“Dude, this is the girliest music collection,” Barry said as he scrolled through Cisco’s phone, plugged into the lab’s speakers.
“Hey, fuck you,” Cisco said, but he smiled as he bent his head over the top half of Barry’s suit, a seam split open to allow him to get at the microcircuitry. The last explosion Barry had just barely managed to outrun had damaged some of the sensors that tracked his vitals, and it was even odds whether Caitlin or Dr. Wells was losing their mind more over the possibility of not being able to measure every little thing Barry did.
Of course, Cisco suspected that they, like him, were more shaken by Barry’s heartbeat seemingly cutting out mid-explosion than the actual damage to the suit. But neither of them would ever admit it.
“Seriously, though,” Barry said. “This song?”
Don’t wanna do nothing more than just stare at your face...and let you know I’m happy you’re my best friend…
Barry shook his head. He was flitting around the lab as he fiddled with Cisco’s phone, never still; circling Cisco; hopping up on a table to kick his heels against the leg of it in a staccato burst; jumping down to poke at something of Caitlin’s, break it, and hastily fix it in a blur of movement. It was a good thing they were the only two people in the lab, because Barry’s fidgets tended to make Caitlin even more tense than usual.
He was also not wearing a shirt, since Cisco had the top of his suit. Cisco tried not to notice.
Don’t worry ‘bout a club, just come and lay up under me tonight…
“I have never seen so much Beyonce on one man’s phone,” Barry continued. “Jay-Z doesn’t have this much Beyonce.”
“You got me, man. I’m as girly as Jay-Z.” Cisco finished the final adjustments on the circuitry and reached for a needle and thread. “Or, I’m just manly enough to be secure in my musical tastes.”
“And your sewing skills.”
“They keep you clothed, my friend,” Cisco pointed out. “Besides, what’s on your phone? No, don’t tell me…” He tilted his head. “Maroon 5. John Mayer. Like a shitton of Dave Matthews Band.”
Barry looked away. “Not…that much Dave Matthews Band.” Cisco grinned. “I like other bands! I like Weezer! And...stuff!”
“They Might Be Giants?”
“How did you know?”
“I got you pegged, man.” Cisco broke the thread and shook out the suit top. Good as new. “You are one hundred percent predictable. Even without Caitlin’s little ‘what will Barry do next?’ matrices.”
“She does not have matrices,” Barry said. Cisco just smiled. She didn’t, but Barry was fun when he was flustered. “She does not! Gimme my suit.”
Cisco held it away from him. “What’s the Arrow’s secret identity?”
Barry rolled his eyes. Suddenly he was standing several feet to the right, wearing the full suit, and Cisco’s hair was fluttering in the breeze. “You can keep asking. I’m not gonna tell you.”
“I can keep a secret!” Cisco protested.
“Cool, that’s something we have in common,” Barry said. He tapped the symbol on his chest; the heart rate monitor was housed beneath it. “Is it working?”
Cisco turned on one of Caitlin’s monitors and flapped a hand at Barry. There was another sudden breeze and suddenly the little red dot that meant “Barry” was zooming up and down the map of Central City. In the upper right hand corner his heart rate beeped merrily along, far faster than a normal human’s but perfectly steady. Cisco leaned towards the microphone. “You’re good.”
And Barry was back, barely even breathing hard, though his cheeks were a little flushed as he tugged his cowl off. “Awesome. Thanks, Cisco.”
“You know, if you were really grateful…”
“I’m not telling you who he is.”
Ooh, you’ll feel so good, boy, you’re my favorite place…
Cisco stood up, unplugged his phone from the speakers, and slipped it into his pocket. “I can’t believe I gave up my Friday night to sew up your costume like I’m your mom or something, and you won’t even tell me one little tiny secret.”
Barry’s face fell slightly. “Crap, is it Friday?”
“Ah. Nothing. It’s just, there was this thing at Jitters…” Barry rubbed the back of his neck. “Never mind. I wasn’t gonna go.”
He had the tragic look he always wore when the conversation veered into Iris-adjacent territory, like a seven-year-old whose birthday cake had been rained on. It was pathetic. Cisco shrugged. “You wanna get a beer or something, then?”
Barry blinked. “What?”
Cisco raised an eyebrow. “Dude. There’s more to life than high-speed rescues, being prodded by Caitlin, and sniffing dead bodies for the police or whatever it is you do. Let’s go get a drink.”
Barry hesitated, and Cisco wondered how long that hesitation was in Barry Time. Then there was a sudden blur of motion, and Barry stood there in street clothes, including an honest-to-God sweater vest. “Okay, let’s go.”
Cisco tried to smile only a normal amount. “Cool. I know a good place on Conway and Patton.”
He headed for the door, and Barry followed after him. “Oh, and I don’t sniff dead bodies.”
“Well, okay. One time, but that was a special case.”
“Whatever you say, man.”
Reverb was noisy and crowded and they wound up crammed in a corner of the bar, so tight Cisco could feel Barry’s thigh against his, drumming up and down like a hummingbird’s wing. “Hey, Paco,” one girl said as she squeezed by them, on her way back to her friends from the bathroom.
“Hey, Sophia,” he said, nodding over his shoulder.
“Paco?” Barry asked.
Cisco shrugged. “My brother Armando owns this place. I went by Paco as a kid and all the regulars still call me that. It’s kind of annoying, but you know how it is with people who’ve known you forever.” He gave Barry a nudge. “What about you? Anyone call you Bartholomew or something?”
“Ah, no.” Barry looked down at the bottle in his hands. “I mean, my grandpa used to, but I haven’t seen much of either side of my family since my mom...you know.”
“Shit, man, I’m sorry,” Cisco said. He was an idiot.
“It’s okay,” Barry said. He put on his “brave little soldier” smile. “Anyway, Bartholomew’s a terrible name, so, silver lining, right?”
“Sure.” Cisco smiled back. “Bartholomew and Francisco. We sound like a couple of seventeenth century monks.”
“Then we should definitely have another round of mead,” Barry said, trying and failing to flag down the bartender for the third time. “Jeez, it’s packed in here.”
Cisco caught the bartender’s eye and held up two fingers. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Sophia and her friends looking their way, but he couldn’t tell if they were checking out him or Barry. Maybe both. He and Sophia had hooked up a time or six. And Barry had those long legs and those Bambi eyes. Girls probably liked that.
But Barry, bless his heart, was completely oblivious. He just smiled as the bartender placed a second round in front of them. “Thanks,” he said, then turned to Cisco. “How’d you do that? I was practically waving semaphore flags at him.”
Cisco shrugged again, one shoulder up and down. “Like I said, I’ve known everyone here forever. Luis and I,” he pointed at the bartender, “we were in kindergarten together. Before I skipped out of it.”
Barry raised a knowing eyebrow. “How many grades did you skip?”
“Two. Well, four, if you count graduating college in two years. You?”
“Just second grade. Iris was pissed. The joke was on me, though, because I got the crap kicked out of me pretty much every day until I graduated high school.” He looked torn between rueful amusement and the sad birthday cake face.
Cisco wanted to pull him out of a possible tailspin. "I'd like to see someone try to kick the crap out of you now. I mean, I guess I do see that, like, every day, but you know what I mean. And you usually win."
"Thanks to you."
“What are friends for?” Cisco asked.
Barry looked suddenly subdued, and Cisco cringed internally. They hadn’t talked about the whole cold gun incident since it had happened; Cisco was afraid to bring it up and see that betrayed look in Barry’s eyes again. Cisco just got so inside his own head sometimes, so caught up in seeing what he could do in the lab. The lightning had turned Barry into a force of nature; Cisco wanted to see if he was good enough to build something that could stop him. He hadn’t thought of it actually being used.
Remembering the angry purple splotch of frostbite on Barry’s pale skin made him feel sick. If he’d known, really known the gun would hurt Barry…
“This is, like, the saddest thing, but the thing about being the kid with the murder-dad is that you don’t tend to have a ton of friends,” Barry said finally. He clinked the neck of his bottle against Cisco’s. “Thanks for inviting me out.”
It was forgiveness as much as thanks, or at least it felt that way to Cisco. He took a hasty pull of his beer to save himself from saying something really stupid. “Hey,” he said once he’d swallowed. “Any time.”
It was dumb, and it meant nothing...but Barry smiled just the same. So maybe it wasn’t that dumb after all.
It turned out it took a lot of alcohol to get Barry drunk.
“How is this possible?” Cisco asked from the couch. They’d wandered from Reverb to his apartment when Cisco had started swaying on his stool, and ordered dinner. Now, Barry sat looking slightly glazed among the detritus of six empty pizza boxes and countless empty bottles - although maybe that was from the horrifying pepperoni-olives-jalapenos combination he apparently preferred. “You just outdrank every frat in Missouri.” And Cisco had done his best to keep up, which was why he was pretty sure he was never moving from this couch again.
It struck him that the song playing right now was fairly apropos, but he didn’t say anything. He didn’t need Barry giving him shit again.
I get filthy when that liquor get into me...I’ve been thinking, I’ve been thinking…
“I must be met...meta...meta-bo-li-zing alcohol faster,” Barry said very carefully. “We should tell Caitlin.”
“Right,” Cisco said. “In case you fight the...the Beer Nut.”
Barry cracked up. “The Distillerator!”
“The Rum and Choke!”
Barry laughed harder, doubling over, one hand on Cisco’s thigh to keep himself from simply rolling off the couch. “The...the Budweiser...Bad...Guy.”
Cisco twitched his thigh reflexively under Barry’s palm. Barry didn’t move it. “Okay, I’ll make the jokes. You stick to running fast.”
“No.” Barry closed his eyes, face tilted up towards the ceiling as if the voice of God was showering puns down upon his ears, if only he would listen. “...The Bud Fright,” he said finally, opened his eyes, and beamed at Cisco like a puppy that had just successfully fetched his first stick.
Cisco couldn’t help grinning back. “Okay, fine. We’ll share. You can make jokes, and I’ll try to get hit by lightning.”
Barry shook his head, serious again. “No,” he said. “That is dangerous. I need you uncooked, for science and friendship.”
He seriously looked like he thought Cisco was about to run out into the middle of a field during a storm, waving a golf club at the sky. Cisco held up his hands. “Okay, okay. I won’t get hit by lightning.”
“Science and friendship,” Barry repeated. He lifted his hand to point declaratively at Cisco’s nose. Cisco’s thigh felt cold where Barry’s hand had been. “They’re important.”
“And music,” Cisco added. “Science, friendship, and music. The most important things.”
Barry nodded sagely. “And...and justice.”
Cisco had never really considered justice in that concrete a sense, but he nodded too. “And pizza.”
He’d never have said it sober. As it was, he caught the mistake as it was on its way out of his mouth, as he watched Barry’s expression crumple in slow motion. “Dude,” he said, before Barry could start weeping into his pizza crust or whatever. “You have got to get over Iris.”
To his surprise, Barry nodded. “I really do.” He shook his head, looking a little disgusted with himself. “She doesn’t see me like...you know. Like a grownup...man-type person. She just sees the scrawny kid she grew up with. Ah, maybe I am still that scrawny kid.”
“You’re not scrawny,” Cisco said. Slight, maybe. But Cisco saw Barry with his shirt off a lot. Dude had biceps.
Barry shook his head as if he hadn’t heard Cisco. “She’s happy with Eddie. What kind of a dick am I to want to mess that up for her?” He ground the heels of his hands against his temples. “Shit. I should’ve dated Felicity when I had the chance.”
Felicity was wickedly smart, funny, and ridiculously hot. Even Dr. Wells liked her. “Yeah, you should’ve,” Cisco said. His stomach gave an unhappy little twist. Maybe he shouldn’t have drunk so much.
Barry flopped back against the couch, a gangly sprawl, his knee touching Cisco’s. “What the hell is wrong with me?” He sighed. “You know, aside from Felicity, I haven’t even kissed anyone since college? I came back home, and Iris was here, and I just…” He shook his head again. “I’m pathetic.”
“Well, then, we both are,” Cisco said. Barry peeked at him through one open eye. “I haven’t been with anyone in...I don’t want to do the math. That girl Sophia? At the bar? We used to hook up sometimes, but then the particle accelerator blew, and then Dr. Wells brought you in, and...I dunno. I said I was busy, but maybe I was avoiding her.”
Barry opened his other eye to give Cisco a rueful look. “Seventeenth century monks, huh?”
Cisco shook his head. “Let’s just say my right hand and I have spent a lot of quality time together lately.” He waggled it lazily at Barry.
Barry looked a little flushed. Probably from drinking so much. “Well, I’m sure Sophia would take you back. Or a different girl, if you don’t want to date Sophia. You’re great.”
“No, I mean it!” Cisco said. With a tremendous effort, he actually made himself sit up, so he could lean in towards Barry and really emphasize his words. “You’re smart, you’ve got a good job, you look like some kind of woodland sprite…”
“Dude, you’re a superhero!” Cisco said. “Just rescue a hot chick from a burning building and then totally make out with her. I am positive having your life saved is an aphrodisiac.” Barry still looked uncertain, so Cisco poked him in the chest like he was hitting a hidden confidence button. “You need to hook up with someone else. Drown out all the sad Iris crap in your brain. Trust me.”
“I don’t know…” Barry said. “I feel guilty enough keeping the double life thing from Iris.” Cisco groaned. “I know, I know! But I do. How’m I going to keep it a secret from someone I’m seeing?” The helpless look he gave Cisco should not have been that endearing on a grown man. Neither should those eyelashes. “That doesn’t leave many people. Joe…” He shuddered. “No. Dr. Wells, ha! No. And Caitlin is the last person in the world who’d want a casual hookup right now.”
Cisco was drunk. Cisco was drunk and Barry was drunk, and Cisco’s life had been one bizarre happening after the other ever since the particle accelerator had malfunctioned, and Barry’s eyelashes were really goddamn long, and those were the excuses he was planning to use if anyone ever asked him why he straightened up a little, looked Barry in the eye, and said, “I’ll do it.”
Barry blinked. “What?”
“Make out with you,” Cisco said. “To get…” He didn’t want to say her name, so he gestured vaguely at his own head instead. “...out of your brain.”
Barry just stared at him. Cisco had literally never seen him stay this still for this long. Even in the coma, he’d twitched a lot.
“Or not,” he said quickly, with a big grin like it really didn’t matter. It didn’t matter. It was just a stupid, crazy thought. “It’s just a theory, right? I thought we could test a theory. Science and friendship, like you said.”
“...Okay,” Barry said.
“Sure, so, forget it and...wait.” Cisco tilted his head. “Okay?”
Barry shrugged. He wasn’t quite meeting Cisco’s eyes. “Yeah, I mean, why not, right? It’s worth a shot. And, you know, if it’s weird or whatever then we can just drop it.” He gave Cisco a lopsided smile. “I trust you.”
And if that wasn’t the ultimate way to grab Cisco’s heart by the balls…a thought which Caitlin would've said was anatomically highly suspect, but Cisco didn't give a shit about Caitlin right now because Barry had said okay.
“Cool,” he said, and leaned in. He tried not to lunge forward like a hungry shark, all dun dun dun dun, but he was afraid to wait too long, afraid that Barry would change his mind. Although he supposed if Barry did change his mind, he could be off Cisco’s couch and halfway to Tierra del Fuego by the time Cisco finished puckering up.
But Barry didn’t move. And Cisco closed his eyes and brushed his lips against Barry’s - a short, tentative kiss.
He pulled back a little and opened his eyes. Barry’s brow was furrowed, like Cisco was a crime scene Barry couldn’t yet read. Maybe not the best response to being kissed. “You okay?” Cisco asked.
Barry licked his lips, which sent Cisco's imagination spiraling to all sorts of unlikely places. Then he slid a hand around the curve of Cisco’s skull, strong fingers settling at the nape of his neck, and kissed him back.
Cisco leaned in further, one hand on the couch cushions for balance, the other fluttering uncertainly in the air before landing on Barry’s upper arm. Barry’s lips were soft and his breath was a little sour from pizza-beer funk and the shirt under Cisco’s palm was starched-crisp and he was kissing Barry Allen on his couch, how was this real life?
He tried to take things slow, to keep all points of contact light and tentative in case Barry suddenly startled like a deer and blitzed out the door - but Barry didn't seem interested in slow. His fingers flexed and tensed at the base of Cisco's skull, and yeah, that was his tongue in Cisco's mouth. Cisco let him in, ignored the pizza-beer miasma because underneath it Barry smelled like clean soap and the antiseptic they used at S.T.A.R. and whatever hair gel gave him that little parakeet tuft.
Drunk in love...we be all night…love, love...
Barry laughed against Cisco’s mouth, a startled puff of breath. “What?” Cisco asked, pulling back just far enough to say it. Of all the horrible ways this could go down, Barry outright laughing at his kissing technique was the most mortifying.
Barry shook his head, still close enough that his hair brushed Cisco’s forehead. “I just noticed the song.”
Oh. “I stand by my musical choices,” Cisco said, trying not to sound too relieved. Or embarrassed. Just a normal kissing-your-buddy-while-listening-to-Beyonce voice.
Barry tilted his head up to smile at Cisco, that wide ear-to-ear grin that sent his eyes all crinkly and happy. “I don’t get to say this often, and I know it’s the pot calling the kettle black, but...you are such a nerd.” He leaned in again and Cisco could still feel the shape of Barry’s smile against his mouth.
Or maybe it was his own smile. Either way, if this was what being a nerd meant? He was so okay with it.
Monday Cisco was at work early. Which was not a normal thing in the Life of Cisco, but crime might be afoot, which meant that Barry might be coming by for the suit and some auditory backup, which meant that they’d talk for the first time since Barry had rubbed his eyes, said, “It’s so late. I should go,” and vamoosed out of Cisco’s apartment while Cisco was still trying to figure out a cool way to say, “Okay, see you around.”
And it was okay. It was a casual thing - a semi-stupid idea that had maybe helped Barry get over his tremendous case of the romantic mopes a little. Cisco wasn’t looking to be cuddled all night like this was a romcom and he was Meg Ryan. If Barry had left Cisco with nothing but tingling lips and some very lurid dreams, well, that was pretty much what Cisco had signed up for. And hey, Barry’d taken the empty pizza boxes and beer bottles with him when he left. That was the kind of favor a true friend would do.
But Barry might be feeling weird about everything now, so the important thing was to show him that Cisco didn’t feel weird about it. Then everything would go back to normal. Well, as normal as things could get when you were a super-speedy vigilante and his less-British-but-way-more-fly Q.
But the police band was quiet, and morning ticked over to afternoon, and Cisco was just trying to figure out whether he was disappointed or relieved when Caitlin looked at her watch and said, "I wonder where Barry is."
"Huh?" Cisco asked eloquently.
"His weekly checkup?" she said like Cisco was being particularly dense today. He probably was. "He's twenty minutes late. I hope nothing's..." There was a sudden breeze, a stack of paper on the desk went fluttering through the air, and Barry was standing there looking flushed and windblown. "...wrong."
"Sorry," Barry said. "Got held up at work. There was this really gross dead body that..." He caught the look on Caitlin's face. "Never mind. Hey, Cisco."
Was it Cisco's imagination, or was he avoiding Cisco's gaze?
Caitlin sighed and pointed to the examining table. "Fine. Up you go."
Barry shucked off his cardigan and Oxford in a blur of motion and hopped up on the table. Caitlin started attaching the sensors. Cisco took refuge behind the desk, where he could monitor the data the sensors were sending over.
"You know, I feel fine," Barry said. "How long do I have to come in for these? What if instead I just tell you if I'm experiencing any unusual symptoms?"
"Like you told us about your dizzy spells?" Caitlin asked tartly. "Speaking of which, Cisco, how's he looking?"
Cisco was trying really hard not to notice that, actually: the way the fluorescent light picked out blue shadows in Barry's pale skin, the hollow of his throat, the smooth flat planes of his stomach. "Cold?" he suggested.
"His glucose levels," Caitlin clarified. "What's with you today?"
Boy, did Cisco really not want to answer that. "Oh. Uh. Glucose looks fine."
Caitlin shook her head, then checked her pocket. "Shoot. I must've left the stethoscope in the other room. I'll be right back."
Her heels clicked out of the room. The minute she was gone Barry zoomed over to the desk. "Hey."
"Hey, Barry. What's up?" Oh, this was much worse. Barry was right there now, all lean and shirtless and vibrating with nervous energy, and he was going to tell Cisco he was a creep and that Barry never wanted to see him again, and Wells would fire Cisco and he'd have to go wash dishes at Reverb and Armando would never stop laughing at him.
"Listen, please don't feel like things have to be awkward because of what happened on Friday night," Barry said. "We don't ever have to talk about it again if you don't want to."
Barry never wanted to talk about it again. That was better than hating Cisco out of gainful employment in the sciences, but it still sat bitter in Cisco's mouth.
He pasted on a smile. "Talk about what?"
Now Barry looked worried. "The, uh, the kissing. Do you not remember? I know we had a lot to drink and it doesn't hit me as much as normal people..."
Oh God. “No, no, I remember!” Cisco said quickly. “I was doing the, you know, ‘Don’t tell anyone we had this conversation,’ ‘What conversation?’ wink-wink nudge-nudge thing. You know? I wasn’t that drunk.”
“Oh, phew.” Barry rubbed his hands over his face. “For a minute I thought I was actual scum. I’m with you now.” He gave Cisco a faint smile. “Sorry. It’s been a long day.”
Cisco shrugged a shoulder. “It’s fine. And about the...about Friday. We can talk about it, or not, or...whatever. It was just, like...a friend thing, right? I’m cool with it if you are.” That seemed safely noncommittal.
Barry’s faint smile flared into megawatt. “Okay. Okay, good. I didn’t want things to be weird, you know? Not just because of...this,” he said, waving his hands to indicate the lab. “Hanging out was fun. It’s nice to have someone you can just, I dunno, watch a baseball game or something with.”
Well. Cisco leaned back in his chair. It was that or do a dance around the room, and that seemed like tipping his hand. But Barry didn’t hate him. “Well, we can watch baseball, but I should warn you I’m a Tigers fan.”
Barry looked legitimately more shocked than he had when Cisco suggested they make out. “What? Didn’t you grow up in Central City?”
“Well, yeah, but my dad’s from Detroit,” Cisco said.
“Psh.” Barry brushed off that particular conversational gnat. “That’s your dad. You’re a Central City man! What’s wrong with the Diamonds?”
“You want me to start with the infield or the outfield?”
Barry leveled a finger at him. “Hey. They have a much stronger defense this season.”
“Oh, is that why they got creamed by the Meteors last week?”
Barry actually spluttered, which was amazing. “Okay, first of all, that was not at all representative of this season, and second of all, when was the last time the Tigers won a World Series? 1984?”
Cisco shrugged. “1984 was a dope year.”
“Okay, Run-DMC, whatever you say.” But he was smiling, and leaning into Cisco, and it was hard to tell, Barry’s rapid eye movements being so very rapid, but Cisco was almost positive he’d seen Barry glance at his mouth.
“Hey, could you two stop giggling at each other long enough for me to finish getting Barry’s vitals?” Caitlin asked.
“Sorry!” Barry chirped. Cisco’s hair was blown back as Barry zoomed over to the examining table. “Find your stethoscope?”
“Yep.” She placed the earpieces in her ears and the chestpiece on Barry’s sternum. Cisco watched him jump a little at the cold. Caitlin frowned slightly and moved the chestpiece, then glanced at your watch. “Your heartbeat’s a little fast, even for you.”
“Huh,” Barry said, looking at the floor. “Weird.”
Behind his monitor, Cisco smiled.
“...all I’m saying is, you live in Central City, you should support Central City teams,” Barry said, picking up the last eggroll and giving it a thoughtful look before demolishing it in about three seconds.
They were at Barry’s apartment this time, since he had the better TV. It was probably for the best that the Diamonds had been playing the Coast City Angels tonight, since if it had been the Tigers they might have come to blows. It turned out that Barry wasn’t just a nerd about forensics and physics - he got all kinds of worked up over baseball, too. Cisco didn’t actually care that much about baseball, but, well, he enjoyed a worked-up Barry.
“I’m a rebel,” Cisco said. “I go my own way. Also, you are seriously lucky S.T.A.R. Labs subsidizes your takeout budget.” Even having calculated Barry’s dietary needs down to the individual Froot Loop, it was impressive watching him pack away the kung pao chicken. The coffee table was piled high with empty cardboard containers, and Cisco could only take credit for a couple of them.
“I know,” Barry said with a sigh. “And I’m gonna be hungry like an hour after this. I mean, don’t get me wrong, the protein bars help,” he hastened to add. “But I can’t eat nothing but protein bars. It’s depressing.”
“I’m not offended,” Cisco assured him. “I did my best, but they’re hardly my finest work in the kitchen. You should taste my lasagna. Or, like, six of my lasagnas, I guess.”
Barry raised an eyebrow at him. “You cook?”
“Raised on my mama’s apron strings. She’s amazing. Someday I’ll steal some of her arroz con pollo for you.” He shook his head. “I try, but mine’s never as good as hers. Oh man, and her pasteles…?”
“Stop, stop, I’m going to get hungry again,” Barry protested, kicking at Cisco’s ankle. “Hey, can I ask you something?”
“You and Sophia. Were you serious?”
Well, that had come out of nowhere. “Uh...no, not really. I mean, we were really serious when we ‘dated’ for a week in middle school, but after that...no. We just hooked up a bunch.” Just sitting there suddenly felt weird, so he leaned forward and started tossing the empty takeout containers into the bags the three delivery guys had brought them in. “Why?”
“Oh, I’ll do that,” Barry said, and blurred into motion. Cisco’s hair whooshed into his face; when he pushed it back, the coffee table was clear and the stuffed delivery bags were neatly piled by the door. “It’s just, you’re smart and funny and good-looking and apparently now you cook. I can’t figure out why you don’t have a girlfriend. Or boyfriend, whatever,” he amended hastily. “I only know about Sophia. But she was really pretty and…” He shrugged helplessly.
Cisco tucked his hair behind his ears and wondered how to answer that. He liked Sophia; he’d always liked Sophia, even when they were seven and he’d pretended that she, like all girls, was icky. She had a great smile, and she only laughed at him when he was trying to be funny, and one time he’d seen her deck a guy twice her size for grabbing her ass.
But she’d known him when he was leaping over grade levels and winning science fairs, when colleges were coming to him with free rides and when Dr. Wells had first reached out to him. When he was the pride of the old neighborhood.
No one had said anything to him about the particle accelerator, or implied that any part of it was his fault. It wasn’t his fault, he knew that. It wasn’t any one person’s fault.
But they didn’t understand at home, either, how the shine had come off, how the thrill of being recruited by the famous Dr. Harrison Wells for this momentous undertaking had turned to ashes. They didn’t understand the weight that pressed on Cisco’s chest when he remembered closing that door on Ronnie; they hadn’t seen Caitlin’s face as his voice cut off.
To everyone in the old neighborhood, Sophia included, he was still the boy wonder. How could he tell her about the grief and the shame of it and still be her hero? How could he be with her and not tell her?
Barry was the one good thing to come out of all of it, and always had been. Building the tech that had stabilized him and allowed them to monitor the insane things going on in his body had been something for Cisco to focus on besides the shadows under Caitlin’s eyes; a life he could save when he couldn’t stop Ronnie from giving his up. Maybe that was why even when Barry’s condition had leveled out he’d hung around the lab, tweaking his tech and creeping on Barry’s Facebook page. Maybe that was why he’d thrown himself into fixing up the suit, into being Barry’s eyes and ears as he beat feet around the city. Maybe that was why being near Barry left him breathless and exhilarated, like the weightless feeling of a roller coaster as it started its plunge towards Earth.
Sophia, through no fault of her own, made all the failures of yesterday fresh in his mind. Barry felt like a promise that tomorrow would be brighter.
Of course, Cisco wasn’t about to say a word of that to Barry. “It wasn’t that kind of a relationship,” he said instead. “Or a relationship at all, really. I mean, I guess I could date more. I just...I’ve been busy. At work.” Just because he’d been keeping himself busy on purpose didn’t make it a lie.
“Oh,” Barry said, which wasn’t helpful at all.
Barry actually squirmed. “It’s just, I feel like I’m taking advantage of you.” Cisco’s eyebrows went up. “The other night. You were just doing me a favor, and I get that, but...I kinda want to do it again?”
Only Cisco’s innate coolness, finely honed over his years on this planet, kept him from lunging at Barry, lips-first. “You’re not taking advantage of me. Don’t be stupid.” Barry still looked worried - not to mention a truly excellent shade of embarrassed pink - so he kept going. “Seriously, dude, I wouldn’t have offered if I wasn’t willing. Neither of us are dating anyone, so what’s the harm, right?”
“Right,” Barry said, and the anxious line at the inside corner of his eyebrow eased slightly. “Good. Okay. So…”
“I’m saying yes,” Cisco clarified. “We can totally do it again.”
And Barry was suddenly right next to him instead of way at the other end of the couch. Cisco blinked in surprise. “Sorry!” Barry said. “That was probably...abrupt.” He scrubbed a hand over his face. “I’m not exactly smooth. You may have noticed.”
Cisco felt the corner of his mouth turn up. “Smooth is overrated,” he assured Barry. “Trust a player.”
Now Barry was smiling faintly too. “Oh, so you’re a player now?”
“I’ve got some game,” Cisco said, and leaned in. Barry met him halfway.
Last time they’d started out tentative, almost shy, or maybe they’d just been moving with the exaggerated caution of drunk people. This wasn’t last time. Barry might not have been smooth, but there was an urgent heat to his kisses that more than made up for it. His hands were in Cisco’s hair, his thigh pressed hot against Cisco’s, and yeah, this was even better sober.
Cisco’s hands fumbled in midair for a minute before he settled them, one on Barry’s shoulder and the other flat on his chest. He could feel Barry’s muscles shifting under his clothes, lean and powerful thanks to all that running plus a fuckton of rapid cell regeneration, and someone’s heartbeat drumming fast - either Barry’s at its normal pace, or Cisco’s way faster than normal. Either one seemed likely.
But science meant testing theories, so he broke the kiss and trailed his mouth over the sharp angle of Barry's jaw, under the hinge of it to where he knew Barry's pulse beat strong and clear. Or at least it probably would've if Cisco had had his fingers on it and a stopwatch in the other hand, but it was a lot harder to time someone's pulse with your tongue. Still, Barry tilted his head back and gave a little sigh, fingers tightening in Cisco's hair, so Cisco chalked the experiment up as a success.
He let himself explore the pale column of Barry's throat, the light scratch of stubble under his chin and the swell of his Adam's apple. He took note of the the spots that made Barry let out a few more amazing noises, little gasps and whimpers and one time Cisco's name, breathless and eager, which was officially the best way to say Cisco's name, Cisco was having the paperwork drawn up and everything.
Even better was Barry hauling Cisco back up to his mouth like he couldn't wait any longer. Cisco was happy to return. He liked the shape of Barry's mouth and the way Barry kissed when he was confident, the way he pushed forward, one thigh sliding over Cisco's, all hands and tongue and…oh. Oh, Barry was really into this.
Barry seemed to realize that Cisco had felt his erection in the same moment that Cisco did, because he froze. "Sorry," he said, shrinking in on himself. Well, posture-wise, at least. "Sorry, I couldn't help…I mean, I didn't mean…" he stammered, awkward babbling Barry again as he inched away.
Cisco's fingers tightened in Barry's shirt, holding him in place. "Hey, it's okay," he said. "I know. I'm a really good kisser."
Barry's laugh was weak, but the tension in his frame eased marginally. "Uh. Yeah."
And Cisco never thought before he spoke, especially when the blood wasn't flowing to his brain too well right now either, which was why he didn't even hesitate before saying, "Do you want me to help you out?"
Barry's eyes darted to Cisco's for one astonished second and then away again. He bit his lip, white teeth sinking into his kiss-swollen lower lip. "…Please," he said finally, very faintly.
Cisco released his hold on Barry's shirt slowly, as if Barry couldn't have gotten out of his grip in an eyeblink if he'd wanted to. He cupped one hand around Barry's jaw and kissed him, deep and slow, and felt more of Barry's tension slip away as he kissed Cisco back.
And he slid his other hand down Barry's chest, over his flat stomach, bumping over the buttons of his shirt, until it came to rest on the placket of his jeans. Barry made a low noise into Cisco's mouth, and that was even better than the way he said Cisco's name.
Yeah, he was definitely hard, unmistakable even though the denim. Cisco gave an experimental squeeze and Barry broke the kiss to lean his head against Cisco’s forehead, breathing hard. “Cisco…”
“I got you,” Cisco murmured, and thumbed open the button. He eased the zipper down, even as a part of him tried to figure out exactly how this had happened, him literally getting into Barry Allen's pants on Barry Allen's couch.
There were Barry’s boxers, a slightly different sensible plaid than his sensible plaid shirt. Cisco ran his thumb along the elastic, grazing the soft skin of Barry’s stomach, hip to hip, teasing just a little. He’d have liked to tease a lot, to see how slow he could go before Barry totally lost his mind, but that was considerably more elaborate than a guy helping his buddy out...and that was all this was, right?
So instead he tugged the elastic down with one hand and reached in with the other - Barry’s fingers tightened on his arm - and pulled Barry free. And there they were, both of them staring at Cisco’s hand on Barry’s dick while Cisco’s heartbeat pounded loud in his ears.
“Bet you don’t care what baseball team I root for now,” Cisco murmured, desperate to fill the silence with a joke, and Barry rewarded him with a faint, distracted laugh.
He stroked experimentally and Barry’s laugh cut off with a soft, needy noise. Cisco really liked those noises. He stroked again, a little more confidently. This was fine. He knew how to do this, and not just for himself - thank you, college. It would’ve been better with some kind of lube, but Cisco was not about to risk losing this moment in favor of wandering all over Barry’s apartment asking him where he kept his Jergens...and besides, Barry was already leaking precome, so either it really had been ages for him or Cisco was even better at making out than he thought.
He found a rhythm and turned his head to kiss the nearest part of Barry he could reach, which turned out to be his jaw. “Cisco,” Barry murmured again, and tilted his head back down to his Cisco back - a little sloppy and distracted now, but as that was Cisco’s fault he supposed he couldn’t blame him.
Science meant experimenting as well as testing theories, so Cisco tried speeding up a little, which seemed like it should do the trick with Barry. That got him a grunt and a flash of teeth against his lip, which was probably a good sign. Upping the speed and the pressure a bit more made Barry’s head drop back against the couch as he breathed hard, exposing the curve of his neck and rumpling his collar. “Cisco,” he panted. “Cisco, please…”
“You like that?” Cisco asked, and was surprised by how low his voice came out. Barry nodded, a little frantically.
Cisco liked it too. He liked the way Barry felt in his hand, hot and hard and so responsive; he liked the flush in Barry’s throat, his parted lips and the way his eyelashes fluttered against his cheeks. He glanced back and forth between Barry’s profile and Barry’s dick, both truly excellent examples of the type, and wished he could watch both at once. “So fucking hot,” he said before he could stop himself, and shit, Barry didn’t want to hear Cisco waxing rhapsodic over him, he just wanted to get his damn rocks off.
But Barry’s hand clamped down on his thigh, and his hips pushed forward into Cisco’s grip, and he said, “Cisco,” and then, louder, “Cisco. Fuck,” and came all over Cisco’s hand.
Cisco blessed the nearly-photographic memory that had helped him avoid studying all through school, because that was a sight that was going to warm his bed on many future cold, lonely nights, even if it had been surprisingly quick. He watched Barry sink, boneless and sated, against the couch cushions, and wondered if it was still okay to kiss him. Or if Barry would think it was weird if he took his own matters in hand while Barry recovered.
But Barry’s eyes opened while Cisco’s hand was still on Barry’s dick, sticky and awkward. “Oh, Jesus. Fuck, I’m sorry.” He flickered in and out of sight and held out a box of tissues. “I, uh...oh God, this is so embarrassing. But...everything’s kinda fast these days.”
Cisco couldn’t help grinning, even though he knew he shouldn’t. “Have you told Caitlin?”
“Fuck you,” Barry groaned, and put his head in his hands.
He looked so adorable and miserable, and still unfairly good, all rumpled with his dick hanging out of his pants. Cisco kicked his ankle gently. “Sorry. Look, maybe you just need to practice? Get used to the new Li’l Barry?” Barry groaned again and didn’t look up. “Dude, seriously, you and me? We’re good. That may have been fast but it was still ridiculously fucking hot.”
He could see Barry’s shoulderblades tense. Cisco, you stupid fucker.
Then Barry looked up, his eyes all big and searching. “I didn’t even think...I’m the worst. Do you want me to…?” He pointed kind of vaguely, but the meaning was clear.
Yes, yes, a thousand times yes. “If you want,” Cisco said with a shrug that probably wasn’t as casual as he was hoping. “I mean, I’m okay. But sure.” As if it wasn’t completely obvious just from looking that he was painfully hard.
Barry licked his lips, because he was trying to kill Cisco. “Okay,” he said. He fluttered a little closer, picked up the tissue box, put it down again. Reached out his hand, drew it back.
“You really don’t have to - ”
“I want to,” Barry insisted, with the same half-heroic, half-petulant stubbornness he used whenever he announced he was going to run into a burning building or fight bank robbers.
Cisco had never even tried to say no to that tone. When Barry talked like that, it meant he needed Cisco for backup - so he unzipped his own pants and pushed down his own boxers. Just normal superhero support staff things, probably.
But it seemed to give Barry a clear mission statement, because he went ahead and curled his fingers around Cisco’s dick. “Oh,” he said softly, and then looked back up at Cisco’s face. “Is this okay?”
“Yeah,” Cisco said, which was the understatement of the century. IT’S OKAY should’ve been posted in fifty-foot flashing neon letters atop the Central City skyline, maybe followed by BARRY ALLEN IS TOUCHING MY DICK AND NOT YOURS, HA HA HA. “Don’t stop,” he added, which was a little needy but honestly, he’d been possessed of saintly patience tonight.
And Barry started to move. It took him a few tries to find the right angle, but his hand was warm and strong and Cisco had no desire to complain. Let Barry take all the time he needed. The night was young.
But Barry was smart, really smart, and suddenly everything was very right, speed and pressure and angle and the cocky grin on Barry’s face when he saw Cisco’s expression. “Good?” he asked.
“Good,” Cisco managed, and then it was his turn to make embarrassing little noises, but Barry didn’t seem to mind. In fact, he leaned in to kiss Cisco’s neck, mouth pressing hot and wet and between that and his hand Cisco wasn’t going to last much longer than Barry had, and he didn’t even have a handy excuse.
“Never done this before,” Barry admitted, voice low and close to Cisco’s ear. “I mean, for someone else. I’ve kissed guys before. Well, one. There was this party...anyway, tell me if I’m doing something wrong, okay?”
“You’re not,” Cisco assured him, then gasped as Barry added a little flourish of a twist on the downstroke. “You’re really - oh - really not.”
“Good,” Barry said. “You know, I thought of something.” This whole murmuring-in-Cisco’s-ear thing was really working for Cisco. His hips moved shallowly against Barry’s fist.
“To make up for the...fast issue,” Barry went on. “Tell me what you think.”
And then his hand was vibrating.
“Fuck!” Cisco shouted - sorry, Barry’s neighbors. “Fuck, Barry, holy shit…” and then his vision went white and he was coming harder than he’d ever have thought a simple handjob could accomplish. Barry eased off on the vibrations but kept stroking him, easing him through it as he shook and swore, pleasure spiking in his brain like depth charges.
After a very, very long beat, he opened his eyes. Barry was wiping his own hand clean, one eyebrow raised. “Yeah,” Cisco said, his voice a little hoarse. “It makes up for the fast issue.”
Hey baby even though I hate you, I wanna love you…
“I want you-hoo-hoo,” Cisco sang - half a beat behind the music and maybe a little flat, but this wasn’t American Idol. Caitlin rolled her eyes.
“Is the singing really necessary?” she asked, swapping out the slide under her microscope.
Cisco gave her an innocent look. “Was I singing?”
“You have been all morning,” she informed him.
“Huh. Weird.” He turned back to test results he was studying. He was pretty sure this new synthetic rubber polymer would give Barry much better traction on the soles of his shoes, which would prevent him from wiping out - something that, at top speed, could be disastrous. Barry’d already had a few close calls. Maybe Cisco could swap out the rubber on Barry’s regular shoes too...
Head in the clouds, got no weight on my shoulders...I should be wiser and realize that I’ve got…
“You’re singing again,” Caitlin said.
“Sorry.” Cisco gave her an apologetic grimace and a shrug. “Guess I’m just in a good mood.”
“I don’t think that song’s even a happy one,” she said. “Isn’t she trying to dump the guy?”
“But it’s so catchy!” he protested, doing a little shimmy at her. She scoffed, but he could tell she was hiding a smile.
“Hey, Cisco! You there?” Barry called over the radio.
Cisco turned the radio down and hit the talk button. “Yo, Barry. What’s up?”
“I just wanted to tell you, I think I’m gonna be over late tonight. Captain Singh’s giving me a hard time about these cases and - ”
“Uh, Caitlin is here too,” Cisco said quickly. “Say hi to Caitlin, Barry!” Smooth.
“Oh. Uh, hey, Caitlin.”
“Hi, Barry,” Caitlin said, looking puzzled. “Why are you coming to the lab tonight?”
“I’m not,” Barry said. “That is, I mean, I am, because Cisco wanted to...uh…”
“I was gonna show him the new polymer,” Cisco said quickly. Wow, Barry was even less smooth than he was. “And then we were probably gonna watch the game, but it sounds like Barry’s going to miss it, so...we’ll have to hook up later. Meet up later. For another game. Later.” Okay, maybe he was the least smooth. Neither of them were going to win the Lying Awards any time soon, that was for sure.
On the other hand, “we’re gonna fool around on the couch like we’ve been doing for the past week or so” probably wouldn’t go over too well either. They hadn’t exactly officially agreed to keep it a secret, but Cisco figured it was easier that way and Barry probably did too. After all, it was just a few handjobs between friends; Caitlin didn’t need to know about that, and the idea of Dr. Wells finding out made Cisco want to breathe into a paper bag.
Caitlin still looked puzzled. “So...everything’s fine? There’s no crime?”
“Ah, no,” Barry said. “I mean, there’s probably some crime, somewhere, like...okay, I can actually see a guy jaywalking from where I am. So there you go.”
“I mean, this is a social call?” she clarified, raising her eyebrows at Cisco.
“Hey, I have friends!” Cisco said. “I’m delightful.”
“I am also delightful,” Barry added. Cisco gave Caitlin a “so there” nod.
She threw up her hands. “Okay, whatever. You two weirdos enjoy each other. But the next time you want to just chat, you know there’s a little thing called cell phones, right?”
“Sorry, Mom,” Cisco said, and she made a face at him. “Uh, Barry, I’ll talk to you later, I guess? If you wind up getting off…” Barry made a choked noise and Cisco struggled to keep a straight face. “...earlier than you think, call me. On my cell phone.”
“Yes. Ten-four. Will do. Uh, bye, guys.”
Cisco moved the mic away from his face. Caitlin gave him one last quizzical look. “What?” he asked.
“Nothing,” she said, and turned back to her slides.
Cisco’s phone buzzed in his pocket and he pulled it out. I’ll be there at like 9? Barry’s text read.
cool, he texted back, and turned the radio back up. Caitlin might be right and the guy in the song might be a jerk. But it was catchy.
Barry flopped back against the couch, looking sated and slightly dazed. “That...was amazing.”
Cisco waggled his eyebrows at him. “I told you, dude. I make a mean lasagna.” He sat down next to Barry. “You sure you had enough?”
“I had seven.”
“Yeah, but you’re you.”
“I’m fine,” Barry assured him. “I might need a snack later, but not for a few hours. Depends on how many calories I burn.” He caught the look on Cisco’s face and went pink. “That’s not what I meant! You know...running and...stuff.”
“Hey, do you want me to clean up the kitchen? I’m gonna clean up the kitchen,” Barry said, and zipped off the couch.
“You’re just speeding because you know I won,” Cisco called as he watched Barry streak around the kitchen, a shimmering blur of blue jeans and sensible olive button-down. Trash disappeared into the garbage can; dishes cleaned themselves and fanned themselves dry in the air before vanishing into cabinets. Within two minutes, tops, the kitchen was cleaner than it had been since Cisco had moved into that apartment.
He shook his head. He saw Barry do insane things like this pretty much every day, but it still filled him with wonder every time. Maybe it would fade someday. He hoped not, though.
“You know, if the forensics thing doesn’t work out, you could always start a cleaning service,” he said as Barry slowed back down to normal.
“Been there, done that,” Barry said. “We used to get a dollar from Joe on Saturdays if we made our beds every day that week. Iris hated doing it so she’d split the dollar with me if I made her bed for her.”
Cisco was a little surprised - usually Barry avoided talking about Iris - but Cisco didn’t really want to talk about her either, so he ignored the comment. “How about delivery, then? Small packages, obviously, something you could carry, but you could make a fortune if you played it right.”
“Ah, yes.” Barry handed Cisco a beer and flopped down on the couch next to him. “A chance to use my degree.”
Cisco took a sip and put the bottle down on the coffee table, then leaned in towards Barry. “You could hire yourself out as a personal massager.”
“Gross,” Barry said, but he kissed Cisco back, and he was already unzipping Cisco’s fly. “Let’s just say I’ll stick with the police department for now and only vibrate recreationally, okay?”
“Deal,” Cisco said, and let Barry bear him back against the couch cushions. “Let’s burn some of those calories.”
Cisco had been drinking a Zesti when Barry had abruptly looked over from the Food Network and said, “Hey, have you ever given anyone a blowjob?”
Cisco had spluttered as soda went directly up his nose. “What?” he coughed, trying to wave away the burning sensation in his sinuses with his free hand.
“Well, you’ve been with guys more than I have, so I was just wondering,” Barry said, as if he had said something as matter-of-fact as asking who Cisco thought was going to win the episode of Cupcake Wars they were now both ignoring.
He’d gone past pink into bright red, though. Luckily, red was his color.
“Uh, yeah, a couple of times,” Cisco said - and then, because he was kind of a dick, “Why do you ask?” It wasn’t like he hadn’t thought about it, but the two of them hadn’t progressed much further than necking and handjobs on the couch, even after twelve nonconsecutive nights of said necking and handjobs. Not that Cisco was counting. Okay, Cisco was totally counting.
Barry had stared at the TV like he was fascinated by the intricacies of topping cupcakes with candied rose petals, or possibly developing laser vision. “I just thought it might be something that...we could try. If you want.”
There had only been one possible answer to that.
Which was why Barry was now kneeling between Cisco’s legs, with Cisco’s pants tangled around his calves. He stared at the fluffy top of Barry’s head, half-afraid that this was one of the many very vivid dreams he’d had since Barry had first woken up at S.T.A.R., and that it was all about to go away.
Barry looked up at him. “Okay, keep in mind I’ve never done this before, so you can’t get mad if I suck.”
“Well, I think I’ll be madder if you don’t - ”
“Dude, you know what I meant.” Barry looked back down and licked his lips. Cisco knew his body language well enough by now to know that it was a preparatory gesture and not actually a cruel tactic intended to make Cisco explode with lust, but it still made his fingers tense against the couch cushions.
Then Barry took a steadying hold on the base of Cisco’s dick, leaned in, and gave it a tentative lick.
Cisco’s breath hitched. Barry’s expression was thoughtful, like he was one of those Cupcake Wars judges and was trying to determine whether the espresso powder overwhelmed the cardamom. He gave it a longer lick, his tongue hot and wet, still so thoughtful, and Cisco couldn’t help the needy sound it wrung out of him.
Barry looked up at him. “Is this okay?” he asked, which was maybe the silliest thing Cisco had ever heard him say, and Barry had once asked if he could catch a man eighteen stories up on a pile of mattresses.
Cisco nodded jerkily. “No complaints so far,” he said. His fingers twitched, itching to bury themselves in that soft hair.
“Good,” Barry said, with a quick, half-shy smile - and then he apparently decided to bite the bullet, so to speak, because he took a deep breath, squared his shoulders, and took Cisco’s dick in his mouth.
This time Cisco’s pathetic noise of wanting was louder, and it was all he could do to keep his hips from twitching up. Barry’s glance flickered up to meet his, all dark green and long-lashed, and then back down. He started sucking, cheeks hollowing prettily as he did, and Cisco must’ve done something really good in a past life to be here, now, doing this.
"Fuck, Barry…" he breathed. Barry glanced up at him again, questioning. "It's good," Cisco assured him quickly. "Good job. It's…everything's good."
Barry went back to work, apparently satisfied. And, okay, not that Cisco was the expert on receiving oral sex or anything - unfortunately - but no, Barry probably wouldn't place in the Blowjob Olympics. But his mouth was hot and wet and eager, and every time Cisco gasped or choked out a moan the little line between Barry's brows deepened like he was memorizing the sounds for further study, and there was something incredibly hot about being the center of that kind of focus.
And it was Barry. It was Barry kneeling between his legs, and Barry making soft, wet noises against his shaft, and Barry's mouth stretched so pretty around him, and that made all the difference.
"Barry," he gasped, and let his hand slip into Barry's hair. Barry bobbed his head steadily, a man on a mission, his hand pumping the part of Cisco's shaft his mouth couldn't reach. He pressed his tongue against the underside of Cisco's dick and Cisco moaned louder and hoped Barry's walls were thick.
"Mmrphl," Barry said, and Cisco really hoped that was blowjob-speak for "I am having a fun time down here," because he wanted Barry to do this for approximately forever. Barry looked pretty into it, with his cheeks all flushed and his pupils, when he glanced up at Cisco, dilated as hell.
"So good," Cisco assured him again, or maybe he just needed to say it out loud. "So fucking good, Barry, don't stop…"
And yeah, that was definitely a moan out of Barry, and Cisco forced himself to focus past Barry's face to see that Barry had his own pants open and his dick in his hand. And that was maybe even hotter, that Barry wasn't just going down on him, but getting off on going down on him, and Cisco wasn't going to last.
"That's so fucking hot," he managed. "Barry…fuck, Barry, yes."
Barry sucked him harder, hand moving a little faster, speeding a little, Cisco was pretty sure, and Cisco's hand tightened in Barry's hair. "Barry," he warned, because he was a goddamn gentleman. "Dude…fuck, I'm gonna…I'm so…Barry - !"
He cut off as his climax rippled through him, as he spilled into Barry's mouth. Barry pulled off, startled and coughing, but his hand didn't stop and the rest of Cisco's orgasm caught him across his chin and in his mouth, still open and breathing hard. It was better than any porn Cisco had ever seen, and he kept his gaze locked on Barry's surprised and very definitely aroused expression as he shuddered hard through the aftershocks.
"Sorry," Cisco said when he could speak. "I tried to…let me…"
Barry held up a hand to stop him, and Cisco realized Barry's other hand was still pumping his own dick. "No…wait…I just…" His free hand tightened on Cisco's thigh, and then Barry was coming too, right there on the floor. He rested his head against Cisco's knee, narrow chest heaving raggedly as he fought for breath.
After a long moment he looked up and wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, which all on its own was worthy of a spot in Cisco’s “Hottest Things Barry Allen Has Ever Done” mental Filofax. "Hang on," he said, and zipped into the bathroom. A second later he was back, face fresh-scrubbed and clean.
"I would've returned the favor," Cisco said as Barry sat back down on the couch. He felt a little disappointed. Sure, he wasn't exactly an expert - a couple furtive blowjobs with Murray Takamoto in an empty classroom after Robotics Club in college were the extent of his dude-on-dude oral sex experience until now. But he really wanted to try on Barry. It surprised him how much.
"I know," Barry said. "I couldn't wait that long. I needed…" He blushed and shook his head. "Anyway, tiny refractory period, remember? Give it a minute and I'll be ready to go."
Right. Cisco knew all about that tiny refractory period. Cisco loved that tiny refractory period.
"Well, in that case," he said, and pulled Barry into a kiss. Barry had washed his face but he hadn't brushed his teeth, and Cisco could taste himself, heavy on Barry's tongue. It was enough to make Cisco wish he had a superhumanly short refractory period too.
He slid his hand down Barry's stomach, and yeah, Barry was already getting hard again. He smiled against Barry's mouth. "By the way, A plus blowjobbing, dude. I will recommend you to all my friends."
Barry laughed. Cisco really liked it when Barry laughed that close to him. "Didn't your mother ever tell you not to kiss and tell?"
"Yelp review: service very fast and reliable. Would come again."
"You're the worst."
Cisco slid down off the couch and knelt in front of Barry. "You'd better hope that's not true."
Barry's hand slid into his hair, tilting his face up, and for a moment they were just looking at each other, and there was such naked affection in Barry's eyes that Cisco's breath caught in his throat. "Fine. You're the best," he suggested, eyes crinkling at him.
"I don't know about that, either." It wasn't much of a joke, but it was safer than any of the other things Cisco wanted to say.
"Well," and Barry's smile deepened, "I'm willing to find out."
Cisco tore his gaze away from Barry's, looked down, and sure enough, Barry was definitely hard now. "Okay," he said, and as he reached for Barry, hoped that he fell closer to the "best" end of the scale. Because if he made Barry feel even a tenth as good as Barry made him feel, they'd be doing this for a good long time.
Barry looked down at the encyclopedia in his hands and then back up at Dr. Wells. “Why exactly am I reading the encyclopedia? Also, where did you get a physical encyclopedia in 2014?”
Dr. Wells’s mouth gave an amused quirk. “To test your retention,” he said. “You can read at top speed, we’ve all seen you do it, but how much of it do you remember after you find what you’re looking for? And can you do it while doing something else, like,” he nodded at the treadmill, “running?”
“We want to try to figure out what’s happening in your brain when you speed,” Caitlin added. “Hence the electrodes.” Barry touched one of the sensors on his forehead.
“It doesn’t really matter if you can memorize everything there is to know about aardvarks and abattoirs in a picosecond,” Dr. Wells said. “What matters is how fast the synapses are firing, and which ones.”
Barry gave Cisco a helpless look. Cisco shrugged. “Hey, this is their experiment. I just souped up the electrodes to keep up with you.” He grinned and popped his lollipop back in his mouth.
“Uh. Okay, I guess.”
“We’ll start the treadmill slow,” Dr. Wells said. Barry nodded and started to jog. With one hand supporting the encyclopedia, he started flipping through the pages at superspeed, a blur of fingers and wood pulp.
“Like this?” he asked, looking up.
The brain function readings were coming in clear as day. Cisco twirled the lollipop in his mouth and gave Barry a thumbs up. “Good job, Barry,” Dr. Wells called. “What have you learned?”
“Uh, well I don’t have it memorized word-for-word or anything, but the abacus is about 4300 to 4700 years old, which is kind of cool when you think about it as a precursor to computers,” Barry said. He glanced at Cisco. “It, uh...in China they can use it for...uh, for cube…” He shook his head. “Sorry. Cube root operations. I don’t even really know how that would work on an abacus, to be honest.”
Dr. Wells made a thoughtful noise. “Speed up the treadmill a little,” he suggested. “I’m wondering if fact retention might actually be better…”
“...the faster he goes,” Caitlin concluded, lighting up. “That could have endless ramifications for what we know about information transfer and short term memory.”
“Cool, I love having ramifications,” Barry said. He started running again, this time a little faster, legs speeding a little bit beyond what normal humans were capable of, and flipped through the book again. “Okay. John Adams was born in 1735 in Braintree, Massachusetts.” He glanced up at Dr. Wells, who nodded encouragingly, and then over at Cisco, who propped his feet up on the console and smiled around the lollipop. This was entertaining.
“Uh,” Barry said, and missed a step, stumbling a little. “He, um, he graduated from Harvard in, uh, in…” He glanced down at the book. “1755, at age 20. Hey, me too! Uh, not Harvard and not in 1755, but…” His gaze darted back up to Cisco and back down again.
Cisco frowned. “You okay?” he asked, taking the lollipop out of his mouth. “Treadmill working all right?”
“Yeah, yeah, I’m fine,” Barry said. He looked at the book again, then back up. “Adams married Abigail Smith in 1764 and they had six children…”
“The point is not to look at the book, Barry,” Dr. Wells said patiently.
“No, I know it!” Barry protested. “Six children...Abigail, John Quincy, Susanna, uh, Charles, Thomas, and...and…” He looked over at them and stumbled again, nearly dropping the book. Stopping the treadmill, he looked back down at the pages. “Elizabeth. Elizabeth! I knew that.”
Dr. Wells looked at Caitlin. “Those were more specific details than the abacus.”
“And look at these readings.” She pointed to the screen. Cisco had only a vague idea of what the data on there meant - but hey, Caitlin couldn’t’ve built this treadmill. “Let’s try faster.”
Barry took a deep breath and kicked it into top speed. He was just a blur of motion now, voice coming in over the radio. “Agriculture! Scholars have found evidence of cultivated crops as early as 20,000 BCE, though this is debated. The eight founder crops first appeared circa 9500 BCE: emmer and einkorn wheat, peas, barley…”
Cisco pulled the lollipop out of his mouth.
Barry yelped and flew off the treadmill, crashing into the foam padding Cisco had rigged to replace the old cardboard box wall.
Cisco and Caitlin both jumped to their feet, and Dr. Wells leaned forward. “Barry! Are you alright?” Caitlin called.
Barry stood up, shaking himself off like a dog. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m fine. Sorry, I got...distracted. Uh...I think that might be the end of your encyclopedia, Dr. Wells.”
They all looked at the book where it lay on the floor, half the pages yanked out and scattered across the room. “Don’t worry about it,” Dr. Wells said. “What happened?”
“Oh, I just remembered something that I have to do for...for work,” Barry said. “I meant to do it earlier, but I didn’t, and now I have to, but I’ll be right back.” He zipped out of the treadmill room and into the control room, in civvies now, and handed the electrodes to Caitlin. “Sorry! Give me just fifteen...uh, twenty minutes, and I’ll totally be right back. After I finish the work thing. That I forgot.”
He whooshed out of the room. “That was weird,” Caitlin said.
Cisco nodded - and then he saw the Post-It on his desk. Meet me in the bathroom, it said in Barry’s hasty chicken scratch.
He stood up, super-casual, leaning on the desk as he went so that he could palm the note and crumple it up. “Well, I’m gonna take a bathroom break,” he said, and moseyed out of the room.
He went down the hall and into the men’s room. The minute he stepped in, Barry locked the door behind him. “Dude!”
“What?” Cisco asked around the lollipop.
“Are you trying to kill me?” Barry asked.
“Then why are you sitting there sucking on that?” Barry thrust an accusatory finger at the lollipop.
Cisco took it out of his mouth and looked at it, then back at Barry. “Because it has a chewy chocolatey center?”
“Cisco, let me explain something to you,” Barry said, his expression long-suffering and a little frantic. “When I’m speeding, everything else around me is in slow motion. So while you’re enjoying a sugary treat, I’m watching you fellate a lollipop like a girl in a Whitesnake video!”
Realization dawned on Cisco. He fought to keep from smirking too broadly. “You weren’t distracted by work stuff.”
Barry was turning pink, which was always a good sign. “No I was not.”
“I think we should tell Caitlin and Dr. Wells,” Cisco said, sauntering closer, and okay, yes, now his smirk was the smirkiest it had ever been. “They’ll want to know. It’s important context for their experiments. I mean, how are they supposed to get an accurate reading of your brain functions when all your blood is rushing somewhere else?”
“Shut up,” Barry said, tossed the lollipop into the trash, and kissed him.
And Barry must’ve been…distracted for a while, because the kiss was aggressive, his mouth hard and urgent against Cisco’s, fingers clenched in his shirt. Cisco wasn’t complaining, not really, but he did pull back and say, “Hey, I was gonna finish that.”
“I’ll buy you a whole bag of them,” Barry promised. “Later.”
He kissed Cisco again, and this time Cisco let him, let Barry back him up against the wall and press full-body against him and Cisco could feel Barry through both of their clothes, hard against his hip. He would’ve suggested they ditch Caitlin and Dr. Wells entirely and just head back to his place, but from the way Barry touched him and the look in his eyes, he was pretty sure Barry couldn’t wait that long even at super speed.
He slid a hand between them and cupped Barry through his jeans. “We should test your recall now,” he said. “When was the abacus first invented?”
“Cisco…” Barry said, halfway between a plea and a growl.
Cisco grinned and sank to his knees, unzipping Barry’s fly as he went. “Think about baseball. Or about telling Dr. Wells what the last print encyclopedia in Central City died for.”
Barry gave a breathless laugh and braced his forearms against the tile wall over Cisco’s head. “I can’t think about anything but you. That’s the problem, remember?”
And even though he knew Barry hadn’t meant anything by it, as Cisco pushed Barry’s pants down and heard Barry’s breath catch above him, he couldn’t stop smiling.
Cisco shut down his workstation and raised his arms over his head as he stood up, leaning into the stretch with a grunt. “Okay, I’m heading out. You sticking around for a while, Caitlin?”
“Just a little bit more. I want to finish this up,” she said. “Hey, uh, how’d Barry like those new soles on his suit?”
“Oh, he said they were a big improvement,” Cisco said. “Safer stops, sharper turns, the works. Looks like Mrs. Ramon’s little boy has done it again.” He bit back a smile at the memory of how excited Barry had been after testing them out, like a puppy experiencing snow for the first time.
“Uh-huh,” she said, still looking at her tablet. “And how long have you two been sleeping together?”
Cisco froze. “What?”
Caitlin looked up. “I’m not actually stupid, Cisco. And you two are hardly subtle. All the giggling and the touching? The late night baseball games? Baseball season ended two weeks ago.”
“And if you say you thought I wouldn’t know that because I’m a girl, I’ll tell Dr. Wells you were the one who broke the big centrifuge trying to make cotton candy,” she said. “I don’t need to take that from a Tigers fan.”
Cisco let out a whoosh of breath and sat down again. “So you’ve known…”
“For a while,” she said. “Don’t worry, I don’t think Dr. Wells does. But I know you pretty well. I can tell when you’re hiding something.” One corner of her mouth turned up. “Or when you’re really, really happy.”
He hadn’t thought that part of it was so obvious, either. “And...you don’t have a problem with me sleeping with a subject?”
Caitlin raised an eyebrow. “He’s not a subject, he’s a person. If you were putting a petri dish down your pants, I’d be concerned.” She reached over and squeezed his hand. “Look, I’m not going to pretend it’s not weird for me, but that’s got nothing to do with you guys and everything to do with...with Ronnie.” She said it bravely, with just a heartbeat’s pause before pushing forward. “You two are my friends. I’m glad you’re together.”
“It’s not like that,” Cisco assured her. “It’s just, you know. A friends-with-benefits thing. For fun.”
“Okay. Whatever you say.” She stood up and patted his shoulder. “As long as you’re having fun.” He put his hand on top of hers and she leaned in close. “But if you ever have sex in the bathroom we all share again? Centrifuge. Cotton candy.”
“Got it,” Cisco said weakly. “Oh, and Caitlin?”
He turned to look at her properly. “Thanks.”
She gave him the fond half-smile he sometimes managed to get out of her when she wasn’t pretending she couldn’t stand him. “Hey. What are friends for?”
You and I must make a pact...we must bring salvation back…
“Oh man,” Barry said, cocking his head at the radio. He was perched on Cisco’s desk, drumming his heels against the side in a prestissimo beat that was wildly out of sync with the song. “Iris was obsessed with this song when we were kids. Not this version, the Mariah Carey cover.”
“Uh-huh,” Cisco said.
I’ll reach out my hand to you...I’ll have faith in all you do…
“Joe got her the Greatest Hits album for Christmas when we were twelve, and she played it constantly.”
“It’s a good cover,” Cisco said, not looking up at him.
“She actually made up a dance to ‘Dreamlover’ and made me rehearse it with her, but - ”
“You’re sitting on some papers I need,” Cisco interrupted.
“Oh. Sorry.” Barry shifted onto one butt cheek so Cisco could slide the papers out from under him. “Hey, you okay?”
“Yeah, I’m fine. Just busy.” He wasn’t, really, and he didn’t technically need those papers right now, but jeez, there were only so many adorable stories about Iris he could take. In the last couple of weeks it had gotten increasingly worse; Barry used to shy away from her name, but now it was like every other sentence out of his mouth started with “Iris says” or “This one time Iris and I.” Enough already.
“Really? What are you working on?” Caitlin asked.
“Stuff,” Cisco snapped.
“Okay, fine, be a jerk,” she said with a toss of her hair. Barry looked back and forth between them anxiously, like Cisco’s childhood dog Roscoe used to when his mom and dad fought.
“Children…” Dr. Wells started, pinching the bridge of his nose, but then an alert on Cisco’s desktop started flashing and he forgot to be annoyed with everyone.
“Hang on. Huge alert going out for...holy crap, all of the city’s emergency services,” he said, pulling up the alert. More were coming in as he spoke, the screen lighting up with calls for police, firefighters, paramedics.
The not-needed papers fluttered in the air as Barry zipped off. An instant later he was in his suit. “What is it?”
“Gas main explosion,” Cisco said. The lab suddenly felt cold. “Under an office building downtown. First and Waid. It...it sounds like it’s pretty bad.”
“I’m on it.” And Barry was gone.
Cisco turned the music off and flipped the radio connected to Barry’s headset to the talk position. “Be careful.”
There was no answer for a minute. Caitlin’s eyes were wide in her pale face.
Then Barry’s voice came on the line. They could hear sirens and muffled shouting in the background. “I’m here! It’s...ah, jeez, I can’t...it looks like some of the floors are gonna come down. I don’t…”
“Coordinate with the emergency personnel,” Dr. Wells said, his voice calm and sure. “Find out who’s in charge and tell them you’re going to go pull anyone out of the floors that aren’t stable. You’re lighter and quicker than the firefighters and you can get in and out before the floor collapses beneath you.”
“Okay,” Barry said. “Okay. I don’t…”
Cisco’s fingers flew over the keyboard. “Felicity would be better at this than me…” he muttered. “Okay. People seem to be reporting to a Chief Darryl Frye.”
“Yeah, I know him. Okay.” There was a pause; then, in the Flash voice: “Chief Frye? I’d like to help.”
“You - ! You’re…”
“Yes. It looks like there are people trapped on the eleventh and twelfth floors. I’m going to get them out. Tell your men to stay out of the upper stairwells.”
“The floor’s crumbling to pieces! You can’t - ”
Barry didn’t answer; Cisco assumed he’d taken off already. “Barry, talk to us,” Dr. Wells said. “What’s going on?”
“Hard to see...” Barry said in his normal voice. “There’s a fire on the south side of the building and there’s a lot of smoke.”
“You need to be careful, Barry,” Caitlin said. “You breathe at an accelerated rate. You could inhale a lethal amount of smoke in - ”
“I know, Caitlin, okay?” Barry said. “I’m getting these people out.”
Cisco leaned forward as if it would help him hear what was going on better; as if it could be any help to Barry if Cisco could hear better. “Hi,” Barry said to someone in the Flash voice. “Hold on tight. I’m getting us out of here.”
There was a whoosh of air, then: “Guys? Floor’s not very stable. I’m not sure how many I can get out before it goes.”
“Just do your best, Barry,” Dr. Wells said.
“Yeah, you got this, man.” Cisco had heard - and seen - Barry pull off impossible saves time and time again. He could do it now, too.
Now Barry was moving too fast to talk; all they could hear was sirens, shouts for help, and the occasional crash that made Caitlin wince and Cisco’s nails dig into his palms. “Cleared the twelfth floor,” Barry said finally. “I hope. Twenty-seven people out. Going in to the eleventh. I can’t - ” There was a huge crash, so loud Cisco reared back from the microphone. “Ah, shit! Shit!”
“What was that?” Cisco asked. “Barry, talk to me!”
“Floor went. Clipped my shoulder. I can’t...there are people...I can’t get to them!”
“Barry, you’ve got to get out of there before you’re crushed!” Caitlin said.
“No! I can’t - if I can get up enough speed I can run on the walls.”
“But if you can’t, and you fall through,” Cisco started, and then couldn’t finish the sentence.
“Then I just won’t fall.” He could picture Barry squaring his shoulders, the stubborn set of his jaw because he would not, could not leave anyone behind. He’d always loved that about Barry. Now it left him clutching the base of the mic, knuckles white.
Another breathless moment, two, three...and then: “I think they’re all out,” Barry said, and Cisco slumped back against his chair. “I mean, there’s still the lower levels and and fire but - wait, there’s someone…”
THWOOM! Barry cried out; then grunted and went silent.
Cisco was on his feet, Caitlin leaning over the monitor, Dr. Wells’s face drawn and tense. “Barry! Barry!”
The radio crackled. “...I...wall went. Knocked me...I think my arm’s broken.” He paused, then gave a howl of pain. “Yeah. Definitely...hh...definitely broken.”
“Come back here, I’ll set it for you,” Caitlin said. Her chin had gone all trying-not-to-cry wrinkly.
“No time,” Barry said. “There’s still people - ”
“If you don’t come back, it’ll set wrong,” she said. “If it sets wrong, we’ll have to break it again - ”
“Then break it again!” he shouted. Caitlin covered her mouth with her hand. “I can’t...I need to…”
Cisco reached numbly for Caitlin’s free hand. He wanted to say something, but there was no right thing to say. He couldn’t tell Barry to keep going, not when he wanted Barry back in the lab and safe; he couldn’t tell Barry to stop, not when he knew Barry never would.
“There’s a woman, she fell with me,” Barry said. “I can’t find her. She...oh no.”
“Barry?” Dr. Wells asked.
“I...there’s so much blood...I don’t…”
“Is she still alive?” Dr. Wells pressed. “Barry, you work for the police department. You know first aid. Remember your training.”
“I can’t...I don’t...yeah. Okay, yeah, I can…” There was a pause, and Cisco had the merest hint of an inkling of what it must be like to be Barry, because it was probably only a few seconds, but it felt like an eternity. “...She’s gone.” There was a hitch in his voice; maybe from pain. “Cisco?”
Cisco fumbled to pull the mic closer, not that it made any difference. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m here, Barry.”
“I didn’t...I tried but she…”
“I know.” Cisco swallowed, and Caitlin’s hand tightened in his. “I know you did.”
“There are more people who need help,” Barry said, but now the resolution in his voice was brittle. “I’ll come back for her later.”
It was over an hour later when Barry reappeared in the lab, staggered, and collapsed into a chair, his arm held awkwardly against his chest. Caitlin hurried to get the suit off so that she could assess the extent of his injuries, while Cisco grabbed the IV stand, which they’d already hooked up with several bags of glucose. With the way Barry had pushed himself, he’d need them before he could even think about real food.
Barry’s face when they removed the mask was dirty and bruised, his expression distant. “There were a hundred and twelve people in that building before the explosion,” he said. “Ninety-seven of them are gonna be fine. Eight are in critical condition.”
He didn’t have to do the math for them. “Barry, you did the best you could,” Dr. Wells started, but Barry continued as if he hadn’t heard him.
“There are four firefighters in the hospital too,” he said. He wasn’t looking at any of them. “And a cop died when the floor caved in. Tom Reilly. I knew him. He was more interested in forensics than most beat cops, wanted to be a detective...we used to talk over some of his cases. He was...he was a good man.”
“It’s not your fault,” Caitlin said.
“I don’t want to talk about it.” Barry closed his eyes.
They did have to re-break his arm. Caitlin did it, face drawn, while Barry held Cisco’s hand so tightly the joints creaked. She splinted it properly, and half an hour, several IV bags, and a few power bars later, Barry looked better - physically, at least. But he didn’t say a word.
“You should get some sleep,” Caitlin said once she’d X-rayed Barry’s arm and found the bones had knit back together correctly. “Your body needs rest after that. Unless you want to talk…?”
“I’m okay,” Barry said, and pulled on the rest of his clothes. “I’ll see you guys tomorrow.”
Cisco kicked himself mentally. He was Barry’s friend, he was Barry’s…something. He should’ve been able to say something, anything that would get through to him, to make him see that he’d done all he could and far more than most would’ve, even with his powers. But when he looked at the stricken expression on Barry’s face, anything he could say sounded like a useless platitude, an inappropriate joke.
Dr. Wells put a hand on Barry’s arm as he passed, stopping him. “Barry…”
Barry pulled his arm away. “I’m fine. Really,” he said. “I just want to sleep.”
And he was gone.
They were subdued after that; Dr. Wells said good night, and Cisco helped Caitlin clean up before walking her to the bus stop. They didn’t say much as they waited, but she gave him a long hug before she got on the bus, and he remembered how lucky he was that she put up with him.
His apartment was dark and empty, and all he wanted to do was throw himself into bed and sleep for a year. He left his clothes in a pile on the bedroom floor and had just brushed his teeth when he heard a faint knock.
It was Barry. He looked up at Cisco, narrow frame bowed in on itself, those big eyes haunted. “Cisco, I…”
Cisco took his hand and pulled him into the apartment. He locked the door behind Barry, then took his hand again and led him down the hall. It was the first time Barry’d actually made it all the way to the bedroom, and Cisco was only in his boxers and a t-shirt, but there was nothing sexual about this.
Barry left his coat and shoes on the floor beside Cisco’s clothes. Cisco turned out the light and pulled Barry into bed with him. Under the covers, Barry curled against Cisco, head tucked under Cisco’s chin, and Cisco held him that way until long past sunrise.
It wasn’t enough, but it was all he knew how to do.
“...so I told Caitlin, hydrochloric acid? I thought it was water!” Cisco said.
Barry laughed, shaking his head. It was good to hear him laugh again. He’d been subdued for a few days after the explosion, but now it seemed like he was getting his equilibrium back - though Cisco knew he went to the hospital every day to check on the victims still there, too fast for anyone to see. “You’re lucky you still have your sinuses. And that the turtle survived.”
“Don’t I know it.”
Barry stretched and got to his feet. “All right. I should head home. I’ll see you Monday?”
Cisco raised an eyebrow. “Tomorrow, dude.” At Barry’s blank look he added, “Great Caesar’s Ghost? The movie? We were gonna go see it?”
The thing about Barry was that he had absolutely no poker face. Cisco braced himself. “What?”
Barry rubbed the back of his neck. “It’s just, I kinda promised Iris I’d help her with something.”
“You promised Iris.”
Cisco stood up and started stacking the empty pizza boxes from dinner. Getting mad wouldn’t fix this. “We’ve been talking about going to make fun of this movie for weeks. I already bought the tickets.”
“I know. I’m really sorry.” Barry gave him the kicked-puppy face. “I’ll pay you back. For both tickets. And I’ll buy us new ones for...maybe we can go later in the week?”
“It’s not gonna be in theaters next week. These are like the last showings,” Cisco said, dropping the boxes by the door probably more loudly than he should’ve. Sorry, Mrs. McGillicuddy in 2G.
“Crap. Uh...we’ll get it on DVD?”
“What do you have to help Iris with?” Maybe she needed, like, a kidney transplant and Barry was the only match. Cisco would feel like a real jerk for being mad over that.
Barry didn’t quite meet his eyes. “She asked me to help her pick out a present for Eddie’s birthday. She wanted a guy’s opinion.”
Cisco stopped in his tracks. “So let me get this straight. You’re blowing me off on something we had planned for weeks to tag along after a girl who doesn’t want to date you so that you can help her pick out a present for her boyfriend, who you don’t even like?”
“Hey, whoa.” Now Barry looked annoyed. Good. Cisco was annoyed too.
“What? I just want to make sure I get all the details,” Cisco said. “I mean, I already know all about Iris’s star sign and favorite cheese; I want to be clear on the minutiae of this clearly vitally important shopping trip. If you guys wind up looking at cologne, run on over with each sample so I know what Eddie’s going to wind up smelling like, would you?”
“Look, I’m sorry I forgot about the movie,” Barry said. “It was an honest mistake. If there’s something I can do to fix it, tell me, but don’t be a dick about it. And what’s your problem with Iris?”
“I’ve got no problem with Iris.”
Maybe Cisco had a shitty poker face too, because Barry looked unconvinced. “You barely know her, so I don’t see where you get off talking about her like…”
“Oh, I know allllll about her,” Cisco interrupted.
“You’ve met her like twice!”
“And you talk about her all the time!” Cisco retorted.
“She’s my best friend,” Barry pointed out. “She’s like my sister.” Cisco snorted. “Excuse me?”
Fine. He wanted to hear it? “Your sister that you’re in love with,” Cisco said, crossing his arms. “It’s weird, dude.”
Barry’s jaw tightened. “Okay. You know what? Fine.” There was a blur of motion and suddenly he was in his coat, putting money down on the coffee table. “For the tickets. I’m out of here.”
And he was gone.
My cherie amour, lovely as a summer day...my cherie amour, distant as the Milky Way...
Cisco turned down the volume on his headphones as he walked into the bank. Annnd there was a line. Great. Could this day get any worse?
Okay, to be fair, it wasn’t actually that long of a line, but Cisco was in no mood to wait. He’d been on edge all week, snappish and impatient. Even Dr. Wells had noticed, but thankfully he hadn’t asked Cisco the reason, just told him to stop acting like a child. Cisco hadn’t told him to stop recruiting prodigies if he didn’t want to work with children, but it had been a close thing.
He definitely didn’t want to discuss the reason with Dr. Wells. “Hey, you know the Great White Hope of resuscitating your once-unparalleled scientific reputation? Well, I kind of slept with him, and now he won’t talk to me.” Somehow he didn’t think Dr. Wells would be thrilled that Cisco had touched his Barry in an unclean way.
And it wasn’t exactly like Barry wouldn’t talk to him, either. They were...civil. Polite. Barry reported any damage to the suit, Cisco fixed it, and that was that.
No more jokes. No more geeking out together over the things Cisco built or each new cool thing Barry could do. No more...everything else.
And hey, maybe that was for the best. Things were a lot less complicated that way.
Maybe if Cisco hadn’t known what he was missing, he could convince himself of that.
The line for the teller had barely moved while he was woolgathering. He scowled at the back of the head of the person in front of him. He just wanted some damn quarters to do his laundry, he didn’t want to be stuck here all day.
Oh, cherie amour, won't you tell me how could you ignore...right behind that little smile, how I wish that you were mine...
The tap on his shoulder nearly made him jump out of his skin. “Waugh!” he yelped, whirling around and yanking his earbuds out.
“Sorry!” Iris said with an apologetic laugh. “I was calling your name and you didn’t hear me, so…”
Iris. Fan-fucking-tastic. Oh, and now everyone in the bank was staring at him. What a great day.
He forced himself to smile. “Hey, Iris. How’s it going?”
“Not bad. Just getting some stuff sorted out with my direct deposit from work. What a hassle, right?” She rolled her eyes, but she was smiling. “How are you? How’s everything over at S.T.A.R. Labs?”
“Oh, you know.” I work in a burned-out hole in the ground and the subject of the only project we have left isn’t speaking to me because I cast aspersions on his love for you. “Work.”
“I guess it’s the same whether you’re slinging coffee or...electrons. Whatever it is you do, exactly,” she said. And yeah, okay, Barry might have had a point because her smile was like someone in a toothpaste commercial’s.
“Slinging electrons is close enough,” he said with a shrug, and went to put his earbuds back in.
“I think it’s great that Barry’s spending so much time with you,” she said, and he bit back a sigh as he lowered the earbuds again. “He was always fascinated by everything you guys did over there. I know it’s not the same these days but I think it’s still kind of Disneyland for him, getting to see what it’s like on the inside.”
Looked like he was stuck making small talk whether he wanted to or not. “Yeah, well, he’s pretty much getting the whole show now.”
“That’s so cool,” she said. “And listen, don’t you dare tell him I said this, but I don’t even really think it’s the science, per se. I think it’s you.”
Cisco blinked. “What?”
“I mean, you and Caitlin. Having you guys as friends,” she clarified. “He’s never really had someone who got him on that level, you know? I mean, I love Barry to pieces but science just isn’t my passion. He’s been so happy lately, and I think a lot of it is just...being friends with you.” She frowned. “Well, actually he’s been kinda moody this week, but you know what I mean.”
“Oh, I, uh...hadn’t noticed,” Cisco said.
“Anyway, he would kill me if he knew I said any of this to you, so keep it under your hat, okay?” she asked.
“I won’t say a word,” Cisco promised, and meant it.
She beamed up at him. Cisco had never really spent much time with her - one or two nights out with Barry, Caitlin, and Eddie, and of course the many, many hours she’d spent watching Barry twitch through his coma - and aside from general annoyance over Barry’s increasingly pathetic unrequited longing, he hadn’t formed much of an opinion of Iris herself. But now his stomach was sinking. Iris was friendly and thoughtful and she clearly adored Barry - at least platonically - which spoke well for her taste.
Cisco liked her. This was awful.
She gave him a little nudge with her elbow, and dammit, it was charming. “Hey, so, now that I’ve totally overstepped the bounds of casual acquaintanceship...is Barry seeing someone?”
“I...huh?” Cisco asked eloquently.
“I dunno, I just get this feeling like...we’ll be talking and he’ll go all distant and goofy-faced. You know,” she demonstrated with a ridiculously dopey smile, “like that. I asked if it was Caitlin and he said no, but I really think there’s someone. Has he talked to you about her?”
Hoo boy, how to answer this one? “I...I don’t…” Cisco started.
“ALL RIGHT, EVERYBODY DOWN!”
They turned to see four men striding into the bank, all four of them wearing ski masks. And carrying assault rifles, Cisco’s brain informed him belatedly, as if that wasn’t the most salient point here.
“Oh my God,” Iris murmured next to him.
“Are you all deaf? I said get down, NOW!” the ski mask in front bellowed, waving his gun in the air.
Cisco felt a tug on his hand; it was Iris, pulling him down into a squat. All around them people were lying down or squatting. The tellers backed away from the counter, hands up.
“Now, this doesn’t have to be painful,” the ski mask who’d done the yelling said. He had an Australian accent, Cisco noted distantly. “Everyone stays down, no one tries to be a hero, and you all get to go home to your families tonight.” He turned to his men. “You two. Get all the cash behind the counter. You two, take a teller and get the safe open.”
The others did as he commanded, yelling at the tellers to move, to empty the cash drawers or open the safe. The leader strolled back and forth through the customers on the ground, the artificial light glinting off the barrel of his gun.
Barry. Barry was a hero. Barry would stop this before anyone got hurt...if Cisco could just get word to him in time.
Slowly, agonizingly slowly so as not to draw the attention of any of the bank robbers, he reached for his back pocket. Iris’s eyes flickered over to him, to his moving hand, and understanding dawned. She edged slightly to the side, blocking Crocodile Dundee’s view of him.
Cisco inched the phone out of his pocket, palmed it, and brought it back in front of him so that he could see the screen. Still forcing himself to move slowly, he tapped the phone app and brought up Barry’s number.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
Cisco looked up. Crocodile Dundee was standing directly over him, and wow, yeah, having a gun pointed in your face really was a bracing experience.
“What the fuck are you doing?” C.D. repeated. “Didn’t I say no heroes?”
Cisco swallowed. He could back away from the phone and maybe C.D. would stand down. The robbers would take the money and go, and that would suck, but at least Cisco wouldn’t get hurt.
Or maybe the robbers would get pissed off at a teller, or another customer, and someone would get worse than hurt.
All he had to do was get the phone line open. If Barry answered it, he would hear what was going on pretty quickly. Then he’d show up and everything would be okay. Everyone would be safe.
Cisco hit “Call.”
And Crocodile Dundee shot him.
The bullet ripped through his shoulder, the shock of it sending him back on his heels. It hurt - Jesus fucking Christ, it hurt - more than anything he’d ever felt before. He gripped the wound with his opposite hand, blood seeping through his fingers. “Oh fuck, oh fuck, oh fuck…”
“You see?” C.D. yelled at the terrified customers. “This is what happens! This is what happens when one of you fuckers gets a stupid idea in his stupid head! You get fucking shot.” He leaned in towards Cisco, brandishing the gun again. “Was it worth it, huh, asshole? Getting perforated just to call your girlfriend and tell her you love her or some shit? Maybe I should shoot you again, just to make sure everyone learns their lesson.”
Cisco was about to explain that that really wasn’t necessary when Iris hurled herself between him and the gun. “Okay, you made your point,” she snapped at C.D. “You want to add first degree murder to your sentence on top of assault and attempted grand larceny? I don’t think so.”
“Well, look who’s got a mouth on her,” C.D. said, aiming the gun at Iris’s forehead. Cisco tugged weakly on Iris’s arm, tried to get her to back off, but she ignored him. God, his shoulder fucking hurt. “I only have to worry about the charges if I get caught, sweetheart. And I don’t intend to get caught.”
Iris actually laughed at him. “This is Central City, sweetheart,” she said. “The Flash will catch you.”
“Oh, please,” C.D. said. He looked amused, but Cisco still really, really wanted Iris to stop antagonizing the guy who, oh yeah, had just shot him! “The Flash is some tabloid bullshit. He’s not real.”
There was a sudden breeze. Cisco’s heart unclenched slightly.
And Barry was there, standing between Cisco and Iris and the gunman, lightning crackling along his suit. “Really?” he asked. “No one told me that.”
“Oh shi - ” Crocodile Dundee said, and then Barry moved.
And then it was over, all five bank robbers out cold, their guns in a neat pile on the floor and the cartridges across the room.
Cisco slumped back, relieved. It was done. Now he could concentrate on not bleeding out all over the floor of Central City Savings and Loan’s downtown branch.
“Flash!” Iris said. “My friend...he was shot. He needs medical attention.”
Barry turned - and then he was kneeling next to Cisco, holding him up, one hand wrapped around Cisco’s fingers. “Cis - how did - are you okay?”
“Well, I was shot,” Cisco said with a weak smile. “It kind of sucked.” That was an understatement. His shoulder was on fire now, his arm numb. Blackness seeped in on the edges of his vision.
“He was trying to call the police,” Iris said, which was close enough. “We have a friend who works at the CCPD.”
Barry hadn’t let go of Cisco. His face was pale, terrified, and Cisco belatedly realized he could tell because Barry wasn’t vibrating it. “That was a stupid risk,” he said, voice tight, and he was forgetting to use the Flash voice, too.
“I hang out with some really reckless types,” Cisco said. “Taught me bad habits.” With his uninjured arm he tapped his throat, trying to remind Barry to work that vocal cord magic. Iris was already giving Barry an entirely-too-suspicious look.
Barry’s eyes widened, and then his face was a blur. “I’m taking him to the hospital,” he told Iris, Flash voice on now. “Sorry, uh, sir. This might hurt a bit - ” and then Cisco was being lifted and his arm was jarred and pain spiked through him until finally, mercifully, he passed out.
He floated somewhere dark and shapeless, like sleep but deeper. Voices mumbled at him out of the darkness but the words didn't sound like English or Spanish or any language he knew. There was a dull pain in his shoulder that wouldn't fade.
Then he was coming to rest on a bed, cool sheets against his skin. But he couldn't sleep, Iris was at the bank and the man had a gun, he had to get Barry, he had to save Iris but his arms and legs wouldn't listen to him and he couldn't see anything...
"It's okay," Barry said. He sounded close, but Cisco still couldn't see him. "She's safe. You did it. Everything's okay."
Barry wouldn't lie to him. Cisco let himself sink back against the cool sheets. He felt lips press against his forehead, and then he was gone again.
"I always said, I'm so lucky. I have two boys, and do they run around getting into trouble like all of these gangbangers around here? No. One has a good business, and my little one, my baby, he's a genius. And then what does he do? He gets himself shot!"
"Maaaaa," Cisco protested. His whole family was crowded into his hospital room, his parents and grandmother and Armando and all three of his sisters, and his mother had spent the past half hour working herself into a tizzy. "I'm fine."
"And he's not the baby," Rosita pointed out. "He's the second oldest."
"You're all my babies," their mother retorted sharply. "And he is not fine. He was shot! That is not 'fine!'"
"It was a through-and-through," Cisco said. "It didn't hit the bone or anything. It'll barely leave a scar."
"Oh, well, if it won't leave a scar, what's the point?" his mother said. "You should run right out and get into more fights with armed bank robbers. How will you impress the other bodies at the morgue without a cool scar?"
Cisco was about to tell her that if a bullet actually killed him it wouldn't heal enough to leave a scar, even though he knew it would just make her more worked up, when he caught movement out of the corner of his eye. Barry was standing in the doorway.
And then he wasn't, and Cisco wasn't sure he'd seen him at all.
"Where'd that breeze come from?" his father asked. "Is there a window open?"
"Some hospital," Cisco's mother said. "They stitch you up and then let you freeze to death."
Cisco's shoulder hurt, a dull, distant throb, and he knew the nurse wouldn't give him any more painkillers for at least another hour. His father must've seen the look on his face, because he started bustling the family out of the room. "Come on. Paco needs his rest."
They trooped out, his mother with a minimum of grumbling, all of them kissing him as they went, even Armando. Which meant Cisco must've really scared them.
His father hung back. "A police detective was here earlier...West, I think? He said you got shot calling that Allen kid who was in the coma."
Cisco nodded, not sure where this was going or how much Barry had told Joe. Oh God, what if Barry had told Joe everything? Cisco really was going to get shot again.
"He said that you knew that Allen could get in touch with the Flash, and that was how the Flash got to you so quick," his father went on. "He said you were a hero." He squeezed Cisco's hand, the one without the IV in it. "You know I've always been so proud of you, right? Every day since you were born. Every second."
Cisco blinked, his eyes suddenly stinging. "Thanks, Papi."
"Get some rest," his father said. "We'll see you tomorrow."
Cisco nodded and watched his father leave, then closed his eyes. But his shoulder hurt, and sleep didn’t come for a long time.
Honey, honey...I can see the stars all the way from here...
Cisco groaned and opened his eyes blearily. The music didn’t go away, which meant it was real. But if his family was there he’d hear them arguing, and if Caitlin was there she’d be reading in silence, so who…?
He turned his head. “Hey,” Barry said.
He was sitting in a chair by the bed, a stack of scientific journals by his feet. His usually perky hair was somewhat dented, and his collar wrinkled; if Cisco didn’t know any better, he’d say Barry’d been sleeping in the chair.
“Hey,” he said - well, croaked, really. Barry stumbled out of his chair, an open journal sliding out of his lap and onto the floor, and poured Cisco a cup of water from the plastic pitcher on the nightstand, then helped him sit up to drink it. So, that was cool, Cisco being infant-helpless on top of not having showered in three days. Very dignified.
He sipped the water, coughed, and handed the cup back to Barry. Barry returned to the chair, perched on the edge like he was ready to bolt out the door.
Now everybody asks me why I’m smiling out from ear to ear…
“Is that my phone?” Cisco asked, nodding towards the phone balanced on the arm of Barry’s chair.
“Uh, no, it’s mine,” Barry said, ducking his head a little. “You, uh, you played this album so much that it kept getting stuck in my head so I bought it. You were kind of frowny in your sleep so I thought it might help. Sorry if it woke you.”
“It’s okay,” Cisco said, and wondered why Barry was here. “I’ve slept for like sixty of the past seventy-two hours. I’m tired of sleeping.”
“How’s your shoulder?” Barry asked.
“Hurts,” Cisco admitted. “Not as bad as it did, though. The doctors said I can go home tomorrow.”
“Well, good,” Barry said. “I have to tell you, though, I’m kind of pissed off at you.”
Cisco frowned. “What?”
“I thought I made myself pretty clear,” Barry said. “You are not allowed to put yourself in life-threatening danger. We agreed!"
“What?” Cisco said again. “When did we have this conversation?” His tone might’ve been a little snappish, but he figured he had an excuse. He was getting a headache, and Barry wasn’t making any sense, and after all of his mom’s scolding he was in no mood to get yelled at, again, for being freaking shot. It wasn’t like he’d posted a sign outside the bank when he went in saying “Bank robbers! This place looks good! P.S. Definitely shoot someone.”
“The first night we, uh.” Barry blushed a little and looked away. “Got drunk together. We agreed. You make the jokes, and I deal with the dangerous situations.”
Oh, right. “I promised not to get hit by lightning,” Cisco pointed out.
“It was representative!” Barry said. “No lightning, no guns, no situations where you might die! I need you, remember? For science and friendship. Like we said.”
And, well, shit. Cisco knew, had always known, that Barry saw him as basically a dispenser of geeky witticisms, speed-enabling gadgetry, and, lately, orgasms. Hell, he’d encouraged it. But hearing Barry say it out loud hurt worse than his shoulder.
“Don’t worry,” he said, leaning back against the pillows so he could stare straight ahead. “Next time I’m in the lab I’ll leave some instructions for Caitlin, so that if I get shot again she can fix the suit on her own.”
“What?” Barry asked. “Whoa, hey, Cisco, that’s not what I - ”
“I’m tired,” Cisco interrupted.
“You just said you’d had enough sleep.”
“Well, I changed my mind.”
He could hear the quizzical tilt of Barry’s head. “Are you mad at me?”
“No. I’m just tired.”
“Cisco - dammit, Cisco, would you look at me?”
“It hurts my neck to turn around like that.”
So Barry, stubborn Barry, got up and sat on the edge of the bed. And that was much worse. His thigh was warm against Cisco’s hip, vibrating slightly, and even with a mouth full of unbrushed teeth and a head full of knowing how Barry really felt about him, Cisco still wanted to kiss him so badly he ached.
“Talk to me,” Barry said, big eyes pleading. “We haven’t really talked in a week, and I miss you. Is this still about that fight? Because I’m sorry, okay? I still don’t totally get what happened there, but whatever it was, I’m sure it was my fault, and I’m sorry. Tell me what I can do to fix it.”
It was remembering that fight, and what had caused it, that saved Cisco from grinning dopily into those one hundred percent unfair eyes and telling Barry that of course they were bros again, hooray for science and friendship! Because they were just going to end up here again. Well, ideally not here here, in the hospital, but emotionally, with Cisco pretending he wasn’t breaking while Barry made that sad, confused face at him. He couldn’t deal with either one.
So he said the one thing that was sure to make Barry run screaming out of the room: “I think you should tell Iris how you feel.”
“What?” And okay, Barry hadn’t actually run away, but his expression was less “sad confused” now and more “walloped on the back of the head with a two-by-four.”
“She deserves to know!” Cisco said. “And dude, I don’t know, I can’t promise you it’s gonna work out. Maybe she’ll pick Eddie. But you won’t know until you say something, right?”
“I don’t…why would...” Barry spluttered a bit, then apparently gave up and just stared at Cisco some more.
Cisco forged ahead. It was like ripping off a Band-Aid, probably. He just had to do it, and then it would be over. “Look, I get that this is weird coming from me because we started this whole...whatever...to get you over her. But it’s clearly not working.”
“It’s not?” Barry repeated, eyebrows creeping up to his hairline.
“You talk about her all the time!” Cisco pointed out. “Every other sentence is ‘Iris thinks’ or ‘This one time Iris and I...’”
“She’s my best friend!” Barry protested. “We grew up together!”
“Look, man, I get it, you don’t have to rehash the whole history,” Cisco said quickly. Iris was clearly great and might possibly have saved his life, but that didn’t mean he needed to hear all twenty-five verses of The Ballad of Barry and Iris. Again. “Iris is awesome. I get why you want to be with her, but it’s never gonna happen if you don’t say some- ”
“But I don’t!” Barry interrupted. “Cisco, how many painkillers are you on? Iris is at Jitters. You’re here. Where am I, dude?”
Cisco’s mouth actually hung open, like he was Elmer Fudd and Bugs Bunny had just put one over on him. “What?”
But Barry was doing the math now. “Oh God, that’s why you were so mad when I - and then I - oh, Cisco, no.” He reached down like he was going to take Cisco’s hands, then pulled back. “Look, yeah, I’m not gonna pretend that Iris isn’t important to me. But it’s not...it’s like…” He shook his head. “I always used to fantasize that one day she’d feel the way I felt about her, and instead...I finally feel the way she feels about me.” He gave Cisco a faint, wry smile. “Which is a huge relief, let me tell you.”
Cisco had a feeling that he was processing this all very slowly, but if Barry asked he was planning to blame it on the painkillers. “You’re not in love with Iris.”
“I’m not in love with Iris.” And Barry was a terrible liar, so it had to be true.
You’re the one that gives your all...you’re the one I can always call...when I need you make everything stop…
“Do you still want me to leave?” Barry asked.
Cisco had never actually wanted Barry to leave. “No,” he said.
“You know I don’t just think of you as ‘that guy who fixes my suit,’ right?” Barry asked. He still looked worried, but he was too far away for Cisco to smooth out the crease by his right eyebrow with his thumb the way he wanted to. “When I said science and friendship, I didn’t mean...I meant, you’re all the important things.”
Cisco wanted to say something very cool and meaningful to that, but he was suddenly busy blinking very fast and trying to get his voice back. “Oh.”
“I get it if that’s too much,” Barry said quickly. “I mean, you only started this to do me a favor...”
“Barry, are you actually stupid,” Cisco interrupted, and if his voice was a little raw, it was probably just from all the sleep. “No, I didn’t.”
Barry blinked, then grinned, ear-to-ear sunshine. Cisco had to admit Iris had rendered it completely accurately. “You took advantage of me.”
Cisco gave his best too-cool-for-school shrug, then winced as it jarred his shoulder. “Hey, I told you I was a player.” He held up a warning hand as Barry leaned in. “I haven’t brushed my teeth.”
“I don’t care.”
And then Barry kissed him, and Cisco really had been fooling himself if he thought he could live without this. He breathed in as Barry broke the kiss and rested his forehead against Cisco’s, filling his lungs with Barry’s familiar soap and antiseptic scent, clean and true. “You’re all the important things too,” he said. Very quiet, eyes closed, where it was safe.
He felt Barry’s fingers tangle with his. “I was so scared, Cisco. When I picked up your call and realized what was happening…”
“I wasn’t,” Cisco said. “I knew you’d save us.”
Barry straightened up, pushing Cisco’s hair back from his forehead, and Cisco opened his eyes. He could live in that smile, he was pretty sure. “I’m not as good a person as you think I am,” he said. “It’s not visiting hours. I snuck in.”
“That’s it. Go to the Pipeline. You're out of control," Cisco said, and yawned. “Okay, how could I possibly be tired?”
“Painkillers,” Barry said. “I broke my leg once when I was thirteen. I slept for about a week straight in the hospital.” He kissed Cisco’s forehead. “You should get some rest.”
Cisco nodded. “Don’t you have to get to work?” he asked. “It’s okay if - ”
“I took leave,” Barry said. He stood up, tugged the chair closer to the bed, and sat back down in it, then took Cisco’s hand again. “Go to sleep, Cisco. I’m not going anywhere.” He waved his phone at Cisco with his free hand. “Besides, I got my tunes.”
“I can’t believe you have Beyonce on your phone now,” Cisco teased. “What will Dave Matthews think?”
“He’ll just have to deal,” Barry said. “Anyway, my boyfriend likes her.”
Cisco didn’t have a response to that that wasn’t too cheesy to be said out loud, so he tried to give Barry a smile that wasn’t too unreasonably besotted, and closed his eyes. Barry’s palm was warm against his, his thumb beating a hummingbird pulse against the back of Cisco’s hand. He might not actually be there when Cisco woke up, Cisco knew - there were still people who needed help in Central City, and Barry was still Barry. Hell, the nurse might come by and throw him out.
But he also knew that Barry would be back in a literal heartbeat if Cisco needed him. It was a good feeling. Even worth getting shot for, maybe.
He tightened his fingers around Barry’s, and slept.
Finally you put my love on top.