He tore apart the workshop. It was a childish reaction, Harry admitted that straight up, but he couldn’t help it. He’d never … never conceived of this much hatred in his life. He was an angry man, generally speaking, there were any number of people who could attest to that, but this, but Zoom …
Jay Garrick. Jay goddamn fucking Garrick. This whole time. How. How.
“… Okay then. I can see you’re dealing with your feelings in your usual healthy manner.”
Harry felt every muscle in his neck and shoulders tense up automatically at the voice. He reached out and grabbed the edge of a workbench, leaning all his weight on rigid arms. He didn’t look at Cisco. Didn’t want to. Wasn’t going to. Not now.
“Go away, Cisco,” he rasped out. “For once in your life, please, go away.”
The brat ignored him. Of course he did. Not even fear and certain death would stop Cisco bloody Ramon from making a point if he felt it needed making. Harry felt a little of his current seething hatred turn the boy’s way. He had a lot to work with at the minute. He had to bite his lip to keep it from spilling out. Not yet, not yet. Hold onto it for just a minute.
“Yeah, I’d do that,” Cisco carried on, moving into the room but thankfully steering clear of Harry himself for the minute. “I really would, it's not like I actually want to watch you have another temper tantrum, but I kinda need this place in one piece at the end of it. Or, well. No more pieces than you’ve already put it in, anyway. Dude, when are you gonna remember that this is my space too?”
Harry breathed. Very carefully, through his nose. He held a breath for a count of ten, and his voice when it came out was only mildly murderous.
“Cisco,” he said, very flatly and very carefully. The boy went still immediately. Not completely blind to danger, then. “I need you to go away, okay? I need you to go away because I deeply, deeply need to kill something right now, and I’m not sure I’m able to be picky. It’s the room or it’s you, so please. Turn around, and walk away. Please.”
Cisco stared at him. Harry could feel the eyes burning a hole in his back. He felt his shoulders bunch up even tighter at the sensation, felt the tremors of rage burning through his system. He tossed his head up. Pressed his lips until all the blood had to have run out of them. The boy didn’t leave. As hesitant and suddenly wary as Cisco was, he didn’t leave.
“… Wow, okay,” the bastard said after a minute. “You actually kinda mean that, don’t you? We’re talking, like, scream on a canyon wall kinda reaction here?”
Harry traced his tongue across his teeth. “No,” he said tightly. “We’re not talking canyon walls, we are talking murdering someone. So please, yet again, will you just—“
“You know the rest of us are angry too, right?” Cisco talked right over him, a hint of something rather seething in his voice as well. “Like, doubly so. Evil mentor betrayal round two. We’re not exactly happy about it either, but that doesn’t mean we’re ripping things to shreds over here!”
“Cisco!” Harry snarled. He spun, one arm slinging out and smashing the nearest whatever off the nearest surface. Cisco jumped slightly. His eyes went wide and alarmed, but two seconds later his jaw set and his eyebrows lowered and that stubborn, angry expression settled right back onto his face. Harry glared at him. Panting, shaking with rage. He knotted his fists and stared his hatred right into the boy’s face.
Cisco sneered back at him. “Oh, what?” he asked, sharp and angry. “You’re gonna take it out on me? For real? Harry, we’re all pissed off. That bastard stood there and lied to us for months. We were helping him, we trusted him, and he was using us the whole time. We’re all angry about that. Okay? I get that you’re angry too, I don't blame you! But you do not get to do this, all right? You need to calm down, and you need to stop threatening people, and you need to stop breaking my stuff!”
He’d come all the way over in the course of that little speech. Stalked, more so, his own hands balled into fists just the same as Harry’s, his expression stiff and furious as he walked right up into Harry’s face. For one dizzy second, Harry considered punching him. His arm twitched, his arm even moved, and Cisco flinched at it, but Cisco didn’t back away. His lips curled back from his teeth, something vaguely heartbreaking in his eyes for a second, and he didn’t back down for a second.
And Harry, after that same second, did.
He backed off. He turned around, grabbed blindly at the edge of the bench behind him. He closed his eyes and tucked his chin angrily into his chest, breathing hard and sharp and raggedly. He hunched over, the hatred and the rage and the helplessness clawing through his chest and up his throat. He held it off. He grit his teeth and held it at bay as long and as desperately as he could.
“… It was your first time, wasn’t it?” Cisco said softly behind him. Gently, now that Harry apparently wasn’t planning to swing at him. He came in close towards Harry’s back. Not touching, not herding. Just being there, warm and present and only a little way away. “You didn’t have a Reverse Flash. This is the first time this has happened to you, isn’t it?”
Harry laughed. Spit it out, threw it up. He shook his head around the sneering grin.
“I didn’t trust him,” he said, every breath still an angry punch of air. “It’s not that. I never liked him, I never trusted him. Not even when he saved my life. I don’t hate him because I trusted him. I—“
He cut off, shook his head, and Cisco sidled in beside him at the workbench. He slipped in next to Harry’s arm, leaning one hip carefully against the bench. His eyes were soft when Harry glanced at him. They were sympathetic, and Harry had to tense himself against the pressing urge to fling himself away and stalk violently elsewhere. He didn’t want sympathy. Not now. He wanted violence, he wanted to tear and smash and shred things apart. Jay, for preference, but failing that anything else in range. He didn’t want nice.
Cisco kept looking at him, though. Calm and sympathetic and waiting patiently for an explanation. For Harry to keep talking and help him figure out what was going on. Despite himself, after a second of it, Harry found the words fumbling out.
“… I walked right into him,” he said. Shaking his head, the recrimination clawing up his throat. “The man who had my daughter. I walked right. Into him. For help. All that time. He knew, all that time. My plan. Barry. That’s how he knew. Everything after that. Every day I spent—He was watching me. That’s how he got in here, that’s how he knew. He could come in and torture me one night, tell me what he was doing to her while wearing that mask, and the next day—The next day. With that … face, and that innocent act. Watching me struggle. Watching me have to betray you. Knowing that he’d done it. He’d arranged it. Watching the rest of you. Watching me get shot, saving ... Saving my life. Holding it in his hands. All that time. I let … I let him have …”
He trailed off, squeezing his eyes shut before anything could come out of them, curving his chin back down onto his chest. He couldn’t stop his shoulders shaking. He couldn’t stop the ragged, wet sound of his breathing. But he closed his eyes, and he made sure nothing fell.
“… Shit,” Cisco whispered, quiet and dismayed, and Harry chuckled automatically. He coughed out another laugh, the humour of it, the perfect, hateful irony spasming through him. Cisco leaned into him instinctively. Harry could feel the warm, stunned weight of him against his arm. He made sure not to look. “Dude, I ... I’m so sorry, man. I know how ... I guess I can see why that would be ..."
Harry snorted. He felt Cisco flinch, felt the twitch of dismay against his arm, and actually felt bad about it. This time. He hadn’t meant it that way. He’d only meant it as a stop.
“It’s nothing,” he said, while he straightened up and tried to deliberately loosen his muscles. Didn’t work very well, the tension and the hatred still locked too deeply to be moved, but he managed to at least smooth his face before he looked at Cisco. “I know I’m not—I know I’m not the only one. I just … I keep thinking how smug he must have been. All that time, knowing just how much I was playing into his hands, just how much he could control me and … and toy with me when he wanted to. I don’t even mind that he could kill me, he always could, but … the game of it. Playing with us. All that time. Just for the fun of it. I can’t forget that. I can’t stop.”
“Yeah,” Cisco agreed quietly. His mouth twisted, pain and helplessness and anger, everything Harry was feeling. Cisco echoed it, right there. Harry felt an absurd urge to tug him close, to pull him in and hold onto him. For Cisco, for himself, he didn’t know. He didn’t do it, either way. Too close, too close for that. No.
He offered up an apology instead. Something, anything to give the boy. “I’m sorry about your lab,” he said, stiff and tired and looking carefully away. “I know I—I let it get away from me. I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have wrecked your space.”
Cisco blinked at him. Startled, nearly disbelieving, and Harry felt the rage twitch back upwards, the anger and the hate, and then Cisco shook his head. He was smiling, sad and rueful, and leaned over to nudge Harry gently on the arm.
“Nah, dude, it’s okay,” he said. “This time, anyway. If you could, like, maybe stop doing it every time, that’d be nice, but this time it’s okay. I get it. He messed with you real bad. As bad as Barry, maybe. He didn’t torture the rest of us. Which, um. Which you kinda never mentioned, by the way. Pretty sure you never mentioned that.”
He looked studiously downwards himself at that, fidgeting with his fingers in visible guilt, and Harry felt his mouth stretch. Not a smile. It wasn't funny.
“Yeah, well,” he said, reaching up to rub at his jaw. “Given that it was around the same time he convinced me to get Barry’s speed for him, I thought it might be difficult to explain. He just … wanted to make a point, that’s all. It stopped once I chose you over him. When we went to my Earth. It stopped then. Didn’t seem much point in mentioning it afterwards.”
What was he supposed to have done, hmm? Throw it in for sympathy points? He'd betrayed them. He’d betrayed them, and they’d proved willing to try and rescue his daughter anyway. They’d given him that much from a standing start, from less than a standing start, and it’d been Jesse’s pain that mattered anyway. Anything Harry had suffered had been … less than nothing compared to that. Zoom had given him a demonstration, that was all. Jesse had—It hadn’t been worth mentioning, was the point. It was just … not the important thing. Not by any measure.
Cisco appeared to disagree with him on that, his face scrunching up in pain and guilt and exasperation. There was something on the edges of his expression, something that looked like it was trying to be anger and not quite getting there. Harry blinked at it in bemusement.
“You really have the emotional intelligence of a toddler, you know that?” the boy groused at him, quivering a bit in that almost-anger. “For future reference, okay, next time? Maybe mention the fact that the evil speedster is torturing you into doing his bidding! I mean, I guess maybe we should have guessed that anyway, but! Up front next time, yeah? Then maybe you wouldn’t get punched in the face.”
Harry blinked a bit. His mouth curled up, more genuinely this time. “But if you weren’t all threatening to punch me in the face all the time, how could I be sure it was really you?” he asked mildly. “I thought I was doing rather well, really. You’d graduated from shooting me on sight to only punching me when I’d actively betrayed you. I figured that was progress.”
Cisco’s face ran through a range of expressions at that, guilt the most predominant of them. Remembering, maybe, that Jay had been the first one to punch Harry, if admittedly after Joe had shot at him, and wondering in hindsight how much of a tone that had set. Harry twitched slightly, some nascent fragment of a conscience nagging at him, but then Cisco shrugged things off before it could start to actively pain him.
“Yeah, okay,” the boy sighed. “So we can keep progressing, yeah? We’ll maybe try for a moratorium on the punching from now on. It’d be easier if you weren't such an active asshole all the time, though. I’m just … gonna point that out.”
Harry chuckled. “You wouldn’t be the first,” he noted easily. “You’re probably not going to be the last. I do know I ask for it sometimes. In case you were wondering.”
Cisco squinted up at him. “Yeah, that doesn’t actually help,” he pointed out, before slumping slightly and reaching up to rub at his face. “We’re a mess. We’re all a mess. And, you know, part of me keeps thinking that we really should have seen it coming. Jay. You. You had the face, but Jay was the one who was acting nice. It’s always the ones who start out nice. Like Wells. Thawne. It’s how they sucker you in. I really should have remembered that.”
Harry grimaced uneasily. He didn’t want … there was so much resignation in that. So much quiet acceptance on Cisco’s part that the world was just going to keep betraying him. Not even anger. Harry could have lived with anger, he would have wanted anger. Anger was what should be there. Anger at Harry, at Jay, at Thawne. At anyone and everyone who’d earned it. Harry felt enough of it in his own gut, felt it burning and seething even still. That lead ball was going to be there until he smashed Zoom’s face in with his own hands. Cisco … Cisco needed more of that. Maybe not as much as Harry, he understood that his rage was more than likely unhealthy, but it was better than just acceptance. It was better than standing there waiting to be hurt. He didn’t want that for Cisco. The realisation coated his burning gut in ice instead, but he … he didn’t. He didn’t want to see that. The stupid, idiot boy deserved better.
“… You want to see the best in people,” he said roughly. Cisco glanced up at him, startled by the unexpected answer, and Harry shook his head. “That’s not wrong. It’s a good thing. You and I both know that I of all people have reason to be grateful for that tendency, in you and Barry both. So it’s not bad. But you have to remember that when you’re betrayed, you get to be pissed off about it. However guilty and stupid you feel, however much like it seems like you let yourself in for it—“ He closed his own eyes, trying to wipe out the smug expression he’d imagined on Jay’s face. After a second, once he had himself again, he went on. “In the end, no matter what, they’re still the ones who did it. So get mad at them. Imagine, I don't know, imagine sitting on them and pounding their faces repeatedly into a wet smear on your lab floor. If nothing else, trust me, it’s very therapeutic.”
Cisco stared at him for a second. “… Anger management issues much?” he noted faintly. “I mean, I knew that. You’ve chucked enough erasers at my head. But. Wow, Harry.” Harry growled at him, shoulders stiffening, and Cisco hurriedly shook his head. “But! Okay, I take your point. Put the blame where it’s supposed to go. I got that. I do.”
Harry raised an eyebrow, sensing a touch of hesitation. “But …?” he asked leadingly. Cisco hunched, glancing sideways at him. Tired and worried and small.
“Nothing,” he mumbled. “It’s nothing, Harry. It’s just … It’s hard not to feel responsible anyway. You know? So many people got hurt. You, Barry. And I was dumb and trusting enough to let it happen. I should have known better. After Wells … I just should have known better, that’s all. I don’t know if I can stop remembering that.”
Harry looked away. He bit his lip, warring silently with himself, and then … Fuck it. Just screw it all anyway. He reached out, wrapped one arm around the boy’s shoulders without looking, and tugged him roughly into an embrace. Cisco flailed for a second. He stiffened, half-panicked. But then, after a long second, he sagged into Harry. He wrapped his arms around Harry’s waist and held on tight. Harry could feel him shaking. He could feel the tears start to fall.
“We all should have known better,” he rasped, looking blindly out over the mess of the lab, his arm tight around Cisco's shoulders. “I never liked him. I never trusted him. Some bit of me must have known. All that damned time. I must have known. He played me from the start anyway. If … If it hadn’t been for Barry, all of you, if you hadn’t forgiven me and chosen to rescue my daughter anyway … He would have gotten everything he wanted. He would have won, and I would have let him. I have to live with that. I have to remember it too.”
Cisco snuffled a bit, leaning into Harry’s chest. “You didn’t,” he mumbled, squeezing Harry around the waist. “You didn’t let him. You told us what you did, you stopped doing it. Even though he was hurting you. You didn’t let him win. You just … you should remember that too. You picked us, and we picked you. That’s why he didn’t win.”
… Yet, Harry thought helplessly. That’s why Zoom hadn’t won yet. But he ignored that. As best he could, he ignored it. He’d never done well with helplessness. He brought his hand to the back of Cisco’s neck, squeezed gently for a second, and then steered the boy back. Brought him out, so that Harry could stand there and smile wryly, grimly down at him. Cisco blinked back at him. His face was damp, his eyes were wet, and there was something quiet and calmly faithful in them. Harry couldn’t bear that. Never in a million years.
“… How about we clean up your lab,” he said, tired and flat and vaguely apologetic, and Cisco shook his head with a snort. Cisco accepted that. Let Harry have the out.
“Yeah,” the boy said softly. “Yeah, sure. Why not? I’m getting used to cleaning up your messes, you know. Practice makes perfect and all. And I am gonna need this place later.”
Harry closed his eyes. “That’s the spirit,” he said blankly. “Practice makes perfect. That’s the spirit right there.”
They had all the practice in the world at being betrayed, after all. They were getting better at it every day. Cisco more than him, but Harry was catching on fast. He mightn’t have had a Thawne, but one Jay Garrick was more than enough to get the hang of it.
By the end of this, he thought, Zoom would have made champions of them all.