February 16, 2017:

After the events in Gotham Mists, Flash takes Spoiler away to have a talk about the attack - and what it means for themselves - both with and without the masks.


The top of the World Trade Tower, Barry's Apartment.


NPCs: None.

Mentions: Tim Drake, Batman, Rachel Quinn


Mood Music: None.

Fade In…

"Go away." she had said.

"No." he retorted.

And before Spoiler could respond, Flash had grabbed the woman and run off with her. Across the river he runs. Through Gotham, pouring on the speed. The I-95 is a blur of lights and speed if she's paying attention, impossible for the human eye to track as fast as he runs. The slight pressure and then popping in her ears on a lonely stretch of road marks the breaking of the sound barrier from his perspective as he continues on. The lights grow. New York.

They continue on, the speedster's heart racing, holding her close, bundled in his arms so that she's not affected by the speed as he keeps her protected. Then she'll feel them going up. And the sudden stop at the end.

He releases her and sets her down. She'll realize that they are in a small catwalk, the light at the top flashing red harshes for a moment and then darkens. But the view below? Absolutely breath stealing. He's run them to the top of the World Trade plaza.

"If you're going to slap me, I'm going to make you walk down." he says as a way to keep her calm.

For all that their relationship has been so brief, one thing Stephanie had learned was that Barry didnt push things. He did but when she put her heels down, he'd stop. Her "Go Away" was fueled by pain and her own disappointment at herself, for losing her cool, for nearly dying, for being so damn blonde.

Feeling his arms around her, Stephanie had relaxed for a heartbeat. And then there was speed. Such speed as she has never felt. It had the sting in her side and hand where knife and edge of batarang punctured her glove and suit slightly flating up. It had the breathless and the ache of Joker knee to her rubs flare from a throbbing ache to a sharp stab. The pressure shift across the sound barrier amde her head spin so that by the time Barry had stopped and set her to her feet, there's little for Stephanie to do but sink to her knees, trembling and clinging to the catwalk.

"Why?" Her voice cracks, still struggling for air as she is. "Why are you in Gotham? I told you to stay out of Gotham. Now Joker's loose and he wants metas because there have been metas in Gotham. First the green thing then.. occult.. then.. you.. He's killed one of us already! And now he's got a cocoon. At least one. Maybe more. I couldn't stop him. I stopped thinking because. God Barry he knows. He knows. And he… said… dad said hi and.. he knows. And he's killed one of… one of us. I saw… ive seen. The s-suit its… its.. because I failed. I stopped thinking and I couldn't…I'" Clinging, cape pulled away from her in the high winds, Stephanie's words tumble and break as she staggers in the emotional turbulence of her own failings and fears and frustration and helplessness.

It's cold. Bitterly so, as Barry shudders from it, but it's the only place that he could think of that would keep her from being mad and storming off. Grabbing her cloak, he pulls it tightly around her. "I'm not the first meta in Gotham." He's done the research, "Killer Croc, various others."

"But that's not about metas in Gotham - it was going to happen regardless. It's like trying to tell a mutant not to become a mutant in Gotham. I stayed out until you called me." he says with a frown. She called him. He didn't push it until she didn't respond - and then he heard Rachel's message to Spoiler on the line, and that's what turned him.

"Did he call you by name? Did he know who you were?" Barry asks, trying to make the girl see reason, even as he's taking up an item that he grabbed on his way to the scene, slipping off the backpack that holds a first aid kit to open it. "Let me see your side." he comments gently, as the harsh light exposes her wound again. "You have not failed. And Joker's killed before, from what I know of the man. I'm not Batman. I'm not one.. of Gotham's. But I said I would help you if you needed it."

Huddled into her cloak, Spoiler uses her left hand to pull her mask off so the frustrated tears will stop getting caught by the mask and turning into an eyeliner mess. Every Goth chick would ooh and aah at her smudged and streaked look.

"I know you're not. I didn't say. You're not. Don't want you part of. Didn't call you. Told you to stay out." Some things she has clear, it seems. Her face still downcast, Stephanie returns to that circular thought: told him to stay out, DEO and Joker, could have, maybe ok if she were to have died but not Barry. His question intrudes and she sniffs, focusing her mind to find his answers. "No. Yes. He said… Cluemaster. He said he knew… he knew… It'll lead him to… why were you in Gotham. Told you to stay out of Gotham. Joker's loose. He'll…" and she starts repeating herself.

But even as shes half mumbling those repetitive phrases she's moving to let Barry see the injuries. Her side is slashed by its mostly the fabric that took the damage. Theres a thin red line where it caught some skin. The blood is from her right hand, where the impact of knife and batarang tore through the palm of her glove and into her hand. She turns to wait, mostly calm sounding though shes still crying. "I know. I…thank you."

"I'm going to have to get you home and out of this.." Barry waves at her top. "..to treat the wound properly, but I'm going to put a bandage on it for now." he says as he moves to apply the sterile patch and lifts his eyes to look into hers after she takes off the mask. "You said to stay put and that Mists were involved. I gave you a couple of minutes to respond and then arrived. He's going to think what? That we're dating?"

"More he's going to think that Batman is tieing his members to the Justice League, which he probably already knew." he says as he continues to work and catches her chin to look her in the eyes. "Joker's whole thing is to get under your skin and work your weaknesses into advantages. He found yours." he says as he keeps his eyes on hers.

"The Mists are part of my project, Stephanie. You can't just tell me that there's an outbreak anywhere and expect me to sit on my hands." He could say more, that her delay probably kept him away long enough to allow Joker to take the coccoons, that he could have provided the turning point with his speed. But she's beating herself up enough. He's not going to add to it.

"Who was the other person there?" he asks. "It seemed that you had an ally in place that I wasn't aware of." the speedster looks thoughtful as he gets the temporary patch in place. "You alright to travel?" At least he's giving her the choice this time?

"But I told you…." Stephanie sighs, shoulders slumping, frame slumping, defeated at the moment. Her eyes lower from his. He could say more but he doesn't have to. She knows. If she had told him right away. Called instead of messaged.

Then those kids would be safe. Instead, she was too afraid to break the Rules and… well, that and afraid to let Joker know. Arthur picked it out so fast, how much she cares about Barry. With Joker's reputation she didn't want to risk Barry.. herself.. Stephanie's shoukders shake anew with fresh tears.

"I don't know" she answers, voice sullen. "She hacked my phone. Dont know how. Oracle'll figure it out." She says, starting to try to push herself up when he asks about travel. She can walk. Maybe. Really all she wants to do is shower and cry herself to sleep. Maybe sleep. Just cry.

When she pushes herself up, Barry draws in a breath. She's still being stubborn, but he has no plans on letting her travel down into this darkness. Not from this tower. Not into her own mind. Not alone. Picking her up, he considers and does the one thing he can to remind her that she's alive. And he's alive, and they're both safe.

His lips crush to hers, ignoring the mess that's her face as Barry kisses Stephanie hard and deep, their costumes pressed together as his hands bundle into her cloak. "I love you, Stephanie Brown. You don't get to be rid of me that easy." he says, digging in his heels figuratively as much as she does. She can run. He's going to catch her. Every time.

"My apartment. It's closer." And he can keep an eye on her.

On her feet, Stpehanie draws a breathe, just now looking about to see where she is. And then how to get down with sore ribs and a cut hand. Eyes dull as she thinks, Barry picking her up is a surprise and she turns her face to him. She starts to inhale, to part her lips to speak, when he catches her lips with his own. Less catch and more crush, grab hold and pull from the swirling dark.

For a moment, she's stunned, shocked from the dark by the motion. Then her eyes close and she leans in and tries to wrap her good arm about his neck. But thats the side Joker kicked and she grunts in pain into the kiss. When he speaks, Stephanie nods and leans her head against his chest, eyes closing to rest against him for transport. She's caught and thats completely okay by her.

"Hold on tight, the first step is a doozy." Barry smiles a little looking at her as he takes a step off the side of the building. They fall for several dozen feet before his feet find purchase on the glassy side of the building and they speed up quickly.

They hit the plaza, and where one would expect to have someone that was running down a side of one of the tallest buildings in the world to go /splat/, he turns the corner and smoothly transitions into the run that takes the pair to his apartment on the lower East side, entering through the Spoiler entrance - also known as his balcony into the room as he makes sure the room is secured before setting her down. "Alright. Let me get that wound tended to, and I'll make you something to eat and you can let the others know you're okay. But you're staying here tonight."

Hold tight. Stephanie tries, but things hurt. Such trust in Barry, Stephanie stays calm as he runs, almost dozing off until shes set down. Blue-green eyes open. "I can't stay." she says, even though shes still nodding in agreement to the rest.

"As long as you're patched up and get a meal in you." Barry says as he picks up the phone and calls a 24 hour Chinese restaurant. Placing an order for a family sized meal, the speedster sets down the phone. "You left some of your pajamas here from your last stay over. You can change into those. Let me take a look at that side wound and then I'll send you off to shower and change. At least until I can patch your uniform."

"Like hell you're mending this," Stephanie grumbles, upset enough to actually curse. She peels things off, hissing as she works off the glove on her right hand. The motion jostled the bandage and it's bleeding again. It clearly takes longer than she normally takes, but when she's clear of the nomex, she's left in a sports bra and atheletic shorts. Short ones. The kind that cheerleaders and dancers wear. Really, it's almost not fair that she's hurt right now, is it?

"It'll be noticed, and just.. No. It's fine. I have things back at the cave," she finishes, craning her head down and pushing her chest a bit out of the way to trry to see the thin bite of an angry red scratch. On the other side of her ribcage is a bruise just the right size for a knee.

It really is a shame, because there are plenty of things that Barry would do to Stephanie right now to test her cheerleader flexibility. "I didn't say I was going to mend it, I was just going to treat it for now." Stepping away from her, there's a blur of motion as he changes out of his own garb into a pair of pajama pants and a t-shirt. To the rest of the world, it will look like a young couple in love spending some time together.

Opening the kit, Barry takes out some antibiotic cream to start to apply to the injury, gentle with his touch as he uses a cotton swab to apply it. "You know, I did work for the police - I do have some first aid training." he chides her gently as he gets the wound cleaned up and starts to apply a fresh patch and wrapping the bandages around her taunt stomach. "He really got you good a couple of times." he offers quietly.

"There, that's done." he says as he reaches up and touches her cheek as the doorbell rings and he moves to go answer it and accept the meal that is being delivered to pay for it. "I don't know exactly what you like in Chinese so I ordered a little bit of everything. If you want to clean up first, it's good." he says with a frown tugging at his features as he considers her, concern touching his expression.

"Cleaning up is good," Stephanie replies, voice still flat and withdrawn. She hadn't moved or smirked at his gentle chiding. Or course he has first aid. She does too. Girl Scouts. She looks over at the food and just nods ass he turns to the bathroom. She washes her face as best she can one handed, getting the makeup off and looking more or less like herself again. If tired and worn out.

Barry has two choices at this point. He can try to continue his humor, which considering that she was attacked by a clown, is probably not the best idea of the world. So he moves away from that, to be the quiet and supportive boyfriend that she needs right now.

While she moves to clean up in the bathroom, Barry sets out the food, making himself a plate of chow mein noodles, and adding a healthy dose of grilled chicken and shrimp as he goes to sit down on the couch to start to eat, drawing in a breath. He's not even sure what to say at this point, except to be there for her.

It takes Steph way longer than it should have to return. But she didn't shower, so it could have taken longer. Moving over to the couch, Stephanie grabs one of Barry's blankets, climbs up on the sofa at his side, pulls the blanket over herself like a cape then curls up against his side, head under his arm near his hip so he can keep eating.

Barry watches her cautiously as she approaches as she moves to settle in and wrap the pair of them up. He plucks a piece of the shrimp from his plate, and offers it to her, remaining silent for now. He doesn't want to be in the way. He doesn't want to lose her. But he wants to be there - part of her life. His heart still beats normally, not the racing beat it usually is - he's calmed himself. He's forced himself to try not to fret, worry, or force her.

Stephanie was just staring out to no where, so when the shirmp comes into view there's a flicker of a start, and then she leans toward it to accept the offering. Just a tiny bit of it, and chewing slowly as she settles her head back to Barry's hip.

She takes a bite, that's a good thing. At least she has something on an appetite. Finishing off the forkful of food, Barry sets aside his plate and moves. His legs straddle hers to keep her close, and he lowers his head to kiss the crown of her head. His fingers move to caress into her hair, as he closes his own eyes, fighting down his own swallow of worry, his own tears held in check for now at how close he could have come to losing her tonight.

But he doesn't say anything. He's not going to go there, the line is a dangerous one, that blur of their seperate civilian and heroic identities. He's alrady crossed one line tonight, he's not going to go chasing that next line. She has to have her life, her freedom.. and he wants to be there for her. But as for now, he can't find the words to say that match his roil of emotions.

Pulled into his warm embrace, Stephanie snuggles into him, eyes closing as the closeness is a comfort.That kiss on the top of her head, it should be so famliar. But it's not. It's a rare thing, from her days as a too small child. Stephanie hiccups a single quiet sob and presses further into Barry's chest. She sighs again, eyes opening after a long time.

"I'm sorry I'm being so dumb."

"You're not dumb, Stephanie." Barry says, the words stinging him. His tears come .a warm moistness on the top of her head as his tears touch her scalp. "Good God, the last thing I'd describe you as is dumb. Unbelievable reckless, courageous, resourceful, brave…" he trails off, pulling her tighter, before releasing, realizing her wounds as he tries to start to stammer out his own apology. "I know I wasn't supposed to be there.."

"..I know, and I went.. because I heard. The woman on the line, she was talking to you and I overheard her. And for a moment, I was scared." he admits quietly. "If anyone's dumb here.. it's me. I keep forgetting, when the masks come on, you're not Stephanie Brown, you're Spoiler. And I shouldn't let that muddle me. And I'm trying hard to do that, but fate keeps pushing us back together anew."

Sure, the tighter hug hurt but… it was nice to feel his arms, so Stephanie didn't even squeak.

"I was scared too." Long pause. "I'm still scared. But… it's really hard. Dating both ways at the same time. Long hours on mission, working right next to someone… having to fight next to them. Having to trust them not the get hurt while knowing that every bit of worry you have for them they have for you. It's… I'm not mad. I… sort of did the same thing, even if it took me hours instead of minutes. So. I can't be mad. It'd be hypocritcal."

'I'm not Tim'. Barry would love to say that, but he can't. He doesn't know that her ex is also the boy wonder. Or would it be the teenage wonder? Or even college age wonder. Moving down, he gives them a little seperation, if only to capture her hands between them. "We have to trust each other. It's what got us into this relationship. Caused us to reveal what we are to the other - with and without the masks. What brought us to the bed for the first time."

"We have friends and allies. We have acquaintances and contacts.. but in the end? When it's all said and done, Stephanie Brown, you are the woman I'd put my own life in the hands in. As you already have captured my heart." he says, drawing in a breath. There's more words on his lips, but he puts on his own brakes. Don't screw this up, Bartholemew Allen. His eyes search hers, sharing, yearning, aching for her, and the worry and fear try to melt away.

Him moving away draws Stephanie's full attention, worried that he's goign to get up and run off. No way she'd catch him. But then he's holding her hands and … She inhales, brows pulled together. and then just as reckless as ever, Stephanie pushes forward, throws her arms about Barry's neck, and seeks his lips with hers.

The kiss from her catches Barry off-guard but he reacts naturally to it, his mouth slanting quickly to hers as he returns the kiss, his hands gingerly around her sides as he eagerly presses to her, but he starts to temper himself. She can't stay, he reminds himself. As much as he wants to, she can't stay.

"At least eat a little something, Stephanie?" he asks as he breaks the kiss, a breathless moan escaping him at her closeness. "You need to get some of your strength back up." Especially if she's planning on trying to go back out.

But before he lets go completely, he smiles. "I do love you, you know that, right?"

Not ready for the kiss to end, Stephanie grumps faintly, but sits back. She sighs and looks over at the food. She's not really hungry, but… God, she's acting like Tim.

"Yeah. I'll eat," she relents, before smiling back at him. "I know, Princess Leia."

"You eat, and we'll kiss more." Barry says with a grin, hooking his finger against the side of her dance shorts. "And we always know what kissing leads to with us."

"And I still have plenty of protection left." He may have overbought when she first suggested the direction that the two of them were taking their relationship in. "Or we can just kiss and snuggle. But either way, you have to eat."

Because it's not like he can't eat all this — okay, so he can.

And that has Stephanie laughing. Like the tension of the night just flew away, leaving Steph with little else but the ability just laugh at it all.

A laugh of relief of how ….awkwardly silly it all is. Eat and you can make out or have sex or snuggle, but you have to eat. How many times had she demnded any of the other batlings to eat?

How many times had she danglied intel or other things that she knew only she knew until they took bites of whatever food she had brought them. and now, KARMA! Stephanie sinks back, eyes watering and stomach hurting for all new reasons. And she's completely okay with this.

Barry's unsure of what he said that was so funny, but it was good to see that Stephanie was able to laugh and he lets out a slow breath of relief as he hears her laughter. Even if it's at his expense.

It didn't cost him anything. He turns his attention to eating and recovering his own strength from all the running he's done tonight.

"You are amazing, Barry Allen," Stephanie says when she can. Leaning over, she kisses his cheek, and then turns to get some food, having to work with her left hand because right hand in all bandaged.

"You're pretty spectacular yourself, Stephanie Brown." Barry responds, and then noticing the trouble she's having, he starts to offer to feed her, "Point me at what you want to eat." he says with a grin. "I'm at your beck and call for the evening."

There's a grin, the bridge of Stephanie's nose wrinkling with it, before she points to the sweet and sour chicken and some lo mien noddles. "And you eat too. You ran alot."

"Hey, you know I will." Barry says, sharing bites with her as they go through the motions of nourishing their bodies, while their shared smiles and closeness work to nourish their hearts and mend them closer together.

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