Don't go into this chapter and get slammed with spoilers. Read the first three chapters first, using these links:
"You, uh..." I swallow my nerves and try to project some extra bravado into my voice. "Talk like you've got a pair," as Joe might say. "Funny you should ask about Wells - you just missed him."
"Bullshit," Snart scoffs.
"I'm not kidding," I say. "Did you see that black hole just now? Swallowed him whole like the shark from Jaws."
Speaking of sharks, Snart draws his lips back from his teeth in a freakish grin. The dark goggles really don't help. "I think I've had enough of your dumbass stories, Flash." He raises the cold gun, forcing Caitlin and Cisco to jump out of the way. I, on the other hand, run to the edge of the room, then back to the center where Snart is standing. I'm surprised by how easily he goes down - he's not as tall as I am, but he makes up for that with gym-sculpted muscle. There's no way he should-
"Oh, shit!" I see him draw a second, smaller weapon - a Sig Sauer-type pistol - from the inside pocket of his jacket. At the very last second, I dodge to one side - but I can still sense a blast of cold trying to catch my heels. "Not again," I mutter to myself - I have zero desire to repeat the experience of absolute zero negating my powers.
Then it really dawns on me - that's a second cold gun. But how? Cisco only ever built the one, and Snart has it with him already. Right?
There are so many impossibilities here, it's not even funny.
I catch Cisco's eye, and Caitlin's - they're crouched behind one of the tables. It's not going to protect them for long, though, so I silently gesture to them to GTFO, as the kids on the internet would say these days.
As they skulk out of the room as invisibly as possible, I round on Snart and say, "That's a fine-looking peashooter you got there. Shame if something happened to it."
"You like it?" Snart says, raising the pistol. Instead of firing, though, he goes on to say, "They figured it would be best to kill Wells with something he designed."
"You sure about that?"
"Yeah. Why do you think I took it to Oscorp? Their team sucks at developing their own original projects - they're all faulty as hell. But when it comes to reverse-engineering the competition..." Snart finally fires, this time freezing the table where I'd been laid to rest, such as it were. "They're number one, son."
"Sure. Sure. You keep telling yourself that." Out of the corner of my eye, I see Caitlin coming back into the room. I'd tell her to leave, but I don't want to alert Snart to her presence. There' also the fact that she herself is holding a fearsome weapon. Not just any weapon, either - it's the opposite of Snart's cold gun. The heat gun.
Caitlin fires the heat gun, narrowly missing Snart. Instead, she blasts and warps the floor just behind his feet. He jumps to avoid it, but his boots are singed anyway, so he lands with the soles of his feet sizzling slightly.
Who knew that would piss him off enough to make him want to freeze her?
"Come on!" Caitlin yells as Snart levels his cold pistol once again. She does the same with the heat gun, ready to fire - and clearly hoping to not miss this time.
Before they can shoot, however, I run circles around Snart. Literally. Not only does it disorient him, but I also take advantage of that to grab his cold pistol and turn it against him instead.
"There's a time and a place to suddenly turn into the bravest shit-for-brains on this planet," I say to Caitlin over Snart's head as he whirls around, looking from her to me and back again. "Maybe this was that time, but I'm not gonna let you make me useless because of it."
Caitlin gives me a sweet smile completely at odds with the heat gun still in her hands. "And I thought you only had eyes for Iris," she says.
I return her smile, but it's more embarrassed than sweet. Then that smile slowly vanishes as Caitlin and I close in on Snart. "Now," I say to him, "what are we gonna do with you? You're already downstairs - we don't need two of you in the basement."
"Sounds like you got your hands full, then," Snart says. His eyes dart over to the full-sized cold gun. He makes a move, but then I pull down the pistol's hammer, the click echoing throughout the room.
"Don't even think about it," I say. I keep the armed pistol trained on his chest until he takes a step back, away from the cold gun. This is weird on so many levels - I've never been good with guns, ever. Joe had Iris and me visit a shooting range once when we (that is, she and I) were kids - they both kicked my asses a hundred times over and then some.
"Hey! Who are you?" Cisco's voice rings out from outside the door - he and Caitlin must have taken refuge in the hallway. The door is flung open, and another guy, one I've never seen before, races in and grabs the cold gun.
"Hmm," the guy says, examining the gun closely. "What does this do, I wonder?"
"I wouldn't hold it so close to your face if I were you," I say.
"I'd listen to the speedster," Snart says, crossing his arms. "That thing's a prototype, pretty much. It's full of bugs."
"I used to like bugs when I was a kid," the guy says. He pulls off his previously low-slung hood, revealing a small mask over his eyes. They're gray, like mine. Other than that, though, that's where the resemblance between us ends. He's built more like Snart - average height, well-muscled - and he's much less baby-faced than I am. I bet he doesn't get carded if he goes out to the bar the way I've been repeatedly, despite being of legal drinking age for almost four years.
"Not these kind of bugs, I'm guessing," Caitlin says.
"Oh no, definitely not," says the guy as he continues to look at the gun. He turns it over this way and that, curious about how it works. "I'm talking the creepy, crawly kind that used to be all in my life until I was adopted."
"If you're gonna shoot me, someone friggin' get on with it," Snart says with an irritated snort. "I'm sick of playing this waiting game."
"I'm not gonna shoot you, though," says the guy. He puts the gun down. "Why would I do that? Life is precious, you know. Unless it's those maggots they have in Sardinian cheese. I almost puked my guts out when I first heard about that. So disgusting."
"Enough of this," growls Snart. "What say you guys all put the weapons down, and I'll face off against you one by one, hand-to-hand? New guy first."
"You're gonna regret that," says New Guy. "Seriously, you will. Just walk away now, and nobody gets hurt."
"I have no regrets," Snart says, snickering as he shrugs off his jacket. "Never have, never will."
"That's no way to live," says New Guy, who takes off his own hoodie. Underneath, he's wearing a white T-shirt with a silhouette of a bird in flight emblazoned across the chest. "Do you have any feelings at all? No one you care about? Never been in love?"
Snart doesn't answer. Instead, he tries to punch New Guy in the jaw. I want to step in, but he's able to block Snart's punch pretty easily with an upraised arm and fist. He looks like he can handle himself. But if things really start to go south, I'll definitely be forced to intervene.
New Guy crouches slightly in a boxer-type stance, both fists raised. "I'll take that as a no to all of the above." He jabs at Snart's abdomen, but misses, and ends up hit in the face. Caitlin, Cisco, and I all wince as his nose starts to bleed. I didn't hear it break, though, so it's probably not as bad as it looks. Definitely not, given his ability to continue bantering and monologuing at Snart.
"Seriously, though...no love? Haven't you met someone who makes you feel like you're the only guy in the world? That someone you feel you do everything for?" Now he makes another move, this time with his feet, successfully kicking Snart in the chest and sending him staggering backwards about a foot and a half. "I know I have that someone in my heart. I really picked the right time for a meet-cute with that girl in the library, didn't I?"
Snart finally snaps and demands to know what the hell New Guy's talking about. "Nothing important to you," he says. "After all, you don't understand emotions." He watches as Snart gets ready to land another punch, then strikes with a serious karate-chop to his arm, breaking it. Roaring in agony, Snart tries again with his other arm. But it's not his dominant arm, so he's not as used to fighting with it, and New Guy has no problem grabbing it and twisting it behind his back.
"You're done here," he whispers into Snart's ear.
"You know what?" Snart grunts. "You're right." He manages to untwist his way out of New Guy's grasp. Then, unexpectedly, he vanishes into thin air.
"Whoa, what the hell?" I say, looking around. I'm not the only one - New Guy's also looking around pretty wildly, not to mention resorting to heavier profanity.
"Well," New Guy says eventually. "That was a surprise. But I guess my work here is done." He picks up his hoodie, then looks at Snart's jacket, which he left behind. "I wonder what you guys would do with that, huh? Burn it, I suppose. Or give it to charity. Even at this time of year, there must be some homeless guy around here who needs something like that."
"Wait!" Cisco calls out before New Guy can head out the door. "You never answered my question - who are you? And how'd you get in here?"
"I'll answer the last question first," New Guy says, zipping up his hoodie and crossing his arms over the light blue chest chevron for a few seconds. "That other guy broke in, and I followed him. I figured he was, you know, up to no good." He turns and walks to the door, but then stops in the doorway and turns his head our way long enough to say, "And as for who I am...you can call me Nightwing."
With that, Nightwing pulls his hood up and leaves.
"Okay, am I the only one here with his mind blown?" Cisco asks. "I mean, now we have three superheroes in Central City? How cool is that?"