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Stormy Moon

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Iris hated everything. Her life, her stupid affliction, and most definitely her awful, horrible, dumb animal instincts. She groaned as she pulled a piece of river weeds out of her hair.

“Ugh, gross. Last time I jump in a river after a fish that was so not worth it,” she grumbled, wringing her hair out and then flipping it behind her back. Luckily she was in an abandoned area. Only idiots ever came around here. The river was dangerous to swim in and the fish were somewhat hard to catch unless you were an experienced angler. Iris put her hands on her hips and looked around, trying to ascertain which way would take her home the fastest.

“Oh my God, are you okay?” a voice exclaimed, close behind her.

Iris whirled around, her fist flying toward the chest of the man behind her, but she pulled it back enough so that she really only made him stumble. He wheezed as he stepped back, and Iris slid back, getting distance.

“Who are you?” she demanded, looking around before reaching for a rock and gripping it in her hand.

He held up a hand, like he was trying to calm an animal which, for Iris was actually hilarious.

You’re about five minutes too late to meet the beast.

“Barry? I’m Barry. My name, is Barry,” he stuttered, standing up. Iris started to circle him, feinting to see if he was dangerous. But quickly, she realized that he was not only not dangerous, but quite harmless. His appearance was pretty rugged though. Tall, broad shouldered, beard, even worn jeans and flannel. He looked like he would survive in a fight, but honestly Iris was more concerned that his poor skinny legs would break under the slightest pressure.

“Okay, Barry. What are you doing out here in the woods? Did you follow me?” she asked, recalling the hunters that always seemed to appear, causing her to move around so much. But she didn’t think he was the type.

“I-I was fishing, over here. Ma’am I know you’re scared, but are you okay? Did somebody hurt you?” he asked.

She tilted her head watching him.

“Fishing? Are you serious? This river is so dangerous to fish in.”

“Yeah, and I’m wondering why you crawled out of it,” he said, pointing at her, before his face blanched and turned absolutely red. Iris glanced down, looking at her bruised body. She’d banged on a couple rocks before she left the river, so she was quite bruised and a little bloody. Of course, she was also naked so maybe it was that. When she looked back up, Barry was turned around and covering his eyes, his neck and ears almost steaming.

“Are you shy? I’m just naked,” she pointed out.

“Just--You’re-Ack!--I--do you want my shirt?” he asked, nearly turning to make eye contact but he only took of his flannel shirt and tossed it back to her. She caught it and slipped it on, buttoning it up and lifting her arms and letting them fall.

“Okay, Barry. I’m dressed. So you can turn around now,” she told him, grinning as Barry did so. Her legs were still mostly uncovered but he just avoided looking at them. Barry’s hands were wringing nervously before he brought them together and laced his own fingers together, his eyes earnest and worried.

“What happened to you, did someone hurt you?” he asked. Iris sighed.

“I’m fine, Barry. I’m going to go home. Can you drive me into town?” she asked. Barry bit his lip.

“I don’t even know who you are, what’s your name?” he asked.

“I’m Iris,” she said, running her fingers through her hair, detangling it as best she could. He nodded and seemed a little satisfied.

“Okay then. Iris I will do better than drive you into town, I can take you wherever you need to go,” he offered.

“That would be great Barry. But aren’t you busy fishing?”

“I was done anyway. And I’m actually on an...extended vacation so I don’t even have any responsibilities.”

“You’re very kind to offer your help Barry. I appreciate this,” she said, reaching for his hand grasping it.

“It’s nothing, really. But what happened to you,” he asked. Iris sighed. Better to get it out of the way now, than later.

“I’m a werewolf,” she confessed, watching his reaction closely. He paused while packing his fishing supplies and leapt up, excitement clear in his features.

“Really? Oh my God that is so cool! I’ve never met a werewolf before!” he crowed, dropping his things carelessly and bringing his hands together, as if he adored the simple fact that she was a werewolf.

“Yeah, and you’re not scared of me? Are you just crazy?”

He waved a hand dismissively, his posture loosening.

“I’m a wizard, or a witch technically.” Iris leaned back, quite shocked. A witch? This guy? There was no way.

“A witch? What are you, sigils? Enchanted items?” she asked. He shrugged, looking quite smug.

“An elemental witch. It runs on my mom’s side,” he explained. Iris grasped her chest, her shock catching her off guard.

“That’s...heavy stuff. Okay, so you’re not just a cute little fisherman. I guess if we got into a fight we might be pretty even,” she said, snickering and shaking her head, moving to help Barry pack his things.

“You think I’m cute?” he asked.

“Oh yeah, definitely. But the point is that if we encounter any hunters, you and I have a chance.” she said, following him as she got to his truck, tossing his stuff into the bed.

“Don’t worry, I will definitely protect that gorgeous face,” he promised, opening the door for her and closing it after her. Iris snorted as he went around and climbed in himself.

“You know, you’re pretty forward, with the dangerous werewolf in your truck,” she grinned, letting her canines show, their sharpened edges brushing against her bottom lip. “If I wanted to, I could kick your ass, magic or not,” she joked. She winked to let him know she was joking however, and he flushed just a little.

“Well, I guess we’re just gonna have to see,” he said, turning to the road and giving it his full attention.

Things were looking up for Iris, she just had to keep the good karma rolling.

Chapter Text

Iris curled up in the passenger seat and watched the forest disappear in the side mirror, her face pensive and drawn.

 

“So, why are you by yourself?” Barry asked, glancing at her from the corner of his eye. She glanced back, playing with the dead ends of her hair, her braid keeping the majority of her hair tamed. She considered the question, thinking about the last couple of days.

 

“If you’re asking about a pack I don’t have one. Haven’t had one since I was little. Just me and my dad against the world.” she said wistfully.

 

“Did you get separated?” he pressed, and Iris sighed, leaning her head outside the window.

 

“Yeah. Hunters, as usual. Can’t let us wolves live in peace.” she replied, undoing and redoing her braid anxiously. Barry fell silent and Iris observed him, watched his long eyelashes brush against his cheeks. He was quite pretty actually, and it made it so hard to believe he was an elemental witch. They were fairly rare, though not totally uncommon. Iris had never met one, but she’d heard enough stories of their power. They could level small cities by themselves, and they often were attributed to natural disasters, but humans didn’t know that.

 

“Yeah, I’ve met a few. They’re pretty dangerous. Is it safe to be by yourself in the forest like that?” he asked. Iris scoffed.

 

“Yeah I’m aware. But it’s not really your business, is it?” she asked him, turning just a little to face him.

 

“No, I suppose not. So, where are you from?” he asked, diverting the conversation.

 

“West,” she said with an almost feral grin, and Barry, despite his natural instincts making his mouth taste like ozone, was charmed by her smile. She was gorgeous but he knew that she was quite dangerous

 

“Yeah? Do you miss it?”

 

“Hell no!” she cried, laughing at the thought. “Humid weather, cold nights, and not enough places to run around. It was a nightmare. What about you? Any good memories?”

 

Barry shook his head.

 

“Not really. Kinda like you. I don’t have a coven. Never, had one actually. Bad childhood. It’s a long story,” he said.

 

“Well, it seems like we’ve got time Barry,” Iris said turning to face him fully.

 

And so Barry told his story. His mom was murdered one night, when a lightning storm appeared in his house and killed her. Everyone suspected that Henry must have been an elemental and killed his wife, but Henry never confessed, though he had been convicted. He was in prison while Barry grew up, his parents’ precious belongings waiting for him when he became eighteen. Barry didn’t even know he was a witch until he was twenty.

 

“She left you journals?” Iris asked. Barry nodded.

 

“Yes. She wasn’t going to tell me at all, but she could tell she was being hunted. So she wrote her whole life story. She even left her grimoire for me. So I did my research. And naturally, another witch killed her. I’m still trying to find him but no luck,” he said.

 

“How are you trying to find him?” Iris asked, unfolding her legs and paying even more attention. He looked back at her, surprised.

 

“Well, he’s like me. A lightning elemental but he must have known my mom personally because she had never told anyone she was a witch. I don’t remember much from that night but I remember that there was a man in the lightning. Whoever he is, someone must have noticed him. A guy that powerful doesn’t fly under the radar,” he said.

 

“Well if he’s underground you need to ask the unsavory types. Get a little aggressive. People like that probably have everybody scared of them. You have to be scarier.” she told him.

 

“Yeah, except I’m not scary. I mean, look at me.” he gestured to his body and Iris looked him over, smiling a little.

 

“You can pull it off believe me, but you just don’t have the energy. I mean I’m not scary looking but I can pull it off,” she told him.

 

“I don’t know.” he said. Iris rolled her eyes.

 

“Barry. If you’re going to find this guy you need to get contacts. Hearing your story, I want to help you. It’s important to have family. And he took yours from you. I know something about that. So, I help you and maybe you help me?” she asked.

 

“Of course I’ll help. What do you need?” he asked immediately.

 

“I might need some help with hunters. By myself I could never get through them. But with some help maybe I can make it back to--” she cut herself off and offered him a smile.

 

“Sure. So, partners?” he asked, sticking one hand out for her to shake. Iris took it and shook his hand, then grasped his forearm giving one brisk shake.

 

“Partners. Okay, so first, we need information.” Iris said.

 

“Right, but I don’t even know what the guy looks like,” he aid, looking frsutrated already.

 

“You don’t need to. If someone else knows about him, they’ll remember him. Elementals are rare. And one that kills would catch attention,” Iris mused, crossing her legs and rubbing her chin.

 

“But who would I even ask?” he wondered. Iris thought about her own contacts before nodding.

 

“I have a few ideas. But we'll need to prepare for a journey, and make sure we pack warmly. Our first stop is up north, in the mountains.” she explained.

 


 

On the way to the mountains, Iris made Barry pull over while she went to get one of her emergency caches. When she got back to the truck she was wearing a pair of denim jeans, and hiking boots. She wore his flannel shirt, closed, and a denim jacket with sherpa lining. Her hair was in a high ponytail and she looked both warm and serious as she she lugged a bulging duffel bag and tossed it into the truck bed. Once she was settled she told Barry where to go, though she kept her directions to “Turn right here, take this exit” and the like. Barry felt the cold start to press in on them and he turned on the heat. He was damn near shivering, but Iris looked quite comfortable.

 

“Does being a werewolf just make you resistant to cold?” he asked curiously. Iris shrugged, her eyes scanning the horizon.

 

“No, it doesn’t. I’m freezing but I’m just used to being in worse conditions. It’s time like these that I miss having a fur coat.” she sighed.

 

“So it’s true. I’d heard rumors that werewolves could actually transform whenever they wanted to,” he said. Iris shook her head.

 

“Yeah, that’s not true. Only the day before and of the full moon. But we are stronger and faster than regular humans. And our senses are better. But our wolf forms are strongest.”

 

Barry nodded, looking curious and interested.

 

“That’s amazing, honestly. I’ve always wanted to meet other supernaturals. And here you are, just helping me out. It’s like a dream,” he sighs dreamily. Iris seemed unsure and Barry resisted the urge to reach out his hand to comfort her. “Hey, don’t feel obligated or anything.” he comforted.

 

“No, I’m fine it’s just that, I keep wondering about my dad. He’s probably worried about me.” she said.

 

“Your dad?”

 

“Yeah. A couple of months ago there was this family of hunters. My dad and I were with a couple of other werewolves. We got separated. I haven’t found him yet, but I know he’s out there. I tried howling for him every month in wolf form, but I can’t hear him.” she looked stricken and Barry didn’t resist his instincts and put his hand over hers.

 

“Iris we’re going to find your dad. I promise you that,” he assured. Iris smiled, though her lips trembled.

 

“If you say so, Barry. Okay, last turn, on the right. It’s a dirt path. Follow it until we get to a cabin.”

 

“Got it,” he said, spotting the turn and following the dirt path.

 

“Okay, so first things first, we’re visiting a very old banshee. She made a deal with something and it gave her the ability to walk the earth as a woman and not a spirit. She can still foretell death but she can’t kill conventionally for a banshee. But she can still kill for satisfaction. Especially men,” Iris said.

 

“Noted. So what are we doing here?”

 

“She’s old as hell. So if any elemental killed another years ago maybe she knows something. But let me do all the talking, okay?” Iris asked. Barry nodded.

 

“For sure. Is that it?” he asked as the reached a small cabin. Iris didn’t answer, just hopped out of the truck while it was still moving and quickly moved up the steps, but she waited at the door. Barry caught up to the door and Iris knocked, her hands in the pockets of the jacket. An older woman answered the door, and by her milky eyes, it was quite obvious that she was blind.

 

“Who’s there?” she asked, her head tilting to look unnervingly in Iris’s direction and then Barry’s.

 

“My name is Iris West. My companion is Barry, a witch. We’ve come to ask you a few questions,” Iris said.

 

“West, huh? Any relation to Joseph?” the woman asked, her silvery hair lifting, as if by a breeze.

 

“Yes. My father. Can you help us?” Iris asked.

 

“Sure, I don’t mind a few questions. Come inside,” she said, stepping to the side and closing the door after them. The cabin was bare inside, with little furniture and lacking personal effects. Cold seemed to permeate their skin instantly.

 

Iris grabbed Barry’s jacket and pulled him down enough to breathe into his ear.


“Don’t drink or eat anything she gives you,” and he nodded.

 

“Iris, was it?” the banshee asked, fiddling around in the kitchen.

 

“Yes, but it’s my friend who needs help. We’re looking for someone. But we don’t know his name, or what he looks like,” she glanced at Barry who shook his head. The banshee let out a high-pitched cackle and Iris’s skin began to itch. She noticed Barry scratching his knee.

 

“You don’t have anything, anything you can tell me?” the banshee asked, a tray with tea and cookies teetering precariously.

 

“He was an elemental witch, a powerful one. He created a lightning storm and killed someone,” Iris said tightly. The banshee licked her hips, her sharp teeth glinting in her mouth.

 

“Really? That’s quite powerful. Who did he kill?” the banshee asked, though she looked at Barry, impossibly. She was looking right into his soul, her smile growing as she waited for him to answer. Iris grabbed his hand and squeezed it, urging him to speak.

 

“My mom. He killed my mom,” Bary gritted out.

 

“Yes, I could sense her death in your heart. Did you watch? Was it traumatic? Or did you find her body later? Cold and broken?” she taunted, taking a sip of her tea as Barry began to tremble.

 

“We’re not here for that,” Iris snapped, drawing attention back to herself. “The man, he was a powerful elemental, and used it to kill, surely you felt it.” 

 

“Perhaps,” the banshee mused, her lips twisting into a scowl. "I felt a rush of power a long time ago. Nearly sixteen years ago, a great surge of power, more than anything I'd ever felt. And then death, sweet death. At the time I knew it must have been a witch, but an elemental? Their deaths are always so painful for the victims.” she said casually. Iris saw now that Barry’s eyes were filling with tears and she sighed.

 

“Do you know who he was or not? The elemental?” Iris insisted.

 

“Not his name, but he killed often in those days. I think he was on a killing spree. Your mother was just the first. He killed another almost right after. A woman, a human.”

 

“What?” Iris asked.

 

“Yes, she was a scientist, but like I said, she was a normal human. Her name was Tess Morgan,” the banshee tutted and took another sip of tea. “Well, go on. Have some tea. You have come a long way. You must be hungry.” she crooned, and Iris took the tea, noisily picking up the tea and sloshing it, making slurping noises, but she didn’t drink. She even broke piece of the cookie and crumbled it into pieces until it was fine dust. Barry scrambled to do the same and when he was finished, Barry gulped loudly.

 

“Thanks, that was um, delicious." he said, coughing.

 

“A little dry,” Iris interjected. The banshee laughed and set her tea down. 

 

“What a shame. Now, you said he killed your mother. Was she also a witch?” the banshee asked.

 

“Yes?” Barry confirmed, not sure about the revelance.

 

The banshee stood up then and glided toward Barry and gripped his chin. Iris shot up and the banshee grabbed her neck, strangling her one handedly. Iris struggled to loosen the grip but the banshee showed no signs of fatigue.

 

“I can smell death on you, boy. Your mother, your father. You reek of that sorrow, that heartbreak. It smells so good to me,” she leaned close, her milky eyes blocking his field of vision. “I can make that pain stop, you know. Just let me sing to you,” she breathed. She began to hum then, a soothing and gentle barge. Barry began to sink, deep inside his own heart and his emotions faded until they were nearly gone, he started to close his eyes and then the banshee shrieked. Instinctively he knew it wasn't a banshee cry, but a pained scream. When he opened his eyes, Iris had the teapot in her hands and the banshee was soaked in hot tea.

 

“You wench!” the banshee cried. Iris swung the teapot and it shattered over the banshee’s head. Iris coughed as she caught her breath, and gripped Barry’s shoulder.

 

“You’re welcome. Let’s get out of here,” she gasped. Barry turned back to the banshee and held out his hand, a stream of yellow lighting shot into the banshee. She shook and trembled and began to smoke until she exploded into dust. Iris’s eyes widened and Barry sensed that he had gone too far. Before Barry could say anything in defense of himself, Iris turned on her heel and stomped out of the cabin, her boots crunching on the ground. Barry loped after her, his hands wringing nervously. She whirled around when he reached the truck, her eyes glowing yellow when she turned to face him.

 

“What the hell was that?” she demanded, her hands balled up on her hips. Barry sighed, his shoulders slumping dejectedly.

 

“I’m sorry I just. I was angry.” he gasped, breathing heavily through his panic.

 

“So you killed her? Is that what you do to people who make you angry?” she demanded, 

 

“No!” he exclaimed. Iris’s tongue pressed into her cheek in irritation.

 

“No? So what, you just decided to kill her? What were you thinking?”

 

“She tried to kill us!” he protested, pointing toward the house. Iris covered her mouth and turned away from him

 

“Yeah and I knocked her out. You can’t just go around killing people. It’s not right, and frankly it’s scary.” she wrapped her arms around herself protectively. Barry's eyes softened and he stepped closer, slowly.

 

“Iris, I’m not gonna hurt you, I was just frustrated and angry. Please don't be afraid of me,” he pleaded. Iris took a deep breath and let it go. Her eyes seemed to pulse before they faded back to an endless black.

 

“Okay, okay fine. But I’m laying down a rule. We don’t kill unless we have to. Life or death, self defense. That’s it. When we find your mom’s killer it’s up to you, but everyone before that had better be for a damn good reason,” she growled. Barry nodded, stunned by the ferocity of her anger.

 

“Okay, I promise.” he said. She nodded once in acknowledgement and climbed in the truck. Barry got inside and sat in silence, thinking about what to do now.

 

“What are we gonna do now?” he asked. Iris crossed her arms.

 

“Well, it looks like the banshee sensed the death and we have another victim to research, but if we want something more substantial, we need a seer.” she sighed, rubbing her eyes with the heel of her hands.

 

“Okay, I know a seer that's pretty fortuitous,” he said, starting the car and driving away. Iris looked at the map and pointed toward the large city.

 

“We can make it to Starling City before it's dark, but we should refuel and eat before then. I’m getting the feeling that this is going to be a long venture,” Iris said. Barry nodded and for the rest of the ride, Barry’s thoughts were half dedicated to driving and the other half went to replaying the anger and fear in Iris’s face after killing the banshee.

 

After his mom died and his dad went to prison, Barry lived a fearful and unsatisfying life. And then when he finally got his family back he lost it all. He’d been through so much in the last month, and then a banshee tried to kill him. It was just too much with old and new wounds compounding. 

 

His spirits were still low when Iris spoke up finally. The radio was playing an upbeat eighties pop song and Iris turned it down.

 

“Barry I forgive you, for what you did. And yes, I was mad at you after what happened, but I want that behind us. I need to you to know that I still have your back and you still have mine,” she said. 

 

“Iris I just don’t know how to feel. It just felt like after everything in my life, why can’t I repay violence with more violence? That banshee was hardly innocent.” he said. Iris nodded.

 

“She wasn’t. She’s probably killed so many people and if she had a soul she would definitely go to hell. But I don’t think you realize what killing means to other supernaturals.” she said. Barry glanced over. His knowledge of other supernaturals was pretty limited. He wasn’t even sure what he could really do, much less others.

 

He looked at her questioningly and she took a deep breath.

 

“For me,” she placed her hand on her chest, an emphasis that he realized must have meant werewolves. “If I kill violently or senselessly I can lose my humanity. I could transform into a wolf and never be a human again. Lycanthropy is a curse, it always has been. Most of my kind treat it like a blessing but becoming a wolf against my will is a curse. And being careless and vindictive is the fastest way to suffer,” she explained. Barry was silent while he digested her words. Several minutes later, he found the words he felt might comfort her.

 

“Iris, I will never  ask you to do anything that you don’t want to. And I’m sorry for making you feel uncomfortable. I don’t really know much about the supernatural world, but if you’re willing to teach me I’ll try my hardest to not put your humanity in danger,” he said. Iris smiled, but her eyes were still tense around the edges.

 

“It’s not just my humanity at risk. If you go down this path, make sure it’s really what you want,” she told him.

 

Barry fell quiet after that.

 




Iris made Barry stop at a chain breakfast restaurant, not far from their destination in a smaller suburb just outside the city. She pulled a wad of money from her jacket pocket, held together with a billfold.

 

“Lunch is on me,” she told him.

 

Inside the restaurant, Iris ignored the child screaming behind her while she deliberated the menu.

 

“Feel free to order whatever you like. I have another cache around here somewhere,” she told him casually

 

“What’s with all the caches?” he asked quietly, lowering his voice. Iris appreciated his effort to be discreet but, his whisper was decidedly more noticeable than just speaking normally.

 

“I’m nomadic. It’s easier to have things hidden than lugging around all my stuff. Especially since I ruin clothes so much,” she said, flipping to the next page, oohing at the various sides to choose from.

 

“God, I’m so hungry. I haven’t eaten in a day,” she grumbled.

 

“I can’t pick what to eat.” Barry sighed.

 

“Okay, well I’ll just order everything that looks good and we’ll share.” she flagged down the waiter and he took their orders, a black coffee for Barry and an orange juice for Iris. The waiter’s smile didn’t even slip when Iris rounded of the order with extra gravy on a plate of biscuits.

 

“Those biscuits are mine Barry, if you eat them we’re going to have problems,” she threatened, pointing a finger at him.

 

“No problem. I will keep my fork and tongue to myself,” he said, before flushing. Iris raised an eyebrow.

 

“Oh, I thought we were talking about food.” she smirked when he began to splutter.

 

“That wasn’t what I--Oh my God--Iris!” he whined. She laughed and leaned her chin in her hand.

 

“I’m joking. Or am I?” she winked. Barry took a deep breath and let it out, carefully.

 

“You’re a strange woman Iris,” he told her, taking a sip of coffee.

 

“So they tell me,” she said.

 

Iris pulled the map out of her jacket and laid it out, going over the fastest path into the city.

 

“So, where is this friend of yours exactly? Because honestly Starling City is kind of a cesspool of violence and corruption,” she frowned, her mouth twisting. Barry leaned forward and studied the map, tracing some of the roads before he tapped a spot on the map.

 

“She’s uptown. She used to work downtown but she’s gotten some more high class clientele, so she moved locations. But she and I are friends, so she’ll still see us,” he explained. Iris nodded.

 

“Whatever works. I hope we’re not driving too late, I hate cities at night,” she grumbled. Barry saw the waiter coming over with their food and folded the map, handing it to Iris who nodded in thanks to the waiter.

 

“Here you go, if you need anything else, let me know!” the waiter grinned and Barry and Iris thanked him once more.

 

They ate silently, though Barry peppered the silence with questions about her dad. Iris answered them with very little detail, but Barry was able to paint a picture of Iris’s childhood. Iris, a young girl who’s mom ran off when she learned he and her child were werewolves. Her dad used to play records for her and sing her to sleep, until their neighborhood became anti werewolf. Then silently, they packed away their most precious belongings, put the rest in storage and then left for a new home. They’d lived in small commune’s until one was burned down by hunters and Joe never trusted one again.

 

Iris was tucking away food like he’d ever seen before.

 

“So, do you just burn a lot of calories all the time?”

 

“No, just afterwards. All the energy I burn off, running around like that. I promise the next time you see me eat, I’ll be like a normal person,” she assured him. Iris finished eating after Barry and lay down a ten dollar bill as a tip.

 

“Generous tip.” Barry nodded at the bill and Iris shrugged.

 

“Yeah, we gave him a pretty rough time. You ready?” she asked, standing up, after stacking the dishes neatly. Bary shook his head.

 

“I actually need a bathroom break.” he said.

 

“Oh! Good idea,” Iris went to pay for their lunch while Barry used the restroom and she went when he got out, but as they were leaving the restaurant, Iris noticed a few guys in camo, smoking in the parking lot. They were a few parking spaces from Barry’s truck. Iris wrapped her arm around Barry’s and pulled his close, pretending to laugh carelessly.

 

“See the guys over there, don’t look. I think they’re hunters. If they follow us we need to lose them,” she whispered. Barry nodded and Iris poked him in his side, so he would laugh, keep the charade. Iris snagged her bag from the truck bed and put it on the floor of the passenger seat, checking her things, letting out a breath when she saw none of it was moved or missing.

 

Inside the truck, Barry and Iris were tense, and Iris turned the radio off, pulling out the map.

 

“What’s your friend’s name?” she asked.

 

“Felicity Smoak. She should be able to help us, but I’m not sure where exactly her office is. But it has a front anyway. My phone should still be charging, see if she has an office.” he said.

 

Iris looked anxiously out of the window, before pulling out his phone.

 

“No password?”

 

“I was in the wilderness by myself for three weeks,” he pointed out. She made a face and searched the internet.

 

“Okay, I’ve got an address. It says she’s an internet technician with some company,”

 

“Yeah she had a degree in computer science.” he nodded.

 

Iris studied the picture, memorizing her face before turning it off and settling into her seat, glancing anxiously at the side mirror.

 

“Fuck,” she breathed when she spotted the car, the group of mean had been in when they’d left the restaurant.

 

“I see them. What’s our move?”

 

“Let me drive,” she ordered.

 

“Excuse me?” he asked.

 

“Listen, unless you know how to drive evasively give me the wheel!” she demanded once more.

 

“Okay but we don’t have time to pull over,” he pointed out anxiously. Iris scooted over into Barry’s lap and grasped the wheel, her feet on top of his. Barry protested loudly, but didn’t stop her, for fear of crashing the car.

 

“Scoot into the passenger seat,” she said, driving just a tick faster. Barry moved slowly, trying not to jostle Iris as he did so.

 

“God I can’t believe this is happening,” he whispered. Iris felt stress sweat bead on her forehead and she glanced at Barry.

 

“Well it is. Can you fire a gun?” she asked.

 

“No?” he sounded so confused and unsure and Iris took a deep breath, trying to recall her dad’s instructions when she was just a kid, learning to shoot and learning to fight or die.

 

“Okay, I have a gun in the side pocket of my duffel it’s unloaded, pull it out.” she said calmly, her attention divided between Barry and the truck that was now gaining on them.

 

“Yeah, okay,” he said, fumbling for the gun and pulling it out.

 

“Got it?” she asked.

 

“Yes, yes,” he gasped, staring at the gun.

 

“Grab the ammo, it’s in the opposite pocket. I don’t have time to walk you through loading it,” she warned.

 

“No I think I can figure it out,” he assured her. Iris saw that the truck was close behind her, nearly bumping into her. She pulled more to the shoulder of the highway, staying on the right side.

 

“Okay, take your time. I don’t think they’re going to shoot yet,” she said.

 

“Excuse me, yet?” he clearly began to panic.

 

“Barry!” she cried, bringing his attention back to the gun. When she heard the click of the gun she took a deep breath.

 

“Now what?” he asked.

 

“Can you shoot the gun to disarm or disable?”

 

“I’ve never even played a shooting video game. Please let me drive,” he pleaded.

 

“Fine, but don’t take an exit until I tell you. I don’t want us to end up in the countryside with them following us,” she said.

 

So they switched again, Barry lifting Iris up by her hips and sliding into the driver’s seat. He almost knocked the gear into park as he did it, but they eventually got back to their first position. Iris checked the gun methodically and calmly, leaving the safety on. She held it in her hand, her finger off the trigger but the familiar weight gave her comfort.

 

“Okay where are we going?”

 

“Nowhere. We just need to lose them. Start weaving through traffic,” she said. Barry did so, ignoring the honking of horns around them. Iris saw the car following them disappear and she pointed to an exit.

 

“Take that one, we can circle back after we hide.” she said. Barry took the exit, his hands beginning to crackle.

 

They were both quiet while they studied the road behind them. Barry saw a quiet parking garage and parked inside, paying the fare with shaking hands.

 

When he was parked, Barry laid his head on the steering wheel and let out a deep breath. Iris leaned back.

 

“Don’t tell me this is what you usually go through. Because that was really stressful,” he said.

 

“Being hunted is like that. And no, for me it’s worse. I’m usually alone,” she said softly. Barry turned to her slowly, and she grabbed his hand, her face compassionate.

 

“Thanks, Iris.” he sighed. Iris nodded and sighed.

 

Barry was just starting to relax, when he heard the piercing wail of screeching tires. They both spotted the car swerve into view in front of them and for one eternity, Barry watched as a man leaned out of the car and aimed his shotgun at them.

 

“Get down!” Iris screamed, grabbing Barry’s shoulders and slamming his torso down so fast and hard that he hit his face on the seat between them.

 

There was a moment of peace before glass shattered the front windows and Iris gasped.

 

“Stay down!” she said, scrambling up and returning fire, cursing from above him. Barry glanced up and saw that she had been seemingly nicked by a bullet.

 

Barry kept his head down, before recalling that he had his own weapons. She slid out of the truck and threw out a bolt of lightning, hitting the tire on the car. There was an awful pop, similar to a gunshot as the tire exploded, and the car swerved uncontrollably and crashed into a pillar. Rather than be stopped at all, the hunters poured out, aiming their guns. Iris let out a howl-like battle cry and aimed her gun, using the truck’s door as cover.

 

“You’re coming with us, wolf!” one of the men said, running forward, aiming his gun at Iris as she was reloading. Barry’s eye widened and he threw out his hands.

 

“Iris!” he screamed as a dome of electricity covered her, stopping the bullets as they hit a wall of energy. Barry quickly dropped it, staring at his hands for a moment.

 

Two of the hunters seemed to notice that Barry himself was a threat and ran at him, aiming their guns at him. Barry made another wall of electricity and Iris vaulted over the truck in one fluid motion, tossing her gun as she did so.

 

“Melt the guns!” she said, and Barry nodded.

 

He aimed at the guns and hit them with enough electricity and watched as they dropped the guns, screaming. Barry stopped and the hunters pulled out knives, glaring as they stalked toward them.

 

“Get behind me,” Iris growled, her eyes glowing once again. Barry did so unquestioningly and glanced down at Iris’ hands, which now had veritable claws.

 

Barry watched she ran forward and slid, knocking the first guy down and launched up, grabbing the wrist of the man and punching his chest and then snapping his wrist. As he wailed in pain, Iris whirled around, kicking the man sneaking up behind her. She had a moment to breathe and turned to Barry.

 

“Start the truck!”

 

Barry scrambled to the truck and started it, watching as Iris decimated a small group of hunters. When the last two guys ran at her simultaneously, Iris grabbed their arms and redirected them so that they hit each other. She took a moment to hit them both before running to the truck and hopping in.

 

Barry didn’t hesitate before peeling off.

 

“Are you okay?” he asked, glancing at Iris. She winced as she swept the broken glass from under her and wiping her bloody hands on her jeans.

 

“Yeah. Little bruised and battered but alive. You?”

 

“Fine, actually.”

 

“Good,” she sighed, digging into her duffel. “Cool trick with the lightning. I didn’t know you could make a shield.”

 

“Neither did I actually.” he laughed, leaving the parking garage so quickly that Iris gripped her seat.

 

“Wow! Nice work then. Okay we need to clean up before we get to your friend’s office. We’re gonna draw way too much attention. Any hourly motels here?” she asked.

 

“Yeah I think so,” he said, driving around the downtown area until they found a place. Barry even parked out of view.

 

Once he got the room settled and Iris in the room, she called first rights and grabbed her bag, barely even pausing as she did so.

 

Barry sat down and charged his phone as the shower turned on, the pipes making a suspiciously loud noise loud enough that even he could hear it.

 

Barry was messing around on his phone when there was a knock at the door. Rather than answer it immediately, like he might have before this adventure, but he was quickly learning to be suspicious of just about everything. He stood up slowly, walking toward the door.

 

“Who is it?” he called.

 

“Barry it’s me! Open the door!”

 

Barry rushed to the door and looked into the peephole.

 

It was Felicity.

 

Barry opened the door wide and Felicity went inside quickly, closing and locking the door.

 

“Barry, thank God!” she exclaimed, hitting him on the arm and then hugging him.

 

“Felicity, what are you doing here? How did you find me?”

 

“I saw you,” she said simply.

 

“Oh, really? So then you know why I’m here.”

 

“Yeah, sorta. I only got a partial vision. Where’s your friend?” she looked around.

 

“Shower. I don’t think she’s gonna like being surprised like this.”

 

“Maybe not, but if we meet at my office it gets shot up and three people die, so this is better,” she said.

 

“Oh.” Barry sagged and Felicity patted his shoulder, moving past him to sit down on the bed.

 

“Yeah. Oh.”

 

The water abruptly cut off and Barry paused going silent and Felicity followed suit. When Iris came out, dressed similarly as she was before, only this time, her hair was still down. She spotted Felicity and froze but when she saw Barry, calmly sitting she sighed deeply, her eyes rolling upward ins frustration.

 

“What now?”

 

“Iris this is Felicity,”

 

“The seer, yeah. Why are you here?” Iris asked.

 

“Because if I let you keep going like you are, you guys are gonna die.”

Chapter Text

Felicity’s dramatic reveal didn't seem to faze Barry but she was quite concerned about her future.

 

“Well what exactly did you see Felicity?” Barry asked, sitting on the edge of the bed closest to the window. Iris shrugged off her jacket and tossed it onto the bed next to Barry, crossing her arms and leaning her hip on the desk.

 

“That's the thing, I could only see the result of some of the decisions you'd made, but not what they were,” she said. Barry seemed intrigued but Iris spoke before he could.

 

“How did we die?” Iris asked.

 

“Well, Barry was killed by a witch, a powerful one. He made this, this lightning storm inside, but it was so strange he was--”

 

“Inside the lightning,” Barry said, completing Felicity’s thought. She nodded, digging into her bag and produced a printed out rendering of a man.

 

The man’s features were blurry, and undefined, just like Barry remembered, but he could clearly see his eyes. They were a piercing blue and so full of hate. Barry stared at those eyes, going back to that moment in his life. Reliving that fear and confusion.

 

Before he slipped further into the memory, Felicity turned to Iris and nodded at her.

 

“You’re a werewolf right?” she asked. Iris readjusted uncomfortably, standing up straighter, her eyebrow raised.

 

“Yes. What of it?”

 

“This man, he’s looking for you. He seems to know you,” Felicity dug into the bag again, and produced another rendering. “Do you recognize him?” she asked. Barry looked over and saw that the man in the picture was balding, dark skinned, and had a wide smile. His eyes crinkled jovially and he noticed how Iris sucked in a breath and traced his features.

 

“Of course I recognize him. That’s my father. Wait, what did you see?” Iris demanded, the paper crumpling in her hand.

 

“He’s,” Felicity looked helplessly at Barry before looking back at Iris. “He’s the one who killed you.”

 

Barry didn’t even really see how quickly Iris crossed the room and had her forearm to Felicity’s throat.

 

“Liar!”

 

“Iris!” Barry barked, standing and standing next to Felicity, crowding closer so that his face could be seen by Iris.

 

“She’s lying. My father would never hurt me. And if he knew I was in danger he would put his life on the line for me,” she rasped out, her voice dropping dangerously. “You’re going to tell me what you saw exactly . Don’t leave anything out.” she ordered, stepping back and going to the window, her eyes sweeping the parking lot. She closed the curtains, leaving a small sliver, before turning back to Barry and Felicity.

 

“Thanks for not choking me,” Felicity said sarcastically.

 

“I’m sorry. It’s just hard to believe that my father would kill me. And I’ve been trying to find him for months. It’s a sore topic.” Iris said.

 

“Yeah, and now I have a sore throat. But sure. What I saw, was that man,” she pointed at the picture in Iris’s hand. “Stabbing you with a strange dagger. There was some kind of gem inlaid at the base. I couldn’t make out the design in the handle but that’s what I saw.” she said. Iris shook her head.

 

“Where were we? What time did it look like?” she asked. Felicity sighed and closed her eyes, concentrating.

 

“You’re outdoors. It’s the middle of the night, and there are so many stars out but it’s so dark. And you’re in a forest opening. He’s speaking but I can’t hear and I can’t see his mouth,” she says. Iris nodded, her brow furrowed and her mouth drawn tightly.

 

“Thank you. But we still needed to ask you about the man that killed Barry’s mother,” she said, nodding at Barry.

 

“Right. That’s why we’re in Starling. Can you tell me anything? I don’t know, force a vision?” he asked. Felicity covered her face letting out an annoyed huff.

 

“I can’t, Barry. I can only see a likely future. The most likely one. I’ve never been able to see the past.” she said.

 

“You’re a seer,” Iris sounded confused and Barry looked at her, wondering why she sounded that way.

 

“No, I’m half a seer. I’m not that strong. But I know another seer. A true seer. He could help, if you could find him,” Felicity said. Iris rubbed her eyes but Barry pressed on, they were closer than before and he didn't want to slow that momentum.

 

“Who is he?”

 

“He goes by Vibe, he’s in Central City but he’s great at avoiding attention. Like, scary good.” she told him.

 

“That’s good enough,” he turned to Iris to ask what she thought but she was looking out the window, her body tense like a rubber band pulled tight. “Iris?” he asked. She turned to him.

 

“If we’re gonna leave we’ll need to make the truck less discrete, there’s bullet holes in it and the front window is busted out,” she pointed out. Barry lit up.

 

“I have a spell for that!” he went to his backpack and dug around for his mother’s grimoire. It was a modest one, written in a simple notebook and it wasn’t full, but there was a spell to conceal appearances.

 

“Barry, I wish I could help you more but I have to leave. If I stay I might miss something important. I’ve been dealing with some stuff and I just can’t. After last time I really wanna make it up to you but--”

 

“Felicity you’re good. Thank you for the help. But I have Iris, I’m gonna be okay,” he reassured her. Felicity sighed and nodded.

 

“Good. I didn’t want to just leave. But here’s my number in case you need anything. Good luck Barry,” she told him, her eyes serious and even a little sad, but Barry didn’t dwell on it.

 

When Felicity left, Barry took the fastest shower he could, and joined Iris once more. She was still by the window, and it didn’t look that she had moved at all.

 

“Iris?” he asked tentatively. She didn’t jolt, but she turned to him.

 

“Yeah?”

 

“Are you okay?” he asked.

 

She sighed and shrugged.

 

“Well your friend Felicity just told me that my dad is going to kill me. Stab me, with a ceremonial dagger and I don’t know what to think. She has no reason to lie. And I’m so tired of feeling like I'll never see him,” she paused, as her voice broke and Barry didn’t fight the urge to move closer, grasping her hands and stroking her knuckles.

 

“It’s gonna be okay. Felicity probably saw a shapeshifter or an illusion. Her visions can be inaccurate. I’ve seen it,” he said solemnly.

 

She looked up at him and searched his eyes before nodding.

 

“I just have to try and make sure whatever it is, isn’t what happens. Okay. Are you ready to go?”

 

“Yeah, I just have to check out.” he said.

 

“I’ll meet you at the truck. Give me the keys,” she said. Barry nodded and went to check them out, his mind on his first attempt at a concealment spell. Once he was with Iris again he pulled out the grimoire. The instructions were pretty simple. He just had to touch the object and while doing so, will the object to change its appearance based on his wishes. He saw that his mom had rewritten the instructions before reaching the current one.

 

He placed his hand on the hood and concentrated, picturing the truck whole and nondescript again. He could feel the magic crackling under his skin trying to get out but it was like he couldn’t quite access it, like he was behind a locked door.

 

He paused and stepped away, looking back at the grimoire.

 

“To change the appearance, you have to imagine the change and will it, don’t force it. Let the magic move naturally,” he read aloud. He made out her handwriting a little in the margin with a strike through and he almost could’t read but sure enough was his mom cursing in the margin about magic being difficult.

 

“What’s wrong?” Iris asked.

 

“I can’t seem to access the magic. In my mom’s grimoire it’s saying that I need to let the magic just, flow through me but I don’t know how to do that,” he said sadly. He hadn’t tried many spells, in fact, all the ones he had done before were spells that drew from the earth and not his own magic.

 

“Okay, well maybe you’re just trying to hard. Or thinking too hard,” Iris suggested.

 

“Yeah but how do I stop thinking if I have to will it?” he asked, sure that he must have looked downtrodden.

 

“Okay well, just feel it and visualize it working,” she coached.

 

Barry nodded, placing his hand on the car.

 

“Just feel it, and visualize,” he murmured. He tried again, feeling the lightning crackling under his skin.

 

“You just need to give it an outlet Barry. Feel it and let it go,” Iris murmured. Barry let out a breath slowly and imagined the truck, the way it was just this morning. When he opened his eyes, he’d done it. He looked to Iris with a wide smile and she smiled back.

 

“I did it!” he exclaimed and she nodded. He couldn’t help it, in his exhilaration he engulfed Iris in a hug, she seemed a bit shocked, but she returned it anyway, rubbing his back.

 

“You did it Barry. Good job. Now, we have to go. Central’s about six hundred miles away,” she told him, a weak smile on her face.


Instead of Barry, Iris was the one to drive. She fiddled with the radio until she found an oldies station and the singer they happened to turn to, crooned about her lover moving on with another woman, and Barry looked over and saw that Iris was mouthing along.

 

“You know this one?” Barry asked. She glanced at him and raised an eyebrow incredulously.

 

“You don’t?” she asked.

 

“No, my parents were very classic rock and pop music to be honest. And I’m not very musically inclined,” he admitted. Iris ticked the volume just a little.

 

“This,” she said reverently. “Is Etta James. One of the greats of jazz and blues. My dad loved her. Like, he would go on and on about her voice,” Iris said, smiling widely.

 

“Yeah? Was she his favorite?”

 

“Oh I don’t know. He had a lot of favorites. Nina Simone, Mahalia Jackson, Ella Fitzgerald, Lena Horne.”

 

“All women,” Barry noted. Iris nodded.

 

“He used to say that women knew emotion and how to express it beautifully. He said it was just one more thing they knew better than men,” she laughed at that and Barry watched as he eyes lit up.

 

“What about you? Who’s your favorite?” he asked.

Iris considered this and pursed her lips.

 

“It’s hard to pick a favorite singer. But I know my favorite song. Misty.” she could tell he didn’t know the song, but she sang it anyway,her voice uneven and soft, but he could feel the romance in the song. She stopped singing suddenly and began to tell him about the song’s inception and things she knew about the singer

 

Barry listened as Iris talked about her knowledge on jazz music. He was sure that she was running out of things to say but she started talking about rhythm and blues after that. She seemed to really grasp the intricacies of it and Barry stared, fascinated by it all.

 

“And I mean, technique is important, but sometimes you just want that raw vocal that’s just done based on instinct. That’s where the real magic happens. And I guess I always thought a soulful voice was better. But what do you think?” she asked, turning to him.

 

“Me? I don’t really know to be honest. Music wasn’t something I really thought about.” he admitted.

 

“Yeah, so what did you like?” she asked.

 

“Science, math. Logic. I just thought it was so interesting that in any seemingly unexplainable thing there’s some structure there, a pattern.” he said, almost embarrassed to say it.

 

Iris seemed to consider this before nodding.

 

“Yeah I guess you have a point. Even the arts have a set of almost rules that make it make sense. Like writing, music, painting.” she mused.

 

“My mom used to sketch,” he said simply.

 

“Yeah?” her voice went quiet and Barry felt almost compelled to talk about her. There weren’t many people he could share his memories with and maybe it would be nice to.

 

“Yeah. Mostly it was just plants that she saw. My dad and I. Doodles. Nothing really elaborate, but she did it all the time and she seemed to like it.

 

And she kept a garden, but she told me I didn’t need to help out. I guess that’s where she kept her witchy stuff.” he let out a chuckle and crossed his arms, his hand cupping his mouth anxiously.

 

“Did she ever seem like she might’ve wanted to tell you? I mean, in hindsight?” she asked.

 

Barry considered her words, thinking about his brief like with his mom, and all the times she might’ve hinted at it.

 

“Maybe. There was one time where she got a letter. It was really old-fashioned with a wax seal. I thought it was cool. And my mom saw it and she just...went pale,” he whispered, the memory suddenly coming back in clear color. “She looked at me and she just said, `Go to your room, baby. This is a really private letter. I think it’s bad news.’ And then I went upstairs and forgot about it.” he said.

 

“A letter, huh? I guess it must have been really bad. But you guys had great memories too,” she said, like she knew it for a fact.

 

“Yeah. We did. I remember once she took me for ice cream once when I didn’t go to school. I hid in the closet when I was supposed to leave and go to school. But I left the closet too early and she caught me,” he chuckled.

 

“Wow you must have really talked your way into getting that ice cream,” she joked. Barry shook his head.

 

“No. She just shook her head, like she was expecting to find me there. And she just told me to get in the car. At first I thought we were going to school, but she drove past it and we went to an ice cream parlor. She bought us sundaes and we just laughed and talked. And we drove around for hours, listening to music and singing. She actually started singing this old song, from her old choir days. Some Latin song,” he chuckled.

 

“Sounds like a good day,” she whispered.

 

“It was,” he replied brokenly.


 


When they arrived in Central City it was already dark and Barry felt like his body was permanently stiff.

 

“Barry?” Iris asked, shaking him slightly, the harsh neon lights washing him out terribly, but at least they were finally in Central City It took a day and a half but finally, they were here.

 

“Huh? What’s happening?” he spluttered. She gestured to the motel she’d checked them into, her eyes bloodshot and her under eyes swollen and dark.

 

“We’re here. Get your stuff, I already checked us in.” she explained, her own bag hiked up. She had collected about three caches in their trip. According to her, some were strictly money, clothes, or weapons. A few were a healthy mix. The last one had been totally for clothes since she anticipated them staying in Central for a while.

 

Barry sat up quickly and collected his bag, yawning as he did so. They had both pulled longer shifts driving and he was still feeling those twelve hours, though he knew he was really going to feel that sore neck.

 

Barry followed Iris up to the room, watching as he eyes swept the area. She was always like that in a new area. She never relaxed, not really but in a new place she practically vibrated with anxiety.

 

She handed him his own key and unlocked the door, going inside and checking the place out. Two double beds, standard, and average nondescript decorations.

 

Home sweet home.

 

“Welcome to Central City,” he murmured and she cut a glance to him, already slipping  off her boots and jacket.

 

“It’s been awhile since I’ve been here,” she said suddenly,” making him double take.

 

“You’ve been here?”

 

“Yeah I used to live here. It was actually the last place I lived before we had to be nomadic. My dad and I, I mean.”

 

“Me too. I actually still technically live here.”

 

“Huh?” she asked blearily, rubbing her eyes, as she sat down on the bed closest to the door.

 

“Nothing. Just, I’m gonna change in the bathroom,” he told her, going straight in and closing the door, locking it behind him.

 

He changed quickly into sweatpants and a t-shirt, staring at himself in the mirror.

 

He knew he couldn’t avoid this place forever. Central City was his home, despite all the terrible memories there. He technically still had a job, one he would have to get back to eventually. He could hardly be on leave forever.

 

He would probably have to tell Iris that soon.

 

“I’m coming out,” he warned and waited for Iris’s response. When it didn’t come he opened the door slowly. She was sprawled out on her bed, on top of the covers. Her hair was half undone and her shirt was on backwards. He snorted silently, but lay on his own bed, ready to finally get a good night’s rest.

 

That night, he dreamt of his mother. But it wasn’t her death like he was so accustomed to, but a brand-new dream. One where she looked like he remembered her, though her hair was perhaps too red and her skin just a tad too pale.

 

“My beautiful boy,” she sighed when she saw him, tearing up as her arms spread, engulfing him in a crushing hug.

 

“Mom,” he whispered, burying his face in her neck. His tears soaking her shirt.

 

“I’m so sorry I left you Barry,” she said sadly, pulling away to look at him closer, before kissing his forehead.

 

“Is it really you mom?” he asked.

 

“Yes, it’s really me,” she told him.

 

“How can I be sure? How can I know that you’re not just some dreamt of version of you? Or an illusion?”

 

“You’ve become very paranoid since you met Iris,” she said simply. Bary gaped.

 

“It really is you,” he cried, wiping away his tears and crying for the first time.

 

“Yes. I’ve been trying to connect my spirit with yours for weeks. You need to mourn your father Barry,” she said, as his hands came up to grip hers. He looked away and realized that they weren’t in some nebulous void, but his childhood home, but thankfully not the living room. It was his bedroom, with all his childhood projects and toys strewn about, just like they had been when the social worker told him to get his things.

 

“I did. I had a funeral and I sobbed for days, couldn’t get out of bed. I mourned, mom.”

 

She guided him to his bed and sat next to him, letting him rest his head on her shoulder.

 

“Not as you should have. You isolated yourself and gave up the things you loved. Sweetheart, you have to let us go.”

 

“Let you go? It’s not like you left, or passed away in your sleep. You were murdered! Dad was killed by a guy in a hit and run! And you want me to let it go?” he asked incredulously. His mother shook her head and grapsed his shoulders.

 

“Barry, my death was an inevitability. Something that was always going to happen one way or another. But yours isn’t. If you keep pursuing him, he will find out. And he won’t take kindly to it,” she told him.

 

“So you know who did this to you? To our family!” he suddenly stood up and started pacing. Nora looked pained, but Barry took no notice.

 

“Barry you have to keep living your life,” she said.

 

“How can I? How can I do that when I go to sleep every night and hope that this time I won’t see your lifeless body?” he demanded.

 

Nora suddenly became quite stern.

 

“I have watched you put aside your whole life, because of what happened. You studied forensics, pushed away your friends, all because of what happened to me. It’s time to let go,”

 

“I can’t mom. I’ve wanted justice for you and dad all my life. Dad only got out on a technicality. And you never told me, what we are. What I should’ve been watching out for,” he said, glancing at his hands. Nora pulled his hands into hers and sighed heavily.

 

“I didn’t want you to be targeted. The whole world knows about witches. Witches are one of the few supernaturals that couldn’t hide. They’re accused of nearly everything and I just hoped that you could avoid that. I’m so sorry honey,” she said, her voice echoing just a bit. Before his eyes she began to fade.

 

“Mom?” he asked desperately, his face greedily taking in her features.

 

“It’s okay Barry. I’ll try to see you soon, I promise you,” she said, clinging to him just as much.

 

“Mom, please!” he cried out, reaching for her, but his hands slid through her like smoke, and she disappeared faster.

 

He sat up in bed, gasping wildly, his chest soaked. Iris seemed to wake up as the same, though she crossed the room to his side and stood over him protectively, a growl, coming from deep within her throat.

 

“Barry!” she barked, and Barry could understand what she meant in just one name.

 

Are you okay? What happened? Ae you hurt?

 

“I’m okay Iris. Not hurt, just sad and confused,” he breathed deeply. She sagged with relief.

 

“God, you scared me,” she said raggedly.

 

“Sorry, what time is it?” he asked his face while she trekked back to her own bed and plopped onto it face down.

 

“It’s four in the morning. God, I need like six more hours of sleep. Remind me again why the hell we came here?” she asked, her voice muffled by the pillow.

 

“When I’m awake I’ll let you know,” he volleyed back, his own voice still hoarse with sleep.

He lay there, looking up at the ceiling, thinking about what his mom said. He even recalled a little note to herself that she left in her grimoire

Write everything, you never know what’s important.

 

So he got up, rolled gracelessly out of bed and began to write, recalling the dream as accurately as he could. But one thing stuck out to him; his mom knew who killed her, so the only thing he had to do was dig in is family’s past and find him.

 

“I’ve got your trail you son of a bitch,” he said quietly.

 

Iris was still asleep, having passed out when Barry had nothing else to say to her. He was wide awake though and frustrated, with nothing else to write and no other clue. Rather than wake her, Barry went out and drove for a while, before stopping by a twenty-four hour place, getting something for them to eat.

 

However, when he left, he was confronted by one of his coworkers.

 

“Allen! What’re you doing here?” the guy asked. He was a beat cop, pleasant and easy-going, though Barry didn’t know him well.

 

“Just getting something to eat,” he said uneasily, rubbing the back of his neck.

 

The guy rolled his eyes and clapped Barry on the shoulder.

 

“No, not here. Here . In Central City. Boss said you were on leave for another two weeks but I guess you got tired living it up?” the cop said. Barry took another moment to recall that his name was Johnson.

 

“Yeah, I was but I just had enough of the mountains you know. I drove back last night, well through the night. Needed something to eat.” he said, gesturing to the bags of food he had in his hand.

 

“Wow you sure did get a lot. But it’ll be good to have you back Allen, that old geezer the cap put in charge is a real jackass,” he grumbled.

 

“Right, I’ll try to get back to work soon enough,” he sighed.

 

Johnson waved and went on his way, while Barry drove back to the motel, cursing up a storm and fighting the urge slam his hands on the wheel. He now had to explain why he was back, and worse yet, go back to counseling.

 

He opened the motel door without preamble and as he did so, three things happened in quick succession, almost at once.

 

One, every single hair on his body had static and his mouth went dry, the taste of ozone sticking to the roof of his mouth.

 

Two, he brought up a single hand, a ball of pure electric energy crackling as he held it in front of himself.

 

Three, a clawed hand grabbed his throat, yanked him inside, and pushed him against the wall.

 

It was Iris, naturally. She looked much more refreshed and she even had that freshly showered smell.

 

She seemed shocked to see Barry, and the energy in his palm extinguished summarily.

 

“Barry?” she took a huge step back and he straightened up, feeling cold and confused.

 

“Iris what the hell? Why did you just try to choke me?” he asked, setting the food on the desk. He was beyond peeved and was more in the vicinity of furious.

 

“You were gone and so was he truck. And I panicked. I figured that you left and when you opened the door I thought maybe that you’d left without saying anything,” she admitted. Barry was so confused that he didn’t really understand what she meant.

 

“Yeah I got us food,” he said numbly.

 

“No, like...left me alone. We’re finally finally in Central City, you know who to start looking for, and you have the truck. And I checked in. You could leave whenever you wanted and I wouldn’t be able to stop you,” she sighed. Barry deflated with her explanation and for once, he reached for her face and cupped it. It should have been strange, this intimate, delicate gesture with someone who was still a mystery to him, but Iris didn’t even flinch, her eyes steadily gazing into his.

 

“Iris, I’m not leaving you behind. We’re a team now. When this is all over, if you wanna go, go. But I made you a promise that I’d help you with your father and I’m going to do that. Okay?” he asked. She bit her lip and nodded, her eyes tearing up.

 

“Okay. I believe you. Sorry about the choking,” she said with a breathless laugh. Barry’s hands fell away and she stepped a little out of his space and he realized just how close they had been.

 

“Not a problem. I almost put a hole through you so I think we’re even. You want any of this food?” he asked.

 

“Yes please! I’m starving,” she said, grabbing a box and opening it, digging around for a plastic fork.

 

“So I left a couple of things out when we talked about what we would do in Central City,” he said, gathering is share of food, far less than hers, and sat on his bed, facing her.

 

“Oh God, here we go, is this the part where you actually have a coven and you’ve lured me to them?”

 

“What, no? Why would I lure you to a coven?”

 

“Werewolf blood is really powerful. It’s used in very old, very powerful spells,” she told him. Barry made a face.

 

“Well rest assured that I won’t be using your blood for anything. No, I actually have an apartment here. And a job. A life, actually.” he admitted. Iris’s face looked thoroughly confused.

 

“What? You live here?” she asked.

 

“Yes,” he said.

 

“In Central City? This is where you live?” she asked again.

 

“Yes,” he repeated.

 

“I thought you were some mountain man! What were you doing in the woods then?” she asked.

 

“Fishing,” he dodged. Iris was having none of it.

 

“Barry,” she warned.

 

He slowed down his eating and hunched over. My dad died, last month. I was going to a grief counselor at work and she suggested that I take some leave. So I left. I was supposed to come back later, but then I met you.” he explained. Iris was silent, and then she nodded, understanding in her eyes.

 

“I’m sorry to hear about your father. How did he die?”

 

“Hit and run. Haven’t caught the guy. I probably won’t, if I’m honest.” he says quietly. After his strange dream about his mother, the memory is still fresh in his mind. When he’d been called into the scene, he had no idea it was going to be his dad. The sight had made him sick to his stomach. He wasn’t allowed to do any of the sampling from the scene and he wasn’t allowed to analyze it. It just wasn’t fair. His father had already led such a difficult life after his wife died and then he died, unceremoniously, alone. It had been enough to send Barry nearly over the edge.

 

His thoughts diverted to his dream, eager to escape the dark thoughts from that time.

 

“Is that what your nightmare was about?” she asked quietly.

 

“No, actually. It was my mom. She came to me in a dream. Not like I dreamt of her, but it was her . Like she was visiting.” he explained, when the look on her face was clearly skeptical.

 

“So what did she say?” Iris asked.

 

“Not much, actually. But she knew her killer. So maybe I knew him too, I just don’t know.” Barry said. He kept eating and Iris stayed silent as she did the same.

 

“Barry, are you going to go back home?” she asked.

 

“I suppose I have to. A coworker saw me. And if we’re gonna be stuck here, then we might as well be at my place. Although, we’re gonna have to find you a job. Your grocery bill might put me out of business,” he made a face and hers settled into a smile peacefully. For now, things were settled. But Barry knew deep down that things wouldn’t remain so.

 

Chapter Text

After resting for a full day in the motel, Barry finally bit the bullet and knew he had to return home to his apartment, and more importantly work. Barry wasn’t too keen on having to juggle work and his and Iris’s true goals, but as she pointed out, he could hardly lose his home and job if he wanted to live any kind of life after getting closure. So, after lugging the many duffel bags belonging to Iris and his own things from the trip to the mountains, they got to his apartment complex. The place was fairly modern and closer to downtown, probably to be closer to his job.

 

“So, how long have you lived in this place?” she asked, nodding at the building as he parked nearby. He shrugged noncommittally, not really eager to discuss it. This place was his home in the most basic of ways. He slept there and it's where he went when he wanted to be alone.

 

“About two years now. I used to live with roommates but since I was the only CSI for a while my boss gave me a pay raise to compensate all the crazy hours. You need help with your bags?” he asked, hopping out of the truck and retrieving her stuff while she hopped out.

 

“No thanks I’ve got it,” she said, grabbing them all with ease, and reminding him that while Iris was diminutive and even delicate looking, she was stronger than him physically. She could probably lift him easily and for obvious reasons that made him feel flustered.

 

Barry led the way, uncharacteristically nervous about having someone see his place. He’d had dates over, a few friends sometimes but never for very long. Iris would be staying indefinitely and Barry was a little shy about that. In foster care he hadn’t gotten along too well with his foster siblings and even got into physical fights with them over the most trivial things. He knew that he mostly grew out of having someone in his personal space after having a college roommate all four years in undergrad and having roommates for grad school, but some still remained.

 

“So, I hope you don’t mind the fold out couch. It’s not super comfortable but it’s definitely better than any of the motel beds we’ve had,” he promised, opening the outside door for her, after punching in the code. He noticed that she seemed to take note of it, though not secretly.

 

“Well, a bed is a bed. And don’t worry I will definitely be pulling my weight around here. I’ll get a job and everything.” she said said, crossing her heart and winking when Barry laughed.

 

“I appreciate that, but I’m not hurting for money.” he said honestly.

 

“Maybe,” she conceded. “But I work for mine. Anyway, until then I’ll do some looking around for our friend,” she said, following him into the elevator. After pressing the correct floor, they were on their way.

 

“Thanks, by the way. We’re supposed to be doing this together but I’m leaving you all alone to do the legwork.”

 

“Don’t worry about it, I promise you are not hurting my feelings,” she assured him.

 

Barry nodded at one of his neighbors, hoping to just get into his place ad ignore conversation. Unfortunately, it was one of his nosy neighbors, a grandfather of four and a retired auto mechanic.

 

“Allen you’re back early from your trip!” the man paused and stood just out of Barry’s personal bubble.

 

“Yeah, my plans changed a bit and I ended up coming back early. It’s nice to see you Jeff.” Barry said, although it was mostly platitudes. He didn't care about Jeff beyond the casual way a person cares for an acquaintance.

 

Jeff shook Barry’s hand and nodded at Iris who was looking a little out of place next to Barry. Barry had dates over, but never when his neighbors would’ve been walking around and Jeff looked at Iris with curiosity that he didn’t even mask.

 

“Well it’s nice to see you back. Who’s your friend?” he asked, looking at Iris and then at her numerous bags.

 

“Uh, Jeff this is Iris, Iris this is my neighbor Jeff.” after he’d spoken, Barry couldn’t help but feel like maybe he should have reiterated that Iris was his friend because Jeff seemed to be making some wild assumptions, based on the sly grin on his wrinkled face.

 

“It’s nice to meet you Iris, what a gorgeous name,” he said shaking her hand. Iris shook his hand easily, her smile polite but warm.

 

“It’s nice to meet you Jeff, thank you.”

 

“And what lovely manners. Now how did you two meet? I’ve never seen you around Iris,” Jeff directed the question at Iris, completely ignoring Barry.

 

“Oh, we actually met on Barry’s trip but it turns out we’re both from Central. We hung out and I’m actually visiting for a while,” she explained smoothly. Barry hadn’t really thought to explain Iris’s presence in his home but she apparently had. Suddenly, Barry was quite embarrassed. What if Jeff spread around that Iris was living with him? Iris would have to field the neighbors asking about an imaginary relationship. He was feeling so insecure that it took him a moment to realize that Jeff had been trying to get his attention for several minutes.

 

“I know she's beautiful Allen, but staring is still rude.” Jeff wagged his finger and Barry’s ears flushed pink. Barry looked helplessly at Iris and she rolled her eyes.

 

“Oh it's not like that Jeff! Barry drove a lot, I think he's a little tired. Probably just needs a nap,” she placated, patting Barry’s arm.

 

“You do look wiped out Allen. In that case, I'll let you two go. Have a great day!” Jeff said, finally making his exit. Barry wasted no time high tailing it to his place, opening the door so fast he fell forward, and Iris had to catch his wrist and jerk him upward so he didn't fall on his face, but she did get dragged inside.

 

“Barry!” Iris complained, looking at him sternly and he grinned sheepishly.

 

“Sorry, I got distracted.” he said hastily, slipping out of his jacket and tossing it over the couch.

 

Iris laughed at this before dropping her bags unceremoniously. She wandered a bit, taking it in, and Barry fought the urge to explain why his place was so filled to the brim with useless, mismatched knick knacks and the like. She opened her mouth and Barry feared the worst but she only sneezed. Once, twice, thrice. All in rapid succession. She sniffled and frowned.

 

“Excuse me, that was rude. Do you have furniture cleaner? Your place is super dusty.”

 

He only laughed, wondering why he'd been worried at all.




Over the next week and a half Iris, armed with charm, wit, and a hastily typed resumè, prowled the streets in search of a job. She was going after part time jobs, where she could have more flexible work hours. Barry ended up being her reference and she was grateful that her father had put her back in school long enough get her high school diploma. She'd hated all four years in that town after years of being nomadic, but it paid off now.

 

Still, Iris was eager to get started and not spend the rest of her life job searching.

 

Though her job search was technically ongoing, Iris was in the library, learning about the city from her new friend, Janice Camden. She was a retired schoolteacher, but she now worked at the library and definitely loved to talk about Central City.

 

Today, Janice had bad news.

 

“There’s been another murder!” she told Iris as soon as she saw her.

 

“Hello Janice, it’s nice to see you too, how are you?” Iris snarked. Janice rolled her eyes.

 

“I’m serious Iris. There’s been a string of murders in the area for the last few weeks. People are getting worried,” Janice said.

 

“It’s a big city, murders happen all the time,” Iris dismissed, Janice shook her head.

 

“Not like this. There’s been six so far just this month. And they all die the same, beaten to death. The police think it’s the same guy,” Janice gossiped. Iris frowned.

 

“What, the police just told you that?” Iris questioned.

 

“Well, my friend Ray told me. He works for the police. And one of my students works there as a CSI,” Janice admitted.

 

“Are they allowed to talk about that?” Iris raised an eyebrow and Janice caved.

 

“No, which is why you can’t tell anyone I told you this,” Janice was quite serious now, and Iris stood up straighter.

 

“Of course. I won’t say anything Janice.”

 

“I remembered something similar when I was younger, still a teacher. There were a few beatings, and no one died on site but they died in the hospital later. At first I didn’t think anything of it, but I just had a bad feeling about it,” Janice said. Iris could see that Janice was truly uncomfortable and she placed a hand on her back.

 

“It’s okay Janice,” she comforted. Janice smiled at Iris ruefully.

 

“Thank you dear. The thing that made it stick out, these first deaths were quite unexplainable. A woman who was electrocuted to death inside her home but her electricity was working within safety parameters. The second death was similar, another woman. She had burns similar to a minor electrical accident, but that isn’t what killed her. She’d been stabbed to death.” Janice confessed. A shiver went down Iris’s back.

 

“How long ago were these murders?” she asked.

 

“About sixteen years ago. And get this, both had small children who witnessed the murder. The first left a daughter and the second left a son,” Janice explained. Iris took a deep breath. Dammit.

 

“Janice, do you have any records about these deaths? Newspaper clippings maybe?”

 

Janice seemed shocked but she nodded.

 

“Sure, we have copies of newspapers going back since the fifties. But Iris what do you need those for?” Janice asked. Iris bit her lip.

 

“I think I know something about one of those cases. But you can’t tell anybody I know anything.” Iris said. Janice nodded.

 

“Of course. Do you want to see the newspapers?”

 

“Yes,” Iris said.

 

Janice led Iris to some bookcases in the back, even more hidden than the encyclopedias.

 

“They’re in plastic to preserve them so don’t take them out, okay? And the ones you're looking for should be about here,” Janice told her, pointing at the higer corner of a bookshelf. Iris smiled.

 

“Thanks Janice, I owe you a coffee!” she said, waiting for the woman to disappear.

 

Once she was gone, Iris went for the more recent years, her eyes scanning until she saw the correct year, two thousand.

 

Iris wasn’t sure about the month so she started in January, skimming over the news until she saw an obituary for Tess Morgan. She was apparently quite the scientist, with acclaims and awards that meant nothing to Iris. She left behind a young daughter and a husband, who survived the attack apparently. Iris wasn’t sure if the couple had been married in Central City, but if they had, there’d be a marriage license, which meant records. So she could find the husband or the girl at least. Iris made a mental note and kept flipping. She should’ve been focusing on getting a job or finding Vibe but this was promising.

 

In March, she found what she had been looking for. This time, the news was plastered all over the front pages, all in similar tones. A distinguished doctor killing his wife in front of his young son was apparently big news. Iris read the news, which demonized Henry Allen and reminded everyone how kind and gentle Nora was. It made Iris a little sick. She didn’t know either of them, but the tragedy was being sensationalized completely for viewership.

 

In later news, it mentioned Barry in the courtroom, watching his father being convicted with tears in his eyes. There was, to her complete and utter disgust, a picture of Barry sobbing, trying to reach for his father as they dragged him away. It was uncomfortable to see a child like that, especially since she knew it was Barry.

 

Iris sat back and took a deep breath. The newspaper didn’t discuss the details of the murder of course, but they mentioned that the evidence against Henry was beyond a reasonable doubt. However, Iris knew that Henry would eventually be released so she kept reading. She went forward years, since he was killed recently after his release.

 

Once she found it, she felt no closer to the truth. There had been DNA evidence which placed another man at the scene, though they hadn’t found that guy, presumably the actual killer. But there was apparently an anonymous tip left once this information was released, about a man that wasn’t Mr. Allen leaving the house around the time Nora was murdered. If that person had spoken up back then, maybe Henry might not have spent more than half of Barry’s life in prison.

 

It all frustrated Iris and made her upset. But now she had a more clear idea of what happened. But if she wanted the whole picture she’d have to talk to Barry. She made a face and stood up, straightening the newspapers and her back. Once she was ready, she waved to Janice as she left.

 

The walk to the police station would have been more pleasant if not for her tumultuous thoughts.

 

She wasn’t sure where to go, so she stopped the first guy she saw, a handsome, even pretty guy in a suit. Detective maybe.

 

“Hi, I’m looking for Barry Allen? I’d find him myself but I don’t really want to get lost,” she said. The man smiled bemusedly.

 

“Barry? He’s upstairs on the left, that’s where the lab is,” he said. Iris nodded.

 

“Thanks!” she called over her shoulder as she took the stairs, strangely eager to see him.

 

She spotted Barry quickly, though she was a little miffed when she saw that the lab did in fact have other people working in it. How the hell could she have this conversation if he had coworkers crawling everywhere?

 

“Iris?” he said, taking notice of her in the doorway. She waved at him, unsure what to say

 

“Hi, Barry,” she said shyly, crossing the room quickly. Jesus, why were all these people looking at her? They were trying to do it secretly, but Iris could tell that they were staring. It was so uncomfortable.

 

“What are you doing here?” he asked urgently. Iris had told him not to expect her in the police station often since she was always out all day looking for a job and spent some nights looking for Vibe.

 

“I needed to talk to you about something. Are you free?” she asked, glancing at a coworker who whistled and turned away.

 

“Um, give me five minutes and I’ll be ready.” he said. She nodded and followed him back to his work space. She smiled tightly at his coworkers, but it slipped away the moment they were no longer looking at her. He printed something out when he was finished and put it in a folder, before standing up and grabbing his jacket on the way out.

 

His hand rested easily on her lower back and she finally linked their arms, making a face when they finally made it outside the precinct.

 

“God, every person you work with is nosy,” she whined.

 

“How do you figure?” he asked.

 

“Just, the second I walk in there and it’s like being the only alcoholic beverage at a kid’s party where the adults have all had a long day. Jesus.” Iris complained. Barry spluttered and laughed at her description.

 

“Everyone there is used to me not having girls visit. Usually I meet girls where they work. Plus, you’re beautiful so I’m sure that had something to do with it.” he said. Iris, snorted spotting the coffee place she’d seen while walking around.

 

“Even if that’s the reason, I’m not flattered. It’s really uncomfortable having so many people staring,” she said. Barry nodded.

 

“I will remember that.”

 

Inside the coffee shop was cool, and smelled of coffee and sugar. Iris asked Barry to find them seats and she’d get their drinks. She paid with her own money, though knowing that she didn’t have an income made her anxious to do so.

 

“Do you have any openings here?” she asked. The girl at the counter nodded.

 

“Do we ever! We have applications around here somewhere,” the girl said  ducking under the counter and pulling out a piece of paper. “Here you go! Please, please get the job because we’re swamped here during rush hours. It’s awful.” the girl lamented.

 

“Yeah believe me I want this job more than you want me to have it,” Iris promised, taking the paper.

 

“Well, take the application then. And enjoy your coffee,” the barista said.

 

Iris spotted Barry at a table and sat down, sliding his coffee over.

 

“Here,” she said.

 

“Thanks Iris. Okay so what did you want to talk about?” he asked.

 

I got some info today and I’m not sure how you’ll take it. CCPD wouldn’t be having a problem with a possible serial killer, would they?” she asked. Taking a sip of her coffee, she watched as Barry’s face tightened and then smoothed out.

 

“Yeah, actually. A string of beatings, but how did you know that?”

 

“A friend clued me in. But it’s true right?”

 

“Yeah, uh, it is. So what is this really about?” he asked.

 

“It’s just that, my friend who told me about it, seemed to think it might be connected to your mom’s murder, and that other woman Tess Morgan. And I know that there’s no logical reason to think they might be connected.” Iris said. Barry paused.

 

“Actually, there might be. All the current victims received electric shocks that paralyzed them long enough for the killer to get them in a new location. At first I thought it must be a custom weapon but there aren't any marks from a taser or anything. If that's the case, then it's probably an elemental like me. None of them died on site, so they weren’t killed where they're found.” he told her.

 

“He’s abducting people, then taking them. But why?”

 

“I don’t know. And they’re not taken for very long. These people aren’t even gone for longer than a few days  when they show up again,” he said.

 

“Barry if this guy is back then who knows what he’s up to?” she asked. Barry nodded.

 

“I’ll need to get back to work and reevaluate the evidence. I don’t think Singh will let me stay on it, especially if it’s the guy that killed my mom.”

 

“Just don’t tell him about that part. Pitch the idea that it's a witch. and hope somebody finds the common thread between these victims.” Iris said.

 

“Sure. God, I need something to eat, I think I’m gonna be working pretty late,” he winced.

 

“Are you done with your coffee? I can get us some sandwiches,” she offered.

 

“Yes please.” he said, sliding her his card. At first she was hesitant about using it, but Barry didn’t think twice about it so she didn't either.

 

They ate pretty quickly, and Barry rushed back to work, eager to find something new.

 

Iris started to walk back toward the apartment but she changed her mind and turned back around.

 

Barry was going to be busy finding forensic evidence about the murders, but she had no idea who was looking into the actual victims.

 

It took her the entire walk to the precinct to make up her mind.

 

Instead of going through the front, Iris found a back entrance, somewhat hidden in a back alley. The door was locked however, and Iris was back at square one. That is, until she looked up and saw a window left cracked open. She glanced around and shrugged. If she got caught she’d just lie through her teeth and try again later.

 

She grabbed the top of the door frame and stuck her fingers in the gap between bricks, propelling herself up. Once she reached the window, she peeked in, hoping that no one was in danger of seeing her. She didn’t see anyone, or smell them for that matter, so she opened the window and crawled inside, her feet silent against the worn wood.

 

The room was stifling, and she figured that would explain the open window. In any case, she was here but really what was she supposed to do now? She  could try to figure out who was working the case but she’d have to talk to people. Unless of course, she could just find some files laying around. She heard voices passing in the hallway, so Iris stepped back into a dark corner, her breathing slowing until it nearly stopped.

 

“...new witness reports or something, but I’ve got nothing. This sick son of a bitch is smart, I’ll give him that.”

 

“Well, if it makes you feel better no one thinks any less of you Thawne. This serial killer is a real piece of work,”

 

“Yeah, I just know I need to stop this guy.”

 

The voices faded and Iris grinned.

 

Luck was on her side.

 

It was time to investigate.



It was embarrassingly easy to break into files after that. Iris had the last name of the detective in charge, an Edward Thawne. She couldn’t sneak into the bullpen or whatever they called it where the desks were, but at least Iris could look at his reports for the older cases. She got the names of the first victim. A Shay Lamden, aged 37. Marine biologist. Iris snagged a pen and paper and wrote the name and his last known address. She even wrote down his wife’s name and place of work, although she really didn’t want to talk to a grieving widow at all.

 

Craig Harris, another victim. 25, married, with a newborn. Iris wrote that down too. She kept writing names and addresses, until she was only missing the last two, crimes from just before she and Barry arrived in Central.

 

Sneaking back out was just as easy.

 

When Iris finally did end up back at the apartment, she sat on the couch and filled out the coffee shop application, and sat back, her thoughts disorganized and confusing.

 

She started pacing, wondering what any of these people had in common. A marine biologist, a high school math teacher, even a physical therapist. It was just so random. Even including Nora and Tess, it made no sense. Iris went over to Barry’s laptop, opening it up and searching for Tess’s daughter Jesse. It was pretty easy to find her on Facebook, since apparently Barry had mutual friends with her on Facebook, although Iris doubted he even knew those people.

 

Jesse was younger than Barry and Iris by three years, but apparently she was a genius, if her graduation status was correct. She’d double majored twice and was apparently graduating again, totalling up five degrees.

 

“Jesus Christ,” Iris whispered, both impressed and on some level frightened.

 

Still, Jesse seemed like a normal girl, despite her tragedy and advanced intelligence. Close to her dad, if the posts on Facebook were any indication. She eventually found some of Jesse’s other social media accounts, reading them to get a feel for the girl. She joked a lot, but she also had a lot to say about education in Central City, and the state of the world regarding supernaturals.

 

Reading it made Iris’s skin itch, so she stopped reading and took a break.

 

This...investigation she was conducting was only going to get more tangled and probably dangerous. After all, serial killers probably didn’t like when people tried to get them arrested. But on the other hand, she’d be putting away a dangerous person and it seemed like a great way to keep forging a bond with Barry so that she could count on him when she needed to find her dad.

 

Honestly though, her life was already pretty dangerous. Might as well dive in.

 

Iris eventually sent Jesse a message, asking if she could interview her, claiming that she was going to start a blog about the city and its occupants, and that Jesse would make for a great first article.

 

Thirty minutes later, Iris had a response.

 

Sure. We can meet this week, if you’re free.

 

Hook, line, and sinker.

 

Iris walked her application back to the coffee shop and even met the manager, who she charmed enough that he would remember her, probably making her chances at a job better.

 

When it was getting late, she got something for Barry to eat and brought it to the police station.

 

The place was a little less full, but no less busy. This time, she went straight to Barry and flashed him an easy smile.

 

“You’re an angel,” he breathed tiredly, running his hand over the back of his neck. He looked worn and stressed but he was smiling, a marked improvement.

 

“You’re just saying that so I’ll let you have my fries,” she said, setting the bag in front of him. She started kneading his shoulders, laughing when he squawked nervously.

 

“What are you doing?” he asked, his neck and ears turning a bright pink.

 

“Barry, it’s a shoulder massage, relax.”

 

“I’m trying but this is a little weird for me,” he pointed out, though he was digging into the bag, and fished out the fries, grabbing a handful and eating them voraciously.

 

Iris rolled her eyes and brought an elbow down on a knot, smirking when he let out a pained, but satisfied groan.

 

“It’s only weird if you make it weird. Besides, you’re the first person who’s not related to me that’s ever given a shit about me or cared about what happens to me. This is how I treat pack,” she said simply. For her, declaring him pack was a big deal but she didn’t want to call attention to it. He might do that spluttering thing again, but it would embarrass her if he did realize just how important he already was to her. Packs were a complicated thing, especially where non werewolves were involved, but Iris could honestly say that Barry would fit in with a pack well, a better one than what they currently were.

 

“Pack? Does this mean I can ride you?” he asked excitedly. Iris immediately dug her short nails into his shoulder, her back ramrod straight and her stomach twisting uncomfortably.

 

“What did you just say to me? Do you want to die?” she asked incredulously. Barry looked confused.

 

“Is that against your werewolf rules, if a human rides your back?” he asked. He looked so confused and worried that Iris knew he honestly didn’t see the other mean of what he said. God, what a dork.

 

“Uh, no. I thought you meant something else.” she said quietly, giggling at the absurdity of it. Barry would never be so bold if he were interested. Although, now that she had calmed down from the initial offense, she found that the idea was honestly pretty appealing.

 

“Something--? Oh my God,” he murmured darkly, his shoulders hunching. Iris let go and ran her fingers through the hair at his nape good naturedly.

 

“Don’t worry about it Barry. My bad for misunderstanding. Are you gonna eat or what?” she asked, digging into the bag and pulling out her burger, sighing happily as she bit into it.

 

While she ate, Iris kept an eye on the door and updated Barry on her slow, but promising progress. He was just about to ask her how she got all this information when they were interrupted.

 

“Allen, hey! Glad you’re still here,” the guy greeted, looking at Barry and then Iris, though he lingered on her for a second.

 

“Yeah, late night. What’s up?” Barry asked, wiping his hands.

 

“I checked out a tip on where the killer might have taken his victims, and I found a weapon. Do you mind testing it whenever you get the chance?”

 

“Sure Eddie, can I see it?” he asked. Eddie reached into his pocket and when Iris saw the dagger, her heartbeat stuttered and skipped, all of her easy cheer vanishing like a shadow under a bright light.

 

“Pretty fancy knife,” she said dryly. It was the dagger . The one her father was apparently going to stab her to death with.

 

“Sure is. Didn’t I see you earlier today?” Eddie asked, looking at Iris who nodded.

 

“Oh yeah, I was visiting Barry for lunch,” she said weakly, glancing at Barry who was examining the dagger closely.

 

“And again for dinner? Good girlfriend,” Eddie said. Iris and Barry both stumbled over each other to deny it.

 

“Oh no she’s not--”

 

“We just live together!”

 

Eddie looked between them with a bemused smile.

 

“Right. See ya later Barry, and Barry’s roommate,” he waved.

 

“God, I’m sorry about that, I figured it would embarrass you if I said we were dating to explain why you visit me,” Bary explained. Iris shook her head.

 

“No, it’s okay. I’d rather not lie in case anyone asks around. But Barry--” she trailed off.

 

“I know, I know. The knife, dagger or whatever. I’m really not sure what we should do about it,” he said.

 

“Can we hide it?” she asked. Barry shook his head.

 

“I can’t. Eddie knows I have it now, and if it mysteriously goes missing he’s going to know it was me. I’ll have to put it in evidence lockup.” Barry told her. Iris sighed.

 

“Dammit. So I just have to live my life, knowing that this is what kills me,” she said, glaring at the dagger. Barry grabbed her hand and looked her in the eyes, his mouth set firmly.

 

“You are not gonna die Iris. I’m gonna help you, alright? We’ll figure it out,” he promised. Iris ran a hand through her hair and took a deep breath.

 

“Yeah, I know. Do you know how long you’ll be here in the lab?” she asked. Barry shook his head. Iris nodded and got off the desk.

 

“Okay, while you do that, I’m going to do more searching for the ever elusive Vibe.” she said. Barry nodded.

 

“Oh, wait Irs!” he called. Iris turned and saw Iris toss her a phone. She caught it one-handedly. It was a pretty standard touch screen it looked like, fully charged.

 

“What is this?”

 

“Our communication line. I don’t know, it feels like maybe we should be able to call each other if anything happens. I’m already in there, so you can get a hold of me.” he said.

 

Iris was stunned, wondering when he’d had the time to get her a phone and put her on a plan.

 

“Thank you Barry. This is really helpful,” she said. He grinned.

 

“No problem. Charger is at the apartment.” he said. Iris nodded and started walking backwards.

 

“Bye Barry, see ya later!” she said. She turned on her heel, and left her mood higher.



Barry rubbed at this shoulders as he cleaned up his workspace. The dagger, as it turned out, was made of silver plated iron. It wasn’t a particularly strong piece of weaponry, but Barry could tell it was quite old, but somehow maintained a bright look, as it had just been forged. When he held it in his hands he could feel the power radiating off of it, and he knew that must be the magic coming off of it. He had a few books, left by his mother which mentioned enchanted items and Barry planned to read those when he got home to see if the dagger might serve a specific purpose or if they might have been rare. He was leaving the lab when he felt unease creep along his back. He slowed his pace and turned back toward the window where he spotted a man on the roof, staring at him. Barry was unnerved by this, but it wasn’t necessarily anything to worry about.

 

That is, until the man created a whirlwind of red electricity around him.

 

It was him .

 

Barry had no proof and he couldn’t even see the man’s face, but he knew it in his bones.

 

Barry left his lab, his feet pounding the pavement as he dashed away. He reached the neighboring building and saw the man in the alleyway, shrouded in darkness. Barry could tell it was a trap, so he hung back, unwilling to get closer just yet.

 

“Who are you?” he called, stepping forward slowly.

 

The man said nothing, his head tilting as if he was waiting for Barry to do something.

 

“It was you! You were the man in my house that night! What are you doing here now?” Barry demanded. The man said nothing still and Barry grew frustrated. What was he supposed to do?

 

“Come out and face me.” Barry called, as the man slowly stepped closer.

 

“Mr. Allen, save me the dramatics,” the man sighed. He walked fully into the light of the streetlights, and Barry looked upon his mother’s killer for the first time since that night. He was a tall man, about Barry’s height though broader and more muscular. His hair was a dark blond and neatly trimmed. A weathered face, blue eyes, and a polite tilt of the mouth. He was, more or less, ordinary.

 

“Is your lack of denial acquiescence?” Barry asked, nodding at the man, who shrugged.

 

“Yes. You could say that,” the man admitted. Barry’s hands came up and shot a bolt of electricity but the man’s own hand came up and caught the bolt, a smile coming over his face.

 

“So you are him. And you’re like me. A witch.” Barry said. The man snorted.

 

“I’m like you in the way a boy is like a grown man. I’ve mastered my ability and you’re just trying to not kill yourself by mistake. You and I are nothing alike.” the man said. Barry ignored the jab and began to walk closer, his fists clenching and unclenching. His head was pounding with a stress headache and he was trying desperately to keep his rage locked away like always. The man had sought him out, and Barry wanted to know why. After all this time, why now, unless he really was the serial killer terrorizing the city now.

 

“So, why come find me? You already killed my mother. Put my father in prison, ruined my life. What brings you here?” Barry asked. The man sighed.

 

“You’re father was an unintended side effect. You see, your father was there in the house and I simply needed an alibi, so he took the fall. Apologies for the missed games of catch.” the man smirked, clearly taking some delight in Barry’s misery. Barry’s hands began to crackle but, the man was unaffected.

 

“So my mother? You just felt like killing her?” Barry asked.

 

“Your mother...was an aberration. A blight on the reputation of those around her.”

 

“What are you talking about?” Barry asked, confusion clear on his face. The man rolled his eyes.

 

“Surely she must have mentioned to you what she was?”

 

“Yeah, she was a witch.” Barry said uneasily. The man shook his head.

 

“No. No, before that she was something else entirely. You see your mother was born into a family which took great pleasure in ridding the world of monsters. It was her calling when she was young. Before she manifested and realized what she was.”

 

“What she was? What do you mean?” Barry demanded. The man’s face turned cold suddenly, and Barry could swear that the air was being charged with energy.

 

“She was a hunter. Nora Allen used to be Nora Thompson. A hunter, responsible for the death of twenty witches, seven werewolves, three vampires, and various others.” the man said suddenly, his voice cracking like a whip. Barry grew completely still, but he denied it all the same.

 

“No...that’s not true. My mom was a real estate agent and she was the most gentle woman there was. She couldn’t be capable of murder.” Barry denied, stepping forward quickly, but he stopped just as suddenly.

 

“Yes, after murdering plenty. She bloomed late, unlike many witches, especially ones with such power. And she realized that she couldn’t stay with her family, or they’d kill her. So she ran off. Settled in Central City. Got married, had a brat,” he sneered at Barry whose eyes filled with tears. It was all baseless lies, but he couldn’t refute it, couldn’t move, suddenly.

 

“No it’s...it’s a lie.”

 

“She of course, not only killed witches, but stole from them. Precious family artifacts, tomes of magic older than some cities. And hid it away, rather than return it and face her crimes. It must have been even worse when witches were outed to the world. Now she had to worry about being hunted from all sides. Because you see she may have been a witch but she wasn’t one of them.” the man said simply, walking toward Barry until Barry could see the flecks in his blue eyes, the cold uncaring gaze.

 

“You can’t prove any of this,” Barry said weakly. He tried to step back but he couldn’t move. He realized dazedly, that the man’s magic was holding him in place.

 

“No? She never left you anything in her will? She was a murderer, boy. And she got what she deserved. Now, I spared you, because you were a child. But I won’t tolerate acts against me. If you continue on your quest to `bring me to justice’ I assure you, Mr. Allen,” the man murmured. “That you will die just as your mother did. Goodnight. Oh, and tell your wolf that I said hello.” the man tipped his head to Barry and strolled away, his footsteps softening until the disappeared completely. Barry could suddenly feels his limbs and he followed after the man, his head swivelling, trying to find him but it was too late. His mother’s killer had gotten away. He turned away, ready to call Iris and update her, but found himself face to face with the killer, whose hand was around his throat. Barry punched him, but the man turned his face so that it was only a glancing blow. He smiled at Barry and Barry got the beating of his life.

 

The man gave him a vicious gut punch and grabbed the back of his head and headbutted Barry. Pain bloomed across his face and Barry knew his nose must be broken. He got in his own hits but nothing fazed the man. Hitting him was like hitting a brick wall but Barry fought back.

 

“You won’t stop looking will you? Is your mother’s life worth yours? Maybe I should have killed you and let that hag suffer,” the man smiled grimly at Barry, stomping on his instep and as Barry curled up in pain, began choking him. Barry was half kneeling, his air cut off. He scraped at the man’s hands, and kicked him but the man only winced and kept choking him. Barry’s vision began to blur and he thought inexplicably of Iris who would never know what happened to him, or even worse that no one would find him, and he’d be a rotting corpse for his coworkers to find.

 

But Barry Allen didn’t give up. So, with the last bit of strength he could muster he brought his hands up to the man’s and bit out, with the last of his breath, “Fuck off.”

 

He poured every bit of electricity he had in his body, and when that was running out, he pulled it from the air around them, the streetlights around them and watched as the man seized up, squeezing Barry’s neck tighter, before releasing him. His hands were nearly charred and Barry grinned at the man as he collapsed to his knees, hacking and coughing. The man looked furious, and to be in a great deal of pain, but he left. Barry didn’t make to follow just crawled closer to the street so that he could be seen, and promptly passed out.

Chapter Text

Iris had been waiting close to two hours now. Barry usually came home around nine if he was running late so she waited until ten rolled around before worrying but it was at eleven when she started to panic. A normal person might not have worried all that much but Iris knew better. So she grabbed her jacket, gun, and marched out, barely remembering to keep it out of view. Iris was so single-minded that she barely noticed the people who made way for her, intimidated by her walk and the expression on her face. She went to the police station, but as she walked nearer, she paused, unsure of why she even did so.

 

There was nothing outwardly untoward but there was something in the air. There was no other way to describe it then a blemish in the air a distortion.

 

Rather than go inside, Iris went to the alley, her hand going to her gun before she relaxed her hand. If a cop saw her reaching for a gun near the station, who knows what assumptions they’d make. She spotted him just out of view and ran to him, her hands reaching for his face first, cradling his bruised cheeks. Her hands trembled and she had to take a calming breath to remember that she had to take care of him, not run off to find whoever was responsible.

 

“Barry! Oh my God, Barry wake up!” she called urgently, afraid to put pressure on him. His face was bruised, but she could tell he was unconscious and not worse.

 

“Ngh, Iris?” he murmured weakly, stirring slightly. She leaned loser and whispered into his ear.

 

“I’m here, Barry. You’re safe now. Where are your car keys?” she asked. Barry patted his breast pocket. Iris grabbed the keys and ran back for the truck, pulling the back into the alleyway and hopping out glancing around to make sure she wasn’t seen.

 

“Iris what...are you doing?” he slurred, as she reached for him, hefting him easily.

 

“Getting you out of here. Now, shush. Save your strength.” she soothed, stroking his hair and setting him carefully into the backseat.

 

“Ah,” he groaned, rolling onto his side and curling into a ball. Iris ran to the driver’s side and drove away quickly, keeping half of her attention on Barry in the backseat.

 

At the apartment complex she frowned when she noticed a neighbor coming out of the building. Rather than getting flustered, she got Barry out of the backseat, but held him upright, baring the entirety of his weight, but making it look like he was just stumbling.

 

“Boyfriend have too much to drink?” the woman nodded. Iris shrugged helplessly, pretending to pant.

 

“He’s my roommate, but yeah he’s got the day off tomorrow. He got a little carried away,” she explained. The woman rolled her eyes playfully but had clearly accepted the situation at face value.

 

“Good luck with him. Goodnight,” the woman waved, getting into her own car. Iris sighed and put in the code, getting inside and then she summarily lifted Barry, carrying him to the elevator and lifting his head so that it would just list to the side.

 

“Hey, hey are you okay? Barry, come on Bear, talk to me.” she begged, pressing her hand to his neck, her worry not letting her relax.

 

“I’m awake,” he whispered, his voice hoarse and Iris laughed weakly.

 

“You don’t look it. Come on, we’re gonna get you home,” she said, pulling him to the apartment and unlocking the door so quickly she barely had to pause. Iris set him down on the couch gently, sitting him up rather than laying him down and she helped him out of his jacket and flannel shirt, leaving him in only his undershirt. His arms weren’t particularly bruised but she saw some more bruises on his collarbone and--worryingly--his neck.

 

“Trying to get me naked, Iris?” he panted weakly. She made a face at him, somehow flustered by the situation. There was nothing sexy about tending wounds, but now she felt like maybe she should find it sexy. But she also knew Barry was teasing, trying to divert her attention.

 

“Shut up, if I try to get you naked it’ll be way hotter than this,” she shot back lifting his undershirt, her warm hands pressing into his ribs gently, but firmly. Barry hissed in pain and she cooed to him, wanting to soothe him, take away his pain.

 

“I know Barry I know it hurts,” she said, but she pressed on trying to find a broken rib, in case he needed more advanced medical attention. When she knew that she couldn’t feel anything broken, she pressed her ear to his chest, hearing the steady beating of his heart first but she focused and heard the blood rushing in his veins, and she closed her eyes and exhaled in one gust, her relief a physical sensation of her stomach unknotting.

 

She stands up and cradles his head, trying to feel for cuts and bumps.

 

“I think you’re gonna be okay Barry,” she said slowly, sitting down on the floor, one hand resting on his thigh. “You still awake?” she asked softly. Barry nodded.

 

“Yeah. Feel like shit though, if I’m being honest,” he grunted, pulling his shirt back down.

 

“At least you’re alive. Now, what the fuck happened to you, who did this?” she asked, her eyes flashing with barely contained fury. Barry reached a hand to Iris and tugged her down onto the couch.

 

“Relax, I’m okay Iris. I just need my grimoire so I can do a healing spell,” he said. Iris nodded.

 

“Yeah sure, whatever you need,” she said getting up and going to his room, somewhere she actually hadn’t been in before and she didn’t even get to take a look around. She spotted the notebook and snatched it up handing it to Barry who flipped the pages before finding what he was looking for. He didn’t speak, although Iris knew that some spells could be thought and rather than question it, she just watched in amazement as Barry’s bruises faded and he sat up straight.

 

“That’s so much better,” he sighed, rubbing his shoulder.

 

“And you’re just all healed up now? Just how powerful is that spell?” she asked. Barry shook his head, and sat back his body stiff.

 

“Not very, but I only had deep bruises and no broken bones so it healed me. If I was more injured it would only partially heal me. I guess I was lucky,” he said. Iris paused, staring at him.

 

That’s lucky? Your face looks like someone took a meat tenderizer to your face. What happened anyway?” she asked. Barry ran his hand over the back of his neck and avoided eye contact.

 

“I was actually attacked by the guy who killed my mom,” he said lowly. Iris sat forward, leaning into Barry’s space, her mouth falling open.

 

The idea of Barry suddenly encountering the man who killed his mother surprised Iris so much that she didn’t say anything for a long time.

 

“Barry that’s crazy. How did he find you?” she asked.

 

“I have no idea. But I guess he looked me up. He talked about my mom like he knew her,” Barry said quietly, bringing his hand up to his face and rubbing his mouth and biting at his nails nervously. Iris frowned, her head tilting.

 

“Well don’t take what he said too seriously. He was probably taunting you, trying to get in your head.” she told him. Barry nodded, but Iris could see he wasn’t convinced. “What’d he say?” she asked, reaching for his hand and cradling it in her two hands.

 

“He...He said she was a hunter. That she killed supernaturals. He said that she stole from them too, after she did it,” he said. Iris looked horrified by that, and had to remind herself that it probably wasn’t even true.

 

“Barry that’s...that’s a hell of an accusation. Don’t believe him, unless you find proof. You’re a scientist right? Don’t you prove theories?”

 

“Yeah, I guess,” he admitted. Iris smiled and rubbed his hand.

 

“Barry you are . I know that you must be so shaken up about this but you have to remember that you are going to beat him and get justice,” she said. Barry looked at her, awed.

 

“How can you have so much faith? We don’t know who he is, what he wants, or where he is.” Barry pointed out. Iris deliberated over that before she answered.

 

“Honestly, Barry I don’t know why I have so much faith in you, I just know I do. You decided to help me in the woods when you didn’t have to. And this job you have, it’s about helping people. So I think you’re a good person. But Barry, more than that I can feel it in me that you’re going to find out what happened, and I’m going to help you because I said I would,” she told him seriously, her eyes so expressive that Barry could only stare.

 

“How do you do that? Say the right thing?”

 

“I talk a lot. It’s made me good with my words,” she laughed. Barry snorted and Iris laughed as well. There was the briefest moment where Barry felt like maybe Iris felt something there as well but she stood up and stretched and a sliver of smooth skin was visible and Barry's mouth went dry and he swallowed, a dry click suddenly filling the air.

 

“Thank you Iris, really. I appreciate it,” he told her standing up. Iris gave him a small smile and brought him into an all encompassing hug, her arms a comforting warmth.

 

“Of course, Barry. Are you okay to work tomorrow?” she asked, her eyes so gentle and soft that Barry felt for one blinding moment that he was falling.

 

“I'm okay Iris,” he said softly, looking at her under his lashes. She knew that Barry would know if he was feeling alright but she felt extra protective, and so she shrugged.

 

“Maybe you can stay home tomorrow, or at least do a half day? Just for my peace of mind,” she suggested quickly when she saw the look on his face, biting her lip.

 

“Okay, I'll see what I can do. But that's for later. It's really late,” he said yawning, stretching his arms up, his bones cracking.

 

“Thank you, now get out so I can sleep,” she said gruffly, smiling sheepishly at his back when he shuffled away.

 

She sighed when he closed his door and fell onto the couch and promptly passed out. She didn't even bother to pull out the futon.

 


 

 

The next day, Iris was meeting with Jesse Wells so she woke up early and made both breakfast and a list of questions to ask, but Iris wasn't sure she'd be brave enough to ask them but it would help to get all her thoughts in order.

 

When Barry woke up Iris waited until he was sitting down and eating cereal and toast to break the news.

 

“So, I'm meeting the girl whose mom got killed by the guy who got your mom. We're gonna be at Jitters so that's why I'm gone.” she said quickly, waiting for some huge reaction, but Barry only nodded slowly, lost in thought.

 

“Do you want me to come I mean, I'm no detective but I've picked up a knack for asking the right questions,” he offered. Iris thought about it. She hadn't promised Jesse that they'd be alone and Barry and Jesse certainly had quite a history that tied them together. And maybe she'd talk more with someone who shared in the death of a mother while young.

 

“Sure, finish getting ready and we'll go,” she said.

 

It was a mistake of course, as they were exactly seven minutes late. Iris practically jogged to the door, complaining to Barry as she went.

 

“Oh that is the last time we go anywhere on your timetable. She better still be here,” Iris said, glancing at Barry over her shoulder.

 

“Sorry, sorry.”

 

Iris spotted Jesse pretty quickly. She looked a bit different from her profile picture on her various social media. In those pictures she had long, dark brown, wavy hair, and a youthful, easy going smile. But Jesse had changed her look a bit; her hair was much shorter, brushing her shoulders and her hair was a shade or two lighter and she still had a youthful face, but it was also a bit serious, almost somber. She still dressed like Iris would expect a smart, likeable, somewhat popular girl to wear.

 

“Jesse, hi! I’m Iris,” Iris called catching her attention. Jesse waved, taking a sip of her drink.

 

“Hi, I was starting to get a little worried,” she said, a polite smile brightening up her face, but only just. She noticed Barry in the next moment and turned to Iris with a quizzical look. Iris smiled weakly.

 

“Yeah, sorry about being late I brought my friend Barry, I hope that’s okay,” Iris said. Jesse shook her head.

 

“No that’s fine. Hi, Barry.” she said.

 

Barry sat next to Iris and pulled out his phone, probably recording whatever Jesse was saying or maybe he wasn’t, who knew?

 

“So, I’ve never been interviewed before. How does this work?” Jesse asked. Iris had never interviewed someone but she imagined that it was like questioning someone, just more friendly. So she did her best to channel Joe West and get something out of this.

 

“Don’t worry, just think of this like a chat. So, what made you decide to pursue five degrees. You’re so young,” Iris said. Jesse brushed her hair out of her face and brought her hands onto the table and fidgeted with them.

 

“Well, I’ve always loved learning. I like languages and I like the humanities. But I’ve always adored science. After all, science is how we try to explain what can’t be explained and there a lot of things out there we don’t know,” she answered.

 

Iris wrote some of that down, keeping her facade up but Jesse wasn’t really paying attention to her.

 

“So, what inspires you then? I mean you’ve double majored twice now, surely you get tired and stressed from all the work. What keeps you going?” Iris asked. Jesse smiled to herself, but her eyes grew downcast.

 

“My father. He always pushed for me to live my life and find answers to questions I asked. And he always told me that nothing feels better than being right, but I think there are better things.” she said with a laugh.

 

“What about your mom, does she inspire you?” Iris asked. Jesse fell quiet for a moment but she answered anyway.

 

“My mom was killed when I was young. It’s an...unsolved case. No one believed what I told them because it was `impossible’ what I saw. But since we know supernaturals are real, I feel that if we apply logic, science, and magic and mythology we can find out what we don’t know. Fill in the blanks, you know?” Jesse was getting more animated and Iris was dancing around what she really wanted to talk about. She wasn’t sure how to keep broaching that topic without sounding rude, but she didn’t have to.

 

Barry, who seemed to sense this turned to Jesse and told her his own story.

 

“That’s...so weird. My mom was killed like that too,” he said quietly, leaning closer. Jesse glanced at Iris but looked at Barry again, her face equal parts suspicious and almost hopeful.

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes. A man broke into our home and he killed her. But he was inside a lightning storm. I couldn’t make out much of the details of his face, but I could recognize him anywhere,” he said. Jesse shook her head.

 

“That’s what happened to me too. And I learned later there was a report of a similar death but no one believed me. I had to hack police reports.”

 

“You hacked police reports?” Iris asked incredulously.

 

Jesse looked sheepish and even a little worried.

 

“Please don’t tell anyone.” Jesse begged.

 

“Don’t worry I won’t but it looks like our interview is going off the rails. But to be honest...Barry and I have been trying to find this guy a few weeks. We found a few clues but nothing substantial.” Iris admitted. She felt guilty for not being honest with Jesse about the real purpose behind the interview but now, new avenues were opening up. Maybe Jesse would forgive them.

 

“What? You have leads? If the guy who killed my mom is still out there, I want to help put him away,” Jesse said seriously, her blue eyes glinting.

 

Barry rubbed his face.

 

“Jesse we’ve been kind of keeping this to ourselves for a while. And I’m not sure I’m comfortable having another person in our circle.” Barry said. Iris looked at him and saw that he was serious. He really didn’t want there to be another person in their circle but Jesse might have information, skills, or contacts who could help. And more importantly she had a right to also put her mother’s killer behind bars.

 

“What? But I can help, I swear I can. And I can still go to school, please.” she begged.

 

Barry shook his head.

 

“Jesse, we’re not much older than you, but I won’t feel right putting you in danger for an investigation.” he explained. Jesse’s face grew almost blank with disbelief.

 

“Are you cops?”

 

Iris shook her head and Barry looked sheepish.

 

“I’m a CSI.”

 

“Not a cop,” Jesse said, nodding. Barry sighed and Iris cut him off before he could keep arguing.

 

“Barry, she’s an adult. Besides, what if she helps us get a real break in the case? We have to let her join,” she whispered to him quickly. Barry sighed and nodded.

 

“Okay, fine. But we can’t talk about it any more right now. I have to get to work and Iris has stuff to do. Shoot her an email if you want to talk,” Barry said abruptly, standing up and walking out, not even saying goodbye. Iris watched him go with worry plain on her face, but Jesse looked mostly unfazed.

 

“Sorry about that. He’s had a rough couple of days,” Iris said, wincing. Jesse took a long drink from her cup, shrugging once she set her cup down.

 

“Don’t worry about it. He doesn’t know me at all. Maybe I can’t be trusted,” she said, giving Iris a knowing look.

 

“Maybe. But even if there’s some deceit there, I think you can be trusted,” Iris replied easily. Jesse nodded again with a smile an stood up.

 

“Let’s exchange numbers. I think we’re gonna find him,” Jesse said, putting her number in Iris’s phone and sending a text.

 

“I think so too Jesse. We’re gonna let you know when we start our investigation again,” Iris said.

 

“Thanks. I’ll see you later Iris,” Jesse said, and left as well.

 

Iris went to the counter and handed in her application, and ordered her own drink before making her way to the truck, where Barry was sitting in the driver’s seat, fuming quietly.

 

Iris didn’t speak, instead she waited quietly for Barry to speak his peace. She was halfway through some dinner plans when Barry decided to talk.

 

“Why are you okay with us including her? We have no idea what she’s like!” Barry exploded, turning to Iris with barely concealed frustration. Iris turned to him calmly, her eyebrows lifted as she leaned forward so that Barry could look only look in her eyes.

 

“Barry, Jesse went through the same thing you did as a kid--”

 

“That’s just it, Iris. She didn’t. Her mom was killed, but her dad didn’t go to prison. She grew up happy and loved by her father and she’s been living her life pursuing whatever she wanted. If we drag her into this, she’ll be--tainted. It’s not right,” he told her. He looked anguished by the thought and Iris’s face softened. The two of them hadn’t grown up as children, not really. Maybe she could chalk it up tp Barry wanting to keep innocent parties out, but one thing was obvious to Iris.

 

“No matter how we feel about it, we can’t make that decision for her. She said she wanted in and we have no reason to not let her in. Besides,” Iris said quickly, when Barry started to argue, “We have no idea why the killer targeted her family. Maybe he was after her mom for the same reason he went after yours. Or maybe it’s something else and we can’t figure it out unless she tells us. It just doesn’t make sense to leave her out Barry.”

 

She waited silently for Barry to react but he let out a gust of air, leaning back in the seat.

 

“You’re right. I knew that you were right I just--nevermind.I have to get to work. Do you want me to drop you off at the apartment?” he asked. Iris shook her head.

 

“Nope. I’m making sure you get to work safe and then I’ll leave. And then when you’re ready to go back home I will meet you here. Let’s go,” she said, gesturing for him to drive. Barry started the truck up but he grumbled anyway about Iris being overprotective.




 



At the police station, Iris walked around and talked to Barry’s many coworkers, most of them beat cops and detectives, as the lab techs were upstairs.

 

“Hey, you’re Barry’s roommate, right?” it was Thawne, the guy working the `serial killer case’. Iris waved and turned to face him.

 

“Yeah that would be me. Eddie right?” she asked.

 

“Thawne, yeah. What are you doing here?”

 

“Oh just hanging out. I haven’t found a new job yet, so I’ve been pretty bored these days. I’m probably going to leave pretty soon though,” she said, wondering why he was even talking to her. He seemed pretty busy up until about a minute ago.

 

“That’s too bad about the job search. But Central City always has something, I’m sure you’ll find a job,” he encouraged.

 

“We’ll see. But I’ve gotta go run some errands. I’ll see you later detective,” she said, waving at him as she walked away.

 

“Wait, actually I was wondering something. I hope you don’t think I’m nosy or something,” he sounded sheepish and Iris turned around, crossing her arms as she nodded at Eddie.

 

“What’s up?” she asked.

 

“Is everything okay with Barry? He seemed really upset yesterday. I was coming in for a late shift and I saw Barry arguing with this guy after he flew out of here. Eventually the guy just left, but Barry seemed really mad,” Eddie said.

 

Iris had a moment where she felt like things should have been making more sense, but in fact, they were making even less sense. So she fell back on a lesson learned from her first grade teacher: ask questions.

 

“Wait, who’d he argue with?” she asked. Eddie seemed less unsure now that he had her focus, so he gave her a detailed description.

 

“He was an older guy, maybe mid to late forties. Dark blond hair, a broad and long nose, low and wide cheekbones, white, blue eyes. About my build I’ say. You recognize him?” Eddie asked. Iris shook her head.

 

“No, I don’t, but I knew Barry was upset last night. What did you say happened again?” Iris asked. Eddie thought for a moment before explaining again.

 

“Barry came downstairs, he looked really upset. At first I was gonna leave it alone, but Barry’s always been a quiet guy. A little aloof, but nice. So I looked upset like I said. So I went out and it sounded like he was having an argument, but I couldn’t see the other guy until he left. I didn’t want the guy to see I’d been eavesdropping so I just went back inside. Which is kinda dumb since I couldn’t actually hear what they said,” Eddie admitted. Iris had another moment, her thoughts quite worried.

 

But she pretended to only be mildly interested.

 

“Huh, thanks Eddie. But I really do have to go.” she said. Eddie looked disappointed but nodded anyway.

 

“Yeah, sure. See you,” he said. Iris went back to the alley where she found Barry and kneeled next to the spot she found Barry. She could still smell Barry’s blood and underneath that his pain. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath, taking in the wet garbage smell, injured strays, and finally, the scent of a powerful witch, one who had the same sharp ozone scent that she associated with Barry. Iris opened her eyes and stood up straight, the scent memorized. All that was left, at this point was to find the trail and she’d find the killer.



Chapter Text

Barry spent the next few days going over the evidence from previous murders and trying to ignore everything the killer told him. He remembered his mom never talking about her own family, and rarely mentioned where she was from. That didn’t mean she used to be a hunter of course. Maybe she was just from a broken home and she didn’t like to talk about it. But Barry was thinking about it so much now that it almost consumed his thoughts. If it was true, his mom wasn't who he thought she was, and that hurt more than anything else. He just wanted to have something to distract him. At this point he'd accept anything.

 

“Hey Barry!” Iris greeted brightly, strutting into the room like she did every day since the attack. Barry knew that she was worried the killer would come back for him, but he still hadn’t told her anything he’d told her aside from confirmation that he killed her mother. And honestly, Barry wasn't sure that she could take the man. She could physically overpower him, but there was also magic to consider.

 

“Hi, Iris,” he replied shyly, trying to ignore his nosy coworkers. They had already harassed him plenty about his roommate being so beautiful and way too good for him. She had yet to hear any of this, but Barry always dreaded that someday she might.

 

“I brought lunch, but I figured we’d eaten enough burgers so I hope you like Thai food,” she said, setting a bag down and leaning against his desk triumphantly. She’d been in a good mood recently, and it showed in her demeanor. He wasn’t sure if it was the new lead but she was really brightening up his day.

 

“That’s great, I love Thai food. You wanna go find somewhere else to eat though? It’s kind of a mess in here and I think I need some fresh air,” he told her.

 

“Yeah sure,” agreed easily, taking the back again and following Barry out of the lab. They were barely out of the lab when he heard his coworkers erupt into giggles and whispers. They ate downstairs in the break room, and usually guests weren’t allowed in there, but Iris was so friendly with everyone in the precinct that they sometimes just let her get away with stuff.

 

“So, how was your day?” he asks causally. Iris grinned and patted her own back.

 

“You’re looking at the newest barista for CC Jitters!”

 

Barry paused and grinned at her, reaching over to pat her on the arm.

 

“Congratulations. I didn’t know you had a interview,” he was a little hurt she hadn’t told him, but he reminded himself that they were at best partners toward a common goal and not friends. But she shattered those thoughts just about a second after he thought them.

 

“Yeah I’m sorry Barry. I was going to, but I didn’t want to get your hopes up. I know I haven’t found Vibe yet, and I can’t help you pay for the rent since I only have cash. I just didn’t want you to be mad,” she explained. Barry was genuinely surprised.

 

“I’m wouldn’t be mad at you for not getting the job Iris. Look, I’m not hurting for money, so you don’t have to worry about paying for rent. And I know we’re barely friends but I’m really proud of you,” he told her seriously. Iris laughed and wiped something from the corner of his mouth and looked meaningfully into his eyes.

 

“Barry we escaped hunters together. We share an apartment, and we’re trying to catch a murderer together. Sure, we kinda got thrown together but we’re definitely friends now.” she told him.

 

He only smiled at her in return, his cheeks heating. Thrown together was right. He would've never met her if not for her washing up naked. Still, he couldn't bring himself to regret it. She stared at him a moment longer before she seemed to remember something.

 

“Oh, I need to use the restroom. Where is it again?”

 

“Uh, if you go past the bullpen into the hallway it’s the second door on the left.” he said. She stood up and trotted away, and Barry stared after her. He felt bad keeping what the killer said to himself.

 

What would she think of him when she knew that he was the son of a murderer? Of course, maybe the killer had been lying but he had no reason to.

 

When Iris came back, she looked a little peeved but brightened up again when she sat down.

 

But her smile eventually fell away and she grew serious.

 

“Did you find any new evidence?” she asked quietly, picking her fork back up.

 

Barry shook his head, his mood dampening once more.

 

“No, uh, nothing actually. No prints, no DNA traces left. I think I might try to investigate a few of the scenes later but this guy...he’s good,” Barry admitted. Iris frowned.

 

“You’re gonna find him sooner or later Barry. You’re gonna get justice for those victims. You just need to find the connection.” she assured him.

 

“Yeah, the connection. If I only I could think of one. I mean, the killer went after my mom because her knew her. And he attacked Jesse’s mom around the same time.” he said. Iris was silent before she tilted her head.

 

“Instead of looking at the connection between all the victims, start with your mom and Jesse first. Maybe then you’ll have something to work with,” she suggested. Barry nodded.

 

“Yeah, yeah I think you may be right about that actually.” They finished up lunch with casual talk about the neighbor, which turned into gossip, but Iris left Barry with a hug and a promise to be back to go home with him.

 

On his way back to the lab, Barry braced himself for more teasing from his coworkers but they were mercifully quiet.

 


 

Iris was still hopeful that she’d find Vibe but if she wanted to really get to the guy, she’d have to start playing dirty. Barry was working late today and wouldn’t be off until at least seven which gave Iris some time to get home and change and get to the nearest seedy bar.

 

She knew how to play to her looks and come off as a good girl playing at being bad, a quality that attracted creeps and truthfully the wrong crowd. She decided not to carry her gun, but she had a small knife on her, a precaution.

 

At the bar, Iris went over to the pool table which was surrounded by rough and tumble men.

 

“Hello boys,” she greeted easily stopping to survey the men. There were four of them and from the looks of it, they were average guys, so they were probably hear for cheap drinks and a good time.

 

“Hey baby. You looking to play a game of pool?” one asked. He wasn’t the tallest man she’d ever met, or the biggest but he had an air of arrogance to him, that much was clear.

 

“I don’t know are you any good? I don’t play with amateurs,” she winked and the men all glanced at each other and Iris kept her posture loose and relaxed. It was hard not to instantly bare her teeth but she needed to be trusted around places like this.

 

“Well lucky for you, me and my guys are professionals,” he bragged. Iris looked the man up and down.

 

“Lucky indeed,” she simpered. The man brightened up and Iris knew she got him.

 

Too easy.

 

Iris played a good game, not making it a secret she was good, and even managed to hustle about fifty dollars from them and only lost about fifteen. She chatted with them, had a couple beers and tried to look unbothered by the looks and vaguely inappropriate touching. She checked the time and saw that it was only six, and barely so.

 

So, I’m new to this bright, and shiny city. Where does a girl go to get some cheap thrills around here?” she asked suddenly, saddling up the apparent leader of the group. His name was Alan, and he was bordering on tipsy at this point.

 

“Well that depends on your poison,” he said, leaning closely to her from his barstool. Iris herself was standing, her body turned just a little toward the door.

 

“Say I like to mess with the big bad wolf?” she whispered and the man raised an eyebrow. It was a crude way for regular humans to talk about their fetish for supernaturals, as werewolves were the only confirmed and well known ones.

 

“Looks like you’re a little freak underneath that pretty face. Tell me, you like taking it from behind like a dog for those werewolves?” he asked.

 

For one breathless moment, Iris was filled with so much fury that she felt her teeth lengthening in her mouth, and her nails sharpening. She smiled with only a few of her teeth showing and leaned forward.

 

“Wouldn’t you like to know? I’m not asking to see werewolves specifically. They’re old school. I’m looking for something a bit more...underground,” she murmured.

 

The man deliberated on that before turning back to his friends and waving one over.

 

“Tommy, our new friend here wants to know where the supernaturals are? What d’you think?” he asked his friend. Tommy was an unassuming man, average height, weight, everything. He was so nondescript that Iris felt like she was forgetting his face the more she looked at it.

 

Tommy regarded her cooly, before sticking out a hnd for her to shake. Iris glanced at Alan and he nodded to Tommy who stuck his hand out a little more. Iris gave him her hand and it was honest to God, a normal handshake. She didn’t suddenly feel sick, and they didn’t try to ambush her, though they were in a position to.

 

Tommy let her hand go and turned to his friend, raising an eyebrow.

 

“I think that you’ve got yourselves a werewolf looking for someone. She’s no average bitch though,” Tommy said blithely. Since the jig was up, Iris saw no reason not to grab the guys head and slam it into the bar’s hardwood surface. Alan reached for something in his jacket, but Iris grabbed his wrist, her grip still on Tommy’s neck, holding him onto the bar.

 

“Uh-uh. No sudden moves unless you and your friend would like a handful of claws broken off in your neck.” she murmured quietly. The bar had fallen quiet, watching the exchange with interest, though Alan didn’t really look fazed.

 

“Now, now. There’s no need to get violent. You leet my guy go and we let you walk out of here with whatever information you want,” he said slowly. Iris made a face and shook her head.

 

“Hm, see I don’t think so. I think,” she said, dragging Alan closer and gripping his wrist so tightly that she could hear bones creaking. “You’re gonna just tell me what you know and then I’m gonna walk out of here. Maybe a little bruised, maybe a little battered, but I’m walking out. The question is, are you?” she asked simply. Tommy struggle futilely under her grip, but he was getting rowdy so Iris let her claws unsheathe slowly, digging into his neck.

 

Alan held for a moment before relenting.

 

“Alright. You’ve got me. What is it you want to know?”

 

“Who’s the strongest seeker in Central? I’ve got something I want him to help me with.” she explained.

 

“Some young guy. He’s real secretive but no one knows his name,” Alaan said. Iris leaned down to whisper into Tommy’s ear.

 

“Is that true Tommy? Careful, if you lie to me you’re gonna lose a lot more than dignity,” she threatened. She had no intentions of killing anyone but these guys didn’t know. Sometimes it was helpful to have violent stereotypes ascribed to you. Rarely, but sometimes it happened.

 

“He moves around a lot, but he goes by Vibe. If you hang around midtown you might see the guy walking around,” he gasped. Iris sighed.

 

“Narrow it down, Tommy. Midtown is about thirty-five blocks,” she said. Alan was now glaring at her and Iris had an aha moment.

 

“Alan? Do you know more than you’re pretending to know?” Because I have no doubt that Tommy is really useful to you an a close friend, but I think if his neck is severed he won’t be saying or doing much except drooling into a pillow. What do you know?” she asked.

 

“His last name is Ramon. Something Ramon. He’s a Mexican kid, I don’t know anything else about him other than that. Let him go,” Alan said softly. Iris nodded. She could sense and hear the truth of his words, and quite frankly, having the scent of this guy’s blood wafting in the air was making her feel ill.

 

She retracted her claws and stepped back, releasing Alan’s wrist.

 

“Thank you gentleman. I hope you’ll forgive my...unorthodox methods, but I really need to find this guy. Have a nice night,” she calls over her shoulder as she leaves. She takes back alleys and the most roundabout way to the precinct, but she manages to be just on time. She is already walking through when she recalls the blood on her nails. She practically runs to the bathroom and scrubs furiously under her nails, gagging at the sight.

 

You are not a monster, Iris. You can choose your humanity.

 

She scrubs for just a little too long, but when the smell doesn’t clog her nose anymore she finally jogs upstairs and sees Barry still deeply engrossed in work, so much so that he didn’t even look up when she knocked.

 

“Barry!” she called and he looked up hitting his knee on the desk.

 

“Iris!” he exclaimed, looking shaken up. Iris walked over to him and rested her hands on his shoulders, leaning over him to stare at whatever he was analyzing. It looked like dirt, sand maybe but nothing remarkable jumped out at her so she ignored it and moved to stand next to Barry rather than behind him.

 

“So, how was work?” she asked.

 

Barry shrugged.

 

“Same old stuff. All my other cases are practically cake walks compared to the Central City Slugger,” he said offhandedly. Iris raised an eyebrow and Barry sighed.

 

“That’s what newspapers are calling him now. Which, I hate that name. My dad used to call me slugger and knowing that now people are calling the guy who killed my mom that is just...Anyway. Where have you been all day? You changed,” he said reaching for her shirt and tugging it. She flipped her hair over her shoulder.

 

“I’ve been looking for Vibe and I got a hint on his name; Ramon. So now, I can start looking for him by name. Although without a first name it’ll be difficult,” she admitted.

 

“That’s a start, which is better than nothing but a fake name. But other than that how was your day?” he asked. Iris sighed.

 

“I’m just kinda stressed out from earlier. I’m, uh, not really proud of how I got that information and I think I might need some time to myself,” she admitted. She didn’t want to go through this discussion with Barry but she didn’t want him to think she was just pulling away for no reason.

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” he asked, standing up and packing up his work space efficiently.

 

Iris considers this offer before she shakes her head with a rueful smile, and shrugs.

 

“Maybe later, but not right now. So, I do have a name for our seer. Now we can hit the street and ask by name, or if he’s younger than twenty-six he might be registered,” Iris suggested.



“I can do you one better. We can hire a hacker to look for someone named Ramon, you said?” he checked and she nodded.

 

“So, for now we can ease up on that front.” she nodded.

 

“Maybe. But I need to clarify something so I need to contact my mom’s spirit. And since I can’t wait for her to contact me in my dreams, I need to die,” he told her. Iris thought it was a true show of her character and grit that she only gaped a little.

 

“Excuse me? I think I misheard you," she protested loudly. Barry shushed her and threw his bag over his shoulder and led her out of the lab and trotting down the stairs and getting into the car. The whole way down, Iris kept trying to wrap what he said around head.

 

When they were on the way home, Barry finally elaborated.

 

“There’s a potion I can make. It’ll kill me, but if I pair it with a spell, it’ll allow me to keep my consciousness and I can commune her, but I need to get the antidote in about thirteen minutes or I’ll die for real. Don’t worry I already calculated everything,” he said.

 

Iris’s hands threw her hands up in annoyance.

 

“Oh, I suppose that’s supposed to comfort me? Barry what are you trying to learn by doing this?” she asked. Barry frowned and blatantly ignored her. “How dare you,” Iris said viciously.

 

Barry glanced at her, surprised and offended.

 

“Excuse me? How dare I? For what?” he asked.

 

“You’re asking me to watch you die. Asking me to let you hurt yourself, but you can’t tell me why?” she asked.

 

“It’s not a slight to you, but I just don’t want you to--” he cut himself off. Iris stared at him disbelievingly.

 

“Barry? What is it? Whatever it is, we’ll handle it okay? We don’t have a choice but to handle it.” she said.

 

Iris didn’t understand his hesitation. Barry was pretty forthcoming and Iris appreciated that about him, but today it was grating on her nerves.

 

“Iris, if it becomes an issue I will tell you. Alright, now get off my back,” he said seriously. Iris closed her eyes and took deep breaths. She knew that he was probably stressed out and worried, just like her. It wouldn’t do her any good to lose her temper right back, but damn it did she want to.

 

“Fine. So why exactly do you need to know so bad that you need to die?”

 

“Something that will confirm a few things. If what I think might be true is true then it means I have some research to do. And there might be a lead hidden in there somewhere.” Barry explained. Iris took a deep breath. Okay, progress. Obviously it was a great idea for her to not blow up on him.

 

“Okay, what do you need me to do exactly?” she asked.

 

“It’ll be really easy I promise. Once I make the potion I’ll say the spell that will bind me to the mortal coil. And you just have to watch over my body, make sure that nothing bad happens to it while I’m away. When thirteen minutes pass, make me swallow the potion, and then just wait for me to wake up. I’ll probably be really weak so we both need the whole day,” he admitted.

 

“Okay, sure. That sounds easy. And you’re sure this won’t kill you forever?” she asked, picturing it vividly in her mind: Barry, smiling at her reassuringly that he won’t die and then swallowing some frothy black drink and chating something, but it goes wrong, horribly, horribly wrong. He’s foaming at the mouth looking at her with bloodshot and she can just see him mouthing for help before he dies in her arms and she can feel her whole body freezing and everything around her slows down to a snail’s cry, and her chest tightens so much that she lets out a weak grunt before she puts her claws to her thigh and punctures ten tiny little holes in her legs.

 

She comes back to herself when the pain finally sharpens and she takes a deep breath and she can finally hear Barry asking her what she’s doing.

 

“--hell are you doing? Iris? What’s wrong?” he asked frantically. They’re pulled into a parking spot and he’s almost crying.

 

“Huh? Uh, I just...had a moment there. My bad,” she can barely get her thoughts together enough to reply, but she pulls herself together enough to finally relax.

 

“Iris you hurt yourself,” he said seriously, and Iris understands the implications of what he means, what he’s worried about.

 

“Barry it’s not like that. I just needed to focus and sometimes I do that. I get in my head a lot,” she tries to explain, but she feels like maybe she’s making it worse.

 

“Iris…” he trailed off and Iris took of her seatbelt and reached for his hands.

 

“Barry. I promise you that it wasn’t anything more than me trying to calm myself down.” she promised. Barry frowned, his hands twitching.

 

“Why did you need to calm down?” he asked. Iris let out a derisive laugh.

 

“I’m worried that somehow I’m gonna mess up and get you killed,” she said. Barry, who smiled and waved a hand dismissively.

 

“If I die it’ll be my own problem, not yours.”

 

“You dying is a huge problem for me you jackass,” she said with a wry smile, and Barry laughed.

 

“Because you need help finding your dad,” he said, almost sadly and Iris’s smile fell.

 

“No, because we’re friends and I care about you. More than that actually, since you’re pack now.” she said seriously. Barry flushed, before he suddenly looked serious.

 

“How did I become pack anyway? You didn’t really explain.”

 

Iris tilted her head. It wasn’t hard to describe pack, but it suddenly felt so intimate to talk about it to him. But there couldn’t be harm to it, surely.

 

“It’s not necessarily something werewolves choose, although we can. When we form attachments to people our...werewolf brain I guess becomes hyper aware of that person. It can be parental, platonic, romantic as a human. But as a wolf it’ll always just be this need to protect and be close. Sometimes we bond to strangers. We still don’t really know why that happens but that’s pretty much it. You’re pack because I’m just so fond of you Barry Allen,” she smiled and he smiled back, looking more than a little satisfied.

 

“Good to know,” he laughed before pulling away and getting out.

 

Walking up to the apartment with Barry was a little awkward for some reason, but Iris did have butterflies now. It was so embarrassing.

 

“So, do you have all your, uh...witchy ingredients or do we need to find an apothecary?” she asked, only partially teasing.

 

“No, I picked some stuff up the other day, which gave me the idea for the potion.” he said.

 

“Okay, cool. How long does it take you to make the potion?”

 

“Actual preparation takes about thirty minutes, but it has to sit for about two days, maybe a little longer,” he told her.

 

“Why does it need to sit?” she asked.

 

“To make it more potent, basically.” he said, unlocking the door. Barry walked in confidently, but Iris was stopped by some invisible force. She tried again only to be bounced back repeatedly. Barry finally noticed that she wasn’t behind him.

 

“Iris?” he asked and she put her hand to the threshold and let him see that she couldn’t get in.

 

“I don’t know what’s happening,” she admitted and Barry looked at the doorway, his brow furrowing. He was studying it so intensely but it seemed like he didn’t find anything worth noticing.

 

“There’s no sigils in the door. It’s clearly not to stop supernaturals otherwise I couldn’t be able to get in. And it seems like it’s only for you.” he said, rubbing his chin.

 

“Great, I can’t get into my own home now. Now what?” she asked.

 

“It’s not hurting you right?” he asked. She shook her head.

 

“It pushes me, but it doesn’t hurt, no.”

 

“Well have you been hanging around witches? Only a witch can draw sigils with power. Who have you been in close contact with, other than me?” he questioned.

 

“Some strangers in a bar, I was trying to find a lead.”

 

“Well one of them was a witch. If anything of them touched you, even for a moment, they had time to write a sigil,” he told her.

 

Iris remembered the altercation and the numerous attempts on the guys’ parts to grope her.

 

“Fuck. Alright how do I get rid of it?” she asked.

 

Barry flushed.

 

“Where they touched I’d have to draw over the sigil to cancel it out. Sorry,” he apologized. Iris sighed heavily.

 

“Ugh, so annoying. Alright well you can hardly feel me up in the hallway so we should probably get back to the truck.” She sighed angrily, stomping away and ignoring the twisting in her stomach.

 

Back at the truck, they were awkwardly climbing into the truck, but Iris was all business as she took off her jacket and turned to Barry.

 

“Go wild,” she said blithely, but her voice trembled, something that Barry probably noticed.

 

But he was very methodical and clinical while his hands searched her torso, careful not to actually touch anywhere that wasn’t appropriate. As for where he did touch, it was like shivers were constantly dancing along her spine and she didn’t know if that was his magic or his touch, but she supposed it didn’t matter when she was feeling lightheaded no matter what the reason was. She tried to even her breathing out, but to her great embarrassment, he did find the sigil on her side, under her elbow. He placed his hand entirely on it and Iris jerks, like she’s been shocked. At first she thinks she has been, but he jerks away, just as surprised.

 

“Well the sigil is gone but I have no idea what that was?”

 

“Is it not supposed to do that?” she asked frantically but Barry is quick to reassure her, but she knows that he’s just as confused.

 

“No, but you don’t feel lightheaded, nauseous, or tired?”

 

“No not at all,”

 

“Okay, that’s a spell trying to break through a protection sigil feels like, so you’re good. Alright let’s see if it works out and see if you can get inside,” he said and Iris nodded.

 

On the way up to the apartment Iris’s nerves are on edge and Barry seems particularly anxious. It’s not until they get back to the door that Iris guesses why.

 

The apartment door is ajar and Iris’s hackles go up. Barry throws the door open immediately an stomps inside. Iris goes inside and goes further into the apartment, hoping maybe to catch the perpetrator.

 

The entire apartment is wrecked, with books thrown from shelves and the coffee table flipped over. There are scratches on the walls and in the bedroom it’s just as much of a mess: Barry’s bedroom is a mess of tattered sheets and his grimoire, funnily enough is untouched. She catches the familiar scent of the guy who brutalized Barry and she’s so pissed that for a second all she can see his red--literally and she goes back to Barry, her whole demeanor stiff.

 

“Barry I know who did this that sick son of a--What? What’s wrong?” she cuts herself at the look on Barry’s face.

 

His expression is so strange. His eyes are not haunted--more like he he has ba news. He turns to her, his body turned completely around and he’s holding an envelope. He hands it to her wordlessly and she can finally see that it’s addressed to her. She rips it open angrily and when she dumps out the insides and a picture falls. She hold onto the note though.

 

You think you can hunt me, little wolf? I may have let your witch live, but I need him. You aren’t of any use to me. If you won’t stop looking for me, he will die .

 

Iris furrows her brow. If the killer needs Barry than why would he then threaten to kill him in essentially the same breath. Barry leans down to pick up the picture and hands it to her.

 

She’s expecting some creepy shot of her walking or one where she’s on her way to work. But it’s not. It’s far worse than that.

 

It’s her father, bloody and bruised.

 

“Dad,” she breathes, her voice breaking with unshed tears.

 

Iris drops the picture and sinks down where she is and Barry instantly is next to her and cradling her face.

 

“Hey, hey. Look at me. You’re going to get your dad back I promise you,” he whispered. Iris takes in a tremulous breath and he presses his face to her temple.

 

“I’m gonna help you find him Iris.”

 

“He has my dad Barry. He hurt him, he hurt my dad.” her voice shakes and at that moment, Iris makes a promise to herself.

 

“Yes, but we’ll get him back Iris I promise,” he said seriously. Iris closed her eyes and nodded.

 

“We will,” she repeated. “We’re getting my dad back,” she promised.

Chapter Text

For the next few days, Iris is both listless and disturbingly focused. In the morning, she gets ready for work and packs a lunch for Barry, walks him to work, all with the same carefully blank expression. She doesn't ever make a mistake, but Barry can tell that her passion isn't in it. He's not sure what she's like at work, but she must fake happiness convincingly, since she hasn't been fired. Barry started on the ption in the meantime and he’s trying to workshop a spell, but it’s never been his strong suit, writing. But for, a while Barry isn’t sure what Iris is thinking. But he doesn’t press. Her only family is being held hostage by a killer and if he finds out that they’re actively trying to put him in jail, her dad might die. It’s a lot for anyone to handle.

Today, she’s been a bit more focused, but she’s sad, more sad than she’s been recently. She’s making something that smells heavenly and she doesn’t refer to a recipe that’s written down, but finishes the meal from memory.

“How much garlic is in that?” he asked her, leaning over her shoulder. She looks over her shoulder and up, lifting an eyebrow.

“Enough. Don’t worry about what I’m doing, focus on mixing that cheesecake.” she ordered and he snorted.

“I can make cheesecake,” he said, pouting a little.

“Apparently, but here you are, worrying about my chicken.” she said softly. They’re making a nice dinner, mostly to finally stop eating so much fast food, but also because Iris mentioned that she was craving home cooking.

They also have vegetables roasting, and Barry has to admit that he loves this.

He’s never really had this kind of experience with home cooked food. For him, this is comforting and even a little heady. He turned to Iris, ready to thank her for this when he sees that she’d stopped moving. Her shoulders are quaking and he can hear hitched breathing. He peeked over at her, and Iris was sobbing silently. When she first learned about her dad, she’d panicked and been in shock, but after that she was angry. Furious might actually be a better description, but now...Now she was overcome.

“Iris,” he said quietly. She turned to him with red eyes and a trembling bottom lip, so Barry crossed the room and before he could even open his arms to her she was wrapped around him, her sobbing face hidden in his chest.

She blubbered ungracefully and Barry was sure that this shirt was ruined, but he couldn’t care. Iris had been steady this whole journey and now it was time for him to be her rock. His parents were long gone, and there was no way for him to get them back. Iris, still had a father, who she had stayed apart from to help him. He’d never felt more guilty than he did in this moment with her sobbing in his arms.

He rubbed her back and sighed deeply as she buried her face in his shoulder, standing on her tiptoes to get closer. She couldn’t seem to get close enough for her comfort standing up so Barry lifted her and carried her to the couch, where she wrapped herself around him, her sobs quieting but her voice stricken as she finally spoke, but Barry could only catch part what she was staying.

“--should’ve tried harder to find him. It’s all my fault he took him, it's my fault--” and Barry pushed her hair back behind her ear and cradled her face, making her look at him.

“Iris, take deep breaths for me, okay? You need to breathe Iris,” he ordered and she nodded, struggling to breathe evenly but after a while she took enough breaths to calm down. She finally was calm enough to wipe her face, a mess of tears and snot.

“I’m sorry, I’m a mess, and I’m heavy,” she apologized but Barry patted her side.

“I don’t mind. You needed a good cry and it’s no hardship having you in my lap,” he joked. Iris smiled sheepishly and pecked his cheek.

“I’m gonna go wash my face,” she said quickly, hopping up and rushing to the bathroom. Barry is still a little stunned by the kiss to the cheek but he listened to the water running in the next room, suddenly more shy than the time he had his first kiss.

When Iris came back out, her eyes were only a little puffy but she looked happy enough when she came back out.

“Hey,” he said softly.

“Hi. So, I guess it’s time to get back to work now, huh?” she asked quietly and sat down, next to Barry instead of on him.

Barry tilted his head.

“Not necessarily. Right now, I can get started on the potion, and I can also start scrying for your dad. Right now he’s in danger more than a random victim,” Barry reasoned. It was hard for him to admit that, but it was true. Her dad was in immediate danger, but his were dead, had been dead for quite some time. It was more practical to help him right now.

“Barry,” she sighed, sounding both grateful and upset. “Thank you. Seriously, you’re an angel,” she told him.

“Witch, actually." They both laughed at the cheesy joke and Barry suddenly stood up. “Okay, I’m going to get the potion started for the dying and then the scrying. In the meantime, you should find something to watch.” he said.

He went to the kitchen listened as she fumbled with the TV before the familiar sounds of Wizard of Oz came on and he smiled to himself. Making potions was one of the parts of witchcraft that was so familiar to him. He’d cooked enough on his own and studied chemistry at college. He could even recall times where his mom had been cooking things that they’d never eaten.

It took most of the Wizard of Oz for him to finish the potion for the death potion. The scrying potion was more simple than that, as it really didn’t require much to make it at all. By the time he was letting both potions sit, Iris was watching the end of Wizard of Oz with rapt attention.

“Enjoying the movie?”

“Yeah I haven’t watched this since I was a kid. I can’t believe Dorothy didn’t faint at the sight of the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion.” she laughed. Barry shrugged.

“Maybe she already had some poppy seeds before she fell asleep,” he said. Iris rolled her eyes.

“I doubt it. You know, sometimes I wonder if any of these movie icons were supernaturals. I mean there are a lot of us.”

“I like to think that Stevie Nicks is a witch.” he admitted and Iris laughed.

“Yeah? You know where werewolves come from don’t you?” she asked and Barry shook his head.

His mom never wrote anything about the history of witches, let alone other supernaturals.

“No, why?”

“Years and years ago, probably centuries, a witch found her sister brutalized in the woods where they usually went to bathe. Her sister was said to be more lovely than the moon and more sweet than honey. The witch was,” Iris paused trying to find the correct word ass it had been told to her. “Furious, distraught. She asked around and enough witnesses claimed to have seen a man follow her sister into the woods late at night. So she confronted him and he admitted to it proudly.” Iris told him. Barry’s brow furrowed.

“Was he proud of what he did?” Barry asked. Iris sighed deeply.

“Proud, happy? Who really knows. But he told her that nothing brought him more joy than breaking her sister’s bones and ruining all of her virtues. Her beauty, her innocence. He thought it was all so funny. So the witch went back home and she made a curse just for him,” Iris said, picturing the scene in her mind’s eye; an older woman crying furiously as she went home and threw things into a cauldron.

“What happened next?” Barry asked, riveted by the tale. Iris grabbed his hand and played with his fingers.

“She made him unable to hide his true nature when the moon was most bright, an ode to her sister. She thought of him as a beast, so that’s what she made him. Under a nearly full and full moon he was forced to show his true nature. And so the werewolf was born,” Iris said. Barry watched as Iris looked miles away, her features shadowed.

“So what’s it like then? Being a werewolf?” he asked.

Iris seemed to pull herself away from her thoughts before pursing her lips. By now, the movie was long over but neither bothered to change the movie off.

“Well, I’ve only ever been in pack with my dad but I’m told that the familial aspect is comforting. And it’s nice to be strong, powerful you know, And I now there’s value in my blood.” she said softly.

“In your blood?”

“Well, werewolf blood is pretty powerful in spells, but most children had by a werewolf are also werewolves.” she explained.

“That’s not so bad. You have nothing be ashamed of as a werewolf.” he said. Iris smiled at him pleasantly, but she didn’t look very convinced.

“Maybe not. Why don’t you pick the next movie?” she asked and Barry wanted to continue to reassure her, but he could tell she wasn’t in the mood.

Rather than continue to bother her, Barry turned on his favorite musical and leaned back, leaving a space open for Iris to snuggle if she wanted to, trying to be as subtle as he could be. It took a solid twenty minutes, but she did eventually cuddle up to him, sighing contentedly.

Barry watched Iris laugh and get invested in the musical before she fell asleep. Watching her rest peacefully Barry had a strange feeling. It felt like something inside him shifted into place and Barry felt warm inside and almost giddy.

He stared into space before he put a hand on her back, drawing the sigil his mom had scrawled in her grimoire several times over. Iris didn’t stir but she leaned into his touch a small smile ticked up her lips. Barry turned back to the movie, a small part of his icy heart chipping away.


 

The next few days, Barry scryed for Iris’s father every day and only caught glimpses of the man. He was already mostly healed from the injuries in the picture, but he didn’t look distraught about his situation. Iris paced usually when Barry told her about it.

“Why is he so calm?”

“Maybe he has a plan of escape and he’s not worried,” Barry pointed out as Iris nibbled on her thumb nail.

“How is he supposed to get away? He’s against some--some monster! Barry what is he doing right now?” she demanded and Barry adjusted the mirror, focusing so that he could see Joe west once more. This time he was talking to someone and Barry tried to interpret what he was saying but it was difficult with the bruise swollen lip.

“He’s talking to someone. He looks kinda mad, but not scared. Not even a little worried to be honest,” he noted. Iris nodded.

“Okay, so right now he’s okay?” she asked again. Barry nodded patiently.

“Yeah. I can’t see where he is exactly, but it seems like he’s in a normal room. Maybe a basement though? There’s no natural light coming in it looks like,” he murmured. Iris looked calmed by that, before she brightened.

“Oh, I think I know why he’s not worried! Barry! The full moon is in two days!” she exclaimed. Barry looked shocked.

“That soon?”

“Yes. He’s probably banking on the killer not knowing and escaping when he’s a wolf,” she sounding excited but Barry had to ask.

“How big exactly do you get when you transform?” he asked unsurely. Iris grinned.

“Well have you ever seen a fully grown normal wolf? We’re definitely bigger. I’d say almost twice the size. And he’s a fully grown older wolf so he’s definitely not to be trifled with. God, I love my dad,” she said breathily, looking unworried.

“Speaking of, do you need to take work off for that?”

“I asked for the morning shifts for three days.”

“Three?”

“Yeah, I’ll be transformed the day before the full moon, the day of, and the day after. But it’ll be worse the day of obviously,” she said dismissively.

“Just wondering, are you going to need like, extra clothes or something?”

“Yeah, but I’ll take care of that stuff by myself.” she said dismissively. Barry made a face.

“Are you sure? Because I totally don’t mind helping,” he said loudly before coughing and lowering his voice. “I mean, if you want that of course.” he replied. Iris raised an eyebrow and a smirk came over her face.

“Barry? Are you trying to see me naked again?” she teased, and Barry began to splutter while Iris looked on with fond exasperation.

“What? No, that is not what I meant I just--well I wanna see you but not, like, naked or anything that would be weird,” he explained and Iris pretended to be offended.

“Weird? How am I weird? Am I ugly or something?” she asked. His eyes bulged and he shook his hands frantically.

“Oh God no! You’re honestly the most gorgeous woman I’ve ever seen! I mean, I haven’t seen every woman but I mean who needs to?” he rambled and Iris finally decided to put him out of his misery, her cheeks burning from his earnest compliment.

“I’m joking Barry. I know you want to see my wolf form, right?” she asked and he exhaled, relaxed now that he wasn’t being allowed to fumble through his words anymore.

“Yes! I mean I’ve never seen a werewolf in wolf form and I bet it’s super cool,” he grinned, looking enchanted by the idea. Iris’s good mood faded.

“I’d love for you to see too, but it’s pretty dangerous,” she admitted.

“Isn’t it different since I’m pack now?” he asked and Iris sighed.

“Well, to me you’re pack. My wolf brain is a bit different. It’s more like having your base instincts turned up to eleven, but it’s almost separate from me. For instance, my wolf brain wanted to eat fish but my human brain hates raw fish.” she said. Barry looked fascinated by this but he was now a little concerned about her wolf brain being somewhat separate from her human brain.

“Well, I mean I have to see you like that eventually.” he pointed out and Iris looked at him quizzically.

“Why?”

“Well, I figured you and your dad might live in Central after this. I mean you got separated because you were always travelling. But I’ve been designing some sigils to keep you guys safe from people with evil intentions against werewolves and I think there’s an enchantment to keep your personal space safe and I--” Iris cut across him looking a bit uneasy.

“Barry. When my dad and I get back, we’re going to go back on the road. I mean we’re definitely staying for a while, but I don’t think we’re gonna stop being nomads. I mean it’s our life now. I don’t think I could just stop,” she said honestly. Iris wasn’t prepared for how gutted Barry looked. God, he looked like he hadn’t considered that she’d leave after this. But then his eyes shuttered and he smiled.

“That actually makes more sense, ha. Well I hope we can find him soon then, but I think if i have some spare time in the afterlife I can ask my mom if she can help out,” he said. After that he started to babble about spells and potions that might help but Iris was concerned that maybe he was more than a little down about it but she had nothing to say to him to comfort him.

Even if they were pack, Iris and her father couldn’t stay in the city, there were too many risks. She’d visit of course, make sure that Barry was safe from time to time but that was all. Although, now that she was thinking about it he wouldn’t need her protection. He was so strong on his own. The two would actually be separating once this was all over and for a moment Iris was devastated, but she pushed it out of her mind. Right now, her father was her priority and she had to keep her mind on that instead of anything else.

“Yeah, I can actually. Let me do that,” he said and stood up to get paper and a pencil. Eventually, his search yielded both and Iris watched with fascination as Barry sketched a face shape and outlined the features.

It was pretty surreal to watch him bring a complete stranger to relief in front of her eyes. When Barry finished the drawing, Iris noted that he was quite normal looking, even handsome which disgusted her on some level. But Barry was still sketching. He added fine detail to it until it was a veritable portrait.

“Wow, that’s amazing! I didn’t know you could draw,” she breathed. Barry shrugged bashfully.

“I’ve just picked it up over the years. So what are you going to do with this?”

“An interview. I’m not sure if Jesse saw her mother’s killer, but maybe she saw this guy walking around before that. And I tracked down some of the victims’ family members. Maybe someone can recognize this guy, give us a name.” Iris pointed out.

“But if you ask and they know his name are we supposed to just...present our evidence to the police? Because I might get a reprimand for this.” he pointed out.

“If we find anything, we’ll just compile it and drop it anonymously. I don’t want to get noticed for this,” she said. Barry nodded.

“Of course not. Okay, so I guess you wanna talk to Jesse Wells, since her mom was the second victim?” he asked. Iris nodded, a little surprised that he was at that conclusion, although it did make the most sense.

“Yes. You wanna come with?”

Barry looked solemn.

“Yeah actually. I want to compare notes. See what she remembers, compared to what I remember.” he said.

Once it was settled, the pair set up a meeting and to their surprise Jesse mentioned that she was already in the neighborhood, at Jitters actually, and would not mind seeing them.

They were walking close together, on account of Iris being suspicious.

“I’m a little nervous actually. Jesse was nice and all, but I don’t think she really wanted to tell us anything she knew.” Iris murmured. Barry shrugged, looking determined, a strange juxtaposition.

“Maybe, but if she wants justice for her mom, she’ll be able to help us I know it.” he said and Iris nodded.

Once inside Jitters, Iris greeted Tracy and ordered coffees for her and Barry, though Iris added a scone, since she was a bit peckish.

“Hi, so you guys said you had something for me to look at?” Jesse asked, once Iris was back. Barry pulled out her chair for her and she shot him a thankful smile, sitting across from Jesse.

“Yeah, we haven’t been totally honest with you about what our search has yielded,” she said, pulling out the sketch of Barry’s attacker, keeping it face down.

Jesse now looked apprehensive.

“What about it?” Jesse asked.

Barry took over this time and leaned forward.

“My mom was murdered when I was eleven. The way she died made it obvious that a witch had done it, but it wasn’t until later that I learned she was a witch too. And I did some investigating and your mom died similarly, right?” he asked. Jesse’s face turned quite pensive and she glanced at Iris.

“God, I should’ve known you weren’t interviewing me because of my school work,” she looked back at Barry and nodded. “And yeah my mom was murdered by a witch. He didn’t see me, but I saw him. The stuff he did...it was scary.” she said quietly. Iris nodded.

“We just want to know if you recognize this person,” Iris said gently, turning the paper over carefully. Jesse avoided eye contact at first before she looked at the paper and it became clear that she recognized him.

“Thawne,” she murmured and both Barry and Iris started.

“What? So you recognize him?” Barry asked. Jesse nodded and slid the picture closer.

“Yes. He showed up at our house and a year I think. He was friends with my parents, but then they had an argument and they kept turning him away. I never learned what his first name was, but my parents definitely called him Thawne. But this is who killed my mom. I told the police about him, but my parents never took pictures with him so they could never find him.” Jesse explained.

“And you’re sure his name is Thawne? It’s not anything else?” Barry asked and Jesse nodded.

“His name is definitely Thawne. He killed my mom,” Jesse said confidently.

Barry looked excited to have a lead but Iris wanted to pursue a hunch.

“We think he must be hunting supernaturals. Do you know if your mom was a supernatural?” Iris asked. Jesse froze and sat up straight, leaning back.

“Why are you asking me that?” she asked, almost angrily. Barry sighed.

“Because he went after me about {reread some shit babe because we do NOT remember when we said this shit happened} ago. He admitted that he killed my mom and an informant,” he glanced at Iris who shrugged in agreement and her plowed on. “Told us that he was responsible for your mother’s death as well. And we think he’s behind the recent attacks too. But we need to tie him to the victims and the crime scenes before we can even begin to accuse him of anything,” Barry explained.

“Well why’d he go after your mom? Maybe that’s why he went after mine?” Jesse suggested. Barry shrugged.

“It was a personal thing. Revenge basically.” he said shortly, glancing at Iris.

Jesse sighed and scooted closer to them.

“My mom and my dad aren’t supernaturals, but I am.” she told them quietly.

“Wait, how is that possible?” Iris asked immediately. As far as she knew, supernatural genetics were dominant usually but if both parents weren’t supernaturals it was impossible to be one.

“Explain,” Iris said. Jesse shook her head.

“Not here. We can have this conversation somewhere more private because it’s kind of personal. Do you guys have somewhere nearby we can go to?” she asked.

“Sure,” Iris said easily, glancing at Barry who nodded.

Iris got her and Barry’s coffees to go and she stuffed the scone in her mouth as she waited. On the way back to the apartment, Barry and Iris keep glancing at each other and then Jesse in turn but, in truth, neither thought she was a threat and quite frankly they were more than sure they could take her. Jesse looked similarly unbothered though so maybe she was tougher than they thought.

Nevertheless, they made it to the apartment and Barry drew a sigil on this door, murmuring something, an incantation perhaps, or maybe he was simply musing aloud. But, the sigil burned into the door, glowing a fiery yellow before fading into nothingness.

They all settled in the living room, with Barry in the armchair and Iris perched on the arm, subconsciously projecting a united front, even though in general she was going trusted Jesse.

“So...how?” Iris asked both eager and apprehensive. Barry placed a hand on her back and rubbed her back before it pulled away. Jesse took a deep breath and rubbed her face.

“I was stillborn, when my mom gave birth. My parents were devastated obviously but my mom didn’t take it well. She...stole my body from the hospital and brought me to a priestess of a coven. The priestess resurrected me with her own blood and a sacrifice from my mom. She brought me back home one day and swore my dad to secrecy. They moved away, cut all tiesto whoever knew them. All of it. Then they waited a while and told people they  went on a vacation and came back home with me.”

“Your mom stole your dead body to resurrect you?” Barry asked, sounding almost disgusted. Jesse looked up defensively.

“She had just gone through a stressful pregnancy she just couldn’t let me go. She shouldn’t have done it, but it happened.”

“So, you’re a zombie?” Iris asked. Jesse shook her head.

“It’s more complicated than that. If she hadn’t made a great sacrifice I would’ve come back wrong, but actually she gave up a lot.” Jesse said.

“So why did you come back a supernatural? Is it because of the witch’s blood?” Barry asked.

“Yes and no. The witch’s blood opened me to possession, but the healing spirit of a caladrius. It’s a bird with healing abilities. They didn’t know how to keep me safe on their own since neither of them are supernaturals but Thawne showed up when I started to manifest powers. I guess he was going to help them,” she said bitterly.

Iris saw as Barry’s face lit up.

“He’s stealing powers from supernaturals. Holy shit,” Barry said standing up and grabbing his jacket and snagging Iris’s hand as well. Iris looked confused and Barry simply tugged her along behind him. Jesse stood up and followed behind them. Iris could barely get Barry to stop long enough for her to lock the door.

“Barry what is wrong?” Iris asked, looking up at Barry whose eyes were determinedly forward. He hopped into the truck and Iris scrambled after him, and Jesse after them both, pressed to the door.

“Is he okay?” Jesse asked, looking nervous. Iris watched as Barry barely looked backward as he backed up.

“Barry! Please explain what’s happening or I’m jumping out the car,” she said, only partially exaggerating.

Barry looked almost manic as he explained.

“The dagger! I thought it was weird that it was made of lead but covered in silver. The lead is how Thawne is stealing power. He didn’t steal my mom’s because he already had the same power. But he stabbed Tess because he thought he might take powers from a witch powerful enough to resurrect someone,” he explained. Jesse shook her head.

“But she didn’t!”

“He didn’t know that. He thought your mom resurrected a baby, so he tried to gain her trust. Only he killed her and nothing happened. The other victims had deep cuts, but none of them fatal. He’s masking the dagger wounds. He’s stealing powers from supernaturals. Oh my God,” he said, barely remembering to turn on is signal to go into the next lane and Iris laid a hand on his thigh.

“Calm down before you kill us. But I guess that means the knife had the victims’s blood on it?”

“Yes! Which confused me when the coroner told me they succumbed to internal injuries from trauma. God I just need to tie him to the scene and I can solve this,” he said.

“So why is he stealing powers?” Jesse asked.

“Power? I mean why else? But the question is what he wants the power for,” Iris said, now a feeling of deep unease creeping inside her. Werewolves had so much power to be stolen. And her dad was trapped with that man.

Iris tried so hard to stay present and keep her wits together but all she can think of is some horrible killer taking her father’s abilities or his blood, or whatever it is that he needs from him. It’s disgusting to her, so much so that when Barry stops at a redlight Iris crawls over Jesse and opens the door and runs to a bush and empties her stomach, sobbing loudly. She can hear people panicking and Iris wonders distantly if she really had just run into traffic like that. She heaves a little more before straightening and spotting Barry and Jesse both making their way to her.

“No, no just go!” Iris protested walking away and trying to make her way back to the apartment, but her breath is too short and she’s disoriented.

“Iris!” he called and she started to run, her cheeks burning with embarrassment. God, why couldn’t he just stop?”

“Just go away,” she forced out, stumbling away. She heard Barry telling Jesse something, and she told him she’d meet up with them later. Iris put a great distance between herself and Barry but eventually she stopped at a park, her eyes tearing up.

Barry joined her a few minutes later, panting as he finally caught up to her, collapsing on the bench next to her. He handed her a tissue and she wiped her mouth, mumbling out a thank you.

“What’s wrong?” he asked. “We’ve just found out why Thawne is doing what he’s doing.”

“Barry I told you that werewolf blood is valuable. My dad is trapped right now with a witch who steals powers from supernaturals. God, my dad is probably so scared I can almost hear it--the screaming,” she sobs and Barry wraps an arm around her and she covers her face to save some of her pride.

It’s useless at this point, Barry has seen her look worse arguably but when she wipes her eyes she sniffs angrily and turns to Barry.

“We need to do the death potion. Barry I can’t stand the thought of him alone and waiting to die.” she sobbed and Barry just pulled her closer.

But, at that moment, Iris looked up and saw him, Thawne, just across the manmade lake in the center of the park. But he wasn’t really there. He was blurry around the edges and semi-transparent.

She started to draw Barry’s attention but Thawne’s apparition shook his head. He seemed to be speaking but she couldn’t hear until a moment later she heard his voice in her mind.

“Miss West. I have a proposition for you. You want your father and I want the blood of a fully grown werewolf.” he told her and Iris didn’t need to have an explanation.

“Come find me, the night of your transformation and I’ll let your father go in your stead. Feel free to bring along your lover if you want; I’ll simply kill him if you do.”

Iris sighed deeply and nodded imperceptibly.

Thawne smirked and disappeared.

Chapter Text

Barry saw a marked difference in Iris the next day. She was very solemn, but at the same time she was so gentle and tender that he couldn’t help but bask in it. He couldn’t even deny that he loved her anymore, but she would be leaving soon, something he was now familiar with. But Barry thought that maybe it would be different. Still, he preened under Iris’s affection and once even kissed her cheek, flushing when she smiled at him bemusedly. She cradled his face and smiled at him sadly before kissing her forehead.

 

“Iris we're going to save your dad,” he promised, as it was no longer good enough to find him. With the death potion he could find out where her father was easily and reunite them. It would be sweet and the right thing to do, even if it meant she would leave him forever.

 

But Barry had already put his plans into motion.

 

That afternoon, hours before Iris was going to leave, Barry took the potion and saw his mother.

 

She was dressed like she usually had in life, but her skin was still white and her hair still far too red. But it was still Nora Allen and Barry was so glad to see her.

 

“Mom!” he called and she opened her arms to him with a gentle smile.

 

“My beautiful boy. Oh I’m sorry that this happened to you because of what I did,” she stroked his face and adjusted his hair, fiddling with his collar. She looked so sad that Barry grabbed her hands and sighed.

 

“No, mom don’t say that. I’ll always want the best for you. And the best I can give you is justice. You have have to tell me about that man Thawne,” he insisted. Nora sighed, and turned and Barry saw that they were back at the family house, but they were in the dining room. She sat down and he followed suit.

 

“His name is Eobard Thawne.” she said simply. Barry stared incredulously at her.



“Is that all you can give me? Mom please . I need to stop him. He has Iris’s dad and I promised her that we could save him.” Barry pleaded and Nora cupped his face and smiled sadly.

 

“He was my cousin. Well, not really. My family and his family teamed up often to hunt large packs or covens. He and I were a similar age so we worked together a lot. He noticed when I started to manifest and I made him promise not to tell my family.” she began and Barry hated the reminder of who she was, who he could’ve been.

 

He use to content himself with the thought that his mom legacy’s was her kindness and her career. He even considered himself part of her legacy but now he knew that part of her legacy would always be the people she killed, the things she stole from them. He still loved his mom but now he wasn’t in the dark about the truth of her nature.

 

“Okay, so what does that mean? How can I find him?” he asked.

 

Nora seemed to be deliberating on what to say before she finally relented and replied.

 

“Eobard was always preoccupied with power and who had it in the supernatural world. He felt that they should be more like humans with classes and divisions of power. But when he started to manifest he said that he could control supernaturals if he could be strong enough to enforce them,” she said.

 

“So this is what? His attempt to seize control of the community? That’s why he’s stealing powers?” Barry asked.

 

“Yes. And the last thing he’ll need is someone with the ability to be a vessel for non human spirits. But as far as I know there aren’t any here in America.” Nora stated. Barry wasn’t comforted by that. His mom had been dead for more than a decade. But maybe she could offer some insight on what to do. He had thought he’d adjusted to his magic well and he knew a fair amount but it became glaringly obvious that he really knew nothing.

 

“So when would he do this? Is it a ritual?” Barry asked. Nora shrugged.

 

“Most likely. I was never one to perform rituals. But trying to contain so much power into one person would take a lot of preparation, so yes it probably is. But most rituals are performed at the height of a celestial body’s influence, and the like.” she said leadingly. Barry sighed deeply.

 

“The full moon. I have two days to save her father then.” he was dejected but at least he now had a time frame in which to work, but he wasn’t feeling hopeful.

 

“You can save him Barry, but there’s a spell I can teach you in case anything goes wrong,” she told him, lifting her arms and the room changed into an altar room. Barry never had one of his own since he worshipped no deities but maybe his mother had. Or maybe this particular ritual required an altar.

 

“Mom?”

 

“It’s a resurrection ritual Barry. I think you’ll save your friend’s father, but just in case. If you resurrect him you need to make sure he’s buried under the open sky. You’ll have to make a deal with death,” she said seriously and Barry knew that there was no mistaking what she meant.

 

“How do I do that?” he asked determinedly. If Joe West died on his account, then Barry would bring him back for Iris’s sake.

 

“You have to bury something valuable to you. But it’s not about material belongings. It has to represent something intangible. Something you value enough to risk your life for,” she said seriously. “It’s a great sacrifice and so that will bring back the dead. But if you go back on that sacrifice, try to weasel out of it, well.” she paused and took a deep breath.

 

“What happens?” he asked.

 

“What happens is that person becomes tainted. They may lose defining memories, their ability to empathize with people, or maybe they might lose their will to live. It just depends. So whatever you give up you have to stick with that,” she asked.

 

“It doesn’t seem like this spell is a good idea. Are there benefits?” he asked desperately.

 

“Of course. You can attempt the spell at any point and it will bring them back as they died. And they can’t tell they’ve lost time. Like waking up after they’ve fallen asleep for a second.” she explained.

 

“How do you even know about this?” he asked and Nora smiled.

 

“You learn a lot from other witches once you die. The dead have a lot to say.” she laughed. Barry wanted to share in that laughter but he couldn’t wen so much was at risk.

 

“So, since you know a lot, does that mean you can tell me where he is?” he asked. Nora frowned for the first time but she nodded.

 

“Of course, my darling. Just know that you are strong. You can beat him with more than just magic.” she leaned forward and kissed his forehead. Barry saw the location in his mind’s eye and he gasped, his eyes opening.

 

“Barry please for the love of God wake up!” he heard Iris sobbing and he woke up to Iris leaning over him. Her worry was so palpable that Barry was already reaching for her hand. She gripped his hand back and she grabbed a cool, damp cloth and dabbed his face, her smile tremulous and even a little nervous.

 

“I’m awake, Iris I’m awake.”

 

She leaned down to embrace him.

 

“Thank God. You’ve been out for hours!”

 

Barry stared at Iris, before he suddenly blurted out.

 

“I know where he’s keeping your dad.”

 

“That’s good then. But Barry I have to go. The moon is going to be up soon and I can’t stay.” she said quickly standing up and grabbing a bad which was filled to the brim. Barry noticed that she wobbled on her feet like she was drunk, but he watched as she visibly pulled herself together and began walk straight.

 

“Wait, let me give you a ride!” he offered, but Iris shook her head.

 

“I’m okay Barry, really. I’ll see you in the morning.” she promised and walked back over, giving him a tight hug, brushing her nose into his neck.

 

“Iris?” he asked, suddenly quite worried. She pulled away and smiled weakly.

 

“Don’t worry Barry,” she told him, rubbing his back and stepping back. She left quickly and Barry felt empty inside. Something was wrong but he wasn’t sure what to even do. But Barry told himself to trust Iris, if it were important, she would tell him.

 

He took several deep breaths and started to clean up. He kept glancing out the window to see the moon, full and bright in the night sky. It made him more calm to look at it, but it wasn’t enough for him to not worry about Iris. She had been acting strange since yesterday but he couldn’t figure out why. He was tempted to call her but she was driving and she was surely driving somewhat recklessly since she was trying to get deep enough into the woods to avoid detection.

 

Still, Barry could take a quick peak, after all he still had scrying potion left.

 

Barry grabbed the mirror he used for scrying and he cleaned it thoroughly before taking the bottle he kept the potion in and poured a thin layer over the mirror.

 

“Come on, I just want to make sure she’s okay,” he murmured, focusing on Iris’s face. She materialized slowly and Barry saw that she was driving like he expected--recklessly but confidently. However he did notice that she wasn’t driving on the right road to get to the forest. For a second he entertained the idea that maybe she was just lost, but he dismissed it immediately. Iris had studied the proper route thoroughly so as not to get lost. And she didn’t seem worried that she was going to  be late. In fact, she seemed quite sure she was going the right way.

 

He watched as she wiped a tear from her eye furiously, before she steeled herself. He wanted to call and ask what was wrong, but he was worried about her driving as it was. But Barry took notice of the roads she passed and pictured the city to the best of his ability.

 

When he realized where they were going his stomach roiled and he thought he was going to vomit.

 

She was going to contront Thawne by herself. He wasn’t sure how she knew but dammit if he was going to let her do this by herself. Barry scrambled to collect whatever he need. Small bottles that he filled with potions that he knew might give him cover, but Barry doubted he’d have a chance to use anything like that in the heat of a fight. At this point it was just him and Iris, their wits, and their fists.

 

“I’m coming to get you Iris,” he said to himself. He was at least contented that the ritual knife was still in evidence lock up and that Iris couldn’t be killed with it. Barry was a little worried however, that he didn’t have a car but Barry could call a cab. He didn’t have time to get cash so he just grabbed some money from her cache and hoped she wouldn’t be upset.

 


 

Iris was so on edge, approaching the den of a criminal--a murderer on the cusp of turning into a werewolf. But she took deep breaths and parked Barry’s truck just out of view of the large metal doors. When she was about fifty feet from the door Iris felt constricted around her chest, her breath short and quick.

 

When she pushed open the door she saw that the place was refurbished to look like it was being used. Thawne was waiting for her in the most dramatic fashion and she hated him.

 

“Ah, Miss West. Just in time. You haven’t changed yet,” he said.

 

“Obviously. Where’s my dad, Thawne?” she asked. He raised an eyebrow and walked over to her slowly, predatorily.

“So you’ve been doing your research. Do you know that I’m helping you indirectly by doing this?” Thawne asked. Iris shook her head.

 

“I literally could not care any less. Show me where my dad is, unless you want claws in your chest,” she threatened, her eyes flashing, but Thawne lifted his hand and clenched his fist. Iris’s limbs snapped to her body, as if she were tied, but she had nothing physically holding her. She nearly toppled over, but Thawne waved a hand, and she began to levitate. Iris struggled to free herself but nothing worked.

 

“Now, since you obviously can't listen of your own free will, allow me to explain. I stumbled upon quite a discovery when I kidnapped your father. Originally he was going to be the werewolf whose power I would take. After all he's a bigger wolf, more experienced than you. But, he struck a deal when I said I would kill you for interfering too much,” he said with an almost benign smile, walking confidently over.

 

“Oh my god, if you have a point please get to it,” Iris gritted out trying to force herself into changing early, something she’d never done but her dad made sure to let her know that she could do, on a day where she could transform. It was much harder than she thought to do. Every month she felt like the wolf would always rise from her like some sick monster, something that was more than her, something she couldn’t stop But apparently she also couldn’t call it when she needed it.

 

“Listen carefully. This story is the reason you and your father get to live. So, your father let me know that he knew of a vessel. A woman who could house the spirits of nonhumans in her body. Angels, minor gods and goddesses and the like. But he hadn’t seen her for long. She was his wife. Your mother,” Thawne nodded at her and Iris narrowed her eyes.

 

“Sorry to inform you, but werewolves can’t house nonhuman spirits. We already have a wolf spirit. So you really made a shitty deal. Sorry to disappoint you,” she sneered, laughing at him mirthlessly. God, she and her dad were going to die for nothing, but at least they were going together. She would’ve liked to see her father though, before she died.

 

“Yes, that’s true. But you’re not her only child,” he said, reaching for her jaw and forcing her to look at him.

 

“She was pregnant when she left your father, not that he knew. I scryed for her and saw that she was speaking to her son, but he was hidden from me. And I would’ve been out of luck except for the fact that with a little blood from a family member I can trick the protection into thinking he’s safe from me.” he noted, and he pulled out a knife.

 

Except when Iris got a good look she saw it was the dagger that was apparently meant to kill her.

 

She flinched, unbidden. A natural reaction. She had never imagined her own death this way. She always thought that if she were to go, it’d be because she was fighting for her life against hunters. Or maybe even old age.

 

“Get the fuck away from me,” she spat, and he bared his teeth at her in the approximation of a smile. She bared her own teeth back, her incisors lengthening slowly, but the wolf was still horribly out of reach.

 

“Don’t be squeamish, it won’t be enough to kill you,” he said and turned her arm so that the inside was exposed. She watched as he grabbed a smooth glass bowl, with a lip meant for pouring and he pricked hehr vein, holding the wound to her arm.

 

“You’re a sick man, you know that?” she asked defiantly and he paused.

 

“You think you’re any better than me? Every month you turn into a bloodthirsty monster and your people have the gall to act like you’ve been victimized, like your kind haven’t earned this justice.”

 

“We can’t help that we turn into wolves, but we choose how we choose to live. And I’ve never killed anyone, which is more than anyone can say for you. Bastard,” she said, looking just over his shoulder to avoid eye contact.

 

He looked at her appraisingly.

 

“You have no idea how ruined supernaturals are. They have no leadership, no sense of justice. But I can give them that. If only I were strong enough. But you know, you’d never listen to reason.” he sighed as if it were a great burden for him--killing people of his own will.

 

“You’re absolutely insane. You think that mass murdering people will make them trust you? You’re a killer. Those people you killed had children! Who grew up without their parents, are going to grow up without parents.” she had to fight her voice crack. It just made her feel so helpless. She was going to help them with Barry and Jesse’s help. But now she was going to die here.

 

“And who do you think Nora was? She was a hunter. She was perfectly happy to kill whoever her father pointed her to, but as soon as it applied to her, suddenly she’s a saint. Suddenly her whole family is disgusting.” he scoffed rolling his eyes. Iris’s blood flow was slowing as her wound healed. But Thawne simply gave her a fresh wound and cooed when she winced.

 

“I don’t care, Thawne. You disgust me, and even if I’m not the one to kill you, if I’m a monster for existing where do you think you’re going to end up?” she whispered. She was starting to get light headed, from the blood loss and she passed out, watching through a gap in the roof as the moon rose slowly.

 


 

When Barry got to the warehouse he found the place looking abandoned, but he started to search, grateful that he brought his gloves. He eventually found a rusted door, pushing it open.

 

There was a blanket covered figure in the corner and Barry’s heart jumped into his throat.

 

“Iris?” he called and the figure groaned under the blanket. When it fell away, it was Joe West. He glared at Barry through his drooping eyelids.

 

“Who the hell are you?”

 

“Um, I live with Iris? And I’m trying to find her? Can we please discuss this later? Where’s Iris?” Barry asked.

 

“Iris is here?” her father asked.

 

“I scryed for her but I left so much later than she did. She has to be nearby, because the truck is still here,” he said, helping Mr. West stand up.

 

“If that scumbag lays a hand on my baby girl--”

 

“We’ll get him, sir. Come on,” Barry said, leading Mr. West out.

 

“Just call me Joe,” he said and they both left the room. Barry watched as Joe’s yes started to glow an intimidating red.

 

“I can smell Iris’s blood but I can tell she’s still alive. And you’re right, she didn’t get far. I hope you’re good in a fight kid. That son of a bitch is smug but he’s strong,” Joe said, grabbing something sharp from the table and they both strode out of the warehouse, Joe leading the way confidently.

 

“How long do we have until the moon rises?” Barry asked.

 

“About five minutes. Iris will be safe after that,” Joe said with conviction, although he started to go at a full run. They were nearly a block away when they spotted Thawne, limping away. When he turned around and saw them, he grinned.

 

“You’re here,” he laughed and Joe reached the man, grabbing him by the collar and stabbing him in one smooth motion.

 

“No! I needed him alive!” Barry exclaimed, rushing forward. Thawne gasped, leaning forward weakly, gasping as blood flowed from his mouth.

 

“You can’t hurt my daughter anymore you monster,” Joe said fiercely.

 

“We don’t even know where she is, oh my God,” Barry turned away, running his hands through his hair anxiously. She turned back, ready to argue with Joe and maybe suggest getting help for Thawne, if only to get him arrested properly. But something was wrong.

 

Joe was staring at Thawne and Thawne coughed wetly, staring up them both.

 

“Dad?” he asked weakly. And Barry suddenly recalled that Thawne was taller than him. It was an illusion.

 

As soon as he had this thought, the image of Thawne gasping for breath melted away and it was Iris, bruised and bleeding instead. Joe pulled her closer and Iris cried out weakly.

 

“Iris? Baby girl is that you?” Joe asked, slowly crouching so that Iris could be off her feet. Barry went to her side as Joe threw away the knife he used.

 

It was the dagger from Felicity’s premonition.

 

“I’m sorry Dad,” she said slowly, spitting blood onto the ground and taking a deep, torturous breath. Joe let out a sob and pressed Iris’s face to his chest.

 

“Don’t you worry baby girl. I got you. Just do what you need to honey,” Joe soothed. It was too late. She was already injured when they found her, and paired with Joe’s stab there was no way she would live. Barry tried to remember the healing spell but his thoughts escaped him like wisps of smoke in the wind.

 

But he crawled to her other side, his hands shaking.

 

“Iris? Iris you have to keep your eyes open okay I’m sorry I didn’t know you were going to be here, I’m so sorry.” he sobbed, reaching for her han, but he stopped when he saw that her hand had three broken fingers.

 

She closed her eyes and shook her head.

 

“S’okay. Saw dad. And he’s alive. Thank you Barry.” she sighed. She opened her eyes again suddenly and her eyes found her father. “She had another child. Dad, mom--’nother baby.” she gasped. Joe looked confused.

 

“Your mother didn’t have another baby Iris, she left us,” he said. Iris nodded.

 

“Already pregnant. You need to find him.” she reached her non broken fingers up to pat his face.

 

“Needs his dad. Please…” she sighed and her eyes looked up at the moon.

 

“Iris?” Barry asked softly and she smiled at the sound of his voice.

 

“The moon. The moon is rising,” she giggled and Barry watched as her eyes began to glow, as if she were going to transform, but she exhaled and the light faded. She was dead.

 

Barry fell back and Joe West stood up and took several steps back. When he was far enough away he turned into a wolf in a slow and painful looking process, but Barry couldn’t comprehend it.

 

Iris was dead.

Chapter Text

It was always ferrying souls, broken and whole. It had been doing this since the beginning of life and it would there when the last soul was ushered into nothingness and everything. Maybe it would still be there, or maybe it would die too.

 

There were too many to remember them all, but it did. It didn’t do it on purpose, but every soul, every face was like meeting a close friend after spending years apart. It one recognized like it recognized all others.

 

“Am I dead?” she asked.

 

“Yes.” it said simply, the formless face turned toward her. She didn’t seem frightened, only tired.

 

She didn’t seem surprised by her death, but it couldn’t begrudge her. She hadn’t died peacefully like most souls did but she hadn’t died alone, a luxury that some took for granted. She was hardly in its grasp before it was called away.

 

Before it, a man his face pale and and his eyes bloodshot.

 

“Please. What do I have to give up?” he asked simply and it tilted its faceless head.

 

“Why do you want to make this trade? What do you gain?” it asked. The man wiped at his face, his hands trembling.

 

“I promised that I would help her but I got her killed, please let me help her. Let me bring her back,” he pleaded, and it could see the way death clung to him. He was around it so much, but still, he had never crossed paths with it. It came closer, leaning until he looked at its faceless head staring into the void.

 

“Then you must sacrifice something. What will you give me, for this soul? It is mine now,” it stated simply. He closed his eyes and inhaled slowly.

 

“Justice for my mother. I will give that up, so she can live,” he offered.

 

Death stared at him, and he stared back, waiting for acceptance or rejection.

 

“Very well. But know this, should she die again, nothing will save her from this fate, not even your own life.” Death stated. It didn’t like to be cheated twice.

 

“Yes, please just--thank you.” he said happily wiping his tears, and Death travelled for what must have felt like eons to the man but was really only seconds, perhaps an instant. Time meant nothing here. The woman wasn’t alone, having wandered. He couldn’t see who she was talking to but she was familiar with whoever it was. Death wasted no time, and snatched her arm dragging her back to the living. It watched as she struggled,

 

“Wait, no please that’s my grandma you have to let me stay!” she cried, fighting against it, but the closer she got back to life, the more full of despair she was.

 

“You have been given life again.” it said, pushing her into the unknown.

 

Iris West was alive.

Chapter Text

When Iris woke up, she was buried alive. For one childish second, she was sure that she was staring up at the ceiling of her childhood bedroom, except she'd had stickers on her ceiling, and she can't see anything now, even with her superior vision.

She opened her mouth to scream but dirt fell into her open mouth instead, choking her as she tried to dig herself up. Rather than panic, Iris closed her eyes to keep the dirt out, her nails frantically digging into the ground and pulling with all her might. She tries to move quickly so as to not suffocate but it's hard to mak progress and she can barely breathe.

The topsoil was too damp though, and her hands slipped and slid trying to get out. Before she could start to worry, Iris felt strong hands reach down and wrap around her back and pull her from the earth. She obviously didn't remember, but she wondered if maybe this was what being born felt like.

When she broke free, Iris’s eyes opened and she coughed, folding her body into the fetal position as she sobbed. She thought she was going to suffocate under the dirt, lost to the world. But she'd been saved by someone.

“It’s okay, you’re okay Iris,” they promised.

She shook her head, hacking until she vomited a smooth grey stone. She caught it in her hands, and saw that it was sparkling clean and utterly smooth. It was oval shaped, and col, almost freezing to the touch and heavy. Iris couldn't explain to herself why, but she knew she had to keep the stone, so she clenched it in her dirt covered fingers.

Iris glanced up, her eyesight blurry as she blinked away the dirt, her tears clumping her eyelashes.

“B-Barry? Is that you?” she coughed, as she held the stone to her chest, breathing heavily. She felt exhausted, but at least she knew that she was safe for now.

“Yeah, yeah it’s me Iris.” he said with a relieved smile. Iris was dazzled for a moment, but she did finally notice that it was dark outside, and the moon was just barely starting to fall, the end of another night as a wolf.

“Barry what are we doing out here?” she asked him, glancing down and noting that she was fully covered, in a t-shirt and sweatpants but she was quite cold. Barry looked extremely happy, relieved even. Iris looked around and didn’t recognize where they were. She spotted a cardboard box slightly to the left and behind Barry. She wondered what was in it, when Barry took off his jacket and handed it to Iris, and then pulled a jacket out of the bag in front of them. She slid it on, the fabric pulling at every hair on her body and her skin felt raw once she had it on. She felt like an exposed nerve in the cold, but she was grateful to be above ground.

“You passed out. I don't know what happened but you changed back sooner than you were supposed to,” he explained. Iris’s brow furrowed. While she wasn't surprised she'd changed back quickly, where she'd been sleeping was worrisome.

She wouldn’t sleep in the ground after turning into a human again, but Iris couldn’t explain it another way. But she suddenly became nervous and fearful when she remembered what happened to her.

“Where’s Thawne?” she asked hoarsely, thinking about when she left, and found Thawne. Her memory was hazy, and not very clear but she did remember that he told her about her mom, her brother, and took her blood. She must have passed out and healed before turning into a werewolf, but still she couldn’t understand why her wolf self would want to sleep underground. It was just so strange.

“He got away, unfortunately. But we can talk about that tomorrow or something,” he assured her, pulling her away from the hole and handing her a water bottle.

“Thanks. I’m sorry I went after him alone. I know we said we’re partners and I should have told you, but he came to me and told me to come without you. He already had my dad, so I figured I didn’t have much to lose, especially if you weren’t going to follow. You were safe,” she said quietly. Barry sighed and wrapped an around around Iris.

“You did have something to lose. You could have died.” he said heavily and Iris shrugged.

“But I didn’t. Are we going home now?” she asked and Barry gave her another bright smile.

“Yeah, yeah we can go home,” he said, but rather than stand up, Barry took the box and put it in the hole she was buried in. He covered it with dirt silently and Iris so desperately wanted to ask but there was something about Barry’s face that made her worry, and made her skin crawl. When he was finished he gave her a tense smile and they stood up, but Iris stumbled, her legs feeling weak and coltish.

“Shit,” she cursed as she went down, catching her fall, but she was surprised. She felt so weak-kneed but she didn’t feel injured at all. Barry didn’t seem that worried so Iris tried not to let it bother her. She wrapped an arm around Barry to steady herself, and stumbled forward. They made slow progress through the forest, but with each step, Iris’s muscles became more sturdy and sure.

“Are you okay?” he asked again, his hands going to her elbows.

“Yeah I’m good. Where’s my dad? Did he change back yet?” she asked. Barry hesitated and for a moment Iris’s heart clenched and she nearly panicked, but Barry seemed to pick up on her emotions and he put his hands on her shoulders.

“Hey, no relax. I haven’t seen your dad since yesterday after he transformed but he knows you’re with me,” he explained. She took a deep breath and nodded, but stopped when it made her dizzy. She stumbled with Barry through the woods, and when they finally saw the truck, Iris was glad to be off her feet and she practically fell into the seat.

“Are you okay?” Barry fretted, pressing a warm hand to her forehead.

“I think I’m okay, but I just feel so lightheaded. Do you mind if I sleep for a while?” she asked.

“Y-yeah sure. Anything you need.” he said.

When Iris slept her dreams were full of Grandma Esther, who Iris had only met a few times as a child when she was four.

Grandma Esther handed Iris another smooth round stone, but when Iris touched it, her hand burned and her face began to itch. Iris ignored the itch while Grandma Esther began to dance. It was like some messed up waltz but when Iris grabbed her grandmother’s hand her grandmother’s head whipped around like an owl and she hissed.

“Release me demon,” not even looking at Iris, like the sight of Iris disgusted her so much.

Iris stumbled back and watched as her hands turned inky black and her whole body began to itch, but her face most of all.

“No, grandma it’s me. It’s Iris!” she protested, but her grandma began to hum and Iris felt like her skin was bubbling under her skin and she began to pick at her skin, peeling off the layers, but the itch didn’t stop.

Iris could feel her head pounding, the pressure was unbearable so Iris threw her head back and let out a howl, her wolfish voice echoing until it filled the room and returned to her. She couldn’t take the pain anymore, so Iris pulled her skin away revealing the black snout of a wolf.


Iris jerked awake just as the truck stopped and she looked over at Barry who was just starting to park.

“Are we here already?” she asked groggily, sitting up and rubbing her arms. It was warm enough outside, but Iris felt like she’d been dipped in an ice bath.

Yeah, yeah we’re here. Are you hungry or anything?” he asked, wringing his hands.

“Yeah, I’m okay, just a little cold.” she said, turning away and and hopping out. It was nice to see the building. Iris was sure that she’d been away from the apartment for a while, but she was sure that it was only the next day.

“I’ll turn up the heat inside,” he said, jogging forward to catch up to her.

“Hey, what day is it?” Iris asked suddenly, rounding on Barry as they came upon the door. She watched as Barry took a step back. She furrowed her brow and glanced down at her hands, and was surprised to see that her claws had come out. She shoved them into her pockets and turned away, blinking quickly, sure that her eyes were changed too.

“It’s Friday. Remember, it’s the next day? Are you okay?” he asked. Iris shook her head.

“I feel, wrong, Barry. I think Thawne did something to me when he stole my blood.” she replied, still looking away. “Is there something you can do? Like a get better potion or something?” she asked almost desperately. Barry’s eyes softened.

“I’ll see what I can do, Iris. Come on, let’s get inside.” he nudged, wrapping an arm around her shoulder.

Iris spent the rest of her day napping on and off all day, but as the full moon approached, Barry offered to go with her, and Iris accepted. Barry was all she had right now, with her dad still gone. She couldn’t believe that he was nearby but still, he didn’t come. After everything she went through to find him again. She was tempted to ask Barry to help her get in contact with him but she started to notice that Barry was withdrawn, almost worriedly so. He still went to work, but Iris stayed home, going through the house listlessly. She decided to clean up the place, but she was annoyed to see that the milk had expired and there were a few items that were more used than she remembered.

Iris paced the apartment, rolling the black stone around in her hand. Iris didn’t know why she’d coughed it up, and Barry hadn’t offered any reassurance or explanation. It was cold still, even though she’d been holding it for hours and it was so heavy. Iris pulled it out of her pocket and examined it. There wasn’t a single imperfection in its surface. While she stared at it, Iris began to feel strange, like she was falling asleep but somehow she knew that if she stared long enough she might not wake up.

She shoved it into her pocket and started for the couch, but paused. She turned around and went to Barry’s room. His room was the same as she remembered, so it felt better than the rest of the place. She laid down on the bed, covering herself with the throw blanket Barry kept at the end of the bed. She tossed and turned, before taking off her jacket, tossing it onto the floor. She fell asleep peacefully, but her dreams were another matter.


 

Iris knew it the moment she was in a dream. There were no scents, no discernible temperature and when Iris peered around, there was nothing but the vague outlines of a park she’d seen in her dad’s photos. His grandmother took him there when his dad was at work and whenever his mom fell ill. Like Iris and her father, grandma Esther was a werewolf.

Iris watched as the blurry figure of a woman walked closer, her features coming into startling view; it was Grandma Esther, as if Iris’s thoughts had conjured her.

“Grandma?” Iris asked, stepping forward. Her grandma was taller than Iris thought, almost her dad’s height and she was dressed like she was in the picture for her funeral program. As a kid, Iris had stared at the picture for ages because her dad said she looked just like the woman. She could never personally see it but she would smile and agree anyway.

“Hey baby,” Esther said, smiling widely, her gap toothed smile warming Iris. She cupped Iris’s cheeks and stared at her almost hungrily, taking in her granddaughter’s features. “You look tired baby girl. What’s wrong?”

“I don’t know, grandma I just wanted to find my dad, but I was attacked, a witch. Thawne,” she said slowly as if speaking through molasses. Her grandmother stroked her face and kissed her forehead, before linking arms with Iris and walking them over to a wooden bench.

“You shouldn’t have been hurt like that,” her grandmother said, turning to Iris and frowning. Iris was confused by this.

“I know I shouldn’t have gone alone but--”

“No, baby. I mean that if you knew the old ways, you would have been able to protect yourself,” she said, reaching for Iris’s had and examining her fingers.

“The old ways, I don’t understand what does that mean?”

Her grandmother looked contemplative, almost angry for a moment but she turned to Iris with a strange glint in her eyes.

“Before we domesticated ourselves, before we decided to live amongst humans we had our own communities where we governed ourselves. Back then we embraced our wolf spirit but not controlled by it. I can teach you, those ways, but you’ll need to allow me to give you that power. You’re disconnected now,”

“Teach me. I was,” Iris clenched her fists fighting back tears. “So helpless, when Thawne captured me. I don’t want to feel like that again, I want to me powerful enough to defend myself no matter what happens to me or who I’m fighting.”

“And you will be. A witch at their most powerful bends nature, but you are nature and nature bows to no one,”

Iris thought about that, wondering if she was ready for whatever this might entail. There was no way that it would be easy to learn how to embrace her wolf spirit.

“How do I learn?” Iris asked. Her grandma started to smile, and Iris saw that she was grinning so widely that her lips got stretched thin, her molars peeking out. Her eyes turned red and her face grew tight over her skin.

“Like this,” her voice was like the sound of rocks shifting after eons of being still and Iris woke up just as her grandmother reached for her throat, just barely missing her throat.


Iris bolted upright in Barry’s bed her breaths heavy and panicked. She looked around nervously her body shaking. She tried to forget the image of her grandmother reaching for her like that, but she couldn’t relax. Iris decided that maybe she needed fresh air and reached for her jacket, and yanking it up, only the stone fell out, falling with a solid thud, which belied how small it was. She snatched up the stone, and stared at it. She pressed it to her still pounding heart and it felt like she was calming down, although that could just as easily be attributed to the fact that she was awake now. Still, she slipped it into her pocket.

“God, what’s wrong with me?” she asked the room. At this stage, she would almost welcome a response, though if she got one, she’d probably panic. But Iris didn’t want to linger anymore at the apartment. Sh dug around for her phone and saw that it was dead, so she plugged it up, and went around the apartment opening all three windows and sucking in a deep breath and letting it out in a gust. She straightened up the apartment and paced before she finally gave up and just left the apartment, barely remembering to lock the door on her way out. When she finally reached the street, Iris couldn’t bear to walk away and go anywhere just yet. She stepped out of the way and looked up at the sky, and took a deep breath, letting it out slowly as she tried to get her bearings. She was seriously off kilter, and Iris could chalk it up to her near death the day before, but this was strange. She had come close to dying only one time before, when she was only nineteen. Back then Iris had been sick with anxiety for days before her father could calm her down, but this, this felt different. She'd made herself sick with worry back then, but now it was like no matter what Iris did she wasn't quite right.

She wished she was the kind of person to have a vice because she almost desperately wanted to indulge in something, but Iris evaded those most of the time, on account of her fear that one day she'd dull her senses and get attacked, or simply poisoned.

Iris began to walk around the block, looking at a few pedestrians as she did so, trying to ignore how her heart was pounding again. She felt like she was being watched and even tracked but she ignored it as best she could. Iris didn’t realize it, but she ended up just outside the police station and she took a deep breath before going inside.

“Hey Iris, you’ve been getting better?” she barely had time to look at Johnson, who greeted her with a smile.

“Yeah, I’ve been healing up just fine. How’s your family?” she asked, scratching her arm.

“Doing okay. My son’s excited to see this new movie coming out, and he also just aced his history test.”

“Wow, you’ve got a little genius on your hands.”

“I sure do,” he said, shaking his head before patting Iris’s shoulder. “You take care of yourself Iris, Babyface up there barely held it together the whole time you were gone,” and he left just like that. Iris was greeted in passing by everyone she passed, and when she eventually came to the lab, her eyes searching for Barry. But he wasn’t there, and she turned to one of the lab techs.

“Hey, you’re a lab tech that works with Barry right?” she asked the woman, who nodded.

“Yeah, sure. I’m Patty.” the woman said with a bright smile and shook Iris’s hand.

“Iris.”

“Oh I know. We all noticed you coming to see Barry, he talked about it a lot,” Patty said with an easy laugh.

“Really? That’s so sweet, but have you seen him around?”

“Well he’s at a crime scene right now, but you can wait here, he left a while ago he should be back soon,” Patty pulled out a chair and strangely helped Iris sit down.

“Thank you so much. So I guess you’ve worked here a while?” Iris asked, as Patty went back to her desk, working in much the same way Barry did.

“Yeah about two years. Barry trained most of us, but he's really relaxed. But he's actually been really tense since you've been sick. Last week he snapped at Lucas because he turned in a report a few hours later than he thought.”

“Really? That--that doesn't sound like him, but I mean he shouldn't have worried.” Iris said, though she mused over what Patty said.

“I mean you had the flu for the whole week,” Patty said, shaking her head as she focused on writing something down for a while, before she looked up at Iris “We're glad you're okay though; maybe you should start taking vitamins though, being sick for that long isn’t very good.”

“Yeah I think it’s just been so long since I’ve been sick. Actually, Patty, I’m gonna go,” Iris said suddenly, standing up and blinking rapidly.

“Iris? Are you okay?” Patty asked. Iris nodded, offering Patty a weak smile.

“Yeah, yeah,” Iris’s voice cracked and she cleared her throat. “Just let Barry know I was here, yeah?” she asked. Patty nodded, her hand almost reaching for Iris. Iris smiled again and turned on her heel, practically flying down the steps as she left the police station.

A week.

A whole week.

She’d been asleep a whole week. But Barry said it was only a night, he’s lied to her. Iris felt so distraught, wandering the streets, her hand curling around the stone in her pocket. She decided that the only thing that made sense was magic. After all, a witch had attacked her and Iris knew she’d fallen unconscious at some point, but she couldn’t quite remember what happened after that. And that would explain the stone, or rather, it could explain better than anything she would’ve already attributed to being a werewolf. It seemed so obvious now, of course something had happened, how could she not see it.

Iris finally got back to the apartment, and sat heavily upon the sofa and stared forward, she blinked once and watched as the door opened, and Barry came inside.

“Iris? What are you doing sitting in the dark?” he asked. Iris blinked and saw that the sun had long set, and she was truly in the dark. Iris was sure that she’d been sitting for a moment, but she’d lost hours of her life on top of the week she lost.

“It was still light before I blinked,” she mumbled and she tilted her head up to Barry.

“Well, let’s turn on the lights, yeah? How was your day?” he asked.

“Awful,” she admitted, linking her fingers together as she stood up.

Barry’s brow furrowed and he touched her arm lightly, to draw her attention back to him.

“Iris?”

“When were you going to tell me?” she asked suddenly, stepping into Barry’s personal space and watching as his face froze, before smoothing into a deceptively confused mask.

Liar.

“Tell you what?”

“Don’t pretend you don’t know I wasn’t asleep for a night after turning into a wolf, Barry. Tell me the truth,” she demanded. Barry shook his head.

“I’m not pretending I don’t know, I really have no idea what you’re talking about,” he insisted and Barry heartbeat faltered.

“Barry, what the hell happened to me?” she asked.

“Nothing!” he exclaimed and Iris took a deep breath.

“Something’s wrong with me Barry. I don’t feel like me. I feel like my skin is too tight, my mind wanders, and I feel like I can’t even part from this thing,” Iris pulled the stone from her pocket and held it under his nose.

“Iris--”

“What is it, Barry? Please just tell me what’s wrong. I’m afraid to go to sleep. I feel I’m not going to wake up,” she whispered hoarsely and Barry sighed, holding his arms out. Iris hated that he was lying to her, keeping something from her but she needed someone.

“Let’s sit down, this is a lot.” he said leading her back to the couch, sitting across from her. She curled up on the couch, staring just over his shoulder.

“I want to know,” she said, taking a deep breath.

“Last week, you went to Thawne. I don’t know what happened to you between when you got there and when your dad and I found you.”

“So is my dad okay?” she interrupted, and Barry nodded, grabbing her hands and stroked her knuckles. She sighed and leaned her head against the back of the couch.

“Yeah, he’s okay. But he wasn’t sure it would work, so he said he’d come later. He was grieving.” Barry said.

“Grieving?” she asked.

“You died last week, Iris. Your father held you in his arms when you said your last words and for the rest of the night he started to give you a werewolf funeral. It took a lot for me to convince him to let me do it. Bring you back,” he stated plainly, though his eyes were red.

“Dead? Barry how--what--how can you even do that?” she asked.

“My mom. When I took the death potion. I wasn’t so sure that your dad would live so I decided to have a contingency plan. But you died instead.”

Iris felt like maybe she should be surprised or angry or happy. But she was numb to it.

“So why did I come back wrong ? Why do I feel like I’m not myself?” she asked, her voice cracking. “Barry, what did you do?” she asked softly. Barry’s hands were shaking and she rubbed his face, looking like a man going to the gallows, his eyes tearing just a little.

“I did it right enough that you’re back, but maybe I messed up something else,” he said softly, worriedly.

“Messed up? Barry you brought me back wrong, I can’t live like this, like I’m going to suffer for the rest of my life,” she exclaimed.

“Iris I can’t do anything about it, this is just how it is.” he said.

“No, no. It wasn’t right of you to bring me back anyway. It’s not natural. You have to kill me,” she said definitively. Barry reeled back and shock, his mouth falling open as he shook his head.

“Iris, no. I’m not going to kill you, I couldn’t do that to you!”

“Well fine then, I’ll do it myself,” she said, hopping up and moving toward the kitchen but Barry grabbed her wrist and pulled her to him. He wasn’t being rough, but Iris’s instincts made her metaphorical hackles rise. She turned to Barry and bared her teeth, but he didn’t flinch.

“Iris, you’re going to be okay. I promise to you that I will look into this, and see if I can’t make this easier on you but I just,” he dropped his forehead onto her head and she started to tremble.

“I shouldn’t have been brought back, I shouldn’t have. I’m wrong,” she whispered and Barry curled his arms around her, until she could feel the steady beating of his heart.

“The world is probably better with you in it Iris. And I’m not sorry I brought you back, I’m only sorry that you’re unhappy. I’m so, so sorry,” he murmured and Iris buried her face into his chest.

“Please,” she begged, not sure what she was asking but Barry murmured into her ear plenty of assurances.

“I will, I will. I promise you I will,” he swore.

Iris sighed deeply, her mind finally calming.

Chapter Text

Iris lived the next few days in a daze, but she masked it from Barry as well as she could. But it was hard when she forgot how to write certain letters, or she mixed her words up when she tried to tell him about her day. And the stone, well the stone’s properties were so confusing. Iris found herself staring at her without recalling how she’d come to pulling it out. And just yesterday when she went on a walk the further she went from the apartment the sicker and more tired she became.

 

“Are you okay?” Barry asked as she braided her hair for the night.

 

“Yeah, I just keep having weird dreams and I can never remember it when I wake up, I just know it’s strange,” she told him.

 

“So it’s a different dream every time?” he asked. Iris nodded. Barry looked thoughtful. He was similarly prepared for sleep, looking rumpled and comfortable in his sweats and t-shirt. He even had fuzzy socks even though it was quite warm out, though apparently he always had cold feet.

 

“Yeah I think so. I feel like I’m missing something but I don’t know what it is, since I can’t remember.” she said. Barry pursed his lips and then stood up suddenly.

 

“Hold on, I might have an idea he said, before going to his room. Iris could hear him rifling from the living room and she wondered what he was up to.

 

“Barry?” she looked over her shoulder.

 

“Yeah, I’m coming back right now Iris,” he called back and he came back quickly, shuffling cards as he did so. He looked serious and sat, not next to her on the couch, but on the floor on the other side of the coffee table.

 

“What’s this?” she asked raising an eyebrow.

 

“I’m gonna do a few tarot readings for you. I would just give you one big one but I’m not that good yet. So, yeah multiple small ones.” he nodded like that explained everything but it really didn’t.

 

“Tarot reading? Don’t hacks do that for tourists? Scam them out of their money?”

 

“Only if they’re a fraud. But I’ve studied tarot cards off and on for a few years. I think I can wing it,” he said. Iris made a face. That didn’t give her confidence but maybe Barry was onto something.

 

“Sure Barry. Um, how does this work?” she asked. Barry kept shuffling the cards expertly and Iris wondered if he’d downplayed his knowledge of how much he’d studied these cards, or if he was just a great shuffler.

 

“You think of a question you want answered, you don’t have to ask aloud, but maybe that would help. But you ask the question and I lay a card down for you, and I’ll explain what it means. Good?”

 

“Yeah, I guess?” she said and Barry lay a single card face down and nodded at her, indicating that she be the one to flip it.

 

The card was upright facing a weathered old man carrying a single lamp and a staff as he looked off in the distance. Iris got the sense that he was traveling a great distance, alone.

 

“The Hermit. And it’s upright, that’s good. Do you remember what your question was?”

 

“Yeah, what should I do.”

 

“The answer is introspection. Look inward, for the answer, it’s not something anyone can just tell you what the best thing to do is. This is your party,” he said, sliding the card away and reshuffling.

 

“Wait that’s it?”

 

“It’s a single card reading! Don’t worry there’s another card coming out. Do you have your question ready?” he asked. Iris thought up a question and nodded at Barry who placed another card. Iris flipped this one over more confidently.

 

This card had a golden disc with what looked like meaningless scribbles to Iris scrawled along its edge, but the middle bit was bisected into eight equal parts, ad even more towards the center more pieces. The wheel was held up by a gorgeous black woman wearing white. The card was upside down. She noticed Barry’s lips twist unpleasantly.

 

“Wheel of Fortune, upside down. So, whatever your question is, this shows that there are negative external forces working against you, probably trying to influence you, but I’m not sure.” he explained.

 

What is the cause of my dreams?   

 

Whatever was causing her dream was certainly not trying to help her, but Iris always felt filled with purpose and a goal when it was over, and she loved that difference better than the meaningless wandering she did all day.

 

Iris had been thinking that maybe her dreams were just a harmless side effect from her resurrection. But if this was accurate then it wasn’t. But then what was it?

 

Barry shuffled again and this time Iris was flipping the card before Barry’s hand could even leave the table.

 

What is my enemy’s purpose?

 

This card was a man’s hand holding a pointed sword, a crown perched on the tip with wreaths hanging from the crown. It was upside down.

 

“Ace of swords. Whatever your question is, think confusion and chaos. Like a lack of clarity.” he said.

 

“I asked what my enemy’s purpose was.” she said.

 

Barry nodded.

 

“In that case, then I can say that your enemy wants all of that, but you asked about your enemy, so they probably just want you confused but it doesn’t tell me what for. So you have to be able to discern lies and hidden meanings.”

 

“Sounds like these cards,” she said bitterly. Barry smiled.

 

“Yeah it’s pretty frustrating. You want straight answers, but it’s not about that. These are just meant to give you the tools you need to make informed choices.” he explained. Shuffling again.

 

“One more question.” she pleaded and Barry nodded.

 

“Wanna share or is this a secret one?” he asked with a wink. She shook her head.

 

“Secret.”

 

Will Barry and I stay close after this?

 

Barry put the card down and she flipped it over, glancing at him.

 

It was a couple, a man and woman, both holding chalices and offering each other whatever they were drinking from their own chalices. It was upright, thank God. A good one finally.

 

“A partnership, possibly even a unified love. So, if that answers your question. Of course this can mean strong bonds that are forged in trust, communication, things like that.” he said. Iris nodded, looking away and biting her lip.

 

“That’s...interesting. Well I guess that helped. If it’s accurate anyway,” she said. Barry stacked the cards neatly and went back to his room to put them away.

 

“Maybe they helped, maybe they didn’t. But isn’t it interesting?” he asked when he got back.

 

“Yeah, I guess so.” she admitted.

 

Iris spent the rest of the night wondering about the cards and the answers to her questions, no matter how vague they felt. When she did fall asleep, Iris felt like something was different this time.


“You took your time coming back,”

 

It was Grandma Esther again, but this time she was in Barry’s apartment, she didn’t quite fit in, with her dated clothing and vintage look.

 

“Coming back. You’re in my dream, aren’t you?” Iris asked. Her great grandmother smiled before picking invisible lint out of her dress.

 

“Yes, but your subconscious is calling me. So I answer. Have you thought about what I said?” she asked, looking expectantly at Iris. Iris looked at her hands.

 

“Yeah, a little but I don’t know I’m not sure if it’s meant for me to use, granny. I’ve never really used my wolf unless I felt like I needed to.” she said. Her grandmother started to hum and Iris watched as her fingernails became claws and her eyes glowed yellow.

 

“The wolf is yours, Iris. You have to grab it by the scruff of the neck and then control it. You just need me to show you,” her grandmother’s eyes turned back to black and Iris felt confused.

 

“I guess grandma. But I think I’ll hold off on it. Thawne disappeared and I don’t think he’ll come back anytime soon.”

 

“Perhaps, but don’t you want to know why you’re so broken? Your friend did the best he could, but he couldn’t keep his end of the deal.”

 

“Deal?” Iris asked. Her grandmother turned to Iris and tutted.

 

“Bringing someone back to life is no parlor trick. It requires giving up something precious. Ask your friend what he promised to give up. Oly, he mustn’t have kept his promise because you’re not the way you were before. And he knows that.”

 

Iris shook her head.

 

“I’m sure he didn’t mean to. I forgive me. But I guess I do want to know.” she said thoughtfully.

 

“The go find it,” her grandmother urged.


When she woke up, she was standing in front of the door, and a sleepy Barry was rubbing his eyes as he stood next to her, his hand on her shoulder.

 

“Iris? What’s wrong?” he asked. Iris shook her head as if cobwebs had made her own thoughts murky. She felt like she could still hear her grandmother’s voice: Go, go, go.

 

But where was Iris going? She’d just woken up to find herself walking, but she didn’t really want to tell Barry that, because he probably wouldn’t even know what to say.

 

“Nothing I just, thought I heard something weird. Guess I’m just paranoid. Do you mind if I sleep with your blanket again?” she asked quietly and Barry nodded.

 

“Yeah sure, let me go grab it for you,” he turned and went to his room. Iris walked back to the couch and folded her legs under her, turning her head as Barry came back.

 

“You know, I noticed that your blanket is handmade. Did you make it?” she asked him, reaching for it and running her fingers over the soft material. It’s a slightly faded royal blue and tiny gold figures of a family.

 

“It is handmade, but my mom made it a long time ago. Before I was born actually. It took her ages to finish,” he said.

 

“Yeah?  Did she like to make blankets and stuff?”

 

“No, actually. This is the only one she ever made. I’m pretty sure she enchanted it, but I can’t really tell what it’s enchanted with to be honest,” he admitted.

 

“What do you think it does?”

 

“What every blanket does for people who are tired and in the dark. It protects them,” he brought a warm hand to Iris’s back, and spread the blanket around Iris. He paused like he was going to say something, but he went back to his room to sleep. For a fleeting moment, Iris was tempted to ask him to stay.




The next day, Iris was excited to find that she was full of energy and conviction. Thawne was gone so she wasn’t in immediate danger. Her father would eventually return and Iris was alive, something that was always worth celebrating. There were of course, still things to worry about. She wondered what they might tell Jesse when she realized that her mother’s killer had gotten away, or if she should bother trying to find Vibe still.

 

But Iris had a more practical concern. She didn’t have work until much later today so she spent the morning doing research until she found a jeweler that accepted cash and didn’t mind walk-ins. Iris walked jauntily to his office, her strange stone bouncing in her pocket.

 

She found the place eventually, and when she pushed open the door she was greeted by a bell and a bright, young voice.

 

“Welcome to Cardinelli’s Jewel How can we help you?” the girl asked, and Iris put her hand in her pocket, pulling out the stone.

 

“Is Cardinelli in? I have a gift I need made as soon as possible,” she said. The girl looked surprised, before a surprised smile came back over her face.

 

“Of course, let me go let him know you’re here,” she said. Iris nodded and looked around the place. It was a bit quaint and there were a number a beautiful pieces, most were rings and bracelets, but there were a great many necklaces as well. Iris saw one and thought inexplicably of her mother. The necklace was a light green and the chain a delicate silver. It smell untarnished as well. Her mother had looked fabulous in green, even if she rarely wore that color.

 

The girl came back with Cardinelli who was a fairly older man, but no older than late fifties.

 

“Hello, I’m Cardinelli. What can I assist you with?” he asked. Iris smiled and pulled out the stone.

 

“I wanted to know if you can make me a necklace with the stone, but not change it’s shape at all. It’s a veery precious stone and I really don’t want anyone messing with it.”

 

Cardinelli rubbed his salt and pepper beard thoughtfully before he held out his hand.

 

“May I see it?” he asked.

 

“Sure,” Iris said, handing it over with a great deal of effort. Having it in someone else’s hands was scary but she didn’t know why. The reason for her trip today.

 

“Quite a lovely piece of stone. Where did you get it?” he asked. Iris grinned.

 

“A gift from a friend. But can you do it? Can you make a necklace without harming it?”

 

“Yes,” he said quietly. “Yes, I believe so. Come with me.” he said, and Iris followed ihm easily. He looked to be fairly fit, but Iris was more than certain she could fight him with simple brute force but he really didn’t make her nervous either way. So Iris followed him, and he led her to an office, with various boxes tucked into corners and stacked on top of each other.

 

“So, you’re going to start to do your, thing right?” she asked him, tilting her head.

 

“Yes, but I’m wondering how you figured it out.”

 

“Every girl needs secrets,” she said, and watched as the dragon pulled out a sheet of metal and blew white hot fire on it. He held the rapidly melting silver with ease and shaped it until it was the approximate shape of her stone. He stared at the stone with a critical and greedy eye, his face shiny.

 

“Quite a lovely piece indeed.”

 

“Don’t get any ideas. You may be a dragon but I will burn to death before I let you steal that for your useless pile,” she said vehemently. He looked up and smiled.

 

“Of course dear. Allow me to finish. I’ll accept payment in seventy dollars for the walk-in, and another one hundred for making the necklace. Ma’am,” he said locking his lips and breathing into the metal, prodding it delicately. Iris rolled her eyes and counted out the money, rolling it neatly and snapping a rubber band around it. In the heat, Iris sweated but she focused on watching the dragon. He must have needed quite a spell to make him take a small form like this but Iris was grateful regardless. He must have been fairly old since the shop had been there for a number of decades.

 

Iris watched the stone, her eyes glazing as she let time pass by her live water in a river. She came to when the dragon stood in front of her and presented her new necklace. Iris was aware of this and she paid the dragon in full but Iris felt like she was watching herself put on the necklace and passively say goodbye before leaving. She watched as she walked onto the streets of Central City and walk, toward the apartment. Iris wasn’t panicked but this was wrong. She was literally not in control. Or maybe she was? It was hard to tell. Iris took a shower and got dressed again, putting her hair into a plain ponytail but when she smiled at her reflection, Iris felt like she was jerked into her own body.

 

The smile on her face felt unnatural so Iris let it fall quickly. She shook her head and left a note for Barry to help her when she got back from her shift at eight. There was something wrong. Again.

Chapter Text

Barry was sure that Iris was keeping something from him, which was somewhat ironic, given that he was keeping things from her too. Mostly, about her dad but he wasn’t sure he wanted to come clean. Joe West still didn’t know that his daughter was alive, but Barry wasn’t even sure if he wanted to say anything. Iris was clearly steal struggling and Barry just wanted her to be happy…

 

Still, Barry knew that her dad needed to know, but maybe he could bend the truth a little. But first he’d need to get in touch with Joe West somehow. Barry was going through this mother’s belongings, and he was sure that he’d never find anything but there was in interesting bit of information on astral projecting. The passage wasn’t very detailed but it gave Barry some insight:

 

Astral projection is the ability or skill to separate one’s consciousness from their physical body willfully. While astral projection can be learned and taught, it leaves you without latent protection for your physical body once your consciousness is gone. For example, some witches claim that their physical body is protected by an unseen barrier. Most users of this ability are learned, however, and thus must take precautions to safely use it. In most cases, as an astral projection, one can travel any distance without tiring their physical body but mental fortitude is a factor as well.

 

If one wishes to astral project, it is best to do so with someone to watch over your body, and have a specific person or location in mind. If one falters while attempting to reach, their consciousness may become lost and it could take hours or days to get back to the body. If that is the case, one may become dehydrated and their body will deteriorate.

 

In the margins, Barry’s mom had scribbled furiously for half a page, but it was scratched out so that he couldn’t read it. So she’d had some kind of opinion on it, not that he’d ever know what it was. Astral projecting seemed pretty solid to contact Joe, but if it came to finding him, scrying would be safer.

 

Barry leaned back onto his headboard, sighing heavily. It was nearing three in the morning but he had so much energy coursing through him that the thought of trying to sleep was damn near impossible for him, so Barry got up and reorganized his room. He rubbed his face, irritated with his excess energy. Barry changed out of his pajamas and tugged on a hoodie since it got cold at night this time of year and slipped on tennis shoes. He only barely remembered to grab his phone and slip it into his pocket.

 

He tiptoed quietly, trying not wake Iris and made it to the door silently. Once he was outside, Barry started at a brisk jog, puffing since it had been awhile since he did exercising of any kind but he did enjoy just a few minutes with his own thoughts alone.

 

He enjoyed having Iris around, and he wanted her to stay as long as she could stand, but he was so used to his feelings being his own and it had been awhile since he’d been emotionally invested in another person’s happiness. It was exhausting. Barry pushed those thoughts and breathed deeply, trying to think of nothing at all. He even went as far as thinking of his happy place, which was his childhood home. Back then, they’d been so happy, the Allens. His mother’s past hadn’t caught up to them and shattered that perfect life.

 

Barry could almost see it, the way the light streamed through the living room when he was eating breakfast made by his dad on Tuesdays, Fridays, and Saturdays, but every other day it was his mom. His dad always made dinner though, and Barry closed his eyes for a moment, wishing that he had his parents. He’d once read a platitude by a woman who was a practitioner that she believed witches could truly alter their own reality. He knew she meant it in a different sense; destiny was in one’s hand. But Barry wished he could really do it. And just have that back. Barry closed his eyes and for a moment he could almost hear his mom calling for him, but opened his eyes. It wasn’t real, it was just his imagination.

 

Barry slowed to a walk and leaned over, panting as he caught his breath. When he stood up straight, Barry saw that he was quite far from the apartment. He had somehow run over five miles away, but Barry was sure that he’d only been jogging for a few minutes, less than five. He checked the time to confirm his thoughts. How had he gotten here?

 


 

The next morning, Barry was no longer thinking about the strangeness of his run, and was just trying to get ready quick enough to avoid getting fired. It helped that Iris had packed him a lunch and was handing it off. She was usually pretty down lately, even distracted but she seemed happy enough this morning.

 

“Hurry up, you’re gonna be late,” she called, shoving his car keys into his hands and shooing him out. Barry practically flew down the hall and pressed the button for the elevator and sighing in relief when it was already on his floor. Barry was ashamed to admit that he had broken a few speed laws getting to work but he managed to get there with minimal cars honking at him. He barely made it to his lab and put his lunch away when he was called to investigate a crime scene, nothing dire just a car theft, although Barry wished that maybe crime in the city would just pause so he could catch up.

 

For this case, he was working with a couple cops that he really didn’t see all that often but they were both friendly and not at all standoffish like some of the officers could be.

 

Barry catalogued evidence as thoroughly as he usually did, but he noticed that the officers were distracted by the witness telling them something.

 

Barry looked around the room again, trying to see if anything else might be evidence, but came up with nothing.

 

“--weird as hell. Like, flickering but way more annoying. Maybe I was just tired but this city has always been weird.” the first officer--Reyes?--said.

 

“Sounds about right. But whatever, if no one committed a crime it’s not my business,” her partner said.

 

“Hear, hear. You got everything you need Allen?” she asked, nodding at the room and Barry stood up.

 

“Yeah, I think that’s everything I could pull. Got a couple of prints, so if they’re in the system they should be pretty easy find,” Barry said.

 

Reyes nodded.

 

“Good, I love it when it’s quick and easy. Are you okay though Allen? You look a little pale. Well, more than you usually would look I guess,” she said. Barry made a face.

 

“Yeah, didn’t sleep well last night. I was a little distracted.” he admitted.

 

“Did you see the light show last night too then?” she asked expectantly.

 

“Huh? What light show?” Barry asked, as he was sure that there weren’t any scheduled fireworks for any holiday since it was nearing autumn..

 

“Okay so last night I watched this weird light flickering outside my place and at first I thought it was a bunch of phone flashlights but it stopped and a second later it was like a hundred feet down the road. Really freaky, but what can you do?”

 

Barry tilted his head, that was really weird but it didn’t seem all that strange. Central City didn’t acknowledge it, but there was a sizeable supernatural underground, or the occult, as it was called sometimes. In any case, flashing lights were hardly anything to lose it over and Barry was quick to reassure Reyes.

 

“Well, it was probably a supernatural thing, but I doubt it was dangerous or we’d have heard about it by now. Did it keep you up or anything, affect you at all?” he asked, more out of scientific curiosity than worry.

 

“Not really, but I had a little headache afterwards, but I mean, flashing lights, so it could’ve been worse,” she admitted. Barry shrugged, making sure his tools were properly secured.

 

“Well, whatever it was, I hope it was something cool,” he grinned cheekily. Reyes’ partner rolled his eyes and Reyes shook her head.

 

“Get going baby face, I wanna have some work done before my shift ends,” she shooed and they cleared out.

 


 

At work, Barry was in high spirits since it was simple work, nothing too dire to work on. He was finishing up a late report and was desperately trying to get the papers arranged when Patty saddled up next to him, her hands curling and linking with each other, before pulling away when she cleared her throat.

 

“Hi, Barry I need to talk to you about something,” she said quietly, pitching her voice lower, when the other lab technicians glanced over curiously before getting back to their work.

 

“Do you mind walking with my to Captain Singh’s office? I’m already turning this in late so I don’t wanna make him come find me.” Barry said. Patty nodde readily, tucking a thick lock of hair behind her ear.

 

“Sure, that works.” she nodded jerkily, stepping back to allow Barry room to stand up. He swept the papers together and neatly attached them with a paperclip. He walked quickly out of the lab and Patty kept pace easily, smiling awkwardly as she started her pitch.

 

“Okay, so recently I’ve been doing research into the occult and I think our killer from last month is actually occult, but I haven’t really narrowed it down,” she admitted. Barry made sure to keep his face professionally engaged but no more than that.

 

“That’s a cold case, Patty. What are you doing looking into cold cases?” he asked, wondering why Patty would be doing something like that. As a CSI they hardly ever looked at a case once it went to the `cold room’ as it was called.

 

“Well I was double checking some data for a case and I noticed a few anomalies,” she suddenly stopped talking when they passed a detective and she waited a few feet from the door while Barry dropped off his report with several apologies. When he joined Patty again she looked around quickly before tilting her head to a quiet corner. Barry followed her, hoping to death that she didn’t have a solid case. Barry hadn’t told any of his coworkers about his connections to the occult, on account of the suspicion they routinely fell under.

 

“Okay, you mentioned anomalies . What exactly did you observe?” he asked.

 

“All the victims that we attributed to the killer had minor electrocution damage, and at first I thought it must be a modified taser or something, but in all the autopsy reports there’s no marks to suggest this. And I also noticed that a few of the victims had electric burns that resemble hands .” she sounded equal parts horrified and excited. Barry wasn’t sure what to say. Patty had clearly found something worth making note of, and Barry was sure that if he were to tell her to stop pursuing it, she would only search deeper, and it was only a matter of time before she found something she wasn’t supposed to.

 

“Well, you’re probably on to something but I think that pursuing this won’t do the victims any good. We have no idea who the killer is and finding out how they did it probably won’t help us find them. We’ll have to wait for new evidence,” he said. Patty looked put out, but not unconvinced.

 

“You’re probably right. Sorry to waste your time like this,” she said dejectedly with a self-deprecating laugh. Barry shrugged.

 

“It wasn’t a waste of time. You found something but you just couldn’t do anything about ir. You’re a good CSI Patty. If anyone will find anything it’ll be you,” he said and she nodded, her mood obviously lifted.

 

“Thanks, Barry,” she said, blushing as she did so, tucking hair behind her ear again.

 

“No problem,” he nodded and saw that a lab tech--Kent--was waiting for him.

 

“Hey, Iris stopped by but she left with Thawne and said she’d meet you back at the apartment,” he said. Barry was confused but nodded.

 

“Yeah, thanks man.” he said. Patty went back to her own work area and Barry went to his phone, sending a series of questions to Iris, assured that she’d know what he meant. She responded less than a minute later.

 

`I’m investigating. You ever notice that your coworker has the same name as that guy? Don’t worry he thinks we’re on a date :P’

 

Barry sighed. He himself had noticed that they had the same name, but he’d never thought it was worth looking into.

 

`He can’t have been involved, they don’t know each other. What makes you think he’s involved?’

 

`The knife’

 

Barry puzzled over that, before he sent a text asking for clarification but she didn’t answer. Barry waited a few minutes, but no response.

 

The rest of Barry’s work day was catching up on his reports. He even delighted at the surprised look on Singh’s face when he handed in a veritable stack of work. On the drive home, Barry was expecting Iris to be passed out on the couch, or even snacking, as she tended to do these days, but she was sitting with a takeout box, though the rest of the food was on the coffee table. Before her, were various books that he knew he didn’t own and her laptop open in front of her.

 

“Before you say anything, can you sense when other people use magic?” she asked, quickly, her words garbled by the food in her mouth.

 

“Yes? If it’s not a sigil I can sense it, why?” he asked. Iris nodded.

 

“Research,” she set down her box and pushed it away. “I think Eddie is related to Eobard but I don’t think he knows his Uncle is the killer.” she replied.

 

“Iris, please explain from the beginning. When I asked what made you consider Eddie, you said it was the knife. What did you mean?” he asked.

 

“Your friend Felicity said my dad would be the one to kill me and he did, with the knife. You had it in evidence lock up once it was seized, by Eddie at a crime scene. But I still got stabbed with it, because it got out.”

 

“Eddie wouldn’t steal from evidence lock up, he’s a dedicated detective,” Barry protested.

 

“Maybe, and maybe his crazy uncle tricked him, put a spell on him. I was trying to find some sources and magic can’t be detected from a person but it can be detected from an object or environment.” she said. Barry nodded.

 

“Yes, but I would’ve sensed magic on the room, because as far as I can tell Eddie hasn’t been enchanted.”

 

Iris shook her head.

 

“Maybe he just needed to know where it was, it’s not hard to break into the police station, I did it once.” she admitted. Barry blanched.

 

“Please stop talking before I have to arrest you,” he felt pained at the prospect, but still reached for a box of takeout and saw that she’d found a soul food place. She waved her hand dismissively.

 

“Don’t be silly Barry you couldn’t catch me and you’re not a cop. But you’re right, I’m not entirely convinced that Eddie is in cahoots. I texted Jesse by the way. She said she’s started asking her dad some questions about what happened, and she thinks he might know about what she is,” Iris said. Barry sighed as he went to the kitchen, grabbing a fork and starting to eat, mulling over what she told him.

 

“Iris, what brought this on? Why are you suddenly so eager to find Thawne?” he asked. Iris looked at him with shock.

 

“Are you serious? He killed me, made my own father stab me and he killed your mom. Why aren’t you up in arms?” she asked.

 

And wasn’t that the winning question, but Barry knew why, not that he was telling Iris.

 

“I can’t afford to be angry about this anymore, Iris. My mom died over a decade ago and no matter what I do, I can’t get her justice, because she’ll never get the life she should have had.” he said. Iris shook her head.

 

“Maybe, but putting Thawne in prison would make me feel better,” she grumbled. Barry fought the urge to roll his eyes.

 

“What prison do you think could hold him, Iris? He’s an extremely powerful witch. How do you propose he serve time.”

 

“Maybe we should go for old justice. Eye for an eye,” she said darkly, before she seemed to understand what she said. She blinked slowly before standing up quickly, gathering her trash and then her strewn books. “I need some air,”

 

“Iris--”

 

“I’ll be back before midnight,” she said hastily, and beat a quick retreat.

 

Barry watched her leave and counted to ten, then twenty, and then a hundred. He grabbed his jacket and stepped out, and made it right outside the door, where Iris was staring at the stars, leaning against Barry’s truck.

 

“We should talk about that,” he said. “I’m not holding it against you and I don’t think you’re a bad person.” he told her. Iris sighed heavily, glancing back at Barry, wrapping her arms around herself.

 

“Barry I’ve been...different since I came back. It’s hard to articulate, but I can feel it. It makes me feel like I’m walking with this looming shadow, waiting for me to have a weak moment.”

 

Sounds like depression . Barry thought, but said nothing.

 

“Is that your version of a weak moment? One comment while emotions were running high?” he asked.

 

“Barry I’ve spent my whole life, not once thinking that killing would solve my problems. When I harm people or kill them it’s strictly been in self-defense, a choice made in the moment when I have no other options. Killing as revenge is premeditated. It’s murder,” she began to tear up. “I am not a murderer.” her voice cracked and Barry’s hand went to her elbow and she melted, hugging him.

 

“You’re not. We both know that. You’re frustrated and angry, that doesn’t mean you’re suddenly a different person.” he promised, but inside his heart was pounding. What Iris said did worry him, but he had to have faith that

 

It wouldn’t amount to anything more. For her sake.

 


 

Iris was still a little down but she texted Eddie with Barry’s input. She also made sure that Eddie knew that she wasn’t interested in dating him. Barry had spluttered when she showed him the text, saying that she was too blunt, but Iris had scoffed.

 

“Who knows how long I’m gonna live, you think I have time to not say what I mean and mean what I say?”

 

Barry couldn’t really deny her that, but he felt for Eddie. But the guy bounced back quickly enough and Barry never saw a hint of bitterness in him at work. In the meantime, Barry noticed that Iris was talking to Jesse more and more, but didn’t share all that much. He felt strangely left out, but he didn’t really know what to do about it.

 

He was watching a movie with Iris when she turned to him.

 

“How come my dad ran off? I mean, he hasn’t come to see me since…” she trailed off and Barry tried hard not to tense, he truly did, but he couldn’t stop himself.

 

“He’s probably just letting you adjust, don’t worry about it.” he said. Iris sat up and stared at Barry.

 

“Right. I’m gonna get something to drink, you want anything?” she asked. Barry shook his head and Iris got up, and he could hear her rifling in the kitchen but he felt on edge. So much so that he could taste ozone in his mouth, something that only seemed to happen when he was in immediate danger.

 

He leaned forward reflexively and turned to see Iris behind the couch, her eyes glowing and her incisors longer and sharper. He would bet his truck that her claws were out.

 

“Iris what the hell?” he asked. But she didn’t even look like she was going to attack him, in fact she looked somewhat confused.

 

“Barry? I--no you’re...you’re tricking me,” she said, her hands moving jerkily. Barry stood up and stood directly in front of her, although the couch was still between them.

 

“Iris? Iris what are you talking about?”

 

“My dad. He doesn’t know I’m alive, does he?” she asked suddenly. Barry took a deep breath.

 

“Maybe you should sit--”

 

“No!” her voice came out dark and distorted, the sound reverberating through the room. “No, you’re a liar and you did something to me. I can’t remember how I died and I can’t go anywhere without my stone because of it. What did you do to me, Barry?” she asked.

 

“I made a trade, for you life.” he said simply. Iris made a face around her enlarged teeth, but she didn’t calm down.

 

“What did you trade?”

 

“I traded justice for my mom’s murder. As long as her killer never faces retribution, you live.” he said. Iris reeled back.

 

“What? Why would you do that?” she sounded almost accusing and Barry felt anger rush up his body and he could now smell the air, like it was burning in between them.

 

“To save you! I had nothing else to give! Finding my mom’s killer and bringing him to justice has been my life’s purpose and I gave it up, so you could live!”

 

“He wasn’t her only victim Barry!” she nearly screamed but she took a deep breath. “What about all the other people that he killed, their families? How could you think that doing that to other people would be preferable to me? I wish you’d just let me die,” she spat, turning away but she didn’t leave.

 

“You don’t mean that,” he said dully. She opened her mouth to refute him, but he could see the truth. She loved life, living.

 

“No. No I don’t.” she deflated and pressed her heels to her eyes.

 

“I’m sorry that you weren’t...right when you came back but I don’t know what I did wrong, I did what I was supposed to.”

 

“Do you promise?”

 

“Yes. If I messed up I had no idea.” he said. Iris took a deep breath but he watched in horror as her eyes turned red and a sly smirk came over her face.

 

“You’re too late witch. She’s mine now,” and Barry barely had time to raise his arms when whatever that was lunged for him with a twisted face and bared teeth.

Chapter Text

Iris couldn’t get control back and she was panicking inside her own body. She watched in horror as Barry hit the ground to avoid her claws, and brought his hands up, lightning crackling over his body.

 

“Barry!” she tried to scream but her mouth only smiled.

 

“Iris, what are you doing?”

 

“Don’t you pay attention? We're fighting,” her voice said, but Iris tried to batter her way back to control. It was hard to describe where she was, but it was like she was still herself, still looking through her own eyes but she just couldn’t control her own body.

 

“Iris, I don’t know what’s wrong, but I’m going to help you,” he promised, bringing his hands together and wringing them until electricity built up between his hands. He pulled them apart and Iris watched as the lightning became rope like. Before the presence taking over her body could move, Barry used the lighting like a whip, but when it touched her skin it wrapped around her. Iris winced and convulsed as it hurt her, but the presence laughed sharply. The sound grated on Iris’s senses and if she could feel her body, she would have been nauseous from it.

 

“Oh, I forgot that you damn elementals were always so fucking crafty.” Iris felt her body shifting as if going through a wolf transformation, but that couldn’t be. The moon wasn’t full and it wasn’t even really night. But she see that her body was changing and if her wolf form attacked Barry in the apartment his chance of survival...

 

“No, stop it, leave him alone!” Iris cried, trying to twitch her fingers. Suddenly, Iris was surrounded by a horrible void. She was standing at a lakeside, although the lake was lava and fire, and she could swear she heard screams from under the surface of the lava. Before her, was herself naked and smirking, but Iris didn’t feel like she had the advantage since she was more in control. She too, was naked, but the other her smiled with all her teeth and Iris was sure that the presence would rip her throat out with ease if she so chose.

 

“Now, now Iris. Don’t be selfish. Barry’s wanted a taste this whole time and you weren’t putting out. Maybe I can show him how we like it,” the other Iris moaned, running her hands over her body and Iris felt her face heat and her blood pound in her ears.

 

“Don’t you dare. This is my body.”

 

“Not anymore,” the other Iris smiled and blew a kiss. Iris ran at her, going for a tackle but the world disappeared and Iris watched as someone else took her place.

 

LINE BREAK

 

Barry watched as Iris’s body convulsed and he let her go, worried that he might have messed up. She shivered when he went to her side and reached for his hand, her eyes fluttering open.

 

“God, what just happened to me? Barry?” she stared at him with guileless eyes and his heart melted almost by instinct. He opened his arms to her and she moved jerkily over, her muscles probably contracting painfully.

 

“Hey, hey relax. Just lie down. Sorry about electrocuting you,” he said softly, smiling weekly. She stared at him, her face almost blank. She seemed to relax marginally and her whole face changed, as did her body language. She turned into putty, her body now pliant.

 

“No, that's...that's okay. I don't know what came over me Barry. It's like one minute I was like normal, and the next I was furious.” she tried to explain, looking up at Barry. He opened his mouth to offer comfort but Barry’s mouth began to taste like the faintest trace of ozone, and his skin prickled uncomfortably.

 

“That’s strange,” he murmured softly and Iris nodded, sitting up.

 

“I agree. But man, I'm starving from that fight. You want anything?” she asked and Barry shook his head. He felt wrong somehow.

 

“No, no I think I need to rest actually. I'll see you tomorrow,” he said quietly, waving placidly at Iris, who waved back.

 

Barry forced himself to walk to his room slowly, and close the door normally. Once inside, Barry cast an illusion which made it sound as if he was going through his nightly routine but he was standing in the furthest corner from the door, breathing as slowly as possible. He waited for so long that his knees began to lock up and his vision was going blurry but Barry didn’t move. His illusion was now snoring in bed peacefully and Barry was waiting anxiously. Finally, however, she opened the door, or at least she should have.

 

Iris melted through the door in a haze of shadows, her smile impassive and feral all at once. Her eyes found the sleeping illusion quickly, her smile widening.

 

“My, my. He sure looks delicious. Hope he tastes just as good,” she purred slinking over to the bed. Barry’s face grew hot at the sound of her voice. He was sure that Iris could be sexy if she chose but there was a dangerous edge to her voice, one that sounded strange in her voice. She crawled over him and turned his illusion onto his back. At this point, Barry was using every ounce of his concentration to keep the illusion, giving her realistic sensations to keep the ruse.

 

What are you doing? Who are you?

 

Iris, or whoever it was, sighed and he watched with horror as more of the shadows coiled from her mouth and tried to wrap around the illusion. But Barry wasn’t sure how to have his illusion react, but it was too late to try and trick her. She jerked up and Barry saw that her eyes were a pure black and her face looked like it was blurry.

 

“What is this?” she hissed, but Barry didn’t give her another second to retaliate. He brought his hands together in a clap, forcing hr back and off the bed. Barry followed quickly and with a quick mental apology, punched Iris hard enough to knock her out. Only she didn’t pass out. Her head’s momentum just stopped and she seemed to be staring at the ceiling.

 

“Iris?” he asked tentatively, forgetting for a moment that he already saw that she wasn’t Iris. The imposter turned to him slowly, her lips in a pout.

 

“Barry? What are you doing? Why would you hurt me like that?”

 

“You’re,” he paused at the sound of her voice. It was Iris’s voice but there was this strange echoing underneath her voice, like she was speaking into a fan. “Not Iris. Who are you?”

 

“A visitor. I sensed the two of you, all the way down there,” she said condescendingly, pointing downward.

 

“Down where?” he asked, apprehensively, though he was sure he knew. Iris--or rather the false version--rolled her eyes.

 

“You know. Don’t pretend you don’t. Now, lay back down and let me take care of you Barry. I already know you like his body and I’m sure that in the long run, Iris won’t really mind.”

 

Barry took a step back when the imposter started to slink toward him.

 

“No, you stay back.” Barry brought his hand up and she paused. Her face twisted angrily.

 

“I did not come all the way up here to be denied. I will get what I want.” she promised, but Barry’s stomach roiled with disgust.

 

“You’re a succubus.”

 

“Yes, and the crowd roared for the hero as he figured it out. What of it?” she asked, side stepping carefully as Barry followed her movement.

 

“What you’re talking about--it’s not consensual.” he said quietly. “You can’t just take over her body and do whatever you want with it,” he protested.

 

“A girl’s gotta eat, witch. Not all of us can pluck from the earth. Some of us are damned and have to make do. Believe me if I could live of fruits and vegetable I would. But it’s not an option for me. Besides, don’t tell me you aren’t tempted.” she laughed easily and Barry frowned.

 

“I’m not tempted.” he shot back. The imposter didn’t look impressed.

 

“I’m a succubus. You think I just choose who’s sexual desires will feed me? No, it sings to me, call me. And your lust for you little puppy was really getting me going,” she said, leering at Barry as her hands trailed over Iris’s body. “I mean, it’s naive lust, for sure, but there’s so much. I could’ve fed for days, but I suppose I was getting off too easy. Well, not easier than you would’ve been,” she teased, unbuttoning Iris’s pajama shirt and tossing it away. She was still wearing a bra but Barry looked away, his face burning hot.

 

“Stop. Just, let her go, bring her back, whatever.” he said.

 

“Not until I get to eat. As it stands, she’s screaming and crying to get control but I have no intentions of giving this body back. It’s been awhile since I got to experience what humans do and Iris is cute enough that I won’t have any trouble getting a couple lovers on the side. And I couldn’t care less if they’re gentle or not. So here’s a deal. You tide me over with a couple kisses, some light groping, or I jump from the roof and kill her. Your choice.”

 

“But it’s not my choice. That’s her body I can’t make that decision.” he said firmly. The succubus rolled her eyes and walked over to the window.

 

“You’ll have to, unless you want to peel Iris from the pavement. I wonder what it’s like to die twice?” she asked, opening the window and leaning out.

 

“No!” she rushed forward but the succubus pulled away and swung her legs over the windowsill.

 

“Not so fast, cowboy. I want a yes or no.” she said firmly. Barry took a deep breath and considered his alternate options. Clearly, this succubus was probably...hungry if she were that desperate for even a little of anything to tide her over. But it begged the question if she would even let Iris go. For all he knew, the succubus would just kill Iris anyway. But Barry did remember the sigil he’d tried to make himself last year, back when he was really starting to spread his figurative, magical wings.

 

He’d never tested it though, as he wasn’t sure how strong his own sigil would be. He and Iris didn’t really have options though.

 

“Fine, fine. Just please don’t hurt her, okay?” he asked.

 

The succubus laughed, closing the window. She hummed and she sauntered to Barry, wrapping her arms around his neck.

 

“I’m sure you want this over quickly, but I’m hungry darling. So we’re going to embrace like lovers,” she whispered, bringing her face to his neck and inhaling deeply, pressing Iris’s body tightly to his. Barry swallowed nervously. He hated himself and his body for this so much but Iris’s body felt good against his and he had feelings her already. The succubus even smelled like Iris, so her confident hands on his body feels like his personal, quiet dream.

 

“Please don’t do this. Just let us get this over with,” he whispered quietly. The succubus shook her head.

 

“Now, now. Let me have my fun,” she cupped his face and pressed hot kisses to his jaw, avoiding his lips. Barry kept his eyes fixed over her shoulder, breathing deeply, ignoring his traitorous body’s reaction.

 

“When Iris gets out, I’m sending you back to hell,” he said lowly, his eyes filling with tears.

 

“I’d love to see you try,” she crooned, her hands roaming his chest and her thumbs stroking his torso. She nipped at the tense column of his throat and Barry’s hands clenched into fists.

 

“You think that because you’re damned that whatever magic I have can’t hurt you, but I promise you that you’ll pay for this,” he promised, his fists at his sides.

 

“Oh, sounds painful. I like a little pain.” she cupped his face and Barry realized that this was his chance. He allowed the succubus to capture his lips in a bruising kiss. He traced her lips with his tongue and she moaned. But Barry felt himself drifting away but kept it together long enough to whisper to her in latin.

 

To his amazement and relief, the succubus jerked back but he saw the fury in her face as she passed out.

 

Barry let out a breath, his hands shaking. He knelt down and buttoned up Iris’s shirt, but as he did so, he drew a protection sigil right onto her forehead, and doing the same to himself. He picked her up and carried her to the couch, putting distance between them immediately.

 

He stumbled to the bathroom and dry heaved over the toilet for a while. He splashed his face with cold water and scrubbed his hand over his face, fighting back tears. But when he closed his eyes, all he could see was the disgusted look Iris would surely have when she woke.

 

LINE BREAK

 

When Iris regained control of her body and woke up, she kept her eyes closed, breathing deeply. She tried to keep calm, but just knowing she was in the apartment with Barry made her angry and uncomfortable. What was she supposed to do now?

 

Iris lay there silently, her body absolutely still before she finally sat up, and walked to the kitchen. It was like coming back to life in the way that she felt strange in her skin, but not the numbness, rather she felt like everything in her body was a livewire.

 

She went to the kitchen and got a glass of water, gulping it down. When she finished she filled it up again and drank more. Iris drank water until she actually felt full and took shuddering breaths, trying to calm down. She wanted to go run, but Iris didn’t like to run from her problems. She turned around and went to Barry’s room. She knocked on the door, leaning against the frame.

 

“Barry? Barry I need to talk with you.”

 

Silence. Iris closes her eyes and listens closely, letting her wolf sense take over. She can hear Barry’s heart hammering, and his short breaths. He’s definitely awake, but Iris can’t gauge how he feels just from listening.

 

“Barry,” she paused as her voice cracked, and licked her dry lips. “ Please. We need to talk about it,” she insisted. She can finally hear him shifting around so she takes a step back from the door. Barry looks almost as bad as she feels and Iris can’t help it. She starts laughing at their situation, and Barry stares at her before laughing as well.

 

“We’re so fucked up.” he wheezed and she nodded, wiping her tears.

 

She got her hysteria under control and saw that Barry’s smile was sliding away.

 

“I’m not--I don’t blame you for what happened Barry.” she said. He shook his head.

 

“I do. This wouldn’t have happened if I wasn’t...interested...in you,” he mumbled and Iris sighed.

 

“May I?” she asked, offering her hand. Barry looked at her hand, then into her eyes. He gave her his hand and Iris went to the couch, sitting down so they were facing each other on the couch.

 

“Iris, really I’m so sorry that this happened. You wouldn’t have been vulnerable if not for me,” he insisted.

 

“Based on what, Barry? What makes you think I wouldn’t have been a target anyway?” she asked. She wasn’t really blaming Barry, but she also wanted to know whatever he did.

 


“When I brought you back. One of the dangers, that I theorized is that, I let you out and I either let other things out with you or they may have attached themselves to you,” he explained. “The succubus possessed you because she was sure it would lure me. Because I have feelings for you. I don’t know how deep they are, not really. But they’re there.” he admitted.

 

Iris nodded.

 

“Okay. Well if it’s any comfort, I actually already figured that out. And I think I might have some feelings there too,” she said. Barry’s face slowly brightened and Iris hated to take any bit of it away but she had to be honest. “But everything that happened last night kind of scarred me. I know you did what you did to save me from something worse, but I was trapped in my own body and I couldn’t actually say yes to anything happening,” she said. Barry nodded solemnly, and Iris wondered how he felt. After all, a sex demon had basically forced him to admit he had feelings and threatened the safety of someone he cared about just so she could eat.

 

Barry sighed deeply.

 

“I know, I know. God, I’m so sorry that you had to go through that Iris. I wish I knew more about demonology now, but you know retroactively wanting to know doesn’t help you,” he said. Iris rested her hand on his thigh, squeezing a little.

 

“You didn't want to hurt me Barry. That's what matters to me right now. But I do have to ask, how did you force her out?” Iris asked. Barry flushed and Iris remembered that he'd done that while kissing her, although it was technically the demon.

 

“A sigil to protect. I wasn't sure it'd protect you, much less force her out since I made it myself, but I'm glad it worked.” he said emphatically.

 

“Me too.” they sat in companionable silence and Iris was grateful that Barry hadn't begun to push about their returned feelings. She just wasn't ready yet, especially after last night. Iris glanced at the oven microwave clock over the counter and saw that it was about four more hours until she had to be up for work.

 

“I'd better call in today,” he said, his thoughts mirroring hers.

 

“Same. I think if I had to go to work today I'd have a breakdown,” she joked. Barry snorted derisively.

 

“Yeah, let's hope my boss will give me the time off.” he said crossing his fingers.

 

Iris leaned her head against the back of the couch, suddenly exhausted. She stared absentmindedly at Barry, but she did note how handsome he was and how different he looked from when they first met. He was clean shaven now, and he'd put on some weight, not to mention he was more light, although not by much. But she bit her lip when she thought about the fact that he was also interested. Still, she was glad for Barry.

 

“Barry, can you hold me?” she asked quietly, blinking slowly as she fought sleep. Barry smiled at her faintly.

 

“Yeah of course. Come here,” he said opening his arms for her. She scooted over, adjusting so that she was half laying down.

 

“Goodnight Barry,” she yawned, tucking her face into his neck, breathing him in. He rubbed her back, and murmured his return sentiments.