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Silver Lining

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They actually met a few days before the accelerator’s containment failure turned both their lives inside out.

Caitlin was trying out a new coffee house she’d heard about. Iris was the cute barista who took Caitlin’s order.

The coffee was good, but not phenomenal enough to be worth going twenty minutes out of her way in the morning, so Caitlin didn’t have any expectations of seeing the cute barista again. Not until she showed up at STAR Labs the day Dr. Wells’ coma patient, Barry Allen, arrived.

Iris West was Barry’s foster sister and she was there during the patient transfer to supervise because Joe West – Iris’ father and Barry’s foster father – was busy dealing with the last of the hospital and insurance paperwork.

After the medical staff was mostly gone – there was a nurse who’d be working evenings that was getting a quick building tour from Dr. Wells and Cisco so he wouldn’t get lost – and Caitlin had finished reviewing the pertinent details of her new patient’s case, she went over to the nearest conference room and nicked a couple of rolling chairs, bringing them into the cortex. Caitlin had always thought the cortex had too little in the way of places to sit, so having their coma patient in there gave Caitlin an excuse to redecorate a little.

Caitlin immediately presented one of the chairs to Iris. “Hopefully this will be more comfortable for you than standing by him every time you visit,” Caitlin told her. “Though, before you sit… do you want to help me set up some room dividers? Later today we’re going to move him over there,” Caitlin gestured to the glass wall that divided her office from the rest of the room, “so that I’ve got easy access to him while I work in order to check up on his status and such… but the room dividers are so he, and anyone visiting, can still have some privacy. I know this is pretty… out in the open right now.”

“I’d love to help,” Iris responded hoarsely and Caitlin wondered if she’d been crying earlier.

“The room dividers are still in my office. We’ll need to assemble those first...” Caitlin led the way and showed Iris where the dividers were, still in their boxes that arrived that morning. Quietly they followed the instructions – only installing a panel upside down once, which made Iris laugh so Caitlin counted it as a win, even if they did have to unscrew the panel and awkwardly flip it around. But eventually they had five easy to fold away room dividers ready to go.

“If we need more, I’m making Cisco put them together,” Caitlin huffed as they lugged the first divider out of her office.

“These should be plenty, I think,” Iris told her, clearly already mentally plotting out where each one should go. They were cordoning off the first ‘wall’ when Cisco came back in.

He helped them move Barry’s setup – medical bed, IV, and various monitors – into the growing enclosure. In the end they had Barry’s ‘room’ made up of a real wall, the glass wall, and two room divider ‘walls’ made of two dividers each. The fifth divider stayed up in Caitlin’s office, allowing her to close off her view of Barry to give any visitors extra privacy as needed. A few of the rolling chairs were moved in to either side of Barry’s bed, and then…

“If you need anything, Iris, let me know.” Caitlin told her. “Also come get me before you go and I can make you a permanent visitors badge so you can get past the front doors on your own from now on. One for your father too, since I imagine you’ll both be here pretty often?”

“Thank you, Caitlin. I really appreciate everything you’re doing for us… for Barry...”

Caitlin just hoped it’d be enough, that she could do something other than sit and watch for the sleeping man to come out of his coma.

Iris actually did remember Caitlin from Jitters. Pretty brunette with the cute, shy smile and looking gorgeous in a form flattering blouse and pencil skirt?

If Jitters hadn’t been so busy that morning, Iris might’ve tried to give the lovely Caitlin her phone number. But it was busy and afterwards Iris moved past the mild regret of a missed oportunity easily enough, taking to teasing Barry about his crush on the newest detective at the precinct. She hadn’t actually gotten a name out of him yet, only hearing Joe refer to the newbie derisively as ‘detective pretty boy’. She was determined to help Barry get his confidence on this and she used her missed opportunity to goad him into asking Detective Handsome out.

And he does, eventually, because everything that boy does is slow. The night of the accelerator accident, the night Barry was struck by lightning and put into a coma… before all of that happened, some jerk stole Iris’ backpack and Barry tried to run him down. Eddie showed up to catch the guy though and Iris had to admit he was cute, all flushed and pleased with himself for catching the purse snatcher.

Once they’re all back at the precinct, Barry rolls his eyes as Iris literally pokes him into action. (“Stop poking my shoulder, Iris.” What, gonna go complain to Dad? She touched me, she touched me,” with extra emphatic poking as Iris mocked him.) So Barry asked Eddie Thawne out for dinner and was practically floating on cloud nine as he bounced up the stairs to his lab because Eddie said yes.

(“Detective,” Iris said, clapping Eddie cheerfully on the shoulder. “Consider that my father is a detective, my brother is a CSI, and I’ve been an excellent shot since I was twelve… and remember that there is to be no breaking of Barry Allen’s heart.” Iris was not Joe West’s daughter for nothing and Eddie’s deer-in-the-headlights expression was way too much fun to see.)

But lightning strikes and there is no date.

Instead there’s seizures and Barry’s heart stopping again and again until Iris can’t cry anymore. At least, not until she drops by the station to keep Captain Singh updated. Eddie looks like hell when he convinces her to step aside with him and asks how Barry is doing. She finds herself crying again as she tells him about Barry and he cries with her. (“I wanted to ask him out when I saw him here my first day, but I was too shy and I must’ve made a terrible first impression on him and I thought… I shouldn’t have wasted that time.”)

Iris isn’t exactly sure what Wells tells Joe to convince him to send Barry to STAR Labs, but Iris is emphatic that Barry not be alone during the transfer. Someone should be there to speak for him and, as Joe has to be there to do the paperwork at the hospital, that someone ends up being Iris.

And there she is, when Iris walks into STAR Labs’ cortex for the first time. The lovely Caitlin who ordered a caramel latte and looked extra delicious when she licked the foam off her upper lip. Dr. Caitlin Snow, who was going to be looking after Barry while he slept.

The next time Iris shows up to visit Barry, she goes to STAR Labs straight from work, swiping into the building with her id badge and stopping by Caitlin’s office first to hand off a caramel latte, just to see her lick the foam off her top lip again.

Iris tells herself that Caitlin probably isn’t even interested in women, is probably dating some handsome guy with a doctorate, but… still, with everything feeling so awful about Barry’s situation, Iris can’t help but wish for something nice to come out of all of this.

“Still nothing, I’m afraid,” Caitlin tells Iris a few weeks later, on Iris’ usual Friday pop in. She feels guilty accepting the latte when none of the tests she’s run have given her any insight into how to help Barry wake up. But it’d be rude to refuse it, so Caitlin takes a drink and savors the flavor and sighing in annoyance as she realizes there’s froth around her mouth yet again. “I wish I could do more.”

“You keep trying and keep looking. You haven’t given up on him.” Iris smiled and Caitlin wished it was the sunny smile she’d seen Iris wear that day at Jitters in December. But it’s not a pale imitation of that smile either, which is a relief. It’s a determined look. “That’s more than the doctors at the hospital were doing. They gave up on Barry pretty quickly, to be honest. They kept trying to talk to dad about… about donating his organs.”

Caitlin wants to rage about how unprofessional that was on the Director of Organ Donations at the hospital’s part. Barry hadn’t been comatose long enough to be considering anything like that by the time he’d been transferred to STAR Labs.

No wonder Joe West had been so eager to move his foster son out of that place.

“It’s… do you… do you want to get a drink? Tonight?” Iris looks flustered, which is rather adorable. “I just… thought we could hang out. Or call it a date. If you’re interested in going on a date.”

“Oh, I, uh… yes.” Caitlin blushed and nods with a smile. “Yes. I’d like that very much.”

It’s months later when Barry Allen wakes up; much to Caitlin’s chagrin, she was never really able to do more than track the progress of his healing factor as it became faster and faster. He’s sweet, though, and approves of Caitlin dating Iris much faster than Joe does.

And Iris is there with them in STAR Labs the night Barry runs after Clyde Mardon, so Joe’s attempts to keep her in the dark really don’t fly well at all.

(And Eddie finally gets his date with Barry.)