2 Months after the Particle Accelerator.
A young man stood in the middle of an abandoned warehouse with hands extended on either side of him. He didn't seem very bothered by the seven people standing across him with guns aimed in his direction.
"You need to give it up," one of the men across moved forwards, intending on being threatening but his hand holding his gun shook.
The young man just smiled. "I'm done being used by you and your group, Harold." He flung a hand to the side and as he did the other man, Harold, was thrown to the side. Harold's body hit a metal machine and was effectively knocked out cold.
"Start shooting!" someone else in the group ordered.
The young man smirked and started flinging his hands to the sides repeatedly, deflecting the incoming bullets. He then started pushing the nearby tables against the group along with chairs and other movable pieces of furniture. In no time he had brought down the group of criminals without so much a sweat.
"Finally," he breathed in knowing this was the beginning of his freedom again. He turned calmly away and started for the office near the entrance of the warehouse. There he sat down at the desk and opened up a laptop. He started searching through the internet to see what he could find on a specific metahuman he had heard the band of criminals repeatedly talk about. He hadn't been allowed near any electronic devices unsupervised so he wasn't too sure about his suspicions.
"There you are," he stopped at a picture of a woman dressed in purple leather. Half of her face was covered in a purple mask but the young man recognized the woman nonetheless. "Sister," he smiled widely. "I'm coming for you."
~ 0 ~
2 Months Earlier: The Day of the Particle Accelerator.
In Central City Picture News, a young woman anxiously stood in front of a printer that was spewing out papers belonging to her mentor. Her long, caramel-colored hair with ombre-blonde tips bounced as she impatiently waited for the printer to be done.
"Are my papers done?" shouted Linda Park from her desk, tapping her fingers along her desk as she pretended to be heavily annoyed. She was actually very amused as she watched her favorite intern try to collect the papers - she always made the funniest faces!
The young woman whirled around to face Linda, looking frantic. "Just one more second, promise!"
Linda mumbled something under her breath then returned to her work on the computer. Though her eyes did flicker every now and then at the ombre-blonde intern just to see how things were going.
"C'mon, c'mon, c'mon, already," the ombre-blonde chewed on her nail until the printer finished up. She cheered and gathered up the papers then ran for Linda's desk. "Done, ha!" she slammed the papers on the desk.
Linda looked up seeming unimpressed with the woman's blunt slam. "You are so lucky it's me and not Larkin or you'd be fired."
The woman widely smiled at the comment and twirled her fingers around her blonde tips, "Which is why I love you the most. You're cool, Linda."
Linda remained blank for a minute or two before she gave an unprofessional snort and laughed, "You are such a kiss ass, Belén."
The woman, Belén, blushed as she laughed too, "I'm an intern, it's kinda what we do."
"The new ones," Linda corrected her then turned her chair for her computer, "One more year and you'll be a reporter. But look, I've got an assignment for you right now that could win you some points."
Belén tilted her head to the side and squinted her eyes in thought, "Would this assignment by any chance happen to be another paper that you didn't want to write so now you are going to tell me to do it instead? Because of it is, I'd rather go have another battle with the printer."
"Just do me this one okay? It's some paper that's not on sports and I frankly have a date I don't want to cancel on. Here, take a look," Linda motioned for Belén to look at her computer screen where she had a Star Labs page opened up, "We need a paper on the accelerator going off in some hours. There's some grand show tonight and we need something written," she turned her chair to Belén, "Preferably something fantastic if you could."
Belén blinked and quickly looked at Linda, "C'mon, Linda, I don't understand anything about that thing. I want to help but I don't know how."
"Ask your dad," Linda seemed not to care by the blank face she wore, "Or your brother. They're both freaky geniuses. Just do it. I'm letting you do this so that you can prove you have what it takes to become a real journalist. This is your chance, Belén Palayta. Will you take it?"
Belén's eyes flickered to the computer screen then to Linda, clearly indecisive. But in the end, as Linda suspected, Belén ended up nodding in agreement, "Okay, I'll do it."
Linda clapped and stood up from her chair to go retrieve necessary papers for Belén, "It'll be alright, you'll see."
Belén took a deep sigh as she sat down on Linda's chair, getting a closer look at the news on the screen. She knew very well what Star Labs was intending on doing and while she didn't understand a great deal of the purpose, she was curious to see it unfold.
~ 0 ~
Belén pulled the glass door of CC Jitters and stepped inside with an air of nervousness that was etched onto her face so clearly her friend, a barista, noticed with just one look. Iris West finished handing a customer a mug of coffee just as Belén reached the register.
"Alright," the young barista hurried behind the register, "What's the problem, Belén?" it wasn't often her friend had problems and when they did they were truly troubling ones. She'd learned that only a month after meeting Belén in college.
Belén released a sigh of distress as her eyes scanned the menu above them, "I got an important article to do for tonight."
Hearing that news, Iris smiled, "Congratulations," she knew Belén was closer to acquiring a full paying job and if she was being handed important articles it only meant she was one step closer.
"It's on Star Labs' Particle accelerator," Belén finally met Iris' eyes.
"Oh…" Iris' smile faded as she now understood the dilemma Belén was in, "...and your dad…?"
"Doesn't want me to do it," Belén confirmed her suspicions.
"And are you going to listen?"
Iris nodded with understanding, "So there's more problems?"
"Oh yes," Belén sighed once more, letting her gaze temporarily fall to the counter, "He knows it's my job. I can't listen to him this time."
Iris reached to touch Belén's arm, having that warm, comforting smile on her face, "Hey, you do what you need to do. Besides, maybe if you come by tonight's show we can meet up."
Belén seemed to take that with a good mood, "Really? You're coming too?"
"Mhm, it's an assignment for class. I'm dragging my best friend to help me understand what the hell they're going to say."
Belén chuckled, "I wish I could do the same with Rayan. I don't understand anything of that science stuff."
"Ah, but you're his twin, make him," Iris pointed at her.
"Yeah, I sort of figured out I couldn't make him do everything I wanted," Belén dramatically sighed. "Besides," she got serious again, "even if I asked him, I know he couldn't come. He has some engineering event tonight at his college. He'll be out late."
"Well," Iris considered for a moment, "If worst comes to worst, you can always borrow Barry. He's such a pushover you can definitely get explanations from him."
Belén smiled and rolled her eyes, "That's abuse and I don't think I want to do that to a guy I've never even met. It's a bit rude don't you think?"
Iris feigned a thinking face for a minute or so before shaking her head. "No, not really."
Belén put on on a scolding look on her friend, "You're evil," she pointed, "And I want no part in it."
Iris rolled her eyes and scoffed, "Whatever you say, Belén. But the offer stands. We'll be there at Star Labs tonight as well if you want to meet up."
"See? Now that I can do," Belén nodded happily, something that made Iris laugh. "Now give me an espresso and I can be on my way."
"Sure thing," Iris nodded back and went to prepare her drink. Belén sighed her worried sigh while Iris left. She was still pretty worried over what her father would say when he learned that in order to do the paper she would have to visit Star Labs on the day the Particle Accelerator would go off.
That...would not be an easy discussion.
~ 0 ~
After her shift ended, Iris headed on over to the Central City Police Department, CCPD, to retrieve her best friend, almost brother really, Barry Allen. As she assumed before walking in, he was busy in his forensics work.
"Hey! I am ready to see this atom smasher smashing," she strode into the lab and stopped beside Barry's table, shooting him one of those nice smiles that really just said to hurry the hell up.
Feeling like he was going to get scolded anyways, Barry came out with the blatant truth, "There was a shooting today. Your dad needs me to process some evidence. Which means I don't know if we're gonna be able to make it to Star Labs."
"Seeing this thing turn on is like your dream," Iris tilted her head, mocking him, "Your sad little nerdy dream. Plus, I canceled a date for this," she made an 'o' when she saw Barry's fries sitting at the edge of the table, "Also-" she quickly grabbed some and started chewing on them, "-I may or may not have told a friend you'd help her with her article on that machine thing."
"First of all, hands off my fries," Barry tried taking back his lunch but Iris smirked and snatched the entire box before backtracking away. Seeing there was no winning with the woman, Barry huffed and plopped back on his stool.
"Was there a second of all somewhere in there?" Iris asked after swallowing down.
"You know I'm okay with helping people but I would prefer if you didn't promise me off to someone without telling me first."
Iris cheekily smiled and returned with only half of his fries, "But that's what you're all about, isn't it? Helping people? She needed help - I found a solution. She's like me, normal, and she doesn't quite understand what's so important about this particle accelerator nor the people who run it."
Barry looked almost offended by that last statement, "People who run it? Harrison Wells' work in quantum theory is light-years ahead of anything they're doing at CERN."
Iris gave him a pointed look, "You're doing that thing where you're not speaking English."
"Okay," Barry got up from his stool again and walked over to a white board. He picked up a marker and drew a dot on it, "Just imagine that that dot is everything the human race has ever learned until this moment."
"Does that include twerking?"
Barry then made a motion to the rest of the space on the board, "That is everything we could learn from the particle accelerator. It's a whole new way of looking at physics. It will literally change the way that we think about everything."
Iris stared long and hard at the board but in the end she made a face and stated, "You gotta get yourself a girlfriend."
Behind them came in Iris' father, Joe West, who promptly warned his daughter, "Hey, leave him alone, he's working."
Iris mocked a sigh and turned to Joe, wearing a smile on her face, "Hi, Dad. Your testing is done," she gestured to the tubes Barry had been working on when she came in.
Barry nodded in agreement, "I think the Mardon brothers are hiding on a farm. The fecal matter I found on the street, it was cow manure, which contains traces of oxytetracycline. It's an antibiotic. There are only four farms in the area that still use it in their feed. I bet you find a very sweet Shelby parked at one of them."
And while Iris didn't completely understand all that Barry had said she did get the most important thing out of it, "Dad, seeing as how Barry solved your poop problem, how about letting him go to Star Labs tonight?"
Joe made a motion for them to leave, "Fine, go."
"Yes!" Iris cheered and gestured for Barry to get going.
"Thank you, Joe," Barry had barely any time to say before Iris dragged him out of the lab.
~ 0 ~
In the popular Star Labs everything was bustling with energy and impatience for the great reveal of the Particle Accelerator. Iris and Barry walked in calmly conversing over Barry's abrupt decision to take a trip to the next city over, Starling City, in secrecy and under lies.
"Did you find proof of the impossible in Starling City, or did you just make my dad mad for no reason?" Iris couldn't help chuckle as she thought back to her father and how angry he was after discovering Barry's trip. He shot out all the punishments Barry would get despite Barry not even living with them anymore.
"Quite…" Barry blinked in surprise, not quite over what he had found in the next city over. But of course to his misfortune, he couldn't tell his best friend any of it.
Iris didn't guess anything else was going on in his mind. She only smiled and kept looking forwards, until she found Belén across them. Giddy to see someone who could understand how confusing all the sciency parts were, Iris promptly dragged Barry towards her friend.
Belén seemed to be intently listening to another, slightly older, woman standing in front of her. The woman was talking rather quick much to Belén's dismay but even that didn't make her interrupt.
"Now, do you think you got that for your paper?" the woman asked after she'd finished her long lecture.
Belén gave a nod but after resigning to her lack of knowledge she shook her head, "Nope, sorry, did not get that."
The woman sighed and looked away. "Belén!"
Belén scrunched her nose and made a frantic gesture with her hands. "I'm sorry, Nina! What do you want me to do? I am way out of my element here!"
"No kidding," Nina laughed.
"Where have I heard a conversation like this before?" Iris teasingly asked upon joining the two women. She looked up at Barry with an almost scolding gaze.
"It's not my fault you can't understand such a simple concept," Barry gave a nonchalant shrug, only irritating Iris.
"It's a bit difficult to do so when you're talking at a lightning speed!"
"I do not!"
"You want to bet?"
"Funny, now it feels like a conversation I've had before," Belén spoke up with a rather amused look on her face, "Isn't that right Nina?" she looked to her friend beside her.
"Right," Nina she nodded, smiling in amusement.
Iris shook her head, sharing Belén's same irritation with their friends. She decided to skip disagreements and go to the happy introduction stage instead, "Barry, this is Belén - she's the one that needed more help on her paper."
Embarrassed Iris had actually gone to Barry with the story, Belén blushed and quickly clarified, "Which I already took care of as you can sorta see," she gestured to Nina, "I also have a smarter friend unwilling to help - wait!" she realized how that sounded badder than she thought it would have and quickly tried mending it, "Not that, not that I knew you would be unwilling to help or anything. I just...I just figured you wouldn't wanna help someone you haven't even met properly. I considered it was a hell of a lot of rudeness…"
Nina liked watching Belén ramble on her in her quirky fits but she decided this moment was not a good one and promptly stepped in to save her. With a hand placed over Belén's mouth, Nina smiled at Barry, "She means it's nice to meet you and would have thanked you for your help."
Belén pushed Nina's hand off her and agreed with a nod, "Yes, that's what I wanted to say. Sorry I couldn't say that in a shorter way."
Barry had found himself rather amused by the ombre-haired woman. He knew what it felt like to ramble on and on yet not be able to make a point. He made a motion it was all fine and added, "I'm glad you found someone to help you. Iris always makes a fuss when her assignments are, and I quote," he raised his fingers and made air quotations with them, "Sciency and complicated," while Belén laughed, Iris smacked him on the arm.
"I don't say that!" Iris nearly shouted.
"It's okay, Iris. I hate them too," Belén said before they would start another banter, "I didn't choose this topic though - my mentor Linda assigned me this paper for next week's newspaper. Says it's my big chance and all."
"You work at CC Pictures?" Barry questioned her, curiously.
"Well, it's kinda a job but not really but kind of," Belén shook her head, "Nope, that didn't make sense did it? I'm an intern," she said before more words found their way out of her mouth.
"And she's almost a full paid journalist," Iris remarked afterwards, "Kind of jealous, Belén."
"Well you know, they hire almost every year. I could ask Linda and see if she would be willing to get you a spot."
Iris' mouth fell open at the offer, "Really!? You think you could do that!?"
"Maybe you can start as an intern or something," Belén smiled at her friend's excitement, "And maybe I can even take a crack at it and torture you as an intern...but you know not really. I don't like being mean."
"Nope," agreed Nina, "She just likes to talk a lot."
Belén mocked a glare but said nothing back. There was nothing wrong with talking a lot. She just sometimes had a tendency to say more than what was needed. And sometimes, that caused some problems with people who didn't know that's how she was.
"C'mon, Belén, if you're going to use me you'll need to be finished before ten," Nina warned then elaborated for Iris and Barry, "I have a night shift at the hospital tonight and I cannot be late. Belén has a tendency to forget things so I can be here far longer than I can."
Disappointed, Belén pouted, "Can we not discredit me in front of someone new?" she looked to Barry, "I do not forget everything."
"Ah, it's okay," Iris spoke before he did, "Barry's late for everything."
"I agree with her," Barry pointed to Belén, "Don't discredit me in front of new people."
"It makes you sound like a flake," Belén blurted what she thought had been a silent thought. She gasped and covered her mouth, her eyes half widened in horror, "I am so sorry…"
Barry didn't look so offended as he laughed. Nina decided it was once again time to save her friend, "We'll see you guys later," she linked arms with Belén, "It was nice meeting you, Barry. And good to see you again Iris."
"Nice seeing you too," Iris waved.
"Bye," Belén waved back but added, "And you're not a flake," she told Barry who struggled not to laugh again, "At least...I don't think you are...are you?"
"Belén!" Nina scolded her.
Belén deeply sighed and resigned to her first bad impression, "I'm just going to leave now. Sorry," she gave an honest, apologetic smile as she left with Nina.
Iris chuckled and looked at Barry, "So, what you think of her? Fairly amusing, right? Nina's a bit more serious but she has her fun side too."
Barry wanted to come up with words that didn't insult Belén but he supposed his laugh was insulting enough, "She's...she's something."
"She's definitely fit to be a journalist," Iris continued, "Some of us - not me," she quickly clarified before she was thought rude, "used to call her motor-mouth Belén. Not me though!"
Barry couldn't help the third laugh that escaped his mouth, "Why? She's...okay, she talks a lot, but it's - it's cute."
Iris' eyebrows shot upwards in suspicion, "You think my friend is cute?"
"I said the way she talks is cute," Barry quickly corrected but knowing Iris it wouldn't be easy to convince her otherwise.
"Barry…" Iris broke out one of her teasing smiles, even tilting her head for effect.
"Iris, don't," Barry stepped away in mild annoyance.
"What? I didn't say anything, you did!"
"But you said she was cute!"
"The way she talks!"
Iris pursed her lips together, refusing to leave it alone. Barry shook his head knowing things wouldn't be forgotten if he didn't move away.
"Barry, come back!" Iris whined as he started walking away, "I still need your help!" she rushed after him.
~ 0 ~
After Iris caught up and apologized for her teases, she and Barry got together over the refreshments table and gathered up some drinks. They were really just waiting for the head of Star Labs, Dr. Harrison Wells, to commence the event. In the meantime, Barry tried giving tips to Iris on what to write for her assignment.
"This is far too much for my understanding," Iris finally cut him off and drank from her glass, "Why, oh why, did I ever think this was a good idea?"
"I ask myself the same question," Barry remarked back with a clean smirk on his face.
Iris rolled her eyes as she took another sip of her drink. There was no use in arguing over something she completely agreed on. Instead, she focus on the nice event laid out before them. While she didn't understand much of the Accelerator, it apparently was a monumental step towards the future. At least that's what she got from the chattering she could over hear from other guests. However, one particular conversation began to carry over to her ears and immediately she was disgusted.
Not very far from her and Barry, stood Belén and a young man similar in age. He was just a bit taller than her, his shaggy black hair matching his dark eyes that were laid on Belén with such fury it almost scared Iris if she wasn't more angry with him. She hated him, absolutely hated him. Barry, who had been helping himself to another drink, noticed Iris staring with her angry look and wondered who could have earned one of those at an event she didn't know people in. He followed her gaze to Belén and the young man and of course saw what Iris was frowning at - the guy was almost shouting at Belén.
"Who's that?" he asked Iris after a minute of listening on the conversation.
"Eugh," Iris made a face, "Carlton, Belén's boyfriend."
"That's her boyfriend?" Barry almost gaped at the sight. The previously 'motor-mouth Belén' was silently listening to whatever shouts Carlton was giving her with no trace of that infectious smile she had on earlier.
Iris was glad he saw the waste and sighed, "Unfortunately, yes."
"Rude? Verbally abusive? Controlling?" Iris plastered on a wide, fake smile, "Yeah, he is. Belén's been trying to break up with him for months now but she doesn't know how."
"Maybe she can try 'I'm breaking up with you'? I'm no expert but I'm pretty sure that could do it."
"How do you do that when the guy has complete support from the girl's dad because he doesn't really know who his daughter has for a boyfriend? Not to mention he doesn't even let Belén speak much."
Barry didn't like seeing someone take advantage of someone else's kindness and especially when the victim looked like she couldn't even hurt a fly. That's the way Belén looked at the moment. It appeared she was trying to put in a word but every time her mouth opened up Carlton had something else to say and shut her right up.
Iris panicked when Barry took a couple steps towards the pair, "What are you doing!?" she latched her hand onto his arm.
"Iris, that's your friend over there," Barry gestured with his other hand, "You're not gonna let her suffer are you?"
"You think I haven't tried intervening?" Iris raised an eyebrow and let got of his arm, "Of course I have! But Belén says to let her handle it."
"Iris, she's being mauled over there," Barry insisted, "That's not like you."
"Ultimately it's her choice," Iris said as much as it pained her. Of course she wanted to rip Belén away from Carlton but even if she did it wouldn't make much use if Belén would return minutes later.
"Maybe she just needs persuasion," Barry refused to let that happen, "Who better than us, right?"
Iris did like the idea of someone else helping her against Belén's 'boyfriend' and who better than her best friend. They worked well together and she was sure she could make some serious progress on Belén.
"Fine," she huffed in the end but quickly pulled out a warning finger at him, "But if you get hurt I won't be held responsible."
That only made Barry more irritated, "He hits too?"
"Well, no, I just meant if you happen to get punched for being nosy then…"
"Right, I'm nosy," Barry gave her a look that told her to reevaluate her statement. Iris rolled her eyes and went towards Belén instead, prompting him to follow.
Belén was in the middle of inputting a response to something Carlton was saying when he shouted again and shut her right up, "You're an idiot! You really think you could hide it from your own father?"
Belén had flinched under his loud tone and desperately wished she could quiet him down. This was exactly why she hadn't mentioned she was coming to Star Labs to him. She knew when he learned he was coming to his job's rival laboratory he would go ballistic. But unfortunately, he had come out of his own accord to check out the competition and happened to have spotted her. Now he was threatening to take her home and tell her father as well, something she had planned to do on her own...but much later.
"I wasn't trying to hide it," she quietly clarified but it was enough to set Carlton up for another shout.
"Then you would have told me or him! You're not a great liar, Belén! Did you think I would be stupid enough to buy one of your pathetic excuses?" he harshly grabbed her by the arm, meaning to pull her towards the door when Belén pushed him off, growing irritated herself.
"I wasn't going to lie to you! I was simply going to wait a bit before I told your or my Dad. And I don't understand what's the big deal, frankly," she crossed her arms, "I'm only doing my job here. Besides, apparently this Accelerator thing is going to do good for us-"
Carlton loudly scoffed, "Don't be stupid, Belén! The only thing that's gonna do is cause trouble. Do yourself a favor and stop being an idiot."
Before Belén could reply, Iris and Barry reached their location and of course intervened on Belén's behalf.
"That's no way to talk to her," it was Barry who spoke first, though Iris was right beside him ready to go next.
Belén was surprised to find the pair of friends with her, especially since she hadn't seen them anymore over the course of the night.
Carlton glared at them, only growing further irritated, "This is between her and me so-"
Iris took her turn at him and cut him off, "You make it our business when we can hear your shouts from across the room. Besides, Belén's our friend and if someone is being rude to her we're definitely going to step up."
Carlton took a step towards them but Barry cut in and blocked any way towards Iris, and in the process Belén. His stern face warned Carlton there was no joke behind his words, "Back off. There's nothing that should ever make you talk to someone the way you are."
When Belén saw Carlton stepping towards Barry she knew she had to end things, "Please, just stop!" she cut in between Carlton and Barry, begging them with words and eyes, "I didn't want any problems!"
"Should've thought of that before you came here, Belén!" Carlton snapped and reached for her arm when Barry put out an arm to block her.
"Leave her alone," he warned Carlton, gently pulling Belén to Iris' spot behind. Before Carlton opened his mouth Barry added, "And leave if you don't want security called on."
Carlton shot a look at Belén who took it with silence, "You know this is far from over," he told her, "Your father is going to want to hear about this."
"Ooh…" was all Belén said as Carlton started leaving, clearly afraid of what would come next.
Iris rubbed Belén's arm comfortingly, "Hey, don't worry."
Belén sighed and ran a hand down her face, "I cannot believe this happened. I really thought I could just get through this and then tell my Dad on my own terms."
Barry turned around wearing a confused, yet surprised, look on his face, "Is your Dad really with this guy?" he knew he had no business asking something like that but with the small moment he met Belén he knew that was not the guy that would fit her best.
Belén sheepishly looked at him, feeling embarrassed he had to witness something like that, "My Dad doesn't really know how aggressive Carlton can get. And," knowing Iris would have something to say about that, Belén looked pointedly at her friend, "I would really appreciate if no one mentioned anything to him - Iris."
Iris rolled her eyes and looked to the side, "I mean, I'm a journalist - I'm supposed to shed the truth!"
"Yeah, on the public not my Dad," Belén gently pushed her then looked back to Barry, "And I'm really sorry you had to witness this, and get rude behavior in the process. Believe me, it won't happen again."
"Can you make that a promise so I at least know my new friend won't be in harm's way?"
"I'm sorry," Belén said quietly before sighing again. The last thing she wanted was to drag people in her own problems, especially people she literally just met.
"What are you apologizing for?" Iris scolded her and earned a look from Barry, "What?" she told him next.
"Clearly, Iris needs to work on her comforting skills," Barry announced and got a small smile out of Belén, something he quickly noticed.
While Iris mockingly glared at him, Belén started fixing herself up from Carlton's aggressive movements, "It's fine, guys, really. It's nothing new to me."
"Belén, why was he so threatening with your Dad?" Barry curiously asked, hoping to change the topic from the bad moment.
"Um, well," Belén twirled one of her blonde tips, "my dad sort of works for the big rival science lab of this…" she gestured to their current spot, "...place."
"Mercury Labs," Barry realized the problem and assumed her father was against his daughter stepping foot into the rivalry lab.
Belén nodded, "Mhm. I mentioned that I this assignment and he went ballistic. He said I couldn't come...so then I kind of snuck out. He's working later than usual so I thought I could get away with it for a while. I just didn't count that Carlton would be here - he works at Mercury Labs too."
"Well then I assume you must really want to write this piece if you went through all this trouble."
At the assumption of Barry's, Iris laughed and looked at Belén, "No she doesn't. She hates the science stuff, like me!"
Belén chewed on her bottom lip while trying to form a small smile, "Well...I mean, I don't understand a lot of stuff but I know this is supposed to help people. Plus, you have to admit the pretty lights are cool."
Iris made a noise and shook her head, "Typical. The one moment I have someone on my side and she sways."
Belén chuckled and sobered up rather fast, "Thank you," she told both kind best friends, "I'm really only used to thanking Iris," she added afterwards, "So extra thank you to you, Barry."
"Well that's Barry for you," Iris gave a light shrug, "Always trying to help people."
Before Barry could remark on his embarrassment thanks to Iris, the head of the event, Dr. Harrison Wells himself, began walking up the platform at the center of the room to address the crowd. Immediately there was some applause from the crowd as all attention turned to him.
"Thank you," Wells addressed the cheering, "My name is Harrison Wells. Tonight, the future begins. The work my team and I will do here will change our understanding of physics. Will bring about advancements in power, advancements in medicine, and trust me that future will be here faster than you think-"
Unfortunately, someone decided to pickpocket Iris' bag at that moment and snatched it right off her shoulder. Iris barely felt the blow before she realized her bag was gone, "Hey!" she cried, "My laptop! It's got my dissertation."
Without a second thought, Barry ran after the thief in hopes to get the bag back. While Iris was in distress, Belén was stunned at the quick action Barry had taken on.
"Wow, he really does like to help," she said before Iris took off in the direction of the thief and Barry, "Iris, stop!" she went after the woman.
But by the time the two caught up with Barry and the thief, the thief had run off only to be arrested by a police officer. Barry, in the meanwhile, had received a good punch across the face.
"Barry, are you okay?" Iris asked for the tenth time after the whole fiasco. The three stood not too far from where the teen thief was being pushed into a police car by an overexcited cop.
"Who is that?" Belén wondered as the blonde man happily chattered with a fellow companion over what she assumed was his arrest.
"And why is he so excited over catching a mugger?" Iris crossed her arms, scrunching her nose in dislike.
"He's a transfer from Keystone," Barry told the two women, "Started a few weeks ago. Eddie Thawne."
"Oh, that's Detective Pretty Boy," Iris realized from the stories her father had told him not too long ago, "That's what my Dad calls him. Says he actually keeps score when it comes to arrests."
"He is pretty though," Belén blurted and flushed as she looked at the two beside her, "I mean, not that you guys aren't...or…" but she then thought that last 'or' made it seem like she was lying and of course she wanted to clarify, "And by the 'or' I simply meant - or thought - that maybe you guys don't go by 'pretty' and maybe…" she knew she was only rambling on and it wouldn't get better from there. With a big sigh, she made a motion with her hands she was going to stop, "I think it's time for me to go home before I say something more stupid."
"I'd rather have you say more stupid stuff than have to defend you from some guy," Iris gave her a side hug.
"I think Barry's right, you're not very good at comforting people," Belén made a face that made Barry laugh.
Iris wasn't very amused and simply huffed, "Go home, Belén."
"I will," Belén raised a hand in solemn promise, "I have to go finish writing this paper for Linda anyways."
"Linda Park?" Barry recalled the name from the several sports articles the woman wrote. "That's your boss?" the more he learned about Belén the more impressed he was of her.
Belén nodded, "Yup! Good ole, sometimes flaky, Linda. She got me into the internship years ago and she's set to be my mentor when I start on the job for real. Anyways, I really have to go. Thank you both, and it was nice meeting you, Barry."
"Likewise," Barry nodded and gave her a polite shake of hands. Belén smiled back and started off on her way home.
~ 0 ~
Arriving at home and seeing her father wasn't back yet was a big relief for Belén. She would have some time coming up with an excuse as to why she was at Star Labs. Though it wouldn't make much of a difference and her Dad would still be upset, Belén figured it was better if she came up with things to say.
"Rayan?" she called as she dropped her bag over the kitchen table, "Rayan? Are you back yet?" she called for her twin brother numerous times until she concluded he was not home either. She wasn't very surprised since he had told her earlier in the day he would be arriving later that day. Still, she'd had hope he would've came back so he could give her a final edit on her paper when she finished.
After grabbing her laptop from her room upstairs, Belén settled down at the kitchen table to write up her paper, using things she'd gotten from Nina before she left and her own thoughts. She just hoped Linda wouldn't be so picky with the final version.
~ 0 ~
Barry had arrived back to his lab in the precinct to continue with some more assignments he'd left behind. Upon arriving, he turned on his television to follow the particle accelerator's progress. He left the television to go to his wheeled-pinboard where all the information he had gathered anything he could from his mother's murder case. Every day or so he would revisit the information he had, hoping to find something he had missed.
But every day, it was the same - there was nothing new on the closed case.
~ 0 ~
Belén flinched when raging thunder crackled up in the sky. She got up from her chair in the kitchen and walked to the glass backdoor to peer outside. It was pouring rain yet she wasn't too concerned with that. Her eyes had settled on the 'pretty lights' of the Accelerator she could manage see. Curious to see just how beautiful the lights were in reality, Belén slid the glass door open and stepped out. She shivered under the cold water hitting her skin but that didn't stop her from walking further through the backyard. She only stopped to pick up one of her prized Azalea flowers that had fallen from her Azalea bushes. She couldn't risk her young nephew coming by and picking up one of the fallen poisonous flowers.
"Blasted rain," she muttered and glanced to her the Azalea's she planted long ago. She loved her flowers but specifically the Azalea for its hot pink appearance - her favorite color may or may not have been pink.
Belén placed the flower in her blouse's front pocket and came to a stop in front of the big tree at the center of the yard. She knew it was stupid, and childish, but she began climbing it.
"Oh, if Dad could see me right now," she made a face as she wondered how irritated her father would be upon seeing her drenched and up a tree simply for lights in the sky. She would be sure to get down before he returned, she promised herself.
~ 0 ~
Barry was still looking over his mother's case information on the board when he heard alarming news from the television.
'Wait, we are now being told to evacuate the facility. The storm may have caused a malfunction to the primary cooling system. Officials are now trying to shut down the particle accelerator. But so far have been unable to regain…'
Barry looked back at the television only to witness the power being cut off. He went to go close the canopy as soon as he heard a loud, violent explosion from across the city - assuming it to be Star Labs. Though he tried to remain calm it went to hell the moment he saw all the chemical liquids around the room begin to rise from their containers...just like it had happened when he was a child only minutes before his mother was murdered. By staring at the liquids in almost awe, he missed the shock-wave from the Accelerator coming towards him. At the same time, lightning struck down on him. He was thrown across the room, hitting a shelf and coming to a drop on the floor.
That was the last thing he would be seeing, or remembering, for the next nine months.
~ 0 ~
Belén had missed the calls her father was leaving for her in both the house phone and her cellphone due to the fact she was sight seeing. She took out her flower from her pocket and tried re-assorting its crushed petals. She hated when the petals would get crumpled. She took great care of them for a reason yet mother nature seemed to be against her. However, at the loud explosion she snapped her gaze back up and was horrified to see the burst of energy. Even more horrified, and now terrified, she felt when she saw the shock-wave coming straight towards her.
"N-n-n-n-n-n-n-no!" she cried as she tried to beat the shock-wave and get down from the tree. It was, of course, impossible and so the only thing she did was scream when the shock-wave pushed her off the tree. Her back violently hit the grass but by that time she was had passed out. Her lonesome azalea had landed on her palm.
There was no one to see it make contact with the grass bits underneath between her opened fingers which then merged together on her skin.
~ 0 ~
Dr. Nina Clarke was overwhelmed with all the incoming patients coming into the ER thanks to the outcome of the Particle Accelerator. She was barely getting a breather when the doors flung open and two of her co-workers urgently pushed in a new patient over a gurney.
"Oh my God…" her eyes went wider when the patient's best friend came in seconds later, "Iris?" she rushed to keep the woman from entering the bloc where the other workers were bringing Barry in.
Iris was in tears and almost incoherent but she still managed to explain a little to Nina, "Lightning! Explosion and Barry, he, he was...lightning!"
Nina blinked and put herself in front of Iris, "Okay, I'll go in and I promise we'll do our best. Stay with your dad and I'll be back, okay?"
Iris tried controlling her radical breathing and sobs as best she could but it was almost impossible. She had been terrified to receive the call from the CCPD telling her of Barry's accident. Her father had been taking care of a case and was offline for a bit so the dilemma fell on her. She thought perhaps things would get better knowing that Belén's good friend was helping out in Barry's case. Of course her tremors skyrocketed all over again when she saw none other than Belén being hurried off into the bloc as well. Her father came running afterwards, also hysterical.
Iris dropped dropped her hands from her face and rushed towards the man, "Mr. Palayta? What's going on!?"
"Iris," Belén's father was somewhat relieved to see a familiar face, "Belén...she, she was, I don't know what she was doing but she was injured from this Accelerator. Now she's off in there," he motioned to the closed doors of the bloc, "in danger of paralysis, head trauma, coma - I don't know!"
Iris' lip quivered as she turned away from Belén's father. In the same night her best friend and her college friend had been harmed and pushed to the same borderline of life and death.
~ 0 ~
3 Months after the Particle Accelerator explosion.
In a liquor store, a woman in purple leather, with a mask covering half her face, was in the middle of threatening a cashier. "Hand over the money unless you wanna die in a really nasty way."
The poor cashier shook as he reached for the register. At the same time however, the door of the liquor store was flung open, off its hinges actually.
"What the!?" the woman in purple turned to the threshold with both palms extended.
A young man walked in with a mask over his face. He raised his hands and flicked his fingers to the sides, knocking down the security cameras from the ceiling. The woman in purple shot forwards a purple mass from her palms but the man deflected the masses to the sides with another flick of his hands.
"Come now, sister, is that the way to greet me?"
The woman in purple was in horror to see after the young man threw the mask off his face. "Y-you're...you're supposed to be dead..."
The young man smirked. "And you're not supposed to be a criminal but here we are...Plasticine?"