## Chapter 1 - Waking Up
When he flashes back to the future—not his home future, but the new timeline he's yarned—he turns up in a dark room. Streetlight oozes through the windows, filling it with impressions. A bed, a desk with a laptop, shelves with tomes, a wardrobe and an armchair. It takes him a while to recognize his old bedroom in the Allen residence. It takes him a while because his bedroom back at the Wests is a lot more cluttered.
Was, a voice in his mind corrects. He stares at blank for a while, the weight of that single word settling in. It is hard to fathom that he will no longer find a home there, that his home timeline doesn't exist somewhere in some way or form. It is hard, but it is the way it's supposed to be, he thinks, his brows closing in with determination.
"Getting sentimental, Allen?"
Thawne's voice jolts him back to reality. He cradles the yellow speedster by a set of handcuffs. He's without his powers so that is giving Barry an advantage.
"Getting justice," he mutters. He bolts out of the house and onto the streets until he finds a forgotten warehouse. He builds a speedproof cage within a few rounds and throws him in. Ignoring Reverse's promises about seeing him again soon, he speeds away and never looks back.
When he stops running, he is back at his room. The outline of his door shapes in the dark. The question makes its appearance. He knows they're there, but he still needs to reassure his eyes. He takes a step forward.
Pain sizzles his head. His eyesight blurs momentarily and his stomach churns. He gasps, pressing his palm on his temple, and falls down on his knees. The time jumps must have affected his biochemical structure.
His first instinct is to wait for the sound of the solution that will bring the end to his pain. But there's no Cait on the other side to aid him. He wonders where she is in this new universe. Who she is. The thought passes like seasonal birds.
God, what has he done?
A thin patch of light gradually fans out on the floor. He realizes someone has opened his door. He grips the last thread of strength available to him and, in the split second it takes for the door to open wholly, he flashes out of his suit and into casual clothes.
And there she stands. Alive and healthy and more beautiful than ever. Her red red hair reflect the light in the hall and worry lines split her face.
Nora Allen meets his gaze.
"Barry?" she worries as she spots him on the floor. She runs to him and sits on her knees in front of him, throwing both hands on his shoulders.
"Are you okay, son?" she asks him, her voice soft and concerned. She palms his forehead and smooths his sweaty hair back.
He knows he must say something, but his muscles feel frozen in place. He stares at her face, afraid that she may vanish at a blink, or dissipate should he stir the air with his voice.
His eyes flutter. "Mom," he croaks. "I'm fine, I'm okay." He grabs the first excuse that comes to his mind. "I-I must have sleep-walked. I'm sorry," he explains.
"Oh my boy," she sighs and pulls him into her embrace. "Did you have a nightmare?" she asks at his ear.
Barry slids his arms around her and rests his face on her shoulder. He breathes until his lungs are full, finding with surprise and relief, there are no more holes there.
"It's over now," he mutters, his voice thick. He squeezes his eyes shut, causing a tear to spill, as a smile presses into his cheeks.
The first weeks pass in an almost uninterrupted sequence of family day trips, restaurant dinners, board games at home and shopping treatments. Barry almost establishes a routine. Every day he joins his parents for breakfast. Every day, almost as soon as he's finished eating, he rubs his hands and asks, with a broad grin on his face and eyes washed in glee,
"So, what are we doing today?"
Henry always raises an eyebrow in amused suspicion, while Nora's face brightens with renewed hope. She expects him to get tired, Barry contemplates. Which is one of his own worries as well.
Everything appears to be right in the world again.
And yet, everything isn't.
Because, each night, after his parents fall asleep, he rummages the web, searching for clinical information on diseases related to tacheons. He speeds to high-profile libraries and flips through thick volumes on biochemistry and genetics, sitting legs-crossed on the floor between empty dark aisles, dozens of books piled at his side. He's researched various cases of dementia.
He is forgetting. And he's losing his speed.
During the day, he'll hiss in pain at random, miss his step or lean on surfaces to maintain his balance. He has to excuse himself constantly-a cough, a distraction, a bathroom emergency-but he's running out of explanations and his parents are growing ever suspicious.
He doesn't know what's happening to him. It isn't just his mind that is collapsing. It is his entire physicality.
Reverse said that time is setting in. That both his memories and his speed are remnants that need to be wiped out. But Barry refused to believe his condition is irreversible. There's always a solution.
So he searched for doctors that specialized on tacheons (only by profile, since he wouldn't trust anyone with his secret), but no one seems to be competent or clever enough.
With each day that passes, the truth sets deeper in his mentality.
He needs Dr. Caitlin Snow, M.D. His Caitlin Snow though.
Because the one in this timeline is neither a biochemist nor educated on metahumans.
And Cisco… Well, he probably cares more about the sum of his bank account than Barry right now.
Eventually, his parents grew tired.
"Barry," Henry starts one Monday morning, lowering his glasses. A broad plate filled with a cone of French toasts decks their breakfast table, accompanied with fresh cups of coffee. "Don't get me wrong, we love that you choose to spend your time with us and all... But don't you have a social life to attend to?"
Barry's chewing slows.
"Pfft," he shruggs, "of course I do."
His father looks at him over his glasses.
"I talked with the post-man just yesterday. We had a really long chat—Did you know that Mrs. Miller's dog next door chased him down the street once? He's been scared to deliver her mail ever since. It would have been so funny to watch!" He bursts into snorty laughter, but soon focuses on taking a bite of his toast, as nobody else seems to share his joke.
"Are people at your work treating you nicely?" Nora asks after a while.
Barry smiles awkwardly. "Mom, you're making me feel like a five-year old." At her worried look, he continues, "Yes, they're all very nice."
"Then why aren't you hanging out with any of your colleagues?"
"I am," the lie comes easily on his lips. His eyes seek an exit, landing on the window that looks out at the street, where several kids have stranded their bicycles.
The truth is, he doesn't want to know what his social life is like. Because every time he thinks of one, he remembers Iris at Jitters, rejecting his invitation for a coffee and treating him like a total stranger. When he thinks of his job, he gets excited because he'll finally get to tell Joe that joke he's been saving, only to remember that Joe probably won't listen nor appreciate it. And the worst part of it all, when he considers talking about all that stuff to someone, his whole body urges him to speed to S.T.A.R. Labs and visit Cisco Ramon and Caitlin Snow. Caitlin, who would have probably concocted a serum from Day One, to help battle his ever-increasing memory and speed loss. His friends, who would be there by his side, explaining every side effect of the Flashpoint to him. He has maintained his powers so far, but he would be fooling himself if he thought he was any close to being the Flash.
He's immersed himself into family life, because it's better to focus on having the gift of his parents than on not having everything else.
"Barry?" his Dad calls for his attention, tilting his head in concern.
Barry swallows and shruggs. "I just…missed you," he says and takes another bite.
Henry studies him curiously and Barry gives him his most casual smile.
"So, monopoly today?" he asks, drowning out Eobard's words in his mind.
You'll never be happy, Barry.
That afternoon he decides to roam the city streets by himself. The fall has painted Central City with beautiful pastel colors and loneliness. The crowds have started to disperse and the roads are emptying out of traffic. He walks along the railway, with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders hunched to protect him from the night chill. It's enthralling to observe the world at this pace. And yet unbearable if it were to be permanent.
He stops in front of a scyscraper and stares up its length. Stars are twinkling through the smog. In a flare of a second, he's standing on top of the same skyscraper, looking down at the spot on the road he's just been standing on. He speeds back and forth, as a means to clear his mind, to calm his frustration, to let out the building tension. Until the familiar pain scalds his head. He folds in half at the middle of the street and cradles his head.
People start running and for a moment he thinks they are coming to him. Then, he realizes their feet blur past. He slowly straightens up and squints to clear his vision.
Gunfire blazes. A man in a blue parka. A bag slung over his shoulder. He opens his way through the crowd. He is about to enter a van.
Barry runs and grabs him just as his foot climbs the doorstep.
"What in hell-" Snart protests.
Barry sprints a few blocks down and finally throws him down on a dark alley.
Leonard rolls around and faces him. A smirk twitches his mouth. "Hello, Flash," he greets him.
Barry tilts his head. "How do you-" he starts.
"I see you had a change in your wardrobe. Can't say I'm impressed," Leonard remarks.
Barry inspects himself. By the time he's drawing his gaze up, Snart is pulling a cold gun from his back.
"Hope you thought to make this one ice-proof."
Snart fires and Barry is about to speed out of the way, but right then, right there he experiences another memory wipe. His brain seems to process reality in slow motion. He crumbles down on the concrete while ice jets spread out toward him. His ears whistle.
The image of Snart behind prison bars, Barry talking to him through a phone, telling him he can be a hero. There and then gone.
Hands grip him around the waist and pull him out of the way.
He finds himself face-down on a street far away from where he's been. He looks up onto several buildings cutting a shape into the dark sky.
He remembers Snart's words.
Panic builds in his chest.
He stands up and brings his palm in front of him. He squeezes his eyes shut and tries to pull from his memories. His mind floods with images of Iris. Iris at the porch telling him to do whatever he needs to heal, Iris hugging him right after he woke up from his comma, Iris showing her faith in him. Iris… not recognizing him.
He shakes his head, trying to focus on the happy memories. But the last thought has already spilled its dark venom.
He gasps from the effort and screams, eyes still closed. Weakness threatens to overpower him.
Focus, Barry. Cisco's voice suddenly echoes in his memories. Barry exhales. You need to believe in your speed.
Even without your powers, you're still you.
You need to believe!
You're the one who kept me in check.
Run, Barry. Run!
His eyes snap open. Lightning flashes between his fingers. A grin splits his face.
He rushes back to the warehouse. When he enters, Thawne looks up at him nonchalantly and raises an eyebrow.
"Starting to have regrets yet?"
Barry sighs, relieved to find him intact.
"Never," he mutters and leaves.
There must be another speedster, he realizes as he speeds away. Who? The questions comes along with the answer.
Wally. Of course.
And weren't it for him, he would probably be an icicle now.
He increases his speed.
No more avoiding. He needs to face this straight up. Starting from tomorrow.
He squints at the white morning sky as he raises his gaze to take in the pediatric clinic. The building occupies an entire block. He prays she's here as he climbs the front stairs and pushes the door inside.
There's a line at the reception. He realizes he hasn't thought this out. Would he knock on her office and introduce himself?
Hi, I'm Barry Allen. I'm here because in an alternate timeline you were my personal physician and helped me fight crime as the Flash. I was wondering if you could help me with this speed problem I have…
Yeah, that's certainly a conversation starter.
He rubs his nape, trying to improvise. In the end he stands in line with the rest of the people. The waiting hours are excruciating but finally he walks to the front of the counter.
"Hi, umm is Dr. Caitlin Snow available?" he asks. The woman behind the counter gives him a look. "-I have a problem with my left eye-you see, I can't focus sometimes when I-" he scurries to explain.
"She's on the second floor, room 23," the woman cuts him off with an impatient look.
"Thank you!" Barry says with a smile and turns to leave, then regrets it at the last minute.
"Uh do you know if she's currently seeing any patients?"
"No," answers the woman.
"Okay, thanks!" Barry says and sprints away.
He reads the numbers across the corridor and finally locates room 23. He fixes the hem of his shirt and his pullover, before knocking on the door.
Sudden clatter rises from inside. "Just a minute!" he hears Cait's voice. Barry squints at the door.
After a while her voice comes again, a little off. "You can come!"
He turns the handle softly and leans to peak inside. Caitlin sits behind her desk, a little flushed, her hair neat as the first time he'd met her, her expression something between awkward and professional.
"Hello," Barry greets her. His smile is wider than ever. "They told me I would find you here."
A/N: I know I have other stories to finish, but this idea came up and well, I wanted to put it out there. This is another Barry-discovers-his-feelings-for-Cait story, so canon elements are going to be necessary. Please, bear with me. Thanks for reading!