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Dust & Gold

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Harold Gunderson hates his life. Especially now, as he lays on the ground immobile and gagged. He can't help but wonder what would have happened if he took the security job at the mall instead of here at Mercury Labs. The hours were longer and the pay was smaller, but it would have been a day shift.

And there would have been a much smaller chance of being present during a metahuman robbery.

Unable to move, Harold whimpers around the gag, glancing over to see a pair of feet clad in dark red boots walking towards him.

In an instant, Harold is hoisted up and is face-to-face with the assailant, a young man with gold streaks in his dark hair, wearing a domino mask and a costume made of the same dark red leather as his boots. A gold cuff adorns one ear and a gold industrial bar and several small piercings line the other. Gold makeup covers his eyes and trails down his cheek in an intricate pattern, and gloves in the same red as the rest of his outfit cover the hands that are currently gripping Harold's shirt.

It looks ridiculous, if you ask Harold.

"Now, Harold," the man says with a smirk, and it somehow sounds like there are a dozen of him. "I need you to be patient. The paralyzing agent I injected you with will completely wear off within the next half hour and you can go about your life. But if you keep making noise I'm going to have to knock you out, and neither of us want that do we?” Harold's eyes go wide and the man smiles and pats Harold’s cheek. "Good. Now sit tight please."

The man sits Harold down again, leaning him against the wall this time, and he's gone in a flash of lightning. Harold whimpers, looking around desperately for anything he can use to help his situation, but he realizes it’s useless. He’s still immobile and the man—no, meta—can appear in an instant. He did not sign up for this shit.

Just as Harold begins to contemplate the benefits of moving far, far away from Central City, a police siren sounds. Red and blue lights flicker through the building, reflecting off the snow outside. The meta comes out again and sighs when he sees the lights, then looks at the security guard and clicks his tongue. "No good, Harold," he says. "Guess I'll just have to try again later." He smiles and winks at the man then zips away just as a couple cops come barging in, one teasing the other for having “just missed the Flash again, Thawne.”

Several miles away, unperturbed by the cold December air, the Flash smirks as he watches the hacked Mercury Labs security feed on a stolen tablet. He finally has a name to put with the face of the detective that’s been hunting him.

***

Detective Eddie Thawne sighs as he slumps into the chair at his desk that night, and his partner chuckles as he walks by. “Don't laugh at me Joe," Eddie says. "I feel bad enough without that."

Joe smirks and drops into his own chair. "I'm not laughing at you, kid," he says. "I'm just remembering you a couple weeks ago, all gung-ho about bringing in, how'd you say it, 'each and every meta criminal in the city'."

"It's not my fault!" Eddie complains. "The guy is literally impossible to catch! Unless you missed the part where he has super speed?"

Joe smirks and shrugs. "Well, the guard said he mentioned 'trying again' so we'll be ready for him the next time he tries to break in."

“I just don’t get it,” Eddie says with a frown. “This guy has been hitting banks and armored trucks for the last few months. Why switch to a lab like this? What’s so valuable there?”

Joe just comes over, patting Eddie's shoulder. “You’re thinking too hard. Why don't you take off? I'll take care of the report,” he says

"You sure?" Eddie asks. "I don't mind doing paperwork."

"Positive," replies Joe. "You need a break. Get a good night's sleep and we'll tackle this again tomorrow, alright?"

Eddie gives a small smile and stands, grabbing his coat. "Thanks Joe," he says. "I'll uh, see you tomorrow."

Joe waves him off and Eddie heads out, stepping into the crisp night. He shivers and shoves his hands into his pockets, thinking to himself that he really should invest in a new pair of gloves. He makes his way towards the parking garage and is nearly to his car when a whirlwind of lightning surrounds him. With a gasp, Eddie makes to reach for his sidearm when the lightning stops and the Flash appears, dangling the gun with a smirk, his face somehow blurred at the edges.

“Detective Eddie Thawne,” The Flash drawls, walking forward slowly. His smirk is lazy and dangerous. “I’m gonna hold onto this for a minute. But it’s okay, you won’t need it. I’m not here to hurt you.”

Eddie frowns, folding his arms in front of himself and squaring up to the meta despite the sinking feeling in his gut. He's seen first hand the kind of trouble a meta can cause. The Flash may have had a history as a petty thief and general mischief maker, but who knows what he could be capable of? “What are you going to do to me then?” Eddie asks, breath fanning out in front of him. “Why are you here? How do you even know my name?”

Eddie's eyes dart to the entrance of the parking garage for a brief second and the Flash must register it because he smiles and in the blink of an eye, the meta is standing mere inches in front of Eddie, face no longer blurred. “You ask a lot of questions, don’t you?” he asks in a soft voice. “Well, I have my resources. I’m here to give you a warning. Stay out of my way, Detective.”

Eddie looks between the eyes staring back at him and swallows hard. "I can't do that," he says, hoping his voice sounded more confident than he felt. "Not when you've been terrorizing the city."

"Stay away," the Flash warns again. "Or else."

“Or else what?” Eddie challenges.

The Flash just smirks again and reaches out to smooth a hand over Eddie's tie, and Eddie tenses. The Flash leans in, lips pressed right to Eddie's ear. "You don't want to know what I'm capable of," he mumbles. He nips at Eddie’s ear and Eddie shivers again, and he hates that it's not from the chill in the air. "If I don't get what I'm after because of you,” the Flash continues, "you're going to be sorry."

In an instant, the Flash is gone. Eddie's gun is back in his holster and his tie blown back over his shoulder, leaving Eddie wondering what the hell just happened.

Chapter Text

When Eddie walks into the office the next day, he doesn’t immediately notice the stares or whispers coming from his coworkers. At least not until Singh motions to him. Great. Eddie trudges towards the Captain’s office, unraveling his scarf. He’s halfway convinced that he’s about to be fired by the time he’s sitting in front of Singh’s desk, door closed behind him.

“You know why I wanted to see you?” Singh asks, and Eddie shakes his head. Singh sighs and turns his computer monitor around. It takes Eddie a moment but he realizes pretty quickly that he’s looking at grainy security footage of the parking garage, and that the timestamp reads from the previous night.

“Sir, I can exp—“

“Save it, just watch,” Singh interjects, gesturing to the screen. Eddie frowns but complies, and soon enough sees himself on screen, joined by the Flash a minute later. Eddie can’t hear the conversation but he knows what it must look like to the Captain, or to anyone else who saw it. It’s intimate, uncomfortably so. The Flash had been so flirty that Eddie feels his own cheeks heating with a blush as he watches.

When the playback finishes, Singh turns his monitor around again and looks at Eddie. “Anything you want to tell me about the Flash, Thawne?” he asks, sounding somewhat exasperated.

Eddie shakes his head. “It's not what it looks like, sir. He… threatened me, vaguely. But that’s it.”

“Care to elaborate on this vague threat?” Singh asks as he sits. “Because to me, it looked like the meta at the top of our most wanted list was flirting with you. Pretty blatantly.”

Eddie blushes. “Sir, it wasn’t like that,” he protests. “I promise. He just told me I’d be sorry if I got in his way.”

Singh sighs, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Okay,” he mumbles. “Do I need to put a detail on you?”

Eddie shakes his head and stands. “No sir,” he says. "There’s no need to overreact. I can handle myself, and he hasn’t attacked me. Yet. Besides, we’ve seen what he can do. What are a couple of plain ol’ human cops going to do if his threats become… less vague?”

Singh is silent for a moment, contemplating Eddie before nodding reluctantly.“I don’t like it,” he says. “Not at all. But I’m choosing to trust your judgement as a cop and as the lead of the task force. And so help me, if you have any more contact with him, you’ll have a detail on you until you retire. Understood?”

Eddie nods and Singh looks back down to the paperwork on his desk. “Good. Now get out,” he mumbles.

"Thank you sir," Eddie mumbles, walking back out of the office before the Captain can change his mind. He notices the stares and the whispers now and wonders just how many people saw that security footage when he sees Joe and Patty, another member of the Meta-Human Task Force, wearing matching grins. "Oh god, not guys you too," Eddie groans, dropping into his chair.

"C'mon, kid. You know I have to give you trouble for this," Joe teases. "Is this why you wanted to find the Flash so bad?"

"Shut up," Eddie replies, trying to ignore the way his face heats up.

Patty smirks. "I don't blame you. That whole bad boy thing and the red leather is a nice combination."

"Hey, Patty, didn't you have a date last night?" Eddie says in an attempt to change the subject. "How did that go? I'm sure Joe would love to hear all about it." Patty clams up and her eyes go wide, and Eddie smirks. "Let's just--"

“West, Spivot, Thawne!" Singh calls, and Eddie sighs again. He'd already spoken to Singh once today and getting called into the Captain’s office more than once in the same day — hell, in the same fifteen minutes — is almost always bad news.

They make their way over to the Captain’s office and Singh closes the door behind them. “There was a homicide last night,” he says somberly. “I need you guys to check it out.”

“Sir, all due respect, but you took us off homicide,” Joe says. “Specifically for this Meta-Human thing. Thawne’s thing with the Flash shouldn’t change that.”

Eddie frowns at Joe but glances at the Captain. “I don’t have a thing with the Flash,” he grumbles, “and Joe’s right. We don’t work homicides anymore.”

“You’re working this one,” Singh replies. He picks up a file folder and hands it to Joe. “The security guard at Mercury Labs was found earlier this morning. Coroner puts time of death at around 2 AM.”

Patty frowns and looks over Joe’s shoulder at the file. “Cause of death?” she asks as Joe thumbs through it.

“His neck was snapped,” Singh replies. “He suffered from internal decapitation, and the coroner says it happened at such a high velocity that no human would be able to do it.”

“So you’re saying a meta did this,” Eddie says, taking some of the crime scene photos from Joe.

“I’m saying a meta with super speed did this,” Singh replies.

Eddie snaps his head up. “Do you really think the Flash had anything to do with this?" He asks unsurely incredulously. "It’s not his MO, Captain. Sure, he’s a pain in the ass, but he’s not a murderer.., right?.”

“We’ve seen people do worse for less,” Joe points out. “I don’t think it’s impossible.’

“But a sudden shift from bank heists to cold-blooded murder?”

Patty scoffs. “It wouldn’t be the first time,” she says bitterly. “What about Leonard Snart? Or the Mardons?”

Eddie looks through the photos again. He can admit he’d been scared by the Flash’s appearance the night before, but to actually see proof he could be capable of such a horrendous crime chills Eddie to the bone.

Sing sighs and rubs his temple. “Harold Gunderson was found dead inside Mercury Labs last night shortly after being discharged from the hospital. This was the same night the Flash ransacked Mercury and told this very man he’d ‘try again’. The same night he threatened you, Thawne. The security feed at Mercury around the time Gunderson was murdered shows a bright flash and a gust of wind before the visual is cut.” Singh leans against the edge of his desk and looks between Joe, Eddie, and Patty. "Just... Look into it," he says. "If it's not the Flash, we have another meta with super speed trying really hard to frame him, and we need to know why."

The three detectives exchange a glance then nod. "Yes sir," Joe says. "We're on it."

"Good," Singh replies. "And let's try to keep this quiet, huh? Last thing we want is to cause a panic."

Eddie frowns again but nods, and they're dismissed back to the squad room. “Patty, me and Joe will go,” he says, looking at the woman as they walk out. “I need you to stay and look through all of the Flash’s cases, see if you can find anything that sounds even remotely like this.”

“Why?” Patty asks, taking the file on the previous evening's murder. “What am I trying to find?”

“Proof he didn’t do this,” Eddie says.

As he and Joe walk out of the building, Eddie sighs. He has a gut feeling that the Flash isn't a murderer, but after their last interaction, Eddie isn't sure what to believe.

Chapter Text

Joe and Eddie do a full sweep of the building but they don't find anything new from the night before, besides the body of Harold Gunderson propped up against the security desk currently being examined by CSU. There’s broken glass by a rear exit, the empty syringe used for the paralyzing agent, and various debris strewn about from the Flash taking off, and each is marked by a little yellow placard. There isn’t one fingerprint, one blood drop, one stray hair that could implicate the Flash in the murder. Or exonerate him, Eddie thinks briefly.

Eddie feels like yelling, at least until a forensics tech comes up to them. "Um, detectives? I think we found something," she says.

Eddie looks at the woman and raises an eyebrow. "What have you got?" He asks.

"Mercury's servers are equipped with a security feature that essentially acts as a black box," she says. She hands a tablet to Eddie, Joe looking over his shoulder. "It was wiped via some sort of virus the Flash must have embedded, however we've managed to recover some of the data from the most recent archive search. The time stamp is from the first time he was here last night."

Eddie swipes through the data and frowns as he reads the results. "What are tachyons?" He asks, looking back up at the tech.

Joe takes the tablet to look over the results himself, and the tech shrugs. "I think it has something to do with the speed of light," she replies.

"You're close," comes a voice. They all three look up and see an older woman in a white lab coat walking towards them. "Tachyons are hypothetical particles that move faster than the speed of light. Mercury Labs has been at the forefront of the research into tachyonic processes, especially with regards to quantum physics."

Joe raises an eyebrow and hands the tablet back to the tech. "Who are you?" He asks. "This is a closed crime scene."

"It's my lab," the woman replies. “I’m Doctor Tina McGee. I'm the head of Mercury Labs, and I think I can offer some insight into what the Flash was after. Come with me." The tech excuses herself as Dr. McGee leads the detectives down a hallway. "After the emergence of meta-humans, we began taking our own precautionary measures," she says. "Harrison Wells' team may have designed holding cells for you, but we've designed tools to more effectively counteract the effects of certain... Abilities."

She stops at a door and swipes a card, then leads the detectives inside. The room is lined with glass cases holding various devices. "What does this have to do with the Flash?" Eddie asks, looking around. "Or tachyons for that matter?"

Dr. McGee stops in front of an empty glass case and looks over at Eddie and Joe. "This is where we kept our Tachyon Prototype," she says. "It was designed to be able to absorb speed."

"And where is it now?" Joe asks.

"It went missing last night," Dr. McGee replies. "Presumably around the same time Harold was murdered."

"This wasn't in the initial report," Joe notes. "And why would the Flash, or another fast meta, want a device that takes speed? Seems counter-productive."

The doctor sighs and shakes her head. "If it fell into the right hands, or the wrong ones I suppose, it could be reconfigured to do the opposite," she replies. "It could be used to increase speed. And if it got out that we had a device like that..."

Eddie shakes his head. "Well it did get out," he says, accusation lacing his voice. "And an innocent man is dead because of it."

Dr. McGee frowns. "I know, and I have to live with that," she says. "But I don't even know if the theft is related. The Flash wasn't the only person interested in the device." She wrings her hands together and sighs again. "You need to talk to Harrison Wells.”

“Wells? What does he have to do with this?” Joe asks.

Dr. McGee looks over at Joe and Eddie. “I’ve known Harrison Wells for most of our adult lives. He’s a good man. Brilliant. But he was in a car accident some years ago that killed his wife and left him…. different.”

“An accident like that would change anyone,” Eddie points out.

“Not like this. This wasn’t trauma, detectives. It was… He became an entirely different person. He’s tried to steal or sabotage my work several times over the years and now…” Dr. McGee shakes her head. “He knows something about this. He has to.”

***

Eddie and Joe take their leave a few minutes later and decide to take Dr. McGee’s advice. They stop at STAR Labs to speak with Harrison Wells, with little success.

“Are you sure we can’t arrest him for being an asshole?” Eddie mumbles as they walk out of the second laboratory of the day . They’d headed over after they finished at Mercury, but as soon as they asked Harrison about the Tachyon Prototype, he claimed to know nothing and demanded they leave.

Joe chuckles and pats his partner’s shoulder as they head towards the car. “Positive,” he says. “Trust me though, I want to.”

“That was at least suspicious, right?” Eddie asks. “Or was that just me?”

“No, that was definitely fishy,” Joe replies. “But we have no proof. I think a guy in a wheelchair breaking into and out of a secure facility like Mercury would draw some attention."

Eddie sighs and nods. “Yeah, I know,” he replies dejectedly as they get into the car. “You think maybe one of his employees had something to do with it? Ramón or Snow?”

Joe shakes his head. “I don’t think so,” he replies. “They seemed genuinely confused about the whole thing. We’ll keep an eye on them though.”

Eddie nods and he remains silent for a while as they drive back to the station. He texts Patty to see if she found anything, but she replies that her search turned up empty. Nothing in the Flash’s record suggested he might commit murder.

Eddie slips his phone back into his pocket and looks at Joe. “The Flash didn’t do this,” he says. “Patty didn’t find anything to suggest he did and I mean, stealing the Tachyon Prototype isn’t outside the realm of possibility for him, but homicide?”

Joe frowns. “I know,” he replies, “but we have no proof of another fast meta and a lot of evidence is pointing at the Flash.”

“Then maybe someone is going to a lot of trouble to frame him,” Eddie says. “I think we need to try setting another trap for him.”

Joe sighs and glances over at Eddie briefly. “You remember how that worked last time?” he asks. "Because I do. And I'd rather not face the humiliation of being left pantsless and tied to each other in the middle of the street again."

Eddie shrugs. “So we’ll be prepared this time,” he says. “We’ll force him to come to us. I mean, after what happened last night I bet I could..."

"What, don’t tell me you wanna put yourself in his path again?" Joe replies. "No way, Thawne. The Flash is dangerous. Not gonna happen.”

“He came to me once without hurting me,” Eddie points out. “I think I can get him to talk. Maybe he knows who’s setting him up.”

Joe scoffs. “We need to do better than ‘I think’ and ‘maybe’,” he counters.

Eddie frowns. “You have any other ideas?” he asks. “I’m open to them.” He looks out the window for a moment then back over to his partner. “There’s something… big happening here, Joe. I can feel it. And we have to figure out what it is.”

Chapter Text

It takes a while for Singh to come around to the idea but he finally does and three days later, the Meta-Human Task Force is set up just outside Gold City Bank. They’d put the word out that some very high-valued items were being moved into the vault, hoping that this would provide a tempting bait for the Flash.

Eddie stations himself inside, out of sight of any windows or doors. The rest of the team sets up in an unmarked van across the street, watching footage of the inside of the bank from small monitors. Then they wait. And wait. And wait.

Hours later, just when Patty starts to mention the date she had to blow off -- for the third time that evening -- a bright streak zips by the van and into the bank. "Thawne, he's here," Joe says into the mic. "Stay alert."

Eddie pushes himself off from the wall he'd been leaning against just as a streak of lightning bursts in and whooshes past. He steps out to the main lobby area and watches the Flash race around for a moment before the meta finally stops in front of Eddie with a smirk.

"Detective Thawne," the Flash drawls, stepping closer to Eddie. "I think this is the opposite of staying away."

Eddie smiles and shrugs then shoves his hands into his pockets, hoping the Flash can’t see them trembling. "What can I say, you intrigue me," he replies.

The Flash just chuckles. "And that's why the rest of your team is out in that creep van?" he teases. Eddie's eyes go wide and the Flash grins. "Come on, Thawne, this isn't my first rodeo," he says. "I can spot an undercover van a mile away."

"Why'd you come then?" Eddie asks. He grips the handcuffs hidden in his pocket, waiting for just the right time to spring into action.

The Flash smirks again. "What can I say, you intrigue me," he quips.

Eddie rolls his eyes and his lips quirk up in a half smile despite himself. "Cute," he deadpans.

"I try," the Flash replies, a wide grin spreading across his face.

From his earpiece, Eddie hears someone clear their throat and he blushes, having momentarily forgotten he was wearing a mic. He sighs and watches the meta in front of him for a moment before finally speaking up. "Listen," he says softly, "this little game you're playing? It has to stop." The Flash huffs out a chuckle and Eddie narrows his eyes. "I'm being serious," he says. "On top of burglary and larceny charges, now you're facing murder. If you just come--"

Eddie is cut off when he's shoved against a handrail on the other side of the lobby in an instant, the Flash's hand around his throat, keeping him in place. His fingers flex around Eddie’s throat as a warning, but they never tighten. "I'm not a murderer," the Flash says, voice dangerously low, all traces of humor gone.

Eddie frowns. "Then explain how the security guard at Mercury was found, with his neck snapped, the night you tried to hack into their system," he says as he casts his eyes down towards the meta's hand. "And the same night the Tachyon Prototype went missing."

The Flash furrows his brow, shakes his head, and drops his hand. "It wasn't me," he says. "I didn't kill that man, and I didn't steal the tachyon thing. I didn't even know what a tachyon was until that night.” His eyes go a little distant, “It was the Man in Yellow, it has to be him."

“If there’s another speeding meta, help me prove it," Eddie pleads. "Come with me to the station, tell us what you know about him."

"I've tried that," the Flash snaps. "Nobody listens. Nobody ever listens. My only choice is to find him myself and make everyone listen."

Eddie frowns. "I didn't want to have to do this," he says truthfully before pulling out the cuffs and quickly fastening one end to the hand the Flash had nearly choked him with. He secures the other end to the handrail behind them. "You're under arrest," he says firmly, “for conspiracy to commit theft and assaulting a police officer. You have the right to remain silent.”

The Flash looks almost surprised before he smirks. He lets Eddie finish reading him his rights and even call for backup before saying anything. “I have to give it to you Thawne, you're good with your hands,” he teases. “Tell me, does seeing me in handcuffs do it for you?”

Eddie rolls his eyes. “Don’t flatter yourself,” he retorts. “You’re not my type.”

“Is it the dick thing?” The Flash drawls, a smirk drawing across his face again. "Because no offense, but you don't strike me as the tragically straight type. And even if you were, I could--”

“No, actually, it’s the criminal thing,” Eddie snarks without thinking, and in the next instant realizes what an overshare that was. A blush tints his cheeks and he wonders vaguely if somewhere in his old academy handbook there’s a chapter about not basically outing yourself to the super-powered criminal that’s been hitting on you, because he apparently must have skipped it.

The meta in front of him laughs. “Shut up!” the Flash exclaims. “So you’re actually—“

“Not. Interested.” Eddie glances over his shoulder, wondering where his backup is. “Just… Stop talking, please.”

The Flash just laughs again. “There’s only one sure-fire way to get me to shut up,” he says. Before Eddie can even register what’s happening, the Flash tugs Eddie in by the tie and kisses him hard.

Eddie kisses back for just a split second before pulling away with a gasp, staring at the meta in shock. The Flash watches Eddie carefully, a small smirk playing at his lips, and Eddie almost recoils from the intensity behind his eyes, his brain still trying to catch up.

The Flash, still holding Eddie's tie, leans in ever so slowly, flicks his eyes to Eddie's lips with another smirk, and Eddie almost gives in. But the sound of the side door opening pulls him out of it. “Nope! No! No way!” he exclaims, backing up and wiping his hand over his mouth. “Are you ins—“

“Thawne!” Joe comes running over, gun drawn, Patty following right behind. “You okay? Backup’s on the way.”

Eddie casts one more glance to the Flash. “I’m fine,” he says, turning to look at Joe. “Took you guys long enough.”

Joe sighs. “Yeah, well, someone thought it would be fun to barricade the doors to our van. So.” He looks over Eddie’s shoulder and eyes the Flash with disdain. “He give you anything?” he asks, looking back to Eddie.

“Hello to you too, Detective West,” The Flash says, and suddenly his voice has turned to pure venom. Eddie glances over at the meta with a frown. For a split second, the absolute hatred in the Flash’s voice makes Eddie almost... afraid of what he could do. “I gave your partner here everything he wanted," the meta continues. "Now while this has been fun, I have plans tonight and they don't involve hanging out with you." He glares daggers at Joe then looks at Eddie. "See you around, Thawne," he quips.

It's hard to tell under the mask, but Eddie is almost certain the smug bastard winks at him.

Before Eddie can even process what's happening, the Flash starts vibrating his hand and moves it through the cuff - then disappears in a whirlwind of bright light. Papers from the nearby desks fly everywhere and flutter to the ground as the handcuffs dangle uselessly, and the detectivesall look at each other in stunned silence.

"What the hell was that?" Joe mutters.

Eddie isn't sure if Joe means the sudden attitude change or the disappearing trick - or the other thing - but either way... "I have no idea."

Chapter Text

The next morning, Eddie gets to the station and sits in his car for at least ten minutes, contemplating just quitting the force altogether, when someone thumps at his window. He looks up to see Patty with a chipper smile and two coffees in hand and he sighs before finally getting out. "Morning, Spivot," he mumbles.

"Morning, Eddie," she says, sounding just as cheery as she looks. She holds out one of the cups of coffee and smiles again. "Here, thought you could use this after last night," she says.

Eddie takes the coffee carefully, the warmth a welcome sensation in his already-cold fingers. "Last night?" He asks suspiciously. She doesn't know, does she?

"Y'know, the whole losing the Flash again thing," she replies. "And the uh, low-key implying you're not totally straight thing." She shrugs some and sips from her own cup. "Anyway. Thought you could use a pick-me-up."

Eddie sighs in relief when he realizes she must not know about the kiss after all. "Thanks," he mumbles, taking a sip as they head inside. "So you uh, you guys caught that, huh?"

Patty nods. "Yup. At least I did," she says. "Not sure about Joe, a lot of the little stuff goes over his head. But it's not like it's a big deal or anything. Captain Singh's gay too. And, y'know..." She gestures to herself and smiles.

"I'm not gay," Eddie mumbles, sipping his coffee again. “You know that. You and I wouldn’t have gone out otherwise."

"Bi like me then, or pansexual or whatever," Patty says, waving her hand. "Totally not a big deal. And I definitely don't blame you for being into the Flash. He's so--"

"He's a thief," Eddie says stiffly. "And potentially a murderer. And aren't you seeing someone?"

"I can still appreciate a good looking human," Patty says. "And you didn't deny being into him." Eddie ignores her as they step into the elevator and she smirks. "Anyway, all I'm trying to say is you don't have to beat yourself up over your little confession," she says. "I'm not gonna tell anyone, but nobody here really cares about that stuff anyway."

Eddie gives a small smile and nods. "Thanks," he says. "But that's honestly the least of my problems right now."

Patty quirks a brow. "What do you me--"

Her question is cut off when the elevator dings and the door slides open. It feels like every pair of eyes in the room is laser-focused on them as they step out.

No, not them. Him.

"Thawne, Spivot, Cap wants to see you in his office," the desk sergeant says as they walk by. "And I'd bring ear plugs. He’s already been laying into West for the last five minutes.”

Eddie goes pale. He swallows hard and nods, trying to focus on just putting one foot in front of the other. "Yeah, we'll get right on it," he says weakly. He glances to Patty who gives him a sympathetic pat on the shoulder before walking ahead of him into the office.

The walk from the squad room entrance to Captain Singh's office, though mere feet, feels like miles to Eddie. Like he's walking into his own execution, which is likely. If Singh isn't going to just take his badge right then and there, Eddie knows that he's at least getting tossed from the Meta-Human Task Force. He'll probably get put on desk duty, or be transferred to a new department, or one of a hundred possibilities that seem to race through his head at the same time.

When he finally steps into Singh's office, the captain shuts the door and gestures to an empty chair next to Joe and Patty, who Eddie avoids eye contact with as he sits. "Tell me what happened last night," Singh says steadily as he leans against his desk, his voice low. His demeanor reminds Eddie of the calm just before a storm hits.

Patty and Joe start talking over each other but Eddie remains silent, and Singh notices. "West, Spivot, not you," he interjects. "Thawne. Tell me what happened."

Eddie swallows hard again and nods. "Yes sir," he mumbles. "We uh... The Flash got away. He can apparently phase through solid objects. Including handcuffs. It’s… new.”

"Is that all?" Singh asks, folding his arms across his chest. "Before you answer, know that I've gone over all the video and audio from last night."

"It's not what it looks like," Eddie blurts out.

Singh raises his eyebrow and watches Eddie. "See Thawne, you told me that before and I believed you. But the footage from last night tells me that it's exactly what it looks like."

"What else is there?" Joe asks. "Eddie's not at fault here, Cap. Nobody knew the Flash was capable of phasing through solid metal."

Instead of answering, the captain turns his computer monitor around and presses a key on his keyboard that starts the footage playing from when the Flash first showed up.

Eddie wants to melt into the floor when he hears himself flirting with the meta, and again when he hears the words "It's the criminal thing." When the Flash pulls him in for a kiss, Eddie is pretty sure he's about to explode. The last thing he needs right now is to think about the Flash's lips on his. He forces himself to watch the video though, and realizes with horror that it wasn't just a split second before he pulled away. For at least three seconds, the video definitely shows him leaning into the kiss before backing up.

“Oh Christ…” Eddie mumbles under his breath, scrubbing his hand over his face. He tries his best to look at anything but Joe and Patty's faces. “Like I said, it’s not—“

“I know, it’s not what it looks like,” Singh says in exasperation. “Just… keep watching.” He gestures to the screen and Eddie begrudgingly turns his attention back in time to see the meta speeding off. The feed cuts out and a moment later, another video appears. It shows the Flash standing outside the bank. He gives a wink then blows a kiss to the camera before speeding off, then the screen cuts to black. Singh looks back up at Eddie with narrowed eyes. “Now how isn’t that what it looked like?” he asks.

Eddie chances a look at his colleagues. Patty’s jaw is hanging open and her eyes are wide, and Joe has a similar expression. With a frown, Eddie looks back to Singh. “Sir… I’m not—I didn’t—“ He sighs and rubs the back of his neck. “He… he kissed me, sir. And I—I didn’t want him to, and I tried to stop him and he’s just such a pain in the ass, sir and he’s just trying to distract us from whatever it is he’s planning and he—“

Eddie’s rambling is cut off when Singh starts laughing. Eddie scowls and crosses his arms like a petulant child. Singh laughs harder. “Joe, Patty….” he manages between breaths. “Give us… give us the room!”

Joe and Patty, who still look to be in shock, both make their way out of the office and Singh sinks down into his desk chair. His laughter finally subsides and he wipes the corner of his eye. “God, how do you fuck up this badly, Thawne?” he asks in amusement.

“Sir, I—what?” Eddie stammers. He watches the captain in bewilderment. “With all due respect sir, I—“

“Fucked up, pretty big,” Singh interjects with a smile. “You got personal, Thawne. You never get personal. Especially not with guys like these.”

"I'm not the one that made it personal!" Eddie argues.

Singh raises an eyebrow again and smirks. "You flirted with him, gave him personal information about yourself, and... Oh yeah! Kissed him! Seems pretty damn personal to me." Eddie frowns and looks away and Singh sighs. "Listen," he says. "The only reason you're not being sent to Internal Affairs and recommended for suspension right now is because honestly, this is kind of hilarious. You can't seem to catch a break with this guy. Maybe for now you should just… take a break. Work another meta case for a while. Let Joe take the lead on the Flash."

Eddie frowns again but nods. "Yes sir," he mumbles.

"Okay. Get out of here," Singh says, nodding to the door. Eddie gets up to leave but before he reaches the door, Singh stops him again. "Wait, Thawne, before you go..." he says. "This can be a tough field for... Guys like us. But there are a lot of good people here who are in your corner. Don't forget that."

Eddie gives the captain a small smile and nods. "Thank you sir," he says, then hurries out.

He can practically feel everyone's eyes on him as he makes his way towards his desk and he tries his best to ignore them. What he can't ignore though is that Joe and Patty are leaning against his desk, staring at him expectantly. "Come on guys, I don't want to talk about it," he says, reaching around Joe to set his now-cold coffee down.

"So what's the deal?" Joe asks. “Did he—”

“I’m fine, I'm fine," Eddie says. "Cap wants you to take the lead on the Flash thing, and I think that's for the best too." He shoos them away from his desk so he can sit, but they hover. "Guys, seriously, drop it. I'm fine."

They frown, but Joe nods and goes around to sit at his own desk. Patty lingers nearby and Eddie knows she's dying to say something, but he pushes her from his mind as he starts on his stack of reports. After a minute though, she finally speaks up. "Did you catch what the Flash said about the Man in Yellow?" She asks.

Eddie rolls his eyes. "It was a distraction, that's all," he says. "We have no proof of another fast meta."

"But what if there is another... Speedster?" She asks.

"Speedster?" Joe teases with a smile.

Patty rolls her eyes. "If there's more than one, they need a classification and that's the first word that came to mind. And if the Flash was telling the truth..."

Eddie sighs and sets down his pencil. "It's not my case anymore, Patty," he says. "And there's no Man in Yellow."

Joe drops his pen. "Holy crap..." He mumbles. He pulls out one of his desk drawers and starts shuffling through the files.

"Joe? You okay?" Eddie asks.

Patty leans over to look. "What are you looking for?"

Joe sits up after a minute with a rather large file and drops it on his desk then starts flipping through it. "I've said those exact same words," he mumbles. "Here, look at this." He hands Eddie a paper, a case report from the looks of it. "About fifteen years ago I was working a double homicide. Looked like a B and E gone wrong. Only witness was the victims' kid and he claimed that he saw lightning come into his house and two men were inside the lightning. One man in red and one in yellow. He swore up and down that the Man in Yellow killed his parents but... It sounded ridiculous, y'know? And the psychologist said he was just trying to cope with the violent nature of the crime."

Eddie reads through the report then gets up and walks around to Joe's desk. He sets the paper down and thumbs through some of the other witness reports and photos. "What's the kid's name? He still live in town?" Eddie asks.

"Barry Allen," Joe replies, almost sadly. "He uh, yeah. He still lives in the area, at least according to his latest arrest record." Eddie frowns and looks up, and Joe sighs. "Barry got bumped around the system after his folks died. Started getting into trouble. A lot."

Eddie frowns again and Patty looks up from where she had been looking through the file as well. "We need to talk to him," she says. "His account sounds a lot like witness reports of the Flash."

"It was fifteen years ago Patty," Joe points out. "Metas didn't start showing up until just a couple months ago, including the Flash."

"Which is why we definitely need to talk to him," she replies.

Eddie nods. "I agree," he says. "You should bring him in for questioning, Joe. Just get his account of that night again."

Joe frowns and shakes his head. "He won't talk to me," he says. "Not since... Well..." He looks between Patty and Eddie, then back to the file in front of him. "Look, I'm the guy that couldn't find his parents' murderer. I let him down, and he made it pretty clear that he doesn't want to see me ever again."

"Then Eddie could go," Patty suggests. "He's good with people, he could get this Barry to open up."

Joe looks up to Eddie. "Is that good with you?" He asks.

Eddie shrugs. "If you want me to go talk to Barry Allen, I'll go talk to him. I just want this all to be over." He picks through the file again and pulls out Barry's latest mugshot and the report with his last known address. Something about the man looks familiar. Eddie’s seen him before but he can't quite place it. "What will you two do?" He asks, looking up again.

Joe looks over at Patty. "If Harrison Wells is responsible for the particle accelerator blast that created all these metas in the first place, maybe he has some insight into what might have created a Speedster fifteen years ago," he says. "We can go deal with him. Maybe Patty will be able to reason with him better than we were."

Eddie nods. "Okay, sounds like a plan," he says. He watches Joe and Patty grab their coats and head off, and Eddie looks down at the photo in his hand again. He knows this face. It's like something is missing, like he has a word on the tip of his tongue. It's something in those eyes, the way they almost seem to read Eddie's mind. He stares at the picture for another full minute before it hits him like a train. The piercings, the streaks of gold in his hair, the slight smirk, the eyes. "Son of a bitch," he breathes as he scrambles to find his keys. Of course he's seen this face before. He was just kissing this face last night. God damnit.

Chapter Text

As Eddie approaches the door of Barry’s apartment, his steps slow. He realizes Barry might not even live here anymore, or he might not be home, or he might take one look at Eddie and vanish. But… Eddie reasons that he’s here now, and he has a duty to find the truth. So he walks up and knocks on the door before he can chicken out, rocking nervously on his heels.

He hears a thud and a muttered swear, then footsteps. “For fuck’s sake, I told you I’d have your money by—“ The door flies open and the shirtless man on the other side scowls. He’s got gold makeup smeared down one side of his face, boxers slung low on his hips, a serious case of bedhead, and gold glitter shining on most of his skin. It’s definitely Barry Allen, and Barry Allen is definitely the Flash.

Eddie smirks, and Barry’s eyes suddenly goes wide. “Don’t leave,” Eddie hurries to say. “I’m not here to arrest you.”

Barry pokes his head out into the hall and looks either way, then pulls Eddie inside. He slams the door shut and pushes Eddie against it, holding tight to the lapels of his coat. “What the hell are you doing here?” he hisses. “How did you even find me?”

Eddie holds his hands up in surrender, and Barry's grip on his coat tightens. “I’m good at my job,” Eddie replies. “Listen. I’m really not here to arrest you. I need to ask you a few questions and Joe said you didn’t want to talk to him.”

Barry sneers at the mention of Joe and lets Eddie go, storming over to the kitchen and banging around, mumbling to himself. Eddie takes the opportunity to take in the apartment. It isn’t much, just a small studio and hardly any furniture. There's a mattress under the window, bare save for a single pillow and a blanket shoved to the floor, and a lone dining chair tucked into a small card table in the corner, nestled in next to an ancient-looking radiator. Barry’s costume and various other clothes are strewn about. Somehow, Eddie isn’t surprised in the least.

He walks over to where Barry is fiddling with an outdated coffee maker and leans against the fridge, watching Barry carefully. A large tattoo of an upside down tree coverers most of the skin on his back, the root spreading out over his shoulder blades and the branches reach down almost to where his boxers sit. The thought crosses Eddie's mind briefly to reach out and touch but he squashes it, shoving his hands in his pockets instead.

“Why aren’t you arresting me?” Barry asks quietly without looking up. “You’re a cop, I’m a criminal.”

“You’re also a meta-human, and you’ve proved arresting you is going to be more complicated than some handcuffs,” Eddie replies.

Barry huffs out a chuckle. “Oh yeah. Sorry about that,” he mumbles. “Well if you aren’t here to arrest me, why are you here? Want a repeat of last night?”

Eddie blushes despite himself and is eternally grateful that Barry’s back is to him. Though now, as he stares at it again, Eddie takes a moment to appreciate the hard lines of Barry's body and the contrast of the dark ink of Barry's tattoo against his pale skin. Once again he wishes he could reach out and touch, traces the branches, know his skin...

“Hey, Earth to Thawne!” Eddie looks up and sees Barry watching him with an amused grin. “Stop gawking and answer me.”

Eddie blushes again and clears his throat. “Don’t flatter yourself, you’re not my type,” he reminds him. “Anyway. I want to help you find the man that killed your parents.”

Barry furrows his brow and turns back to watch the coffee brew. "Why would you want to help me?" He asks.

With a shrug, Eddie walks around to Barry's other side. "Because it's the right thing to do," he says. "And because I think the same man that killed your parents is framing you for murder now."

Barry sighs and looks up to say something when suddenly a pounding comes through the door. "Allen, I know you're in there! Where's my money?!" calls a gruff voice.

Barry groans and storms over to the door, pulling it open only wide enough to poke his head out. "I told you I'd have it by the end of the week," he says. "And it's not the end of the week yet. It's Friday morning."

"It's noon, and it's Sunday," the voice replies. "If I don't have your rent today, you're gone."

Barry sighs and slams the door, then stalks back inside, mumbling to himself.

Eddie raises an eyebrow. "Don't you rob banks?" He asks. "How do you owe anyone money?"

Barry sighs again as he pours himself a cup of coffee. "I only take enough to get by," he says. "And only from people who won't really notice the difference. But I guess I didn't grab enough last time to cover my whole rent."

Eddie rolls his eyes. "I should arrest you," he says. "Why don't you just, y'know, get a job? Earn money the legal way?"

"Who'd hire an ex-con, especially when his record involves robbery?" Barry counters.

Eddie sighs and nods. "Fair point," he replies. "But... If you have this little code, and you only take what you need, what about the tachyon prototype?"

"I told you I didn't take that!" Barry replies in exasperation. "I didn't even know what a damn tachyon was until I saw it in their database! The Man in Yellow is setting me up. He's taunting me."

"What were you even looking for?" Eddie asks. "Computer hacking isn't your usual style."

"My usual style?" Barry parrots with a smirk.

Eddie nods. “Y'know, your MO. You pull heists, you don't hack."

Barry grins. "Been studying me, detective?"

Eddie blushes despite himself and clears his throat. "I'm just doing my job. Don't change the subject, come on."

Barry sighs and crosses over to the chair at the table, slumping down into it. Eddie walks over and perches against the table, watching him expectantly. "I was looking for information," Barry mumbles. He sips from his mug then sets it down. "The particle accelerator accident a year ago is responsible for metas now. But if the Man in Yellow has super speed like me, there must have been another accident fifteen years ago. Something that could have created him."

Eddie gives a half smile. "We had the same thought," he replies. "Only, why wouldn't you just go to STAR Labs? They'd have that information wouldn't they?"

Barry scowls and sips his coffee again. "We aren't exactly friends," he replies. "Three months ago, I woke up from a nine-month-long coma in the STAR Labs med bay. They ran some tests, helped me figure out what was going on, then tried to turn me into their sheepdog." Barry finishes off his coffee and pushes the cup away. "They wanted me to round up these other metas for observation. Turn me into some sort of hero, I guess. But that's not really my style and I told them that. Harrison Wells pretty much said that if I wasn't with them, I was against them, and there was no place for me at STAR besides a holding cell."

Eddie frowns. He considers reaching a hand out to comfort Barry but thinks better of it. They aren't friends. They aren't even acquaintances. Instead, he just purses his lips. "I'm sorry," he says. "Why Mercury though?"

Barry shrugs. "They're rivals with STAR. I thought they'd have the information I need. They didn't, but when I looked for information about Wells, that tachyon stuff came up. I still don't even really know what it is, but I think there's more to Wells than meets the eye."

"We spoke with Dr.McGee about the tachyons," Eddie says. "She said that they're particles that move faster than the speed of light. The device that went missing is supposed to absorb speed, but it could be reverse engineered to increase speed too,"

Barry huffs out a bitter chuckle. "Then you know I definitely don't have it," he mumbles. "I didn't finish high school, how would I even begin to consider reverse engineering anything?" Barry runs a hand through his hair and sighs. "How is this relevant to helping find my parents' murderer?" He asks.

"Because you saw the Man in Yellow that night," Eddie says. "And I told you, I think he's framing you now, at least for what happened at Mercury after you were already there." Barry frowns and Eddie does reach a hand out this time, covering Barry's hand with his own. "Tell me what happened that night."

Barry frowns and pulls his hand back. "Nobody ever believes me," he says.

"I do," Eddie replies. "Tell me."

Barry hesitates. He looks down at his hands as he fidgets his fingers. Eddie begins to think Barry won't talk at all when he does finally speak up. "The water came out of my fish tank," he says softly, so softly that Eddie almost misses it. "It didn't just splash out. It floated up. Then I heard crashing downstairs and I ran down, and there was lightning. It sounds impossible but that’s what I saw. My parents were caught in the middle of a lightning storm inside our house. I went closer and I saw them, two men inside the lightning."

"One in red and one in yellow," Eddie says.

Barry nods and finally looks up, and his eyes shine with tears. "The yellow one... I watched him kill my parents. My mom and dad dropped dead and the red man flashed me out. I was three blocks away before I knew what was happening. By the time I ran back, the cops were there and the men in the lightning were long gone."

Eddie scrubs a hand over his face. "I think I get why people didn't believe you then but... It sounds exactly like witness reports now of, well, you."

Barry frowns. "I know," he says. "But if metas didn't exist until just recently, how were two of them in my house fifteen years ago?"

"I don't know," Eddie replies honestly. "But I'm going to help you figure it out."

***

Eddie leaves Barry's apartment a few minutes later with a lot to think about. While he knows he should report the Flash's real identity, after meeting Barry and talking to him he also knows he won’t be able to bring himself to do it. Barry’s been through a lot, and Eddie now definitely believes that some other meta is involved. The trouble will be convincing everyone else, especially without definitive proof.

Eddie has just gotten back in his car when his phone rings. He pulls it out and rolls his eyes when he sees Joe’s name. “Hey,” he says by way of answering.

“Hey, you still with Allen?” Joe asks.

“Nope, just left actually,” Eddie replies. “How’d it go with Wells?”

“You were right, he’s a dick,” comes Patty’s voice. “Basically told us to go screw ourselves.”

Eddie sighs. “So you didn’t get anything from him?” he asks. “Anything about what might have created a meta fifteen years ago?”

“Not a thing,” Joe replies. “What about Barry? What did you get?”

Eddie sighs and glances up at the apartment building. “I believe him about the Man in Yellow,” he says. “The way he described it, Joe… He could have been describing a speedster today.”

“Ha! Speedster!” Patty cheers. Eddie can practically hear Joe rolling his eyes.

“Yes, speedster. Because I’m convinced there’s more than one,” Eddie says. “Barry saw two of them that night. So something must have created two metas fifteen years ago, and who knows how many more.”

“Or,” Patty chimes in. “That guy at STAR. Cisco Ramón. He made a crack about time travel and…”

Eddie frowns and he hears Joe sigh. “I told you, that’s crazy,” says Joe. “I think we need to keep trying STAR Labs. If there was some other event that created a meta before any of this, we need to know more about it. And we need solid proof on this Man in Yellow before any judge will give us a warrant to search the place.”

“Agreed,” Eddie responds. “Alright, I’ll meet you guys back at the station and we can figure out our next play, okay?”

“Sounds good, see ya,” Joe replies. Eddie hangs up the call and looks up at Barry’s building again. He knows he should bring Barry in for questioning, tell Joe who he really is, something…. but he realizes that if he breaks Barry's trust now, there may be no getting it back.

He finally starts the car when in a sudden flash, he’s yanked out and standing on top of a building. “Jesus Christ Bar—" Once his vision comes into focus again, Eddie looks up and realizes with a knot in his stomach that Barry isn’t the one that grabbed him. He can see that the man holding him up by his shirt, despite somehow making himself look blurry, is clad head-to-toe in a yellow outfit. “You are real….” Eddie breathes.

“Real indeed,” the man says, his voice altered to make him unidentifiable. “Detective Eddie Thawne in the flesh. I didn’t think this day would come so soon.” He moves forward, guiding Eddie back to the edge of the rooftop. “I could kill you in an instant,” he says, “but then, that wouldn’t suit my purpose very well.”

“What purpose?” Eddie asks. He pushes with his feet to try and slow the man, to no avail. His feet can't find purchase on the icy surface. They move closer and closer to the edge of the building until Eddie can no longer feel the rooftop beneath his heel.

“That doesn’t concern you,” the man replies. “What does concern you is staying away from the Flash, from me, and from the Tachyon Prototype.” The Man in Yellow takes another step forward and Eddie’s foot slips off the edge of the building even more. “You’ve seen what I’m capable of, Thawne. Cease your investigation or you will see the same fate.

Eddie opens his mouth to reply when in the blink of an eye he’s tugged off the edge of the building and standing firmly in the middle of the roof. “This isn’t about him,” comes Barry’s voice. Eddie looks up to see Barry in his Flash costume standing between him and the Man in Yellow, then everything goes dark.

Chapter Text

When Eddie comes to, he’s staring up at a ceiling he doesn’t recognize and it takes a moment before he figures out he’s laying on a bed and his back is wet. He groans as he sits up and in an instant a hand is on his back. “Easy,” Barry says. “You hit your head pretty hard.”

“What happened?” Eddie asks. He takes the glass of water Barry offers and looks over at him, noticing that he's wearing plain clothes now. He pushes the disappointment aside as he sips the water. “Where’s the Man in Yellow?” he asks.

Barry rolls his eyes. “You passed out,” he says. “I wasn’t gonna leave you on the roof, and he disappeared while I was distracted.”

Eddie sighs. “So you brought me back to your apartment?”

“Who knew that all it took to get you in my bed was minor head trauma?” Barry teases. “How do you even do your job when bad guys make you faint?”

Eddie rolls his eyes. “I didn’t faint. I passed out. There’s a difference,” he mumbles. "It probably had something to do with being sped around. I don't think normal bodies are built for that."

Barry smirks. “I’m so sure,” he says. “It’s okay, really, this is a safe space. You can admit you just wanted to get me to play nurse. Maybe later we can play doctor too.”

Eddie rolls his eyes and blushes, and he becomes hyperaware of the fact that Barry’s hand is still on his back, rubbing soothing circles. “I um…” Eddie clears his throat. “I need to go. I have to tell Joe what happened.”

“Are you insane?” Barry asks. “You’re not driving anywhere. If anything I’m taking you to a hospital.”

Eddie shakes his head, then winces at the motion. “I’m fine,” he mumbles. “It’s not my first concussion.” He looks over at Barry and considers him carefully. He’s still got makeup smeared down his face and his hair is still a wreck, but damnit if he isn’t beautiful. “You saved my life,” Eddie says softly.

“I saved myself a headache is what I saved,” Barry says. “If you got yourself killed, I’d have to deal with Joe West and that fangirl. I was really only looking out for my best interests.”

“What’s your problem with Joe?” Eddie asks. “I mean, I know he let you down when he couldn’t catch the guy that killed your parents, but I’m sure he did everything he could.”

Barry pulls his hand back and stands, and suddenly Eddie misses the contact. “Is that what he told you? About why I hate him?” Barry asks, crossing his arms. “Of course he’d leave out the rest of it. Why would he tarnish his own shining reputation…”

Eddie frowns and watches Barry pace. “Tell me,” he says. “I work with the man, I need to know what happened.”

“He didn’t just give up on my parents,” Barry says. “He gave up on me too.”

“What do you mean?” asks Eddie.

Barry sighs and runs a hand through his messy hair, then sits in his chair. “Joe was just a beat cop back then. He was the first on the scene actually. And his daughter and I were really good friends in school. So... he offered to take me in.”

“But… Joe said you went into the system after your parents died,” Eddie replies.

“I did,” Barry says bitterly. “Joe couldn’t handle being a single parent to two kids, especially when one of them had attitude problems and was, y’know, delusional.” Barry runs a hand through his hair again and eyes Eddie carefully. “Your precious Detective West turned me over to CPS. I got bounced around from home to home because nobody wanted to deal with the crazy brat that wouldn't stop talking about lightning men and got into fights at school every couple days.”

“He gave you up?” Eddie asks. “But… there’s nothing in your file about living with Joe in the first place.”

“There wouldn’t be,” Barry replies. “It wasn’t ever official.”

Eddie pushes himself up carefully and walks over to Barry. “I’m sorry,” he says, reaching a hand out to Barry’s arm.

“Joe West ruined my life almost as much as the Man In Yellow did,” Barry says. “I’ll never forgive him.”

Eddie wants to ask for more backstory, but he doesn’t want to push it now. Instead, he drops his hand from Barry’s arm to grab his hand and squeeze it gently. “We’ll find the bastard that killed your parents,” he says. “I’m not giving up on you, Barry Allen.”

***

Eddie calls Joe after a few minutes and tells him he’ll be late getting back to the station. Barry makes him rest a little while longer, and being taken care of by Barry feels nicer than Eddie cares to admit. When Barry does finally agree to let Eddie go, he insists on driving and leads Eddie outside.

“Wait, I left my car running…” Eddie says when they get to the car.

“Yeah, you did. I came and grabbed the keys for you,” Barry replies, holding them up. “Are you sure you don’t need to go to a hospital? Or home?”

Eddie sighs and shakes his head as he slides into the passenger seat. “I’m fine,” he says. “I
hate hospitals, I saw enough of them as a kid. And I’m not telling the Flash where I live.” Barry purses his lips but doesn’t argue. As they drive, Eddie looks over at the other man. “So, how did you even know I was up there?” he asks.

“I saw him,” Barry replies. “He ran past my apartment when he ran up the building. There’s also this weird sort of energy when he’s around. A change in the atmosphere. I can feel it, but only barely.”

Eddie frowns slightly. “Well thank you,” he says. “I mean it. You’re a hero.”

“I’m no hero,” Barry says quickly. “I told you. If you get yourself killed I have to deal with Joe directly. So it’s in my best interest to keep you alive.”

“Okay, whatever you say,” Eddie says with a smirk. “Can I ask you another question?”

Barry furrows his brow. “Depends on the question.”

“Why did you kiss me last night?”

Barry is silent for a moment before glancing at Eddie then back to the road. “Why did you kiss me back?” he counters.

Eddie blushes and clears his throat. “It… was an instinct,” he says. “Someone kisses you, you kiss back, that’s what you do.”

“See, I thought you were the kind of guy that would have stopped something he didn’t like,” Barry says.

“If you’re implying I wanted to kiss you, you’re wrong,” Eddie replies. “I did stop it. And you didn’t answer my question.”

Barry sighs and glances at Eddie again briefly. “I don’t know, really,” he finally says. “Seemed like the right thing to do in the moment. I mean, you’re not… unattractive. And I needed to distract you. So.”

“Not unattractive, wow, you really know how to charm a guy," Eddie teases.

"Shut up," Barry grumbles, and he's met with laughter from Eddie.

When they finally get to the parking garage at the station, Eddie gets out of the car and looks over at Barry. "Since you're here... What are the chances I can convince you to come give a statement?" He asks.

"Slim to none," Barry replies. "I've given my statement once before and they didn't believe me. Plus the word of a criminal doesn't go very far."

Eddie frowns. "Okay, if you say so," he says. "Can I at least call you a cab?"

Barry chuckles. "I think I can get home just fine," he says with a smirk. "I'll see you around Thawne."

He turns to walk away, no doubt to speed off as soon as he's out of sight of any security cameras. Eddie watches him go then heads inside. When the elevator door slides open on his floor, he makes his way to his desk, sighing when Joe walks over. Now that he knows more of the story between Joe and Barry, Eddie can't bring himself to feel particularly amicable towards the other man.

"Hey," Joe greets with a grin. "Everything go okay with Barry?"

"Fine," Eddie replies curtly. He pulls up a blank report on his computer and sets to work, but Joe doesn't go away, much to Eddie's chagrin.

"He give you any new information?" Joe asks. "Anything we can use to track this other meta?"

Eddie purses his lips and tries to focus on his work. "Nope," he says. "Just recounted his first statement. That's all."

Joe frowns. "Hey, everything okay? You're acting like I kicked your dog or something."

"Barry told me more about your guys' history," Eddie says, finally looking up at Joe. "About how you're the reason he went into the foster system in the first place."

Joe's face falls and he rubs the back of his neck. "It's not like that," he says. "You have to understand, I couldn't give Barry the help I thought he needed. What was I supposed to do?"

"Not give up on a kid who just lost both his parents," Eddie replies coldly.

Joe frowns. "You don't know what it was like," he says. "I don't get why you care so much anyway. It happened a long time ago, and you just met this kid."

Eddie furrows his brow and looks back to his work. “Someone has to care about him,” he says stiffly.

Joe frowns again. "Just... Be careful," he warns. "Barry's got a complicated past. And with people like him… If you jump in with both feet, you might wind up in over your head."

Joe grabs his coat from his desk then walks off, and Eddie frowns. Maybe, he thinks, he's in over his head already.

***

The Flash is silent on all fronts for the next couple days. No break-ins, no robberies, nothing. Eddie vaguely wonders how Barry came up with the rest of the money for his rent, but quickly realizes it’s probably better that he doesn’t know. They make no progress with Mercury or STAR either. It seems as though they've hit a wall in the case against the Flash, and the team starts to grow restless.

Eddie has begun to contemplate reaching out to Barry directly when finally one evening, several days after Eddie had gone to see Barry, a call comes in about a robbery in progress at Rathaway Industries, and that the Flash was spotted nearby.

When they arrive, Joe looks over at Patty and Eddie and the rest of the officers on the scene. "Eddie, you and Patty go around the back," he instructs. "Sampson, cover me through the front. The rest of you cover the perimeter. This guy does not get away."

They split up and Eddie and Patty go around the back of the building, quietly slipping in through a service entrance. They can hear the alarm going off several floors up so Eddie motions to the stairs and they make their way up. Part of Eddie hopes Barry isn't here, and that hope terrifies another part of him. He pushes the thoughts aside though when they get to the fifth floor and can see alarm lights shining through the window on the door.

“Cover me,” Eddie says quietly. Patty nods and they start down the hall, checking the different offices until Eddie hears voices coming from up ahead. “You hear that?” he whispers.

Patty nods again. “Sounds like two or three of them,” she says. “We should wait for backup,” she say as she pulls out her radio.

"I'm gonna try and get a closer look,” he says. “Stay here and cover me in case there are more.”

Patty starts to protest, but Eddie ignores her. He creeps forward silently and stops just around the corner from the office that the voices are coming from. He can't see who's talking, but he can hear them now plain as day.

"The cops are already here, we need to go," comes a gruff voice.

"Not yet. Hart said his old man keeps thousands in petty cash in this safe and we aren't leaving until we get it," a quieter, smoother voice responds.

"If we get arrested because that brat wants to get back at mommy and daddy, I'll ring his neck myself," the first voice says. "Why didn't we bring Shawna with us? She'd have been more help than this one."

"Aw, have some faith in me, Mickey," comes a third voice, and Eddie definitely recognizes it as Barry's. "I've gotten you boys out of worse jams than this. Or are you forgetting Opal City? Besides, Len's right. We can't leave 'til we get Hartley's money. We promised him."

Eddie finally steps around the corner, gun drawn and aiming at Barry, who's dressed in his Flash costume. "And they say there’s no honor amongst thieves," He says. He's only somewhat surprised to see that the other two people in the room with Barry are Leonard Snart and Mick Rory. He is a lot more surprised though when Mick looks up and whips out a rather large device that looks like some sort of gun.

Leonard glances up from where he's cracking a giant safe in the wall and rolls his eyes. "This your boy toy, Allen?" He says, going back to focusing on the safe.

"Jealous, Snart?" Barry quips. In the blink of an eye and a flash of lightning, Eddie’s gun is gone and he’s handcuffed through the handle on the door, Barry standing in front of him with a smirk as he toys with Eddie’s tie. "Good to see you again detective," he says with a coy smile, pressing his lips right to Eddie's ear. “What do you know, handcuffs are a good look on you too.”

Eddie blushes but rolls his eyes and rattles the cuffs as he pulls back. "My team's already on their way," he says. "You three might make this easy for all of us and just stand down."

"Yeah, not happening," Leonard calls, not looking up. "I'm not giving up a score this big just because you asked nicely." The safe clicks open and Len smirks when he pulls it open. “Hart was right, Daddy Dearest hasn’t changed one bit.” He starts pulling out stacks of cash and slipping them into a duffel bag on the floor.

“You don’t have to do this,” Eddie says, looking from Leonard to Barry. “Let me go. You’re better than this, I know it.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Barry replies. Eddie rolls is eyes and Barry chuckles. "What, gonna try and arrest me again?" He asks. "Because that worked so well for you last time, right?”

Footsteps echo down the hall and Eddie just smirks. "Time's up boys," he says. “Backup’s here. Now you either let me go and come with me quietly or you go with them. Not so quietly.”

“How about option three instead,” Leonard says, standing. “Alright Scarlet, you’re up.”

Barry smirks and winks at Eddie, then glances to Mick. “Sit tight big guy, I’ll be back,” he says. He walks over to Leonard and wraps an arm snugly around his waist, and Eddie barely has time to process the pang of jealousy before Barry disappears with Leonard and returns just moments later.

"You don't have to do this, Flash," Eddie says again. "Please, just--"

"Freeze, nobody move!" Joe calls as he runs in, flanked by Patty and two other officers. One leans over and starts to help uncuff Eddie, and Barry rolls his eyes.

Mick grins, holding up his device. "I prefer flames," he says. He pulls the trigger and flames burst from the end, narrowly missing the officers but setting the room ablaze. "Get us out of here Scarlet," he calls as flames quickly envelop the office and spread out down the hall. The sprinkler system sets off, but the flames move too quick to be put out. "Now!"

Eddie rub his wrist once he's free. He can hear Patty radio for assistance as the other officers try to find a way out, but he just looks at Barry. "Please don't do this," he pleads. "You aren't like them. You're a good guy, I've seen it. If you leave us up here, we'll die."

"Scarlet, I'm not asking again," Mick warns. Barry frowns at Eddie then looks at Mick.

"Come on," Barry says. He wraps his arm around Mick's waist then races out through the window he took Len through. When he's gone, Eddie feels his heart sink. He'd greatly misjudged Barry's character, a mistake he may now die for.

As sparks fly and the flame grows, Eddie finally runs out of the small office where the team are huddled together, only to discover the stairwell blocked off by a burning beam. "Is there any other way out?!" He asks.

"This is the only stairwell on the floor," Joe replies. "Elevators will be out of service. We need to get to a window, now!"

Before they can move though, a bright flash zips by and Patty is gone. There's another flash and one of the other officers is gone, and then the other, and then Joe. Finally, another flash comes in and Barry stands in front of Eddie. "We need to go, now," he says.

"You came back?" Eddie asks.

"I did, and you can make it up to me later, but now we need to go," Barry replies, holding his hand out. "Unless you feel like barbecue tonight? But y'know, that's not really an ideal first date."

Eddie rolls his eyes and takes Barry's hand. Barry pulls him close, too close it seems, then winks at Eddie and runs out of the window. They zip down the side and as suddenly as they started moving, they've stopped again, several blocks away from the burning building. "You gonna faint again?" Barry asks, still gripping Eddie's waist.

"I'll survive," Eddie mumbles, jerking out of Barry's grip. He feels a bit woozy but he's not giving Barry the satisfaction. He brushes off some ash from his shoulder then folds his arms, the chill of the night air setting in. "You need to go. Now," Eddie says stiffly.

"What, that's all the thanks I get?" Barry asks with a smirk.

Eddie scoffs. "After your buddies set the damn fire? After you helped them rob the place? You're lucky I don’t try to arrest you again."

Barry steps forward and makes to reach for Eddie's arm, but Eddie pulls out of the way. "Oh come on, Thawne, you know you can't hold me," Barry teases. "Even if you could, you wouldn't. Unless it was up against a wall, maybe."

"God damnit Ba-" Eddie sighs angrily and presses the heels of his palms to his eyes. "Would you grow up for five fucking minutes? I could have died tonight, my team could have died tonight!" He scrubs a hand over his face and sighs. "I could lose my job for what happened here, you understand that?" he asks, softer than before. "I let myself get taken advantage of by you, again. I'm responsible for not one, not two, but three wanted criminals getting away with thousands in cash. And now..." He gestures to the pillar of smoke coming from Rathaway Industries a few blocks away.

"I'm... Eddie, I'm sorry," Barry says softly. "I didn't think about that. I just.." He wraps his arms around himself and looks up at the smoke. "Len got me out of a tight spot a couple days ago and I owed him. And Mick is a little... Unstable. I never meant for you to get caught in the middle."

"You're right, you didn't think." Eddie huffs. "I thought... I thought you could be a good guy. A hero even. I saw it in you, Barry. But you're the one who proved me wrong tonight."

"Eddie..."

"Just... Take me back, please," Eddie interjects. "Take me to my team, then leave me alone."

Barry frowns but nods. "Okay," he says. He steps forward to wrap his arm around Eddie's waist and runs him back to where the officers are gathered, then races away before anyone else can try and stop him.

An EMT comes over to check Eddie out but he waves him off. When Joe comes over a minute later, Eddie shakes his head. "I don't want to talk about it, Joe," he says. "You were right about jumping in with both feet."

Joe frowns and pats Eddie's shoulder. "Sorry," he says.

Eddie sighs. "Me too."

Chapter Text

As it turns out, Eddie isn’t fired or assigned to a new department. Internal Affairs suspends him for two weeks, however, while they investigate his relationship with the Flash and the other Rogues. With nothing else to do, Eddie resigns himself to sitting at home, alternating between binge watching shows on Netflix and doing some independent research into the details surrounding the Man in Yellow and the other speedster that Barry saw as a child. His research only leads back to conspiracy theories and unconfirmed sightings, and nothing much of substance.

He's in the middle of day eight of his suspension when there's a knock at the door. Eddie sets his laptop aside and pushes himself up off the couch with a sigh, then walks over. When he pulls it open, the last person he expects to see is Barry Allen, but there he stands. Eddie freezes in surprise for a moment before frowning. "What are you doing here?" He asks. "How did you even find my apartment?"

Barry runs a hand through his hair and sighs. "Um, I went to go find you at the station but the guy at the desk said you were suspended. And then... I hacked his computer and did a quick search for your address when he took a bathroom break."

Eddie sighs and shakes his head. "So you broke into a police computer to track me down?" he asks.

"It sounds creepy when you put it like that," Barry mumbles. "Look, I know you're pissed at me, and you have every right to be. I just... Wanted to apologize. Again." When Eddie looks at Barry expectantly, Barry runs a hand through his hair again and fidgets his hands. "Um, I'm sorry," he says. "Really sorry. I didn't mean for you to get in trouble because of me. I don't really think before I do, well, anything, but I shouldn't have kissed you that night and I shouldn't have been there with Len and Mick and I'm sorry, Eddie."

Eddie tries to suppress a smile and fails. "Why don't you come inside," he says, standing aside and pushing the door open, "I was just about to make lunch. I'll even let you keep groveling if you want."

Barry rolls his eyes but smirks. "Deal," he says, walking past Eddie into the apartment.

"So, how does a foster kid that's been in and out of jail learn how to hack computers?" Eddie asks as he kicks the door shut and walks into the kitchen.

Barry shrugs and follows Eddie, sitting at the small dining table. "One of my friends is like, a certified genius. He used to work with STAR before Wells gave him the same treatment he gave me. He's taught me a few tricks."

"This friend know about the Man in Yellow?" Eddie replies as he starts pulling out everything he needs for grilled cheese.

Barry shrugs again. "I've mentioned it. He was convinced for a while that Wells was the Man in Yellow but that theory fell through pretty quick."

Eddie puts a sandwich in the pan and looks up. "I hadn't even thought of that. Is it the wheelchair thing?" He asks. "I mean, he could be faking that."

"Nope," Barry says, shaking his head. "We checked the medical records. The particle accelerator blast really did paralyze him. There's no way he's a meta with super speed."

Eddie frowns but continues cooking. "He's involved somehow though," he says. "Or he knows someone who is."

Barry gets up and walks over to Eddie, leaning against the counter next to him. "I didn't come here to talk about Harrison Wells," Barry says. "I came here to make sure you're alright."

Eddie looks over at Barry and purses his lips as he goes back to cooking. "I'm under investigation because of a relationship I may or may not have with you and the rest of your Rogues, every meta case I've worked in the last three months is being called into question, and I'm failing the promise I made to you the same way Joe did. Alright isn't exactly the word I would use."

Barry frowns and crosses his arms. "I'm sorry," he mumbles. "I didn't.... I just--"

"Hey." Eddie plates the last sandwich and turns the stove off, then turns to look at Barry. "I'll be fine," he says. "I know you didn't mean for any of this to happen. I mean, you're a pain in the ass but you're not a cold hearted villain. I..." He sighs. "I forgive you. But no more second chances. I can't keep putting my job on the line for you and letting you get away with robbing banks and working with the Rogues." He hands Barry a plate and walks back into the living room. "Deal?" He asks as he sits on one end of the couch.

"That's fair," Barry replies as he follows Eddie, dropping into the other end of the sofa. "I won't work with them on jobs anymore if it'll make you happy. But... They're my family. I'm not just giving up on them altogether."

Eddie furrows his brow. "What, like a crime family?" he asks. "Some sort of mob thing?"

Barry rolls his eyes and shakes his head. "No, like, my family," he says. "I met Len on a job when I busted into a place he'd been casing, like, a week after I got out of juvie the first time. He was already working with Mick and his sister Lisa at that point and they took me in, helped me get on my feet.” Barry shrugs. “After the accident, when Wells kicked me out, they helped train me. Hone in my powers.”

"What about the others?" Eddie asks. "Mark Mardon works with you guys right? And Shawna Baez?"

Barry bites into his sandwich then nods. "Mhm," he mumbles before swallowing. "We all kind of come and go. Mark mostly keeps to himself. We don't really hear from him unless something big is going on. Shawna and I train together sometimes, and when Hart isn't being a dick or teaching me about computers, he's coming up with ways to screw over his folks and-or Wells."

"Hart?" Eddie asks.

"My friend that used to work at STAR. I think he started calling himself the Pied Piper?" Barry replies. "He's such an asshole, who names themselves?"

Eddie's eyes go wide. "You mean Hartley Rathaway? The kid with super hearing whose parents' building you set on fire a week ago?"

Barry rolls his eyes again. "Okay one, that wasn't me, that was Mick. He's a goddamned pyro. Two, according to Osgood and Rachel Rathaway and all the legal bullshit they put Hart through, they don't have a son and never did. So.”

Eddie frowns some. “You know at least half of your… family… is wanted for murder right? And like, other really serious crimes? Doesn’t that worry you?”

Barry shrugs. “That was all a long time ago. We look out for each other now,” he says. “You wouldn’t get it. I’m sure you had a family who loved you and took care of you and, y’know. Provided for you.”

“That’s not fair,” Eddie says, setting his plate aside. “I had my parents and my sisters but we were hardly a family.” Barry looks at Eddie for explanation and Eddie rolls his eyes. “You have to be at least a level three friend or significant other to unlock my tragic backstory,” he says.

“And what level am I now?” Barry asks, setting his own plate on the coffee table. He leans in close, leaning into his arm against the back of the couch.

Eddie raises an eyebrow and smirks. “Maybe a point-five,” he says.

“We’ve kissed, and you just made me lunch,” Barry points out with a grin.

“You kissed me, and you stalked me here,” Eddie counters.

Barry just laughs. “You kissed back, and you invited me in, so fuck off,” he replies.

Eddie laughs along with Barry. “Yeah, okay, you’ve got me,” he says. “So maybe a… point-nine.”

“Your leveling system is flawed,” Barry says. “But fine, don’t tell me. It just gives me something to work towards.”

Eddie rolls his eyes and smiles. “Yeah, sure, whatever you say,” he mumbles.

Barry chuckles and looks up at Eddie. “Y’know, the scruff is a good look on you,” he says, reaching forward to cup Eddie’s jaw and scratch over the stubble.

Eddie tenses slightly then relaxes into the touch. He sits like that for a moment until he realizes Barry is staring and he leans away with a start, clearing his throat. Barry frowns but drops his hand to cover Eddie’s. “I make you nervous, don’t I?” Barry says softly, rubbing his thumb over Eddie’s knuckles.

Eddie bites the inside of his cheek and nods, watching where their hands are joined. “I just don’t know much about you,” he says. “I mean, I know about your history, but I don’t know you. And after seeing what the Man in Yellow has done…”

“You think I’m like him,” Barry says. It’s a statement, an accusation. He pulls his hand back into his own lap and frowns again.

“No,” Eddie says firmly, reaching out for Barry’s hand again. “Your powers are incredible and you have so much potential. You could do great things for this city, Barry. But this path you’re on — the crime spree and the revenge mission — You’re doing the wrong things even if they are for the right reasons and… you could become like him.” He squeezes Barry’s hand then pulls back, watching the other man carefully.

Barry doesn’t look up right away, just plays with his rings. “I need to go,” he says softly, standing. He grabs the plates and speeds into the kitchen and back, then shoves his hands in his pockets and heads for the door.

Eddie stands and reaches for his arm. “You don’t have to—“

“Bye, Eddie,” Barry mumbles, pulling out of Eddie’s grip and speeding away.

Chapter Text

When Eddie’s suspension ends a week later, his first stop is a hearing with Internal Affairs where they tell him they’ve found no concrete evidence of a relationship with the Flash, but he should consider distancing himself from the meta as much as possible. After that he heads to Singh’s office. Singh sits him down and closes the door, then leans against his desk.

“I should take you off the task force completely,” he says. “I have half a mind to do it. Internal Affairs might not have found you guilty of anything but I know for a fact that this has gone on way too long. However..."

"Sir?" Eddie asks nervously.

Singh sighs. "We had a run-in with a meta a few days ago. Guy could, uh, clone himself. He nearly had the upper hand when the Flash showed up and actually helped us take him down." He crosses his arms and watches Eddie carefully. "He said he was done doing the wrong things even if they were for the right reasons. You wouldn't know anything about that would you?"

Eddie grins despite himself but shakes his head. "No sir," he says. "It's um, good to hear though. Maybe he won't be as much of a nuisance now."

Singh eyes Eddie suspiciously but nods. "Yeah. Maybe." He jerks his head to the door. “Go on."

"Thank you sir," Eddie says with a big grin. He walks out of the office and heads to his desk, rolling his eyes fondly when he sees Patty leaning against it. "Hi Patty," he says, shooing her aside so he can sit. "Heard you guys had some extra help while I was away."

"Welcome back Thawne!" She says with a smile. "Yeah, the Flash totally saved our butts with a meta that could clone himself a couple days ago. It was awesome!"

Eddie smiles as he starts sorting through the stacks of paperwork on his desk. "I heard," he says, looking up at her. “I miss anything else?”

Patty shrugs and saunters over to her own desk across the way. “Not really,” she says. “But a cute boy came in here last week to talk to you. I think it was that Allen guy that Joe knows.”

“Who do I know?” Joe asks as he walks through, going around to his desk. He glances at Eddie briefly then looks to Patty.

“That guy that came in here last week. I think it was Barry Allen," Patty replies.

Joe’s eyebrows shoot up as he sits. “Barry Allen? Walked into a police station of his own volition?” he asks incredulously.

Eddie tries to hide his blush but fails, and Patty laughs. “Yes, he came in asking for Eddie,” she says with a smirk.

Joe looks over at Eddie and furrows his brow. "What did he want?" He asks.

Eddie shrugs. "How should I know? Maybe he wanted to give his statement again or remembered something that could help us."

"Yeah or he has the hots for you," Patty offers. Joe's phone starts ringing so he steps away to answer it, and Patty comes over to lean against Eddie's desk. "It's not fair," she says, "you've got the Flash and this Barry Allen guy both pining after you."

Eddie groans. "Aren't you dating someone?" He asks, glancing over to Joe briefly then back up to Patty. She blushes and purses her lips. “And they're not pining after me," he continues. "Anyway, even if they were, I'm not interested. The Flash is a menace. And I barely know Barry."

"Mhm, whatever you say," Patty teases. "I--"

"Guys, we gotta go," Joe interjects as he walks back over. "That was Cisco Ramón. Tony Woodward broke out."

"What?!" Eddie exclaims as he shoots up. "How is that even possible?"

Joe sighs. "Looks like someone hacked the STAR mainframe, unlocked his cell remotely," he says. "Which means--"

"They could let out any other meta too," Eddie finishes. "Crap. We gotta go."

***

The three detectives and the rest of the task force mobilize quickly and head out. Joe takes a group of officers out to Tony's last known hideout while Eddie and Patty and a few others head to STAR to secure the area. At the lab, they're met by Cisco Ramón and Caitlin Snow. "What happened?" Eddie asks.

"I'm still trying to trace the hack," Cisco replies, typing away at his computer. "Whoever it was is good. I'm still locked out of all processes on our network. They knew what they were doing."

Eddie frowns. "Was it Hartley Rathaway?"

Cisco shakes his head. "He's a dick, but this wasn't him. I know his signature. This is... Even more advanced than Hart.”

"Where's the BOOT?" Patty asks.

When Cisco and Caitlin clear their throats and busy themselves instead of answering, Eddie clenches his jaw. "What happened to it?" He asks.

Cisco sighs and Caitlin looks at Eddie with a frown. "We tried that," Caitlin says. "Tony... Smashed it. Honestly we're lucky it wasn't our faces."

Eddie sighs and looks over at Patty. "He was after Iris last time. Call her and make sure she's safe." She nods and hurries away, and Eddie looks over at Cisco. "Keep trying to trace the hack. Whoever let Woodward out might have picked him specifically, and if so we need to know why." He glances between Cisco and Caitlin and frowns. "Where is Dr. Wells?" he asks.

"He went on vacation, he's in Coast City visiting his sister," Caitlin replies. "I'll get in touch with him then try and figure out a way to make Tony, um, not metal."

Eddie nods. "Good. And the rest of you man the entrances in case he comes back."

The team splits up and Patty walks up to Eddie. "I talked to Joe. Iris is safe," she says. "Joe said she's headed to the police station now. She hasn't heard from Tony but she'll let us know if she does."

"Okay, thank you," Eddie replies. "Are you alright? You should go meet her, make sure she's okay."

Patty shakes her head. "I'll be more use here," she says. "But, what about... Yknow..." she wiggles her eyebrows. "Can't you call him?"

It takes Eddie a moment to catch on, but he sighs when he does. "I don't have a direct line to him," he replies. "I mean, I didn't call him when he showed up for you guys last time."

"If you're talking about the Flash, I may be able to help," Cisco says, looking up. "I um.... Might have his number."

"You what?!" Caitlin hisses.

"I second that," Patty adds on. "How do you have the Flash's number?"

Cisco smiles bashfully and shrugs. "We kept in touch after he uh, stopped working here," he admits. "He might have gone all Dark Side but we we were still bros. Who do you think designed his super suit?"

Eddie squashes down the jealousy he can feel creeping up and rolls his eyes. "We'll discuss any possible aiding and abetting charges later. For now, get him here, see if he's willing to help."

"Okay, but how is Ba--" Cisco freezes and his eyes go wide, glancing at Eddie and Patty. "Um... how is BEING... super fast going to help?"

Caitlin clears her throat. "I... may actually have an idea," she says reluctantly. “Well, Doctor Wells does, and I think it’ll work. I may not like it, but if you can get him here, I think I know how he can help us."

Cisco nods and sends a tect. It's only a few seconds later that Barry comes racing in wearing his costume, sending papers flying everywhere. Patty's hand goes to her gun on instinct but Eddie smiles. “I’m glad you came," he says.

"I didn't come for you," Barry replies coldly, vibrating his voice. He turns away from Eddie and looks to Cisco and Caitlin. "Cisco, what's the emergency?"

Eddie frowns and everyone looks between them before Cisco clears his throat. "Um, Girder escaped. Someone hacked our network and opened his cell."

Barry narrows his eyes. "If you want a sheepdog, go to the pet store," he says. "I'm not rounding up your missing flock."

"He might be after Joe's daughter Iris," Patty says. "Like last time. I know you aren't his biggest fan but she could be in danger. And Tony broke the BOOT so we have no other way of stopping him."

"You're our best option," Caitlin cuts in. "And after you helped with Multiplex, we thought..."

Barry sighs and rubs the back of his neck, then glances over at Eddie and Patty. "Fine," he says, looking to Caitlin. "What do you need me to do?"

Caitlin grins and walks over to Barry with a tablet. "We've run some calculations. Given Tony's genetic makeup and the way his body reacts, if you go fast enough and hit him at the right angle, he won't have time to turn into metal. You should connect with skin and bone."

Barry swipes through the tablet and sighs. "It's the 'should' that worries me," he says. "What happens if I'm not going fast enough?"

"You.... Could shatter every bone in your body."

"Fun," Barry says, rolling his eyes and handing the tablet back.

Cisco walks over and pats Barry's shoulder. "Come on dude, your healing factor would get you back on your feet within a few hours. Where's your sense of adventure?"

"I'm sorry, healing factor?" Eddie asks.

Barry rolls his eyes again. "I don't just run fast, I do everything fast. Digest, sleep, heal...” he answers without looking at Eddie. “Amongst other things. Caitlin, how fast do I have to run?"

She swipes through her tablet and looks back up at Barry. "Mach one," she says. "That's the speed of sound. Roughly 750 miles per hours."

Barry nods. "Okay. I mean, I've broken the sound barrier before, so I just... Try to do that again right?"

"You'll have to start several miles away to get that much speed," Caitlin replies.

"But I can do it," Barry says. "I have to try."

"Are you sure?" Eddie asks. "I mean..."

"Listen, I've been itching to to knock Tony Woodward on his ass since we were kids," Barry says. "He has it coming. And anyway..." He glances over at Eddie again then looks away. "Like Caitlin said. I'm your best option."

Eddie frowns but nods. "Okay," he says. "Patty, go tell the others, and see if Joe's had any luck tracking Woodward down." She nods and walks away, and Eddie looks to the other three. "Cisco, we still need to know who hacked your system, but once you get access again the first priority is helping find Woodward. Caitlin, make sure you have all the details exactly right, okay? The last thing we need is a broken Flash and an even angrier Girder." They nod and turn to get to work, and Eddie looks over at Barry. "Can I uh, talk to you?" He says softly.

"It's a free country," Barry mumbles, picking at a loose thread on his glove.

Eddie sighs and rolls his eyes then takes Barry's hand. "Come here," he says, leading him into a small office off the main lab. "Look Barry, I'm sorry," he says, turning to look at him. "I shouldn't have compared you to the man that killed your parents. I just... I was worried about you. I still am."

"I can take care of myself," Barry says, looking down at where Eddie is still holding his hand.

"You shouldn't have to though," Eddie replies. "And, for what it's worth, I really do appreciate that you're helping us with this."

"Like I said, I didn't come for you," Barry says, finally pulling his hand back. "You were right. I was doing the wrong things, even if I did have a good reason. After I left your place I realized, what if the Man in Yellow thinks he's doing the right thing? What if... What if I am turning into him?"

"Hey." Eddie reaches a careful hand out and squeezes Barry's shoulder. "Look at me." Barry looks up with a frown and Eddie sighs. "I'm sorry I ever put that idea in your head," he says. "Helping track down metas, trying to find the Man in Yellow... You're doing great things for this city. You're saving lives. Hell, you've saved my life more than once."

Barry frowns and looks away again. "After I put you in danger in the first place," he mumbles.

"Maybe, but it wasn't intentional," Eddie replies. "And you still saved me. The Man in Yellow isn't doing any of that." He squeezed Barry's shoulder again and smiles at him. "I believe in you, Barry."

Barry looks up again and smiles softly. He hesitates for a moment before he leans in and presses a quick kiss to Eddie's cheek. "Thanks," he says, leaning back to look at him.

The gold flecks in Barry's eyes seem to shine now, more than usual, and Eddie could get lost just staring at them. His own eyes flick to Barry's lips briefly then back up to meet his eyes, and Eddie's senses are flooded with the memory of Barry kissing him. Of himself kissing back. He leans in ever so slightly and realizes that Barry must have leaned in too because he can feel Barry's breath fan across his lips and those eyes... Those mesmerizing hazel eyes with the gold flecks... They're mere inches from his own. Eddie's breath hitches and he leans in even closer, practically buzzing with anticipation. Just a little closer and--

A pen hits the window and the moment comes crashing down. "Hey guys!" Cisco calls. "I got my system back online and I think you should see this!"

Barry huffs out a chuckle and leans away, running a hand through his hair, and Eddie snaps back to reality. He almost kissed Barry. Again. He clears his throat and shoves his hands in his pocket. "Um... Are we good?" He asks.

Barry smirks. "We're good," he says with a smirk. "Come on, Thawne. We have a meta to take down."

Chapter Text

"What are we looking at, Cisco?" Barry says as he leans in to look at the computer monitor.

"That," Cisco replies, zooming in on the cell phone footage he found online, "is the aftermath of Girder's rampage at an apartment building a few minutes ago. Luckily nobody was home."

Eddie leans over as well and frowns as he looks at the destruction. The entire corner of a building is gone, smashed through completely, revealing the inside of an apartment. "Is that Iris's?" He asks.

"Eddie, I think that's... Your apartment," Barry says.

Eddie's eyes go wide and he reaches over Cisco, zooming in again. Sure enough, it is his building, and judging by how far up the destruction is, it's his apartment. "But why would he be after me?" Eddie asks. "I hardly worked his case. I wasn't his arresting officer. How would he even know where I lived?"

"How do you know where Detective Thawne lives?" Caitlin asks, peering at Barry with a cocked head.

Barry clenches his jaw and balls up his fists at his side. "Not important. Do you know where he is now?" He asks through gritted teeth.

Cisco glances over his shoulder then to his monitors again and cracks his knuckles. "I've been dying to run this new facial recognition software," he says with a smirk. "Stand back boys." Cisco starts typing furiously and pulls up screens with algorithms and a facial scan on one monitor, and what looks like traffic cameras on the other.

"Do I even want to ask if you have the permits for this tech?" Eddie asks as he watches.

"Not if you want to have plausible deniability," Cisco mumbles as his fingers fly over the keys.

Barry rolls his eyes. "Jesus, you and Hart are two sides of the same coin, I don't know why you guys hate each other so much," he says.

Cisco grabs another pen and chucks it in Barry's general direction then goes back to working. After another minute of furious typing, he smirks. "Gotcha!" He spins around and gestures to his computer screen. "Traffic cams got him entering a building ten seconds ago. Thermal imaging has him on the main floor."

Eddie leans in and looks at the screen, and his stomach drops. "Cisco, that's the police station," he says faintly. He pulls his radio off of his belt and swallows hard. "All units be advised, meta-human Tony Woodward AKA Girder was last seen entering the police station. Possibly armed, very dangerous, do not engage. I repeat, do not engage." He clips it back on and looks at Barry. "I... I have to go," he says.

Barry nods. "Call us when you're ready for me," he says. He grabs Eddie's hand and gives it a quick squeeze. "Be safe."

"You too," Eddie replies, squeezing back. "I'll see you soon." He spares one more glance to Cisco and Caitlin then runs outside. He explains the situation to Patty and the rest of the officers on their team as they climb back into the SUV they came in, siren blaring as they take off.

As they drive, Patty tries to call Iris, but she doesn't answer, so Patty tries again. And again. "She's not answering..." Patty says after the third failed call, furrowing her brow in worry. "If she's not already there, she won't know. We have to-- I need to--"

"Hey." Eddie glances over at Patty then back to the road. "She'll be fine. She can handle herself, you know that."

"I know, but..." Patty chews on her lip as she looks down at her phone, typing out a text. "We got in a fight yesterday. I wanted to tell Joe but she freaked out and I stormed off. Now she's not answering my calls. What if… Eddie, What if—”

"You can't start with that, Patty," Eddie says firmly. "Iris will be okay and you two can sort it out later. You have to focus on Tony now though alright? And the rest of the CCPD that may be trapped inside with him."

Patty takes a deep breath and nods. "Okay," she says. "What... What's the plan when we get there?"

Eddie glances in the rearview mirror to the rest of the team then back to the road. "We'll coordinate with Joe. You guys try to get as many people out as possible. I'll go after Woodward."

"Not by yourself you won't," Patty says sternly. "You can't face him alone!"

"He destroyed my apartment, Patty," Eddie counters. "He's after me this time. I need to use that as a distraction until the Flash gets there, and I'm not letting you risk your lives for me."

Patty frowns. "I can't talk you out of this, can I?"

"Nope," Eddie replies with a small smile, one he hopes doesn't betray how scared he actually is.

They get to the police station after another few minutes and they can see Joe and captain Singh giving directions to several other officers as a SWAT team sets up a perimeter to keep the growing crowd back.

"Joe! Captain!" Eddie calls as they walk over. "What's the status?"

Singh sighs, lowering his tactical binoculars and turning his scowl to Eddie. "Woodward's inside with several other officers," he says. "He's demanding to see you. Christ, first day back from suspension and you're already in the middle of some meta-human crisis." Singh frowns and crosses his arms. "What's going on, Thawne?"

Eddie shakes his head and looks up at the building. "I have no idea," he says. "Woodward destroyed my apartment specifically. I have no connection to him at all that I'm aware of though."

"Joe, where's Iris?" Patty asks. "She wasn't answering our calls."

Joe furrows his brow. "Mine either," he says. "She might be inside too but we don't have a visual yet to confirm."

Patty's face falls, and Eddie sighs. "I'm going in," he says.

"Like hell!" Singh replies. "You're out of your mind if you think I'm letting you go in there!"

Eddie scrubs a hand over his face. "Sir, Woodward is after me. If I can distract him long enough, you can get everyone else out safely."

"And then what?" Joe asks. "Do you have the BOOT?"

"It was destroyed," Eddie says. "But Dr. Snow came up with a way for the Flash to help." He looks between Joe and Singh and sets his jaw. "I need five minutes, that's it," he says.

Singh huffs out a frustrated sigh then unfolds his arms. "If you die, I'll kill you myself," he says, pushing past Eddie. He storms back over a minute later with a bulletproof vest in one hand and a mic and earpiece in the other. "Here." He hands them over and crosses his arms again. "Five minutes, that's all you get, then we're coming in after you."

"Yes sir," Eddie replies as he fastens the vest on. He looks to Patty then to Joe as he clips on the mic. "Get in touch with STAR Labs. Tell them to send the Flash when he's ready." He looks back to Patty and gives her an encouraging smile then takes a deep breath and starts towards the entrance to the building.

As he approaches, he can see through the windows that Tony is standing in the middle of the lobby holding an officer up by his neck, and a few other officers have their guns trained on him. After taking another deep breath, Eddie draws his gun and opens the door slowly. "Tony," he says carefully as he walks in. "Put him down."

Tony's entire body changes to metal and he drops the officer, then spins around. "Detective Thawne, about time," he says with a sneer.

Eddie does a quick look around and sees a few other officers, and Iris, hiding behind a few upturned desks. "I'm here now," he says, looking up to the meta. "Let the rest of these guys go. You don't want to hurt these people."

Tony gives a half grin. "Nobody leaves 'til I say they can," he growls.

He starts to stalk forward but Eddie cocks his gun so Tony stops with an amused smirk. "Wait, tell me what you want from me at least," Eddie says, trying to keep his voice even. "What did I do to you?"

"Not me," Tony says, "but you pissed someone off. He said he'd get me out, said he'd fix me up real good if I killed you."

"He who?" Eddie presses. "Who wants me dead?"

Tony smirks and steps forward again. He grabs Eddie's gun and crushes it like its made out of foil then drops the crumpled piece of metal to the ground. “And he has a message for you," he says. He shoots his arm out and grabs Eddie by the throat, lifting him off the ground. “You should have minded your own business.”

Eddie gasps for breath, scrambling to try to pull at Tony's hand to no avail. "Please," he gasps. "Please, don't do this!"

"It's already done," Tony growls.

His fingers tighten around Eddie's throat and spots start to swarm in Eddie's vision. The last thing he sees is a bright flash of lightning, and then darkness.

***

“What are you doing here Barry?”

“Checking on him. Y’know, since he almost died thanks to you.”

“It’s not my fault he decided to walk in there!”

“Yeah, well you could have tried harder to stop him, Joe.”

Eddie groans and blinks his eyes open slowly. The bright lights give way to blurry shapes that give way to familiar faces, and it doesn’t take long to figure out he’s laying in a hospital. Joe is standing with his back to Eddie, hands on his hips. Past Joe, Eddie can see Barry standing at the door, out of his Flash costume, fiddling with one of the several rings that adorn his fingers.

Eddie tries to sit up but his head starts spinning. He groans again and the pain in this throat makes him wince.

“Hey, guys,” comes Patty’s voice. “Knock it off, he’s awake.” Eddie looks over and sees Patty and Iris leaning against the windowsill, Iris’ arm tucked around Patty’s waist.

“Hi…” Eddie mumbles, then winces again at the pain in his throat.

“Don’t try to talk,” Joe says as he walks over and presses the call button. “Doc says you have pretty significant damage to your your vocal cords on top of your concussion.”

Eddie frowns and looks past Joe to see Barry still hovering near the door. “Hi,” he whispers with a smile.

Barry smiles and pushes past Joe, coming over to Eddie and taking his hand. “Hey,” he says, dropping into the chair by Eddie’s bed. “You gave us a pretty good scare.”

“What happened?” Eddie asks in a whisper.

“Woodward got a good grip on you,” Joe says. “Nearly killed you. The Flash showed up and knocked his ass out, but you hit your head pretty hard when Tony dropped you.”

Eddie looks over to Barry and smiles. “You saved me,” he whispers.

Barry rolls his eyes. “You hit your head more than just pretty hard,” he says. “The Flash saved you. I’m just here to make sure my favorite detective isn’t gonna bite it.” He squeezes Eddie’s hand and smiles again. “I’m glad you’re okay,” he says.

“Me too,” Eddie mumbles.

“Mister Thawne, you’re awake,” comes a voice. Eddie looks up to see a nurse walking in. “Alright, I gotta get in here, excuse me honey,” she says, shooing Barry away.

Barry frowns but nods. He squeezes Eddie’s hand once more before getting up and moving aside. The nurse steps in and presses a button to sit Eddie’s bed up, then starts checking his vitals. “You’re lucky the Flash showed up,” she says.

“Very lucky,” Eddie mumbles, looking over to Barry with a smile.

“Ah-ah, no talking,” the nurse says. “Not even whispering, or you could damage your vocal cords even more.” She picks up a whiteboard and marker off the bedside table and hands it to him.

Eddie frowns but takes it, then scrawls out a message and turns the board around.

“How long?” The nurse reads. “Well, I’m not quite sure. Probably a few weeks at least. Your doctor will have more answers.” She shines a light in his eyes and has him track her finger, then sighs. “Well, you’re still concussed. Between the head trauma and your neck injury, the doctor will probably want to keep you overnight.”

Eddie frowns and wipes his writing off the whiteboard, then writes out another message and turns it around.

“You want your phone for writing instead?” the nurse asks after she reads it. “Well… Fine. But with your concussion, it might hurt your eyes. Just use it sparingly okay?” She scribbles a few things down then looks at Eddie again. “I’m going to go talk to your doctor, we’ll come back a little later.”

She turns to walk out the door and Eddie sighs, setting the whiteboard aside. “Where’s my phone?” he whispers.

“Eddie, she said you can’t talk,” Patty says with an eye roll, leaving Iris’ side and walking over. She picks a blue plastic bag up off the ground. “Your stuff should be in here.” She rifles through it then finds his phone and hands it to him.

Eddie takes it and smiles and looks at Patty, then over to Iris. He types out a quick message and shows it to Patty, who grins. “Yeah, we told him,” she says.

“Wait, Eddie knew?” Joe asks, watching Patty with bewilderment as she walks back over to Iris and leans into her side.

Eddie huffs out a breathy chuckle and types something out on his phone, then hands it to Joe.

Joe takes the phone and reads the message, then hands it back with a frown. “What the hell do you mean everyone knew?” he asks.

Iris just laughs. “Dad, we can talk about it later,” she says. She looks to Eddie and smiles. “You saved my life, Eddie. Thank you.”

“He saved a lot of lives,” Barry says from where he’s leaning against the wall. “The city’s lucky to have him.”

Joe frowns and turns to look at Barry. “I still don’t get why you’re here, Barry,” he says. “How do you even know what happened?”

“Dad!” Iris hisses.

Eddie rolls his eyes and starts typing something out, but Barry pushes off from the wall and walks up to Joe. “It was all over the news, the entire city knows what happened,” he replies. “And I told you, I’m checking on him. But it’s not really any of your business.”

“Of course it’s my business, he’s my partner,” Joe says, folding his arms.

“Yeah well he’s my…” Barry pauses and looks over at Eddie over Joe’s shoulder. “He’s my friend. And I care about him.”

Joe shakes his head. “I don’t believe it for a minute. Whatever con you're trying to pull, whatever game this is, I don’t buy it. Just… go home, Barry.”

Barry looks back to Joe with a glare. “Why don’t you kiss my—”

“Hey!” Eddie rasps, wincing at the strain from trying to yell. Joe and Barry turn to look at him, each with a concerned expression. “Patty, would you read this?” He finishes typing then holds his phone out and frowns at Joe and Barry.

Patty steps forward and takes the phone. “Um… Yeah. Uh…” Her eyes skim over the message and she huffs out a chuckle. “You’re both being assholes,” she reads. “Joe is my partner and I respect him, but Barry has as much right to be here as the rest of you. I know you have a problem with each other but if you’re not going to be civil, you can both leave.”

Joe sighs. “Sorry,” he says, shoving his hands in his pockets.

Barry folds his arms and Eddie looks to him expectantly. With a huff, Barry drops his arms. “Fine. Sorry,” he replies petulantly.

Patty smirks and hands Eddie his phone back. “You’re good at that,” she says. “But no more talking.” She walks back over to Iris and kisses her cheek, then leans into her side.

Joe watches them unsurely for a moment then eyes Barry warily and sighs. “I… think I’m gonna go for some coffee,” he says, looking back down to Eddie. “Anyone want anything?”

Iris glances over to Barry and Eddie then smirks and looks at her dad again. “We’ll go with you,” she says, tugging Patty’s hand. “C’mon. Barry, do you want anything?”

Barry shakes his head. “No thanks,” he replies. “I’m gonna stay with Eddie.”

“Okay. It really was good to see you again, Barr,” she says.

“Yeah, you too,” Barry says with a soft smile. He comes over and sits next to Eddie again as the other three walk out. “How do you feel?” he asks. Eddie rolls his eyes and gives a sarcastic thumbs up, and Barry laughs. “Okay, fair enough.” He reaches for Eddie’s hand and takes it in his own, kissing the tops of his knuckles. “I really am glad you’re alive though,” he says softly.

“Me too,” Eddie whispers.

Barry rolls his eyes. “You have to stop doing that if you ever want your voice back,” he chides. “I appreciate the effort though.” He’s silent for a few moments, rubbing his thumb along the back of Eddie’s hand softly before he finally speaks up. “Did you find out why he was after you?” he asks softly.

Eddie pulls his hand back and picks up his phone to type out a response. When he finishes, he shows it to Barry.

“Someone wanted him to kill you?” Barry asks, looking up from the phone. “You think it was the Man in Yellow?” Eddie nods and Barry sets his jaw. “He’s gonna pay for what he’s done to you,” he says.

Eddie reaches over to squeeze Barry’s hand with a smile, but after another moment he pulls back and starts typing again. He deletes the message and retypes it all twice before settling on the one he wants to show Barry. With a deep breath, he hands the phone over.

Barry reads it and frowns. “What do you mean?” he asks, handing the phone back. “We made up. Nothing else happened between us at STAR. There’s nothing to talk about.” Eddie rolls his eyes and types again, then hands the phone back to Barry. Barry reads the new message and sighs, setting the phone aside. “I’m not in denial, and almost only counts with horseshoes and grenades,” he says. “Nothing actually happened.” He looks down at his lap and fiddles with one of his rings, then looks up again. “Did…. you want it to?”

Eddie is silent for a moment, chewing on the inside of his cheek as he thinks of what to say before reaching for his phone. He types quickly then holds the phone up.

Barry reads it and frowns again. “That’s not an answer,” he says. Eddie scowls and shakes his phone, and Barry groans. “I came because I care about you!” he says in exasperation. “I had to know that you weren’t dead, that you weren’t gonna leave me like everyone else does.”

Eddie frowns and sets his phone aside. He takes another deep breath before reaching for Barry’s face and pulling him in, pressing their lips together softly. When Eddie pulls back, he smiles, reaching a hand up to run through Barry’s hair. “You’re stuck with me,” he whispers.

Barry is frozen for a moment, watching Eddie with a stunned expression before leaning in and kissing him again, more urgent than before. When he leans back, he smiles. “Nobody else I want to be stuck with.”

Chapter Text

Eddie’s doctor winds up keeping him in the hospital for two nights. Barry stays with him as much as possible, barely leaving his side. He sleeps in the bedside chair leaning over Eddie. He brings Eddie food that doesn’t suck. And when Eddie’s finally discharged on his third day, Barry is there to help him collect his things and get ready to go.

“Thanks for your help,” Eddie whispers, walking over to Barry with a smile, settling his hands on Barry’s waist.

“Stop that,” Barry chides. “No talking, or it’ll be longer until I can hear your voice again.” He smirks and leans in, kissing Eddie’s forehead softly. “Now, are you sure you don’t want to come home with me? I have a bed. And... a… fridge?”

Eddie smiles and pulls back, retrieving his phone from his pocket. He types out a quick response then shows it to Barry.

“That’s rude,” Barry says when he reads the message. “My apartment is not a roach motel. I haven’t even seen a roach in there in like, a week.” Eddie smiles again and Barry rolls his eyes. “You’re a dick,” Barry mumbles. “Well where are you gonna go? Last I checked there’s a huge hole in the side of your apartment. I mean, is there anyone I need to call?”

“The hospital took care of that already,” a woman’s voice responds. Eddie looks over Barry’s shoulder and his eyes go wide when he sees his mother walk in. “Seems we’re still listed as your emergency contacts, Edward.” She eyes Barry, takes in his piercings and makeup and general appearance, and raises an eyebrow. “And you are?”

Barry smirks. “Barry Allen,” he replies, holding his hand out. “I’m…” He glances to Eddie then back to the woman. “I’m a friend of Eddie’s. And you?”

“Edith Thawne. His mother.” She shakes Barry’s hand politely then looks to her son with a small smile, wiping her hand off on her slacks. “Let’s go son, we’re going to stop by your apartment to get your things, then you’re coming to stay with us until we can find you a new place.”

Eddie sighs and nods. “One second,” he whispers. He looks over at Barry and smiles sadly. He wants to go to him, kiss him, but Eddie knows that isn’t happening with his mother in the room. So with a sigh, Eddie pulls up a new text message and types out a message, then sends it off.

Barry’s phone buzzes a moment later and he pulls the phone out, frowning when he sees a text from Eddie.

[[I’d kiss you but I don’t want to offend Mrs. Thawne’s delicate sensibilities ;) I’ll see you later?]]

Barry frowns again but nods. “Yeah, I’ll see you later,” he says softly. He pats Eddie’s shoulder as he walks by and gives him a parting glance before walking out of the room.

With a sigh, Eddie types out a new message and hands the phone to his mother. She rolls her eyes and takes it, her face softening when she reads the message. “No talking for at least two weeks?” she asks. “Well, no matter. Let’s get you out of here and we’ll figure the rest out later.” She smiles and kisses Eddie’s head as she walks past.

Eddie frowns but continues after her. He signs his discharge papers then follows his mom out to the car and has just climbed into the passenger seat when his phone buzzes with a text from Barry.

[[do they know u play for more than 1 team?]]

Eddie glances to his mom and sighs before texting back.

[[They know. They just aren’t fond of the idea.]]

[[how not fond?]]

[[Pretty not fond. I came out when i was dating this guy in college and they told me not to come home for the holidays. Didn’t talk to me for a few months actually. So.]]

Barry doesn’t text back right away and Eddie suddenly worries that it was an overshare, that Barry is going to think less of him for not standing up to his family. He’s halfway worked into a panic when his phone finally buzzes with another text.

[[is that what we are? dating?]]

Eddie bites the inside of his lip and quickly sends off a response before he can second-guess himself.

[[Is that what you want us to be?]]

When no response comes after a few minutes, Eddie drops his phone into his lap and leans his head against the window, trying to focus on anything else besides what Barry’s response might be.

“Who’s got you so worked up sweetie?” Edith asks, glancing over at her son.

Eddie frowns. “Nobody,” he whispers.

“Is it that Barry from the hospital? Your… friend?”

Eddie sighs and looks over at his mom. “No mother,” he responds. “Don’t worry about it, okay?”

Edith reaches over and pats Eddie’s leg. “You’re my son, I’ll always worry,” she says. They pull up to Eddie’s apartment a minute later and she frowns as she looks up at the gaping hole in the side of the building. “A… meta-human did this?” she asks quietly. Eddie frowns and well and nods. “Why? Why you?”

“Because I’m good at my job,” Eddie whispers with a smile. “Wait here, I’ll be right back.”

Making his way into the building, Eddie sees that the front door of his apartment is blocked off with police tape but he pushes the door open and steps under the tape easily. His living room is a mess, bits of furniture and debris from the hole in the wall strewn everywhere. Eddie picks through some of the debris and sighs when he finds a picture of him and his sisters. The frame is smashed, but at least the photo is in tact, so he shakes the bits of broken glass off then folds it and slips it into his pocket.

He walks into his bedroom and sees that it’s in as much disarray as the living room. The bed is overturned, the dresser drawers are dumped out, and the closet doors hang off their hinges. It almost looks like a hurricane blew through.

“Wow, it’s a disaster in here.”

Eddie whips around and his hand goes to his sidearm on instinct, but when he sees Barry standing at the door, he breathes a sigh of relief and drops his arm. “Jesus, you scared me,” he whispers. “What are you doing here?”

“You need to stop talking,” Barry says with a fond smile. “And I wanted to talk to you in person. I figured if you weren’t here, I could still maybe look around, see if anything was salvageable.” He smiles and walks over to Eddie carefully, kissing him softly.

Eddie kisses back with a content sigh, and when they break apart, he grins. “Wha—“ Barry frowns when Eddie starts to talk, so Eddie rolls his eyes and grabs his phone out of his pocket to type, then hands it to Barry.

Barry reads the message then hands the phone back. “I want to talk to you about your question,” he says, shrugging and shoving his hands into his pockets. “Eddie, I… Look, I like you a lot, which is saying something because I don’t like anyone. But… Casual is probably best right now. I’m not… I’m not good for you, y’know?”

Eddie frowns. “What the hell do you mean?” he whispers.

Barry frowns, running a hand through his hair. “I mean I’m not your type according to you,” he replies. “I’m a criminal, Eddie. A bad guy. You’re like this because of me for Christ’s sake! I just… I think we need to take a step back before one of us gets hurt even more.”

Eddie starts to respond out loud but thinks better of it, and begins typing a message out instead. He types rapidly, trying to get out everything he would say out loud if he could. Barry watches him type in silence for a few moments, fidgeting with one of his rings. When Eddie finishes, he hands the phone to Barry and crosses his arms. “Read it,” he whispers.

[[I was being stupid when I said you weren’t my type. I was trying to convince myself but it didn’t work out so well for me. You’re exactly my type, Barry. You’re handsome and smart and funny, even if you can be a sarcastic asshole. It’s part of your charm. You’re right that you’re a criminal, but you’re not a bad guy. You’re not malicious or evil. You’re doing what you have to do in order to survive. You’ve saved my life over and over too, and bad guys don’t do that. The only reason I’m like this now is because of Girder and whoever sent him after me. That’s it. You’re a HERO. I care about you a lot and I’m not worried about getting hurt if we do this, and you shouldn’t be either.]]

Barry reads the whole message and a small smile spreads across his face, and Eddie can see tears welling up in his eyes. “You think I’m handsome?” Barry asks as he hands Eddie’s phone back.

“Of course that’s what you got out of that,” Eddie whispers. “I want to try this with you, Barry. I think it could be really good.”

Barry grins and pulls Eddie in for another kiss, wrapping his arms around Eddie’s neck. Eddie leans in and grips Barry’s waist, kissing back enthusiastically. When they finally break apart, Barry nods. “I think it could be too,” he says.

“Good,” Eddie whispers with a grin. “Now will you help me pack before my mother comes looking?”

Barry grins. “Yes, but only if you promise to stop talking.” He pecks Eddie’s lips then zips around the room in a flash of lightning. He stops a few moments later with Eddie’s large suitcase gripped in his hands and a proud smile across his face. “I think I got most of the important stuff,” he says.

Eddie types out a quick message and hands his phone to Barry. When he reads it, Barry grins. “You’re right, I am the best,” he replies. “Okay. You better get back. I’ll text you later okay?”

Eddie gives a thumbs up, then leans in to kiss Barry gently. Barry deepens the kiss momentarily then pulls back with a smile. He winks at Eddie then zips away in a flash of lightning, and Eddie just grins after him. He’s pulled from the moment when his phone buzzes a second later though and he sees it’s a text from his mom asking where he is. Sighing in aggravation, Eddie slips his phone into his pocket and drags his suitcase behind him. The next few weeks, he thinks, are going to be interesting to say the least.

***

Eddie is barely through the door of his parents’ house when he’s attacked. He’s wrapped in an embrace so tight it nearly knocks the air out of him and he huffs out a chuckle, setting the suitcase aside. “Ellie, hey,” he whispers with a grin, wrapping his arms around his youngest sister. “I missed you.”

“I was so worried!” the teen mumbles, burying her face in Eddie’s chest. “When we heard what you did on the news and then when mom said you were in the hospital…” She finally looks up at her big brother with a frown. “I can’t lose my only brother. You promised you would be safe!”

“Yes but you have four other sisters to replace me with,” Eddie whispers with a smile.

Ellie smacks Eddie’s shoulder. “That’s not funny you jerk,” she says with a frown. “And why are you whispering like that?”

“Because he’s not supposed to be talking. At all,” Edith calls, walking back into the entryway. “Elizabeth, why don’t you help your brother put his things away then you can both come set the table? Your father should be home soon.”

“Yes mother,” Ellie replies. Edith smiles and walks into the kitchen and Ellie and Eddie roll their eyes at each other. “I’m glad you’re here,” Ellie says in a hushed tone as she follows Eddie upstairs. “I’m going crazy. It was a nice break at Christmas when you were all here but the last few weeks have been hell since the Ev and Eloise went back to school! I need a buffer, Ed!”

Eddie just chuckles. “I told you that you can come stay with me any time you want,” he whispers. “Just give it some time. You’ve only got three more years ’til you’re eighteen and you can be on your own.”

“You’re never home though,” Ellie points out. “Even if you were, there’s a giant hole in the side of your apartment now. And anyway, three years is forever. I’m not gonna last that long!”

Eddie chuckles again. They get to his old room and he pushes the door open, sighing some. Setting his suitcase aside, he pulls his phone out to type out a message and hands it to his sister. “Read it,” he whispers as he sits on his bed. “I really shouldn’t be talking.”

Ellie takes the phone and reads the message, rolling her eyes when she finishes. “Stick it out? That’s easy for you to say, you never had to be alone with them,” she says, flopping back on the bed next to her brother. “Mom keeps trying to take me shopping for these like, girly dresses. And dad’s totally nuts! He keeps talking about this meta-human surveillance bill he’s trying to get passed, like metas aren’t really people and we need to spy on all of them. Can you believe it?”

Realizing she’s still holding Eddie’s phone, Ellie starts to hand it over when it buzzes in her hand. “Hey Ed? Who’s Barry?” she asks, looking down at the text. “And why’s he sending you winky emojis?”

Eddie makes to grab the phone from his sister but she rolls away and stands, smirking as she starts to read through the texts. “Wait, are you—” Her smirk quickly fades to a frown though and she looks up. “You... You're...." Eddie steels himself for the worst, but Ellie just shakes her head. "That’s why you weren’t here that year,” she says softly, handing the phone back. “I was what, four? They told us you were um…” She walks back over and sits next to Eddie. “Snowed in is what they said, I think. I thought it was so cool, that you got to um. Play in the snow on Christmas. I wanted to visit you and play in the snow too.”

Eddie frowns. “You weren’t supposed to know that,” he whispers. “I…” He sighs and dismisses the text, then types out another message and hands his phone back to Ellie.

She reads the message then hands the phone back. “You told them to tell us that?” she asks. “Why?” Eddie types another message out and hands it back. When Ellie reads it again, she smiles sadly. “You didn’t want us to hate mom and dad…” she says. “Do the other girls know?”

Eddie purses his lips and takes his phone back to respond with another message, then gives it to Ellie again. “Just Erica?” she asks. “So Emily, and the twins—“

“Have no idea,” Eddie whispers. “It needs to stay that way, El. Mom and dad didn’t want you all to know. I had to tell my big sister, but the rest of you were too young to understand.”

Ellie purses her lips. “Knowing our parents I guess that makes sense,” she says, rolling her eyes. “But wait, what about that girl cop you were dating?”

Eddie rasps out a chuckle. “Patty and I only went out a few times and decided we’re better as friends,” he replies. “I’m not gay or straight, El. I’m… queer, I guess? Never put a label to it. Just dated people I liked.”

“So you and this Barry? You’re…?”

Eddie grins and nods. “Yeah, we are,” he replies. “Are you um… is that okay?”

Ellie rolls her eyes and shoves Eddie’s shoulder. “Don’t be stupid, of course it’s okay,” she says. “I’m a lot smarter than our parents, Ed. I don’t really give a crap who you date as long as they’re good for you.”

Eddie smiles and pulls Ellie into a hug, kissing her head. “I love you, kid,” he whispers. “Okay. Help me get this stuff put away before mom comes looking for us.”

Ellie jumps up and smiles. “Yes sir,” she says with a grin.

She starts to unpack Eddie’s suitcase while Eddie picks up his phone again and looks at the text Barry sent, smiling as he types out his own reply.

[[are u going crazy yet? ;) ]]

[[Not yet. But the day’s not over lol. What are your plans for the rest of the day?]]

[[yknow. robbing banks, blowing up buildings.]]

Eddie rolls his eyes and starts typing a response when Barry texts again.

[[that was a joke btw. harts teaching me some hacker stuff but its super boring tbh]]

[[I’m a cop, Barry.]]

[[i didnt say i was actually hacking anything!]]

Eddie smirks at his phone and starts to type out a response when he’s hit in the face with a sock ball. “I’m not unpacking all your clothes for you,” Ellie says. “Let’s go, officer.”

Eddie rolls his eyes and finishes sending off his text, then gets up to start helping his sister put his clothes away, ruffling her hair as he walks by.

[[It’s a good thing you’re cute, Allen ;) ]]

Chapter Text

The next couple weeks pass surprisingly easy for Eddie. Even though his voice starts to come back, he has his injury as an excuse to get out of talking to his parents directly and while Singh puts him on desk duty, at least Eddie’s allowed to come back to work at all. The Man in Yellow is pretty much silent too now that Eddie isn’t poking around so much.

Ellie comes to hang out at the station after school some days which is a nice change, and after work, Eddie gets to hang out with Barry. Some nights it’s coffee at Jitters, some nights it’s dinner at a hole-in-the-wall Italian place, and some nights it’s making out in the back of a movie theatre. Or in Eddie’s car. Or leaning against the counter in Barry’s kitchen.

They find themselves engaging in the latter one evening, Barry perched on his counter and Eddie situated between his legs snugly, their dinner forgotten on the table behind them. Eddie drags his lips down Barry’s jaw to his neck, and Barry literally vibrates in pleasure. He grips Eddie’s shirt tightly and tilts his head, stretching his neck to give Eddie better access. “Shit, don’t stop,” he mumbles.

“Wasn’t planning on it,” Eddie says softly into Barry’s skin. He leans up again to claim Barry’s lips again in a bruising kiss, nipping at Barry’s bottom lip. “Should we—hm—maybe move somewhere more comfortable?”

Barry groans and pulls back, looking at Eddie with a serious expression. “I can work with that." In an instant, Eddie is on his back in the middle of Barry’s mattress. “How’s that for comfortable?” Barry mumbles, leaning down to kiss and nip along Eddie’s neck.

“Better,” Eddie mumbles. Barry sucks harshly at a spot on Eddie’s neck and at the same time rocks against him slowly. Eddie gasps, gripping Barry’s back tightly. “God...”

“Actually,” Barry mumbles with a smirk. “It’s Barry. But God works too.”

“Oh shut up,” Eddie breathes.

“Make me,” Barry challenges, leaning up just enough to look down at Eddie with a smirk.

Eddie smirks back and in a swift move has Barry pinned to the bed and hovers over him. “Like this?” he asks, leaning in to kiss Barry again. Barry hums against Eddie’s lips and his hands start to move down, teasing along Eddie's sides before slipping up under his shirt. Eddie hums at the contact and sits up with a smile. “Let me make that easier for you,” he says, loosening his tie then working at the button on his shirt.

Barry watches him for a moment before getting impatient and reaching up to pull off Eddie’s tie and unbutton his shirt in the blink of an eye. “Let me make that easier for you,” Barry says with a smirk as he pushes the garment from Eddie’s shoulders

“You’re such a smartass,” Eddie mumbles, tossing his shirt and tie aside and quickly pulling his undershirt over his head.

“You love my ass,” Barry replies, running his hands up Eddie’s chest slowly.

“It is a nice one,” Eddie says with a grin. He reaches down and starts rucking up Barry’s shirt too, finally pulling it off and discarding it as well. He leans down again to kiss Barry, then trails his lips down his neck to his bare chest, sliding down his body ever so slowly, taking his time to cover every inch of skin with a kiss. As he goes, he makes a mental note to ask Barry about the scars later.

“You’re—hm—you’re beautiful, you know that?” Eddie mumbles into Barry’s skin.

“So I’ve been told,” Barry replies breathily, a hand on the back of Eddie’s head. “God that feels good,” he mumbles.

Eddie smirks and leans up to kiss Barry’s lips again when his phone buzzes in his pocket. He pulls back with a groan but Barry makes grabby hands and pull him back in. “Ignore it,” Barry breathes, sucking harshly at Eddie’s neck again.

Eddie’s gasp turns into a soft moan as he tilts his head, fully intending to do what Barry said and ignore his phone, but it buzzes again. “Give me just… god damnit… give me just a sec okay,” he breathes as he leans up. and pulls his phone from his pocket. When he sees the texts, he frowns. “It’s my mom, she wants to know when I’m coming home tonight.”

“So tell her you’re working late,” Barry says, pushing himself up and kissing along Eddie’s chest. “You’re an adult, Eddie, you don’t have to report to them.”

“I know, but…” Eddie sighs and pulls Barry into a kiss. “I should probably go,” he mumbles.

Barry pulls back and pouts. “Why do that when you could stay and keep making out with a sexy half-naked speedster?” he asks.

Eddie rolls his eyes and pulls Barry into another kiss, sighing when he pulls back. “I want to, trust me, I do. But if I don’t come home tonight, it’ll be one hell of an interrogation tomorrow morning.”

“You don’t owe them anything,” Barry argues.

“They’re letting me stay with them rent-free. I owe them a lot,” Eddie replies as he rolls off of Barry, reaching over to pick his shirts up off the floor. He stands and pulls them on, looking down at Barry again. “Once I get a new place, one that doesn’t have a hole in the side of it, I’ll be able to spend more time with you.” He finishes buttoning up his shirt and grabs his tie to work on next. “I’m sorry Bear, I really am.”

Barry furrows his brow and stands as well. “I get that your parents aren’t like, cool with you dating guys, but this feels like we’re sneaking around,” he says, pouting as he pulls his own shirt back on. “Like I’m your dirty little secret. You get your rocks off then pretend I don’t exist.”

“Hey.” Eddie wraps and arm around Barry and kisses the side of his head. “You’re more than that to me, Barry. I like you a lot and I want the world to know it. But if I brought you to dinner with my family, I’d be homeless. We just… need to stick it out for a few more weeks okay? Until I can get my own place again.” He presses another kiss to the side of Barry’s head and smiles. “And besides, there hasn’t really been any rocks getting off. So.”

“You’re a dick,” Barry mumbles, rolling his eyes but smiling despite himself. “I just… wish I could see you more often than a few hours at night, y’know?”

Eddie sighs but nods. “I do know,” he says. “Tell you what, my parents are off the table, but maybe you can meet some of my sisters? I think they’d like you, and I think it would feel less like we’re sneaking.”

“Some?” Barry asks in bewilderment. “How many do you have?”

“Five,” Eddie replies, laughing at the way Barry’s eyes go wide. “Ellie, the youngest, knows about you already. Erica, the oldest, knows about me but doesn’t know I’m dating anyone right now.”

“And the other three?” Barry asks.

Eddie shrugs. “They have no idea. But I don’t think any of them would care. My sisters are all pretty great.”

Barry nods. He’s silent for a moment before leaning over to kiss Eddie. “I’d love to meet your sisters,” he says with a soft smile. “Just tell me where and when and I’ll be there.”

Eddie grins and leans in to kiss Barry again and sighs happily. “I will,” he mumbles, kissing Barry once more. When he pulls back, he reaches up to run a hand through Barry’s hair then stands, going over to grab his jacket and scarf off of Barry's table. “I’ll see you later, okay?”

Barry nods and stands as well, walking over to a kiss Eddie’s cheek. “Yeah, I’ll see you.”

Eddie smiles and kisses Barry again, sighing against his lips. “Shit, okay, I really have to go or I’m never leaving,” he mumbles.

Barry laughs and turns Eddie around, pushing him towards the door. “Go home, you can kiss me later.”

Eddie gets to the door and smiles, turning again and leaning in to kiss Barry once more. “Goodnight superhero,” he mumbles against Barry’s lips.

“Goodnight, detective,” Barry replies with a grin.

***

At work the next day, Eddie barely has time to settle in at his desk before Patty walks over with a smirk. “So did you and Barry hang out last night?” she asks.

Eddie blushes and rolls his eyes. “Yeah, we did,” he says. “Why?”

“You go out or stay in?” she asks, reaching over to pull Eddie’s collar down. “Because you look like you were attacked by a vacuum cleaner.”

Eddie’s hand flies to his neck. “What?!” he asks, eyes wide. “Is it that noticeable?”

Patty laughs. “Yeah, it’s that noticeable,” she says, fixing his collar up again. “It looks like he tried to eat you.”

“Who tried to eat him?” Joe asks as he walks past and sits at his desk.

Eddie blushes and Patty laughs again. “Apparently Barry’s a vampire,” she says.

“It’s not that bad,” Eddie mumbles, rubbing a hand over the hickey. Joe frowns slightly and turns to rifle through his drawer, but it doesn’t go unnoticed by Eddie. “I’m an adult, Joe, I can make my own decisions. Including who to date.”

Joe sighs and looks up. “I know, I just… want you to be careful. Barry’s trouble, he has been his whole life.”

“You haven’t known him his whole life,” Eddie counters. “You gave up on him when he was still a kid, remember?”

Joe clenches his jaw and his frown deepens. “I know,” he says. “And I’m gonna pay for that mistake for the rest of my life. But I’m not the only one that’s made mistakes here, Eddie.”

“The difference is that Barry is learning from his mistakes,” Eddie points out. “He’s a better person now. Can you say the same?”

“Guys!” They both look over to Patty who’s standing with her hands on her hips. “You can bicker later. We have a job to do.”

Joe frowns at Eddie then looks up at Patty. “You’re right,” he says. “C’mon. We have a meeting with Harrison Wells. They’ve been working on a new dampener to replace the one Tony Woodward destroyed.”

Patty nods then looks over at Eddie. “We’ll be back in a bit,” she says with a small smile. “Let us know if anything comes up.”

“Yeah, will do,” Eddie replies, waving them off. They leave and Eddie sighs, settling in to work on some reports.

By the time Ellie shows up that afternoon, Eddie has nearly finished the stack, but his stomach growls loudly and he realizes he worked through his lunch. “Jeez, don’t they let you eat around here?” Ellie asks as she drops into a chair by Eddie’s desk.

Eddie smiles and looks over at his sister. “I just lost track of time,” he says. “What do you say we go find some food?”

“I could eat,” Ellie replies. “What sounds good?”

Eddie shrugs. “We can do Big Belly,” he suggests. “Jitters is nearby too. There’s also this little restaurant Barry and I go to sometimes that has some pretty good take-out.” He looks over and sees Ellie grinning, and he rolls his eyes. “Shut up,” he mumbles. “Actually, speaking of Barry…”

“What about me?” calls a familiar voice

Eddie looks up to see Barry walking over and he grins. “Wow, am I hallucinating or did Barry Allen just willingly walk into a police station?” he teases, standing and kissing the other man’s cheek.

“You’re a jerk,” Barry replies with a grin, pressing a quick peck to Eddie’s lips. “I was just in the area, thought I’d swing by.” He looks over Eddie’s shoulder to Ellie, who’s starring at them with wide eyes, and then looks back to Eddie. “Um, I can uh, come back if this is a bad time though?”

Eddie shakes his head and smiles. “No, this is perfect actually. Barry, this is my sister Ellie. Ellie, this is Barry.”

Ellie smiles and gives a little wave, and Barry does the same. He looks back to Eddie and furrows his brow. “She’s one of the ones that knows right?” he asks.

“Yeah, obviously,” Ellie says, rolling her eyes. “He doesn’t shut up about you.”

Eddie blushes. “Thanks kid,” he mumbles. “Anyway. Um… Have you eaten, Bear? Me and Ellie were just talking about grabbing some lunch.”

Barry shrugs. “You know I’m always down for food,” he says. “How about pizza?”

Ellie’s face lights up. “Oh, pizza!” she exclaims. “I’m in! Can we, Ed?”

“Yeah Ed, can we?” Barry teases with a smirk.

Eddie smiles and rolls his eyes fondly. “Works for me,” he says. “Come on.” He grabs his jacket and slips his wallet into his pocket, then nods his head towards the entryway. “There’s a great little place up the block. It’s—“

“Thawne!” Eddie sighs when he hears the Captain call his name, and looks over to see him walking over. “I need—oh, are you going somewhere?”

Eddie nods. “We were about to go grab some lunch. But if there’s something you need...”

Singh waves him off. “No, it can wait,” he says. “You and your sister go enjoy your lunch.” Barry clears his throat and shoves his hands in his pockets, and Singh finally looks over and acknowledges his presence. “…Who are you?” he asks.

Eddie pulls Barry over and smiles. “Captain, this is Barry,” he says. “My…” Eddie trails off and looks over to Barry. He realizes they haven’t really talked about labels, haven’t really used any. Eddie has no idea if a word like “boyfriend” would feel too serious to Barry, or if avoiding it would be too casual.

“Better half,” Barry interjects, glancing to Eddie with a small smile. Barry has never been more of a hero than in that moment, Eddie thinks.

“Oh, well…” Singh gives a tight smile and nods once. “Nice to meet you.” He regards Barry for another moment before narrowing his eyes. “Have I arrested you before?” he asks.

Eddie groans and drags a hand down his face, and he can hear Ellie giggling behind them. Barry just shrugs. “I mean, it’s possible,” he says. “I did some dumb stuff when I was a kid.”

Singh nods once. “Mhm…” he hums. “Well, Thawne has pretty good judgement. Most of the time. So if you’re alright with him, you’ll be alright with the rest of us. Just do me a favor, Thawne, and maybe break it easy to the Flash that you’re off the market. The last thing you need is a super-powered human getting jealous and possessive.”

Eddie blushes again and nods. “Um, yes sir, will do,” he says, trying to fight off a grin. Singh nods and walks away and Eddie can’t help roll his eyes fondly.

“I don’t think the Flash is the possessive type,” Barry teases.

“Uh, I beg to differ,” Eddie says with a smirk. “But we can get into that later. You ready El?” He looks back at his sister who just nods.

“What did he mean about the Flash?” she asks. “Did you hook up with a meta? Because that would be like, the ultimate ‘screw you’ to dad.”

Eddie blushes again and rolls his eyes. “No, I didn’t,” he says, ushering them out of the squad room. “The Flash wishes.” When they step outside, Eddie slips his hand into Barry’s.

Barry just chuckles and gives it a squeeze. “The Flash does wish,” he says with a smirk.

“Oh shut up,” Eddie replies, nudging his shoulder. “I um, I’m sorry by the way. About freezing up in there.”

Barry just shrugs. “Don’t be,” he says. “I shouldn’t have said anything without clearing it with you. If you don’t want people to know, I—“

Barry’s cut off by Eddie tugging his hand to get him to stop. “That’s not what I meant. I’m sorry that I ever made you think that,” Eddie says. “My parents can’t know yet, but that doesn’t mean I don’t want to shout it from the rooftops. I just…” He sighs and squeezes Barry’s hand. “I didn’t know if ‘boyfriend’ was the right word. If you wanted to use a label at all. You’re the one who said casual was for the best.”

A huge grin breaks out across Barry’s face and he pulls Eddie into a kiss. When he pulls away, he grins again. “I’ve never really had anything with a label before. With anyone. But I think I’d like that. ‘Boyfriend’, I mean.”

Eddie smiles and kisses Barry again. He can hear Ellie making fake gagging noises and he pulls back, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, you made your point El,” he says. “Come on, let’s go eat.”

Ellie makes a face as they continue walking. “I think I lost my appetite,” she mumbles.