous twinkle to his warm blue eyes most fathers had. “You’re in Florida.”
“I'm wherever you need me to be.” He tells her, holding up her camera. “Smile for me, Belle. And don't forget,” he grins and she can see his teeth, just a the right side of eggshell and perfectly straight, “squeeze the trigger, don't pull.”
The flash is on and, briefly, she's blinded by technicolor spots. Then the floor is gone and she's tumbling, head over feet and feet over head, feeling strangely like Alice. Whether she'd be playing harmless croquet or taking off a Jabberwocky's head, Hannah didn't know.
Her body is dropped onto a hard floor, and there's wind whistling in her ears. The dream is too real and it's half fear, half curiosity that has her sitting up, staring ahead as Barry disappears into the wormhole and Eobard– still impersonating Wells– steps into his time machine.
At the last second, halfway inside he turns, holds out a hand to her. “Last chance. Come with me and I take you home. Or stay and live in a timeline you don't know.”
Her ears are ringing, and there's no one else around her. Hannah stands there, alone, barely six feet from the monster in yellow. Her fingers flex, and her right hand curls around the handle of a police issued gun.
Against her will, her arm raises and there’s surprise on his face. “You think you can kill me with normal bullets? I have regenerative healing! They–”
The gun kicks back a little, scraping against her bones like nails in a car. The bullet being fired is a crack, too close to the sound of firework and too far away to be a bullet. She wants to crawl out of her skin as Eobard is thrown back into the time machine.
“You're not a normal man.” She tells him, walking closer, and squeezes again and again, blood blooming like little pinpricks against the canary yellow of his suit. The cartridge is empty and she drops the gun, feeling sick. “They're not normal bullets.”
He coughs and red covers his mouth and throat like a red breasted robin’s. He grins, teeth bloody. “You looked like you could murder.”
Voice weak, she crackles out, “It's not murder if you don't exist.”
Hannahlee nearly cracks her forehead against Caitlin’s when she gently rouses the younger woman, hands grabbing the doctor by the upper arms. She stares into Caitlin’s eyes, little puffs of breath escaping her.
“Are you okay?” Caitlin asks.
For a moment, Hannahlee doesn’t understand what Caitlin asked. Then she slowly releases her hold on Caitlin and leans back against the wall. “Yeah, just tired.” She closes her eyes, rubs them. “I’m not a morning person.”
She was grasping at the dream, able to keep most of it in the mental palms of her hands easily. But some slipped away like grain. Something bright blue and flashing, blood, the cold caress of metal. She rubs at her eyes again, wishes she could remember more than she did.
“Sorry if I worried you, Dr. Snow.”
“It’s alright. It's my job as a doctor to worry.” The doctor stands, helping Hannahlee to her feet. “We’ve known each other long enough to be on a first name basis now. And you’ll be here for a while.” Caitlin pauses for a moment, then asks, “So, please, call me Caitlin.”
Hannahlee turns, grabbing the door. “Uhm, I’d rather… not.” She admits, looking back at Caitlin as she shuffles to the side, letting the biochemist in. “I,” she takes a breath, “I don’t want to make any attachments if I won’t even be here for little more than a year.”
“Hannah,” as the two walk down the hallway, Caitlin looks at her, “you can't avoid us forever. Isolating yourself isn't healthy, especially for so long. When I thought I'd lost Ronnie…” The biochemist sighs. “It didn't do anyone any good. But luckily I had Cisco. And, while your backstory to how you got here is questionable, I do trust you. You don't come off as a threat.” There's a long stretch of silence before Caitlin adds, “Not to the team.”
The young woman looks away from Caitlin, oddly embarrassed and strangely shy. “Doctor… Caitlin ,” Hannahlee can feel the surprise and ease coming from Caitlin after correcting herself. Hannahlee looks back at Caitlin. “I'm…”
“It's okay.” Caitlin grins weakly at Hannahlee. “I understand a little. We all do.”
Smiling weakly, they round the corner, and the doorway for the Cortex comes into sight. “Thanks.”
“I'm not good at talking but I can provide a shoulder if you need one.” Caitlin states.
Hannah bites her lip, knowing that Caitlin won't lose Ronnie if she can save Eddie and kill Eobard. But all the same… “My shoulder is open to you, too.”
Hannahlee is reading up on the Hundred Years War when Cisco finds her. She smiles at him, a brief and small upward tilt, then looks back at the book, finding her place. She’s barely two words in when he speaks.
“I need to ask you something.”
It’s the tone of the engineer’s voice that clues her in to the fact she might not like what he has to ask. It’s the same tone had had when she’d revealed the Snaarts would betray the team.
Carefully, aware she shouldn’t let her emotions get the better of her so quickly, Hannahlee closes the book, setting it next to the keyboard connected to the main computer on the Cortex. She sits up a bit, taking weight off her tailbone and showing she was taking this seriously.
“Should I be worried?” She asks as he sits in the other rolly chair.
“Only if this upsets me, maybe.”
Well , Hannahlee thinks, that could be anything then.
“What did you want to ask?” It’s hard to ask, needing to be forced past her teeth and tongue. Once its out, all she can do is sit there, tense and nervous, waiting.
Cisco eyes her, thinking on his words and how to ask. “I know you can’t come straight out and tell me, because it could be a key event or something, but… you said Eddie dies.” Cisco sees how she goes, not still but definitely close to it, gazes locked and hers more than tinged with shame. “So it’s true. He does.”
“Not if I have a say.” The woman covers her mouth, surprised at the sharpness, at the conviction lacing the words.
He purses his lips. “This is something the team should know. Together, we can prevent this.”
Hannahlee reaches out, hand shaking, and she grabs one of Cisco’s. “This is kinda like when I told you about the Snarts. You can’t say or do anything, Cisco.”
“But you can?”
“It’s not that I can, and you can’t. It wasn’t like that transporting the metas.” She groans, rubbing under her eyes. “This isn’t like it in the fact you can’t do anything and neither can I. It’s that this is… fragile. You are supposed to be there. Eddie, too, for that matter, but his role can be changed.”
Cisco looks her in the eyes, looking for something, and he seems to find it when his eyes get a little bigger. “The gun. That’s why you asked how to use a gun. Isn’t it?”
Hannahlee digs her teeth into her bottom lip. She can’t lie when the truth is so clearly pinned down. “Yes.”
“So you're going to… what? Take Eddie’s place?” Hannahlee doesn't nod, lips pressing flat. “What does mean, exactly?”
Hannahlee looks away. “I can't say. You'll stop me.”
Cisco doesn't scowl, it's not in his nature, but his espression is close enough. “Hannah, let me help. I want to help.”
“Cisco, what has to happen, Eddie either dies or Eobard has to be killed.” She snaps, watches him rear back in surprise. “There's no in between.”
“So, you're talking murder.” Cisco shakes his head. “You're willing to murder someone to protect another?”
“It's to protect everyone.” Hannahlee whispers, nose and throat tight. “Eobard is… terrifying. Merciless, unable to change. He has to be stopped.”
“Killing a murderer doesn't make you any better.” He shakes his head. “It makes you a murderer, Hannah.”
“You've no idea how many people he's killed. How many he will kill.” Hannah feels hurt nip at her heart’s soft muscle, can't hide the hurt from her voice. “And it's easier than watching Eddie shoot himself to erase Eobard from existence.”
Cisco needs to take a moment, eyes wide and scared. But not of her. The situation, yes, but not her. Something about that fact made her feel a little better, a bit more like she could be in control.
“I'd rather soil my own hands than watch him die,” Hannahlee goes on. “Yeah, it's going to mess with the timeline, and in a pretty big way, but the timeline was fucked the second Eobard came back to kill Barry.”
“There's also the fact it might not even happen.” She points out. “At this point, I don't know whether Barry will save his mom or come back.”
“Are you saying… Barry is supposed to come back?”
“Mother fu –” She stops herself, making the best “why can't I shut my mouth, please someone sew my lips closed” face. Hannahlee thinks she does. Cisco looks like he understood her vaguely. “Cisco, I can't answer that.”
“You did with your reaction.” He replies, somewhere between hopeful and sad. “Do you know what happens to us in the original timeline?”
“You're a rich asshole.” She huffs, thinking of what she knows about Cisco in Flashpoint. “You get all the ladies but are absolutely horrible. I think so, anyway. Some think you adorable.”
Cisco expels a breath. “Whoa. Okay. Do I know the others?”
“No. You had no reason to meet and get to know each other.” Hannahlee shrugs. “Barry had his parents, though, and Iris was his girlfriend, so he was pretty happy.”
A silence stretches between them, testing, seeking out what could fill it. Cisco thinks over her words, then he latches onto one specifically. “Was?”
Hannahlee winces. “Well… he missed everyone here, and Iris and Joe weren’t talking, and he didn’t have you and Caitlin to talk to. All his villains had yet to become villains because the Particle Accelerator wasn’t built yet and Harrison Wells and Tess Morgan were still alive.” She shrugs. “So he fixed everything, returned the timeline to the way it was the best he could.” Cisco is about to ask what she means by ‘best he could’ and she talks fast, drowning him out, “I can’t tell you what changed thanks to Barry changing the timeline.”
The engineer frowns. “I won’t push you, then. But…” Hannahlee’s shoulders hitch upwards a little, making her look smaller. “I really think you shouldn’t kill Eobard. He’s evil, and probably deserve to still be alive for all he’s done, but that’s still murder. And I may not have known you long, but I know it will tear you apart. You’re really sweet and your fear of guns is pretty obvious, despite the fact you’ve pushed it back to make room for,” he makes a motion around them, at everything and nothing, “this. But we don’t kill. We’re not Arrow.”
“I know you’re not.” Hannahlee defends. “I know that. Really well, actually. Because the Flash is supposed to be this form of, like, hope and integrity. Much like the Arrow is supposed to represent justice and strength, no matter how twisted it currently is. Barry also hasn’t killed anyone, no matter how much he’s wanted or will want to.”
Hannahlee can’t sit anymore, needs to move in some form, so she stands. Cisco tenses and it makes her feel ugly inside, but she turns away from him, lightly pacing. Her eyes stay away from the engineer.
“I honestly feel like there’s only two ways to go about this if Barry does come back, Cisco.” Two steps left, turn on heel, three steps right, and repeat. “Barry comes back and ruins Eobard’s way home, I let Eddie die, and a Singularity forms because Eobard is subsequently wiped from existence meaning this future shouldn’t exist, which causes Barry and Ronnie/Stein to work together to stop it. Large parts of Central are ruined and Ronnie dies helping stop the Singularity.” Left, left, turn, right, right, right, turn, repeat. “The other option is, Barry comes back, Eobard is pissed off and I shoot him before he can try to kill Barry instead of letting Eddie kill himself.”
Hannahlee pauses, turning to Cisco. “If you have another option, please tell me.” It’s an honest question. She’d rather a way around this.
“Take the gun from Eddie and hope Eobard doesn’t kill Barry when they go at it.” Cisco responds, words slow and carefully picked.
“You’ve seen Eobard’s speed, you’ve seen what he can and can’t do.” Shaking her head clears her mind a little, makes her actually think about Cisco’s words. “Maybe if his healing factor wasn’t so quick, or he wasn’t so fast, I’d believe that. But Barry is still a novice at his speed and Eobard… he’s terrifying when angry.”
“Then how can you expect to hit him with a bullet? It’s impossible.”
It is impossible, but Hannahlee can’t just let this go.
“I’ll figure something out.”
“ Cisco .” She gives him the saddest, baby-eyed look she could. “Please. If it helps any, my aim is shit so I likely won’t even hit him. But if I do, I’ll aim below. So we can put him back in the Pipeline.”
He looks uncomfortable, but he concedes. “I can’t stop you, I get that.” Cisco pushes his hair back behind his ears. “But I want you to know you don’t have to, that there are totally other people who can handle this.”
Her teeth dig into her bottom lip. “Can you,” she takes a breath, “not tell anyone? About this?”
“I won't tell anyone about Eddie.” Cisco says. “But if I'm asked about you, I'll tell them.”
“That'll have to do.” Her smile is brittle and Cisco doesn't return it.
It's fine. Her heart, she pretends, doesn't hurt as much as it really does.
Hannahlee is pacing in front of STAR Lab’s entrance, hands trying to crack her knuckles and when they’re all popped she gravitates to switching between twisting her mother’s Claddagh around her pinky and rubbing the soft underside of her wrist so hard she could feel her veins grinding into the bone. She is bouncing a little as she goes, entire form shaking.
It’s almost time. Everyone is prepared, Barry has gone down to prepare to run. Eobard, from inside his cell, had given her a near feral grin and Hannahlee hadn’t surprised herself when she nearly hissed at him. What was surprising was the animosity toward him that backed the near hiss.
Back home, Hannahlee used to hiss when play-fighting with her co-worker Donovan, teasing and poking at each other’s strange quirks without true hate, arguing because it was all they seemed able to do. She’d hiss when he commented on her height, eleven inches shorter than him.
Now she didn’t have a Donovan to argue with, or giggle with, or poke at.
Footsteps, fast, bring her out of her aching musings. She turns as Eddie comes around the corner, looking winded. He slows to a stop when his eyes land on her.
“Hannah?” He begins to make for the door. “Why aren’t you with everyone else? Iris said we’re saving Barry’s mom today.”
Hannahlee moves quickly, getting in his way. Eddie abruptly stops so he doesn’t run into her. “They are.” After a moment, just the split second between her words and him readying to ask her to move, she adds, “You’re not.”
“Yes, I am.” He goes around her instead, and Hannahlee blocks him again. She backs him up with a small push, sees her hands and arms are still shaking, wonders how pale she must look. “What are you doing? We need-”
“Eddie, stop!” Hannahlee grabs his wrist, yanking him, surprised at her own ferocity but unwilling to let this go downhill. “You can't go in there!”
“Like I can't.” He turns, glaring at Hannahlee. “If Wells– Eobard, whatever is going to do what you said he will, I have to stop him.”
“Yo– you can't.” Hannahlee stutters out, clinging to his wrist even as he tugged and tugged. “It's, they're, things–”
“You'll die!” She shouts, the words kicking their way out of her, unable to stay inside any longer. As long as one person agrees with her that Eddie should stay away, she'd protect him.
Eddie, for his part, looks stunned. “What?”
“You, it.” She blinks, eyes blurry with tears. “It's dangerous. And you die. And there's no–” She swallows, hard. “There's no body to bury.”
It was strange how, despite all the death in her life, she still found a way to be sad about it. And the fact that there was no family to mourn him and no body to say goodbye to. It's stupid to get hung up on it, but nothing about death is stupid if you really think about it.
Eddie has to pause, has to think about what to say, and when he does he's much calmer, smile kind. “I can't just sit and let whatever is going to happen, happen.”
“No.” She agrees, tone soft.
To the left, out of Eddie’s field of vision, a familiar face appears in a curl of purple smoke. Mxyzptlk narrows his eyes on them, then saunters over to where she’d left her purse against the wall. He picks it up, pulling out the hardback book she’d been reading, testing the weight. Mxyzptlk then comes up behind Eddie.
“No, of course you can't.” She nods once, taking what help she can get when presented to her. “But I can make you.”
Her eyes meet Mxyzptlk’s, and the Fifth Dimensional being slams the book against the back of Eddie’s head. Hannahlee watches Eddie’s eyes roll back in his skull, is barely able to hold him when his dead weight flops onto her. She grasps at the back of his shirt, huffing against his hair as she maneuvers him, her sudden ally watching with bored interest.
“Help would be nice.” She growls.
“You seem to be doing fine, darling.” Mxyzptlk hums, dropping the book back into her purse. He flashes her a grin as she manages to get Eddie onto the ground. “See? Not that hard, now was it.”
Hannahlee, winded, glares at him with her teeth bared. Apparently she felt like acting cattish today. Soon she'd meow or purr, whichever came first and was least appropriate for the moment.
“It was very hard, you asshole.” Crouched down, she slips her hands into Eddie’s jacket, searching for his gun. When she finds it, pulling it from its holster, she hesitates a minute, eyes on the deadly contraption.
“Did you know,” and Hannah’s eyes lift to the man as he talks, watching her just as curiously, “guns and cannons and fireworks are all related?”
“Hm.” Mxyzptlk nods, watching her rise to her full height. “Of course you do. You seem the type to know random facts. Did you also know regular bullets can't wound a speedster, let alone kill him? Not one of Eobard Thawne’s caliber, in any matter. Too quick to dodge or heal. And then he'd come after you .”
“Why do you care?” She asks, aware of how stupid her plan was but unwilling to give up. “You don't like me.”
"Because, as it turns out, you don't carry that nasty little plague like I thought." He crosses his ankles, leaning back against the wall. He eyes her like she's a strange puzzle he's excited to pick apart and then put back together. "You seemed to have never even come in contact with it. Which is strange because that entire earth of yours should be covered in the stuff. You also seemed to have made yourself suddenly so vital to this specific event that you leaving would likely cause everything to collapse."
"What do you mean?" The idea of being shoehorned so hard into something she was important scared the woman. She didn't like being apart of anything big because it meant too much attention. "I can't just– I fell into this place little more than a week ago. I can't be important."
"Ah," he pulls an article from his pocket, "I took this from my darling Kara's universe when I went to visit. It's how I know you aren't a carrier of the plague."
Mxyzptlk holds it out to her. Hannahlee hesitates to take it, clutching the handle and barrel of Eddie's gun so tight her knuckles whitened. He shakes it.
"Don't worry, darling. It won't bite. And I'm sure this can't ruin the future any more than you keeping blondie alive can. It doesn't show anything you probably aren't already going to attempt to do."
Hannahlee holds the gun tight in her right hand, taking the paper in her left. It's the blurb page of a newspaper article, headline proclaiming Earth’s Finest Heroes Stop Alien Invasion . Seeing this, knowing Barry still goes back to save his mom at the end of season 3, reminds her of something else she needs to stop: Henry’s death.
Tabling it aside for later contemplation, aware that it was a lot easier to save Henry Allen so long as she outed Hunter Zoloman immediately and thus stopping the flashpoint that brings the aliens to Earth, Hannahlee looks at the photo that was under the headline.
Her memory is hazy concerning the episodes, having only watched the four part Invasion! episodes the one time when they first aired and not understood the context for Flash or Arrow . But she remembers when the team's were thanked by their new Madam President, and she knows there hadn't been so many metas.
Shawna was there, looking pretty and grinning so wide with bright purple lipstick, and with Hartley too. He’s standing taller, looking smug, but there's a gentleness at the edges of his eyes that distinctly reminds Hannahlee that, eventually, Barry goes back in time and, thanks to that, Hartley ends up kinder.
Kara and Barry and Oliver stand together. Sara is with her crew, minus Jax and Stein, but Rip is standing alongside Sara, her right hand man. Hannahlee’s eyes trail to the left, is startled to see what looks like Reverb and Killer Froster, the latter grumpy and former like a cat with cream. She nearly misses Leonard Snart and Mick Rory off to the side, nearly out of the shot, with an icy smirk and half-feral grin.
Her mouth forms a perfect o , and she looks at Mxyzptlk. He looks caught between bored and nonplussed.
“You seem surprised at the additions. Are you?”
“But Leonard Snart–!”
“Died, yes. I'm aware.” He takes the paper from her, folding it into four neat squares and pocketing it. “You aren't allowed to read it. That's too informative. Even I know the rules of time travel.”
“Then why show me it? Why show me that Leonard Snart doesn't die, that Reverb and Killer Frost end up heroes?” Hannahlee demands. “It'll just distract me!”
“To motivate you to make the right choice when you go in there.” Mxyzptlk shrugs, eyes flicking to the door. “Shoot him and kill Eobard Thawne, the future I showed you doesn't exist. Don't shoot him, and it does. There is no inbetween.”
The temptation to see that future real is painful. But there isn't an in between. She promised Cisco she'd aim to not kill Eobard but if there was anything vital and he couldn't heal, that would be that. Her hands would be red, and she couldn't fix that.
Hannahlee would be a killer.
She wondered if it would mess with her as badly as it had the past week, hardly able to sleep with the guilt weighing her down.
But she couldn't let any of them die because of inaction. Better her mental state than the team’s lives, no matter what that paper showed. There wasn't an Iris West on that byline.
Mxyzptlk makes a noise, rolls his eyes. “Oh, I’d love nothing more than to stop you.”
Hannahlee perks a little at the sound, curious to his wording. “Then why don't you?”
“I can't mess with your free will.” Mxyzptlk huffs, reaching into his jacket. “Just nudges here and there to actually do something.”
He pulls a gun clip from his jacket pocket. It pulses with a strange violet glow, and Hannahlee wants far away from it.
“And bullets count.” His grin is dangerous, reminding her that he wasn't someone to mess with. He holds it out to her. “These, darling girl, can stop a speedster dead in their tracks. Quite literally if you aim well enough.”
Her shoulders tense. “What?”
“Hm.” His eyes practically sparkle. “Take ‘em for a test run. Save blondie and your friends.”
Like with the article blurb, he shakes the clip at her. “Don't be shy now. You seemed gung-ho about murder before.” He chuckles, a dark and slippery sound. Her arms pebble with goosebumps. “All you humans are until faced with the literal choice.”
Hannahlee snatches it from him and his hand curls into a fist, dropping to his side. “It's not murder if he doesn't exist.”
Before the words have even left her mouth she's remembering the dream, remembering what she had done. The grind of her bones as the gun kicked back. The sickness pooling in her stomach like the blood under Eobard. The need to claw her way out of her skin before she screamed.
His smile is made of needles and knives.
“Have fun, darling.”
Mxyzptlk waves and is gone with a wisp of purple smoke.
Hannahlee takes a shuddering breath, eases her nerves the best she can despite her need to throw up. She glances at Eddie, still out cold and laid against the wall, looking like he was taking a nap.
The woman takes another breath, tasting copper and sickly sweetness on her lead tongue. It'll have to be ignored for now.
Hannahlee removes Eddie’s clip, setting it beside him with a dull thunk. Then she moves to put in Mxyzptlk’s. But she pauses.
That's all she'd need. If she couldn't hit Eobard the first time, maybe she would the second. Either way, if she didn't get him in a crippling place, Eobard would go after her first. The team would have a couple more seconds.
Hannahlee leaves two in the clip, slides it into place, and checks the safety one more time. Her sweatshirt hides it well when she slips it into the waistband of her jeans. Her heart is sore, and dry from having cried so much the past week. Her mind tells it to shut up and she heads down to the Pipeline.
Hannahlee steps into the Cortex. Several eyes flicker to her, Iris steps closer.
“Did you see Eddie?” Iris asks. “I sent him a text that we were doing this today and I haven't gotten a reply.”
For a moment, Hannahlee blanks, almost panics. Then settles down, into a lie with a shake of her head. “No. He must be busy. He did work today, didn't he?”
“I know, but…” Iris worries her lip, pulls out her phone to shoot off another text to Eddie. From here she won't be able to hear the detective’s phone go off. “Maybe he’ll reply.”
Hannahlee gives a brilliant smile. “When he looks at his phone, yep.”
Cisco draws Barry, in full Flash regalia, aside, brow creased, serious. “There are gonna be three yous back there: the you from the future who saved younger you from the Reverse-Flash and now you you.” Barry nods, bouncing a little on the ball of his feet. “Remember, wait until future you gets younger you out of there, and then you can go and save your mom.”
“Piece of cake.”
“May the Speed Force be with you, man.” Cisco claps Barry on the shoulder, allowing the Speedster his chance to talk to Joe and Iris.
Barry says goodbye to Joe, exchanges several words with Iris that are a bit too charged on Barry’s side. Dr. Stein stops Barry as he turns to head into the Pipeline, expression hopeful but also wary. “Remember, Mr. Allen, assuming you achieve the proper velocity and open the wormhole, you will only have 1 minute and 52 seconds to save your mother and return.”
Barry releases a harsh breath. “Or else, I know.”
“Barry-” Hannahlee stops him again, clenching a hand against the hem of her sweatshirt. He gives her an open smile, and while he’s clearly nervous he is also ready.
“What is it?”
Her bones feel hollow and brittle, nerves picked raw. What could she say? “ Please don’t save her, please come back so Eobard doesn’t win, so I still have a future I recognize. Please, please, please… ” She had thought through how to take care of Eobard, and hoped Barry would still let his mother die, but didn’t think about this and what her own words could do. She also wants Barry to save his mom because Hannahlee really fucking thought Barry deserved to have her back.
On autopilot, unable to decide between the two thoughts, Hannahlee closes the few feet between them and hugs him, tight as she can. Barry rocks back on his heels momentarily, thoroughly surprised, and her hands curl against the smooth, lean muscle of his back, nails digging into the rough tri-polymer of his suit, dragging him back into her. Hannahlee closes her eyes, soaks up some of the warmth he provides, then pulls back right as Barry’s arm raise to return the hug. It barely lasts ten seconds.
She grins, the brightest she has, and says, “You’ll make the right choices. I know it. I believe in you, Barry Allen.”
There's a small shift in that single moment, when she's willing to risk her own way home, of something settling between them to take root as Barry looks at her with the clearest, sea green eyes she's ever seen, flecked by electric green and Speed Force yellow.
But she's taking another step back, ignoring the moment, and he coughs, head ducking down to hide a bashful smile.“Thank you.”
Barry pulls on the cowl, and she watches as he turns away. Something in her stomach… it's like it flutters, or maybe turns inside out. She isn't sure.
He’s gone before she can really process it.
“Well, you hold both our futures in your hands now, Mr. Allen.” On the video feed, Eobard smiles from his cell, teeth sharp and yet eyes impossibly kind. Hannahlee’s stomach loses its tangled knot, wants to throw the smug bastard into space. “And I know you can do it.”
Barry probably feels the same but none of them but Eobard can see his face.
“Now run, Barry.” Eobard urges, voice low and dragging like an iceberg against a ship’s hull. She shivers, feeling extremely cold, hands lifting to curl around her elbows despite the sweatshirt. “Run.”
Barry takes off like a shot, and it’s all white noise. On one screen she can see his laps, see in the corner him picking up speed. On the video feed, he’s a blur of golden lightning, Eobard his personal dark sentinel, talking him through the most important moment in Barry’s life.
The coffee in Dr. Stein’s mug begins to float and her stomach drops into Hell.
She closes her eyes as Dr. Stein, voice a bit higher than usual, requests that Cisco release the hydrogen particle. Barry hits it and is gone. The wormhole opens and stabilizes.
After several seconds, the professor speaks, eyes lingering on the data of the wormhole. “I believe it's time to say goodbye to Harrison Wells.”
Cisco and Joe head down. Hannahlee follows.
“You should stay up here.” Joe advises, and Cisco catches her gaze. He looks ready to reveal what she’d planned, but instead turns to Joe.
“I’ll be fine.” It’s a quick reply, quicker than anything Cisco could have said. And he presses his lips flat.
“It can’t hurt.”
“He won’t.” Hannahlee cuts off, shaking her head. “He wouldn’t risk his chance to go home.”
Joe hesitates, and that moment of indecision is all she needs. Hannahlee heads past them, and Joe and Cisco move to follow quickly.
“You’re gonna stay behind me the entire time.” Joe tells her, getting ahead. “Don’t want you in the way if he tries anything.”
Hannahlee doesn’t tell him that she’s the one that needs to be between Joe and Eobard. It wasn’t conductive.
Eobard barely glances at her as he inspects the Time Sphere, eyes alight with barely concealed glee. He turns to Cisco, hands clasped behind his back. “It’s beautiful. Rip Hunter would be proud. He built the first one of these. Interesting man.”
“I’m sure he’d have a few harsh critiques.” Hannahlee can’t help responding, and bright, burning eyes turn to her. There’s curiosity still there to know what and who she is. Joe takes a side step so he’s halfway in front of her. “He only likes perfection, after all.” She smiles, harsher than her usual. A snake coils around her heart, ready to strike. “Though he can be persuaded to use the less than perfect.”
Eobard opens his mouth, whatever he is about to say cut off by the wormhole blipping and flashing before a silver hat comes flying out. Styled like a World War 1 hat, a single set of wings adorn its sides.
Joe looks at it with apprehension. “Now what the hell is that?”
“That’s my cue to leave.” Eobard loftily replies, looking to Cisco now. “Thank you, Cisco.”
He nearly sneers at Eobard but ends up looking ready to cry, fighting back cringing away from the vile man. “Don’t ever come back.”
Eobard turns to Hannahlee. He holds out a hand, look not casual enough and betraying how much he wants the information she has. “You can still come with me.”
“Nice offer.” Hannahlee doesn’t have a clue where the smile, so sweet it made her face ache and tongue taste sugar, came from. It makes his hand lift a bit more, hopeful like his need to get home. “No, thanks.”
Eobard drops his arm and steps into the Time Sphere. It’s as he’s rising into the air, about to leave, Barry comes hurtling through, shattering Eobard’s only way home in his need to punch the bastard. Cisco, Joe, and Hannahlee are thrown with the force of impact. Cisco hits the ground, hard, and is out cold. Joe is dazed, maybe with a concussion. Hannahlee lays on the ground from impacting with the wall, wheezing and gripping her shoulder where a sizable shard had embedded itself.
She sits up, leaning her left shoulder hard against the wall as Barry and Eobard have their confrontation. Hannahlee grips the shard, fingers curling around it and tightening. It’s slippery with blood, harder to grasp once the tender skin on her fingers and palm splits. It comes out with a harsh squelching sound, thrown away, and she bites her cheek so harshly blood coats her tongue. Her shoulder is a numb throbbing sensation, but she can still use her right hand.
Hannahlee reaches behind her with her left arm as Eobard slams Barry into the wall, positioned nearly directly across from them. Her eyesight was blurry, glasses lost when she was thrown into the wall. Her fingers, sticky, yank up her sweatshirt. Her fingers curl around the handle as Eobard gives his “I’m going to kill everyone you love” speech.
In the few seconds she has, Hannahlee is able to lift her left arm, pull back the safety and take aim. It’s shaky, dominantly right-handed, and her eyesight too fuzzy on the edges to judge distance accurately, but she squeezes the trigger.
Her dream had been right about the kickback, which made sense with how much she’d practiced the past week with a gun. The bullet misses Eobard’s shoulder by two inches, embedding in the wall.
She doesn’t hit him, but it does take his attention away from Barry. It didn’t kill Eobard but it gave Barry more time. It’s one of her two choices.
Further pain blossoms along her back when Eobard moves, pinning her to the wall. Her feet dangle on the floor, and it’s impossible to breath. Hannahlee can’t even gasp on her lack of oxygen. Something heavy clatters the floor between them but it isn’t the gun, still clutched in her left hand. It must be her phone. Barry is coughing, gasping on his own air, on blood and bruises and broken ribs.
“You have been nothing but an annoyance since you arrived.” He hisses. “You know too much and yet are useless. I’m going to finally going to have the pleasure of killing you.”
Hannahlee grabs at his gloved hand with her right, tugging. The loss of strength in the limb is clear, but he doesn’t question her left arm moving at he raises his hand.
It’s blurring, and she’s suddenly aware that she has a split second before death. Not enough time to shoot Eobard in the stomach.
Hannahlee is crying, trying to actually tug on his arm. Can hear Barry’s croak, the weak, “No!”
It feels like she was punched in the boob.
Like, legitimately punched in the boob.
And the marvelous thing is, Hannahlee was .
Still crying, still trying to get air into her lungs as black spots begin to flicker in her vision, Hannahlee remembers one astounding issue all Speedsters had when crossing to different universes.
And her universe was off limits.
“B-buttmunch.” She wheezes out, grinning despite the situation. The moment of confusion is gone on her part, but when his red eyes lift from staring at where he'd punched her, she knows his is just beginning.
Hannahlee can’t lift the gun high anymore, too weak, but is able to squeeze the trigger. Eobard drops her, screaming, and Hannahlee can see blood pouring from his leg as he stumbles to a knee, moving to staunch the blood flow. He looks like a regular wounded man in a skintight leather suit now.
It hurts to breath in, but she does. Air had never tasted so sweet, even when she had hiked the Appalachian trail for five days. Hannahlee throws the gun away, it useless now. She's still grinning.
“Didn't’cha mama teach you to not play with guns?” She asks, voice crumbling around the edges into coughs, sucking back in air. “Or ya daddy?”
It's nice to hear her actual accent, no the one she adopted when she moved to North Carolina. It seems to make Eobard more irate too, which is a bonus.
He stumbles when he rises. “I will show you why I'm more dangerous than a–” Eobard takes a step, gasps, goes down. He pulls his cowl back, actually looking a little scared. “My wound isn't healing…”
“Special bullets.” Her vision blacks for a second. She can sees someone with blond hair on the ladder leading down to their level. “Speedsters can't heal.”
Eobard is somehow looming over her, braving the pain to use his speed, and she knows she's about to die for real, but as he reaches for her shirt to lift her from the ground there's another gunshot. He screams again, like a dying cat, and is reaching behind him, turning, staring at Eddie with harsh lines of betrayal etched into his expression.
“Get the hell away from her.” The detective growls, and fires again, and again, and again. Each bullet has a trail of purple. Hannahlee counts thirteen before before Eobard drops like a sack of flour, gasping on blood. “You are not my descendant.”
Iris is in front of Hannahlee a second later, warm fingers pressing against the wound in her shoulder. Her stomach rolls, bucks, and she's leaning over to throw up. Iris’s face scrunched up.
“Hey, keep your eyes open.”
In the background, Joe and Cisco have woken up, Eddie is explaining what happened, Barry is helping.
“‘M fine.” The woman out of time and place dismisses. “Just lightheaded.”
Iris purses her lips. “From bloodloss.”
Iris is shifting, moving to help her to her feet. Hannahlee stumbles a bit, shorter than Iris, but the reporter wraps a steadying arm around her middle and she leans into Iris.
“He dead?” Hannahlee asks.
“Don't know, don't care.” Iris huffs. “You just saved Barry’s life.”
“Eddie’d’a done it wit a bullet to the chest.”
Iris stumbles, looks at Hannahlee. “You–?”
“Hmm.” Hannahlee agrees. “‘M shoulder hurts.”
“Caitlin can fix it.” Iris promises as they reach the stairs.
Hannahlee gets onto one step and falls forward, kept from hitting her chin on the metal stair thanks to Iris. She can't get to the next stair. Iris debates for a few minutes then decides.
“I'll get Barry to–”
Hannahlee twists around, sitting on the steps, watching the scene unfold. “No.”
“Eobard beat the shit outta him.” Her eyes lift to meet Iris’s. “He’s probably got some broken ribs.”
Iris frowns. “You can’t get up the stairs.”
“I can.” She assures. “Jus’ need a bita time.”
Iris is ready to reply, is going to convince Hannahlee that it’s a bad idea to sit there and wait. A low whistle starts up, stopping her, wind tugging at their clothes. Hannahlee turns to the source of the sound, stares at the vibrant blue wormhole opening back up, pulling in the debris of the Time Sphere.
“No.” Hannahlee whispers, stumbling to her feet. “No! That shouldn't– no!”
“The wormhole is opening back up?” Barry sounds so aghast, and Hannahlee is right there with him.
“The timeline is intact!” Hannahlee cries, somehow lucid, hand digging into the wound on her shoulder to keep herself steady. “This shouldn't have happened!”
Eyes turn to her. Joe asks, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“We need to get out of here.” Cisco shakes his head at Joe. It can be explained later. With help from Iris and Cisco, Hannahlee is able to get up the stairs, them heading into the Cortex.
When they enter, everyone is talking, talking, talking, figuring out what went wrong, and Hannahlee can't focus. She sways from side to side, only upright thanks to Iris and Cisco. But then Cisco has to move, going to read the computer, and she's leaning solely on Iris.
Hannahlee knows it– the Singularity– must either be a fixed point or something happened to bring it back. Either way… either way she can't just let them go– not without a warning. Or something. Ronnie would die. She loved Jax but Ronnie couldn't die. Caitlin didn't deserve it if it could be stopped.
Hannahlee stumbles out of Iris’s hold, grabs Dr. Stein by the shoulder to steady herself and keep his attention, leaving behind a bloody handprint. He jumps a bit, looks thrown by her movements, her wild-eyed conviction as she bled out.
She begins to talk. It doesn't get far. “You can't–”
Hannahlee sways badly, vision going black for a moment, and she's bridal style in Barry’s arms when her vision clears, being laid on the bed in medbay. He’s looking at Caitlin who's telling Ronnie and Dr. Stein to be careful.
Hannahlee reaches out, grabbing Barry’s wrist as he steps back. His eyes meeting hers, and Hannahlee is aware she's crying but can't help it.
“If Ronnie and Stein go out there they'll die .” She tells him, choking on tears and half-mad with blood loss. “Barry, they can't go.”
“I can't stop them.” He tells her, grasping her hand over his. Electricity crackles under her veins, and his eyes flicker down to their hands before looking at her again. His mouth is set, serious. “It's their choice, Hannah.”
“I'll protect them.” He swears, briefly squeezing her fingers. “I promise.”
He lifts her hand off his and is gone. She drops her hand to her stomach, clenching into the soft fabric. Hannahlee can see through the glass the image of Ronnie kissing Caitlin before he then merges with Dr. Stein. Caitlin comes into the medbay then, getting to work fixing the displaced woman’s wounds.
Hannahlee can't look at Caitlin the entire time, ignores the occasional clatter of items when Caitlin's hands betray her fear. The doctor’s face is closed off and body stiff in her movements otherwise. Hannahlee knows what is going to happen, that Barry won't be able to protect Ronnie. She can't look at Caitlin for the very reason Caitlin won't look at her.
When Caitlin gives her an IV drip with a bit of morphine, Hannahlee is glad to escape the disaster through sleep, no matter how restless it happens to be.
I highly recommend you guys keep an eye out for uruvielnumenesse's own fic that is going to run adjacent to this one. It's titled Farblondzhet! I dunno when she'll begin posting, but it's going to be set on Kara's earth, sometime around S2 of Supergirl.
Also, if you can tell I lost momentum near the end, it's because you're right. I was eager to get to chapter 7. Lots of stuff happens between now and the start of S2!
I'm always excited to hear from you guys, what you thought or any future predictions! Until next time!
Chapter 8: Peter Pan
Today's song is Peter Pan
Gonna warn y'all: This equaled up to 35 pages and over 15,400 words. I think I need a pat on the back and a tall drink of tea (also explains why it took me nearly two months to write).
This entire chapter covers the six months between the end of S1 and the start of S2, which is why it's so long. It's explaining a lot of things and settling Hannah further into her environment. It's not just a jump from S1 to S2 and expecting readers to take it in stride. A lot of building goes on. And while I'd like to say you don't need to read this chapter, you kinda do.
Plus I worked really hard on this.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hannahlee folds her last shirt, setting it on the cot opposite her own. She rubs at an eye, yawning.
It was two weeks since the Singularity. Central City was still a disaster zone but it was not as bad as originally thought. Caitlin had been… quiet, lately. Which was expected. When Hannahlee had come to after a three day coma, she was greeted with what she'd already known would happen.
Caitlin didn't blame her or Barry or Dr. Stein. Hannahlee had tried to stop them. Barry wouldn't because it wasn't his choice. And Ronnie and Dr. Stein could not and would not let Barry protect Central City alone. So Ronnie had sacrificed himself, giving Barry the opportunity he needed to stop the implausible.
Hannahlee was able to hold in her tears until after Caitlin left, shattering into a hundred different fragments after. Barry had seen her, stuck in the bed opposite her, and had blessedly said nothing as she mumbled and sobbed like a child. After her crying had mostly subsided, she had dozed off again.
It took a week after waking up for her wound to heal. Her shoulder muscles still pulled, and Caitlin pushed for Hannahlee to do exercises daily. Wanting to make things at least a little easier for the good doctor, she did just that.
There may have also been blood tests to see why the woman seemed to heal so quickly, while not as fast as a speedster or meta. It had been uncomfortable, but she had gritted her teeth to allow it. The awe on Caitlin’s face as she looked at the blood was worth it, even if there wasn’t anything irregular about her blood.
Now Hannahlee had pulled back into herself, wondering how long it would take for Barry to begin pulling away from everyone. Eddie and Iris were planning their wedding, getting help from Joe and Barry. Barry was surprisingly okay about it, though he'd been a bit off on Monday, avoiding everyone, looking like he'd seen a puppy be murdered.
Tuesday he'd bounced back, had Oliver in tow when Hannahlee had come out of the weight room, travel mug of orange juice in her hands. Oliver had presented Hannahlee then with her new identity, complete with a couple hundred in hard cash, a credit and debit card, SSC, passport, driver’s license, and several other items (and didn’t ask where he got the candid photo of her). Barry was near wiggling beside the surly archer when Oliver finally allowed Barry to tell Hannahlee about the interview he’d gotten her at the precinct since two of their three secretaries had quit after the Singularity, moving away from Central City.
While a bit iffy about the job, realizing she’d need to be there at 6:30 am all seven days of the week and didn’t have the qualifications for the job at all , she had still agreed. Luckily when Caitlin had bought her clothes, there had been a pant suit inside, which Hannahlee would hem later.
Hopefully they wouldn’t notice her flats. Like hell she’d wear heels in one of Central City’s precincts.
Her heart also totally wasn’t warmed at the Speedster attempting to make her feel more welcome by finding her a job.
Hannahlee pauses in folding her jeans when her hair falls over her shoulder, still dark brown. At this point, from the cheap shampoo she’d been using, the dark color should have faded, leaving behind her dark ashen roots. It doesn’t bother her really, but the length and uneven tips does.
Getting a job, she should look her best, and honestly her current hairstyle (aka it's been 3 months since I got it cut and was bordering Loki in Avengers split ends, whoops) made her look ratty. No amount of perfectly done makeup or a borrowed curling iron could fix it. With that thought in mind, Hannahlee finishes folding her clothes and goes to hunt down a pair of scissors.
While unable to explain the brief bout of insanity that made the woman cut her hair on her own, she’ll always be glad about it. There was a 20’s vibe to the new cut that, however slightly uneven in the back, she liked. It was also easier to manage and looked more professional, which is what she wanted. Cisco had taken personal offense and forced her back to the bathroom where he fixed the uneven back, scolding her like an older brother for cutting her hair herself instead of having a professional– or at least another person– do it.
“I get that you're nervous about actually getting attached to our Earth,” he goes on, checking the ends as he does, “but this is ridiculous . Girl, you did an okay job but the back looked like you used a machete.”
Hannahlee’s nose scrunches. “You sounded like a gay best friend when you said ‘girl’.”
“Got a problem with it?” Cisco raises an eyebrow in the mirror.
“No.” She wrangles back the urge to shake her head, mainly because Cisco grabs the sides of her head to stop her. “Just an observation. As long as you’re not a Nazi or terrorist, I don’t care who or what you are.”
“Good ethics to live by.” Cisco bends, eyes narrowing as he does some last bits of snipping. “Longer hairs just keep popping up.”
“My hair is like that.”
Cisco snorts. “It sprouts hair?”
“You are aware it’s hair? That it does that?”
“Okay, smartie.” Cisco brushes little spurs of hair from the back of Hannahlee’s neck. “I’m done.”
The woman can’t help grinning. “Sure you didn’t miss one?”
“I mean, I can keep going and give you a pixie cut instead of a bob. That’d be cute too.”
Hannahlee turns, making a face. “I’m good. I’ve had pixie cuts before. I’m gonna stick with this for now.”
Cisco almost pouts, but last second he doesn't. He opens his mouth to say something, seems to change his mind, then asks, “Do you even know how to do an interview?”
Hannahlee’s cheeks burn and she sputters. “Yes! I had to be interviewed to have my job at a movie theater!”
Like a Christmas tree, Cisco seemed to light up. “Was that fun? Did you get to see movies for free?”
“Uh.” She's startled, not used to being asked about herself or her world in depth. Dr. Stein had asked, but only general questions. The people, the entertainment, the history… general things. “My coworkers were fun, yeah. One of my closer friends, Amber, worked with me. And yeah, a perk was getting to see free movies. The only perk, really.”
“Dude, that still sounds awesome.” He's grinning like a child, and it actually makes Hannahlee appreciate that she'd had the job at all. Cisco throws an arm across her shoulders, steering her out of the bathroom. “Anyway, I'm still gonna give you a rundown on how to Totally Win An Interview. “
“Ah!” He holds up a hand. “Nope! I'm sure you're just as aware how under-prepped you are for a secretarial job, something Barry probably forgot about in his excitement, and I can totally help with that too. YouTube is a God, after all.”
“The modern age gods.” Hannahlee murmurs, thinking of Media and Tech Boy, and Cisco makes a question noise. She grins sheepishly at him. “Nothing. Just referencing a book.”
“ American Gods .” Hannahlee is a bit sad she won't get to see season 2 of the show for a long while, but is glad she'd finished season 1 while able. “I was reading it before I came here. Luckily had the book in my purse when I came here.”
Admitting that made her chest ache, made her think of a dozen different books she'd rather have had on her person that night, all of them older and more frayed on the edges, spines cracked, loved and cherished far more dearly. But she couldn't change the past and so she pushed it back, pushed it away.
“A little piece of home.”
“Everything in my purse and on my person, yeah.”
They're sliding down a slippery slope. Soon Hannahlee would snap out of her reminiscing and change the subject, want to avoid getting to know these people, and yet… she couldn't shake the desire to know these people as much as they were willing to know her.
“My aunt taught me how to do an interview. Sat me down with a list of possible questions and went through them with me.” Hannahlee admits, looking ahead of them as they return to the Cortex. “Jen is great at that kinda stuff, the teaching you how to adult, even if I don't always ask her for help. If she doesn't have the answer, she can usually find it on YouTube or from a quick google search.”
Her chest is tight, nose burning, but her eyes are dry, heart aching but not as severely as it did at first. Hannahlee knows she'll get home eventually. It's all a matter of biding her time.
“She sounds cool.”
“Well she’s an engineer.” Hannahlee grins at Cisco’s delighted laugh. “She works for DOT, makes road plans and can oversee construction. She's a badass in a male dominated field. Literally all the guys are old white guys in their forties.”
Cisco makes a face. “Ew.”
“Yep. They stress her out. A lot.” Hannahlee drags a hand through her short hair. “But she loves her job. So she keeps it.” Her eyes are drying, the sting leaving the more she talks. “I want to be an English teacher back home. Teach in a foreign country. Write books and be a great author, too.” It feels all so farther away than it originally was now.
“Any places in mind? Japan is popular.”
“It was at first.” She concedes. “But I realized it was really unrealistic plus the country itself isn't the nicest towards women. I think Germany would be good, or a Scandinavian country like Denmark or Sweden. Though I really want to live in Ireland.”
“So what you're sayin’ is,” and Cisco is settled between a smirk and grin, “you wanted to travel the world and then settle in Ireland?”
Ducking her head, Hannah nods. “Yeaaah. It's the one place I've always felt called to.” She shrugs, then she glances up at Cisco. “What about you?”
“Yep.” She realizes Caitlin and Barry aren't around like they had been before she'd been dragged to the bathroom. It makes these easier, not wanting to just dump everything about herself onto these people. Her eyes flicker back to Cisco, and he looks a bit sheepish. “What?”
“I didn't want to always be an engineer. When I was a little kid, I wanted to be a firefighter.” He looks happy as he talks. “Though as I got older, and realized how good I was at building and fixing machines, I realized my true passion.”
“Being an astronaut?” She teases and he laughs.
“Nope. What I am now.”
“A giant nerd.”
“Okay that's enough out of you.” He pokes her side and Hannahlee flinches, sharply, and is quickly out from under his arm, hunched in on herself. Cisco holds up his hands in the “don't shoot” position, surprised by her reaction. “Whoa! I won't do it again.”
Arms wrapped around her sides, she thinks of how Luke always did that until she was bruised, dark purple-blue and painful. Sometimes he'd aim for her armpits too, with all five fingers, and she couldn't lift her arms for a week as the bruising went down. He had stopped a year or two previous when she'd finally punched him so hard his nose broke and she'd screamed until he realized every “stop, it hurts!” wasn't her acting childish. He was big and a bit dumb and far too strong for his own good, and it fucking hurt .
“Sorry.” Hannah murmurs, sheepish. “My brother, Luke, he used to do that. Until I bruised.”
Cisco frowns. “That's not very nice.”
“He didn't really get that it actually hurt.” She slowly lowers her arms, a tiny shiver running down her back at the phantom pain. “Sorry for being so touchy.”
“Dude, its fine.” Cisco walks around her, careful to not move too fast, and it makes Hannahlee itch to be treated so delicately. She had only been treated that way once before, and it was only because she’d…
“Cisco.” She reaches out, veering off that thought course, and he looks back. “Please don’t treat me like I’m fragile. Just don’t poke me and I’ll be fine.”
“Yes.” She nods, and drags him to the monitors. “Teach me how to pass an interview here on your Earth.”
On Friday, about to leave the Labs with Barry for the interview, Hannahlee realizes one big issue.
“Barry, I don’t have an address.”
The Speedster pauses, hand on the handle of the door. “Oh. Well.” He turns to face her, rubbing at his jaw before dragging a hand through his hair. “Use mine.”
The woman blinks back, opening her mouth to reply, finds she’s unable to speak, so she closes her mouth. Trying once more, she manages, “Shouldn't Joe offer that, since it's his house?”
Barry gives a nervous giggle-laugh, rubbing the back of his neck. “Yeah? But I'm the one who got you the job offer without thinking of the fact you don't have a home, so it's kinda my fault.”
“Luckily I have a Social and phone number.” Hannahlee groans. “But I can't put your address! I can't be living in the same house as two of my coworkers!”
“Why?” Barry sounds truly offended. “They're fine with me and Joe living together.”
“Joe is your dad . I'm some random third party.” Hannahlee points out. “That means I don't get a free pass.”
Barry looks at her for a long moment, thinking, then shakes his head. “It'll be fine. Don't worry.”
At the precinct, Barry writes down his address on a piece of paper and Hannahlee pockets it. He leaves her at the mercy of Captain David Singh, who looks the woman over and she twitches just a little.
“Allen gave you a glowing recommendation.” Captain Singh explains once they're in his office. “And I'd like to know why since he hasn't spoken of you before.”
Nervous, Hannahlee asks, ”Isn't there, uh, an application I should, y’know, fill out before the interview?”
“There is.” He assured. “But I want to know your connection to Allen first.”
Hannahlee can't just say “oh, yeah, I'm from a complete other world where this is all a story and his best friend Cisco is my way home. Barry figured I needed a job to look ‘normal’.” It would be funny to see the man’s face, but not worth being thrown in a loony bin or taken seriously and thus outing Barry’s meta status to Captain Singh.
“I- uh.” She flounders, tries to think of something. She'd memorized the identity Oliver had forged for her. He'd given her a homeschool education in Florida with a high school diploma at age 15 and a two-year English degree from FSU. She was an orphan as of three years ago and had moved to Star City to start over with her ‘grandma’ who had also conveniently just kicked the bucket. It still didn't explain why she had come to Central City or her connection to Barry.
Something good. C’mon, quick, Hannah.
She thinks of how shitty a boyfriend half the villains she knows of would be and winces. Don't you do it. It's cliche .
“I had…” Hannahlee swallows, makes herself look vulnerable and uncomfortable. I can’t think of anything better, so here goes . “I was in a bad relationship. I met Barry last year when he was in Starling City and,” oh fuck, pronouns, appeal to him , “ sheeee didn't take kindly to me befriending a guy.”
It’s like watching a wary, lost dog realize you’re not a threat. One second he’s all narrow eyes and tensed shoulders, curious to where this young girl came from and her connection to Barry, and then he’s easing, realizing she’s lost and trying to start over.
“After my grandma died, it got worse and I got scared.” She keeps going, dropping her voice, making sure to touch her wrist like it had been hurt before. Oh my god. I belong in Hell. “Barry said I could call if I ever needed help. I left everything I have to get away from her, she’s no idea where I am and I want to keep it that way.”
Captain Singh doesn’t say anything, mulling over her words. Then he turns his chair a little, opening a cabinet on his desk, and pulls out a few stapled papers. He holds them out to her.
“I want you to fill these out and then bring them back promptly.”
Hannahlee hesitates, hands trembling from the amount of lying she’d done, how it could so easily crumble down around her with just a little bit of digging. Oliver’s hard work would be ruined and Barry’s career would be tarnished. But she takes the papers, realizes it’s the application she’d asked about.
“You can do it here, or elsewhere.” He goes on, half-casually, the edges of his eyes soft and she really does feel terrible. He didn’t deserve that. “Allen is up in his lab if you’d like to do it there. I’d imagine you’d like the help. He mentioned you haven’t had a job before.”
“Th-thank you, sir.” Hannahlee manages out, still trembling just a little.
“By the way,” he says when she gets up and to the door, and she looks at him, “you’re not alone here, if you’re worried about that. About a fifth of the precinct is open. Including myself.”
Hannahlee stands up a bit straighter, clutches the application harder. Yep. I belong in Hell. He’s gonna give me the job because of sympathy and pity . “Thank you.”
He nods, turns away to look over a report. “Allen is up the left staircase and at the end of the hallway on your left.”
She doesn’t want to say “thank you” again and sound like a broken record, so she nods and leaves quick, making for Barry’s lab.
Hannahlee enters so quick her shoes slide on the floor and she very nearly trips if Barry hadn’t realized it was her and used his speed to catch her. He sets her on her feet, eyebrows hiked up.
“Did he scare you that much? I know Captain Singh can be intimidating but…”
“I told him I left Starling because of an abusive girlfriend. And I met you when you went to Starling right before the Accelerator blew.”
It comes out in a rushed, jumbled mess, and if not for Barry’s own speed he’d probably have not understood a word of what she just said.
“That’s… not hard to prove?” Barry looks unsure, and it makes her more worried.
“Nothing. It’s just… why did you tell him that?”
“Because it’s the first thing that came to mind that no one is going to pry about.” Hannahlee responds. “And I'm not gonna hide the fact I like all genders when the captain is gay, meaning he kinda gets it.”
“You do?” Barry looks completely surprised.
“Well, yeah. It's not obvious .” She picks at her elbow, nails scraping until it stings so hard she might have broke skin. “But I do. There just needs to be a deep emotional connection for my attraction to really form. Though,” and her cheeks visibly pink a little, “I don't always have to for aesthetic reasons. With fictional characters, at least.”
“Does all this still count as fiction?” It's an honest question, curiosity fueling it, and Hannahlee actually doesn't know. She keeps telling herself this may be real now , but eventually it'll all be in the past and these people won't be real anymore.
“I don't… know how to answer that.” Her own voice is soft, unsure. “I mean, everyone is hot, but I'm also aware that I won't be here for long. So I kinda ignore whatever I thought pretty about certain people, even with the opportunity to get to know them presented to me.” She shrugs, feeling a bit helpless. Hannahlee decides to go for a bit of joking, grinning weakly. “Besides, no matter how multi-faceted and cool Snart is, it's definitely not in my best interest to try and get to know him. My heart’ll only get broken because I am so not his type.”
Barry instead looks stunned. “You like Snart ?”
“I did.” Actually still does but she's not stupid. Caitlin and Cisco may be somewhat okay about it, aware that Hannahlee won't do anything, but Barry wouldn’t be, no matter how much good he saw in Leonard Snart. He'd immediately think about the confrontation at Ferris Air and how she'd reacted to him interrogating her about it. “He was fictional and suave and I'm weak for tall, lanky, dark haired antiheroes with tragic backstories.”
Oh whoops. She hadn't meant to add that last bit about backstories. Hannahlee can see the second Barry realizes Snart may be more than what he appears and she decides to bring his attention back to the real issue.
“In any matter, Captain Singh now thinks I have a tragic past and am hiding from an abusive ex.” She holds up her application. “I've probably got the job just because of that, the fact I'm not straight, and him thinking of your ‘bleeding heart’. He also said you can help me fill this out since I've apparently never had a job before.”
Barry grins sheepishly. “I told Oliver you should have work experience but he said it'd be hard to get without it looking fishy if your employer decided to contact your old one.”
“He's not wrong.” She agrees sadly. “Now where's a pen?”
Hannahlee takes maybe half an hour to do the whole thing, and when she goes back to Captain Singh, he looks over the application quickly, but meticulously. Then he sets it down.
“You wrote down Detective West and Allen’s address.” He points out. “Are you currently living with them?”
Hannahlee nods, urging herself to stay calm. “Yeah. I only have about two hundred dollars to my name right now, and they offered to,” she decides to just go with the flow, pretend to be a random character, “to let me stay until I could, y’know,” she fidgets again, decides that it’s a good way to show discomfort with seeking help and telling so much about herself to a stranger, “get my own place.”
He nods, watching her for a long, drawn moment, then sighs. “If we do a follow-up, you’ll receive a call in the next 72 hours.”
The displaced woman’s eyes light up, legitimately hopeful and excited. “Really?” Right after she wants to smack herself for how much louder and higher her voice gets, but it’s too late. Luckily, Captain Singh appears to think it cute and smiles just a fraction. It’s gone a second later, stern and all-business.
“If you do get the job, do not think it will be easy just because you told me why you’re here. Being a receptionist is an actual hard-working job. It’s not just phone calls and notes. You organize and pull files for officers, make sure the lab has everything it needs, the break room is stocked, that the entire building is up to code.”
“I’m the runner for pretty much everyone here.” She responds, and he nods. “I can do that. Once I learn my way around, learn what’s expected of me, I can multi-task like no one’s business.”
“Good.” He looks past her to the door, and Hannahlee turns slightly, able to see the shadowy outline of Barry on the other side of the foggy glass window of Captain Singh’s door. “Allen, why are you standing behind the door when you know full well I can see your outline?”
Barry laughs a bit, coming around the door. “Sorry, sir. I was,” he falters, nervous under Captain Singh’s glare, “I have a report ready.”
He closes his eyes and Hannahlee is pretty sure he mutters, “Great, two high-strung young adults. Just what I wanted.”
He dismisses Hannahlee and takes the report, and Barry gives her a thumbs up and grin when he exits. Her own grin is far less enthusiastic and far more terrified.
Thankfully, she does get the job.
“You don’t talk much about yourself.”
Hannahlee looks up, meeting Detective Esposito’s eyes. “I don’t know why that’s important.” She responds, slowly. “My business is my own.”
“Just strange.” She leans against the high counter that cocoons the younger woman into her own little space, blocking her computer from view. Hannahlee moves her cursor upwards, easily logging out of her new blog she’d been messing around with the last few days and closing the window. “You popped up pretty much right after that freaky hole in the sky the Flash and his burning friend stopped, and you’re somehow friends with Barry but no one but West has ever heard of you before.”
“I don’t see how that’s relevant.” Hannahlee frowns at the cop, voice even. “It’s no one’s business but my own.”
“I wouldn’t really say that seeing as-”
She nearly springs out of her seat when Cisco comes in, Caitlin behind him. “Are you ready to go to lunch?”
“Yes, I am.”
Careful to not look at Detective Esposito, she logs out of the computer and places away the files she’d been marking for one of Joe’s cases.
“Lemme grab my purse.”
Everyone in the precinct already knew Hannahlee by her ugly purse, even with that day marking it as her fourth week there. She’d been on Earth-1 (or as she’d started to call it Earth-1.5, because hers would come first) for nearly eight weeks. It was a lot easier than it had originally been, though that was maybe owed to her own coping mechanism becoming a blog she shouldn’t have started and her burying herself under as much paperwork as possible outside of the blog and Flash business. It was amazingly unhealthy but she didn’t know what else to do, because talking about home just made it hurt.
Once a week, she’d taken to having lunch with company otherwise she’d skip right through her hour break. When she’d first asked Caitlin to join her, Cisco had jumped on board and even Barry decided he’d join them on occasion too. The team was a lot closer than Hannahlee had ever thought, or maybe she hadn’t noticed it until being included in it. But it gave her another distraction, and it honestly felt good to have people who knew her here.
“Hellooooo.” Cisco calls, hand waving in her face and Hannahlee jumps, stumbling back, and Caitlin quickly steadies her. Cisco has a worried crease between his eyebrows, Caitlin vaguely similiar with her sharp frown. “You doing okay? I mean, you’ve been off the last couple weeks but,” he glances around the sidewalk, “you don’t usually zone out like that.”
“Got a lot on my mind.”
Being honest, Hannahlee doesn’t. She also knows it’s healthy to share what’s bothering you, however. Her (former? Does it count even if she’s going home?) therapist Harold would definitely think so.
“Not right now.” Easy to deflect. Means she doesn’t have to answer right then, or ever if both conveniently forgot.
“We are here for you.” Caitlin reminds, own tone light. It’s a good sign for Caitlin, showing she may not be moving on from Ronnie yet, but is on the road to recovery.
“I know, Cait.” She swears, and the bioengineer gives her an assessing glance over. “Really, I do. It’s just…” Her want to not say anything crumbles. “The usual issues. Wanting to go home, wanting to be able to talk with my friends and play with my dog, have homework and transition-into-adulthood issues to deal with. It’s… really hard to handle this sometimes.”
“Looks like it’s been really hard to handle the last two weeks.” Cisco points out as they enter Jitters. They apparently sold bagels and little foods, much like Starbucks did. They’d just gotten a tea menu, too, which was fantastic for Hannahlee. “You’ve kinda buried yourself in paperwork.”
“It that obvious?” She asks as they get into the queue. It’s just a few people ahead of them, so it won’t take long.
“You forget that Joe and Barry work with you. They’ve mentioned how usually going home means the work stays at work. Especially for secretaries that aren’t personal ones.” Caitlin explains. “So yes, it is obvious.”
“I can understand not wanting to face the fact you don’t have anyone you recognize around,” Hannahlee wants to protest, wants to say she recognizes them, but knows that isn’t what Caitlin means, “but it isn’t healthy. And we are your-” Caitlin pauses, and both women are thinking back to when Hannahlee had told her she didn’t want to become attached to people here, and even then Caitlin had told her it wasn't healthy to isolate herself. “We are here for you, like you are for us.”
Maybe Hannahlee really shouldn’t hide behind so much work.
She'd probably fall back into doing that if things got tough. But she was aware of that, and could stop herself if she realized early enough.
“Thanks.” The two share a small smile.
“Don't make me feel left out guys.” Cisco whines. “Those smiles are so secretive I thought you were apart of the Brotherhood of Mutants.”
Hannahlee spins to face him quick.
“You guys have X-men here?”
Cisco grins and Caitlin rolls her eyes.
“I don't have one. Mainly because Magneto is the shit and I feel it's a betrayal to him to have a fave X-man.”
“Of course you're favorite mutant is a murderous villain.” Cisco laughs.
“Unlike some we know about,” and the woman grins even more as Caitlin sighs, turning around to give her order, “he is a victim of his surroundings and is only a villain because he wholly believes grown humans will always end up trying to destroy what they do not understand, and those who are apart of the Brotherhood think similarly because of similar experiences. Don't forget he has a number on his arm and has seen the worst of humanity upfront and far too personally.”
“Good reasoning.” Cisco concedes. “Still murder. Doesn't make him any better.”
“So I suppose me punching a Nazi in the face makes me no better than one?” She raises an eyebrow, utterly aware she's referencing something that hasn't happened yet. She doesn't even know if that does happen here.
“Punching a Nazi in the face is an order from God and will always make you better than one.” He responds. “But killing masses of innocent people because you think they'll eventually turn against you? That makes you no better.”
“Your order?” The barista asks, looking shy from interrupting their conversation, and Cisco orders his coffee then Hannahlee orders a green tea. “Anything else?”
“Nope. The name for the order is Cisco.” Hannahlee slides in front of the man in question, presenting a twenty from her pocket before Caitlin or him can do anything. “And you can keep the change.”
“I'm offended you paid for me when you used my name for the order.” Cisco states as the three move to the pick-up queue. “I should have done that.”
“I like to spend money on my frie–” Hannahlee catches herself, flustered, and Cisco looks halfway hopeful and halfway surprised. Correcting herself, she says, “I like paying for others.”
“Well so do I.” Cisco responds. “Particularly my friends.”
She bites her cheek, eyes soft. “Guess we’ll be fighting over that a lot then, huh?”
He smirks. “Yep.”
“I like doing the same.” Caitlin points out. “I just tend to be more willing to split the bill if it's offered, unlike you two.”
“I mean, I wouldn’t say no.” Hannahlee agrees. “But I’ve gotten used to most people around me not having the money to pay when I do.”
Cisco makes a face, passing Caitlin her drink when it’s brought up. “What kind of friends do you have?”
“Ones without jobs and parents who won’t give them money for lunch.” Hannah shrugs, pleased when she gets her tea, cupping her palms around it with a hum of contentment. “Just gotta add sugar and cream and I’m set.”
She was aware of the blasphemy of adding cream to green tea, having had Bailey and Stacey get on her ass about it more than once. It didn’t negate the fact she loved the taste of it. Hannahlee was just particular like that.
The trio sits at a table near the windows, talking about Cisco’s recent updates to the Pipeline to negate meta-powers and his work on making power dampening cuffs. Hannahlee was more verbal on her excitement over the cuffs, and even recommended eventually reaching out to Iron Heights to talk about creating a metahuman wing.
“I totally planned to.” Cisco nods. “Just need to work out the kinks on the cuffs first. It’s hard to do without a test subject.”
“You could use Barry as a tester.” Caitlin offers, voice dropping even lower. “And if I’m successful on pinpointing the metagene, then it’ll get easier.”
“You think so?” Hannahlee looks to Caitlin with surprise.
Caitlin nods. “It’s much like the research being done to cure cancer. You have to find the specific gene or cell, and find a way to destroy or put to sleep the gene.” She takes a long sip of her coffee. “It sounds very Gattaca or even The Island but that’s the way science is heading.”
“I can’t even express how happy I am you’ve seen those two movies.” Hannahlee tells Caitlin. “And it’s the same on my earth too. But we are definitely a lot slower. If the Library of Alexandria hadn’t been lit up like the Fourth, we’d have been on the moon in the 1800’s, I’m pretty sure.”
“We lost that too.” Cisco assures.
“Then lemme reword that.” Hannahlee rolls some ideas around in her head. “You guys don’t have a presidential dictator in Russia’s pocket and the threat of a war with North Korea over your heads. You can focus on your science and bettering mankind.”
Cisco hisses between his teeth. “Remind me to not step foot on your world.”
Her heart twinges, and her look falters a bit. But she’s able to put up a front. “Sure. I’m sure Carlos Valdes would lose his shit if he got to meet you though.”
He looks pensive. “Is that my… actor?”
“Yep.” She nods. “He did the Women’s March on Washington last year with a couple other actors, like Caitlin’s and Wells’s. He’s lit.”
“The idea of me doing a march with Wellsobard is… terrifying.” Cisco says, curling just a little over his coffee.
“His actor is actually pretty funny and super nerdy, from what I recall. Total opposite of Wells.” Taking a deep drink from her tea, Hannahlee sighs a little. “I didn’t actually do much looking into your individual actors. I like leaving actors alone, because their life is their life and at least it should be private. But Tumblr can be pretty rowdy. So I come across things.”
“Like?” Caitlin prods.
“Uh,” the woman has to think, “Wentworth Miller- Cold’s actor- returning to a specific show I can’t talk about because of timeline purposes, but I was legit excited because the writer’s pulled some stupid shit in the first season and lost I think a fourth of the fan base. Barry’s is engaged apparently. There was something about Canadian basketball and Wells at one point? But I don’t like sports much so…” She shrugs. “It’s a lot of random things. I mainly read of lot of…”
Her eyes get big and she ducks her head, pulling her tea up to her mouth. “Nevermind.”
Caitlin and Cisco narrow their eyes at her, an impish grin tugging on the engineer’s lips. “Oh? What did you read.”
“None of your business.” The displaced woman takes a sip of her tea, attempting to hide the growing flush in her cheeks. “Absolutely nothing to do with you. Not at all.”
“Now I’m curious.” Caitlin tilts her head a fraction, eyebrow raised and pulling out the ‘I am going to find out’ face. “Tell us. It can’t be that bad.”
“You’d definitely think so if I told you.” She huffs. “So I’m not.”
“We promise not to tell anyone else. Just between us girls.” Cisco offers, eyes nearly glowing in excitement. “This is a once in a lifetime opportunity and it's so weird but so awesome. Please tell us.”
“Cisco, no. ”
He sits back with a mock-grumpy face. “Fine.”
“I’m not really comfortable talking about it with people who are now, for me, real.” Hannahlee explains. “I don't think I'll be able to read or watch anything concerning you guys in any capacity ever again once I go home.”
Those last four words seem to ruin the mood, reminding the trio that this was only a brief moment to their lives. Cisco and Caitlin would keep fighting the good fight and, eventually, Hannahlee wouldn't be. She would go home to a normal life and eventually they would forget all about this impossible encounter.
Barry appears before Hannahlee like a wraith, and she almost jumps. Then she levels him with a confused look, closing the file she'd been highlighting for Joe and capping the fluorescent blue highlighter she’d been using.
Noticing the small bounce Barry was doing on the balls of his feet, she asks, “What?”
“It's almost lunch time.” He points out, friendly with a side of anxious.
“So?” She raises an eyebrow, confused to why but starting to guess.
“Let's go get lunch next door.” He balls his hand up, thumb stuck out, and jerks it over his shoulder. If Hannahlee stood and leaned sideways, she'd see him motioning to The Sidecar, an old diner she distinctly recalls in Leonard Snart’s first monologue. Her eyes turn to Barry, wondering if he knows just how greasy and bad that food would be, no matter how fast his metabolism was. Hannahlee would definitely be regretting it pretty fast, and him in likely double the time. “Joe swears the burgers are amazing.”
“Iiiii’d rather not.” She admits after a brief mental debate. “I like greasy food as much as the next American, but that's like… triple digit greasy. And my stomach will murder me.”
“There's a cafe just down the way.” He offers, and his eyes flicker left and right, looking for something.
The woman’s eyes narrow. “Barry why are you trying to get me out of the precinct so fast?”
His eyes snap back to hers. “No reason. Just thought you were hungry.”
You shitty ass liar , she thinks. What did you do?
“They have amazing tomato soup. Let's go.”
“I don't like tom–”
Joe’s voice reaches them from the top left and Barry visibly panics at the stern Dadness of it.
“ Hannah .” He whines, pleadingly, giving her giant puppy eyes and rocking into the counter as though it could hide him, and she sighs, grabbing her purse from under her seat and logging out of her computer. She sets the “out to lunch” plate on the desk and lets Barry quickly escort her to the door and outside to the street.
“You owe me. Now Joe is gonna be cross with me, for helping you and not finishing the highlights on that report.”
“That's not even your job as a general secretary.” The Speedster is still antsy as they walk down the street, glancing over his shoulder to see if they were being tailed. “You get files or reports, you don't highlight them.”
“Tell that to half the cops in there. Besides it gives me something to do other than fetch coffee. I know half the drink orders now. And it's only been two months.”
They reach the cafe, a little corner place called Le Noir Chat Cafe , and take a seat on the patio, the mild summer weather nice for an outdoor lunch. The humor of the cafe’s name isn't lost on her, and wonders if Miraculous Ladybug is airing yet.
“So,” Hannahlee sets her purse under her seat, eyes lifting to hold Barry's embarrassed gaze, “what did you do to make Joe go into Reproachful Dad Mode?”
“Uh,” he scratches at the back on his ear, glancing away, “he found out about, well… how you used the house as your address.”
Hannahlee frowns. “You never told him? What the hell, Barry?”
“I forgot!” He admits. “And Captain Singh never said anything, so I figured it didn't matter!”
“Then how did Joe find out something he should have known in the first place?” Hannahlee demands. “That's a pretty important detail, seeing as it implies I live with him on a daily basis!”
Barry mutters, the words fast and near inaudible with Hannahlee’s selectively shit hearing. “I literally understood none of that. I don't speak Quick Mumble.”
“Captain Singh asked him why you weren't arriving when Joe did… since he scheduled Joe and you at the same time for easy access to work.”
“ Oh my Dagda ,” she curses. “ That's why Joe and Eddie have been working the same hours as me since I started working?”
Barry winces. “Yeah?”
Hannahlee sighs harshly out her nose, covering her face with her hands. “Singh is going to kill me with these niceties and that's only the second nice thing he's ever done for me.” Sitting up, the woman rubs under her eyes. “So, did Joe let slip I don't actually live with him?”
“No.” Barry shakes his head. “At least, not from what Singh said when he asked why Joe and you were acting like we weren't all sharing the same house. He said, ‘I understand if she finds it awkward to be sharing a home with you and Detective West, but it's nothing to be ashamed of. Starting over with nothing is hard.’”
“He's killin’ me with the feels.”
“That doesn't sound too good.” Barry jokes, weakly.
“We’re gonna have to talk to Joe about this, I hope you understand.” She huffs. “It wasn't right and when did I become the responsible one ?”
Barry is taken aback by the forcefulness and uncomfortable segue into the question. “Uh. I don't… know?”
Hannahlee shakes her head, having expected a completely different answer and being given another reminder that this place, and these people, weren't hers. She was supposed to receive a sarcastic or sassy reply. “Nevermind. I’m just a bit tired. I didn’t sleep well last night.”
She hadn’t been sleeping well since she’d arrived on Earth-1.5 three months ago. Hannahlee had lost count of how often she’d stayed awake all night, wandering the halls of STAR Labs and sometimes even taking walks around the outside of the building, feeling trapped and like she was starting to drown.
She takes a deep breath as Barry speaks. “You don’t look to have slept well in a while.”
I haven't. Hannahlee laughs a little. “When don't I look that way?”
For a brief moment, she can see Barry is about to say something that isn't what she expected. That he will point out how she's looking more tired than normal, or maybe even more sad, but then he doesn't.
She twitches, just a fraction, and she reaches for a menu to occupy herself. “A bit. No worse than it was before I came here.” Opening it, Hannahlee changes the subject. The clear cut hangs in the air like a dead weight. “I don't like tomato soup, Barry. Other than ketchup, I avoid tomatoes.”
Barry and her meet eyes, he looks ready to tug the conversation back around. “It is kinda hot out for soup anyway. They've got a great club sandwich on rye.”
“The only way I can willingly eat rye.”
“You don't like rye bread?” Barry looks absolutely heartbroken and Hannahlee feels no pity.
“The seeds get stuck in my teeth and it drives me mad as a hatter.” Hannahlee shrugs. “But I can eat it if it's a club. I guess it's a taste over discomfort thing. I have the same issue with strawberries.”
“No worse than having that phobia of holes.”
“There's a phobia of holes?”
“Yep. There's even a phobia of phobias.”
“Why I didn't know that breaks my heart.”
The two order their drinks and meals when the waitress comes by. It's mostly small talk after that point, the two unsure what else to talk about with the fact Joe needed to have a Talk™ with them (and Hannahlee was most definitely going to be there for that).
“I think we should talk to him right after your shift ends.” Hannahlee tells Barry near the end of their lunch, halfway through her sandwich and ready to have it boxed up to finish for dinner. If she had the appetite. While her regular appetite had returned, she still only ate once or twice a day, stemming from the fact she'd never eaten three meals a day since she was about eleven. It hadn't been economically plausible and then when it was, she'd never found the ability to change.
She pulls out her phone to check the time, seeing they still have fifteen minutes to get back to work (though the captain went to lunch at 12:30 so they only had to get back before him). “He deserves to know.”
“I’m glad to see someone agrees.”
Barry’s face at Joe’s voice is comical, though she imagines she looks similar when she looks up and sees Joe coming up, leaning against the wrought iron fence surrounding the cafe’s patio. Her heart is hammering against her chest, claws of panic dragging up the back of her throat, and Hannahlee swallows back the need to bolt when the single father levels them both with his Disapproving Look™.
Hannahlee presses her lips flat, hands dropping to her lap and curling into the fabric of her pants, head tilting forward to tuck her chin. She takes a soothing breath, telling herself that Joe doesn’t yell and he’s not angry, just disappointed. Nothing to be scared of.
He’s not Dad. You’ve got this.
When she tunes back in, head canting upwards, Joe is around the fence and pulling up a seat, sitting with the two. Barry shuffles closer to Hannahlee so there’s room for him, elbow bumping hers. He hasn’t taken his eyes off Joe.
“Now, I’m not mad,” Joe begins, and he’s looking directly at Hannahlee, and he knows . She’s never hinted at what her own childhood used to be, but he knows from how she’d reacted, how her head had dipped in a protective measure, hands hiding themselves. All she can do is blink, giving a shaky smile, a single jerk of her head saying she understood.
Barry’s looks at her, wondering what had just happened, but Joe keeps going, stopping any question she might have been asked by the Speedster.
“ However , this is definitely something I should have been included in the decision of from the beginning.” Joe looks to Barry. “And I know you mainly did it because she definitely doesn’t know our address.”
“Ah,” Joe holds up a hand when Hannahlee tries to intervene and she shrinks back on instinct. Joe looks a little wounded at her reaction and there’s a gleam of realization sparking behind Barry’s eyes as Joe slowly lowers his hand, shifting in his seat so he looks open and non-threatening. “I get you agreed, but that’s because you can’t list STAR Labs as your residency. And I’m guessing, knowing you two, neither of you realized that tidbit until the morning of?”
“No. We didn’t.” She mutters, looking away.
“And that answers that.” Joe sighs, closing his eyes for a long moment. “I’m not okay with you using my house as your address-”
Hannahle’s head snaps up as Barry sits up, nearly leaning fully across the table to grab Joe as he pleads, “But Joe, she doesn’t-”
“Let me finish.” Joe interjects, giving Barry a sharp look, and the super-powered CSI goes quiet. He turns fully to Hannahlee, who looks like a deer in headlights, throat tight and hands shaking against her knees. Her eyes and cheeks feel hot. “I’m not okay with you using my house as your address,” he repeats, “ unless you live there too.”
“What?” It’s a tight sound, dragged out by her shock. A small tremble runs down her spine, as though a cold wind had blown down her shirt. “Joe, I can’t , I don't have any right to.”
“Far as I'm concerned, you shoulda been at my place since you got here. Living in that place, staying there all the time, when it's mostly empty.” He shakes his head. “No matter my misgivings when we first met, you're still a child. Leaving you there is abandonment if I've ever seen it.”
Her eyes prickle, and her face is hot as hell, nose tightening. She's full on shivering now. “I–” Her throat clogs, her skin feels too tight, too foreign. She wants to claw out of her body and hide in the deepest part of the ocean to keep from facing this.
Hannahlee shoots to her feet, ignoring the alarmed looks from Barry and Joe. The patrons around them have gone dead silent. “I ca-” The first tear finds her eyelash, breaks away in sync with another, and she full on bolts.
“Hannah!” Barry yells, moving to follow but Joe latches onto his forearm. He rounds on his adopted father. “Joe, I can't just let her go!”
“You can and will.” He responds, clearly brooking no argument with his shuttered expression. “She needs time to think.”
“She was terrified.”
“She's trying not to get attached to anyone here.” Joe shakes his head. “Let her think. We both know she should be staying with us, or at least Caitlin or Cisco, and the fact she wasn't was horribly wrong.”
“We didn't think about it.”
“Didn't we?” Joe raises an eyebrow. “You wouldn't have offered to let her use our address as hers if it hadn't crossed your mind once before at least . I don't think Caitlin thought about it, because she just lost Ronnie, but Cisco and Hannah catch like a house on fire and he'd love her as a roommate.” The detective shakes his head once more. “That place is like a ghost town, and she couldn't hide her dislike of how we kept the other metas down in the Pipeline. The fact two people have died there? Only makes it worse.”
Joe nods to Hannahlee’s half-eaten sandwich. “Get that boxed for her. She may want to eat it later.”
Hannahlee manages to avoid the team for the rest of the day and Joe has to tell the captain that she got sick during lunch and he took her back home, explaining why Barry and him were late returning to the precinct. She's not at STAR Labs that evening, confirmed by Cisco and Caitlin to have not been around at all.
Outwardly, Joe isn't worried about much with how quiet the metas of Central City have been the last couple months or about how Hannahlee had just up and disappeared to calm down. Barry on the other hand is antsy, pacing, checking the door and around the Labs multiple times before Joe finally made him go on a burger run.
“No activity is a good thing.” Joe tells him when he gets back, meeting the scarlet speedster at the door. “Everyone is still regrouping after that black hole ripped open above the city and that's a good thing. Relax.”
“Joe, I don't know what else to do.” Since Ronnie’s death, Barry hadn't looked so desperate. “I want to help her but I can't.”
Ah. There it is. Joe had slung an arm over Barry’s shoulder, dragging him to the Cortex as he talks.
“Son, the best you can do is let her think, like I've been telling you. She doesn't strike me as the type to normally run unless she really has to. And frankly, she currently has nowhere to run, so any place she's gone has to be obvious. Like a library or something.” Barry straights a little and Joe’s hold tightens. “That does not mean you go hunt her down. That'll just make her angry and feel like she's lost all her autonomy.”
Barry sags into Joe and the father sighs a little. “If you're that upset over this, then talk to her after she gets back and after I talk to her about what I offered.”
Joe pats Barry on the shoulder and grabs one of the bags from Barry.
Joe is the first to leave that night after Iris and Eddie stop by, heading home with stress lining his shoulders and a tired tilt to his gait.
He closes his car door and has barely taken a step toward the house when he hears the quiet creak of the porch. Joe nearly has his gun out when he realizes it's Hannahlee, halfway standing on the steps, eyes big as saucers with her eyes directly on the gun, looking like she's been confronted by Death herself.
She looks at every gun that way and not for the first time he wonders what happened to have her so skittish of them, even now that she has handled one and shot a psychopathic murderer with it.
“Hannah.” Joe sags, bolstering his gun after flicking the safety back on. “Don't scare me like that, baby girl.”
“Don't call me that.”
It's knee jerk, a half-heartbroken plea. Her look of terror has morphed into one of utter despair. Joe realizes a moment later that her own father may have called her that, once upon a time.
“Sorry.” He meets her at the porch. “Old habits.”
“It's…” Hannahlee doesn't finish the sentence, can't because it wasn't okay or alright. She was struggling with a huge loss and her wounds had been jabbed. Maybe in another two or three months she wouldn't be so wary but until then she couldn't say that. “Joe, I'm sorry for running off. You were trying to be nice, and to fix the situation me and Barry caused, and I just…” Her eyes stay tilted down to her feet, unsure of herself, nervous about this entire thing.
“Hey,” he settles a careful hand on her shoulder, feels the skin under his palm twitching and jumping before relaxing, her releasing a slow breath. She mumbles something, too quiet for him to hear, and looks up though her hair at him, shame clear. “I'm not mad at you. I backed you into a corner, and it startled you.”
“Joe…” A small tremble runs down her spine, settling in her hands where they rest awkwardly at her sides, and for a moment Joe debates carrying this conversation. But she’s clearly still too close to tears for it.
“C’mon, let’s go inside.” Joe takes his hand away to unlock the door. “Have you eaten yet?”
Hannahlee shakes her head mutely, following him in. Her ugly purse is still strapped across her chest and Joe can’t believe he didn’t notice it until she’s taking it off, hesitating before settling it by the door.
Joe’s initial response is to scold her since it’s nearly ten at night, instead he pulls out his leftover meatloaf from the fridge. Iris hated the stuff while Eddie and Barry loved it, so when they had the family dinner this past friday, he’d made it.
It’s as he’s plating a slice that Joe realizes this is the first time Hannahlee has ever been here, and she found her way without help. He glances at her while popping the covered plate in the microwave, how she’s taking in everything with a sort of awe he wasn’t used to, questions how she got here and how long she’d sat on that porch.
Her eyes swing around the kitchen, hands running along the dark wood countertop on the kitchen island with a gentleness he didn’t expect. She’s taking in the dark-stained cabinets with wonder, looking over the soft blue walls with a strange contentment. Then she meets his gaze and clams up.
“S-sorry. I just-” Her head ducks, face flushed. “I always wondered what the kitchen looked like. I love baking and… this is perfect for it.”
“You’re welcome to use it any time.” Joe leans back, watches the open debate on her face. It’s in her eyes mainly, able to shutter her baby round face but not her eyes, a bright hazel that usually leaned toward amber-flecked brown in her work clothes. “Regardless of you living here or not.”
“Joe, I-” Hannahlee swallows. “I really am sorry for running away. And I understand if you don’t actually want me here and just offered as a courtesy.”
This time he has to take a moment, eyebrows hiked to his hairline and gobsmacked at her words. Sure, he offered after being told by his captain she’d supposedly been living with him for three months, but it was an honest offer because he’d realized it wasn’t right leaving her alone so much.
Shaking his head, Joe closes his eyes. “It wasn’t a courtesy. I meant it honestly.” The microwave beeps and he takes out the plate, sliding it across the countertop to Hannahlee. She grabs it, looking from it to him quickly. “I would be very glad to have you here. Whether you want to be here or not is up to you. But the Labs is no place for someone to live.”
Her mouth twists, eyes flashing with something that Joe realizes a second later is knowledge. Something will happen in relation to the Labs and she clearly can't tell him.
Joe moves to the silverware drawer, pulling out a fork and holding it out to her. “Eat. I'm not worried about getting an answer tonight.”
Barely above a whisper, Hannahlee drops her head and pulls the paper towel off. She digs her fork in, getting a small fork full of the meatloaf on it, while Joe pulls out a beer for himself and gets a glass of water for her.
“It's tastes almost like Jimmy’s…”
It's loud, clearly said without thinking, and Joe smiles a little.
“Glad it tastes like home.” He sets the glass of water before her. “Jimmy’s a place?”
The girl bites the inside of her cheek briefly before talking. “He’s my uncle. No ones ever made a meatloaf as good as his.”
“Had a lot of meatloaf in your life?” He jokes.
Hannahlee grins a little. “Well, yeah. My grandma could make one too. And my dad ‘cos my grandma taught him.”
“He never taught you?”
“I never really wanted to learn cooking. Not as a kid, anyway.” Hannahlee shrugs, takes a long drink of the water he'd given her. “I've always liked baking though. One Christmas, my parents saved up and got me an e-z bake oven. I used it so much it broke. Though that may have been because I figured out how to cook a brownie at a time from real brownie batter.” She grins really wide at that, immersed in a memory.
It slides off a moment later, and she ducks her head. “Sorry, I know you don't like hearing about my world.”
“I never said that.” Joe shakes his head. “I said I didn't like talkin’ about me being a fictional character.”
She gives him a single, slow blink, lips parted in surprise. “Oh.”
A long and calm silence settles between them then, broken by the occasional sound of Hannahlee’s fork touching the plate. She looks lost in thought and Joe is content to let her be. When she finishes eating he takes the plate and fork and rinses them off, placing them in the dishwasher, leaving her to hold onto her cup of water like the world depended on it.
“You can sleep on the couch tonight.” Joe offers, waits for Hannahlee to look at him with a wary, unsure visage. “It's late and I ain't gonna let you go back tonight.”
He shakes his head. “Don't worry about it. I'd give you the spare room but I haven't made Barry move any of the boxes to the garage yet and Iris hasn't gotten all of her things from her bedroom yet.”
His eyes narrow on her a bit, taking in what she's wearing. Then he huffs. “You won't fit anything of Iris’s. Barry might have an old college shirt and a pair of sweats he won't miss…” Joe is already making way for the stairs and Hannahlee can't do anything but watch him.
A while later, after some shuffling and creaking floorboard, Joe is back. He has an old CCU tee and sweatpants for her. “Trust me when I tell you he won't miss these. Can't believe Barry still has this shirt when he hasn't worn it in years.”
Hannahlee takes them, clutching them to her chest. “Are you sure it's okay? I mean, I–” She swallows. “I don't wanna get in the way.”
Laying his hands on her shoulders, he bends so their faces are more levels “Hannah, you won't. You are welcome here. Dunno how many more times I gotta tell you, but you are.”
There's an emotion on her face, warring with the clear yearning to say yes, and her entire look crumbles. “Okay,” she breaths, nodding. “I'll stay the night. In the morning I'll,” she swallows, “in the morning I'll tell you if I want to stay or not.”
“If that's what you want.” He pats her shoulders and pulls away. “I'll go find a spare toothbrush for you.”
“Thank you.” Hannahlee doesn't ask for the bathroom, she just follows him upstairs and after he sets down the toothbrush she closes the door after him.
Hannahlee waits until he's headed down the hall go drop her head to the door, breathing in as deeply as able before slowly releasing the breath.
She wanted to stay here. More than she should have. STAR Labs was lonely and cold and it echoed at night. But it kept her from getting overly attached to the team. Staying here, or with any of them, wouldn't be conductive to her keeping her distance.
After a long moment, Hannahlee pulls away from the door and changes into Barry’s things. The pants are stupidly loose considering how skinny Barry was and how skinny she wasn't and she has to pull the drawstring nearly all the way out just to tie enough to stay on her. The shirt is a bit tight in the best (and stomach, and arms, and–) but she won't complain. Not when her other option is a rumbled button down that pinches in the shoulders a bit while the shirt didn't.
Joe is dropping a pillow at one end of the couch when she comes down the stairs. He has a sheet laid across it with a comforter over that.
“I like sleeping on couches, if I'm honest.” She says after a long moment, and Joe’s eyebrows raise in a silent question. “They feel softer, I guess. I dunno.” There's a helpless shrug thrown in.
Hannahlee doesn't elaborate further, simply looks at the bed longingly, and almost sadly. There's a lot of history behind her safety in sleeping on a couch, but she'd never tell why. Sometimes, Hannahlee didn't really understand why either.
“Well,” Joe shifts, looking half cop and half worried dad, then the first seems to fall away and be replaced by awkwardness, “I texted Barry and told him you were here so to be quiet when he came in.” On cue his phone dings but Joe doesn't so much as twitch to grab it. “Need anything before I head up to bed?”
With a shake of her head, Hannahlee walks over to the couch. She briefly debates waiting to sit until he’d left but caves shortly after, sinking into the cushions gladly.
“If you need anything, I’m in the last room on the left.” Joe tells her. “Barry is on the right, middle door.”
“Thanks.” She grins briefly. “I should be fine.”
He nods, begins to head upstairs. Barely on the second step, Hannahlee stops him.
“Yeah?” He turns halfway to look at her.
He flips the light switch as he goes and Hannahlee lays down, pulling the blanket up over her shoulders and tucking into it, knees pulled into her stomach. The blanket smells like Downy fabric softener and mothballs, it reminds her of her grandma and sleepy evenings watching 1 versus 100 and Jeopardy and Family Fued with sprinklings of the Andy Griffiths Show and John Wayne films with her grandparents. Her eyes prickle with tears, hot pressure underneath her eyelids.
“I miss you.” She murmurs to everyone back home, leaving it hanging in the open air. Nose burying into the comfort, able to swallow back her tears for the first time in three months, she’s able to nod off to sleep without trouble for the first time since she’d arrived.
In the morning , she thought, maybe, maybe, maybe I'll say yes. For comforts sake.
In the morning, sharing pancakes with a speedster and his adopted cop father, Hannahlee does say yes to Joe’s offer.
It’s easy to forget you’re from another world when the people around you never bring it up. It’s easy to forget you’re in a world that’s three years behind your’s when you use a phone that’s just like yours and you interact with electronics you like better.
Hannahlee forgets she’s on the wrong earth, even with it right in her face, because she’s surrounded by people who like her, and want to know more about her than her earth. Which, honestly, it’s nice. It makes her feel better about everything.
Right now, it’s a Friday. Last week Captain Singh hired a new secretary and the displaced woman now had Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays off. Hannahlee tended to spend it with Cisco and Caitlin, nothing better to do since she hadn’t made any friends.
Hannahlee, this particular Friday nearly four months into her life on Earth-1.5, has the police scanner on as background noise, reading The Lord of Shadows . She was only within the first couple pages, but she already loved it. Then the radio statics and she lifts her head, staring at it for a hard second.
“ We’ve got a robbery in progress at Fifth Bank of Marquess Avenue. Requesting backup. ”
“Hm?” Cisco has a chicken wing half in his mouth and she rolls her eyes. Caitlin stays ingroused in whatever she's inspecting. “Whaf?”
“There’s a robbery.”
“I’m sure the cops got it.” He says, still muffled. He swallows the chicken he’d been chewing. “Don’t need the Flash for ev-”
“ Looks like Captain Cold and Heatwave. The shields are in lockup. We may need the Flash. ”
“I’ll text Barry.” Hannahlee says, scurrying for her purse as Cisco gaps. Barry always answered her texts, usually right away, unless he was in the middle of fight (which she had texted him during a couple, and his phone was in his pocket . Whoops).
“Sounds like a good idea.” He mutters.
Sending Barry a quick “ C&H. SOS ” she's, right away, met with, “ Be right there .”
The fact Barry always answered her texts didn't seem strange. He was the fastest man alive until (unless?) Wally got his powers. But it didn't matter, because it meant his replies were prompt, unless it was a serious conversation he didn't want part in. The look Cisco gives her right before Barry blows into the Cortex says otherwise.
She happens to miss the look but she can't be expected to notice everything.
After the usual bout of banter and fire, Snart and Mick get away with the money thanks to help from Lisa. Barry doesn't have time to stop back by before getting back to work, having claimed to be taking his lunch break early when Singh demanded to know where he was going.
“I made sure he has those protein bars in his lab.” Hannahlee shrugs. “He should be fine if he ever looks in his cabinets.”
“When did you even have time to put them there?” Caitlin asks.
“You'd be surprised how often he isn't there and leaves the place unlocked.” Hannahlee cracks open her book again. “The fact Snart hasn't broken in is amazing, honestly. I am, obviously, less restrained.”
She grins at the bioengineer, a bright and bubbling thing. Her phone chimes with Barry’s text tone and when she opens to see the image, it’s a used wrapper of one of the protein bars.
It’s in that moment Hannahlee starts feeling less “Hannahlee” and more “Hannah” among the team.
It’s late, relatively, when Hannah finds Barry on the porch. Dinner between Joe, him, and her had passed quietly. The day had passed quietly. Hannah doesn’t completely understand why. If it was March, she’d understand, but it’s June. Joe isn’t sure either, and at the woman’s lingering, questioning look, he doesn’t have answer to Barry’s quiet.
He startles, a small jolt like someone had poked him unexpectedly, and looks up at her. There’s something fragile in his look before it’s reeled back. Barry gives her a meek smile.
She motions to him, the steps, around them. The fact he didn’t hear the front door open worries her a fraction, makes her wonder what could be on his mind. “Can I?”
“Uh, yeah, sure.” He slides a couple inches over and she sits. She toes off her flats as she does, uneasy about walking around the house barefoot but excited and at ease with doing it on the porch and in the yard. He watches her do it, momentarily confused, then he looks at her. “You okay?”
“I’m supposed to ask you that.” She returns, bending to move the shoes so they are beside her. She half turns to him. “I’m fine. But you’re not.”
“I’m perfectly-” She cuts him a look, something she’d picked up from Caitlin, egg’d on by her natural need to call people’s bullshit. He flounders, not used to the Don’t Give Me That look coming from the usually bubbly and easily excitable, if sometimes shy and nervous, Hannah. “I figured you’d already know.”
Her face blanks, mind racing through any number of possibilities she’s aware of, but none strike her as immediate and anything Barry would know about. Confusion takes over, asking, “Know what?”
Barry looks at her. It’s not an interrogation look, or unsure, just looks. Like she’s something new and strange and he’s debating whether to try and figure her out or not. He must decide, because he glances back at the house. The lights are off on the bottom floor but Joe’s bedroom light is on. Barry turns to her.
“The newspaper article.”
Realization dawns. “Still says Iris West-Allen on the byline?”
His look doesn’t sour, but there’s definitely something acerbic around the edges of his mouth. Hannah immediately regrets saying anything, already concluding why he was so quiet today.
“Eddie and I went to find tuxes today.” Barry murmurs. “And it reminded me…” He gives a frustrated groan-sigh. “She’s going to be Iris West-Thawne, and the article says as much, but I can’t…”
He grits his teeth, and Hannah is starting to feel dragged out past the continental shelf at the beach, struggling to not drown. Relationships were things Hannah couldn’t navigate for the life of her, both her own and when asked for help.
And if that article had changed? Hannah wasn’t going to mess with it.
She wanted Eddie to live, badly, and hadn't thought of the repercussions on Barry and possibly others.
“So you always knew Eddie was going to marry Iris? That the article would change?” He asks, and Hannah freezes.
That is a startling reminder that only three people knew Eddie was supposed to die the day of the Singularity, outside of herself. And none of them had told Barry.
She looks at him, quiet, and wonders if she can lie to him like the others have omitted. Whether they like it or not, Barry, in another lifetime, would have married Iris and, if not for Hannah, he would have.
“It wasn't supposed to change.”
The words are out before she can register it, but she knows she'd have told him anyway. Barry is a shit liar, and everyone around him isn't. The least she can do is not lie despite her own lack of tells that make it easy.
He's confused, and he openly struggles to comprehend what she has just said, the bombshell she's dropped on him.
“What… do you mean?”
“Eddie was supposed to die. His death erased Eobard from existence and the Singularity came from it.” Hannah pauses. “Or, so I’d thought. I was wrong.” She turns away, looking into the dark, still night interspersed with lamps. “About what caused the Singularity, I mean. I don't regret saving Eddie. Well…” her shoulders hunch, then drop, “no. I don't. I've got a lot of reasons for saving him, Iris is the least of them.”
Lots of reasons , she thinks even as Savitar shoves his way to the forefront of her thoughts alongside how happy Iris and Eddie now are. She has a lot of misgivings towards the insane Speedster that is ( was , she forcefully tells herself) Barry’s possible future, and he only made her further against Barry and Iris as a couple. In her opinion, it spoke volumes to Barry’s love of Iris and said how unhealthy it was.
Hannah couldn't tell Barry all of that. And he may not even believe her, or call her jealous if he does. Men, she knows, are just as prone to thinking a woman is in love with them as women are of a man. So she thinks over what she can say.
“There's no happy ending for you and Iris. Not here.” Hannah decides, because it's true, and pain flickers across Barry’s face at her words. As far as she knew, nearly every Comicbook!Iris dies, and this version nearly does as well right before Barry sacrifices himself to the Speed Force. Maybe on Earth-2 she and Barry are happy, but he's a self-centered ass, no matter how puppy-ish he acts. “And I'm invested in everyone having a happy ending before I leave.”
“What if that doesn't happen?”
Caitlin, her mind supplies. Leonard Snart. Henry Allen. Dante Ramon. A shiver crawls down her spine, knowing that's not what he meant. He couldn't mean something he doesn't know.
“Then…” Hannah doesn't know. She wanted to fix things, and she looked to be on the way to doing that. “I guess I'll just stay longer, even if I want to go home.”
She glances at him, not meaning to but a strange force drawing her to. He's looking at her. It's not like when he found out she'd kept Snart’s betrayal a secret, or she'd refused to tell him what to do about his mom. Not even like right before he went to stop the Singularity with Ronnie and Dr. Stein. His gaze is all electric green and Speed Force yellow, staring at her like she's everything that should be looked at. Hannah looks away, something uncomfortable balling in the back of her throat, reaching into her stomach to stir up things, egging her on to do something stupid.
Problem is, she doesn't know what.
She doesn't want to know what.
Hannah forces the thoughts and feelings into a tiny ball and squishes them into a chest, keeping it out of the way. She turns away from Barry to further distance herself.
“It's also…” She hesitates. She really wants to tell Barry about Savitar suddenly. But what if that causes a self-fulfilling prophecy within him? Barry definitely fit the type to let it happen.
Without outside influence to stop him, Mxyzptlk says in her mind and she shivers at her conscious taking on the being’s voice. But that also means you might stay longer than you want. And you want to leave as soon as Cisco can get you home. He’ll also tell the team, without a doubt, and your need to keep the future secret will crumble.
“It's also because there are things that could happen if certain people aren't saved.” Hannah decides to say. If she closes her eyes, she can see the image of Iris shooting Savitar in the back, the entire thing brought about by Henry’s death. She can imagine Cisco’s grief over Dante being dead, being murdered , deeply ingrained as her own for her mother, grandfather, and great-grandmother dying. “And I'm not going to let those things happen.”
Barry is quiet, as is Hannah. Sleepy crickets are their company, with rustling trees, the occasional squirrel out past its bedtime. If the night was quiet, Hannah would be worried. Danger made animals silence and put them to hiding.
“Why do you care so much?”
The question surprises Hannah. And she isn't sure why, either. Maybe out of a sense of heroics, her own more limited compared to Barry’s feats of spectacular speed. Or the need to spit at the shiny shoes of writer’s who killed and maimed and ruined the happiness of these people just to get views (and wasn't that hypocritical when she was writer?) and ratings. Or possibly she felt connected to these characters and wanted them to feel the same happiness once watching their stories did.
“I don't know.” She admits, because it's easier to not-answer than to answer. “Heroics, anger at the writers, my drive to help and protect others.” She shrugs. “It could be anything. Could be nothing. I’m known for occasionally rash decisions.”
“You’re not the type.” Barry denies.
She laughs, just a little, and shakes her head. “Oh, I am. Both of my tattoos were rash decisions. But I love them anyway.”
A peculiar look slides across Barry’s face. “You… have tattoos?”
Hannah frowns at him. “Yeah. I don’t hide them.” She reaches up to pull aside the hem of her shirt, revealing the stark black etching of ravens dissolving from a feather on her left shoulder. “I have another on my ankle,” she wiggles her right foot, “but I don’t feel like fighting with my pants leg to roll it up right now.”
He looks at her with wonder and Hannah can’t help look away. She hums, awkwardly, and says, “I-In any matter, I’m doing what I’m doing because everyone deserves to be happy. I don’t have a real reason for it, but I am. And I’m not going to stop.”
“What if you can’t make someone happy?”
She swallows, unsure of what to say to that. “I guess…” She looks down at her hands, fiddling with her fingers. “Then I just have to do my best. I can’t save everyone, but I can damn sure try.”
Barry doesn’t ask any more questions. Hannah isn’t sure she could answer them. They sit for a while longer before Barry sighs and stands. He holds out a hand and she takes it, letting him pull her to her feet. She stumbles, just a little, when her foot stupidly snags on the top step and nearly tumbles into him. She rights herself at the last second and, flooded with embarrassment, apologizes.
He shrugs and grabs her shoes for her. “No big deal. Let’s go in.”
At ten pm, it’s quiet in the house. Neither Joe nor Hannah worked the next day, but Barry still had one more patrol to do before heading to bed.
“Gonna stay up?” He asks while putting her shoes by the door.
“Probably. I’m in the mood to write.”
“It’s about the demigod, right? Hope was her name?”
“I’d love to read that someday.”
Hannah’s heart jumps, eyes getting a little bigger as she watches the Speedster shrug into his jacket. He notices her look, the way she’s got rigid and still, and asks, “Is that okay?”
She nods, quick. “Th-that’s fine! I’m just… people don’t usually ask to read. Or care, really. They listen but don’t pay attention.” She brushes her hair back, messes with her fingers some more. He comes a little closer to her. “Uh, anyway, you’ve got patrol. I won’t keep you.”
She smiles at Barry, a fraction nervous.
“I think if you told the rest of the team about it, they’d ask too.” There’s a single beat, where her eyes get a little bigger at his words, and he adds, “You should be happy too, Hannah.”
Robbed of thought by those six words, she can only nod weakly. Then she manages out, strangled by a strange onset of emotions circling and pressing into her lungs and heart, “Good night, Barry.”
He hugs her, and there’s a strange reminder in the back of her head that this is the second time they’ve ever hugged. She returns it immediately, the motions ingrained in her muscles from a large extended family, and he draws back. He gives her a surprisingly warm smile and is gone with a small whirl of wind, door closing succinctly behind him.
Her heart continues to beat frantically, and emotions continue to try expanding outwards, breaking out of the box she’d put them in. Her face feels warm, belly filled with liquid lead, and she has the strangest urge to-
She immediately snaps the thought in half before it can form, and turns to march upstairs. She readies her bed on autopilot and scrolls through tumblr until her eyes get too heavy, mind now too buzzing to write. The sound of Barry coming in causes her to nearly drop her phone but she’s already asleep by the time the knowledge is processed.
The team had finally decided to go through all of Eobard’s things, mainly at Hannah’s nudging. Hannah, they found, didn’t nudge anything so vocally unless it was really important.
As such, finding the memory stick said more about what she’d planned for them to find than anything she didn’t want them to find. Hannah had lit up, almost like the Fourth, and told Barry he had to watch it. Preferably soon. She hadn’t explained, she couldn’t explain, but she was excited and sure of herself and the memory stick.
Later on, after work had ended and she was stretching, pleased to have finished all the filing for the day, she found Barry waiting outside for her. She stops on the top step, heart doing a little noise, and hitches her bag back to rest on her bottom, before continuing down to meet him.
“Hey. Didn’t you get off like two hours ago?” She hugs him, because that’s been A Thing since they’d talked on the porch a month ago. It’s how they greet each other and say good bye.
“I did,” he assures after they part, “but I needed to talk to you.”
After the initial burst of fear over the words “talk to you” she calms down, wondering if it had to do with Eobard’s confession to killing Nora Allen. She tilts her head in the direction of STAR Labs as a silent question and they start walking.
“What is it?” She asks after they’re out of earshot of any police, passing pedestrians who have no reason to listen to them.
“You knew what was on the stick.” He states. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I figured you’d want to watch it without anticipation.” Hannah shrugs. “Thinking on it, if my Mom had been murdered and the murderer had videoed his confession, I wouldn’t want a third party telling me. I figured you might feel the same way.”
“I didn’t.” He admits. “But I appreciate the thought.”
Hannah winces a little at that. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be.” He leans to the side, bumping lightly against her. She sways and bumps him back, and she can’t help but grin at the bit of affection and teasing. Back home, she did the same to coworkers and friends, and had started doing it here. Barry, Iris, and Cisco were more inclined to return the bumps, with Caitlin getting flustered and Eddie embarrassed. “You were trying to help. Which, by the way, you did. Very well.”
“When are you taking the evidence in?” She would have thought Barry would have coming running in with it, like she’d hoped. When he hadn’t, Hannah thought he’d put it off for later.
“Joe is. As soon as he comes into work tomorrow.”
Meaning Hannah would get a full view of the detective carry the item into Captain Singh’s office, since she’d started letting Joe ferry her to work. It made her excited, and meant that, for a short while, all the questions about her past would be forgotten. Cops were inquisitive by nature, worse than cats at the best and worst of times.
“I can’t believe my Dad is going to be set free.” Hannah’s excitement fizzles out at those words, remembering that Henry hadn’t stuck around long. Her smile droops, and Barry notices. “What is it?’
“The process’ll take a while.” She says on automatic. “They have to make sure the video isn’t fake, review the old evidence, jump through hoops. Lots of things.”
“I know, but it’ll be a start.” Barry frowns at her. “But that isn’t why you’re sad.”
“Am I that obvious?”
“A lot more than you like to think you are.”
Ouch. That kinda stings, considering everything she’s harboring from him and the team. And with it coming from him, it doubly hurts.
“Which isn’t a bad thing,” Barry rushes to add at her look, which must say a lot, “but I don’t like my friend’s hiding things from me.”
Her immediate response is ‘so you must not like me not telling you about the future, huh?’ while her second, less Conversation Changer is, “I don’t think you’ll like to know, Barry, no matter how much it’ll prepare you.”
“It’s not like you’re telling me my Dad gets murdered right after I get him back.” Barry scoffs, not able to hear her heart sky rocket from the planet in terror of it actually happening.
“No.” Hannah shakes her head, schooling her face into as passive a look she can manage, “but I guess it depends on how you feel about it.”
He doesn’t press, thank god, but it’s clear he wants to know with how he bounces a little on the balls of his feet, how ozone lingers in the air with the force of keeping himself from vibrating. Barry, despite how still he can be in most tense situations, can never be still enough among friends with their problems or in relation to himself.
“Henry isn’t going to stick around for long, Barry.” She doesn’t look at him as she talks, not wanting to envision the soul-crushing devastation he undoubtedly wore. “He’s been stuck, cooped up in a prison cell for nearly fifteen years. Of course he wouldn’t stay in Central if he can help it. Not many felons, wrongly accused or not, would want to.”
“But I’ve just got him back.” Barry says, and she twitches with the urge to look when she hears how utterly devastated he sounds. “He can’t just leave right after he gets out. I can’t lose him again.”
“You won’t be losing him again, Barry.” Hannah assures, thinking of when she’d been forced to move away from her mother and feared she’d never see her again. Even though all her rage at her parents separation had been pointed at her mom, she still loved her and had chosen to stay with her. “He isn’t going to a different prison farther away. He just needs to stretch his legs, he needs to be free.”
She realizes a moment later how much like a personal experience that sounds, and hopes he doesn’t think so. She’s just heard it rationalized before, and understood even without it, why Henry leaves.
“You’re far too empathetic for your own good sometimes.” Barry tells her, voice dry and cracked, and relief floods her. She finally looks over at Barry. His face is stony, but there are tears and a battling conflict in his eyes.
Hannah presses her lips flat at the look, feels her heart go out to him.
“Let me tell you a secret, Barry.”
Well, a secret to everyone here. Her friends and family back home knew this and why they never came off.
“My necklace,” Hannah touches the necklace in question as they reach an intersection and makes sure Barry is paying attention, “belonged to my grandma Bennie. She gave it to me to remember her. She's the only grandmother I have and I love her so much I sometimes cry because I haven’t seen her in over a year. The Claddagh,” she wiggles her right pinky, “was my Mom’s. I started wearing it after she died, to remember her by and feel like she was still there. I don't want to resize it out of fear the band will break and I won't be able to wear it anymore.”
“Why are you telling me this?” Barry asks, tired with the day and her revelations.
“Because, they remind me I have people who love me and are waiting for me come home. My mom is dead, sure, but I know she’s waiting for me, and so is my Granma.” She smiles at him. “And your dad, even though he’s going to go away, knows you’ll be waiting for him, because you’re his son and home.” The light changes and she heads across, Barry following.
“Ask him for something, if you need to. It does make waiting easier.”
Hannah, gently, bumps against him, and after a long moment Barry returns the gesture. They reach STAR Labs shortly after that and Hannah doesn’t think she’ll ever forget the conversation, fiddling with her grandmother’s necklace far more than usual.
Hannah forgets why she’s stuck on Earth-1.5 between her job and helping track criminals and telling Barry he is needed more as a friend then as a hero. She forgets she doesn’t belong as she shares her favorite teas with Caitlin and binges Star Wars with Cisco, as she learns how to cook with Joe and bakes cookies for everyone after a bad night, helps Iris pick out flower arrangements for the wedding and assures Eddie that he’s meant for Iris and vice versa.
Hannah forgets and going to the park on her lunch break reminds her.
She's looking for a good bench, out of the sun but in perfect view of the people playing with their dogs. It reminded her of Spot and, while her heart hurt, reminded her she'd be home soon. Hannah sees him as she looks, walking and minding her own business, eyes going past him before snapping back onto the man.
The name nearly goes past her lips. But it doesn't, some stark reminder telling her that no, this isn't him. This is his Earth-1.5 counterpart. And yet her blood is icy slow, sticking in her veins despite the summer heat. She wants to scream at him, to claw at him for no reason other than she knows what his evil Earth-2 counterpart will do in a handful of months and maybe this would stop the bastard.
And that's what really stops her . What grinds Hannah to a halt and ruins her good day and any to come. She looks at Hunter Zoloman with his glasses and book and simple life and thinks Zoom and remembers that this isn't just her living in another world until Cisco can take her home, that this isn't a fanfiction where it's all smiles and roses. There are lives that will be lost if she doesn't do something, like she had with Eddie.
Hannah wants to scream.
Hannah wishes she could go back and tell Barry to save his mother and avoid this.
Hannah also knows she wouldn't because she likes this world as it is.
She closes her eyes and turns around to head back to the precinct, appetite lost.
There was no real time frame for Harry’s arrival and she had to be ready. There wasn't time to waste on him hiding Zoom’s plans to take Barry’s speed to save his daughter. No time to pussyfoot around the matter.
Hannah’s hands clench.
She’d gotten complacent and forgotten the tasks she’d given herself while here.
Uru-viel and I are building a playlist for this story and her story! Hope you give it a listen!
Here it is!
Chapter 9: Dog Days Are Over
Song for this chapter is by Florence + the Machine!
Forewarning y'all: Lots of talks of mental & physical abuse and issues with coping mechanisms below.
Hannah rolls over at the sound of her alarm, reaching out to hit the snooze with a whine. She presses her face into her pillow, grumbling incoherently. Her blanket has slipped down her arm and she blindly reaches out to pull it back up and tuck it under her chin, knees lifting to make herself small and soak up all the heat under her blanket.
She’s barely fallen back asleep when the alarm goes off again and she groans, having stayed up far too late the night before writing.
“Fuck being a night owl.” She moans, and sits up, throwing back the blankets and turning off her alarm for another day.
Her alarm says 7:08am, and she wants to cry. Barry and Joe are already out for the day, both working. It’s Sunday, one of her days off.
“Ugh, at least I can work on figuring out the Zoom issue some more.” Hannah ignored the nasty, sickly-sweet taste that always bloomed in her mouth when she mentioned the insane Speedster, the way her already picky appetite waned further. “Though I should just tell the team.”
She enters the bathroom, moving back the shower curtain as she grabs her toothbrush. The mirror shows that her hair sticks up in places, is flat in others, and there are large parts curved over the right-side parting to make her look like a bird. Her nose wrinkles at the image, a little bit of humor curling in her at her bedhead. She brushes her teeth while waiting for the water to heat up.
After spitting the toothpaste paste out, she closes the door and grabs the hem of her shirt.
Hannah shrieks, spinning to see Mxyzptlk sitting on the toilet, grinning smugly. She glares, heart beating so fast she feared she’d pass out.
“You asshole!” She yells. “What are you doing here? Get out! I’m trying to shower.”
“No need.” He waves a hand and she smells grapes, lilacs, lavender, and other purple things as she’s engulfed by royal purple smoke. When it clears she feels more clean than she’s ever felt before and her clothes have changed. She whips around to look in the mirror and sees she’s fully dressed in jeans and a sunset pink blouse and her hair and makeup are in order. She’s never seen the blouse in her life and the jeans are clearly tailored.
“Excuse you?” She turns back as he shuts off the shower. “You just killed my morning routine!”
“I did no such thing.” He waves away, standing and striding past her in the small area. “I simply sped it up. By two hours.”
She wants to snap at him some more but finds she doesn’t have the energy. She’s still too sleepy and having her contacts magically put in is disorienting as all hell.
Hannah rubs at her nose, takes a deep breath, and asks, “Why are you here?”
She follows him out of the bathroom and down to the kitchen where he summons breakfast consisting of scrambled eggs, hashbrowns, sausage patties, and milk. She doesn’t touch it, thinking of it like Underworld food. Plus there’s no orange juice. Because he can’t summon it.
Hannah nearly laughs aloud when she remembers that.
“You didn’t let Eddie Thawne die.” He says, watching her take out a jug of orange juice and pull out a glass to pour herself some. His lip curls in half-disgust as she takes a long sip. “You just brushed your teeth.”
“My blood is mostly orange juice, okay. Leave me and my addiction alone.” Hannah leans against the island counter, raising an eyebrow. “And yeah, I saved Eddie. I shot Eobard Thawne and then Eddie finished him off. So I didn’t do as you asked, that doesn’t mean I’m not gonna try and still protect everyone in that photo.”
“That’s just the thing.” Mxyzptlk looks truly perplexed. “The photo hasn’t changed.”
Hannah presses her lips together. “So? Kara is from a different universe. Makes sense it wouldn’t change since it’s not in the original timeline it’s from. Like with Harry when Barry caused Flashpoint, and how he wasn’t around for it.”
“You haven’t even watched season 3.” He scoffs. “Don’t talk about things you lack context for.”
Hannah bristles and feels the distinct urge to throw the glass at his head. If he can’t summon orange juice, that certainly means he can’t stop it when used as a projectile, right?
“Why are you here?” She demands again, since he hadn’t really answered the first time. “I’ll make you write your name backwards if you don’t tell me.”
The Being rolls his eyes, and crosses his arms. “I, darling, came to give you a warning about your little problem coming up.”
“You know something about Zoom?” She steps closer, eyes getting big, hope dancing along her heart strings.
“No. You’re on your own with that one.” He shrugs. “And it’s not that silly immortal man.”
Hannah scowls. “Then what problem?”
His eyes twinkle dangerously. “When you offer to help open anything, remember the year 1942.”
“What?” The year means nothing to her except that it’s during World War 2. “What does that even mean ?”
He shrugs. “Better write it down.”
Hannah stares at him for several long seconds then slowly grabs a pen and stack of post-it notes kept in the kitchen for when Joe or her mess with a recipe and find they like the change better. She writes down the year given and “for if I open anything” before looking at him.
“Why what? Why give you a little nudge?”
His smarmy look drops. “Because you’re obviously going to get yourself killed otherwise. And, as much as I’d rather that engineer of yours go ahead and take you home, you need to do some things first.”
Hannah scowls again, and grabs her orange juice. “You can go. I’d imagine you’ve said all you need to.”
“No. I need to know what you did to keep that photo from changing.” He gets closer, uncomfortably so, and she presses back into the counter. “You still shot Eobard Thawne, and Eddie is alive. You were either to shoot Eobard and ruin everything or let Eddie die.”
“And those were horrible choices so I chose differently.” She huffs, ready to throw her drink on him. “No one can control my destiny but me.”
“You’re so willful about this.” He sighs. “Listen to your elders for once, will you?”
Hannah opens her mouth to retort, to tell him she listened to the elders she respected , when her phone goes off. She reaches into her pocket, and sees its Iris. Her eyes cut to the being and he’s stepped back, giving a sarcastic, sweeping bow.
“I won’t keep you longer, darling.” He bids. “Have a good day. And keep the clothes.”
He’s gone before she can say anything and Hannah answers the call. “Hey, Iris…”
The reporter, receptionist, and bioengineer all meet for lunch, Linda joining them last second. They mostly talk about Iris’s upcoming nuptials and Hannah realizes, halfway through lunch, that these are half of Iris’s bridesmaids. That she’s a bridesmaid.
It’s not a sudden realization. She’s known for months she’s one of Iris’s bridesmaids. It’s just the fact it finally, suddenly hits her that she’s saved Eddie and that means Iris and him will be happy. Iris is glowing . Eddie is so excited he seems to be a beacon. When they’re together they’re blinding.
“Eddie and I were thinking of a three tiered cake.” Iris explains. “We don’t want a very big wedding, and so the cake should match.”
It’s also a reminder she has to make sure the team knows about Zoom ahead of time.
Hannah just hadn’t figured out how to break it to them yet. In fact, she didn’t even know if he’d be an issue unless Harry showed up and Hannah could ask him. The Singularity opens up ways to Earth 2, but it didn’t necessarily mean Zoom or Harry could come through.
Hannah jerks, making a weird, garbled, “hungah?” noise. She looks at Iris. “Yes?”
“You zoned out on us for a bit. You okay?” Everyone is looking a her with concern and she shifts in her seat, a bit uncomfortable.
“Yeah. I’m fine. Just got some stuff on my mind.”
She could tell them about Zoom right now. Well, she could after Linda left. She could tell them and have everyone ready. But she didn’t know yet. She didn’t want to tell the team about a threat and then it not happen.
Hannah smiles reassuringly at Iris. “I’ll be okay in a little while.”
None of them have any reason to expect Hannah to lie, though Iris does eye her a bit longer. To further drive the point home that Hannah will be okay, she adds, “I think maybe two tiers would be better for the cake. Three is a bit much for a small wedding. The cake is only meant for the bride, groom, and immediate family, after all.” After a second, she realizes that may not be a universal thing. “It was for my parents wedding, anyway.”
Linda looks interested. “You’ve seen your parents wedding video? Do you have it?”
Hannah shakes her head. “No. They didn’t have one. They got married when I was four. I was the ring bearer.” She grins, looking down into her water cup. “I remember the cake because they couldn’t decide on the type and had me draw from a hat.”
“That’s adorable.” Iris gushes, and Hannah remembers the pink, lacy, ribbon covered dress she wore in a vague, looking through a foggy glass way. “Maybe Eddie and I should do that. We can’t decide on the cake.”
“My parents thought a church was too formal.” Caitlin decides to speak up. “And got married at my grandparent’s home, in the backyard.”
Iris shakes her head. “I like the idea, but Dad’s is too small. Maybe for the rehearsal dinner.”
The topic switches back to the wedding like Hannah wanted, and she’s glad to give her own input. Her cousin Dallas had gotten married a few weeks before she’d fallen into Earth-1.5 and she’d gotten a front row seat for it, and Hannah remembers her parents vows and reception pretty well. Helping out with a wedding wasn’t something she knew how to do, but she was putting her best in it.
Lunch ends with Iris chock full of ideas for the wedding, excited to go find Eddie and go over them.
Caitlin and Hannah return to the Labs. As they go, they pass by a guy handing out flyers. They plan to keep going, but the bright red with yellow lettering catches Hannah’s eye.
Well, Hannah now knows how close they are to the start of the new season. Hannah doubles back and walks up. Caitlin turns.
“What is it?”
Hannah doesn’t respond. “Hey,” the guy looks at her, eyes bright and reminding her of a couple of the sweeter, if awkward, guys at her school back home. He looks around her age. “Can I get a flyer?”
“Of course!” He passes one to her, and Caitlin peers over her shoulder. “I hope to see you there.”
“Mhm, you too, dude.” She flashes a quick smile and the two continue their walk down the street.
“So the mayor is giving the Flash the key to the city in two weeks.” Hannah presses her lips flat at the words from the bioengineer. “That’s unexpected.”
Caitlin finally looks at Hannah. Concern finally touches her eyes. “What is it? Is this something you knew about?”
“Yeah.” Hannah shakes her head, shoving the bubbling dread down. “I mean, I knew about it. I just didn’t think it was so soon. It’s mid-October now.” Hannah chews on the inside of her cheek. It was December back home. She had been 20 for nearly two months now. Or, if she wanted to go by when she arrived here, she’d be 20 in three days. “Also originally Barry became kind of a distant asshole after Ronnie died. Now he’s not, so I don’t know what’s gonna happen.”
Caitlin thinks about it, debating over what to say. “Can you tell me what was supposed to happen?”
Hannah hesitates. Her hand curls around the flyer. “I… suppose I can. I won’t really know until Flash Day whether the clusterfuck of Season 2 will come around. And I really don’t want it to. But I also don’t want to jump to conclusions.”
Season 2 wasn’t as bad as she made it sound. It was a pretty awesome season, she felt. But she’d only gotten up to Caitlin being kidnapped and Barry’s speed being taken. Or, Hannah thinks she did. It had been so long and it was all so vague now. Remembering something she’d only watched once gave her a headache.
Actually, and this makes her blood feel cold, she can’t even remember much of what happened in the first episode of season 2 now. She recalls Zoom appearing at the end as Jay Garrick, and Atom-Smasher, but beyond that…
Hannah swallows, trying to think about everything else in the season. It was just as patchy. Maybe she’d remember if events replicated themselves.
“Cait,” Hannah looks up at her friend, “I don’t actually remember it all that well.”
Caitlin doesn’t pale, but she looks like she wishes she had. “That’s not too bad.”
“But what if—”
“What if what?” Caitlin raises an eyebrow. “Things you want to prevent happen? I’m sure you’ll remember in time.” The woman sighs, opening the gate onto the grounds of the Lab. “You were typing everything you knew up a while back. Did you stop?”
“I wasn’t typing up what I knew.” Hannah opens the door for them, letting Caitlin go in first. “I was- am typing up what is happening to me. I don’t want to be here, but I don’t want to forget it either.”
“I personally think you shouldn’t put yourself through so much grief,” Caitlin tells her. “It would be nice to be able to prevent really bad things, but realistically?”
Caitlin stops, turning to Hannah and putting her hands on the younger’s shoulders. The honesty in her statement rings true. “Time has a way of fixing itself. And we don’t need anyone caught in the crosshairs. Barry time travels enough as it is.”
“I know that.” Hannah sighs, eyes and heart heavy. “But I want to help. I want to save you.” Hannah exhales again. “So much bad could happen, Cait, and I can stop it.”
“I know you can.” Caitlin pulls her in for a hug. Hannah tenses, surprised, then slowly melts into the comfort. She closes her eyes, allowing herself this little moment as she had months previous. “And I know you’ve tried your best.”
“I feel like it won’t be enough.” Hannah admits, voice thickening steadily. Two weeks. She had two weeks until she knew whether or not Zoom would be sending meta-humans through. If she didn’t prepare, they’d be blind. But there was the possibility… “I don’t want to be useless.”
Hannah nearly gets whiplash with how quickly she’s put at arm's length. She stares at Caitlin, livid with a puckered mouth and brightly lit, wet eyes. Something like panic is in that dark brown gaze, finely mixed with hurt and anger.
“You are not useless.” She says, conviction rocking Hannah back on her heels. “You’ve never been useless, and never will be. Whether you can stop something or not doesn’t matter. Whether you have powers or not isn’t an issue. You are here and that matters.”
Caitlin hugs her again, stronger than Hannah had ever been hugged, making her ribs and lungs ache. Hannah’s eyes water, head ducking to bury into Caitlin’s shoulder.
“Thanks.” Hannah struggles out, tears still threatening but gradually easing.
The two stand there hugging for several more minutes before, finally, heading into the Cortex. Hannah rubs under her eyes as they walk, breathing a little shaky, but settling.
“I didn’t think you were that feely.” Hannah admits softly, not wanting Cisco, who was eating a fruit rollup and checking for signs of any metas, to overhear.
“Not usually.” Caitlin responds, just a bit stiff. “But I trust you, and we do talk to each other about our issues. You tend to need physical comfort more than me, even if you refuse to admit it.”
Hannah had been more of an open ear to Caitlin’s grief about Ronnie than the others, that wasn’t something new. Hannah rarely returned the sentiment, however. Or, maybe, she had by listening and offering a shoulder, and Caitlin knew to not expect a similar pouring of feelings at the same time. Either way, there was appreciation.
“I do.” Hannah laughs, a self-deprecating sound that drags sharp nails along her soul. “I’m so touch-starved it’s not even funny.”
The two share a small smile before Cisco finally notices them. He grins. “Hey! When did you guys get in?”
“Just now.” Hannah wonders over, taking a fruit rollup from the box. He makes a half-hearted grab for the treat, but she lifts her hand up out of his reach with a wide grin. “Seeing as I bought that box, I get to take at least three from it.”
“But that’s all that’s left,” he whines.
“I just bought these yesterday .” Hannah gaps at him. “ How ?”
“Me and Barry stayed up late.”
Hannah rolls her eyes and opens the little package, getting hit by a waft of artificial, fruity goodness. “Of course you did.” She drops into a chair, looking back at Caitlin as she goes past. “Want one?”
“I’ll get one later. If you and Cisco haven’t fought to the death over the last one.”
“I’ll save it for you,” Hannah promises.
Hannah steadily unrolls the candy, tearing off little strips to eat. She spins her chair as she does it, humming a little.
“What are you humming?” Cisco asks, and Hannah slows her spinning. She hums, rolling the tune over in her head.
“The Toro Song from Book of Life .” Hannah explains.
He blinks. “You’ve already seen it? We could have gone together.”
“No. Well,” she scratches at her chin, “I saw it when it came out on my Earth. My aunt Jen took me for my birthday, since my uncle Jimmy was sick and they both knew I wanted to see it. On occasion I hum the music from it, and seeing it in the media again I– what?”
Cisco is gaping at her, and Caitlin has a similar look of “what the fuck” offense as him.
“What?” Hannah asks again.
“You forgot to tell us your birthday was coming up!” Cisco exclaims. Hannah feels herself paling, having wanted to avoid this. Funny how she’d just been thinking about her age. “You're turning twenty in…” He counts on his fingers, not noticing his friend’s look yet. “Three days!”
“I didn’t think it mattered,” Hannah weakley brushed aside. “It’s December back home.”
“We should still celebrate! Your teen years are over.” Cisco pushes, and while he doesn’t mean to make her uncomfortable or nervous, he’s doing a damn good job. Her mouth tightens, and she’s ready to snap at him when he says, “It’s like a rite of passage.”
Her aunt had said similar, many times, when reminding Hannah she was nineteen and about to turn twenty in a handful of months. It had always made Hannah nervous, about her future and her way of life. Made her wonder if she could really function in society without living with family to handle her every need. And, even here, that thought held up with her living at Joe’s place, even if she paid for her own groceries, any gas she used, and personal necessities. Sure, buying an apartment would be useless when she planned to go home eventually, but the fact was… Hannah didn’t want to face getting older and the responsibilities it held, no matter her ease at picking up most of them here.
She also didn’t want to grow up without being around her family, the people she had known and loved for years before ending up here, where she didn’t belong.
“Cisco, I don’t want to celebrate my birthday.” She tries again. “I really,” she struggles to say it, “I really don’t want to when I don’t have my family here, with me. I’d rather turn a year older without acknowledgement.”
If she was brutally honest, Hannah didn’t want to grow up and hadn’t since her mom had died. She hadn’t wanted to celebrate without her mother there, no matter the childish animosity Hannah had held for her mom after her parents divorce.
Cisco’s face falls at her words. She feels bad, wants to apologize immediately after, but can’t bring herself to. Caitlin looks like she’d swallowed a lemon. Hannah feels Super Shitty for it, knowing they’d wanted to be her friend and try to make her feel more welcome. They had been doing a good job of it the past six months, but this was one thing she wouldn’t budge on. Couldn’t budge on.
“I’m sorry, guys.”
“No, it’s fine.” Cisco quickly dismisses. “I get it. You don’t want to have a life until you get home.”
Hannah rears back as though Cisco had attempted to slap her. “ What? ”
“You heard me.” There’s an angry set to his jaw, to his whole self, eyes hard as diamond and tone just as sharp. “You’ve been doing things, sure, but you’ve hardly talked about yourself, or tried to make friends outside of Caitlin and me. You don’t really do anything. You’re avoiding living .”
“What do you expect me to do? I don’t exist here.”
“Yes, you do.” Cisco rebuts. “Oliver made sure of that. You’re just refusing to do anything with your life. You just sit on your ass.”
She stands, wounded and angry. “How dare you!”
“It’s true!” He stands too, not to intimidate her but to make it equal. “You mope constantly. And we get it– I get it!– you miss your family and friends. But you can’t just stop being a person.”
He huffs, again, and says, “We are going for karaoke Wednesday night, and we’ll have chocolate cupcakes with chocolate icing because I remember that offhand comment about regular icing making you ill. It’s gonna be the whole team. And you can either come and have fun and celebrate your birthday, or sit in here and sit on your ass, alone and moping.”
Hannah scowls at him, wants to snap at him that she doesn’t mope . But he isn’t wrong. And she has no reason to get defensive unless he’s right.
“I’m not going.” She says instead. “I don’t like karaoke.”
“That is a bald-faced lie -”
Hannah leaves quickly after that, mood soured and unwilling to further argue with Cisco further. Caitlin holding her tongue meant she agreed with the engineer, and Hannah didn’t need to see her disappointment either.
She nearly runs into Barry at the doors, and he quickly stops her, gently grabbing her shoulders.
“Whoa, hey.” He steps back, and she rocks away, out from under his touch, suddenly too tense and nervous to let anyone close. It’s weird not hugging him like they usually did when meeting, but she didn’t want to be touched. “What’s up?”
“Nothing.” She snaps, and gets around him with a huff. “I’m going on a walk.”
“Then lemme go with you.”
“I don’t want company.” Hannah shakes her head.
Barry’s eyebrows raise, hands lifting in the traditional ‘don’t shoot’ gesture. “Okay then. Can you at least tell me where you’re going incase we need you?”
“I doubt Cisco or Caitlin want to talk with me right now.”
Hannah storms out the doors before Barry can say further, too hurt and angry.
She knows Cisco is right, and that’s what makes it so much more hurtful.
Hannah did the same thing back home, too. She’d sit around and worry about things, wouldn’t do anything outside of school and work. And when she did, no one was willing to help, said she was an adult, or her friends were busy so they couldn’t hang out and her friends didn’t know what was happening later in their lives to plan to hang out later. So she wouldn’t do anything for a long time before trying again. It was all she thought she could do.
Now she was sitting on her hands again. And yes, it was because she didn’t want to get attached to these people, and because she didn’t want to make a life here on the off-chance she ended up more attached to Earth-1.5 than Earth-1, her Earth.
Hannah finds herself in the park pretty quickly, pacing down the path with barely concealed aggravation.
She didn’t want to be attached to this place, or the people. Mxyzptlk said her planet was off limits. Once she got home, there was no visiting. There was no coming back to see these people. However Hannah got here, the way had closed. And once Cisco took her home she doubted there’d be a way back.
It didn’t mean she didn’t want to see these people when she left, or that she didn’t want to hang around with them now. And she knew they could hang out with her. Hannah just chose not to.
Hannah sits on an empty bench situated under a large tree, wondering why her entire life seemed to be a system of ups and downs that usually involved her being the main problem.
“Because I’m an idiot who can’t just do normal things and have normal feelings,” she mutters. “I have to make sure I eventually ruin any friendships I have.”
“A good way around that is to simply tell them why you’re being evasive.”
Hannah startles at the new presence, head snapping sideways to stare at Lisa Snart. “What the fu-”
“Now, no need to be so vulgar.” Her eyes are bright and playful, smile viper-like despite the innocent tilt of the corners. She holds out a well-manicured hand. Hannah’s eyes dart along Lisa’s body, looking for a gun or the gold gun before, hesitantly, taking Lisa’s hand and shaking. Her hand drops back to her lap like lead. “I’ve seen you here every Thursday, Friday, and Sunday for the past four months, always at the same times. But here you are today, angry and two hours early. Also didn’t come on Friday.” Lisa’s eyes narrow a fraction. “Why is that, dear?”
“I, uhm,” oh shit maybe I should have agreed to karaoke , “I can’t tell you.”
“Hm, discord in the team, then.” She turns, looking around the park. “You shouldn’t make such a set schedule. Makes it easy to find out things.”
Hannah’s shoulders tense, lifting up to her ears. “You- did you…?”
“Find out that adorable little speed demon’s identity?” Lisa asks, grin not at all kind and clearly enjoying this moment of leverage. “Of course not. Lenny’d be really upset if I did.”
Mood getting further sour, Hannah asks, “What do you want?”
Lisa snorts, settles back in her seat. “Nothing, actually. Like I said, you’ve been coming to this park at the same times, on the same days, like clockwork for four months. You didn’t come Friday and you’re here early on Sunday, while angry.”
“Why do you care, then?”
“You fascinate me.” Lisa shrugs. “Both Cisco and you said you’re old friends, but you clearly hadn’t known each other for more than a day or two.” She tilts her head. “Nice lie, though. I would have believed you if the others weren’t so nervous.”
“Thanks, but how does this equate to you approaching me?”
“Oh, easy.” Lisa chuckles. “I want to know what’s wrong and help.”
“You wouldn’t just randomly help someone. And especially not someone who knows who you are and actively works to stop you.” Hannah shakes her head. “You want something from me. What is it?”
“Time alone with your darling friend.” Lisa turns now, facing Hannah, as open as a grifter could be. “I’ve wanted to talk to Cisco for months now, but we all know thieves and heroes don’t work out well. Plus Lenny, good brother that is, isn’t overly fond with my decision in current plaything.”
Hannah thinks Lisa is wrong about Cisco and her. If Lisa wanted to put in the effort, and Cisco was too, and compromise was made on both sides… Hannah shakes her head, sighing.
“You’re going to hurt yourself.” Hannah tells Lisa instead of what she really thought. “Cisco is a good guy, so try not to hurt him either.”
Something similar to glee and maybe, possibly, hope lights the woman’s eyes up. “So you’ll talk to him?”
“Well, I’m actually pissed at him. And Caitlin.” Hannah explains weakly, grimacing. “And I pushed them away instead of confronting that they, well he is right.”
Lisa tilts her head, looks like she may be debating bolting now that she is presented with actually having to help the younger woman emotionally. But she stays. Whether for Cisco or herself, Hannah won’t ever know. “What happened?”
Hannah presses her lips flat, debates telling the grifter to get lost. This wasn’t something she should just share with the public, and especially not with someone not-quite-actively out to catch the Flash. And Lisa wasn’t subtle at hinting she now knew Barry was the Flash so…. she sags down against the back of the park bench and explains in as succinct and third-party as she can what happened, even though her displeasure does definitely bleed through in her voice. She was also careful to not reveal she came from another universe. Best to leave the Snarts and Mick out of that.
“So you’re telling me,” Lisa drawls, “you don’t want to celebrate your birthday because your family isn’t here and Cisco and Dr. Snow want to celebrate?” Hannah nods hesitantly. “ But , and you did point this out, Cisco had a point about you not being very open to the team about yourself or your past and now feel bad.” Lisa raises a brow. “You also very much like karaoke and singing in general and just don’t want to admit it, because that means talking more about yourself.”
Hannah nods again, nose wrinkling and looking angry that’d she’d even told Lisa. Lisa is quiet for a long time, letting the sounds of the park surround them. Delighted, screaming children enjoying the final hours of the weekend, a barking dog or two chasing and playing with their owners, wind rustling the trees and cooling off sweaty skin, the croon of crows and the song of finches mixing with lyrical robins and doves. She fits in wearing a chestnut brown leather jacket and jeans, her hair framing her face in loose curls that made someone glancing their way think innocence .
“You should go.” Lisa finally says. “If only for the free cupcakes.” She gives a wicked grin. “I can come with, if you want.”
Hannah tenses up. “I’d rather you not,” she returns weakly, unsure of how to handle the idea of Lisa Snart attending what’s meant to be a birthday party for the young woman, when a known antagonist to Team Flash and supposed to be unaware of who the Flash really is.
“Of course not. Because that adorable little bean pole would be wound up tight as a jack-in-the-box, ruin the night by fighting either me or you, and you’d either end up covered in chocolate cupcake regretting coming or be wishing you’d given in to begin with.” Lisa laughs, a soft and dark sound. “You should go back.”
Hannah clams up a bit more. “I doubt they want to see me anymore than I wanted to see them an hour ago.”
“You’d be surprising how forgiving a team like that is.” Lisa says, knowledge in her tone.
Hannah narrows her eyes at Lisa, and finally notices the laugh lines beginning around the woman’s mouth, the hint of grey in her brunette roots. Her eyes bright with wisdom and age.
“How would you know?” Hannah asks carefully.
Lisa stands, brushing at invisible lint on her clothes. “Oh, I don’t know. Must come with age. Golden years and all that.”
She begins to walk away, and Hannah stumbles to her feet, running after. “Wait, are you-?
They slow down, standing at what feels like a strange, pivotal moment.
Lisa turns her head, smirking, eyes twinkling with mirth. “Am I what?”
Hannah isn’t sure whether she should finish the thought, ask if Lisa was going to find Snart or cause mischief. But what could she do if Lisa asked why that mattered, or simply said yes? What if Hannah was jumping to conclusions?
“A thief and grifter who only ever gets along with her brother and his partner?” Lisa decides to try and fill in. “Len and I are a team, and Mick is apart of it sometimes too, and they’re the only people I know to have my back as I have theirs.”
Tell her . Hannah’s mind comes up. Tell her about Snart and Mick and the Waverider. Warn her. Hannah looks down, glances away, the thoughts turning sour as a bad apple in her mouth.
“You suddenly look upset. Not fond of Lenny and Mick?”
“I like them just fine.” Hannah dismisses, glancing at Lisa. Lisa looks in her eyes, picking them apart for any sign of duplicitousness.
“Then what’s the matter, babydoll?” Her tone is softer.
Hannah meets Lisa’s gaze, nearly tells her to not call her that, but Hannah likes the sound of the name. Babydoll . Young and sweet and comforting. When she worked at the movie theater back home, it wasn’t uncommon for people to compare her to a doll sometimes, or even in public. It was better than a catcall and made her feel nice.
Hannah still wants to tell Lisa about the future. “I… don’t want to be alone right now.” Hannah says instead, because it’s just as true. “Would you… like to, uhm, hang out?”
Surprise lightens the grifter’s face, then she grins. “I’d like that.”
“Just no thievery,” Hannah quickly adds. After a moment, thinking of Stacey and her occasional dips into kleptomania, she smiles sadly, reminiscent, and says, “Little, inexpensive things are fine though.”
“Experience?” Lisa chuckles as they begin to leave the park.
“I have a friend who’s a bit of a klepto. But I love her anyway.” Her heart aches with loss and longing for the past, wants to draw back into herself. “I frequently gave her a hard time for it, but honestly didn’t care. Still don’t. It wasn’t like she’d stick up a bank. She’d slip a couple jolly ranchers or a shirt patch into her pockets. Cheap things.”
“Sounds adorable. I’d love to have her under my wing.”
Hannah isn’t sure how to process that. Lisa, seeing the “I sucked on a sour grape” look, laughs. “I wouldn’t actually do it.”
They end up walking to a nearby coffee shop that’s out of the way. Hannah is able to order a hot chocolate and Lisa chooses a coffee.
“Why are you in Central City, anyway?” Lisa wheedles. “You’re not the big city type.”
Hannah blows on the hot drink, debating whether to give her fake background or a mix of her real and fake. Either way, Lisa would likely find out eventually if she’d been tracking Hannah this long.
“I’m from from a small Florida town, but lived in Starling with my grandma when I was sixteen after my parents died,” Hannah explains, then takes a sip to ease her churning insides.“We were more on the outskirts than actually in it, though.”
“Oh?” Lisa perks up. “Did she die?”
“Well, this isn’t anything people don’t know.” Hannah bites her lip, thinking of the precinct and how they all knew this story and treated her either too gently or avoided her. Well, anyone who didn’t speak to Barry on a first name basis. “She did. I had an abusive girlfriend before my grandma died, and when I was left alone it got ugly really fast. Possessive, violent outbursts, prone to apologize and make me feel like shit. Typical abuse tactics.”
Lisa’s face is darker, obvious in the tilt of her mouth and the hidden snarl crinkling the bridge of her nose. Hannah wonders how Lisa will handle knowing this was all a lie. Probably not any better than Captain Singh would.
“How did you get away?”
“I met Barry.” Three words, succinct. Her eyes dart sideways, to the left, mouth pinching again. She elaborates as she had with Singh. “It was before the particle accelerator blew. He was in Starling chasing a lead on some impossible case. He was nice to me, and she didn’t like that I was smiling at another person with her around. Thought I’d leave her if someone who treated me decently came along.” Hannah takes a brief sip of her drink, sets it down to touch her wrist, feeling it was only yesterday that Hannah had given this same lie. “Barry easily realized what was going on and gave me his number, said if I ever needed help then to just call him.”
“But you didn’t until months later.” Lisa frowns, pulled into the story. “Why?”
“I wasn’t allowed a phone or internet. And even if I had, he was in a coma for nine months. Got hit by lightning.”
Eyebrows at her hairline, the grifter hums. “That why he’s so special now?”
“It’s one reason.” Hannah murmurs, hunching a little. She didn’t want to say too much about the team, thinking of ways to drag it back around. After a second of hesitation, she asks, “Tell me about you. I told you my sad story.”
Lisa straightens a little more, eyes narrowed a bit. “Couldn’t you just read my files?”
“You don’t have files.” Hannah points out. “Flash got rid of anything connected to Leonard Snart. Besides, that’s an invasion of privacy. I rather ask the source.”
Lisa seems pleased at the answer. “You’d be a terrible thief. Too loud and sweet. Like a Hufflepuff.”
“I’m aware.” Hannah snorts. “And I’m a Ravenclaw.”
Lisa huffs, fighting back a small smirk at the girl’s house, clearly thinking it fit. “I’m a Slytherin. And Lenny, first of all, is only my half-brother. Though he’d be hard-pressed to admit it.” She sets down her coffee. “My mother was our father’s second wife. She was pretty, and strong, but couldn’t stand the abuse. She also couldn’t get custody of me or Lenny. Lewis was a bastard with connections even back then.”
And he taught you ‘lessons.’ Hannah thinks to herself, remembering very distinctly the way she’d spoken to Cisco in Family of Rogues. Soft, withdrawn, like it was a jagged, gaping wound even several decades later.
While not physically abused by her own dad, Hannah could relate.
“Lenny never wanted me involved with the life.” Lisa goes on, squaring her steadily drooping shoulders. “Did his best to keep me out of it by pleasing dear old dad. He put me through school and paid for my ice skating lessons. But, when I was out of high school, I started following Lenny, learning from him and Mick. And teaching myself.”
“So you’re a self-made thief?” Hannah asks.
“All thieves are self-made.” Lisa corrects. “Some may have teachers at the start, but to actually be a good thief you don’t have one. Like your friend.”
“You’re very Sophie Deveraux and Tara Cole.” Hannah blurts. Hannah covers her mouth even as Lisa cackles, ecstatic with the comparison.
“Oh, I like you.” Lisa’s cackle tapers off into giggles. “You make me think of Maggie.” Her eyes narrow a little, assessing Hannah. “There’s something that makes me think of Hardison around you, too.”
“Cisco is Hardison.” Hannah shakes her head. “Age of the geek, baby. I’m just a nerd.”
“Being a nerd is also Hardison.” Lisa reasons.
“The entire team are nerds in their respective rights.” Hannah points out. “Though you can argue that Eliot is the biggest nerd. He knows everything .”
“Everything is just so very distinctive.” Lisa shrugs off casually, then grins at Hannah’s laugh.
“I like you.” She tells Lisa. “I think I like you even more than Snart.”
Lisa looks pleasantly surprised. “You like Lenny?” She chuckles, an “oh ho” sound, as Hannah’s face turns crimson. “Wouldn’t your team just love that.”
“Not like, like, like that!” Hannah lies, brain briefly short-circuiting after her brain-to-mouth filter messing up, and it’s obvious in the way Lisa’s grin turns shark-like and leans in that the woman definitely didn’t believe the cheap lie. “God, that’s insane. I’m not his type. He’s not my type. And,” dropping her voice to not be noticed by anyone nearby, she hisses, “he’s a criminal!”
“I don’t know,” Lisa drawls. “If Cisco and I could make it work, I don’t know why you and Lenny couldn’t. I’m sure with some nudging, you’d be his type. And the criminal thing, well,” she uses drinking her coffee as a dramatic pause, “relationships are built on compromise.”
Hannah frowns severely, face still red. “I’d never do that to the team, Lisa.” She shakes her head. “And I’m not his type so it’s useless thinking about it.”
“And how would you know my brother’s type?” Lisa raises her eyebrows, challenging Hannah. “Or that your team would think it a betrayal, when Cisco and I clearly have chemistry?”
“I’m not some smart badass with kickass wit and a flare for the dramatics.” Hannah over her drink, fighting down a scowl at admitting something she’d rather not address about herself. Her friends back home used to say she was those things, and maybe she was to them because she was a nerd, but here she wasn’t. “And they would think it a betrayal. Cisco and Cait are aware of my inclination and don’t care so long as nothing ever happens, which it won’t.”
Lisa huffs and settles back in her seat. “I think you’d be fine after getting to know one another.”
Hannah scowls. Her stupid fondness for the elder Snart wins out and her scowl drops into a frown, tasting sour in her mouth.
“We’re not passing the Bechdel test.” Hannah realizes her hot chocolate is empty and nearly cries. Sure, it was still warm outside, but that didn’t mean she didn’t want to savor the hot, chocolatey goodness.
“I didn’t realize we were in a form of media.” Lisa’s eyes roll over Hannah, seeming to find something. Her lips tug down. “I was just teasing you about Lenny, babydoll. I do get not everyone can be as wishy-washy in their affection as Cisco can.” She reaches across to pat Hannah’s arm. “Don’t worry about it so much. It’s not like I’m going to tell him. He’d be just as upset as your friends would at us teaming up.”
Hannah’s heart swells, and hurts, and she’s given a very big reason to like Lisa beyond her courage and sass and her loyalty and love for her brother. This hidden gem of kindness that Lewis hasn’t been able to snuff out told her just how little she got to truly see of these people before coming to Earth-1.5. She swallows, feels truly evil for withholding so much information from Lisa Snart of all people, and smiles a little.
“We should make this a weekly thing.”
Lisa grins, slow and cat-like. “I’m not opposed to that. I’m guessing every Sunday?”
“If you can manage it in what I’m sure is a busy schedule.” Hannah teases, leaving behind the flustered woman of several minutes ago to be witty and funny. “I don’t want to rob you of any golden opportunities.”
Lisa groans, shaking her head. “You’re worse than Lenny with those puns.”
“I mean,” she shrugs, trying to fight back a grin and failing, “cold puns have an absolute zero chance of winning right now.”
“That was, that was terrible and I officially adopt you as my little sister.” Lisa declares as she swishes her cup, realizing it’s empty like Hannah’s. “This?” She motions to them with her empty cup. “Is a golden opportunity and is the start of a wonderful friendship.”
“You just used the same pun I did!”
Lisa gets out of her seat and Hannah follows. “Technically,” she tosses her cup and tugs Hannah after her to the open street and warm autumn air, “I’m the one with the gold gun, so you didn’t make the pun. I did.”
“I will argue this until my dying day.” Hannah huffs.
“Good luck. I always have the last word.”
Hannah raises her eyebrows at Lisa but doesn’t say anything. She’s pretty sure she can put in enough effort to beat the thief at having the last word, at least.
Hannah returns a bit later to STAR labs, feeling lighter than she had before. Stepping through the door, she remembers her fight with Cisco and pauses, stomach coiling into knots. It was why she’d come back, but actually going to address what had happened and saying she would are very different.
But Cisco did deserve an apology, and Lisa had hinted he wouldn’t be too mad at her. A little mad, Hannah could handle. A lot mad, in fact. But the idea of him yelling was terrifying.
She hated that being angrily yelled at by friends or family caused her to shut down.
Hannah chooses to steel her nerves, knowing that if she didn’t get over her fears now then she never would. She lived in a world where being meek and scared wasn’t an option anymore, had known this before she’d confronted Eobard in the Pipeline months ago.
The halls are, as always, death quiet. Getting closer to the Cortex, she can hear the team, giving life to the giant graveyard. They don’t seem to be discussing anything big, and it gives her the opportunity to stop and catch her breath, to think on what she’d say to Cisco, and the team.
She couldn’t imagine apologizing to just Cisco. Caitlin had clearly wanted to do something nice for her. And Barry likely knew what had happened by now.
Hannah comes into the Cortex and locks eyes with Cisco. He frowns at her, twizzler hanging out of his mouth.
“Welcome back.” Cisco responds flatly.
Her hands curls into fists at her side. “I’m sorry for how I reacted earlier.”
Her tongue sticks in her mouth, jaw clenching. She expects a sarcastic reply, or a jab at her childish reaction, like she’d come to expect thanks to her aunt and her siblings. Cisco doesn’t do either of those things. He sits and waits, not allowing her to look away to see how Caitlin or Barry are taking this.
“I have a, uh, bad habit of running when I get scared and being defensive or, or shutting down isn’t an option.” Hands stretching out at her sides, they curl in again. It hurts to force these words out, and she wonders why it’s so much harder apologizing to Cisco than it was to Joe months ago. “And,” her throat is tightening up, and it’s getting harder to speak, but she’s not on her Earth anymore and she can’t let her insecurities stop her, “and I had time to think, and realize what I’d done w-was really fucked up. And I want a birthday party, I want to hang out you and learn about you and talk about myself, but I don’t wanna get attached because that means I might not wanna go home. I want to be your friend, and sing Selena Gomez off-key in front of a crowd, and do more than have lunch together a couple times a week and sit around here, but I’m terrified of a having a life here that would outshine my other one.” Her whole body is trembling, adrenaline eating up her veins, face hot, and her face is wet . “I want to be here, but I want to go home.” Her voice is down to a whisper by the end of it. Almost inaudible.
She’s never been able to keep talking while crying. The only other time was after her mother had died and her former friend Charli had held her, letting her cry and scream and ask why it had to be her mom who died instead of someone else.
Cisco looks surprised at the word vomit dropped in his lap.
Hannah is positive she’s about to legitimately vomit, her entire body is shaking so badly and her mouth tastes foul. The fact she hasn’t dissolved into a sobbing mess is spectacular.
Cisco is standing in front of her, reaching out. She flinches a little, and he freezes. Slowly, carefully, he moves after a heart stopping second, drawing her into a hug. She’s so close to hyperventilating, unaware of it, that it takes Cisco holding her to make her aware of how unready she was for this.
“Dude,” he tucks her head under his chin, rubbing between her shoulder blades. “If this is what saying sorry does, you could have said so.”
“It, it doesn’t.” Her voice cracks. “Stress, and fear.”
Cisco’s arms briefly squeeze her. “What did your family do to you?”
And that question, such a simple one, had her throat closing up. She shook her head, hiding further in his shoulder. Stray tears find their ways into his jacket.
It was mainly her sister’s and dad’s fault for her inability to handle getting into a fight with a friend and not running away instead of immediately hashing it out. It’s the first time she’s been able to actually apologize, to not think about how she’d learned any argument or raised voice came with raised hands and black eyes.
Hannah curls into him.
“I’m so sorry.” She chokes on the words. “I hate crying. It’s a, a weakness I know.”
Cisco goes very still. Then, making sure she’s aware he’s not shoving her away, has her lean away so he can look at her.
“Hey, listen to me.” He looks soft, tone matching him, reminding her of when Luke had taught her to hold a rabbit right, showed her how to make sure chicken eggs incubated right so they could then hatch. “Crying isn’t a weakness, and whoever told you that is an asshole and I will personally fight them.”
“Even if they’re a girl?”
“I don’t care what gender they are.” Hannah rubs at her eyes, but more tears fall, and she sniffs, nose clogged with snot. “I don’t know what the hell happened to make any sort of confrontation get this reaction out of you, but I sure as hell am gonna make sure that person gets a what-for and help you with this.”
Her teeth try to glue themselves closed, but Hannah talks through it, feeling sicker and more lightheaded than before. “I don’t wanna be a burden.”
“ Oh .” Hannah looks at Caitlin, who looks heartbroken. “Hannah, you aren’t a burden.”
Yes, I am. Bile presses up her throat. She needs to get away. They’ll change their minds about her. She knows it. Everyone always does, except the people who rarely see her and don’t know just how annoying and pitiful she can be. It’s all I ever am.
“I’m not into being nice to people who don’t deserve it.” Cisco tells her. “And if you were a burden, I wouldn’t like you.”
“Besides,” Caitlin comes closer, and it’s strange to see her breaking her own personal bubble, “you’re apart of this team. That means we’re family.”
She has to take a deep breath because her heart feels like it’s crushing her.
None of this is what she wanted to hear. She wanted to apologize, say yes to karaoke, and then after the little birthday party… she didn’t know. She wanted to know these people, like they wanted to know her, and they cared . But it didn’t change the fact she was scared of a future where she didn’t go home, where she allowed these people in and didn’t look back.
Somewhere in her mind, she can hear Britt talking. Of course they ‘care’. They’re heroes . You’re a charity case. Once you’re gone, they’ll forget about you.
“I’m justa, justa–”
Hannah doesn’t want to say the words. Doesn’t think she can, because they might say no and break apart every bad thing she was thinking. Or they might not know how to reply and leave her thinking she was right, that they were only doing this out of pity.
Even when talking to Eobard, Barry hadn’t sounded so livid. Hannah’s initial reaction is to shrink back, to hide away from his anger directed at her, but Cisco stops her, an unintentional comfort and cover.
“Just a charity case?” Barry supplies, and her thoughts and fears grind to a halt at him knowing what she was thinking, at the sudden realization he’s not made at her but at who made her this . “Because you’re not. Not to me. Or Joe. Or Iris.” He motions to Cisco who’s still holding her as though protecting her from the world around them like a big brother did, and then to Caitlin whose lips are pressed thin and nose is scrunched, upset at the world Hannah had come from. “To Cisco or Caitlin. You really are our friend.”
He huffs, letting out a frustrated sigh. “I get it, that this is hard for you to believe. I really do. And I wish I had realized this was something you dealt with sooner, because,” he stops, looks at Cisco and Caitlin as though he’d rather not divulge this to them, then looks back at her to bite the bullet, “I know. I mean, I definitely didn’t go through what you must have, and it’s not as crippling, but I get it.”
Hannah doesn’t know how to respond to that, her ears ringing, heart crying, and mind screaming. One part of her mind, that’s always won out, is telling her he’s lying to make her feel better while the other, who always loses, tells her he’s being truthful and to actually accept this– these people– as her friends and finally open up.
And, for once, she listens to the angel on her shoulder.
“Can we,” she sniffles, “watch movies instead of doing karaoke? Crowds make me nervous.”
Barry, puffed up and reminding her on an angry wolf puppy, shrinks a little, shoulders relaxing. He smiles, kind.
“What do you think, Cait, Cisco?”
“What movies?” Caitlin asks. “I can’t watch horror.”
“Labyrinth and Spirited Away, maybe The Princess Bride.”
“Ooooh,” Cisco squeezes her a little before letting go, “I love Princess Bride! And Spirited Away is Miyazaki’s best.”
“I personally think Kiki’s Delivery Service is the best.” Caitlin opposes.
“You’re both missing the greatest movie on the list.” Barry interjects. “There’s Labyrinth.”
“I like the music, but…” Caitlin makes a face. “A teenager wishes away her baby brother to a Goblin King.”
“Who dances and is a better babysitter than the sister.” Cisco argues. “ And is David Bowie.”
“He threw the baby in the air!”
Caitlin and Cisco devolve into good natured arguing. Hannah stands there, watching them, still shaking but it lessening.
It’s never been so easy to move on after one of her freak outs. Usually her family would tread lightly around her or treat her like a basket case after. They never just… got on with their lives.
It was nice. It made her feel human.
Barry comes to stand by her, looking like he wanted to ask who had done it.
“I didn’t know you had issues with confrontation.” Hannah mumbles, throat dry and nose still stuffed.
Those issues never made it on screen , she thinks. Something he’s hidden from the world. Or , she thinks a bit more sourly, the writer’s never bothered to consider.
“It was mainly after my Mom died and Dad went to prison,” he tells her. “I was angry all the time, but I knew it wasn’t good, y’know. Made it hard to talk to people.” He shrugs. “I decided I didn’t want to be that way at some point, and Joe offered to help.” Barry looks at her for a long moment. “If you want, I could help.”
“I used to have a therapist.” Hannah admits quietly to him, instead of saying ‘yes, please, for the love of Brighid help me’. “His name was Harold. He was maybe the best decision I ever made, even if my aunt, who helped me find him, eventually started to think I had been going too long and thought I should stop soon. It got easier to deal with confrontations, learning ways to deal with high emotions and crippling fear from him.” Hannah moves to sit at the computers and Barry does too, listening intently. “I’ve forgotten so many ways to handle them, that all I can do is fix the aftermath.”
“Your anxiety was that bad?”
“My anxiety isn’t an issue.” Hannah shakes her head. “It’s being yelled at, by family and very close friends, that ends up shoving me into the deep end. It, it wasn’t uncommon in my house to deal with that, growing up.” She looks down at her hands fisted together in her lap. “And my two options were to hide or sit and watch.”
Barry exhales slowly. “Watch?”
“My dad never, uhm, never yelled at me. I mean, he did once or twice, but he usually… went after Mom, or Luke, or Britt. Found whatever reason he could to.” Heat pools behind her eyes and she inhales sharply. “Britt i-is the eldest and she, she eventually started doing to me what Dad did to her,” she can hear Barry’s sharp inhale, taste the anger roiling off him, “yelling and nit-picking. He never hit her, but she wasn’t above going that far with me.”
Her hair falls in her face and Hannah pushes it back, belatedly noticing her hair was still hair dark brown, as was her roots. It leaves her mind as quickly as it arrives when a warm hand covers hers, the smoothness on the pads of his fingers startling compared to her callouses.
Her eyes dart up, looking through her lashes and past the dark fall of her hair. “Uh-huh?”
“Can I be honest with you?”
Hannah pauses, debating on whether she really wanted to hear what he said. Her head dips in a jerky nod. “Sure.”
“Your sister sounds like a bitch. And your dad an asshole.” He briefly squeezes her hands, and her heart aches with want.
She wanted him to hold her, to wrap his arms around her and let her hide from the world with her face buried in his neck. She wanted to sleep next to him, aware she was safe and he understood her issues and insecurities. She wanted- she wanted-
Her voice sounded raw, like sandpaper rubbed against the softness of a sapling, strangled by the surge of emotions and her needs to strangle them back. She couldn’t even dwell on this sudden want to hold Barry as she curls into his lap.
One of her hands break free, turning to brush her fingers across his palm. Somehow, from some instinct neither knew very well, he laced their fingers together. The usual fragileness of her heart’s emotions settled at the affection, relaxing at having someone here who on some level knew her crutches.
“Thank you.” The words taste like fresh figs and sugarcane water, juice dripping down her chin to stain her heart golden colors. “I’m… not used to feeling like this so easily. I,” Hannah fidgets, finally raising her head to look at him, “usually just, like, say it in passing, with a laugh or smile, or not at all. Because I’d rather people not believe me as I’m letting out how much pain I feel than know just. Just how fucked up I am inside, every day. But, Barry, you really are.” Hannah stops, seeing the pain at her fears in his eyes. She looks away, at Caitlin and Cisco, who are somehow debating the plausibility of goblins actually existing. She wondered if they heard it all and were just giving them space. “I wouldn’t just tell Oliver or Laurel this, or even Captain Marvel if she were real here. You really are a hero.” Hannah brings up enough strength to look at him as she says, serious as she’s ever been, “And my friend.”
Barry rolls closer so his knees bracket one of hers. She startles at the sudden proximity, question on her tongue as he suddenly leans over and presses his lips to her forehead.
Her mind stutters and shuts down, heart picking up so fast she feared to be having a heart attack. His lips are warm where they rest on her forehead for those few eternal seconds. Her cheeks feel hot, like how they flush after a really long day when the night turns late and she’s exhausted enough to crash soon as she’s close enough to horizontal.
Barry is pulling away before she can fully process what has happened. And he coughs, looking away, as the feeling of eyes settle on them. Hannah looks at Caitlin and Cisco, the bioengineer looking oddly guilty and engineer a tad smug. She looks back at Barry, aiming to ask what the kiss was for, but-
Hannah watches him run a hand through his hair, down the back of his head, to rub his neck. He looks… embarrassed. No, flustered. Her heart pounds against her ribs painfully, taking her voice, and all she can do is stare at him.
Slowly, Hannah gets to her feet, deciding she needs a bit of time to get whatever is happening to her under control. She lets go of his hand, and he stands too, so fast her nose is nearly pressed into his chest, reminding her she’s over a foot shorter than him. Hannah takes a healthy stepback, licking her lips.
“I, uhm, figured I’d go get dinner for everyone.” She manages with her unsteady heart leading the charge. “I’ll be back in a little while.”
“Oh, yeah, sure.” He smiles at her, eyes glowing with the same emotion she’s seen twice before that’s sent her scurrying away.
She grabs her discarded purse, making sure to keep her eyes off him. “Big Belly Burger okay, guys?”
Hannah is already out the Cortex by the end of her sentence, not catching anyone’s reply. She’s barely out the door of S.T.A.R. Labs when ozone bleeds the air and she instinctively shuts her eyes as she’s swept off her feet.
Hannah stumbles when she’s set back on her feet, a few minutes later, vision spinning. She shakes her head, flustered. “Barry, why did you-”
Her head lifts and her voice catches in her throat as she finally realizes who’s standing across from her, face impassive, eyes bright with mania. Her back slams into a metal walk, rattling what sounded like a hollow containers. Under her, Hannah’s knees feel ready to give out. A hoarse whine passes her lips, terror turning her bones into stone as she realizes she’s on the wrong side of town, in an alleyway.
Hunter Zolomon, otherwise known Zoom and the impersonator of Earth 2’s Flash, grins, showing his teeth in a shark-like smile. “Hello, Hannah. Long time, no see.”
Chapter 10: King and Lionheart
This chapter's song is by Of Monsters and Men. The song really captures the friendship that's budded between Lisa and Hannah, and it truly shows in this chapter.
And enter the really creepy Zoom/Hunter Zolomon. Also t.w. for mentions of past child abuse (Lisa Snart y'all, c'mon).
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Hannah flips through the file, blue highlighter in hand. Exhaustion pulls at her body, these last few days her lips unable to tilt up in the perpetual small smile she used to wear at work. Hannah stares at the words of the file, not reading them, and closes her eyes. Her head aches and her bones cry from lack of sleep.
“You are a thorn in my side. But I can’t kill you. So I’m making use of you.”
“I would never work for you, you sick son of a bitch!”
“You will if you want your friends to be unharmed. I can just as easily snap Cisco’s neck and rip out Caitlin’s heart. Torture poor Iris and Eddie. Make Joe disappear. Have Barry watch and tell him it was your fault .”
Hannah throws the highlighter onto her desk, eyes squeezing shut as she buries her hands in her hair. Her breathing is uneven and she can’t have that. People will ask questions. Barry will ask questions. And she can’t tell him, no matter how much she wants to.
“Now… if you want your friends to live, I have a few things I need you to do for me.”
Zoom had effectively put a shock collar around her neck.
“What is it?”
She could remember the slash of his smile, the vile triumph in his eyes. Hannah would have rathered he kill her.
“First, when I finally make my appearance, you don’t say anything incriminating. You bolster their trust. And Dr. Wells isn’t to be outed either. You let this run its course. Play with that little thief of yours if you need a reason to stay away.”
Her phone rings and she glances at it, sees it’s Lisa’s number. The name on her phone for the thief was ‘Stacey,’ because it was easier to recognize the thief that way and keep questions down.
She grabs it and answers, feeling ill. “Hey. What’s up?”
Lisa hums from the other side of the line. “Was nearby and wondered if you’d like to get lunch? There’s this adorable little cafe down the street.”
“La Chat Noir Café?” Hannah supplies, putting cheer into her voice. “I’d love to. They have a great potato soup.”
Lisa soon hangs up and Hannah closes down her computer and slips away her files. She lets Captain Singh know she’s on her lunch break and leaves.
Hannah wishes that’s all Zoom had forced onto her. “Of course not. You’d find a way around it. I want you to come find me at the park everyday. I’m sure you can find the time and excuses.”
“I hate you.”
“And that makes this all the more satisfying.”
Lisa is at her side like a shadow the moment Hannah touches the sidewalk, hooking their arms together. She’s in a bright red wig, dressed like Caitlin. On command, half real and half fake, Hannah smiles at Lisa.
“Gooood morning, babydoll.” She sings the words, squeezes Hannah’s arm briefly, before they step inside the cafe to ask for a table in the furthest back corner. After they sit, Lisa looks Hannah over thoroughly, smirking. “You look cute today. Trying to impress someone? Like a certain Speedster?”
Hannah rolls her eyes even as her face got hot. She was wearing her brown leather jacket (and currently her only jacket), a scarlet peasant shirt with an open sweetheart neckline, ruched in the center, and her neutral brown boots, all matched with a pair of jeans because she was allowed to get away with them once a month. The fact her makeup maybe had a bit of blush and matte scarlet lipstick instead of liquid was a coincidence. And her hair was because she finally got a cut yesterday and wanted to show off.
“ No. ” Hannah stresses. “I am not. I can dress nice without trying to impress.”
“You always dress nice, babydoll.” Lisa assures. “But this is extra nice.”
Hannah rolls her eyes again. “The day I decide to dressing for someone, I’ll ask for your help.”
Lisa grins, showing teeth. “I’m going to take complete advantage of that, I hope you know.”
“Yeah. I do.” Hannah opens her menu, though not overly hungry. She was lucky if she ate even once a day now.
It’s quiet for a long moment as they look, then Lisa flicks her gaze up to Hannah searchingly.
“You also look tired. Busy lately?”
“Mhmm.” Hannah glances at her friend, struggling to find a smile and lie. “Meta-humans, Flash Day, all that stuff.” She frowns at the menu. “Shit I’m supposed to be there after I eat lunch.”
“Me and Lenny are busy then too.” Lisa smiles at her friend, settled between teasing and friendly. “Getting in some early holiday shopping.”
Hannah chuffs with a small head shake, glances at her phone where the time is displayed. She debates the amount of time she has to eat and get to the commemoration in the park.
“Walk with me?”
“I don’t know…. seems out of my way.”
“ Please? ” Hannah gives her best puppy eyes, hoping Lisa says yes. She wouldn’t be able to find Cisco and Caitlin until near the end because Zoom demanded they meet. But if Lisa went with, she’d have a handful of minutes to at least enjoy how happy her team was. “I’ll make it worth it.”
“Hm, buy me lunch and I’ll make Lenny wait. He could do with his weird need to time everything down to the second being thrown off.”
“That does include my wine.”
“I just turned 20, not 21. I can’t pay for it.”
“I have 15 in cash though, so you can give it to the server for the wine and tip.”
Lisa grins at her friend, mocking. “You spoil me.” Flipping the menu open, the woman adds, “For that, I’ll handle the tip and pay for my wine.”
“I like to spoil my friends, Lise.” Hannah tells her honestly. “It, I dunno, is one way I know to show I like someone, next to being an ear and shoulder for them, and hanging out.”
“I’d be careful with that.” Lisa closes her menu and slides it aside. “Someone may take advantage.”
I already had someone do that , Hannah thinks, thinking of an old friend. She turns to her purse instead of following the rabbit hole Lisa had provided, always digging for more about her new friend. Hannah pulls out the folder of papers copied from the file and report she shouldn’t have been snooping in.
“I’m not supposed to do this.” Hannah explains, holding them out to Lisa as the lie spins itself to life between them. “But a couple of cops were talking near my desk yesterday and I decided to go copy these.”
“What are they?” Lisa asks skeptically, glancing over them but not flipping open the folder.
“Your dad is being released on probation in a couple weeks for good behavior.” Hannah explains, voice dropped as low as she can get it. “This is all the information so far. When it gets closer, I can check the system, tell you what part of town to avoid.”
Lisa scowls, the look unfamiliar on the beautiful woman’s face. Then it eases, smoothing over. She gives Hannah a sincere smile. “Thanks.”
“I’m sorry I can’t do more.” Hannah tells her. “Like force it back or something.”
“This is fine, Hannah.” Lisa swears. “It’s better than anything else someone could give me.”
Hannah nods, still upset she couldn’t help the grifter and her brother. Lewis was an asshole and definitely deserved the ending he got, but Hannah refused to let Lisa have a bomb put in her neck.
Lunch is easy, and quick, following that. They talk about shows mostly, like Supernatural and Once Upon A Time . Hannah couldn’t wait for The Magicians so she could introduce Lisa to a whole new world of nerd and magic.
If she didn’t die at Zoom’s hands first.
Hannah, like promised, pays while Lisa takes care of her wine and the tip. They then head to the park.
“So why didn’t you want to come alone?” Lisa asks as they walk. “I’d imagine Cisco or Caitlin would meet you. Maybe the West’s.
“They’re busy.” Hannah lies. They think she won’t get there until the very end, when Barry arrives to receive the key. “And I’ve had a bad feeling lately.”
Lisa arches a brow, winding the paths provided by the park with her friend. “You have been off lately. Anything up I need to be wary of?”
Zoom, Earth-2 metas, her father. Tons of things Hannah can’t name. It’s a constant weight on her chest, crushing her.
“Not that I know of, no.” Hannah reaches up, rubbing under her eyes. God, she’s so tired. And she’s feeling light-headed on top of her headache now. “It’s just… nightmares. Nightmares and worry.”
Lisa looks at Hannah with a silent probing, then she bumps against the younger woman. “I won’t let her hurt you, Hannah.”
If only her nightmares were from an abusive ex-girlfriend.
“Thanks, Lise.” Hannah gives a wane smile to her friend.
They walk the park a bit more before Lisa finally decides her brother had been forced to wait long enough. She gives Hannah a fleeting half-hug, warm and edged with a squeeze to her shoulders that said “Hold On.” They part ways, Hannah going toward the giant stage set up for the Flash Day commemoration as Lisa seems to disappear in a crowd of joggers like a putout candle’s smoke does when waved.
Hannah pauses a couple meters from the crowd, looking at the gathering. Soon it would be crashed by Atom-Smasher and Zoom’s reign of terror would start. Her hands clench in rage, hot, bitter tears prickling at her eyes.
After the rage passes, she turns on heel to go find her ugly shadow.
She finds Hunter, dressed in civvies, on the other side of the park. He smiles at her, the curve of his lips underlined by a darkness that terrified and enraged her. He lowers his camera that had been taking photos of the area to focus completely on her. He was worse than Eobard Thawne, and she couldn’t wait for him to lose to Barry.
“Hello again, doe.”
He’d started calling her that. He’d explained by stating does were pretty but dangerous, in so much that they kicked like a motherfucker but could easily be shot and killed. It had disgusted her and he’d merely shrugged at her vocalization of calling him a monster. It wasn’t the first or last time she’d called him a monster.
“Hunter.” Hannah sits on the far side of the bench, still suffocated by the ozone that stank from him despite the foot or so between them.
It’s strange how two men could smell like ozone and fire, but one made her stomach writhe in utter disgust while the other instilled safety and comfort.
“I’m assuming you’ve not told your friends, or that thief you hang around so much.” Hunter gives her an easy smile that makes her think of a child as they rip the wings off a butterfly.
“No.” Hannah severely wished she had before he’d gotten to her. “I haven’t.”
“Good, good. And nothing about Atom-Smasher?”
“No.” She grits her teeth, swallows back her need to spit in his face.
“So it’s going to run its course. Great.” Hunter hums. “You can’t help them defeat him.”
Hannah tenses up, indignation making its way up her throat into the air. “You never said that!”
“Now I am.” His grin turns smug, slides closer and throws an arm behind her. “Games evolve, rules change, and last I checked I was the King. You’re a pawn. One of my spies on your dear Barry’s team.”
Hannah closes her eyes, the bitter bite of tears returning. “I hate you.”
“You say it so much I think you’re lying now.”
Hannah’s head whips sideways, mouth opening to snarl at him. Lisa’s text tone dings in Hannah’s pocket. Her body freezes up and she meets Hunter’s dark eyes. He raises a brow, mouth curling nastily.
“Aren’t you going to check? They seem to be very important, since your phone isn’t on silent.”
“It’s fine.” She manages hoarsely. “They can wait.”
“No, no.” Hunter urges, tone flippant. “Check. It’s the Flash’s big day, after all. Maybe he’s checking to make sure you’re coming.”
“Don’t be like this.” Hannah whispers, hands fisting in her lap, fighting back curling in on herself. If she did in broad daylight, they’d be noticed and he’d be pissed. “Please just ignore it.”
Hannah reaches into her pocket, pulling out her phone. She looks at the small photo from Lisa.
Hannah swipes the text image open, and when the security screen appears she taps her code. She stares at a photo of the crowd at Flash day. Below it, Lisa has a smiley face.
“ Lenny canceled. I took too long so I’ll hang around. Where r u? ”
Hunter leans into her shoulder. She hisses at him, leaning away and getting half off the bench. He snatches her arm, yanking her back. His look doesn’t change, but the danger is still present.
“Tell her you had to go back to work.”
“She knows I have the hour for this off.” Hannah protests.
“Then something else believable.” Hunter growls.
Hannah stares at the text, at the knowledge a read receipt had been sent and Lisa was now going to get worried. Hannah never made Lisa wait after a read receipt.
“Okay.” She murmurs, and slowly taps out a lie.
“ Barry wanted to see me . ”
She receives a read receipt, a minute passes and three blue bubbles blink up. Lisa hopefully wouldn’t pick up the lie.
“ Aww. He really does hog all your time. See you later, then . ”
Hannah’s shoulders relax and she breathes out. Thank you, Lisa .
Hannah switches her phone to silent and puts it away, glancing at Hunter. “I have the sound on when at work. I’m only texted in an emergency at work. I forgot to put it on silent on the way here.”
“Make sure it doesn’t happen again.” He says frostily. “You probably won’t enjoy what I do to it.”
Hannah’s lips press together. She hopes Lisa left instead of deciding to stick around. It would be safer that way. It would make Hannah feel better.
“Anything else, Hunter?” She asks, tone edging into sarcastic.
“Not for now, no.” He reaches up, runs a hand through her carefully made hair. She flinches, a violent jerk of her head to the side, and the sweep of waves is pulled from his hand like a ribbon. She hadn’t told Lisa, but she had wanted to look nice for Flash Day, even if she had to meet Hunter beforehand. “You can go.”
Hannah is off the bench like a shot, hurrying as fast as she can without being noticed.
Her phone buzzes and she pulls it out. It’s a text from Barry.
“ u ther yet? ”
Had he decided to wait until she got there to arrive? She’d missed the opening speech from the Mayor, and couldn’t see Iris, Eddie, or Caitlin in the crowd. Cisco and Joe were off on the sidelines, sitting on a police issue car, a packet of jolly ranchers beside Cisco.
“ Yup. Just arrived. ”
“ B ther in a flash. ” Barry tacks on a smiley face and she grins at the horrible joke despite her situation, despite knowing Hunter had moved into the crowd and could be watching her.
Another text arrives from Barry, a photo this time, and it’s him leaning on the computer consol, clearly in the Flash suit even with the cowl down. He’s grinning at the camera, at her , and her stomach knots up and her heart beats triple time.
“Ah, Ms. McCullough.”
Hannah jumps, turns to Professor Stein and his wife Clarissa, and puts away her phone. Her throat tightens, having not seen much of him since Ronnie’s death, but the burning man still gives the best smile he can to her.
“So glad you made it. Mr. Allen had said you were busy and would likely be late.”
“I made sure to hurry.” Hannah hugs Clarissa in greeting and shakes Professor Stein’s hand. “It’s an important day for the team, especially Barry, after all.”
Professor Stein is about to add on when she smells it. The clean ozone and fire Barry oozed when using his powers. She turns to look, right before Barry speeds onto stage.
“It’s strange how she always knows he’s coming before anyone else.” Clarissa states, though her eyes are on the interaction between Barry and the mayor.
Barry appears in awe of the amount of people there. For a work day, having over two hundred people present is amazing. It shows how much people love him as the city’s protector.
A chanting begins of his name, reverent and harolding. The Steins and her join in. A spiteful hate of Zoom rises in her and her hands are cupped around her mouth to be louder, wanting to make sure every last bit of her faith in the Flash- in Barry - is heard.
Her eyes catch Barry’s across the distance, her voice stuttering in her throat. His waving falters, and he grins so wide and bright it’s like looking at the sun. Her heart twists, aches even worse than it usually does, and she glances towards the mayor to avoid looking at Barry.
“Flash,” the mayor speaks after he calms the crowd to silence, and he holds out the golden key to the city, “the doors of the city will forever be open for you, Flash.”
His grin shrinks, turns humble. He gives a nod, of thanks and acceptance, and lifts to take the key.
A woman screams and Hannah exhales, stomach dropping away with the knowledge she could have stopped this. The hot dog cart comes flying into the area, and the Flash is quick to move the mayor out the way. The cart shatters against the podium and chaos ensues.
Hannah spins, deciding to focus on the Steins since she can’t help the team. “C’mon, this way.” She leads the couple away from the chaos and Atom-Smasher, sticking with them until the meta takes his leave of the area.
Hannah then hides behind the excuse of needing to get to work to handle of the chaos of a post-meta attack and leaves them, practically running all the way to work, ignoring their offer to drive her. If Hunter decided he wanted to talk to her after his attack, she’d make it hard on the bastard to do so.
She walks into the precinct, to cops scrambling to get out the door and to the park, and she’s fighting back rage and tears and the overwhelming feeling of uselessness. After realizing who they’d be up against, remembering Atom-Smasher relies on radioactivity, she had remembered how the team took him down, and now she can’t. She can’t help them and she’s a failure.
“Ms. McCullough are you alright?”
Hannah jumps, heart ratcheting up into her throat, as Captain Singh approaches among the chaos that came with a meta-human attack. He blinks in surprise, then his eyebrows lower, concern clear. “You were at the celebration. Are you okay?”
“Yes. Yes sir.” Hannah nods, keeps nodding. She shaking, didn’t know she was, and Hannah wills herself not to. “I wasn’t close to the fight.”
He slowly nods, searching for any obvious injuries with his eyes. “Get back to work then.”
Captain Singh continues past her, pauses, and then pats her shoulder. Her entire body locks up and he’s quick to pull back. “If you need to leave early today, I’ll understand.”
Hannah closes her eyes, sighs harshly but silently. She opens her eyes and smiles her brightest smile. “Thank you, sir. I’ll be okay.”
She couldn’t leave anyway. She wanted to, and she actually could, but also couldn’t. Hannah would be tempted to help the team and she didn’t want to endanger her friends. It would be easier this way.
Captain Singh nods and follows after the rest of his men, leaving her with a skeleton crew. Hands shaking a fraction too much, she hides behind her desk. She sits in her chair, all the files from that morning forgotten, phone ringing on its hook nonstop. In her pocket her phone vibrates and vibrates over and over again.
She can manage a single breath, a slow inhale then exhale, before covering her face with her hands. She hunches over, pressing her forehead to the table.
No one is there to pay attention, too busy with damage control, and she’s allowed this moment to break down, however small, even if she can’t allow tears.
It’s going to be a long day, and an even longer six months.
Hannah clocks out at five and packs up her desk. She heads to the bathroom before really leaving, washing her hands until they’re red and sore. All day they have felt dirty, and steadily felt worse as she sat at her desk, typing up complaints and taking phone calls, ignoring any from the team, not meeting Joe’s or Barry’s eyes when they come back.
There’s a knock on the door. Barry calls through a moment later, “Hannah, you okay?”
She’s still washing her hands. She isn’t sure how long she’s been there, rubbing and scraping at pruned skin. Her heart constricts, caught in the death grip of a viper and waiting for the poisonous bite to kill her.
Her legs can’t hold her weight anymore and she collapses, knees hitting the icy floor, wrapping her arms around herself, wet hands gripping her sides. She curls forward, gasping, gasping, choking. Her purse rattles, spilling open to send her phone and book and computer skittering across the floor.
The door opens and Barry is there beside her, crouched to her level, the embodiment of surprise and fear and worry. He’s puts an arm around her, tipping her toward him. “Hannah, what’s wrong?”
Hannah turns her head into his chest, hiding from him. She bites her lip, swallowing back the urge to tell him everything. Taking a few, steadying breaths, and manages out, “I don’t feel good.”
Barry gently squeezes her shoulder. “Can you stand?”
Her voice is harsh, grating as it tumbles out, “Yeah.”
She gets to her feet, leaning out from his touch. He doesn’t pull her back in, but his concern becomes more obvious, inspecting her face and finding it paler than usual, cheeks washed of their flushed color. The usual insomnia she suffered from seemed to have gotten worse, the light bruising under her eyes darker than normal. Barry switches the water off, glancing at her red hands. He gently takes one, lifting it up to inspect. She flinches, tries to pull her hand back, and Barry’s hold tightens enough that she gives up. “What happened?”
“I don’t know.” It’s a terrible lie, so she elaborates to flesh it out. “I was standing there, and I couldn’t remember how long I was there, and then I just… dropped. Then you were there.”
Partially true. She hadn’t realized she’d been washing her hands so long, and Barry’s voice had snapped her awake.
Barry lets her hand go, presses the back of his hand to her forehead. He frowns, and does the same to her cheeks. “You don’t have a fever…” He checks her eyes, and she can see how thick his lashes are this close, see how they brush against his cheeks with each blink, briefly shrouding his worry for her. “You are a little cold. You might have a low-grade fever and I can’t.”
Barry wraps his arm around her again. “C’mon. I’ll have Joe take you home. You don’t need to be on your feet if you don’t feel good.”
Hannah digs her feet in, not wanting to be around him, having avoided him well the last two weeks. She might say something she’ll regret.
“My stuff.” She twists out of his hold, bends to gather her things. Barry beats her to the punch though, gathering her things and slinging her purse over his shoulder. He pauses after doing so.
“This is really heavy, What else do you have in here? Bricks?”
Hannah manages a laugh, soft and defeated. “No. Just a book, computer, and phone.”
“Y’know.” Barry sounds soft, like a spring wind was soft. He pulls her in again, and she gives up, leans against him because she isn’t sure she can actually walk without struggling right then. She tells herself it isn’t the warmth he provides her, the comfort despite her anxiety at getting everyone killed, how he makes her feel safe against all odds. “I can’t get sick.”
He leads her out of the bathroom and they head over to Joe’s desk.
“Then why are you trying to avoid touching me?” he asks. “Because you are.”
I’m trying to not get the team killed , Hannah thinks. I’m trying to protect everyone from Zoom. And all I want to do around you guys is tell you about it, to tell you to not trust Jay and that Harry is there to take your speed to get his daughter back.
“I don’t like being touched when I feel ill.”
Lie, lie, lie. She liked being held and bundled in at least four blankets when sick, preferred having someone keep her company as she laid in bed, miserable. If she was sick, Hannah would want Barry or Caitlin or Cisco to gossip with her as she sneezed and coughed and was overall a sad bundle of gross.
Hannah nods as they come to Joe’s desk. His eyes narrow on Hannah. “You feelin’ okay?”
“She collapsed in the bathroom and I think she’s sick.” Barry explains. “And you get off in a few, so I figured she shouldn’t be around the team and-”
“I need a ride home.” Hannah says since Barry is starting to ramble. “Can you take me home?”
Barry’s fingers flex against her arm, a reflexive twitch. Hannah doesn’t understand until it dawns on her that she called the West House home . If she didn’t feel so exhausted she’d backpedal and correct herself. But as it stands she’s also glad she said it. The West House had felt like home lately, no matter her terror of the future and her eventual journey home.
A peculiar look overcomes Joe’s face thanks to her words. “Sure.”
Barry deposits her in the seat opposite Joe’s desk, placing her purse at her feet. He checks her temperature one more time, eyebrows creased together and worry clear on his face as he looks at the paleness of her cheeks and the darkness under her eyes.
Then he lingers, like how you would linger on a particularly bright sunset or on a peaceful, silent view of a forested valley below. He lingers on her, seeing past the sick, right to her and a tingling fear claws up her spine alongside excitement and hope.
Hannah looks away, cracking the moment in half, fidgeting with her shirt sleeve.
“You, uh,” he stands up, scratches the side of his jaw, “looked prettier than usual today.”
Hannah manages a quiet laugh, embarrassment flushing her cheeks. She didn’t realize she was pretty usually. “Even though I look like I’m at Death’s door?”
“I’m sure Death would be hard pressed to pick a fight with you, no matter how you’re feeling.” Barry admits, and they both think of Eobard Thawne, how he’d tried to kill her twice and she’d come out on top. “And in that outfit? She’d know she’d lost.”
“Why? Because I’m in your color?” Hannah teases, smirking a little.
“No. That red is too bright.” Barry shakes his head. “You look like a Vampire Slayer or avenging angel or… something.”
The moment is broken when Joe snorts even as Hannah stares and stares and stares at Barry, taken aback wholly by the comparisons he’d made. “Okay. That’s enough.” He points at Barry. “Go finish your work so I can take her home. It’s time for me to go.”
Hannah laughs at Barry’s own flushed face and the partial disgruntlement at being told to go away.
“Sure, sure. Not like I haven’t finished all my cases.” Barry grumbles, but does as told and heads up back up to his lab.
Hannah turns to watch Barry go. At the top of the stairs, he stops, turns to wave at her. She lifts her hand, waving a little. The same excitement and hope curls in her lungs and purrs, pleased.
“Ahem.” She yelps, looking at Joe who’s raising an eyebrow at her. “Something I should know about?”
“NO!” She coughs, surprised at how loud the word had come out. “No. Just being friendly.”
“A-huh.” Joe nods, but is already straightening his desk and preparing to go. “Need any help?”
“I should be fine.” Hannah denies, grabbing her purse to sling over her head so the strap rested across her chest.
When she stands, her vision blur, head swimming, and a steadying hand stills her swaying body. Joe frowns at her, concern clear. “I’ll let Singh know you ain’t in the best shape.”
“Joe, I can’t-”
“They’ll be fine. Tam wants more hours anyway.” Joe dismisses, and just like Barry he throws an arm around her, guiding her and keeping her from falling over.
Hannah had to get a better handle on herself or she wouldn’t be able to meet with Zoom to protect the team, then they would find out about the damn man and it would all be over.
Hannah curls under her blankets, sweaty and pale, breathing labored. Occasionally, a shiver of pain works its way through her body. Throughout the day, Joe has checked on her after she woke up that morning to throw up, in so much pain that lifting her head caused her to briefly black out. Yesterday she had been shaky and felt unwell, but it hadn’t been this terrible.
Hannah felt like she was dying.
Caitlin had come to check on her around noon, and theorized that Hannah had an extreme version of their Flu. Joe hadn’t believed her because Hannah was vaccinated. Hannah, however, had been vaccinated on her Earth, not this one, and viruses constantly mutated and adapted, meaning it wasn’t unlikely for each Earth to have radically different strains of the Flu.
This made it hard for Hannah to fight off, Caitlin learned. She’d only been extremely ill twice in her life, or at least from what she’d allowed her body to feel, when Caitlin had asked how often she’d been sick in the past . It was revealing of what her childhood had been like, and it also spoke volumes to how strong her immune system was when she wasn’t sleep deprived and skipping meals.
With this, its painful when Hannah is jostled awake by a body nestling up to hers. A warm, thin arm curls over Hannah’s waist, knees pressing against hers. The added wright and warmth are an old comfort, reminding her of her mom holding her as she shivered with fever when small.
Hannah cracks her eyes open and finds its Lisa, blue eyes dark and deep with concern and something like anger but too soft to really hurt. She’s laid vertical to Hannah, close enough that their breath seems to mingle.
“Lisa?” Her nose is stopped up, and she coughs up phlegm a second later, throat aching. Lisa’s nose wrinkles. “What are you doing here?”
“Checking on you.” Lisa huffs, then presses their foreheads together. “I thought you looked funny yesterday. And I was right.”
“Come to rub it in?” Hannah grins tiredly, feels ready to fall asleep again.
Lisa brushes back some of the dark, messy hair clinging to her friend’s sweaty face. “No. I didn’t think you were sick . Just sleep deprived.” She presses the cool back of her hand to Hannah’s forehead and hisses. “I’d rather talk about this under better circumstances.”
“Talk about what?” Her vision swims and she closes her eyes until it stops, then slowly blinks her eyes open to stare at Lisa. “What’s wrong?”
Lisa looks placed somewhere between worried, pissed, and tired, asking, “Who was that creep yesterday, babydoll?”
Hannah goes rigid, terror clinging to every inch of her. Lisa frowns. “He related to your ex?”
“No.” Hannah manages. “He’s- that’s- that’s nothing to worry about, Lisa.”
A fierce scowl overtakes her face. “He put a hand on you, Hannah, and with the intent to harm. I don’t care what his smile was like. That was murder in his eyes. And you were terrified and disgusted the entire time.”
How much had Lisa seen? What had she heard ?
Hannah grasps weakly at Lisa’s hand where it has slipped back to it’s place on Hannah’s waist. “Lisa, please, leave it. He’ll kill you if he knows you know.”
That further angers the grifter, but she hides it well. “How long has this been going on?”
“I will call Cisco and tell him about this.” Lisa threatens. “And he’ll tell Barry and Dr. Snow.”
Hannah whines in panic, fingers tightening on Lisa’s. “ Lisa. ”
The two have a stare down, unstoppable force against immovable object. Hannah ends up caving, hiding her face in Lisa’s shoulder. “I have to tell you about me first.”
Lisa shifts so her chin rests against the top of Hannah’s head. “I already know everything about you.”
“No, you don’t.” Hannah squeezes Lisa’s hand briefly, pulling back to look her friend dead in the eye. “I don’t have psychic abilities. I’ve never been to Star City in my life. My grandma and dad are alive and well, living in a Florida. I’ve never had an abusive girlfriend, though she did cheat on me. I have an older brother and sister. I’m from another universe.”
The grifter stares, confusion in her gaze, lips pursed. “Are you saying… you lied, about nearly everything?”
“Yes.” Phlegm catches in her throat, blocking her airway, and Hannah coughs, over and over until her lungs ache and her throat is scrapped raw. Lisa helps her sit up, rubbing her back, despite the bombshell just dropped on her about the woman she’s thought hadn’t lied to Lisa unless absolutely necessary. “I’m-”
“Ah.” Lisa covers Hannah mouth, turning to grab the half-empty bottled water on the bedside table. She gives it to Hannah, making sure she drinks long and deep. “You don’t need to say that.” Lisa closes her eyes, breathing even as she thinks. “It makes sense, surprisingly. You’re a very good actress, you’d make a great grifter with how easily you can make your lies keep going and weave together. I’m angry , but it also… makes sense.”
“You’re weird.” Lisa says it simply. “The kind of weird that you comes with someone who’s lying but also knows things enough to make the lie believable.” Lisa pets Hannah’s hair, gentle and careful. It makes Hannah feel worse for all the lying she’s done. “How, if you can tell me, did you end up here.”
“I don’t know,” Hannah wheezes.
She explains, between coughs and sneezes and generally miserable Flu symptoms, about her own world, about the Arrowverse, and her living with the Wests until she could get home by way of Cisco’s budding powers, and her attempts to make things better for everyone when she could. She explains everything that had happened with Eobard Thawne and how he had created this world’s timeline, and she had stumbled into it. She finishes the rest of the water while she leaves Lisa to process, breathing unevenly through her mouth, feeling ten times better now that Lisa knows all she’s been doing.
Lisa produces a second bottled water from nowhere, opening it so Hannah can drink some from it before setting it aside.
“And the man at the park? How does he relate?”
Hannah curls her hands into fists, glaring at her lap, hatred filling her, despising herself and the man in question. “Hunter Zolomon of Earth-2, known as Zoom.” Hot tears of detestation fall, imagining ripping his throat out. “He’s been masquerading around as a man named Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-2, while simultaneously bringing it to its knees. And now he’s here to destroy this Earth and take Barry’s Speed.”
A sob hitches her shoulders upward, lips curling back in a vile snarl unbecoming of her normally sweet face. “I should have told the team as soon as the Singularity was over, but instead I waited, I forgot about him, and then he fucking- !” She screams, finally, and it’s short and half-choking because she’s breathing mucus, but she’s finally letting out the mix of self-loathing and rage and unadulterated feelings of murder she’d struggled with the past two weeks. “He somehow knew I was aware of him, knew I was going to tell the team, and now I’m a goddamn dog. And if he finds out you know, he’ll kill you, Lisa. And Mick and Leonard. And the entire Team. He’ll kill everyone, and lock Barry up until he can take Barry’s Speed, and I, I, I just. I hate him . I want him dead .”
She looks up at Lisa, head pounding and vision spinning, but she looks, sobbing and wrathful, powerless against a monster. Lisa looks back, looks at this small, wonderful woman and isn’t sure how to react. She had come expecting to be told he was an enemy of the Flash who had discovered she worked with Barry, or that he was Hannah’s imaginary abusive-ex’s brother or something of the sort.
This? This was a lot worse.
And yet a lot easier to handle.
“What is he making you do?” Lisa asks, tilting Hannah’s head up to begin wiping away the hot, fat tears. “I can’t stop it, but you can now at least talk to someone about it.”
Hannah leans into her friend’s cool hands, eyes closing. “I have to meet him every day at the park and talk to him, let him know I haven’t dropped any hints to the team. I have to go today, too, since he doesn’t know I’m sick.”
Lisa nods, thinkin over this. “And I can’t go in your place.”
Hannah shakes her head.
“Alright. Then I’ll help you to the park.” She grabs Hannah’s phone and flicks it open, quickly tapping out a text. “I’m telling Detective West you’re planning to sleep the rest of the afternoon and not bother you. Any food is to be ignored until dinner time.”
“He’ll still check.”
“No, he won’t.”
Lisa bounces from the bed, moving to the closet. Digging through, she wrinkles her nose at most of the choices before settling on a black blouse, low neckline teasing cleavage when worn. Hannah had worn it maybe twice, having been coerced by Lisa to buy it. Before Hannah can attempt to make Lisa grabs the bulky brown sweater beside it, Lisa is off to dig out a pair of jeans and undergarments.
“If you have to meet this jackass at your lowest,” Lisa explains brightly, “it’s while looking your best.”
“He’ll know I’m sick.”
“So?” Lisa looks at her friend, eyebrow sharply raised. “Doesn’t mean you can’t look him in the eyes, saying ‘haha, fucker, you’ll never not see me look good’. You can be miserable, but you don’t have to look it or act it. Empowerment.”
“That doesn’t make any sense.”
Lisa grins as she moves to help Hannah up out of her bed and to the shower across the hall. “Trust me, it will, babydoll.”
Hannah sneezes, walking through the park, hanging on Lisa’s arm.
The plan, so far, was to drop Hannah off and go get ice-cream, giving Hunter time to arrive, talk, and leave. Then Lisa would return and they’d have ice-cream and Lisa would take her home, Joe none the wiser according to his “ alright, I’ll be home after seven ” text.
Hannah felt like this would go wrong, but Hannah was shit out of luck as of late. She had to go with Lisa’s idea if they, she prayed, were going to get out of this in one piece.
“Right here.” Hannah points at the bench Hunter always made them meet at. “And you’re sure Joe won’t know you did this?”
Lisa smirks at Hannah, making sure Hannah sat comfortably. “Of course he won’t. I’m a thief, babydoll. It’s my job to steal precious things.”
Hannah rolls her eyes.
“You wanted chocolate and orange sherbet, right?” Lisa raises an eyebrow.
Hannah hacks up some more phlegm, grossed out at her own body, and Lisa wonders off down the path to find the ice-cream vendor who was a good walk away. Hannah tugs her jacket closed, burrowing down into it, cold and tired. She begins to doze nearly immediately, as warm as she’ll get and aching all over.
She hoped Hunter got sick from being near her. The bastard deserved it.
“You’re looking under the weather.”
Hannah startles awake, wheezing on a gasp. Hunter sits beside her, eyeing her like the contagion she is. “Had your thief bring you here? Smart.”
“I haven’t spoken with the team since lunch.” Hannah tells him. “Cait checked on me and Barry came by during his lunch break.”
“I know.” Hunter grins. “Thought you wouldn’t make it until I saw you leaving with the Snart. She’s a great politician on my Earth, really tries to stop me and the other metas.”
The realization he’s spying on her just lays more weight on her shoulders. “So you’ve known all along I’ve not said anything to the team.”
“Of course. Plus none of them are good at hiding their feelings. Not like you. I’d know immediately if you told them.” He slides close, reaches up to mess with a curl Lisa had made. “How did you make her bring you out?”
“It was her idea.” Hannah sneezes once, twice, three times, and he draws back as though stung. “She said it’d make me feel better to not stay in bed all day.”
Hunter nods, looking over her face. “Be sure to not get too attached to her. You might say something you’ll regret, doe-eyes.”
Hannah bares her teeth, miserable but remembering Lisa’s words, her new motto against this asshole. “The only thing I’ll regret is not being the one to rip your throat out when the time is right.”
Hunter laughs. “Your team isn’t that smart. We'll resume once you're better.”
He’s gone in a flash of blue lightning and burned ozone. Hannah waits a moment for him to return, and when he doesn’t she sinks into the bench. Lisa returns several minutes later, holding out the little bowl to her friend.
“You okay?” Lisa asks, and they both know it’s a lie. “You look worse. Wanna go home?”
“Not yet.” Hannah digs her plastic spoon into the frozen chocolate and orange treat. “I can last a bit longer.”
Lisa sits, bumps Hannah’s shoulder gently. “Alright, babydoll. Just say the word when you wanna go home.”
“Sure thing, dollface.”
Lisa laughs, deep and rich, at the endearment.
Maybe, with Lisa, Hannah can do this.
She desperately hopes, anyway.
For the love of god, when sick don't actually eat sugary shit. It'll fuck you up worse man. These two don't know any better.
Chapter 11: Don't You Worry Child
This chapter's song is by Swedish House Mafia! After a bit of debate among friends, this was the song chosen.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
Stacey tugs on a bit of her hair, listening to her family talk around her and trying not to snap or show what agitation is pressing outward, making her feel too tight in this skin. Two days ago, Amber and her had found a promising lead that connected to a woman named Mia Coldwater. However, thanks to Christmas coming upon them so quickly and each forgetting completely, and Noemi in a similar boat on the other side of the country, they had no choice but to put off contacting the woman for another week or two to appease their families concerning their standoffish behavior. Hannah going missing would no longer excuse them and how testy they were as of late, no matter how rooted in the truth their emotions were.
It would be easier if Bailey wasn’t going off to Ireland, Stacey thinks a fraction moodily. She found this lady.
It was a hard transition for everyone connected to Hannah, suddenly realizing she was gone . And even fewer knew that is was less her running away/being kidnapped, or even a mix of the two, and more her somehow stumbling into an alternate dimension where the events of the CW’s DC shows were very much real and very much something to be concerned about. It was heartbreaking when you watched Hannah and realized she wanted to go home, and it’s all she wanted, no matter how she liked the people she interacted with in the meantime.
Stacey closes her eyes, thinking on what she’d need to do to get Hannah home. Noemi kept mentioning Cisco’s vibe powers that would manifest and then, when properly honed, be able to take Hannah home. Something about that seemed too good to be true, though, especially with how Mxyzptlk seemed to stress that their world was off limits from the rest of the multi-verse. Noemi called it a waiting game, that they could definitely try to get her home early but that, ultimately, they probably couldn’t do anything when they had no magic to readily rend the spaces of universes open.
“You okay?” A familiar voice asks and Stacey looks up at her cousin Gray, hair carefully styled back with a reindeer headband and in the ugliest, most delightful Christmas sweater Stacey ever had the pleasure of laying eyes on.
“Yeah. I- I’m fine.” Stacey smiles, lie obvious but unwilling to let her family in on this. “Holidays.”
Gray purses his lips, sitting down. “Thinking about your friend?”
She smiles wanly. “Am I that obvious?”
“Kind of. Yeah.” Gray bumps her shoulder with his, then grimaces. Stacey thinks it might be his binder acting up, shifting too much. “I’m sure she’s okay.”
The image of Hannah being choked by an unhinged Speedster right before she shoots him in the leg blocks the sight of her cousin when she blinks. Her second blink has Hannah taking two bullets to the chest before Stacey finds out after a heart stopping moment her friend wasn’t dead. Stacey has to look away from her cousin briefly, managing out a hoarse, “Yeah. I hope.”
Amber pauses in unbuckling, looking at her friend. “You sure you want to come in? You’ve been off today.”
“I’m fine.” Stacey shuts off the car and unbuckles, climbing out. “I want answers and Bailey is pretty sure she has them.”
“Seeing as that Tevan lady was a dead end and scared the shit out of Noemi, I hope we get some answers too.”
Amber leads the charge up the small hill to the brick, two story house. Mia was the new neighbor to Bailey’s mom and soon-to-be step-dad, which is how Bailey met the lady. She was a certified witch, apparently able to divinate people’s futures by various means, whether by palm reading, crystal ball, Tarot cards, or something else. Which, while Tevan did the same, no one had been able to guess Bailey’s favorite memory and her biggest concerns just from a simple palm glance.
“I used to swear I wouldn’t touch magic and other-worldly shit.” Amber complains as they pass by hydrangeas and sunflowers and bamboo and other plants. “Sleep paralysis was shitty enough and I didn’t want to deal with more Casper the I’ll-Eat-Your-Face Ghost stuff.”
“We aren’t channeling the dead, Amber.” Stacey reminds. “We’re trying to bring home our friend who got hijacked into another universe.”
Amber’s nose scrunches. “I know. But still. Ugh.”
They reach the porch and climb the several stairs. Amber is reaching for the doorbell when the door opens.
In the doorway is a Tolkien elf. Well, she should be a Tolkien elf with how tall and willowy she appeared, skin shiny and black as night, eyes so bright a purple-blue Bailey had told them they weren’t contacts and to not ask, lips painted to match her eyes, hair tamed and held back by several clips and combs that looked like real silver and gold. She wore short running shorts, a baggy racerback tank top that declared “I’m Still Waiting for My Mrs. Darcy”, and a pink-green paisley kimono. Her socks were Harry Potter themed and Stacey, against better judgement, liked her already for the socks and shirt alone.
She smiles warmly at the two.
“Was waiting for you two to show up. Come on in.”
She turns from the door, wandering into her house. The two women share a look before Stacey takes the first step inside. Amber follows reluctantly.
From within the heart of the house, Mia calls, “Shut the door please, Amber.”
Amber loses several shades to her skin and Stacey latches onto her friend’s wrist so she can’t bolt, giving Amber a Don’t you fucking dare look.
After closing the door but being sure to leave it unlocked, the two follow the path the woman had left. There are knickknacks and books all over the place, piled on bookshelves, under and on the coffee table, the side tables on each side of the couch. The only place organized was the hundreds of movies in VHS tape and DVD format surrounding the TV. There was a large hamster cage made of wood and glass by the large bay windows that overlooked the large field and distant woods, a small dwarf hamster running on its wheel inside the cage.
In the messy kitchen, Mia had set out a cup of coffee and one of tea. She was depositing sugar and honey into her own.
“I knew you were coming long before I moved here next to Bailey. Some things are destined, even without any gods to guide us anymore.” Mia explains, and waves at the two cups. “They’re safe. I promise. French roast for you, Amber, and a sweet mint-jasmine for Stacey. I’d fix them up for you but I figured you’d run out the door.” She doesn’t say, Like you just tried, but it’s easily implied with her brief, knowing uplift of her eyebrow.
Stacey carefully takes her cup, sniffing at it. Then she takes the offered honey pot from Mia. There’s a container of creamer and a bowl of sugar on the island counter, waiting for Amber to use them. It’s only after Stacey makes her tea how she likes and tries it that Amber finally takes her coffee. Stacey does well not shooting Amber a hurt look at having been a guinea pig.
Satisfied that they’re settling in, Mia sits. “Sit when you’re ready, ladies. There’s time. Hannah won’t be figuring anything out for a while.”
“What do you mean?” Stacey asks, hands curling around her mug protectively. “How do you know all this stuff? Are you really a witch?”
“I identify as a witch.” Mia explains, eyes sparkling with knowledge and mirth. “Though what I am is both far more and far less complicated.”
“I’m not going to ask. Quit beating around the bush and tell us.” Amber hisses. “I want my fucking friend back, safe and sound.”
Mia huffs good-naturedly. “She is safe and sound. She’s probably ended up in the best possible place, especially considering what she carries within her, both mentally and physically. Better to have happened now and not later or earlier.”
“Can you at least tell us how to get her back?” Stacey near begs. “Please?”
The witch’s perpetual smile of sincere coy shady-ness turns soft and kind. Her voice is gentle, like a parent explaining death to their child for the first time. “You can’t, Stacey. Hannah is exactly where she should be.”
Stacey’s knees wobble and Amber slides a chair under her friend’s butt before she drops. “What?” Her eyes drop to her tea, trying to figure out what the witch’s words mean for them now.
“You can’t bring her back?” Amber demands. “Or point us to someone who can? Is that what you mean?”
“I’m saying exactly what I mean.” Mia takes a long but brief sip of her tea. “Hannah, as I said, ended up in the best place she could have, and she is meant to stay there. She won’t be back until, or if, she’s good and ready.”
“‘If’?” Amber repeats in disgust. “‘If’ ? I’ve watched her bawl her eyes out three fucking times because she wants to come home! She’s done it god knows how many more times between the end of season 1 and start of season 2! She’s almost died three times as far as I’ve seen! She’s practically Zoom’s whore! There’s no goddamn way she wants to stay there!”
Mia keeps calm through Amber’s wrathful yells, sees past to the fear and panic both of these girls and several others have been dealing with for half a year. She holds out a hand, palm up.
“Amber, place your hand in mine.”
Amber hesitates, surprised at the calm the woman exudes still. Then, carefully, she places her hand in Mia’s. There’s a deep contrast between the dark brown and black-brown of their skin, and even further clearer by the heavy callouses Mia has to Amber’s baby softness.
Mia draws her thumb along the curves of Amber’s palm, peering past the skin into something deeper.
“Whom I descend from were compared to trickster gods. Loki, Anansi, Hermes, Eshu, Lugh, djinn of the Middle East.” Mia explains like a lecturer. “We descendants are few, and there are no copies of us in any other universe, because there are no copies of these gods. And each of us, because our blood is so diluted, are given a singular gift of our ancestor. Mine is the gift of seeing other universes, and the many possible futures a person could take if I try hard enough. It’s bastardized because I do draw upon the wild magic that remains here, so I’m not much like my ancestors, but close enough to count.”
“And what are you looking for?”
Mia grins at Amber’s palm. “What the future has in store for you, friend of the impossible, teller of plausible stories.” She lifts her head to meet Amber’s gaze. “While your journey isn’t as fun as Hannah’s or Noemi’s, you do have one ahead of you. Your place is here, but that doesn’t mean you don’t accomplish nothing.”
She releases Amber’s hand, holding out for Stacey’s. Stacey looks at Mia with hurt and betrayal. The witch waits patiently, understanding clear.
Stacey gives in with a grimace, surprising when each girl had come in with completely different feelings. Mia repeats what she had done to Amber, look intent but lazy.
“I know you’re upset, but not every journey can be made together. Sometimes they must be solitary. Even the Fellowship of the Ring broke up, and Bilbo returned to Hobbiton alone after his journey There and Back Again.”
“There isn’t a ring to destroy,” is the quiet reply.
“No, there isn’t.” Mia agrees. “But all the same, a hero’s journey will be a lonely one, even with friends to help them. The best you can do is hope she stays safe, and if she comes back then to welcome her with open arms.”
Stacey questions. "Why wouldn't she come home?"
"Tasting freedom from the binds you have been shackled to since birth is a form of liberation you cannot duplicate." Mia draws back from Stacey, eyes knowing. "She may choose to come back, or go somewhere else. It is her choice. She is like, hm, Dorothy. But she doesn't have the power to return." Her smile is secretive. "Yet." She laughs softly, before squeezing Stacey's hand once, briefly. “There are other worlds than these, Stacey. And she must go to them before making a final decision.” Mia smiles sweetly. “Luckily, your journey isn’t as lonely as hers. And maybe you gain allies.”
Something like apprehension curls up in her stomach at these words, the woman’s smile too sweet.
“What’s in my future?” Stacey asks. “Here, with Amber?”
“No and yes.” Mia explains with a mingling of pride and glee. “Your path is a rarity. It’s unclear. Every path but some are clear, Stacey. Your’s means there is room for doubt, for change, for control. And that control will help everyone tangled up in this tale, so long as you decide no one may lead your fate but your own.”
“Like Hannah…” Stacey whispers, trailing off. “She’s changed everything so wildly that the Flash changes as she goes through it.”
“Exactly like that.” Mia grins even wider. “Exactly like that. I can’t see what entirely goes on, just that you don’t die. Which,” she shrugs and it’s unfairly graceful, “not the best thing, but that just means a lot of your future in in your hands.”
Mia stands up, purple-blue lipstick glowing like her eyes when the sunlight comes through her windows just right. “Ladies, my door is open to you whenever but I have to get ready for work.”
Stacey stands, and they’re led from the house.
At the door, Mia looks at them both with hope and pride. “And by the way, try not to be too overprotective of her decisions, ladies. We can’t always be smart about love.”
Mia is stepping back and the door snaps closed before either can open their mouth.
“How’s everything coming along?” Annie asks Amber at work the next day, and Amber isn’t sure what to tell her. “Was the lady a dead end?”
“I wouldn’t say that.” Amber says after a long moment, hedging. “She… she was certainly legit for a witch. Knew everything that was going on and then some.”
Annie leans over the counter, eyes widening. “What did she say? Can she bring Hannah back?”
It leaves a sour taste in Amber’s mouth to say the words, but she must admit Hannah looked to like where she was when not worried over Hunter Zolomon. “She said Hannah can’t be brought back. That she’ll return if she wants.”
Confusion covers the woman’s face, unsure of how to process that. “What do you mean? Hannah is going to come back. Who would actually want to live there?”
Amber shrugs. “Her, possibly. I mean, I wouldn’t even if I had the pick of the bunch there. Not worth it. She might stay just because of the place.”
Annie shakes her head. “She’s always wanted to live an adventure but… Hannah will come back. She’ll be an author and living in a foreign country, happily talking shit about how downhill America has gone with her cats and dogs.”
Amber grins, but something in her keeps saying to not count her chickens yet. “Yeah. Exactly.”
Stacey lays on her bed in an old sweater and skinny jeans, scrolling through her phone messages. She had just read through the last of Hannah’s messages from the night she’d fallen into the Flash, excited about going to Germany and Amsterdam and sharing Pentatonix videos in the group chat. The others hadn’t been very responsive that night so she’d stopped texting the group chat halfway through DnD, focusing on Noemi and Stacey alone.
She rubs at her eyes as Noemi texts, asking how the meeting with Mia went.
“It went. ” She sits up in bed, reaching down to grab her computer. “Any changes in the show today? ”
She boots up her computer, bringing up her Netflix account. Her phone dings and she grabs it.
“No. Nothing that I’ve seen. ”
Stacey nods, and scrolls down to click on Supergirl. She never expected to get into the CW shows but no time like the present with a friend trapped in them. And wasn’t that weird? She didn’t know how any of the dialogue was supposed to go but she knew it was wrong when Hannah was there talking, leading the team down a different route.
Hannah wasn’t around Kara because the two were on different earths, and Stacey had admittedly started watching it just to get away from the insanity that was her friend’s life. She didn’t expect to actually like it, but she did.
Kara falling off a building snaps Stacey’s attention to the screen, and she blinks as the Kryptonian is set down on her feet, clothing on fire. And Stacey’s eyes roll heavenward as she realizes who’s on the screen, freaking out about setting Kara on fire.
Hitting the space bar to pause the show, she taps out, “Did you know Barry goes to Kara’s earth? ”
“That’s still there? ” Noemi shoots back. “Great! ”
It had been unsettling to realize several weeks ago that the show had adapted to fit Hannah, and then had to keep changing because she made decisions that didn’t line up with the show’s direction. Noemi had, like with everything else, caught on first and started watching approximately week by week, realizing it changed as the stories happened as Hannah experienced them.
“Now what did the lady say? Have a way to bring Hannah back? ”
Stacey pauses in her reply, unsure of how to word what Mia had said. They all wanted their friend back, and maybe Noemi did best of all, but she couldn’t do much where she was, cut off from the rest of the displaced woman’s hub of friends. After agonizing for a few minutes, she types up, “Said she was where she has to be. Will come back when ready. ”
“That doesnt make sense. We need to bring her home. She doesnt want to be there ”
“I know! Amber said the same. Mia thinks differently, and that we need to just wait it out. ”
Noemi doesn’t reply for several hours, and Stacey panics the entire time, terrified of what the other woman has to say to be so quiet for so long. When Noemi finally responds, she simply sends, “Im not giving up ”
Say hello to Stacey and Amber! And a random OC who starts to bring together some hanging threads! I'm so excited to finally touch upon a lot of the mystery surrounding the story!
Chapter 12: La Vie en Rose
Our chapter title comes from the wonderful Edith Piaf's La Vie en Rose. It's a truly gorgeous song.
For the last section, after Hannah wakes up, you should listen to Florence and the Machine's Cosmic Love.
Even though the team is busy trying to track down Atom Smasher and stop him before anyone else is hurt or killed, they make time to stop by and check on their ill friend. Hannah, for her part, spends most of the time asleep either in her bed or on the couch, wrapped in several blankets and maybe with Barry’s copy of Pride and Prejudice left open in her lap. Lisa, by some spark of insanity, finds her way into the house when Hannah is alone for more than a handful of hours, and they talk—though it is mostly just Lisa speaking as Hannah is usually too exhausted to carry a full conversation, which you can completely blame Lisa for as it was her dragging Hannah out for ice cream that made her sicker.
Barry comes to check on Hannah while Cisco is tracking down where the evil meta-human had gone, and finds her curled on the couch, book in lap, and looking more aware than she had when he’d left that morning. At some point she had showered, dark, still damp hair pulled back in a messy, short braid, loose hairs framing her face in a natural left-side part with a few wisps falling into her eyes. She’s dressed in one of Barry’s sweaters (she’d likely stolen it from the dryer when he’d started his laundry last night) with a baggy plain shirt over it and a gray-burgundy skirt long enough to cover her black tights. When she realizes it was him coming through the door, her face lights up.
Her skin looks healthier, her eyes much more clear, and Hannah is slipping a little yellow flower into the book with steady hands. She closes it and lightly tosses it onto the coffee table before rising, moving around the couch to invade Barry’s space. She definitely has sure footing once again, leaning into him and carefully grabbing his hands.
“Hey, you look better,” he greets, warm affection flooding him at her careful hold of his hands.
“Please get me out of here.” Hannah begs. “I’ve got major cabin fever.”
“You’re still contagious, though.” Barry shakes his head. “You’ll make everyone else sick, maybe.”
Hannah scowls. “If they aren’t sick now,” Hannah reasons, “then they won’t be!”
Barry rolls his eyes. “They can get sick still. It takes at least a week after someone is sick for the pathogens to actually leave the body.”
“Boo,” Hannah protests, and there’s a brief glimpse of what Barry swears is fear in her eyes before she’s blinking and its disappeared back into hazel depths. “ Please , Barry,” and she’s giving him sweet kitten eyes, “just for today.” After a second, she adds, “And they have their flu shots. So it's not my fault if they get sick.”
Barry can’t help his laugh. “That’s not how shots work,” he tells her. “Not to mention, you might have a different flu strain.”
“Barry, for the love of god,” she shakes his hands, making her eyes bigger and sadder, “I didn’t want a lesson on germs, I took a biology college course and found being an OBGYN wasn’t for me. Just get me out .”
Barry sighs half-heartedly, already aware he’d lost this little battle when she leans into him and his heart practically skips a beat. She doesn’t even really have to do much to make him cave beyond those pleading eyes and that hopeful smile. Just last night she’d fallen asleep with her head resting against his arm as he’d told her about one if his more interesting case files, Hannah having asked if he’d gathered clues on the murder by where the blood had exited the body and him delighted by her question. When he’d asked how she knew a CSI could do that, she’d sleepily told him about her 8th grade science teacher being a former CSI and teaching them about blood.
Admittedly, Barry knew his feelings for Hannah had come on extremely fast, and he thinks it mostly stems from moving on from Iris. He hesitated to do anything that would let on about his developing feelings. The least of what he wanted was to ruin his friendship with the young woman and possibly make her feel pressured to do anything.
And so it was with a deep, long-suffering sigh he says, “Okay.” At Hannah’s grin, mouth opening to say something, he quickly adds, “But you have to put on something I know isn’t stolen from my laundry or three days old.”
Hannah scowl-pouts but turns and runs for the stairs. She sways after her first step, as though she’d moved too fast, then shakes her head and keeps going.
“Give me five minutes!” She shouts from the hallway, and her door slams closed.
Barry stands there, thinking he’d made a terrible decision, as he hears thumping and muffled cursing and an assumed strangled scream. By the time he’s ready to change his mind Hannah is flying back down the stairs. She’s only switched into dark-wash jean shorts, black tights left on with blue-and-pink striped socks pulled over them. She switched her baggy shirt with a loose, pink ¾ sleeve, his red sweater still underneath. Her trusty sneakers squeak on the hardwood floor as she stops before him, bouncing a little.
“Okay I’m ready to go!”
“Hannah you didn’t change.” He argues.
“Yes I did.” Hannah motions to the shirt and shorts. “If you expected me to put on a bra after two days without one or change out of your very soft and insanely comfy sweater, you’re out of your mind.”
Barry closes his eyes, running a hand over his hair. “I can’t convince you? Somehow?”
Hannah laughs, and jokingly says, “With a kiss, maybe.”
Barry’s heart tries to beat out of his chest, hands stilling where they are, hoping she’d step closer and take the tease further. Their eyes meet as her words catch up with her and her cheeks redden, spreading over her nose and towards her ears. She ducks her head, voice strangled when she adds, “I was kidding.”
Coughing, he moves around her to get to the kitchen. “Ye-yeah. I knew that.”
Hannah follows at his ankles, embarrassed but dogged. She wanted out of the house and one way or another she would, whether Barry helped her or not. Good thing he was going to help her.
“Let me eat and then we’ll go.” Barry is already pulling out bread and things to make a few pb&j’s as he speaks, Hannah stood on the threshold because Joe had forbidden her to enter outside of meals, whether he was home or not. “Did you eat?”
“I had the chicken soup Joe made last night.” Hannah crosses her arms, patients thin with how she tapped her foot. His mouth ticks up in a tiny grin as he watches her from the corner of his eye, impatient and flushed with fever, both from being stuck inside and being ill. She may be feeling a lot better, but he doubted her fever had really broken. He’d let Caitlin decide that, though.
“For breakfast, yeah. Did you have lunch?”
Hannah scowls. “I had the chicken soup made last night. For lunch .”
“Don’t be testy with me just because I’m making sure you’re eating. Everyone noticed you weren’t eating and were losing weight like Neville forgets stuff.”
“The only reason I am not taking full offense is because of the well executed Harry Potter reference.”
“Put the bread in the toaster, then add some butter.” Hannah doesn’t rise to the rude tone. “It’ll make it taste better, and the bread won’t get soggy so quickly.”
Barry makes a face. “Won’t the butter make the jam taste funny?”
“No.” Hannah grins. “And use the cherry jam you and Joe avoid like the plague. Trust me.”
He returns her grin, challenging. “And why should I?”
For a split moment, she debates breaking Joe’s rule. But , she reasons to herself, it is meal time for Barry … and thus crosses into the kitchen, getting close enough to touch. “Because I say so, that’s why.”
Involuntarily, she bites her bottom lip, looking daring. Barry is sorely tempted to lean down and… he isn’t sure, really. Something that involved wiping off that cheeky little grin. He backs up, moving to take the cherry jam and tub of butter from the fridge. He sees Hannah take a few steps away, to stand on the opposite side of the counter, watching him take his time opening up the containers and taking out the bread.
As he works, she taps her foot some more, careful to not lean against the counter or touch anything.
He’s dropping the bread into the toaster when she whines in the back of her throat, sounding very close to a dog. She finally gives up on not touching anything and leans into the island so she can press her forehead to it.
“Barrryyyy, how are you the fastest man alive but so slow ?”
“It’s a curse.” He admits with an easy shrug, not in a situation that requires he be embarrassed by his slowness. “You learn to live with it.”
Hannah huffs into the table. The bread pops out and Barry quickly swipes them, dropping in two more slices before using a knife to slather butter onto one side of each piece of toast.
“Don’t use too much or it will ruin the taste.”
He pauses at the warning, narrowing his eyes at her. Accusingly, he demands, “You are pranking me, aren’t you?”
Laughing loudly and boisterously, she straightens and shakes her head. “No! Quit being paranoid! I also wouldn’t waste my jam on a prank.”
Seeing truth in her statement, he returns to his work. An almost quiet falls between them, the sound of the knife scraping against toast a quiet schfk, schfk, schfk between them, birds singing distantly in the backyard, the way the house seemed to imperceptibly breath around them.
Hannah watches Barry move around, watches him make two, three, five sandwiches. The bigger part of her wants to make him take them to go, but knows he won’t. So she waits, impatient, but oddly at ease with him in how she seems to zone out, staring at the fine grain of the countertop that she had started to rub with her index finger, slow and hypnotically.
Barry pours himself and her a glass of water from the sink, setting her glass in front of her with a light thump. She startles at the noise, jerking her glassy eyes up to Barry as they clear.
“You sure you’re okay?” He asks her quietly, fingers grazing the back of her hand.
Biting her lip, she nods. “Yeah. Just distracted.”
He watches her for a long moment, making sure she’s telling the truth. She fumbles briefly under his gaze, cheeks red and unsure of where to look. She settles on her hands that carefully hold the glass of water.
“If you say so…”
Hannah doesn’t respond, taking a sip of her water and letting him trail off.
She wants out. She wants to be near the team.
She wants to be near Barry.
Barry doesn’t carry Hannah all the way into the Cortex like usual. He stops just outside the bathrooms, setting her on unsteady feet, holding her elbows gingerly and watching her pallid face. She takes in deep breaths by way of mouth, releasing them as slowly and carefully as she can, mouth full of the sickly-sweetness that came before throwing up. Hannah is careful to not swallow her acidic spit, knowing that’s what would force her body to reject her lunch.
Hannah shivers in his gentle hold as she gets her body back under control, hating how weak she was and how it left her team even further open to Zoom’s mechanitions. At least when fully well she had the ability to be near them and try to subtly shift things in the team's favor, though rare her attempts had been due to her lack of allies.
Lisa, however, had become a wild card, had become an ally she had never once planned on having. One Hannah now planned to hold close to her chest for as long as she could before anyone’s life—Lisa’s in particular—ended up in danger.
For now, though, Hannah needed to get better. She was still unsteady on her feet, especially if she stopped focusing on walking for longer than a few seconds, and tended to get tired very easily. It was hard to keep anything down, too, but that she already knew belonged to stress. Instead of binge-eating like stress used to cause her, she’d instead taken to not wanting to eat, and only had the past few days because of how sick she was.
“I’m fine.” Hannah smiles up at Barry when her mouth no longer tastes sticky sweet, stomach settled. “Seems the vertigo I get when you run is a bit harsher now, huh?”
He looks over her ashen face, how empty her cheeks were. Her elbows are bonier than he remembers them being several weeks ago and he wants to take her home immediately.
Sensing his unease, Hannah steps back out of his arms and turns, heading down the hall for the Cortex. Her steps are mostly steady, a godsend because she can feel Barry watching her every move, walking so close to her she could feel his body heat.
She was, unfortunately, terrifyingly cold, putting on a brave front because otherwise she’d not have been let out of the house. Barry’s body heat had her ready to jump back into his arms and burrow in, much like Spot used to do with her on cold, cold nights.
Thinking about her dog, a universe away and missing her as much as she missed him, caused her steps to falter and slow. She looks down, staring at her sneakers. Her nose aches and Hannah takes a deep breath before biting her cheek to stave off the tears.
“Hannah?” Barry is holding her elbows again, concerned. “Do I need to take you home?”
“No,” she sniffles, lifting her head to look at him. “I’m just…”
Hannah thought it was funny she’d think about Spot right in the middle of so much other shit going on. She’d tried to ignore the ache in her chest over losing him and getting sick had opened her up to all sorts of emotional issues.
“I have a dog,” Hannah explains. “His name is Spot. And I’ve have had him since he was born , he’s been with me since I was four.” Shuddering, she corrects, “Was with me.” Heaving, Hannah presses a hand over her eyes. “I’ve been trying to not think about him. But I just… I miss him .”
Her voice broke, shattered by her rising grief that could no longer be hidden.
Barry doesn’t hesitate, he just draws her in, wrapping her up in his arms. He holds her tight, rocking gently from side to side. Barry curls over her slightly to tuck his nose into her hair, breathing evenly to her hitching keens. One hand reaches up to cradle the back of her neck, cushioned by the softness of her loose braid.
“I’m sorry.” She cries into his sweater, shaking. “I’m so sorry. I don’t—”
“Sh, sh, sh,” he murmurs in a low, soothing tone, letting her cling and sob against him. “Let it out. It’s okay.”
“I, I know I’ll get back but…” Hiccuping, Hannah rasps, “But what if he dies? And I’m not there? He’s 16. That’s so old for a dog. And he’s so small…”
“Hey, hey.” Barry pulls back, hands moving to cup her cheeks, feeling the growing hollows in her once rounded, ruddy cheeks. “If you’ve treated him at all like I’ve seen you treat random dogs and cats, and had that much love constantly for 16 years, I know he knows you love him and wouldn’t have left without him if you could help it. He knows you’ll come back, no matter how long, and will wait for you.”
Hannah heaves, tears falling harder. She steps back into Barry, letting out a low, sharp wail as he grasped her to him once more.
For the next several minutes, Barry soothes her, gentle as she cried. And when she had dried up her tears finally swallowed her grief again, shame flooded her for acting like such a baby when the Barry had so many bigger issues to handle other than a sickly, sad displaced woman.
“I’m sorry.” She mumbles, wiping away stray tears, now staring at her feet. “I shouldn’t have…I don’t usually do that. I,” she licks her lips, “I won’t do it again.”
Hooking his finger under her chin, Barry tilts her face up to him. Her cheeks and nose are a healthier red now, though not as bright as the under edge of her eyes that also looked puffy. She sniffles, the skin just under her nose wet with snot yet to gather enough to drip down. Hannah is a mess, and still too sick to be out, and somehow he doesn’t think she looks any less pretty than when she was dolled up to go have dinner with Iris to help plan the journalist’s wedding or standing in the early morning glow of the kitchen’s windows with a cup of sugary, heavily caffeinated tea cradled close, her hair a mess and yesterday’s mascara smudging her under eye.
“There is nothing wrong with crying.” He tells her, quietly and fervently, making sure to keep eye contact. “There’s even studies that show it’s helpful for stress and happiness. You can always cry with me.” Barry tucks a few straying strands of hair back behind her ear, grazing the shell before holding her cheek again. “Don’t be ashamed of your emotions, Hannah. They’re your’s, and no one should stifle them.”
A retort is on her lips, ready to break the tender moment, but she freezes when he kisses her forehead, just like he had done what felt like ages ago after she’d opened up to Barry about her childhood. Another tremor runs down her body, skin chilling, heart seeming to beat out a jive step. If she wasn’t more careful, Hannah thinks she could fall in love with Barry.
And so she steps back, looking at him with a pounding heart and burning cheeks, before giving a small nod to show she acknowledged his words.
She gets around him, focusing on her steps, on getting to the Cortex where Caitlin and Cisco undoubtedly were.
Fingers brush against hers, soft and delicate. She glances back at Barry, who steadily gazes back at her. She hesitates and he begins to pull back his hand, and a small blip of panic grows in her heart. She takes his hand at the last second, stopping in the hall. He stops too, waiting.
Carefully, Hannah slides her fingers between his. She gives a single, weak squeeze, and smiles at him. Barry returns it, green eyes threaded by lightning yellow.
Her heart is beating faster. She wants kiss him, so she looks away. Taking a step forward, he follows, keeping his longer strides small so they can walk together. Unconsciously, she leans toward him, eyes closing a little. Barry leans into her too, so her head rests against his arm.
They walk into the Cortex, still together.
The quiet moment is broken by Caitlin noticing them and gasping, running through the room from her data samples.
“Hannahlee McCullough!” She snaps in an amazingly mom-ish voice. You know the tone. Stressing of every syllable of the first name, whiplash quickness of the surname. Hannah cringes against Barry’s arm, even as Caitlin grabs her and pulls her away to usher her into the medbay, railing her for having come out. Hannah looks back only once, eyes pleading and Barry suppresses a grin to shrug helplessly at her, mouthing, “Sorry!”
Cisco, leaning against the counter with a half-eaten licorice string hanging from his mouth and tablet in his hands, glances up at Barry with a grin. “Sooo, you two looked pretty cozy.”
Barry’s face gets hot and he glares at Cisco, putting his hands on his waist. “I was helping her walk.”
“Yeah. That’s why you were holding her hand and not her waist, or have your elbows hooked. Just helping her walk.” Cisco’s grin gets impossibly bigger. “She looked really steady on her feet.”
He raises his hands. “I’m not doing anything man. Just saying.” He sets down the tablet, voice softening. “She looked pretty content, y’know. Looked better.”
“Yeah.” Barry eases his stance, rubbing the back of his neck. “She was looking better when I came to check on her but she’s already tired again.”
“Did she eat?”
“She had Joe’s soup.” Barry explains. “I wasn’t sure if she had it for breakfast or lunch so I convinced her to drink some water and eat a can of Campbell's.”
Cisco frowns, looking over at the Medbay where Hannah was taking her berrating with more grace than any of them expected.
“Hannah,” Caitlin finally sighs out, moving to find the thermometer and check the younger woman’s temp, “I know you want to help but you’re really sick right now. I’m surprised you didn’t pass out on the way over with how fast Barry runs.”
“I’m more sturdy than I look, Cait.”
The bioengineer opens her mouth to snap at her, thinks twice, and exhales sadly. “I know. You had your head smashed into a wall on two separate occasions and had a large piece of metal shrapnel embedded in your shoulder that you yanked out ,” she gives Hannah a sharp look and Hannah ducks her head, “but you recovered with minor muscle issues.”
Caitlin finds a slip for the thermometer and covers it, sticking it into Hannah’s mouth, under her tongue. The woman continues, a little petty, “That doesn’t mean you can go waltzing off because you’re tired of being inside. There’s a reason people sleep so much when sick.”
Hannah’s nose scrunches up, wishing she could say, “I’m tired of sleeping.”
Which, honestly, when had that become a reality for her? Hannah loved sleep. But for a couple months now, she’d wanted to sleep less and do more. She was only slowing down again because of Zoom, terrified and forced into so tight a corner she’d forgotten to care for herself.
Caitlin has Hannah get up and kick off her shoes before stepping onto the scale. Caitlin watches the results climb up and frowns more than she already was.
When the thermometer beeps, Caitilin quickly takes it from Hannah’s mouth. Hannah is staring at the numbers between her socked feet. Her stomach churns.
180 pounds, it read.
When she’d gotten here, Hannah had weighed 210 or so, and had maintained it. Caitlin had been unsure of how to go about Hannah’s being, technically, overweight despite not looking it with how her body was so petite. So all she had done was recommend Hannah eat healthier and exercise more than she had before arriving on Earth-1.5. Paying more attention to her body, her jean shorts did feel loose, tights not gripping her thighs as they should. Barry’s shirt didn’t snuggly hold her middle or her upper arms and her bras, when worn, had begun to feel roomier.
Hannah looks up at another of Caitlin’s sighs that should be labelled Disappointment.
“You’re fever is a solid 101. You’re still sick.” Caitlin’s eyes flicker to the weightstand, meeting Hannah’s steady gaze a second after. “And you need to eat everything on your plate, Hannah.”
“Thought you’d be happy to see I’d lost weight,” Hannah jokes weakly, the words falling flat and tasteless in their humor.
Caitlin’s mouth pinches, eyebrows creasing together sadly. “Not like this. Hannah, this isn’t healthy . It’s almost like you’re developing ano–”
Hannah’s jaw locks as Caitlin stops herself, trembling on the stand. She wishes Barry were there, holding her again, keeping how cold and terrible she felt at bay.
“I’m making Barry take you home and put you back in bed. After you eat something.” Caitlin pulls the slip off the thermometer, throwing it into the trash. Turning to go talk to the boys, setting the instrument down on the table with a little too much force, she adds, “Go ahead and put your shoes back on.”
The younger woman scrambles after, reaching out to grab Caitlin’s arm, hands latching around the wrist and forearm, panic rising in her throat in the form of a pained whine. “Caitlin–”
“No.” She shakes her head. “You are going back to bed immediately. You’re not getting out of this. The fact you’re on your feet is a shock.”
Caitlin slips her arm out of Hannah’s weak hold. The hero and engineer are watching them closely. Hannah stands in the doorway of the Medbey, refusing to lean on the doorframe despite how weak her legs felt. She curls her hands into fists, barely able to hear the soft murmur of Caitlin as she explained to Barry and Cisco how much weight Hannah had lost and how high her fever still was.
Her eyes drop from them when three sets of eyes land on her. Her face is flushing, eyes feeling hot, and she wants to scream at them to stop acting like she’s an invalid.
Hannah hated being sick. Hated that, even when she had all her shots, she could still be stuck in bed with a life-threatening illness. She’d rather act like it wasn’t happening and go about her day, and sleep it off between all her day-to-day duties.
Here, now, she couldn’t do that. She had to stand there as everyone made decisions about her life, as if she were 8 again and throwing up all night into a bucket, little body curled around it while sweaty with a 103 fever.
Wrath-provokingly gentle fingers touch her elbow and she rips her body away from Barry before he can speak, spinning around to stomp into the Medbay. She sits on the bed, glaring at the wall to stave off the tears of shame and rage.
“Hannah, c’mon, I know you wanna stay but you need rest.”
“No, I don’t. I’m fine.” She snaps, and a bone-chilling shiver rakes it’s claws down her skin, from scalp to toes, just to spite her. “I’m perfectly fine, Barry.”
“Not to Caitlin, you aren’t.”
Fuck what Caitlin says , would have been her initial snarl if she hadn’t stopped to think. “I’m not fucking leaving.”
“Oh, boy.” Cisco is heard from out in the Cortex. “First lover’s quarrel.”
Barry is either too wound up to hear, or he doesn’t care enough to correct. Hannah doesn’t bother dragging Cisco into what she’s fully prepared to turn into a shouting match because she. Will. Not. Leave. The team needs her, even if she can’t do anything right then.
“Yes, you are.” He bites, following her into the Medbay. He won’t grab her, refuses to without her permission or the knowledge she was in danger.
“No.” Hannah sits on one of the beds, gripping the steel bar so tightly her knuckles were white. Her face is flushed with anger, eyes a bright, belligerent brown with tiny flecks of vile green. “No.”
“No?” Barry scoffs. “Do you not get you can die ? That you have the flu and it kills people ?”
“I’m fighting it off,” Hannah lies, knows it is by the curl of disgust in her heart at once more looking Barry in the face and telling him another lie. “I’m fine.”
“You have lost nearly thirty pounds in four weeks . That's almost a month.” Barry shakes his head. “You’re not eating, you’re hardly sleeping. You’re going to die, Hannah, if you don’t stop being reckless.”
“I’m not being reckless!” She yelps, and stands quickly. Her entire body shudders, sways, and she has to lean back on the bed. The red is gone from her face, replaced by pallid skin and a vaguely green hue.
Barry gives her a sad look, fight leaving him. “See what I mean?”
“I can still help.” Hannah pleads. “I can.”
“We don’t need you!”
Hannah flinches back at his tone, fear sparking in her eyes. Caitlin’s gasp is loud enough to be heard in the Medbay.
“We don’t need you,” Barry repeats, frustration rising back up. “For one, you’re sick. For another you don’t even know what’s going on! You don’t remember what happened and we’ve told you nothing!”
He realizes just what he’s said a moment later when Hannah draws her legs up onto the bed, wrapping her arms around them and leaning away from him. She glares at her laced fingers, a few tears already slipping down her cheeks to wet her tights.
His shoulders roll in, realizing he’s crossed a line without her having to say a word. He steps closer, reaching out to just barely touch her hand, to let him know he didn’t mean what he’d said in the heat of worry and frustration. “Hannah—”
“Don’t.” It's a cold word, stinging him as she draws further away, tilting her head so she doesn’t see him. Barry has wounded her and she won’t let him fix it. “Don’t touch me.”
The floor seems to fall out from under him with those words, a divide cracking between them that Bary could still jump but was too terrified to get near lest the edges crumble and widen the gapping, jagged edge between them.
“Hannah, I’m sorry.” He whispers weakly, staying back from her as asked. “I didn’t mean to say it.”
Her fingers clench. Her entire being pulses with pain, centering around her heart. Her eyes lift to his, a muddy mix of green and brown missing a vital vibrancy, even as she cries. “You still said it. Leave me alone.”
Barry swallows, backing up. He can see her chest rising and falling in short, panicked breaths, refusing to ask for help. She trembles on the bed, with tears and sickness, and is pale.
Cisco grasps his shoulder and ushers him out, to leave Hannah alone for a couple minutes before one of them takes her home.
Barry knows it won’t be him because of what he’s done.
“Is this a bad time to ask if any of you have seen the babydoll?”
Hannah twitches at Lisa’s voice, Cisco yelping “Lisa!?!” as Caitlin scrambles away from the entryway. Barry moves before his friends protectively, noticing right away that Lisa isn’t carrying her gold gun.
Lisa gives the trio a seductive smirk, looking around the room. Her eyes land on Hannah, curled up and crying, and her look drops a fraction. She glides around them.
“Hey!” Barry flashes in front of Lisa, ruffling her hair lightly. Lisa pulls up short, smirking still. “Don’t touch her.”
Lisa gives him an eye roll, pulling out Hannah’s phone, waving it in his face. Barry tries to take it from her but she pulls the device back, sliding it into her inner jacket pocket. “She left this at your house, Cherry Cheeks. I got worried when she didn’t respond to my texts or calls and her bedroom looked ransacked when I arrived.” Tone just a touch more acidic than sweet, she adds, “And you left the front door unlocked.”
“What do you even care?” Barry demands. “And who told you who I was?”
“I hadn’t planned on saying anything,” Lisa simpers, “but me and Hannah are friends . We thought to keep it quiet but when she got sick, and well,” she shrugs, “I started to visit when you and the rest of your little team were away.”
“She told you Barry’s identity?” Caitlin near-whispers, finding the idea hard to believe.
“Nope.” Lisa lifts her chin. “I’m a lot more smarter than you tend to give me credit. Plus, Hannah only hangs out with you three and Dr. Stein every day. Easy to figure out which of you had the track star build and green puppy eyes able to make even Lucifer second guess himself.”
She steps around a gobsmacked Barry, entering the Medbay and invading Hannah’s space. Hannah clenches her eyes closed as carefully maintained nails run along the top of her head lightly, other hand pressing to her lowered forehead. Lisa tsk’s.
“You should know better.”
“The team,” Hannah fumbles, goes quiet. She tucks her nose between her knees. After what seems like eternity, Hannah mumbles, “Nothing.”
Lisa’s mouth purses, espression meticulously crafted to hide any feelings from Hannah’s friends and teammates. She smacks her lips, looking at the three.
“Issues in the playhouse?” She asks, not looking at anyone in particular but already able to guess with how tensed Barry was. “Makes me wanna offer her to join our little Rogues Gallery.”
Barry opens his mouth to snap Hannah wouldn’t do that, but Hannah beats him to it with a tiny laugh.
“Lisa, it’s okay.”
Lisa’s crafted eyebrows raise. “Crying alone when company is near doesn’t mean ‘it’s okay,’ babydoll.”
What easiness Lisa had brought to her friend went up in smoke with those words. She rolled her shoulder out from under Lisa’s touch, angry.
“I didn’t ask for your help.” Hannah snaps, lifting her head to finally look at Lisa. Her eyes are red and tired, an almost feral animal quality to them. They also beg for Lisa to stay, now matter what vileness she says in the heat of the moment. “I don’t need your help.”
Lisa’s spine straightens, a brief glimmer of hurt flitting across her face. But she knows what Hannah needs, knows it because she’s experienced this feeling, and steps away. “Okay then. Too late to give back what I freely offered, babydoll.”
She sets Hannah’s phone on the bed gently, turns on her heel, and prowls out. She pauses in front of Barry, Cisco, and Caitlin, a quiet fury underlining her tone.
“Whichever one of you did that ought to be ashamed of yourself,” she hisses out. “There is a lot more going on than you realize. Stop pushing Hannah away.”
“Please. We want to help.” Caitlin tries, supplicant to Lisa’s higher knowledge of their friend. “Tell us what she won’t.”
“For good reason she doesn’t.” Lisa shakes her head. “She trusts you with her life. Learn to trust your own with her. I did.”
Barry lets her leave, unsure of how to accept that Hannah had befriended a criminal. A criminal who sounded willing to risk her life for Hannah, and knew more than the team possibly ever would.
Gentle fingers brushing her hair from her face wakes Hannah. She lays there, feeling like she was on a gently swaying boat, feverish, soaking up the coolness of those fingers. She turns toward them, croaking with a childlike certainty familiar with a mother’s loving touch, “Mom?”
Cracking her eyes open, Hannah finds it’s Iris. Her face is solemn, a quiet sadness cloaking her shoulders.
Hannah would like to say she bolted up on the cot, tried to stammer out an answer. Instead she sighs, a ragged, gasping sound, while closing her eyes. A few warm tears well up and cling to her lashes. They break away and roll down, wetting her hair. The bridge of her nose feels sticky wet with the tears that follow, cheek and ear pressed to the pillow uncomfortably damp but unwilling to move.
Iris has not stopped gently petting Hannah’s hair, keeping her in a limbo of sleepy calm even as the sick woman cries. Iris sits in a chair beside Hannah’s cot, laptop open on the rolly table beside her to a budding article in Word.
“How are you feeling?” Iris asks.
“Bad,” Hannah rasps, betting she looked like shit. “Probably look it, too.”
“Believe it or not, you look no worse than when I’m sick.”
“So you get the flu often?”
A smile lingers in Iris’s voice, stating, “No. But I don’t handle getting sick well.”
Hannah blinks through her tears, looking at Iris with bleary, sleepy eyes. “I usually ignore when I’m like this.”
“I’ve gathered that.” Iris releases a sad breath, the smooth top of her nails brushing Hannah’s cheek. “You’ve pushed everyone away. I know this isn’t why.” Voice dropping lower, gentle, protective, she adds, “Is it Lisa Snart?”
That does make Hannah jerk back, defensive, like a wild cat backed into a corner. “No!” Realizing her reaction could be viewed as a lie, she calms, explaining, “Lisa and I were just meeting for lunch, talking about normal stuff like what movies are out and what's going on around town. Not work.”
“And you didn’t tell her Barry is the Flash?”
“No. She already knew. Lisa never straight up said so, though.” Hannah doesn’t try to sit up, head swimming just from thinking about the attempt. “You taking me home?”
“In a little while, yes.” Iris starts petting Hannah’s hair again. “Barry is fighting Atom-Smasher.”
Hannah forces herself to sit up at this, vision briefly blackening before she’s staring at Iris. She finally registers Cisco and Caitlin talking over the comms to Barry. Her heart rate is rising, panicked.
“Whoa!” Iris grabs Hannah’s shoulder to still her swaying body so she doesn’t fall from the bed, even as Hannah weakley pushes at Iris so she can get off of the cot. “It’s okay. It’s okay. Don’t worry. He’s got this.”
Hannah shakes her head, nearly speaks, but remembers what Hunter has done to her and closes her mouth. She leans into Iris, clenching her eyes closed to stave off her swimming vision and terror. It's like being spun in a violent, vengeful vortex, caught in the middle of the ocean with no hope of being saved.
Hunter would be arriving tonight, and she’d have to play her part as the delighted nerd, along with total faith in him and what he could do once Caitlin had created Velocity 9. She would pretend that Barry would defeat Zoom and save the Central Cities of two Earths along with Jesse Wells. She would act as though everything was fine, even though she remembered what was coming so vividly despite the time she’d been on Earth-1.5 already.
She wanted to scream, she wanted to cry. But, above all, she wanted to do to Hunter Zolomon what she’d been unable to do to Eobard Thawne.
It is then, mind delving into the same vicious hatred and pure, unadulterated rage that had driven her to hold a gun and fire at Eobard Thawne with intent to kill, her stomach seems to buckle.
Hannah gasps, mouth flooding with sickly sweet, “Iris, I think—”
Iris is out of the chair, grabbing the nearby hazards bin and ripping the lid off. Hannah takes it in unsteady, numb hands when its thrust before her. She settles the bin between her knees, crossing her ankles and squeezing her thighs to keep it in place as she retches into the bin. Throat burning, eyes wet, nose dripping snot, she gasps. All she tastes is stomach bile and the sticky sweetness that means she would throw up again. She heaves, stomach clenching uselessly. Her throat spasms.
With a cool hand, Iris pulls Hannah’s braid back, slipping her other under her shirts to rub Hannah’s back. Hannah heaves harder, choking. And then her stomach is forcing itself up again and she’s coughing out bile and water and what was left of her breakfast and two lunches.
She leans into Iris, slumped forward, and weak. Insanely, uselessly, hopelessly weak.
It’s a wonder the team hasn’t just gotten rid of her, if they really didn’t need her as Barry had said. What use she had had run its course the moment Hunter had sunk his claws in.
Iris wraps an arm around Hannah, resting her cheek against the crown of Hannah’s head. Her hand never loses its slow, rhythmic circles.
“You need more rest.” Iris tells her after their shared silence stretches out into uncomfortable.
Throat stinging, voice crackling on the edges, Hannah speaks in a soft monotone, “Yeah. I do.”
Her eyes lift from staring at her stomach contents to see Professor Stein with a fist raised in delight, watching Caitlin and Cisco high-five and then hug. Heart clenching, she distantly remembers Barry’s words from earlier,
“We don’t need you!”
I knew as much , she figures to herself. I haven’t exactly been helpful. And I brought Lisa into our headquarters without even meaning to.
Slowly, so she doesn’t worry Iris, Hannah sits up. She carefully slides forward to stand, Iris dropping her hand from Hannah’s back, and Hannah set down the hazards bin. Iris watches her, allowing Hannah the bit of autonomy. Hannah straightens, slow so she doesn’t upset her vertigo or stomach anymore than it already is.
If she’s going to succeed at undermining Zoom, with what help Lisa can provide, she can’t let her attachments get in the way. She needs to play up her uselessness. Will have to draw away again, because she won’t be here forever and can’t let Zoom win.
And Hannah was going to start by getting over this damn cold.
Barry enters the Cortex, ruffling the edges of weighted papers and bouncing on his toes to cool off. She briefly watches him, how Cisco claps him on the back and delightedly tells Barry how greatly Caitlin’s plan worked. Caitlin sits back, smile a tad smug, eyes bright with equal delight. And even Professor Stein can’t hold back how charmed he is by the cleverness and quick work made of the situation. Then Barry’s eyes slide to hers.
Its a brief shock, an exchange of emotions Hannah is now not only steadfastly ignoring because of the futility of them but because they are useless , just like she is. She holds his gaze a second longer than is probably safe and looks away, at Iris.
“I could really use a bed and soft pillows right now.” After a second, she crafts a wry smile, “And a toothbrush.”
Iris, having watched the two closely, smiles in relief at her friend’s words. “Well then you’re in luck. I’ve got those items just for you, with your name all over them.”
Iris links arms with Hannah, the shorter woman nestling into her friend’s side. The two exit the Medbay, Hannah not even surprised by how exhausted she is now.
“Hey, Han.” Cisco sobers a little of the team’s excitement, tone of voice smoother and softer, and sets a hand on her shoulder. “Feeling any better?”
Hannah drops her gaze, unable to look at Cisco. “Yeah. After I emptied my stomach, anyway.”
“Oh.” Cisco steps back, quietly mourning how little he’d gotten to see of his friend and how little he could truly help. He steps back to allow Caitlin to check Hannah, stern in her approach.
“I want you to take the medicine I gave you when you get home, okay?” Caitlin orders, touching Hannah’s shoulders briefly. “I told Iris where it is. And you need to open your airways some more, ease the congestion. So run the shower on hot, make it steamy.”
Hannah nods, not even looking at Barry when he murmurs her name, feet shuffling a tad closer, weary to touch her. “I’m still mad at you, Barry,” she says, and it's true. His words had hurt, no matter their truth, no matter the opening it gave her to distance herself from the team. “I just want to go back to the house.”
He winces, pained, but steps aside. Gloved hands curling into fists, he watches the two steadily make their way from the Cortex. Professor Stein, finding he has nothing to offer, is quiet as they go.
And be intercepted by Lisa.
“Hello!” She sings, carrying a clear, green-lidded container of what looked to be chicken and dumplings. “I’ve come bearing a gift and to take Hannah off your hands.”
Iris glares at Lisa, not having been present earlier and only heard the woman’s first arrival second hand. “And we should trust you why?”
Hannah stares at her friend, at the slight unkemptness of her curls that implied she’d been ruffled, the way the triumphant gleam in her eyes was far more personal than if she’d successfully stolen something extremely valuable. Hannah looks at the soup, then back to Lisa. It looked to be extremely fresh, as in made in the last couple hours fresh.
“You made that.”
“I did.” Lisa grins at Hannah. “ And ,” she slides past a disgruntled Barry who had taken up residence in front of the grifter to hopeful intimidate her to back away, “I even cleaned up my bedroom for once. Since they now know we’re friends you can come over! I figured you need time away from these goody-two shoes a bit. Let them get themselves straightened out,” she gives Barry the full brunt of her unrepentant, sarcastic grin, “before joining the fray again.”
“Lisa…” It was impossible to keep from smiling at the thief, warm all over despite how deeply she was wounded. Her voice steadily softens until she seems to barely speak, last few words only understood by the movement of her lips even as her head ducks. It was hard to bury what she felt after being allowed to feel so much around the team. “Thanks. I…do need time to…to figure out what I can…offer the team.”
Lisa sets the container down to invade Iris’s and Hannah’s space, eyes a stormy blue-gray with anger, and Iris tenses from head to toe. Hannah slips her arm from Iris’s, knowing it would hurt the reporter but unable to muster too much worry over that fact, to slide it between Lisa’s, near stumbling into the other woman.
“Careful.” Lisa croons. “I don’t have super strength, babydoll.”
“Stop calling her that!”
Hannah blinks at Barry, the most tense out of everyone, near vibrating. Lisa stares chillingly at Barry.
“Oh? And why? Because you said so?” Lisa asks, flippant attitude thinly veiling her own displeasure. “Because she’s your teammate ?” Hannah tightens her grip on Lisa’s arm at the word. “She’s your friend ? You’ve done a pretty bad job at being a friend, Cherry Cheeks, and this from someone who never had any to use as a reference.”
“Lisa quit it.”
Begrudgingly, rolling her eyes, Lisa does back off. But her point had been driven home with the slight flush to Barry’s cheeks, the way he was glaring past at the wall clock. Lisa was right and it made him angry to have it pointed out.
“Hannah has not told me to not use the name, Barry. And she’s not shown a dislike of it.” Lisa adds, almost delicately. “So I call her a babydoll, because that’s what she is. Soft. Adorable. Harmless .”
Well I wouldn’t exactly call myself that , she wonders quietly, though understands why Lisa would think that. She hadn’t exactly told her how Harrison Wells had been Eobard Thawne and that she’d shot him.
“Uhm, is this a bad time?”
Hannah’s breath stutters on a reedy gasp, sending her into a small coughing fit so hard her ribs felt ready to split into brittle shards. Lisa rubs her back, holding Hannah up as her knees weaken from the effort to breath through her coughs.
She wheezes, just barely stopping herself from saying the Speedster’s true name. Lisa’s hold briefly tightens, protective, before loosening so no one catches wise, and Barry has moved between them all and Hunter, coiled tight with intent to attack without preamble.
Hunter plays the role of awkward, honest hero well, and she’s reminded of how even Hannah had been fooled when she’d first started The Flash ages ago in her world. She’d always hoped for the best in people, even Eobard before he’d revealed his true intentions in molding Barry and that he wasn’t even Dr. Harrison Wells.
“Breath,” Lisa soothes, helping Hannah straighten. Hannah shakes, more than usual. The tight hold on her body, the effort to make herself appear healthy, is spinning out of control, and her vision is already swimming again. She coughs, harshly and thickly, and can see Barry shift a fraction sideways, glancing at her with bright eyes. Lisa takes Hannah’s full weight.
“Who are you?” Barry demands of Hunter, and Hannah answers for the evil man.
“Jay Garrick.” Hannah rasps between coughs. “The Flash of Earth-2.”
“You said you don’t remember anything.” Professor Stein points out, not accusing but certainly curious.
“I don’t remember much .” Hannah stresses, practically able to feel the sadness rolling off of Lisa at what Hannah is doing. Hunter looks at her with an inscrutable expression, as though Jay was still trying to figure out Hannah’s use to the team. “But I remember Jay….” She swallows back bile, biting out and sounding all the more sick for it, “The Crimson Comet.”
“She’s right, your psychic friend.” Hunter tilts his head in Hannah’s direction, who leans her head over against Lisa’s, feeling pitiful and disgusting. “I’ve been watching you for weeks now, trying to find out whether you’re trustworthy or not. But either way, Zoom has set his sights on you.”
Hannah wheezes again, and Iris is ignoring her distrust towards Lisa to help Hannah to a seat. Her legs shake from having held up her weight so long.
“And why should we trust you?” Barry questions.
Because I say so , Hannah tries for, but can’t make her lips or vocal cords work. For one, she’s exhausted. For another, she’s angry with herself for not finding a way to stop Hunter, for not telling the team about Zoom earlier. She should have jumped the gun because then they wouldn’t be stuck in this mess, reliving the events of the show.
“The psychic is a good indicator.”
“I’m not psychic.”
Caitlin tenses at the roughness of Hannah’s voice, Barry turning fully to look at her as though she’s lost her mind. Professor Stein’s gaze narrows, waiting out Hannah’s decision.
“I’m like you.” Hannah fights hard to keep her eyes up, level with Hunter’s. “I’m from another universe. I just…” Hannah breathes deeply, harshly. “Came through much earlier.”
Hunter’s eyebrows hike high. “How does that tell you who I am?”
She leans against Lisa’s shoulder, closing her eyes. “All of this was apart of a show. It was entertainment.”
Lisa rubs her arms, soft. “Breathe, Hannah.”
Lisa snorts. “More evenly.”
“Hannah…” She starts at Barry’s voice, the pain in it. Hannah finds him, gaze blurry but unwavering. So much is in his eyes, longing and hurt among them. “Is he really trustworthy?”
Her voice is quiet, raspy, as she says, able to feel the slamming of the bars of a jail around her, “Yes.”
And she lets herself lightly doze off on Lisa’s shoulder as Barry processes the information and the rest of their team moves to interrogate the Speedster.
At some point, she does slip into a deeper sleep, unable to lie any more and keep up the game she must now play during every waking moment.
She can vaguely recall being carried, settled into a backseat and a belt buckle haphazardly pulled across so she was strapped down. The rocking of a car, the hum of surrounding traffic, the dull roar of a train passing closely lulls her back to sleep. For a little while, she imagines she’s with her parents, on the way home after a long day. But then the car is shutting off, she’s being unbuckled and gently pulled from the car.
Deep grumbles rumble in her bones, voice soft as a feather against her hair. The rickety sound of stairs, sweeping rock of her body being hauled up the stairs. Hannah sinks back into a deep sleep, curling into the broad arms holding her bridal style. Then she’s settled into cool, silk sheets, a heavy and equally cool duvet pulled over her.
“Why’s she here?”
Hannah blinks her eyes open at the familiar voice, bleary gaze finding a dark outline standing in the doorway, hidden by the hall light. Hannah can see just past the broad shoulders of the man, the half-lit face of Lisa’s blue eyes sharp as she spoke to him.
“It’s none of your business.” Lisa says, almost waspish in her response. “But since it's you and not Lenny, she’s my friend , Mick. And she’s sick. And her other friends aren’t being really friendly.”
“So she’s why you asked me for my chicken and dumplings recipe?” He grunts, shifting to glance into the room.
Rough, broad face, close shaven head, dark eyes. Hannah remembers being extremely fond of him, especially after he’d joined the Legends. Not as fond as she was of the Snarts, but certainly her top five. She sighs into the cool sheets, turning her face to block out the hall light.
She falls asleep cocooned in Lisa’s sheets, the scent of honey and buttercups a sweet and comforting wreath.
Hannah is aware she’s dreaming when she opens her eyes, sitting up from a curled up position on the grimy floor. For one, she feels better than she has in a long time. For another, she’s in an iron cage, in an old mine. Her lungs inhale dust, exhaling a cough. Across from her she can see Jesse, dirty, flowery blouse ripped, ankle on a long chain for in case she escaped her cage, asleep on her disgusting cot. And closer to Hannah is the man in the iron mask who she already knows is the real Jay Garrick, the Flash of Earth-3. The glass cage that would house Killer Frost is empty.
Hannah can’t control what she does in the dream, however. This, Hannah had learned to call it when a small child, was partial lucid dreaming. Regular lucid dreaming gave her complete control of herself in the dream, but not those in her subconscious.
Jay taps on his glass wall, and Hannah crawls over to him. She watches him write on the glass with a shaky hand, “You’re awake.”
Hannah nods, saying quietly with a glance at Jesse, “Yes.”
Inwardly, Hannah is fighting for control of her dream body. She doesn’t understand why she remembers this place so meticulously, down to the grit digging into her bare knees (she was in shorts and a tank top), but it left her feeling terrified. Dreams where she knew they weren’t real always turned into nightmares the longer she couldn’t control them, and depending on how long they lasted she could wake up either crying her screaming.
“Have you figured out your power yet?”
Hannah wished she could laugh. She’d always wanted a power, specifically to have the power of empathy or be a witch. Funny her dream was bringing that up when she lived in a world of meta-humans.
“No.” She shakes her head, and there is the bang of metal door. She whips around, pure fear ricocheting through her like a bullet in an iron room. Her body tenses, coil tightly, able to see Jesse waking up, standing on unsteady legs, glaring in the direction of their captor as Hunter strode it.
But it wasn’t Hunter. It was…
Jesse glares at the evil meta-human. “Reverb.”
He rolls his head in Jesse’s direction, Killer Frost striding in behind him. “Hey, baby genius,” he greets the young woman. Then he looks to Hannah, chin angling downwards as he looks her down, lifting his goggles to meet her eyes on the upward sweep.
“You, my love, look like shit.”
“I’m not your love.” Hannah spits. “And what are you doing here?”
“Informing you that your little hero friends are planning to open a portal to get you back.”
Killer Frost shrugs from behind him. “Looks like you better get that dimensional ability of your’s working quick, darlin’.”
The ice villainess drawls out the endearment in a bad Southern accent, intending to mock Hannah, her skin crawling.
Whatever response her dream self had is lost in the entire scene melting away, washed away like soap sprayed off a car windshield. The floor crumbles out from under her, sending Hannah into a free fall, screaming as she goes. Hannah slams into a stone floor, chokes as the air is knocked out of her, and gags before properly sucking in a breath of air.
It is black as squid ink, the cold stone seeping deep into her bones, and Hannah rises on unsteady legs. She is in control of her body now, and tests out how much control she has by pinching herself (there is a dull, memory ache) and by singing the opening bars of Le Vie En Rose and Cha Cha Slide with the movements of the latter (as good as she normally does).
Hands out, she feels for a wall, feet shuffling in the pitch darkness to make sure she doesn’t trip herself.
Her foot kicks something soft and big, both settling into water. Hannah stops, backs up to crouch down, touching the lump. It’s big, covered in cloth, and a tiny ball of uncertainty forms, egged on by dread. She swallows, touching around more and finding—
A soft gasp catches in the back of her throat when she touches blood, thick and hot and fresh, flowing from what must be a recent wound with how it sluggishly escapes, coating her hands. Clenching her teeth, she keeps going, touching a smooth, warm throat, up into hair, long and soft but matted down by blood.
Chest constricting, Hannah whines. “What?”
It’s impossible to breath now, managing small breaths as panic seizes her.
“What is…” She throws herself back, rubbing at her skirt to hopefully wipe away the blood.
The move flips a switch and the room floods with light. She’s staring at Lisa, one bullet in the chest and the other in her forehead. Hannah chokes, already crying, hyperventilating. She gets to her feet, turns and finds Cisco, neck bent at an unnatural angle. She yelps, backing away to trip and crash down, looking in horror at Iris, face twisted in fear, reach for Eddie. The reporter’s chest was ripped open, heart missing, Eddie’s head smashed in.
Crying out, she backs into a corner, seeing Joe, Caitlin, Stacey, Leonard, Mick, Linda, Jesse, Harry, Dante, Henry, and Patty. All dead and bloody. Hiding her face in her knees, she wails.
“You did this.”
Hannah’s head snaps up, nearly screams when she sees Noemi, hand over her heart, blood dripping down her shirt from a gaping wound.
Noemi drops to her knees, making her flinch back. She shakes her head, unable to breath, trying and trying and it not working. “What?”
“We died because you didn’t stop him.” Noemi says, and collapses at her feet.
“It’s all your fault.” Barry says from somewhere to her right, and she can’t see him through her tears, sobbing, snot dripping from her nose. “It’s all your fault that they’re dead, Hannah. You didn’t do anything.”
“I didn’t know.” She pleads, wiping away tears and flinching when blood smears on her face.
“You knew.” He hisses, voice changing, morphing into something metallic and vile. “You knew and you did nothing .”
“Don’t call me that. I hate you. ”
Cold fingers curl into her shoulders, hot breath fanning over her ear, burnt ozone filling her nose. “Isn’t it beautiful?” Hunter asks. “I did this specially for you, since you couldn’t seem to bow.” Cheek pressed flush to hers, he murmurs, “Now you’re as blood stained as me. We’re two peas in a pod.”
He pulls away to set something at her feet, wipes away her tears and Lisa’s blood so she can see it’s Barry’s head.
“A present for my fellow pea.”
Hannah screams. And screams. And screams.
She wakes up screaming. It’s the first time in a while she’s remembered her dreams.
It’s Mick who is holding her, letting her scream at him and push at him, punching with all the strength her body contains, screeching nonsense. Lisa is at the foot of the bed, coiled tight but not allowed closer.
And then she gives up, collapsing against the pyromaniac who doesn’t know her from Adam. She heaves, sucking in lungfuls of air, crying quietly.
Lisa gently takes Hannah from Mick, allowing him to escape. He pauses at the door, watching for a long, impossibly short moment, then is gone in a blink. Hannah pulls her knees up to her chest, leaning away from Lisa, before the older woman can try her hand at comforting.
Trembling, still seeing Lisa’s eyes looking blankly at her, she hides her face from the grifter. She closes her eyes and just sees everyone dead, can hear Noemi and Barry accusing her, feel Hunter’s fingers and breath, the way he’d pressed his cheek against hers. Feels Lisa’s blood on her hands.
It makes her sick, but her stomach whines. There is nothing left for it to give up to her.
“I,” Hannah works her mouth, shocked at how hoarse she is, “I need a shower.”
“You wanna talk about it first?” Lisa asks. “Sounded pretty bad.”
Hannah shudders, opens her eyes so she doesn’t have to see everyone dead at her feet anymore, doesn’t see the accusing look on Barry’s head. She’s soaked in a cold sweat, Barry’s sweater clinging uncomfortably to her skin.
“After.” Hannah croaks. “I promise.”
Lisa gently lifts Hannah’s face, checking the girl’s face.
“Okay.” She says slowly. “I’ll heat up some of the soup. Ms. West told me about how you gave up all you’ve eaten today just before Jay ’s arrival.”
“Yeah.” Hannah exhales unsteadily, nodding a little. “Yeah.”
Lisa stands back as Hannah climbs out of bed, wobbling for a moment. She feels like death, probably looking it too.
“I went ahead and got clothes for you while you were asleep.” Lisa tells her, walking over to the bathroom to flick on the light and draw back the gold and pink shower curtain with blue flowers. “The big Star Trek shirt and a pair of baggy sleep pants. Some leggings and socks too. None of them looked used and were soft.”
Hannah peels off her pink over shirt, folding it with shaking hands. Next she pulls off her socks and jean shorts, folding the jeans in half and putting the shirt on top with the socks on them. There is no blood on her hands but she can still feel it, sticky and gumming under her nails.
“That dream must have been something else.” Lisa whistles, and Hannah jerks, turning her seven league stare on the grifter instead of her hands. “Yep. You need a bath. With music. Something good smelling too.”
Lisa bends down to open her cabinets, pulling out essential oils and a little diffuser. Hannah finds it hard to imagine Lisa as a person who likes essential oils but doesn’t ask, watching her pour a some water from a half empty bottle it and tap out three drops of lavender and lemongrass each.
“If you can believe it, one of my marks got me into this stuff.” Lisa explains off-handedly. “Thought the idea was great so, after I finished my bath bombs, I switched to this instead. I use bath salts now too.”
Lisa glances up. “You can turn on the bathtub. Just make sure to pull the little lever underneath so the water fills the tub.”
Hannah does as told, mechanical in her movements. She tests the water, making sure it was as hot as she could stand before leaving it alone. Lisa already has a jar of mint and amber scented bath salts out, unscrewed to shake into the big tub. Lisa swirls it around, not batting an eye at the boiling hot water, simply flips the temp to cold to level it out.
Then she begins to sort her bath products, humming as she goes. She leaves a fresh wash rag, body wash, and shampoo out. Steps back to survey.
Then she pulls out her phone and opens youtube, clicking on her Bath Playlist, and sets it on the sink counter. The soft, aching voice of Florence Welch fills the space, singing about falling stars and being blind.
“Okay. Just press the little blue button on the side to diffuse the oils when you get in the tub.” Lisa tells Hannah. “I’ll be off doing stuff.”
Hannah watches Lisa go, nearly makes her stay. She reaches out to do so but sees the blood, the bullet wounds, and snatches her hand back to her side. She heaves harshly, wishing she could articulate how fucked up she was.
Hannah closes the door with a snap, presses the little blue button, and removes the last of her clothes, setting Barry’s soaked sweater on top of the pile. She steps into the steaming water, sinking down until she can lean back to submerge her head.
For a second, she debates not coming back up.
She does anyway, and shuts off the water so it doesn’t overfill.
She stares at her hands then, hears the metallic distortion of Barry’s voice ( Savitar , her mind supplies), and the way Noemi had looked falling at her feet.
She starts to cry as Florence declares she’ll stay in the dark with her love.