Author's Note: As much as I love Westallen, I'll be the first to admit that Barry and Patty's relationship was adorable while it lasted. So this is just a quickly written, short one shot AU in which Patty storms over to confront Barry after finding out that his sickness excuse is bullshit in 2x07. I know that by this point Barry could walk with a cane, but I switched it up a bit for the sake of this and have him not quite walking yet. Enjoy!
He hates the canned stuff.
The words Joe had said echoed through Patty's head again as she focused her eyes on the road ahead of her, gripping the steering wheel tightly. He had lied. Barry had lied to her. And the worst part about it was that she had no idea why. But for some reason, her boyfriend was faking being sick – and he didn't want her to come see him.
She had stopped by Joe's house first, figuring he might be there. Upon realizing that no one was home, she had quickly left and started driving towards the only other place she could think of that he might be hiding out in: STAR Labs. She knew that after his whole lightning accident, he had become good friends with his former caretakers, and often hung around the complex for company and for the occasional help on a hard-to-crack case. The detective wasted no time rolling into the parking lot and pulling off a less than satisfactory parking job in her haste to get inside. She had never actually been inside before, but just from hearing Barry talking about it, she knew the 6th floor was the only one they still used; it wasn't hard to find an elevator to take her up, though finding the area her boyfriend called the Cortex was a little more difficult. She was finally able to amble the right way when she heard voices echoing down the corridor. As she approached, she could easily identify them as Caitlin, Cisco, and, a she had predicted, Barry.
Patty let out a frustrated huff as she hovered outside of the door to the Cortex, concealed safely from sight behind the wall as she briefly mulled over what she would say to Barry when she caught him red-handed. What she suddenly heard going on inside, however, caused her to freeze in place and listen.
"Agh!" came what was clearly the frustrated and pained voice of Barry, followed by a cross between a surprised and irritated exclamation from Caitlin.
"Barry, what did I just say? Chair! Chair!" she admonished, followed by a grunt of effort from both her and Cisco. Curiosity and concern piqued even with her annoyance with Barry, she couldn't help but lean forward, cautiously poking her head just slightly around the corner. She had to physically clap a hand over her mouth to stop a noise of surprise from eeking out as she saw Caitlin and Cisco lifting a very grumpy looking Barry into a wheelchair.
"I'm sick of this," her boyfriend ground out, a scowl on his face and his knuckles white as he angrily squeezed the arm rests once he was settled into the contraption. Caitlin gave him a look full of pity.
"Barry," she said gently. "You've made so much progress. Any normal person wouldn't have recovered from this at all. I promise, you'll be walking and running again soon. But you need to give it time; you're still healing. It's a miracle you're able to even stand at this point."
"But Zoom is still out there!" he yelled angrily. "And I can't do anything to stop him!"
"Dude –" Cisco started, but Barry cut him off.
"The whole city saw what he did," he grumbled. "They probably think I'm dead, or too embarrassed to show my face again. If I don't get back out there, they'll lose all faith in me."
"Barry, you will get back out there. And we'll all stop Zoom – together, as a team. But you need to have some patience."
Barry sighed, rubbing a hand tiredly over his face. "I'm trying," he said quietly.
Caitlin put a hand gently on his shoulder. "For now, work on learning how to maneuver that thing better," she said. "We can try walking again later." And with that she walked out of the room. Cisco gave him what must have been his best attempt at a reassuring smile before following after Caitlin.
Patty's eyes were wide as she watched them go, watched Barry's shoulders slump as he put his head in his hands. Because suddenly, everything seemed to make sense, and she was kicking herself for not having made the connection sooner.
Barry was the Flash. Her boyfriend was the Flash. And he wasn't sick. He had been beaten to a fucking bloody pulp by an evil speedster and paralyzed.
"Holy shit," she couldn't stop herself from saying aloud, and Barry's head suddenly snapped up. His eyes widened as they met hers, and a series of emotions ran across his face.
"Patty," he said quickly, and tried to stand but nearly fell again, wincing as he sank resignedly back into the wheelchair. "I, uhm – I can explain –"
"Barry," Patty cut him off gently, sheepishly stepping into the room. He flushed, and she could tell in that moment that he just knew she had heard everything. He bit at his lip.
"You heard that," he said, slowly this time. It wasn't phrased as a question, confirming her suspicions. She nodded.
"I did," she said, and Barry sighed.
"This is a hell of a way for you to find out," he said, chuckling darkly. "I – I wanted to tell you sooner. But things are complicated, and…" he trailed off.
"Are you okay?" she asked gently, and Barry looked surprised by the question, clearly not expecting it to be the first thing out of her mouth. He took a moment to respond.
"I'm…healing," he said quietly. "Not permanently paralyzed, so that's somewhat of a plus I guess."
"That's not what I meant," she said, stepping closer to him, and Barry's face softened a bit at her clear concern over his well being, and not, apparently, just physically.
"I will be," he said. "After we catch Zoom."
Barry uttered the name like it was the worst kind of curse, a dangerous look in his eyes. And Patty knew well how he was feeling, because it was the same look she often had on her own face before she had caught the man who killed her father.
"You'll catch him," she said confidently, and she felt her heart swell as she watched the small smile that spread across his face. "And I want to help." The smile quickly dissipated.
"Patty – I don't want you in the crossfire," he said seriously. "If Zoom ever got to you –"
"He won't," she said firmly. "And you're not going to change my mind on this. I'll do whatever it takes, even if it's just detective work."
Barry sighed, looking at her. "You and your stubbornness," he said.
"You and yours," she retorted, and Barry couldn't help but let out an amused snort.
"Fine," he said, and Patty grinned triumphantly. "But this isn't going to be easy."
"I know," she said, taking in the sight of his wheelchair-bound body. Barry grimaced a little as he noticed, and she moved to put a hand on his shoulder. "We'll get through this together."
Barry smiled wistfully. "I hope so."