A/N: Hi everyone so here's the chapter 13. Now please don't shoot me for this but I kind of liked the Barry and Linda relationship. I am a Snowbarry shipper. But there are other ships I don't hate to see. Hope you like it.
Barry was freaking out. Now if you asked Joe, he would tell you that that was normal. But there was nothing normal about this situation. He was getting ready for his dinner with Linda Park. And all he kept thinking of was Caitlin in that damn black dress. That was the main reason he asked Linda out. He had to get Caitlin out of his head, and fast. He had already spent years chasing a dream with Iris. He couldn't start to do it with Caitlin. He needed to have a normal relationship where both parties wanted to be together.
But that wasn't going to stop him from freaking out and pissing Joe off. After what seemed like his 50th wardrobe change Joe finally snapped.
"You change one more time I'm gonna shoot you"
Barry just sighed. The one good part of this night was he could run to Linda's place. The run helped calm some of his nerves. And buying things at superspeed was one of his favourite things to do. As soon as he arrived he adjusted his clothes and ensured his shoes weren't burning. That would be very hard to explain. Thankfully before his anxiety could return Linda walked out looking great.
Checking her watch Linda smiled impressed;
Barry decided to channel some of his Flash confidence;
"Yeah that is what my friends call me Mr Punctual"
Unfortunately he was not fooling anyone. So he shook his head at Linda's piercing gaze.
Smirking at his antics Linda looked at the flower and said;
"Is that lonely looking flower for me?"
And with that comment all Barry's confidence shattered.
"Is this dumb?" asked Barry concerned "I thought about getting a full bouquet but then I thought that was weird"
Linda was beginning to like Barry. He was just so adorable. Smiling she collected the flower from him.
"No it's awesome"
Barry released a breath he didn't know he was holding. And they walked off arm-in-arm smiling. Through the walk Barry kept thinking about how hot Linda looked. Just then a flash a Caitlin in her pencil skirts appeared in his mind and he almost tripped. Concerned Linda jokingly said;
"You okay Barry?"
Startled Barry said the first thing that appeared in his mind;
"I'm just not too good on my feet"
"Well I'll make sure you don't fall"
Barry forced a smile and thanked her.
Fun fact about Barry is that he is very competitive. So when Linda challenged him to a taco eating contest he readily agreed. But there was a limit to what his speed healing could do for him. He learned that lesson the hard way when the pepper got too much for him and he caved. Linda smiled victoriously;
"Yes victory" exclaimed Linda "I told you these were the spiciest tacos in Central City"
"I thought you were bluffing" confessed Barry
"I never bluff" said Linda confidently "So just say it: I am the champion of all things spicy"
If it would keep him away from those tacos he would admit anything. He was almost afraid of how Linda was still so cool. He used speed healing to cheat the effects but she didn't.
'I'm sure Caitlin would love have an explanation' thought Barry 'With that spark in her eyes when she talks about things that fascinate her'
Thank God for superspeed because Barry realized that he hadn't answered Linda's question. Quickly he said;
"You are the spice champion of Central City"
Linda sighed in satisfaction and looked at her hands;
"Well this requires soap and water so I will be right back"
Between the spice still ruining his mouth and the fact that he was thinking about Caitlin again Barry barely registered her leaving. Just then his cell started vibrating; he picked up hoping it wasn't Caitlin. He wasn't sure he was ready for her voice right now. Thankfully it was just Cisco.
"Robbery at the convenient store on Brand and Paulson"
Barry frowned; he couldn't just leave during his date. Linda could be back any second.
"Come on I'm on a date" said Barry "Can't the police or Naruto handle this one?"
"Naruto is dealing a fire on Wade" said Cisco "But when you read in the paper tomorrow about that poor little old lady getting robbed…"
Cisco knew it was devious to use Barry sensitive nature against him but it was for a good cause.
"How do you know that there's a little old lady?" whined Barry
"Please there's always a little old lady"
When he heard Barry say "No little old lady" he smirked happily.
Barry quickly adjusted his clothes just as Linda walked up to him. Smiling she said;
"Your move Allen what's next?" asked Linda
Barry was really lucky for superspeed. He was sure Linda would have noticed him spacing out by now. Thankfully he was sharp enough to smile and suggest they go out for coffee and a stroll. That was a safe option. And hopefully both items would keep his mind off Caitlin. And he truly hoped Naruto handled all emergencies tonight. Well that is until this happened. Taking a stroll Linda asked;
"So what's wrong with you?" asked Linda curiously "Why hasn't someone snatched you up yet?"
Of course his mind immediately flashed to Iris and Caitlin. He was stuck in the brother zone with one and the friend zone with the other. Thankfully Linda's phone rang before his silence became rude. Taking a deep breath Barry refocused just as his phone started vibrating.
'Oh thank God I could use a run' thought Barry
"Hey" said Joe "I know you are on a date but we got a jumper on 52rd and Wade. And Naruto is dealing with a car chase on the other side of town"
Watching Linda walk into her building after their kiss was enchanting. Despite all his antics and the near screw-ups, she was still willing to go out with him again. Barry was really starting to like having a normal relationship. Linda really liked him and he felt drawn to her too. Now if he could only stop thinking about Caitlin he would be fantastic. Just then he got a text from Naruto who wanted to know how his date went. He told him to meet him at Jitters tomorrow.
"Is it just me or is Barry acting weird these days?" asked Naruto
Cisco shrugged; not looking up from his work he said
"Man I don't know maybe it's a speedster thing"
"Are you calling me weird?" asked Naruto slowly
"Yes you are both weird"
"I know you where you live Cisco Ramon" said Naruto threateningly
Cisco stiffened and looked up;
"Dude I meant it in a good way. I mean weird is the new cool now."
"Yeah I am sure if I rigged your bed with explosive itching powder it would be cool"
Cisco gaped and decided to change tactics;
Caitlin rushed into the Cortex thinking something was wrong.
"What's wrong?" asked Caitlin worriedly "Is Barry okay?"
"Naruto is threatening me" reported Cisco "You have to tell him to stop"
"Well he called me weird"
Caitlin looked between them and her gaze turned cold and hard.
"You nearly gave me a heart attack for this?"
"A man's bed is his sanctuary and Naruto wants to defile it"
Turning to glare at Cisco Naruto said;
"Well maybe I will just go after your movies"
Cisco's eyes turned dark and deadly;
"You touch my movies and I blow you up Uzumaki"
Caitlin couldn't believe that this is her life now. She was about to leave the boys to their bickering when Barry sped into the Cortex. Her first instinct was to examine him for injuries; satisfied he had none she smiled. That smile vanished when Barry took one look at her; blushed and gave a dumb excuse before speeding off. Turning to Naruto and Cisco she was relieved that they looked as confused as she did. Naruto turned to give Cisco a look.
"Okay that is weirder than usual for Barry" conceded Cisco
"Yeah he's been like that ever since we took down Peek-a-boo" said Naruto
"I am not calling her that on principle. Naming bad guys is my job damn it."
"Don't be jealous Cisco I have great naming sense" said Caitlin "Besides Barry and Naruto like it"
"Anyway there's no way Shawna did anything to him so it has to be something else" said Cisco
Caitlin frowned in thought;
"Actually if I remember correctly he started being flighty around me after we went out for drinks"
Naruto and Cisco gaped wide in shock;
"You did what?" they asked in unison
Caitlin looked at them in confusion;
"Yeah we decided to check out Shawna's old bar to see if we could find any leads on her"
"Is that what the kids are calling it now?" asked Naruto glibly
Caitlin blushed and glared at Naruto;
"Nothing happened at least I don't think so I don't really remember much from that night"
"You are a lightweight" said Cisco in shock "Why would you go to a bar?"
Caitlin turned beet red;
"I am not a lightweight and I went to help Barry with a case that's all"
Naruto smirked petulantly;
"So what did you wear?"
"Oh I wore a tight black dress. It was necessary for me to blend in. Barry didn't really need to change though. He looked the part in his normal clothes."
Cisco chocked on his saliva;
"You wore what?"
"Wow so you guys looked the part of a dating couple that's interesting" said Naruto with a hidden smirk
"You two are making a big deal over nothing. It was just two people investigating a lead. Barry and I are just friends; that is all we are: friends."
"I never thought I would say this to you Caitlin" said Cisco "Me thinks the lady doth protest too much"
"I know how to perform a vasectomy" said Caitlin darkly
"And on that note I am going to go" said Naruto "See you guys later"
"You are going to pump Barry for information aren't you?"
'Oh absolutely' replied Naruto gleefully 'Something happened that night and I need to find out what. It is for the benefit of the team that Barry gets back to normal.'
"I can feel your amusement from here brat"
'Fine I find it funny but so do you'
"I have grown used to people being oblivious to their feelings and those of others."
'Really where did you get that experience from?' asked Naruto curiously
When Naruto arrived at Jitters the next day he was surprised. Barry looked happy; a little too happy. He was glad his friend was happy. But Naruto couldn't help but feel a part of it was forced. Or that could just be his eyes playing tricks on him. Smirking Naruto said;
"Well don't you look all perky?"
"Oh God it was so cool she was so cool" said Barry breathlessly "We are going on another date tonight"
Naruto raised an eyebrow;
"Tonight really?" asked Naruto "Aren't you worried about moving too fast?"
"No what do you mean?" asked Barry "It's a second date"
"I meant going too fast…hurrying…look you are fast but there's fast and there's fast, am I being subtle?"
"You're really not"
"Look let me explain it this: you are going to have to think about a lot of dead puppies."
Naruto was having fun watching the expression on Barry's face and so he kept going.
"I'm talking about a whole kennel, baseball, old people kissing nude, and you could add nuns"
Barry made a disgusted face;
"Look it is just a second date"
"Second date?" asked Iris whom Barry didn't know was here "With whom?"
Naruto watched Barry practically refresh his brain. He saw the scarlet speedster quickly scan the room. It seemed like he was looking for someone other Iris. When Barry noticed that Caitlin wasn't here he sighed in relief. He had to stay away from Caitlin Snow or he was doomed. Turning to Iris he adopted his classic fake smile.
"Uh with Linda Park the sports reporter" said Barry
Naruto was really starting to see the sibling resemblance. Iris adopted a similarly fake happy expression. He was almost sure that she looked jealous. And Barry looked downright uncomfortable with this line of conversation.
'Curious very curious' thought Naruto
"That's great" said Iris "Linda seems great and you're great so…great"
"I don't think you said great enough" said Naruto
"You couldn't help yourself could you?" remarked Kurama
Barry looked confused at her behaviour as well. Thankfully Iris was saved by the breaking news. It was a report on the burning man aka Ronnie Raymond. Barry felt his heart constrict at the fact that Ronnie was back.
"Burning man" said Iris thoughtfully "Caitlin was asking about him a while back"
"Caitlin's curious by nature" said Naruto before grabbing Barry "See you later West"
Iris was confused. That wasn't normal for them.
Star Labs Cortex
"Well it appears letting Ronnie roam free is no longer an option" said Wells
"He's not even Ronnie anymore" said Caitlin "He's Martin Stein walking around in Ronnie's body; like a vampire"
Barry was barely able to hold himself from walking up and holding Caitlin. Deciding to occupy his mind he asked;
"Is there a reason Stein is in control of Ronnie's body and not the other way around?"
"Simple Darwinism I suspect…"
"A brand new organism will select the strongest parts of itself in order to survive" finished Naruto
"Survival of the fittest" said Wells "Impressive Mr Uzumaki"
"Yeah so in this case Ronnie's body; Stein's mind" said Naruto "That's probably what happened"
"Yes in any event he badly hurt an innocent man and we have hunted meta-humans for less, Caitlin"
Wells paused to look at Barry and Naruto before facing Caitlin;
"We need to know that you are on-board with what needs to be done here"
Naruto did really not like Wells word choice: first hunting meta-humans and now he made it seem like they were going to kill Stein-Ronnie.
Barry watched Caitlin take a deep breath and focus. It always amazed him how strong she is. But still a part of him wished he could take her far away from all of this.
"Quentin Quall, the scientist that Ronnie attacked, is a former colleague of Martin Stein" said Wells "If Martin is indeed in control of Ronnie's body he may be trying to figure out exactly what is happening to him"
Barry couldn't stand afar any longer. So he walked up to Caitlin, he may not be free to hold her but he could offer support in other ways. Drawing Wells attention he asked;
"What do we even know about him?" asked Barry "I mean I don't even know what Stein looks like"
Tapping the console on his wheelchair Wells said;
Barry was floored when the image came up.
"That's Stein?" asked Barry
"You know him?" asked Naruto
"No I've seen him before" said Barry
"When?" asked Caitlin
Naruto frowned when he saw Barry move closer to Caitlin's voice. It was almost a subconscious action; like he was drawn to her or something.
"On the train the day the accelerator exploded" revealed Barry
"Well I believe it is wise we visit Stein's wife" said Wells "She may have information for us"
Just the thought of putting Wells in the same room with a grieving wife rubbed Naruto the wrong way. He doesn't trust Wells and he never will. Besides this was also prime mischief material for Barry and Caitlin.
"Caitlin, Barry and I got this covered Dr Wells" said Naruto "If this woman lost her husband during the accelerator explosion I don't want your presence to bring up any bad memories for her"
Wells smiled thinly;
"That seems wise. Let me know how it goes"
"You got it" said Barry
Naruto and Caitlin walked around the house looking for clues while Barry talked to Stein's wife. Barry's CCPD badge is what got them in the door after all. Naruto and Barry were also keeping an eye on Caitlin. Neither of them wanted her to hurt any more but they respected her decision to come here. Naruto walked up to Stein's trophies and he was impressed.
"Your husband is quite brilliant Mrs Stein" said Naruto; knowingly using present tense
"Oh please it's Clarissa"
"Dr Wells would be so jealous if he saw these" said Naruto
'I guess great minds get the best awards and creepy mad scientists get nothing' thought Naruto
"And it takes a special kind of person to make Dr Wells jealous"
"Well Martin had a talent for making people jealous, even me" said Clarissa with a twinge of sadness in her voice "I sometimes feel think Martin loved his theorems and experiments more than he did me"
"I'm sure that's not true" said Caitlin gently
Barry watched Caitlin with pride. He wondered if Caitlin was even capable of not showing affection for people. Despite what she was going through she still found a way to make Clarissa feel better. Deciding to use this moment Barry asked;
"And you haven't heard from your husband since he disappeared"
"No" said Clarissa
Barry shared a look with Naruto who nodded. The CSI really hoped he didn't make this worse. Taking out Ronnie's picture he started gently;
"Mrs Stein can I show you a photograph?" asked Barry "Have you this person before?"
Clarissa took the picture in shock.
"Yes I have" declared Clarissa
Naruto noticed Caitlin's calm façade break a bit. He really hoped they were able to find Ronnie quickly.
"Who is he?" asked Clarissa
Barry looked at Naruto for support. He couldn't very well tell her the truth.
"He's a person of interest in your husband's case Mrs Stein" said Naruto gently "So any information you can give us would be very helpful"
Barry nodded in gratitude.
"When did you see him?" asked Caitlin
The longing in her voice tore at Barry's heart a bit. But he pushed the feeling down. He had a job to do.
"Well I started getting the feeling that someone was watching me, sometimes I still do" started Clarissa "About a month after Martin disappeared that young man showed up here. He seemed so lost and confused like he didn't really know who he was. I thought he was drunk or something. After that I never saw him again."
The trio all shared a look. Barry turned to Clarissa;
"Thank you for your time Mrs Stein"
Once they were outside Naruto spoke up;
"So apparently Caitlin isn't the only one with flaming stalker"
"Clarissa said she feels like she's being watched" said Barry "I think Stein might still be coming back here"
"Well looks like we have the chance to actually catch him" said Naruto "Can anyone say stakeout?"
Barry smiled indulgently;
"I guess I'm going to have to cancel my date tonight"
"Oh I thought that was last night"
Naruto watched Barry fumble to say something and it was almost painful. Deciding to take pity on his fellow speedster he said;
"Don't worry Caitlin and I got this"
Caitlin smiled gently;
"It's okay Barry I hope you have fun"
It was the fact that she actually meant that that ripped a new hole in Barry's chest. If he stayed here any longer he will never escape. So he just nodded and sped off. He needed to get Caitlin out of his head. He was not going to go through the pain of unrequited love again.
"Well why don't I get the food and you park the van somewhere secure" said Naruto
"Sure don't forget to get me Pizza Pockets" said Caitlin
"You got it"
Barry had been kind of anxious about having Linda over. But that quickly disappeared when she grabbed him for a passionate kiss. In that moment Barry didn't have to worry about anything. He didn't have any other pressing matters. All he had to focus on was the amazing lady in his arms. And he ensured that his thoughts never strayed away from her. He knew Naruto was with Caitlin so she would be safe. And with that he gave in.
Naruto watched Caitlin while they ate. He didn't want to push her into talking so he simply waited for her. Finally she did.
"Why would he come back here?" asked Caitlin thoughtfully
"Well the woman he loves lives here. My guess is that being close to her is the only thing keeping him together. Home is where the heart is and that's why he keeps coming back here. Is Ronnie still your home?"
"Not anymore" said Caitlin sadly
Naruto grabbed her hand. While he would want nothing more than for Barry and Caitlin to be together he had to be careful. Staring into her eyes he said;
"It's okay if he is Caitlin. You have to move on from him; once we find him we will get Ronnie back. Just be sure of where your heart is and if you still love him then stay with him. But if you can't love him fully then just be his friends. Staying friends with a previously dead fiancé who merged with a married Professor...doesn't sound strange at all."
Caitlin laughed a bit;
"Compared to a billionaire archer fighting a CSI speedster"
"Yeah it really doesn't"
"Thanks Naruto" said Caitlin genuinely
Just then they saw Stein fly in and land at the house.
"Here we go" said Naruto
Speeding out the van Naruto stopped in front of Stein in his suit.
"Professor Stein we need to talk" said Naruto
Stein apparently wasn't in the mood for talking. It seems Naruto would have to knock him out. Body slamming him didn't work and Stein simply picked him up and flew away. Naruto had never flown like this before and he was not a fan. Thinking quickly he vibrated his whole body forcing Stein to drop him. If he hated flying then he absolutely hated falling through the air. He saw the van approaching him but they were not going to be fast enough. Just before he dropped Stein grabbed him and slammed him into the van's windshield. Naruto had never been so grateful for speed healing before.
Stein landed as well and was about to blast him when Caitlin showed up. Naruto saw Stein freeze before flying away. Caitlin bent down to check on him.
"How are you feeling?" asked Caitlin worriedly
"I officially hate flying" groaned Naruto "I can still go after him"
"No he almost killed you" stated Caitlin "We will find him another way"
"I'm calling Barry"
"Hey are you guys okay?" asked Barry as he rushed in
"We're fine Barry sorry I told Naruto not to call you" said Caitlin "I didn't want to interrupt your date"
"It's okay so what happened?"
Naruto frowned and stared at Barry. While Caitlin briefed Wells and Barry he decided to have a talk with Kurama.
'Is it just me or does Barry look…'
"Happy that you interrupted his date?" asked Kurama "Yeah a little bit"
'I wonder why'
"Well it could be that the date wasn't really going well"
'Or he was too focused on Caitlin to think about anything else'
Kurama rolled his eyes;
"I think you might be reading too much into this"
Unfortunately neither of them was right. Barry was not happy that he left Linda. But he was so glad that this gave him a minute to collect his thoughts. In his excitement he very nearly revealed his speed to Linda. Naruto was right about his speed being frustrating. Now he couldn't make-out with a girl without worrying about exposing his secret. He also refused to allow himself think of what it would be like to be with someone who knows his secret. That train of thought would not end well.
"So how do we bring him in without him flaming on?"
"Well it appears we would have to ask Stein's wife for her help" said Wells "She is his home and she might be the only one capable of making him accept our help"
"Alright well first we have to find Stein again"
"I'll find him don't worry" said Wells
"I'll explain the situation to Stein's wife" said Caitlin "Barry would you be willing to help me with that? I don't want to disrupt your plans"
"When you need me I will be there Caitlin I promise" said Barry
'Regardless of how it's starting to hurt me' thought Barry
"Alright if you guys need me I will be at Jitters"
When Naruto came into the Cortex and saw Barry sulking he frowned. Walking up to the speedster he also noticed Caitlin with a clean-shaven Stein-Ronnie.
"Barry, are you good?" asked Naruto
Barry seemed to snap back into focus;
"Yeah I'm fine" said Barry "You healed up"
Naruto's gaze turned piercing;
"Don't change the subject Allen what's going on with you?"
Barry shrugged and shook his head;
"Nothing I'm doing okay"
"Try lying just a little better and maybe I can deceive myself that I believe you" said Naruto bluntly
Barry couldn't very well explain himself to Naruto. He was pissed that Iris was playing games with him. He had finally gotten to a place where she wasn't his main attraction. And she went out of her way to destroy any chances of that. He was angry that fate hated him so much that she put Caitlin in his life. Yet another girl he was starting to like but would never have. And he was so frustrated that the one he could have has now pushed him away. Thankfully Caitlin walked in saving Barry from Naruto's questions.
"Are you okay?" asked Barry
"Yeah it's just confusing" said Caitlin
"What isn't confusing is what's happening to him now" said Wells "Ronnie's body is rejecting Stein's atoms like a host rejecting a parasite. The resulting instability is causing an exothermic reaction I worry if this temperature continues to raise it will set off a chain reaction."
Everybody stood straighter at Wells tone of voice.
"And then what happens?" asked Barry a tint of fear in his voice
Wells paused for a moment before saying;
"He could go nuclear"
While they were processing the bomb Wells just dropped on them Cisco walked in.
"That's not freaky at all" declared Cisco
"It seems Ronnie's fight with Blaze has exacerbated the Firestorm matrix it's unstable" said Wells wheeling into the cortex followed by everyone "Exponentially increasing the rate of fission inside his body"
"How long does he have?" asked Caitlin
"If his temperature keeps rising at its current pace no more than a couple hours" said Wells
"So let me get this straight: your fiancé is inside her husband and we have to separate them before they blow up and destroy the city" said Naruto
"Aw dude did you have to say it like that?" asked Cisco disgusted
"We have to help them" said Caitlin "I can't lose Ronnie again"
Naruto caught Barry's flinch;
"You okay Barry?" asked Barry
"Yeah I'm fine" said Barry burying his emotions
Turning to Caitlin he said "We will save him Caitlin I promise"
'I'm not letting you give up that easily Allen' thought Naruto
Barry turned to Wells;
"So how do we fix it?" asked Barry "How do we separate them?"
"Any attempt we make to separate them could be catastrophic: a nuclear explosion" stated Wells "And a nuclear explosion of this magnitude would level this entire city unless…"
"Why do I have this feeling that I won't like your alternate solution?" asked Naruto coldly
"Naruto" chided Barry "Unless what Dr Wells?"
"Unless the host body were no longer functional" finished Wells
Everyone stared in shock at Wells. Naruto was a hair trigger away from exploding at him.
"You wanna kill Ronnie?" asked Caitlin
Wells gaze turned cold and detached;
"I don't want to kill Ronnie but in this scenario Ronnie is the host body" said Wells
"And that's supposed to mean what exactly?!" exclaimed Naruto
"If you kill Ronnie then you kill Stein that's two people" said Cisco in shock
"I don't believe I'm hearing this" said Naruto; his body was already vibrating with rage "You think I'm going to let put a bullet through them"
Wells glared coldly at him;
"Well perhaps you have a better solution" challenged Wells "I don't know how else to stop it so if have something better by all means say so. Besides I am willing to bet that if Ronnie or Professor Stein knew the consequences they were facing they would make the same choice. It is two lives for millions."
Naruto was about to level into Wells when Caitlin told them to give her and Wells space to talk. He decided that he needed to get out of Central City before he drove a fist into Wells chest. Kurama was silent as Naruto ran. But as soon as a certain billboard came into view he smirked.
'Guess the kid could use another drink'
When Naruto arrived he headed straight to the bar. It didn't look like anyone was around though. Well that is what he thought until he saw someone descending the stairs.
"Just couldn't resist me could you?"
"What can I say I like red wine?"
Thea laughed as she approached the bar;
"Well I do get the best drinks around but something tells me you didn't come for a free drink"
Naruto sighed as he sat;
"One of those days"
Naruto noticed Thea's mood;
"Seems like you're having one of those too"
Thea smirked humourlessly;
"More like one of those years"
"Well I'll listen to yours if you listen to mine"
Thea laughed. To be honest she had missed chatting with Naruto. Besides she could use some company. Taking a bottle of merlot from the bar she poured them a glass.
"Alright you first" said Thea
Naruto scoffed sardonically;
"Someone I don't trust and truthfully detest has embedded himself into my inner circle. I can't even prove to them that he is evil because all I have is a gut feeling. And now despite I am forced to rely on him to save the life of someone I care about. He has caused so much hurt and yet I can't seem to get away from him. Sometimes I feel like I'm just…"
"…screaming into the void" finished Thea
Naruto stared at Thea and realized;
"You're having the same problem"
Sipping her drink she replied;
"Someone I trusted so much manipulated me, used me and has done so many bad things…yet I can't seem to get away from him. He somehow finds a way to retain a hold in my life. And now I apparently have to trust him with my future even though I feel like…"
"…running him into a concrete wall" finished Naruto
Thea felt something unravel in her chest as she stared into Naruto's eyes. She felt understood. Merlyn was still a problem but right now she felt like she wasn't alone in her opinion. Oliver wanted her to trust him; Roy would want her to follow her heart; Naruto however somehow understood her frustrations. Smiling genuinely for the first time in a while she said;
"Somehow I don't think a concrete wall will cover it"
Naruto laughed for what felt like the first time. He could feel his negative emotions mellowing out.
"Well Thea sky's the limit" said Naruto "What would you recommend?"
"How about dumping into a vat of acid?" suggested Thea "Or oh boiling oil?"
Naruto tapped his chin thoughtfully;
"Nah too much work to obtain and trap him into"
"True but there will be no need for a clean-up"
Smirking Naruto said;
"Nor can it be traced back to you, very clever Thea"
Nodding gracefully Thea smiled and said;
"Well what can I say? Talent is a burden"
"You carry it well though" said Naruto honestly
Thea had to hold back a blush at the earnest look;
"Trying to charm me Mr Uzumaki?"
"Well is it working Ms Queen?"
Naruto smiled. He was really glad he came to Verdant. Unfortunately fate seemed determined to ruin his mood. His phone started vibrating in his pocket. Taking it out and seeing Barry's face he almost hit 'Ignore'. But in the end maturity took over and he answered the phone.
"Naruto where are you?"
Yeah there's no way he was going to tell Barry that.
"What's going on?"
"Wells figured out how to spilt Stein and Ronnie up. Stein took off though so Caitlin is looking for him now. Dr Wells is sure the device will work and so we need you here."
"You have to go?" asked Thea a bit dejectedly
Naruto thought about and decided;
"No I don't"
"Everything okay?" asked Thea
Naruto gritted his teeth;
"My problem pretty much just cemented his place in my life"
"Thing about cement is that it can be broken"
Naruto stared at Thea and realized that he was in no mood to deal with Wells today. He will find a way to show Wells for the person he is. But for right now;
"I need one day; one normal day" said Naruto
"Well I could use a normal day too" said Thea
Smiling a little Naruto said;
"So what do you say we really start on this lovely bottle and you tell me the craziest thing someone ever dared you to do, that you did?"
"Well the craziest dare I did was in high school"
"Well don't keep me in suspense what was it?"
Taking a sip Thea said
"I stripped pole-danced. I had never done it before and I was terrible."
Spitting out his drink Naruto gaped;
"What?!" asked Naruto before busting out laughing
Thea glared at him without any heat;
"Are you trying to say something Mr Uzumaki?"
"Oh my please tell me there is a video"
"Bottom of the ocean" said Thea bluntly
Naruto couldn't stop laughing and Thea joined him after a beat. When they calmed down Thea said;
"Alright Naruto your turn"
"Well I was 10 years old and I was prone to pulling pranks. So one day I boasted that I could sneak into anywhere and get anything I wanted. Then someone dared me to do just that and sneak into one of the clan compound's in my home in Japan. So I snuck into the houses and hung souvenirs across the whole village."
Thea's eyes narrowed at Naruto's expression;
"So what souvenirs did you get?"
"Oh underwear of course"
Thea busted out laughing. Naruto smirked proudly;
"When the clan woke up they pretty much chased me everywhere but it was so worth it"
Thea couldn't believe what she was hearing. Her ribs were aching from how hard she was laughing. She could just picture a miniature Naruto running around laughing with people's underwear. Naruto sighed in relief. He was a bit scared Thea would think he was a perverted kid. And to be honest listening to Thea laugh was magical.
"Oh my gosh I wish I could have seen that" said Thea
"Well trust me that wasn't the worst thing I ever did back then"
"Oh I have no doubt" said Thea grinning
Naruto frowned playfully;
"Are you making fun of me Ms Queen?"
Smirking Thea said;
"Well how did you know Mr Uzumaki?"
"Oh it seems we have finished our bottle"
"Well why don't you get another one?" asked Thea flirtatiously
"Living on the wild side Ms Queen"
"Scared Mr Uzumaki?"
Thea stood up;
"Get the bottle I am going to check on my brother"
"You got it"
After she left Naruto saw someone walk into Verdant. He was about to say hi when he noticed the blonde's gait. There was an assassin inside Verdant. The assassin moved towards Naruto and asked;
"Hey man so have you seen a brunette around here?"
Naruto levelled a cold glare at him and walked out from behind the bar towards him;
"I am going to give you five seconds to get out before I take that empty bottle and shove it up your ass"
"Hey dude relax I'm a friend of Thea's"
Naruto was sincerely not in the mood for this. He was about to throw the assassin out when he saw Thea walking towards him. She looked like hell. Thea couldn't get Laurel's bloodied body out of her mind. She needed some simple in her life right now. She completely ignored Chase, he was a stalker as far as she was concerned, grabbed Naruto and left for her house. Maybe it was the alcohol or something else but she found herself with Naruto in her loft.
Naruto knew what she was trying to do and he couldn't let it happen. So when they arrived at the loft and Thea tried to kiss him he pulled away. Thea frowned with a hint of dejection in her eyes;
"Did I miss read something?"
"Absolutely not" assured Naruto "But Thea I am not going to let our first time kiss be because something is bothering you. I would prefer to take you on a date first."
"I don't think I am ready for a relationship Naruto. My life is complicated enough as it is."
"That's fine by me. I can wait until then. But our normal day isn't over yet. So what you do say to pizza, wine and a couple movies?"
Thea already had Roy giving her longing looks. Her brother was the Arrow, her ex-boyfriend was Arsenal and Laurel was apparently the Black Canary. And not to mention who her biological father is. She was in no way ready to throw a boyfriend into that mix.
Naruto placed his hand on her cheek and gently caressed it;
"You don't have to be ready now. And believe me I don't really know if I am ready yet either. So how about we just say that we notice something here. We don't have to label it; we don't have to go on dates; we don't have to do anything. We just say…"
"I notice something here" said Thea staring meaningfully into Naruto's eyes
Smiling Naruto nodded;
"I notice something here too"
"I will get the takeout and ice-cream" said Thea after a few moments "Why don't you choose a movie?"
When the takeout arrived and Thea went to get it Naruto saw something. An assassin was about to land on the balcony. Naruto was not going to let that happen. Using his speed he grabbed the assassin, stripped and chained him heavily, and dumped him on a rooftop on the other side of town. Thea felt a gust of wind and turned to see Naruto on the couch.
"Did you feel that?"
"Yeah" said Naruto "So I picked out the movie"
Thea thought about checking the balcony but then decided not tonight. Tonight she was just a girl about to watch movies with a guy. She was not going to let her paranoia ruin that. The pair watched movies till dawn and Thea never felt more rested. After saying goodbye to Thea, and exchanging numbers, Naruto ran back to Chase the assassin.
"What are you?" asked Chase
Naruto stared coldly at him before ramming a pole into his chest. Naruto stood and watched the life drain from his eyes. Once he was dead Naruto disposed of the body and ran back to Central City.
A/N: So this is the full chapter as promised. Let me know what you think.