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5 Times Barry 'Mooches' and 1 Time He Doesn't Have To

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Barry wasn't poor, per say. He could afford to update his suit and tech at his warehouse, a necessity for his after-job job. He just couldn't quite afford... other necessities. Like heaters in the winter. Or air conditioners in the summer. He had bought a rotary fan that kind of just blew the hot air around, but it was at least something. Another thing Barry couldn't really afford was food. Sure, he managed to buy enough groceries for a regular young adult, but Barry was far from a regular young adult. He burned through more calories than an Olympic swimmer on a slow day. More and more often, Barry found himself becoming hungrier and hungrier. His blood sugar dropped, he tripped on missions, he got side-eyed by his teammates and concern from them all (save Arthur, the emotionally inept bastard, who would just throw an energy drink at his head).

So Barry came up with a plan. Sure, it made him feel horribly guilty, but it was necessary for his utter survival. Basically, he sought out the other founders and mooched food off them.

Barry tried to go around lunch or dinner times (he often slept through breakfast due to his low-blood-sugar induced exhaustion) to ensure that they would be eating. He soon learned that Arthur was an exceptional early riser and ate lunch around 10 am, and that Bruce was a night-owl (or rather night-bat, Barry giggled to himself) and ate dinner around 11 pm. Fortunately, the others ate at usual times, even though they had... peculiar eating habits (save for Clark; and it would serve that the only one not from Earth would be the one to be the most human).

Despite all of this, Barry started to lose weight. He hypothesized that it was due to burning off so many extra calories on the missions he and the others ran. But Barry was getting tired- oh, so tired- and could barely stave off starvation and exhaustion anymore.

Unfortunately, his teammates were just about to find out how tired.

 

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Diana didn't need to eat much, being a demigod who ran off of some form of power that Barry didn't understand, but she needed at least a little bit of nutrients. This came in the form of energy bars- the expensive kind that Barry could only wish to buy- and the occasional escargot. (“It is a peculiar taste,” she had told him, “but I find it quite... a delicacy.”)

So, the first time Barry showed up at Diana's place in Paris, he was taken aback. “Barry!” Diana exclaimed, rising to kiss either of the young man's cheeks. Barry thought that she only took delight in his ever-present embarrassment. “To what do I owe this pleasant surprise?”

“I dunno,” Barry shrugged, “I was just in the neighborhood.”

Diana smirked and cocked an eyebrow. “In the neighborhood, hm?”

“Yea. I was looking for some gyros in Italy and decided to pop on by and ask if you wanted lunch.”

Diana clapped her hands together. “Oh, that sounds wonderful, Barry! Come, I was just about to take a lunch anyhow.” She led him to a small kitchenette area in her office- a rather large office, even bigger than Bruce's- and poured a cup of coffee for herself. “Coffee?”

“No thanks,” Barry shook his head, “Caffeine and I don't really get along.”

“I would bet,” the woman giggled. “Here.” She reached into a cabinet and pulled out a zip-lock baggie of what seemed to be crunch bars. “Take as many as you wish.”

“What are they?” Barry asked between large bites of the tiny bars.

Pasteli,” she told him as she took a seat across the small table in the center of the room. “They are made of honey, sesame seed, and tree nuts.”

Barry loved all things sweet, and even though this wasn't a chocolate-covered twinkie, he found himself enjoying it thoroughly. He scarfed down three and then savored the fourth, leaving two for Diana. The woman said nothing about his messy eating habits, which Barry appreciated. Even before gaining his powers, Barry had been a fast eater. “Defensive eating”, his childhood therapist had called it. “You're afraid of the other boys in the home eating all of the food before you can get some, so you eat as fast as possible to get seconds.”

“Do you need more?” Diana inquired. “It would only take an hour or so to make. I have the ingredients here.”

So she must have heard his stomach still growling. Sometimes Barry wondered if Diana was Kryptonian, or if Clark was a demigod, because the two seemed to share a set of powers. Including super-hearing.

“No, no, I'm good!” Barry nearly shouted. “I can go grab some gyros like I planned-” a lie, he didn't get paid until next week and he had about two cents in his banking account, “-but this was wonderful, Dee.”

Diana smiled softly at the nick-name and reached over to ruffle Barry's dark hair, an action she had likely picked up from Arthur. “It is not a problem,” her thick accent sounded so romantic, like a queen from a fairy tale who was bestowing gifts upon a poor urchin boy... which was not far off from the truth. “You are welcome here at any time, Barry.”

With that, Barry stood and sped out the front doors before Diana could see how his shirt hung loosely from his shoulders.

 

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It didn't really surprise Barry that Victor didn't have to eat. He couldn't taste, he had a metal digestive system (that was inactive because his father couldn't quite figure out how to activate it). But Barry was very lucky that Victor kept army nutrient packs and freeze-dried astronaut food around his apartment for when his teammates showed up.

The first time Barry went to borrow food from Victor, the cyborg grabbed plastic packs from the otherwise barren pantry. “Here,” Victor tossed Barry three bags- freeze-dried peas, powdered peanut butter, and something to mix in a glass of water and make a gross, snot-colored shake. “Enjoy.” The deadpan statement was accompanied with a smirk, so Barry didn't believe Victor was actually offended at his stealing of food. “So what's up, buddy?”

“What do you mean?” Barry tried to be nonchalant about it, but Victor could see through a lie just as easily as Clark.

“Not a fan?” Victor nodded to the untouched packets. “I can go get some pizza or-”

“No!” Barry found himself repeating the conversation with Diana. “No, no, this is great!” Any food would be a five-course-meal on his empty stomach. “Thank you so much for the help, I was just running by the Hall and Bruce hasn't bought any groceries recently, and I don'treallyhavemuchathome so this is killer!” Barry sped through the food before Victor could ask any more questions. After he was done, Victor pulled out a bar of fake chocolate and handed it to him.

“Got this for you,” he said with an “indifferent” shrug. “Figured you'd like it if you ever came by.”

Barry was touched by the action, even as he choked down the chemically-made bar of not-chocolate. His own taste buds were super-charged due to his metabolism, and even though he ate most foods from all corners of the earth, he had a hard time with this baby-powder food. But Victor's contentment at seeing his accident buddy eating the food he had bought for him was enough to make Barry ask for seconds.

Though even the nutrient-packed snacks were not enough to help out his blood-sugar levels. Barry tripped and ran into a wall on his way home, breaking his nose.

 

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Barry was not a fan of seafood- especially raw seafood- ever since that one home he had been in that only had sardines for three meals a day. It wasn't so much a taste bud thing as a psychological thing.

He had assumed Arthur wouldn't be a seafood fan either. The guy did talk to fish after all, maybe he had friends in the ocean. Like Sebastian or Flounder. Barry babbled just as much as Arthur set a plate of sashimi in front of him. Arthur rolled his eyes. “I come from the sea. All that's there is fish, kid. My dad was a fisherman, too. You really think I wouldn't eat some good ol' sushi? Besides, I don't talk to fish. Sonar calling, maybe, but not actual words.”

Barry eyed the sushi with contempt, using his chopsticks to clumsily push around the sashimi slices and tuna rolls. But if there was anything his mother had taught him in their short relationship, it was to finish your plate when a friend fed you.

It was only polite, after all.

Still, it took Arthur's questioning glance to make Barry shove a piece of raw salmon in his mouth. He coughed a bit, convinced Arthur that he just had a little bit go down the wrong pipe, and continued to eat as fast as he could so he couldn't taste the salty bile rising in his throat.

The men chatted for a while- or rather Barry prattled on while Arthur half-listened- before Barry stood to excuse himself from lunch. Arthur's eyes narrowed, and he tilted his head to the side. If Barry didn't know any better about the man's powers, he would have thought the Atlantean was looking through him.

“You're a bit scrawny, ain't you?”

Barry flushed darker red than his suit.

“You outta work out more,” Arthur said as he crossed the room to toss their plates in the sink. “It'd probably help with the whole terrible at fighting thing.” He meant it in a teasing way, but the words were still a knife in Barry's heart.

The speedster chuckled nervously, pulling his thread barren jacket closer around bony shoulders. “Y-Yea, I outta talk to B about that, shouldn't I?”

“I can always teach you to swim.”

Ever since Arthur found out Barry couldn't swim, he had made it his personal mission to teach him.

“No thanks, fish-dude,” Barry teased with a nervous shake to his voice. “I like keeping my feet on the ground, thanks. And I get plenty of exercise!”

“Mm hm.”

Really!”

“Wanna take any home? I've got plenty.” Arthur raised up a tupperware of sushi, to which Barry shirked back.

“Ah, no thanks. It was great, but I've got plenty of frozen pizza at home-” lie “-and it would probably go bad before I could get around to eating it. Besides, IprefermyfishcookedwhenIeatitatall, so... yea...”

Before Arthur could decipher what Barry had said, the speedster was halfway across the States.

 

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It was no secret that one Bruce Wayne was monetarily worth more than the entire League combined. He knew it, they knew it. That being said, Bruce spoiled his teammates more than he ought to. It was bad not because he was going to run out of money, but because that they were going to get used to it. For Victor's birthday, he bought out the New York Giants' stadium for the night and sent all of the workers home so the League could play super-powered football. For Christmas, he bought a life-sized copy of the Winged Victory of Samothrace cast in 22 carat white gold and had it delivered to Diana's house in Paris. That same Christmas, he bought the rights to all of Sealand and gave the traveling island to Arthur as a gag gift. And for Barry's 23rd birthday, Bruce handed over a full-ride Wayne Corp scholarship to University of Pennsylvania. Barry had to speed out of the room before the others could see him crying.

Despite the heights Bruce went to in order to spoil his friends, he constantly insisted that it was all “nothing between teammates”. Which made Barry feel worse, because all he could afford to give Bruce in return was a heart-felt card. Diana had told Barry to think nothing of it. “It is because he is not as good with words as he is with giving,” she whispered in Barry's ear one day when Bruce had lavished a feast in front of the League. “He truly cares, or he would be selfish.”

And boy oh boy, Barry had never been one to reject food. He couldn't figure out how to repay Bruce though- what do you get for the man who has everything?- so he found himself going to the Batcave only monthly rather than the weekly visits he gave Diana, Victor, and Arthur.

Barry distantly wondered if it was jealousy of that which made Bruce give him a five-course-feast every time he visited.

Barry fought not to shove everything down his gullet as Alfred set down the appetizers: everything from toasted brioche rounds with caviar to mere mozzarella sticks (though Alfred had some fancy Italian name for them; Barry called them mozzarella sticks). And that was only the first course. Bruce of course stayed to a simple soup and salad combo before the main meal, but he didn't even send a disapproving glance at Barry for eating so much. It was something that Barry liked about the older man. Even before he got his powers, Barry was a black hole of all things edible. He ran a lot as a child (mostly away from the other boys who wanted to beat him up), and was rather scrawny, which encouraged all of his foster parents to make him eat more. Or at least most of his foster parents.

Bruce was like a foster-dad in that way. Although he didn't say much over dinner, didn't insist Barry eat more or ask about his job or school, Bruce would listen intently as Barry spoke between bites. He would gently push a full plate towards Barry as Alfred pulled the empty ones away. Barry pretended not to notice that caterers were in the kitchen every time he showed up. After all, it wasn't like Alfred could cook a feast like this by himself.

But all of those things just made Barry feel all the guiltier. When Bruce asked what he wanted for dessert, Barry shook his head and said, “Sorry, B, I'm not really hungry anymore.” Bruce glared him for that, seeing straight through the lie. It was at least partially true- Barry wasn't starving anymore- but he would burn off all of that food in just a few hours and be back to where he was in the beginning.

“Take some leftovers wouldn't you, Mister Allen?” Alfred offered a tote bag full of tupperware.

“Of course,” Barry swallowed around the knot in his throat. He couldn't take all of that food. Bruce had already given him so much, and he had nothing to give in return. So, he sped all of the food to a Gotham City homeless shelter and left a sticky note on it with the Wayne Incorporated logo brazenly on the front. It was one way he could pay Bruce back at least.

 

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Barry knew that most people would think it was weird for a young, strapping couple to live with their mother/mother-in-law, but Barry thought it was wonderful. The Kents- Clark, Lois, and Martha- were the epitome of family as Barry did see it. Martha, the doting but strong-willed grandmotherly type, had her arms open for a hug when Barry showed up. Lois kissed his cheek and ruffled his hair, and Clark rolled his eyes at the women and asked Barry if he was hungry. Which, duh.

Eating at Clark's place made him feel even guiltier than eating at Bruce's, which was why he only showed up once. Martha and Clark had cooked while Lois engaged Barry in chatter about the League, his classes, the Daily Planet, and virtually any subject she could thing of. Lois was a head-strong chatterbox, and it made Barry aware of just how reserved Clark was. Oh sure, Clark was stubborn just like his mother and wife, but he was much quieter until it came to something he truly deemed necessary to say. For instance, when Lois had asked about Barry's family. Barry had choked on his glass of iced tea and stammered for a few moments before Clark had called out from the kitchen, “Lois, can you come help me and Ma bring this stuff to the table?”

“I c-can help,” Barry had stumbled over his words as he choked, standing up. Martha was immediately there to put pressure on his shoulders and make him sit.

“Oh no, hon, you just sit yourself right there! I'm bringing out everything- chicken pot pie, turkey and ham sandwiches, potatoes- salad and mashed...” The woman's eyes brightened up as she smiled, crinkling at the edges as her crows' feet deepened. Barry thought that she looked something like his mother might had she made it to Martha's age. “You just sit right on down. I'm used to young boys eating me out of crops and cattle-”

Ma,” Clark whined- and Barry never thought he'd hear Superman whine- as he set down empty plates and silverware.

“Oh shush, Clark, and help Lois bring in those dishes.”

Sure enough, there was chicken pot pie and turkey and ham sandwiches, not to mention the green bean casserole. The sides were bountiful as well- much too bountiful for just four people, which embarrassed Barry and wrought on a sense of self-loathing at making poor Martha work so hard- potato salad, mashed potatoes, corn-on-the-cob, baked beans and biscuits and gravy... It was a home-cooked meal the likes of which Barry had never seen before. He said just as much too, and Martha waved a hand in the air.

“Oh, no need to exaggerate, hon-”

“No, really!” Barry insisted as he loaded up his plate with seconds (the others were still working on firsts). “There wasn't much in the way of home-cooked meals at the boys' home, and I mostly fended for myself with the other families I stayed with, so I got tired of grilled cheese and microwaved hot dogs after a while. I can't even remember the last time I had a home-cooked meal- no, wait, I think I was six or seven? It was back before Mom-”

And oh God, they were all staring at him with such pity that it made Barry's stomach gurgle uncomfortably. He silenced immediately and fidgeted in his seat, slowly lowered a spoonful of mashed potatoes. “Uh- sorry, I just- I didn't mean to-”

“You didn't do anything wrong, Barry,” Lois said gently as she laid a hand over his.

“You're always welcome here, Barry,” Clark told him seriously. “Whenever you want something to eat or need a place to stay or just want to chat.”

“We need to liven up this farm with a bit of youth anyhow,” Martha chuckled, winking at Clark and Lois who started stammering in unison.

Everything smoothed out after that, and Barry even stayed for dessert. It wasn't until the sun was going down that Barry took his leave. He had washed the dishes in a nano-second, before Martha could object. The woman had huffed before softening. She patted his cheek and said, “Such a good boy. Your momma'd be proud.”

Barry left as quick as he could after that, his mouth tasting like charcoal and his stomach protesting against the food that filled it. Clark's place may have been the best for dinner- food, family, a quaint little farm and a silent, soothing sunset- but it was the one that hurt the most. Clark's family was everything Barry's could have been, everything it should have been. Barry knew he should be grateful that his father was still alive- Clark didn't have a father anymore; hell, he had lost two- but the speedster couldn't help the bitterness that rose in his chest, nor the tears that stung in his eyes, when he turned around at the end of the driveway and saw the Kents standing there, arm-in-arm, waving goodbye with wide smiles.

Barry cried himself to sleep and resolved to never go back.