Student loans were undoubtedly the bane of his existence. When Barry graduated top of his class in biochemistry, he figured he’d be set with doing research at a great lab with some great people and a rigorous field he loved. Little did he know research didn’t pay too well. This meant bartending every night as a side job, in order to pay off student loans, rent and everything else he needed.
It wasn’t a bad job. Minus the obnoxious people who got way too aggressive over their alcohol, it was actually a treat. People watching while finessing the chemicals of his drinks. Really, it wasn’t the worst gig in the world.
And on nights like tonight, he’d strike up a conversation with a nice person which would make the time pass by a lot quicker.
“What is this?” the young guy asks, sitting on a stool on the opposite side of the bar.
“My special drink,” Barry smirks, topping off the drink with a finishing squirt of lime juice. “It’s called the DNA Cocktail.”
“DNA Cocktail?” the guy asks, taking a sip. “Oooooof! That’s strong!”
“It is!” Barry grins wider, “the recipe calls for less gin. But I think the ingredients mask it well enough to handle a bit more.”
Barry watches the guy in the yellow shirt take another huge gulp. They’d been chatting for the past 10 minutes it took Barry to make this cocktail. Luckily, the conversation was easy, but he still didn’t catch his name.
“What do ya think?”
“I think I need to tell my sister to get here already. She’d love this. Especially the pineapple,” he laughs, “and the beaker. She likes nerdy things.”
“Sounds like a girl with great taste,” Barry grins and goes back to cleaning the shot glass in his hand. His eyes catch two people walking in as he scans the bar, but quickly resumes his gaze on the near empty glass as he hears it hit the surface. “You downed that fast!”
“It’s good. A+...” he pauses… “sorry, not sure your name.”
“Oh!” Barry quickly drops the towel, “I’m Barry! Barry Allen,” he says, extending a hand.
“Wally,” the guy in the yellow shirt reaches for his hand, returning the greeting, “you make a mean drink, Barry.”
“It’s all in the chemistry,” Barry smirks.
Before he has time to offer Wally another one, he hears a thud, and before he knows it, he’s on the ground, shielded behind the bar. There’s an accompanying flash of yellow lightning that speeds past his eyes. His body goes numb, the alcohol bottles on the shelves shaking above him, threatening to crash to the ground.
Dazed, Barry attempts to reach for his phone, 911 already on his mind.
“Don’t!” he hears a different voice, what sounds like a breathless woman, and he looks to his side, only to find a pair of heels greeting him back.
“Don’t move your neck!” the woman warns, squatting down besides him, snatching the phone away from his reach.
When Barry meets her face, he notices she’s got the same features as Wally, the resemblance too uncanny for him not to make the connection. But she’s prettier than Wally, has an edge that he didn’t have, and suddenly the phone’s long forgotten as Barry struggles to catch his balance for an entirely new reason, his mind foggy from the pain and the beauty.
“You’re the sister,” he mumbles.
“Don’t talk,” she shushes him, her hands on his neck, and they feel as soft as silk, as she wraps his head in what he assumes is some sort of neck brace. “Stay still, okay?”
“Okay,” he attempts to nod, but she’s got his neck firmly between her hands.
“You’re terrible at taking orders,” she reprimands, and for all the sharpness he hears in her voice, it doesn’t seem to affect its sincerity.
Without warning, she’s off again and before he can tell what’s happening, the world goes dark.
“I was just telling him about you,” Wally groans from the bed, and Iris turns around to look at him, forcing her eyes away from Barry’s unconscious body.
“You are so stubborn,” she walks over, an ice pack in her hand, “stop talking.”
“My voice is the only thing that doesn’t hurt. You’ll have to excuse me, sis.”
She’s more concerned than annoyed, but her brother has a bad habit of running into danger without fully analyzing the situation, and right now she’s about ready to slap him for giving her a near heart attack. Instead, she puts the ice pack on his head.
“Why don’t you listen, Wally?” Iris asks.
“Because you’re too cautious.”
“What, so dying would be better?” she counters, now sitting next to him on the bed, her hand still holding the ice pack. “Look at you! You’re nearly paralyzed.”
“Iris,” Wally smiles, moving his hand to her thigh, and she nearly smacks it away but doesn’t want to injure him more, despite the healing abilities. “I’m fine, sis. I promise.”
Really, thank god for Cisco. Because if she hadn’t realized that both Firestorm and Killer Frost would hijack their night out today, then Wally could’ve been long gone by now.
She tried to warn him they’d catch on, the paper trail left by CCPN becoming too obvious to cover. What Wally and Iris needed was to stay put and hide, not to go out for drinks. But Wally was stubborn, still wanted to brave the bar. I’m too good, Iris. We’re too good. Even if they come, they can’t beat us, he told her earlier that day.
Deep down, she knew she couldn’t stop him. On Francine’s death anniversary of any day, Wally didn’t listen. Not to her. Not to Joe. Not to Linda. Not to anyone. And tonight, he wanted a drink at the local bar. Linda told him the bartender was one of a kind a few weeks ago. So Iris promised to join him, even though she knew it wasn’t safe. But he was her brother and Francine’s death still hit them both hard, moreso Wally than her. The least she could do was be there for him.
“Hey,” Wally pats her thigh, “you okay there?”
The tear drops onto his hand. “Iris.”
“I’m fine,” she turns her face, wiping the other one away, “really, it’s you I’m worried about.”
“I’ll heal,” he comforts her, “I just need a new suit.”
“Iris,” he interrupts, “I know you’re upset with me. And I know I should’ve listened. But I’m okay and you’re okay.”
She nods, swallowing back her words.
“Really, we have him to worry about.”
Iris turns back to see Barry still lying on the bed, his eyes shut tight, his expressions soft, despite the nasty scar on the side of his cheek.
“He makes a mean drink,” Wally tells her as she gets up and walks over to Barry.
“He does. Was just telling him you’d love it.”
Iris reaches his bed and stares at him for a while. He looked too soft to be a bartender, too soft to get caught up in something as dangerous as fire and ice. She traced the pad of her finger along his jawline. The prickly stubble poked her finger, and his breath seemed to stop at the contact, only for a split second.
“You’d like him,” Wally laughs, “he’s your type of guy.”
“You need to sleep,” Iris responds, not really paying attention to the words leaving her lips, too preoccupied by the pretty boy in her bed. Of all people who were at the bar tonight, it just had to be the green-eyed, brown-haired puppy of a guy.
“Don’t fall in love, sis,” Wally teases, but before she counters, she hears his snores.
Whether fake or not, he needed his sleep, so she’d let it go for now.
But as Wally was falling asleep, Barry was waking up, his motionless body shifting slowly, his legs stretching, his eyelids fluttering.
She already had the entire story. They’d tell him there was a bar fight, and given they were the only two people at the bar, they had to take him back home with them. Their friend was a doctor; she patched him up. The rest would be history, and if he pried, Iris would do what she does best. Create a story too good to doubt. Afterall, the only witness was Wally, and Jesse wasn’t above a little lie if it meant protecting the speedster’s identity.
His moan shifts her attention back to him, the pretty greens of his eyes adjusting to the light from the room.
Before he says anything, she’s surprised at the smile that forms on his lips, and Iris has to bite down her cheeks to prevent one from plastering on her lips as well.
“Your hand’s warm,” he sighs, and Iris becomes keenly aware of her fingers still grazing his jaw. She quickly swipes it away.
“You might feel a little lightheaded,” she says, both hands falling to her lap, her eyes still studying his features, “but that’s just the effects of the medicine.”
“I feel like a truck ran me over,” Barry laughs in a pained voice.
“Go back to sleep.”
He meets her eyes. “I remember you from last night.”
“Yeah, you took a hard hit to the ground,” Iris affirms, the story readying itself on her lips.
“Guess so. I was seeing flashes of light, I swear.”
The air hangs heavy between them. She turns her head to see her brother fast asleep, the gashes on his chest already looking smaller and less viscous than before. The suit rests discarded in another room, out of sight, just like any other clues that would threaten to expose who Wally was.
She turns back to Barry, who she notices is still looking at her, a small smile drawn on his lips. Really, this was the part she hated. The part where people got hurt because her and her brother weren’t quick enough to save them. Some days, that reality was easier to swallow. But right now, they had two evil metas on their tail, one of them being the one that killed their mom.
And Iris couldn’t deal with emotions. Not right now. But Barry was all emotion, she could already tell.
Which would make this harder for her than it already was.