It had been a relatively quiet day in both Central and Starling Cities. So, Barry Allen, aka The Flash had taken the opportunity to visit his partner ("We're not teenagers, Barry, to call ourselves boyfriends."), Oliver Queen, aka The Arrow, in Starling City.
Currently, he was in the Arrow Cave watching Oliver train with John Diggle.
Barry was intensely looking at the pair of them, though the majority of his focus was concentrated on his partner. And why wouldn't it be?
The way his muscles flexed, and the sweat droplets gliding across the skin, his hair mussed up with the tips dripping wet...
Barry licked his dry lips, and tried to keep from fidgeting. It wasn't his fault. Any red-blooded individual would be in the same position if they were watching the shirtless Adonis that was his lover.
Oliver caught Barry's eyes for a moment. And the smile that appeared on his face, small but so bright, lighting up his eyes, made Barry's breath catch.
Barry beamed back at him, with a goofy smile.
Seriously, the amount of affection and fondness he felt for the other man never ceased to amaze him. Heck, he had never felt this way about Iris. He didn't even know it was possible to feel this way.
"Hey," a voice interrupted his admittedly sappy thoughts.
Barry looked at Felicity Smoak, someone who had fallen hopelessly for Oliver too.
Barry smiled at his friend.
He moved a bit to give her space should she want to sit with him. And she did.
They both were silent watching Oliver and Diggle mock-fighting.
"Did you know, Oliver only acts that way around you?" Felicity asked.
"In what way?" Barry was confused and it showed in his tone.
"Oliver, he has lots of masks. Personas, if you will."
Barry nodded. He had indeed noticed.
Felicity turned to him.
"He doesn't use any of it with you. He doesn't try to hide himself away or put on a mask with you." Her voice was wistful, if a bit sad.
She gave a warm smile.
"I'm happy for both of you. He needs someone he can be himself with."
Barry couldn't find anything to reply to that. So, he just nodded and smiled back, hoping that it'll suffice. She seemed to accept it since she left him alone to tinker with computers again.
Barry, on the other hand, felt a wave of shame crash on him. At least Oliver tried to be honest with him. But, Barry? He'd rather bury his past and forget about it.
Barry was so deeply in his self-loathing thoughts that he didn't notice Oliver glancing at him in concern.
"So, what's wrong?"
Felicity and Diggle had left earlier, leaving Barry and Oliver alone in the Arrow Cave.
"Hm? What?" Barry asked, confused.
Oliver walked towards him slowly, stopping in front of him.
"When I was training, you looked worried," rumbled Oliver, looking deeply into Barry's eyes. "After Felicity talked to you."
Barry understood, but he was still reluctant to talk about it.
Barry leaned up to kiss Oliver softly, nipping at his lips. Oliver grasped his hips and pulled him closer, deepening the kiss.
They broke apart, breathing deeply. Barry leaned his forehead to Oliver's.
"I'll tell you. Just not now. Later, I promise," Barry said, looking into Oliver's eyes.
Oliver nodded slowly. He knew that his partner was troubled by something, and he knew that Barry will tell him when he was ready. He leaned in for another kiss, cupping Barry's face in his hands.
Breaking away, he kissed Barry's forehead.
"Whenever you are ready," Oliver assured him.
Barry smiled gratefully.
"Come on, time to patrol."
They were lying in their bed, sated and happy. Barry had his head on Oliver's shoulder. It was his favourite position since Oliver often pressed kisses to the top of his head, almost absentmindedly. Oliver had one hand around Barry, almost (definitely) protective, while the other alternatively carressed his hair or mapped a path from his cheeks to his lips.
Barry caught his hand when it wandered to his cheek. He brought it to his lips and pressed an almost reverent kiss to his finger tips. Keeping his eyes on Oliver's hand, while playing with his fingers, Barry began speaking.
"You know about my mom's murder, and how my dad was falsely imprisoned. The thing is, no one believed me when I said that my dad was innocent. And seeing how I was already a nerd, it didn't help my situation with bullies. I was angry at the world and I kept picking fights. Joe was so worried when I kept coming home with black eyes and bruised fists. He talked with me, made me realise that being angry wasn't going to help anyone. But that didn't stop the bullies, especially Tony Woodward."
Barry broke off, trying to collect his thoughts. Oliver kept silent, but tightened his arm around Barry, giving him strength and support.
"In high school, the fights escalated. So, Joe decided to send me to another school. But I couldn't keep my name, since the name Allen was known by practically everyone. If I did, I would have been facing the same problem anyway. So... I became Sebastian Smythe. The records had my real name, but the authorities were sympathetic and they agreed to call me by my alias. The students there... they were all so confident, like they belonged there. I didn't want to be singled out as the awkward, science nerd. So, I perfected a persona, that fit in. And I-"
Barry's voice broke. He sat up on the bed, pressing the palms of his hands to his eyes. He gritted his teeth. He tensed on feeling a hand on his shoulder. Oliver pressed a kiss to his nape, and another to his shoulder.
Barry turned to face him, feeling like he was heading to the gallows.
He looked at Oliver, at his eyes that showed no judgement.
"Trying to fit in, and trying to forget my problems, I became what I hated, Oliver. A bully. I tormented people with words, created fights between friends. Broke couples up. I-"
Barry shook his head, filled with shame and disgust at himself. He looked tortured by his memories.
"I became so entrenched in being Sebastian, and I didn't even think at the time. When I finally graduated, I was so damn ashamed of what I had done, that I just ignored it. I didn't tell anything about this to Joe or Iris. I just hoped that if I ignored it enough that it'll go away. That, I can hide that I was a bad person."
A tear escaped his eyes. Oliver drew him into a hug, holding him tight.
"I hated myself, Oliver. Still do, when I think about the things I had done. I hurt people. I was a bully just like Tony Woodward."
Oliver finally spoke.
"Barry, you are not a bad person. The very fact that you feel bad about what you had done, proves to me how good you are. You regret what you did, Barry. That proves you are nothing, like Woodward. He was a sadist. I sincerely doubt that you are even capable of sadism. And knowing you as I do, I'm pretty sure you tried to make amends before coming back home."
Barry gave a weak chuckle.
"Yeah, I did try my best. There was a couple, Kurt and Blaine. I always flirted with Blaine, even after knowing Blaine was in a relationship. I had a crush on him and even though I knew he would never leave Kurt, I didn't stop. It caused some pretty intense rivalry based on hate between Kurt and I."
Barry chuckled, "I did help Blaine in proposing to Kurt, though. Last I knew, they were happily engaged and planning to marry."
Oliver nudged his chin, and gave him a smirk.
"See? I told you. You are a good person, Barry Allen. You may not have been in the beginning, but you redeemed yourself at the end. And that, is what matters."
Barry stared at Oliver in wonder.
"Thank you, Yoda," he teased, lightly.
"Welcome you are," said Oliver, smiling back.
Barry couldn't breathe for a minute, amazed at just how much he loved this man.
"I love you," he blurted out, blushing madly.
Oliver blinked in surprise.
"Oh my god, you don't, like, have to say it back or anything. I just couldn't stop myself, and it's absolutely okay if you don't feel the same. Oh god, I messed up didn't I? I'm so sorry!"
"Barry!" Oliver interrupted, stopping him by placing a hand on his mouth. "Breathe."
Oliver was amused by how rattled Barry was.
"For the record, I love you too," said Oliver, chuckling when Barry choked on air.
Before Barry could go on an indignant rant, Oliver slid his hand to the back of his neck and pulled him in, capturing his lips. He laid back down, pulling Barry along with him.
It was very late when they finally went to sleep, both with huge smiles on their faces, wrapped in the other's arms.