As often as Captain Singh gets on his ass about being behind on everything, he's also the reason Barry has always felt safe being bisexual in his very masculine workplace, if only because Singh's own status as an out gay man means no one dares to drop any gay slurs or talk down to anyone who admits to being not straight inside the precinct or while out on duty. Because Singh will find out about it. And when he finds out, well. He isn't above giving the perpetrator the worst possible assignment as punishment for as long as it takes them to be less of a homophobic asshole, if not outright suspending them on the very rare occasion that someone is dumb enough to misspeak in his hearing range.
So, while the first time Barry accidentally said 'boyfriend' in the bullpen (instead of something a little more gender neutral, which he had got to using around his college campus, because football players could be real dicks), was a little nerve-wracking, he didn't feel unsafe. Not like he might have in a workplace with a different boss. And no one reacted to it, beyond another CSI checking that he was okay with her referring to his significant other the same way the next time they talked about their personal lives.
After becoming the Flash and finding out about his need for more calories, Mick makes a ridiculous new rule about Barry needing to start bringing a lunch, so Mick knows he's getting something other than Big Belly Burger into his stomach each day. It isn't the first time Mick has set out on a sort of crusade to ensure Barry or Len are eating enough vegetables or meats or whatever each day, but he usually isn't quite so firm about making them play along, and the argument they have over it had leaves them both fuming, with Barry retreating to Joe's for a couple days.
(Times like this are when he misses Len the most, because at least with three of them around, there's usually someone there to step in and talk the argument down before it resolves in one of them walking out for a couple weeks or – in Len's current case – a number of months.)
If it isn't for the rumor mill passing along the news about Captain Singh's own partner being difficult about dieting, he might well have stayed at Joe's for another week. As it is, he takes a couple hours to work up his courage, then pulls together a file of results for the captain and walks down to his office.
"That had better be my report on the Miller case, Allen," Singh says as soon as he sees him standing in the doorway of his office.
"Uh, yes, sir." Barry steps forward and hands it over, rambling a bit about the results they'd got on the carpet fibers they'd found in the victim's wounds while Singh looks over the paper copy.
Finally, Singh sighs and sets the file aside, before shooting Barry a resigned look. "I don't need the verbal report, Allen. Just spit it out, whatever it is."
"I just–" Barry stops, forces himself to take a deep breath, then just starts talking in a rush: "I heard that your boyfriend is getting on you about eating healthy and I just– H–how do you deal with it? Like, I mean, you're clearly eating...well, not so healthy, here, but if he's really pushing it, just–"
Singh holds up a hand for silence, and Barry gratefully presses his lips together, embarrassed. "Sit down, Allen," he says after a beat of silence, motioning towards the chair sitting in front of his desk.
Barry drops into it in a rush, barely holding back his speed. "Sorry, sir," he says before he can stop himself. "This is– I mean, I'm sure you don't really want–"
"Allen," Singh snaps, turning one of his more annoyed stares on Barry.
He slouches in his seat and covers his mouth with one hand, though he knows that won't really stop his nervous chatter if he's given the chance to talk again. God, this is such a bad idea.
Singh sighs and steeples his fingers. "Shall I assume your boyfriend is complaining about your own diet?"
Barry nods. "Not enough vegetables," he says around his hand, somehow manages to keep himself from saying anything more. (Because all the fixings on his many burgers a day don't count, according to Mick. Not even if he orders extra lettuce, or whatever.)
Singh's expression suggests he's in a similar boat. "I don't have an easy answer for you, I'm afraid," he offers in a voice that's far gentler than Barry's used to hearing from him. "I know that, with Rob, he's coming from a place of love and concern for my health. It makes it...easier, though I would prefer fewer health smoothies."
Barry can't keep from making a face at the thought. "Yeah, Le–my boyfriend, he sorta blew up the last blender we had, so no smoothies." An incident which had occurred while Barry was in his coma, and which Mick promised he was better off having missed. Not that Mick would ever make Barry take a smoothie as his lunch, if only because he isn't daft enough to think Barry will drink it. Len, sure, he doesn't mind them so much, since less effort and more travelable than a sandwich when he's busy with his latest heist plans, but Barry much prefers having something to chew. "I get, like, a whole cucumber, half a red pepper, and most of a carrot all chopped up on top of half a head of lettuce. Maybe some chopped chicken or ham, if he makes any the night before."
Singh mutters something that sounds suspiciously like 'I'll trade you,' before raising his voice to say, "There's nothing saying you have to eat the salad, unless you suspect he'll find out if you pass it off?"
Barry shrugs, because Len is the one who usually finds out things Barry doesn't want him knowing, but Mick's dumb act means a lot of people overlook him when watching out for people trying to listen in on private conversations, not to mention he knows all of Len's information-based contacts. Mick's way too smart to give Barry proof he's keeping tabs on him, but he wouldn't be surprised to find out Mick knows a lot more about what goes on in the precinct than he lets on. (Admittedly as much for the sake of committing crimes, as to keep tabs on Barry.)
Singh watches him for a moment, a particular tilt to his mouth that Barry recognizes from all the times the captain has asked for more information about something Barry or one of the other CSIs found at a crime scene, usually in hopes that it might help the detectives assigned to the case pick a focus.
"Please don't ask," Barry hears himself say, and then he winces and looks down at his hands, because he hadn't meant to say that aloud. And he knows, from growing up with Joe, that asking a detective – even one who's traded his title for captain – not to ask about something, pretty much guarantees they'll start hunting for information.
Singh's quiet for a moment that feels too long – damn his speed, anyway – before he clears his throat and his chair lets out a creaking noise. "Allen," he says, and his tone is a bit more brusque than it has been, but somehow still kinder than Barry's used to, "I've seen you finish off three Big Belly burgers in one sitting; I'm sure you can manage one salad and a burger to appease both of you."
Barry lets out a helpless little laugh and glances up to find Singh watching him with that familiar slightly annoyed turn to his mouth. "Yeah, I think he expects something like that. I just–" He sighs and rubs at his face. "It was a dumb fight," he admits, more to himself than Singh.
Singh lets out one of his familiar annoyed huffs. "Why aren't you talking to Joe about this? He and Francine had their share of rough patches, I know."
Barry winces again, debates his options for a moment, then admits, "Joe...doesn't approve. Of the– Of him. My boyfriend." Singular, just one, totally not more than one.
(He really should have just handed over the report and run for it. God.)
Singh develops that particular pinched expression he often gets when he needs to walk away or he'll start yelling.
Barry jumps out of his seat and hurriedly says, "I'm sorry for thi–for disturbing your work. I'll just–" He motions towards the door, even as he starts moving around the chair, barely managing to keep from tripping over one of the legs.
"Allen," Singh snaps, and Barry freezes and makes himself meet his captain's eyes, feeling so damn tense, he half suspects a stiff breeze will knock him over.
Singh though, he doesn't look angry, really. At least, not at Barry, and the strangeness of it winds him for a moment, long enough for Singh to say, in far too gentle a voice, "Go back to your lab and call your boyfriend and make up with him; fighting over vegetables is just ridiculous. Which I say having done so myself a couple times."
Barry swallows and nods, somehow manages to whisper, "Yes, sir," before he flees back up to his lab.
He does end up ringing Mick and apologizing for being stubborn. Mick apologizes for throwing a head of lettuce at him, which had been the thing that had made Barry leave. And then he, maybe a little nervously, asks what Barry wants for dinner that night, and Barry suggests he pick something up from one of their favorite restaurants on his way home, and Mick sounds so relieved when he says, "I'd like that."
If Barry picks up an extra muffin at Jitters the next morning and it ends up on Singh's desk while he's talking to a couple of detectives in the bullpen, well, no one but him and the captain will ever guess why.