Cisco glanced at Caitlin as they drove along the dark streets. Fragile as she was, she was trying to put on a brave face, at least for Barry's sake. He had lost his father tonight. They had both hesitated to leave, but Joe had insisted. He had pointed out that they all needed rest, and as exhausted as they were, they would be of no help to Barry. It was a fairly short drive from the Wests' home to Caitlin's, and they remained silent the entire time. The radio hummed quietly, drowning out the road noise. Cisco stopped the van outside her apartment and turned off the engine. It was late, after midnight. He turned to her. "Let me come up with you."
"It's okay. I'm fine," she insisted, removing her seatbelt. She opened the door and stepped out, rummaging through her purse for her keys.
He jumped out and jogged around the front of the van to meet her. She said she was fine but he knew her better than that. "Look, you just escaped Zoom, and now Henry…" He sighed. "You shouldn't be alone."
"Cisco, really, I'm okay." She stood outside the door, keys in hand.
He shifted uncomfortably, averting his eyes. "Maybe…maybe I don't want to be alone." He glanced up at her after a moment and saw she was smiling.
She took a step towards him and looped her arm through his. "All right, come on up and I'll make you some tea."
Cisco frowned. "I was thinking more along the lines of a glass of whiskey," he said as he climbed the stairs behind her. She sniffed, but didn't respond.
When they reached her apartment she unlocked the door. Before she opened it, though, she turned around. "Just give me a second to clean up, okay?"
"Sure," he shrugged. He crossed his arms, waiting outside the door, which was slightly ajar. He heard glass bottles clinking together. Then he heard a crash, following by cursing. "Cait?" he said, pushing the door open. She was crouched down, sweeping a broken bottle into a dustpan. He grabbed a nearby garbage bag, holding it out. He noticed it was filled with wine and liquor bottles.
"Thanks," she said, emptying the dustpan into the bag. She pushed her hair out of her face. "You weren't supposed to see that."
He tied the bag and set it outside. "We all have our low points."
"It helps me sleep," Caitlin said weakly. She turned on her electric kettle and grabbed two mugs. "Is chamomile okay?" He nodded. "People say it's a natural sedative. It's really just a form of the placebo effect—people think it will work, so it does." He loved that she started rattling off scientific trivia when she was anxious. He shook his head a little and told that voice in his head to stop thinking about her that way. This was not the time for romance.
She handed him a steaming mug, and he grabbed a hold of the tea bag, drawing it up and down through the water. He watched her as she did the same. "You can always talk to me. You know that, right?"
She leaned against the counter. "Of course."
"'Cause if you're going through something, I want to help," he went on.
Caitlin pulled a pill bottle from her purse, shaking it. "I've got these." She pursed her lips, staring at the bottle. "I got them after Ronnie…well, the first time. And then I started taking them when he really did die." She blinked rapidly, looking up at him. "And now I'm on them for what Zoom did to me. And they're just barely keeping me from going crazy." She sipped at her tea, watching him. He didn't know what to say and she knew it. "How are you holding up?"
"What do you mean? I wasn't kidnapped by Zoom," he brushed her off.
She cocked her head. "No, but you are plagued by visions you can't control and you don't want to see." Now it was his turn to hide behind his mug, sipping at his too-hot tea. "We're both going through something we never wanted to experience, but at least…at least we're together." She gave him a weak smile.
"What I can do," he began, "if I could control it, I mean…it's a lot of power." She stared at him cautiously. "I can see other timelines. I blew back Black Siren with some vibrational force. And I can vibe people just by thinking about them." He paused. "I'm not going to use these powers for evil, but…what if someone else forces me to?" He bit his lip. "If someone ever used you against me, I wouldn't hesitate. I'd do anything to get you back, Caitlin."
She didn't respond right away. He exhaled slowly, closing his eyes for a moment. He'd revealed too much and he'd made her uncomfortable. "I know," she said at length. "Just like you've already done for your brother, and just like you would do for Barry." She put a hand on his shoulder, giving it a squeeze. "I'd do anything for you too."
Cisco shook his head, setting the mug down. "Of course you would," he muttered. He ran a hand through his hair, walking away.
Caitlin stared after him, confused. "Cisco!" He turned to face her, and she threw her arms up. "You wouldn't want me to do anything to save you?"
"Hell no. Not if it means putting yourself in danger." He crossed his arms. "You've been through enough. I don't want you putting your life on the line for me."
"Too bad," Caitlin snapped. "We've been through too much for me to agree to that." He couldn't help but smile. She sure was stubborn. "That's settled, then." She finished off her tea. "We should get some sleep."
"Yeah, sleep would be good." He debated telling her how he felt about her as he watched her leaning against the wall, hugging her arms. He wanted to tell her that he loved her, that ever since Dante had stolen the love of his life, he had only ever felt that way about one other person, and that was Caitlin. Besides, what was she waiting for, standing in the hallway? Maybe she felt it too.
"Well, goodnight," she said, starting towards her bedroom.
"Caitlin, wait." And before he could stop himself, he was kissing her. He was kissing her. He reminded himself again that this was no time for romance, but he couldn't stop. And she wasn't stopping him either. In fact, it seemed like she was enjoying it, maybe even as much as he was. She pushed him up against the wall and he let his hands wander up under her blouse. Sure, he had had her in his arms before, but never like this. It was like he was touching her for the first time. And her hands were all over him to, exploring every inch, grasping at his shirt and his hair. They moved down the hallway, clumsily bumping into pictures and knocking over at least one vase. And then they were in her bedroom, and he was on top of her, his hands tangled in her hair. She pulled off his shirt, smiling in between kisses. At some point her blouse had come unbuttoned, but he wasn't sure when. His hands were moving faster than his mind could handle. Her skin felt soft and warm against his. He couldn't believe what they were doing. Sure, it wasn't quite what he'd imagined, but these were dire times. Every second counted. He was fumbling with her bra when he suddenly stopped.
"What's wrong?" she said, her fingers in his hair.
He pulled away, sitting up. She pulled her shirt up around her shoulders shyly. "We can't do this now," he said without looking at her. "It's not you," he said before she could respond. "You're perfect."
"Then what is it?" she asked, covering up.
Cisco sighed. He couldn't believe he was saying this. "Neither one of us is in a good place right now, and it wouldn't be right."
"You think you're taking advantage of me?" she said flatly. "You're not. I want this," she insisted.
He looked at her. "God, I hope you believe me when I say this is the hardest thing I've ever done." He tried to think of things that made him miserable: dead puppies, dead puppies, dead puppies. "I want this too…more than you know."
"Then give in to it," she said, grabbing a hold of his hand. "We deserve a little fun." She pulled him into another kiss, and he gave into it.
"No, nope." He pulled away, standing up. "Let's just press pause on this. Just until this Zoom thing is over. Caitlin, I don't want to give Zoom any other reason to hurt you." He suddenly felt self-conscious, standing there without his shirt.
"Okay," she said. "I get it. You're right." She looked flustered, embarrassed. "We need to focus on getting rid of Zoom. Everything else can wait." She handed him his shirt. "Um, let me get you a blanket. You can sleep on the couch."
He pulled on his shirt, awkwardly. "Great, thanks." He kicked himself for ruining a perfectly perfect moment. He spent the next hour trying to convince himself he had done the right thing. He hoped he at least had convinced Caitlin.
The next morning was uncomfortable, to say the least. Both of them were trying very hard to pretend the night before had never happened. They were surprisingly good at it, or maybe it was just because everyone was a little off due to Henry Allen's death, so they didn't look conspicuous. The morning of Henry's funeral was the first time they had been alone together in several days. Cisco had caught up with her after the service as she headed to the gravesite.
"You okay?" he said, handing her a few tissues.
Caitlin nodded. "I will be." She sniffled. "I didn't know him that well, but it just brings back memories of losing my own dad. And I can't stop thinking about how Barry must be feeling." She dabbed at her eyes, trying to wipe away the tears without smudging her makeup.
"I just wonder if things will ever be the same," he said thoughtfully. "Can he come back from this? Can we come back from this? And if we can't, can we ever beat Zoom?"
"We have to," Caitlin said. She looked at him. "We have to beat him. If we don't, the world as we know it is gone." She was right. There was no argument there. They walked slowly through the cemetery, reaching the gravesite along with the others. When Cisco felt the first few droplets of rain, he opened his umbrella. Caitlin stepped closer to him, getting underneath the umbrella. He felt her fingers brush against his and then she clasped his hand. He squeezed back. Tonight was uncertain, tomorrow was uncertain. He didn't even know how many tomorrows he had left. But right now he had Caitlin, and he was certain of one thing: he would do anything to protect her.