Turns out I spoke too soon. Two blocks away from where Barry is still fighting Captain Cold, another wormhole pops into existence in front of us. Cisco, who's ahead of me and Gwen because he's leading the way, stops short and whispers, "Don't tell me it's Heat Wave."
I saw a picture of Heat Wave before heading out from the hotel, and this guy isn't him. He's not as big and intimidating, and he's downright ugly, especially with the huge sunglasses he's wearing over half his face.
Is it too much to hope that he was just wearing those sunglasses because it was broad daylight on the other side of the wormhole from whence he came?
"Excuse me?" I ask, waving at the guy. He doesn't respond, other than giving a thousand-yard stare right through me and the others. "Everything all right, buddy?"
No answer. This is even creepier than it sounds.
Seized by a sudden urge to quote one of my favorite books, I switch to French and ask the guy the same question (with one key change based on the current time of day) Dirk Pitt asked of the guys on the Benin gunboats in Sahara: "Bonsoir! Pouvez-vous me recommander un bon restaurant?"
"I speak English, you know," the guy says, sniffing loudly.
"So why didn't you talk to us?" Cisco mutters.
Pointing at the Captain Cold fight still in progress, Gwen says, "Well, we'd love to stay and chat, but we kinda have urgent business elsewhere, so if you please...?"
The guy raises his sunglasses, but Cisco's ready for him. He punches him in the face and runs past him. Gwen and I gape at the sight for a second before following him. "I take it this guy was seriously bad news?" I ask.
"We call him Rainbow Raider," Cisco says. "Never look him in the eye, especially when his eyes are glowing red. They'll really put the whammy on you, if you know what I mean."
"I don't think we wanna know what you mean," Gwen says.
"You should," Cisco says, "in case we face him again. But enough on Double-R for now - Captain Cold's demanding more of our attention!"
Actually, I'd say he's demanding more of Barry's attention. Which he's getting, as Barry's zipping around, dodging repeated shots of frigid blue energy. Cold, as a result, has truckloads of trouble locking on to any one spot long enough to nail his target. It's like a million video game boss battles I've played in my time, from Crash Bandicoot to Jak and Daxter to Kingdom Hearts. Except here, the boss has a weapon that could give Barry practically a one-hit kill, so it's absolutely imperative that he not take a single hit.
Caitlin and Wells have taken refuge behind a row of trees, but she's got an idea. As soon as Cold turns her way, she turns on her phone's flashlight. I've always hated it when people use those things - they're extremely bright, so looking at it even sideways can blind you for a second if you're not careful. But today, it proves to be very helpful, because even with his dark goggles, Cold is stunned by the sudden flash of white in front of him. He instinctively covers his eyes with his hand, then fires at Caitlin and Wells, who manage to jump out of the way just in time.
Equally instinctively, I hit my webshooter and snag the cold gun from his hands. I level it at its previous owner. I'm not sure exactly how to work it yet, but all I need to do is project power into my voice as I yell, "I don't think you're wearing enough layers for this, Common Cold!"
"That's Captain Cold to you," he says, glaring at me.
"Yeah, thank you, Captain Obvious."
Barry stops running and appears at my side. "Dude, be careful with that thing," he says in the flattest tone of voice imaginable. I swear, he sounds like the Gene Wilder version of Willy Wonka when one of the bad kids is misbehaving ("Stop, don't, come back...") "You could kill someone."
"I know." I raise the cold gun a little higher. "There should be another wormhole coming soon," I say. "Hopefully it'll send you on your merry way back home. And this, we'll keep," I add, patting the side of the gun. "As a souvenir, you know."
"Hmph." Cold raises his arms and takes a few steps back. "You might need it to fight that guy over there, anyway," he says, pointing behind us - I guess that Rainbow Raider must still be lurking around. As for Cold, he clicks his heels together and mutters, "There's no place like home, bitches."
His boots must not have the same magical properties as Dorothy's ruby slippers, because his invocation of that beloved movie catchphrase has zero effect.
"Look!" Wells takes his turn to point in Rainbow Raider's direction, as a plain white light from another wormhole surrounds him and swallows him up.
Shrugging, I say, "Guess Ice King here missed his shot."
"There'll probably be a million more - SHIT!" Barry vanishes, leaving behind nothing but a brief gust of wind and a spark of yellow lightning in his wake as he races after Captain Cold. Turns out, that really nice guy took advantage of our distraction and decided he'd try and punch my lights out to get his beloved gun back.
Ending up on the ground, Cold groans loudly, then takes off his goggles, which were cracked in his fall.
Barry stands back while Cold gets to his feet - and good thing too, because out of nowhere, Cold gets struck by a glowing yellowish beam.
No, not yellow. Gold. Molten gold, which quickly cools and solidifies all over his body.
That can only mean one thing - Lisa Snart is back. Except...why the hell would she turn her own brother into a half-melted modern sculpture?
"Do we seriously have to deal with you again already?" Cisco mutters as Lisa emerges from a nearby alley behind CC Jitters.
"What the hell was that for, anyway?" I ask, brandishing the cold gun at Captain Cold.
Lisa lowers her gold gun to the ground, then raises her hands in surrender just like her brother did. I, however, don't trust her, so even though I put the cold gun down as well, I have my webshooters ready to deploy at any second.
"I know, you guys must be confused as all freaking get-out right about now," says Lisa as she steps up to the supine form of the gold-plated Captain and nudges him with the toe of her own boot. "I'll tell you this much - this guy here? He's not Leonard. He's not my brother."
Unless she's playing a trick to gain our trust (not that she possibly could), I think I can speak for everyone when I say we're all shocked senseless by Lisa's words. Wells is the first one to clear his throat and speak up. "How much do you know?"
"It's been happening all day," Lisa says, getting to her knees and looking up at the sky. "Ever since that black hole or whatever it was."
"Breaker, breaker," Grayson says on Cisco's phone, which he's kept in his pocket since we left Shasta Shore Park. Once he's done with his trucker-on-the-radio impression, he says, "If that's the real Lisa Snart - in which case, would she please stand up? - bring her back to the hotel, now."
"You think we really need to do that to get her to talk?" Gwen asks.
"Trust me," says Olivia. "I have an idea."
"It's as good a plan as any," Barry says. He gets Lisa back on her feet and walks her back to the hotel with us.
When we get to my room, however, Grayson looks around and says, "Yeah, there are too many of us in here. Maybe you can take the interview to your room, Olivia?"
"Good idea," she says. "But before that, I think you guys could do with a demonstration of what I'm about to do next."
"Uh..." Grayson looks nervous. "Uh, well, maybe this isn't the best time-"
"If we wanna know what she knows," Olivia says, gesturing to Lisa, "she needs to know what'll happen if she tries to lie."
Suddenly, Grayson's sweet, ice-cream-loving librarian of a girlfriend sounds every bit as dangerous as one of today's wormhole villains. Lisa, in particular, looks like she's on the point of shitting her pants.
It only gets worse when Olivia turns to me and says, "Sorry, Peter. You're gonna be my demonstration dummy for today. I promise, this is not gonna hurt."
"What, you mean like...like how a shot's not supposed to hurt?"
Another unexpected move - she wraps her arms around me. "You guys can all hate me later," she says to the room at large before tilting her head back slightly and gazing into my eyes.
"What are you-" I begin, and then it happens. Her eyes change from brown to a softly glowing red. Right away, I hear Cisco cry out in shock and try to wrest me away from Olivia, but he fails miserably.
In fact, what the hell was he thinking, trying to break the two of us apart? I can totally see now why Grayson's head over heels for her. In Olivia's arms, I feel safe, comforted.
Feeling my own eyes start to tear up just a bit, I return Olivia's embrace, then lean down and kiss her on the lips.
That's when she herself breaks away from me, looking down sadly. "Again, Peter, I'm really sorry," she says.
"Why are you sorry?" I ask, bemused. "I thought you loved me."
Barry runs in front of me and snaps his fingers. "Peter, are you all right?"
Blinking rapidly, I look around and see expressions of horror on everyone's faces - especially Gwen's. Then I turn back to Olivia, who's looking less horrified and more guilty. And I remember... "Oh my God," I say. "Did I really just...?"
"Yeah," Caitlin breathes.
"You, my friend, just got whammied," Cisco says.
"But how?" asks Barry. "Are you related to Rainbow-"
"I don't think so," Olivia says.
"We've never heard of this Rainbow Raider dude before today," Grayson says. "And no, she's never been to Central City before - definitely not when the first particle accelerator explosion happened, if that's what you're about to ask."
I turn to Gwen and take her hand. She flinches away from me, but only for a second. "I'm so sorry, Gwen," I say, feeling even more on the verge of tears than before.
She asks Grayson, "Do you mind if I sleep in this room tonight instead of you?"
"Go right ahead," Grayson says solemnly.
Olivia stands up, swallows, and says, "Yeah, I don't blame you. I wouldn't share a room with me either."
At this point, Lisa bursts out laughing. "Is that your idea of interrogating me? Girl-on-girl make-out?"
"What's wrong with that?" Olivia asks with an awkward laugh.
Shaking his head, Grayson says, "Actually, Olivia doesn't just have to make you fall in love with her. She can manipulate any emotion as needed."
"But, like Grayson and the sonar thing," Olivia says emphatically, "I only save my power for special occasions. And you definitely qualify."
"What?" Lisa looks beyond terrified now.
"Seriously," Olivia says, taking her hand and marching her out the door. "All you gotta do is cooperate with us, and you'll have nothing to fear."
After she's out, Grayson and Barry follow her. Cisco, Caitlin, and Wells are the last to leave, delivering us awkward goodbyes. "We'll be back in the morning, guys," Cisco says. "Don't worry - we'll get to the bottom of this monkey business, or your money back."
"I doubt that," Gwen chuckles, waving goodbye as Cisco closes the door. She then looks down at the floor and clenches her fist for a second. "Shit, all my baggage is still in my room. Guess I'll just have to take a shower in the morning."
"Yeah..." I can't bring myself to talk about what happened just yet, so I grab myself a change of clothes and hit the shower myself, feeling very guilty that Gwen won't have the opportunity to do so herself. She does, however, assure me that she'll be fine without one for now anyway. Although, as I scrub myself under the warm water, I reflect that it wouldn't be a bad idea for her to join me - which, of course, she doesn't.
When I'm out of the shower and toweling my head off (I got dressed before returning to the room to avoid that cliché of a guy coming out of the shower in nothing but a towel and getting the girl all hot and bothered), I sit next to Gwen on one of the beds - the one that's supposed to be for Grayson - and hug her tightly. "It wasn't real," I whisper into her ear. "It felt so real, but it wasn't."
"You don't need me to forgive you," Gwen says, turning so my mouth is pressed against her forehead. "But I know someone who does."
Scoffing, I ask, "What would you do for revenge? Kiss Grayson?"
Gwen pretends to mark that on a notepad. "Not a bad idea. Thanks."
As I nearly fall over laughing, Gwen pushes me onto my bed and kisses my cheek. "Good night, Peter," she says with a smile.
"Good night," I say, pulling up the sheets so I can slide underneath them. "God, I just hope nobody catches us sharing a room tonight."
"If anyone does," Gwen laughs, walking over to the light switch, "I'll be sure to describe to them how good you are in bed. In excruciating detail."