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Sparks Fly

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Barry Allen must be the luckiest man alive. Sure, he has superpowers and an incredibly high I.Q., but he gets to wake up to Iris West every morning. As per usual, he was awake far before the alarm went off, which meant he got to spend that much longer examining his beautiful girlfriend. Her round lips were somehow always puckered, and her huge eyes sparkled even when they were closed. It took everything in him to not run his hand through her soft brown hair, but he knew he’d wake her up; she was such a light sleeper. He wished he could lay there in bed with her for hours, but because of a certain superpower he already felt like he had after twenty minutes. He got out of bed and got dressed as fast as he could -- so fast Iris hadn’t even noticed his yellow lightning enough to wake up. He made a cup of coffee (do I even need coffee at this point?) and stuffed one of Joe’s homemade blueberry muffins into his cheeks before speeding out the door. Grandma Esther sure did know her way around the kitchen.

In about fifteen seconds he had run to S.T.A.R. Labs, changed into his suit, and run up an apartment building to get a good view of the city for some solo crime fighting. Today was quiet -- he saved a drunk girl from a drunker creep outside of a bar, and helped put out a kitchen fire in a restaurant in the suburbs on his way back to his lookout. He sat atop the skyscraper and ran a few hundred laps around the city for a couple hours before heading to S.T.A.R. Labs again at a more reasonable hour (slow people get to work at 4:30, right?).

To his surprise, there actually was someone in the cortex when he arrived. Harry Wells barely took notice of him as he shot through the door into the med bay, only muttering a short “hello” (man, does this guy EVER sleep??).

“Good morning, Harry.” as much as Barry hated to admit it, Harry’s face still kind of creeped him out. It can be hard looking at the face of your mother’s killer everyday, even if that wasn’t really his face. “What’ya workin’ on?”

“Just making some adjustments to your PowerBars,” the scientist replied, “these things aren’t cheap; we can’t have you going through 30 a day like you have been.”

“Well gee, sorry my metabolism doesn’t fit your budget. Oh wait, I mean my budget.” Barry only laughed at his own joke because he knew Harry wouldn’t understand the sarcasm.

“Yeah, well, let’s see who’s laughing when you’re thousands of dollars in debt because of a protein bar.” (I might have underestimated his sense of humor)

After another few hours of not making small talk, Caitlin walked into the lab, followed by Cisco, and the team was ready for some justice. (Wait. Oh shit. CCPD.) Once again, Barry had let his alter ego distract him from what pays the bills: his CSI work. 8:59 -- he was almost late.

“Oh no. Goodbye!” Barry yelled before speeding out of the room before anyone could respond, leaving only a trail of yellow lightning in his wake.

He entered the doors of the Central City Police Department the moment the clock struck 9:00. He hadn’t even broken a sweat, until he saw Captain Singh walk through his office door.

“Cutting it kind of close today, aren’t we, Allen?” the Captain asked. “Do you even want to try an excuse?”

“No, sir, sorry, sir,” Barry uttered.

“Jeez, kid, no need to be so nervous, you weren’t actually late. Just maybe don’t arrive half a second before 9 tomorrow, alright?”

“Alright,” Barry started to make his way up to the lab when he made eye contact with Joe across the lobby, and Joe shook his head and smiled. Man, did he love this job. Barry managed to get through a couple dozen case reports and about 10 blood/fingerprint/urine (ew) tests before he got his first call from the Cortex. He picked up his phone, and before he could even say “hello” Caitlin interrupted him with “52nd and Jones”.

“Got it.” Barry changed faster than you could say ‘flash’ and ran out the door to stop a bank robbery. He left the perp tied to a Roman column for the police to find before sprinting to S.T.A.R. Labs.

He entered the cortex to find a very pleasant surprise - Oliver Queen and Felicity Smoak were chatting with Caitlin and Cisco. Well, it was really Felicity doing the chatting, but Oliver was smiling, which was still good. Barry noticed a weird feeling (Is my posture okay? Did I remember to put on deodorant?) when he looked at Oliver. The Arrow looked like he had been going to the gym. Like, a lot.

“Oh, Barry!” Felicity was distracted from her conversation by Barry’s lightning, and walked over to him to give him a hug. “Sure took you long enough.” She winked and chuckled.

“Hey, Barry,” Oliver gave him a pat on the shoulder (Oh wow, okay calm down, be normal) and grinned.

“Hey, guys,” Barry was trying his damndest to hide the quiver in his voice, “what brings you to Central?”

“We’re tracking an arms dealer from Starling,” Felicity reported, “and we figured we might as well drop in to say ‘hi’ while we’re here.”

“Hi,” Oliver joked, raising a large (holy fuck it’s huge) hand to wave.

“Well, while you’re here, why don’t I give you a hand?” Barry definitely wasn’t holding eye contact with Oliver for way too long, absolutely not. “I’ve got two very fast ones right here.”

“That’d be incredible!” Felicity threw her hands up with excitement. “Wouldn’t it, Oliver?” Barry had trouble not noticing the elbow that Felicity thrusted into Oliver’s ribs.

“Yeah, of course.” Oliver gasped and gripped his side.

“Cool, let me know when you need me and I’ll be there in a flash.” Barry winked (oh god was that too much? I’m so weird. Who makes superhero puns around a billionaire with biceps the size of your head?).

Barry’s heart beat abnormally fast most of the time, Barry knew that, but this time it seemed to flutter a little bit with every step he took as he sped out of the Lab, leaving extra sparky lightning behind him.

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You’d think one of North America’s most dangerous arms dealers and his half a dozen guards would’ve been harder to take down. Granted, he was up against the world’s best archer and the fastest man alive. Barry and Oliver had created a game the last time Oliver trained the speedster. Barry would tie rope around the criminal’s wrists and throw them up in the air, and Oliver would shoot an arrow through the knot, effectively securing them to the nearest wall. Barry had already clued Joe in about the plan, and CCPD was ready to take the seven crooks into Iron Heights only moments after the scarlet speedster and his hooded friend had finished tying them up.

Much to Oliver’s chagrin, Barry picked him up and sped him back to S.T.A.R. Labs before any cops could peek under the green hood. Barry set the blushing vigilante down on the cortex floor, apologizing with a sparkling grin. Barry felt that strange feeling again when he looked at Oliver’s flustered, red face. The night ended with lots of awkward hugs from Felicity and even more awkward glances from Oliver, and the scarlet speedster ran home to see his beautiful girlfriend.

Except that wasn’t how the night ended. In fact, for Barry, it seemed like the night never ended, he could thank his super speedy brain for that. He tossed and turned for God knows how long - Barry thought it had been at least five hours; it had been 45 minutes - unable to find any rest. There seemed to be only one thing on his mind - Oliver Queen. Barry was replaying the day over and over again in his head. Thinking about that pat on the shoulder, and feeling Oliver’s weight in his arms when he quite literally swept him off his feet. He had soon grown tired of rolling around in bed, grabbed his phone, and walked to the kitchen.

Barry unlocked his phone to Instagram already open, and typed in Oliver’s handle without even thinking. ‘@oliver_queen’; he could definitely use some lessons in creativity. Barry started scrolling through the pictures. They were a little more stereotypical than one would expect from a billionaire vigilante; pictures of full champagne flutes looking over a vineyard in France, selfies with his sarcastic younger sister, shirtless selfies. Shirtless selfies (oh wow oh my god how does someone even get that muscular). Barry paused on the picture of Oliver’s chiseled torso, and then hurriedly swiped to the next post, feeling blood rush to his cheeks. He kept scrolling, only finding more vacation posts and family appreciation paragraphs. Until he found the next shirtless photo. Barry’s heart skipped a beat, but this time he knew it wasn’t just his speed making his heart go crazy. It was the picture. Not only did Barry know where the feeling was coming from, he knew what it meant - Barry only ever felt that way when he looked at Iris. Except this time it was stronger (oh god oh no it’s stronger what does this mean what am I feeling). He felt a lump rise in his throat. How could he feel this way? He loved Iris. And now he felt the same way looking at Oliver as he did looking at her, only more. He wasn’t gay, though, he knew that from the way he had been pining over Iris for the last seventeen years. But if he wasn’t gay, and he wasn’t straight, what could he possibly be?

Chapter Text

Barry Allen spent the next four days in turmoil. Fear and curiosity were dangerous when combined, and even more dangerous when one is afraid of and curious about themselves. As much as Barry would like to tell anyone that he spent that time researching, he was really just stalking Oliver Queen’s Instagram for hours on end. It was only in the last twelve hours or so of his four day self discovery journey when he did any actual research. “can i like guys and girls” was what he had typed into Google when he found that word. Oh, that beautiful, beautiful word. Bisexual. The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defined bisexual as “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual or romantic attraction to members of both sexes” (ohmygod that’smethat’sme). Barry was amazed by what he found on bisexuality; he had a flag, and a community, and so much more. He wanted to run up the tallest building in Central City, and scream at the top of his lungs: “Barry Allen is bisexual!”. He wanted to wave the bi flag around at speeds so fast no one would even see the Flash holding different colors. He wanted to wake all his friends up and speed them to the cortex and shake them all and say “I am so happy to be bi”. But he couldn’t do any of that. He didn’t know why, he just knew he couldn’t. Everyone around him had already had to get used to so many changes: superpowers, constant threats, time travel. What kind of person would he be to just shove another change on them? But what kind of person would he be if he kept this secret? If he didn’t tell them about such a big part of his identity?

On one more sleepless night, Barry walked into the bathroom farthest away from his and Iris’ bedroom. He flicked on the light and stared into his blue-eyed reflection in the mirror, making sure to lock the door.

“My name is Barry Allen, and I am bisexual.” he said, never breaking eye contact with himself. It was as if he was interviewing himself for a job, that job being The New and Improved Bisexual Flash. “My name is Barry Allen, and I am bisexual. My name is Barry Allen, and I am bisexual. My name is Barry Allen, and I am bisexual.” It wasn’t enough yet. He needed more. He needed to hear himself say it where no one was listening. He unlocked the door and ran far out of Central City.

Barry found himself on a cliff in the forest, the very same cliff where Earth-2 Barry Allen had inspired him to escape Zoom’s captivity and save his friends. He found himself on that cliff with the same determination he had had that day on Earth-2.

“My name is Barry Allen, and I am bisexual!” He screamed at the top of his lungs. He repeated his chant several times, telling himself who he was, telling himself he was proud. He knew, however, that he wasn’t the one he needed to be telling. He needed to tell his friends.

The next morning, Barry called in sick. He knew he couldn’t rush his coming out, and he was afraid that having to be at work by 9 would only stress him out. He woke Iris up at around 8:15, and told her she should come to S.T.A.R. Labs, he had something he needed to say. He had texted all of Team Flash at around 4:30 in the morning with the same message, and they were all waiting for him in the cortex as he sped in with Iris.

Barry’s heart was beating fast, even for him, and he was so distracted by what was to come he tripped on his way in, leaving scattered lightning bolts behind him as he skidded into the cortex, Iris in his arms. He found his balance, and stood in front of his friends and family, shaking.

“Uh, hi everybody,” he started, “this isn’t intimidating at all.”

“Get on with it, Bar,” Joe retorted, “I’ve got to get to CCPD.”

“Okay, okay. So, I know I was a little cryptic in my message to you all, but I swear this is important. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking over the past week or so, and a lot of what I was thinking scared me. Like, really scared me. I didn’t know how you would react to what I have to say, and, frankly, I didn’t know if I would be able to come to terms with myself. I was afraid of putting you all through more changes, and, for a while, I didn’t even know who or what I was. But, after some research and debates with myself, I realized what I’m about to tell you now. I’m bisexual. I like guys and girls.”

Barry grinned nervously, beads of sweat forming in the moment of silence that followed his coming out. The quiet only lasted a moment before Cisco shouted “I told you so!” and extended a hand to Caitlin. Caitlin pulled out her wallet and dropped a $20 bill into Cisco’s hand as she looked at Barry sympathetically and said “Thank you for telling us, Barry. I hope you know we all view you the same way.”

Harry merely made quick eye contact with Barry and said “Okay,” before returning to whatever he was working on. Joe pat Barry on the back and said that he appreciated his courage. Barry was accepting hugs from Caitlyn and Wally when he noticed Iris standing solemnly across the cortex. They made eye contact, and Iris walked out the door, tears in her eyes.