by Hitman 44077
An hour or so later, within Central City Police Headquarters’ science lab, the Flash watched as Patty Spivot examined both cigarette butts.
“Well, what’s the verdict?” Flash asked the police scientist as she finished her examinations.
Patty showed off a confident smile, which told the scarlet speedster that her findings could only help their incarcerated friend. Her response confirmed it. “There were traces of alcohol on each butt. Mouth swabs from both Angie and Paul show that Paul definitely smoked one. But the best news was the fact that Angie had no fingerprints on either butt! And Paul’s fingerprints were found on both, including a butt which had blood and tissue embedded in it! The odd thing is that it appears to be more recent than when it was purported to have happened.”
The Flash showed off a confident smile of his own as he answered, “It seems to me he overestimated things quite a bit. For someone who pays attention to details, Paul didn’t even realize that by providing proof to the damage done to his hand, he wouldn’t have any way to tie Angie to the crime. They’re still investigating Paul’s house as we speak, right?”
“Yeah,” Patty answered. “Dean’s taking care of things on that end, along with a few officers. They confirmed what you’d mentioned, you know, about the fist-sized holes in the house. They saw the broken window and the picture frame, but they also saw burns on their car garage. That’s something I don’t have any idea about how it happened.”
“To be honest, that was how I became distracted from what was happening with Angie’s situation, Patty. I was attacked by an android named Amazo, who fired a blast of heat-vision at me. I didn’t even see it coming when I began to leave the scene, but I sure as heck heard it. I put out the flames myself before taking the android on, but, simply put, it’s something that can happen on a regular basis,” the Flash explained. “I’ll pay for the repairs myself, obviously.”
“Don’t even worry about that,” a voice called near the door to the lab. Flash and Patty turned to see Angela Margolin — no longer wearing her prison wear but rather her civilian clothes — and John Flint standing by the door. “What you told Frank Curtis and John here really helped me.”
“You’re free?” Patty asked, knowing the answer was yes. “That’s great!”
The two police scientists shared a friendly hug, feeling that this nightmare was finally over. The Flash smiled, then turned toward John as the two men spoke.
“I have to say that was a genius play disassembling Paul’s engine like that,” John said with a chuckle. “You could open an auto garage with service like that.”
“Really,” Flash said with a laugh of his own. “I was actually going to see if you had super-speed powers. You recovered faster than I would have expected after what Paul did to you.”
“You helped shake the cobwebs from my mind, and I couldn’t have stood there knowing that Paul was loose. Don’t get me wrong, I know you’re the fastest man alive, and he wouldn’t have had any chance to escape, but I couldn’t let the pain prevent me from doing my job.”
“I think you handled it quite well,” Flash said slyly, referring to the punch that knocked Paul Margolin into the oily puddle some time earlier.
“Hey, thank you both,” Angie said with genuine appreciation as she walked over to each man and gently kissed their cheeks. “I can’t tell you how much all of you mean to me. You believed in me, and I’ll never forget this.”
“That’s what we’re here for, Angie. We help our friends — always,” Flash said with understanding.
“No problem. We better head down to Frank Curtis’ office. He did want to talk to you before you left the station,” John said.
“That won’t be necessary,” a voice called by the opened lab door. It was Frank Curtis himself who wore a weary look on his face.
“Frank, what’s the matter?” Flash asked, not used to seeing his friend wearing such an expression on his face.
“Angie, with what’s been going on with you and Paul, and the fact that there is now a case between the two of you…” Frank paused, his face growing very uncomfortable. “This is something I don’t want to do, but it’s something I have to do. As of right now, I have no other choice but to suspend both you and Paul from the force.”
The four in the room exchanged looks of shock and bewilderment as each turned toward Frank and responded, different degrees of anger coming through in their voices.
“Why?! Hasn’t she been through enough already, Frank?” Patty said, her voice bordering on a level that could rise as her anger dictated.
“Frank, she’s in the clear! She’s always been in the clear!” John protested.
The Flash spoke next, trying to balance his anger with restraining reason. “You take one look at everything that has come out about Paul — his anger, the destruction at his house, the attempt to tamper with evidence, and the attacks he’s engaged in with Angie. You mean to tell us that because Paul’s guilty of all of the above, Angie’s supposed to be guilty by association? I think you know how we feel about that, Frank.”
Frank’s face showed remorse, which slowly began convincing the four that Frank genuinely had no other alternative than to do what he’d just done. “I am truly sorry. To be honest, I believe in you, Angie, but I have to follow standard police procedure here. I can’t show either one of you preferential treatment. The best I can do is suspend you and Paul with pay until the matter’s resolved.”
The four grew quiet, then Angie spoke up. “Thank you,” she told Frank, not with malice, but with honesty. “I don’t have to like department practice, but you’re following the law. I need to believe in the same law. Because if there’s justice, then this matter will be settled where it should be — in a court of law.”
“The law isn’t going to fail you, not with what’s been linked to Paul Margolin. You can count on that,” Flash replied with understanding.
“I hope so, I really do,” Angie responded, a hint of fear in her voice.
“We’ll get you moved out of there, and if you’d like, you can live at my place until this is settled,” Patty offered.
“I can’t do that, Patty. I appreciate it, but I can’t. I’ll find a place in the paper tomorrow, try to get as much out of our home as I can before he makes bail, and simply do what I can to handle my life until things are resolved,” Angie answered.
“You actually think he’s going to make bail at his hearing in the morning? He assaulted me, a fellow officer. I’d practically guarantee he’s not going anywhere,” John stated.
“Let’s just say I wouldn’t be surprised and leave it at that,” Angie said with little confidence.
There was an uneasy tension for a few seconds when Flash noticed the clock on the police lab’s wall. Great, the Flash thought, seeing what the day’s busy events had shaped into. “I’d better take off. Remember, you need any help — anything, really — I’m there to help. We all are, and that’s a promise.”
“Thank you, all of you. Thank you for believing in me,” Angie said, growing a little choked up. John walked over to her and gave her a hug, even as everyone in the room knew that there wasn’t a timetable for this to come to a conclusion. That may have been the hardest part.
A short time later, the Flash was finishing up a phone call to his girlfriend, Frances Kane, while still within Police Headquarters. He made the call in John Flint’s office and pulled his mask off so he could speak to Fran without any interference from the wingtips that covered each ear on his mask.
“You could say it’s been one hell of a day, Fran. But I’m not surprised,” Wally West said over the phone.
“I understand completely. The seminar was less enjoyable as I’d liked, and I wish I could have skipped it, knowing what you told me. Angie’s problems, the return of Amazo — I think we could have stopped Ivo with some teamwork.”
“Don’t worry about it,” Wally said with confidence. “Just be glad you still have an identity to protect. I wish I did still.”
“That’s very true, especially with what’s happened since you became the Flash,” Fran replied with understanding. “I think you could use some rest. You’ve been up nearly a full day now. We can do Hawaii another day. Maybe New Year’s Eve?”
“That could be fun,” Wally answered with a smile. “Love you, Blondie.”
“Love you, too, Red,” Fran replied with her own brand of joy.
As both individuals hung up the phone, Wally pulled his mask back over his face and left John Flint’s office. As he exited, he saw something that not only shocked him, but infuriated him. Standing near the entrance of Police Headquarters was Lyle Byrnes, the same man he’d brought to justice nearly twelve hours earlier.
“Wait a minute!” Flash shouted, speeding up to the arsonist’s face. “You are not going anywhere!“
Byrnes smirked — as well as a man with a completely scarred face could smirk, anyway. “You haven’t heard the news, hero? Uncle Sam wants me, and I’m working for him again.”
“I don’t think so, Byrnes! I don’t care what deals you’ve made, the murders you committed, and the lives you damaged are not going to go unnoticed!” Flash said in anger.
“You don’t have a choice, hero,” the voice of Amanda Waller called out. “Everything’s been signed, sealed, and delivered to our government.”
“I should have figured you were involved,” Flash said in disgust, turning to face the woman. “Employing super-villains like good ol’ Captain Boomerang to do your dirty work. I won’t stand for that here!”
“Listen close, hero,” Waller said coldly. “Like I said, Byrnes and I have a deal. You can’t do anything to stop that deal. But I will throw you a favor. We could go after the missing Mick Rory and place him into our custody. After all, he did attempt to kill Byrnes, here, well over a decade ago. He’s also classified as AWOL. Now that could buy him more time in military prison, maybe even for the rest of his life. But we’ll allow him to live the rest of his days in peace, without government interference, as long as you keep your nose out of our business concerning Byrnes.”
The Flash paused in anger, contemplating what he’d just heard. Neither one was a situation he wanted to ignore or accept. Should he stay out of this affair and keep Mick Rory — wherever he was — free from government involvement, or refuse to adhere to the terms spelled out in front of him?
Luckily, intervention came in the form of an announcement from one of the officers in the station. “The Trickster’s been sighted near the Trask Jewelry store. Looks like some sort of bizarre light show going on there, too!”
The Flash turned back to the pair and stated, “This isn’t over. I have a job to do, but I’ll be keeping a watch on your little criminal club. Count on it!”
Amanda smirked, nodding her head, and responded, “I’m sure you will.”
“See you… soon,” Byrnes said with an underlined threatening tone.
The Flash just glared at Byrnes, then sped out of Police Headquarters. Taking down the Trickster’ll be a piece of cake. Then I’ll pick back up with where I left Byrnes and Waller.
Speeding toward the Trask Jewelry store, the Flash had no idea what he was about to face. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: For the Flash’s encounter with the Trickster, see Justice League of America: Earth Once Removed.]