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a brand new start

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Sports are none of Barry's speciality. If it hadn't been for his friend Cisco, who was always picked as one of the first, he'd probably be that one loser who always gets left behind during team choosing. It's not like Cisco is a much better athlete than him, he does have a few lessons of class where he's good at, but he's of a way more sunny nature of him, barely in a bad mood, and for some reason, everyone loves his jokes, so he's actually quite popular. Cisco always talks whoever's team he's on into choosing Barry some time, so he wouldn't have to be on his own in a middle of war, which, essentially, basketball kind of is in their class.

Leonard and Mick always seem to plan on killing someone, more aiming at the people who cross their paths than at the basket, no matter if it's Ronnie or for example his girlfriend Caitlin. There have been quite a few injuries during P.E. already, most of them one of Barry's.

He's barely ever passed the ball, so he usually doesn't cause any, except on himself.

But when he'd been hiding somewhere in the back of the field because all the action was in the front, on their side of the field, he suddenly hears Oliver shout his name and before he knows any better, he's diving after the ball and somehow catches it without running against anything. There's a first time for everything.

Oliver's caught him so off-guard, he's moved without even thinking about it and when his hands hold the ball and he's standing up straight again, he only sees how a horde of people is running towards him. He's going to be killed, he's pretty sure there's no way he could survive this, not when everyone is going to run him over. He's not even written his last will, he's too young to die, he's fifteen for god's sake.

Iris saves him, she always does. She lets him copy her English homework when he's forgotten it over watching caterpillars die with Cisco and Caitlin, she nudges his arm when the teacher is about to catch him talk to Felicity during class, she's always there and she's always his guardian angel. “Barry! Here!”, she shouts and he can make out her general direction and just throws the ball somehow, he's just glad when everyone's eyes turn away from him.

He has expected, begged, that they'd change ways, that they wouldn't continue running towards him, but he didn't think they'd stop running entirely. For a moment, all of his classmates look into the direction he's thrown his ball, so his eyes follow and oh, shit.

Eddie is standing there, his hand up to his nose and from the looks, he's bleeding out of it.

Great. He's made one of the most popular guys in class bleed.

“Eddie! Are you okay?”, Iris, who's the closest to him, yells and scoots over to check up on him.

“Oh, nice one, Allen!”, he hears Leonard say and he can't make out if it's a grumpy remark or a compliment. You never know with him.

By now everyone is moving again, towards Eddie and Barry thinks he should do the same because after all it was him who's hit him with a freaking basketball of all things. Those hurt, he can tell.

“Jesus, Eddie, I'm sorry!”, he says as he rushes up to him, standing next to Iris who seems to have just convinced him to let go of his nose.

As he notices Eddie looks at him with what must be quite a dizzy look, he hears Hartley scream for their teacher, “Mr Singh! Barry's hurt Eddie!” As if he'd done it on purpose. He hopes Mr Singh will believe him, after all if anyone knows how much he sucks at sports, it's their P.E. teacher.

“God, really, Eddie, that wasn't-- I meant to pass it to Iris and-- shit, sorry--”

“It's alright,” Eddie replies calmly and gives him one of his smiles, but he still looks kinda worn. What if he's gotten a concussion because of him? They should really know better than let him close to balls.

“Mr Allen, bring Thawne to the nurse's office.”, Barry suddenly hears Mr Singh say behind him and he's sure if he turned around, he'd see some eye rolling. Singh's always annoyed by his talent to hurt himself while doing anything, and the fact that he basically knocked out one of the best people of P.E. class won't do well on Singh's opinion on him.

“Yes, sir.”, Barry says quickly and grabs a hold of Eddie's arm, ready to lead him out of the gym, but Eddie just blinks at Singh.

“I'm fine, really.”, he says.

“Eddie, you're still bleeding.”, Diggle remarks and everyone around them nods in agreement.

At that Eddie sighs, directing his eyes to the ground, and Barry (who's still holding onto him) can feel how he starts to sway in a pretty dangerous way. He pulls him softly to the side and when he notices he's not good on his feet, seems to fall over any moment now, he has no other choice but put his arm around him, giving him enough to hold onto.

He leads him to the nurse's office easily, he knows this way better than anyone else, probably, and keeps apologizing the whole way. Eddie also keeps telling him how it's okay and it's only when they arrive that Barry notices he's never actually had a conversation with Eddie, simply because they're on opposite ends of the hierarchy. He doesn't even know if Eddie's nice and yet he's basically holding him in his arms.

The nurse recognizes him, immediately, of course, but she raises an eyebrow when she notices it's someone else who needs her help instead of Barry. They manage to get Eddie to sit down on the lounger despite his protests and the nurse order shim to keep his head low before asking Barry what's happened.

She nods along to his words, fully aware that it's something you should expect, before asking Eddie how he's feeling, to which he replies that he's got a headache.

She nods and says she'll get him something against it, telling Barry to stay with him for the time being.

When she's gone Barry opens his mouth but before he can say anything, Eddie says, “If you apologize one more time you're gonna have to pay my lunch.”, without even looking up.

Barry closes his mouth immediately. That's a new form of blackmail, cool. So he ended up sitting here with yet another bully.

“I know you didn't do it on purpose, stupid.”, Eddie continues and Barry can hear a grin in his voice. “In fact, I think if you tried to aim at me, you would've hurt yourself sooner than anyone else.”

The words could have had a hurtful effect, Barry is perfectly aware of his clumsiness, thank you, but the way Eddie says them with a small chuckle once he's finished, make them sound more like playful teasing than anything else.

Maybe he isn't that bad after all. Barry can't recall seeing him hang out with Mick and Leonard, so that's basically a good start to conclude he's no bully. That's something good, except that he's still one of the popular guys and Barry is Barry, so he's not quite sure what to reply but, “Probably.”

Eddie takes his hand of his nose, feeling if it's still bleeding and when he sees it's not, he lifts his head. Wordlessly, Barry walks over to the sink and runs water over a few paper towels so Eddie could clean up his face.

When he hands them to the blond, he receives a full on smile that could have been breathtaking if the skin just above his lips weren't full of smudged blood. Then he starts cleaning it off.

“You missed a spot.”, Barry says carefully when Eddie's finished, putting down his hand that's still curled around the towel.

“Where?”

“Just--”, Barry lifts his hands to his face to show him the spot, but Eddie mirrors his movements and cleans the wrong side of his mouth.

Barry reaches over and takes the towel out of his hand before he knows it, softly brushing it over the skin and frees it off the blood. When he's finished, he realizes how awkward this is. You don't just clean up some guy's face except when you're his mother. Which he is most definitely not.

“Uh, there you go.”, he says and leans back again.

“Thanks.”, Eddie says. “So... you come here often?”, he grins and if Barry didn't know any better, he'd guess this is flirting. Except that Eddie is about to burst out in laughter because he used such a cliché line.

“Actually, yeah.”, Barry replies and scratches the back of his head. “Being an accident-prone and everything.”

“Yeah, I know.”, Eddie responds in a serious voice, “Kinda hard to miss.”

Barry's just about to say something – he's not sure what exactly – when the nurse comes back to them, handing Eddie some aspirin. Barry wonders why she doesn't have them close to the lounge, after all, headaches are something common. Eddie takes it with a glass of water she hands him and she asks him again if he's okay otherwise and if he wants to go home.

Eddie shakes his head, “No, I'm fine.”

And then she dismisses them, telling Barry to be more careful next time. As if he isn't trying.

P.E. is over by now, and Barry's got advanced chemistry now. He knows Eddie's not in his class, so they'll have to say goodbye now.

“Okay, I gotta get going to maths.”, Eddie tells him as if he's read his mind, and squeezes his arm lightly.

Barry nods. “Yeah, uh, see you. And... sorry again.”

At that Eddie starts grinning brightly. “Hah! So, lunch tomorrow. You and me. You're paying.”

Barry is staring at him until he remembers what Eddie's told him before. He wants to protest, after all he has better things to spend his money on than a classmate's food, but Eddie is already leaving and he can't exactly shout after him in the hallway.

He stays their for a moment, wondering if he's actually gotten himself into a date with one of the most popular guys of his sports class. By knocking him out. That's something new.