It was rare for S.T.A.R. Labs to be completely deserted during daylight hours, but that seemed to be the state of the place when Ralph Dibny entered the building on Sunday afternoon.
Team Flash hadn’t left the city completely unguarded, of course. Between Barry’s speed and Cisco’s breaching, the Flash, Vibe, Killer Frost, and Elongated Man could all, in a matter of seconds, be anywhere that the Meta Alert App reported a problem, and Iris or Caitlin could be in the Cortex to quarterback. Everyone was still in Central City. They were all just taking some time away from the building—and each other.
Ralph hadn’t been planning to swing by that day, especially if it meant being there on his own. But he’d been catching up on paperwork at his PI office when he realized that he’d left his wallet in the Cortex after suiting up for a mission the night before. And, after verifying that both Papa Tony’s Slice of Heaven and Paper Lantern Chinese Buffet did not take IOUs (even from longtime customers!), Ralph decided that he had to go to S.T.A.R. Labs and retrieve the wallet. It was either that or starve to death.
As he rode the elevator down to the Cortex, he noticed something unusual on the navigation panel: someone had slapped a sticker depicting Hodor—from Game of Thrones —next to the DOOR HOLD button. Ralph was willing to bet money that it was Cisco who’d done it; after all, the guy had become a little more bold with his pranks and silliness ever since he’d started dating his new boyfriend.
That new boyfriend , by the way, happened to be Leonard Snart, AKA Captain Cold. Ralph had gotten used to bizarre stuff going on at S.T.A.R. Labs, but he was still having trouble wrapping his mind around Leonard Snart and Cisco Ramon as a couple.
Cisco was enthusiastic and goofy and usually exuded warmth—sweet as the candy he seemed to crave on a near-constant basis. He wasn’t perfect, but he was definitely a “good guy.” Snart, meanwhile, was a (somewhat reformed) thief whose two purposes in life seemed to be (1) leaning against doorways or walls while make snide comments and (2) pulling off amazing stunts and schemes with a handful of other villains. He radiated both charisma and menace in equal amounts, and Ralph found the guy’s habit of smirking instead of smiling to be incredibly unnerving.
He wasn’t sure he’d go so far as to say that Snart and Cisco were like night and day, but, at the very least, they were black coffee and pink lemonade. However you wanted to put it, they absolutely should not have gotten along together.
Against all odds, though, they did. Snart would occasionally show up at the labs, whether it was to have Cisco fix his gun, to pass information onto Team Flash, or just because he had nothing better to do that day. And Cisco could never quite hide his happiness at seeing him. There was a lot more hugging from behind and playful teasing than Ralph would have ever expected from one of the most (in)famous criminals in Central City, and one time, Ralph had even walked into Cisco’s workshop to see Snart casually braiding Cisco’s hair while Cisco worked on fixing a problem with Barry’s cowl.
It was…a bit exasperating, honestly. When Ralph saw them together, he had to resist the urge to roll his eyes or start singing “Cold as Ice” loud enough for them to hear him. Ralph couldn’t say why, exactly, he found their interactions so annoying; as far as PDAs and general mushiness went, those two really weren’t any worse than Barry and Iris. But Snart still got under Ralph’s skin for one reason or another.
As Ralph stepped out of the elevator, he tried to banish thoughts of Cisco and Snart from his mind. If Cisco wanted to make the mistake of dating a supervillain, that was his business. Ralph was a concerned friend (a very good friend—a very close friend), but even he couldn’t make Cisco see that he could do much better than Captain Cold. And if Ralph tried, Cisco might do something crazy, like accuse him of being jealous, or something. Which—again—would be totally crazy.
Besides, he had more important things to think about than Cisco Ramon’s love life. First and foremost: finding his wallet. Fortunately, when he walked into the Cortex, he spotted it immediately; the little leather billfold was sitting right by one of the computer monitors at the room’s main work station. He padded over and snatched it up, but as he did so, he bumped the computer mouse with his hand. The movement was apparently enough to rouse the computer from hibernation, because the screen abruptly lit up and showed a grid view of different rooms in the labs—security feeds in real time.
Ralph paused. Didn’t the team usually turn off the computers—or at least log out of them—before they all left? He tried to remember who’d been using this particular computer the night before; that way, the next time someone got on him about misusing S.T.A.R. Labs resources (e.g., drawing caricatures of his teammates on the glass writing boards, flicking the lights on and off for dramatic effect when he told stories of his PI work, installing PC games on the facility computers because he didn’t own a gaming laptop), he wanted to be able to snap back about how [Name] wasted electricity by leaving the computer on and nobody ever scolded them for it.
(He half-hoped that it was Snart who did it. Ralph wasn’t sure if that guy was allowed to use the S.T.A.R. Labs computers, but if he was, this oversight might be enough to get his privileges revoked. Maybe then, he’d stop coming around and hanging on Cisco all the time. Which, in Ralph’s opinion, would definitely be a major improvement to their work environment.)
Regardless, Ralph decided that he should go ahead and shut down the computer. He grabbed the mouse and was about to exit out of the security camera grid when a movement in one of the feeds caught his eye. Ralph jolted; he’d thought that he was the only one in the labs. But if that particular camera was to believed, somebody—no, two somebodies were currently in the Pipeline entrance.
Ralph redirected the mouse and clicked on the tile showing that area of the building. Once the picture filled the screen, he immediately recognized Cisco and Snart. They’d been walking hand in hand, but once they were a few feet away from the security door, Snart stopped and planted his boots on the linoleum floor. Cisco kept going, eventually pivoting so that he had his back to the door (and the camera). He was still holding onto Snart’s hand, and as Ralph watched, he tugged at it playfully, like he was trying to lead him forward.
Snart, however, wasn’t going anywhere. He pulled his arm back and said…something; the feed was currently set to video only, so Ralph couldn’t hear it. Whatever it was, Snart didn’t appear angry or upset—just amused. In response, Cisco gestured to the security door, bouncing in place a little. There was something very youthful about his eagerness to continue moving.
Ralph was intrigued. He had no idea what those two could be doing. Maybe Cisco wanted to show him the particle accelerator? Was it possible that Snart had never seen it before?
Trying to read their lips was pointless, so he clicked the button to turn on the microphone in the Pipeline entrance. Snart’s words began to filter in through the speakers, picking up in mid-sentence:
“—brought me here, you locked me in. I’m not going to fall for that again, sweetheart.”
Cisco seemed to laugh at that as he leaned against the doorway. Ralph still couldn’t see the man’s face from the camera’s vantage point, but he was pretty sure that Cisco was grinning. “That was then , Babe. This is now. Don’t you trust me?”
Snart smirked. “Oh, I trust you. But I’m also a quick study.” He folded his arms across his chest. “Be serious: why do you want to do it in here?”
Do it? Ralph’s eyes widened. He couldn’t mean…there was no way….Cisco wouldn’t actually …
“My powers don’t work in the cell,” Cisco said. Ralph thought he saw Cisco cast his gaze downward. “It’s just…it’s just about brute strength when we’re in there. You know?”
“Ah,” Snart said. He took a step forward and pinched Cisco’s chin between his thumb and forefinger. After lifting Cisco’s head up so that they could look each other in the eye, he said, “I think I’m starting to get the picture.”
Ralph wondered how Cisco looked in that moment. Was he still smiling? Was he shy all the sudden? Was he batting his eyelashes like he genuinely believed he had to work at being attractive?
Snart was still holding Cisco’s face in his hand. “But I thought that that’s why we had power-dampening cuffs.”
“Does Captain Cold really need handcuffs to subdue little ol’ me?”
“No, but they do make things a bit more interesting.”
Cisco laughed at that, backing away from Snart’s grasp so that he was almost out of frame. “If you’re not interested, we can go back to my place. But I thought that this —” He made a sweeping gesture with his hands, “—would be a lot of fun.”
Snart seemed to regard Cisco for a few seconds. Then, his mouth curled into a smirk once more, and he took a few steps forward. “Fine. But if this is just another ‘prank,’ you’re going to be in serious trouble.” He pointed to the door. “After you.”
“Yessssss!” Cisco reached for his hand again, and this time, Snart let himself be led to the cell. Right before they stepped into the camera’s blind spot, Ralph saw that Cisco was grinning like a loon, his cheeks flushed with color. A second later, Ralph heard the mechanical hiss of the security door opening and closing.
Well, that was that. They’d left the view of the Pipeline camera, so regardless of what they were up to, Ralph no longer had any way of monitoring them. Not that it mattered what they were doing. Not that it was any of his business. This was the perfect jumping-off point for him to leave S.T.A.R. Labs and head back to his office.
Still, Ralph was…curious. He’d never actually fiddled with the camera feeds before. Was changing the view from the labs proper to the Pipeline cells all that complicated? It couldn’t be; the other members of Team Flash did it all the time. He could probably pull it off if he needed to. In fact, wasn’t it a good idea for him to teach himself how to work the program now, when the stakes were fairly low, instead of having to wing it during an emergency?
Sure, sure, Ralphie. And Grandpa only read Playboy for the articles, a voice in his head scolded. He opted to ignore it for now.
Ralph sat down in the computer chair and grabbed the mouse again. After a few seconds of tapping buttons and clicking dropdown menus, he found himself looking at a view from inside one of the cells. To his frustration, though, the cell in question was empty. Ralph cursed under his breath; there were over a hundred anti-proton cavities in the particle accelerator, and dozens of them had been repurposed to suit the team’s meta-detaining purposes. He’d have to check all of them.
…Purely to make sure he could do it, of course. Not because he was looking for anything specific. Or anyone specific.
Just admit you’re a deviant, said the voice in his head.
Again, he opted to ignore the admonition. He was a full-fledged member of Team Flash, and Cisco’s boyfriend wasn’t. If Cisco was allowed to give Snart a personal tour of the Pipeline interior, then there was nothing wrong with Ralph using the security cameras to look inside the compartments.
After experimenting for a few seconds, he realized that hitting the left and right arrow keys on the keyboard enabled him toggle through different cells. And finally, finally, he happened upon the cell where Cisco and Snart were—
“Whoa, baby,” Ralph murmured out loud.
Hardcore making out, that’s what they were doing. Tongues, groping…the whole nine yards. Snart had his hands on Cisco’s butt and was holding him up while Cisco had his legs locked around Snart’s waist and his arms around the man’s shoulders.
Ralph inhaled sharply. He was taller than Snart by a good couple inches, but Snart was stockier. If he tried to pick up Cisco like that, he’d probably throw out his back. Snart, though? Snart made it look like Cisco weighed nothing. Those layers of clothing he always wore must have been hiding an impressive physique.
Am I interested in him, or do I want to be him? Ralph wondered to himself. And wasn’t that just the age-old question when it came to same-gender attraction?
Suddenly, Snart recoiled, wincing slightly. Ralph could only guess that Cisco had bitten him. Snart said something, and whatever Cisco said in response made him laugh. Without thinking, Ralph turned on the microphone in the cell:
“You’re being very naughty today, Puppy,” Snart said, still sounding amused. “I’ve got half a mind to spank you.”
“Well, you’re right about one thing—you’ve got half a mind ,” Cisco replied mischievously.
Snart raised his eyebrows in disapproval. “Are you calling me ‘stupid?’ Because, sweetheart—that’s worth 50 swats.”
“I mean, if you have to ask…” Cisco started.
Ralph huffed a breath. Okay, he didn’t know Snart very well, but he got the distinct impression that the guy wasn’t stupid. Sure, Snart was a high school dropout, and he probably didn’t have Cisco’s IQ or mechanical genius, but really, who else on the team did? If Cisco thought that Snart was stupid, then Ralph shuddered to think what Cisco thought of him .
Snart released his grip on Cisco’s legs and bent over to deposit Cisco on his feet. He then removed Cisco’s hands from his shoulders and took a few steps back. Cisco watched him retreat; it was a bit hard to tell in the camera footage, but Ralph could swear that he saw Cisco bite his lip in…anticipation?
(Ralph had seen Cisco apply fruit-flavored Chap Stick to his lips on more than one occasion. Did his mouth currently taste like cherry or watermelon or coconut? Cisco owned a cotton candy balm, too, but that one had such a strong scent to it that Cisco rarely wore it during the day…)
Then, Snart lowered himself to the floor so that he was sitting with his legs forward and his back pressed against the wall. This position put him at an odd angle in regards to the camera, but Ralph could see him reach upward with one hand and make a beckoning gesture with two fingers.
Cisco squeaked . He actually, truly squeaked. For a second, Ralph told himself that the microphone in the cell was just playing a mean trick, but no, that adorable noise had really come out of Cisco Ramon’s mouth. And it wasn’t a squeak of fear or despair, because Cisco now had the biggest smile on his face. He reached for the front of his corduroys, undid the button and zipper, put his hands on his hips, and—
Ralph threw his hands over his face just in time to avoid getting an eyeful of Cisco’s junk, moving with enough force that he spun his chair around in a half-circle. He shouldn’t have been watching this. He absolutely should not have been watching this. It didn’t matter that Cisco and Snart shouldn’t have been fooling around in the Pipeline, either. A major part of Ralph’s job as a PI involved spying on people without their knowledge, but he did try to limit his viewing of…intimate encounters…as much as possible. He was one of the good guys, after all.
“Safe word, Puppy?” Ralph heard Snart ask.
“Stop light color system… Sir ,” Cisco replied.
‘Green’ for go, ‘yellow’ for timeout or proceed with caution, ‘red’ for stop immediately, Ralph rattled off in his mind. Hey, he might not have been an advanced genius or a total Casanova, but he knew some things. For example, he knew that Cisco rarely called anyone ‘sir.’ Which was probably why hearing him say it made Ralph feel a little flushed.
Once again: he should not have been watching this.
Ralph opened his eyes. He was facing the doorway to the Cortex; all he needed to do was stand up and walk away. Just put both feet on the floor and head out. Just pick himself up and—
“Are you ready?” Snart said.
“Yes, Sir. Please. I’ve been very naughty.”
Ralph then heard the unmistakable sound of flesh slapping flesh.
He turned back around. Ralph told himself that he was making sure that Cisco was okay; that Snart wasn’t actually hurting him. Like Cisco had said, meta powers didn’t work in the Pipeline cells, and Snart definitely possessed the advantage when it came to size and strength. Besides, if they were doing what Ralph suspected they were doing, then it wasn’t necessarily sexual. Maybe private, but not—
Cisco was now lying across Snart’s lap, naked from the waist down, his delightfully round butt out and exposed to the air. Snart had one hand on Cisco’s back, probably to keep him from squirming too much. And, as Ralph watched, Snart raised his other hand up and landed another smack on Cisco’s bottom, one that made Cisco whimper and clench his fists. Snart laid down two more spanks and then said, “What color, Puppy?”
“Green,” Cisco replied, panting. “Please…please…”
Another smack. Another squeak.
Ralph exhaled. Okay, yeah, this was probably sexual. This was almost definitely sexual.
And yet…he was not looking away. In fact, as he watched, he leaned in a little closer to the computer monitor to get a better look. He wished he knew how to work the camera so that he could zoom in or manipulate the angle, but he was terrified of losing the picture, so he didn’t touch anything.
Spanking had never really been a particular turn-on for Ralph, nor had he ever dated anyone who was into it. Now, he wasn’t one to kink shame; you didn’t have to understand something in order to respect it. And he just didn’t understand the appeal of spanking.
Cisco seemed to be having the time of his goddamn life . Sprawled out over Snart’s legs, he wasn’t trying to escape the flurry of blows to his backside. He flinched, of course, and made little gasping and whining noises every time his lover’s hands made contact with his skin, but even as he squeezed his eyes shut, Ralph could sense excitement in him. Eventually, his expression grew more and more distant, and he leaned forward to rest his face in his arms.
Everything about Cisco’s body language screamed “submission” and “surrender.” And Ralph was pretty sure that he had never been more attracted to him than he was in that moment. I could do that, Ralph thought dully. I could spank him. I could make him feel that way, if he wanted me to.
He realized abruptly that his hand had wandered down to his lap. He moved it and tried not to think about what he’d been about to do.
Meanwhile, in the Pipeline cell, Snart lifted up his hand to deliver a spank but did not follow through. “Color, Puppy?” he asked. Cisco’s phone was on the floor next to him (Ralph recognized the case), screen-down, and he took a moment to flip it over and glance at the display before setting it back down again. Ralph could only guess that he was checking the time.
“Mmmmm…yuh…yellow?” Cisco said, lifting up his head and blinking like he was dizzy. Or disoriented. “I lost count.”
“We’re at thirty-eight. Only twelve more to make fifty,” Snart said. He rested both of his hands on Cisco’s back and drew a small circle with one finger. “You’re doing very well. I just wanted to check-in because you stopped making noise.”
“Ahhhh,” Cisco sighed. He stretched out a little more in Snart’s lap. “I’m…I’m green now. Please keep going, Sir.”
Snart responded by continuing to swat him, and Cisco put his head back down. Ralph bit his lip, his hand straying between his legs again…
No, no, no!
He had already crossed a line by watching Snart spank Cisco. Jerking off in the middle of the Cortex, however, would be throwing himself off a cliff. He would never, ever be able to look any of his teammates in the eye—least of all Cisco. So he simply held his hands at his sides as he watched the actions unfolding on screen.
“That’s fifty, Puppy,” Snart finally announced, landing a final spank on Cisco’s rump and then resting his hands on Cisco’s back again. When Cisco didn’t react after a few seconds, he gently scratched Cisco’s shoulder blade through his shirt. “Anyone home?” he asked quietly, like he wasn’t sure whether or not Cisco was awake.
Cisco did respond to that question, though it was in the form of an incoherent moan. His face was hidden by his hair and his forearms, but he managed to give Snart a weak thumbs-up.
“Thought you might be halfway to Neptune by now,” Snart said, laughing slightly. “Come here. I’d like to hold my puppy, if he’ll let me.”
“Yay,” Cisco chirped, sounding dopey. He then allowed Snart to maneuver him into his lap in a sitting position. Ralph quickly averted his eyes once again to prevent himself from seeing Cisco’s junk, but peering at the feed through barely-cracked eyelids revealed that the camera angle, the position of Snart’s arm, and the length of Cisco’s shirt all worked together to keep the man’s unmentionables adequately obscured. Relieved, Ralph continued watching.
Cisco sat perpendicular to Snart, his thoroughly thrashed backside padded by denim-clad thighs. He draped his arms around Snart’s shoulders and pressed his cheek against his lover’s sweater. Cisco’s eyes were closed and he looked exhausted, but he seemed totally, blissfully happy.
“Good boy,” Snart murmured, wrapping him in a hug, and Cisco responded with a little shiver that made Ralph tremble, too. “You’re always so good for me.”
“Not always ,” Cisco replied, his eyes still closed and a goofy smile still on his face. “If I wasn’t bratty every once in a while, you’d never spank me.”
“True. At least this time, you didn’t lock me in a makeshift prison cell just to get my attention.” He kissed the top of Cisco’s head and then glanced at their surroundings. “Kinda weird that, between the two of us, you’re the one with a private dungeon…”
“You’re crazy,” Cisco giggled.
“Crazy about you, Baby Boy.” He kissed Cisco’s head again.
While those two cuddled and snuggled and engaged in a bizarre version of pillow talk, Ralph’s mind was racing. Cisco’s ass was probably still hurting, he realized. And it would probably be sore for a while. If Cisco was walking funny or sitting gingerly the next day, Ralph would be the only one on the team (besides Cisco himself) who’d know the cause. That notion made heat coil Ralph’s his belly, even if he didn’t know why.
How many times had Cisco come to work with a freshly-spanked bottom? Had Snart ever spanked Cisco during his lunch break and then sent him back to the labs? Would Cisco ever, in a million years, let Ralph spank him the way he let Snart spank him?
…He wasn’t sure he wanted to know the answer to that last question…
At that moment, Snart peeked at Cisco’s phone again, and then he whispered something into Cisco’s ear. It was too soft for the microphone to pick up, and Ralph leaned in even closer to the computer monitor to try to decipher it. His face was practically pressed against the screen, and he wondered if stretching out his ear or eye could improve his comprehension.
“Yeah, yeah—I agree,” Cisco said at a normal volume. Then, he looked directly into the camera in the cell and said, “Okay, it’s time for you to stop watching, Ralph.”
He couldn’t help it; the stunt that Cisco had just pulled was like something out of a horror movie. At that point, he wouldn’t have been too surprised if Cisco had suddenly crawled through the computer monitor into the Cortex like that chick from The Ring.
(Which, considering that Cisco was currently sans pants, would have been a bit funny in addition to totally terrifying…)
Ralph had lurched back in his chair about two feet when Cisco addressed him directly. He was about to get up and make a break for the exit when it occurred to him that maybe, just maybe, Cisco couldn’t actually see him. Perhaps he’d made the world’s luckiest guess? It was entirely possible that Cisco—
“Ralph, seriously, I know that you’re in the Cortex right now,” Cisco said, his voice echoing in the cell and his eyes narrowing in irritation. “Go away before I breach out of here and kick your ass.”
Cisco couldn’t breach out of the cell; that was kind of the whole reason he was in there in the first place. But this idea didn’t occur to Ralph until he was sprinting down the hallway. He’d hurled himself out of the chair and bolted from the Cortex as fast as he could, not even taking the time to turn off the computer or close down the security feed.
This was bad. Like, super bad. So bad that he couldn’t figure out anything else to do except run.
For maybe an hour, Ralph seriously considered skipping town. He wasn’t going to leave Central City forever—he’d come back eventually . But he also thought that it might be wise to go stay with his mother (or his grandmother) for a while. Just long enough for the heat to die down. Question: how long could Cisco hold a grudge for?
Better question: how long could Leonard “Captain Cold” Snart hold a grudge for? He’d heard through the grapevine that Snart had once killed a fellow criminal over a $319 debt. Ralph didn’t want to think about what Snart would do to a Peeping Tom who’d watched him make out with his boyfriend and spank the dude’s bare butt.
(Especially since Snart made no secret of the fact that he really, really liked Cisco’s ass. Which wasn’t too surprising, since Cisco did have a nice ass. And a flare for wearing leather pants.)
After a while, though, Ralph decided that running was pointless. No matter where he went, Cisco could just vibe one of his personal items to figure out where he was and then create a breach to that exact location. Also, Ralph knew that Snart’s criminal partner—one Mick Rory—had access to a time-traveling spaceship and future technology. Regardless of where he ran, someone would track him down. Better to stay here and take his punishment like a man instead of trying to escape.
And…okay, so, it was a long shot, but a tiny part of him was still holding out hope that Cisco had made a lucky guess, and he hadn’t seen Ralph spying on them. After all, Ralph was completely perplexed as to how Cisco could have known that he was being watched, let alone that Ralph was the culprit. He’d realized after he had a chance to catch his breath that the whole thing didn’t make any sense. Thus, he vowed that he wouldn’t acknowledge the incident unless Cisco (or Snart) brought it up.
But just because he’d picked a course of action didn’t mean he wasn’t dreading the next time he’d have to look either man in the eye. And that’s why, a while later, when he was behind his desk at his office and Cisco jumped out of a breach right in front of him, Ralph yelped and threw a handful of papers into the air.
“ There you are,” Cisco said, like he hadn’t just used his meta abilities to get the drop on his teammate. He surveyed the scene in front of him and said, a bit shortly, “Dude, calm down.”
“I’m…I’m calm,” Ralph said. Cisco hadn’t open fired with vibe blasts yet, and Captain Cold wasn’t trying to—literally—ice him, so this encounter was already off to a better start than he’d anticipated. So much better, in fact, that he was starting to hope that his theory about Cisco guessing had been correct.
“Good. ’Cuz…we need to talk.”
“Talk?” Ralph said, picking up his papers. “Uh…about what?”
“About you watching Len and me make out in the Pipeline.”
Ralph feigned ignorance. By this point, he was grasping at straws. “Huh? That’s news to me, pal. Do you and Snart make out in the Pipeline?”
“Ralph, seriously?” Cisco said, sounding completely unamused. “Even if I hadn’t known already, there’s a security camera in the Cortex, and I saw the footage. Do you want for me to drag your ass back to S.T.A.R. Labs so we can review it together?”
Aww, crap, Ralph thought to himself. He had completely forgotten about the Cortex security camera. It would seem that he was simply destined to get caught one way or another. He winced and said, “No, I…we don’t need to do that. Cards on the table from here on out.”
Cisco looked irritated but not murderous. “Alright. So—”
“I’m sorry!” Ralph blurted out. “I know I shouldn’t have watched you two. I swear, that was the first and only time I’ve done something like that. I was a total skeeze, and if you don’t want to be friends anymore, I completely understand. I’ll also understand if you want to wreck my office or destroy my apartment or just vibrate me into oblivion.” He winced. “That…that last one came out a little more sexual than I intended. Sorry for that, too. But mostly, I’m sorry I violated your privacy.”
Cisco looked at him for a few seconds, an unreadable expression on his face. Finally, he exhaled. “Well…okay.”
“…Okay?” Ralph said. He frowned in confusion. “You’re not…you’re not upset?”
“Of course I’m upset, you creep!” Cisco snapped, folding his arms across his chest. “You thought you were spying on me and my boyfriend without us knowing! If I hadn’t called you out, would you have watched us actually have sex?!”
“No!” Ralph said indignantly. “I…I probably would have left at that point. I’m like, 90% sure I would have walked away if it came to that.” He was trying to be honest, though, now that he thought about it, maybe he should have lied and said he was 100% certain.
Cisco exhaled. “Jesus Christ.”
Ralph paused, then dared to ask a question: “How…how did you know that I was watching? While you were in the cell, I mean?”
“The cameras in the Cortex have motion sensors. I used my phone to shut the Pipeline security door and the cell door from the inside, and while I was doing that, I saw that there was a notification about someone messing with the computer console. Then, I just had to tap into the security feed to spy on you .”
“You can do all that from your phone?”
“Yes,” Cisco said shortly. “This may shock you, but I’m actually pretty good with tech.”
“Wait, so…you got the alert while you were shutting yourself in there?” Ralph blinked, then slowly, comprehension washed over him. “That means…you knew the whole time? Like, before you and Snart even started getting hot and heavy?”
“Yeah. I showed Len the security feed on my phone. We both knew.”
Ralph replayed the incident in his mind. When he thought back, he remembered that there had been a short period where he’d lost sight of the couple. It had happened between when they’d both gone out of frame in the Pipeline entrance and when he’d managed to find them in the cell. If he’d been a little faster on the uptake, he might have seen Cisco conferring with Snart about their audience. And if Ralph had even had an inkling that they may be watching him, he probably would have been suspicious of the way Snart had glanced at Cisco’s phone more than once.
But, of course, that raised another question: “So…if you knew…why didn’t you say anything earlier? Why’d you two let me watch for as long as I did?”
For the first time since he entered the office, Cisco looked uncomfortable. He cast his eyes downward and said, “It doesn’t matter.”
“Really? That’s the best answer you have for me?” Ralph said.
“Hey, I don’t owe you an explanation!” Cisco snapped. His cheeks were flushed with embarrassment. They’d probably feel warm if Ralph touched them, and he had to resist the urge to do so.
Ralph put his hands up. “No, you don’t, I just—”
“But…if I did,” Cisco said, still sounding uncomfortable, “I’d say that it’s probably because I’ve never let anyone watch Len dominate me, and I wanted to see what it was like.”
“You… what ?”
Cisco swallowed. “Look, it’s one thing to let him hold me down or spank me when it’s just the two of us together. But letting someone else watch? Letting someone else see me like that? Whole other ball game.” He shifted his weight. “I wanted to see if I liked it. If it made things better or worse.”
Ralph stared at him. Of all the places their conversation could have gone, he hadn’t anticipated this.
“That’s what I told Len, anyway,” Cisco said. “And…he was cool with it. So we let you watch right up until we were ready to have sex. Then, I decided that I wasn’t ready to go full porn star yet, so that’s when I called you out.”
“…Are you saying that, even though I thought I was peeping on you two… I was actually the only one in the scenario who didn’t know what was really going on?” Ralph’s eyes widened. “So, technically…you and Snart involved me in your scene without my consent!”
“Dude, do not try to turn this around!” Cisco said, and the fierceness was back on his face. “Spying on people without their permission is way worse than letting a voyeur think they’re getting away with it! Yeah, I screwed up by not logging out of the computer in the first place. And maybe I should have told you to buzz off from the get-go, too. But that doesn’t make what you did okay.”
Ralph sighed. “Yeah. I know,” he said, and he was being honest. “I’m sorry, man.”
After scowling at Ralph for a few more seconds, Cisco huffed a breath, and his expression softened. “Look, I looped the security camera footage so that it looks like nobody was in the Cortex or the Pipeline this afternoon. I archived the actual recording, just in case it ends up being important—like, we find out later that there was a break-in, or somebody gets accused of a crime and we need to establish an alibi for you, Len, or me during that time period. But, other than that…let’s keep this whole incident between us, okay? The rest of the team doesn’t need to know.”
“Yeah, yeah, definitely,” Ralph said. He swallowed. “So…are we cool?”
“Are you ever going to spy on me and Len again?”
“Then…yeah, I guess we’re cool. Good talk.” He turned away, heading for the door of Ralph’s office. Apparently, he was going to leave the place like a normal person and not a part-time superhero.
Ralph exhaled, relief flooding him. Okay, this had not been nearly as big of a deal as he’d thought it would be. He was still breathing, at least, and not in excruciating pain. He’d count it as a win.
But then, halfway to the door, Cisco stopped and turned around. “Oh, I almost forgot. When I told Len that I was going to talk to you, he asked me to pass along two different messages from him.”
“ Two messages?”
“Well, what are they?”
Cisco cleared his throat. “The first is that he’s friends with Axel Walker, so if he ever catches you playing Peeping Tom again, he’s going to get a thermos full of ‘axid’ and pour it directly on your crotch.”
Ralph’s eyes shot open and he crossed his legs. “Uh…wow. Okay.”
“And the second is…if you wanted to watch us, you should have just said so.”
Ralph stared at Cisco. For some reason, he thought he saw a mad twinkle in Cisco’s eye. But that had to be his imagination. Right?
But then Cisco’s mouth curved into the tiniest of smiles, and Ralph was pretty sure he wasn’t imagining that . Nor was he imagining the color that had crept into Cisco’s cheeks again. “Alright, I’m actually leaving this time,” Cisco chirped. “See ya.”
“Wait!” Ralph said, as Cisco reached the door.
“Do you…? I mean, would you two…? Did he mean…?” Ralph sputtered, not quite sure if he dared say what he was thinking. Before he could chicken out, though, he managed to croak, “ Did it make it better? Me watching, I mean?”
Cisco snorted in a good-natured way. “If it didn’t, do you really think I would have given you the second half of Len’s message? For a master detective, you can be kinda dense, dude.” He then walked out of the office, closing the door behind him.
Ralph flopped back into his office chair. For the second time that day, his mind racing.
“I wanted to see if I liked it.”
“If you wanted to watch us, you should have just said so.”
“For a master detective, you can be kinda dense, dude.”
Cisco had said that they were going to keep this whole incident between the three of them. Ralph had a feeling that this wouldn’t be the last time they’d do something and keep it from the rest of the team.
One thing was for certain: Cisco had definitely gotten quite a bit bolder since he started dating Snart. And it went far, far beyond pulling pranks and acting silly around the labs…