Summary: In which Barry gets Caitlin to dance in the Cortex in the middle of the day, in her lab coat, in the wake of a botched experiment that she isn't supposed to be enjoying as much as she is.
Notes: For my friend Gaby (Title Unwanted), because it's her birthday and because what she said about having sugar rushes inspired this fic. Enjoy!
Word Count: ~1,700
"So… let me get this straight," Cisco said, tilting his head at the whirlwind of papers that was falling on the floor of the Cortex, "you gave Barry a test serum to increase his speed, and it seems like it's working, but you're upset because…?"
"Well," Caitlin said irritably, snatching whatever papers she could before they got sucked into the whirlwind or floated out into the street or spontaneously combusted or something, because really, at the speed Barry was going he might just inadvertently set himself and everything else on fire, "well, I thought that a few stimulants and steroids would increase his body's energy reserves—"
"You gave Barry steroids?" Cisco said in disbelief, swatting the papers away from his face. "Cait—"
"His metabolism can take it," she said quickly, "I made sure of that beforehand, but—"
"—this is pretty awesome, though," Cisco whistled, taking a look at the device that monitored Barry's speed levels, "he's going 2000 miles an hour. That's 500 miles more than his average."
"Yes, but it's also affected his speech and cognition, and I fac—" Caitlin's sentence was cut short with a gasp when a red streak whooshed by her, sending her hair all over her face, and a few seconds later there was a barely coherent yell of "Whooo! This is great I feel like I can do anything YOU KNOW GUYS WE SHOULD TAKE OVER THE WORLD!" resounding in the lab.
Caitlin sighed, plopping on the swivel chair beside Cisco, and said, "I factored in the possibility that he would experience some psychological side effects of intense euphoria and decreased inhibition, aside from physical side effects of rapid-fire speech, but I thought that—"
"So, in short," Cisco cut in, raising his brows, "you gave him something like a sugar rush?"
"Well, yes, it could be put that way," Caitlin said, rubbing her temples. "God, it's been five minutes and he's already been around the city like ten times, and this'll take another half-hour to wear off…"
"Don't we have sedatives?" Cisco said, by now already used to the flurry of papers and office supplies suspended in the mini-vortex of air, "you always keep extras, right?"
"No," she said glumly, "We're out of stock, and at this rate I don't think we can make Barry stand still, anyway."
"We can just leave him like this, right? I mean, what's the harm?"
In the background, Barry was speaking so fast that it was practically gibberish, but even so Caitlin could tell that all his pauses were punctuated with an exclamation point. She sighed. "Well, technically yes, but I wanted him to avoid experiencing the crash."
"Hm," Cisco mumbled, "I'll go check if Harry can do anything about this."
"I'll go with—"
"Nuh-uh!" Cisco sang, wagging a finger at her, "This," he said, "is your fault, so you're staying to babysit."
She was about to argue, but it really was her fault, so she found herself at a loss for a comeback. "Ugh, fine," she huffed instead, pushing her hair out of her eyes for the nth time, and in a fit of irritation plucked a rubber band from the vortex and used it to tie her hair in a haphazard ponytail. Really, she mused as Cisco left, she should have checked if they still had sedatives before she administered the serum to Barry—and in the first place she should've had Harry to cross-check the ingredients of the serum. But Barry had also been so eager to try it…
She sighed and made her way to the device monitoring Barry's speed, carefully avoiding any stray projectiles. The screen read 1,927 miles an hour. Caitlin sighed in relief—he was slowing down, so that meant the serum was slowly beginning to wear off.
She started when she heard her name, and took a step back when the red streak skidded to a halt in front of her. Behind him, the papers and office supplies started falling to the ground in spiral trajectories. "I've been calling your name like a hundred times before I realised you couldn't actually understand me so I had to stop but isn't this great! Now I can finally beat Zoom! This is awesome! Amazing! Astounding! Spectacular! Stupendous! —Hmmm give me another superlative because I can't seem to think of one right now they're all crowded in my mind come on I need another super sexy superlative hey that was some alliterating I did there I AM A POET…!"
In reality, Barry spoke like he didn't know what spaces between words were, so Caitlin just stared at his jittery form and waited until he finally ran out of breath. "Okay, Barry, I need you to try to calm down and take a few deep breaths—"
"Cait I can't stay still can we talk while moving can we flash around Central—"
"No!" Caitlin said quickly, "No, Barry, we have to stay here, okay? Your condition is extremely unstable and—"
"Come on please Cait," he said, giving her a look that made it seem like being cooped up in the lab was physically painful to him. "Please please please please please—oh I know if you don't want to flash around we could dance instead!"
Caitlin blinked. "Barry, no, I can't dance—"
"Come on come on come on!" he grabbed her arm excitedly, and at that a memory of her drunk self calling him up to the stage at that bar came back to her unbidden. She groaned and thought that karma really was a bitch. "Here let me just play some music on my phone—" In the next moment, a catchy pop song was playing in the lab, and Barry started dancing the moonwalk, dougie, harlem shake, nae nae, and other dance moves she could no longer recognise in quick, disjointed succession that hardly coincided with the beat, and she couldn't help but laugh.
"You're not dancing," Barry accused, and Caitlin noted that he seemed to have a little difficulty with breathing, and his speech was slowing. "Come on," he said, grinning and holding out his hand to her, and then, almost as an afterthought, he bowed from his waist with a flourish, "dance with me, Dr. Snow?"
"Barry, I really can't dance—"
"Sure you can! Just copy me!" he chirped, pulling her to the middle of Cortex, his phone blaring out another pop song. Caitlin flushed when his hand moved from her forearm to her hand, twining his fingers with hers, and she would be lying if she said that she hadn't imagined this a few times—but she definitely never imagined that they would, well, 'hold hands' in the middle of a lab…
And then he abruptly dropped her hand. "Hm," he muttered, "this is too messy for a dance floor, give me a sec." Caitlin tried not to seem disappointed, and she slowly curled her fingers into a ball, as if to preserve the memory of his fingers there, while he flashed the papers back into their piles and the office supplies back into the drawers. Afterwards, he skidded in front of her again and beamed. "Ready, Dr. Snow? First I'll be teaching you the Math Dance, which was the first dance I ever learned, and which I think you'll appreciate…"
A smile tugged on Caitlin's lips as she watched him demonstrate the moves for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, parenthesis-squared and square root, and before she knew it she was dancing math moves to Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off", to which the moves seemed to be perfectly in sync with. After three repetitions, Barry yelled, "Freestyle!" and in the split-second that Caitlin was at a loss at what to do, Barry had grabbed her hand and lifted it above her head. She understood the gesture, and with a roll of her eyes and a fond smile, she allowed herself to be twirled, once, twice, thrice—
"Barry!" she protested as he sent her on her seventh twirl, although the protest was half-hearted because she was bursting with laughter, "stop!"
He finally did, and it was so abrupt that she swayed a bit, but his hand was immediately on her waist, steadying her. Caitlin's hand grasped his forearm, and she was a bit unsettled at how close he was, how she could feel the heat from his skin from under his suit—he was always so warm—and how his breath stirred the hairs on her head. She bit her lip. Barry smiled.
"Maybe it's time for a slow-dance?" he said. Along with the breathlessness, Caitlin noticed that the manic, unhesitant nature of his speech had gone, and its place was a tentative undertone that was much more characteristic of Barry.
"Tired, Mr. Allen?" she teased, allowing herself to relax in his arms. "Or have you run out of moves to show me?"
"Never," he said, grinning. "But, well, I think I'm crashing. My head's starting to throb."
Caitlin scrunched her brow in immediate concern. "Maybe you should take a seat—"
"It's not that bad," he says quickly, his fingers tightening almost imperceptibly on her waist. "I think I should, you know, take it slow instead of sitting down, since—"
"—right, abrupt cessation of movement could make it worse."
"Right," he said. "So…" he gave her a sheepish smile, "won't you dance with me?"
Caitlin placed her hand on his shoulder and smiled back. "Well, since this whole thing was my fault, I suppose I can keep you company."
"Hey, it wasn't so bad," he said lightly, as they swayed to the tune more mellow pop song, "I mean, I got you to dance."
"You'll tell no one about it," she said, feigning a look of stern warning.
"My lips are sealed," he said solemnly, "since your dancing is worse than your singing—"
She made to step on his foot, but he anticipated the movement and quickly slid it to the side, and she ended up stomping the ground with a force that left her foot tingling afterwards. He grinned at her flustered expression. "Keep insulting me," she said, sulking, "and I'll make sure that you'll never get rid of that headache…"
Barry laughed and nudged her into another twirl, and Caitlin allowed herself another smile. They weren't any closer to improving Barry's speed or to defeating Zoom, but sometimes these detours were important, too, in their own way.
Much thanks to anskyfighter, Angel-of-the-Seas, AReiss215, Aleprettycat, fannieherr, Title Unwanted, jdcocoagirl, Duchess Emma, and inmycastleofblue for reviewing. If you haven't heard of the math dance, you should look it up, although I don't know what YouTube calls it... Anyway, have a great week!