Chapter 5 - Beautiful And Strange

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Barry follows me back to the central office space, where Jesse ably commands the crew on all their computers. Strangely, I notice that Conner seems to pay more attention to her than any two of these technicians combined. Or maybe he's just staring at the paper plate of pizza that sits on her desk.

"Wait, where'd you get that?" I ask, my stomach rumbling as it usually does when pizza is in visual range. Barry, following my example, licks his lips reflexively.

"Where do you think?" Jesse laughs. "You want some? Get 'em while they're hot - and before they're gone!"

"Come on." Barry tugs on my hand, looking like such a giddy schoolboy. In overgrown form, but still. "We can show these guys how it's done, huh?"

"You read my mind." I redouble my grip, and together, we run through the corridors, searching pretty much the entire building until we find the cafeteria.

"I'd have found it sooner," Barry says, "but the layout here, it's just different enough that this place feels like a labyrinth to me."

"Yeah, don't pretend that's the real reason why you're slow," I laugh, shoving him lightly in the chest. Extra-lightly, because speedy or not, I can still throw him through a wall or six if I don't watch out. "Next to me, you're a snail. Or-"

He fixes me with his smelliest stink-eye. "Don't you dare say it-"

"A turtle."

He comically falls to his knees and pretends to scream at the sky. "You went there! Curse you, Supergirl!"

Diana sneaks up behind him and lays one hand firmly on his shoulder, the other gently stroking the Lasso of Truth. "Watch out, Barry. The last time I cursed a Kryptonian, it backfired on me and I wound up breaking all the heels on my office shoes."

I look up at Clark, who's coming in behind Diana and blushing furiously. "You didn't!"

"What didn't I do?"

"No, no, I know he didn't do it," Diana says. "It was that Dalmatian he adopted. That's why I cursed him to begin with."

Barry gapes at her. "You don't like Dalmatians?"

"Not that one." She rolls her eyes. "Ares must've sent that one to torment me. Always biting my legs-"

"You do like to wear 'em bare in the house," Clark points out. "Opens you up to doggie nibbles-"

Undaunted, Diana presses on. "Eating my produce-"

"Good," Clark laughs, "because you're always buying too many lemons that we never eat."

"At least it wasn't kale," I say. "I hear that's very bad for dogs."

"And urinating on my armor!" Diana crosses her arms, her bracelets clinking dangerously. "I still haven't been able to use these to their full potential since then."

"You haven't really had a reason to," Clark reminds her. "Gotta love how you save your most nuclear option for the last of last resorts." He takes her hand and says, "One of these days, we'll have a pet you can love."

She pouts. "You say that like I'm incapable of loving a pet."

"I still loved that little guy-"

"That. Was. No. Pet." Diana gnashes her teeth and mutters in Themysciran. My skills with that language are a bit rusty, but I get the gist. Something about having to stitch a monster's excrement into her soul.

"Then I'll just have to find another one," says Clark. "Come on, Di, you know how much I love animals."

"Then we'll also have to move to a new apartment in a building that lets us keep them." Diana casts her eyes over to the nearby cafeteria counter. "But what are we doing hanging around? We need food!" She leads the way to the counter, a spring in her step belying the anger she displayed earlier. "Not as wonderful as ice cream, but I'll take it."

"Pizza..." I follow Diana, feeling like I'm floating the whole way as that addictive smell traps me. "Truly a multiversal treasure."

"I hear Earth-3 has the best of all," Barry says. "One of these days, we gotta head over there and give it a try."

I poke his nose. "It's a date."

"Yeah, sure..." He looks around, strangely nervous. "It's a...yeah. If we can get Cisco to be our third wheel, which I doubt he'd like-"

"Bar, I live vicariously through you too much as it is," Cisco says as he unexpectedly pops up behind us. (Well, not entirely, not to my ears, but to Barry's for sure.) "But for you, I'd happily be a third wheel while you and Kara canoodle around on yet another Earth. Just so long as you include me in at least one selfie, huh?"

"Yeah..." Barry looks so bashful. "And where would I be without my best buddy, huh?"

"Stuck home on Earth-1."

I pick up my slice or three of pizza - mmm, it smells so good! But if only they had potstickers in this cafeteria. I'd be so all over those that no one else would even get a taste. Open mouth, inhale dumplings. Nom nom nom!

I'm mostly just filling my head with foodie thoughts to distract from how oddly strained Barry looks when he's around me. Cisco coming in has allowed him to loosen up, but before that, he looked like he'd rather be anywhere but here. It's strange - most of the time, around me, Barry's clingy in comparison. And I know he's got a bit of an insecure streak born from years of being a prepubescent dweeb - his words, not mine - but still, I enjoy how close he is with me.

Seriously, I have to ask him at some point what's wrong. It's niggling at the back of my mind and won't go away, and for me, I think it's worse because I have zero idea what's disturbing him. The one time I'd give anything to have mind-reading among my powers.

But for Pizza pizza pizza.

Such is the life of a visiting superhero on another Earth, I suppose.

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