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Once More Unto

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They were going to die. Again.

And, okay, on the one hand he shouldn't be flippant about that. He wasn't, really. His palms were sweating and his gut was made of ice and his heart was hammering triple time in his chest. He was well and truly terrified. It was for real this time. They were going to die. He was shit scared and not feeling flippant at all. But. On the other hand. It was for real this time, and it'd been real all the other times too, and honestly they had to have built up some kind of frequent flier miles for death-defying experiences by now. Again. They were going to die again. Seriously, that was just ... There had to be a limit, you know? There had to be only so many times a body had to say that before it either stuck or stopped being true.

Cisco was hoping for the latter here. Obviously. God, oh god, he was so hoping for the latter. They were going to be okay. They were. Nobody was going to die.

He looked over at Harry, mostly for something to do that wasn't panicking silently to himself. The rest of them were still up in the main lab or in med bay. Him and Harry had come down here to stock up on ... everything, really. Grenades, remotes, about a half-dozen projects in various states of completion that mostly they were planning to just throw at whatever came through the door and hope did some damage. They were free-wheeling here. There wasn't really any time left to be picky.

Harry was muttering to himself under his breath, long fingers pawing through a satchel and cataloguing its contents. The pulse rifle was slung down by his right hip, his weapon of first and last resort. It was almost a comforting sight by now, for all that it probably hadn't done too much actual damage since this started. It just ... it looked right. It was the thing Harry had come into their lives toting, and the thing he'd put between them and whatever was coming for them over and over again, and there was a bit of Cisco that just ... found it comforting. If Harry was carrying it, then it meant Harry was planning on going in front. It meant he was planning to fight tooth and nail to keep them safe, however much use it turned out to be in the end. That was a comforting thing. That was just ... it was a good thought to have.

Cisco looked up from it, for a second. Looked up at the man himself, still wild-eyed and wild-haired and muttering ferociously to himself as he fumbled carelessly through various lethal bits and bobs. He stopped looking like Dr Wells a long time ago, Cisco thought. Well, yes, he was still Dr Wells, but he wasn't Dr Wells. He wasn't Thawne. He was just Harry. He'd been Harry for ages now. Harry with his temper tantrums and his angry panic and his amazingly dodgy sense of humour and his terrifying caring for his daughter. Harry and his desperation to keep everyone safe, Harry and his increasingly bad plans, Harry and his terrified determination to keep fighting well past the point where he couldn't anymore. Harry and that thing he did where he pulled you behind him to point himself gun first at the enemy, even when he couldn't beat it. Harry who'd run into a whole other universe by himself to get somebody back, Harry who'd lose everything and still stick by someone anyway, Harry who would seriously have a screaming row with the entire universe itself if it kept someone that mattered to him safe.

Harry who was still here, Harry who was still standing with them now, Harry who'd come down here with Cisco to grab whatever they had to hand so they could try and not die together in about fifteen minutes time. Harry who looked about as shit-scared and ragged and at the end of his rope as Cisco felt, Harry who was still going to be there in those fifteen minutes time, looking exactly as ragged and throwing himself gun first into the maelstrom anyway. Harry who'd been there with them since he'd arrived here, who'd been as loyal as an angry, terrified, crazy man under Zoom's thumb could manage. Harry who'd never let them down while he'd had any choice at all. Harry who probably never would. Cisco believed that. He trusted it. He was going to die in fifteen minutes time, and he was going to die trusting that. He was going to die knowing Harry was at his side.

The thought did something to him. He didn't know, he wasn't sure what. Something crept up his throat, a prickling at his eyes and an ache in his chest. A different ache, not like Thawne had left an ache. This one was ... it hurt as much, but it hurt better. This one felt like something sad and simple and clean. Harry was going to be with him. They were going to die, and Harry was going to be with him. A guy probably shouldn't be happy about something like that, but maybe they were a bit far past 'should' in general anyway.

Cisco bit his lip. He turned around, put his own satchel carefully on a workbench. Harry didn't notice. He'd notice if a bomb went off, if something actually started attacking them, but up to that point he tended to get lost and distracted inside his own head. Cisco felt a rush of fondness for him, felt a tumbling thing squeeze inside his chest. He shook his head, wiped his eyes, and turned to look at Harry.

"Hey, Harry?" he said, soft at first and then a little louder. His voice creaked a bit at the edges, but Harry wasn't focused enough to notice that yet. He looked up, owlish and aggravated, blinking at Cisco with both hands still buried in the satchel.

"... Yeah?" he asked, with that smushed, distracted tone of his when he wasn't really focusing on the conversation at all, and would dearly like it if other people would stop focusing on it as well so he could get back to shutting that bit of his brain off in favour of more useful ones. The thing in Cisco's chest lurched, a fluttering, painful feeling, and he shook his head hurriedly. He thought he was crying a little bit. He thought there might be wetness around his smile.

"You know I love you, don't you?" he said quietly. Not flippant, not joking. Too tired and too terrified for that by far. He just said it, just to put it out there. Just to make sure the man knew about it before they died. Harry promptly almost fumbled a nitrous grenade onto the floor. Harry stared at him, wide-eyed, his knuckles white around the little bomb.

"... What?" the man said at last, startled and almost horrified. "You ... Ramon ... What?"

Cisco almost laughed at him. Almost, almost. He didn't think he'd ever seen the man so terrified. He'd handled Zoom with more composure than that. But okay. It had come out of nowhere. Harry didn't handle emotion well.

"It's okay," he said, moving over to pull the grenade carefully out of Harry's hands, putting it gently back into the satchel before he looked up at the man. "It's okay, Harry. I'm not saying it to be weird or anything. I just ... I just mean that I'm glad you're here. With the whole ... With the part where we're all about to die. I just ... wanted to say it. I'm glad you're here. I'm glad that ... that we got the chance to know you, you know?"

His voice cracked at the end of it. His voice cracked, and the tears bubbled up, and Cisco had to look away. Just for a second. He looked down at his hands, resting on the lip of the satchel next to Harry's, all the lethal little things gathered beneath them. He looked at Harry's worn, powerful fingers, the hands that were half scientist and half soldier. Hands that would try to protect them. Hands that might not be able to. Hands maybe not so different from his own. He felt the tears spilling silently down his cheeks.

"... We're not going to die," Harry said eventually. Thin and tight and repressed, vibrating with leashed tension. "Cisco. Look at me. We're not going to die. I will make sure of it. Okay? You don't ... It doesn't matter. I'm not going to let you die."

He meant it. He meant it fiercely and fervently, same as he'd mean it for any of them, and Cisco couldn't breathe around it. The echo, partly. The complete reverse of Thawne. Mostly just the depth of it, though. Just the way Harry said it, what he meant by it. Harry wasn't good with emotions, wasn't good with words. But if you mattered, he would fight the whole universe just to try and keep you safe.

"... Yeah," Cisco said. His fingers brushed against Harry's, both of them shaking and careful and cold. "Yeah, I know. Just ... Just in case, you know? I wanted you to know. You're one of us, okay? I love you. I'm glad you're here, and I really, really hope it doesn't kill you."

He looked up at that, licked his lips and made himself, and found Harry staring at him. White-faced, his jaw set, something wild and absolutely terrifying in his eyes. Cisco squeaked, realisation catching up a second later, and his hands snapped forwards to grab Harry's wrists and squeeze quellingly at them.

"No!" he said rapidly, staring wide-eyed up at the man. "Okay? Whatever you are thinking right now, no. Absolutely not. Okay? We're not dying. Just like you said, we are not dying. Do not do whatever it is you just thought about doing. We're in this together. If you do something stupid, I swear to god, I will be right there doing it alongside you. So no. Do not. I love you, I don't want you to die, and this is so far from being a conversation I want to have to repeat for Jesse when she asks me what the hell you were thinking when you tried to light the city on fire with you in the middle of it, or whatever the hell else you had in mind."

Harry looked at him for another second, that stark, virulent expression on his face, and then he twisted his head sharply to one side. His face scrunched up, carved in on itself while he fought to climb himself back down out of that head space. He turned his arms in Cisco's, brought them 'round so he could grip Cisco's arms equally, savagely tight. Cisco winced a bit. He didn't let the man go for even half a second.

"... Your timing sucks, Ramon," Harry rasped out at last. Opening his eyes, blinking down at Cisco rapidly but with a lot more sanity in his expression. Cisco laughed breathlessly at him. He squeezed Harry's arms and nodded rapidly.

"Yeah," he said. "Yeah, that's not the first time I've heard that. I know. I'm sorry, I know. Don't do anything stupid, okay?"

Harry blew out a breath and nodded at him. "Yeah," he said, flat and resigned. Looking around the lab, tugging his hands gently free to fiddle at the satchel and the strap of the rifle. "Yeah, okay. Nothing stupid. I got it. I'm okay."

"Good," Cisco said brightly, standing back a bit and nodding to himself. Yes, good. Okay then. Nothing stupid was always good. Not least because when Harry was stupid, things tended to explode. Like cities. And people. And the man was still holding kind of a large amount of ordinance. So yeah. Harry not being stupid was never really a bad thing.

Jesse was right, he thought, drifting over to gather his own bag of explosives back up again. When the kid was right she was right. Being loved by Harry Wells could be the scariest damned thing in any number of universes sometimes.

Though ... He looked down at his bag again, blinked at it carefully. He guessed sometimes they could be a little scary themselves, huh?

"... Cisco," Harry said, soft and quiet and almost hesitant. Cisco looked up at him, startled. Found him standing there all ragged and stooped and terrified, his bag of bombs in one hand and his pulse rifle in the other. He had such an expression on his face. A complicated, desperate, fragile thing. Cisco stared at him. He felt tears prickle the backs of his eyes again. He swallowed carefully before he could answer.

"Yeah?" he asked, small and tired and so damned scared, and Harry made this face at him, Harry tried to smile in the middle of being terrified. It didn't work at all, and Cisco didn't know if he'd ever loved anybody more than he did this second.

"Me too," Harry said. Simply, not simply at all. It took Cisco a second to realise what he meant. "Me too, I ... I love you too. All of you. I love you too."

... Oh. Okay. So that ... that's what that felt like, Cisco thought. That's what it was like to have that said by somebody who wasn't going to kill him for it. That was ...

He shouldn't be smiling, he thought. He shouldn't be standing there, bombs in hand, waiting for the apocalypse to come and break down the door, crying his eyes out and smiling with all his heart at the same time. He shouldn't feel like someone had picked him up under the chest and floated him gently towards the ceiling. They were going to die. He was terrified and he was going to die. It shouldn't feel like one of the happiest moments of his life.

He shook his head. He looked down, hefted his bag of tricks. Harry was squinting at him worriedly, that panicked, half-terrified expression on his face again. Cisco shook his head and grinned at him. "Hey Harry," he said. "What do you say we go do something stupid?"

Harry stared at him for another second, Harry's face tried to do a dozen things at once, and then ...

"Sure," Harry said, with a terrified sort of exasperation. He shook his head, gestured with the pulse rifle towards the door. Once more into the breach. They seriously needed a frequent flier discount for that thing. Harry huffed out something like a laugh. "All right, Cisco," he said. "Sure. Why not."

Yeah, Cisco thought, wild and happy and terrified. Yeah. At this stage, why not indeed.

All right, everybody. Time to go out and not die.