By Day & By Night
‘I hate that guy!’ Barry grumbles when he meets Joe in the hallway at the precinct. ‘Seriously, it’s been months since Julian found out about you,’ his foster father says, ‘How are you still not getting along?’
‘Yeah well, our personalities are just not compatible. I can’t believe he still gripes about me missing work even though he knows exactly what I’m doing.’
‘It’s because I have a great sense of responsibility, Allen. Unlike you.’ Of course Julian has been standing around the corner all along. ‘That’s bullshit,’ Barry snaps at his long-suffering colleague, who scoffs and marches off, back to their lab. Barry heaves a sigh and heads out to buy lunch.
Barry and Julian spend the afternoon being even bitchier than usual. At seven sharp Barry leaves work after exchanging a terse ‘Goodnight’. A phone alert sends him over to S.T.A.R. labs for an hour or so before he can go home. There’s a soft light on throughout his apartment. ‘Late again, Mr Allen.’
Barry smiles, walking into the kitchen and kissing Julian’s mouth. ‘Hi,’ Julian breathes, pressing his forehead to Barry’s. He’s changed into jeans and a t-shirt and the soft look on his face is greatly at odds with the way he usually looks at Barry when they’re in company. ‘I missed you,’ Barry says, kissing Julian again. ‘We were together all day,’ Julian points out. ‘You know what I mean, I miss us being real with each other.’ Julian smiles and nods.
When they first got together just after Christmas, they made a deal to be absolutely professional at work. The easiest way to do that is to keep up the front that they hate each other’s guts. It makes it easier to resist the temptation to reach out and just touch.
‘You know what day it is today?’ Julian asks. ‘Tuesday.’
‘No, love. I mean it’s our six month anniversary tomorrow.’
‘Oh, don’t worry,’ Barry winks, ‘I haven’t forgotten to get you a gift.’
Julian laughs, touched by Barry’s kindness. ‘That’s great. Remember the second part of our deal though?’
Barry does. They agreed to give their relationship a shot for six months. If it worked out, they’d tell their friends and family after that period. Julian studies Barry, his eyes serious. ‘I came out to my family long ago and it wasn’t fun. The point is I don’t really have anyone to tell. It’s you who’s got to do it.’ Barry nods. ‘I know. I’ll tell Joe and Iris first. It feels weird, you’ve been my secret for so long.’ Julian knows Barry never planned to come out, that he considers his lifelong preference for women a fortunate situation.
It’s a miracle they never got caught, considering how often Julian is over at Barry’s place. He did have to speed Julian home a couple of times when unexpected visitors showed up. Not talking about it with even his best friends was probably the hardest part, especially the first few months when he just wanted to gush about Julian all the time.
Barry gathers Joe and Iris together in the West family room. He knows they can tell that he’s nervous and by this point he just wants to get it over with. He glances down at his phone and finds an encouraging text from Julian. I love you. No matter what. He’s gonna choke up. OK Barry, keep it together. Iris looks very worried. ‘What’s wrong, Barry?’ He rubs the back of his neck once more for good measure. ‘Look, the thing is. Julian and I – we – we’re. Together. We’re together. Like a couple.’ The room goes very silent for a long moment.
‘Is that all?’ Iris says finally, and her simple acceptance makes him feel hopeful. Joe’s still staring at him, then says, ‘Since when are you gay?’
‘Dad!’ Iris admonishes.
‘I’m just saying, last I knew he was in love with you since forever.’
‘I’m not gay,’ Barry says, ‘I’m bi. I’ve never had a relationship with a guy before. Never planned to. But Julian just sort of happened.’
‘Right. Well. That’s definitely a surprise.’ It’s too soon to tell whether this is a positive or a negative reaction. Iris throws him an encouraging look. He hopes it’s a good sign that Joe starts up a conversation about work soon after that.
Julian’s arms are around him as soon as Barry steps into his flat later that evening. ‘How did it go?’ Barry shrugs. ‘Iris is cool. Joe’s undecided. It could’ve been worse.’
‘Well, that’s good, right? That’s good. Now we can celebrate in style,’ Julian says, leading him into the dining room. ‘I’ve cooked.’ Barry’s eyes widen when he takes in the romantic atmosphere Julian has created.
‘Oh! Jules, the place looks great. Are those fairy lights?’
‘Well, yeah, since we got together at Christmas...’ Barry gives Julian a quick kiss. ‘I love it.’
They sit down to eat and Julian proposes a toast. ‘To my brave boyfriend.’
Barry grins. ‘Two down, one team Flash to go.’
‘I’m so proud of you.’
As long as he has Julian to come home to, Barry’s going to be just fine.