That said. It's not like Cisco was not thinking about it, either. The last time he'd seen Hartley had ended with Cisco curled on the ground in the fetal position while Rathaway kicked him. He hadn't puked, but it hadn't been one of Cisco's finer moments, and so he figured next time -- if there was a next time -- he'd do a little better. Rathaway's face was totally punchable, and given the way Cisco's life had somehow turned into an episode of The Twilight Zone, he could use something to punch. So yeah, he thought about it.
What he hadn't really thought about was how he had to get the face-punching angle exactly right or he might break his hand.
"Ow!" Cisco staggered sideways against the wall and curled around his right hand, pain radiating up his arm in bright, throbbing shocks.
"Ow!" Hartley rubbed at his jaw and frowned at Cisco. He'd stumbled back, but he didn't even have the decency to fall over. "What was that for?"
Cisco cradled his hand to his chest and glared. "What do you mean, what was that for? What do you think it was for?"
"As I believe I told you last time, we're even." He smirked, and Cisco really wanted to try punching him again. In the stomach maybe, or with his other hand. "Or we were. Now I owe you one."
"Don't come near me." Cisco took a step back.
"That may prove difficult," he said, the smirk fading to something that looked more like anxiety. He cleared his throat. "I need your help."
Cisco stared at him and blinked for at least three seconds. Four. Five. "What?"
"Ayuda," Rathaway said, miles of space between his syllables. "Tuya. Lo necesito."
Another three seconds of staring, and then Cisco laughed in his face and walked away. It didn't feel as good as he'd fantasized the punching would feel, but it felt a hell of a lot better than the actual punching had.
"FATALITY!!" the game shouted, the pixelated corpse collapsing into a pool of cartoon blood. Cisco grinned and looked over at the guy he'd been fighting, but apparently that guy was a sore loser. All Cisco could see of him was a glimpse of his shoulder disappearing behind a bunch of Tron cabinets. Cisco shrugged and killed off the rest of his beer, pleasantly buzzed and ready to call it a night, when he noticed the glint of tokens on the machine. He looked around, frowning -- he hadn't noticed who'd put them there, which wasn't that weird, but he didn't see anyone standing around and waiting. The only guy who was even in the vicinity had his back turned.
"Hey man," Cisco said, tapping the guy on the shoulder. "Are these your--"
The guy turned around, and of course it was Rathaway, because that was the kind of week Cisco was having.
He thought about punching Rathaway's stupid face again, but his hand still hurt from last time and he'd had a few beers and he wasn't a complete moron. But Hartley must have seen something in his expression, because he held his hands open in front of him, low enough that they weren't anywhere near his ears, so it wasn't a threat. Then he stepped up to the Mortal Kombat cabinet and slid his tokens into the machine like they were people who'd never tried to beat the shit out of each other. Cisco crossed his arms over his chest.
"Well?" Hartley said.
"You're playing Johnny Cage." Cisco probably should have figured.
"What's wrong with Johnny Cage?"
"Oh, I don't know," Cisco said, glaring. "His moves suck, and he has a giant tattoo on his chest that says JOHNNY. Who does that?" He turned away. "I need another drink."
He probably should have walked out the door and gone home, but he didn't. He probably should have resisted the bartender's attempts to talk him into the trendy IPA, but he didn't do that, either. He didn't even like IPAs. But he swallowed half the bottle in four bitter pulls and headed back toward Rathaway, his curiosity getting the better of him. Maybe he could blame it on the beer. Or on his weird dreams about Dr. Wells. Or on kidnapping-related PTSD. Or on the fact that he just needed a distraction. He didn't need it so bad he wanted to have a conversation with Hartley, though, and when he got back with his beer, they played the first round in silence.
"You suck at this," Cisco told him, after an easy victory. It was weirdly disappointing.
Hartley shrugged. "I misspent my youth in other ways." He paused for a second. "You are aware this is a gay bar, right?"
"And?" Cisco looked at him, looked around him, and drank more beer. He laid on the block button to do it, but Rathaway got a few kicks in anyway. "I'm not here to get laid."
"Yes, that much is abundantly clear."
Cisco ground his teeth and hit him with a combo, juggling him in the air, blood splattering all over the place. "What do you want, Hartley? Why do you keep -- you know what, never mind. I don't care. Just go away."
"Are you forfeiting the match?"
"You wish." Another combo, and Rathaway was down to only half his life. He didn't stand a chance. Cisco ordered another beer.
"Buenos días," he heard, from somewhere to his left, and of course it was Hartley. Of course. The day just kept getting better.
Cisco groaned, and it hurt. He tried to sit up, and it hurt. He opened his eyes, and it really, really hurt. "Ow, my brains," he said, or tried to say, but his throat felt like it was full of broken glass. He jammed the heels of his hands against his eyes and tried again. "What-- why-- where-- ugh."
"A promising trifecta," Hartley said. "Would you care to try for 'when,' 'who,' and 'how'?"
"God, how are you such an asshole this early in the morning?"
"It's two o'clock in the afternoon. I want my couch back."
"What?" Cisco finally managed to peel his eyes open and look around. He'd crashed in his clothes on Hartley's couch, his hoodie balled up as a pillow. "Is there a--" He trailed off with a vague gesture.
Hartley rolled his eyes. "The bathroom is right there." He nodded toward a door on the other side of the room. "There's mouthwash and a towel. By all means, help yourself."
"Thanks," Cisco muttered, and tried not to fall over on his way there.
He felt like half a human when he emerged, still nauseated and wobbly on his feet, but he had the beginnings of a workable plan: He was going to find out where he was, get an Uber to take him to Big Belly Burger so he could get some grease for his hangover, and then he was going to go home and go the hell back to bed.
Hartley had other ideas. "Have a seat," he said, and handed him ibuprofen and a yellow Gatorade, which is how Cisco could tell things were serious. He was too surprised to do anything but sink into a chair and look around.
Hartley's apartment was really just the one room, and Cisco wasn't even sure it was an apartment. It was big enough, sure, but so full of clutter he couldn't past it -- science journals and piles of sheet music littered every horizontal surface, and there was tech all over the place, too, spare parts scattered over rickety worktables and miles of audio cable running everywhere. Hartley's clothes hung from exposed pipes in the ceiling. What furniture there was seemed to have come from a dumpster, and there wasn't much -- the couch, lumpy and stained; a thin mattress in the corner; a card table and two folding chairs. The kitchen was a mini-fridge and a hotplate shoved in a corner, a dripping sink, a gaping hole under a piece of counter where there had once been a dishwasher.
"Not up to your exacting standards?"
"I'm surprised it's up to yours." He was surprised about a lot of things, really, like the fact he was here at all. He thought Rathaway would have left him puking in the gutter, but instead he'd hauled his drunk ass home and handed him painkillers.
Hartley clenched his jaw and looked away, and that was another surprise. "Well, Harrison didn't exactly-- never mind."
Cisco snorted. "Tell me about it." As soon as he said it, he realized that was actually a pretty good idea. He leaned forward. "Ohhh, hey, yeah, you should definitely tell me about it." He stopped short of saying, I have these dreams where he's super evil.
"Sorry." Hartley's smile was thin and bitter. "I never kiss and tell."
"But you want my help."
"Are you suggesting you'll do it in return for a rundown of Harrison Wells' proclivities?" Hartley's eyebrows lifted. "I didn't know you had it in you, Ciscito. Although I suppose I should have."
Cisco rolled his eyes and swallowed some more Gatorade. It was helping; he was feeling better, but that didn't mean he wanted to go ten rounds with Hartley. That was just going to end in vomit. "You said he has a deep dark secret, and I don't think you just meant the accelerator. What is it? What'd he do to you?"
Hartley crossed his arms and looked at the floor, and for a second, Cisco thought he might answer the question. He should have known better. "If you expect me to cry in my beer," Hartley said, "you should have asked me when we were, in fact, drinking beer."
"Whatever." Cisco held up his hands in surrender. "Tell me what you want my help with so I can say no and go home."
Hartley stood and rummaged around on one of the work tables, eventually coming up with a stack of papers. They hit the table in front of Cisco with a soft thwack. Schematics. Cisco flipped through them, quickly at first, and slowing down as he realized what he was looking at. "Fusion power," he said, nodding slowly. He couldn't help his smile. "Sick."
"Don't get too excited. There are still a few problems with the design."
"Yeah." Cisco grabbed a pencil and scribbled a few calculations on the back of one of the pages. "Yeah, the plasma inside this thing will melt the vacuum vessel almost instantly if you can't keep it away from the walls."
"Yes, I am aware of that. I was initially thinking of a niobium alloy, but--"
"That could work." Cisco chewed on the eraser end of the pencil. "Titanium, maybe, or tin."
"But I want something better. Cheaper." Hartley's pause was somehow dramatic. "And, given recent advances in magnet technology -- smaller."
"Smaller? How much--" Cisco looked again at the drawings. "Holy shit, this thing is portable." Unless you counted Tony Stark, no one had even figured out how to build a large fusion reactor, let alone a small one. Fusion power was the holy grail of engineering. "Why?"
"Why?" Hartley's tone carried the usual you fucking idiot connotations, but he launched into a lecture like he'd been waiting for the question all his life. Cisco had expected a self-aggrandizing speech about immortality and the final frontier, but instead it was something about carbon footprints and sustainability and high-efficiency power sources for the poor. Coming from Hartley, it was such a weird mixture of social policy 101 and the kind of paranoid crap people posted on reddit about living off the grid that Cisco couldn't deal. He flipped through the schematics and scribbled notes in the margins and pretended to be multitasking, but there was only so much he could do. No question this was a cool project, but he needed to think for a while, and his head still hurt.
"Are you even listening?"
Cisco blinked slowly. He nestled his chin deeper into the palm of his hand, his shoulder braced against the wall so he wouldn't just pitch forward across the table. He pushed his hair out of his face. "Not really."
Hartley snatched the schematics away. "I don't know why I bothered."
"Yeah." It was a good question. "Why did you?"
"Well, as you've noted, the materials are all wrong. The vacuum vessel will melt."
"And give off toxic fumes, yeah, but I figured you'd consider that a feature."
"I've reformed," Hartley said, his tone so snotty it was impossible to believe him. "You can figure out the materials component faster than I can, and more importantly, you still have access to an actual lab." He gestured at the rest of his apartment. "Working conditions here are not exactly conducive to prototyping."
"Whoa, hold on. If you want some help with your math, that's cool, but if you want into STAR Labs, then I'm sorry, Dave, I'm afraid I can't do that."
"Who's Dave?" Hartley asked, but before Cisco could respond, Hartley shook his head. "Never mind, I don't care. I know you, Cisco. This is exactly the sort of bleeding-heart project you love, something to feel good about, convince yourself you're worth something."
It stung. Cisco was too hungover to deny it. "You don't know anything about me," he said, standing up to go. He had no idea why he was even still there. He tossed his empty Gatorade bottle into the trash.
Hartley immediately pulled it out and put it in a smaller box on the floor. "Well, now I know you don't recycle."
"Whatever." He was not going to argue with Rathaway about if he recycled -- which he did. "Thanks for not leaving me in the gutter. Good luck saving the world, prick."
"When your conscience gets the better of you, you'll know where to find me."
He didn't like spending so much time thinking Hartley-related thoughts, but when he wasn't thinking about the reactor, he was having those weird waking nightmares about Dr. Wells. His path was clear. It took two days for him to knock on Hartley's door.
"I wasn't expecting you until tomorrow," Hartley said.
"I brought pizza and Dew."
"Of course you did."
Cisco ground his teeth. "Do you want my help or not?"
Hartley swung his door wide open.
By two in the morning they'd made zero progress, unless the fact that they hadn't tried to kill one another counted as "progress." Cisco was on the floor, bouncing a tennis ball against the wall above the couch. Hartley was sprawled on the couch, an arm thrown over his eyes, muttering about solenoid coils and threatening to make Cisco eat the tennis ball if he failed to catch it.
"I guess I could ask Dr. Wells." The sentence was barely out of Cisco's mouth before Hartley was shaking his head. "Why not?"
"I'd prefer Harrison not be involved in any part of my life. If we have to ask him, fine, but only as an absolute last resort."
"Are you going to tell me what he did to you?" Cisco's daydreams, or whatever they were -- daymares? -- had been getting more frequent, more real, and they were starting to seriously freak him out. Did he rip your heart out, he wanted to ask, but he knew the answer was yes, and he knew the answer was no, and he knew they'd just end up arguing about metaphors. Maybe next time Cisco would bring alcohol instead of caffeine. "Forget it," he muttered, before Hartley could answer.
Another few nights without progress, and Cisco was starting to feel weird. He didn't like hiding what he was up to from the rest of the team at STAR Labs, but things there were so bizarre that he was glad to have something to focus on that was just his. Or his and Hartley's, anyway, which was enough like dogs and cats living together that he didn't want to think about it too much. But they didn't seem to be making much progress, and Cisco wasn't sure how much more of Hartley he could stand, not without some kind of victory to take the edge off.
It came to him out of nowhere, his mind drifting as he ran simulations more or less at random.
"Cisco? What's wrong?" Caitlin was giving him a weird look.
"Nothing! Nothing's wrong." He started shoving stuff into his bag. "I just, uh, I have a-- a thing. My brother has a thing. I forgot. It's... I have to go. Tell Dr. Wells I'll be in early tomorrow. Bye!" He bolted out the door before she could ask any more questions.
He jumped on his bike and pedaled hard all the way to Hartley's, and he was sweaty and gross when he got there but he didn't care. He banged on the door until Hartley opened it, and he threw up his arms and danced inside, humming the Final Fantasy victory song. Hartley sighed, indulgent and long-suffering, but Cisco's mood was too good for him to let Hartley ruin it. He slung an arm over Hartley's shoulders and switched to Queen. "We are the champions, my friend. And we'll..." Hartley rolled his eyes and sighed again, but he didn't push Cisco off him, and that was enough for Cisco to pull away.
"Rare-earth barium copper oxide." He bounced on his toes and tried not to smile, but it was a losing battle, and finally he just beamed at Hartley and waited.
Hartley thought through it and Cisco watched, halfway expecting to be shot down, but Hartley started nodding slowly, lips curving into a smile that looked like it might be genuine. "Tape," he said, when realization dawned. "Of course. Superconducting tape."
"NAILED IT!" Cisco shouted, and went back to dancing. Hartley threw the tennis ball at him but pulled some beer out of the fridge anyway, and they made it an entire hour without a stupid argument, frantically scribbling out equations and sketching out redesigned components.
Their truce ended when Hartley started talking about the prototype. There was still a bunch of work to do before they should get anywhere near a lab, but STAR Labs was the only place that made sense.
"The problem," Cisco said for like the fifth time, "is that last time you were in there, you tried to kill one of my friends."
"I told you, I've reformed. And I never cared about Barry Allen."
"Then what-- oh. Wells."
Hartley crossed his arms. "I'm over it."
"Yeah, you seem over it." Cisco crossed his arms, too. "Just tell me what he did to you."
Hartley chewed on his bottom lip, considering. "All right, Cisco, I'll tell you. On one condition." He paused, and Cisco waited. "You first. What did Harrison do you?"
He grew quite fond of me, Cisco thought. "I don't know." Killed me. "Nothing, really."
"What a coincidence." Hartley's smile was thin. "That's exactly what he did to me."
Cisco sighed and ran his hands through his hair, tying it back into a sloppy pony tail that might last five minutes. "Okay, look. We've still got a lot of work to do on the designs. Why don't we finish them, and then we can FaceTime or whatever while I do the work in the lab."
"Oh, let me count the ways. One, I don't trust you. I'm not just handing you the designs. Two, you are not a plasma physicist. Without me, you're likely to blow that place up. Again."
Cisco rubbed at his forehead. He hated to admit it, but Hartley was right. "All right, what if I rebuild the frequency controller?" It would at least be some insurance if Hartley broke bad again.
Hartley looked at him in astonishment. "You mean the device with which you threatened to torture me for the rest of my miserable life? I thought I'd made it quite clear I don't trust you."
"Newsflash, Hartley: I don't trust you, either! You blew me up! You hit Caitlin, tried to kill Barry. But I still wasn't going to torture you, I just--"
"Oh, right," Hartley cut in with a sneer. "I forgot. Torture and threats are beneath you. You're one of the good guys. You and the great Doctor Harrison Wells."
Cisco sprawled across the table with a groan, and beat his forehead against it a few times for good measure. "A time-release, maybe? Three seconds and it turns off." He figured that was enough time to stop Hartley if he were up to something, but not enough to qualify as 'torture.' "And maybe a maximum on the frequency threshold."
"Oh, so the pain will be merely agonizing, rather than excruciating? How very magnanimous."
Cisco threw up his hands. "It's my final offer."
Hartley was quiet for so long Cisco thought he wasn't going to say anything at all, but when Cisco stood up to leave, Hartley snapped out, "Fine. Build the transmitter, bring it here. We'll finish the designs and see how it goes."
"Deal." Cisco smiled, sort of. "I feel safer already."
"Really, Cisco, I find your lack of faith disturbing." Hartley's grin was as unexpected as the quote. "What? You're not the only one who watches movies. Come on, we've got a lot of work to do. I assume you put the security cameras on a loop?"
"Uh," Cisco said, still thrown by Bizarro Hartley. "I mean, yeah. Yeah, we should be good. But what if Dr. Wells shows up? You know how he is about the lab. He'll be pretty mad if he finds us in here."
"A tracking device, perhaps? He's rarely here without his chair."
"I think you mean never."
Hartley glanced over his shoulder. "Of course."
As the project dragged on, Cisco's mood deteriorated: the sleep-dep was piling up, Hartley's insults and insinuations were getting harder to ignore, and the guilt was eating him alive. He felt worse every time he had to cover up what they were doing or steal supplies from the lab or lie to someone at work about why he looked like a zombie. He figured Dr. Wells would be cool -- or at least sort of maybe a little bit cool -- with the deception if Cisco and Hartley cracked fusion power, but what if they didn't? Cisco didn't like to think about that. The first hint of disapproval from Wells tended to devastate him, and Cisco didn't like to think about that, either.
Progress was slow, one step forward and two steps back as they figured out the superconductors and melted the vacuum chamber anyway; as they decided to use a replenishable liquid heatsink but kept screwing up the formula; as the code took twice as long as it should have because Cisco didn't trust Hartley not to be writing a fusion-powered AI intent world domination. But even slow progress was progress, and despite the constant buzz of frustration under his skin, they were so close to a working prototype that Cisco could taste it. He just had to finish the outer housing, and then they'd be done, which excited him as much as it irritated him. He was losing the ability to focus on anything other than sleep, and it was annoying that he couldn't even summon the energy to be excited about portable fusion power, of all things. He should have been euphoric, but mostly, he was cranky.
"Would you stop being so clever with that thing and just finish it?" Hartley was standing on the other side of the worktable, his arms crossed. He was cranky, too, but Cisco figured Hartley had been born that way.
"What?" Cisco blinked, and thought he saw Dr. Wells standing there. You're incredibly clever. "Clever?"
There was a noise close by, and Cisco startled. Hartley was there, not Wells. He'd come around the table and snapped his fingers in Cisco's face, and it was all Cisco could do not to shove him away. He put down the soldering iron.
"What's your problem, Cisco? We are very close to being finished, but if you can't keep it together I'm going to have to--"
"What'd Wells do to you?" It suddenly felt vital that Cisco know what secret Hartley had been talking about.
Hartley took a step back, and Cisco followed him. "Tell me. Right now. What'd he do to you?"
"Fine," Hartley snarled. "You want to know what he did to me?" He grabbed Cisco's hoodie and shoved him against the wall, his forearm across Cisco's throat like an iron bar. "This," he said, and kissed him, hard and sloppy. Cisco opened his mouth to protest, and Hartley pushed his tongue inside.
Cisco bit down and managed to tear his face away. "What the hell are you--"
"Shut up," Hartley said. "Harrison doesn't like a lot of talking." He pressed closer, one thigh sliding between Cisco's, and it was-- shit, it was actually good, it was something to push against, a way to let off some steam. Cisco had spent hours on end wanting to punch Hartley in the face and holding back, but he didn't have to anymore. Maybe he still couldn't punch him, but he could bite him, his lips and his neck and his collarbone. He could pull his hair, or rip at the buttons of his shirt and lay some bruises over his ribcage.
Hartley was just as frantic, his teeth dragging against Cisco's stubbled jaw, his blunt fingertips shoving at Cisco's clothes, seeking out skin. Cisco was hard, hips jerking against Hartley's thigh as it flexed between his legs, and he dropped his head to the wall with a groan when Hartley jerked at the button of his cords and got his fly down.
"And this." Hartley's lips were moving against the shell Cisco's ear, and then teeth, and then tongue. "Harrison loves this." His hand closed around Cisco's dick and Cisco thrust helplessly, Hartley's hand hot and tight. He squeezed again and Cisco hissed, finally uncomfortable -- Hartley's grip was too hard, too dry.
"No, he doesn't," Cisco said, twisting against the wall, trying to get a hand on Hartley's wrist. "He likes it slow." He tried to breathe, and it took him a minute to realize Hartley had stopped moving, his grip slack.
"What did you just say?"
Cisco pried his eyes open. "Oh, shit."
They stared at each other in shocked silence, their chests heaving, as realization dawned: Hartley had never slept with Wells. Cisco had.
Hartley's lip curled and they were both moving at the same time, Hartley reaching for his hearing aid and Cisco tackling him to the floor. Hartley grunted as his back hit the tile, but he wasn't down for long; he twisted and jammed an elbow into Cisco's kidney. Cisco flinched away and Hartley reached up and fisted both hands in Cisco's hair, pulling and trying for a headbutt that didn't connect. His glasses went flying, though, and that was enough of a distraction that Cisco managed to break Hartley's grip on his hair. He leaned too far to the left and Hartley used the leverage to able to flip them both over so Cisco was on his back instead, Hartley straddling his thighs. They were both still hard, Cisco's dick out and Hartley's straining against his fly, and Cisco sucked in his breath and stopped fighting as Hartley thrust down against him.
"You did have it in you," Hartley said, unzipping his own pants and lining his dick up with Cisco's. He spit on his palm and wrapped his hand around both of them, his grip better now, wet and not as rough, the smooth skin of his dick like molten plasma against Cisco's own. "Tell me, then. Tell me what he likes. Does he like your mouth?"
He reached up and slid his thumb into Cisco's mouth, the pad of it rough against his tongue. "Yeah," Cisco said, because why the hell not. "He does." Cisco closed his lips around Hartley's thumb and sucked in rhythm with the the jerks of Hartley's hand, the thrust of his hips. He shut his eyes and thought about Wells, about what he liked, and he gave Hartley a hint of teeth, dragging them against the pad of his thumb before sucking it deeper into his mouth.
"Jesus." Hartley's voice was rough, and Cisco smiled around the thumb in his mouth and reached down, put his own hand next to Hartley's bigger one. Only a few more thrusts and he could feel the pressure building in his balls, at the base of his spine, and it's not like he was going to try to hold back for Hartley's sake. He squeezed their dicks a little harder and twisted, thrusting up into the hot grip of their hands, faster and faster until he came so hard he thought they maybe achieved fusion without the help of the reactor.
Three more quick jerks and Hartley came too, painting Cisco's bared and messy stomach with a few more stripes of come. He pitched sideways and stayed curled against Cisco's side for maybe two seconds, and then he was rolling over and standing up, wiping his hands on a rag from one of the workbenches. Cisco lay panting on the floor but sat up when Hartley tossed him the towel. He wiped himself off and stood, trying not to look at Hartley as they both tucked their dicks back into their pants.
"Awkward." Cisco tried to straighten his clothes, but it was a lost cause. He felt wrecked. His hair was a mess and his lips felt swollen, and the pocket of his hoodie was ripped and hanging. His chest hair was sticky.
"Spare me," Hartley said. Cisco could practically hear his eyes roll. When he looked up, Hartley was wiping blood from his nose with the back of his wrist. "And the next time he takes you to bed, maybe you should ask yourself why a paraplegic loves blowjobs so much."
Cisco thought about answering but was too embarrassed, which was totally stupid considering what had just happened. "That's none of your business."
"Let me guess." Hartley's sneer was back in full force, like nothing had ever happened. That was good, though. That was normal. Cisco could use a little normal. "It's a reflex, and he likes to watch."
"Um," Cisco said, because Hartley was right.
"Not that you don't have a pretty mouth, Cisco, and I'm sure you're very enthusiastic on your knees, but wake up." He picked his glasses up from where they'd hit the floor, and Cisco had a vision of Wells, standing in the elevator as the doors slid open. He crossed his arms with a shudder, but before he could come up with a response more intelligent than shut up or so's your face, Hartley switched gears. "You just need to finish the housing, right?"
"What?" Cisco blinked. "Oh, right. Science. Yeah. I'm pretty close." He'd be done by now if Hartley hadn't interrupted him. Once the housing was finished, there was one more test to run, and then he had to update the schematics to reflect the changes they'd made. Then Hartley could file for the patent, or try to get funding, or whatever he was going to do. At some point, Cisco had thought they might celebrate, but that was before things got weird.
"I assume you don't need me for that?"
"Yeah, Hartley, I'm pretty sure I can still work a soldering iron without your supervision."
Hartley smirked and turned to go. "Kiss kiss."
"Hey," Cisco called out, when Hartley was almost out the door. He stopped, but didn't turn around. "You never said what he did."
Hartley's shoulders slumped. "He let me down." His voice was quiet. "He broke my heart."
"Oh." Cisco's voice was even softer, almost a whisper. "Mine, too."
"Good morning to you, too, Cisco." He looked faintly amused, maybe a little concerned. "Is everything all right?"
"Yeah." Cisco scrubbed at his eyes. He just had two more small changes to make to the reactor designs, and then he'd be done -- but he'd had those two small changes to make for at least an hour now, and he kept zoning out. Wells' hand was still on his shoulder, long-fingered and familiar, and he leaned into it before he could catch himself. "Yeah, sorry, just didn't hear you. We're all fine here."
"What are you--" His fingers clenched and he leaned forward, examining the schematics on Cisco's monitor with a tight frown. Cisco felt panic start to crawl its way up his throat. The plans weren't as big a deal as the prototype itself, but he still hadn't wanted Wells to see them until they were done done, not just kind of mostly done.
"Mr. Ramon." Wells pulled away and crossed his arms, and Cisco knew he was in trouble. "You know how I feel about weapons."
Cisco frowned, the panic morphing into pure confusion. "What? It's not a weapon. It's a reactor."
Wells stared at him, silent and impassive, the weight of his disapproval settling over Cisco's shoulders. He slumped in his chair and turned back to the schematics. It kind of looked like a bomb, he guessed, but--
"Shit," he said, when he saw it. One small change and that's exactly what it would be: a bomb, and it could destroy the entire city. He didn't know how he'd missed it. He slammed the laptop closed and stood up. "Can I-- uh, I'll be back before lunch, okay?"
He didn't wait for Dr. Wells to respond before he ran out the door. He had to see a guy about a face-punch.