Written for Airsay, here is well, this.
This takes place a few months/ a year from now. Ronnie/ Firestorm is alive and well; he occasionally helps out on missions however, he is more of a vigilante and thus is not a permanent member of Team Flash. Also, Eddie and Iris are engaged.
As always, my work is unbeta'd so all mistakes are my own. The characters, however, are not. Which sucks.
I have tumblr, so feel free to say hi :)
"Hey Cait, me and Cisco were going to head out for a movie, did you want to come along?"
It started with an innocent invitation out, a new horror film was being released and there was no better people to analyse the intricacies of zombies than his two friends. He had noticed that she was drawing herself away from him, from them, these past few weeks and his insecurities were flaring up more so than ever with each time she would reject him. Them.
But she shook her head, avoiding his eyes she cleared her throat before verbalising her response. "Sorry guys, I've already made plans - maybe next time."
And it was then that he knew something was different, that something was up with Caitlin. And he was determined to get to the bottom of it. (Because she was Caitlin and if there was one thing in the world he wanted to understand completely, it was her.)
"That's the third time you've couldn't make something this week Caitlin. What's happening to Team Flash?" Cisco's pout could be heard in his voice, the disappointment that only two-thirds of the team would partake in the bonding exercise evident. "Unless of course you have a date," he wriggled his eyebrows in her direction, his mood immediately uplifting at the thought. "Seducing them with your scientific charm, are you doctor?" And Barry almost laughed, he wanted to laugh, the thought of Caitlin - his Caitlin - getting dressed up for some man - some man who wasn't him - amusing to the hero. He was not blind, nor was he stupid, the tension that existed between the two was electric, sparking with every smile, each lingering glance, every innocent touch that felt anything but. Whether it was just tension between two friends or it was hints that something magnificent could develop between if they acted upon it remained to be seen, but he was certain that the latter option was the truth.
(Though, that may have been influenced by the fact he was already in love with her.)
However, it was then that Barry noticed the blush that tinted her cheeks, and suddenly it was no longer a laughing matter.
"Caitlin?" Her name held so many emotions and questions in that moment, she couldn't decipher every one of them, she didn't want to try.
"What? No. It's not a date... I just promised a friend that I would help him - them - with something important and it is taking longer than I had envisioned it to." She had stuttered in her explanation, her mouth tripping over her words. "Which I am now late to. I'll see you guys later, okay?" And she sped out of the labs, leaving a confused Cisco and a hurt Barry in her wake.
"Barry, you ready to go?" Cisco's voice broke through, snapping him out of his daze, although not completely.
"Maybe next time Cisco, I just remembered I've got something important to do." He wandered away from the labs, unsure if Cisco said anything afterwards, his mind distracted by his thoughts and his plans for the night.
Which were not stalking Caitlin.
But, if he just happen to walk past where her meeting with the friend was being held that evening, it was just a coincidence. He looked around, not surprised that she had returned to her apartment, but shocked when he saw a figure moving around in there before she entered. And so, dignity be damned, he ran to the roof of the neighbouring building and peered through her open window.
Then he saw it.
Caitlin and Eddie.
Way too close for any platonic, friendly interactions.
Because they were holding each other, breathes intermingling, faces inches away, quiet whispers and gentle smiles exchanged between the pair.
He staggered backwards, unbelieving that he had seen what he just saw, but the image had been burnt into his mind, replaying itself over and over.
He needed to run.
And he needed to run now.
"Hey Cait, me and Cisco are meeting up with Iris and Eddie for some drinks and were wondering if you wanted to come along."
There was something in his tone that felt so wrong coming from the man that radiated optimism and joy; she knew that something had changed between them, and she didn't know why. All she could say with certainty was that she hated it.
"Oh, sure. Just let me grab my coat." But if she thought her answer would appease the man, she was so very wrong.
"Of course you are now." It was muttered under his breath, his eyes following her out of the room, his mind mocking him with the knowledge that Eddie's presence there is why she was available.
Cisco watched the hero confused, he knew that there was some underlying reason for why everything seemed so out of sync with his two friends, but placing that specific cause was driving him insane. "You okay Barry?"
"Yeah, fine." However his friend knew he was anything but. "Let's just go."
"Hey Iris." The woman in question looked up, her thoughts disrupted by her best friend, concern now creeping onto her expression when she saw his own.
"What's up Bar?"
"Nothing." It was a lot more than just nothing, but he didn't want to add to her load, especially when she was already so stressed out. "So, only a month to go until you are Mrs Thawne. You and Eddie must be sick of spending every free second doing last minute details."
"Gosh, yes." She groaned in frustration, the toll of it's planning evident in the young woman's expression. She took a large gulp of her drink, the alcohol numbing her nerves and calming her down, even if for a few hours. "Eddie's been doing some overtime to make up for the time off for our honeymoon, so he's left me with all this and - kill me now Barry. Please. I can't take it any longer. I just want to be married without all this - argh." There was no word to describe the feeling or it's effects,and it was only being overcome by the love she had for the detective and the desire she had to marry him.
"Oh." Barry's voice was off, the knowledge of just where exactly Eddie had been spending his nights ruining any chance of finishing the night on a high note. His eyes flickered involuntarily towards Caitlin, taking in who she was with and just how happy she was. His shoulders slumped at the sight, his bottle almost emptied and he internally cursed whatever gave him such a high metabolism.
"Barry." Iris' concern had taken a dramatic spike when she saw him react in such a way. "What's wrong Barry?"
"I - it's just, when did Caitlin and Eddie get so close?" She paused and looked at the pair in question, his arm slung around the back of her chair, a look of adorable confusion on Eddie's face as Caitlin attempted to explain something scientific to the detective. " I don't remember them ever talking and all of a sudden she seems to be so comfortable around him."
"I'm not quite sure." She turned back to her best friend, taking in the way his eyes were directed longingly towards the pair, his puppy-dog expression looking so crushed at the sight. "Wait - you think your girlfriend has a crush on my fiancé?" He could hear the amusement in her voice, the humour she found in the situation, and he didn't blame her, he couldn't blame her. If he didn't witness it with his own eyes, he would have believed it impossible for Eddie to be satisfied with anyone but Iris.
"She's not my girlfriend." The words were instantaneous and once they were out, he couldn't help but pause, because isn't that exactly what he wanted? The defensive tone left him immediately, replaced with a sad and pity filled whisper. "I'm afraid I left things too late, that she's moved on from whatever we had, before we had it."
"Barry you won't lose her - your incredibly rare species of adorable nerds needs to stick together or you'll disappear from the evolution chain." He cracked a grin at her accompanying hand actions and facial expressions, but it wasn't enough to disguise the lingering fears he had beneath the surface. "Barry, they're friends, that's it. I don't think I've ever seen someone look at you the way she does." But she wasn't looking at him, he realised. He may have been watching her, but he hadn't caught her eye all night. She was looking at Eddie, laughing at something Eddie had said, the carefree spirit she had now was due to Eddie. He didn't notice how much he had come to enjoy the fact that he could elicit such reactions from her, that he was one of the few, if not the only, person who could do it with such ease until that very moment. The hand that Iris put on his shoulder in a comforting gesture served to snap him out of his musings, pulling him into the conversation once more. "You'll eventually get there Barry, but maybe you need to take that step forward sooner rather than later."
"So you're not worried about that?" He didn't need to specify what he was referring to, his tone saying everything his mouth wasn't.
"No of course not, and you shouldn't be either."
But he was, he thought as he finished off his bottle, he was and he decided that he would do something about it.
... Though, maybe not as himself.
"What are you both doing?" His distorted voice broke through the bubble that surrounded the pair, Caitlin ducking behind her sofa and Eddie picking up his gun, pointing it at the still Flash, attempting to protect Caitlin from whoever the intruder may be. And damn, if that didn't rub Barry the wrong way. Because Eddie had Iris, they were getting married and he was happy for them, but Caitlin? Caitlin was his - she would be his. (Fool him once, shame on you, fool him twice - well, he wouldn't allow a second time. Especially since he intended her to be the last.)
"What the hell are you doing here?" The detective's arm was steady and the safety had been removed the second Barry entered the room, because hero or not, if he moved without explaining himself he would get shot.
"What are you both doing?!" His voice had risen, the sight of them there, together, enraging him further.
"Snow, stay down." Eddie risked a quick glance, confused as to why she was removing herself from the protection of the sofa by slowly rising to her feet.
"No Eddie, it's fine." He faltered as she put a gentle hand on his outstretched arm, pushing it downwards, and he looked at the brunette, wondering what part of this situation could possibly be deemed as fine. "He's a friend."
"You know the Flash? Since when?" He didn't try and hide the shock, his hand dropping easily as he attempted to understand yet another part of her life.
"I was used as bait to lure him out Eddie, I'm pretty sure that should have been your first clue that I knew the man behind the mask." The beginnings of a smile teased her lips, the raised eyebrow taunting the detective.
"You knew for how long exactly? Because that's a pretty big secret to hide from your friends." He pouted at the thought, but then he seemed struck with an idea. "Wait - does Cisco know about his identity too? Because there is no way you could spend so much time with him for him not to know the Flash's identity as well."
"Sorry, but I'm sworn to silence. It's a 'if I tell you, then I have to kill you' sort of thing, and I like you alive." He chuckled at her response and Barry couldn't help but notice her smile back towards the detective.
"Umm, guys." They both turned to Barry, the smile dropping from both their faces. "You still haven't answered my question."
"Oh, you." Her voice lost all hints of playfulness and he was given her attention once more. "What are you doing?" The fact she had had repeated his line back, with only a minor variation, was not lost to him. She didn't seem ashamed or guilty, only annoyed, which should have been his first clue, but blinded by emotions he only continued onward.
"Why are you meeting in secret?"
"I don't think you're in any position to judge about secrets, Flash." The way she spat out his name, as though it were a curse, it wounded him but he didn't stop.
"Do you both realise what you are doing, whose lives you're affecting with all of this? You." He turned to the detective first, finger pointing towards him accusingly. "You're engaged to Iris West, you're getting married in a month. What do you think you're doing with Caitlin Snow? And you - I get that you think he's attractive - " they both ignored the way Eddie's eyebrows rose at the declaration "- but that is no reason to be having an affair with him."
"What?!" He winced, his tirade halting at her tone. "You thought he was cheating on his fiancée - with me?!"
"Umm... there is no good way to answer this question, is there?"
"I'm teaching him to dance!" And that stopped Barry in his tracks.
"Yes. For his wedding. To Iris."
"She volunteered her services." Eddie recovered from his shock quite quickly, his voice adopting a playful tone, teasing the scientist. Barry watched in amazement as some of her anger seeped out of her at his voice, the woman turning to the detective a smirk firmly in place.
"It was more like I was blackmailed into helping, but whatever let's you sleep at night." It felt weird seeing Caitlin acting like that with another person, seeing her so free and happy with another that wasn't Cisco or himself. And he had a feeling that until they clarified just where they stood with the other, it would remain that way.
"Blackmail?" He never attempted to hide the suspicion or annoyance laced in his voice, the thought of her being blackmailed by the detective putting him on edge.
"Don't ask." It was ground out of clenched teeth, fear overtaking her, worried that Eddie would slip out an answer before she could stop him. "We're kidding. Slightly."
"But why her? I mean, there are dance schools available and they would do a more professional job. How did this all happen?" Eddie's eyes flickered towards the woman whose own were studying the floorboards of her apartment.
"Listen, I'm not quite sure how close you two are, but - "
"No Eddie, it's fine." She looked up, eyes watery, and Barry internally cursed himself for being responsible. "Well, umm, it happened the night we all went out for drinks to celebrate their engagement. You may not have realised, but I was little down that evening and for a few days afterwards." But Barry had noticed, he remembered every detail of the night, from the way her soft curls bounced in the strong winds, to the rather copious amounts of alcohol she had consumed. "Anyway, he saw me wallowing in my despair and asked me why I was so upset during a time of celebration." She bit her lip, struggling to contain her emotions that were threatening to overwhelm her. "I told him about Ronnie, about our engagement and how we had taken all these dancing lessons because, while I did ballet when I was younger, Ronnie had two left feet and he was godawful at it." She paused, wiping the tears from her face and running her fingers through her hair, a smile breaking out at the memories. "Crap, I must of gone on for ten minutes complaining about how bad he was, about how much I teased him that getting married had better be worth all the bruises and stubbed toes - about how I never got that far."
"Caitlin." But she continued on, ignoring the way he said her name, his care for her able to be heard through the distortion.
"And so he asked if I could give him lessons as a surprise for Iris." The detective in question flashed her a smile, one she reciprocated immediately, although a bit shakily. "I agreed, because, I don't know, in a way I saw it as letting go of the past and helping make a better future."
"And to save Iris' toes." Eddie interrupted at that point, she flashed him a watery smile, a quiet chuckle escaping her at the memory of their inside joke.
"And to save Iris' toes." She repeated the line back and Barry looked between the two of them, glad that she found someone she was comfortable sharing her fears with and hurt the person wasn't him. "So, have we satisfied your curiosity, are we free from this interrogation?"
"I'm so sorry you guys, I... I..." He was stuttering, his embarrassment and guilt getting the better of him.
"You what? You invaded our privacy, jumped to wild conclusions? What about completely disregarded the fact that she is my friend and he is in love with her?"
"Okay, I get it. I screwed up, I'm sorry, to both of you. I - " He sighed, the disappointment in himself evident, the sorrow present in the noise. "Caitlin." She knew what the hidden plea was underneath his tone was asking her to do. She rolled her eyes before turning to her dance partner, granting the hero his wish.
"Hey Eddie, can you get me a cup of water, this dancing has really left me dehydrated." He looked between the hero and the doctor, his eyes warily taking in the sight in front of him. Everything about her stance and voice told him that she wanted something more than a cup of water, but that she wouldn't be achieving that with his presence in the room. And the hero, the speedster in his bright red uniform, he looked so much smaller now, so much more human, his own eyes pleading that they be given the time alone.
"Sure, sure... I'm just going to head of to the kitchen... out of hearing range. Don't get into trouble you two." And with that, he was off, concern for his friends the last thing Caitlin and Barry could see on his face. As soon as he had left, Barry sped to her, invading her personal space so that he wouldn't have to hide himself any longer.
"Why didn't you tell me?" She sighed in sweet relief at the sound of his normal voice, the soft whisper, music to her ears.
"About what exactly?"
"Ronnie for starters." His voice was so quiet and peaceful; she didn't feel like he was being forceful in his request for answers and so answers came freely flowing.
"Because you know him Barry, you work together from time to time and I just wanted to tell someone who wouldn't see him and know the story and situation; I wanted someone who could lend a sympathetic ear without all the details being necessary, and that person was Eddie. Does that make sense?" She looked up at him, worried he would not understand; she knew that he wouldn't mock or dismiss her, but she wanted him to understand her reasoning, to know that she would have chosen him in a heartbeat if she felt as though she could. And looking into his eyes, she knew that he did.
"And what about the dance lessons?"
"It was for the wedding," she averted her eyes, afraid of what she'll see in his own, but he wouldn't allow it, his finger sliding underneath her chin, raising it. "I thought that it may hurt your feelings to know that I was helping out. I mean, you are - were in love with her and I don't know, I thought that no telling you would protect you somehow." Her tone shook slightly, and he realised that he may not have been quite so clear to her about just how strong his feeling were. But he had lost his voice at that moment and he just watched for a long while, taking in her beauty, both in and out. Because this woman had sought to protect his feelings, he was a hero but he was also human and he had vulnerabilities just as every person does. But she - this beautiful, amazing woman - she recognised and remembered it; she had taken it upon herself to protect the city's protector in any way she could. And he loved her all the more for it. Eventually he got his voice back, her self conscious shuffling awakening him from the stupor he had fallen into.
"But Cait, surely you've realised - "
"Hey Snow, I got your water." Eddie's voice slowed down as he entered the room, his eyes taking in the sight in front of him. "Did I just interrupt something?"
"No." It was simultaneous, the experienced detective noting that they were not being entirely truthful with their answer to him. She drew towards him, accepting the water thankfully, smiling at the man.
"Are you sure? Because it felt like I just interrupted something."
"No you didn't Eddie, the idiot here - " She tilted her head to indicate just who she was referring to, "was apologising for making such ridiculous accusations against us."
"Hey, I'm not an idiot."
"Did you, not ten minutes ago, think I was having an affair with Eddie?" He could only grunt in reply, annoyed and slightly embarrassed with his emotional response. "Then you, my friend, are an idiot." She smirked triumphantly at him and he was reminded yet again at how much she had changed from the cold, stoic doctor he had met all those months ago, so closed off and guarded.
"So... what exactly do have as blackmail on her? I mean, I need to know solely to ensure there is nothing that could jeapordise missions." She could hear the laughter in his voice as he turned to the detective and she knew that she would not be enjoying this turn of conversation. "And as something to use myself, gotta even out the playing field now she can hold this against me."
"Well, let's just say there is a certain forensic scientist she's had her eye on for quite a while, if you know what I mean." Eddie winked at the man in the red suit, unknowingly revealing her secret to the object of her affections.
"Hey! What part of 'secret' do you not understand?" Her cheeks were burning, she could feel the temperature rising and she was absolutely mortified.
"It's not like he's going to tell the guy, the whole 'secret identity' thing must be a damper on a social life."
"He could know the guy too." She hissed the words, unwilling to believe that things had spiralled so out of control.
"Yeah right," Eddie dismissed that statement without a second thought. "I doubt that Barry could keep any secret from Iris. If he knew, she would know too. And she does not."
"Wait - Barry? You like Barry Allen?" Even through the distortion she could hear the mixture of disbelief and excitement in the Flash's voice.
"Oh, it's more than a simple crush, you should see the looks she gives him when they are around each other. She's downright - ooph." Eddie never finished that sentence, the doctor elbowing him in the stomach at his words, cursing her luck.
"Really?" This wasn't how he had planned the conversation to go when he entered her apartment in his Flash uniform, but he couldn't deny that this was infinitely better than anything he could have imagined.
"Though, he isn't that much better, I swear, if you saw them together you'd think they were the one's getting married."
"Okay, you - out." Snapping out of the daze she was in, she found herself pushing the detective out of her door, no real resistance from the man, his energy spent laughing at the petite brunette.
"What about him? Are you kicking him out?" The blond detective was grinning; enjoying the way Caitlin was unable to hide the smile in her eyes, happy that the brunette who had crept her way into his heart knew she had people care for her, even if one of them was the Flash.
"No - he and I are about to have a talk about boundaries, trust and secrets." The whistle Eddie let out before opening the door, his head turning to the man in red one more time.
"I wish you luck man." She slammed the door in his face, embarrassment burning her face, now she and Barry were alone.
"You like me." She could hear the smirk in his voice, smug satisfaction drenching each word. He had pulled back the mask, his face clear of any coverings, his voice returning to normal once more. "You like me like me."
"No, you are not going to distract me."
"Distracting you Caitlin? How? My looks turn you on? Can you not resist me? I mean, who can blame you, you do like me."
"No, no, no. We are discussing your lack of and that you thought I would willing engage in an affair with Eddie, knowing that it would hurt both you and Iris, who is my friend too. We are not discussing whatever I feel about you."
"I think Eddie's wrong." Her head jerked up at his words, but he wasn't finished. "I think you are in love with me." He stalked her determined, admiring how she decided to stand her ground, enjoying how close they were, their bodies brushing against each other with every breath.
"W- what?" She sputtered, surprised at how easily he read her, surprised at how accurately that captured her feelings. Not that she would willingly tell him. "How did you get there? I'll admit I may harbour a teensy crush. Small. Minuscule really. But I'm not in love with you Barry." She had kept firm, but he saw the slight falter at the end, her eyes dropping slightly to his lips, licking her own subconsciously.
"You should just admit it Caitlin, admit that you're in love with me." And really, he wasn't playing a fair game, invading her space the way he did. "Admit it." His eyes danced as he teased her, so light she felt as though it lifted her own burdens away.
"Maybe you should admit that you were jealous. That you couldn't stand the thought of Eddie's hands on me, that you were so blinded by rage you couldn't see it was a simple dance lesson." And given the growl that escaped at the mere mention of Eddie touching her, the way his grip on her hips tightened at the thought, pulling her closer to him, she was quite sure a confession wouldn't be needed.
"I hate the thought of any man's hands on you. Any. Man. Damn, it was torture Caitlin, seeing you both like that and knowing I had never had the opportunity." Well, who's fault was that? It was on the tip of her tongue, but she had caught his eyes and her mouth went dry at what she could see in it. "So," his voice was gruff and she had a feeling she wouldn't be waiting much longer for him to make a move. "Are you willing to admit it now?"
"No." And so he leaned down and captured her lips in his. A small gasp left her, swallowed by the kiss, Barry using the opening to deepen it, his tongue sweeping in, memorising every inch, every reaction. And Caitlin was gone, floating off into utter bliss, his mouth and hands the only thing keeping her grounded to earth. She responded eagerly, greedily taking as much as he would offer, fully immersing herself in everything that was Barry Allen.
He pulled away slowly, looking at the affect it had on his personal physician, taking in the way her eyes remained closed, the warm flush that coloured her cheeks, the way she seemed to sway slightly as he stopped. But his eyes were forced down, the smile adorning her face lighting up the entire room and his heart. He had seen many of her smiles before but that one, the one on her face now, he would consider it a life well spent if he dedicated every moment to having it on her face. "You are in love with me, right?"
"Mmmm." She couldn't pronounce complete words, her ability to speak literally kissed away by the man, but she seemed to radiate contentment and joy that he took it as a noise in the affirmative. She went on her toes, mouth clumsily seeking his again, eyes still closed and who was he to deny such a request? Meeting her midway, he sealed their lips together, enjoying the moment between them, full of hope and promises for a future together. She pulled away after a long while, but it was impossible to stop, small kisses peppered on the other's lips as they allowed themselves to bask in the release.
"Good." Her eyes opened, her mind slowly adjusting itself to reality. She looked in his eyes, taking in everything she could, willingly drowning in all she saw. "Because I'm in love with you too."