Cats Never Stay in Bags

January 28, 2017:

Barry and Stephanie go out on a date. It ends with what they both knew about the other coming out into the open, along with something neither of them fully expected.

Metropolis Park

An ice skating park in Metropolis.

Characters

NPCs: Mugger, Burly Bruisers

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: None.


Fade In…

As the sun is setting in Metropolis, Barry and Stephanie are leaving the ice skating rink. Stephanie's cheeks are still rosy, as she walks with Barry back out ont othe sidewalk.

"Ohmygod, that was so much fun," she says as the pair start the walk back toward the train station. Her hair's a be messy, flyaways clinging to her temples. Her eyes are bright, alive.

Ice was so /not/ Barry's thing. For the fastest man alive, he ended up on his rump alot. Enough to probably make Stephanie wonder if he was faking it or if he really does have a weakness to it as he laughs, reaching back to rub his sore rump. "It's going to take me a good pillow to sit on for the next week." he says with a small laugh, his cheeks rosy, eyes warm with affection and fun as he slips his hand into hers, giving it a fond squeeze. "But I had a lot of fun." he says with a glance towards her, taking in how she looks, the attractive curve of her cheeks, the shape of her nose..

…and trying not to put a domino mask on her in his mind. They each have their secrets, he's respecting it - and he really likes the girl, not the mask.

"Yeah. You'll need to. Or just not sit," Stephanie replies, chuckling softly as she laces her fingers with his. She can feel the ring through her gloves. Same size, same weight, same shape. "Me too," she echoes, eyes turning from him as he glances. Her smile's faded slightly, just slightly, as she ponders that, and that one text a week ago or more. He said he was going to shower, then that he was about the get on the train, then that he was back at the house. It was really …odd. And then the night in front of the arcade. There's more, nagging at her… but what? What's the detail she's missing?

"If you have ideas on how to keep me from sitting, I'm all for it." Barry teases her with a little wink, before he notices the change in her expression, the fade in her smile, and he assumes he said something wrong just then. "I mean.. sorry. Just testing the waters between us." he admits with a little shrug as he gives her fingers a squeeze, laced as they are. Drawing in a breath, he changes gears. "So, hot chocolate?"

Video footage from the arcade. He was a blur. Ideas to keep him from sitting. Stephanie blinks twice, face turning toward him with brows pulled together.

"What?" Testing.. waters? He squeezes her hand and she squeezes back, finding her smile, though her eyes are still preoccupied and confused.

"Yeah. Hot chocolate would be great. I'm wearing layers and I'm still cold," she's saying, trying to sound not preoccupied.

As preoccupied as the two are - Stephanie with figuring out what exactly Barry is, Barry with figuring out where he stands with Stephanie, neither of them are paying enough attention to see the guy step out of the shadows as they pass through a darken part of the park on their way to the coffee shop.

Brandishing a sharp blade, the hoodlum looks between the two. "Alright, love birds. Wallets and jewelry. Make with it." he says with a sneer, his clothing ratty and torn, his expression ragged. He's a drug user from the looks of it, probably living on the streets.

"Stephanie, is there something wro.." the rest doesn't get out as Barry finds himself confronted with the mugger, and frowns, releasing Stephanie's hand to move a little in front of her. "Wallets? Sure.. just.. keep the knife aside. No need for anyone to get hurt."

"Hey, shut up!" the mugger growls at him. "Just give me the money!"

The blade is spotted a moment too late. The guy is spotted a moment too late. All of it. Stephanie's just a little too late noticing all of it. She can hear Batman's silent glare now. It sounds like: ….

Four dots! Count 'em. Four! Bam! That's ultra-unhappy.

Barry steps in front of her and Stephanie steps up closer to his side. It really would looke like she's cowering into him, but to Barry, he feels Stephanie put her small hand on his left arm, in the exact same way and place as Spoiler had done to Flash. She hasn't meant to. She just wanted to get a hand on him so she could shove him clear if drug dealer tried to close in on them. Shove and use his body as a pivot point from which she could sweep kick the guy to the ground.

Barry has a long memory, and his eyes widen, not where Stephanie can see them, but there is a definite widening as he knows what may be coming next. His hands drop to his sides as he reaches behind him. "Nice and slow. I'm going for my wallet, okay?" he asks the mugger as the man gives a nod of his head towards nothingness.

Though Stephanie would recognize the signal more.

As the mugger approaches, there's a couple of more that come out of the shadows. "Hey, Claude!" one of them calls out. "You got the money?" the burly man asks, dressed in slacks and a leather jacket, his associate dressed similarly.

"I.. I'm about to! I told you I'd get it to you by midnight!" the mugger says, his hand shaky as he looks between the enforces and the young couple.

"Ding ding." the burly man says, reaching into his pocket. "It's midnight."

Even as he's starting to pull the gun from his pocket, Barry's taking it all in. "There's no need for a gun.." he starts to say, before the burly man turns towards the couple. "What do you wanna do about them?" he asks his companion.

"You know what the boss said, no witnesses." It seems that they're both armed with pistols. What was easy just got a lot worse for Barry and Stephanie.

A nod toward nothing. Stephanie's eyes narrow, lips press into a thin line, and she glances past to the new arrivals. She knows what reachign for a gun looks like. Seeming to tuck into Barry a bit more, like she's hiding behind him, Stephanie runs through options as quickly as she can manage: Shove Barry to the ground, tumble at KnifeGuy for cover and to drop him and get the knife, throw knife at gun shoulder of Gun1, roll into Gun2 and punch in groin.

Also: Do all that without speaking. Because SPOILER ALERT!

Stephanie hesitated, noted the lack of cameras in this dark part of the park, but still didn't move. She did not want to give up the game until Gun2 says the magic words: No witnesses.

Well… maybe she can chalk it up to self-defense classes.

Time to move before they start firing. Spoiler presses play on the queued up action sequence, and shoves Barry much harder than her slight frame might make people guess she could for slight she may be Stephanie knows how to use leverage and what strength she has. Tuck, tumble, up into Knife's face. She grabs wrist, twists harshly as she jabs the heel of her hand up into his the down of his chin. Pause a heartbeat, let the the Guns try to retrack while grabbing the knife for herself…

Stephanie has a solid plan. If Barry wasn't already on his own plan as well. As soon as Stephanie shoves him, he makes an Oscar-worthy flop as he flails past the knife man, and with a sudden motion is on the ground. As the gun is pulled, Barry uses the motion to snag a rock from the ground and flings it into the hand of gunman number one, sending his show wide to the right as he reaches to grab it.

The other man is reaching for his own gun, as Barry is hitting the ground, the knife guy whirling around on the shooters as Stephanie grabs a hold of his wrist. The mugger yelps in panic as he is thrown aside by Stephanie, the girl ending up with the knife, just as the second gunman's pistol is reoriented towards Stephanie. It's all a matter of speed at this point - either the speed of the Batling, or the shooter.

Though there is a third option that neither of them had considered just yet.

KnifeGuy down, blade secured. And then Gun1 is deflected? By, what? By the angle… Barry. Threw something. But she just heard him hit the ground. That rock she hears clattering away was not in his hand. Also, he was flailing. Which leaves one explanation.

One she can't take time to think about right now because there's a gun trained on her. And she's not wearing her Nomex under the street clothes. It's just her, the tight blue jeans and thermals beneath. There really isn't time to do anything more than pray her tumble and stab to the underside of that extended gun arm happens before he pulls the trigger. Stephanie's never been shot before. She'd like to keep it that way.

Of course. There's option number three. Please don't let option three get in the way and end up stabbed.

With Stephanie taking down the mugger, that leaves the two burlies. The first gunman snarls as he turns his weapon on Stephanie, preparing to fire again.

While that's going on, Stephanie manages to get the drop on the second burly. He attempts to fire as she tumbles, his shot going over her, and smacking the ground just behind her as she moves in. He tries to readjust his aim, but it's too late. Spoiler's upon him and as she brings the knife about, she may notice just before she drives it home in the man's arm..

…someone else's blood is already on the knife…

The knife sinks into the coat and flesh of the burly man and he screams in pain, dropping the gun as he takes a wild swing at Stephanie to try to knock her away. In the meantime, the first burly man starts to move to fire at the young woman. The trigger pulls, the bullet leaps from the chamber.

And Barry Allen races into view, a momentary blur of motion of red and yellow as he matches the speed of the bullet and plucks it out of the air as he moves suddenly and quickly coming around and catches the burly man under the chin with a punch at rough 300 mph. His chin rocks back, teeth shattered together as he's knocked backwards on his back.

Burly man two sees his companion go down. Not that he'll have much time to react with Stehanie up in his grill.

Just ignore that spreading stain of red at Barry's hip where he got shoved and was stabbed for a moment by the mugger. Ooops.

Knife was clean when she grabbed it? Stephanie dodges the blow from Burly 2 as she back up a step to face hte first guy. She sees the gun on her. She knows it's already too late. The sound of the exploding gunshot rings in her ears. Too late, but she's going to try anyway. Her body tenses to fling herself clear, even though she knows that will never happen. Indeed, it does not, for she tenses and then suddenly, there's Barry and.. red and yellow blur.

Flash.

Lips part and for a heartbeat Stephanie just stands there.

FOCUS!

The single word rings through her mind. Batman's voice, yelling at her during training when she's allow a distraction to get to her. Blue eyes turn back on Burly2, and with crisp effciency the batling in civilian clothing drops him. Kitten gloves off, there's no longer any more time and there's blood on Barry's hip… there was blood on the knife before she used it.

"Zip ties. Inside zipper pocket," she says as she mvoes. Who's she talking to? Barry of course. He's fast. He'll get the other two tied up as she finishes dropping this guy.

Barry's efficent with his speed as he is quickly into the zipper pocket - what type of girl carries zip ties on a date?? - the prepared kind of course as he yanks the ties, a blur of motion as he ties them off, a phone call made to the police to pick them up, and before Stephanie realizes it, she's in Barry's arms, roughly moving at over 200 miles per hour as he races across the city, up a building, and settles her on the roof.

They needed a talk, it seems.

And privacy.

Hand moving to his hip, he sighs and grits his teeth for a moment. "…ruined a perfectly good shirt." he mutters as he lifts it up. Already the wound is starting to knit - his sped up physiology working overtime to close the wound.

The last guy was down. Stephanie stood over him for a moment, fists clentched, breathing harsh. She could the blur about her on her peripherial. She's just starting ot reach for her purse to get hte zip ties for this guy, when the blur over takes her and before she knows it she's whizzing through the city faster than her bike goes. She has just enough time to cling to Barry before he's setting her down… on a rooftop.

A million thoughts are racing through her mind, so much faster than she can process them as she watches Barry pressing a hand to his hip. For a long moment she just stands there, watching him bleed. The footage, the blur, the movie date, the blur, the batbear, the head rub, that same class ring! Stephanie huffs and digs for a first aid kit.

'When were you planning on tell me, Barry? Before or after hte wedding?' Yeah, no.
'Well, this explains a lot. How long did you know?' better?

"Thanks for staying out of Gotham…. but… it's more… It wasn't YOU.. it's your power use… and… thank you for helping Mr. Cavanaugh. It means a lot… I guess and…" The blur. The footage. The batbear.

"Let me see the wound?" At least that's steady. Her mind is reeling.

"Yeah, well, you asked so nicely. Even said please." Barry offers a smirk as he moves his hand. It was a deep cut - was being the relative tone, as it was already starting to close up.

He knew. How long did he know? It's not immediately shared as he smirks a little. "Is this where I tell you to stay out of Metropolis?" he says as Barry considers her, the thoughts of their first meeting - the battle against Cold, class time, late nights at the diner helping her with class work, the movie, her smile..

…the way her lips feel on his..

"Because if I'm supposed to do that, it's going to make it really difficult to ask you to be my girlfriend." he adds with moment of levity.

Stephanie rolls her eyes lightly at the snark. At least it makes her smile. Prepared for a deep wound given the amount of blood, Stephanie blinks as the wound seems to be…c losing… almost before her eyes. She blinks and shakes her head lightly. His levity draws a faint chuckle and she turns her gaze up from the wound to his face.

"Yeah. It really would," Stephanie replies. Her brows draw together.

"….So, you're Flash. .. was the bat-bear… and attempt to tell me you knew? Because… that would be.. interesting and adorable and yeah…"

"I had some idea.. just hadn't put it all together yet. Remember? Crime scene investigator." Barry says as he reaches up and brushes a strand of her hair over her ear as he draws in a breath and considers her.

"And you're Spoiler. I guess our souls are laid bear to each other." And who knows when what else would be laid bear as he studies her eyes and lifts her chin to press his lips to hers.

The kiss may be chaste for a moment, but the affection that comes with it isn't.

"Right. CSI," she echoes. Her nods fall still when he brushes a strand of hair behind an ear, his fingertips brushing her cheek.

"I.. guess they are," she replies, brows pulling together. So much crushing on this guy, but.. he's a mask too! That last one didn't end well. Has it ended well? Not that she and Tim talk about it, at all. She cares too much to hurt him more by pushing herself back into his life when he had thought she was dead. She can work with him as a batling and be his friend… and thoughts of that are quickly being chased away by a chaste for the moment kiss. Stephanie's hands come up to rest on Barry's chest. She could shove, or she could cling, or she could lean in. It's kind of a weird all three in such quick succession and all jumbled in order that it reads as Stephanie not really knowing what she's wanting. The kiss feels amazing. The rush of 'he knows!' is exhilerating.

Masks, lines of where he can and can't go, trapped on a different world - perhaps never getting home..

None of it matters in the moment with his mouth against Stephanie's, as he tries to figure out how she feels about it before he pulls back, studying her face. She may slap him. She may demand another kiss or more. She may go all awkward.

Barry's own confusion is obvious as he prepares for any of the responses.

Her hands on his chest would have definetly given it away, his heart is racing a mile a minute, a small bundle of energy that seems to just be a near stop as quick as it beats beneath her touch.

Stephanie's blue eyes open as Barry pulls away from the kiss. She can feel that rabbit-quick heartbeat racing along under her palm. Here eyes track toward her hand, then back up into his face. She can see his confusion.

"He wanted me to find out who you are. Report back with forensic evidence," she says softly. Which isn't any of the reactions listed above. Unless this counts as her goign awkward.

"Why? So he can use it against me?" Barry asks as he steps away from her. "Blackmail? Didn't think that was his style, Stephanie." he points out as he moves to the edge of the building. "I'm a nobody here." he admits quietly. "Ripped away from my own world. Stuck here. No job, no contacts. The Justice Leage has been kind enough to help - which also means he probably already knows who I am." he admits quietly.

He draws in a breath. "That wasn't fair. To you. Or him." he says as he looks over his shoulder at her as he considers her. "I still don't think it's that style. You can report what you want, Stephanie. I'm not going to stop you. But.."

"…I won't say who you are. You wear your mask for a reason. You're a student, you have a life. And I won't be the one to take any of that from you."

The warmth and racing heartbeat pulls away from the palm of her hand, and Stephanie presses her lips together. Her hand closes, as if she could keep the warmth of his that way, and she pivots to watch him. That he admits what he does on top of the thing with his dad.. Which really just breaks her heart more because it makes it clear that there isn't any left to help his father. Stephanie steps over, hand reaching for his shoulder.

"I dont' know why he asked. He just did. There was a Flash here before you. We have some informatino on him, but not who he was. add a new Flash and.. You're right. He doesn't blackmail those trying to do good. I…"

"I have to tell him I found out. Eventually. …and… thank you for, promising you won't tell. I'm sorry you're trapped here. If… I can ..help.."

Help what? Help him get home? And possibly lose him? By the look in her eyes, if it saves an innocent man's life: #worth

"I know, I've been trying to find out about him. He was a blonde." Barry offers quietly as he moves to cover the hand on his shoulder. There's a glance towards the wound on his side, and when he lifts it up, the flesh is pink and knitted and still healing as he looks at her.

"Everything happens for a reason. You came into my life for a reason. Maybe you were meant to find out who I am to help me get adjusted." he says with a thoughtful look to her. And then he offers a smile.

"As long as I'm here.. do you want to stay together?"

"Same name?" Stephanie asks in that Spoiler-serious tone. It's really not much changed from her Serious-Stephanie voice. She follows his gaze, lips parting in wonder at the even more healed wound. No scab! The awe of it plays on her features. Her eyes come back to his as he speaks.

"I…. The last time I dated another costumed hero it… got complicated. I.. don't want things to be complicated. But I know they're going to be.. complicated. Which is horrible. Because I like you, Barry. I really do. You make me laugh, and you're really sweet, and caring. I've never seen anyone really as caring and kind-hearted and genuinely good as you are. It's…" Stephanie pauses, realizing her mouth is starting to run away. If she were weraing red lipstick…

"You're an amazing person, Barry Allen." An unintentional echo of another's words?

"I … would like to try it. I'm worried, nervous… scared it's going to blow up in our faces. Like. maybe even… literally blow up. Last one- … nevermind. Yes."

There's a small chuckle as Barry nods. "Same name, lived in Central City, but didn't have anything to do with STAR Labs, oddly enough…" Barry starts to say, when Stephanie starts to ramble, trying to rationalize either saying no.. which he seems to be bracing for, after all, Barry is the fastest man alive..

…even if he's a little slow on the social uptake.

"You're trying to help your dad when he doesn't want it. Living three different lives at once.. and I'm supposed to be the amazing one? I think you lapped me on that one, Stephanie Brown." he says quietly before he turns to her.

"It hopefully won't destroy our worlds."

And with that, his lips find hers again. Shut up, Barry. Just kiss her. And kiss her like you mean it.

"STAR Labs?" Stephanie's heard of it. She can't remember all the details. Her head tilts to think about it, her rambling paused for the moment. It's the moment that he addresses her being amazing. Like Barry said. She's living three lives: Spoiler, Student, Girl Scout Role-Model. The notion makes her blush lightly, and she starts to shake her head. Those different lives are just her trying to keep up with the Batman, her idol. Not that she will ever admit that to anyone EVER. She's just going ot hug her Batbear. She looks up at him as he turns. Her brows pull together, lips starting to part to ask what he means about the detruction of worlds only to find his mouth against hers again.

There is a passion in the kiss this time. A feeling she can't deny. She'd like to compare it to other kisses, but there isn't a comparison. The bold, secure, brashness of the passion she can taste on his lips draws a heady sort of moanlike grunt from her throat. Her arms wrap about his neck to steady herself and pull herself closer against him.

There is an uncapped passion between the two as Barry's arms slip around Stephanie's waist to lift her into the kiss, that goes from simple chasteness to something more developed and exploratory as his fingers trail down her back and he holds her tightly to him, their bodies silhouetted against the bright lights of the Metropolis night line. He can feel her braid tickiling against his fingers as he breaks from the kiss to press his nose to hers and studies her eyes. "Cold?" he asks her quietly.

Slightly dizzy, Stephanie leans into Barry's arms, balanced on her toes, eyes closed. She pushes her noce up into his ever so slightly, like a nuzzle.

"Warming up," she whispers, a blush high on her cheeks. "You?"

"Getting there." Barry says with a little laugh as he kisses her lightly again. "Should we get off this rooftop?" he asks her, studying her eyes, realizing that she's really pretty this close as he draws in a part of her breath and scent. "I can get changed, and we can go out, or.."

He laughs and Stephanie smiles, giggling softly into the next kiss. Her eyes open this time, to meet Barry's gaze. "I can't stay," Stephanie starts, voice tightening and brows drawing together. "I have midnight patrol. It's going to take me an hour to get to Gotham by train, and then drive the rental back to… a safehouse and then change and grab my bike…" Her eyes close and she tightens the hug, leaning into him and tightening her hug. This is infinitely simplier and simultaneously more difficult that the Tim thing. With Tim it was: Time for patrol. And they'd change, step out into the main part of hte cave nearly teh same time, and then head out on their routes. Sometimes paired up, sometimes not. But always a commchatter away.

"I really want to Barry. But I've got to check on.." Why are you hesitating!? He knows already! "..Dad. Make sure he's still in Arkham. And then there are a few points I have to check on, see if shipments have moved… I can't stay…" Or sleep tonight it seems. because she's going to do all of that, after having spent most of the afternoon in Metropolis with Barry after clearly taking the train and all its slowness to get here and…

"I understand.. I could run you back to Gotham?" Barry asks. That gives her an hour at least. "You can grab a quick nap and then take care of what you need to do to get your night going." he says, seeming to understand, a slight slump underneath her the only outward sign that he'd like to have more more time in her arms and kissing.

"Or at least get you to the train station."

Ooh what a hard choice! Be taken all the way back to Gotham, the train station parking lot, where her rental car is parked, and skip the train completely… or get taken to the train… there are two train stations. One in Metropolis. One in- NO! Bad Stephanie! No metahuman powers in Gotham. She will not toe the line. She will not let Batman down in such a manner.

"Thank you. The Metropolis station would be fine," she says, though the note of disappointment is heavy in her voice.

"How long until you have to go to the train station?" Barry asks, trying to figure out how much time they have for spending together in kisses before she has to flee. Because that is what they are going to be doing until it's time to go to carry her to the station and drop her off.

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