Since the dawn of mankind there have been soulmates, those that complete you, that make you strive to be a better person, those that understand you in ways no one else could. It was both a blessing and a curse, these soulmates, with lives being both saved and condemned by the bond.
Legends were passed down from generation to generation serving as warnings and inspirations, epic tales of love and war; for it was not her beauty that drew Paris to Helen, nor lust that led him to whisk her away, cursing Troy to it's doom, but it was instead a promise by Aphrodite, goddess of love and beauty to reveal his destined soulmate. And this promise, the knowledge that his soulmate was alive, that she was so tantalisingly close, it was this which led to the destruction of a civilisation.
For it was rare that soulmates should ever meet, with the passage of time being a triviality to the gods above, the timings of the birth was off by mere minutes to many millennia. It wasn't impossible to find love without one's soulmate and - while being incredibly rare- the relationship were never fated to be romantic in nature. Billions of people spent their lives without their fated other half and they survived, they lived.
Yet the longing to find one's soulmate never waned with time.
So, after centuries of seeing the humans below struggle to connect with the other, seeing the agony that the searches had taken upon their weary souls, the gods took pity on their fragile lives and gave them a sign. A mark. For when soulmate's would touch for the first time, a shock would travel through their bodies and reach the heart, leaving a tattoo above it, leaving a matching one with the soulmate.
It was a mark unique to only them. It was a mark for only them.
But it was up to them to act upon the knowledge it provided.
When Barry Allen received the shock, when he was branded with the tattoo that marked him as a soulmate, the one thing he looked forward to his entire life- bar finding his mother's true killer- he did not react in any way.
He was, after all, in a coma.
(Doctor Caitlin Snow however, she had a panic attack that rivalled all others. Because she did feel the spark, she felt it branding her skin, she saw the lightning bolt that was above his heart and knew she had the same above her own. So she freaked out. She had suffered the lost her fiancé but a day ago and she was not ready to have a soulmate. Especially one in a coma.
However this was the hand the fates had dealt her.
(She was pretty sure they hated her.)
But then she met Iris West. Beautiful, sexy, sociable Iris West. Who cared a lot for this man in the coma, for her soulmate.
And Felicity Smoak, adorable, smart, remarkable. And one who travelled all the way from Starling City to be by his side.
It was then she knew the fates hated her.)
For a man who could run at impossible speeds, Barry certainly took his time noticing the mark above his chest, the bright red lightning bolt above his heart.
In his defense, his life had become a whirlwind ever since he had awoken from his coma, with this beautiful, strange woman prodding him, wanting to do tests on him, claiming that his cells were regenerating at an impossible rate. But he didn't focus on that; he didn't see the relief that flooded her eyes as she saw him awaken, nor did he notice the way she struggled (and failed) to keep her hands off him, the temptation to feel his beating heart underneath her fingers, to have the vibrations of his voice pulsing from his and through her soul, irresistible.
"I need to see Iris." And in a flash he was gone, out of STAR Labs and quite possibly their lives.
Leaving a heartbroken soulmate behind.
It wasn't until he arrived home that night and looked at all the effects the lightning strike seemed to have on him that he noticed the tattoo. Staggering slightly, he watched it carefully, wary of it's existence he expected it to be a trick of his mind, to disappear after he blinked. And he did that, numerous times. He rubbed it, washed it, cursing whoever thought it was be amusing to play such a callous joke on him.
But the mark remained.
"CISCO! CAITLIN!" His voice echoed through the halls of STAR Labs and her spirits were lifted hearing him voice wrap around the syllables of her name.
"What's up man? I didn't expect to see you here today." The wiggling of Cisco's eyebrows indicated exactly what he thought would be going on and the feeling of absolute horror and sickness washed over Caitlin at the very thought. And she hated it. She was a geneticist for god's sake, there should be a biological reason for the the way her heart stuttered at his voice, for the illogical responses to a man she barely knew - some biochemical reaction taking place in her body. (But what? Triggered by his voice? By his presence?)
"When did I get this?" And as if it weren't bad enough, he stripped off his shirt and pointed to the soulmate mark.
(Which was only bad because it was so very good.)
"I think that was always there bro." Caitlin was so thankful for Cisco's presence because her mouth was dry and the ability to speak had yet to return.
"No, it wasn't." His voice was strong and determined, and she had the feeling she would have to reveal her identity before she was ready.
"But I assumed - I mean you and Iris - " Cisco spoke in fractured sentences, his mind working too fast for his mouth to keep up. "You must have met them during your coma, which would explain why you didn't realise you got it or feel the spark and why we thought it was Iris." Caitlin had opened up her mouth, to tell him that she was here, that she was his soulmate, that he was cursed with her, but nothing came out. She remained on the sidelines mute, unable to tell him the truth.
"What are we going to do?" Barry spoke and Caitlin could hear the hope in his voice, the optimism that his soulmate would be found. And she couldn't tell him. She couldn't be responsible for seeing the light dim with the knowledge that it was her - this jaded, broken woman who was too fragile to restore. She couldn't condemn him to a life with her; most people never met their soulmates and they were able to live fulfilled, satisfied lives - he didn't need her, he didn't need to know it was her, and in that moment she decided one thing.
He never would.
"Oooh. this is good, this is really good. All we would need to do is create an algorithm which would calculate the number of people that you would have come into contact with, cross reference them with lists provided under employment and CCPD records to see if they have any soulmates and boom! A list of viable candidates for whoever your soulmate is." Cisco had a new project, exciting him as they only could.
"Cisco, be logical here." The man hardly seemed put out as she chided him for his behaviour, his mind already going through how they would be able to calculate the list required. Knowing she would have no hope trying to convince Cisco she turned to the man who was at the centre of it all. "Barry, you were in contact with countless people, the ambulance with collected you, nurses, doctors, friends, strangers visiting their relatives and friends. The chances of finding your soulmate are a million to one." She paused, her shoulders slumping, her mind weary with the truth. "And maybe they don't want to be found, maybe they believe that they don't deserve a soulmate and that you're better with someone else." She stumbled over the words, eyes avoiding his, afraid that he would be able to see the truth lurking in their depths.
"Hey," Barry was beside her instantly, sensing that there was something wrong with the doctor, the need to comfort her gnawing away inside. She stiffened as he approached, and she did intend to move on to another subject, but then he opened his mouth and all thoughts that weren't revolving around him vanished, especially when he put his hand on her shoulders, drawing himself closer to her. "They're my soulmate, I can't give up on them, especially if they've already given up on themselves." When her eyes finally met his her breath hitched as she saw their intensity, and she couldn't help but think that he knew.
His phone rang, interrupting the moment (was it a moment, could she call it that?) and judging from the way his entire being lit up at the caller, she knew who it was.
He walked away immediately, answering her call with a smile on his face and returning from it with one more larger.
'You don't need to worry guys, I think I know who it is."
"Really, sweet, who is it dude?" Cisco and his overzealous enthusiasm could do nothing for Caitlin as she felt the sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. He did know. Oh gods, what would she do? How would she explain herself and... why was he smiling?
"It's Iris." She felt her heart constrict and she cursed whatever was making her feel like this, because she shouldn't. She barely knew the man, only had a handful of interactions with him in a mutual awakened state, he shouldn't care.
(She did anyway.)
"How could you possibly know that?"
"She just rang and told me that she met her soulmate during my coma, and get this - she says she needs to see me in person to talk about it."
"But that doesn't make any sense. You've known each other your entire life, wouldn't the mark have turned up before?" She tried to seem clinical and separated from the discussion, praying that the heartache that was didn't make it through her voice.
Her soulmate was in love with another.
He had chosen another.
And screw logic and reason, because that knowledge hurt like hell.
"Maybe it's my superpowers." He walked up to her, arms clasping her shoulders again. "I wasn't completely me before, but now I have them I can be the best version of myself there is. And maybe that person is her soulmate." The hands on her shoulder were having some strange, undoctored chemical reaction with her mind, causing an extreme focus on the heat that was seeping through her clothing and warming the icy barriers guarding her heart, on his soothing baritone, on him, and nothing else. Especially the way he looked at her with such hope and optimism and she couldn't break him like that.
"Sure, maybe." His smile was blinding at her encouragement and she could see him feel lighter with it. Her lips flickered upwards, but she didn't have the strength to form a smile, let alone maintain one, so she just watched blankly as she sped away from her to another.
Hurt. Like. Hell.
He walked towards Jitters, hopeful of his future, one with Iris as his soulmate, with the powers that he had developed due to the lightning strike.
But then he saw them.
And he saw his dreams shatter before his very eyes.
She glanced over in his direction, her eyes catching his, the smile that was lighting up her face dropping at the sight of him. Slowly dragging herself from Eddie, muttering a few words of apology, she approached him hesitantly, unsure what to expect from her best friend.
"So I guess you found out, huh?"
"Eddie? He's your soulmate?" He didn't try to hide his shock, he wasn't sure he could. Because it was Iris. And Eddie. His mind could not compute the two as soulmates, as people designed by the gods to belong to the other.
"Look, you can't tell Dad Barry." He snorted at her response, because of course that's why she felt the need to tell him. But the look on her face, the fear - not that he would reveal her secret, but of his reaction to her soulmate - reminded him of one of the multitude of reasons why they were so close - they told each other everything.
"How did this even happen?" A small smile graced her expression and it made her look that much more beautiful. He hated it. Because he was never able to elicit that smile from her, and now he knew he never would. Soulmate or not, Iris West loved Eddie Thawne and he had lost his chance before he realised it was slipping away.
"After you went into the coma, Eddie took a lot of shifts so that dad could be in the hospital with you." He saw the sadness surround her as she relived the pain of the event, and although he hated the man for taking Iris away from him before he could ever have her - he owed Eddie a world of gratitude for being there when he couldn't. "I took him for coffee as a form of thanks and, well, as I went to hug him I - we - " He watched her flounder for words, everything unable to adequately express her emotions. "I thought I felt a connection with him, but the moment we touched - " Her smile said it all, and he couldn't help but feel happy for his best friend for finding the love he had been searching for his entire life.
"Okay, I get it. But your dad should know."
"No! Are you crazy? He'd kill us. Both of us." And he was 75% certain she was referring to Eddie and not himself. The other 25% was sure Joe would murder all three of them.
"Alright, I won't tell him." And they drifted off into meaningless chatter, laughing and joking, as though she didn't crush his heart in the span of five minutes, as though the question on the forefront of his mind for years didn't suddenly return with a force unrivalled by the past.
If Iris wasn't my soulmate, who is?
"It's not her." The urge to say 'I told you so' and confess weighed upon her in equal measures, but she couldn't. The questions it would raise, the unknown damage it may cause in their fragile friendship - she would keep her mouth shut and her secret guarded by the walls of her heart.
"Her soulmate is Eddie, Joe's partner. She wanted me to know before I accidentally stumbled upon it and told Joe." He rolled his eyes with his explanation, evidently not satisfied with it. "It's a secret." She internally winced at his words, her own secret weighing upon her mind.
"So... that means your soulmate is still out there." Cisco's voice shook her out of her own musings and she decided to join in the discussion being held.
"Yeah, they are." He sucked in a deep breath before continuing. "So I was wondering if you both would still help me find them?" Cisco immediately agreed, and while she was more hesitant, one look at his eyes, pleading for her help had her agreeing before she realised.
So, for months any time that was not dedicated to finding or helping metahumans was spent in search of his soulmate. They hacked hospital surveillance for images, read the records for addresses, visited any potential soulmates and pleaded his case.
And all this occurred with her standing not three feet away.
The moment he walked into his forensics lab at CCPD and saw Joe there, arms crossed and a stern look directed his way, he knew something was off. The urge to leave, to go back to STAR Labs was strong. It was safe, it was familiar and it did not have a large man leaning on his bench watching him with eyes that were both unsettling and analysing. He noticed the pile of evidence stacked upon his bench and knew what Joe had been doing before he entered. Latching onto this topic before Joe would inevitably give him a talk of some kind, the question blurted out of his mouth.
"So, how's the investigation going?" Joe huffed in response, not exactly satisfied with either the answer or the investigation.
"It's going Barry. The answers are definitely in there, we just have to look at it properly."
"And what about the other one? About finding my soulmate? Any distinguishing marks on any perps?" Barry ducked his head bashfully as the question slipped out without his permission.
"Well, I know who it's not." And Joe's voice said so much more than those few words.
"They told you, huh?" There was no question of who they were or what they would have told Joe.
"Took their sweet time about it too." The light comment was underpinned by the concern lurking within his eyes and Barry knew what was coming next. "You already knew how I would feel about it, how are you coping?"
"Is it that obvious?" Raking his fingers through his hair, he sat down at his chair, letting his exhaustion catch up with him.
"Not to Iris." The silent but it is to everyone else didn't need to be verbalised to be heard by the hero. He groaned at the thought of Eddie knowing, but what was more worrying than that was having his own soulmate realise. Shock cascaded down him as the thought finally settled in his mind, taking root in it and feeding his fears.
"Do you think that's why my soulmate's refusing to reveal herself to me? Because I was so in love with Iris that she felt rejected?"
"I think that's a conversation you would need to have with them Barry."
"Yeah," he huffed in annoyance, "If I could find them. I mean, how do I handle this Joe, I never knew her name, I never saw her face, I never had a chance." And he wanted that chance, oh gods, how he wanted it. He wanted to see her smile, make her laugh. He wanted her to be the first thing he saw in the morning and the last he saw at night, he wanted to be there when she needed someone, to have her when the rest of the world crumbled around them.
"Hey, when the universe wants to make something happen, whether it's giving a young man lightning speed or putting two people together, it has a way of figuring those things out." And Barry couldn't help but stumble backwards at that, because it was not Iris who he immediately thought of, nor an imaginary girl whom he instinctively knew would be his soulmate, but Caitlin. It was her face the was brought to mind, her laughter that caused the uncontrollable smile on his face.
Because if Oliver was right and he was chosen by the universe to have lightning speed, surely the fact that it would put Caitlin to the forefront of his life would have been factored into this. Because without the explosion he would never had known her, he would have never seen her smile, never been in her embrace, he never would have met her. And the feeling that knowledge brought upon him was agonising. Because he needed her concern when he was too far out of his depth in grief, he needed her honesty to pull him back on track, he needed her smile to brighten up his day.
He needed her.
"Uhh, thanks Joe." He needed to get out, to breathe, to run, because he had a strong suspicion that this thing he was forming for his personal physician would only be getting stronger. And he wasn't sure how he should feel about it.
(Though one thing was unequivocal; he was most certainly not against the thought of it.)
She would never have predicted Oliver Queen - the Oliver Queen - would have been the first person to guess her secret, but he was. In all honesty, she was slightly disappointed in all of them for not noticing it earlier, she was in no way subtle about her growing affections for the man or the hero.
"He doesn't know, does he?" She jumped at the voice behind her, the brooding vigilante appearing from nowhere, shaking her from her thoughts on her soulmate, distracting her from her watching of Barry and Felicity work on, well, whatever they were working on.
"What?" Her eyes flickered towards him, but he seemed just as captivated by the scene in front of them to cast her a cursory glance. And she liked it that way.
"Barry - he doesn't know you're his soulmate does he?" There was a wonder in his voice that she never expected to hear from the stoic man beside her, the same one who was clouded by mystery and secrets only whispered of in the dark of night.
"What- no! He's not my soulmate, what gave you that idea?" The look he gave her then convinced her the masks she wore were not as concealing as she had hoped. "No." Her voice cracked at the syllable, the thought of him knowing that it was her the fates had chosen for him (the thought of him looking in disgust at his chosen one, the thought of him looking in love at his chosen one) still too overwhelming, despite the years she had to process the information. "No, he doesn't."
"How can he not see it?"
"I'm not quite so sure, subtlety is not one of my strong points."
"Well, my advice: don't tell him, he should never know." She flinched at his words, cutting her more than she expected from this relative stranger. "I've tried and trust me, us guys don't get the girls." His gaze never left Felicity, and there was something in his tone which made the pieces simply fall into place.
"She's your soulmate, isn't she?" The grunt that escaped his lips was all the confirmation she required. 'Does she know?'
"Of course she does." His entire being seemed to soften as his gaze remained fixated upon the oblivious blonde, working hard with Barry as they tried to determine whatever they were working on. "She is remarkable."
"Then why aren't you with her?"
"Because of the life I lead I just think that it's better to not be with someone I could really care about." It was ground out through clenched teeth, his shoulders tense as the words came forth. And the way he looked at Felicity, with such pain and longing, with a depth so great she felt her own heart constrict in sympathy, she knew it was not the first time those words had come from his mouth. "But that's my reason, what's holding you back?"
"Well, because of the life he leads..." It fell flat on their ears and she was reminded yet again that it was Barry who could make her smile so effortlessly, it was Barry who would laugh at her jokes, regardless of how awful they truly were, it was him that could make her feel like she was whole again without speaking a word, with just one smile, with a single look. "The explosion that gave Barry his powers, the one that put him in a coma for nine months was also responsible for the death of my fiancé." Her tone was listless, so unaffected - too unaffected - for someone who was so devastatingly affected by it. Her eyes were unfocussed as she recounted her past. She simply watched her friend, her soulmate and took comfort in his exuberance. "I came to the decision that I wasn't destined to be happy in life, to have someone truly love me like that..."
"He's the light of this place." And he was. Looking at him and Felicity joking around, the room seemed so much more brighter than it truly was. Caitlin silently cursed however, when she saw a shadow flicker across his face for the briefest of moments. "And look at the affect I'm having on him. I'm just drawing him down into the darkness with me, he needs better, he deserves better."
The tensing of his jaw at her words was a subtle reminder that Caitlin wasn't going through this alone. Never in her wildest dreams did she think she would find a kindred spirit in Oliver Queen, but there they both were, watching their soulmates from the shadows, longing for the one thing they were intent on denying themselves.
"Well, if you ever need someone... Us broken people have to stick together, right?" And that should not have improved her mood, it should not have given her hope for the world in which she lived in, for a future she may never have. But it did. The small pressure his hand emitted on her shoulder lessened the weight upon them and she felt herself relax. She finally tore her eyes away from the scene in front of her, and she looked in the ex-billionaire's eyes, taking in his sincerity, his understanding.
"Yeah, we do."
And for the first time since the explosion, she felt that she could be okay.
(She would never know that after her and Felicity left, after the mission was done and dusted, Oliver approached Barry. She would never know of the conversation that took place in the darkened halls of the labs, of Oliver telling Barry he was not the sole player in the life he chose to lead, of his warning to consider those around him, those he cares for and loves, before he does anything which would put his life in danger. Because while they may not be his soulmate, they would grieve all the same.
And she would never know that as Oliver walked away, all Barry could think of was her concerned face pleading with him to be careful and to stop taking all these unnecessary risks.
She would never know of the way he dropped his head in his hands, of the way he raked his fingers through his hair and seriously contemplated abandoning his search for his soulmate because he had her, he had Cisco, Doctor Wells, Joe and Iris.
(But it wasn't their faces that plagued him as Oliver's voice echoed in his mind, it was her.)
And she could never know, because he didn't.)
"Please Barry, be careful." It seemed to be a ritual between the pair, her pleas for him to be careful would be met with an affirmative response, only for him to not be resulting in a lecture from her and a brush off from him. He huffed at her words, removing himself from her grasp, clearly annoyed by something.
"I am serious Barry, we do not know the extent of her powers so don't do anything reckless. We need you back alive." I need you back alive.
"Now why would I ever do something reckless?" The smirk may be in place, but she saw behind it, the emptiness taking over the longer he searched for his soulmate in vain.
"Think of your soulmate Barry, think of her and try to be safe Barry. She needs you in one piece, we all do."
"I am Caitlin." He looked down, unable to look her in the eye when he was in such an agitated state. After his insensitive, callous, stupid comment when under the influence of Bivilo and his rage-inducing eyes, he was so worried about hurting her again, he couldn't live with himself if he did. The self-loathing returned in that instant - the recollection of her wounded expression and broken voice tormenting him. "If I wasn't worthy enough for her back then, I will make sure that I am now." The temptation to just tell him it is her, to plead that he be careful for her sake, that it was she that could never be worthy of him was so powerful she had to grasp the corner of the lab bench for support. And she felt it, the weight of the world was nothing compared to the agony she was enduring. "And what will the girl do - make me lust over death?" She flinched at the mention of it, her heart constricting with the thought of him dying, of him wanting to die. "Pretty sure it only works on humans Caitlin."
"Well, if you won't try for her, if you won't take this seriously for her, do it for me." He could hear the tears in her voice but he couldn't bring himself to respond or even look her in the eye and see the anguish he was causing her. A sharp inhale had her spinning on her heels and running out of the room. When her footsteps were no longer noticeable he slumped forward, regretting the curt way he dealt with her but resisting the urge to chase her and pull her in his arms.
He was so engrossed with his own thoughts he didn't hear the entrance of another individual.
"She's right you know." The presence of Doctor Wells caught the hero by surprise, allowing the doctor to take the opening granted to him. "You are too hung up on finding your soulmate or proving your worth to them that you are neglecting some important things."
"Like understanding my DNA and the extent of my powers?" If Doctor Wells heard the scorn in the kid's voice he certainly didn't acknowledge it.
"Exactly Barry! Imagine the impact on the world if we were able to understand how your cells regenerate at such a fast state, imagine all the lives we could save Barry." He sighed at the realisation he was not getting through to the young man, he was too distracted to be paying proper attention. "That research won't result in anything if you're dead before we can actually do something."
"I really do need to go after this metahuman now Doctor Wells, maybe we could continue this conversation later?" It was a subtle brush off, one that the doctor made no effort to question, even if he knew that the chance of continuing the conversation became more slim with each passing day.
"Yes, well, think about it." And with that, the doctor rolled out of the room leaving Barry alone with his thoughts of tests and of doctors and of Caitlin.
He had had the strongest inkling that the only thing that would be on the forefront of his mind was Caitlin's voice before she fled the labs.
It would be haunting his dreams that night.
He found her alone down in the particle accelerator.
(He would never know that it was the two year anniversary of her non-wedding with Ronnie. He would never find out that she was speaking to him, telling him about her soulmate, apologising for moving on when they were supposed to spend their entire lives together.)
"Caitlin?" She looked up, and quickly stood up, straightening her dress and wiping away the tears rolling down her face.
"Oh hi Barry, I didn't expect to find you here."
"You weren't in the labs and so I got worried," he drawled, his eyes watching her, taking in every detail.
"Oh, I was just..." She bit her bottom lip, trying to contain the emotions which were threatening to escape. And he sensed that. In a few quick steps he was there by her side, pulling her into his embrace where she remained, lingering in the comfort he had on her weary soul before eventually pulling away.
"Thank you." It was hoarse, her emotions choking her up.
"Anytime Caitlin." And there was something in the way he was looking at her, in the way he grasped her shoulders, something hidden in his voice, that moved her. "Anytime."
They basked in the silence, remaining next to each other and enjoying that fact. He could tell there was something on her mind, playing with her. She shuffled beside him, unsatisfied with remaining still.
"What is it?" His voice was so soft and with those words, the dam opened.
"Why are you so intent on finding her Barry? There are billions of people around the world who never meet their soulmate and they live happy lives, why can't you?" If it were any other person he would have snapped at them, he would have stormed off, but he would hear her sorrow, her desperation for an answer, not just for him, but for herself as well, and that made him stay.
"The reasons change as time goes on." She looked at him with wide, open eyes, silently urging him to continue, and he did. "At first, before any of this happened, it was because I wanted to find someone who didn't think I was crazy for believing that there was a man in yellow who was responsible for my mother's death. I needed someone to not think I was crazy for believing in the impossible." Her hand sought out his and in a squeeze of reassurance he continued in his tale. "Joe, Iris - they were my family and they thought I was crazy and so I thought that my soulmate would believe, that they could help me find whoever did it. But then the explosion took place and I became the Flash and then it wasn't just finding someone who didn't think I was crazy anymore, it was finding someone who saw me for me. Not a superhero or a scientific experiment, but someone who knew all that but still loved the man I am inside."
"Oh Barry..." But she had no words. Her eyes were watering up and all she could do was clasp his hand in hers, hoping the squeeze of his fingers was reassuring him.
"What about you?" He turned to her then, his smile so weak and fragile in her eyes, his walls of optimism so very transparent to her. "Surely you have met your soulmate?" Her eyes gave her away, windows to the soul which had previously been shuttered to everyone seemed to be a gateway which Barry could access with ease.
"You know that the explosion killed Ronnie." Her eyes were everywhere but him, searching for answers written in the walls. "Well, that explosion - it - I - " and she couldn't. She couldn't tell him that it was him that was her soulmate, that it was his mark that branded her skin and her heart. She couldn't tell him that the fates had cursed him with a broken woman such as herself. "I really don't want to talk about it now."
"Hey, it's okay." She sagged against him as he pulled her against his chest. His arms banded around her waist and he held her up, "I'm sorry I brought up those memories, it was a stupid question."
"No, it's fine. I'm just not ready yet." The shaky smile was contrasted against a thin sheen of unshed tears and it killed him, it killed him that she was only given the slightest whiff of her future before it was so brutally taken away and that he had just reminded her of it.
"Well, if you ever feel as though you're ready, I'll be there in a flash." It was cheesy, and if him running his fingers through his hair was any indication, he wasn't sure how it would be received. But her smile was uncontrollable and she couldn't help but feel a little responsible for his own smile in return.
"You'll be the first person I talk to Barry."
"Okay then. Well, I gotta run now." But with no Cisco to interrupt, he didn't. He lingered next to her, taking his time to memorise every detail, from the way her hair just so (from the way he had to resist the urge to run his fingers through them) to the soft smile- his soft smile- that adorned her face (to the way he had to resist the urge to lean down and simply claim them as his own).
"Yes?" And he was praying to whoever was above that he wasn't imagining the breathy tone of her voice, that she really did seem to be somewhat affected him the way he was her.
"Nothing." And he did turn around this time, preparing to run.
But he was already gone.
"Caitlin, do you mind if we had a word?" The icy cold feeling of dread washed through her as Doctor Wells made it abundantly clear that this was not a request she could deny.
"It hasn't escaped my attention that Barry is becoming increasingly distracted as of late. Your search for his soulmate isn't coming up with any viable leads and I'm of the impression that we won't get any." The way his tone was able to pierce through her was eerie and the sinking sense of doom settled within her.
Barry's excitement was wavering, his zest for life and for their missions was attenuating with every fruitless endeavour to find the woman that marked him. His lackluster expression whenever they would succeed pained her more than she could possibly have imagined it to.
"Surely you have noticed he is becomingly more reckless with his attempts to help and catch these metahumans."
"I have." She nodded slowly, unsure where he intended to go with this conversation.
"You need to tell him."
"I- I can't." And she couldn't. Maybe a year ago when this was still relatively fresh, but too much time had passed - if she feared his reaction before, it would be nothing compared to what would happen now.
"Do you want him to continue along this path, because I can guarantee that it will not end pretty for anyone involved."
"Do you think I haven't tried to convince him of that!" The floodgates had opened and she could do nothing to stop the outpouring. "Do you think I haven't told him to be more careful in his missions, to not take these stupid risks that could get him killed. I have tried, and tried, and failed, sir. He doesn't care what I think, of what I feel."
"Caitlin, you are his soulmate, if he were to listen to anyone, it would be you."
And that was her fear - that he would listen to her, not as Caitlin, but as his soulmate. That he would only care for her because he knew that it was designed this way.
However, then Cisco's voice reverberated through the passageway, just shaky enough for Caitlin to freeze.
"Guys, I think I may have found out something you might wanna know about Firestorm before Barry goes all Flash on him."
"Excuse me." She cleared her throat and spun around before Doctor Wells could say anything more. "I have to go and check this out." She had only taken a few steps before his voice echoed down the empty hall.
"Oh, and Caitlin-" She stopped mid stride, acknowledging his voice, but not having the strength to face him, to look him in the eye and not break down once more. "I really don't think you have anything to be afraid of. He seems pretty smitten with you too."
"I go alone."
"No." It was instantaneous, his reaction. The thought of her being in the line of fire, of being alone in that line, without him there to protect her, to be there with her, was something he could not comprehend. "That would be reckless and stupid."
"What, more reckless than the way you go after all these metahumans without a single thought of your own safety?"
"I have superpowers Caitlin, I have the ability to protect myself if something goes wrong. What do you have?"
"I have you.' It was but a whisper, yet it echoed through his being. 'And it's Ronnie, Barry. Ronnie. Surely our history would mean something to him."
"But Caitlin-" He drifted off, his mind bombarded with images of how horribly wrong it could actually go.
"Please," she turned to him, her desperation dripping from her tone. "Please don't kill my fiancé. Let me talk to him, I can calm him down. Please Barry." He really didn't have a chance against her, his heart following her wherever she would go.
"Okay." The smile that lit up her face broke his heart, the fear of it being the last time he would see it's beauty tainting his memory. "Just as long as you have comms. on at all times."
"Yes, of course." And because he couldn't resist himself, he flung his arms around her and pulled her close, her own arms going around his neck, fingers running through his hair.
"Be safe Caitlin," he refused to let go, and she didn't seem to be having any issues with the contact between them. He nuzzled against her neck, enjoying the way her hair tickled his face, breathing in her calming scent as if for the final time. "Don't try and be a hero."
"Why would I ever do something as reckless as that?" She meant it to be teasing, but her voice caught in her throat.
"I mean it. Come back to me." His arms instinctively tightened, his desire to hold her and protect her from the world breaking through his self-restraint. Reluctantly he pulled away, noting how her arms slowly drifted down his torso, more hesitant to let go than he was himself.
She cleared her throat, refusing to meet his eyes, a blush making its way across her face. He smirked at the sight of her so affected by a hug. "I should ah, go." She was stumbling over her words and he loved it. "We don't all have super speed."
With that she scurried out of the room.
And it was then he allowed for the fear to wash over him completely. So he started pacing. He would have hit the treadmill if he didn't desire to conserve his energy. He was unaware of when Cisco and Doctor Wells reentered the room, his thoughts so overwhelming.
Because this was Caitlin, Caitlin, sweet, innocent Caitlin. (Caitlin, whom he wanted to wrap up in his arms and protect from the the realities of the world. Caitlin who redefined beauty with every smile that graced her face. Caitlin who was number one on his speed dial, who easily became one of his most trusted friends and closest ally. Caitlin, who he was slowly falling for and had no intention of stopping. That Caitlin.)
"Hey well, if she can't calm her soulmate down, nothing can, am I right?" Dr Wells may have just sighed and looks away, but Cisco had no compulsion to be so silent on the issue.
"Dude, Ronnie wasn't her soulmate. What gave you that idea?"
"She said that..." But she didn't he realised. She allowed him to believe that she was referring to Ronnie, but she only mentioned him in relation to the explosion. The explosion must have done something terrible to her soulmate, something that was so traumatic it left her to just think about it, something like put him in a coma for ni-
His trail of thought, however, was dislodged when her scream pierced through the silence of the labs, her voice calling out for him before the connection was lost.
And in a flash he was on the other side of town, in front of an abandoned building that was crumbling away, the fire engulfing it destroying any signs of life that was in its path.
And somewhere in that building was a Doctor Caitlin Snow.
He found her stumbling along a fiery hallway, the effects of smoke inhalation already evident in her movements, her clothes on fire.
Then he saw her fall.
And it wasn't time which seemed to slow down, but him.
Barry Allen, the fastest man alive, could only watch as the woman he had slowly been falling in love with collapsed in front of him.
She hit the ground before he felt himself moving, scooping her up in his arms, unable to feel anything but the agonising pain crushing his heart.
"Hang in there Cait, we'll be at STAR Labs before you know it." The tears that were whipping passed his face were blurring his vision, but he refused to slow down. And if he happen to break the sound barrier and cause thousands of dollars worth of damage to surrounding property so be it, because the woman in his arms was slowly drifting away, leaving him behind.
"Barry." And the way she spoke his name, the smile she gave him as she slowly slipped into unconsciousness would haunt him to his dying breath.
"Cait, please don't leave me. Oh gods above, please let her live, let her stay with me. I don't know how I could go on without her." His voice cracked at the end of his plea, desperation and fear overtaking him with every passing second.
He didn't know, nor did he care that he was still broadcasting to Cisco and Doctor Wells, the only thing he could focus on was ensuring that the angel in his arms was safe, that she was alive.
And that she would come back to him.
(He could not lose her before he had her.)
"Quick." Cisco's voice was a godsend to the young hero, who's fear had resulted in physical tremors overcoming him while he waited for them to set everything up. "She needs to get out of these clothes, they retain heat and are making the burns worse." In an instant he had ripped the clothes from her, shredding the offending items as if they were intentionally acting with such malice. He scanned her, mentally cataloging every scar and burn on her body, thanking the fates there were only minor burns.
But then the wind was knocked from his lungs.
Because there, in front of him in blood red, was a lightning bolt over her heart.
Unable to resist he brushed his hand over it, welcoming and fearing the bolt of warmth that traversed his body at the contact. The shock refused to wear off, because it was her. She was his soulmate. There was a battle warring within him, everything and nothing making sense in his mind and heart.
"Dude, what are you doing? We don't have time for - oh." Cisco's confusion quickly gave way to sympathy and understanding.
"She's my soulmate." Barry tested the words on his tongue, enjoying the warmth that flooded him at the acknowledgement, unable to stop the feeling of betrayal that tainted it.
"Oh wow. I did not see that coming - like at all." But Cisco's words were nothing but a muffled noise in the background, those three words on repeat in his mind. She's my soulmate. She's my soulmate. Because she was his soulmate. And she had intentionally hidden that fact from him.
"Oh crap." Doctor Wells wheeled himself into the room and, with one glance at the team made a judgement call. "We need to put her in an induced coma, her body needs the time to heal and she won't be getting it if she's awake and panicking."
Panicking about me knowing, Barry realised slowly. Doctor Wells had clearly discussed this with her if he knew what her response would be. Caitlin, who had been there with every search and visit, every moment he had dedicated to looking for his soulmate had her by his side. Silent. Doubts and insecurities flooded his mind, unanswered question arising. Questions that may never have been answered if her injuries were worse.
His eyes were drawn to her once more, her body unmoving on the bed, the blemishes- while not detracting an iota from her beauty - a reminder of the secrets that lay underneath.
"What about her burns, is it possible that if we inject her with my DNA the regeneration will heal her at an accelerated rate?" Because, gods above, he needed her healed and he needed her whole.
(But he swore to never need her again.)
"Well maybe if someone hadn't spent their time obsessing over finding their soulmate and actually allowed us to actively analyse the extent of his gifts we wouldn't be needing this conversation." The stricken look on the boy's face at the mention of this intrigued the doctor; the thought that he could potentially have helped her, coupled with the knowledge that now he couldn't overwhelming the already overwhelmed boy. "Fortunately that really won't be necessary Barry." The smile Doctor Wells was both comforting and served to put him on edge. "Seems like you aren't the only person in possession of super powers."
While in the coma Caitlin dreamed.
She dreamed of Barry, of a happy life with him. Of children with her hair and his smile. With inquisitive minds and the innate sense of doing good.
And she was happy. So very happy.
She knew it wasn't real; somewhere in the back of her mind she could sense that this imaginary land was not where she belonged. She knew Barry was nearby, her Barry, but she didn't want to leave this... She didn't want reality where they would simply be friends, where he would pine over Iris or some imaginary woman he had built up his soulmate to be.
She just wanted him to want her.
And so she stayed.
After all, a girl is allowed to dream.
She awoke disoriented but not alone, Barry firmly holding her hand, his eyes piercing through her, fear mixed in with a touch of hope and weariness shining through, expressing what he couldn't in words. She felt herself relax under the ministrations of his thumb rubbing soothing circles into her palm, her eyes closing as she took in the moment the fates had allowed her to have.
"How long was I out for?" Her throat was dry, too dry to be speaking and her entire body was rebelling against her, begging her to return to oblivion where pain was nothing but an abstract notion. But Barry was here with her and she wouldn't leave this for all the comfort in the world.
"Two weeks, maybe three. Days started blurring into one another after a while." She forced her eyes open, not wanting to miss the smallest of things, needing to take him all in.
"Gone. Whatever you said to him worked because there has been no reports of a man who can spontaneously combust since."
"Good, good." She knew something was off, his voice seemed so strained and hurt. She could see the sorrow in his eyes and she hated that she didn't know what had happened, why it was there. Turning her wrist she laced their fingers together, squeezing, trying to send comfort through the physical connection between them. His eyes dropped to their hands and he looked at it blankly, his mind a million miles away from her. "Barry what's wrong? What happened?" His breath caught at her words, but he was able to choke out a laugh, shaking his head in amazement.
"I knew a connection would be formed, but didn't think it would be that strong. Wow, no wonder you hated it when I injured myself."
"Barry what - "
"I saw your soulmate mark." He smiled at her, but she could see the dejection behind it, the hurt, the betrayal. "It looks oddly like mine." She felt her whole world crashing down with that confession.
"Wait Barry." He pulled his hand from out of hers and she reached, reached until the pain was so overwhelming it brought her to the edge of unconsciousness, and even then she reached further. But not far enough.
"Don't worry about it Caitlin, I get that I was forced into your life, allow me to remove the problem from the equation."
And then he walked out of STAR Labs, out of her life - and she knew she only had herself to blame.
Weeks went by and true to his word, Barry never returned to STAR Labs or her phone calls. And the pitying looks of Cisco or the disappointed glances sent her way by Doctor Wells weren't a comfort to her, they were't able to relieve the overwhelming feeling of nausea nor the constant ache from deep within, so she stopped coming too.
Which meant that receiving a visitor at one in the morning was something she was not expecting. But it seemed to be a morning of firsts because there was an infuriated Iris West at her door.
(It was not however, the first time she had been greeted with a slap.)
"Okay, I may have deserved that."
"Oh, you deserve so much worse." There was fire in her eyes, an anger that looked so foreign on the woman she had come to know over the past years. "Do you want to know how he is feeling right now, locked up in his laboratory, refusing to work cases or speak to anybody. Refusing to speak to me. You ruined my best friend, you took his heart and soul and you crushed it. Do you even care that you broke his heart?" Caitlin watched her in silence, no word coming to mind. Nothing. Because there was no way he could have been that affected - she understood that he would feel abandoned and deceived, she'd been lying to him for over a year - but he didn't love her, he didn't care for her that deeply. Soon he'd realise what a gift she had granted him, granted the both of them really, in the long run. "No, you really are that icy witch your colleagues led me to believe." Because of course the journalism student would have done a background check on her.
"Listen Iris. I get it, I hurt him. But I don't owe you any explanation."
"You're right, you don't." Caitlin paused momentarily, taken back by her response. "But you owe Barry. And right now he is completely destroyed his best friend, his soulmate, knew about his search for them and quietly sat in the background and let him."
"I doubt he would be that affected." It was muttered quietly, an imperfect mixture of disbelief, misery and sarcasm, but Iris caught it all the same.
"Are you blind? He is so in love with you it's almost sickening." It might have been cute that Iris believed he was in love with Caitlin while she remained oblivious to him having spent his entire lifetime in love with her, but to Caitlin, at that moment, it only served to twist the knife lodged in her heart.
"No, he's not. But if your just going to stand there to insult me and feed me lies, I'm sorry, but I have other things to do." Like cry myself to sleep again. Internally sighing at the thought she moved to shut the door, only to be stopped by Iris' outstretched hand.
"No! Listen, I just want Barry back, and you're the only one who can do that. So please-" and for the first time Caitlin saw the cracks in her facade of anger. The redness of her eyes, the huskiness of her voice. She had been crying for him, but if her love couldn't reach through to him, what chance did Caitlin have? "-please do it, if not for him or yourself, do it for me and my dad. We want our Bar back."
And she left, leaving Caitlin alone with her thoughts and indecision, unsure of what she should do next.
(She knew though, boy did she know. She just wasn't sure whether she could handle the loss again.)
When she saw him her heart got caught in her throat. His back was to her; he was leaning on a bench, looking through the window at STAR labs, and she couldn't help but notice the moonlight shining around him, the halo of light doing nothing to diminish the cloud of darkness surrounding him.
"So this is where you've been spending your time, huh?" There was a small part of her that despised how her shuddering exhale echoed in the room, it flinched at how the quiver in her voice was so easily detectable, it urged her to stay strong as her vulnerability shone through every action and word.
"Yep." It was short, and it tore right through her.
"You have a lovely view of - of the city. It's really something at night."
"I think so." And dammit she wanted to run - she wanted to leave. She didn't want to face the heartache that was inevitably coming - because it was coming. She didn't want to hear him say that all he wanted was the truth, and that he would have never asked anything of her because he simply wasn't interested.
"Barry." She saw him tense as she spoke his name; she was intimidated by the man and she hated the feeling. "I- People are starting to get worried for you Barry. Iris, Joe, Cisco even Doctor Wells. I'm not sure how Felicity found out but she's been calling me non-stop, berating me for doing this to you."
"That's nice." He seemed so uninterested, the concern of his friends almost nothing to him and the guilt, knowing it was her that was responsible, was devastating.
"Barry, I've been worried about you." She walked up to him slowly, each step feeling like a mile. "I can barely eat, I cry myself to sleep, I have nightmares about you, about how you're doing and Barry, so please - " He didn't move, remaining absolutely still and silent for the longest period of time. She felt self-conscious, her heart on display. She felt herself being scrutinised even though he wouldn't look her way. "Barry, I can't - you - we. I - just please Barry, please."
"What do you want Caitlin?" His voice was so emotionless, so dead. "Why are you really here?"
"You're not going to make this easy for me, are you?" She didn't think it would be, but he refused to look at her, barely acknowledging her presence as it was and gods, she needed something, anything to make it through this.
"Easy, you want easy?" The cold laugh cut her. "I thought I was making it easy for you. You're no longer tortured by my presence and that's what you wanted, right? I mean, was it amusing Caitlin? Seeing me search for my soulmate - helping me do it - knowing that I would never find them?"
"Of course not! How could you even think that Barry?"
And she jumped, startled, as he banged his fists against the bench beneath him, his anger cracking the cool facade he was trying to maintain.
"I'm not quite sure what I should be thinking Caitlin. I spent so long looking for you and you hid it all from me, you led me to believe that Ronnie was your soulmate. I mean, who does that?"
"No one, me. I don't know." She was floundering, unsure and afraid of how this would all end.
"So why did you do it then?"
And that was the million dollar question.
"Come on Caitlin, I'm waiting."
"No. If we're having this conversation you will look me in the eye!" It didn't require much strength to tun him around, but seeing the tears streaming down his face, his jaw clenched as he stubbornly looked into the distance, broke something inside of her. She dropped his arm in horror, watching him, mouth agape as she looked at what she did to him. She hurt him. Badly.
"Okay. I'm facing you, explain away Doctor Snow." The formal he referred to her caught her off guard, the scorn and disdain saturating every syllable was agonising to the poor doctor.
"I-" And the words caught in her chest as she processed everything. But nothing was making sense. Iris couldn't have been telling truth. He couldn't, he just - he couldn't.
"I see," he scoffed, his sarcasm wounding her in ways she never considered possible. "Well, if I'm not worthy to be your soulmate and I'm not worth an explanation, why are you here? I'm sure my broken heart won't be weighing much on your soul." And while she thought avoidance was harrowing, the moment she caught his eyes, she realised it was nothing in comparison to the soul- crushing anguish she was now experiencing."Well, I have to go now."
"Wait!" She grasped for him as he brushed passed her, the thought of him leaving, leaving her life, leaving forever, was something she could not handle. Not again.
"I waited over a year Caitlin, I don't think I can wait much longer."
And with his receding footsteps, she knew he had left her; the one thing she dreaded the most was the result of her own actions and fears. She crumpled at the thought, bracing herself against the bench he was at minutes before, her strength leaving only to be replaced with her tears. Whether it was minutes or hours, she sensed a shift in the atmosphere. It pricked at the edge of her consciousness, she could feel his presence - he returned.
"Do you know what it was like, guarding your body for nine months, never knowing whether you would wake up, if you could wake up? Never knowing if I had met my soulmate only to lose him?" Her voice was trembling, but she struggled to continue on speaking. "I spent those nine months in agony Barry, pure, unadulterated agony. I had just lost Ronnie - I was planning a funeral with an empty casket, all the while you were in a coma and I was forced to watch Iris and Felicity fawn over you." A shaky laugh ripped through her, the jarring noise breaking through the haze of anger and betrayal he was under. "I could never compete with them; I had lost you before I even knew what it was like to have you."
"I would have never asked you to compete with them Caitlin. You were my soulmate, I could never..."
"Do you remember the first thing you wanted after you awoke from your coma?" And he did. Those words were now ringing in his ears, mocking him. "You wanted Iris, you went to Iris, you love Iris." And the last three words - you love Iris - it was a physical blow to him. Couldn't she see how much he cared for her, how much of his heart and soul she occupied? But she didn't, he realised. She truly believed that he was still hung up on his childhood crush. "I was already a broken woman Barry, I didn't think I could handle rejection from my own soulmate."
"But you're different, you were my soulmate..."
"And you would have what?! Loved me Barry? Because some mark on my skin tells you to do so?" She turned at that, her loud voice further amplified in the large room, echoing in their minds.
"Hey, hey, hey." She didn't realise he had moved, but all of a sudden he was in front of her, tilting her face upwards, wiping away her tears, her eyes shuttering closed at the feeling of his calloused fingers brushing against her skin. Seeing her like this, so vulnerable and open to him
"I'm sorry, I can't seem to do anything right." And she looked down, attempting to break their connection, but he wouldn't have it. The constant urge to touch her, to hear her laugh, to be graced with a genuine smile and know that it was him that was responsible for placing it there was all consuming and it hadn't waned with his discovery and it was certainly not because of what he had discovered. Because while they may be soulmates, while they bear the other's mark, that was no guarantee that any feelings would develop.
Before she could run away -run away from him - he brought his face down and brushed his lips against hers. It was soft and fleeting, but it still managed to leave the both of them breathless as they pulled away, a spark of something which felt like hope erupting from within.
The thrum of energy that surrounded them didn't dissipate, but instead increased exponentially.
"I'm falling for you Barry." His face jerked in surprise, his eyes burning with something, something with such an intensity she feared that it not only took her breath away but it wouldn't allow it to return. Only the feeling of his fingers cupping her jaw, the cool, gentle caress against her skin could give her the reprieve she needed, to give life to her battered soul.
But it didn't leave her cold, it left her burning too. She was caught in the inferno and she would be damned before she willingly left this. "I'm falling for you and I don't know how to stop. Every time you run out there without a thought for your own safety so you can save someone's life. It's with every bumbling ramble, every goofy smile, every goddamn smirk that makes me want to both kiss and kill you. Every time you saw me when I didn't want you to, with every time you said exactly what I needed to hear without me even realising. I'm falling for you - Barry Allen, the Flash. For everything you are inside and out. And it's not because you bear our mark -" and dear fates of destiny, if the butterflies weren't thrilled at the mention of him being branded as hers. Her hand had wandered over his heart without her realising, her fingers lightly stroking where she knew his tattoo was located, and if the flicker in his eyes was any indication, he was having similar thoughts as her and was most likely just as affected by them. She stuttered at that, amazed that he was still here with her. "- It's because you are an amazing person. And I was so scared to lose you, so scared to lose another person I care for that I thought maybe if I didn't verbalise it, if I didn't tell anyone, that if I did lose you, it would be less real and not hurt as much."
She went to pull away but he would not allow such a thing, he needed her as close as possible, and now he knew what it was like to be loved by her, to taste her, to hold her, he feared he would never be able to let her go.
(And the thought thrilled him more than anything else.)
"Don't you ever do something like that again."
"I won't." And she could see him lighten, her words soothing any lingering pain and anger.
"I mean it Caitlin. I don't think I could handle it again." His anguish tugged against her heart strings and, before she had realised what she was doing, she pressed a kiss against his chest where she knew the mark would be.
"I will never leave you Barry, not if I can help it. Not ever again. My mark, it tells you - it tells the world - I'm yours, and I'm too tired to keep running from that fact."
"Can I touch it?" The charge in the room became electric as those words echoed throughout the empty room. And every movement seemed to be magnified after that, her sharp inhale, the small nod of confirmation, the slow movements of her fingers as they unbuttoned her blouse and pulled the left side down, smooth, creamy flesh slowly being revealed to his eyes.
It may have seemed erotic to have one's soulmate essentially strip for them, but the anticipation was gut wrenching and he could not focus on anything other than their mark. On seeing it with his own eyes, feeling it underneath his skin. And there it was, bright and bold against the colour of her pale skin. He reached for it slowly. the shaking of his fingers only matched by the shallowness of her breath.
Her eyes fluttered closed the moment he touched her. She didn't have the strength to do much else, each stroke of his fingers corresponding with the pulse of warmth that enveloped her body, his voice, so rich with emotion washing over, lulling her to a state of bliss incomparable to anything else.
"You know, I actually convinced myself I had made it all up." His voice was unsteady as his fingers brushed against the physical proof that she truly was made for him. "I told myself that I was so ridiculously in love with you, so desperately wanted it to be you that in that moment I had imagined the mark, my mark, on you." A fractured breath escaped her as her eyes flung open. She watched him as he continued to be so ardently fixated upon her mark, his eyes burning through her, lighting her soul on fire.
"But- but Iris?" He shook his head slowly, his eyes once again dropping to the area above her heart, his face melting as he watched the red lightning bolt glow in the light of the moon.
"That was over before I had even realised I had the possibility of moving on." She looked at him so confused and disbelieving that he felt a pang in his heart at the thought of her not understanding how much she truly meant to him."'Do you know what I was thinking when I saw you in that burning building? All that was running through my mind is that I couldn't imagine my life without you, that oh gods-" The catch of his voice sent shivers down her body and she saw her trembling hand reach upwards and caress his face. His eyes flung open at the contact and they were burning when they caught her own. "If you had died Caitlin I would have died with you."
Her eyes searched his for the truth, for confirmation that he truly did feel the same. And in that moment no words were spoken, there was no need for them, their eyes were having a conversation, expressing their true emotion, to such a depth that there were no words which could adequately do the same. His eyes shone in his silent adoration for her and with that her last barrier crumpled, falling uselessly by the wayside of her heart, allowing him free reign over what was already his.
She leaned forward, capturing his lips in hers, allowing the flames to engulf them both. It was so unlike the other, this kiss so full of need and desperation, months, no years, of built up tension finally finding a form of release - and it was explosive. He had been to temptingly close and now she was here in his arms, pressed so close to him, intoxicating his senses. He was a thirsty man and she was his source of life, an addiction he would gladly take to the grave. He was unable to decide whether he wanted his fingers running through her silky tresses, or whether his arms should be wrapped around her waist, fingers pulling away her unbuttoned blouse, leaving him free to torture her with just his touch. Whether it would be better to have her pressed against the closest vertical surface, her legs wrapped around his waist, her body available to him to claim and ravage or if he should have her on his table, defiling her so badly that it would take weeks for their scent to fade, months before he could walk into the room and not be assaulted with the memory of this one night. (Because there would be more, so many more.) So many fantasies that tormented him at night now coming to mind, urging him to move, but in the end it was Caitlin who made the decision. Taking a step backwards and dragging him with her, she lifted herself on the bench overlooking the city, wrapping her legs around his waist, pulling him close, needing every inch of him to be against her.
His mouth dropped to the mark above her heart, lavishing his attention on physical representation of just how much they belonged to the other - because whether it was there or not, he was hers. She arched at his touch, a gasp escaping her involuntarily at the contact, her body humming in pleasure, singing for the man in front of her.
"Barry, Barry please." Her fingernails scraped his skull, her legs tightened against him, needing him closer to ease the pressure building inside. He swore against her skin, the sensations she was causing drowning him. "Barry!" It was a quiet whimper and the growl released as a response was uncontainable, the rumble sending shivers down her back causing her to instinctively arch further, the need for more contact irrepressible. He pulled away from her mark, slowly taking in the effects on her, looking in her eyes, so dark and seductive, pulling him near, refusing to allow him any chance of escape.
"What is it Caitlin? What do you want me to do?" The words barely were uttered before she grabbed the loose cloth of his shirt (when did he lose the sweater? And when did she undo his buttons?) and pulled his lips against her own.
"Stop teasing me Barry." It was muffled against his lips but he wouldn't have wanted it any other way, her own need for him feeding his desire. He could have remained like this for eternity and not have minded, not when she finally did remove his shirt and damn, he hissed at the cool wind hitting his body, pressing himself closer to her cold body, needing it to soothe the raging fire inside. But it did nothing of the sort, instead heightening it, the craving for more of her taking over, more of her touch, her exclamations. And he did receive, his fingers memorising every contour and every reaction, he left no available inch of her untouched, marking her as his with every movement.
Eventually, however, they pulled away, breaths ragged and so unbelievably happy. And while their lips were no longer moulding against one another, they found it too difficult to pull apart, instead choosing to bask in the love radiating from the other, love radiating for the other. Forehead resting on one another, eyes closed, noses sliding and bumping against each other, they allowed themselves to soak in the bliss of moment, knowing that there would be many, many more to come. (The future had never looked so attractive than it did at that moment).
His eyes opened at the light pressure of her lips against the tip of his nose and he immediately softened at the sight his eyes were gifted. Looking at her so relaxed and carefree, without the pain of loss or fear weighing upon her shoulders, she was breathtaking. He took in the faint scattering of freckles upon her nose, long lashes which framed her eyes - eyes he knew were able to draw him closer with a simple look, her lips which were red and swollen and should not have looked as irresistible as they currently did. He nudged her nose with his own, taking pleasure in the joyous smile he was able to elicit from her. This angel, this unbelievably smart, beautiful, caring woman was his soulmate and he never thought that he could ever feel as wonderful as he did watching her. Her eyes fluttered open, feeling his gaze on her, her heart feeling as though it could burst from the inexpressible joy of it all.
"I love you Barry." It felt woefully inadequate, but his smile that could rival a million suns lit up her heart as he heard the declaration.
(He was wrong before, when he thought he couldn't feel any better. He was so, very wrong.)
"I love you too Cait, I love you so much."
From their places above the gods watched on as the two souls found each other and connected, and they rejoiced. For while their love may become a distant memory to the generations to come, while there may not be sonnets proclaiming their undying devotion to another nor will the entire world stand captivated by the tale spun by their hearts, they were soulmates.
And they found one another.
And, in that small moment, all was perfect in the world.
Disclaimer: I do not own The Flash - that would be DC Comics and CW. Title is from the song "Here Is My Heart" by Out Of Eden, if you've heard of them you have a best friend for life.
The story a month in the makings is finally finished. I hope you all enjoyed it :) Don't be afraid to say hello here or on tumblr (link on author page)!