Shit, Iris thought, two weeks into the whole mess. She had really screwed herself over here, hadn’t she?
Iris grabbed her phone and scrolled down the list of contacts until she got to Caitlin’s.
“Yes?” Caitlin said as she picked up, distracted.
“I need to get drunk,” Iris said.
“Um,” Caitlin said. Before Iris could actually start begging, Caitlin said, “Let me just finish up here and I’ll be right over.”
“You’re a lifesaver, Cait,” Iris said.
“I like her so muuuch,” Iris groaned, her head down against the bar.
“Oh boy,” Caitlin said, in a voice that was probably meant to be under her breath, but they’d both had too much to drink to actually regulate volume. At this point Iris was just proud she hadn’t started crying and/or calling Linda.
Actually, that sounded like a great idea, she should—
“No!” Caitlin yelped, grabbing at Iris and her phone. “No, no drunk dialing! Bad Iris!”
“You’re not the boss of me,” Iris said.
“But I am a doctor,” Caitlin said imperiously, and her brows furrowed. “And…drunk dialing is bad for the health?”
Iris didn’t bother to try to dignify that with a response.
It started like this: Iris spent a lot of time with Linda after she started working for CCPN. Their desks were right across from each other and Linda was always really nice, so it made sense that they would eventually progress from workplace friends to actual friends. Which, if Iris was being honest, was really nice, because she didn’t have that many women friends in her life, other than a few of the baristas that she tried to keep up with from Jitters and Caitlin Snow, whenever she wasn’t dealing with the week’s metahuman crisis.
If Iris was being really honest, though, she was pretty sure she didn’t like Linda as just a friend.
Flash-forward to two weeks ago. Linda and Iris had gone out for a girls night, though Caitlin had to cancel because of yet another metahuman crisis, and Linda had run to the bathroom while Iris watched her things and their drinks.
“What’s a beautiful woman like you doing alone here tonight?” A man had just settled at the bar a few chairs down, and was apparently unable to see that Iris had more than just one drink settled in front of her and was guarding her friend’s stuff.
Really? Iris thought, unimpressed, but all she said was, “I’m not, actually.”
“Well, let me buy you a drink anyway,” the man tried.
Iris stifled a sigh and plastered on a smile. “Thanks, but I’m fine.”
“Come on,” he pressed.
“I’m actually here with my girlfriend,” Iris said icily, before she could think about it, and yeah, she wished it were true, but she probably shouldn’t have said it.
The guy opened his mouth to say something, but before he could, Linda’s hand settled against Iris’ shoulder. Iris tried really hard not to freeze guiltily. She half-hoped Linda hadn’t heard that.
“Sweetheart, you ready to head out?” Linda asked lightly, and pressed a kiss to Iris’ cheek.
Looked like she had heard Iris after all.
“Yeah,” Iris said, a little dazed, and handed Linda’s coat back to her. She shrugged it on as Iris waved down the bartender and paid for drinks, and then the two of them were out of there.
“I’m sorry,” Iris said, “I should have just said I was with a friend—”
“Wouldn’t have worked. You know guys like that,” Linda said, shrugging. “And really, it’s fine. I’d be lucky to date you.”
Iris’ heart fluttered.
Iris walked into work the next day, holding Linda’s daily cup of coffee along with her own, and groaned. Iris was good with faces, okay? So she totally recognized him.
The guy who had been trying to hit on her the night before was CCPN’s newest hire.
After that realization, Iris may have convinced Linda to continue being her fake girlfriend, though mostly just for while at work. Luckily, Linda had taken it all in stride, and it wasn’t really all that different from their normal interactions at work anyway. She had smiled at Iris over her coffee as Iris hurriedly tried to explain the situation before retreating to her station and that was that.
Linda Park and Iris West were officially (fake) dating.
Caitlin and Iris ended up having to call Barry to pick them up. He did, looking entirely too amused by the entire situation.
“You’re nice,” Iris said vaguely, as Barry deposited her on her bed. He had already taken Caitlin back to her apartment.
“Mmhmm,” Barry said, grinning.
“I hate romance,” Iris complained. “Never date anyone, Barry. Don’t do it. ‘S a bad idea.”
“I am in a committed relationship with Cisco but I will take that under advice,” Barry said easily. “Good night, Iris.”
“Night,” Iris mumbled.
Iris was maybe a little miserable the next day at work, but she drank plenty of coffee and water and had Advil in her purse, so she kept at it. Linda took one look at her when she walked in and had to bite her lip to stop laughing, and Iris was torn between making a face at her and walking over and kissing her, which—
She ended up making a face at her.
Two weeks into fake dating her best friend, and Iris was pretty sure that if she hadn’t been before, she had fallen in love with Linda Park.
That Friday, Iris was just about to leave for girls night (official, this time, instead of just bemoaning her fake dating situation with Caitlin) when there was a knock on the door.
Linda was on the other side, holding up a plate of brownies.
“I – thought we were meeting at the bar?” Iris said.
“I called Caitlin to cancel,” Linda said. “Can I come in?”
“Oh, sure.” Iris stepped to the side.
“So about the fake dating thing—” Linda started, after setting her plate on Iris’ table and grabbing one for her and for Iris.
“We can stop if you’re uncomfortable with it,” Iris said, mortified. She took a huge bite from her brownie and tried not to look Linda in the eye.
“No, I was just hoping we could upgrade to real dating, because I’m pretty sure you’ve missed all the hints I’ve been sending at you for the past month,” Linda said.
Iris choked on her brownie.
“Sorry, what?” Iris said, coughing.
Linda laughed. “Iris, you are not subtle. I’ve been waiting for you to ask me on a date for months now and you haven’t done anything even though I can tell you’re into me. I’m into you, too. But honestly, this is getting ridiculous, and I want to be able to actually kiss my girlfriend.”
Iris opened her mouth, closed it again, and then leaned in and kissed her girlfriend.