It had been a difficult fight, and Barry knew good and well that his team had not taken their very close call well. Arthur was broody, no real surprise, but he noted both J'onn and Dinah were staying close to the amphibious hero. From the way Dinah was stroking Arthur's hair back, Barry could bet the therapy would have an added bonus of removing the chip from Arthur's shoulder. Of course, the communing look on J'onn's face left Barry deciding that prying into the full extent of team bonding between those three would not be good.
No, it was Hal who had Barry most worried. Hal was a good fighter, and an excellent foil for so many threats, but he had taken the near defeat hardest. He had taken it personally, in fact, but was hiding it under his macho-bullshit façade. Barry knew the next fight would have Hal trying twice as hard, throwing his ring into the fray with even less regard to his personal safety.
Unless Barry got on top of it now, and made Hal see it was not his fault the aliens had been yellow. He just was not real sure how to break the man's 'everything-is-fine' attitude to dig into the meat of it. A couple of beers would never work; Hal never cut loose drinking with Barry the way he did when he and Dinah went out together. Barry suspected it had to do with his own inability to get drunk.
Barry shook his head, trying to break out of his thoughts, to do something. He knew better than to just mull things about; even at the speed he thought, Hal could be gone from the cave entirely too soon, so he went from the medical area to where Hal was showering from the fight.
As he rounded the wall to see Hal showering in the community locker room (though, only Hal was brave enough to go in there when Dinah was using it), he paused to try and read Hal's body language, thinking the frustration was still there, and hoping he was not imagining. It would be so much easier if Hal had not repressed it yet.
"Hal…wanted you to know I was impressed with your solution." He kept his tone casual, as he started removing his costume to take a shower too. Hal had tensed immediately; Barry was more than pleased, as it gave him the leverage to work. "Pretty good thinking to switch from attacking them to using things around you."
"Wasn't doing any good to keep slamming at them with useless ring energy," Hal growled.
"But you got around that. You made a solution work." He slid into the shower next to Hal's turning the hot water on. "That's the important thing, Hal."
"Arthur got hurt because my energy barrier failed him!" Hal was not taking that fact well at all.
Barry sighed softly. "Hal, you can't protect each and every one of us, every time. You adapted, you overcame it, and saved us all in the long run."
"What happens when I don't adapt? When I fail?"
The raw ache in Hal's words hit Barry like a ton of bricks. He knew Dinah lived for nothing more than being Black Canary. He knew it was all J'onn had left, was to be Martian Manhunter. Arthur at least was searching for himself, and Barry…Barry could never have walked away from being a cop.
He had never guessed how much of Hal was bound up in being a hero. In being Green Lantern. It made Barry hurt inside to see that, to see the need to be so fully in control of the battles they fought.
"You won't fail, Hal. I have too much faith in you." Barry's low words were urgent, carrying tones of fervent belief. When Hal met the blond man's eyes, he could read so much that transcended the bonds of friendship in place already.
"Show me that faith, Barry. Share it with me, because I'm running low," Hal told him, voice tired and hurting still.
Barry moved from his shower to Hal's almost without thinking, and wrapped his hands around the back of Hal's head, drawing him forward for a kiss. The idea Hal might refuse him never crossed his mind, even at the speed he typically thought. He knew, without doubt, that Hal wanted him, wanted to be reminded that what Barry said was true, because he led the team and knew best. In short, Hal wanted to surrender control, and Barry was more than up to the task of taking it.
The kiss, when their mouths connected, was one of pure surrender on Hal's part. Barry was his leader, much as he had wanted to be. He was just military enough to not want to buck the chain of command too hard, not when the superior was so damn good at handling things.
Such as the fact the second the kiss ended, Hal felt the pressure of Barry moving away at speed and then returning, setting a small tube on the soap dish. Hal started to open his mouth, but Barry silenced him with another hard kiss.
"You want to feel the faith I have?" Barry drew back, turning Hal to face the shower wall. "You want to let go, and know I'm the one who's right, the one who can see it all…including the need you have? Isn't that it, Jordan?"
Hal shuddered as the man hardened his voice, as he made Hal place his hands on the wall, as if making an arrest. The ring wielder shivered even more when Barry kissed a mark into his shoulder, teeth worrying at it after.
"I'm going to fail them," he whispered. The firm hand gripping his flank squeezed hard.
"You know better, deep down, Hal…you're just afraid of admitting you can't control everything." The words were calculating, putting 'fear' in a sentences regarding Hal. It had an effect immediately, making the man in the more vulnerable position stiffen, trying to turn to deny it to Barry.
Barry did not let him, pressing close so that Hal was trapped against his body, hand snaking around to grasp his cock.
"Bar…" He wanted to deny it out loud, but Barry knew…and that feeling stripped Hal to the core.
"We're going to lose fights, Hal…but we'll pick each other up, always…and you can give yourself to this, to us, each and every time, to remember it's not just you out there!" The tube was picked up, used generously to slick both hand and opening.
"I have to be in…" the final word died away as Barry pressed into him, cock slick and hard and making Hal hurt in ways that gave way to so much pleasure.
"That's what I'm here for, Hal…I lead; you give yourself to me, just like they do." Barry's breath was hot on Hal's neck as he stroked Hal in time with his hips thrusting, each one deeper until Hal felt his leader buried balls deep within him and cried out for the feeling, the pressure, and the sheer knowledge that Barry was right.
"And if I fail?" Hal gasped as Barry worked his cock with an expert touch.
"I'm the leader…the responsibility is mine, if any of us falter," Barry growled. "But you won't. Because you won't let me down." The hard, almost punishing thrusts were pushing him to the edge, and Hal's breathing showed it was quite mutual.
"Barry…god…yes…" Hal was beyond thinking about the battle the instant Barry said that about letting him down, knowing it was true, that there was no reason to fear failing. This man, the man he respected, would not let them falter. With that in mind, he gave himself to the gift of Barry's stripping of his self-control, leaning his forehead to the wall as that skilled touch brought him off, moments before Barry cried out his own release.
In the silence that followed, blanketed by the rush of their showers, Barry wondered if he had read things right…and was reassured fast enough that he did not have to ponder it for an eternity at his speed. Hal slid free of the speedster just long enough to find the soap, and turned his attention to Barry's body.
For Barry, even Hal's will could be surrendered.