Title: Keraunopathy

Set early season 1. Iris POV

Summary: It's raining outside, and Iris is pensive

Most days, Iris was too grateful that Barry was alive, and awake, to worry about his health.

Most days, she was content to hang out with her best friend and listen to him take off on science-geek tangents. Barry had always been an open book; he wore his heart on his sleeve, and when he was passionate about something, his whole face would become animated as he shared his wonder with the world, and Iris loved him for it.

Most days, Iris could revel in having Barry back in her life, after waiting in uncertainty for nine months - nine months!

Today was not one of those days.

Today had started out gloomy and gray, which from the get-go was a major downer. But as the evening wore on, an autumn thunderstorm had started up. Iris watched the lightning with cold dread in her stomach, and remembered everything she wished she hadn't learned.

Iris was no science wiz. That was all Barry's area of expertise, and she was lucky she'd had his help tutoring her in high school chem. But she was good at research, at finding things out. That was one of the reasons Barry had recommended she take Journalism as an elective (that, and he'd said it would be fun, which she still wasn't sold on). So when Barry was lying (dying) in a hospital bed after being struck by lightning, she did some research. She wanted to know they were doing everything they could for him, wanted to know what to expect.

A lot of the stuff she'd dug up was full of too much medical jargon to make sense to her - keraunopathy and Lichtenberg figures and electroporation - and more than once she'd caught herself thinking that she'd ask Barry to clarify a point as soon as he got back from work, and then her whole reality would come crashing down around her again.

What she could make heads or tails of, was not good.

Wikipedia had an entire page devoted to lightning injuries, that spelled it out in layman's terms. "Long-term injuries are usually neurological in nature, including memory deficit, sleep disturbance, chronic pain, and chronic dizziness." The 'delayed' symptoms were what worried her the most. Because Barry said he felt fine now, but some symptoms - like cataracts - could develop over a year after an otherwise uneventful recovery. And being in a coma, with multiple heart failures, was not what Iris would call uneventful.

Most days, his big geeky science brain was just as overflowing with facts as it ever was, which made the thought of brain damage laughable. But as NOAA pointed out in greater detail, neurological damage didn't have to mean a dip in I.Q. points.

So while most days Iris was grateful, and happy, and willing to help Barry get his life back to normal, other days she kept a worried eye out for: Distractibility. Inattentiveness or forgetfulness. Problems multitasking. Slower reaction time. Headaches which do not resolve with usual over-the-counter-meds. Chronic pain. Self-isolation. Difficulty carrying on a conversation. Depression. Personality changes.

She tried to act like how she normally would have, before the lightning strike. She didn't draw undue attention to Barry's lapses in attention, forgotten appointments, his headaches. He had a lot of catching up to do, a lot going on, and she tried to give him the space he needed to find his feet again.

Barry was keeping things from her. He'd become evasive, and at times secretive. He always seemed like he had something he wanted to say, but he never said it. She knew all this because that boy had no poker face whatsoever (which made it absolutely hilarious in the most tragically ironic way whenever he decided he needed to sing along to Lady Gaga). She tried to make sure he knew he had a support network he could count on, that she would be there for him no matter what, but more and more it seemed like he was pulling away.

Forgetfulness. Self-isolation. Personality changes…Depression?

In the present, Iris curled up on her bed, wrapped in the warmest, softest blanket she owned, and shivered as the thunderstorm beat angrily at the window.

A/N: NOAA = National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration