January 24, 2017:

In a small series of cutscenes, Barry and Stephanie realize there's more about each of them, and have to decide how to handle it.



NPCs: Harvey Bullock, Turtle, Turtle Family

Mentions: Batman, Captain Marvel, Power Girl


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

Saturday, 9PM.

Stephanie arrived to the Batcave a few hours early. Not that this was terribly new, but hours was indeed rare enough to draw some notice. Unless she was researching something. Then Alfred is hard pressed to get her to go home. A little too like dark and broody in that.

Tonight's topic: surveillance cameras outside 32+ Flavors, an ice cream shop near the Simon Mall in Gotham. Batman's going to find the footage soon enough. It's got one of his batlings… children… in it and there's a glitch in the footage:

19:03:17 Stephanie and Barry are walking toward the sidewalk leading to the ice cream shop.
19:03:21 Stephanie's toe catches the edge of the sidewalk; she's blinded by oversized plushie in a Batman costume, and starts to fall. Batbear begins to slip from her grasp. (The visual makes Stephanie cringe. She can imagine the reactions that will cause. Batman's going to be silent and act as if nothing was there while filing it away and Judging her for it. Barbara is going to giggle and make a comment which Dick's going to pick up on and those two won't let her live it down ever. Tim…. Tim's not going to say anything, like Batman. But, there will be that smirk. She's got no doubts that both Batman and Tim Drake know Stephanie is a bit of a Batfangirl. The plushie is both embarassing and highly treasured. But focus Steph! keep advancing the footage frame by frame.
19:03:22 Stephanie's in Barry's arms. Batbear is on the sidewalk.

Stephanie frowns and backs up the footage to 19:03:21:00 and then goes frame by frame. Nothing seems amiss. Nothing seems out of place. Six frames into Stephanie starting to trip, Barry's frame is suddenly blurry. The next frame, still blurry. It's one frame of seeing him not in a difference place persay, but no longer a crisp clear figure in the picture. Frame seven, both Batbear and Stephanie are a blur with him. Frame eight, everyone is back to clear and she's being held up by Barry and Batbear is on the ground by her feet. Timestamp: 19:03:22:00 Eight frame CCTV camera. The lowest end for frame rate on these kinds of cameras. Low end, and most popular. Stephanie really can't blame the store owner. Eight frames is more than enough for normal human anything.

This is Barry Allen being more than just a normal human.

Stephanie sits back as she peers at the video, one foot tucked under a knee, other foot on the ground. With it, she pushes herself side to side.

Barry's a meta. The footage couldn't catch what he did, so it leaves more than a few things open. He could have moved too fast for the camera. Too fast for her to notice. Which takes her back to her bat-search engine and eventually reddit to look for 'too fast to perceive':

Not the most helpful bit of math, but… it doesn't rule out superspeed. Doesn't rule in completely in either. After all, he could have slowed time. Stephanie rechecked the footage but couldn't see what caused her to become affected. She wouldn't have it he hit life's pause button. Hoping for a better view, Stephanie checks the surrounding store's footage, but finds nothing more to help her out. All the timestamps line up. None of them can spot what Barry might have done, none can give them a clue as to what meta-ability he possessed to catch her so quickly.


Saturday 11:45PM

Stephanie never heads in early, but the incident with Flash and Turtle on the bridge struck a chord. Themed supervillian, elderly and likely alone, tries to commit suicide by 'cop'. His gun was placed on a shelf in the trophy room; her first offering. It stung, but Flash asked her for information on him. There was work to do. Batman had given her his name. Really, in the scheme of things, this was the easiest bat-search ever.

As requested, Spoiler found information on Turtle, his arrest and various crimes, all with the usual Batman style meticulous note-taking and data cross-referencing that admittedly Stephanie envied and tried to emulate in her notes for school. Finding information on Turtle's family had proven far too simple a task for the Bat Computer. Condensing it into a tidy file took a few more minutes and well before midnight, Spoiler was composing a text to Flash's phone, and saving his contact information to her black and purple cell phone.

'Flash. As requested. Turtle family info. Do what you need to, then stay out of Gotham.'

Spoiler leaned back in her computer chair, and rubbed her eyes. Tonight, she called it done hours early. Tonight she went on 'patrol' on her own. To Arkham. To slip in to the cracks in their defenses that Batman showed her were there and allowed them to run a quick circuit to check on the most notable of inmates. Spoiler found her post, crouched and blended into the shadows in the rain, watching one Arthur Brown, Cluemaster, sleep.


'Flash. As requested. Turtle family info. Do what you need to, then stay out of Gotham.'

The text was plain and simple on the phone that the Justice League had issued him for staying in touch while in the probationary period. As he sat in the waiting room of Wayne Memorial Hospital, he glanced over the information and then moved to make a phonecall to St. Louis, Missouri.

'Mr. Cavanaugh, this is a friend of your father's. He's been in an accident, and you're needed at his bedside.'

'My father?' the voice responded over the phone. 'I haven't seen him since he went to prison.. he told me never to come visit him.'

'Time's changed. He's ill and not doing well. Can I send someone to get you and bring you to Gotham?'

'Sure. I can be packed and ready in the morning? Do I need to arrange transportation?'

'No, we'll handle it. No charge. Except maybe a sandwich. He'll be there soon.'

'…a sandwich?'

There was no answer, Barry had already disappeared from the hospital, using a lighter speed until he was outside of the city and quickly jumped to his max that he's found on this new world that he's not a part of. In a matter of minutes, he was in St. Louis, and knocking on the door of the Cavanaugh residence. A middle aged man answered, with his wife peering over his shoulder.

'Mister and Missus Cavanaugh? I'm Flash. I'm supposed to get you to Gotham for your father.'

It took three trips total. One for each of them, and a last for their teenaged son and a few backs. The teenager enjoyed it the most. When he arrived at the hospital, the parents were already in the old man's room, and they were all sobbing tearfully and hugging each other. Barry smiled to himself until he heard a voice behind him.

"So what are you? Some type of Speedy Delivery Service? Go get me a pizza and some suds." the voice said. As Barry turned, he found himself face to face with a large, heavy set man, grizzled, gruff, much like he's learned that this city is. And of course he had out his badge. "Detective Harvey Bullock, Gotham PD. You got a license and registration for going that fast?"

Barry vibrated just enough to mask his voice. "Sorry, left it in my other suit. What do you people have against Good Samaritans?"

"Look, Whiz Kid, you must be new around here, so I'm gonna let this one slide - but in Gotham, anything that dresses up in tights ain't a good guy. Even ol' pointy ears and his brats ain't exactly welcomed. So make it easy on yourself, save me the heartburn of dragging your sorry ass down to the station, and keep your Boy Scout deeds to yourself back in Metropolis, or New York, or whatever corner you came out of."

First Batman via Spoiler, now this guy. What was this city's /problem/ with those that want to help?

He made sure that the Turtle was with his family, and then tactfully withdrew from Gotham.

Monday, 3:30 PM

It was easy enough to convince Captain Marvel on Monday afternoon of what he was doing. Researching any heroes that may know something of Tachyon technology could help him get the device that brought him here repaired enough to get him back home. To his Earth, and his Team Flash, and everything with it.

But as he researched it, he decided to check something. Power Girl seemed to know who he was, as Barry brought up a querry and typed in 'Flash; Barry Allen'.

Barry Allen came up first - he was surprised to see that this world's Barry Allen had been a blonde. A criminolgist that graduated from Sun City - something else for him to research, he worked in Central City, just as he had. But it seems he had disappeared some months ago and hadn't been heard from since. He did a little more research, got an address for an apartment and place he had in both Central City and in New York.

The Flash querry was even shorter. There was a speedster by that name. His uniform was a little lighter, and a little more sterile, but the same tactile abilities seemed to be in place. But just like Barry Allen, there hadn't been any word or news article from him in quite a while.

Making a note of the information, Barry decided that tomorrow would be spent on a small road trip in the morning.

Taking in a deep breath, Barry considered, and started a new querry: 'Villains; Batman; Clues'.

Two entries came up: Riddler. Cluemaster.

Barry started with the alphabetical order, Cluemaster. As the information came on screen, the young man started to read. As Stephanie had told him, he had been a villain that left clues to try to draw the Dark Knight into dangerous and deadly traps. While not the same threat level as his Riddler counterpart, or the Joker, he was considered to be on the same tier as the ranks of Calendar Man.

He continued to read, getting to recent history. Recently incarcerated at Arkham, he had been betrayed by his own daughter. The name was redacted, but Barry already had that piece of the puzzle - Stephanie Brown herself had provided that information during their lunch on campus. And her belief that he was guilty. He had hoped to maybe read something to say that he would be willing to reconicle. Something that would suggest that he would be willing to forgive Stephanie for ruining his career. For spoiling his trap.

That word tumbled in his head, Barry catching upon it. He brought up a new querry 'Spoiler'.

Little information existed. Something about her being a new and recent entry to the Batman ranks. The dates.. he went back, pulled up Cluemaster's arrest, and Spoiler's first entry in the news. The two dates were close, but not identical. Pushing himself from the computer, Barry turned and went to a whiteboard. Taking out a dry erase marker, he made a list.

Info Stephanie Spoiler
Build Athletic, Cheerleader, Dancer Athletic, Gymnastic
Hair Blonde Blonde
Eyes Blue-Green Unknown
Shared Info Went to Movies on 1st Date Mentioned Movie First Date
Talked During Movie Said She Talked During Movies
Nimble Fingers, Small Hands Nimble Fingers, Small Hands
Sounds Similar Sounded Similar

He stopped writing. He went back to the night on the bridge with Turtle. Spoiler's voice, harsh, choked with emotion, ordering him not to return to Gotham or face the consequences. Her tired expression. The tears that came so easily. But that is starting to make assumptions, and in Barry's line of work, he's learned that assumptions don't seal a case.

Sitting down in a chair, he remained there for several minutes, a lifetime of thought for the scarlet speedster. After reaching a decision, he turned to the computer, and cleared the internet cache of his prior searches. And then he went to the whiteboard, and in a blur of motion, erased it cleaned.

Stephanie Brown may have a life outside of a college student, but he's not going to be the one to spoil it. If she wanted to tell him; it would be an amazing leap of faith and trust, but one she needed to make herself. If she's associated with Batman, he had no doubt that she too, may already know who he is, and that this wasn't their second date at all. But it brought it all back to the bridge. That was when his phone went off.

Monday 4PM - Gotham U Girl's Dorm

Stephanie fell back on her bed. Batbear glowered down at her from the corner by the pillows: I'm Batbear, hug me. She stared at the masked bear a moment then rolled over to get her phone. The Hello Kitty phone. Stephanie's phone, not Spoiler's phone. Her attempt at keeping everything separate. Not that she was any good at it, but effort is important.

'Barry. Didn't get time or place for #2. Let me know when ASAP so I can clear my schedule?'

And figure out how to tell him that she knows he's a meta. She's not sure he got the hint. If he picks Gotham, he clearly didn't. Anywhere else and.. maybe he had.

Stephanie curls up on her bed, pulling Batbear down into a hug, burying her face in his furry shoulder and clinging to his soft black cape. Though her body is still, her mind is a whirl.

Barry's a meta. Yellow and red blurs. Moves fast or stops time or teleports? Maybe it was.. telekinesis? No, overcomplicated and she would have seen him and the camera would have seen her put to rights. So…. Time Lord… no, he's not a Doctor. Time.. controller or speedster. Yellw and red blurs. Mom died. CSI. Dad in prison. Forgot to research 'Barry Allen'. Tonight..before patrol. Right now, must nap.

Stephanie drifts off, emotionally exhausted from the day.

Monday 5:45 PM, Hall of Justice

'Barry. Didn't get time or place for #2. Let me know when ASAP so I can clear my schedule?'

Looking at his personal phone, Barry pondered for a moment. He had planned to take her on a walk down in Gotham Park, he heard that there was an ice-skating rink, and it would be a way to pass the time and talk to continue to get to know each other better. His hand moved up to his lips, and he thought about the warmth he felt when they shared a kiss beneath the statue at Gotham University.

But now he knew more. If she was Spoiler, his direct interaction in Gotham with anything that may happen, even a pickpocket, would tip off Batman and in turn, cause trouble for Stephanie. Captain Marvel said that when it came to Gotham, that Batman was a lot of growl, but he won't begrudge help if it was needed help.

"Then I'll just wait until it's needed." Barry decided.

He made the reservations at Air-U Trampoline Park in Metropolis, securing it for their second date. As he did so, he chuckled to himself. Then he brought up an Escape Room website. For a moment, his finger hovered over the reservation button, and he changed his mind. That would be too obvious.

…it's all about trust. And he has to trust her.

'Steph, Air-U Trampoline Park, Metropolis, 6 PM. Bring your workout gear, we're going to be jumping a lot. :D'

"I won't be that wedge between her and her mentor. But that doesn't mean I won't help. At least until I can't." With that in mind, he looked down at the address for one Barry Allen in Central City. He had his own puzzle to figure out.

And off he went.

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