He wasn’t breathing.
That was the first thing Barry noticed when speeding to his side. The gut-writhing, bone-chilling fact that his best friend was completely lifeless on the ground. Hal Jordan lay limp in the rubble, eyes shut, with a gaping hole in his sternum.
Barry felt sick.
More than that, he felt like screaming, crying, and running all at once. He wanted to attack the alien that had shot him down, to tear the thing's heart out through its spine, crush it in his hand. But he couldn't move.
The battle, completely frozen around him. He was stuck in relative time now, staring at the limp body of his best friend as the rest of the fight stood still. Like time itself, had stopped.
And for Barry, it had.
The whole world may has well blow up now. This small, backwater planet they were trying to protect, it could go to hell.
He knew he would regret thinking such things; they had come here to help, to save the planet from being overthrown by dictatorship.
But in this moment, the millisecond Barry was stretching for centuries, Barry didn't care .
Hal wasn't supposed to die here. Not on some alien planet. Somewhere no one would know what he did, who he was. He was supposed to live a full life; to grow old alongside Barry long after their days of being heroes were behind them.
Barry hadn't built up the courage yet.
It was the only thing he regretted more than not getting to Hal in time.
It was three hours of staring at his body until Barry could move.
He collapsed by Hal's side, quaking with heaving sobs. His body was still warm, only 10 seconds had passed in the real world, but he didn't care. As of this moment, his world, Hal, was gone.
He pulled Hal's body up gently, cradling his best friend in his lap while he mourned. No one knew. No one was there to see him cry over Hal's body until he could no longer breathe.
The wound in Hal's chest was still dripping blood, the small beaded drops descending in slow motion.
He wasn't fast enough.
He could never be fast enough.
He was a coward. That's what he was. He hadn't been fast enough in deciding how to tell his best friend how he felt, and he hadn't been fast enough to save him.
That hole in Hal's chest may as well be in his.
He imagined that's what it would look like, if his heart had been ripped out. If it looked how it felt.
It felt like three more weeks passed until Barry pulled back, brushing the hair from Hal’s forehead.
His cheeks were still flushed with color, hot from the battle, and Barry dreaded seeing them pale. Cold. To never puff up with that big toothy grin that made Barry's heart skip a beat.
He pressed his forehead against Hal's, more sobs tearing themselves from his throat like sandpaper.
Barry apologized for everything he could possibly think of: for not being fast enough, for failing, for letting Hal die…
For not telling Hal he loved him in time.
Barry laid a hand on Hal's chest, wishing to the stars around him that he could give his speedforce to Hal. The he could bring him back, even if it meant his life might end.
His forehead dropped to Hal's shoulder, his speed slipping away and allowing him to jump back to real time. He couldn't keep it up. He couldn't let himself mourn for a century.
Hal deserved more than that.
Something jerked up fast underneath him, shoving Barry to the side as a choking gasp echoed in his ears.
“What the fuck?! ”
Blue eyes widened in shock.
Hal panted, looking around wildly before clutching at his chest.
Hal's chest looked untouched. White gloves searched the area with his eyes, but it was if Hal hadn't been hit at all.
Hal seemed to notice him then, looking to Barry for an explanation. The speedster gaped in shock at a fading blue aura surrounding Hal and looked down at his shaking hands.
Was he dreaming? Was this a dream? Had he somehow given his healing powers to Hal? No, Hal wasn't sparking like Barry did when he healed, he was glowing , just like the Blue Lantern ring he wore now.
A breathless laugh made his attention snap back to Hal, cheeks still red, hair damp with sweat, and breathing.
“So I guess that Saint bastard was right, huh Bar-”
Barry was on him in a millisecond, tackling Hal to the ground with a bone-crushing hug.
He was shaking, not vibrating, but shaking with relief.
Hal was alive. Somehow, this magic blue space ring had brought Hal back to life. He didn't know how, he didn't care.
“Bar? You okay?” Hal moved to pat the back of Barry's head and he quickly moved back, propping himself up on both hands to stare down at the pilot. Hal frowned, reaching up and brushing away a stray tear and Barry almost blinked in surprise that he even could cry anymore. It felt like he had cried for years already.
“You're alive… ” Barry’s words were quiet, almost inaudible, like if he spoke them any louder, the illusion would shatter.
Hal cocked an eyebrow, frowning further. “As far as I can tell, yeah. Right as rain. Why? What did I mi-”
Barry cut him off.
In an instant, he pressed his body against the man beneath him, one hand moving to his sweaty mess of hair and crushed his mouth against Hal's.
He couldn't risk not being fast enough, not again. Not when he had been given a second chance.
All those second thoughts, all the reasons he had pushed the confession away seemed like nothing. Not when either one of them could die at any moment. He didn't know if Hal even felt the same way-
Hal was kissing him back.
Warm hands - warm and alive- moved up Barry's ribcage, one surrounding his back while the other took a detour to his cheek, leaving a warm electric trail on Barry's skin.
Hal hummed , tilting his head as Barry's brain seemed to reboot, catching up to his impulsive body.
Holy shit .
He was kissing Hal. Kissing him. Pinning him against the ground in the middle of a battle after Hal just died and Hal was encouraging it .
Holy shit .
Barry pulled back and scrambled to a sitting position, face and neck burning hot. His cowl suddenly felt very tight around his head. Maybe that was the problem. Yeah. Maybe his suit was too tight, cutting off the circulation to his brain, because there was no way that this would be that easy. That Hal would feel the same way about him. He tugged the material off to breathe, knowing the two were safe from prying eyes in the rubble. Well. More like assuming .
It just seemed too good to be true, right? He would have noticed if Hal liked him. Hal liked everyone. Flirted with everyone (his brain corrected). He hadn't ever flirted with Barry.
Hal must have hit his head. Maybe he had a concussion.
Hal had moved in front of him, sitting up and leaning toward Barry with that gorgeous, shit-eating, cocky grin on his face. The look made Barry's breath hitch in his chest. Hal wasn't mad, or offended. He didn't seem weirded out that the speedster had just kissed him. In fact, he looked (dare he say) pleased .
“Barry~?” Hal's voice was a teasing sing-song as he leaned closer. Barry swallowed, resisting the urge to scootch away. Sudden fear of being teased for his impulsive actions -fear of having made a terrible mistake- clutched at Barry's chest. But he couldn't move away. There was a small, stupid spark of hope that kept him rooted in place. The idea that Hal was serious, that he had actually liked kissing Barry and wanted to do it again.
God knows Barry wanted to.
But Hal was different. It wasn't like he had told Hal; discussed it, or even hinted at his feelings before shoving his best friend to the ground. He didn't know how Hal felt, and he suddenly feared that he had lost his best friend.
Hal's nose brushed his and all Barry's thoughts short-circuited. Hal's eyes were half-lidded, staring into his with a glint of awe and… giddiness ?
“Please tell me I don't have to die to get you to kiss me again.” Hal's voice was a low hum, and Barry blinked at the words.
“What?” The response came out as an embarrassed squeak . Hal's eyes flicked between his slowly, breath mingling with his as their lips remained only an inch apart.
“If I would have known that a fatal injury was what it would take to get you to finally kiss me, I would be much more reckless, Bar.”
Barry let out a breathless chuckle, stopping himself from smiling. He tried to glare but was too mesmerized by how close they were to harden his gaze.
“You're a jerk.” Barry breathed softly and Hal hummed , grinning further.
“I'm your jerk now.”
Barry sucked in a breath, feeling all those doubts start to melt away as his chest swelled slightly.
Hal hummed again, closing the distance slowly and slotting his lips back against the speedster’s.
It was soft, unlike the last. Not a desperate smush of flesh, but a fond, affectionate movement of Hal's lips on his.
Barry breathed, relishing in the feeling, the slow, intimate movement of Hal’s mouth and he sighed onto his lips, all fears and doubts being slowly eased from his chest.
Barry pulled back with incredible effort and Hal brushed his nose against Barry's again, face moving forward further to press lips against his cheek, mouthing his way to Barry's jaw as hands moved onto his hips.
Barry swallowed, eyes fluttering and clearing his throat.
“Hal… We're in the middle of a battle…”
Hal made a noise against his skin, nosing his way down to Barry's neck and Barry shivered at the feeling of hot lips on sensitive skin.
“H-Hal.” Barry tried again, making a choked sound, his body getting hotter by the second and he gasped suddenly at a small jolt of pain when Hal nipped softly at the skin above his collarbone.
“Shh… I'm busy.” The pilot murmured. Barry tried to smother a shuttering groan that escaped his lips and he screwed his eyes shut, trying to get his brain-matter-turned-mush to start functioning again. But Hal seemed determined to shut down Barry's ability to function, one hand moving into blonde hair, tugging softly while the other moved low on his back, fingers digging lightly into the knobs of Barry's spine.
Leave it to Hal Jordan to start a make out session in the midst of a war on an alien planet.
(Well, technically he had been the one to kiss first, but that wasn't the point.)
Barry sighed, cursing himself a little for being the responsible one and moving his hands to Hal's shoulders, pressing with the lightest of touches.
Hal moved back without the slightest resistance, hand still carding easily through his hair, but with a slight pout to his swollen lips.
“Sometimes I hate that you're such a hero.” Hal lied, trying to maintain the pout against Barry’s widening smile.
“We can finish this later, Hal. Maybe after stopping the overthrow of this planet?”
Hal seemed to consider it, eyes searching his and squinting in mock offense. The expression broke into a grin again and Hal leaned forward, pressing a quick kiss against Barry's mouth.