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A regular Tuesday Night

Chapter Text

Barry Allen had just finished an extremely long day. It had started how every day seemed to start, with him making a mistake. This morning it was forgetting to charge his phone before he went to bed, therefore his alarm didn’t go off. So when he finally did wake up he had 15 minutes to get to the precinct, rushing to shower properly, and change into clean clothes he managed to get to work just in time. Only he wasn’t. His phone, if it was charged would have alerted him that he was needed at a crime scene in the opposite end of town and Barry didn’t register this until Sign was halfway through his regular Barry Fucked Up rant.

Racing up to his lab to grab all the necessary equipment and then managing to get across town on public transport didn’t take that long but it was the scene he arrived to that made the day worse. The corpse lying on the road was a few hours old and therefore already contaminated but this was made worse by Officer Johnson, a senior member who should know better than to touch Barry crime scenes by now, poking at the victim's stab wound, holding the weapon in his ungloved hand.

Joe would later tell Barry that the look of pure hatred Barry had given Officer Johnson would’ve been enough to give a hardened criminal pause. Barry didn’t tell him it had, thoughts of his many run-ins with those outside the law running through his head.

God, that was a strange concept, until a few months ago it would’ve been the weirdest thought to have but now he was used to it.

When Barry was a kid his mother was murdered. If that wasn’t enough, his dad was framed for it and no one believed Barry’s side of the story, given that he was found unconscious and bleeding five blocks away. After being rushed to hospital due to a stab wound to the chest and severe head trauma Barry was in and out on consciousness for a few weeks. During that time his house was sold, his father sentenced to life in prison and Barry was adopted by Joe West, the father of his best friend and the lead police officer in his dad’s arrest.

Traumatic, right?

During his stay in hospital Barry met another little boy named Roy, who was staying in the same room as him. At first, nothing seemed from with Roy, he was just pale and he slept almost as much as Barry, but then his seizures started, and Barry overheard one of the nurses tell Roy’s parents that he had a brain tumor.

Barry faced a rapid decline of Roy over his stay in the hospital and the day before Barry was released, Roy was moved to the emergency children’s ward. After that Barry found himself begging Joe to let him visit Roy as he begged to be allowed to visit his father. Only one of these desires were granted.

Visits to Roy were always short, he didn’t have much energy and his parents fussed over him incessantly. One day when Barry arrived Roy was extremely excited. Some people had visited him from the Wish Making Association, they had told Roy that he could do anything he wanted, he could meet someone famous, he could go overseas. He got one wish and he wanted to go to Disneyland. He also invited Barry to come with him.

Sadly, when the time came for his wish to be granted, Roy was too sick to go so he and Barry stayed in the hospital room and marathoned Disney movies for a whole weekend. By the next Saturday Roy had passed away.

Barry’s friendship with Roy had changed his life. He still wanted justice for his father, he was still drawn to the strange and outlandish happenings and crimes but he also always remembered his time with Roy. Each Christmas after that Barry would donate some of his toys or allowance to the WMA.

When he was in college he had another encounter with the WMA, Jessica, a classmate in one of his criminology classes was a volunteer Wishgranter who helped put together children’s special days. She had a charity drive at the college and Barry signed up his name to help her out with a fun-run, which had been a mistake for him but had set the pace for the rest of his college experience. He didn’t get much free time but what he did he spent joining Jessica with various Wishmaking duties, not as a full volunteer but as a helper.

When he graduated with a steady job as a forensic apprentice at the CCPD Barry made his volunteering official. He didn’t make much money and still had to pay off student loans but he made sure to donate a sizable amount to the charity when he could. As time went of Barry granted several wished both big and small, the most notable had been for a young girl named Sarah who had lost one leg to a cancer which had spread to her heart, Sarah had wanted to hike a mountain which was pretty outlandish for completely healthy kids. Barry had figured out a way around this though, after calling up every nearby ski park that was open, which given that it was summer, wasn’t many, but one had a large hill that had a ski lift which led almost to the top. Thankfully the owners of the park were happy to volunteer the lift and resort for the day and Sarah was taken most of the way up and was then wheeled up in her chair the rest. At the very top of the hill she had hobbled around on her crutches and had insisted on getting a photo with Barry. Which he had framed and sitting on his desk at work.

Barry had gotten into the habit, not long after his trip with Sarah to carry around a polaroid camera with him, a worn polaroid camera Iris had handed to him after she’d grown bored with in college, after she’d gone through a photographer phase. Each photo he had was reprinted and he gave the family and WMA a copy while keeping the original for himself. There was a wall in his apartment half-covered with the bright faces of little kids completing their biggest wish.

It was, however, a more recent event that changed his life forever.

Chapter Text

In the WMA offices in Central City there was a woman named Vanessa, her daughter had died of a hereditary heart condition at the age of nine, and in her memory, Vanessa volunteered every Thursday of her time. She had also become the resident office-mum. Making sure everyone had eaten, weren’t stretched too thin between their volunteer work and jobs, that they were healthy both mentally and physically. She often took great care of Barry too, having realised he was ‘that poor boy from that horrible incident a few years back’ after she first met him.

Barry had met a lot of people like her, mostly through the WMA, mother who had lost their children and needed a surrogate, someone to look after. Usually, they didn’t know about his family though. When they did it usually annoyed Barry but he could never stay mad a Vanessa.

Every afternoon when Barry arrived at the WMA offices he was greeted by Vanessa and clean yellow folder on his desk. The cramp table was already covered in messy folders, framed photos and knick-knacks but the clean, crisp folder stood out, partly because on top of it sat a plate of homemade pie. Vanessa’s calling card. And a post-it note stuck to the top asking him to ‘use your forensics stuff to find this guy?”

Inside the file was a challenge which was in part both a good and bad thing. After volunteering for so long Barry had a network of resources he had built up and that were shared throughout the foundation to contact people such as Disney representatives, actors and singers, however in the last year and a half, challenges had arrison.

It had started with the vigilante in Starling City, the Hood. Kids always latch onto heroes in movies, characters who are good, who defeat evil, who can help them defeat whatever they’re facing. There were networks for this sort of thing, contacting the movie actor who played the hero in the kids favourite movie and having them show up in costume, or hiring a professional comic book actor, but now there was a real hero, and more than that, this living breathing man was a morally grey character, like most actually in movies. And a sick little kid named Audrey wanted to meet him.

So how does one deal with this set-up you ask? You call the local police and when you’re laughed at you visit the scenes he was last seen at, check twitter and facebook for sightings, take time off work to do it, get friends to help out, and eventually you have to hand the case to someone else.

Then you get a big break.

Barry had been all set to pack up and head back home, back to his paying job that needed its only decent forensic scientist even though he was still pretty low on the pecking order. However, on at the train station he overheard talk about a miraculous crime from a nearby officer. At the cafe the other man had caught sight of Barry’s CCPD sweater and the pair had chatted until the call went through and the other officer offered him a lift to the scene on the ground that he could take a look, that a fresh pair of eyes could be useful, and then the man had winked. Barry had been too distracted by it all to respond but the man didn’t take offense luckily.

At the scene, Barry babbled his way in until he was allowed to work the case too. Officer Lance, the cheerful fellow had grudgingly accepted his words as true, for now. Then Barry meets Oliver Queen, who is one of the most attractive men he had ever met and who legitimately terrifies him, what with his brooding eyes and muscular physique, there’s also the matter that Oliver knows he’s lying about being sent over, which is terrifying. Then Barry meets Felicity who is one of the loveliest people he has ever met, with her nerd rambling and word vomit, the two make quite a pair. That she’s beautiful is also a golden point. Behind the two is Mr Diggle, Oliver's bodyguard, not that he’d need one Barry’s sure. Seriously, what is it with Starling city and attractive people.

Later, after being kidnapped by Felicity, saving Oliver, who as it turns out is the Arrow’s life and then dealing with Captain Sign over the phone, again, Barry remembered the file. He remembered Audrey, who was on her second kidney transplant, who wouldn’t make it to another, who doctors said only had another two months left to live, who had all but begged him to find the Arrow, just so she could say thank you to him because her cousin lived in Starling City and the Arrow once saved her life. Because to her the Arrow was a hero and she wanted to meet a real life hero before she died.

Barry told Oliver this and then he begged. He pleaded to the other man to meet this little girl, to help her out and fulfill her dying wish and Oliver said no. His tone was cold and his face was carefully blank but Barry could see the pain in Oliver’s eyes. So instead of getting angry he left, he stormed out and back to the train station but not before texting Felicity and giving her the details of Audrey’s hospital.

When he arrived home Barry was greeted by an angry boss and a flooded lab, the latter of which he sought to rectify immediately, why all his already old and battered equipment was housed in a leaky old room was beyond him but at least it afforded a good view, when it was raining.

The last thing Barry remembers is the bright flash of light and a crash before his world is flooded by darkness and pain.

At some point while he was in his nine-month coma Oliver makes the trip to Starling, he meets little Audrey and he tells her about his friend Barry, who was sick, just like her. Who had come to ask him to visit her and who had gotten sick shortly after. Audrey and her mother, who both had been wondering what had happened to the nice man from the Wishmakers, who had disappeared.

After the Arrow left, Audrey’s mother did some asking around and found that Barry was at the same hospital, had been for a month, just a few floors down, and she went for a visit. What she arrived to was the younger man hooked up to a heart monitor, face pale and eyes closed but she was soon forced back by a horde of doctors running to the men's room after he flatlined yet again. A man and a woman who had been sitting in the chairs across from the room stood watching with fear in their eyes. Both started crying when Barry was wheeled away, Audrey’s mother wondered if the woman was Barry’s girlfriend.

Then she plastered a smile on her face a went back upstairs to her daughter to find the little girl clutching tightly to a polaroid picture depicting the two, Audrey with a blinding smile and the vigilante with a slight upturn to his lips, it was signed too, saying ‘To the bravest little hero out there. I’m your biggest fan.’

She thought maybe the Arrow wasn't such a bad guy and thanked whatever deity out there that had sent Barry Allen to her daughter's hospital bed.

Chapter Text

While Barry was asleep several things happened. Sign hired a new forensic assistant but kept Barry’s position available to him. Iris went out on a date with Joe’s new partner Eddie, Caitlin Snow lost her fiance and then found him again, confused and on fire, and with the voice of an elderly scientist in his head. Dr Harrison Wells lost the use of his legs and he and his team became social pariahs. When they approached Joe and Iris West, asking to take over the medical care of Barry, the West's reuse, Not because Cisco and Caitlin seem like bad people, they were caught up in the horror just as Barry was, but because of Wells. Joe was a detective, and had been for most of his adult life, he trusted his instincts and they told him to keep Barry as far away from Wells as possible. However if Doctor Snow felt she could help Barry in any way he wasn't going to turn her away.

In the time between losing Ronnie, finding him and treating Barry, Caitlin found herself drifting away from Wells. She greatly admired and respected him but his cold attitude, at first towards her loss, then about finding a cure for whatever had happened to Ronnie, coupled with his obsession with the poor comatose boy that only got worse after his coma reached the nine month mark, led her to distance herself from him. Cisco too, more often than not followed her. While he held a sort of hero worship towards Wells, he was different since the accident, he was obsessed with Barry Allen, he was angry and prone to arguing with anyone near him, which was usually Cisco, there was also the matter of how he treated metahumans.

Meta-human was the term the trio had come up with to classify the people affected by the particle accelerator explosion. The people like Ronnie who had gained miraculous powers. Sadly, they tended to be criminals or were now. Such as Shawna Baez, nicknamed peek-a-boo by Cisco. Wells all but forced Ronnie and Dr Martin to become a superhero, claiming each time that Ronnie just had to capture whatever meta was on the loose. After a while they all realised they had no idea what Wells did with the metas, they found out when Ronnie went downstairs, to the pipeline and saw the meta of the day locked-up in a tiny cell. After some digging Cisco found a morgue as well, set up in one of the old labs.

They distanced themselves further from Wells. Caitlin took a job at the Central City Hospital, a real doctorly job that paid well and kept her close to Barry and his adoptive family, whom she had grown close to, Cisco helped the CCPD, coverly of course, sending them encrypted files, anonymous tips, anything that led to them capturing the meta’s first. He also introduced the foundations for a safer and more humane prison system for metas after the fourth break-out of Iron Heights prison.

All in all, it was a different world that Barry Allen woke up in. Having spent ten months in a coma can do that to you, he supposes.

There were people who could control the weather, people who could teleport and other who could fly in bursts of flame. They were amazing, they were impossible and Barry was ecstatic, not because he was one of them, and he had to admit it was a bit of a let down that he was one of the few people dramatically injured in the explosion who didn’t end up with powers. After all, a week after he woke up he realised his doctor’s fiancee was half of Firestorm, Central City’s superhero. All this meant Joe finally believed him about his dad’s innocence, all this meant that he wasn’t crazy all those years ago, but no matter who believed in the impossible now, without new evidence to give to the court his dad couldn’t be released from prison, because even though the impossible was real now, it had been years since Nora Allen was murdered.

This didn’t fully sink in for a while, Barry spent his first few days awake slipping in and out of consciousness, his first realisation, the first new thing to sink in was that he was fit, the fittest he had ever been. Cisco Ramon, a friend of his doctor, and whom had been sitting watch over him the night he’d woken up had been the one to inform him of this,

“Dude, you’re awake! How do you feel?” The man’s voice could hardly be heard over the cacophony of beeping from various medical equipment.

“Who are you?” Not his most clever come-back but a warranted question.

“Oh right, I'm Cisco, you’re in the hospital. You were hit by lightning, do you remember anything?” the man, Cisco, had a wide reassuring smile and kind eyes, Barry found himself calming down, noticing the loud beeping filling the room slowed too.

“What?” Again, not his best but he had just woken up. “How long was I out?”

Cisco stopped, looking conflicted he finally said, “Ten months, but you kinda woke at nine. You just fell back asleep though. Now, while we wait for Caitlin- Doctor Snow, can you please tell me how you feel? Just so I know you aren’t gonna pass out?” Cisco had pleaded. Barry nodded.

“Yeah, sure I feel fine though, no lightheadedness, no tiredness. How am I supposed to feel? That way I can tell you if I feel different.” Cisco paused.

“Well you certainly do look okay, I mean, dude you look better than I have ever, never mind just waking up from a lightning induced coma.” At Cisco’s statement Barry looked at his hands, reached up to touch his face. What he found was the opposite of what he expected, instead of prominent cheekbones he felt the same as normal, his skin didn’t seem overly pale and when he touched his chest it felt different. Firmer. He lifted his shirt to inspect more and,

“Lightning gave me abs?” His voice was high-pitched with some panic but Cisco didn’t mention it and Barry was grateful.

 

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But that was three months ago, since waking up Barry had had to make some adjustments to his life. The first of which were his episodes. According to Doctor Snow, or Caitlin as she like to be called, the lightning strike, the exposure to harsh forensic chemicals and whatever energies erupted from the particle accelerator explosion had led to some minor side-effects. He had trouble sleeping, not much but he found that he couldn’t sleep longer than about five or six hours a night; he read faster than before, taking in information quickly, though the downside of this is that he became even more forgetful. None of this compared to his episodes however. Every few days he blacked out, he would become lethargic, no one could figure out why since it didn’t seem to affect him for long, he slept and when he woke up he would eat everything in his fridge. Honestly it cost him a lot but after a late night google search of lightning strike side-effects, it wasn’t the weirdest thing to happen, and certainly not the worst.

Getting back to work was hard, and it was made all the more difficult by the episodes but he was glad to be back. Glad to help the world in both ways he could, so as soon as possible he was back in the WMA offices, to a cluttered desk covered in well-wishes from previous clients that beat their odds, the few families he kept in contact with and his co-workers.

Vanessa however, the wonderful woman that she was merely smiled in greeting and handed him a file. Getting back to normal was something Barry needed more than flowers and cards so he welcomed the challenge of finding the meta-human called ‘Weather Wizard’, it had taken Barry some time to research all the new figures taking over Central City. He’d spent the majority of his remaining time on leave going through case records, chatting with members of the Meta-human Taskforce at the CCPD and reading through the newsreels at Iris’ new job. So he vaguely knew who Weather Wizard was, a man named Mark Mardon, a thief who had lost his brother not long after the accelerator went off. They’d both gained powers but after issues with the law only Mark was left. Since his arrival on the meta-human scene he’d been in and out of skirmishes with Firestorm, and in and out of prison. Currently his status was ‘out’, having escaped Iron Heights a few week previously.

The kid Barry as helping was named Simon, he had a mutated gene inherited from his mum that had kept him bedridden for most of his short life, and had already killed his older brother. Simon probably wasn’t going to make it to be six years old, given that his brother hadn’t even made it to five.

After a quick visit and research trip to the Prison, greeting his dad with a smile and a couple of questions Barry was off. With no real leads over the whereabouts of Mardon he searched through twitter and facebook for sightings, looked at documented fights between he and Firestorm, checked in with Joe about where the guy hit up and known locations he’d visited recently. Eventually Barry narrowed it down to the local graveyard, where his brother had been buried, where mark visited weekly but always on a different day, and a bar called Saint and Sinners. Not exactly liking his odds at showing up in a bar well-populated by the toughest criminals in Central City Barry went to the graveyard. When he got there he realised he couldn’t do it. He couldn’t approach the man while he was so obviously in mourning so he didn’t, he walked in the other direction, towards his mother’s gravestone but then thought better of it, even after all this time he couldn’t face her.

The next day he went to work as usual, lined up for coffee and filled out case filed until his wrist hurt. After, instead of dropping past the WMA offices he made his way to Saints and Sinner with no small amount of nervous energy running through him. Dressed as we was in converse sneakers and a button-up top he didn’t quite fit into the rest of the patrons, looking around the grimy bar he saw several known criminals dotted around the room in t-shirts and jeans, a few men in suits following gruffer men and two distinct men sat on bar stools. One was wearing a parka while the other fit right in, broad shoulders and muscles big enough to scare a bodybuilder, but that didn’t matter as soon as Barry saw the person he came to meet. Mark Mardon was sitting tall by the bar, alone. No one seemed to mind nor notice him, leaving to himself and while there were no obvious signs of where he’d spent the previous day Barry could see the slight hunch in the man’s back, warding off others.

After standing in the doorway for a moment Barry took a deep breath and gathered his courage before crossing the room, past worn booths filled with men who would probably kill him with one hand, passed the pool table and the drunken men hosting prison tattoos, and past the two men talking quietly at the bar, Barry walked straight up to Weather Wizard and stopped just short on the taller man. Barry could feel the eyes of almost everyone in the room follow him but he ignored them, instead he opened his mouth and hoped his voice didn’t crack,

“Uh, Mr Mardon, sir?”

The man replied with an affirmative grunt before sighing. Barry stepped closer to the bar, peering slightly around the man to catch sight of his face.

“My name is Barry Allen, I'm from the Wish Making Association and I was wondering if you could spare some time to meet a little girl who’d like nothing more than to meet you.” Barry said simply, keeping his tone even. Mardon replied by swinging around to face Barry, his face was devoid of emotion but his eyes glinted with something,

“Look kid, whoever sent ya can fuck right off, I don’t have time for games.” Mardon said before making to turn back around. Barry remembered a similar reaction from Oliver, he had readied himself for such a statement, readied himself for a negative answer but he knew he couldn’t give up. He was suddenly filled with rage, over missing ten months of his life because of a stupid explosion that gave the man in front of him amazing powers, over the man’s casual rebuff of the poor kid who was dying and all he wanted was to meet a criminal who had lost his brother too. He thought of Simon’s face, so young and pale but lit up by his sparkling blue eyes as the kid told Barry about Mark Mardon who could control the weather, about how he and his brother were so close they had the same superpowers, and how all Simon had shared with his brother was what was killing him. How maybe, when he saw his brother again they could have superpowers this time. So now Barry was mad, and he knew he was going to do something stupid because of it.
Sure enough, when Barry’s hand reached out to grab Mardon’s shoulder to halt his turn, when his had pulled the other man to look at him again Barry knew he was screwed. When Mardon completed his return and now stood up to glare menacingly down at Barry he knew he was probably dead meat, but that didn’t top him from talking.

“How dare you.” Barry spat through gritted teeth, positively seething. “What kind of monster is not only willing to break the heart of a dying little kid, but treats it like a joke, huh?” Mardons eyes widened but his ire didn’t seem to lesson so Barry kept going. “There’s a little boy named Simon who’s already lost his brother to the same thing that’s killing him and he looks up to you, because of the relationship between you and your brother, because instead of sharing a cause of death, you and your brother shared superpowers, which is the most amazing thing to a five year old.” Barry said, each word dripping with hate. Perhaps his message wasn’t the best phrased, especially with such a rude mention of Clyde, but that didn't take away from his meaning.

Instead of a reply Mardon grabbed his arm and turned him to face the door. With his other hand he grabbed Barry’s neck and forced him to walk forward, out the door. Barry could feel everyone’s eyes on him again and tried not to look around, tried to keep the fear of what he was sure would be a painful experience out of his face. He didn however make eye contact with the man in the parka as he stumbled out.

Outside he was pushed away from the bar to a nearby alley, there he was pushed against the wall and Mardon backed off slightly, Barry turned to face the other man, gathering his courage once again. Half prepared for a blow looked Mardon in the eyes and waited. Until the other man spoke in a quiet, nervous voice,

“You weren’t lying, there really is a kid who wants to meet me?” he asked, picking at his shirt sleeve. The image of Mark Mardon, feared criminal and meta-human, with his head down, picking at his clothes was one of the strangest things Barry had ever seen.

“Why would I lie to someone who could kill me.” Barry replied, confused and still full of adrenaline. Mardon laughed and looked up at Barry.

“Do you have a number or something, some paper I can write on? So I can call about the kid or whatever.” he trailed off. Barry ran his hands over his pockets before before Mardon’s hand grabbed his arm, his other hand holding a pen he’d retrieved from his pocket, “Wait no, here, call me on this and we can sort out the details.” after he wrote on Barry’s arm.

Barry kept looking at the hastily scribbled number like it would disappear as he walked home.

Chapter Text

He called.

Of course he did, he may have been terrified, but that moment was the one thing that could bring a smile to a little boy’s face so the next morning Barry woke up early and checked-in with the WMA for a private room at Simon’s hospital, where he can somehow sneak in a wanted criminal, then he called Simon’s mother with the good news.

There was one thing he didn’t take into account, and that was how unfazed hospital staff were. They treated bizarre injuries all day, dealt with patients who did illegal things, saw the aftermath of crime and fighting, so suddenly seeing a wanted felon sneaking through their waiting room beside the human incarnation of a puppy didn’t so much as prompt a blink out of half the staff. After Barry’s own visit to the hospital, plus his already golden reputation as a Wishmaker and volunteer, any curious staff member was willing to give him the benefit of the doubt and moved on with their days. Even the nurses on call in the kids ward only followed along to see which room they went into, their curiosity satisfied after figuring out why Simon suddenly needed a private visiting room.

However there was one person who did not take kindly to Mardon’s visit. Firestorm. The man arrived on scene in a burst of heat and light, smashing a glass revolving door in his haste. Looking around, the man’s glowing eyes narrowed in on Barry as he marched forward,

“You.”

“Me?” Barry squeaked. He’d only stepped out to allow some privacy and had been chatting with little Simon’s father and grandmother until the pair had headed over to the hospital cafe for a much needed respite. Barry himself was standing guard, as it were, by sitting on one of the uncomfortable hospital chairs directly across the hall from Simon’s visiting room door, but when the superhero arrived Barry leapt from his seat and stepped down the hall slightly.

The hero’s eye narrowed in on the door behind Barry, thankfully an unused visiting room down the hallway from Simon’s and the man marched forward, intent of breaking through, obviously believing Barry was blocking his way.

“How can you do this? Protecting the man who intends to do harm to everyone here, who had probably hurt someone already!” Firestorm cried. Barry however was all of a sudden filled with rage similar to the incident which convinced Mardon to make the visit in the first place and almost missed what Firestorm said next. “You’re a cop! You should be upholding the law, not harboring a fugitive in a hospital, what kind of a person volunteers to help sick children only to put them in danger like this?”

“First of all step back sir, secondly, think what you will of me as a person but do not insult everything i’ve worked so hard for.” Barry ground out. “I am a volunteer, i have worked with the Wish Making Association for years and i have never, ever put a child in any sort of danger. What if happening in that room is that a young boy, who is dying, who had already lost his best friend to the same disease that is killing him, is getting his deepest wish fulfilled. He is meeting his hero, the man who has suffered as he has, who remains strong in the face of defeat, even after losing his own brother and that man-” Barry paused, noticing the handle of Simon’s door move, before letting out a sharp yelp when all of a sudden Firestorm’s arm was pressed firmly into his neck as the man slowly backed him into the wall. The curtains of either side of the visiting room door twitched to reveal the scared face of Simon and the open, shocked face of Mardon. Barry shook his head slightly to signal the pair to stay where they were, Mardon nodded in reply.

Firestorm’s breath heaved with suppressed anger and his arm trembled against Barry’s throat, “How dare you even defend him, you hypocrite. You shouldn’t even be allowed near decent human beings if you’re throwing your lot in with them.” He spit the last word with distaste.

Suddenly Firestorm became familiar in Barry’s eyes, he was Ronnie, Doctor Caitlin’s husband, the man who had suffered so much at the hands of the Particle accelerator explosion. Barry had met him once or twice when he visited Caitlin at work and could barely recognise that cheerful, hopeful man from the spiteful one standing before him, with his arm choking Barry against a wall. Before the connection really settled Barry was talking once again,

“Do whatever you want to me hero” Barry spit in return, “but just remember that while Mardon is helping a little boy you, the savior of Central City have me pressed against a wall, choking me, and i will always remember this situation.” Barry replied, Firestorm’s arm pressed further into him in return.

“Just tell me where he is.” Ronnie said, not sounding desperate. “I don’t want to hurt you Mr. Allen.”

Barry snorted at the man’s use of his last name, “You know, after the explosion that gave you powers, though i’m sure they’re such a burden, i fell into a coma. Everything i had in life i lost, i was asleep for ten months. I had to learn almost a year's worth of events, had to reconnect with everyone i know. I promised myself not long after i woke up that i would focus on the good in people, and that’s what i see in Mardon. The good.” Barry finished, looking Ronnie directly in the eyes. Ronnie sighed and stepped back,

“I’m sorry.” He said, and left.

Immediately the wing came to life, two nurses who had been hiding under a desk during the proceedings ran to Barry who had immediately sunk to the ground, gasping for air. One pressed a hand to check his pulse while the other paused to squeeze his shoulder reassuringly and then run to fetch him a cold press. Down the hall, Mardon opened the door and Simon ran out to Barry, happily chatting about how much of a hero Barry was, and how cool it was that he hid them away. Mardon stayed back, eyeing Barry curiously. He stayed like that until leaving when he pressed a slip of paper into Barry’s hand. It was another phone number.

“That’s my real number” he said, “for if a kid, or you, ever need help. Got it?”

Chapter Text

As it turned out Mardon called first. Barry was at work a few days later, throat still bruised and vocal cords shaky so the rasping sound he made in answer to his ringing phone probably wasn’t the best impression to make on the hardened criminal.

“Allen is that you? Fuck. That asshole really his a number on you.” the comradery in the man’s voice startled Barry more that the fact he was calling. Instead of speaking he just made a wheezing sound that was half apology, half question, then broke into a coughing fit. Barry was grateful he had a whole lab to himself, it was hard enough keeping up the charade of having a fully functioning voice when arriving to work of a morning, let alone chatting with a coworker.

After a few moments Barry mumbled out a shaky “yeah, um, did you need something?” aimed at the other man who seemed to hesitate before replying,

“Uh yeah, well it was more to warn you. After the fiasco at the bar a few of the patrons wanted to have a chat with you, i had to sort of claim you under my protection. Nothing should come of it, not for you at least, it’s just that you have to be cautious who you’re seen around. Or some guys might think you’re betraying me.” he trailed off and Barry had the distinct impression the man was picking at his clothes again nervously. The image was too absurd but failed to distract him from the ire that was slowly taking over his body.

With little access to a strong enough voice to confess his frustrations Barry heaved a deep sigh and made an affirmative noise before hanging up, on the criminal, who had just protected him from other, apparently scary criminals. But Barry didn’t dwell on that, nor on how strange his life had become where he could be frustrated with a criminal or doing something nice for him.

His frustration didn’t wane until he arrived at his second job and found a large slice of chocolate cheesecake in a cooler bag on his desk with a note thanking him for “sorting out Mardon” but he felt it edging back when, under the cake, he found another file.

Cynthia Mccall was dying of complications after a car crash that left her paralysed. Since the accident she had been suffering from severe seizures caused by her not being able to move her legs, a blood clot had formed while the muscle in her legs started to deteriorate. It was an excruciating way to die. Barry knew without even reading the request that he would grant it no matter what it was.

What it was though, was Peek-a-boo, in all her glory, to take little Cynthia on a trip. After being stuck in a bed or a wheelchair for so long, all the girl wanted was to move, in the strangest, most amazing was possible. Just once before she died she wanted to do something only heroes and villains could. A simple request, but one Barry had to hang his head at. To start with h decided to approach Mardon again, he seemed trustworthy enough with matters involving the kids, Barry didn’t want to have to deal with a phone call again so he went to the bar. The only place he knew Mardon might go. So he sent a quick text asking if Mark knew Miss Baez, or could convince her to help and hoped he would see it. As luck would have it Mardon wasn’t there but Shawna Baez was. Barry walked into the room quietly and made eye contact with the bartender who nodded slowly, with a man sat in a back corner who looked away quickly and then Barry walked over to the young woman. Before he could talk himself out of it he was standing beside her chair and looking down at her face, which was scrunched up with distaste,

“Do i know you?” she asked.

“No but i know him.” Replied Mardon, no standing at the door. Shana smirked over at him and tilted her head to the side, curiously swinger her eyes back to Barry.

“Oh?”

“Come.” Mardon said as he turned out the door. Neither Barry or Shawna knew who he was talking to but both followed. Once they got outside Mardon stopped and looked solemnly at Barry,

“is it another kid?” he asked. Barry nodded.

“Alright Shawna!” Mardon smiled with fake cheer, “How do you like kids?” he asked.

“Cute to look at but i avoid them as much as i physically can. Sometimes nurses have to interact with the little germ factories though.” Mardon’s eye widened at the professional term and he smiled at Barry, raising an eyebrow to indicate a good idea. Barry caught on, just.

“You’re a nurse?” he cried out.

“Well we all need a day job sweetcheeks. What do you do, escort?” the woman shot back, Barry started and looked hurt.

“Now now Shawna, let me explain, this fine upstanding member of society is a volunteer with the Wishmaker's Association. I’m sure you’ve heard of it.” Mardon injected. Making a weeping gesture at Barry he nodded for Barry to continue.

“Yeah and um, you’ve been requested for a meet and greet.” He squeaked out.

Shawna looked at the two in confusion. Flabbergasted.

“Me?” she whispered, looking stunned. Mardon grinned and slapped her on the back.

“I know, who would’ve known!” he said.

Cynthia’s meeting went much better than Mardon’s, at least for Barry’s health. With Shawna’s status as a nurse she was able to sneak in unnoticed and changed out of her scrubs before meeting the girl. No flaming superheroes arrived and no medical emergencies happened over their visit.

All in all it was a success.

After the second ‘Villain wrangling’ as the office dubbed it, everyone started to push the weird and the annoying files at Barry to the point where he declared that he would only take the cases outside his own that actually had something to do with the previous two. It was no surprise when a little girl who had severe third degree burns asked to meet her hero, and Barry was handed the file.

Only the little girl didn’t want to meet Firestorm, the man who could turn into a flame on not get burnt. The little girl wanted to meet Heatwave, the heavily scarred arsonist criminal who has learnt to face his demons, the flames that horrified him in his childhood, and learnt to control them, to see their beauty. This little girl didn’t want to be like Firestorm, untouched by the pain, she wanted to find peace, and possibly beauty through the eyes of someone who could empathize with her. Someone who had faced a similar situation once upon a time.

 

….

 

So Barry set out. Only this time Mardon couldn’t help him,

“Sorry kid, he runs with Cold’s crowd and he and I don't always see eye to eye.”

Well shit.

Chapter Text

It’s okay, he could do this. He just had to find a way to reach the man without being set on fire or frozen and preferably without another run-in with Firestorm. Easy.

He decided to go to bed.

….

The next morning he woke up in a cold sweat. Literally. His apartment was frosted over and he could see his breath. After a moment his panicked gaze settled on a figure sitting in a chair by the wall, Captain Cold was here.

“I hear you’re looking for my people.” the man spoke clearly and almost without emotion but a touch of amusement shone through as he caught Barry’s eye.
Barry took a deep breath and summoned all his courage, a corner of his brain taking note of the fact that he’s already calmed down and wasn’t nearly as surprised to find a hardened criminal had frozen his apartment and was sitting in front of him in the middle of the night.

“Yeah.” was all he managed to say before all hell broke loose.

A crash broke the quiet of the room as Barry’s window shattered into frost covered pieces, following the break a body tumbled through and rolled across the ground, coming to rest between Barry and Cold. Another crash sounded as his front door was broken open and three men ran into the room. Barry took all this in and responded only by flinching away from the four guns suddenly aimed at Cold.

Cold, similarly didn’t react, only turned to face the first person and said,

“Not one for subtle are you?”

That startled a laugh out of Barry that had Cold’s eyes flashing curiously over to him, with a raised eyebrow. Then the first man turned around to reveal Mardon. Standing in Barry’s apartment, with a gun, and three other men.

And the man had the audacity to look sheepish about it. He gestured to the broken window in a helpless sort of way and shrugged. Barry turned to the three other men who had run in through the door who each shifted nervously. All eyes were on Barry who took all this in with befuddled grace and silently got out of bed to walk into his kitchen. He said nothing for a moment, still in shock, before calling out over his shoulder,

“Anyone for coffee?”

Cold smiled smugly and was the first to reply, “tea for me.”

….

Three round of coffee later the others were excused which left only Mardon, Cold and Barry in the freezing aparment. Barry had taken a moment to change into warmer clothes and Mardon finally broke the subject.

“So you weren’t about to get murdered for putting you’re pesky nose into Cold’s business?” he asked Barry who made to speak but was cut-off,

“Of course not, i hadn’t even gotten to threatning him before you showed up.”

“But you were here for at least an hour before i got there! I though i would be too late!” Mardon exclaimed.
Barry took a moment to be sheepish. “I’m a bit of a heavy sleeper since the coma. It must’ve taken me awhile to wake up” he offered.

“Don’t make excuses for the criminal mastermind who broke into your place.” Mardon turned to Barry.

“Well if you put it like that-” Barry started,

“You’d be the one in trouble, I didn’t break anything. I merely picked the lock, you broke his window a door.”

Barry allowed the two grown-men who were also criminal masterminds, to bicker about who was in the wrong for a moment before breaking in.

“Sorry guys, not to bother you or anything but it is 3 in the morning and i do have work tomorrow. What is going on and how can i make it all go faster so i can figure out how to fix my apartment and go back to sleep?” his voice was drowsy and low and both men turned to him, suddenly remembering their manners.

“Of course” said Cold.

“Sure” said Mardon.

“Okay let me lead this then. You,” Barry said pointing at Cold “broke into my house to threaten me about trying to contact you, and you” he pointed to Mardon “literally broke my house to save me. Correct?” they both nodded. “Okay, now do you know why i was trying to get your attention?” he asked Cold.

“You’re a cop, trying to do a shitty undercover op?” the man replied. “Or do you have a death wish?”

Barry rolled his eyes, “You and i both know you did better research into me than that. You know i’m a CSI, you probably also know about the Wishmakers?” Cold nodded. “Good. I need Mick Rory to meet a kid with severe burns.”

Cold’s eyes glowed with curiosity.

“I had heard a rumor of something similar happening” he said slowly with a pointed look to Mardon, who shifted in his seat to puff out his chest.

“Of course, i may be a criminal but i won’t turn down a fan.” the man said.

“I think i can help you then. I won’t promise Mick will do it, and i also can’t promise he won’t kill you for asking him but I’ll organise a meeting between you two.” Cold said.

Chapter Text

The morning dawned bright and early as Barry woke up, today was the day Barry would find out how much sway Captain Cold had on Heatwave, or at least he found out how truthful the man had been.

The meeting would take place at Saints and Sinners, because nowhere but the seediest bar filled with the worst criminals in town could better fit a meeting that would decide whether a kid in immense pain could meet his hero, apparently.

That was fine, Saints and Sinners was where this all started, and if Barry died tonight at least it meant he died doing something to help someone who really needed it, although after working with the people he did and seeing how, even the seemingly most unfeeling villain’s eye lit up when he told him about a hopeful little kid who needed a kind word of reassurance that no one could give other than them, or the soft smile that graced their lips as they said goodbye, often tucking the kid back in bed after they’d tired themselves out.

He hoped Mick would be like that. Janie deserved someone who could help them, and after little digging Barry knew that maybe Mick needed that too. The two hap a similar story, kids who grew up in a bad neighborhood, most people working minimum wage to barely have enough no matter what they did, striving to give their kids the best they could, but the dad enjoyed the bottle too much, claimed he was from a different time to excuse the abuse he forced onto his family and ran away the first chance he could, only to return looking for money.

Mick had lost his family in an accidental fire started by himself, Janie lost hers in a fire her father started, when the man had found out Janie’s mother had a new boyfriend who treated them all right. Who helped her with her homework and cooked dinner when her mother had to work late, and made her peanut butter sandwiches for school and read her to sleep. Now they were gone and over half of her body has severely burnt.

Barry could see that history was repeating itself right before him and hoped Mick took this as a chance to support her in a way he had been denied. So he headed out at twelve to meet two of the most wanted criminals in the city, passing the broken window that had been hastily taped over with a trash bag until he could afford to fix it, grabbing an apple to tide him over until he could scrounge something up from the breakroom at work. Hopping on the bus he found an abandoned local paper and skimmed the headlines, eager for to see what kind of stories were being written on his new friends? Colleagues? Allies? were they being painted in a hopeful light with a story about visits to the hospital, or was the focus on their most recent heists? There on the front page,

Firestorm Seeks Help to Find Man Responsible for Recent Spur of Criminal Do-Gooders, Wonders Why Man Stays in Shadows

So they were back to going after him. Over the past few months, since the incident with the Firestorm at least, word had spread about his efforts. People knew explicable that someone was out there, someone was in contact with the criminal underground. They knew he had some sway over them somehow, convincing them to go out in the open, to visit sick kids and take the day off from crime. Theories spread about him being a master manipulator, a meta with a conscience, that he somehow had an evil reason for this. They called for him to turn himself in, as if his actions were criminal, demanded that he tell the police where everyone was hiding, how to get in contact with them, to set a trap so the police could lock them up forever. The thought had passed his mind but ultimately he knew that he couldn’t, the children needed role models, even if they weren’t setting the best example. And every time someone died and an innocent was hurt Barry reevaluated his decision.

The bus slowed to a stop at an intersection and Barry realised he was nearly at his stop and reached for the button only to be hit by a dizzy spell. It faded as quickly as it came and he pushed it from his mind, getting up and walking off the bus he set off for the bar.

When he reached the door he saw the bulking mass of Heatwave standing next to the calmer, figure of Captain Cold, standing in the alley next to the bar. When they saw him they walked in, not waiting for him to catch up.

Only he felt dizzy again just metres from the door. The world around him blurred and he stumbled, suddenly feeling ravenous and feint both at once. Reaching the door he fell, pushing it open and landed just inside, staying conscious long enough to notice a few familiar faces ditch their pool games and greasy fries to run over, worry etched on every face, even the two standing the farthest off, watching.

Then everything went black.

When he woke up he was in the back room. Shawna had set it up as a makeshift nurse’s station months back, teaching a few of the lower-level stragglers and the younger unfortunates that had made their way into a life of crime, basic first aid. She often patched up after bar fights and heists gone wrong from her little office, with a beer in one hand and a needle in the other. She was there with him too, at him side as soon as he opened his eyes, from the open door he could see a handful of faces watching warily, most already armed and ready to attack whoever had hurt Barry.

Most curiously, Mick and Cold were among them though they were tucked away in the back corner of the room, out of Shawna’s way. She didn’t often let others in when she was playing doctor so Cold must’ve put up a real fight to stay.

“Hey babyface, welcome back” she said.

“What happened?”

“You were a bit thirsty” she replied indicating to the pile of empty IV packets on the floor, over ten were stacked on top of eachother.

“You wanna tell us what happened” someone yelled from the doorway.

“I don’t know, i just felt really dizzy” he said and Shawna smiled.

“I can’t find anything introduced into your system, so drugs or powers have been used on you as far as i can tell, but you were severely dehydrated, not to mention your blood sugar levels. You should be dead several times over kiddo”

“So what does that mean?”

“I think you’re accident bumped a few things out of place”

“So im a meta?”

“Must be, just no cool powers. Now when was the last time you ate?”

“This morning?” he said though it came out like a question.

“A full meal” she said, a slight edge to her voice.

“Uhhh…” she slapped him upside the head.

“That means its been at least three days! Barry i know this is volunteer work but you work for the police, don’t they pay you?” She shook her head and Barry pretended not to see the genuine concern in her eyes.

“Well yes, but i have rent and student loans to pay too. Don’t really have parents to help out…” He trailed off not used to sharing the mucky details of his life. Barry decided now was a good time for a change of conversation, he turned to the door and yelled out,

“You can all lay down your arms, at least for now. Nothing sinister got me, or well, nothing you can get at.” He smiled warmly, noticing the way some shuffled their feet or pretended they weren’t worried. It struck him once again how strange it was to feel comfortable in the presence of criminals and supervillains and that he was fond of them. That they seemed to feel the same way only made him feel better. Even if their hands weren’t the cleanest these guys had their moments.

“Now that pretty-boy over here has woken from his nap, can we have the room? There’s a conversation that was due to take place two hours ago.” Cold’s voice was quiet but held such authority, no one questioned him or made comments, even Shawna didn’t pick up a fight about being banished from her little med-bay, she did however square-up against Cold before she left and told him not to wear Barry out, the man in question blushed lightly both in embarrassment over the mother-henning and due to the heated look Cold sent his way as he assured Shawna he would be a perfect gentleman. Fondness overtook his embarrassment as he called out after Shawna,

“Thanks mum!” and she rolled her eyes and smiled over he shoulder in return.

Turning back to the matter at hand Barry drew him up to sit comfortable on the gurney before and tried to make himself look as open and honest as possible, reaching out a hand at the hulking mass of a man glowering from behind Cold he introduced himself,

“Hello Mr. Rory i’m Barry Allen.” he said it as cheerfully as possible when faced with the duel glares sent in his direction. Clearing his throat to alleviate some of the awkwardness Barry decided to carry on,

“I represent the Wish Making Association and on behalf of a little girl named Janie i would like to invite you to high tea at the children’s ward of Central City Memorial.” Throughout Barry’s spiel he noticed a growing look of amusement on Colds face as Rory started to shuffle his feet and duck his head, when Barry finished he waited and watched, expecting the man to laugh and then attack him, what he didn’t expect was the quiet answer.

“Yeah, sure. Whatever.” Rory’s low voice murmured, shy in the face of kindness. “If that’s what she wants i would be honored” He look flattered but confused but entirely sincere.

Barry found himself reacting in kind, but felt his heart warm. In response to Rory’s uncomfortable show of emotions Cold seemed to step up on his behalf to talk shop and discuss details. He insisted he came along to the meeting, not to get in the way but simply to act as a guard in the hospital.

“Mick’s not one for subtle, i know you have some swing with the nurses and staff looking the other direction when you dress a Big Bad up in scrubs and sneak ‘em in but that won't work for the big guy, and i want this to go off without a hitch. This may be the dumbest shit i’ve ever heard but it that little girl’s one wish is to meet Mick, and that’s what he wants to do won’t let anything meets up.” The look he served Barry told him how serious he was, especially if the one messing up was Barry. Fair enough i suppose, go big or go home he thought.

“Alright then.” Barry swallowed his fear and took the plunge. Shaking Cold’s hand he started planning what they would do when a whooping cheer sprung up from the hallway. Barry could make out Shawna and Mardon’s voices at least. Cold threw a glare in their direction and though they couldn’t see it they all froze.

“Welcome to the fold dude.” said Mardon happily before the sound of steps finally wandering away were heard.

“Let’s go make a plan shall we?” Said Cold, ushering Barry and Mick out to the bar.