Just a quick one-shot based on an awesome prompt by Ishipit87. Happy Birthday Sweetie! You're the best partner in crime I could ask for! *hugs*
This could conceivably happen mid-season 2 if you want to be picky, or in my brain anytime because I refuse to admit Henry is dead.
It took some time, but eventually Barry began to notice some odd behavior in both his best friend and his father, and they seemed to be feeding off each other.
At first, it was just a small thing here and there. Like the time Iris was congratulating him on his forensic insight that ended up cracking open a difficult case, and Henry had suddenly chimed in his words of affirmation too. In a somewhat louder tone. Complete with a hug and a pat on the back. And he slightly pushed Iris out of the way to do it. It was awkward, but Barry attributed it to his father's over-excitement at being out of prison and able to do so.
Or the day he and his father had been discussing his latest battle against a meta-human as the Flash. Henry was beaming with pride and telling him what a hero he was. Suddenly Iris had an emergency in the kitchen and only Barry could help. Which did seem a little strange in hindsight, since just about anyone in the house could peel carrots as well as he could.
While he stood at the sink running a vegetable peeler up and down, Iris told him she was making the Flash's latest daring feats the topic of her next article.
"The hero this city deserves!" she had gushed. Barry couldn't be sure but he thought he detected a derisive snort from the dining room, similar to the ones his father used to give him when he came up with a particularly unbelievable piece of fiction his eight or nine-year-old mind actually thought Henry would buy.
The strangest part was the twenty dollar bill he was sure he saw his father slide across the table toward Iris after dinner, and he didn't look too happy about it either. Even more suspect was the fact that they waited until Barry was taking dishes into the kitchen to initiate the transfer. He wouldn't have noticed at all if he hadn't turned back to see if he could fit more into his current load and save himself a trip. Iris' gloating face made it pretty clear she wasn't asking for a loan.
Later when he casually asked about it Iris denied it completely. That's when Barry knew something was fishy.
After that, he kept a close watch on the two of them. It happened on a regular basis. One would be talking to him, the other would interrupt. Henry would text him a supportive message or story, and somehow Iris would show up at the lab with lunch. "For the best best friend I could ever have." Iris gave him tickets to the movies as a reward for all his hard work as the Flash, Henry somehow wrangled tickets to a concert Barry had been dying to see. Barry caught a twenty changing hands shortly after, and Iris looked like she had just sucked on a lemon. Barry was secretly amazed at how the simple act of pretending not to notice made both of them less aware of how much they were showing him. Or maybe it was his powers lending him a sped-up perception.
On it went. The twenties were regularly changing hands, both Iris and his dad seemed to be focused on Barry, and it was almost too much. Henry took him to dinner to celebrate a hard-earned raise and while they had a very nice evening, Barry could detect a bit of smugness in his father the entire time. Until they arrived at home and found Iris waiting with peanut butter hot fudge brownie sundaes supreme, complete with whipped cream, nuts and two cherries on top. Barry didn't miss the smugness sliding off his father's face, though it was an afterthought considering his mouth was full of fudge and ice cream at the moment. Henry gave him a hug and promised lobster next time despite Barry's protests, and when Henry gave Iris a quick hug Barry caught the telltale corner of green paper in her fist before it disappeared into her pocket. Henry headed out the door shaking his head, and Iris slid a second sundae Barry's way with a smug smile.
He could have demanded the truth from either one or both of them. He could have used his speed to go through their phones, computers or apartments looking for more information. But for some reason, he didn't want to. It wasn't just the myriad of affection and support coming his way. The gifts weren't bad either. But it was the intrigue of the whole deal that caught him up the most. It was far more interesting to go on pretending he didn't know anything and watch his best friend and his father give each other looks when they thought he didn't see, or covertly catching them in the act of slipping a twenty over. It was a mystery he was intent on following, considering he seemed to be the major factor prompting the exchanges and behavior. Were they paying each other to do things for him? Trading funds to make sure they both could? That made no sense.
One night a large family dinner fast became a stimulating guessing game as Barry realized both Iris and Henry were jumping into the general conversation with barely related comments that always came back to him. Wally found himself stumped and confused when his story of a childhood illness was virtually high-jacked as Henry diverted the conversation to talk about Barry's first shots as a baby, complete with Henry's fond memories of soothing his cranky infant son afterward. Barry managed to stop blushing long enough to note Iris' eyes narrowing in a semi-threatening manner, and though he was watching carefully he never saw a twenty transfer either way.
The very next day he managed to leave work early. He had finished everything that needed to be done and due to the slight lull in recent crime he had nothing new to process. He headed home to change clothes and see if there was anything he could do on the Flash side of things. After dinner, of course. He was hungry.
He came in the front door, and while he wasn't trying to be incredibly quiet the slightly raised voices coming from the dining room caught his attention enough that he didn't want to interrupt. He carefully closed the door as he recognized two very familiar voices arguing.
"Are you telling me that defending Barry from bullies in his youth counts? Isn't that something you naturally would have done? How does it work for him?"
"It shows him he is worth defending. Don't look at me like that, you're the one who started with this particular angle."
Intrigued, Barry quietly tiptoed to the stairs and leaned against the wall to listen. Iris continued where she had left off. "While we're at it, can you seriously claim that the bacteria samples you sent from prison count? They were for a science project."
Henry's voice was lofty. "You have no idea how hard that was. They were nervous Barry's findings were going to be part of some big expose on prison cleanliness. Or lack of it. Not to mention permission to mail them out. It's only because I was such a model prisoner and devoted dad that my warden even allowed it. And I had to trade my fruit cups for a month to get the supplies from a fellow inmate."
There was a small pause. "All right fine," Iris' voice was resigned.
Barry's curiosity was killing him. He stepped around the corner. "What are you two doing?"
Listening to their voices in no way prepared him for the sight that greeted his eyes. Henry and Iris were hunched over opposite sides the dining room table, both heads snapping up and gaping at him in surprise and horror. A cardboard box was on a chair, half of its contents pulled out and spread across the table. Bound albums Barry recognized as photo albums from their youth were stacked next to Iris. She had a pen in her hand and a pad of paper in front of her, though now the pen was dangling forgotten in her fingers as she stared at Barry. Barry saw Henry visibly swallow.
Barry stepped closer. "What's going on?" Iris and Henry looked at each other and then back at him but neither spoke. Barry came a few more steps into the room until he was next to the table as well. He scanned the table and recognized memorabilia from his childhood before his father went to prison and his father's journals from his time inside. He glanced back at the photo albums. And squarely in the middle of the table was a twenty dollar bill.
"Are you guys…arguing about me?" Barry looked from one to the other, still trying to piece it together.
Iris and Henry looked at each other again. Iris sighed. "Okay. Barry, we were just a little concerned about you. You seemed to lose so much confidence after Zoom broke your back." Henry nodded vigorously as he moved from his side of the table next to her. "We just wanted to help support you and get some of your confidence back."
"We wanted to give you a boost," Henry contributed.
Barry stared at them as he took that in. He glanced back at the table. "Then why the trip to the past?"
"Uhh," Iris turned to Henry for help.
Henry faced his son, fidgeting. "We may have gotten a bit…competitive about it. Made things a bit more interesting."
Barry looked back at the twenty dollar bill and it all fell into place. "You guys were betting each other who could support me more?"
They both looked sheepish now. Iris spoke again. "It started with good intentions, we wanted to help you get your confidence back. We just got a little carried away." She moved a step toward Barry, away from Henry. "But still, it wouldn't have gotten this far if your dad hadn't tried to bring past actions into this to try to win." She nodded at the pad of paper still on the table, and Barry realized they had been tallying past deeds in search of a winner of the Barry's Best Cheerleader Award.
"Hey!" protested Henry, "You're the one who brought in gifts and treats to get one over on me."
Barry held up a hand. "Whose idea was it to bet money?"
They looked at each other, stymied. It was clear they had no idea who had actually initiated a monetary bet. Barry stifled a grin. "Look, guys. Thank you. Thank you so much. I did lose my confidence for a while but I'm doing better now, and you don't have to go out of your way to be my cheerleaders." He gave them a grateful smile. Iris and Henry traded a glance, chagrined but pleased. Barry continued. "I know you guys are always there for me, and I know you'll always support me. So maybe you should just give back the money you got from each other."
"Well actually…" Iris turned to Henry.
"That's it." Henry finished for her, pointing to the twenty on the table.
Barry's jaw dropped. "You guys have been trading the same twenty back and forth this whole time?"
It didn't occur to either to realize Barry had taken note of just how many times that twenty had changed hands. Henry shrugged.
"What can I say, Iris is a worthy competitor."
Iris turned to him, touched. "Aww, thank you! You're pretty good too." Henry almost blushed. Barry had to clear his throat to get their attention again.
Barry shook his head as an idea occurred. "Okay. Fine. So I guess the only way to handle this is—" He sped to the table and back in a nanosecond, now with the twenty in his hand "—I should get this." He folded it and tucked it smugly into a back pocket.
Both Iris and Henry were immediately outraged.
"Why should you have it?"
Barry gave them a superior look, safe in the knowledge that they couldn't get it away from him. "It's just to give me a boost, right? Increase my confidence? And you guys don't know who really started the bet anyway. Plus I need some food and this will get me at least three pizzas. Later!"
He sped out the front door, leaving both his father and his best friend staring in aggravation at the turn of events. There were twenty seconds of complete silence, except for Iris' irritated huff exhaling. Henry folded his arms.
Finally, he addressed Iris while they both still stared at the door as if it were Barry.
"I bet you twenty more bucks I can get a better revenge on him than you can."
Iris' lips curved into a devious smile. "I bet you a sundae both of us would get a better revenge working together."
Henry's jaw dropped before he too smiled. "Deal."
Iris put her hand in the air, and he slapped it.
Barry had no idea what he had just started.
LOL ok now I kind of want to write another one detailing the revenge, but I'd have to think on it first.
Time will tell, and if I do I'll be sure to link to this one. :)
Thanks for reading!