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Much as Joe and Iris like to tell it otherwise, bemoaning the end result, it’s not an easy decision. Two choices placed in front of him, two offers. Two ways he could start the rest of his life.

He’s lucky to have even gotten the one job offer, and he highly suspects Joe’s hand in all of this. Barry’s spent plenty of time in the Central City Police Department precinct where his surrogate father works, growing up over the years with Iris. While shaking the image of him being ‘just a kid’ could prove problematic, it’d be easier. He’s already known there, accepted into that family.

And speaking of family, it’d bring him right back to the Wests, to the closest thing he’s known of home in over ten years now. He’s missed them through his college years, loves them.

Loves Iris.

And that’s why. Why he’s even opened this second email, why he’s agreed to a time and place for an interview, why he’s seriously considering moving—permanently—six-hundred miles away. Because as much as it hurts to be away from her, it hurts maybe, possibly, just a little bit more to be near.

If he’d gone like Iris to school in Central City, he has no doubt in his mind he’d be signing the proper paperwork at the CCPD right now, not a second thought. Because he wouldn’t know how freeing leaving Central is for him.

Ever since that night in his family’s home all those years ago when the happy world as he knew it was ripped to pieces—stabbed clean through—and he learned it was actually a terribly cruel, cruel place they were all living in, he’s been stuck. Stuck in that living room with that ball of lightning and the man inside, and everything he’s ever done, every choice he’s made, has been with that in mind.

But just because he’s devoted himself to the mysteries of life, of uncovering them with cold, hard logic and fact and science, doesn’t mean he has to be in any particular place to do so, does it?

As easy as it would be to fall into old habits, routines—a room in the West home likely still furnished, following after Iris always watching and waiting, the pitying if not disapproving looks at the station as he carries on his research—part of him will always be the sad, scared little boy who nobody believes, running and trying to escape.

He’s not sure anymore which way he’s trying to guilt himself. In the end, Barry chooses to go. And the rest of his life is about to change drastically.

---

He’s been a lab assistant for the Starling City Police Department for barely a year, relegated to a cramped back office, when Adam Hunt gets taken for 40 million dollars by a nut job in a hood. Or so people say.

Barry’s not exactly privy to the excitement at first. The taskforce assembled to catch the guy doesn’t include him, and he thinks that’s probably because it’s being headed by Detective Lance. On his first day at the SCPD the grizzled plainclothes officer had looked at him with something akin to disbelief.

“How old are you?”

“Twenty-two. Guess the new hires seem younger every year, huh Detective?” He’d forced something of a nervous chuckle.

Lance had simply shaken his head, muttered under his breath, “Just a kid,” and headed out of the station. They haven’t said much else to each other since, and the older man tends to use CSU Tech Kelton as a relay for any of his forensic needs.

So there’s really no need for him to get involved, much less use his special privilege as a member of the force to do so.

---

Here’s what Barry knows about the Vigilante, Lance’s “Hood”:

  1. He’s a man capable of exerting 1200 50-foot pounds of torque to break someone’s neck. He doesn’t need the bow and arrows to kill whatsoever.
  2. His arrows are self-made, or at least self-assembled. No single company can be traced in their manufacturing.
  3. He’s got to be loaded, if he can hide those kind of expenses. Especially on arrows that double as voice recorders.
  4. He’s not just a killer. Distributing money back to his targets’ victims, getting confessions for misdeeds from the untouchable Starling City elite, and sparing the police whenever they come remotely close to capturing him all factor into this conclusion, which is admittedly hard to make as Barry sits three floors above the morgue.
  5. Laurel Lance is either his informant or someone he is trying in the weirdest way to impress. When three out of the five cases he’s currently connected to line up with men the lawyer is trying to prosecute, it’s hard to ignore that kind of pattern. Barry’s pretty sure the only reason everyone else has is because Detective Lance would have an aneurism if they suggested it.
  6. He has a poor sense of urban camouflage. Possibly the only color worse for a nighttime operation like this would be red. Barry likes to think there’s some deeper meaning to this, something that would counter the man’s so far sharp intellect because—
  7. He’s scarily good at not leaving identifying evidence. Even the first recorded incident, sans arrows where he’d stopped an abduction, the only recoverable DNA off the abductor’s bodies had been their victims Tommy Merlyn and the newly returned Oliver Queen.

In the end, it’s so hilariously, sadly, frustratingly simple that Barry might just cry about it. But he doesn’t know it yet.