Loveable Nerds and Superheroes II - Chapter 2
Summary: Wally has awoken from his coma! First chapter can be found here.
Iris immediately hurried over to her nephew’s bedside, the boy carefully sitting up, rubbing his eyes blearily with his IV-free arm.
“What’s going on?” The 8-year-old asked, confused, almost crushed to pieces by his aunt’s bear hug.
Meanwhile, Caitlin had gone over to the computer console, quickly informing Cisco and Dr. Wells (who still were in the building, apparently) of the patient’s awakening, before going into full doctor-mode, checking the boy’s vitals and pupils reactivity.
“Oh Wally, we were all so worried about you!” Iris exclaimed agitatedly; but before her nephew could even figure out why so, Caitlin directed a more pressing question at the 8-year-old: “What is the last thing you remember?”
Wally furrowed his eyebrows in concentration, carefully recounting his most recent memories: “Aunt Iris had just dropped me off at Barry’s crime lab; he had promised to answer my questions before we’re going to S.T.A.R. Labs. I had already put my questions in order but Barry said that he had to clear up his work bench first. I wanted to help him so it would be done quicker, so he let me put back the cleaned up beakers on the shelf… And then…” he paused, nervously fiddling with a seam of McSnurtle’s flipper.
“Then what?” Iris asked carefully, exchanging worried looks with Caitlin.
Wally lifted his eyes, a confused look etched on his face: “I can’t remember.”
The expression on Iris’s face softened. She had no idea how to break the news to her nephew but to tell him plainly (if gently) how it was: “You’ve been struck by lightning.”
The boys eyes nearly popped out of his head, his jaw literally dropping, “What?!?” He slowly regained his composure; if he wasn’t so certain that his aunt wouldn’t joke about something like that, Wally would have thought she was pulling his leg. “Like Barry?” he clarified, still wrapping his mind around this info.
Iris exchanged a meaningful look with Caitlin: “Yeah, like Barry.”
“Whoa” the boy whispered, perplexed, bringing up his hands to examine them, as if he was expecting them to look completely different. They must have appeared perfectly normal to him, because his gaze trailed down to his feet (he kicked the blanket that had covered him aside), assessing the rest of his body. The boy wiggled his toes tentatively - “And I’m completely fine?” he asked disbelievingly and Iris couldn’t help but notice the slight pout on her nephew’s lips (probably because he was disappointed to not even have a scar as proof).
“We sure hope so,” she smiled at him encouragingly, relieved to see him act so normal and Wally-like. But Iris remembered that there was one more thing the 8-year-old needed to know: “But Wally, listen – after you got hit by lightning, you were asleep for some time.”
The boy looked at her with a puzzled expression on his face: “For how long?”
“It’s Thursday,” Iris said, then added tentatively: “ – three weeks later.”
“Three weeks!?!” the boy exclaimed, shocked. He caught himself pretty fast when he realized, deflated: “Oh man, school has already started!”
Iris had a hard time suppressing a grin (it was good to know that her nephew had his priorities straight), “I’m afraid so, kiddo. But I’m sure you’ll manage to catch up on whatever you missed.”
Apparently, it wasn’t the amount of schoolwork he had missed out on that was really bothering Wally: “Oh man… now I’ll probably will have to sit in the front row,” the boy pouted, shoulders sagging. Iris laughed out loud and ruffled her nephew’s hair affectionately, glad that he seemed to be completely back to normal.
“I think you’ll live. Now, I’m gonna tell Grandpa and your parents the good news,” Iris glanced over to Caitlin to see the doctor armed with a clipboard and pen, a focused look on her face, “ and Caitlin will make sure that you are really okay.” The doctor nodded determinedly, then loosened up a little, smiling at her ‘patient’.
Iris headed towards the other end of the room, not wanting to bother Caitlin during the examination. She quickly sent a text to her father, then dialed the number of Wally’s parents. Mary, who probably had already been waiting for Iris’s call, picked up immediately.
“Hey Mary, it’s Iris,” the journalist started the conversation with a big smile on her face, “I have got some great news for you…”
After a short report of Wally’s state (awake and perfectly fine, as far as Iris could tell), Mary assured that Rudy and her would set out for S.T.A.R. Labs immediately and then quickly hung up (to finish packing their bags they had started to get ready for Friday afternoon).
Iris had just finished her call with her sister-in-law when Barry whooshed in, concerned, pushing off his cowl in a way that had his hair utterly disheveled: “Okay guys, what’s going on? Cisco only sent me a text with ’S.T.A.R. Labs’ and a lot of exclamation marks, so – oh” Barry’s ramble was cut short when his eyes landed on Wally – awake. The boy looked at him with big, round eyes, mouth agape.
“You… you’re the Flash!” the boy exclaimed excitedly. Barry’s hand immediately shot up to the back of his neck, a habit he exhibited whenever he was nervous and/or embarrassed.
Caitlin glared at Barry in a very menacing fashion, muttering “he can run on water but he can’t keep his identity a secret” under her breath, just loud enough for Iris to hear.
The journalist could barely suppress a snort, while amusedly watching Barry’s deer-in-the-headlights-expression turn into his characteristic sheepish grin when Cisco and Dr. Wells entered the cortex, taking in the scene before them: unmasked, abashedly-looking Barry in his Flash suit and wide-awake, saucer-eyed Wally, who was still gaping at the costumed hero.
Wells didn’t look too pleased while Cisco just started shaking his head at Barry, “Seriously, man?”
This finally broke Wally out of his trance: “So that’s why the Flash – I mean, you – knew my name!”
Now it was Barry’s turn to be astounded: “What?”
Iris started to grin, knowing perfectly well what her nephew was referring to.
“At the park, I mean, when that gas-guy had attacked Grandpa,” Wally clarified. Realization began to dawn on Barry’s face while Cisco couldn’t help but throw in a “We call him 'The Mist’, actually”, earning himself disbelieving looks from the rest of the S.T.A.R. Labs Team (and Iris), “Nevermind, go on.” The engineer motioned awkwardly for the boy to continue, then started digging a bag of gummy bears out of his pocket.
Wally quickly regained his focus: “And that explains why you blurred your face although you were already wearing a mask! Because I knew your face underneath it,” the 8-year-old noticed cleverly. Barry was at a loss for words.
The boy went on: “And that’s why you didn’t take your CSI kit with you when the gas attack at the mall happened! -Your costume was in that duffle bag, right?”
“Wow, you’re really bad at this” Cisco remarked with a chuckle and a nod towards Barry, while offering his gummy bears to Wally. With a shy “thanks”, the 8-year-old fished out a red gummy bear from the bag, nervously observing the adults in front of him:
Iris had a bright smile and a look of pride on her face, Caitlin, with her eyes opened wide and lips pursed, looked surprised and impressed at the same time. Dr. Wells had the same kind of eerie calm about him as ever, casually wiping his glasses with the hem of his shirt. Barry rubbed the back of his neck nervously: “I guess you Wests just are too perceptive…”
The CSI’s statement had Caitlin roll her eyes in an exasperated manner, while Wally puffed out his chest with pride, causing Iris and Barry to exchange amused looks.
-“Well, if we don’t want anymore Wests in on your secret, Mr. Allen, I’d advise we make sure of that,” Dr. Wells pointed out curtly, effectively cutting short the pleasant moment.
“Oh right, right,” Barry responded, heading towards Wally, making sure that the 8-year-old was absolutely fine. He then began explaining the issue and importance of his secret identity. Iris shortly tore her eyes away from this scene to cast a wary glance at Dr. Wells who was currently consulting with Caitlin and Cisco; of course Iris understood why the head of S.T.A.R. Labs was so insistent about keeping Barry’s identity a secret (he wouldn’t be a good mentor if he wasn’t) but how he had said it and the way he had eyed her nephew… it simply gave the young journalist the creeps. Shrugging off those unpleasant thoughts, Iris redirected her attention back to her favorite nerds:
Apparently, Wally had caught on the whole secret I.D.-matter fairly quickly (the reasoning was pretty much like in the comic books he loved to read, so the boy was already familiar with the concept) and was now eager to pledge himself to secrecy, offering to seal his promise with a pinky swear. Watching Barry kneeling in front of her nephew, his little finger entwined with Wally’s (and the 8-year-old wearing a deadly serious expression on his face), Iris couldn’t help but smile at their interaction. As soon as he had been sworn into secrecy, Wally started bombarding Barry with questions, until the arrival of Grandpa Joe directed the boy’s attention away from his hero (finally giving Barry a chance to go and change into his civilian clothes).
Making use of the time they had left before Mary and Rudy were to be expected, Barry and his friends from S.T.A.R. Labs made sure that the facility was sufficiently prepped for the awaited visitors (specifically the den and med bay), so that nothing would accidentally expose their crime-fighting base as exactly that.
When Mary and Rudy finally did arrive, it was a very strange encounter: Mary, so overjoyed that tears of happiness were running down her cheeks, was effusively showering Wally with hugs and kisses, causing the boy to grimace. Rudy on the other hand was standing awkwardly and stiffly next to his wife, only the fond look in his eyes betraying his rigid pose. Iris could barely contain an eye-roll upon seeing her brother’s odd behavior; it was just too frustrating sometimes.
After Mary had calmed down a bit and Wally had managed to wiggle free from his mother’s clingy (and due to her tears slightly damp) embrace, Rudy informed his father and sister (as well as the S.T.A.R. Labs Team) that he and Mary had made arrangements so they could stay until the rest of the week.
Team Flash exchanged meaningful looks; they all wanted to find out if Barry’s hypothesis (that Wally had been affected the same way as him) would reveal itself to be true or not but as long as Wally’s parents were around they could not conduct the necessary tests to find that out – at least not without putting Barry’s secret identity at risk.
Since there was not much they could do with Mary and Rudy being at S.T.A.R. Labs pretty much all the time, Barry and Iris decided to catch a break and go for a cup (or in Iris’s case, multiple cups) of coffee at Jitters.
“I still can’t get over the fact that you used to work here and we never met until those six weeks ago; I’ve been coming by for my daily coffee fix for months.” Barry said disbelievingly, when he and Iris sat down in a secluded corner at Jitters, for the first time since Wally had been struck by lightning.
Iris just shrugged; with hundreds of people going to Jitters for their coffee day in and day out, it was hard to keep track of all the faces she had seen – impossible, even: “Maybe we did meet and just didn’t realize it?”
Barry was quick to swallow the sip of coffee he just had taken, shaking his head fervently: “No, I’m sure we’ve never seen each other here before; I would have noticed and remembered you, most definitely.”
“Aww, “ Iris smiled, flattered, “that’s a pretty good answer, Mr. Allen.” – Barry tried hard not to look too pleased with himself – “It’s a shame, though,” Iris added, eyes twinkling flirtatiously over the brim of her own coffee mug, “I made the best cup of coffee you could get in the entire city.”
“Oh yeah?” the speedster replied, matching her tone, “is that so?”
“I’ve been told so, multiple times – no really,” Iris insisted, “one customer even described it as 'heavenly’.” (Granted, it had been a guy who had also tried hitting on her, pulling off that whole 'did it hurt when you fell from the sky’-shtick but who cares about such trivial details?)
“Well, then it is even more of a shame that we haven’t met earlier, isn’t it?” Barry asked playfully, very obviously enjoying the return of their carefree banter, “Now you are a badass reporter and I missed my chance to get a 'heavenly’ cup of coffee from a beautiful barista.”
He was rewarded for that remark with another of Iris’s beaming smiles, that soon turned into a sly one: “Ah, maybe we should remedy that…”
“I still have the key to the shop…”
“It’s not been that long since I stopped working here and there’s been a lot going on…” Iris reasoned, listing all the turbulent events that had occurred in the meantime, “first settling in with my new job at CCPN, then summer vacation started and Wally came to visit… meeting you… crazy meta-human trying to kill my Dad and then Wally got struck by lightning…” the journalist concluded her enumeration with a plain shrug,”I simply forgot about it and nobody has called or mailed me about giving it back so far…”
“So you’re suggesting that we…?”
“Do something different for date-night,” Iris grinned, winking.
Barry couldn’t help but laugh: “For the past three weeks the closest thing we had to a 'date-night’ was spending the evening together at Wally’s bedside, talking, before I forced you to go home for some proper sleep… Just going somewhere else than S.T.A.R. Labs or your house would qualify as 'different’…”
The journalist shook her head: “Those weeks don’t count; come on, I’ll make us some great coffee-”
“I thought it was 'heavenly’-” the CSI interjected, smiling impishly.
“Fine, 'heavenly’ coffee,” Iris repeated, rolling her eyes at Barry’s silliness, “I’ll bring by a whole load of desserts for dinner and we can maybe even picnic on the rooftop… come on, it’ll be fun!”
Seeing the hesitant look on his face, Iris added: “I’ll talk with Tracy or whoever has the night shift that day to make sure it’s all right; I’ll have to give back the key afterward anyhow… So, what you say; ready to do something completely out of the ordinary for once in your life?”
Iris watched Barry almost choking on his coffee from laughter, trying
to keep a nonchalant expression on his face: “Yeah, I guess it’s
time for me to do something completely crazy, isn’t it?”
On Sunday they had to face the most difficult part to get over: Mary and Rudy were about to head home and of course, wanted to take Wally with them. Luckily, Caitlin was well-prepared and explained in detail how cataracts can develop after a lightning strike and that it would be better to keep the boy under close observation for at least another week. Iris helpfully added that it would be far too cumbersome for her sister-in-law to drive to and fro Blue Valley and S.T.A.R. Labs all the time and Barry chipped in that he had experienced metabolic troubles soon after his awakening, emphasizing the big role the ongoing medical care at S.T.A.R. had played to get him to fully recover.
Neither Mary nor Rudy were particularly keen on leaving their son behind at S.T.A.R. Labs (again) but of course they didn’t want to risk Wally’s health in any way – so they agreed to let him stay another week in Central City.
Naturally, Wally was thrilled to have another school-free week ahead of him (not to mention that he would get to spend the week with his Grandpa, Aunt Iris and Barry – who was the Flash!), though his excitement was slightly dampened when his mother and aunt arranged to have his mom drop off his schoolwork at Grandpa’s house so he could try to catch up on what he had missed so far. Still, a week with no school was a week with no school, so Wally knew better than to complain.
After awkwardly saying good-bye to his parents (it was just weird how they made such a fuss about being separated for merely a week, when they had been totally okay with him spending his entire summer vacation away from home – of course, that was before he had been in a coma for three weeks – three weeks that had felt like a catnap to him), Wally noticed how Barry’s friends from S.T.A.R. Labs visibly relaxed, obviously glad to see his parents leave. The boy also observed how everyone was casting strange glances in his direction and couldn’t help but wonder aloud: “I’m not staying here because you think I could develop a… catar-something , am I?”
a thing for tomorrow, kid.”
The bit when Iris teases Barry about her ‘heavenly’ coffee was inspired by @journalistiriswest ‘s ff “it get’s to friday and i give you a call” - it’s a really cute and awesome story; I highly recommend it :)