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this infinite between us

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MID OCTOBER

Hal is trying to suppress an incoming yawn in the back of his chemistry class, mentally doing the countdown till the bell rings and he’s free from school, when he’s called out.

“Mister Jordan, a word with you when the class is over.” Hal cringes inwardly. Busted. He doesn’t like at all the tone of Mr. Broome’s voice.

“Sure thing, Sir,” he replies with a wink and mimicking a military salute.

Some of his classmates chuckle as others roll their eyes tired of his mannerisms. He’s Hal Jordan, he’s got a reputation as one of the cool kids and jester by most students.

Rebellious, bad student, lippy, and childish are some of the colorful adjectives teachers have labeled him with. He doesn’t care. Except that now Mr. Broome is giving him the stinky eye and Hal knows Mr. Broome is one of those few teachers that actually seems to not tolerate Hal’s attitude during their classes.

Swallowing, he tries to slide down his chair to disappear from Mr. Broome’s sight until the class is over. He doesn’t want or need another detention today, thank you very much. He’s had enough with yesterday’s session under Mr. Wayne scrutiny. His literature teacher is another one of those teachers who seems to loathe him.

The class drags on for what seems like an eternity to Hal, but as soon as its over and he sees the way Mr. Broome is staring at him, he thinks that maybe the class should last a little bit more, like maybe until he dies, a zombie apocalypse bursts or something.

“Jordan you’re failing my class,” Mr. Broome states.

Tell me something I don’t know, thinks Hal. If these are the shocking news his teacher felt the need to share with him, he better chops it; Hal’s got better things to do like bath his fish.

“I’ve been told this isn’t the exception but the rule,” Mr. Broome continues alien to Hal’s thoughts as he rearranges his glasses on his perky nose.

“Well sir, I’m exceling PE,” replies Hal with a cheeky grin. He’s met with Mr. Broome’s frown deepen. He’s definitely not amused with his reply Hal notes.

“Harold. I would highly recommend you to drop this act and this attitude of yours. Young man, if you continue down this path you won’t be graduating with your classmates-”

Hal ignores everything Mr. Broome says after the magic word graduation.

Good thing I don’t intend to graduate then, muses Hal.

He has everything planned: the 20th of February he won’t be on his bed waiting for his mother’s birthday wishes. No, he’s going to be outside the Armed Forces Career Center waiting until they open so he can be the first one to join the Air Force. Just like his father, he wants to be a pilot. He needs to. Even if it’s against his mother wishes.

“-that’s why I have assigned you a tutor. You shall meet him every day after classes in the library or when your detention is over as we both know you’re a regular.” Mr. Broome’s voice finally reaches Hal’s brain.

“Wait, what?” Hal gapes. He has only caught tutor, every day, and library. Hell no.

“You’ve perfectly listened to me Jordan. Allen is one of my best students in the AP course. He’s more than qualified to assist you in all your subjects. If he’s not, bad luck for you.

“I expect by the end of this month, when you have your next test as you already know,” he stresses that last sentence making it obvious that he knows that Hal isn’t aware of it. “that you excel my subject and every single one. I’ll check with the rest of your teachers Jordan,” he warns him.

“But Sir, I can’t. I… I have to help my mother! Yeah, she’s like super busy between work and my brothers and-” Hal’s giving him the best performance of his life, he’s even almost crying! He’s rudely cut.

 “Jordan! I know your brothers.” Mr. Broome narrows his eyes with anger. Busted, Hal gulps. “Jack’s in university and James is already considered a promising student among the faculty cloister.” The words ‘unlike you’ float in the air between them loud and crystal clear. “Now, I believe you’ve a meeting with your tutor. Go! I’ve a ton of homework to correct. Not yours since you haven’t succeeded to deliver them.” He sneers as he sits down and makes a condescending gesture to dismiss Hal.

Hal’s halfway through the door when Mr. Broome calls him.

“Jordan I expect all your overdue tasks on my desk by first hour on Monday. Otherwise, I would have to inform your mother. I’m sure that she would love to know about your academic whereabouts.”

Hal clenches his fists and exits the lab. He’s beyond any doubt in a sour mood. Stomping down the hall, he yanks open his locker where he throws all his books inside without minding where they land or how.

He doesn’t need them.

He’s not going to do any homework.

Screw what Mr. Broome thinks he should do.

Screw his new tutor.

He doesn’t need high school: he’s going to be a pilot just like his father. Who needs chemistry up in the sky? He sneers as he lefts the building. His tutor can wait for him all he wants.

 

★               ★               ★

 

Hal wakes up with his mother’s insistent knocking on his door.

“Hal, you’re gonna be late. Jim’s already finishing his breakfast.” She sounds tired. Hal wonders for how long she’s been trying to wake him up. Not is fault, really. He’s just a sound sleeper.

“Yeah, yeah, I’m coming,” he yawns but makes no further attempt to get out of bed.

Like reading his mind, his mother roars through the closed wood, “HAROLD JORDAN GET UP RIGHT NOW!”

With a leap, Hal runs to his door and yanks it wide open. “Jeez mom, see? I’m up!”

His mother sighs before she retracts downstairs shaking her head.

Thank God it’s Friday becomes Hal’s motto as he thinks about the party he’s planning to attend tonight as he gets dressed in a shirt and a flannel. All green of course, his signature color.

By the time he’s down, his brother is already waiting for him on the door huffing and fidgeting. He throws him daggers as soon as he sees Hal. Resigned, he decides he’ll drive thru McDonalds to have breakfast. Better that than having to listen to his mother and brother calling him out.

“C’mon slowpoke! I don’t wanna be late,” Jim whines as he clutches his backpack tighter.

“Yeah, yeah. What’s up with everybody this morning? Chill out bro’ school’s still gonna be there, you know?” Tracing down his own backpack he picks up the car keys and his jacket.

“Maybe if you cared about school, like at all, you wouldn’t be so chill,” sneers Jim as he heads to the car.

Hal blinks and quickly makes sure that his mother wasn’t eavesdropping.

In revenge, he takes his time deciding what he wants to eat and paying it on the window, coin by coin, much to his brother’s misfortune and the cashier's.

When they reach the parking lot, most of the students are already inside or jogging trying to not be late. Jim makes him stop in front of the door, cutting the traffic.

“Great. Thank you so much asshole!” Jim bangs the door closed as he runs to the building.

“You’re welcome!” Hal hollers as he flips some idiot behind him who’s honking. “I should have parked and then let him go to his freaking class,” he mutters as he parks. He remembers those good ol’ days when his little brother kissed the ground he walked on. Teenagers, ungrateful teenagers, concludes Hal.

When he reaches the front door, he notices a fidgeting blond guy checking his watch every few seconds. He’s wearing an oversized red hoodie and biting his lips as well as ruffling his hair in a nervous gesture. Just as the boy looks up, his blue eyes widen as soon as he sees Hal.

Hal frowns. Looking down at his clothes he checks he’s not wearing his shirt inside-out like on Monday. Nope, maybe I stained my face with the chocolate muffin? wonders Hal. Wiping his mouth clean from all the possible muffin-rests, he keeps walking when the kid steps out in front of him.

“Hey, uh, are you Harold Jordan?” he squeals.

Hal winces. He’s got a bad feeling and that damn name of his... “Hal. Please, I beg you. Just call me Hal. Unless you want me to hate you for the rest of our days,” he half-jokes.

The kid winces and lifts his hands. “No, no. I’m sorry, Mr. Broome only gave me your full name not… well, you’re nickname preferences.” Jackpot Hal thinks. He knew the kid was bad news: Mr. Broome’s name only supported his feeling.

Alien to Hal’s thoughts, the boy reaches out his hand with a big smile, “I’m Barry, Barry Allen. Your tutor. Did Mr. Broome forgot to tell you about our rendezvous yesterday?”

Shaking his hand, Hal uses his trademark grin as he walks away from Barry.

“Nah, I just wasn’t in the mood or feeling like studying, you know?” He grimly recalls how pissed he was last afternoon. “Live and enjoy youth as long as one can and all that shit,” he pitches with fake cheerfulness.

Reaching his locker, he looks through all his books and notebooks trying to recall what subject is he supposed to have now.

Barry frowns next to him, “Oh… well, I’m sorry but I was told you needed my assistance to pass your Senior year and graduate.”

Hal chuckles, “Yeah about that, it ain’t gonna happen. I’m going to enroll in the Air Force as soon as I hit the 18 so…” he trails off as he starts to walk to his History class. He’s like 70% sure that’s his Friday’s morning class. If not, well, it’s always wonderful to see Mrs. Prince. Hal believes she’s hella hot.

“Don’t you need to graduate from High School to enroll in the Air Force?” Barry pipes up, shattering away his daydream regarding his teacher. Hal stops. He thought the genius kid would get it by now.

“Look, Barry, I appreciate your…” He pauses, trying to find the right word. “Gesture. But I don’t need your help. So, go and study hard to keep you’re A++++ average, okay?”

“You know, the maximum grade is an A+, right?” deadpans Barry.

Hal rolls his eyes. “Whatever,” he dismisses before he enters his class.

Mrs. Prince eyes him but says nothing. Thankfully he’s still on time.

Hal spends the whole hour admiring Mrs. Prince’s (Diana’s) beauty. Barry falls off the back of his mind…

Until he exits the class laughing with his friend Ollie and sees Barry waiting for him across the hall. The teen is tousling his hair while chewing his lip and seems lost, deep in his thoughts. Hal sighs and walks towards him. It’s obvious that his grumpy self hasn’t scared him away. Now that he’s slightly more awake and less irritable maybe he can reason with Barry to let him see how absurd and wasteful is to tutor him.

Falling into the wall next to Barry he casually asks, “You don’t know when to give up or what?”

Oliver sends Hal a quizzical look eyeing Barry with curiosity. Hal ignores him.

“Just like you have given up your education?” replies Barry too quickly. He seems to regret his words as soon as they are out of his mouth.

Oliver hollers with laughter. Hal eyes narrow as he fumes offended. Okay, so maybe he deserved that for being an ass with him first.

Trying to trail back, Barry tells him with a quieter voice, “Look, I know you couldn’t care less about your grades, but this could benefit us both. If I help you with your homework, I got extra credits and If you handle your tasks as Mr. Broome asked me, you get teachers off your back. It’s a win-win situation.”

Hal considers it, he’s gotta give the kid that his idea sounds reasonable. His mother has already bugged him regarding his test’s grades and why he always seems so idle: ‘Don’t you have work to do, Hal? Your brother’s always under a pile of books. Why aren’t you? If you don’t study, you won’t go the college like Jack.’ Like if he cared what his big, perfect, brother does.

Hal observes Barry from head to toe. He has seen him on the halls and even shared a couple of classes with him in the past, or so he recalls. Ollie coughs, drawing Hal’s attention from Barry.

“Hey, I’m Oliver Queen! Call me Ollie, tho.” He beams at Barry who shyly smiles back.

“Barry Allen. We have bio in third period,” he replies back shaking Ollie’s hand.

“Yeah, you’re always late, right?” Ollie chuckles as Barry nods.

“Yep. That’s me. I’m always late, it’s like my trademark.” Hal’s bemused by the lightness in Barry’s tone. Most people would consider it a bad trait, not something to be shout from rooftops.

“Yeah? Well, behaving like an asshole is Hal’s but don’t let it fool ya,” he whispers jokingly as he glances Hal, “he’s a nice buddy at the end of the day.” Ollie pats Hal’s shoulder as he winks at Barry.

“Hey! If someone’s an idiot that ought to be you, buddy.” Hal replies. Punching Ollie, he steps away. He looks back at Barry who seems amused with their exchange. “Okay. I accept your deal. We’ll play and pretend so you get your extra points and I can keep my freedom.”

“Awesome!” Beams Ollie clapping, “Now that we’re all friends, Barry why don’t you come with us to tonight’s party? I insist. The best way to bond with Jordan here is with a couple of beers. Hey, you should have lunch with us too if you want to.”

Hal watches Ollie perplexed. He has no problems against Barry but, c’mon! Getting wasted is their thing. Barry seems torn. He side-glances Hal warily. Sighing, Hal rolls his eyes.

“You should come Barry. He’s a jerk, but he’s right and means no harm. But, I’ve to warn you: we drink, like a lot. If you don’t mind our drunk asses, welcome aboard!” He finishes opening his harms and hitting Ollie square in the chest.

“Ouch!”

“Sorry,” he replies with a teasing smirk. That’s what you get for being a prick.

Barry nods to himself as he’s writing something on the edge of a notebook, “Ok to the party. But I’ve to decline your lunch offer, sorry. My friends and I always go to Papa John’s on Friday”

“Where do you go on Thursday?” pipes Ollie.

“Dairy Queen,” replies effortlessly Barry.

“Taco Bell?” Hal can see the drool falling off his best friend’s mouth.

“Monday.”

Hal watches the exchange entertained. Barry’s smile is contagious, and Ollie seems enthusiastic with his answers.

“Hal!” Ollie claps his hands like a kid, “We need to go! If that’s fine with you Barry…” Ollie pouts. The jackass knows what his doing. Hal knows Barry won’t say no to the kicked puppy look he’s been given.

“Of course, the more the merrier” grins Barry thus, confirming Hal’s premise. The ring echoes in the hall. “Oh no! I’m gonna be late.”

“Wasn’t that your trademark?” Playfully mocks Hal.

Barry laughs. “Yeah, but you see, I’m not so sure Dr. Brown is going to be that understandable. Here,” he handles Hal the piece of paper he’s been written earlier with some numbers scrawled. “My phone. Text me and I’ll wait for you in the front door for lunch. Bye!” he jogs down the hall.

“He doesn’t seem like your average nerd. I mean, he has friends, wears no glasses, no bowtie…” Ollie enumerates with his fingers.

Hal bangs his head against the wall. “Oliver, I swear sometimes you worry me. Dinah, your girlfriend is a nerd. She’s in all the AP courses this shithole offers. Does she look like a nerd to you?”

“Of course not!” Oliver replies defensive. “She’s the hottest girl in town!” He beams proudly. Hal watches as Dinah appears behind him with her perfect eyebrow raised.

“The hottest girl, uh? I hope you were talking about me because otherwise, we might need to talk.”

Ollie turns and kisses her with no delay. “Dinah, my beautiful Queen. We’re having Papa John’s today. Hal’s new tutor invited us.”

“You invited yourself!” Groans Hal.

As he feared, the next thing Dinah beams is, “You have a new tutor?”

Of course, she would only catch that, thinks desperately Hal.

Scowling, he turns around and starts to walk to his next class ignoring Dinah’s call. He clenches his jaw as Oliver proceeds to tell everything to Dinah in his exaggerating way as always.

“We’re going to be late-” growls Hal over his shoulder.

“Not me. Free-period,” counters Dinah gleefully. She walks faster until she’s before Hal. “Allen, uh? I have most of my classes with him. He’s cuuuuuute and a genius in science, chem specially. He’s also really nice and easy-going although he’s kind of slow.”

Hal stops and eyes Dinah with a frown. “How can he be a genius and be slow at the same time? That makes no sense, thought you were the clever one D!”

“I didn’t mean it like that! Jeez Hal,“ Dinah smacks him. “I mean like attitude and movement. I don’t know, he never seems in any hurry like, he’s always late-”

“Told ya!” Trills Ollie on his left. Hal feels like he’s surrounded by thirteen year-old girls.

Dinah narrows his eyes at Ollie. She hates to be interrupted. Ollie lips an apology and mimics a kiss in the air in her direction.

“As I was saying, he’s always late and when the class is over he takes his sweet time gathering up his stuff.” Ollie nods at Dinah’s words.

“I think you two could work together Hal, right Dinah? I like the kid. I sense an amazing friendship incoming!” Ollie is crazy decides Hal.

“Well, it’s not like I care, but thanks. I’ve a class to go, a class to sleep. Jordan out.” He leaves the couple in the hall.

The teacher huffs as he enters. Hal smiles apologetical and sits on his back seat with no further delay cursing at his gossip friends. Thank God this wasn’t Mr. Wayne’s class, otherwise he’d have to stay for detention too!

He spends the whole morning doodling on the margins of his books until he remembers to text Barry, so they can meet for lunch. Better Papa’s than the awful school food. Sliding his phone carefully down his table, he deciphers Barry’s number and enters the new contact.

                Hal: front door? prbly O’s gf joins

                Hal: this hal btw

                Barry: Hello Hal :)

                Barry: It’s fine, no worries! And front door, yes.

Hal has to bite himself to contain his chuckle: proper grammar, check; proper punctuation, check; lame but cute emoji; check. He didn’t expect less from Barry.

Hal flies from the class as soon as the bell rings. Sending a quick text to Ollie, he heads to the front door. Other seniors and some juniors are scattered around but Hal doesn’t see Barry nor Ollie and Dinah. Perched against the stairs’ banister, he plays with his shades until a brunette approaches him.

“You must be Hal.” Today seems like half the school wants to meet me, concludes Hal as he nods. The girl brushes her hair out of her face as she politely smiles, “I’m Iris West, Barry’s sister.”

“Hal Jordan. Thought his last name was Allen,” he replies slowly.

“Never heard of adopted brothers? Let me tell you, they can be as annoying as regular ones.” Iris winks. Hal decides he likes her.

“Oh, trust me I know everything about pestering brothers. I’ve two.”

“Okay, you win,” she surrenders with a grin. “Barry isn’t that bad.”

“He’s late or so I’ve been told,” points Hal.

Iris shrugs. “He’s always late. I’d be worried if for once he was on time. You’ll get used to it.”

Hal blinks perplexed. It seems that everybody has assumed that he and Barry are going to be friends, Dinah, Ollie, Iris… so far, he hasn’t even talked that much with him. He wonders if everybody knows something that he doesn’t.

Iris smile widens when someone jumps on Hal’s back making him lose his foot.

“What the?!”

“Always be prepared Jordan!” Yells Oliver. Dinah laughs and greets Iris. “You two know each other?” he slides down Hal.

“Iris’s a Junior but she’s our best reporter,” informs Dinah. “Although we haven’t talked that much. A pity. We should correct that!”

“I’d be pleased. Caitlin, Cisco!” Iris calls a girl and a boy who seem deep in conversation.

As they approach Hal understands some scientific lingo. He feels stupid surrounded by so many brainy people. Even Oliver is way more intelligent than he let’s people believe. He just likes to play the rich-party-snob-kid card for the public.

“Okay, as Barry isn’t here to make introductions, why don’t we just tell each other who we are, alright?” Iris doesn’t wait before she keeps going, “I’m Iris West, Barry’s sister.”

“Cisco Ramon, Barry’s BFF,” he points at himself.

“Thought I was your BFF. Caitlin Snow, enchanté.” She smiles and hugs Iris.

“Oliver Queen, but I’m a King don’t be fooled.” Ollie winks and Hal chuckles.

Dinah rolls her eyes and shakes her head, “Dinah Lance, idiot’s girlfriend. Don’t worry, he’s all bark and no bite.”

“Hal Jordan,” he eyes Ollie who’s waggling his eyebrows, daring him. “Ladies’ man,” he winks at Caitlin and Iris who roll their eyes. Cisco laughs and high fives him and Ollie.

Dinah huffs idiots before she interlocks Iris and Caitlin’s elbow and starts to walk away with them.

“Hey, what about Barry?” Hal asks.

“Don’t worry. He’ll come,” answers Caitlin.

Ollie and Cisco pay him no attention as they are talking about God-knows-what. Hal watches them leave. He glances the door where there’s no sign of Barry.

He’s torn, should he go with them or wait for Barry? After all, Ollie invited them to Barry’s lunch, so the correct thing should be waiting for him, right? Like that’s the respectful thing to do.

Kicking his sneaker’s tip against the floor, he settles himself against the railing watching the doors. Five minutes later, Barry appears. He doesn’t seem to be in any hurry. Okay, so maybe Dinah and Iris were right. He seems to ignore what late and hurry mean, Hal smiles at the thought. Barry looks up at that moment and his smile widens when he sees Hal.

“Hey! Sorry for the delay. I guess the rest are already on Papa’s?”

“Yeah, Caitlin said you’d come but I thought, I mean after all, Ollie tricked you into inviting us so…” he trails off as they start to walk.

“Don’t worry. It’s nice to eat with new people. I see my friends daily, it’s no big deal.”

“Well, now you’re going to see me every day.” Barry seems lost with Hal’s answer, so he clarifies, “after school? You’re my tutor, remember? I mean, no worries. It’s not like I want you to.”

“Sorry Hal I’ve a lot in my mind and I forgot it for like 5 seconds.” He chortles. “I’m not going anywhere my rebellious padawan, you and I have a study date until you graduate.”

“Already told ya, I don’t plan to graduate,” Hal opens the door of the dinner and waits for Barry to enter before doing so himself.

“Hal this isn’t over. I promise you, I’ll change your mind. Studying can be fun. Hey guys!”

Hal studies Barry tilting his head. He doesn’t understand why he seems so eager to help him. It’s not like they know each other, right? Something tingles in the back of his mind but he’s unable to figure out what it is.

Sitting next to Ollie, Hal spends his whole lunch period having more fun than he ever expected. Barry and his friends get along with his perfectly.

He talks a lot with Barry himself about comics with Cisco joining them from time to time. He shares the remains of his pizza with Barry who wolfs it down along with his own pizza and some slices of Iris to Hal’s amusement. Looking at Barry’s slim body he wonders where all that pizza goes. Even wearing those oversized clothes of his, it’s obvious he’s lanky.

As they return to high school, Ollie invites them to tonight’s party. This time, Hal doesn’t hesitate to invite them along. Barry seems to beam as everybody agrees to meet in Dinah’s place as it’s the closest to the party and in the way of everyone. Hal finds himself smiling too. He can’t wait for school being over; including his study session in the library.

Getting his wish accomplished, Hal runs to Jim’s last class. He arrives just in time as his brother is exiting.

“Hey bro! Hitch a ride with the bus or one of your friends I gotta stay.”

“Why? Landed yourself in detention again?” Jim eyes him suspicious.

“Nope. I’ve to study with a friend,” he decides to skip the whole tutoring part. He’s now friends with Barry, right? So technically it’s no lie.

“Since when do you and Ollie study?” Jim snorts.

“Who said it was Ollie?”

“You’ve no real friends other than him!”

“That’s not…” true. Hal realizes Jim’s right. He used to but not anymore. Not true friends at least. I’ve Dinah and… Barry? Sticking his tongue out he pokes at his brother, “I’ve Dinah and Barry. He’s my new friend and an AP student,” he states as proudly as if he was the AP one.

“If he’s that clever, what’s he doing with a loser like you?” his brother teases him.

Hal knows he doesn’t mean any harm, not like Jack would, but nevertheless his words clench his heart. Someone calls his brother before Hal can retort. “Listen, I’ve to go. I’ll tell mom about your… new friend. Bye!”

He watches as his brother leaves. Is he that much of a loser? Never mind. He might not be brain-wise but tonight he’s going to score some pretty girl -probably Carol although Ollie might kick him later- and crash that party so hard no one would know what hit’em.

Entering the library for what feels like the first time since he started high school, Hal sits on a table near the door and scatters some of his books as he waits for Barry. Browsing through his notes, he finds no relevant notes per se, only detailed sketches of fighter aircrafts and the Air Force logo over and over.

His mother would kill him if she ever opens his notebooks. Everything air-related is forbidden at the Jordan’s house. The only thing that makes Hal double-think the whole enlisting thing is his mother. He knows she won’t ever forgive him or at least, not in short notice. This weekend I’m going to spend it with mom, plans Hal. After all, February is just few months from now…

“Hey! Sorry I’m late,” pants Barry as he sits down.

“Dude, you should print cards with it. Sorry I’m late. How many times do you say it?”

Barry grins as he bits his lip and eyes the ceiling. Hal can’t believe he’s actually pondering his question.

“I guess… minimum 10 times per day sometimes 15. Tops? I honestly don’t know. I remember once Joe, my father, took us to his hometown for summer holidays and his mother insisted to give us a tour with her friends. So, they showed us like every single shop because that was everything the town had to offer.” Hal laughs as he pictures the small-town Barry is describing. Barry nods happily and gestures with his hands, “so, Iris and I were bored and decided to play eye spy in every shop and you know, I’d trail off the whole time, so her grandmother told me that I could spend like 5 minutes in each shop if I was so interested in them...”

“You were late every time. Oh God,” Hal bites his fist to avoid a loud laugh as the librarian is giving him the stinky eye, “Ho-how many shops were there?” He wipes away some laughter tears.

Barry grimaces. “Over 50 I believe.”

Hal boisterous laugh echoes in the library. The librarian hushes them. Barry apologizes as he hits Hal on his shoulder. “Quiet it! They are going to kick us out!”

“Who cares? You apologized for being late over 50 times when you were… How old were you?”

“9 or 10 I believe. C’mon, we are here to study.”

“Nah, I’m here ‘cause you’re cute,” Hal jokes as he winks at Barry who blushes and turns as red as the hoodie he’s wearing.

“D-do-don’t t-try to play with m-me,” stutters Barry. Hal might be joking before but now he firmly believes Barry is adorable. He takes note of how easy it is to make his new friend embarrassed.

Pretending to surrender Hal plays the innocent card looking at Barry with a sheepish smile. Barry sits straight in his chair and watches carefully Hal.

Opening his chemistry book, the reason why they are here after all, Hal he pushes the book to Barry with defeat.

Barry changes his attitude as soon as he becomes the tutor. His laid-back and calm attitude become focused-and-serious-Barry who scolds Hal for his lack of attention in class.

Hal is afraid Barry’s eyes might pop out when he handles him his notebook and Barry watches with horror and poorly hidden amazement how every single page is filled with art rather than notes.

By the time Barry has managed to explain Hal the basics of chemistry (something that he insists Hal should know have known since sophomore year), two hours have passed by.

Barry’s hair is a mess as the blond has the habit of tousling his hair and bite the ends of the laces on his hoodie whenever he’s deep in thought. Hal is amused by this as well as the way light seems to play with Barry’s hair making him look like he has a halo.

“Have you paid attention to anything I’ve just said? Hal?”

Hal makes a face. He didn’t mean to ignore Barry, but he hates studying. He doesn’t believe he needs any of this up in the air. Just skill. Barry sighs but smiles slightly. His new friend seems to be unable to get angry beyond a little frustrated or annoyed. Mr. Broome knew what he was doing when he matched them: Barry has the patience of a saint with Hal and knows how to make Hal understand shit and understand him.

Hal knows this last it’s a reality when Barry asks him, “You want to take a break? We could stretch our legs and drink something from the vending machine?”

“Yes!” Hal bounces from the library as Barry asks the librarian to watch their things. The woman smiles sweetly at Barry and even calls him by his first name as she agrees to do so.

As soon as Barry catches him, Hal merciless teases him, “Shouldn’t be surprised you’re friends with the librarian.”

“Shouldn’t be surprised you seem to have never stepped on it,” counters the blond.

Hal shrugs. It’s not worth denying the truth and it’s pretty obvious since he asked amazed how many books their library has. “Never needed to. You see, there’s this thing called Google. When I bothered to handle shit to teachers, I always found the answer key books online.”

“That’s cheating,” Barry frowns. “You’re no fool Hal. You just need to focus and work a little but you’re no stupid. I know you can do it.”

Hal’s throat dries. Now, he’s the one embarrassed. No one except his father and mother have ever told him something like that. The way Barry said it, it’s painfully obvious he believes it. Instead of keep teasing Hal like Ollie would’ve, Barry notices Hal’s discomfort and decides to switch the topic.

“I think I’m going to buy a Sprite, what about you?”

“Coke’s fine,” replies Hal gravelly.

Barry takes the drinks and handles Hal his. Hal tries to protest as he has money to pay it, but Barry ignores him. When they reach their table, Barry takes off his red hoodie. Underneath he’s wearing a red t-shirt.

“Don’t you own something other than red?” Hal baits him.

“Do you?” Barry points Hal who looks down to himself. Under his father’s well-worn leather bomber jacket, he’s wearing a green shirt under a green flannel. Touché.

“You can call me Green if I can call you Red,” Barry laughs quietly and shakes his head to Hal’s words. Hal wastes no time to change Barry’s contact name to Red. He shows it to him with a toothy grin.

By the time their study session is over, Hal feels like his head is about to explode but at least Barry has changed his contact name to Green and promised to play one round of beer-pong with him and Ollie at the party.

As they exist the school, Hal asks Barry if he’s got a ride. Before Barry can end explaining that he can call Joe, his father, to pick him up, Hal is dragging him to his car. Both teens discover they live pretty close and that they both tune out awfully while singing.

Hal’s cheeks hurt by the time he’s pulling away from Barry’s driveway. He’s never laughed so much before. It doesn’t feel like he has studied yet, he has completed almost all his missed tasks from chem. Barry promised him to help him on Sunday with the rest of it as Mr. Broome threatened him with the mother call card.

“Mom? Jim? I’m home!”

Hal waits for a reply but it seems like no one’s home.

Blasting some music, he decides to get ready for the party with a long, steamy, relaxing shower. His phone beeps several times, cutting off his music. Annoyed he checks it until he sees its Barry.

                Red: Hey! I might have forgotten Dinah’s address (?)

                Red: Hypothetically, could you type it given that scenario… ╮(─▽─)╭

                Green: i could do smth better…

                Red: ???

                Green: drive u

                Red: You shouldn’t drive and drink, Hal. It’s not responsible.

                Green: i’ll park and crash at d’s

                Green: no drunk driving c?

                Green: btw ur invited 2 stay at d’s 2

Hal waits for Barry’s answer. He knows Dinah won’t mind if he shares with Barry the pull-out couch from her basement. Ollie always pretends to sleep in the guest room to fool Ms. Lance although everybody knows he always joins Dinah. Hal is always too lazy to move from the basement to the guest room.

                Red: What about Iris?

Hal frowns. He had forgotten about her. He quickly texts Dinah.

                Emerald Knight: d is ok if barry stays 2nite???

                Canary: O_O u planning smth special??? ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

Hal frowns at his phone. Dinah is more like Barry while texting and those symbols… cursing he texts,

                Emerald Knight: ollie i swear i’ll tell evry1 abt xmas

The reply comes immediately.

                Canary: d said ok

Hal smiles smugly. He’s got enough blackmail material to keep Ollie at bay. His grin falls when he recalls he should be asking about Iris too.

                Emerald Knight: what abt iris?

                Canary: ok 2

                Emerald Knight: ty

Switching the chat, he sees Barry is online waiting.

                Green: d’s ok u & iris can stay

                Red: Perfect. We’ll be waiting for you :)

                Red: Don’t be late :P

Guffawing at the irony, Hal considers printing some ‘sorry I’m late’ cards for Barry as gift. Eyeing his clock, he realizes he’s actually going to be late if he keeps procrastinating.

Rushing through his room, he looks himself in the mirror. Realizing the color of his shirt, Hal burst into laughter. Barry was right, he can’t tease him because he’s as bad a Barry is: his t-shirt is sea green.

Scrawling a post-it on the kitchen, he wishes his mother and brother a good night and exits to Barry’s. Iris is waiting outside. Unsurprisingly, Barry is nowhere to be seen.

“Hey!”

“Hey you,” replies Iris as she sits in the backseat with a smugly grin. Hal frowns. Has he missed something? “So… Barry told me you were picking us up and that we’re staying the night at Dinah’s.” Her eyes shine and the way she said us, makes Hal uncomfortable.

“Yeah…” He’s not sure where Iris wants to go.

“Uh, uh. How generous of you. Barry seemed like uber-happy when he came home. Did you two have fun? Thought it was a study d-a-t-e.”

Hal honks the car by accident as he leaps from his seat. Iris chuckles and mutters something that sounds like pair of idiots.

“We studied!” He turns his body as much as the seatbelt allows him to face Iris.

“Of course, you did~,” she singsongs. “Thought you hated studying. Yet, my brother said it was like the best studying session he’s ever been to.” She imitates Barry with a falsetto voice. “Like so much fun Iris, and Hal is…” she trails off with a grin that could rival Cheshire’s cat one. Hal stomach turns, he wants to know what Barry said about him. “I mean, didn’t you stand up my brother just yesterday? And didn’t he have to chase you this morning?”

“Hey! I didn’t know Barry was my tutor! I thought he’d be a pompous idiot. If I had known how cool Barry was, I’d have gone yesterday and behaved so much better this morning,” he cringes remembering how he blew Barry at first. He should apologize.

Iris seems incredibly satisfied with his answer. He mentally replays it but still, he doesn’t understand why she’s so cheerful.

“Hey, sorry-”

“I’m late.” Finishes Hal as Barry enters the car. He has nicely brushed his hair and is wearing a sapphire shirt that complements his eyes. Whoa! What was that? Hal blinks. Did he just? Okay, so Barry looks good with this shirt and his eyes are amazingly cool but, complement? That comment is more Dinah’s style. Yeah, that’s it. I’ve spent too much time with Dinah, reasons Hal. He has almost convinced himself by the time they’ve reached their destination.

Iris rushes out leaving them all alone in the car.

Barry smiles apologetic. “Excuse my sister. Sometimes she can be a little ungrateful. Thank you, Hal, for driving us.”

“No prob. Hey, listen… Sorry for, you know, this morning when I behaved like an ape. I shouldn’t have stood you up yesterday,” Hal scratches some invisible dirt from the steering wheel feeling Barry’s eyes on him.

“It’s okay. Seriously Hal, don’t think about it.” Barry’s voice is soft. “I’d fun too. C’mon, I guess you don’t wanna be late to the party.”

Chuckling, Hal exits the car. “Aren’t I doomed? I mean if you always arrive late and I’m with you…”

“That’s why Iris always leaves before I do. You’ll learn,” Barry shrugs and enters Dinah’s house were everybody is waiting for them.

They walk a couple of blocks before they reach the house of some anonymous jock throwing the party. Everybody greets Hal and Ollie as soon as they arrive as both are well-known among party-goers.

Ollie disappears, and Iris, Dinah and Caitlin vanish too. Hal, Cisco and Barry are talking about meeting up one day to play some videogames when someone kisses Hal’s cheek. He’d recognize that perfume anywhere.

“Carol, nice of you to drop by,” smugly replies Hal.

“Jordan, nice of you to look for me,” mimics her.

“Babe, I just arrived. Guys, this is Carol-”

“Ferris!” exclaims Cisco a little bit too enthusiastic.

Hal’s amused to see he’s actually bouncing like a bunny. Barry rolls his eyes at his friend.

“I’m Barry, and this is Cisco.”

Carol smiles gently at them before she turns at Hal with doe eyes. Trailing her fingers up Hal’s arm she lowers her voice, “Jordan, why don’t you come with me… My friends and I are thinking about playing some games.”

Hal hears Cisco squeal. He promised Ollie to let Carol go. Too many painful memories associated with her. Maybe another day he would have accepted her invitation without wasting any second but he’s actually having a good time and he hasn’t even started to drink. “Mmm… Cisco, do you want to go and play some games?”

“Yes! Yes! Yes! Do I want to hang out with the cheer squad? Hell yes, dude!” He grabs Carol and drags her away before she can complain. Hal watches them leave. Turning to Barry he finds his friend watching him with a thoughtful expression and something else he can’t decipher.

“What’s up?” he asks him.

“You didn’t need to do that,” Barry scratches the back of his neck as he looks everywhere but at him. “You should hang with your friends.”

Hal tilts his head backwards before he laughs. Barry’s frown deepens. “Carol isn’t my friend,” he waggles his eyebrows. Barry blushes which makes Hal guffaw more. “C’mon, if I wanted to hang with my friends I’d stay with you or Ollie.” He throws and arm around Barry’s shoulders as he veers them to the kitchen. “Wait! Isn’t that what I’m doing? Minus Ollie, of course.”

Barry nods but doesn’t seem to be convinced. Hal lets him go so he can pour some beer in the shiny red plastic cups. Handing one to Barry he mutters, cheers, before taking a big gulp. The bitter flavor makes him shiver.

The couple that was in the kitchen too, leaves them all alone. Hal caresses the edge of his cup staring at the floor. His voice is a little broken as he addresses Barry, “Carol and I… it’s complicated.”

“You don’t need to tell me Hal. I mean, if you want to, you can but… I know what it’s like to have some baggage you want to put past you…” Barry trails off and something in his voice makes Hal’s head snap up. He finds Barry completely still with a painful look on his face.

Hal doesn’t want to see his friend so sad. He elbows Barry playfully with a cocky grin. “Ya got yourself a girlfriend? Catlin?”

He already knows the answer, but the grateful smile Barry gives him only reaffirms Hal’s knowledge that his friend needs a little distraction.

“Caitlin?” He chuckles, “Nah. She’s with Ronnie. He’s in college, freshman. He’s studying mechanical engineering,” he gestures vaguely and drinks.

“Cisco?” Questions Hal.

Barry spits his beer and looks horrified at Hal. “WHAT? NO! I mean, Cisco is my friend a-and-an-and… no!” He shakes his head vehemently.

Hal raises his hands trying to ease Barry. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he bites his lip trying to control his laugh. “I meant if Cisco has a girlfriend or boyfriend. I’m not one to judge.”

“Neither do I,” hastily replies Barry blushing. He seems distracted and avoids looking at Hal. “Answering you, no. I mean, c’mon, haven’t you noticed the trail of drool he left after Carol?”

Both stare into each other before they burst laughing.

“Yeah, think we should like, put a sign of Caution wet floor?” Barry cachinnates as Hal starts to open the cabinets looking for said sign.

Barry shakes his head, “Don’t be mean! Cisco is like a kid with a new toy on Christmas. We don’t get invited to a lot of parties, you know? And even less interact with the cool kids like Carol or you.”

“You think I’m one of the cool kids?” Hal asks with fake modesty.

“Let’s see, has anyone in this party not greeted you?” Barry snorts.

Smiling smugly Hal says, “I think the guy puking his guts in that fake plant didn’t.”

“What a shame. Think we should make him receive you like you deserve?” Barry counters, eyes shining with bliss.

Hal laughs and toasts with Barry before he finishes what’s left of his beer. Then he re-fills his cup and Barry’s. “So, no girlfriend then Red?”

Barry shakes his head and seems to lose his step. Hal grabs him recalling Barry saying that they don’t get invited to parties. Lightweight, Hal concludes. That would also explain why Barry is suddenly so red.

“You?” pipes Barry sipping his second beer. Hal decides to cut him. He takes what’s left of Barry’s as they move from the beverages to the other side of the kitchen as more people boost inside demanding more booze.

“Nah, nothing too serious. I can’t.”

“Why not?” Frowns Barry. He rests against a wall and unfocused points at Hal. “You got tha looks. I’m sure Carol wouldn’t mind being your girl.”

“Yeah, I know. But first, I don’t do long stuff and as I said, it’s complicated. Let’s make a deal. If by tomorrow you still remember this, we can talk about it, deal?” Barry nods. Hal smiles before he softly asks him, “you want to score some nice girl? I’m sure a couple of Carol’s friends wouldn’t mind. They must be playing spin the bottle or some shit like that while smoking weed. Plus, you’re not too bad yourself Allen.”

Barry seems flattered but shakes his head. “Not my thing...”

Hal waits for Barry to keep talking as it seems like the blond wants to add something else. Barry remains silent staring at the floor, as it seems to have thought it better.

“You want a joint?” Hal blurts. “I mean, not now-now, maybe when you’re a little bit soberer. I fancy one.”

Barry seems to think about it. He shrugs in a non-committal way. Hal considers it a win. He’s sure Barry has never smoked before.

“Are we hiding here, Hal?” Barry drags a little some words as the alcohol is starting to make effect on him.

“Nah, you wanna dance or something?” Hal points over his shoulder to the living room where some techno-music is blasting.

“What do you usually do?” Inquires Barry.

“Get wasted. Check.” He raises his cup. “Get a girl. You’re not interested, and neither am I, at least, not tonight. Smoke some joints. We’re waiting for-” The ‘it’ dies in Hal’s mouth as Barry yanks him out of the kitchen, now full of drunk people yelling.

“Where do we get that joint of yours?” Hal finds adorable the way Barry says joint like it’s a foreign word. It makes him wonder how innocent Barry might be… Hal flusters when he realizes where his mind is going. Why the fuck is he wondering if Barry is a virgin or not? That’s not his business, like at all.

“Follow me,” Hal screams above the music and hopes Barry has listened him as he’s unable to look at his friend.

He easily traces down his usual provider. Pulling out some money, he eyes Barry who seems a little bit lost among the potheads. There’s no way the blond is going to smoke a whole joint by himself. He asks for one to share. The seller wishes them to have fun with a lecherous wink.

As Barry de facto sees the small cigarette, he looks around skittish. “What if Iris sees me?” he babbles still looking for his sister as if she could jump at him at any moment.

“Relax, Iris knows what this is and that we’re in a party. This is what people do at parties,” Hal dismisses easily Barry’s fears, or so he thinks.

“Joe’s a cop,” blurts Barry.

“What?” Hal’s eyebrows raise surprised.

“Joe’s a cop. Well, a detective,” Barry corrects himself babbling.

Hal decides it doesn’t matter. It’s not like Barry’s father is going to appear, right? Now Hal is the paranoid one, as he looks for a man he doesn’t even know how he might look like. His imagination provides him Sgt. Al Powell from the movie Die Hard, but fitter. Maybe more like Samuel Jackson in the third one, Hal’s mind trails. Shaking his head, he sees Barry quizzed observing him.

Feeling uneasy, Hal decides to go upstairs. Barry follows him. Reaching the attic, Hal smiles as he sees there’s an easy access to the rooftop. Aiding Barry to go out so he doesn’t fall, both teens rest against the chimney as the party keeps at its peak downstairs. The city’s view is before his eyes.

Lighting the joint, Hal takes a long drag before he offers it to Barry. As he watches it warily, Hal hoarsely tells him to take a small drag and breathe out all the smoke. Barry does so and barely coughs, just a little. Taking longer drags than Barry, both pass it back and forth until it’s over.

Hal welcomes the euphoric high the weed gives him. Closing his eyes, he enjoys the ride. Beside him, he can feel Barry moving. Opening his eyes, he finds his high friend staring at his hands from all the possible angles with awe. When Barry looks up to Hal, he gets distracted with the sky. Hal catches Barry when he suddenly plunges backwards.

“Dude watch your head! I don’t want you to get a concussion or something,” growls Hal as he places Barry’s head on his legs. His hands seem to find Barry’s hair addictive as he starts to caress it. Barry purrs beneath his touch and whines whenever Hal stops.

Hal loses track of time and doesn’t know for how long they’ve been up there until Ollie pokes his head out of the window. “Guys! We’ve been looking for you! C’mon, we’re going to D’s. Party’s over.” He seems to notice Barry’s stillness. “Is he okay?” points Ollie with a small smirk.

“Yeah, yeah, he just fell asleep. Don’t sweat it.” Hal watches Barry. His eyelashes are casting some interesting shadows on his cheeks or at least, Hal thinks so as he traces them with his finger.

Shaking him lightly, Hal tries to wake Barry, who babbles something intelligible as he stirs, before he falls asleep again.

When Hal tries to ask Ollie for some help, he realizes his friend’s no longer there. Gently drumming Barry’s cheeks with his fingers, Hal whispers Barry’s name over and over.

“W-what?” Barry’s voice is raspy.

Hal smiles, “Wakey-wakey. C’mon, sleepy-head we need to move. We’re staying at Dinah’s, remember? Not someone’s roof,” he jokes.

“Uh?” Lost, Barry looks like a kid to Hal.

Standing up, he lightly yanks Barry’s ass inside the house and downstairs where Ollie is waiting for them.

“Where’s the rest?” Hal asks trying to look for them around but it’s hard as he’s pretty much carrying Barry’s weight all by himself.

“Dinah’s,” answers Ollie as he finally helps Hal with Barry. “He’s a lightweight, isn’t him?” Sniffing him a little, Ollie chuckles. “You gave him pot and beer? Hal, Hal… the kiddo is not like us,” he scolds Hal with humor.

“Hey! He only took like a cup and a half of beer and not that many drags I swear,” huffs him defensively.

“Jordan we both know you’re a bad influence,” laughs Oliver.

Both hush as they enter through the rear door of Dinah’s basement. Once they reach the pull-out couch, Ollie aids Hal with Barry as Hal quickly assembles the bed. He seems to want to add something but shaking his head with a crooked smile, he leaves them and goes upstairs.

Taking off his jacket, shoes, and Barry’s trainers, Hal sets the blond in the improvised bed and tucks him in before he lays at his side… before he gets up again. He’s deadbeat but he knows Barry will thank him tomorrow if he does this.

Stealthy, Hal goes up.

He can hear some giggles coming from the second floor. Scoffing he rolls his eyes. Ollie’s never been known for being quiet (nor Dinah). He hopes Iris can fall asleep before those two start their loud show.

Filling two glasses with water and taking some pills for tomorrow’s morning, he returns downstairs. Waking Barry, he coerces him to drink one of the glasses. Barry groans and pulls a face that could rival Grumpy Cat but finally swallows the water in one take before falling unconscious once more.

Hal finds the whole scene kind of adorable.

Even with the poor light the moonlight provides him, he can see Barry’s profile laying on his stomach, tugging one of the pillows tightly against his chest and mouthing something from time to time. He even kicks the air a couple of times.

Hal whispers goodnight as he rests next to Barry with a big smile on his face. As he passes out, his last thought is that Dinah was right: Barry is cute.

Chapter Text

The first thing Barry is aware of is the throbbing beat pounding his head.

Fluttering his eyelids, the burning sensation light gives him, makes him close his eyes tightly and clench his teeth. Which in turn, makes him realize that his mouth is drier than ever, and his tongue seems to be surrounded by cotton balls.

His stomach turns at the thought of food as he catches the aroma floating in the air, but his brain seems to welcome the idea of water and demands it with ferocity.

Lastly, he notices the warmth he’s tucked in. A snore next to his ear booms inside his head cutting all his thoughts. Frowning, Barry tries to move but it’s impossible. Not only his limbs seem to be uncooperative, but he’s completely immobilized by Hal Jordan’s body.

Barry is trapped in a turmoil of emotions:

First, he doesn’t remember what happened last night. Not with exactitude at least. He recalls laying on a rooftop with Hal smoking pot and… getting his head caressed? That seems highly unlikely, not the pot part, but the last one. Why would Jordan do that?

Which brings him to the next point: praying that he didn’t say or do something stupid like, who knows, kissing Hal or confessing his true feelings for the handsome brunet.  His brain provides him that he is: one, still wearing clothes – so there goes that; and second, Hal is still with him so it’s remote that he blurted something out of place.

Therefore, Barry realizes he’s laying in bed cuddled by Hal Jordan himself. His daydream came true. Barry feels the heat spreading through his body, specially anywhere where Hal seems to be touching him.

Yesterday, it was painfully obvious Hal didn’t remember Barry or what he did for him two years ago, but Barry never forgot.

After the incident, Barry switched high schools and the Wests skipped town for him. Iris was a freshman and a newbie like him, so he couldn’t count on her, nor wanted to mess her life even more. When some bullies had targeted him, he had panicked as the painful memories from prior months ago assaulted him. No one helped him until Jordan had stepped up and aided him with a big smile. Barry could still perfectly recall how Jordan had raised his fists ready for a fight against those tormentors and barked some curses at them.

They had left him all alone after that. He made friends with other students but had bonded specially with Cisco, and later Caitlin came along with Ronnie.

Barry never forgot Hal. It took him several months and countless nagging from Iris part, to realize that he had a crush on his savior. Alas, Hal was a cool kid: everybody knew him, he flirted with every girl he crossed paths with (and rumor said some boys too) and was notorious for his rebellious attitude and sassy comebacks in class.

Barry have never shared a class with him unfortunately (once he almost did but he was switched to the AP course). Although he always saw him infinite times after school, in detention with Oliver, both laughing much to the dismay of the teacher in charge. Whenever Barry stayed to study in the library, wait for Iris’ newspaper meeting to be over, or his own science club meetings; he always made sure to pass near the window of detention just to catch a glimpse of Hal.

He knew people pestered Hal about why he didn’t join the football team as he was pretty much friends with the whole team. Hal always shrugged it off, but now Barry knew the answer. He didn’t care about high school. Hal’s words echoed inside his mind: his plan to join the Air Force and not even graduate. It made Barry grief as now that they were friends (or at least acquaintances) he was aware that his friendship had a due date: February; Hal’s 18th birthday.

After Hal had dismissed Barry in the hall at first hour in high school, Barry had spent his whole class planning every possible speech and action to change Hal’s mind and then rushed to catch him leaving his class. He had tried his best to play it cool to get a shoot to know Hal better. That his friends and Hal’s had got along so well, had been a nice surprise as well as Ollie’s welcoming behavior. Hal’s friend certainly had a reputation too.

Hal nuzzles his head against Barry’s neck making him stiffen and lose his line of thought. Barry breaks into a cold sweat; afraid Hal might wake up. One thing is to cuddle a friend unconscious, and another to wake up and find said friend with a monumental boner thinking about you.

Trying to calm himself down, Barry starts to think about unpleasant things to get his morning wood finito: Cisco in a pin-up bikini, Joe in a matching one… his mind drifts to Hal making-out with Carol.

A knot forms in the pit of his stomach, now he’s sorrowful. He can feel his boner going down until the image switches to him getting pined under Hal’s weight as he devours his neck and one of his hands trails down his sweatpants... His erection gets worse and seems that it isn’t going anywhere, not any time soon. Desperate, he tries to go back to his father mental image and misses Hal observing him.

“There’re some pills in the table Barry. You should take them,” his voice is rough, still asleep.

Barry’s eyes widen. Clenching his fists, he tries to calm his racing heart. Please don’t let Hal notice it. Please, please, pleasepleasepleaseplease…

Hal chuckles as he moves away from Barry, “That bad, uh? First hangover?”

Barry blinks. Relived, he comprehends that Hal thinks his weird faces are due to his hangover.

“Yeah,” he whispers as his heart skips a beat.

“I made you drink some water last night and left another glass for today. Drink it.” Hal leans over his elbow gesturing the table.

Barry can’t avoid but to admire Hal’s face. His faux-hawk is completely trashed, and he even spots some pillow marks on his face. Hal scrubs his eyes and pouts before he falls back against the pillows. Barry has to restrain himself, so he doesn’t brush away a lock of chocolate hair from Hal’s forehead or simply get his hands tangled into his fluffy hair.

“God, I hate mornings,” mutters Hal yawning.

Barry disagrees with him. At least, not this morning, not with such sight, he thinks.

Once he’s sure he has no visible bulge, Barry treads to the table where he takes one of the pills Hal had left him with a gulp of water. Picking another one, he approaches Hal.

“Here,” he hands him the tablet and the remaining water.

“Thanks, but I’m fine. I didn’t drink that much,” Hal sits and stretches. “You on the other hand, got wasted.” Poking Barry under his ribs he teases, “Lightweight.”

Barry jumps and tries to find something to reply before Hal sees either what’s going on under his pants or his flustered face. The first thing that crosses his mind is what he blurts, “We never played beer-pong.”

Hal cackles and shakes his head. “Thank God we didn’t! Can you imagine how you would be feeling now? I mean, you look fine.” Hal teases him. Barry panics, is he flirting with him? But Hal keeps asking him, “Aren’t you a little hangover?”

Barry nods and his head decides to complain by throbbing. He winces. Hal snorts and taps the bottom of the glass indicating Barry to drink. As Barry complies, Hal gets up and stretches like a cat.

“Your shoes are there,” Hal points vaguely to his left. Then he looks around hesitant. Barry sees Hal biting his lip and scratching his arms all while avoiding to look at him. “Look Bar, I’m sorry…” he trails off and Barry’s heart stops. “I snuggled you while sleeping.”

Barry laughs relived. “It’s okay, don’t worry,” he turns around hiding the blush covering his checks: the ultimate evidence that he really doesn’t care but rather enjoyed the experience.

“Right,” mumbles Hal as he follows Barry to get his own footwear.

When both go upstairs they find everybody already awake, having breakfast. Iris eyes gleam as he watches him and Hal with a meaningful smile. Barry knows he’s going to get drilled as soon as they go home.

“Good morning sloths! I tried to wake you but… I couldn’t,” Oliver smile widens as Hal gasps behind Barry. Oliver places his phone on the table. “I mean, how could I? You two looked so freaking adorable…”

Dinah tosses them the phone and Hal catches it. Barry sees a picture of himself and Hal sleeping entangled. He feels the flutter of thousand butterflies in his stomach.

He wants, needs, this picture for himself but he knows it’s highly unlikely. Putting his best poker face, he waits for Hal’s reaction… who simply laughs and flips off Oliver who winks at them.

He sees his sister and Dinah exchanging a look with smug faces. Barry doesn’t like it, like at all. Did Iris tell Dinah about his crush on Hal? Or is it that obvious? Barry’s stomach drops. None of those possibilities is good. Swallowing, he sits down and stares a hole in the table.

Hal pats him on the shoulder, “Don’t worry Bar, we’ll get him. I’ve enough blackmail material to paper this whole fucking town.”

“You wouldn’t,” Ollie utters, pretending to be offended.

“Try me,” replies Hal smugly as he sits next to Barry and handles him a mug.

Iris pushes the coffee in his direction trying to catch his glance but Barry refuses. He feels betrayed by his sister. He barely knows Dinah! What if she tells Oliver, and Oliver tells Hal? Barry quickly sips his coffee mortified with the idea.

Iris coughs and rolls her eyes before his brother’s attitude. She knows why Barry is behaving so sullen.

“Did we overdo the sugar in the coffee?” singsongs Iris to Barry’s dismay.

He quickly glances up but luckily finds Hal and Oliver staring at each other with narrowed eyes making funny faces. Only Dinah and Iris seem to be paying him any attention.

Dinah gently smiles in his direction. Taking pity of him, she decides to switch the topic, “Guys, what if we go to the cinema? Barry, Iris, you in? Cisco and Caitlin are invited too, of course.”

“Heck yeah! I want to watch the latest Marvel movie,” Hal pumps his fist in the air.

“Fine by me and Barry,” pipes Iris. “I’m gonna text Cisco but don’t count with Cait, she always stays with Ronnie on weekends.”

Barry keeps sipping his coffee barely paying any attention to either Dinah, Oliver or Hal, who are arguing which Avenger is better. Iris kicks his shin under the table. Scowling at her, she points at her phone. Barry frowns. Iris kicks him again and taps her phone insistently.

Barry takes off his phone. He has a message from Iris. Opening it, he sees it’s an attached image… of Oliver’s picture. Blocking his phone, he swallows trying to keep his emotions at bay. Iris winks at him and Barry mouths thank you to her. She shrugs and lips, that’s what sisters are for.

Barry wants to unlock his phone and stare at the picture, but he knows the odds of getting caught are high. Sighing he finishes his coffee and joins the superhero disclosure on the table.

Once breakfast is over, they thank Dinah and leave in Hal’s car. Hal sings along some songs and elbows Barry to join him like in their first trip. Barry does so, but shyly as he knows Iris is carefully watching them form the backseat and taking note of everything they do.

Barry feels to urge to bang his head against the car’s dashboard when Iris sprints away from the car like last time. She’s so obvious…

Hal glances their house and then at Barry itself before he chuckles, “Does your sister kind of hate me or something?”

“Or something. Pay her no mind, that’s what I usually do,” mutters Barry playing with the seatbelt.

“I’ve brothers, I know how they can be. Like, I always drive my bro to school yet he’s always complaining. Lil shit should be more grateful.” Hal’s tone tells Barry there’s more in that story. “Hey, who drives you?”

“Joe. How do you think I’m not late? Most mornings.” He adds the last part in a rush. Hal snickers and Barry narrows his eyes. “You were late yesterday. For a second, I thought I had missed you. But then I saw your brother running past me and I knew I hadn’t,” he finishes proudly.

Hal seems amused. “You know my brother?”

Barry feels the alarms blasting abort, abort, abort. He does and undoes his cuff avoiding Hal’s eyes. “Yeah, I mean, you’re really popular and with tons of friends…”

“No, I do not.” Hal’s blunt. Barry blinks surprised. Hal relaxes and softening his voice he explains himself. “I don’t have that many friends. They’re just people I get along with. Ollie is my only friend. The rest… It’s complicated.”

Hal’s words, trigger Barry’s memories: ‘Let’s make a deal. If by tomorrow you still remember this, we can talk about it, deal?’ Barry looks at Hal. Before he can stop himself he’s already spilling the beans, “You said so last night. That it was complicated and that if I remembered it by morning, we’d talk about it.”

Hal’s startled. Barry wants to disappear. He knows he has messed this, but Hal curtly nods.

“Yeah, I did. Guess I never really thought you’d actually recall it,” his knuckles are white from his steel grip on the steering wheel.

Barry gets the message. “It’s okay. You don’t need to tell me,” he quickly replies.

“Friends talk, Bar.” Barry’s heart warms with Hal’s words but Hal’s not done, “I guess I kind of meant what I said. Can we talk about Carol in another moment?” he tousles his hair and eyes Barry who nods. “Thanks Bar. Okay… so, to keep it short? I like casual stuff.  Do I talk with a lot of people? Yes. Do I party with tons? Yep. But, do I talk with them like I’m doing with you right now? Hell no.

“For me, that’s what real friends are. I’m comfortable with you Barry, and I want to know you better and hang out with you doing dorky stuff or whatever. I don’t feel like that with most. Bad experiences. People leave. It hurts. No one wants to be hurt. Also, people expect more of me. And I don’t want to lose my freedom, myself, to make them happy. Call me selfish if you want. The end.”

Hal stares ahead and takes a deep breath. Barry’s not sure about what to say. Hal has pretty much exposed his heart. He decides to be honest but still play it safe.

“Thanks Hal. I’m glad you consider us friends and that you are willing to give it a try.” Hal smiles, and Barry bites his tongue. What he really wants to tell Hal is that he won’t ever leave him, not like you in few months, and that he won’t be like other people, he won’t try to change him. Instead, he remains silent before he pats Hal on the shoulder and whispers a casual goodbye as he leaves the car.

“BARRY, WAIT!” Bellows Hal.

Turning around, Barry tilts his head. Did he forget something?

“You got me distracted,” starts Hal, “the reason why I asked you about who drives you around is because, as I live nearby, I could do it. If you want to. I mean, I already have to drive there myself and Jim, so…” he smiles a little, sheepishly.

Barry wants to scream yes but he considers it. He’d be with Hal, his brother and Iris, is it worth it? Hell yes, it is. It doesn’t matter if later he has to endure his sister’s pestering. Nodding, Hal honks twice before he leaves screaming, “I’ll text you for the movie!”

Barry bounces over the porch stairs. He finds the main door ajar. Inside, Iris is waiting for him perched comfortably like a cat, on the front stairs.

“You took your sweet time,” she purrs looking at her nails pretending to be fascinated with them.

“Isn’t that what you say I always do?” Barry closes the door and rests against it with his arms crossed over his chest.

“So… you two slept together.”

Barry leaps from the door and blushes furiously. “That’s so not what happened!” He snaps.

“Yeah, I know. But I also know you wish it had happened.” She throws her head back as she laughs.

Barry considers throwing her Joe’s gigantic umbrella that’s laying around. “You’re wrong. I-I don’t want that from Hal! I don’t want to be another of his conquests,” his voice sounds bitter and sad.

Iris stands up regretful and tries to hug him but Barry steps away. “We’re friends. He just told me. I-I think I was wrong with him. I mean, I knew there was more than a cool, party kid but… I don’t know. There’s more than meets the eye, Iris. Do I have a crush on him? Yes. How could I not? I mean, he’s… he’s just wonderful. I knew that but now that I’m actually starting to get to know him, it’s even worse. He has flaws but compared to the rest, trifles. Now, do I plan to do something about it? No. I’d rather be his friend than go back and just observe him from the halls.”

Iris finally manages to embrace him tightly even when Barry groans. Kissing his cheek, she whispers, “I know, I’m sorry. It’s just… I’m so happy Barry. I know you’ve been admiring him from the distance for so long and I’m so grateful for what he did. I was just teasing you. I know you don’t want to just jump his bones.”

Pushing Iris away, Barry keeps his eyes locked on the floor, “Did you tell Dinah?” There. The real reason why he’s annoyed at his sister.

“Not exactly. I know her for quite a while from the newspaper, but we never actually talked until yesterday. Cait and I spent the whole party with her, and you know, we talked about a lot of stuff and maybe, just maybe, I spilled that you offered yourself to tutor Ha-”

Barry’s head snaps up as he cuts Iris. “What? Why would you tell her that?”

Palming his forehead, Barry closes his eyes as he revives the moment everything started…

 

★               (Hourglass )               ★

Barry had been the only volunteer to aid Mr. Broome to revise the lab materials for their next lab practice. Mr. Broome meanwhile was grading some homework from his regular class as he trusted Barry well enough to do his job with no further supervision. Barry was dusting some Erlenmeyer flasks when he heard Hal’s name.

“… as always Jordan’s homework is missing. Shouldn’t be that surprised,” the man sighed and shacked his head with his eyebrows pressed together.

“Sir?” Barry approached him hesitantly.

“What? Oh, Allen, nothing you’ve to worry about. Unfortunately, not all my students are as dedicated as you are. Jordan for instance. I doubt he’s going to graduate with your promotion. A pity if you ask me. Kid’s got potential. If only he worked or even cared a little… Could you believe he hasn’t handled me anything since the course started? He did the same last year.”

Shyly Barry proposed, “Maybe he only needs a push, sir.”

“Mmm… you got something on mind, Allen?” Mr. Broome was watching him carefully.

Barry swallowed and scratched the surface of the table as he croaked. “Maybe a tutor would help him. Someone close to his age who could assist and encourage him with his tasks.”

“Good idea Allen, you offering yourself? Because you see, Jordan has a reputation of being loud and problematic. Not many AP students would want to work with him, son. And I’m not going to force someone to-”

“I’ll do it. I don’t think Jordan is problematic, Sir.” He replied vehemently.

“Very well then. Mr. Allen I’ll talk with Mr. Jordan. From now on, Harold Jordan becomes your responsibility. Which days should I tell him you’ll meet with him?” Mr. Broome inquired.

“I’m free every afternoon but sir…” Barry knew he was risking it but on the other hand, the idea of Hal finding out that he had proposed the whole affair was even worse. “Could you please not tell him it was my idea? I mean ,if you could.”

“Don’t worry kid. I’ll tell Jordan that if he wants to pass this year he better accepts the tutor I have found him.”

★               (Hourglass )               ★

 

Returning back to the present, Barry fears Dinah. “Iris, do you think Dinah might tell Oliver?”

“NO! I swear, she won’t. She actually smacked him in the head when he took the picture. It was also her who sent me the pic by the way. She said out loud that I should use it to harass you if I needed to, but it was all an act for Ollie. She was winking while saying it. She’s not going to tell. She likes you. She said you could be a good influence for Hal just like she is for Oliver.”

Barry nods but he’s still skeptical. Dinah might change her mind and tell Oliver or even worse: Hal.

He climbs up to his room, where he sinks into his bed. Iris knocks at his door.

Groaning, he tells her to leave him alone. He’s still with a little hangover, he just wants to rest.

“You should change. You’re still wearing yesterday’s clothes and you smell of, you know. Dad might be home sooner. Just though you’d like to know,” Iris states.

Barry frowns. Damn, she’s right. He reeks of sweat, alcohol, weed and Hal. Saddened, Barry undresses but first sniffs the back of his shirt, where Hal slept against. He takes a shower and smiles the whole time as he can still feel the smell of him: the well-worn leather and Hal’s minty bodywash. He even wonders if he could get the same for himself. Maybe next time his dad asks whom goes shopping he offers himself instead of letting Iris go all alone.

Joe is in the kitchen talking with Iris as both prepare lunch by the time Barry goes down.

“Hey son, nice evening with your friends? Iris was telling me that you have plans for a movie too later.” Joe smiles broadly. He’s happy that his sons are making more friends. Specially Barry.

Barry nods, “Yeah, latest Marvel one.”

“What? I wanted to watch it too,” he whines as Iris elbows him. “You offering yourself to go with your old man, young lady?”

“Nope, but you can go with Cisco,” Iris seeks Barry’s eyes. “He can’t make it.” Making sure Joe doesn’t see her she mouths to Barry, “he’s grounded.”

Barry wonders how wasted Cisco must have been last night if Mrs. Ramon grounded him. She’s always after Cisco asking him to get out more and attend parties while he’s still young. Iris seems to read his mind as she snickers. Joe stops cocking and looks them. “Have I missed something?”

“No dad. Just a face Barry did,” lies Iris.

Barry pretends to be offended as he sets the table.

The Wests have a nice quiet meal with one of Joe’s specialties, lasagna with boletus. As they are finishing, Barry remembers Hal’s offer.

“Dad, Hal offered himself to drive us to school. He lives a couple of blocks over and already drives his brother.”

Iris eyes Barry and tries to contain her smile as Joe is there. He’s a great detective after all.

“Your new friend? How did you two met?” inquires Joe full of curiosity.

Iris pipes up saving Barry. “Hal is the kid who stepped up, when we first moved here, against Barry’s bullies, remember?  Barry was asked to assist him with chemistry since he’s an ace. Turns out he and Hal have a lot in common like greasy food and other nerdy stuff.”

Joe nods satisfied. “If you two want to go with him I’ve no problem but I can still drive you to school. After all, I no longer have the official car,” he smiles remembering all the complains his two sons gave him when they were kids about being driven around with the patrol car. Once the novelty of the siren and flashing lights passed, they wouldn’t shut up about a normal, regular car: like the rest of the kids dad, they would whine.

Once is settled that Hal will pick them up from now on, – and given the case that he can’t, Joe will. Barry runs to his room where he lays on his bed staring at the picture Oliver took of him and Hal. His phone beeps.

                Green: hey bar

                Green: o says movie s at 7

                Green: pick u at 6?

Smiling, Barry caresses the screen. He finds it funny that Hal seems to be unable to write a single word appropriately.

                Red: perfect

There, no caps. Is he now like Hal?

                Green: whatcha doin

                Red: nothing, you?

                Green: same

                Green: wanna hang out?

Barry laughs. Three hours with Hal before they go to the movies. That’s something he had only dreamed and now it’s happening.

                Red: sure :)

Hal sends him his address and Barry yells to Joe where he’s going before he jogs to Hal’s. He waits outside Hal’s front yard for awhile, until he’s not panting, before dinging. Hal opens the door few seconds later.

“Welcome. Mi casa es tu casa.” He bows and lets Barry inside.

Hal’s is a cozy two-storey house. The hall is filled with pictures of his family: mother, brothers, himself, and his father. Barry notes none of the recent family portraits include the man. He wonders where he is and if maybe he’s the reason Hal is afraid of people leaving him behind.

Climbing the stairs, they pass a closed door which Hal states is his big brother, Jack. The way he spits the name makes it obvious to Barry that the two brothers aren’t in good terms. Once more, he speculates if maybe it’s Jack who broke Hal’s trust.

Hal’s room is what Barry expected but at the same time it’s not. The room is kind of messy (like expected) with clothes thrown all over the place and an unmade queen-sized bed that has several open comics over it. There are several movie posters in the walls from action to sci-fi, but Barry acknowledges there isn’t a single airship nor Air Force merch. He expected, well, something. Specially after having seen Hal’s school utilities filled with doodles of fighter aircrafts.

“Where are the planes?” Barry asks out loud.

“What?” Hal freezes mid-action.

“Planes or some pilot stuff. That’s what you want to be, right?” Barry confusion deepens as Hal fidgets.

Hal closes his door and ruffles his hair uneasy.

“Bar, pal, you can’t say that in my house. Please,” his voice is thin. Barry furrows his brows, totally lost. “Look… it’s complicated. I know, I know. Actually, that shit with Carol is related, okay? I don’t wanna talk about it. Not now. I promise one day, but… my mother would kill me if she finds out what I plan to do when I hit 18.”

“Shouldn’t you tell her?” Barry gapes. He would never take such big decision without talking with his father or Iris.

“No way. It’d kill her. Look, I know it’s confusing but trust me. It’s complicated in a way you wouldn’t understand. Let’s just forget about it, okay? Great.” Hal dismisses the conversation.

Barry looks through the window in the room. If only Hal knew about how fucked up his past is, maybe he wouldn’t dismiss Barry so easily. Bitterly Barry thinks that whatever happened in Hal’s past can’t be worse than having his biological dad locked up in jail for (not) murdering his mother. And that Hal’s secret from his mother isn’t as bad as him lying to Joe about not being in contact with said father, or the cork board he has hidden behind his closet filled with all the evidence he has collected all these years to prove his father’s innocence. Because Barry knows the man is innocent and one day he’ll prove it. One day justice will be fair for the Allens.

Either way, no one knows about his past except the Wests. Not Cisco or Caitlin. Barry couldn’t. Not after what happened. It torments him to lie to his friends or to anyone… but it’s better than the alternative. He doesn’t want to move again not after all the troubles he has caused to Joe.

Barry hides all his distress as he smiles broadly and pretends to be one hundred percent invested in the game Hal is setting on the TV. If Hal notices any change in his friend’s behavior, he says nothing about it. Barry knows he’s trying hard but whenever his mind goes to his biological family, it stays there for few hours specially after everything he’s been through because of it. After all, it’s the reason he’s now sitting with Hal; the reason he met Hal at all; the reason why the Wests had to move after the incident… the pain on his side increases. His scar always acknowledges when Barry is thinking about that. A souvenir for the rest of his life, as if memories weren’t good enough.

“Bar! Did you just shoot me? Not fair dude, I was reloading my gun!” Hal complains as he elbows Barry trying to make him miss his shoot.

Barry laughs and mimics Hal with a girly pitch. Hal pauses the game and throws himself to Barry. Pined against the floor, Barry’s throat gets drier as his hands get sweaty. He has Hal above him, straddling him with a wicked smirk. Before he can ask what’s going on, Hal attacks his sides with tickles. Squirming, Barry tries to get free, but he can’t. Snorting and giggling he begs Hal to stop but he doesn’t. Instead, he increases the movement of his fingers against Barry’s ribs.

Huffing a little laugh, Hal stops few seconds later when Barry’s stomach aches from so much laughter. Wiping away some laughter tears, he punches Hal’s shoulder. Who snickers and keeps playing the game like nothing, killing Barry’s avatar several times before he’s able to pick up the controller.

“Cheater,” Barry elbows Hal who sticks out his tongue.

Barry feels the dark cloud above his head practically gone thanks to Hal. Hal’s phone starts to blast Barbie Girl from Aqua much to Barry’s amusement.

Hal picks it up, “Hey Ollie, what’s up?.... What? Holy fuck you’re right. Fuck, fuck, fuck. Yeah, no he’s with me.” Hal glances Barry. “Yeah, don’t worry we’re on our way. Bye.” He hangs up and snorts. “Bar, you’re like a charm for lateness, my dude.”

Barry frowns. Hal snickers and throws him his phone. Barry catches it and wonders what’s he supposed to do. Hal’s background is he and Ollie cross-eyes and wearing fake mustaches. He chuckles seeing it. That’s when his eyes regard the hour: 6.45. They have been playing for hours.

“Oh crap!” he curses.

“Yep. My same thought. Don’t worry, Dinah has already got Iris. The three of them are waiting in the theater. We should hurry tho,” Hal starts to take-off his shirt.

Barry gapes like a fish. He tries not to, but he’s unable to look away from Hal’s sculpted chest and that trail of dark hair that starts right below his navel and gets lost under the low-waistband of his sweatpants. He feels like the temperature in the room has raised a couple of degrees.

Barry licks his lips and watches how Hal takes off his sweatpants and turns around, bending to pick up a pair of jeans laying on the floor. Barry’s mouth waters when he sees the firm globes of Hal’s ass through his boxers just at his eyelevel, few inches from his face… Barry can feel his cock hardening as he wishes he could squeeze Hal’s ass and lick those abs all day long. He quickly looks away and closes his eyes trying to regain his control.

That’s the second boner Hal has given me today! Barry thinks panicked. What if Hal discovers it? Readjusting his pants, he tugs his t-shirt a little bit down to hide his bulge praying Hal won’t notice it.

“Hey, I’m ready!” Exclaims Hal. “You want something Bar? I think it’s a little bit chilly outside. I can lend you a hoodie, if you want to?”

Barry nods. With a hoodie he can hide himself better; plus, Hal’s hoodie. Being surrounded with Hal’s smell? Where has he to sign? Hal gives him an oversized forest green that Barry quickly wears. Standing up, he makes sure nothing is visible before he turns around to face Hal. His dick stirs when he sees him. God, he’s breathtaking. He’s playing with some aviator shades and wearing a black tight shirt with ripped jeans and his usual bomber jacket.

Swallowing the knot on his throat, Barry marches out to Hal’s car and tries to calm himself down. Riding shotgun, he taps his fingers against the dashboard. The clock in the car says it’s five to seven. They are going to be late no matter how fast Hal drives. The theater is at the other side of town and the traffic at this hour is awful.

“We’re not going to make it,” Barry states as he points the red numbers on the dash.

Hal curses but shrugs, “Nothing we can do now. C’mon, maybe we can see the next session.”

Barry nods and laughs when Hal waggles his eyebrows as he turns up the radio and starts to sing. Both destroy every song that is playing. When We Will Rock You starts to play, Hal starts to hit the steering wheel along the tune and dance a little with his shoulders and head. Barry gawks and burns the image in his brain to replay it in the future. Hal looks so sexy…

When they reach the theater it’s already half past seven. The theater’s billboard announces that next screening is at quarter past eight. Hal proposes to promenade around and have some shakes from a Dairy Queen nearby to kill some time. Barry’s always down for food.

Sitting on a corner table with his large chocolate shake and Hal’s cherry slush, Hal sets an alarm on his phone, so they aren’t late for the movie, and texts Ollie to let him know to not wait for them.

“Lemme some,” Hal steals Barry’s straw and takes a sip from his shake. “Not bad, wanna try mine?”

Barry nods but makes no further movement. Hal pushes his slush across the table. Barry shyly takes a sip. He mutters something like, it’s good, but he’s internally screaming because Hal just sipped from his straw and he just sipped from Hal’s. That’s like indirect kissing, right? It must totally count as kissing.

His inner monologue is interrupted with the alarm they’ve set. Sipping the rest of his shake in one big sip much to Hal’s amusement, they run to the theater. Barry insists on buying the popcorn against Hal’s wishes. He claims that Hal’s driving him everywhere so it’s the least he can do. Hal surrenders but buys them the biggest bag of red licorices they sell with a smug victory grin.

Sitting in the back, Barry fidgets a little. He’s all alone with Hal in the dark of the room, sharing snacks after they have had shakes together… Isn’t that what people usually do in dates? Chewing his lip, he glances at Hal who’s alien to his turmoil.

Hal laughs and eats popcorn as if nothing is wrong or different. Maybe Barry is reading too much. Maybe this is how Hal usually behaves with all his friends. Setting himself comfortable (or the most he can) in his seat, Barry enjoys the movie with Hal next to him.

Until Hal starts to comment the plot with him. Constantly. Barry cherishes those moments as Hal has to bend over him to whisper against his ear, so they don’t bother the rest of spectators. Hal’s warm puff of breath tingles against Barry’s skin whenever he talks, and his smell surrounds Barry who savors it. For third time today, Barry pops a boner. At least in the darkness he doesn’t have to worry about it…

Hal’s licorice slips off his fingers and falls on Barry’s lap. Hal doesn’t hesitate before he seeks it by himself without looking away from the movie. Barry stills as Hal’s hand gropes Barry’s tights, getting closer and closer to his bulging crotch looking for his candy. When he finds it, he eats it like nothing has happened.

Barry is broken.

Hal has broken Barry.

The blond isn’t even breathing. His face is burning and his heart his beating faster than a hummingbird making his ears ring with each heartbeat. By the time the movie is over he’s still overwhelmed and has no idea of what has happened in the screen for the last forty-five minutes. Luckily the movie’s ending seems to have crushed everybody’s spirits, so Hal assumes Barry is weird because of it.

On the way back home, Barry starts to little by little compose himself. He tries to catch up with what Hal’s blabbing about the movie but honestly, he has no idea of what Hal’s talking about. He thinks he has somehow-succeeded as Hal doesn’t yell him, what the fuck’s wrong with you? That’s a victory in Barry’s book.

When Hal parks at Barry’s, Barry doesn’t want the night to be over. Recalling his promise on Friday he asks Hal, “Tomorrow, you still want me to help you with chem?”

Banging his head against his seat Hal curses, “Fuuuuuck. I’ve forgotten about that. Mr. Broome ordered me to present all my overdue tasks on Monday.” Hal stresses out with mockery what Barry assumes must be Mr. Broome exact words.

“Don’t worry Hal, we’re half-way through it. You're lucky we’ve barely started the course, otherwise we wouldn’t have been able to,” he smiles at Hal who nods.

“Yeah, thank God small miracles, see you tomorrow Bar.”

 

★               ★               ★

 

Knocking on the Jordan’s household, Barry awaits as a woman screams ‘coming’. He guesses it must be Mrs. Jordan. The door is opened by Hal’s brother, Jim, as he screams, “I got this,” over his shoulder. “Yeah? Who are you?”

“Hi! I’m Barry. I’m here to study with Hal…” he trails off as the kid before him is rolling his eyes with annoyance written across his face.

“Whatever. I’m not my mother. Everybody knows Hal doesn’t give a fuck about anything school related. Hell, I wonder what he cares about.” He walks away leaving Barry standing there, perplexed.

Hesitant, he climbs up and raps his knuckles against Hal’s door before entering.

“Hey! Didn’t know you were already here, c’mon. Who opened you?” Hal asks him.

“Your brother,” Barry decides to omit the whole odd exchange, it would make no good to Hal. “Shall we begin?”

Hal groans but sits on a black study chair and pats the red one next to him. He winks as he explains Barry, “I borrowed it from Jack’s room. It’s red just for you.”

Barry appreciates the gesture but takes no time to dive into the task ahead no matter how hard Hal is trying to delay his homework.

An hour must have passed when Mrs. Jordan bursts into the room without knocking. “Hal honey, have you seen-” she halts when she sees Barry and Hal studying. “I didn’t know you had someone over… Are you studying?” She pretty much squeals the last word. It makes Barry frown. He doesn’t understand why people thinks Hal studying is such a crazy idea. So far, Hal is been able to do all his tasks, assimilate and follow concepts easily. It’s no big deal.

“Mom, this is Barry. Barry, this is Jessica, my mom,” Hal introduces them with weariness.

“Hello, Mrs. Jordan.”

“Oh, hello Barry, you may call me Jessica. Well… I better leave you, so this miracle can continue,” before she leaves she turns around quickly and stares at Barry. “You’re more than welcomed to come anytime you want sweetheart. Anyone who’s capable of making my Hal study is more than welcomed.”

“Mom!” Hal groans but his mother is no longer there. “Sorry about that. As you can see my whole family considers me to be the failure,” he hisses with apathy and slight anger the last word.

Barry wants to add something to ease Hal, but the tension on his shoulders tells him to better let it go. After all Hal seems adamant to talk about himself.

They finish Hal’s overdue tasks and the one Mr. Broome assigned him last Friday. Whooping, Hal stretches backwards on his chair with bliss. Barry smiles as he sees the dimples in Hal’s face and senses the joy he’s radiating.

“Bar, I thought I was going to die. Homework is like this? Like I’m supposed to do this shit every day?”

“Well, if you had actually done your work when it had been assigned it, it’d have taken you twenty minutes tops,” replies Barry with a little of sassiness.

“I’m not a Brainiac like you. So, twenty times two, equals forty minutes for silly ol’ me.”

The light way Hal looks himself down makes Barry’s stomach turn. How cannot Hal see how amazing he is? How can he believe he’s a failure? Barry wants to hold Hal tight and never let him go.

Ruffling his hair, Hal yawns before he throws himself over his bed which creaks loudly. Raising his head a little, he asks Barry, “Wanna play something?”

Nodding, Barry gathers up everything from the desk as Hal observes him with a lazy smile. Barry wants to bend over and kiss Hal and snuggle against him until he feels better. But he can’t, that would be stepping over the line.

Recalling where Hal stored his controllers yesterday, he picks them up before handing one to Hal who thanks him, humming in acknowledge. Then he sits on the floor resting his back against the side of Hal’s bed, feeling the warmth coming from Hal’s body all over his shoulders and the back of his neck. It makes him shiver and his heart swells with happiness.

They play a couple of matches before calling it quits. As Hal walks Barry to the door, Barry stops Hal before he says goodbye to him. He just can’t leave Hal without saying something, without trying to comfort him even though he won’t ever ask for help or acknowledge he needs some.

“Hal listen to me. You are no failure. You did an awesome job and I trust you. So far, you’ve only showed me how brilliant you are: you catch stuff easier than you give yourself credit for. That you just don’t pay attention in class, doesn’t mean that you’re stupid. Also, I could go on forever about the different kinds of intelligence. School only tests one. Could you do me a favor? Don’t you ever say you’re a failure. Please. If you ever feel like that, talk with me or something but please, stop looking down to yourself. You are worthier than you believe.” Barry is blushing furiously and a little breathless by the time he's done talking.

Hal observes him expressionless. Barry is sure he must have messed it up big time when Hal’s strong arms tug him closer. Hal buries his face against his neck and caresses his back softly. Barry hugs him back and takes a deep breath of Hal’s smell. They stay like that for awhile that is over before Barry wished it to be.

Hal smiles sadly at Barry and caressing his arm he whispers, “Goodnight Bar,” before he leaves inside the house.

That night Barry tosses and turns around in his bed in Hal’s borrowed sweater from yesterday, unable to forget the painful, heartbroken face of Hal from his mind. Tugging the hoodie closer, he wishes he could do something to mitigate his pain.

By the time his alarm pounders, he feels as he has just fall asleep. Behaving like a zombie he gets ready for school, finishes his breakfast and existing his house he realizes that one, he doesn’t remember what he has eaten or if he has eaten at all; and two, where’s Joe and his car? Running to Iris who’s waiting in the sidewalk, he pants, “Wh-where’s dad? We’re gonna be late!”

Iris blinks a couple of times before she lets out a bark of laughter. Palming her knee, she tries to talk, “B-Barry, y-your boyfriend is picking us up, remember?”

Before Barry can protest, Hal pulls over. Barry’s going to open the back door, when Hal opens the co-pilot one. He’s stretched all over the shotgun seat and smiles at Barry, “Here Bar, our brothers sit on the back, the elders and coolest on the front.”

“Careful Harold, Carol might see your new boyfriend and get jealous,” Hal’s brother pipes up. Hal stiffens and Barry blushes furiously.

“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” mutters Hal. “One, of course Carol would be jealous, Bar is smoking hot and two, Bar is not my boyfriend. If he were, I’d spend the whole day flirting with him and all of you’d be more than aware of it.”

Barry’s heart skips a beat. Feeling that he has to say something he blurts, “Why would you flirt with me if we were already dating?”

“Why? You ask me why? Dude… I love flirting! And, I don’t know. I’d just do it.” He pauses, licking his lips he waggles his eyebrows at Barry and smirks. “Are you from Tennessee? Because damn, you're the only ten I see!”

Barry shakes his head and laughs pretending Hal’s words haven’t affected him, but they have. Barry is internally screaming, wishing Hal had meant them. Alas, he knows he’s only teasing his brother.

The rest of the drive is quiet and as soon as they reach the school grounds Hal stops so his brother can leave and stop complaining about his driving. Iris does too, but at least she says goodbye to them before doing so. As Hal parks he blasts the radio and winking at Barry starts to sing. Laughing, Barry joins him. They are late at they respective classes but neither cares.

Barry takes notes of everything his teachers says tuning Hal out while he’s in class. When the first period ends, he finds Dinah across the hall. He hesitates but the blonde waves at him with a cheeky grin.

“Hey Barry! G’morning!”

“Hey Dinah, how was your weekend?”

“Oh, it was good. A shame you two couldn’t come with us to watch the movie but Hal told Ollie you went later...” Dinah’s voice is suggestive letting Barry know that she knows but Barry sees no malice on her eyes just playful tease.

“Yeah, it was… great,” he whispers softly.

Dinah’s grin widens. Looking around she gets closer to Barry. “Look, I think Hal needs a friend like you on his life but… maybe what he doesn’t need is a friend-friend, you get me? And trust me, the last thing he needs is Ferris. I’ve nothing against her but her father… Hal gets hurt every damn time because he still hasn’t let the past go although he believes he has.”

Barry wonders what Dinah is talking about and what happened between Carol’s father and Hal. The bell rings and Dinah leaves him all confused standing in the middle of the hall as other students push him around. He finally moves to his next period, physics. He’s half-way his lesson, when his phone buzzes. Startled he makes sure no one is looking at him as he cheeks who it is.

                Green: im bored

                Red: Go back to class Hal, your teacher might see you

                Green:

                 

Barry has to chew his lip to not chuckle. He tries to ignore his phone, but Hal keeps spaming him.

                Green:

                   

                Red: STOP IT NOW

                Green:

                

                Red: IF YOU DON’T STOP NO TACO BELL FOR YOU

                Green

                

                Green: thats last 1 i s2g

Barry feels in cloud nine. Time passes faster after their (Hal’s) meme exchange. He wants to reply Hal, but his school duties come first at school. Outside these walls, he would choose Hal anytime of the day and text him whenever his friend wanted him to.

When lunch period rolls, Barry speeds out to the front door where only Caitlin is waiting.

She seems surprised to see Barry. “Did your teacher let you go earlier?”

“No, why?” replies Barry baffled.

Caitlin’s frown deepens. “You’re always late Barry. Ok, who are you and what have you done with my friend?”

Barry can’t answer her as Cisco yells behind him, “Dude! Did you skip your last class or what?”

Caitlin exclaims, “See? That’s what I was asking him!”

“Remember me to not give you any candy on Halloween,” groans Barry.

“Halloween?” Hal surrounds Barry with one arm. “Woah, y’all are so coming to Ollie’s party. Can I count with you?”

“FUCK YEAH!” Hollers Cisco pumping his fist in the air as Oliver and Dinah arrive. “You are throwing a party?” Asks Cisco to Ollie who nods with a cheerful grin. Cisco fist bumps him. They all start to talk about the party.

Barry is still surrounded by Hal’s arm, who seems in no hurry to let him go anytime soon. Hal tilts his head and looks him straight in the eyes. Barry loses himself in his astonishing hazelnut eyes.

“You are coming, right?” Hal’s soft voice melts Barry’s insides.

Unable to speak Barry simply nods as he feels the heat raising from his neck to his cheeks. Hal winks and mutters great before moving away from him. Barry instantly misses his warmth. He wonders what has just happened but before he can ponder about it, Iris joins them and they all leave to Taco Bell.

Famished, he orders a Chalupa Cravings Box with one Chalupa, one Burrito, one Taco, Cinnamon Twists and Coke. Their waitress doesn’t even blink used to Barry’s carvings, but Hal does.

“Bar, you’re gonna explode if you eat all that!”

“You should have seen him a couple of thanksgiving ago. He pretty much ate the whole turkey by himself and half of grandmas’ pie,” tells Iris merrily.

Cisco and Caitlin nod as Oliver laughs and asks him, “Kid! Where do you put all that food?”

Bart shrugs uncomfortable. He has always liked to eat. It’s no big deal, right? There must be someone that eats way more than he does.

When their food arrives, he wolfs down his box and part of Iris’ menu when she’s done. Seeing that Hal is watching him, he offers him some of the burrito. Hal laughs but takes it.

The rest of Barry’s day passes with no further incidence. He meets Hal in the library where they do their homework or try to, as Hal won’t stop the corny jokes and awful pick-up lines trying to tease him, until Barry snaps and tells Hal to do his tasks totally flustered. Hal explodes with ‘Mr. Broome explains shit which such passion that I don’t know how so far no one has jumped through the window yelling freedom for Wallace! I’m considering being the first Bar!’ Barry shuts him afraid that they might be banned from the library and explains Hal the whole lesson.

Two weeks pass by, and a new routine is established between them: Barry wakes up to find a new good morning text, meme or awful pun from Hal (his latest was: need an ark to save 2 of every animal? I noah guy. Barry was torn between ignoring Hal or send him some links with actual funny jokes).

Hal picks him up and Iris. They wait until their brothers are gone and then they start to sing (trash) some stupid song trying to make the other laugh. They are always late to their first period much to the annoyance of their respective teachers.

Hal texts him during class until Barry tells him to stop or it’s lunch time, meaning getting together with the band in the fast-food place of the day.

They study in the library (every day the librarian’s frown deepens when she sees them. Barry is sure he’s no longer welcomed as he used to, totally Hal’s fault).

Hal drives him home or to his own place, so they can play a few rounds of whatever game Cisco has told them about during lunch or lent them. Sometimes they surf Hal’s Netflix account (Ollie’s last Christmas present for Hal) or Barry’s HBO until either Joe or Hal’s mother, Jessica, calls them for dinner. Then Hal leaves Barry’s or drives Barry to his house.

They usually fall asleep texting each other or FaceTiming.

Repeat.

Everything is perfect according to Barry’s idea of perfection plus, tomorrow is Halloween and he has his costume and Joe’s permission to stay at Ollie’s the whole night. What could go wrong?

Barry is checking his outfit for tomorrow’s party for tenth time before he goes to sleep. His phone is beeping with his newest message from Hal but it’s the beep from his computer what startles him. He’s got an email.

Barry’s heart stops when he reads from who is it: it’s from his father’s lawyer. His father’s sentence is under review.

 

Chapter Text

HALLOWEEN

Hal has the perfect Halloween song for today’s jam session with Barry queued in his iPod. Pulling over Barry’s, he watches as his friend enters the car. Barry smiles like he always does but Hal can easily see it’s a fake one, as it never reaches his baby blues. Nevertheless, he starts to drive, faking his own merriness as he hums along the radio. He’s also stealing glances whenever he can; Barry looks tired, paler than usual, his eyes don’t shine with his usual bliss and he has eye bags. Looking over the rearview, he tries to see if Iris looks as worn as her brother. She seems to be as fresh as always, chatting with Jim about their classes and other boring stuff.

When his brother bangs close the car’s door (he’s seriously gonna have a talk with him about respecting another man’s car) and Iris thanks him, Hal parks in the furthest corner of the parking. Turning off the engine he pokes Barry’s shoulder to draw his attention.

Getting serious he looks at Barry, eyes locked with his. “Okay Bar, spill it. What’s wrong with you?”

Barry’s eyes widen, and he opens his mouth again and again, but he changes his damn mind every time as he remains quiet. Then he avoids Hal’s gaze. He seems to be one second away from bolting the car. It’s a kick in Hal’s guts. He hates to see Barry, his personal sunshine, in such sullen mood. It hurts him. Physically. Chewing his lip, he considers his options.

The bell rings.

“We should enter,” supplies Barry with another plastic smile.

Hal has had enough. He turns on the engine and speeds out of the school grounds. Barry gasps with horror but Hal ignores him.

“Fuck school! You know what? I bet you have never cut class. Well, there’s always a first time and today, my good ol’ friend, is yours.” Hal hits the gas as his mind is quickly scanning over all the possible places he and Barry can go to lift his spirits.

He’s well known for being impulsive and right now he’s living up to that title. He doesn’t care. He likes Barry. Scratch that. In just two weeks, Barry has made his own space in Hal’s heart.

That artificial smile of Barry is something Hal never ever wants to see again. Because it afflicts him. Because Barry is someone pure who cares about everybody: he’s the walking definition of selflessness. Because Hal has been unable to stop thinking about Barry’s words. Because Barry told him that he trusted Hal. Because no one has ever told him that since his father died. Because Barry told him that he was no failure. Hal’s fearless to the eyes of the world but he’s scared of failure. Of being the failure he’s been constantly told he is since his father died.

And then Barry came along.

With his friendly and easy-going attitude, with his eternal patience, his easy embarrassment (much to Hal’s joy, cause he’s a tease), his innocence yet strength. Someone who calls out Hal’s bullshit and doesn’t let him get away with it (like yesterday when he took Hal’s phone, so he’d study and stop surfing the Internet for the perfect meme). Someone who sings as bad as he does and doesn’t give a fuck about it.

Barry is his best friend.

They might have barely meet but Hal knows that he is. As his new best friend, is Hal’s duty to take care of him and make sure that Barry is happy. Because Barry cares about everybody else but neglects himself. Lucky for him, Hal is willing to take on that responsibility even if it’s the only responsibility he ever takes.

“Hal, where are we going?” inquires Barry softly.

“Don’t know, don’t care,” intones Hal with a toothy grin.

Barry sighs but remains silent. Hal’s grip tightens on the steering wheel. He hits the gas further. Normal-Barry would never be so passive. He would be yelling at Hal about their school obligations and how he needs his nerd time so they can have a proper education and future and yada, yada, yada.

The heavy knot in Hal’s stomach tightens. He needs to so something. Pronto.

“You got any idea? I’m open to suggestions.” Hal breaks the silence. He’s meets with Barry’s impassivity. He has a crazy idea, “Heeeeey, so I heard they have renovated the strip club on the south, wanna check it up? Bobbies Bar, boo~oobies.”

 “What the?! Have you lost your mind?” Barry leaps on his seat, a scowl plastered on his face. “NO Hal I don’t want to go t-t-to a..” Barry stutters unable to finish. Hal smiles. Finally, a reaction from Barry! “I don’t. Seriously Hal, you kidnap me from high school so we go to see some half-naked women dancing?”

“Nah, just wanted my Barry back,” he replies with a wink.

Barry becomes silent. Hal frowns and glances over his shoulder trying to see what’s wrong now with Barry. He finds Barry’s cheeks like cherries. He laughs, and Barry’s head snaps up. Narrowing his eyes, he quickly recovers from his flustered state. “Hal do us a favor and don’t kill us. Look at the road while driving,” Barry scolds him.

“Aye aye, Sir,” he replies.

From the corner of his eye, he can see Barry jolting. Hal wonders why his friend seems so skittish today. He keeps driving and humming along the radio. Barry joins him along in some chorus which warms Hal’s heart.

“We’ve already passed this street,” Barry observes. “Hal are you driving in circles or are you lost?”

“I would never be lost!” protests Hal indignant.

“Yeah, I think that what you’re trying to say is that you’d never admit if you were lost,” counters Barry scoffing.

Hal bits the inside of his cheek. Damn, is he that easy to read? He’s stubborn and proud. Yet, as Barry said he’d never admit he’s wrong, so he replies, “Do not.”

“Do too.”

“Do not!”

“Do too. Where are we?” Barry asks cocky, as he knows he’s right.

Hal quickly looks around. He thinks it’s one of those commercial streets in the north-east of the city (they all look the same for him). He has no idea of where they are, but he reads several times ‘Williamsburg’ on the store signs so taking a wild guess, “Williamsburg. We’re in Williamsburg Barry. Duh, you should trust me more. Hal Jordan always has everything under control,” he sticks his tongue out to Barry.

Barry rolls his eyes and mutters, “I’m 99% sure you’ve just read the name on one of those stores.”

Hal turns up the radio. Sometimes Barry is too clever.

He still doesn’t know where they are going so he keeps driving.

“Turn right,” comes out of the blue from Barry breaking the car’s silence.

Hal does so, trusting blindly on him and waits for further instructions. But he’s too impatient, “where are we going?”

“Cisco told me about an arcade they’ve opened around here. Keep straight for two blocks and then turn on the first exit in the roundabout.”

Hal doesn’t need further directions as he sees the neon sign from the place. It’s off but Hal’s sure that when it’s on it must be quite a view with the all those Pac-man ghosts illuminated. The place is called Insert Coins. Hal scoffs. The guy who named it didn’t complicate himself too much yet, it’s a fitting name. As they approach, Hal realizes it’s deserted.

“Bar, is it open?”

Barry shrugs, “I don’t know, I’m usually in Calculus.”

“If you’re trying to make me feel bad I must inform you, you’re failing epically,” he singsongs.

Barry rolls his eyes but there it is: a real smile. The first one. Hal feels freed from a weight he wasn’t aware he was carrying.

This is how he wants Barry. Joyful, vibrant, ecstatic like a kid on Christmas.

Hal realizes Barry is actually bouncing from excitement as they enter the place. His own smile widens. Barry is truly adorable and deserves only good things happening to him. He must be treasured.

The arcade has a dark atmosphere, but it’s well illuminated with flashing neon lights all over. The walls are painted black and the whole place is covered with a glow in the dark space themed carpet in pink, orange and lime green. The arcade machines have a completely retro appearance and are working with their classic themes making Hal vibrate with thrill as those flashing lights and loud beeps are calling him, begging for his attention. Barry doesn’t seem to be in a much different condition. He’s shaking delighted, and his eyes are in perpetual movement trying not to miss a single detail this place is offering them.

A man in his 40s is behind the counter watching them. “Welcome to every gamer’s paradise! Would you be so kind to come over, please?” The man invites them. Barry rans and Hal follows him. “Thank you. Okay so, 1$ equals 4 of these Arcade Coins like in the old times when every game cost 25¢. Although some games might cost you two, 50¢. Questions?”

Both teens shake their heads. Barry pulls out his wallet and hands the man a ten. The man nods and gives Barry a small fabric bag with the arcade logo filled with his forty coins. Hal’s next. He hands a twenty as he plans to invite Barry given the case he runs out of coins or in the future. Because they are so coming back. He can picture it.

The man smiles, “Have a nice stay guys, and remember we close at ten as it’s Halloween and I’ve party to attend.” Hal frowns and the man laughs, “Son, I’ve seen people enter here for ‘just one game’ and leave penniless ten hours later. This is your version of Las Vegas. Don’t forget to drink and eat something from time to time, too.”

“We won’t! C’mon Hal!” Barry tugs him away from the entrance into the colorful maze of recreational machines.

Hal laughs and lets himself go wherever Barry wants him to. After all, they are here for him. Their first stop is a classic: Space Invaders. Hal nudges Barry so he’s the first one to play. Resting against the machine he watches as the blond plays. Hal is witness of how Barry sticks his tongue out whenever he’s deeply focused, and boy is he focused! He scores 6950 points. The leader in the scoreboard is RIK with 12350 points. They exchange a look. Hal nods and Barry’s smile widens: they are going to beat RIK.

Hal plays next. He barely scores 200 points to Barry’s amusement who can’t pass the opportunity of mocking him a little. Hal accidentally tickles Barry in revenge while he’s trying to shoot the Martians in his second screen. Barry keeps playing with his right hand as he tries to push Hal away with his left muttering, “Stop it Hal!”. Hal laughs and surrenders removing his hands from Barry’s sides with a pleased face as Barry’s hits game over with 4230 this time. It earns him a smack. He tries again and proudly manages 780. Okay, so he sucks but who cares? Barry is having fun and that’s all that matters to him. (Although his ego is whining a little as he’s so not impressing Barry with his rad skills).

Barry gets the controls again. Hal perches over his shoulder this time, making every whoosh sound the game does much to Barry’s annoyance.

“Hal! You’re making me nervous,” he’s jittery and Hal thinks he’s blushing. It’s hard to tell with the dark atmosphere and the myriad of flashing colors splashed all over them. For example, Barry’s hair seems green from the glowing of the machine where they are, and his grey t-shirt is purple in some places from the ceiling light bulbs.

“C’mon, I just don’t want to lose any tiny detail from the master,” he pouts.

Barry sighs but inserts another coin and lets Hal stay where he is. Hal keeps his head over Barry’s shoulder, covering Barry’s body with his own, and watching his friend smash the buttons and move the joystick with mesmerizing precision. As Barry dies Hal whispers against his ear, “Keep playing, we both know this ain’t my game.”

Barry shivers and tenses but enters another coin. As he keeps scoring he seems to relax under Hal. Until Hal’s arms surrounding his thin waist, embracing him.

“W-what are you doing?” squeals Barry, getting hit by some alien and losing a life.

“Focus on the game,” replies Hal automatically. “Nothing. I just don’t know what to do with my arms and in this position it’s like the normal thing to do, right? I mean, I’m behind you, what am I supposed to do with my arms? Plus, it’s not like it’s the first time we hug.”

Hal’s a tactile person and as he has told Barry, it’s not their first hug, nor second. Hell, they have slept in this position when they crashed at Dinah’s. The only significant difference is that now they are both awake and this isn’t D’s basement, but that’s it. No big deal. Friends embrace friends all the time. Besides, Barry is warm, and he might be little a cold. And if that wasn’t good enough, this way he can see better the screen and Barry’s technique for further reference if after all he decides to play the game.

Barry keeps playing. Hal keeps mulling reasons to justify his behavior. Deep down he knows he simply wants to be like this, but he doesn’t really understand why, thus he needs to find one reason because there must be one. At least, that’s what he believes.

Barry shifts under him. Hal switches his head to his other shoulder. He keeps watching Barry play. He has lost track of which try is this, or how long they’ve been like that, but Hal doesn’t care. He’s just too comfortable like this… Barry stills and swallows. His movements are slumping, he gets hit.

“H-Hal… you’re distracting me,” Barry whispers hoarse. Hal frowns, he hasn’t done anything…

He’s the one who stiffens when he realizes where is hands are and what are the doing. His left is playing with the waist of Barry’s jeans and his right is tracing circles against his hip under Barry’s t-shirt. He ceases all his movements embarrassed. He feels hot, too hot. Horrified he realizes his dick is throbbing half-hard.

O-kay. Play it cool, Jordan. First things first, he mutters an apology and places his hands on Barry’s waist. Neutral zone. If they were dancing, this is totally where he would be touching his friend. No biggie. He’s a teenager who gets hard ons like five or six times per day. N-o-b-i-g-g-i-e.

Barry keeps playing but dies. He introduces another coin. Hal feels Barry’s muscles shift as he moves under the palm of his hands. He wonders if Barry is fit. He bets he doesn’t have a six pack, not like he does, but that’s okay: he works out; Barry doesn’t. Plus, it’s not like Hal cares or needs Barry to have abs or not, but he can sense his hard muscles beneath his touch, so it’s perfectly reasonable to wonder how fit Barry might be under his t-shirt.

Hal backtracks and realizes what he’s been thinking. He decides to not ponder to much about it and leaves his mind blank only watching Barry shooting the small aliens on the screen. As time passes by, Barry relaxes again and even ends up lying his body entirely against Hal’s. Hal likes this, to hold Barry and feel his weight and keep close track of all his movements. It’s comforting and arousing.

Hal phone buzzes. He ignores it. Barry’s beeps just few seconds later. Hal sighs and breathes against Barry’s neck, “Keep going, we can’t let RIK win. I’ll check mine.”

Barry curtly nods as Hal seeks his phone trying not to disturb Barry as he doesn’t want him to move away from him.

                Robin Fool: wru

                Emerald Dork: with bar

                Robin Fool: ofc

                Robin Fool: dont forget 2 use protection ;)

Hal chokes and Barry looks at him with a concerned look, “You okay?”

“Yeah, yeah just… Ollie being Ollie, don’t worry,” Hal dismisses with fake brightness as he’s planning one hundred different ways to kill Oliver.

                Emerald Dork:

                

                Robin Fool:

                

                Emerald Dork: i fucking h8 u

                Robin Fool: na u dont

                Robin Fool: dont forget lube is ur friend !!! :D

“I’m going to kill him, and they would never find his body,” mutters Hal as he blocks his phone.

Barry snickers, “What did Oliver do?”

Hal shakes his head and hides his face against the crook of Barry’s neck. Any other day he wouldn’t mind the teasing from Ollie, but today… He’s extremely confused. It’s not the first time he’s ever been attracted to a guy, but Barry? They’re friends and Barry isn’t interested in him like that. Inhaling, Barry’s smell hits Hal like a sledgehammer.

Hal is starting to realize that maybe, just maybe, he might be crushing hard on his best friend when said friend steps away from him and stretches his arms up, popping his back. Hal blinks and pouts, “Where are you going?”

Barry grins and points at the screen. The scoreboard reads BHA 13960 followed by RIK 12350. Hal hollers and embraces Barry once more. He steps away and placing his hands over Barry’s shoulders he congratulates him. “Well done Bar, I knew we could do it.”

“We? Hal you’ve only played twice,” laughs Barry.

Hal shrugs. “Teamwork. I supported you… literally. C’mon! Let’s find some game I’m actually good at, like Street Fighter.” He takes Barry’s hand and starts walking until he finds a Street Fighter II machine near the Air Hockey. “Bar now we can play together! Let’s beat another record, okay?”

Barry nods with a tiny smile. Before he can enter his coin, Hal does it for him. “My turn to pay,” he states. Barry rolls his eyes but takes his joystick and hovers the buttons with his right hand. The first match begins. Hal wins. Barry wins the next three and Hal the fourth.

They are playing their, 13rd or 14th match when Hal’s stomach growls. “I’m hungry, you?”

Barry places his hand on his stomach and nods with a grimace. “Starving. Ugh, maybe Ollie texted you because they were eating. I’m one hundred percent sure we’re way past lunch time.”

Hal burst into laughing. Of course Barry would be so worried about food. Looking around, he sees a small sign hanging from the ceiling indicating a bar. He points it and drags Barry with him. The same man from the entrance his behind the counter. Hal notices the bar is behind the entrance separated by a fake wall, so the owner can easily move back and forth through a small door on one end of the counter.

“What do you want boys? I have some sandwiches, hot-pockets and pizza.”

“Hot-pockets!” exclaims Barry all excited. “What kinds do you have?”

“Beef taco, ham and cheddar, chicken broccoli and cheddar and I think I’ve some peperoni pizza in the storage,” the man replies amused by Barry’s small leaps.

Hal smiles as he knows that Barry is about to surprise the poor man.

“Okay, I want one of each please,” the man nods at Barry, but the blond is far from being done, “and also a sandwich of tuna and another one of grilled cheese. I think that’s it for now. Thank you. Hal what do you want?”

The man frowns and looks from Barry to Hal trying to decide if Barry is joking or not. Hal raises his eyebrow and shakes his head a little, trying to tell the man that no, Barry is real and actually asking for all that food for himself. “I want a hot-pocket of peperoni pizza and another one of ham and cheddar, thanks.”

The man nods and starts to prepare their food still looking at Barry from time to time and shaking his head incredulous. Hal wants to laugh at the scene but decides not to. He doesn’t want to make Barry uncomfortable. Sitting on one of the four tables the small room offers, they wait for their food to be ready.

Once the man brings it, even though it’s steaming, Barry starts to devour it without caring about getting burn. Hal watches him entertained as the man scratches his head muttering something about bottomless pits. Hal has to agree with him to a certain degree: Barry’s eating habits are something else, but they are a part of Barry and Barry is perfect just the way he is. Although, he wonders how much money Barry’s dad dedicates exclusively for Barry’s food. He guesses it must be more or less the same Iris and Joe consume by themselves.

When they finish, they split the bill against Barry’s complains that he has eaten more food, thus should pay more. Hal hushes him and drags his whiny ass to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles machine where they play a couple of rounds each other until Barry’s phone won’t stop buzzing.

“Sorry, it’s Iris,” he apologizes as he walks away.

Hal watches Barry’s body as he talks with his sister. He likes the way Barry seems unable to stay still. It’s quite a contradiction. He’s kind of slow the whole time, never in a hurry, always late; yet he’s one of those nervous people who won’t stop taping their fingers everywhere or have their feet following a beat. Hal finds the whole deal lovely.

Ollie’s voice appears on his mind mimicking his thoughts. Hal groans. Lately he can’t stop associating Barry with cute, adorable, and lovely. He seems his grandmother on Christmas when she gives him and his brother those atrocious Christmas themed sweaters and exclaims how adorable they look like, all the Jordans matched with Rudolph the reindeer and little elves on their backs. The mental image makes Hal shiver. He’s so not looking forward to this year’s Christmas. Jack seems to be running for Asshole of the year since he left for college. At least with him. He and Jim seem to be as good as always. It saddens Hal, he wonders what went wrong, what has he done to his big brother to be treated like this, with this cold shoulder and contempt. Although being honest with himself, Jack has always treated Hal like garbage since his father died. Hal supposes Jack must blame him for their parents fight…

“Sorry, Iris freaked out when she couldn’t find me in high school,” Barry’s mind seems to be miles away. Hal’s heart leaps when he regards the dark cloud above his friend. Once more he wonders what’s eating Barry up, making him so moody.

“C’mon! Let’s play some classic Pac-man,” he holds Barry’s hand with a big grin and walks where he thinks the machine must be.

They cross paths with three teens who are surrounding the Millipede machine as another one is playing. Hal nods them in greeting but the boys frown at him. He wonders why. Barry tenses behind him and tries to release their hands. Oh. Hal just tightens the grip of his hand, just enough to not hurt Barry, and smirks smugly, daring any of them to make any comment. Fuck them. If he wants to hold his friend’s hand he will. He’s Hal fucking Jordan. He does whatever the fuck he wants to do whenever he feels like it.

Reaching the Pac-Man, he looks at Barry. “Sorry, but not sorry. I don’t give a single fuck what those idiots might think. If I want to touch my friend I do it, alrighty? Great! I’ll go first.”

He starts to play. His movements aren’t the sharpest as he can’t stop wondering if maybe he has overstepped his relationship with Barry. He might not care what others think but it’s obvious Barry did… maybe Barry doesn’t want people to think he might be gay or bi or whatever.

Barry hovers over Hal and points at the screen. “You should pick the cherry in, 3,2,1, now!”

Hal blinks perplexed as the cherry appears just when Barry said it would. He moves his Pac-Man to it before Blinky cuts his way.

Barry pats his arms and exclaims, “Careful! Careful! Pinky is coming to you, turn down, turn down!”

Hal tries to, but he’s surrounded. He loses a life and reappears. He couldn’t care less. He’s relieved: Barry doesn’t seem bothered by his behavior towards those idiots.

“Hey, hey, hey! Wait for your turn Bar. Now sit, watch, and learn from a true professional,” he utters smugly.

“Yeah? Where am I supposed to sit Hal? On the machine? Oh, and what professional? Mr. 700 points.” Barry replies monotone.

“That was a low blow and you know it. Never knew you had it in you, Bar,” Hal’s amused. He likes it when Barry gets smart-ass (on small doses).

“First, it takes more to scratch your ego and we both know it. Second, I learned it from you, and third, watch it, you’re getting cornered and have no power pellets left.”

Barry must have been a fortune teller in another live because Hal gets caught again. He curses, and Barry pats his shoulder trying to encourage him… it would be more comforting if his smug grin wasn’t there but whatever. Hal focuses on the game decided to score more points. He dies in the 5th level.

“Now watch how it’s done,” Barry takes his place, popping his knuckles. He starts moving and… hits a wall with the Pac-man. He doesn’t move. He let’s the poor thing against the wall on the maze as if it was a misbehaving kid getting taught a lesson.

“Bar, sorry to tell you, but you suck. You know you have to like, actually move and eat the points, right?” Hal snorts.

“Hal, watch and learn. It’s a trick. If you stay here for a whole minute you trick the game. The ghost will only chase you in a constant forward motion meaning that they won’t occasionally reverse their path. It makes your life much easier while playing,” he states.

Hal blinks bewilder. “Where did you learn that?”

“I’m friends with Cisco. I play games with you daily, haven’t you noticed by now what a nerd I am?” Barry scoffs and shakes his head as he clears the first screen with a perfect score.

“You’re like no one I’ve ever meet Bar,” replies Hal softly.

Barry hits a wall. This time Hal knows it’s not part of his trickery to fool the game. They stay silent until Barry loses his first life in level 8.

“Damn it!” He curses.

“You made it to level 8 Bar, that’s a record!” Hal tries to cheer him up.

Barry frowns, “I used to reach level 25 before losing one. My best game was level 57 without getting caught, I made it to level 108.”

Hal swallows. He can’t imagine himself getting past the tenth screen. He observes Barry’s hands as he starts a new game. His slim and delicate fingers moving lightly and with accuracy over the buttons. The way his muscles tense on his arms whenever he swiftly changes hitting from one to another on the control panel never losing his cool, eyes moving non-stop, following the ghosts’ motion and his own avatar’s.

Hal’s fingers tingle with desire, the need of trailing Barry’s arms up and down, mapping him. Feeling those bony knuckles under his fingertips, encircling his lean wrists and then unhurriedly drag his fingernails all over his arms till his shoulders… Hal swallows and fans himself with his hands. Isn’t it hot all of the sudden?

Barry curses once more and tousles his hair annoyed as he licks his lips. The whole scene captivates Hal who’s unable to deviate his eyes from Barry’s wet lips wondering what they must feel like against his. He has only kissed one guy before, but he was kind of drunk, so it was sloppy and quick.

Licking his own lips, he imagines walking over and turning Barry around, pressing him against the nearest surface. Then gently stroke Barry’s bony jaw with his thumb and slowly trim the distance between their lips until these met. Barry moaning and squirming under him, and tugging Hal’s jacket lapels closer as he tangles his own hands on that blond hair of his that’s always a mess…

“Crap, I lost! Hal, your turn.” Barry turns around and frowns when he sees Hal gawking him.

Hal coughs and quickly moves to the machine pretending that he’s fine, that everything is okay, fine and dandy. He just wasn’t fantasizing about humping his friend against the Pac-Man machine and kissing him senseless. NOT AT ALL.

Focusing like he as never focused on anything before, Hal plays the game managing to calm his raging heartbeat as the third screen is cleared. Barry is smiling and clapping his hands, cheering him in the most adorkable way.

“You go Hal! I knew you could play something that wasn’t a shooter or just smashing random buttons.”

“Hey! Street Fighter isn’t ‘smashing random buttons’. They are combos,” defends Hal trying to keep his voice suave.

Barry laughs and punches him on the shoulder with no strength. “Whatever you said Hal. If it makes you feel better…”

Hal feels a lump on his throat as he sees a hidden shine beneath the surface of Barry’s eyes. He gets caught by one of those ghosts on the game, but he doesn’t care. He’s in too deep looking at Barry who’s blushing more and more as time goes by. The game keeps running in the back but neither pays it any attention. Hal moves his body away from the machine and takes one step closer to Barry. His body thrills as soon as he feels the warmth coming from Barry’s. He can’t look away from his baby blues, now almost complete black as his pupils have engulfed the vibrant blue.

They are like magnets, shortening the distance between them.

His throat is dry, and Barry is his oasis. He needs to get closer, he needs to take him. He needs it…

I’m a Barbie girl, in a Barbie World. Life in plastic, it’s fantastic!” blasts from Hal’s phone.

Barry quickly pulls away blinking confused. The spell is broken. Hal wants to kill someone, pronto. The one who’s calling him is the perfect candidate.

“What?!” he barks to whoever is on the other side.

“Whoa! Ya’lright buddy?” Ollie’s light tone only increases Hal’s murderous tendencies. Looking up he sees Barry stroking his face and mouthing something. Fucking Oliver and his fucking inopportune tendencies.

“Yeah. You better be dying, or I swear…” he threatens roughly.

“Whoa, whoa, hold on… Did I interrupt something? I thought you just were with Barry? Did you dump him for a girl? HAL! How could you? Barry isn’t me, man you ca-” Ollie sounds half concerned, half teasing.

“Save it. I AM with Barry. We-we-uh,” Hal pauses. What? He’s sure that if Oliver hadn’t called they would have kissed. Glancing Barry, he sees the blond staring at the carpet on the floor as if it held the secrets of the universe, avoiding Hal. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. His heart leaps. What if he has messed this up? What if now Barry doesn’t want anything to do with him? His heart shatters before that possibility.

“Hal? Are you high? Dude, the party is tonight and- Ouch!” Hal frowns and looks at his phone. Did Ollie just yelp? Has he developed psychic powers and hit Oliver through the phone?

“Hal? Hal I’m so sorry.” It’s Dinah. “I swear I took Ollie’s phone away from him because I didn’t want him to bother you. Hal, sweetheart, you can kick Ollie’s ass tonight for all that I care. Now, go and have fun with Barry! Just keep doing whatever you two were doing. Bye!” she hangs up.

Hal blinks and stays with his phone against his ear for a couple of seconds just listening the beep beep beep of the ended call; wondering what has just happened. This is one of the most surrealist things that has ever happened to him. Like ever.

Scratching his head, he shoves his phone into his pocket and looks around steering clear of the zone where Barry is. He’s too scared of what he might find there.

Barry clears his throat. It makes Hal look up. He sees Barry draw a small sided smile. “Ollie?”

“Yeah and Dinah. She- she said she was sorry for Ollie bothering us,” replies Hal shrugging.

Barry nods and keeps quiet. The tension among them is palpable. Hal hates it. He wants to say something. Do something. Anything. But he doesn’t know what. The lump in his throat gets bigger as seconds tick by.

“I-uh, I guess classes are over,” he finally says lamely.

“Yeah, guess so.” Barry chews his lip and looks away. “Maybe we should go home. I mean, I to mine, you to yours… yeah. So…” he shifts and shaking his head marches to the front door.

Hal sighs and follows him to the car nodding a goodbye to the owner of the arcade who’s waving them with a ‘come back soon!’.

He has completely fucked this up.

Back to square one.

Barry becomes sullen once more in the car, just like this morning. Main difference is that now Hal knows the reason why: him. He wants to bang his head as hard as he can against the steering wheel or find a time travel machine. Although he’s not quite sure for what he might end up using the device as he’s torn between: one) not initiating the whole almost-kiss with Barry; two) throwing his phone away and kissing Barry like there’s no tomorrow. Tough choice.

They’re almost at Barry’s house. Hal can’t let Barry step out of the car with this huge mess between them. He pulls over and locks the car, so his friend can’t run away, just in case.

“Bar?” he hates how childish his voice sounds, like a lost puppy.

Barry turns and shyly looks at him. “Yeah?”

“Bar I’m so sorry…” Hal stops as he sees Barry wince and drop his eyes from his face to the gear shift among them. Hal’s confused.

“It’s okay Hal.” Barry’s voice is broken. Hal swears he can hear a small sniff.

His heart stops. The world seems to crash down around him.

Is Barry crying?

Unfastening his seatbelt at lightspeed, he throws himself across and hugs Barry tightly. He has no idea of why his friend is suffering but he doesn’t care. He only wants to comfort him and make everything within his power to aid him. A dark voice in the back of his head whispers that he might be the reason why Barry is hurt. After all, Barry was feeling better in the arcade until Hal screwed up.

Barry lays still between his arms until he finally grabs Hal tightly, returning his embrace.

“It’s okay, it’s okay. Barry, I don’t know what I did but I swear I would never forgive myself if I ever hurt you. Please, please, Bar I beg you tell me what I did. Tell me what I can do. Please,” his voice breaks, and Barry’s grip tightens.

“Nothing. You didn’t do anything wrong Hal,” his voice breaks.

Lies. Hal believes Barry must be lying because it’s obvious Barry is not okay and the only one that is here is Hal himself.

Barry draws away and quickly scrubs his eyes as he looks out towards the nearest house. Escaping from Hal.

 Red might be Barry’s color but it’s definitely not the one for his eyes, thinks Hal miserable. He still believes that the air needs to be cleared between them, but it’s obvious that Barry needs space and doesn’t want to talk about it. Not now, at least.

He drives to Barry’s and stops. Barry smiles and softly whispers, “See you later Hal.”

Hal stares at Barry’s back until someone honks behind him.

He drives.

He speeds.

He leaves his house back.

He can’t leave the image of Barry back.

 

(Jack-O-Lantern )              (Ghost )              (Jack-O-Lantern )

 

The party seems to be on its peak when Hal arrives. He’s over two hours late but he needed some time to clear his mind. He vented to the only person he could talk to and know that wouldn’t ever judge him. Basically, because he’s dead. His dad.

He went to the place where they always used to hang: Ferris Aircraft. The cursed and forbidden place according to his family’s rules. His mother goes to the graveyard to visit his father. But to him, that grave doesn’t matter. His father’s not there. His father is up in the sky, flying. It’s ironic. He has always looked up to his dad. Both figured and literally. He wanted to be like him. He still wants to be like him. He had a clear and concise plan: be 18th and fly away.

Then, he met Barry. He started studying.

It’s funny, really.

It’s almost as if he had changed his mind. Because c’mon, why study and waste effort if he’s not going to graduate? He could drop high school and get a GED. Just few exams and he’s free. Three months free from those oppressive walls crowded with people that assume who he is and always asks and demands more of someone he isn’t. Three months closer to fly, to freedom. To his father.

He’s been doing his schoolwork. It all started with Barry’s idea. Play and pretend he said.

Is it play and pretend if he actually takes notes (from time to time but still)? If he knows when his exams are taking place? If he panics and calls Barry at midnight because he doesn’t get alloys? If he actually gets shit but pretends he doesn’t so Barry will explain it to him?

No, it’s not. Not anymore.

He could forget these last days. He could keep going on with his initial plan.

The blindfold has fallen today… but he can easily put it back. Truly play and pretend.

He’s fearless. He’s impulsive. The fucking universe has sent him something. It’s not a twisted mess like always. It’s Barry. He doesn’t walk away from the bear. He pokes it. He puts his head between his jaws and dares it to bite.

Tonight, he’s going to poke the bear. Tonight, he’s going to see where this thing with Barry might lead, no strings attached. Barry isn’t interested but wants to be friends? They keep being friends. He keeps ahead with his initial plan. Another friend to Skype or FaceTime from the Air Force. Barry doesn’t want anything from him? He’ll smile and politely wish him his best and countdown till his birthday. Barry wants something with him? He doesn’t care what it is. He’ll give it to him whatever he wants and then, maybe, probably, graduate in May. And then enlist. That’s non-negotiable. It’s not like Barry doesn’t know it. He has already told him.

“HAL BUDDY! Where’s your costume?” Oliver appears wobbling and completely wasted. He’s (unsurprisingly) dressed as Robin Hood.

Hal smiles and taking off his aviators he puts them on. “I’m a pilot. Got the jacket and the shades.”

“That’s cheating,” babbles Oliver. “Ya’lways wear that jacket.”

Hal laughs. He guesses what Ollie must be saying because the music is so loud, and Ollie is dragging words so much, that Hal is having a hard time trying to understand him.

Hal walks over and approaches his drunk friend. “Ollie, where’s Barry?” he screams.

“Sunk,” replies Oliver unfocused and drinking more booze.

“What? Ollie, what do you mean ‘sunk’?” Hal is lost until he hears a splash coming from the back yard. “OLIVER QUEEN! Tell me you didn’t throw Barry on the pool and left him there?!”

Oliver giggles and leaves stumbling. Hal runs. He jumps over the fence and pushes drunk people away from his path trying to reach the pool. Some crazy people are inside playing with a beach ball. He sees no sign of Barry. He walks around a couple of times, looking everywhere trying to find either Barry, Iris, Cisco, Caitlin or Dinah but no one is there.

He sees Carol. She’s dressed in a pale purple toga and a big golden belt around her waist. She’s talking with some of her friends from the cheer squad. One of them sees Hal and turns to Carol. Hal bolts. Carol is a can of worms he prefers not to face tonight.

Swiftly avoiding the drunk people scattered around the Queen manor he reaches the main staircase. Someone has hanged toilet paper from the chandelier and, painted it? Hal chuckles. Mrs. Queen is going to be hysteric and Oliver will have to buy her tons of flowers to be forgiven. That’s actually how he met Dinah last year…

“Hal?” Carol’s voice reaches him. She’s somewhere behind him, getting closer.

He runs upstairs, to Mrs. Queen’s master room. It’s the only room closed under lock and key during Oliver’s parties. No one can access it. Except Hal. He knows the password much to the dismay of Mrs. Queen. He’s almost there when a familiar laugh captures his attention. Barry. He follows the sound.

Barry is with a raven-haired girl laughing in the landing of the stairs between the third and the second floor. The girl is turned, giving her back to Hal so he can’t see who she is, but Hal doesn’t like the way she’s touching Barry, the way she’s making him laugh and… the way she’s leaning across, towards Barry. He takes the stairs flying.

“BARRY!” he screams. “I-I finally found you. Oh, I’m so sorry. Did I interrupt something?” he pretends innocence. He’s internally screaming, his blood burning with jealousy. Who does this girl believe she is? He can’t withstand the mere idea of someone touching Barry if that someone isn’t him.

“Nothing you have to worry about Jordan,” the girl teases him.

Hal’s stomach drops, he wishes he had locked himself in the master bedroom.  He doesn’t need the girl to turn around to know exactly who she is. She does nonetheless.

“Well? I see you didn’t ask me to pick up Iris and Barry because you were like working super hard on your costume. Or what? Did you undertake an epic quest to get those… sunglasses? Got to admit they fit you. I mean only jerks wear glasses inside a house at night.” Dinah stresses the word jerk. She the vivid image of sassiness. Her eyebrow is raised, narrowed eyes, crooked mouth, tilted body, arms crossed above her chest and her foot is taping against the floor. She’s waiting for an answer.

“I. Uh. I-I. You look nice?” He offers weakly.

Dinah smacks him on his arm. “And you look like a fool now that we have clarified that… I think you two need to talk. Right now.”

Barry starts to protest but Dinah hushes him. She turns to Hal with a finger raised that she shoves against his chest merciless. It hurts. “Jordan, I want to have a word with you first.”

“Yeah… I don’t think so. I’ve been looking for Barry. We need to talk.” He looks at Barry directly onto those eyes. “Please,” he begs him.

Barry takes a deep breath and finally nods with a sharp movement. Dinah starts to protest but Hal ushers her downstairs.

“Dinah, Carol is looking for me. Can you keep her busy?” he whispers. Dinah nods. Hal then raises his voice as he turns to lead Barry. “By the way, heads up, your boyfriend is totally smashed D. Bye!”

Grabbing Barry, he starts to drag him to the master bedroom. Introducing the password on the keypad, the door opens with a tiny beep. The perfume of Mrs. Queen filters through the ajar door. He waits until Barry is inside before he closes the door with a loud bang.

He rests against the door, taping the tip of his shoe against the carpeted floor. He takes his shades off and starts to play with them. Now that he’s with Barry in the ginormous room… he has no idea of what to say or do and the room seems as small as a broom closet. Yet, the distance he feels between him and Barry seems infinite. He doesn’t like it.

Getting all his courage, he slowly raises his eyes and looks at Barry. He’s wearing a fitted blue shirt with his sleeves rolled up, cargo pants and leather shoulder straps with holsters. He steps closer and hesitantly picks up the ring that Barry is wearing around his neck, softly caressing his chest.

 “Nathan Drake, uh? I like it,” his voice is husky.

Barry flusters under his attention. His eyes won’t stop looking around, everywhere, except at Hal. He takes a step back. Hal takes one ahead following him, chasing him. Until Barry’s back hits the nearest wall. Hal smirks and hovers over Barry, placing his hands at both sides of his head, trapping him in between.

“Gotcha,” he whispers. “We still need to talk Bear.” The nickname rolls out of his mouth. He likes it. It’s perfect.

“What did you call me?” Barry asks in a barely audible voice.

Hal is relieved that Barry isn’t pushing him away trying to distance from him. “Bear,” he answers with a big smile. Then he frowns when he realizes the endless possibilities he could get if he only knew Barry’s full name. “Bear, what’s your name?”

Barry frowns confused. “What?” he rolls his eyes and chuckles. “If you expect me to accept your new name, you can sit around and wait because it’s gonna take forever.” Then, he tries to shove Hal away.

But Hal doesn’t budge nor gives up. “No. I meant your birthname. Ya know, like mine isn’t Hal,” he knows he’s asking for it…

“Oh, you mean Harold, Harold?” Hal huffs and grimaces making Barry laugh. “Sorry… why do you ask?”

Hal considers Barry’s question. Right now, he has three reasons why. Because he wants to be able to call Barry different names, one for each day of the week for example. Because he’s curious and finds it unfair that Barry knows his, but Hal doesn’t. And because if he’s going to do this, he wants to know the full name of the boy who has stolen his heart away. He’s never going to confess that last one, though.

“Just tell me Barry. It can’t be worse than mine,” his right hand starts to slide down Barry’s arm. Barry shivers and his eyes follow it all the way down, until Hal laces their hands together, caressing Barry’s softly with his thumb.

“Bartholomew. Bartholomew Henry Allen,” he confesses.

“BHA. Of course. You know, I wondered what the H was for. For a second I was baffled thinking that you had added me but then I saw your smug face and knew it couldn’t be…” Hal teases him.

Barry blinks out of his trance and snorts, “My smug face? The only one here that danced like a peacock every time he won was you, not me.”

“I’m an attention whore. That’s old news Bear. Tell me something I don’t know,” he winks.

“There is about half a pound of salt in the average adult human body. By the time you feel thirsty, you've already lost about 1% of your body's water. Mars is red because its surface contains a lot of iron oxide or rust,” states Barry. He smirks and singsongs, “You want me to keep going? We could fill a book with stuff you don’t know Hal.”

“You’re a smartass you know that?” replies Hal laughing.

“Yeah well, you like it,” retorts Barry.

“Yeah I do.” Hal replies serious all of the sudden. He locks his eyes with Barry who frowns confused. “I do like you Barry.”

“O-kay.” Barry is lost.

Hal sighs and shakes his head. He caresses Barry’s face and steps closer until there’s only a couple of inches between them. “No, you don’t get it. I like you like in: you look so familiar; didn’t we take a class together? Because I could’ve sworn we had chemistry.” Hal waits for Barry to realize what he’s trying to say.

“We don’t have chemistry together Hal, I help you with it as your tutor.” He replies slowly, “In the library.”

Hal knows he must be doing it on purpose. Barry can’t that slow and dense, can he? No, the way he’s swallowing and dodging Hal’s glance tells him that Barry knows or intuits what’s going on. Hal can feel his heart shattering, but he can’t stop. He needs to get it out of his chest and get turned down hard. It’s the only way he can keep moving one. Knowing that he tried and failed rather than wonder eternally the what ifs. He opts to keep going on with his trademark: jokes.

“Wow, you truly are slow. Okay, here comes another one. Ready? Charizards are red, Squirtles are blue, if you were a pokemon, I’d choose you! You want more? Cause I have tons. Look, you’re so handsome that you made me forget my pick-up line.” He stresses the word handsome as he grabs Barry’s face between his hands making him look straight onto his eyes. “There must be something wrong with my eyes because I can’t take them off of you… Kiss me if I’m wrong but dinosaurs still exist, right?”

Barry kisses him. He presses their lips together for no more than three seconds before he draws away. Mouthing over Hal’s lips he whispers, “Stop with the bad pick-up lines or I swear I’ll defenestrate you.”

“Make me,” roars Hal.

Barry does. This kiss is slow and lingering. Barry places his hands on Hal’s hips and digs his fingers against his flesh as Hal tangles his on Barry’s hair tugging it lightly. When Barry pulls away to breathe, Hal mouth slides down his jaw to his neck where he keeps sucking and nipping the tender skin making Barry squirm under him. He just can’t get enough of Barry’s taste. He loves the feeling of his heartbeat against his lips.

“Hal, I like you too. You’ve no idea of how long I’ve been feeling like this,” Barry scratches the back of Hal’s neck and seeks his mouth.

Hal kisses him once more and draws away smiling wolfishly. “Mmm… I wanna hear that. You know me, I live for flattering. I wanna hear everything about how you,” he licks Barry’s jaw, “fell,” peck on his cheek, “for” peck on the corner of his mouth, “me.” He kisses Barry senseless until they are both breathless.

Barry turns the tables as he turns and smashes Hal against the wall, pressing his body against him. “You’re greedy,” he pants devouring Hal’s neck, pulling his jacket down his shoulder tugging it until Hal is freed from it.

“Look at you. It ain’t me who’s undressing the other Bear. I think it’s only fair if I…” he grabs Barry’s ass and squeezes it as he slots a thigh between Barry’s. Barry moans and his head bangs against Hal’s shoulder. Hal feels Barry groan as his hard cock nudges against his thigh, he tugs him closer and grinds his hips against Barry’s crotch trying to seek his own pleasure. Barry sucks a sharp breath and Hal seizes it to kiss him. His tongue slides effortlessly into Barry’s mouth. Hal’s heart is pounding so hard it feels as if it’s going to burst out of his ribcage but it’s nothing compared to when Barry starts to hump him back. Hal simply loses all his inhibitions.

A low groan escapes his throat as he lifts Barry and using all his strength he carries him towards the bed. Barry sinks in it with a gasp, but he doesn’t have time to recover before Hal is hovering him, bracketing his head between his arms as he kisses him. Barry wraps his legs around Hal’s waist making him lose his balance and fall over Barry.

Panicked Hal draws back, “Oh God! Barry are you okay? Did I hurt y-”

Barry kisses him softly, hushing him, and smiles. “Don’t worry. You’re not that heavy.”

Both lock their eyes, short of breath, foreheads resting against the other, wild heartbeats, and happiness flooding them. Hal tilts his head and they start to kiss again. This time is lazier, slower, tasting each other. When they break apart, Hal caresses Barry’s check with his lips. He rolls over and lays next to Barry in the bed. He’s still horny but he doesn’t want to press it. He doesn’t want to rush things with Barry.

Barry leans over his elbow and observes Hal’s profile. Hal turns his head and smiles. “Like what you see?” He teases.

Barry scoffs and plunges back. Hal laughs before he cuddles Barry and burrows his head into his neck. He holds Barry tight. Hal never wants to let him go. He wants to stop time and lay here with Barry endlessly. Just the two of them… Barry entwines their hands and brushes his lips against Hal’s. Hal smiles and pecks him on the neck.

They just lay there. Contented, blissed, warm… together.

Chapter Text

NOVEMBER

Barry wakes up startled because someone has yelped. Getting up, still groggy, he sees Hal laying on the floor scratching his head, wincing. It takes him two seconds to process what’s he seeing. He bursts into laughter. His head hits the mattress as he grips tightly his stomach, aching from the amusement. When he opens his eyes and wipes away a couple of tears, he sees Hal standing next to him, where he has fallen, with narrowed eyes and a bitchy face. Barry chews his lips, trying keep his chuckles at bay.

“Having fun first thing in the morning, uh?” Barry doesn’t like the casual tone of Hal. When he grins wolfishly, Barry knows his gut was right.

Hal jumps into bed and straddles him. Then he bows over and kisses Barry. Barry’s heart leaps. It wasn’t a dream. Last night truly happened. He kisses Hal back carving his fingers against Hal’s broad shoulders. Hal groans and plunges his tongue into Barry’s mouth. They make out sloppily until Hal draws away.

“Well, thank you for kissing it better babe,” he whispers against his ear before he slowly licks it and nips his earlobe playfully. Barry moans and squirms under Hal trying to kiss him again. He wants those lips back against his. But Hal has different plans as his lips keep trailing down.

Barry observes fascinated how Hal starts to unbutton his wrinkled shirt with his teeth. The image is incredible arousing. Hal knows what he’s doing, as he winks at Barry and chuckles, enjoying the state the other boy is. Barry is melting under Hal’s ministrations; his brain has stopped working minutes ago. This is the best morning in his entire life.

His shirt is now completely undone. Hal arises and studies Barry as his hands caress his chest, his fingernails ghostly hoovering over his skin, trailing every curve and dimple. It makes Barry uncomfortable, such rapt attention. He knows he doesn’t have an athletic figure like Hal…

Hal seems to read his mind as he leans forward and kisses him softly. “You've no idea of how much you turn me on Bear,” the gleam in his eyes makes Barry shiver. He sees pure, raw desire in those amber-chocolate swirls of his.

Hal keeps working his way down, leaving a path of wet kisses and nips along the tender skin of his throat until he reaches Barry’s clavicles. Dragging his teeth over them, Hal glances up, mischief easy to read on his eyes as he keeps getting lower…

Barry’s heart is hammering against his ribcage. He feels warm everywhere and his skin is tingling, demanding more attention. Hal keeps kissing his chest, ribcage, and finally, reaches his navel where he kitten-licks it before puffing. Barry sucks a breath. It’s too much. His brain short circuits. Hal moves his necking to his left side and caresses his scar making Barry tense under his kisses.

Hal stops. “Barry? Are you okay? Did I- Is this too much? We don’t need to do anything if you don’t want to.” His eyes are wide, filled with concern.

Barry shakes his head vigorously. He has stiffened because of the scar and what it means. It’s a nasty story and he doesn’t want to think about it, not now, not with Hal. Who’s staring at him uneasy. “You didn’t do anything wrong Hal,” he pauses and chews his lips. Now that Hal has mentioned... Smiling shyly, he strokes Hal’s fluffy hair. “But… I-I’m not sure I’m ready to do more than kissing and m-maybe touching for now. If that’s okay?”

“Of course, it is Bear. I’d never do anything that you’re not ready for. If I ever do something that you don’t want me to, just tell me to stop and I’ll. No buts or whys… Kissing is okay, then?”

Barry answers Hal’s question with a peck on his full lips. He can feel Hal smile as they kiss. When they break away, Barry pulls Hal against his chest and both lay petting each other lazily. It’s simply perfect, but Barry can’t stop thinking about what this means. Hal has called him ‘babe’ and last night he said he likes him. Does that mean…?

“Hal?” he asks with hesitation. Hal hums in acknowledgment. “Uh… what are we? I mean. We're still friends but… are we more?” His tone is hopeful.

Then, everything stops. His heart, his breathing… the seconds that Hal takes to answer him stretch endlessly agonizing for Barry.

“Do you want that Bar? I mean, yeah, I guess… It’s just. Are you sure?” he sounds wary.

“Y-you asked me how I fell for you. Well, two years ago, when we moved, some kids were messing with me. You didn’t know me, yet you stopped them without thinking about it. You looked so sure of yourself and strong… I was curious about you and before I realized I had a crush.” Barry feels relieved as he finishes one of his confessions. He hates secrets. They are a heavy weight on his heart, sinking him in an infinite darkness… but he needs them. He learned that the hard way unfortunately.

“You could’ve talked with me. I mean, say hi or something.” Hal tilts his head and looks at Barry who won’t meet his glance.

Barry is torn. A relationship shouldn’t be based on secrets and yeah, it’s bad enough that he’s going to keep his past from Hal, so… he should tell him about his tutoring. Chewing his lip, he whispers, “I kind of did…” He takes a deep breath and rushes his confession, “Hal it was me who-. You see, I was with Mr. Broome in the lab and he said you weren’t going to graduate and I just, I thought… I proposed myself to help you. I’m sorry. It was me who got you into the tutoring thingy.” Barry clutches the sheets and starts to toy with them, unable to face Hal.

He’s going to hate me, we aren’t even official and he’s going to walk away, he thinks panicked.

Hal stays silent before he chuckles. “Okay. I, uh, I’m not mad Bear. I mean, if you had told me the first day we met, I’d have been but now… Yeah, nope. You see, funny thing actually, but yesterday I thought about maybe graduating. Like, instead of getting the GED I could wait those three months and you know, be with you guys. After all, I don’t know about Ollie, but Dinah is leaving to college and I guess you too so… I can wait to graduate before I enlist. There’s enough time in the future to do long distance stuff.”

“That’s awesome Hal!” Barry hugs him and shyly kisses his cheek. Hal chuckles before pulling him into a real kiss.

“You know, now that you are my booooooyfriiiiieeeend,” Hal sings the word to Barry’s dismay who smacks him on the shoulder. “Ouch! Is that way to treat your beloved one, sweetheart? What was I saying? Oh, yeah! Now that you and I are together you can kiss me whenever you want. I mean, I’m so gonna do it, so you too.” To prove the veracity of his statement, he kisses Barry. “By the way babe, remember what I told you in the car one day? About flirting?” Barry nods and hopes this is not what he thinks it is. Hal squeezes his ass, “Did you sit in a pile of sugar? Cause you've a pretty sweet ass.”

“Oh my God. No, no, please. Stop it. Hal you need to research new lines. Those have expired, like last decade expiration date. I can’t believe you.” Barry is flushed because although he’s never going to say it out loud, he secretly loves Hal’s attentions; those awful lines included. Hal just laughs and nuzzles his face against Barry’s neck. His hair tingles Barry.

Someone knocks on the door. Hal sighs. “Guess the real world is asking for us Bear… Do you, I mean, are you okay with people knowing it? Because fair warning; I’m into PDA, like a lot. In case you haven’t noticed, I love touching you. So, I’m going to be a handsy boyfriend. And I personally want them to know too.”

Barry’s heart swells with bliss. One month ago, he had never talked with Hal; now his boyfriend is asking him if it’s okay that he might be touchy with him. He nods slowly but steadily. Hal kisses his check before he gets up and stars to arrange the mess his clothes are. When he picks up his jacket from the floor, he winks.

“Don’t know why I was so worried about. I mean, you pretty much teared my jacket away Bear,” he waggles his eyebrows as he puts it on.

Barry sinks a little into the bed, dying of embarrassment. Last night he had just acted. He didn’t stop and thought about anything, he simply let his instinct take the wheel, and closed under lock and key, his logical side. The pounder on the door gets insistent. He jumps from bed and starts to button up his shirt as Hal gawks him.

“You could help me since it was you who undressed me this morning,” Barry says.

“Nah. The view is wonderful from here plus, if I helped you... Mmm, don’t know if I would actually be of much help or tear it from ya babe,” he replies as he keeps devouring him with his eyes. Barry shivers as he can sense how Hal is undressing him on his mind. He misses one button because of it.

Once he’s presentable, he laces his hand with Hal who gives him a cheeky grin as he opens the door. Dinah is waiting for them on the other side. She seems to be annoyed until her eyes fall on their entwined hands.

“Well, it was about time! Congrats, now help us clean this mess before Moira sees it and throws a fit!” She turns around and walks towards the staircase.

Barry is amused. He loves that Dinah has accepted them so easily but then again, she hinted him that he should date Hal on the hall, days ago. He glances over Hal. He’s smiling at him, also pleased with Dinah’s acceptance.

“Guess that’s good. Less explanations to do and all that,” he leans forward and kisses Barry gently. It occurs to Barry that they seem to be unable to keep their hands off from each other. He likes it.

“Less sex and more cleaning, gentlemen!” hollers Dinah from downstairs.

Barry is mortified. Hal simply guffaws and shakes his head as he yells, “Hey! It ain’t me who got sex-banned for weeks from the Queen manor Miss Let’s-make-it-on-the-kitchen-where-anybody-could-walk-in. Oh shit! Hi, Mrs. Queen!” he turns to Barry and whispers, “True story, I was there. I’ve never seen Dinah embarrassed but that was epic. I wish someone had taken a photo. Pic of the year, I’m telling you.”

Barry feels bad for Dinah. He can’t imagine a worse scenario than getting caught by his parents-in-law. Getting caught by his father would be awful, but he imagines if Hal’s mother did it. He would never set his feet on the Jordan’s household for at least fifty years; that if he ever did it again.

 

★               ★               ★

 

Barry had heard Katy Perry’s T.G.I.F. song and always found hilarious the ‘pink flamingos in the pool; Barbie’s on the bbq’ part. It's funny until you actually face that stuff in real life. He has no idea who thought it would be an awesome idea to barbeque crayons and, some cookware? He’s not sure what the amorphous mass of melted plastic must have been in the past.

Hal pushes Ollie, who’s completely hangover and still disguised, into the pool so he can dive and pick up some speakers, car keys, broken china and a set of garden chairs and table (!) people has thrown in it. Barry is shocked but Hal shrugs and tells him that last year someone made a race with stolen shopping carts that ended in the pool. He’s still recovering from that story when Dinah shrieks from inside the house.

All three men run to find Dinah… trying to get a guy down from the wall. The guy’s been duct-taped onto the wall like a caterpillar and people have drawn with a marker dicks and cursing words all over him. Someone has added with lipstick in the wall a telephone number with the message, Call me for 12/10 B.J.. Hal and Ollie argue if the 12/10 is a reference to the quality of the blowjob or the inches the girl is up to take. Dinah threatens to shove them 12 inches if they don’t help her and Barry get the guy down the wall.

Barry is bewildered. He gets even more astonished as they keep discovering all the presents Oliver’s guests have left all over his house. Even so, nothing beats the impassivity his three partners in this cleaning duty are showing.

Or so he thought. Until Ollie calls one of his mother’s employees to buy another chandelier as he decides that it would be better to just bring down the actual one and have it replaced, rather than get the toilet paper and clean the spray paint from it. Dinah mutters ‘Queen’s swim in money’ to him as a plausible explanation. He watches Hal and Ollie swing on the chandelier until it crashes on the floor. Barry stops questioning them after that. 

 It takes over five hours to get the house spotless.

 

★               ★               ★

 

“You wanna eat? We could drive thru somewhere and eat in a park or something. I feel like outdoors, you know?” Hal asks Barry as they stop in a traffic light. They are both exhausted and famished after cleaning.

“Sure. Just let me tell my dad.” Barry pulls out his phone and quickly texts Joe telling him that he’s not going to make it for lunch. His father replies him, Ok, have fun :D. It makes Barry smile. He and Iris sat down his father one afternoon, and taught him how to use Twitter, Facebook, Skype, and his phone apps. It took them hours, but it was worth it.

“What’s so funny?” Pipes Hal. Barry shows him his phone. “Pffft. Of course, like father like son. Those complete sentences with proper grammar and punctuation…” Hal scoffs.

Barry gets a little defensive. “You know that differently from some years ago, mobile companies do not charge per character, right? Abbreviature in text messaging comes from the necessity of shortening messages so people wouldn’t spend all their money in one single text. As currently that’s not the case, I don’t understand the necessity to write like you do.”

“Talk nerdy to me Bear. Mmm, you are making me all hot and bothered. Do you know how much I like your wiseass?” he turns his head, so Barry can see his lewd grin.

Barry feels the heat spreading through his body from his heart. The myriad of butterflies he has on his stomach flutter like crazy. He chews his lip and burrows down the seat. He bets his face is crimson. Hal laughs and strokes his hair with tenderness.

Nothing really changes after that in their relationship. They still hang out at all hours and text each other when they can’t. They finish their homework thanks to their friends notes and Barry’s insistence… Except that now they kiss. Like a lot. And touch. Constantly. That’s the only change. They are like magnets, unable to stay still and keep their hands to themselves. Barry has discovered that he loves marking Hal. He loves to see those broad shoulders covered with plum hickeys. He even loves more when Hal plasters them against his skin. It’s a constant reminder that this is real. That this is happening. To him. To them.

Everything is perfect that weekend. He’s in love, and Hal seems to be falling for him further as every hour passes by. He receives no news from either his father or lawyer; one less worry on his mind. At least, for now.

Then Monday comes. Hal drives them to class like always with a squealing Iris in the backseat. She totally jumped up and down and twirled with Barry around their house when he told Joe and her that now he and Hal are dating. His father was amused with the news which made Barry’s heart swell with happiness… until Joe insisted in having the talk with him. Worst 10 minutes of his life, thank you very much. Joe also talked with Hal. He has no idea about what, and he has no future intentions of asking Hal.

Hal’s brother rolled his eyes and muttered something under his breath when he got in the car. Otherwise, he seems unaffected.

The drive is as usual: awful singing, corny jokes, tons of flirting (this time totally targeted to him) until they park, make out and walk to the school front doors. They are late as always, although today even more as the make out session got a little bit too steamy and neither wanted to stop.

Mr. Wayne is waiting for them. He doesn’t seem happy. He’s staring them with a pinched and severe expression, tapping his expensive wristwatch as they approach him. Hal sighs and curses.

“Mr. Jordan, Mr. Allen. Come with me. Now.” He utters before he starts to walk down the hall. He doesn’t wait or check that they are following him. He knows that both are going to.

The administrative wing of his high school is an unknown place for Barry. He only went twice, two years ago when he enrolled and later when one of his teachers asked for his assistance to carry some tests and heavy lab equipment. Barry’s wing is science and technology. Furthermore, he has bad memories of his past high school. After all, he can still hear the shouts Joe tossed at his former principal for allowing Barry to get hurt and nearly died after the incident. His scar pangs. He winces. Hal laces their hands to reassure him and mouths to him ‘it’s gonna be okay’.

Mr. Wayne stops when they reach his office. He’s the head of the literature department and the vice-principal, meaning that he’s in charge of the student discipline. Barry had a class with him last course and knows that Hal has one this semester… along with a long relationship with him due to his countless detentions.

Mr. Wayne sits on his seat and leans over his elbows studying them under a watchful eye. No one says anything. Hal fidgets on his chair and coughs, cleaning his throat. “Well, Mr. Wayne we both have classes so…”

“I thought you didn’t care about those Jordan.” He turns on his seat and pulls two brown folders over his desk. When he opens them, Barry can see they are their files. Hal’s is almost three times bigger than his. “Mr. Jordan according to my notes, in these four years you have been in almost 480 detentions. That’s over 150 per year. Pretty much every single day. Your mother must be proud of such distinction. Pity this high school doesn’t give medals to most troublesome student. You’d have no competence.”

He turns to Barry and reads his file. “Mr. Allen, apart from your incident in Freshman, which you were not accountable for, and I’m deeply sorry it happened in your former high school, there’s nothing in your file except that you’re a model student. The only negative note I’ve here, is that you seem to be late in almost all your classes, but your teachers have added that you compensate it with hard work and dedication. As your former teacher, I must agree.” He closes the folders and rests against the back of his chair, observing them.

“So… Are we grounded?” Hal asks.

“Why would you be Jordan?” inquires Wayne. His tone is monotone, and his face is so expressionless that Barry is unable to tell if he’s being sarcastic, curious or a robot.

“I don’t know sir. You tell us,” Hal is his cocky self. Barry wants to hush him. They are already in trouble… whatever that it is.

“I see Jordan you are asking for more. You must find my company truly exquisite because otherwise I’ve no idea why you’d stay with me every single afternoon. Allen, I’ve been told you are the reason why Jordan has now deigned to hand his tasks. Is that correct?” his blue eyes are fix on his. Barry is sure he’s not even blinking. It’s unnerving.

“Y-yes sir,” he stutters wiggling on his chair. His ass hurts. The chair is the standard one made to pain the student so he or she doesn’t fall asleep.

“I thank you for that. On the other hand, I’ve been reported you two seem to be late every morning since we were blessed with said miracle.” He pauses and looks first at Hal and then to Barry who nods. “Why? Neither your brother or sister are late.”

“Barry is clumsy. I’m clumsy. We fall every day on our way here Sir. We even got lost once. It’s a big parking lot,” Barry doesn’t need to look at Hal to know the fucker is smirking. Barry wonders if he has a turn off button because right now, he could use it.

“You’re scoring Jordan. Keep going. Maybe I’d be blessed with your company the whole summer too. If I gave you a GPS, would you be able to find your way to the school front doors? Maybe a special parking spot next to mine so I can guide you to your first class?” Wayne is inciting Hal and Hal gives him what he’s asking for.

“I wouldn’t want you to bother so much Sir.”

“Mr. Wayne, please. Why did you call us?” Barry decides to stop this show. These two seem to loathe each other and he’s getting tired of this pissing contest.

“Friday I was reported that neither of you assisted any of your classes. Detention. Today. You’re dismissed.” Hal starts to stay something, but Wayne cuts him, “Jordan, you already have three days. One for each impertinence you've said. Want to add something else?”

Barry stands up and yanks Hal out of Mr. Wayne office before his boyfriend can answer. They leave the administrative wing. Barry is in no mood to go to class. He decides to risk it and walks to Hal’s car. After all, it would be better to wait for their second period, first is almost over. Sitting over the hood, he watches Hal who seems on a foul mood.

“Why would you do that?” Barry asks him unable to bite his tongue.

“He’s an asshole, a motherfucker who needs to fuck or get fucked like yesterday. Seriously, he hates me. You’ve seen it, right? It’s not just in my imagination.” Hal throws his arms in the air desperate.

“You shouldn’t play his game. He knows you’re easy… and you don’t respect him. Hal, you shouldn’t answer him like that. He’s your teacher and the vice-principal,” Barry states.

“Not you too Bear.” Hal whines and steps closer until he’s between Barry’s legs. Barry spreads them to make space for him. Hal surrounds him with his arms and rests his head against his shoulder where he snuggles his head. “I can’t stand him and my pouty mouth… Sorry babe. It’s my fault you’re grounded,” he sounds regretful. He kisses Barry’s cheek. Barry turns his head to kiss him square in his mouth. Hal groans and tugs him closer, placing his hands in the back of his neck. His fingernails scratch slightly Barry’s head making him shiver.

Barry leans down the hood to get more comfortable and Hal follows him. They keep kissing until the bell rings. His lips are tingling, and he knows it’s more than obvious that they have been kissing. Brushing his hair with his fingers, he tries to tame it a little. Hal smiles and stretches out his arm offering Barry his hand. Barry takes it.

Both walk to the building hand on hand.

 

★               ★               ★

 

Barry stares at the detention room. He has seen it countless times, but he has never crossed its door. Hal pats his shoulder with a crooked smile before he steps inside. Barry follows him.

“Barry, Hal! Over here!” Ollie cheerfully waves them from a table.

Of course he’s here, thinks Barry. Oliver and Hal are regulars. The dynamic grounded duo. Hal drags him to Ollie and sits down on a table next to his. Barry looks around before he sits. The class has several students that he has never talked to. There are three guys and a girl apart from Ollie, Hal and himself.

Mr. Wayne enters. He narrows his eyes when he sees them sitting together.

“This isn’t a social event, Queen, Jordan, move. Allen stay where you are. Now Mr. Jordan,” he adds when Ollie is already up, but Hal is still on his chair.

Dragging loudly his chair, Hal stands up and stumps three chairs over where he sits heavily making more noise. Mr. Wayne closes his eyes with annoyance and mutters something under his breath. Barry wants to disappear. This is so awkward…

“For those like Jordan who are regulars, you already know the rules,” Mr. Wayne looks at every one of them except Barry. Then he stares him, “for those new here, let’s hope this is the first and last time. Do your homework. Do nothing. I don’t care. Don’t talk. Don’t fall asleep, that goes for you Mr. Queen. Don’t draw. Stay silent. Stay focused on your desk. There is nothing beyond your desk. Break the rules, you earn another day. Questions?”

No one says anything. Barry prays that Hal doesn’t open his mouth. Please, please, please… He’s not lucky.

“What if I need to go to the bathroom?” Pipes Hal.

“You already know the rules Hal. That your new friend is here doesn’t mean you have to show off. I’ve already had this argument with you for three years. No bathroom. And no, I don’t care if ‘you’re leaking’.”

Barry bangs his head against his desk. It echoes in the room. Hal and Ollie laugh. Wayne sighs. Barry is mortified. He can’t believe his boyfriend has asked that, especially that he has been arguing with his teacher about it for years and even said that he was ‘leaking’. He can’t believe him.

Counting to ten, Barry raises his head from the desk. He decides to start with his bio homework. He’s halfway through it when a piece of paper lands on his notebook. It’s from Hal.

    babe u look hot O_O whatcha doin? warty isn’t looking :P

Glancing to Wayne he checks that indeed, Hal is right. His teacher is typing on his laptop and checking his phone from time to time. He chews his lip, undecided about if he should answer Hal and tell him to actually do his own homework or ignore the note. Hal sends him another before he has taken a decision.

    i bet u look better naked

    u said ok 2 kiss & touch… BJ 2 ????

Barry’s hand grips the note as his eyes widen. Is Hal serious? He can feel his cheeks getting warmer as he imagines it. Hal down on him, licking him, teasing him with his tongue… Another note lands on his desk.

    i can tell u thinkin abt it

    jw, u 2 me or i 2 u?

Barry stares at the paper trying to decipher what it means. His brain finally comprehends what Hal is implying. He licks his lips and is unable to stop himself from glancing over Hal who is watching him with an obscene smirk. He winks at Barry before he starts to scrabble on his notebook. He takes his time before he throws Barry the paper.

“Mr. Allen, give me that,” Mr. Wayne barks him as he looks at Hal. “Now, Mr. Allen.”

Barry quickly grabs one of the other notes and switches it on his hands before handing it to Mr. Wayne. He’s about to turn around when Mr. Wayne stops him. “All the notes Allen. The four of them.”

Busted.

He looks panicked at Hal who’s chewing his lip trying to withhold his laughter. Ollie doesn’t. He bursts into laughter along with some of the other students. Barry wants to leave and lose himself on an isolated island. He hands Mr. Wayne the four notes before he sits down. He won’t ever be able to look at his vice-principal on his face ever again. He’s so embarrassed… then Mr. Wayne starts to read out loud the notes and he combusts of humiliation.

“I can tell you thinking about it. Just wondering, you to me or I to you? Wonderful usage of grammar Jordan. As your literature teacher I can assure you, you’re making me feel proud. Babe you look hot. O, lower dash, O.” Someone snickers behind Barry. “What are you doing? Warty isn’t looking.” Wayne stops when Oliver starts to clap laughing. “Mr. Queen, perhaps you would like to join Mr. Jordan tomorrow too. Very well. I’ll see you as well.”

Wayne opens the next note. Barry notices it’s the long one. He has no idea of what Hal has written in it. “Gonna guess me to you. Me on my knees under your desk blow-” Mr. Wayne stops and looks up. His eyes are harsh. He’s mad. To Barry’s despair he’s not done. “The note keeps going on about unappropriated usage of the facility furniture.” More chuckles.

“Brucey, you shouldn’t be reading those things to kids. It’s inappropriate,” Hal supplies smugly. Barry turns on his chair with his eyes narrowed. He can’t believe him. Right now, he wants to hit his boyfriend and tape his big mouth.

“Mr. Jordan. I’ll see you for the rest of the month. Add something else and it’ll be two months,” he says as he tears Hal’s notes into pieces.

“Hal. SHUT UP.” Barry hisses. Finally, Hal does.

The rest of detention Barry stares at his notebook unable to do anything. When Mr. Wayne announces it’s over, he gathers up his stuff and walks to the door without waiting for Hal. He’s pissed. When he reaches the car, he waits for Hal to unlock it, but when Hal starts to talk he hushes him banging the door closed. He has never been so embarrassed and annoyed in his whole life. Worst of all, it’s not the shame per se, it’s that Hal kept talking, making Wayne madder and madder. Barry is sure that if Hal hadn’t poked Wayne, Wayne wouldn’t have read the notes out loud.

Hal drives. The radio is off. Hal finally breaks the silence, “Bear, I’m so sorry. I shouldn’t have written those things. Fuck, I knew he was going to read them but-”

“You knew?” Barry interrupts him.

“Well, yeah. I mean Wayne always reads all the notes he finds. It’s his twisted way to make sure students stop doing it.” Hal scratches his head.

Barry snorts, “guess you missed the memo.”

Hal chuckles. “Yeah. Please Bear, don’t be mad at me.” He stops the car. They are in a Steak and Shake. “I invite you. Please. It’s my fault. It was me who got us landed on detention and who wrote those notes and who pissed Wayne since, well, since forever so he hates my guts and-”

Barry kisses his boyfriend. He’s still annoyed but… it’s quite hard to keep being it when he himself was considering answering Hal’s notes and imagining what Hal was writing on them happening. He draws away and strokes his nose against Hal’s cheek sighing.

“I want the biggest shake. No, I want two shakes. One of chocolate cookie dough and another one of Oreo Mint, got it? And Hal… I want you to tell me what you wrote on that note.”

He leaves the car and Hal perplexed.

 

★               (Shaved Ice )               ★

 

The news about him and Hal dating have spread quickly. Specially after yesterday’s show on detention. Barry gets used to it by third period when the story has gone bananas. He wonders how people can like gossip so much and distort stories till the point that he hears a version of him and Hal on Wayne’s desk table.

Hal apologizes over a hundred times during the course of the day. Barry tells him to save it. Instead, he asks him to ignore whatever Wayne throws at him in detention and do his homework like they always do in the library.

Barry, following his own advice, is in the library doing his own work waiting for Hal’s detention to be over when Emma, the librarian, approaches him. “Is your friend sick?” She asks him curious.

“Oh, no. He… He’s in detention. He and Mr. Wayne don’t get along and you know them,” he shrugs. Emma must know Hal by now and Mr. Wayne’s rep is legendary.

“Oh, I see. I’m sorry to hear, dear. Well, I’ve to admit that today the library seems empty without him. Don’t tell him that. He’s already a riot, wouldn’t want him to climb the shelves or something worse.” She leaves him.

Barry smiles, so Emma likes Hal. He has to agree with her. Today his study session should be his most productive: Hal isn’t there to pester him. Yet, he’s unable to write anything. He misses Hal. Crap. He has got used to Hal unstoppable chit-chat as background noise that aids him to keep track of his tasks. It sounds ridiculous but it’s true.

He can’t wait until Hal’s detention is over.

 

★               ★               ★

 

Hal’s detention is going to be over this Friday. November is almost gone, and Barry can’t wait for Christmas after their amazing Thanksgiving with Nana West and Hal. Hal has promised him to drive them to the ice rink, so Barry can teach him how to ice-skate. Barry can’t believe Hal doesn’t know how.

His computer beeps. His stomach drops. He knows it’s an email from his father’s lawyer.

His worst fears expressed in just two paragraphs. Barry feels his eyes burn. He’s crying. Painful memories assault him. He sees his father covered in his mother’s blood, calling her to wake up. He sees the face of Joe, some family friend, trying to comfort him as his father was taken in custody. He remembers Joe explaining him that he was going to be living with him and Iris from that moment on: ‘like a long sleepover son’. He hears the whispers on the halls, people pointing him, throwing stuff at his head, calling him murderer, psychopath… He feels the pain on his face as some masked kids are attacking him, he feels the floor, he hears himself screaming begging them to stop…

His scar aches. He can’t stop crying, he can’t breathe. He gropes around his closet for Hal’s hoodie. He buries himself on it. It has almost lost all trace of Hal but somehow it still comforts him. He wants Hal. He needs him. He craves Hal to cuddle with him, to hold him tight… but he can’t. He’s afraid of Hal’s reaction when he finds out about Barry’s father. He fears Hal would hate him as everybody did.

No one believes him whenever he tells them that Henry is innocent. Not even Joe, not anymore. They nearly killed him (accidentally) last time the press leaked his surname. People thought it was a coincidence that Henry Allen was the father of Barry Henry Allen. Barry didn’t deny it. When he was asked he answered the truth. Yes, Henry Allen is his father and no, he didn’t murder his mother.

He had been naïve, thinking, believing, hoping, that people would leave him alone…

 

  ★               (Hourglass )               ★

 

The bullying started during his eighth grade when his father’s sentence was reviewed for the first time. Some newspaper mentioned Barry and people started to that maybe the shy, quiet kid was a monster in disguise. That summer, he barely left the house. Joe cleaned almost daily their front door from eggs, paper toilet and graffiti’s calling Barry and his father a variety of colorful names.

 Joe asked him several times during those months if he wanted to be homeschooled instead of starting High School that fall. He said no. He wasn’t going to stay home, locked. His father wasn’t guilty, and the world should know it.

He should have been the one to know better.

There wasn’t a single day that his locker wasn’t emptied in the washroom, his backpack flushed down the toilet. He learned to never left anything inside his locker, to always carry his stuff everywhere and never leave his backpack unattended. It was hard, but once his teachers saw that he was a good student, some protected him.

His science teacher, Mrs. Gómez, allowed him to eat his lunch on her lab while she taught him Spanish and gave him further readings in any scientific matter that he was curious: Hoy quiero saber más sobre los quarks señorita Gómez. ¿Tiene algún libro sobre ello?*

His math teacher always casually waited around when either Barry entered school and left it. Mr. Hardy was an old friend of Joe. Barry knew his father had asked him to keep an eye on Barry. Barry didn’t mind. Mr. Hardy was a good teacher and he gave him conversation when Joe was late to pick him up from Iris’ middle school located few blocks over.

For months, he had been all alone with no friends, called names, pushed on the halls… small stuff. He had tried to show his best face, with the firm belief that if he proved how good and nice he truly was, people would finally see that he wasn’t any of those awful things he was called daily. Once they saw it, they would listen to him and finally, they’d believe that his father was innocent; that his mother’s murderer was still out there. Free. While his father was rotting on prison for a crime he didn’t commit, without his son, without being able to mourn like he deserved the loss of the love of his life.

Fool. He had been a fool. One day, no one pushed him on the halls or tripped him up. He thought things were changing… They pushed him downstairs. He sprained his ankle and landed on his right shoulder. Luckily his shoulder injury only lasted three days but during that period he was unable to use his arm. His ankle took nearly a month to heal, or it would have taken a month, if he hadn’t been pushed once more downstairs.

Barry found it ironic that people were calling him: murderer, like father like son he must be one, yet it wasn’t him who pushed people downstairs and recorded it while laughing and ignoring his cries of pain and help.

Joe took him out of school one week before Christmas. Barry fought him. If he abandoned now, people would believe they were right, and he wanted to learn. He loved school and no one could take that away from him.

He should have listened to Joe… [or maybe not. If he had maybe he wouldn’t be where he is right now, with Hal. Even if he might lose him when Hal finds the truth about his past.] Either way, he didn’t listen to Joe. He ignored Iris pleas to stay home. He went to school with his head held high. Proud of being Bartholomew Henry Allen, son of Henry Allen and foster son of Joe West.

Two days after his return, a boy from his class, another bullied boy, Andrew, approached him. The boy seemed nervous and wary, but Barry was happy to talk with him. Andrew asked him to meet with him after class in the woods behind their school so they could hang out. [Thinking about it now, he knew it sounded suspicious and he should have known it… but he went.]

The woods were deserted. His new friend Andrew was nowhere his sight could reach. Barry rested against a tree and waited. He saw a caterpillar crawling on a leaf. Barry found it weird because it was January and caterpillars weren’t supposed to be active this early. He observed the poor creature struggling. Barry decided to take it home, so it would survive and then free it once spring came. He knew Iris would scream as soon as she saw the furry tiny bug, but the idea of such small creature perishing in the cold, broke Barry’s heart.

“Look, the freak has made a friend.”

“A worm. Just like him. Or are you planning to stab it like daddy did with mommy, psycho?”

Barry’s blood turned ice. He turned and saw he was surrounded. Four boys with their faces covered in horrendous masks were staring at him. Barry didn’t need to see their faces to know that they had no good intentions. The way his shoulders were tensed, and that sneer had been enough to tell him that he should run as fast as he could.

He did.

He ran until his lungs burned and his legs ached with cramps. It didn’t matter. One tackled him. He was pinned against the cold ground in the middle of the forest. Far away from anyone that could help him. He could feel a twig, stabbing his stomach. It hurt. His aggressor had him pinned on the ground, at his total mercy. He was calling for the others to join the party.

The three boys laughed when they saw the scene. They hollered ‘good job Mike!’. Mike hushed them with, ‘don’t say my name idiots’.

“I won’t tell anyone. Please, please let me go,” Barry begged them. He was crying.

His plea earned him a punch. He could taste the blood on his mouth. They took turns to hold him down as the rest punched and kicked him. They wanted to scare him. They wanted him gone from his halls. He was a shame his high school couldn’t stand.

He was scared. He thought he was going to die. He elbowed one of his captors, seizing that they were changing their positions to hold him down, and he ran.

He stumbled while he was running, he was weak and in pain, he couldn’t see as his eyes were swollen. The ground was uneven. Some people used that part of the woods to throw old stuff. He fell from some kind of pronounced slope. He passed out.

The boys called an ambulance. They were scared. They swore it was an accident that they never intended to hurt him. That they only wanted to teach the weirdo a lesson. That’s what they told the emergency operator. They had fled the scene before the paramedics arrived.

Barry nearly died bleeding out. He had landed over some rusty metal pipes. One had stabbed his side. Another had cut his head and knocked him out. Added to what they had done to him...

Joe cried. Iris cried. Barry smiled, he was alive, he was surrounded by people that loved him; how could he not?

 He believed or wanted to believe, that those boys were telling the truth. That they only wanted to scare him. That they never intended to kill him. That it was an accident. An incident. Nevertheless, Barry asked Joe to switch high schools. Joe told him that he had already done it. That if those brutes had waited just two days to attack him, Barry would be long gone to another city, in another state, far away from the press. Far away from his father.

Barry smiled: there it was his new opportunity to start all over.

He and Iris finished their grades homeschooled. Iris started High School with Barry as Freshman and Sophomore respectively.

Barry promised himself to never ever talk about his father. Not to his new friends. Not to his family. He had learned the lesson. He kept his cheerful and optimistic attitude. He couldn’t let his past to kept him depressed, grounded without spreading his wings.

New high school, new town, new opportunity. Barry took it.

He was new. He was clever. A nerd. Some seniors pushed him around. He did nothing. He couldn’t. He was panicking, reliving his worst nightmare. He could feel the weight of those bullies pining him against the ground, taking turns…

“LEAVE HIM ALONE. Why don’t you pick up on someone of your size MD?”

“None of us is named MD, idiot!”

“Oh, sorry, I must have confused you with Moby Dick, my bad. You two look too much alike.”

“I’m gonna fucking murder you shithead!”

“I’d love to see you trying. Careful, I wouldn’t want you to stumble upon your own stupidity. Rumor says it’s enormous, but not as big as your-“

Barry heard a hit and a groan. He opened his eyes. He saw a kid of his height with brown unruly hair, and wearing a bomber jacket, with his fists raised in a defensive posture. The kid who had pushed him was holding his jaw with his eyes wide open as his friends were sneering at the kid.

“That’s all you got, uh, shithead? You’re a fucker! An-and a CUNT! Yeah, and an asshole! Go cry a river to your momma!”

The boys left as someone screamed ‘Mr. Wayne’ and his savior turned around. He kneeled before Barry and asked him, “Are you okay?”

Barry nodded, unable to speak.

That was the first time he saw Hal Jordan.

 

  ★               (Hourglass )               ★

 

“Barry?”

Barry is brought back to the present as Hal voice reaches him, piercing the dense fog his brain is filled with. He’s dazed. What? He has a hard time trying to breathe. He realizes he’s sniffing, still crying.

“Barry? Babe? Hold on Bear, I’m on my way.”

Barry doesn’t understand how he can be hearing Hal if Hal isn’t with him in his room. He tries to look around. His vision his blurry and there’s barely any light. He sees his laptop. It triggers his memories back. He received an email. Just like some years ago, his father sentence is getting reviewed. His father might be freed. Barry should be happy… why is he crying? Why does he have this heavy weight upon his chest making it hard do breathe? Why can’t he stop shaking?

“I’m almost there, Bear. I’m parking.”

Parking. Hal is parking. Barry realizes he’s talking with Hal through his phone. He can see a picture of him and Hal kissing, and Hal's contact as Hal (G) (Two Hearts ) on a current call. According to his screen, they have been talking for almost 14 minutes. Barry deduces he must have called Hal in the middle of his panic attack while he was reviving his old memories.

“H-Hal, no, don’t come…” his voice rough and broken as his throat is dry and his emotions are still a chaos. He’s a mess. He doesn’t want Hal to see him like this. He can’t.

His door opens. Hal looks wild. He’s panting, and he seems to be wearing his comfy clothes. The ones Barry has only seen when they FaceTime before going to sleep. Hal must have run from his house in the middle of the night because Barry has scared him. It makes him shed more tears. Hal jumps into his bed and holds him tight.

They stay like that for what could be hours. Hal petting Barry, his hair, his back, his shoulders... trying to soothe him. He kisses Barry’s temple and whispers, “it’s okay, I’m here babe, nothing is going to hurt you. Shhh, it’s okay you’re safe.” Every once in a while.

When Barry is finally himself he tenses realizing what has happened. He panics again but Hal only holds him tighter. The message is crystalline, Hal has no intention of going anywhere or letting Barry.

His computer beeps. He has a new email. He ignores it. He’s dreadful of what it might be. He was okay. He was doing okay. He had been okay. For the last three years he has lived happy in this town with his new friends like he used to be before eighth grade. Joe and Iris were doing fine. After so many struggles Joe had finally found his perfect partner in the police station. Iris is now dating a guy from her grade… He should be happy. His father might be freed. They could start all over somewhere. Why isn’t he happy? Why did people on his last town wither something that should fulfill him with merriness? Why his family?

He’s weeping again. Hal’s t-shirt is wet from his tears, snort and drooling. He doesn’t understand how Hal can still be here. Barry knows his cry isn’t pretty, quite the opposite it’s ugly and messy.

“Bear, you don’t need to. God knows I’m the least suitable to say this but, if you want to talk, it might help you. Letting it out, it can help you,” Hal’s voice is hoarse but filled with tenderness. Barry’s heart warms.

“I-I-I’m scared Hal.” He buries his face deeper in Hal’s chest.

“Why? Barry, does this have anything to do with what happened on Halloween?” Hal asks him slowly.

Barry snorts. Hal is so sharp. He can’t believe people think he’s stupid. Maybe his boyfriend isn’t book-intelligent but he’s no fool.

He’s too tired to lie. He hates secrets and lies. “Yes,” he whispers weary.

“Okay… Why are you scared?” Hal’s gentle but firm.

Barry swallows. “I’m not sure… I-I have a past Hal and I moved on but now… it’s all happening again. And I feel guilty because I should be happy for my dad…”

“Joe?” Hals enquires. Barry tenses. Shit. Once more, Hal gets it. “Your biological father.” It’s not a question, but rather a statement. “It’s okay, you don’t need to tell me about him. It'd be unfair, after all I promised you when we met that I’d explain my complicated and I haven’t.”

Barry sits on his bed and looks through his window. It’s probably past the witching hour. Hal embraces him, tugging his back against his chest. He nuzzles his head against Barry’s neck and smooches him. Barry’s mouth tugs upwards. He strokes Hal’s hair simply watching the pale crescent moon. They stay like this for minutes until Barry feels Hal tremor. It’s almost December and he’s with a thin wet t-shirt. Barry gets up and walks to his closet where he chooses his most fluffy hoodie. He tugs Hal’s t-shirt up and handles him his clothes.

“If you wanted me naked, you only needed to ask Bear,” Hal winks before he chuckles as Barry flips him off.

Barry tucks them under his covet as they lay again in his bed. He’s using Hal’s arm as his pillow, he can feel Hal’s heartbeat. It’s the most comforting thing he has ever listened to. It shoos away all the ghosts from his past. At least for now.

“My father died,” Hal breaks the silence. Barry raises his eyes and sees Hal has his closed. Barry seeks Hal’s hand and entangles them together. “He was a test pilot. Yeah, that’s why I want to enlist. Always wanted. My mom hated it. One day my father was talking and joking with me, next minute he was in a jet. Then he crashed. There was a malfunction and he tried to save the jet. He tried to land, but he couldn’t. Carol’s dad is the owner of Ferris Aircraft. He was my dad’s boss. I saw it all.”

Barry is speechless. He caresses Hal’s cheek. “He must have been really brave to try to save the plane instead of himself,” he whispers.

Hal opens his eyes and looks at him. His eyes are wet. “Yeah… he truly was. No one, no one understands it Barry. They all think he was reckless. He wasn’t. He was doing his job.”

Now it’s Barry’s turn to hold Hal.

 

★               ★               ★

 

“Barry.”

Barry slowly opens his eyes. He sees Joe hovering over him.

“D-dad?”

“Yeah, listen I’m going to take Iris and Hal’s brother to high school, okay? You two keep sleeping. I just wanted to tell you, so you wouldn’t worry about classes. I got you two covered, okay?” Joe smiles warmly at him. Barry is confused. Who’s ‘you two’? Like the amazing detective Joe is, he adds, “Hal came last night. You better keep that boy closer Barry. He fought me and threatened me, so he could enter to protect you… We’re going to have to talk later Barry. I don’t know what triggered you, but communication is vital. We don’t want to keep repeating past mistakes, are we clear?”

Barry nods as Hal groans behind him. Joe smiles and winks before he leaves. Hal tightens his grip around Barry’s waist. Barry falls asleep again with the distant noise of Joe’s car turning on and leaving the driveway under his bedroom.

Next thing Barry is aware is a warm mouth over his shoulder and neck kissing him awake. He hums with pleasure. He can feel said mouth smile.

“Good morning love,” Hal cheeky grins as Barry turns around and kisses his boyfriend. They lay in bed kissing each other good morning lazily for minutes until Barry’s stomach groans demanding food. Hal chuckles, “I feel ya, Bear. It’s well known that after hibernation, these creatures seek aliment.” Hal is mimicking one of those documentaries from tv. Barry finds it adorable, Hal is such a dork…

They chase each other through the house until they reach the kitchen. They have breakfast and once they are done they start to clear the table. Barry is leaned over to fill the dishwasher when he feels Hal’s hands on his hips. Getting up, he’s pushed against the counter. He jumps until he’s sitting on it and opens his arms and legs, so Hal can place himself into. Hal loses no time before he crashes against Barry’s body and both teens are kissing on the kitchen.

When Barry pulls away to breath, Hal starts to suck the tender skin of his neck, marking him. Barry moans and digs his fingers against Hal’s shoulders, tightening his grip around Hal’s waist with his legs.  “I-if I don’t recall wrong, you teased Dinah for getting caught in a kitchen,” he pants.

Hal groans and nips his fresh marred skin. Barry hisses but he mainly feels pleasure. O-kay so he might have a pain/pleasure kink. Good to know. Now that he thinks about it, he loves it when Hal manhandles him around or smacks his ass.

The phone rings. They ignore it. Kissing is much better than the outer world. Barry slides his tongue inside the warmth of Hal’s mouth tearing a low growl from his throat. He loves the vibrations it causes. He tugs Hal closer although it’s impossible: there isn’t a single inch between them.

Barry can feel his blood pumping through his veins, asking for more. He loves to feel Hal’s weight over him, the warmth, the hardness and sharp edges of his body pressed against his. He’s never felt more at home than when he’s with Hal.

Barry tilts his head back, offering himself to Hal. Hal licks him, slowly dragging his teeth along his tongue as he holds Barry, firmly pressing his hands against his back, making sure that his waists are pressed together. Hal tugs his shirt up and Barry raises his arms up to help him. Hal throws the shirt over his shoulder. Barry pulls up the hoodie he lent Hal, it’s only fair if Hal’s also shirtless. Unlike Hal, he takes his time undressing him. His hands caress each dimple and rib as he takes off the piece of clothing. Hal stands still there, swallowing with black eyes filled with raw want, letting Barry to explore him. Barry does. He lets his fingers trail all over Hal’s chiseled chest and abs, his fingertips travelling from dimple to dimple, from bone to bone… he maps Hal. Leaping from the counter, he bends over and brushes his lips over the skin he has just touched. Now he needs to discover its taste.

Hal squirms under his touch. He loves the knowledge that he has such effect on his lover. It’s comforting to know he’s not the only one that melts with something as simple as this. He keeps going further down until he’s kneeling and kissing Hal just above the waistband of his underwear. He looks up, through his lashes, and sees Hal observing him. He licks his lips and Hal sucks a breath. Still observing Hal, his hands play slightly with the band of Hal’s boxers and sweatpants. He needs to know that this is okay.

“Barry, you don’t need to…” Hal voice breaks as Barry does.

Hal’s pants and underwear slide easily down his legs until they pool on the floor. Barry watches with awe Hal’s dick bobbing free before his eyes. He’s bigger and thicker than he has ever dreamed of. His mouth waters at the same time that he wonders if it’s going to fit. After all, this is his first time.

Hal grips his shoulders to reassure him. Barry touches it marveled with how different if feels from when he touches himself. He licks his lips before placing them over the wet tip that is already leaking precome. Hal groans above him. Barry is not sure if he likes the taste of precome, but he swallows it as he opens his mouth wider and takes Hal bit by bit. His jaw kind of aches and he’s sure he has barely fit half of Hal before he pulls back. Tightening his grip on the base with his hand, he starts to bob up and down slowly, getting used to the sensation and carefully trying to not hurt Hal with his teeth.

It’s harder than they make it look on those porn videos he has watched numberless times. He can also tell that Hal is struggling to stand still not choking him, hands griped tight in Barry’s shoulders. He can feel his mouth getting wetter and wetter as Hal moans louder. He helps his mouth with his hand, twisting it just as he likes it, guessing Hal must like it too. Hal thrusts in response. Barry manages to keep going as he feels his eyes watering. He increases his speed slightly and tries to go a little further.

“Bar- oh, god… I-I-I I’m gonna- Fuuck!” Hal screams. Barry pulls back on time and finishes Hal with his hand increasing the speed. He watches amazed Hal’s face as he comes. Both are panting hard. Hal keeps his eyes squeezed for a while before he yanks Barry up and shoves his hand inside Barry’s pants yanking them down enough for what he needs.

Barry has never felt like this. He knows he only needs a couple of Hal’s strokes before he’s done. Hal moves his hand up and down his cock, griping tight enough that Barry sees the stars. His head falls against Hal’s shoulder and he can feel Hal’s panting hard against his neck, still recovering from his own orgasm. Like he predicted, he comes with a loud groan one stroke later.

They stay like that until their breaths are even. Barry feels a little ashamed, he has just kind of lost his virginity in the middle of his kitchen and came in less than a minute. Hal kisses his cheek as he pulls up Barry’s pants and then his. “We should clean ourselves a little. We’re kind of a mess,” he utters roughly.

Barry nods. He watches the movement of Hal’s back muscles as he washes his hands in the faucet. He chews his lips as an idea is shaping on his mind. Before he can chicken out of it, he croaks, “You wanna take a shower? With me.”

Hal turns around. He’s still flustered. “Okay.”

Barry leads the way bouncing with happiness. As they step into the shower kissing each other, the phone rings again. The sound is muted by the water and their moans.

Chapter Text

Hal is in cloud nine. He’s pretty much naked, except for a towel, spread all over his boyfriend’s bed while said boyfriend is jumping around, dressing himself. Hal thinks it’s a pity. Barry’s ass should always be visible, if not, he demands a picture for personal usage.

He squeezes his eyes tight and hums cheerily as he recalls the shower they’ve just taken. Best shower ever. He has never made sure that something was as spotless as he has been with Barry’s body. Oh yeah, he has cleaned his boyfriend thrice just to make sure he hadn’t left any spot.

He’s getting hard again just thinking about it. He’s insatiable. He doesn’t know how many handjobs he has had in the past couple of hours but god, he wouldn’t say no to another one… or to do one to Barry. Fuck, his boyfriend is hella hot. He stares at his ass with a grin spreading through his face.

Barry has been surprising him since they met, but the last 12 hours have been wild. He knew that Barry was going through something. He’s no fool (opposite to popular opinion thank you for your concern), he notices stuff like the way lately Barry tenses whenever he looks at his mail app; how sometimes he seems to be miles away, lost in his thoughts, with a melancholic rictus.

It’s obvious that he’s hiding something. Hal knows he has no right to press his Bear, after all, he has secrets too. Had. He told his last night and once more, he appreciated Barry’s reaction. Barry got it. He didn’t give him the same bullshit everybody tells him: I’m sorry for your loss, how old where you? Poor little thing, he’s in a better place nowb u l l s h i t.

 Barry told him what he has always believed: that his father was the bravest man ever, fearless, only trying his best to do his job. Hal aspires to be just half the man he was. Barry always gets him, always sees past his walls. Now Hal guesses it must be because they must share a similar shitty/sobbing backstory.

Hal would be blatantly lying if he denied that he has wondered a couple of times about Barry’s past. Specifically, about his biological family. It’s obvious that he loves Joe and Iris and that they love him (Nana West included, Joe’s mom is a riot). He can still see the threatening look of Joe, the way he nonchalantly cleaned his gun while he was telling him to not hurt his son or if not… Yeah, Hal got the memo: if he messed up with Barry, Joe was going to tear him a new one. But Hal is curious. He has always pondered how Barry ended with the Wests. Looking through the pictures on Barry’s home, it’s obvious Barry was between 7 or 8 when he was adopted by them. However, Hal bit his tongue and asked no further questions, waiting until Barry was ready to tell him; just as last night Hal himself had been ready to tell him about his dad.

Even so, his mind couldn’t let go what had happened last night when he had received the call. He had fallen asleep reading the latest comic Cisco had lent him when his phone started to ring with Barry’s tone, Love on Top by Beyoncé (courtesy of Ollie). He picked it up thinking his boyfriend wanted to wish him sweet dreams like always… instead he heard nothing and then a muffed sniff and the small cries of Barry begging someone to ‘stop it, please, no, no, it hurts, I’m not him’ and something about someone being innocent.

Hal had frozen and it took him a couple of minutes to catch up that his boyfriend was having a nightmare or whatever that was and needed him. Barry’s distress broke his soul. Hal fled from his house thanking that his mom had the night-shift and drove like a madman to Barry’s house where he banged the front door. When Joe had finally opened, he saw Hal’s distress and demanded to know what was going on. Hal doesn’t remember what he answered but Joe’s face was worth a pic before the man stepped away and Hal ran upstairs to Barry’s room where he found his boyfriend completely trashed.

He still ignores what happened, what caused his distress. He wants, needs, to ask Barry, but he knows better than to press the issue. Now that Barry appears okay, Hal has no intention to crush his spirits. Not now, later maybe. Because Hal knows that he needs to know sooner or later. Barry’s words echoed inside his mind: I have a past Hal and I moved on but now it’s all happening again. What had happened? And what was starting again? Hal needed to know it, so he could help Barry.

The phone rings. Barry is still getting dressed. Hal stretches a little across the bed and picks up the dorky R2D2 phone Bar has on his night table. “Yeah?”

“Is this Bartholomew Henry Allen?” A nasal voice asks him.

“Nope.” Answers Hal nonchalantly.

“I’m sorry, must have tracked down the wrong number.” The man hangs up before Hal can add anything else. He stares at the phone confused.

“Who was it?” Barry crawls over his bed, until he rests his head against Hal’s chest.

“I don’t know. Bar, that was bizarre like, he asked for you, full name, I said no and before I could tell him to wait, he said he had tracked down the wrong number and hung up. Who says track a number? Isn’t it weird?” Hal stops his speech as he feels Barry tense above him. “Bear?”

Barry quickly gets up and opens his laptop. Hal is witness of how his boyfriend becomes pale and trembles before his laptop slips from his hands, crashing loudly against his desk. Barry covers his face with his hands and weeps. Hal is on the move. He holds Barry tightly and kisses his forehead wondering what has just happened. Looking over Barry’s shoulder, he tries to see what has triggered his Bear. It’s an email, of course it is. He can’t read what it says but it doesn’t matter.

“Bear, is someone harassing you? Blackmail or some shit? Do you have a stalker? Cause lately every time you read an email you shit bricks.” That’s the only theory Hal can think about, the only explanation. Plus, Barry is adorable of course someone would get obsessed with him…

Barry shakes his head. Hal doesn’t know if it means yes or no. The phone rings again. Barry squeezes himself against Hal and covers his ears with his hands. Hal hates the ring. He sits Barry on his bed and picks up the phone.

“Hello? Is this Barth-”

Hal interrupts the man once he checks that yes, it’s the same man and roars, “NO. This isn’t him. STOP CALLING!” He hangs up and then disconnects it, so no one can keep calling. He has no idea of who that man is, but he can see the suffering Barry is going through and that’s enough for him.

He embraces Barry again and waits until he gets calmed enough to mutter thanks. Hal kisses him. He doesn’t deserve it, he has done what any other decent human being would have done for the person they care the most about. Not worth any praise. He swings Barry a little, trying to soothe him until his boyfriend is composed.

“Thanks Hal,” his voice is hoarse, and his eyes red. Hal hates to see him like that. Shit, he thought after this morning, today was going to be an awesome day. He wants to smash the asshole or assholes that have caused this. He wants to sit Joe down and enquire him until he knows everything about Barry. Fuck, he doesn’t care if Joe kicks him out. He needs to know so he can do something, anything, to help Barry because every second Barry panics, Hal does too.

“No problem babe. Wanna talk about it?” He offers heartily. He looks at Barry’s eyes trying to get his message across: ‘you don’t need to, but if you need me I’ll always be there for you’.

Barry shakes his head with a clear no. No, he doesn’t want to talk about it. He looks around his room and then whispers, “You should get dressed. It’s cold and I don’t want you to get sick Hal.”

Hal smiles and getting up, he kisses Barry’s shoulder as he walks pass him to his closet. He picks up the first t-shirt he sees. It’s a dark blue with white letters that says Avoid negativity f(x) = |x|. Hal chuckles, it’s so Barry. “Bear, you have some pants I can borrow?” he says over his shoulder.

“Yeah, bottom shelf,” replies Barry gravely, playing with the hem of his t-shirt still lost inside his mind.

Hal kneels and looks for the bottom shelf; there’s two. He sees the corner of cork board poking out behind some hanged clothes. Setting them aside a little, he sees an old copy of a picture with the corners worn, featuring a tall man with dark blond hair, a smiling blonde woman, and a little blond kid between them, with a big toothy grin minus one of his front teeth. Hal is sure the kid must be Barry. It’s safe to assume the people on the picture must be his parents.

Hal sees the same man in a blurry black and white newspaper cut. The headline reads, H. Allen convicted to life imprisonment for-

“Hal?”

Hal leaps and grabs the first pair of pants he finds before he stands up, hastily closing Barry’s closet. He pretends that everything is okay that he has just not read that, whatever that was. His mind is racing over all the possibilities. He studies Barry… so, his father is in prison for something and his legal tutor is a cop. It’s kind of ironic if you ask him.

Hal wonders where Barry’s mother is. Is she in prison too? Does his boyfriend come from a mob family? That’s would be weird, but it’s doesn’t really matter. Hal has witnessed how Barry scolded Iris once for trying to kill a spider before he gently gathered it on a piece of paper and freed it on their garden with a tender, ‘goodbye, don’t come back I can’t guarantee your survival if Iris finds you again’. Hal scoffs with the memory. Even if Barry came from the Mason family, he’s as dangerous as a fluffy kitten. Although they can kill with cuteness.

Hal chuckles again and Barry glances him. Hal smirks, yeah, his boyfriend could totally kill someone with his cuteness. He strokes his messy hair and kisses him gently before stepping on the pair of pants he has grabbed… they’re basketball shorts.

“Hal? Why would you pick up those? We’re almost in December, not May,” Barry is biting his lip trying not to laugh.

“Don’t question my fashion sense Bear!” He huffs pretending to be annoyed. Barry laughs, and Hal’s hearts explodes with warmth. This is how he wants his boyfriend to be: happy, carefree… free. “Crap! Mr. Wayne is going to ground me till next life. We’ve totally cut class and my detention-”

“Don’t worry Hal. Joe woke me up to tell me that he got us covered. We’re here with his permission. He also told me that you threatened him last night.” Hal’s eyes widen. He did what? Barry seems to read his panic as he quickly adds, “Don’t worry… he told me to keep you. He really likes you Hal.”

Hal is flattered. He has only kind of, but not really, dated Carol, and Mr. Ferris hates his guts. The other girls he’s been with have only been casual hook-ups during parties. Barry is his first stable relationship. It’s kind of scary if he’s being honest with himself but so far, Barry hasn’t tried to change him. He lets him be himself. Hal loves that. He doesn’t feel trapped.

Hal scratches his head and coughs awkwardly, “I don’t really remember it. I just know you needed me and well, here I am,” he tries to lighten the mood with fake cheerfulness.

His mind is pure mayhem. He has so many questions and theories now that he has more data about Bar’s dad; it kind of makes his head ache. Barry said his past was now chasing him, what if it’s like in the Godfather and his father’s partners are coming back? He starts to imagine those classic gangsters with fedoras… and stops right there. He doesn’t even know what Barry’s dad did. Hell, he could have pissed drunk in the lawn of a judge and got the life sentence for bad luck for all Hal knows. It doesn’t really matter what he did; only Barry’s wellbeing. Barry was crushed last night yet, he comforted Hal after he told him about his own father. Barry should be given the selfless award. He totally deserves it. Hal sits on Barry’s bed and opens his arms. His boyfriend climbs him with no hesitation and Hal welcomes the warmth on his heart. Barry totally belongs between his arms.

They stay like that until Iris arrives. She knocks softly on Barry’s room before entering.

“Hey Hot-stuff duo!” she proclaims. It makes Hal chuckle. Everybody calls them like that thanks to Dinah. Pretty much their whole high school has accepted them, only a couple of idiots stuck up their noses and cough faggots. Hal wanted to punch them, but Barry hold him back as he pointed Mr. Wayne nearby. For the first time in forever, Hal was happy to see the man and his supernatural ability to know everything that happens around. He scolded and read them their tolerance policy for all kinds of religions, genders, sexualities and races and gave them detention for the rest of the month. Hal has to see their faces in there, but luckily, Mr. Wayne seems to have decided to ignore Hal or at least, he doesn’t call him out constantly either on detention or lit class. Barry insists it’s because now Hal holds his tongue and does his work during his punishment rather than bother the man with silly tantrums.

“Well you have no idea of what you missed today…” Iris sits at the feet of Barry’s bed and starts to narrate how some junior they know, slipped with some spaghettis lying on the floor, while trying to woo Caitlin. Then she tells them more silly anecdotes. Hal smiles. It’s obvious that Iris is trying to do the same Hal has been doing: comfort Barry. Hal wonders if maybe he could ask Iris about Barry.

When Joe arrives, he does the same but with stuff that has happened during his work. Hal laughs when Joe tells them how his partner had to chase a naked guy completely high that had stolen a bump car and was recklessly driving down main street.

Barry slowly becomes his cheerful self, teasing Iris about his new boyfriend. When Joe leaves them, Iris asks Barry with doe eyes, why his shirt and hoodie were laying in the kitchen floor… Barry becomes so red neither Hal or Iris can help it but laugh. Barry narrows his eyes and curses them before he throws a pillow to Hal’s head. Iris leaves them with a wink.

Hal tackles Barry against the mattress and pulling his t-shirt upwards he starts to kiss, blow raspberries and tickle his boyfriend until Barry is a mess. Hal is plethoric and hungry. They go downstairs and while Barry is preparing something easy and quick to eat, Hal excuses himself.

He seeks Joe on his office.

“Joe?” He asks hesitant; after all, it seems that yesterday he was rude with the man. Joe smiles warmly and welcomes him. Hal closes the door behind him. “I, I need to tell you something. It’s about Barry.”

Joe sighs and closes the folder he was reading. “I guess I was expecting this after last night. I’m sorry son, but I can’t tell you anything if Barry doesn’t allow me…”

“It’s not that. I know Bar has his secrets. I’m no one to pry. No, I said tell, not ask.” Hal scratches his head and looks around. He’s not sure how to explain Joe that he has a bad foreboding regarding the man on the phone. Joe is watching him carefully, curiosity easy to read on his face. Hal takes a deep breath. It’s better to just let it out and let Joe puzzle the mystery by himself. “Someone called. Several times. When I picked it up, he asked for Barry. Well, he asked for Bartholomew Henry Allen. When I told him, it wasn’t me, he hung up really quickly but before he did so, he told me that he must have tracked down the wrong number. Joe, what kind of person says that?”

Joe puckers his brows and hums, encouraging Hal to keep going. “I, when I told Barry he reacted with another panic attack. Then he read something on his mail and he relapsed, like last night. Trust me, this morning he was more than fine.” Hal smiles remembering the shower. Joe coughs and Hal stiffens. Busted. “So, yeah. I know it sounds silly but, he literally dropped his laptop and… I didn’t like the man on the phone. He gave me the creeps.”

Joe nods and quickly dials on his phone. Then he barks some orders about tracking back a call. Hal guesses it must be the mysterious caller. Joe raises his finger and nods gravely before sighing with desperation. He mutters a thanks and hangs up as he strokes his temples with closed eyes. Hal can swear he hears Joe cursing under his breath. When he looks up, he grimaces. “Hal, I’m sorry but I think you should leave. I need to talk with Barry… Hell, if it were for me, you could stay… but my son,” he sighs and shakes his head. His eyes are filled with sorrow, “he’s not ready. Which is absurd if you ask me, but then again, it’s even more absurd what happened three years ago.  I know you, and Barry’s friends, Cisco and Caitlin, aren’t going to react like people did but Barry is afraid, and I can’t really blame him.”

Hal frowns confused. Joe’s words make no sense to him unless… “Does this have something to do with Barry’s dad? The one in prison, I mean.”

Observing Joe’s reaction, Hal knows that the answer is yes. “Ho-how do you know that?”

Hal considers it. It’s obvious that he wasn’t supposed to see that cork board and it’s also pretty clear that Barry is hiding it even from his family. He shrugs. He’s not going to snitch on Barry. The cork board is not a direct treat to his boyfriend, not as the caller is. “That’s not important. Is Barry scared that we think he might be like his father? Cause that’s bullshit. Dad was a wonderful man and my brother is a dick. Ollie’s dad was a shark in business and people always give him shit because he’s father ruined others, yet Ollie might like to have money but doesn’t really care about it. Hell, sometimes I think he likes to throw parties, so someone can trash the manor and he and Moira con move to a different place.”

Joe blinks slowly, like he’s in trance. Hal can see he’s weighting the pros and cons of whatever he’s thinking about. He finally nods. “I’m not sure about this but… can you wait until this weekend? Just three more days. That’s all I’m asking you before you bring up this to Barry. I think today has been enough for him. This weekend I’ll take Iris to visit Nana. You and Barry can stay here and talk.” His face changes, he becomes a mixture of cop and father. “I beg you to please answer me with honesty, okay?” He waits until Hal nods. “Will your opinion of my son change if you discover something about his family? Imagine the worst scenario.”

Hal doesn’t even need to think about it. “No. As I said, I don’t care if his father is Manson or his mother’s the Queen of England,” he answers firmly, eyes locked on Joe’s.

Joe stays expressionless. Then he smiles warmly and hugs Hal, patting his back. “As I said some time ago, welcome to the family, son,” he whispers. “Three days. This night I’ll talk with Barry as smoothly as I can about the calls and his email. Okay, could you stay a little bit longer? Watching a movie or something with him? Don’t worry, Iris gave me your address and I’ve talked with your mother this morning. You’re in no trouble.”

Hal smiles and accepts. Spending an afternoon with Barry is always awesome.

 

★               ★               ★

 

Hal is fidgeting on the edge of his chair as he watches carefully the seconds left before his last detention is over. Mr. Wayne is observing him with a raised eyebrow. Hal rolls his eyes. He still doesn’t stand the man and the urge to tease him is still there.

The clock hand finally moves. He’s a free man. No more detention. No more school!

“Mr. Jordan, please stay a couple of minutes with me. I wish to talk with you.” Mr. Wayne isn’t looking at him anymore but rather gathering up his stuff. Hal groans.

Once all the grounded students are gone, Mr. Wayne approaches Hal’s desk. Hal waits, biting his tongue. He doesn’t want to get landed in detention next week.

“I’ve just graded your latest essay. Nothing worth the Pulitzer but your improvement is… impressive. I’ve been talking with Mr. Broome and we both agree that your tutor, Mr. Allen is a great influence for you. Everybody among the faculty cloister agrees that your change in attitude is remarkable. Keep up with the hard work Mr. Jordan and with Mr. Allen. Congratulations.” He handles him his essay graded before he leaves him all alone in the class, gaping. He has an A-. It’s the first time Hal has got an A- in literature. Hell, it’s the first A he has had since he started high school (excluding P.E.).

He runs to his car where Barry is already waiting for him. Hal stops and observes him. His boyfriend is perched over the hood of his car, sitting cross-legged as one leg is swinging back and forth, foot hovering the floor. He’s reading and old paperback with the spine completely cracked of so many re-readings. Hal’s heart leaps when he notices Barry is wearing his aviators and his hair is a complete mess because of the wind. He looks fucking sexy. Hal wants to toss the book aside and kiss him breathless. Stealthy, he approaches Barry before he makes his fantasy a reality.

Barry gasps surprised but opens his mouth to welcome Hal’s tongue and squeezes his ass much to Hal’s enjoyment. Someone wolf-whistles. Hal keeps kissing Barry as he flips off whoever it is. When they pull apart, Barry’s cheeks are red from the heated kiss and the cold. Hal watches mesmerized how their puffs are visible thanks to the icy temperature. It’s like they are dragons.

“Hey, you,” he smiles as he pecks Barry’s lips once more.

“Hey stranger,” replies him amused.

“Guess what? Mr. Wayne asked me to stay for awhile after detention…” Hal singsongs.

Barry frowns and pulls away, “Hal, what have you done?”

Hal laughs and ruffles Barry’s hair. “He pretty much gave me his pompous blessing to keep dating you, Bear. And then he gave me my essay grade, you know, the one you helped me last week?”

Barry nods. Hal pulls out the paper and taps the bright red A- on the top corner. Barry squeals and hugs him. “That means tomorrow we can celebrate it in our sleepover,” he kisses Hal with a gleam on his eyes.

Hal’s heart skips a beat. Tomorrow. He’s scared. Not of whatever Barry has to tell him, but the effect it might have in Barry. Barry has acted like nothing happened on Monday’s night and Tuesday’s morning. The only difference is that now Barry has a new email address and the Wests have changed their phone number; Iris asked the whole band (Cisco, Caitlin, Dinah and Ollie) to not share it with anyone. That’s it.

It makes Hal smile to see how protective Joe can be with his sons. Hal’s pretty sure that if Joe could, he’d pay a visit to the mysterious caller with a baseball bat in the middle of the night and show him what happens when you mess with his son. The image makes him warm and giggle. Barry’s eyebrows press together in confusion. Hal shakes his head as they get in the car. They have a date in the arcade but before…

“Bear, would you mind if we pass by my house? My mother has a late-night shift so she’s still there and I’d like to show her my grade,” he knows Barry is a little bit cautious to come around.

His mother’s reaction to Barry had been enthusiastic at first. When she first saw Barry and Hal studying, Hal heard never heard the end of it. When one night, Jim blurted that if he and Barry kissed once more before him he’ll throw up, she had been perplexed. Hal had wanted to strangle his brother so badly…

His mother hadn’t said anything that day, but next morning she had asked Hal if it was true, if he was dating a boy. Then, hesitantly, if he was happy. Jessica wasn’t enthusiastic with the news, Hal knew that his grams were old school, fortunately she kept treating Barry with politeness but distance. It was painfully obvious. Her smile was too forced when she invited Barry to stay for dinner.

Hal and Barry agreed to behave and gave her time to get used to the idea. Still, it hurt. Specially when they were at Barry’s and Hal saw Joe smiling warmly at him, inviting him or simply taking for granted that Hal was going to stay for dinner.

Then Thanksgiving happened. His mother omitted Barry’s relationship to Jack, and Jack had been his usual asshole-self with Hal.

He had ended with the Wests, meeting Nana West whose first comment had been, “Barry you never told me your young man was this handsome!” to Hal’s amusement. Then Joe had taken a picture of him and Barry snuggled up on the couch with Iris and Nana West on the other side while they were watching a movie. When Barry asked him what was he doing, he simply answered: taking a picture of my family and saving it as my background. Hal had wanted to cry.

His mother later apologized with him in his brother's name and asked him about the Wests dinner. She’s trying and it’s obvious that she sees that Barry is good for Hal. She asked him about Barry with real concern after Barry’s breakdown. It’s taking awhile, but Hal knows it’s only a matter of time before his mother falls for Barry as she did the first time. She’s just getting used to it.

“Mom?” He walks to the kitchen. His mother is there, cooking something for Jim before she leaves to work.

“Hal, I thought you were going out with, with Barry,” she smiles shyly.

“I thought you’d like to see this…” She stops and turns around. Hal shows her the paper.

“Harold! This is wonderful. I’m so proud of you. Let me place it on the fridge so everybody can see it. Oh, Hal I think last time we hung something yours was in 7th grade. Jack is going to be so happy to know you’re doing better. He’s really worried about your university forthcoming. You should talk with him. I’m sure you should start to apply as soon as possible to colleges, honey. Maybe you could even go to the same as Jack! Wouldn’t that be wonderful? I know you two are having a rough time, but you know your brother, he a proud stubborn man. He was only worried.”

Every word his mother says is like a kick to his gut. He’s still on board with his plan to become a pilot. That hasn’t changed. He has only delayed it a little, so he can graduate with his friends. That’s it.

Hal watches his mother fussing around the kitchen, still talking about Jack and him. It’s more than obvious that she’s daydreaming about her sons going to college, making her proud… Hal knows in that moment, that when she finds out about his true plans she’s never ever going to forgive him.

He’s going to lose his family.

Hal feels his eyes sting. He hugs his mother tightly and wishes she could understand what flying means to him, meant to his father. He wished he could change the past. He wishes so many things…

Kissing her cheek, he mutters a goodbye and leaves.

Barry notices that something must have happened because he pulls Hal in for a searing kiss. Hal kisses Barry’s face all over with butterfly kisses before he starts to drive to Insert Coins. He tries to mute his family and his future; just living the present. Thank God he has Barry to distract himself.

They play for hours until Barry is too hungry to keep a nice score in any game. Hal has already accepted that his games are shooters, not classics. They say goodbye to Nick, the owner, and Hal drives to the nearest McDonalds where they shock the poor guy on the thru when Barry requests his food. Hal loves the whole exchange. His boyfriend is pretty much sitting on his lap as he talks through the interphone and the employee won’t stop repeating, ‘something else sir?’ every time with an increasing edge, and Barry gets more cheerful with every reply, ‘yeah, also I want…’. It’s hilarious.

Hal pays for it although Barry complains. Bear, tomorrow I’m going to eat your whole kitchen so shut up, is the last thing Hal says before Barry gives up. Then, he drives to the outskirts of the city, near Ferris Aircraft. It’s the first time Hal has brought here someone. They get out of the car and sitting in his car’s hood, they eat their food as some crafts fly over them. Barry rests his head against his shoulder, showing Hal his mute support. Hal hasn’t planned this, but it feels like the right thing to do. If tomorrow he’s going to ask Barry about his past, his boyfriend deserves to know his too.

“My mother used to drive us to this spot, so we could watch our dad flying. One day, Mr. Ferris, Carl, bought the whole company from his partner and dad told us that now we could enter inside the compound if we behaved appropriately. I was 5 and I fell in love with the jets. I remember Carl and dad showing us around and even sitting us on one of the cockpits. Carol was there too. I started to come here daily. Mom wasn’t happy. Then, I told her I wanted to be a pilot. Dad said if I wanted I could be one test pilot like him.

“They fought. Mom said it was a dangerous work specially now that Carl was closing more and more deals with the military. Dad was testing different crafts daily and some started to show defects. Mom said Carl was becoming greedy and that he didn’t care about my dad’s safety anymore, that he was no longer a friend but just another name on his payroll.

“Mom forbid me to visit dad’s work. She said I’d be better off with a normal and safer future that I should come down from the clouds. I asked Ollie if his driver could drive us here and Ollie said that only if I could get him in one of the jets. Mrs. Queen called my mother mad, and told her what we’ve done. My mother grounded me for six months. When my punishment was over, I begged my dad to come here. He and mom fought. Jack has the nice detail to remind me that as much as he can, you know? Fucker. Anyway, dad won and brought me here. He told me he was going to fly a $15M jet. The latest technology Carl had bought… He was so proud, Bear. It was the most expensive jet Ferris Aircraft had ever had and he had been the selected pilot for the test. The place was full of people and they all wanted to shake my father’s hand…”

Hal’s voice breaks. Barry embraces him. That was the last time he saw his father. After that, the Jordans banned everything air-related. It was like a dark hole in his household. Her mother took down all the pictures of his father with his pilot uniform or wherever a plane was easily seen. Hal’s plane toys were gone one day when he returned from school as well as his posters featuring famous pilots. He only saved his father’s jacket, the one he always wears, afraid that one day his mother can get rid of it too.

 “Did you ever fly with your father?” Barry’s voice is soft.

“Yeah, once. Dad told me to keep it secret. You’re the first one I tell, Bear.” Hal kisses his hand.

“Tell me how it was.”

Hal does. He tries to tell Barry how wonderful he felt, the rush of adrenaline, his father laughter as they danced in the air. For the first time in forever, Hal feels weightless.

 

★               (Airplane )              ★

 

DECEMBER

It’s Saturday, December 1st, the day Joe and Iris are leaving to visit Joe’s mom. Barry is happy to have a sleepover with Hal the whole weekend. Hal knows better, he knows this might end up being awful, but he needs to tell Barry that he knows and that everything is going to be okay.

“You two, come here.” Joe calls them as Iris puts their last suitcase in the trunk of Joe’s car. “Rule time, no setting the house on fire, no alcohol, no drugs…” he sighs and looks at them with narrowed eyes. “Don’t be too loud.” Hal chuckles as Barry turns crimson. “God damn it! I meant noise, music, that stuff… I already talked with you Barry ab-”

Barry cuts his dad, “Yes, dad we’ve already been through that, let’s never repeat it, ok? We won’t bother the neighbors, that’s what you meant right?”

Hal looks at Joe. The small smile tells him that Joe made it on purpose. “Exactly. That’s what I meant. No fire, no alcohol, no drugs, no neighbor trouble, got it? Cool, then we better leave, it’s a long way to Nana’s house as you now. Hal, I hope everything goes alright. Bye, boys.” He hugs them and leaves.

“What did he mean with that, Hal?” Barry inquires him with curiosity. Hal pretends he has no idea muttering who knows. “Okay… what do you want to do?”

Hal laughs as he closes the door and pines Barry against it, mauling his boyfriend’s neck with his mouth, he whispers between kisses, “You. I wanna do you.”

Barry groans with pleasure but pushes him away. “Hal… my dad has just left, what if he has forgotten something? We shouldn’t do this here...”

Hal claps. “Excellent. Let’s make out in your couch.” He takes a couple steps back and smirks. “It’s fucking cold in here Bear… would you like to help me with that?”

Barry shakes his head before he drags him towards the living room. Pushing him against the couch, Hal decides he likes it when Barry takes the control; like he did in the kitchen their first time. That was awesome. Resting his head over his arms, Hal studies Barry. “Bear you’re the scientific one… I heard the best way to warm up is skin to skin contact, is that true? Should we take off our t-shirts, so I get warmer sooner?” Hal tries not to laugh but it’s impossible.

Barry chews his lip and seems to ponder his question. “Mmmm, that’s a good question, Mr. Jordan. I’m not sure of the answer but you know science,” he starts to pull off his t-shirt and discards it on the floor. “The best way to check a hypothesis is to test it so we can extract a conclusion from the evidence.”

Barry’s scientific lingo seems to go straight to his dick. Hal loves it when Barry talks nerdy… and Barry knows it. He swallows and hoarsely whispers, “How do you, Mr. Allen, propose we test it?”

Barry hovers over him and drags his fingernails over Hal’s chest. The small tease of scratching makes him loss his eye focus and suck in a breath. Hal has recently found out that foreplay is more enjoyable than he ever thought. Fuck, maybe it’s simply Barry. Maybe he has never felt like this because he has never been with someone he cared about so much. Barry keeps playing with the hem of Hal’s t-shirt. It makes him shiver when the cold air caress his skin and then Barry’s warm fingertips in contrast tease him. He groans begging for more.

He ups his ass and bends his back, helping Barry to take off his t-shirt while he’s still lying on the couch. The zipper from a cushion is stabbing his shoulders so he throws it uncaringly over his head. Barry follows the cushion that lands somewhere in the hall. He chuckles and quirks an eyebrow as he casts aside Hal’s shirt. “That wasn’t nice. You should apologize,” he leans over and kisses loudly Hal’s left shoulder.

“Nah, I’m pretty sure Joe said no setting fire, nothing about pillow fights,” he mutters as his hands grip on Barry’s waist and he kisses his neck.

“My experiment, Mr. Jordan, my rules,” replies Barry as he stares into his eyes. His thumb brushes over Hal’s lip. Hal pulls them apart and his tongue licks the tip of it. Barry shivers. Hal watches fascinated how is eyes become black until there’s only a small circle of blue surrounding those black pits filled with desire.

Barry takes away his hand and replaces it with his lips. Hal welcomes the exchange. He nips Barry’s lower lip begging for entrance. Barry moans and Hal uses it to explore the warmth of Barry’s mouth with his tongue. Barry tugs his hair with a guttural sound as Hal keeps kissing him. Their tongues curl around each other and Hal can feel the burn of Barry’s stubble against his chin. It excites him. He loves it when Barry forgets to shave like today. It’s incredibly sexy. They keep kissing and Hal starts to explore Barry’s body. His right hand goes straight to Barry’s ass, pushing it inside his pants and underwear, caressing his velvety skin directly.

Barry’s mouth falls from his to his neck where he starts to hungrily suck his sensitive skin. Hal’s eyes roll back from the pleasure. He loves this oral fixation Barry seems to have. His hand squeezes Barry’s ass as the other is caressing his back, trying to keep Barry’s body as squeezed against his as he can.

Barry pulls away from his neck with a wet pop and groans before he starts to lick Hal’s Adam’s apple. He scratches Barry’s back unintentionally, lost in the sea of sensations. Barry hisses in a moan. The sound turns Hal even more, if that’s possible. Slotting a leg between Barry’s, he pushes Barry’s ass down until their crotches are touching and he starts to hump him. Barry groans and thrusts back. They start to grind against each other with no set rhythm just trying to seek the quickest pleasure. Barry is panting heavily against his neck. Hal turns his head and seeks his mouth.

Hal can feel Barry’s hands griping his hips roughly as he comes above him. That’s going to leave a bruise, he thinks as he increases the speed of his movements. Barry moans spent and oversensitive against his mouth. Then he whispers his name in a broken voice and that’s what triggers Hal. He groans against Barry’s neck, the shout muffed. He feels Barry’s beat against his tingling lips. He’s not sure which one has the fastest beating.

He’s sweating. They both are. As they start to cool down, Hal feels the cold air against his skin wherever Barry’s body isn’t covering his. He switches them, pushing Barry down and toping him. He doesn’t want Barry to get cold. Nuzzling against Barry’s neck, he trails kisses along his jaw until he reaches his mouth. Tracing his tongue along his bottom lip, he waits for Barry’s lips to part. He kisses him slowly as his hands caress his sides. When his fingertips brush against Barry’s scar, Hal trails off from there, aware that Barry hates it when he touches it. Hal wonders why, it’s a big one but he doesn’t care. It adds personality to Barry and Hal himself has a couple of nasty ones.

Pulling away, he strokes their noses, “what’s the conclusion Mr. Allen?”

“What?” Barry mutters making Hal chuckle. He’s so worn out it makes Hal wonder how long it’d take him to fall soundly asleep when they have sex-sex. Maybe later he has the chance to check it for himself. As Barry has said, the best way to check something is to test it.

Kissing his cheek, he whispers, “our experiment. I’m much warmer now, what about you?”

“Yeah. Skin on skin works,” he kisses Hal hungrily. “Ugh, we should change. It’s sticky inside my pants,” he grimaces.

Hal stands up. “Ditto. Change and watch a movie?”

“Only if you make tacos,” replies Barry stretching. Hal watches him. He looks so fucking beautiful like this, stretched in the couch, pouty lips, messy hair and covered in angry marks Hal has left all over his neck and chest. Crap, he didn’t even realize he scratched his chest aside from his back.

Hal leans over and caresses an angry red, slightly swollen scratch right below Barry’s left clavicle. “’m sorry Bear. Didn’t mean to hurt you,” he whispers with sorrow.

Barry laces their fingers and smiles sedated, “don’t. Trust me when I say that’s nothing… and we both know I love it.” He stands up and pulls Hal in a sweet kiss that melts Hal right there. It’s nothing compared to other kisses they have shared, but Hal can tell this is different. Barry is pouring his heart in it. It’s over too soon. Hal pouts making Barry cackle and poke his side playfully.

They change in Barry’s bedroom and after a little make out session they decide to marathon the extended version of LotR. Barry coerces Hal to make their tacos before they start the movies as he tells him that it’s gonna last almost 12 hours. Hal had laughed thinking Barry was exaggerating. He had seen the movies with his brothers and yeah, they were long but c’mon half a day? That couldn’t be true…

It is. They’re in hour six and Hal can barely feel his ass. He’s never sat for so long without moving; that’s why he has never marathoned anything, not even videogames. He can sense Barry fidgeting above him too. His boyfriend is worse than him, he can’t stop moving yet, he’s completely immersed in the movie, eyes never leaving the screen and quoting almost every line to Hal’s amusement.

Stretching backwards, careful to not disturb Barry, Hal watches the ceiling and closes his eyes. He tries to focus on Barry’s voice and the rumble the vibrations of his voice make against his own chest. Barry is seated between Hal’s legs, back against Hal’s chest after he lost rock-paper-scissors. Loser had to be the one snuggled, winner ‘the snugglerer’. Barry set the rules, Barry lost to them.

“Hal, are you sleeping? Oh my God! I’m not sure we can keep dating if you cannot appreciate a true masterpiece!” The annoyance in Barry’s voice makes Hal scoff.

“No offense to the Hobbits and company, but if I wanted to appreciate a true masterpiece I’d watch you naked under me on your bed,” he replies. Hal doesn’t need to open his eyes to know Barry must be blushing. It amazes Hal. Barry blew him in the kitchen taking the incentive, invited him to take a shower with endless handjobs, Barry teases him constantly, and hours ago they dry-humped in this very couch… yet, he still blushes!

“Later,” Barry whispers making Hal open his eyes and gawk him. He’s still watching the movie, but Hal can tell he’s a little bit distracted. Nuzzling against the back of his neck, Hal leaves small smooches making them louder than the previous one, until Barry elbows him and hisses, “stop it Harold!”

“Okay, Bartholomew.” Hal huffs. He can’t believe his boyfriend… who has just burst into laughter. What? “Bear?”

“Oh my! Seriously Hal? We’re using our birth names as weapons? It’s hilarious, you’ve to admit it,” Barry wipes away his eyes.

Hal chuckles. “So, we’re a couple of losers with such awful given names that makes us wish for a time travel machine, so we can beg our parents to pick up cooler names. Oh yeah, it’s hilarious.” He replies dripping sarcasm.

Honestly, his skin tingles every time his mother calls him Harold… and she has the dreadful habit of doing it constantly no matter how many times Hal has begged (even kneeled!) her to stop it and call him Hal. When he dies, if they write Harold on his tombstone he’s going to come back as a poltergeist and torture whoever ordered it.

“You’re so exaggerated. Such a drama queen…” Barry rolls his eyes. Hal realizes he has said out loud the poltergeist part.

He pouts until the second movie is over and Barry grants him a small pause. Hal runs to the bathroom and then wanders to the kitchen where he finds Barry with his mouth stuffed like a chipmunk eating Oreos. He guffaws so hard he bangs his head against the wall behind him. Barry starts to hit him and warns him to withhold kisses if he doesn’t stop.

Hal can’t. They start the third movie sitting in opposite sides of the couch. Barry still eating his cookies and Hal still crackling from time to time. Whenever he does so, Barry throws him a cushion. When he runs out of cushion, he kicks him. It makes Hal laugh harder because he’s still eating while doing so.

“For fucks sake Bear! Is that your third pack of cookies? You’re gonna get sick,” Hal tries to say. He’s chortling so hard it comes like gibberish.

“Don’t judge me! It’s been a stressing week. When I get stressed I eat more than usual! It’s called coping mechanism.” Barry mutters.

Hal ceases his laughter. He feels bad, guilt eating him. Of course, Barry likes to eat but he guesses now he has even more reasons, don’t people usually either binge or fast under stress? Barry falls in the first category for what it seems. “Sorry,” he apologizes caressing Barry’s shine and foot.

“Don’t,” Barry’s tone is dark. “Don’t pity me. You don’t even know the whole story. I-I wouldn’t stand it if then you…” His voice breaks like Hal’s heart.

Hal leans forward and stops the movie. Okay, so he knew they had to talk; that was the deal with Joe, but Hal planned this… differently. Guess there’s no time like the present.

“But I do know Bear,” he slides further in the couch until he’s over Barry. Barry’s eyes widen, he can see fear in them. “I found the cork board.” Barry gasps. Hal can see his eyes watering, so he keeps talking, he needs Barry to understand. Hal has spent these past days thinking and rethinking what he’d like to say. “I don’t care. You’re not them. I don’t care if your parents are like mob bosses like the Godfather or drug dealers like Scarface or whatever they’re to land in prison.”

“What?” Barry’s voice is thin. “What are you saying Hal? My mom? She’s...” Barry closes his eyes and takes a deep breath but doesn’t add anything else.

Hal frowns. “I. Okay, so, you called me and I couldn’t read the whole thing, but it said that your father was sentenced to life imprisonment, right? I just guessed your mother… I’m sorry. It doesn’t matter. I still don’t care Bear.”

Barry is crying. Hal hates to see him like this specially since he’s the reason why. “Y-yo-you can’t say that. You’re wrong. My mom’s dead. She was killed.” Barry whispers the last part so silent Hal has a hard time listening it.

His heart stops. He can’t believe it. Barry’s mother was killed, does that mean like in a car crash or something? “Barry? Please babe, talk with me. I-I don’t understand it. But Barry… Bartholomew Henry Allen, I promise you no matter what you tell me, my feelings for you won’t change. Hope my heart and hope to die.”

Hal prays Barry believes him because he means it. Barry sniffs and finally looks at him. His eyes hold hope but also resignation like he had already given up. It’s a contradiction. It makes Hal feel uneasy. When he starts to talk, his voice is low and dead. Hal hates it. “I thought they’d too. You want to know why I panicked last Monday night? I received an e-mail from my father’s lawyer. My dad is getting his sentence reviewed, no listen to me, that’s not why. I want my father to be free, Hal. He doesn’t deserve to be in prison. He’s not guilty. I know it. No one else does, though. It’s just me,” he scoffs and looks ahead, ignoring everything.

Hal has seen this before, Barry sometimes seems to be miles away. He’s still confused. What Barry said makes no sense. If he wants his dad out, why did he panicked when he read the news that he might walk out? He wants to ask him, but he bites his tongue and waits until Barry is ready to keep talking. Hal regards Barry is caressing his side, the one where he has his scar. He has a bad presage.

“I was in 8th grade when my dad first review sentence took place. The press stirred up everything, calling him monster, they lied saying that my dad should die in prison for what he’d done. Joe told me to keep my head low and say nothing even if I wanted to defend him. They found out Hal. The journalists wouldn’t stop saying his name and people started to wonder if I was his son, the one news said he had.

“I told them the truth. It was the beginning of the end Hal. They started to accuse me that I was like dad. Kids started to throw some eggs and names around. Joe begged me to stay home and to not start high school, he said that if middle school had been bad, high school would be worse, but I couldn’t… I needed to go,” he pauses. Hal moves closer and tugs him against his body. Barry offers no resistance, accepting Hal’s embrace.

Hal is livid. He wants to find whoever bullied Barry and kick their asses till next Christmas… Deep down, he knows this isn’t everything. He’s afraid of what Barry is going to tell him next, because Hal knows how strong Barry is. Something awful must have happened to make him so scared. He kisses Barry’s temple to shoo away their fears.

“Long story short? They got me pretty bad. Joe pulled me and Iris from there and we moved here. The end,” Barry moves away from Hal and leaves the room.

Hal keeps sitting in the couch, blinking. He has even more questions than before. What did happen to Barry? What did his father do? Or not do? (according to Barry). He goes after him. He finds him sitting in the floor of his room, without any light, squeezed against the wall in a corner. It’s a desolate image that shatters Hal. He sits across Barry and waits patiently until his boyfriend raises his head from his knees. His eyes are puffy, and tears are running downs his cheeks. He wants to wipe them off.

“Bear? You know I love the Cliff notes version of most shit but only because that shit doesn’t matter to me. You do.” He thinks about his conversation with Joe. Hal guesses he has to talk, tell Barry how much he means to him, to make him see he doesn’t give a fuck what others thought or did. That no matter what, his image of Barry won’t ever change.

“Barry wh-when we first meet I thought you were cute. Annoying, but cute. Then you told me you were my tutor and… I got kind of mad and snapped at you. I felt trapped but, babe, you gave me wings. You still do. Everybody has always told me that I couldn’t do jack shit and there you were, we had just become friends and you told me your trusted me and that I wasn’t a failure. Do you know what impact your words had on me? I think that’s when I started to fall for you Bear.

“I don’t care what you did on the past. Hell, I don’t care if three months ago you killed someone to join a satanic cult or you like to dress up in a banana suit and sing. I only care what you are doing now. Damn it, I suck with words. What I’m trying to say, is that no matter what happened to you or what you did, it’s not going to change my feelings for you. I swear. I won’t ever stop feeling this for you…” his voice dies as he realizes that it’s true. Even if in few months Barry decides he doesn’t want to ever see Hal again, Hal doesn’t think he’ll ever be able to forget Barry.

Barry is observing him. His eyes have recovered his gleam a little bit before they darken once more. Fuck, that hurts. Hal scratches his head. He has no idea of what to do or say to make Barry talk. He has run out of ideas. It kind of breaks his heart to realize that maybe Barry doesn’t trust him that much after all. Because he has basically poured his heart out, or tried to, and Barry is still weary of telling him the truth. It hurts. It fucking hurts.

“They say he killed her.”

Hal blinks. Trying to fit Barry’s words into the puzzle. It takes him three seconds to reboot his brain and finally understand what Barry is saying. He wants to scream. That’s it? That’s the reason Barry is suffering so much? Before he can say anything, Barry leaps from the wall as it was on fire and crawls over him. Grabbing the hem of his shirt with such strength his knuckles are white. He’s crying.

“Please don’t hate me. Please, please Hal I beg you. Don’t hate me. Not you. Please. He’s innocent. He was framed. I’m not a murderer or a psychopath. You’ve to believe me! I’d never hurt anyone. Please, Hal you’ve to believe me. Please… don’t hate me. I couldn’t… I couldn’t… please.”

Barry falls against his chest. Hal is livid, mad, furious, he might be the murderer.

Did Barry got called all that? His Barry? The same Barry that is made of pure selflessness? The one who yelled at Caitlin because she was about to step over an ant? The same that pouted for hours when Joe told him that no, they could keep one of the kittens Dinah had found on his backyard? The same one that always volunteers to help whoever needs a hand?

He grabs Barry’s face and kisses him. He tries to pour everything he’s feeling in the kiss. It’s a rough kiss, but Barry clings to him with desperation. They need to pull away to breathe but neither does it; until it becomes too much, and Hal has to break the kiss. He’s panting heavily. They both are. He stares at Barry, who’s still silently crying with his eyes open.

“Bar?” his voice is rough.

“Was that a goodbye?” is Barry’s reply.

“No. Maybe I should repeat it because it seems you don’t fucking get it,” he yanks Barry roughly and pins him against the floor before he devours his mouth again. He pulls apart and looks him on the eye, “still don’t get it? What do I have to do? Name it and I’ll do it. I. DON’T GIVE A FUCK. I STILL LIKE YOU.”

“You… you believe me?” Barry whimpers like a kid.

“Which part? That you aren’t a killer? Breaking news Bear, I’m afraid a butterfly could be more dangerous than you… but not more adorkable.” Barry chuckles a little and Hal feels relived. Making Barry happy is the only thing he wants in this world. “That your father is not guilty?  I-I’m, yes? I mean I don’t know the details, but you said he was framed, right? You’re the cleverest person I know Bear. If you said he is… then yeah. I guess you could like explain me why or something…” he trails off as Barry pushes him away and gets up.

Hal wonders if maybe he has offended Barry until he sees that he’s in his closet, pulling out the cork board. He smiles shyly at Hal and swallows before he starts to explain him everything on the cork.

“I can do that Hal. I can tell you why I know he’s not guilty. This is my dad, and this was my mom. Her name was Nora. She was the best. Dad’s a Doc. They’re the reason I want to be a cop, a forensic scientist. I want to solve my mom’s murder with factual evidence, and make sure that no one has to suffer like my dad.” He cleans his face before he proceeds. “He loved her Hal, he’d never hurt her, and he was with me when she first screamed. I-I don’t know what happened. It was all so bizarre and fast. Dad told me to hide and I did, then I heard him crying, shouting her to wake up. How could he kill her if he was with me when she was first attacked?

“There was no evidence, still there isn’t, not real and tangible. They said it was him because it was the easiest. He was there and no one else was, so it must be him. Closed case guys let’s move on. Incompetents.” Barry spits the word shaking. “They hushed me arguing that I hadn’t actually seen my dad not doing it and that I hadn’t seen or heard anyone else. Wanna hear one of their theories? They said that maybe mom screamed because she broke something, and dad got mad and stabbed her almost 20 times. Of course, that’s what he’d do. He’d get mad because she broke something, and she screamed because she knew dad was going to kill her.” Barry sneers and clenches his fists.

Hal leaps. 20 times? That’s inhuman. No wonder Barry sounds so bitter and those theories are pure crap. Even CSI comes up with better plot lines.

“So… they convicted your dad with no evidence of him doing it? But also, with no evidence of him not doing it except your word?” Hal asks him, trying to get everything clear.

“Yes, but Hal he’s innocent! You’ve to believe me, I was a kid, yes, but I wasn’t stupid! I know what I heard, and mom was screaming in real pain when dad told me to hide. Whoever did that, it wasn’t my father. He was covered in her blood because he tried to save her. He was a doctor, he was only trying to do his job!”

Hal flinches with Barry’s words. They’re the same ones he had used when he’d talked about his dad.

“I think I believe you Barry.” Barry smiles at Hal’s words and caresses the picture of his mom and dad. Hal studies everything in the board. Most are newspapers cuts. All the headlines are awful to Barry’s dad. He wonders where the presumption of innocence is, especially in the old ones; the ones from the time where it all happened. They call him slaughterer, murderer, butcher, psychopath, the new Jack the Ripper… some even mention Barry as his next victim and one as his apprentice? What?!

“Barry?” Hal hesitates. Barry has answered all his questions except one: what happened to him. “What happened? What people did to you?” he asks out loud. What he doesn’t say is: what caused you to have a panic attack in front of the perspective of people knowing the truth about who’s your biological dad?

“It doesn’t matter Hal. Let’s forget it,” he dismisses it.

“Hell no. Something happened because you were scared of me. I need to know so I can make sure it never happens again. What triggered you on Monday? Who called you?” He drills Barry with questions.

Barry tenses and sighs. He sits on his bed and stares his floor. Hal kneels before him and holds his glance. Barry chews his lips making it bleed. Hal flinches and cleans the blood away.

“It was a journalist. He sent me some… creepy questions for an interview. Hal, I’m scared. What if people don’t get it like you have? You don’t get it… they nearly killed me,” his voice dies.

Hal heart stops. His hands clench into fists, he grinds his molars to dust and his vision becomes red. Okay. Now he definitely wants to break into Joe’s office, take his shotgun and hunt down whoever hurt his boyfriend. Make them suffer. “WHAT. DID. THEY. DO?” He spits every word, shaking with fury.

“Hal… don’t. I’m okay, I’m fine-” Barry tries to reassure him.

“Like hell you are…” Hal watches Barry. His eyes fall on his side. The scar. “Did they? Is your scar related?” The silence that precedes is enough answer. He takes a deep breath and tries to fake that he’s calmed. He needs names and if Barry sees how mad he is, he won’t talk. “Barry, please, just tell me everything that happened.”

Barry shakes his head. Hal insists. They keep fighting back and forth until finally Barry snaps and tells him everything. He cries while doing so. Hal wishes he hadn’t won. He wishes he could be ignorant. He’s devastated. He has to sit and restrain himself from punching the walls and trashing the room when Barry tells him how they trashed the Wests’ house and his belongings daily. He has to suppress his yells when he hears how people would push him around halls, trip him up, toss liquids and food over him and call him all those names the newspapers called his father. Hal has to keep his tears at bay when Barry tells him with all details about the caterpillar he found before the attack and then explains Hal how he almost died all alone after the beating and his fall on the trash where they abandoned him.

“It’s funny how the brain forgets some stuff but keeps other. I’ve always wondered what happened to that bug,” he finishes.

Hal breaks. He crushes Barry inside his arms and pours his heart out. “I think he survived Bear. I think that caterpillar found his way home. It was a long winter, but he never gave up and he became the most precious butterfly I’ve ever seen. Barry, oh God, you were a kid… how can you still have faith in humanity? How can you be so good with everyone after… all that? How can you be with me? I’m not worth you-”

“Don’t say that. You saved me, remember? When I first saw you. I was new, I had finished my year homeschooled and after everything that had happened I was scared. When they started to call me shit I panicked and you. You didn’t know me, but you stopped them and asked me if I was okay. How can I’ve faith in goodness? I just told you. You helped me, and you had no reason why. That’s goodness.” Barry smiles so brightly Hal’s heart bursts with love for him. Fuck.

“I wish I could remember it Bear. I wish I’d have stayed and met you like you deserved,” he mutters lamely against Barry’s neck. That’s not everything he wants to say but… it’s everything he’s willing to confess for now.

“I don’t. I’m not sure you and I would’ve connected back then. I’m glad of what we have now. It’s more than enough for me Hal. As for how I can be like I am… That’s what my mom taught me. Dad too. I remember once I got into a fight mom told me that no matter how angry or sad I was, I had to always treat people with respect even if they don’t deserve it. Because I had to be better than them. Dad told me that living with resentment and hate teared people apart. I also always give people a chance because they took that from me and from my dad. I never assume, and second chances do exist. People can learn and be better Hal.”

They stare into each other for minutes, assimilating everything that has happened in the last hour. Hal’s pure havoc. He wants to rip heads off, he wants to ask Joe the names of all those fuckers and demand him why are they still walking around. He wants to find that journalist that won’t leave Barry alone and every single one that has caused Barry’s suffering. If they had left him alone, people at Barry’s former school would’ve never targeted him.

He wants to slap Barry’s teachers for looking aside when everything happened. There’s no way no adult knew what Barry was going through. No fucking way.

He wants to demand Joe why he didn’t protect Barry better. He was a cop, a detective, his father, why didn’t he cuff Barry to his bed if it was needed so no one could reach him?

Lastly, Hal tries to assimilate Barry’s golden heart. He fears people reactions, but he holds no hate or grudge against his tormentors. He only seems bitter with the cops who framed his father and his mother’s murderer. Hal knows he’d never be able to let something as awful go like nothing. Heck, he’s not sure he’s going to be able to not rip those fuckers a new one.

Barry yawns and shyly asks Hal if they can go to sleep early. Hal agrees immediately, they are both deadbeat, physical and metal. He pulls Barry closer and burrows his head against his neck kissing him softly. He needs this. He waits until Barry is asleep before he breaks down. The mere idea that Barry could be dead; that his Barry and he could have never met because they never got the opportunity, shatters Hal. Barry’s whole story crushes him.

Watching Barry’s peaceful profile, he feels the void in his chest spreading, his stomach turning. He can’t do anything to change the past, but he can change the future.

He’s going to make sure that if people in this town find out who Barry’s dad is no one gives him hell. Because if someone does, he’s going to hunt them down. No matter what. Barry won’t have to be scared. Never again.

Chapter Text

Barry is already used to wake up with Hal but today is different. Today is the first day without secrets between them. He knows all about Hal’s father and why he craves to be a pilot, and Hal knows everything about his past.

Last night was one of the hardest moment’s in Barry’s life. He had only been that scared the night his mom died, during the incident and when he nearly crashed Joe’s car in the icy road (reason why he doesn’t drive or tries to get a license). Perhaps last night had been even slightly worse than all that. When his mom, he’d trusted that his father would take care of everything and he had no idea of what was going on; when the incident, okay in that moment he thought he was going to die and was terrified; with the car it had been too quickly… Yesterday, seemed worse because Barry had had time to process and foresight what could happen based on his own past experiences, aka the incident 2.0. He had had years to forecast how awfully people would react.

Hal loathing him had been one of his biggest fears. His friends too. If Cisco and Caitlin pushed him away he would be crushed, but if Hal did, if Hal had reacted like his past friends from his old town… he wasn’t sure he could ever recover from that blow. Shattered souls and broken hearts are serious business.

He observes Hal. Even peacefully sleeping, he still appears tired and there are dry tracks of tears down his cheeks. Looks like Hal cried after they went to sleep. Barry’s stomach drops. He doesn’t want Hal to suffer or treat him any different now that he knows. He wants his cocky boyfriend, who thinks with his dick half of the time, teasing and bickering with him for trivial matters such as who’s player 1 or whose turn is it to decide which fast food place they order. Hell, he’d take a lippy Hal with Mr. Wayne anytime rather than a Hal that pities him or treats him like damaged goods.

Barry hated how Joe and Iris tried to protect him 24/7 after everything happened. He gets it, they worry for him, but he’s okay. He’s fine, really. No, he’s not faking. Life is short, better live it. Therapy helped too.

“Hal?” He kisses his check and Hal replies with a loud snore. Barry titters. He looks so… photogenic. Barry tries to untangle from Hal, placing one of his pillows as himself so Hal can cuddle with it. Grinning, he takes a picture, two, three… Hal opens his mouth and snores louder. Barry bites his fist to not laugh. He sets sleeping Hal as Hal’s new phone background since his, is dead.

Hal’s phone chimes with an incoming text. It says DickheadTM. It must be Hal’s big brother. Another message comes in. Barry’s heart sinks. He has no idea of what Jack wants from Hal but whenever he’s around Hal, Hal gets in a defensive/hostile mood that can last for hours if not handled appropriately. Luckily for Barry, he seems to be enough to tame the beast.

He still remembers Hal on Thanksgiving or Hal at the beginning of November when Jack called his mother and Hal took the call. It was their fourth day dating and he had no idea of what to do. He had never seen Hal so pissed. Since then, Hal has shared with him some bits of his childhood. Barry has reached the conclusion that Jack took his father role with his younger brothers and was really harsh with Hal. He’s now studying law, almost finishing or so he has been told by Ollie. Hal tends to omit Jack as much as he can. Barry can’t imagine what it must be like that your own brother treats you so poorly.

Barry sighs. He knows that as soon as Hal reads those messages he’s gonna be grumpy… maybe if he wakes up happily Jack won’t matter anymore. He observes Hal sleeping. Carefully, he goes downstairs and studying the content of all his cupboards, he decides to do a little of everything for breakfast. Whatever Hal doesn’t eat, he will.

He makes chocolate-chip pancakes with a little touch of cinnamon like Joe taught him. Then he’s torn between doing eggs or an omelette with melted cheese. He does both. Grabbing the biggest dish they own, he sets the tower of eight pancakes on a side and pours the syrup over them. Next, he places four eggs and leaves a space in between them and the two omelettes on the other side of the dish, to add the bacon he still has to do. While the bacon is frying, he makes chocolate mint shakes.

Once everything is set, he places the dish and the shakes along the syrup and starts to climb to his room. Hal is still snoring. Placing the tray over his desk he crawls over his bed until he’s next to Hal. He kisses his forehead, temples, cheeks and chin whispering his name.

“Haven’t ya seen Sleepin’ Beauty? Kiss on tha lips Bear,” Hal mumbles sleepy.

Barry chuckles but does so. It seems to work. They kiss slowly and softly until his stomach growls. “Good Morning Aurora,” he smooches Hal’s cheek and walks to his desk to pick up the tray.

Hal grumbles, “’m not a fucking princess.” He has an arm over his eyes but as Barry approaches he sniffs the air and sits, eyes wide open and watering mouth, as he regards the tray full of food. Barry places it between them and handles Hal a fork.

“Hope you like it,” he smiles shyly. He could get used to this. So far, all his mornings waking up with Hal have been pleasant.

“I don’t want to stain your sheets,” Hal says licking his lips and tearing his eyes away from the pancakes.

Barry laughs. “I’ve to change them anyway. Go ahead. Stain them as much as you want.”

Hal nods and starts to eat. Barry is hungry, but he waits, gawking Hal. He doesn’t want to miss any of his reactions. Hal moans and closes his eyes chewing his pancakes. Barry bounces with happiness. Finally, something he can do for Hal! He feels a little useless next to him. Hal is so strong, he’s always there for him. Barry feels like he should try to do something in return.

Once they’re finished, Hal asks him if he wants to keep watching the movie they left halfway through yesterday. Barry agrees and races Hal to the couch. Hal wins and cockily states that he’s an ace in P.E.

“Okay Ace, then why don’t you set the movie while I sit comfortably? Since you like doing exercise so much…” He rolls his eyes as he sits down. He makes sure to spread all over the couch, so Hal can only sit between his legs. Now it’s his turn to be the big spoon.

Hal eyes shine when he sees Barry. As he told Hal yesterday, only a deep observation can lead to an accurate conclusion. Hal’s current and past reactions tell Barry that he seems to enjoy when he decides to take the reins. Good to know. He doesn’t mind ordering around Hal, hell, he kind of enjoys it.

They watch the movie and kiss once it’s over. They don’t go further than teasing a little bit each other. Barry feels a bitter sting of fear in his heart. Does Hal not want him now? Because yesterday he couldn’t wait to get into action as soon as Joe and Iris were gone but today he has barely touched his ass. Hal has a thing with his ass, he’s always squeezing, smacking, grabbing it or simply staring it. Hell, he once caught Hal trying to snap a pic!

His family arrives at 6, while he’s giving Hal a shoulder massage as his athletic boyfriend has fallen from a tree trying to get a frisbee from some kids on the street. “You know Ace, it’s a pity Vine doesn’t exist anymore,” he nudges a knot on Hal’s back.

“Shut up Bear,” replies Hal with no heat.

That’s how Iris finds them. Hal says, ‘don’t ask’ and Iris simply rolls her eyes. Barry chuckles and kisses Hal’s head. The fastest way to wound Hal’s ego is when he can’t show off and someone points it. That Hal likes to be in the spotlight it’s no secret. Barry knows this, and he likes it. He likes that Hal is so boisterous and full of life. Even if sometimes he drives him up the walls.

“Well boys, I see the house is still here.” Joe shares a look with Hal. Of course, Barry thinks. His dad knew.

“Yes, sir. We only set on fire the neighbor’s house, so he couldn’t complain about the noise. That’s what you said, right?” replies Hal.

Joe laughs and shakes his head. Hal leaves few minutes later. He wants to spend some time with his mom before his brother comes for Christmas break. They kiss each other goodbye for few minutes and Hal promises to call him before they go to sleep. As Barry watches him leave he feels an icy ghost oppressing his heart. He has a bad feeling that something’s coming.

 

★               ★               ★

 

“Fuck me sideways! I don’t get this shit!” Hal pushes his chemistry book across their table with such momentum that it slides past the table and lands with a thud.

Barry cringes and looks at Emma. Right now, she doesn’t seem so grateful to see Hal back in her library. He smiles a little trying to express her how sorry he is before he picks up Hal’s book. “It’s okay Hal, we can take a break if y-“

Hal cuts him, “NO! Don’t you see? I’m a fool, an idiot. My skull is thick. He was right.” Hal whispers the last sentence and grimaces. Barry frowns.

“Who told you that? Mr. Wayne? Did you reply him again?” Barry hopes it’s not their vice-principal. He honestly doesn’t want to deal with him. Hal might not care, but Barry still cringes thinking about their show in detention.

“NO! God!” Hal strokes his face and sighs. He starts to gather his things throwing them into his backpack without care. “It doesn’t matter. Not all of us can be nerds like ya Bear. It’s better to accept it and move on,” he starts to leave the library but waits for Barry on the door.

Barry is torn. He wants to soothe Hal and ask him what’s wrong, but unlike him, Hal doesn’t react well to questions or help. He gets defensive like a cornered animal. Barry follows him out. The football practice must have just ended as some players are around. A group calls Hal and approaches them. Barry feels left out when they all start to talk about sports and parties. He’s never belonged to that cliché and yeah, most didn’t bat an eye when he and Hal started to date but some did. He’d be lying if he said that he’s not scared of them. After all, as Hal has just said, he is a nerd and they are jocks. Big muscular jocks.

Barry feels someone looking at him. He swallows and looks to the other side. He wants to leave. His skin tingles and his stomach drops. He’s uncomfortable. Okay, so maybe he lied a little; maybe he’s not alright and as fine as he’d like to be. Knowing that Joe is still trying to find that reporter that wants to interview Barry is causing him anxiety. Like a ticking bomb, Barry is counting the seconds until he appears and starts to tell everyone who his father is. Barry also knows that guys like the one who’s staring, would take that excuse to jump at him. He’d like to ask them why such hate. Why people need to hurt others to feel… what? Better with themselves? Superiors? Why does people care so much who he’s dating?

“Hey Barry, you ok?” Hal has his head tilted, observing him. Barry smiles and nods. “So… you wanna hang out and have a burger?”

Barry wants to, but he sees the scowls some of the jocks make. He guesses they’ve invited Hal not him, and honestly, he doesn’t want to spend his afternoon hanging with people that despises him. “Can’t. Joe needs me.”

“Okay, then I’ll see you on Friday guys.” Hal starts to bump shoulders with the team.

“You can go. I mean, you don’t need to come with me Hal. Maybe it’ll help you to disconnect,” he shrugs and avoids looking at Hal. Hal knows when Barry is lying and right now, Barry is. He wants Hal for himself but that’s selfish and it’s obvious he’s in no mood to study.

“Yeah, Jordan! You haven’t hanged out with us for a long time since… well, ya know since when.” He quickly looks at Barry before focusing on Hal. “C’mon, it’ll be fun!” One of them says. Barry thinks his name is Sam or Sean.

Hal reluctantly agrees still looking at Barry. The boys cheer and start to leave. Hal stays behind. “You sure you don’t mind? I could help you and Joe. Are you guys decorating for Christmas?”

“N-no. Don’t worry Hal, when we put the lights I’ll call you, so you can stare at my ass as you hold the ladder.” He smiles at Hal, who chuckles. “Go on. I think Iris is still here. I can catch a ride with her.”

“Okay, if you say so...” Hal seems unsure. Barry smiles widely trying to reassure him.

Finally, Hal leaves with some of the football guys on his car as the rest get into their own cars. Now, this is something Barry is used to see. Hal once told him that he’s only friends with Ollie and it’s true, but it’s also well known that he hangs with pretty much everybody who wants to as long as fun is involved. Or used to. Since they met, Hal has pretty much stopped to hang around with anybody that isn’t either Barry or Ollie.

Barry sighs and starts to walk home. Iris is with his boyfriend who knows where, and Joe told them that this week he was going to come home late. The department is getting ready for a big-scale raid or something like that.

Barry can’t stop thinking about Hal’s sullen mood on the library. He gets it. They’re in their Senior year and since Hal has started to do his tasks, teachers have realized that they can ask more of him; they are pressing him harder. Hal hates when people try to change, question or boss him around.

That night, Hal calls him drunk. Barry can hear loud music in the back.

“Hal? Where are you?” Barry is worried. Tomorrow is a school day and what is more important: if Hal is drunk, he shouldn’t drive. Maybe he needs to get picked up or something.

“Ollieee’s… guyssss wanna keeeseep th’partyyyyy ooon,” Hal says dragging all the words. It makes Barry chuckle. At least he’s in the Queen Manor. He’s safe. “Bear, my beeea-beatipul. No wait, that ain’t right.”

“Beautiful. With and f, not a p. And you forgot the u.” Barry chews his lip. He’s worried about Hal, but drunk Hal is kind of amusing.

“Wiseass. Ya should be bettah’ with me Barrance.” Barry cringes. He hates when Hal calls him that. “Ya should’ve comeee. Heh. Get it? Come. Like when ya and I-”

“Yes, Hal I get it. Now shut up.” He’s blushing. What if someone overhears Hal? “Are you okay?”

“I shuld ask that. Ya ok? I’ll protect ya Bear. Always. I think I lof-” The call is cut.

Barry blinks and stares at his phone. Did Hal just? No, it can’t be. Surely, he meant something else. They’ve been together for almost two months; it’s too soon, right? It’s just one of those things drunk people say. Yeah. C’mon, why would someone as Hal Jordan love him?

 

★               ★               ★

 

It’s almost Christmas break and Hal’s sullener than ever. He complains the whole time about their final exams and tasks. Meanwhile, Barry’s hand is getting tired from all the flash cards he’s doing for himself and Hal to aid them study and try to rise his spirits with less workload.

They haven’t talked about Hal’s call. Hal doesn’t remember anything except his massive hangover (or so he claims). The call was cut due to him falling on the pool. Maybe it’s better this way.

What they do talk about, is Barry’s dad. So far, the trial has a court date and his lawyer seems kind of optimistic, the case is not as mediatic as few years ago, therefore the public opinion is more subdued. He and Hal have looked over all the data Barry has gathered along these past years, and new one from the public copies the lawyer has sent him. It turns out the ‘stabs’ were more like scratches with enough depth to be considered stabs, but the angle seemed to be produced by something at high speed. Conclusion, they never found the weapon nor the motive behind the attack. His father’s defense is based on those two points.

For the first time in forever, Barry starts to feel hope regarding her father’s future… then Jack arrives, and Hal loses it, drifting away from Barry. They’re studying in his room, Hal history and Barry chemistry, when Hal’s phone starts to blast with Nicki Minaj’s Stupid Hoe chorus. Hal ignores it, but Jack keeps calling him. Barry chews his lip and sighs: their study session is over. Hal grumbles something under his breath before he answers it.

“What? I’m studying, ya know? ... Yeah, whatever. … Sure, thing princess,” he snarls. Barry can hear Jack screaming on the other side of the line. Hal’s face is poem, in just one second, he sees rage, confusion and misery. He hangs up and tosses the phone aside.

“Hal? Is-” Barry can’t finish as Hal throws himself over Barry and starts to kiss him with desperation. He returns the kiss slightly stunned. It’s an angry one, full of tongue, teeth and tugs on his clothes and hair. Hal scratches his arm and Barry hisses.

“Sorry,” mutters Hal against his mouth. Yet, he doesn’t stop touching Barry, manhandling him against the wall until his back hits the surface. “Make me forget Bear. Just-” his tone is desperate.

Barry pushes him away and shoves Hal over his bed. If Hal needs a distraction, he’s gonna get that. Straddling his boyfriend, he dives into Hal who welcomes him with a groan. For the next ten minutes, Barry makes Hal forget everything beyond their hands and lips. When they break away, he fears that his lips are going to fall apart, and his heart might jump out of his ribcage. They’re both loudly panting. Swallowing, Barry squeezes his eyes shut until he sees white particles in the vast darkness. Hal pulls him closer and nuzzles his neck humming.

“Why weren’t we doing this before?” he babbles.

Barry chuckles and tracing Hal’s hand, he answers, “because we need to study. I’ve a final. You’ve a final.”

Hal groans and gets up leaving Barry perplexed in his bed. Barry’s throat burns with all the questions he has. He wants Hal to trust him as he trusted him. It hurts. “Hal? Please talk with me,” Barry’s voice comes wimpy.

Hal sighs but his back is still turned to Barry. Right now, Barry feels a huge distance between them. When Hal leaves, Barry’s heart breaks. Is this their first fight? He doesn’t understand anything. Why is Hal behaving like this? He can't fix anything unless Hal tells him what the problem is. They kissed then he mentioned their school duties and Hal left, why?

Barry spends the rest of the evening reading over and over his formulas. He doesn’t understand a single word he’s reading so he quits. That night he sleeps being aware of his surroundings, tossing and turning under his sheets, never truly falling sleep. It’s a living hell that he feels at maximum throttle next morning when every joint of his body protests as he moves.

Barry waits restless for Hal’s car to pick him up. He’s all alone in his driveway. Iris’ went with his boyfriend to school this morning. Barry still needs to properly meet him. Lately, he has spent so much time with Hal that he feels like he hasn’t talked with Cisco, just the two of them, in years.

Hal doesn’t come. Barry is desolated. His throat closes and his eyes sting. He doesn’t understand what’s wrong with Hal. He’s starting to get in Hal’s shoes, when he kept his past away from him. Is this how Hal felt? This hopelessness? Knowing that something is wrong and being unable to do something, anything, to prevent it from going on? Crap.

He starts to walk. He can’t call Joe, his dad might like Hal but he’s still Barry’s dad and he can be overprotective with him and Iris at unsuspected places. He has no one else to call so he keeps walking. It’s okay. Maybe this is a coincidence. Maybe Hal fell asleep. Yeah, maybe.

 

★               ★               ★

 

Barry grumbles as he wakes up. Someone is knocking. Rubbing his eyes, he tries to see something in the darkness of his room. According to his clock, it’s almost 3AM. Scowling, he gets out of bed when the knocking becomes more insistent. The room is so cold he gasps. Barefoot, he opens his window. Hal is perched over it and falls inside. Barry catches him by miracle. He doesn’t need anything else than a second and a whiff, to know that Hal is drunk. Again.

It’s the third time. Barry drags him to his bed before he automatically removes his jacket, boots and jeans. Hal giggles and squirms.

“Ya want me naked? I know. Mah’ ass is sweeeeet.” He keeps laughing. Barry doesn’t see where the fun is. He must have missed the joke.

“Shut up Hal. You’re going to wake up Joe,” he hisses as he gets on his bed. Hal tries to snuggle against him. Barry pulls away. Hal’s too cold and he’s mad at him.

Hal gave Barry no explanations of why he never bothered to drive him to school. He simple appeared on Wendy’s during their lunch time, sat next to Barry and pecked him quickly before he started to biker with Ollie. Like nothing was wrong. Barry decided to play his game. Then Hal drove him home and took off. That was the first night he knocked on his window, drunk. According to his Instagram, he had been partying hard with the football team. Next morning, he was gone before Barry woke up.

“Ya seem soo serious babe. I know! Why was Cinderella thrown off the basketball team?” Hal waits for Barry. Barry ignores him, trying to tuck Hal under his blankets. “She ran away from the ball! Ya get’it? It’s good, huh?”

“Hilarious,” he deadpans.

Hal snores in response. Barry screams into his pillow. Tomorrow is Christmas Eve. Joe invited Hal with them one day that Hal decided to stay instead of speeding out to the nearest party.

Barry hates this situation. He knows why Hal is like this, drifting away from him, pushing Barry: Jack’s home and he must be pissing off Hal. He wishes Hal would tell him what Jack’s been doing so he could tell him how full of bullshit all of that is. Alas, Hal has decided to keep him in the dark. He hasn’t even told him that his father was attacked in prison. Fuck, he needed Hal that afternoon, but Hal was too busy getting wasted with his new buddies of the football team. Seems that Ollie is no longer Hal’s only friend.

Barry only wants to help Hal. He can see how much he’s suffering under his ‘everything’s cool’ attitude. He’s drinking away his fears and troubles. It hurts to know that he’s not good enough. Hal supported him and now Barry only wants to do the same.

Hal’s phone buzzes. Barry knows he shouldn’t, but the temptation to look is too strong. What if it’s Jack? He unblocks it. It’s a message from T-Dog Man! A picture attached. Barry opens it. It’s a blurry picture of Hal kissing a blond girl.

Barry’s world shatters. The phone falls from his hands. He can’t believe it. No. His Hal would never. He kneels on the floor and grabs the stupid device. He studies the picture thoughtfully. It seems kind of old. He sighs relieved. Hal’s shirt on the picture is purple. Right now, he’s wearing a black one.

                T-Dog Man!: d u rmbr?  good ol times bro

                T-Dog Man!: pussy wating 4 u

                T-Dog Man!: dnt u miss it? dick cant b that good

                T-Dog Man!: C ask 4 u & miss u

Barry knows exactly who C is, Carol. Hal’s ex. Fantastic. He blocks the phone and watches Hal. Why would this ‘t-dog’ send Hal and old picture of him making out with some girl? He feels frustrated. He’s tried being patient with Hal, giving him space. Hal pushed him and drilled Barry with questions until he set that trap with Joe on their sleepover, so Barry would spill over his painful memories. Now, he’s unable to even tell Barry that he’s mad with Jack.

Barry yanks his pillow from his bed and storms out of his room. Tonight, he’s going to sleep on the couch. The temptation to shake Hal until he wakes and demand explanations is too strong.

It takes Barry over an hour to finally fall asleep. The couch is awful, and his mind won’t stop mulling over and over regarding when Hal started to change his attitude. Barry’s head throbs. Hal is pushing him away since they talked about everything. Barry can recall that Jack sent him some messages that morning. Hal became grumpy. Jack called Hal. Hal yelled Ollie. Jack called Hal’s mom and she asked Hal if he had already filled the application to his university. Hal yanked Barry and drove to the arcade where they spent the afternoon. Jack texted Hal in the library and Hal snapped. Jack, Jack, Jack. That’s the common factor. Just like Barry’s the journalist that won’t stop spamming his old email.

Joe made him change to a new one, but Barry still logs into the old one just in case someone sends him something important because they don’t know his new address. The messages are getting more and more disturbing. He wanted to tell Hal, but guess what? He was hanging with the football guys. The same guys that tripped Barry last day of class when he exited the lab and coughed loser.

Barry dreams with a maze of trees and a large shadow chasing him that flashes him blind whenever he looks at it.

“Barry wake up!”

Barry jolts and falls on the floor. Iris is kneeled at his side. He’s sweating, he feels the echoes of his heartbeat at the base of his throat. He looks around, confused. Why is he in the living room? “Iris? What? Where?”

“I don’t know. You were tossing and turning around. I tried to wake you up like five times. What are you doing here Barry? Why aren’t you with Hal? He’s here, right? His car is… parked outside.” Barry doesn’t like the way Iris says parked. He crawls over the window. Hal’s car is crossed halfway their driveway and their front lawn. “Yeah… I guess someone drank too much. Thank God he didn’t hit the mailbox. Bar, I know you hate driving after your skid. I could move it if you get Hal’s keys.” She smiles at him.

Barry hugs her. He’s so lucky of having her as his sister. He could have never asked for someone better. Sprinting, he gets Hal’s keys and tosses them to Iris. As she parks Hal’s car appropriately, Barry thanks that Hal didn’t scratch Joe’s car or that Joe has seen this.

“Well, let’s get breakfast so you can tell me what’s going on with you and Hal and if I need to kick his ass to Madagascar.” Iris drags him to the kitchen.

Barry makes a quick recap although Iris already knew most of it. Hal’s new friends are something Ollie and Dinah like to point out every day. It’s obvious that like Barry, they don’t like Hal’s new behavior.

“So, who’s this ‘t-dog’? And, can I kick him?” She puffs her steaming coffee and waits for Barry’s answer.

“I don’t know. Tom? Tim? Honestly Iris, all the jocks look the same to me. They are all boisterous, bullies, and idiots who chase a ball and whoever wears a skirt. It’s ridiculous,” he huffs.

“Since Hal is starting to behave like them, would you consider asking Santa for a miniskirt? Maybe Hal would be so mesmerized that he would spill his heart out,” she titters.

“Har, har. You’re so funny.” Barry stares at his coffee pondering if maybe Hal would actually tell him anything if he blows him or something. The thought makes him warm. Hal seems to be like his old self whenever they kiss. Barry loves the way Hal’s eyes soften and he seems to reverence Barry’s body when they are together. Pity it only happens when they get physical. He misses simply being with him doing nothing in particular, just enjoying his mere presence.

“Are you actually considering it? Kinky.” Iris laughs when Barry leaps from his chair.

“IRIS! What Hal and I do… is no one else business and no. I wasn’t considering wearing a skirt,” he pokes his tongue out…

… and nearly bites it as Hal mushes. “You’d look sexy.”

Iris guffaws. Hal winces. From his hangover guesses Barry. Standing up, he handles Hal a glass of water with some pills Joe has lying around for when he gets out with his cops friends to celebrate a good day at job. Hal mutters thanks as he swallows them. Barry nods. He’s still annoyed.

Joe joins them. He doesn’t even bat an eye when he sees Hal… but he makes sure to close all the cupboards and drawers with too much strength. It makes Barry smile. Hal winces but doesn’t complain. He knows he can’t say anything.

Once their breakfast is over, Barry looks coldly at Hal and points upstairs. This Christmas all he wants is his boyfriend back. He wants his thoughtful, affectionate, sexy, cheerful Hal. Not this tainted image of him.

Closing the door of his room with a loud bang that makes Hal groan, Barry sits on his desk chair as Hal sinks on his bed.

“We need to talk. If you leave this room,” he swallows. He doesn’t want to, but he can’t keep living like this. “I don’t think I could keep up with this.”

Hal’s eyes open wide and he gets paler. “WHAT? Bear, whatcha talking about?”

“You. I don’t get you Hal. Wanna know why? Because you’re pushing me away. You asked me to trust you and I did. Why can’t you trust me? Am I not good enough? Is it better to drink your problems away? Hal, you promised me you wouldn’t drink and drive. Wanna know why Iris has your car keys? You nearly crashed your car last night. It was halfway our driveway and yard!”

Hal blinks slowly before he frowns. “You’ve no idea of what you’re talking about…”

Barry huffs, “that’s what I’m trying to say! Talk to me. That’s what couples do. Communication. Good relationships are based on communication. I thought there were no secrets among us. Hal… every time you push me away and decide to get wasted with your new friends it crushes me.” He feels his eyes burn and the knot on his stomach gets tighter as his throat drier.

“So, basically, my options are telling you or you break up with me?” Hal hisses.

Crap. Okay, cornered animal. Defensive mode engaged. Barry takes a deep breath and shakes his head. “No. I don’t want to Hal. That’s the last thing I want to. I-I-” I love you.

It’s true. Even right now that Hal is being stubborn, pig-headed idiot, he still loves him. He loves Hal’s virtues and his flaws. He loves that Hal’s room is a mess, his sharpness, his awful jokes, his loyalty, his stubbornness, his inability to speak his feels but rather show them… even if right now these last two are driving him insane. He loves how caring and mother hen he can be sometimes, how irresponsible, childish, sassy, and lippy can be now and then.

Swallowing, he lowers hi voice. “Hal, I just want to help you. Like you tried to help me. I’ll never judge you, but you need to enlighten me. I can’t help you otherwise.”

Hal scoffs. “You can’t help me.”

Barry sees an entrance, he takes it. “Why? I mean why do you feel that I can’t help you?”

Hal clenches his fists and stares a hole on the floor. Barry counts the seconds that pass by. The silence is drowning him, until Hal speaks softly. “I’m losing them. I know I am.”

“Who?” Barry ask tentatively.

“My family,” whispers Hal. Barry gets up and sits on his bed, next to Hal who hides his head on his chest. Muffled against Barry’s sweater he finally talks. “Jack knows Barry. Mom told him I was doing good in school and he started to send me those messages asking me if I was cheating. I told him to suck my dick. He called mom and started to sweet talk her about me and him going together to the same university, living together, yada, yada, yada. Mom was so happy Bar.

“I dodged the thing until Jack’s arrival. The fucker brought the applications forms for me as my present. ‘Nothing better than a future Harold’. I teared them right there and blew the pieces on his face. That night I came here.”

Barry frowns. He thought Jack had arrived just few days ago, not last week when Hal first knocked on his windowsill, climbing their garage totally smashed.

“Okay. So, he knows about you and me?” Barry asks confused.

Hal leaps. “NO! I mean, I don’t think so, and if he said anything I’ll knock him down. I’ve taken enough of his bullshit I won’t take if for this, for us. Never.” He holds Barry’s hand and squeezes it. “Me being a pilot.” His voice breaks.

Barry processes this. He knows that the Jordans have the whole flying thing as a taboo that shall not me named. He knows that Jack blames Hal because his father and mother had a discussion before he died, because Hal wanted to go with his dad to the Aircraft to see him flying. Obviously, Jack is in Barry’s black list for that. Hal was a kid. His parents, adults. Just like he and Hal are doing right now, if there’s a disagreement you have to talk and solve it. It wasn’t Hal’s fault.

“Is he, I mean has he confronted you?”

“Not directly. Which is also driving me mad! Jack’s always been blunt and direct. If I screwed up, he would yank me to my room and told me what a disappointment to mom I was being. Now he’s like leaving hints. Like… I don’t know Barry! I just know he knows,” he’s exalted, moving his hands up and down frustrated and through his hair.

“Okay, Hal. It’s okay. So, what do we do?” He talks calmly, trying to transmit his serenity to Hal. Right now, he’s the practical Barry.

“I don’t know. Why the fuck do you think I drink? I think all the fucking day and nothing! God, I can’t wait to tomorrow!” He snaps. His words slap Barry. “It’s gonna be a minefield. My homophobic grandparents are coming to town and I know that Jim is going to blow it like with mom if he’s not careful and then, I’ve Jack on my back, watching me with sharp eyes waiting until I mess up, so he can point it out loud and tell me what a failure I am. Fuck sake, I already know!” Hal is so desperate, and his voice is so hollow it breaks Barry. He wants to exchange some words with Jack, like yesterday.

“Hal. You’re no failure. I’ve already told you. We can think about something. I… I already told you when we met that I think you should tell your mom-” Barry tries to reason with him, but Hal cuts him before he’s done.

“NO! Are you insane? She’ll kick me out of home! Seriously Barry, I once saw her toss the TV remote across the room because Top Gun was playing. She hates Tom Cruise and all the movies he has done because of Top Gun. That’s how she is. She loved my father but hated his job. You wanna know how she reacted when she found out I was with Carol? She told me to not come back until I had broken with her.” Barry frowns. He’s not Carol’s fan although the girl has never done anything to him, but he has to admit that Jessica overreacted. “In her defense, Carl hates me, and he never apologized or anything after my dad died. They were friends Barry, and he didn’t even attend his funeral. So there goes that, but if I told my mom… she’ll just, stop talking to me. I can’t. I don’t want to lose my mother. Not yet.”

Hal strokes his face and huffs hopeless. Barry is trying to grasp the whole picture with everything Hal has just told him. Now, he’s starting to understand why Hal reacted the way he did these past days. It still hurts that he decided to turn to the bottle rather than talk with him, but it’s understandable. If someone knows about unhealthy copying mechanisms, that’s Barry. He has no idea of what to do. He hugs Hal. That’s the only thing he can do for him; that and be there for him. Show him unconditional support.

“Hal… I know it’s not the same but, you know, Joe, Iris, and Nana love you. Like in Thanksgiving, you’re more than welcomed to stay here. Joe has already invited you. We-We might not be them, but if you want you don’t have to be alone. We can be a family for you. Sorry if that’s not what you want…” he trails off, afraid of having overstep.

Hal stays silent. Barry counts his heartbeats. Thump thump, thump thump… “Are you gonna leave me too Bear?” Hal voice is so thin and vulnerable it makes Barry’s heart leap.

“Never. As long as you want me, I’ll always be there,” he pours his heart out with firm voice. The words I love you in the tip of his tongue, too shy to actually step out of his mouth.

Hal kisses him. It’s a sweet kiss, not full of rage and desperation like the ones he’s been seeking these past days. Barry grabs the back of Hal’s t-shirt and tangles with his other hand, Hal’s hair. Hal simply holds his jaw and neck, locking Barry in the kiss. Making it impossible to pull away. Not that he has any intention to.

When Hal draws away, he kisses Barry’s lips softly and whispers against them, “thank you. It’s more than enough, Bear.” His words fill Barry’s heart with heat that quickly spreads everywhere till his fingertips. His blood is singing, his head in seventh heaven. The magic words echoing around them.

His words lose its shyness. “I love you.”

Hal freezes. Barry knew he was playing with fire, but he doesn’t mind. Not anymore. He pulls away and holds Hal’s gaze. Swallowing, he repeats, “I love you Hal Jordan. It’s okay if you can’t say it back. I don’t mind waiting I just needed to tell you.” Looking away because this is getting too intense, he keeps going on. “Hal, when I’m with you nothing else matters. You always push me to be better and if I fall, I know you’re going to be there to catch me. You showed me that, when I needed you the most… Even if these last weeks we have drifted away, that has also showed me how much I needed you. Because every second you were gone, I thought 'if Hal was here…' Thing is, I knew that if truly needed you, I only needed to call you.”

He stops. Now he’s babbling like he does whenever he’s nervous. Hesitantly, he looks up, through his lashes to see Hal’s reaction. He sees Hal red, totally flustered. It makes Barry smile a little. Hal might be able to say lewd stuff without batting an eye, but feelings and mushy stuff are so out of his scope… it’s kind of amusing to see their roles exchanged.

“I-I-I don’t know what to say.” Hal is blinking so much one would think he has just applied mascara.

“It’s okay. As I told you, I only needed to tell you.” Barry kisses his cheek. He tries to ignore the small pang of disappointment he feels. He wasn’t expecting something but still… It doesn’t matter. He knows that Hal cares about him.

“Bear? I. I.” Hal swallows loudly. “I-I-I I care deeply for you. You’re what I always think about,” his voice dies as he talks.

Barry’s heart leaps with happiness. It’s not an I love you, but at the same time it is. In Hal’s language it is. That’s all it matters.

“I know Hal.” Barry smiles warmly. Then he switches the topic knowing better than to press him. Today, he has already talked about himself more than he’s used to. “Wanna watch a movie? We could see if they have added something on HBO?”

 

★               ★               ★

 

“Nana, do you want more gravy?” Barry hollers from the kitchen, juggling with the dishes he’s already carrying.

“You’re going to drop them. Here, let me help.” Hal pecks Barry’s lips as he grabs three of the four dishes Barry was carrying. “By the way, Nana wants more gravy.” He winks and leaves the room.

Barry stares a little bit at Hal’s perky ass before he searches where the gravy is, among this messy kitchen. No one can blame him, really. Hal’s wearing tight, low-waisted dark jeans and an amazing dark green shirt. Hal’s look is the best Christmas present he has received today.

Hal spent yesterday three hours in his house with his maternal family trying to celebrate Christmas Eve before he gave up, tired of them. Barry didn’t ask, simply tugged him in from their cold porch, when he knocked on the door. Joe handed him a mug filled with Christmas punch and said nothing apart from, ‘now Nana has another victim to drill, how wonderful’. Hal stayed the night and ran this morning to his house to change and wish his mother and little brother, merry Christmas.

Barry finds the gravy among Nana’s pudding and Joe’s pecan pie. He steps out of the kitchen and observes the scene before his eyes: Joe, Iris, Nana and Hal laughing, serving into each other plates the different dishes they’ve cooked this morning and last afternoon while singing carols.

“Barry! C’mon, we’re hungry and the gravy’s gonna get cold!” Iris whines.

Shaking his head, Barry jogs to the table and hands Nana her gravy as he kisses her forehead.

Their dinner is light, full of awkward stories Joe tells about him and Iris while they were kids to the enjoyment of Hal. Then Nana shares stories about Joe to his dismay. The three teens laugh when Nana explains them how Joe fell from a tree trying to impress a girl, breaking his wrist.

When the feast is over, Iris and Hal exchange a glance that makes Barry frown.

“Barry, help me with the dishes,” pipes Iris with a bright smile.

Barry is suspicious. Even so, he helps her. He’s bent over a cupboard when Iris pushes him to the hall.

“What?” He screams. Hal catches him with a cocky grin and tugs him closer.

“Gotcha… you know, traditions are important Bear.” Iris chuckles behind them. Barry doesn’t understand anything. Hal’s grin widens, and he points up. There’s mistletoe hanging over the door lintel. “We wouldn’t want to break them, right?”

Barry closes his eyes and waits. Hal’s lips touch his softly. Barry tugs his apart automatically. Hal hums pleased as his tongue slides inside his mouth. Barry gets hold on Hal’s shoulders and groans. Hal moves expertly, knowing exactly how to rev him up. Barry’s back hit’s the door jam, he uses it to jump into Hal’s arms and wrap his legs around his waist. Hal hisses and nips Barry’s upper lip between his teeth, playfully. Barry moans and seeks his mouth, impatient to keep kissing him. His hands tug Hal’s hair, pulling him as close as he can. He feels the tingle and the heat spreading through his body as the kiss becomes sloppier. It’s the kind that always leads to one of them (or both) losing their pants…

They break apart when a flash goes off. Barry is panting hard and his vision his blurry, but he can still see Iris jaw dropped, with her phone up. Hal is still holding him, their chests are one against the other. Barry purrs when the vibration of Hal’s voice travels across him, “You took a nice one Iris?”

“Yep. I gotta say that, Bar you’re my brother and all that but… that was hot. Now let’s pretend I’ve never said that, okay? Okay! Perfect. Pic sent, Hal. Play nice guys,” she waves them a goodbye as she leaves the kitchen.

Barry’s hazy brain starts to catch the exchange of words that has just taken place. Unwrapping his legs from Hal’s waist, he pokes his finger against Hal’s sculped chest, “what was that?”

Hal winks and pulls out his phone. He taps a couple of times before he shows Barry the picture Iris has just sent him. It’s the two of them. Kissing. It’s different from all the other pictures they have taken kissing. For once, he had no idea he was being photographed; second, he forgot where he was, so all his inhibitions? Flying through the window. Iris words echo in the air and he has to agree with her. It’s hot. It’s pretty obvious it’s a passionate kiss…

“You planned this?” he whispers.

“Yeah. Asked Iris to hang the mistletoe and call you out. I also asked Joe to keep him and Nana off the kitchen but never told him why…” his hands trail down his body until they land on Barry’s hips. “But I never expected to get a hard-on with your sister looking… you think I might be an exhibitionist? Cause Bear I’ve bad news about you too…”

Barry hushes him with a kiss. “I hate you. Because now I have to jerk off in the bathroom or otherwise I’d not be able to look at Nana’s face. Idiot.” He pulls away and climbs upstairs to his bathroom. Hal follows him. He enters after Barry on the small bathroom across Barry’s room. “Hal... don’t you think anyone will know what two horny teenagers are doing in a bathroom, together?”

“I don’t care.” He pauses and frowns. “Okay, I might care a little about Joe’s gun but it’s okay. I can jump through the window?”

Barry laughs. “You’re an idiot.”

“Maybe, but I’m your idiot.” Hal smiles and steps closer to Barry, fingers through his belt.

“Yeah… unbuckle your pants,” he orders Hal. Hal raises an eyebrow amused but instead of doing so, he kneels before Barry and starts to unbuckle him.

“I like it when you’re bossy, but no. It’s my turn. Consider this a Christmas present. Ho ho ho, a blowjob for you kiddo,” he says mimicking Santa Claus as he pulls down Barry’s pants.

Barry cringes, “don’t you ever do that again. Like ever. I sweaaaaaar ooooh.”

Hal is licking his half-hard dick that immediately gets hard. Hal hums and the vibrations make Barry step back. He grabs himself against the faucet and closes his eyes enjoying the warmth of Hal’s mouth around him. He starts to move faster and slightly deeper, making Barry moan loudly. Afraid someone might hear him, he bites his fist and looks down.

Hal’s hair is a mess. He’s bobbing his head up and down increasing his speed as Barry moans louder. Hal pulls away as his hand takes the relay of his mouth, he licks his lips and locks eyes with Barry. Fuck. He looks so sexy with his blackish lustful eyes, pouty lips, and flustered cheeks. Winking, he goes back. He takes Barry deep and slowly pulls back, teasing him. Barry groans and holds into Hal’s shoulder as he bites his lips.

Hal groans and fastens his rhythm, twisting his hand on the base of his dick. Then his other hand starts to caress his balls and Barry loses it. It’s getting harder to breathe and the hotness is getting too much. Barry needs ice to cold himself down. His head falls back, hitting the mirror. Hal chuckles and slows down his movements. He pulls out his dick and starts to lick it slowly, like a lollipop.

“Hal, please…” Barry begs broken, rolling his hips.

The warm wetness of Hal’s mouth surrounds him again. Hal alternates speeds, from teasing slow to passionate. It’s driving Barry crazy. He’s not sure he’s going to last too much. Feeling Hal’s muscles moving down his hands is hypnotic. Barry starts to feel his vision blurring and his heart going crazy. He’s moaning loudly and unable to say a word. He pats Hal’s shoulder trying to warn him that he’s about to come. Hal increases his speed and looks up, through his lashes, to Barry. Barry thinks is the hottest thing he has ever seen. He comes. Hal swallows as much as he can but some falls down his chin.

Barry pants heavily as Hal wipes his mouth clean and smiles at him. His voice his hoarse as he asks him, “good huh? I did my research and I know what I like so…”

Barry nods. Yeah, it was good. Fuck, that was amazing. He yanks Hal up from the lapels of his shirt and kisses him. It’s weird to taste himself on Hal’s mouth but he doesn’t mind. Pulling back, he unbuckles Hal.

“We should get out…” he protests.

“The only thing that’s getting out is your dick,” hisses Barry. Hal chuckles. Barry gets down and pulls with him Hal’s pants. The shape of his hard dick is more than obvious. Barry traces it slowly with his tongue. Hal sucks in a breath and curses. Now it’s Barry’s turn to tease.

He licks Hal through the fabric a couple of times more before he yanks down his boxers with his teeth. Wrapping his hand at the base, he plunges down as far as he can until his eyes water. He pulls back and sets a slow rhythm trying to get used to it. Hal groans above him. Barry smiles and pulls it out, he starts to lick its sides and the head, sucking a little. Hal thrusts a little, Barry takes it and grabbing Hal’s hand, he places it behind his head.

“Ya sure?” Hal mutters broken. Barry nods as he keeps bobbing his head with slow, precise movements that make Hal groan and curse. He uses his hand to follow the movement of his mouth as Hal starts to thrust hesitantly. Barry hums and takes it deeper, trying to show Hal that he shouldn’t be afraid. Fuck, he’s enjoying this a lot.

He imitates Hal patterns of speed although he loses the control once Hal locks his head with his hands and sets the pace himself. Barry’s eyes water and he gags a couple of times but when Hal tries to pull away, he squeezes his ass, dragging his fingernails, encouraging him to keep going. Hal hisses above him.

“Bar-Bar-Barryy!” he yells. “Shit! I’m not…” Barry considers it, before he keeps sucking Hal, increasing his speed. Hal thrusts into his mouth three times before he comes. Barry has to pull out a bit when it gets too much. He can feel the come and spit dripping down his chin. He hopes his shirt isn’t a mess. Wiping himself clean, he stands up and steps until he’s hip to hip with Hal. He washes his hands and takes a gulp of water before he looks himself on the mirror.

His crimson shirt is wrinkled worse than Hal’s and he definitely has some come over his chest. Crap. Now he has to change. Hal turns around. He’s stained as well as Barry. It makes Barry chuckle. They are both so messy…

“What? Your hair is even worse than mine,” replies Hal. Barry has to agree. Hal’s hands tugging it, had trashed it even worse than it normal is.

“Our shirts,” points Barry as he handles a hand towel to Hal.

“Oh crap! Guess we need to learn how to swallow better. Fuck. Never thought it’d be so hard. It doesn’t seem so on porn,” he tries to wipe his shirt.

“C’mon, we better change,” he buckles up his pants and opens the door ajar, trying to see if someone is in the hall.

Crossing it, they enter Barry’s room. Barry hides his shirt and Hal’s under a ton of dirty clothes mentally taking note to remember that he has placed them there so no one finds them before he does laundry. He allows Hal freely over his closet. He has nothing to hide now. Hal grabs his own green hoodie, the one he lent Barry on their first non-official date on the cinema.

“Wondered where it was… wait, this isn’t the first time I see it here. Barry you’re a thief and clever.” Barry frowns with the last adjective. Hal wiggles his eyebrows. “You’re clever because with this hoodie I bet jerking off thinking about me is much easier with this.” He sniffs it. “It’s smells like you tho.”

Barry rolls his eyes. On another occasion he’d have blushed but not now, not after what has happened in the bathroom. “Well, seems like you have your new outfit. Plus, this way it’ll get your smell again.”

“I demand a hoodie of yours, so I can jerk off with your smell, Barry. This is non-negotiable,” Hal puts it on.

Barry does the same with his and looks unimpressed at Hal. Before he exists the room, he says, “Stay tonight too and you’ll have me instead of my clothes to jerk off if that’s what you wish.” He leaves a gaping Hal. He loves doing that. Honestly, beating Hal on his own game of teasing is so much funnier than he ever thought it would be.

 

★               ★               ★

 

Hal stays that night and pretty much every single night after that. His maternal family leaves the 28th but Hal decides to spend the New Year’s Eve with the Wests rather than in Ollie’s party. It makes Barry feel bubbly. He gifts Hal with a morning blow to show him how much he appreciates it.

Hal’s closet starts to mix with Barry’s as he brings clothes from his home. He tells Barry that his mother is annoyed with him, but he simply can’t stay there, not with Jack. Jim finally spilled the beans to Jack about where Hal was sleeping. Jim apologized, calling to Barry’s phone (Barry ignored Hal had passed him his contact) as Hal had blocked him and Jack on his.

Jack’s reaction was as bad as Hal expected. It saddened Barry. He had never grasped why people where so prejudiced and thick-headed to not understand that love is love no matter the gender of the couple. He’s so glad Joe didn’t mind.

Hal punched his brother square in the face after a nasty comment that he refuses to repeat, and now he’s pretty much living in Barry’s room. His mother wasn’t happy, but she didn’t fight or threatened Hal. Actually, Hal’s morning of the 30th, was joyful when his mother called asking him to come by as Jack wasn’t there and that she missed him.

Later, Hal cheerfully explained Barry that she had finally understood why Hal had decided to leave: Jack wouldn’t stop cursing Hal and Barry and Jessica, fed up, and personally knowing how ‘sweet’ Barry was (my mom’s words Barry, she likes you. I told you she’d come around), told him to drive around for a couple of hours and come back with an apology.

The apology must have flown with the wind as it never came but Hal was happy, thus Barry was happy. They’re lying in his bed, simply listening to music, enjoying the heat the body of the other produces, kissing from time to time when Hal’s phone chimes with a message.

“Bear, would you mind? I’m too comfy,” Hal pouts and bats his lashes to Barry.

Rolling his eyes, he gets up and picks up Hal’s phone. His smile vanishes as soon as he sees the sender: T-Dog Man!. Hal sees his change in demeanor and leans on his elbows, “Bear? Babe, what’s wrong?”

Gritting his teeth, Barry tosses him his phone. Hal catches it but sets it apart after quickly checking the screen. “You don’t like Tom?”

“Oh, so that’s his name. Wonderful,” Barry snaps. He’s practically seeing the picture of Hal kissing that girl that he sent him the day before Christmas Eve.

Hal scratches his head and frowns. “He’s asking me if I’m coming to tonight’s party. I’m staying. I already told you. Bear, I haven’t drunk since we talked. Now I’m talking with you as you asked me. What else do you fucking want from me?” his tone has grown exasperate with every sentence.

Barry narrows his eyes and points at the phone. “Have you talked with him recently? Or checked your messages with him?” Hal frowns but shakes his head. “Do it. You were drunk, your phone… I know I shouldn’t have, but I was worried Hal and you wouldn’t talk. I looked who was texting you. Only that chat. I apologize for it, but not for not liking Tom.” He hisses the name.

Hal scrolls up and gasps when he sees the picture. “Barry, I swear it’s not what yo-”

“I know. It’s an old picture. I know it. I mean, at first, I didn’t, and it hurt. Imagine opening a picture of me kissing someone else. That’s how I felt, but then I saw your clothes didn’t match. Why would your friend send you those wonderful messages?” He mocks. Okay. So, he’s irritated and resentful. He knows Hal likes him and cares about him, but sometimes he wakes up and wonders how long until the spell is broken. Until Hal realizes he could be with someone better, less fucked up.

“Bear… I’m kind of annoyed, not gonna lie. I mean, I get that you were worried, but my phone? That’s what Jack used to do, you know? He used to check my computer to see what Ollie and I were up to. But okay, I get it. I was smashed, and you were tired of my bullshit but, c’mon why are you now angry with me?” It’s the hurt in Hal’s voice what makes Barry snap out of it.

He looks at Hal and all his irritation disappears. He’s right. He’s paying it with Hal who technically didn’t do anything wrong. “Sorry it’s just… I don’t know Hal. I’m kind of afraid you’re going to walk away and-”

Hal explodes. He raises his voice and rushed he starts to move his arms everywhere as he talks. “What? Fucks sake... Fuck Tom and fuck you. Seriously Bartholomew? I’m like fucking living here. I fucking talk with you about feelings and shit because no more secrets among us and communication and all that mumbo-jumbo and oh, yeah! I fucking love you and you fucking dare to-”

“You love me?” Barry’s breathes.

Hal stops midair. He slowly blinks and gapes like a fish. Every second that ticks by, he gets redder and redder. He finally nods and shyly looks away, chewing his lip. Barry runs and collides against Hal, both falling hard against the mattress. Bracketing Hal’s head between his arms, he stares into Hal’s eyes. “Tell me Hal. Please.”

Hal swallows and his eyes soften, hawking, he whispers, “I-I lo-love you Barry.”

Barry melts as his heart explodes. “I love you too Hal.”

Hal sucks a breath before he pulls Barry for a kiss. Barry smiles like a fool the whole time to the annoyance of Hal. “’m trying to kiss ya, Bear. At least pretend you’re trying…”

Barry singsongs, “You loooooove meeeee.”

Hal groans and throws a pillow to his head. “Shouldn’t had said anything. Jeez. Now I’m not even angry with you. It’s so unfair. Angry sex is supposed to be awesome, yet here we’re, sharing love confessions,” he groans.

His words make Barry giggle. “Pretty sure we’ll fight in the future, don’t worry you’ll get your angry reconciliation sex, Ace… and hey, confession time, right? Remember when you got wasted one school day and dropped your phone on Ollie’s pool?” Hal hums and his eyebrows press together, trying to understand where Barry is going. “You were talking with me. You said that you’ll always protect me and then, before you fell on the pool, you said, ‘I think I lov’. Does that ring a bell?”

Hal groans, “Thought that was a dream. You never said anything!”

“Neither did you,” replies Barry. Gleeful that Hal admits that he did mean that.

Hal hushes him with a kiss. Barry doesn’t mind. He’s so happy now that Hal has admitted his feelings regarding him. His doubts are now cleared, a weight has been lifted from his shoulders. Hal loves me. Hal loves me. Becomes his merry tune inside his brain.

That night, when the year finishes between Iris and Joe’s happy new year wishes, they lock lips.

“You know what they say Bear. If you kiss at midnight on New Year’s Eve…”

“… good luck bodes for the rest of the year. Let’s spend all our New Year’s Eve together Hal.”

They kiss again.

Chapter Text

JANUARY

Hal wakes up with Barry opening and closing his drawers as he gets ready for school. Today is their first day back to school. It makes Hal groan. Screw school, he wants to go back to bed.

“Hal get up, we need to pick up your brother,” Barry tickles his feet as he passes back and forth from one side to the other of the room.

Hal squirms and bends his legs against his stomach as he covers his head with the duvet. Going to his house is another reason why he doesn’t want to wake up. Jack is still there. The fucker doesn’t start his classes until mid-January. Hal clenches his teeth. Every time he thinks about Jack he sees his brother’s disgusted face when he found out about Barry… and neither does he forget all the shit he said before Hal knocked him cold.

When Barry yanks all the bedclothes from Hal and kicks the mattress Hal finally gets up. He makes sure to be completely naked and in Barry’s sight, before he stretches, yawning loudly. Barry licking his lips is enough to tell Hal that his objective has been met: tease and incite him. Maybe now, Barry decides to cut class and spend the day in his bed… but Barry shakes his head coming out of trance, and eyeing Hal from head to toe, barks him to get ready in less than five.

Hal has to admit that Barry’s self-restraint is quite impressive. He dresses up with his own lighter jeans but choses a nerdy t-shirt from Barry and one of his crimson hoodies. Today is gonna be a stressful day, Hal can tell, so he better be surrounded by a comforting smell.

As Hal dreaded, the asshole is waiting for them outside, next to Jim, who bolts to Hal’s car as soon as he sees them. Hal stops the car and draws Barry for a kiss as he flips off his brother.

“You shouldn’t do that,” whispers Barry.

“No, he totally should.” Jim’s comment makes them leap away.

Hal blinks, curious he asks him, “Why?”

“Hal, I’m so sorry. I know I’ve been kind of an ass to you these last months is just Jack told me you were gonna leave us and I… It doesn’t matter. I like you, Barry. You’re good. Jack has overstepped. Even mom is on your side and we both know how much she loves Jack.” Jim shrugs like he hasn’t said anything important, but Hal’s world has shattered with just those few sentences.

From the corner of his eye, he sees Barry looking at him, concern written all over his features. He can’t deal with his worst fear, not now, so he drives. Today, Jim waits until the car is parked before he walks with them to the building. Hal isn’t paying any attention to what he’s saying, or Barry is answering him. His mind can’t stop the track of: Jack told me you were gonna leave us. He was right after all: Jack knows about his future plans.

The day passes in a blur. He sees that all his friends are worried, specially Barry, but he fakes a smile and keeps going on. Just forward, no overthinking, no what ifs.

When Tom tries to approach him, Hal bolts in the opposite direction. Today is not the best day to ask Tom why would he send him those messages on Christmas. It’s true that Tom had no way to know that Barry would see that picture, but it’s still a weird thing to do.

Days pass by and Hal feels like he’s living on the edge, waiting until the other shoe drops. He feels his throat constricted as he waits for his mother’s call, yelling him as Jack has told her what he plans to do or whatever Jack thinks he’s going to do. He doesn’t know what’s worst.

Jack leaves the 16th and there’s no meltdown, other than his mother’s request to come home immediately. Hal does. He spends the whole afternoon with her, helping her with mundane stuff like ironing their clothes (or trying to) and watching her cook. That night, he barely sleeps. His bed feels too big without Barry and he still has that dreadful sensation that everything is a train wreck about to happen.

 

★               ★               ★

 

His train wreck happens, but not in the way he expected. It’s Tuesday, two days before Barry’s father’s revision trial. They are exiting the school, five minutes after the bell rang as Barry left his lab the last (as always). They’ve decided to skip their study session on the library and simply hang around the arcade trying to beat Cisco’s latest score in the Pac-Man. Cisco is already waiting for them in Insert Coins as he had P.E. on his last period and decided to cut it.

Hal is laughing of Barry’s reaction to his latest joke: an epic eye roll and exasperated sigh, when Barry suddenly stops as a short man, with crooked nose steps in, cutting their path to Hal’s car. The man is holding a recorder and his expression gives Hal the creeps. It’s the reporter that has been stalking Barry. He’s been waiting for him outside the school front doors.

 “Excuse me, Mr. Allen now that your father might walk free from the atrocious crime he committed against your mother, do you plan to join him?” His voice is carried through the cold wind along the gasps of the few students that are still around. He doesn’t stop, his wicked grin widens. “Is it true that you saw him killing her? Could you give us more details? Don’t mind the gory stuff, it sells. Have you inherited his-”

He never finishes his question as Hal punches him square in the mouth. The man takes a step back, spits blood and looks at Hal bewildered, as if he couldn’t believe what he has done. Hal feels his blood boil. Someone grabs him from behind and drags him away before he can hit the man again.

Barry is pale but thankfully Dinah and Caitlin have materialized on his side. Hal is worried he might faint.

“Hal, dude, calm down. You ain’t gonna help Barry if you end up arrested. Dude, your father-in-law might be the one to do it! Think how awkward that would be.” Ollie is trying to calm him. Hal realizes it must be him who has him restrained.

“Lemme go, you don’t understand-” he tries to fight against his friend who only holds him tighter, hissing for the effort. He elbows Ollie and tries to step on his foot.

“No. Let’s go. We’re making a show and it’s the last thing Barry needs right now, buddy. I know you know this. Hal stop thinking with your dick and look at Barry!” He snaps.

Oliver is right. He lets Hal free as soon as Hal stops fighting him. He’s ashamed. He sees a couple of guys with their phones up, recording him. Fuck. He runs to Barry and drags him away from everybody. He’s in no state of driving so they leave in Dinah’s car as Ollie hitches a ride with Caitlin, who simply gave Hal a ‘if looks could kill…’ glance when Hal asked them to leave him and Barry alone.

Barry is in shock. He’s not talking, his eyes are unfocussed, and he’s so still Hal has to check if he’s still breathing. Hal knows he’s in his past, visiting his memories; those nightmares that have been haunting him since he received the lawyer’s first email. He wants to go back and… No. He needs to be practical.

He pulls out his phone and calls Joe. The man answers in the second tone, “Hal? Is everything alright?”

“He’s here. That motherfucking journalist. He,” he looks at Barry who is now looking at Dinah’s direction completely terrified, “He asked shit to Barry. I’m not gonna repeat it because I might go back and keep hitting him. Arrest him or something Joe.”

Joe doesn’t say anything for few seconds. When he does, his voice is shaking with fury, “how’s Barry?”

“Catatonic. Don’t worry, I’m going to take care of him. We’re with Dinah, Oliver and Caitlin.” He bends over and lowers the phone, asking Dinah, “where are we going?”

“My mother’s shop. No one will find us there nor bother us.” Dinah replies. Her eyes are checking Barry through the rearview.

Hal raises his phone back, “Joe, did you-?”

“Yeah, I heard it. Thanks Hal… I trust you my son. Now if you excuse me, I’ve a detention to do.” He hangs up. Hal smiles. Joe sounded ready to kick some ass.

When they reach Sherwood Florist, Mrs. Lance flower shop, Dinah parks in the back, in the loading zone. When Caitlin arrives, she does the same. Hal tugs Barry out of the car as the blond is still passive.

Caitlin jumps out of her car, engine still running, and hugs Barry. “Oh, Bar! Are you okay?” She’s fussing around Barry. Her concern is palpable.

Barry swallows and at last, he seems to wake from his state. He looks around, puzzled, trying to know where he is.

Dinah steps close to him. “Barry, sweetie, would you like a cup of coffee? My mother always has some inside, she like addicted to it or something.” Realizing that Barry is confused, she adds, “we are in my mother’s flower shop. C’mon, this way.” Smiling softly, she opens the lilac back door, and waits patiently for Barry to follow her.

Ollie approaches Hal as the three disappear inside. “Did I hear what I think I did? Back there in the school.” He clarifies.

Hal clenches his jaw and throws daggers at Oliver. If his friend is going to be an ass…

Ollie raises his hands, knowing Hal better than the back of his hand. “Hey, hey, hey, slow down. I was just asking. I don’t care Hal. It’s just, do you want me to take care of that man? Because if so, I need to ask you, who’s him?”

Hal can see Ollie is truly worried. “It was a journalist. I don’t really know his name, but he’s been stalking Barry since November.” Ollie frowns at his words, “Yeah, Joe has tried to find him, but the fucker is slippery. Yes. Answering your question, yes. You heard alright. But the story is much more complicated than that. Are we going to have a problem?” He clenches his fist and faces Ollie. He’s angry and ready for a fight.

Ollie rolls his eyes and simply answers, “Nope. If Joe has any trouble finding him, I could ask Queen’s security boss to look for him. He’s the best. I’m sure he could find that bastard before you can say Tequila.” Ollie is already pulling out his phone. He glances quizzically at Hal, waiting for his answer.

Hal considers it. He finally nods and leaves Oliver making his call. He’s not sure if it’s the right thing to do, but he believes the more help Joe has, the better for Barry. Plus, Ollie’s security boss has a silence clause or some bullshit like that so it’s not like he can go to the press and say jackshit or judge Barry. God knows what the man has already done for the Queen family.

Okay, now to find Dinah and Caitlin. He hopes they react as good as Ollie, although he knows they’ll. Crossing the door’s jam, he’s hit with the smell of fresh Earth, just like when rain stops as well as a bazillion of different flowers. The narrow hall that leads to the backroom has its walls covered with dozens of shelves that contain colorful pots with ferns in different shades of green.

Hal finds his two friends and boyfriend, sitting in the backroom, sipping coffee. Caitlin and Barry are side by side while Dinah is perched over some wooden case with a tropical name on its sides.  Barry still looks pale. Hal studies the two women in the room. Dinah looks away from Barry and catches Hal’s eye. She nods a little before turning back to Barry.

“Hey, half of hot-stuff duo, out of it.” She snaps her fingers, drawing Barry from his trance. “I’ve no idea of what that was back there, but Barry I’ve to tell you one thing. I don’t care. The only thing that matters is if you are okay. You’re safe here. You’re between friends who aren’t going to judge you. So… spill.” She commands firm but still friendly.

Hal smiles. Dinah has always been direct but honest and Hal has always believed she would be an excellent therapist. Hal half-expects Barry to deny the whole affair so he’s astonished when his boyfriend shy looks at him before he starts to tell a summarized version of the one he gave Hal regarding who his biological dad is, and where he’s currently being held. He leaves the whole bullying part out of it, though.

When Ollie comes half-way Barry’s narration, his voice falters a bit when he sees the man, but Ollie winks at him and sits down, on his feet, relaxed, clearly showing a friendly attitude that seems to work as Barry proceeds.

Once Barry’s story is over, Caitlin embraces him again, crying. She asks him why he never told her. Barry seems on the edge so Hal steps, “He was afraid Cait. He had a really bad experience with it. That’s why he moved in sophomore. Trust me, he hated lying to you and Cisco but… he did it to protect himself.”

Caitlin nods slowly before she wraps her hand upon Barry’s. “I don’t care if your father is guilty or not. I know you Bar, and that’s all that matters to me. I’d never judge you or treat you any different for it.”

Dinah and Ollie nod, agreeing with Caitlin. Barry seems lost. It’s obvious that just like with Hal, he doesn’t believe what’s going on; that he still expects the pain and the loneliness of his friends abandoning him. It still hurts Hal the idea of how bad and how much suffering Barry must have been through in his past to be like this. It fuels his anger towards all those dickheads who hurt Barry.

Iris and Cisco arrive twenty minutes later as Caitlin called them while driving. Barry is less wary to tell Cisco who simply blinks and says, cool… Before he starts asking Barry a myriad of questions like if prisons are like in the movies or videogames, if nail file’s cakes are a thing, etc. Just like that, Barry slowly becomes himself as he works his way through the absurd questions that now Ollie has decided to add to Cisco’s. No, he doesn’t know because he has never seen his dad in prison. Dinah and Caitlin seem to be as amused as Hal watching the scene as Iris tries to blink away her tears.

Hal wraps an arm around her, trying to give her silent support. It’s obvious how much Iris loves Barry. Just like him, she was afraid of their friend’s reaction. Hal wonders how much Iris swallowed during her childhood, seeing Barry being treated so badly and her father fighting against everyone on their old town, trying to keep her and Barry safe.

Later, Joe calls Iris. It’s been three hours since they hid in Dinah’s shop, and the seven teens are eating pizzas Dinah ordered, when Iris tells Barry that although Joe was late to arrest the reporter, a mysterious man brought him in just twenty minutes ago. Hal looks over to Oliver who smiles broadly and mutters ‘told ya, he was the best’. Dinah catches the exchange and kisses Ollie muttering thanks.

 

★               ★               ★

 

People are whispering all around them. Yesterday they all agreed to stay together during classes. Luckily, most people only are only aware of Hal punching the man not the reason why. Seems that after all, there were not enough students and the reporter’s words were lost on the wind.

Hal is on his second period when he’s called into Mr. Wayne’s office. Cursing, he makes his way to the man’s office.

He’s been called here more times than he wished for or can account. Sometimes he wonders why Mr. Wayne is the vice-principal since he pretty much acts as the principal.

“Mr. Jordan I’m busy so I’m going to be clear and concise, understood?” He waits until Hal nods. “Good. Violence is not acceptable in this school grounds no matter if it’s after classes are over or during them. Are we clear? Now, if yesterday’s actions are repeated I will be forced to enjoy of your company in detention,” he scoffs before he becomes serious once more. “Mr. Jordan, I want you to come to me as soon as you see that man or any other reporter in the proximity. Neither you or I, want Mr. Allen to go through his past experience.”

Hal is speechless. He studies Mr. Wayne. His blue eyes are not as hard as always. Even Hal could swear his expression is relaxed and… he’s smiling? Hal comprehends the man is trying to show is concern and sympathy. He’s being sincere. Hal nods perplexed.

“Good. Reporters are not allowed in the school grounds. If they break the law, local authorities will take the appropriate measures. I’ll personally make sure he, she, or them are given in custody. On the other hand, if students decide to give Mr. Allen a hard time, I want you to inform me; not to take justice by your hand. My policy is strict. No violence, physical or verbal will be allowed in my halls. Now, return to your class and remember what I just told you. I’ll see you in fifth period Mr. Jordan. I hope your homework is delivered as usual.” After that he goes back into his computer dismissing Hal completely.

Hal smiles the whole way back to his class. So, Wayne is still an ass but at least he’s useful or tying to be. He decides to text Barry with the news, so he feels more protected and relaxed knowing that their omnipotent vice-principal is on his side.

                Hal (G) (Two Hearts ): guess wat?

                Bear (R) (Two Hearts ): What?

                Bear (R) (Two Hearts ) : This better not be one of your jokes (ノ⊙‿⊙)ノ彡┻━┻ 

                Hal (G) (Two Hearts ) : lol no tho…

                Hal (G) (Two Hearts ) : JK just seen wayne

                Hal (G) (Two Hearts ) : he told me hes on our side

                Hal (G) (Two Hearts ) : if they give u hell he give em detention ԅ(≖‿≖ԅ)

                Bear (R) (Two Hearts ): Thanks. It’s good to know :)

                Bear (R) (Two Hearts ): Now return to class! And take lots of notes. Make me proud Hal!

Hal chuckles. He decides to send Barry one last message. A classic if you ask him.

                Hal (G) (Two Hearts ) :

                

He blocks his phone but surprisingly Barry replies him. Hal laughs when he sees his boyfriend’s reply. Drawing the attention of his teacher. He apologizes.

                Bear (R) (Two Hearts ):

                

                Bear (R) (Two Hearts ):  now back to class ;)

He feels the warmth of his love for Barry spread through his chest. After their friends’ reaction to Barry’s past, his boyfriend calmed down. Hal knew (or was 99.9% sure of it) they would all react like that. They are all good people.

The rest of the day passes without further incident. Hal is stopped several times on the halls by curious students all asking him why did he hit that mysterious man. He also hears several theories people have come up with when he refused to answer them. So far, his favorites are that the man was Hal’s father demanding him to stop dating Barry; Barry’s father confronting Hal because he caught them together in bed (Hal questions people’s dirty minds like seriously?); the man was trying to convince Hal to join his sect (this one his personal fave), …

Barry doesn’t seems as amused as Hal with the whole deal, as he feels that they’re attracting too much unwanted attention, but he smiles a little when he hears the sect theory and blushes with the one about them getting caught. Hal bets he’s remembering once that Joe nearly caught them taking a shower together. Luckily Iris called him, and Hal had time to stand up and run bucked naked to Barry’s room to hide.

The week passes by and finally Friday arrives. The gossip about the punch has pretty much toned down. Joe has papered the reporter with stalking charges, especially after Hal convinced Barry to show his father all the disturbing messages the man had sent him through his mail.

Barry is sullen though. Yesterday, his father’s sentence review was denied. He’s still with life-sentence for murdering Nora. The judge listened to his lawyer’s arguments but dismissed them against the ‘evidence’ police officers offered against Mr. Allen and due to the fact that no one else could have committed the crime. Barry collapsed. The lawyer sent him the news as soon as the trial was over, but Barry refused to open it until Hal hold him tightly and convinced him that he’d sleep once it was all over.

Barry had cried, hopelessly telling Hal in broken sobs all his dreams of doing normal stuff with his dad just like he has done with Joe. Hal let him vent and sent his mother a quick text telling her that Barry needed him. His mother let him, and so, Hal spent the night listening to Barry and his daydreams of going to an amusement park with his dad or simply going to the beach.

Hal is exiting his class and heading to Barry’s, so they can go to eat their lunch when Tom stops him. Hal curses inwardly. He has done an A+ job of avoiding anyone from the football team. It seems that the only one who doesn’t get it is Tom. The other boys got the memo: Hal doesn’t want to get wasted anymore, thanks for the memories, let’s move on.

“Jordan, how good to see ya. It’s kind of hard these days,” Tom sneers as he leans over the wall.

“Yeah, I’d say I’m sorry, but then I’d be lying.” Hal smiles nonchalantly as he tries to move away. Tom frowns and grabs his arm.

“That ain’t a nice thing to say to your friends, Harold.” Tom smiles stressing his name. He knows what he’s doing, everybody knows since kindergarten that Hal hates to be called by his birth name.

“Yeah? Well, first of all, things are going to get uglier if you don’t let me go.” He yanks his arm free and Tom grimaces. “Thanks. Second, don’t call me that and third, we ain’t friends.” He stresses his last remark and narrows his eyes, daring Tom to add something.

The idiot does.

He steps away from the wall, body tense. “Ya shouldn’t be saying that… it’d be a pity if ya have no friends. I mean, then who could help ya if that faggot psycho of yours decides to kill ya just like daddy? He might choke ya on his cock. Maybe ya even like it since now you like to suck dicks so much. I though it was a joke Jordan. You and that loser. Tsk. Thought it was a bet you and Queen had going on… But then I saw that you actually like him. You disgust me. Pffft. Ya two are a couple of fucking fag-”

Hal sees red. He pounces Tom mid-sentence and starts to hit him wherever he can. Tom turns him, pining Hal against the floor, and starts to hit Hal back. Hal kicks him and scratches his face. Students surround them, screaming ‘fight, fight, fight!’ to encourage them… until Mr. Wayne appears with Mrs. Prince. Both break the fight. Mrs. Prince barely blinks as she restrains Tom and pins him against a wall barking him to tone it down. Hal raises his hands and steps back from Wayne.

“Jordan! What did I tell you?” Mr. Wayne screams him.

“You wouldn’t understand he-” Hal tries to defense himself, but Wayne cuts him.

“I don’t care. Both of you. My office. Now!” He turns around and just like Moses, the students break apart like the ocean, letting him pass.

Hal follows him as Mrs. Prince escorts Tom. When they reach Mr. Wayne door, he nods at her, “Thanks Diana. I’ll take it from here.”

“No worries Bruce. If you need me, you know where to find me.” She looks at Hal with disappointment before she leaves. It makes Hal frown. He’s not the guilty one! If someone deserves that glance it should be Tom, not him.

Wayne sits on his chair and starts to recite like a parrot, the school policy regarding fights. He goes on and on looking alternately to Hal and Tom, until he switches to their tolerance policy and stares exclusively at Tom, who groans. Wayne finishes with, “for all that, Mr. Brenton I’m forced to expel you for three days as I’ve been told that this is not your first attack against Mr. Allen, your homophobic slurs, and your violent manners in these past months. Coach told me about your fight with Mr. Carty.”

Tom starts to protest, blood dripping from his check. Hal is proud to see that he hit Tom as badly as Tom must have hit him. He smiles when Tom shuts up as Mr. Wayne is giving him his best murderous look. Then Hal’s brain gasps what Mr. Wayne has just said: this isn’t the first attack Tom has done against Barry. He clenches his fists and groans. Why didn’t he know about this? When did it happen? What did this fucker do to Bar?

“Mr. Jordan! Behave.” Mr. Wayne dismisses Tom, reminding him to com back on Thursday as he’s expelled. When Tom leaves banging the door, Mr. Wayne studies Hal. “As I warned you Mr. Jordan, I’m afraid you and I have a date this afternoon. Now go to the nursing. I’m sure Mr. Allen must be worried.”

He turns his back to Hal as he starts to move files on his cabinet. Hal can’t move. He just can’t believe that’s it. Surely, if Tom is expelled he must be too, right?

“Bruce? I mean, Mr. Wayne. Am I not? I’m expelled?” Wayne turns around and ridges and eyebrow trying to decide if Hal is really asking him. He shakes his head. “I-I thank you, Sir for…” he swallows. He’s unable to form a coherent thought. He and Wayne have pretty much hated each other since Hal set his foot on the building. Could it be that Barry was right? That the only problem Wayne had with him was his attitude?

Wayne seems amused with Hal’s confusion. So, he leaves. Nope. He’s so not going to like the man. No, no. He still despises his pompous ass. Yep. He’s still and idiot and Hal is never going to like him even if he has decided to expel Tom and let Hal go away with a small slap on his wrist.

Barry jumps from the chair he was sitting, waiting outside Wayne’s office as soon as Hal walks out.

“Hal! Oh my!” He hugs Hal and quickly steps away when Hal hisses. Tom got him on his side for what it looks. Barry examines his face and winces. “God Hal, why did you hit Tom? Was it because of Christmas?”

“It doesn’t matter,” he mutters caressing Barry’s check. Telling Barry will only worry him. It seems that after all some students did listen to what the reporter had said. Hal can only hope that not too many, and that Tom will shut up or no one will pay him any mind.

He doesn’t want Barry to be afraid of these halls. Hal promises himself to shut up Tom if he ever calls his boyfriend murderer or psycho again or faggot. Hal clenches his jaw thinking about it.

Barry blinks and looks weary at Hal, he knows that Barry is going to keep asking him questions so he shuts him up with a kiss. It stings and when Hal draws back, he sees blood on Barry’s lips. Oh, so he has a cut on his lip.

“You should get a look at that, Ace,” Barry tugs his hand softly as he heads to the nursing.

Hal follows him. His injuries don’t matter. He only cares about Barry. He can barely feel them. What Hal does feel is the warmth of his heart and the heat coming from Barry’s hand as his boyfriend his guiding him to the infirmary, withholding his hand.

 

★               ★               ★

 

FEBRUARY

Today it’s Wednesday and Sant Valentine’s day. Today it’s Hal’s first St. Valentine with no trashy plans of getting drunk and score the first person that falls for one of his pick-up lines. Today, he has a stable boyfriend to celebrate with.

Hal is nervous. Today seems like a milestone. In less than a week it’s his 18th birthday. Six months ago, he had planned to sneak up at midnight and drive to the nearest Air Force Career Center, so he could be the first on when the place open to enlist. Now he’s waiting until he graduates to do so. Because he met Barry. He decided to delay his plans, be patient and spend three months with his friends enjoying the few months they’ve left before adulthood snatched upon them.

He has an idea, plans for today. It’s not the most romantic thing to do (quite the opposite), but Hal knows Barry will like it. Fuck, Hal really hopes Barry likes it.

Hal asked Joe beforehand if he could, because he’s Barry’s tutor and with his help, things would go much smooth.  It took two weeks of pleas, begging and kneeling before the man agreed. Hal had almost lost his hopes when Joe finally acceded. He made Hal promise him hundred of stuff in exchange but it’s okay. Barry is worth them. Even if afterwards he has to study the whole afternoon.

Kissing goodbye to his mother, Hal drives Jim and Barry to high school as Iris goes with her boyfriend. Before Barry can leave the car, he holds him against his seat. He winks at his brother who simply smiles and rearranges his glasses as he exists the car. Hal told Jim that he and Barry had plans.

Barry asks him what are they doing as Hal drives back to his house. He only tells Barry to change into something else rather than a hoodie and that Joe knows everything. When Barry starts to protest, Hal hushes him with a kiss.

“Trust me,” he whispers against his lips.

Barry swallows and nods, eyes fixed on his. Hal feels the intensity of this moment. Barry truly does trust him. As his boyfriend goes inside the house, Hal tries to calm himself down because right now, he’s a mess. Stroking his face, he repeats that he knows that this is the appropriate thing, that he’s doing to right thing. He only needs to trust himself. Because this is what Barry needs, he’s not messing this up. Shit. Maybe he should have gone for the obvious Valentine’s plan: chocolate and a nice dinner in the fancy Italian place near the center.

Barry returns, oblivious to Hal’s wreck. He has styled his hair a little and is wearing a light blue shirt with a darker sweater. Hal gawks him. Devouring him with his eyes until Barry shifts uncomfortable under his attention.

“Babe, I really, really love you but right now, I wish I could bang you till next week. No offense,” he chews his lip, trying to restrain himself from plunging Barry.

Barry’s voice is so soft Hal almost misses it. “Maybe later Hal.”

Hal coughs as he chokes. Did he just? He looks over and sees that yeah, Barry has definitely meant that. His boyfriend is burrowed on his seat, crimson red, fingernails scratching the car’s door in a nervous tic. Hal swallows and forces himself to drive. They have a long way ahead and they are in tight schedule.

As he drives, Hal can’t get away from the image of Barry naked under him. He’s having a really hard time driving, trying not to pull over. They haven’t actually gone the whole way; almost a couple of times, but never till the very end. Hal would lie if he said that he doesn’t want to or that he hasn’t thought about it. It’s just that the right time has never come. Between Barry’s worry with his father, the reporter, Hal’s own family drama, and their school work, they haven’t had time nor a place to do it. Hal’s house is off the table and Barry’s has either Iris or Joe and Hal wants to go loud. He has even considered asking Ollie for his manor when Moira goes away. He knows Ollie would agree…

Following their tradition, Hal blasts some music and sings along Barry, trying to shoo away all his dirty thoughts as now is not the place nor time to. Today jam session is worse than usual and funnier. He’s sure that if most musicians heard them, they would cry and roll on the floor, trying to forget. It’s what makes it so hilarious. Hal actually knows that when Barry wants, he can actually sing or at least hum nicely. It’s just that they want to scream without inhibitions, nor caring about the song lyrics what makes it so funny.

It’s almost lunch time and Barry is starting to realize where are they going. Hal decides to stop to eat something on a road dinner. He allows Barry to pay since he’s penniless. Gas is truly expensive. In moments like this, he wishes he could have Ollie’s no-limit American Express.

Barry asks him once more where are they going although the waver of his voice tells Hal that deep down, he already knows the answer. Hal decides to speed a little bit. When they reach their destination, he hears the intake of air Barry does. He parks the car and grips tightly the steering wheel. This is it.

Unable to turn, he keeps his eyes looking ahead, to the dark, imposing building before them. He swallows, the building is giving him the creeps and they are not even inside.

“Barry, babe… I know this isn’t what you expected for Valentine’s, but after what happened with your father… when you told me that you haven’t seen him since he was taken away from you I thought it was about time you did. So here we are. Happy Valentine’s day,” he adds with a sad smile, his eyes are still fixed on the building before them.

The maximum-security prison where Henry Allen is being held: Iron Heights. Barry is still silent. Hal wants to scream. He has made a mistake. Maybe Joe was right, maybe he should have-

Barry yanks Hal from his misery and kisses him. He’s crying. Hal kisses away his tears as Barry is observing the prison entrance. “Thank you Hal. I-I have wanted to visit my father since… do you think he’ll recognize me? I have only written him emails and never directly. His lawyer was always in between and the guards I guess since it’s the protocol. Oh God, can we like actually enter?” His eyes are wide, as he’s growing panicked and excited.

Hal holds his face and looks him in his beautiful blue eyes. “Bartholomew, I talked with Joe. He made sure that we could visit your father and that we have a clear entrance. As you can guess, not many people come on Valentine’s to visit the inmates.” Hal sees the doubt in Barry’s eyes. “This is not a dream, we are here. You are going to see your father for a couple of hours until they kick us out because visiting hours are over. So, don’t worry, everything is going to be okay.”

Hal hopes his words become true. They exit the car and haltingly approach the entrance. Hal and Barry now know the answer to one of Cisco’s questions: no, prisons are nothing like in fiction, they are worse. Hal has to deal with a really touchy guard who searches him thoughtfully, while Barry passes with no problem.

“Must be cause I’m pretty,” he whispers to Barry.

“Must be cause you look like trouble,” replies him.

Hal chuckles. They are told to wait until they bring in inmate 7841, Henry Allen. Sitting in the small cubicle, Hal holds Barry’s hand. His boyfriend asked him to stay. Hal wasn’t sure. He believed that this moment should belong to father and son only, but Barry insisted. Hal decided to stay because he could see the fear in Barry’s eyes. He’s also curious about his other father-in-law. For all that he knows, Barry’s father ignores his son’s sexuality. Hal hopes he doesn’t mind.

When after five minutes of hideous waiting among those depressive walls, Henry Allen appears he sees Barry tense. Henry Allen doesn’t look at all like in the picture Barry has. His dark blond hair now has white sections now and there, and his face is covered in wrinkles and obviously tired. His lip is split too. Hal watches Barry’s reaction. His boyfriend seems on the verge of tears.

“Dad,” he whispers. Barry’s hand rests against the plastic screen that separates them from Henry. Henry smiles sadly and places his hand against Barry’s. Hal can observe that his knuckles are scarred, and his hands are too bony. Hal observes saddened the hands that once belonged to a doctor, now tell the story of a man who has to fight to survive between these walls. Picking up the phone with a shaking hand Barry clears his throat. “Hi dad. I missed you so much,” silent tears are falling down his cheeks.

“Me too Barry.” The man breaks down. “My son, I’ve missed you so much. There’s not a single day that passes by that I do not wish I could see you. Barry, my little boy, you’re so old now. You’re already a man. Oh God…”

Barry sobs loudly. “One day dad. I swear that one day I’ll prove the whole world that you’re innocent and we’ll be together. No one will be able to take away more time between us. I promise dad. I won’t stop until I solve mom’s murder.”

Hal sniffs. He realizes he’s crying too. He feels so intrusive… Henry’s eyes are drawn to him. The man frowns when he sees Hal. “Who’s that son?”

Barry shyly looks between him and his dad. He chews his lip as he wipes away his tears. “This is Hal, dad. He brought me here. He… talked with Joe about coming here for Valentine’s. He-he’s my boyfriend dad.” Barry shyly whispers, voice filled with hope and fear.

Henry Allen blinks three times before he repeats slowly, “Boyfriend?” Barry nods warily and Henry keeps studying Hal who fidgets on his chair. “N-nice to meet you, Hal. I’m glad you brought me son here. Thank you.”

Just like that, the tension breaks. Barry beams and tells Henry everything about how they met two years ago but that it wasn’t until this October that they actually spoke. Henry smiles and listens attentively, asking Barry questions from time to time. When Barry is done, Hal tells Henry how wonderful his son is, making Barry blush. The three men talk about Barry’s daily life. Henry asks a myriad of questions about all kinds of mundane stuff, such as Barry’s favorite color (red but lately he’s growing fond of green); his favorite kind of music (jazz); movies (superheroes and sci-fi ones); food (anything greasy and cookies, Oreos especially).

Barry tries to ask his father about his life in here. Hal notices the alarm in Henry’s eyes and switches the topic. Henry gives him a grateful glance than Hal acknowledges with a wink. They talk about Joe. Henry seems torn: it’s obvious he wishes he could be Joe making him sad the reality: that he’s not; he’s also happy to know that his son has find a wonderful father figure and a sister that support him no matter what.

When the guard informs them that visitation time is over, Barry’s eyes water. Henry smiles sadly and placing his hand upon the divisor he waits for Barry. They don’t say anything, just stay like that, trying to connect with each other through the plastic material. When Henry leaves, Barry stays with his hand held high until Hal lowers it. It makes Barry whimper. Hal holds Barry as they walk out. The guards let them all alone this time, seeing how crushed Barry is.

When they reach the car, Barry cries. Hal embraces him tightly, petting his hair, he tries to comfort him the best he can.

“Thank you. Thank you so much Hal. I-I have wanted to visit my father so many times, but I never could. God, it’s been almost a decade since I saw him. He has changed so much…” his voice his muffled against Hal’s jacket.

“We can come back, Bear. Whenever you want, you just tell me, and I’ll drive you. No ifs, ands, or buts. I’ll just do it. I swear,” he kisses his temple and holds him until Barry is calmed.

Barry draws away a little before he tilts his head and kisses Hal. It’s a sweet kiss. They simply caress each other’s lips, just wanting the proximity, the close intimate contact with the other. Like a raft in the middle of the ocean. Hal strokes their noses together in an eskimo kiss, before he whispers Barry to buckle up.

The drive back home takes them longer as Hal is in no hurry for two reasons: he made a promise to Joe and he wants to give time to Barry to compose himself. When Barry does, he points out that Hal’s driving under the speed limit, Hal shrugs and mutters that he likes the landscape. Barry pokes him laughing, nagging Hal to confess why is he so slow. Both know that Hal has had so far, a ton of speeding tickets that thankfully, Ollie pays most of the times if Hal hasn’t pissed him off. After threating Hal to cut off sex, Hal confesses that he promised Joe that they’d do tons of studying when they arrive in exchange of him calling Mr. Wayne with a fake illness to excuse them today from their classes.

Barry burst into laughing and shakes his head. “You know, as your tutor-

Hal cuts him. “Bear, you lost the right to call yourself my tutor after you blew me while I was trying to do math. Now, who’s the bad influence, huh?”

His remark earns him a smack. “Jerk. I can’t count the number of times I’ve tried to study, and you’ve bother me with, ‘Bear, look at me. Beeeeaar pay me attention.’ You’re worse than a kid.” Barry does a really bad personification of Hal that ends with an eye roll.

“Well, at least I never lied to you. Like, since we first started dating I told you I was an attention whore.” Hal smiles broadly, trying to prove his point.

Barry snickers as he remembers that indeed, Hal did. Hal loves moments like this. Moments when it’s only him and Barry behaving like they have known each other for years. Bickering back and forth about regular stuff with no heat or bad intentions behind their words. Well, he simply loves Barry. Period. He’s also glad to see that Barry seems fine, recovered from the visit.

When they reach the West house, it’s almost dark. The sun is down, and Joe’s car is in the driveway. Hal parks next to it. He has noticed that since Christmas, Joe has moved his car to a side instead of simply leaving it in the middle like he used to. He appreciates these small gestures. It makes him feel like home, welcomed into the West’s household.

Joe pretends to be busy reading an old newspaper, but Hal can tell he’s not missing a single detail from Barry’s behavior. His frown erases when he checks that his son seems to be joyful. He looks at Hal who nods back at him.

“You know I’m right here and I’m not blind, right?” pipes Barry. He’s smirking and looking from Joe to Hal.

Joe coughs awkwardly, “Sorry, son. How was the visit?”

Barry plunges down on the couch, next to him, and starts to tell Joe everything. Hal pours some coffee in three mugs and handles them to Joe and Barry as he sits on the floor, cross-legged between them. He adds some details to Barry’s story gaps, but otherwise he remains silent, observing carefully his boyfriend. He loves the gleam on his eyes and how lighten his whole body language is.

Joe seems to process the whole story before he rests back. Sipping a large gulp of his coffee, he plays with the edge of the mug before talking. “I’m sorry I hadn’t let you go before Barry. I just. I thought it would do more harm than good.” Glancing up, the left corner of his mouth raises. Addressing Hal he adds, “Thank you for fighting me so hard, kid. I know I closed you down a couple of times but when you first come up with this idea… Not gonna lie, I thought about putting you a night behind the bars.” Barry gasps. “Just for a second, Bar. Anyway, thank you Harold. Hal. Sorry.”

Hal smiles. “No worries. It’s cool. I liked Henry, he seems like a nice man, Bear.”

Barry beams, happy with the compliment. Hal guesses Barry isn’t used. “He likes you too, Hal. I can tell. Joe don’t worry. Just… would you let me go in the future? Hal has already offered to go with me but, I’d appreciate if you let us.”

Hal swallows. This is something he envies of Barry. His boyfriend has such an open relationship with Joe. There’re no secrets between them. If Barry wants to do something, he tells Joe. Joe barely has to give Barry permission to do anything because he knows that Barry is an honest man that wears his heart on his sleeve. Hal’s stomach turns before the perspective that he and his mom will never be like this. He’ll never have the chance to simply tell his mom how much he craves being a pilot. Unlike Joe, his mom will never sit and listen to him.

Hal blinks and pretends that everything is fine. That he’s not having an inner breakdown before the inevitable. He watches how Joe nods smiling and offers to drive them if Hal wants to save gas.

There they are. The small gestures that warm his heart… and tear it apart.