Of course HR poked Hartley‘s favourite sugary pretend-to-be-coffee under his nose, but Hartley really was in no mood for it.
„No thanks. Don‘t you know how to knock?“
That had HR tilting his head, but he did put the coffee down for now. “What’s got you all worked up, huh? Come on, you can talk to me.”
Hartley rolled his eyes, but firmly kept them on the desk before him. “It’s nothing. I just want to be alone.”
He knew that Team Flash was never known for being able to pick up on social clues well, but HR really was the worst of them.
“No no no, come on, talking about your problems helps! You can talk to me, Hartley, and we’ll find a solution together.”
A solution together. As if HR was going to give him what he really needed right now.
“You wanna talk? Alright. I ruined the mission. I wasn’t fast enough, and Barry relied on me, now he has a broken leg and that meta escaped because of me. There. I talked.”
He knew he was just being petty, but HR regarded him with absolute seriousness now.
“So you feel like you need to be punished for your failure?”
Hartley scoffed, and despite himself he picked up the coffee and took a sip. “And who do you propose is going to punish me? And how? Barry will just forgive me before I even said sorry, Cisco hates me anyway and everyone else will just follow Barry’s example. So what are they going to do, toss me off the team? No one apart from Cisco thinks I did anything wrong anyway.”
HR was still looking at him with that odd expression, and then he got up without a word and walked to the door, carefully closing it and locking it from the inside. When he turned back around, his face had set into a decisive firmness that Hartley had never seen on him.
“Alright then. You need a punishment for failing, so you can realise that you did not, in fact, fail.” HR put his ever-present percussion sticks aside and sat back down on his chair, legs almost provocatively wide open.
“Lose the pants and come here, over my lap. I’m going to give you a spanking. Your safe word will be Iced Tea.”
Hartley was already moving before he had even fully registered HR’s words. Who would have thought that the man could be so demanding. He was surprised by himself, but he was out of his jeans before he allowed himself to really think about it.
“I do need to be punished though, I messed up” he whispered, and hesitated only a little bit before stripping his underwear off as well. He never thought of himself as the kind of guy that would just strip in front of someone else, but the need to feel worthy again, to be punished for his failure was overriding everything that could cause second thoughts about this.
“You were hit by the meta, Hartley, you couldn’t see.” HR sounded so patient with him, and he made a little approving sound as Hartley lay down over his lap. “I’m going to punish you now, and then you’ll be good again. And next time, you will be more careful.”
It took a bit of arranging, but once Hartley was settled over HR’s lap, he felt a hand come down on his back, holding him in place with a strength he would not have thought possible for sweet, lost in his own head HR. But then, he reminded himself, HR was a Harrison Wells, and a Harrison Wells was always fierce and strong, if maybe in different ways.
“Now, my dear, I’m going to spank you until you cry”, HR told him, and that was all the warning he got.
Hartley jerked under the first spank, and the second already came before he had recovered from the shock of the first one. HR set a fast pace, and he had an impeccable rhythm. Maybe the percussion sticks weren’t for nothing, Hartley absently noted. But then, it didn’t take long for all thoughts to be stripped away by the pain of HR beating his ass, and all that remained was the guilt he was feeling for messing up earlier.
He had really wanted to help Barry, had felt honoured to be asked to join the team, had even made some progress with Cisco, even though they still weren’t friends, and he’d truly wanted to show them that he could be good with them. And then he’d failed so thoroughly, had even hindered Barry, caused him to get injured. And the meta had escaped on top of that. And all just because Hartley had messed up.
It hurt, but it also felt really good, to lay there over HR’s lap, helplessly held in place while his ass was being spanked like that of a naughty kid. Because really, he wasn’t any better than a naughty kid that had disobeyed and messed up.
HR set a vicious pace, and he had Hartley whimpering and squirming in no time. He didn’t even want to get away, really, but his ass was feeling so hot and sore and it wasn’t comfortable at all. He’d never bee spanked before, hadn’t even thought about it as something that could be applied to himself, but even now, he felt like it would help in the end. HR was punishing him now, and maybe then he’d get a second chance and another try at being good and helpful to the team.
His glasses kept slipping, and he kept pushing them up before they fell down from his nose, even though the sweat collecting on his face just made them slip more and more. The only time HR stopped in his spanking was to reach down and carefully take his glasses from him, and then he returned his attention right back to Hartley’s ass.
“Now, Hartley. I know you messed up, but that is not your fault. You were hit, you were blinded, and it caught us all unawares. Now, I’m not a genius like all of you, but even I can see that you did your very best. I know that Barry is proud of you, and that Cisco is, too. You were a good part of the team, a vital part of the team today, Hartley. And sometimes things don’t work out at first, that just means we get a chance to make them better.”
HR accentuated his speech with especially hard slaps wherever it mattered, causing Hartley to whimper a little louder. He hadn’t started crying yet, but by now it was a near thing, he could feel it. There were tears gathering in his eyes, and a lump in his throat as he listened to HR. They thought he was good? That he could be of value to the team? Could that be true? He fisted his hands in HR’s pants and held on as he was being rocked on the man’s lap, thinking about what he just heard. Could it really be that they were proud of him, even though he messed up that badly?
“It’s not all on you, you know. The others also feel like they messed up. He escaped, so something must have gone wrong, but that’s not on you alone, Hartley. You did all you could. We all did.” Somehow, that last bit sounded like HR still needed to convince himself that he was of value to the team as well, and suddenly Hartley had a much more clear view of the man just from that waver in his voice. He was all bluster and happiness on the outside, and let everything pearl off of him, but especially with him being constantly compared to Harry Wells and Eobard Thawne, he probably felt like he wasn’t of much value to the team and was just being kept around as a charity case. Well, that just wouldn’t do.
“We all did. You as well”, he replied, and it didn’t even matter that his voice sounded much too teary already. A little self-depracating laugh followed, and HR’s hand came down a little harder.
“We’re setting you right now, Hartley. This is for you. You’re good for this team. They want you here.”
And somehow that was enough in the end, enough to make the tears overflow and let him break out into ugly sobbing. They wanted him here…. They wanted him here.
As promised, HR stopped with his spanking as soon as Hartley started to cry and gently pulled him up enough so he could wrap him into a hug at an awkward angle. A lot of shuffling later Hartley sat half on his lap, his face buried in HR’s shoulder as he cried. They wanted him… could it be that they really wanted him, that they’d give him another chance, that they’d give him a purpose and let them be part of something bigger?
Hartley cried himself out for a while, and HR held him the entire time, gently stroking his back and murmuring sweet nothings into his ear. Hartley leaned into him even as he slowly calmed down, and HR just kept on hugging him, as if he really wanted to be there, with a half-naked Hartley in his lap and holding him like a little child.
As he slowly calmed down, he realised his own arms were wrapped around HR in return, and he gently started to stroke his back as well. He heard a quiet chuckle next to his ear then, and it was such a soft and lovely sound. He wanted to hear more of it. He gently pushed himself away and gave HR a still teary smile. “Thank you… thank you so much, HR.”
Just an hour ago, he wouldn’t have thought any of this possible, but now he felt completely natural, sitting half-naked on the lap of Harrison Wells from Earth-19 and sharing gentle smiles with him after he’d just beaten Hartley’s ass sore.
“I’m glad to be of help”, HR replied much too easily, but his radiant smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. What a man, helping others with their self-doubt and drowning in it himself.
“Your coffee got cold”, Hartley remarked, indicating the two cups that were still sitting on the desk, long since cooled by now. He wasn’t quite ready to return the favour of teaching HR his value yet, he still needed some recovery time for himself.
“Sometimes there are more important things than coffee, if very rarely”, HR told him, and Hartley just couldn’t look away from his face as he said that. He sounded so sincere… Hartley wasn’t quite accustomed to the idea of someone genuinely liking him yet. And he didn’t know what it was, but something told him that HR did genuinely like him. Hartley thought that made him more of a fool, but he wouldn’t complain. Instead, he placed a hand on either of HR’s cheeks and placed a kiss on his nose.
“We should get more coffee then. Together.”
As a scientist, Hartley always relied on words, on accurate descriptions and definitive terms for everything around him, and he always needed everything spelled out and defined so there wouldn’t be misunderstandings. But the glance that passed between them really didn’t need any further defining, and it was only logical consequence that their lips met in a kiss that tasted like coffee and tears.
Well, Hartley definitely wouldn’t say no to a romantic adventure with a strong Wells at his side.
“Do you even like coffee? You always put so much sugar in that you hardly taste the coffee anymore”, HR asked him when they pulled apart, and Hartley slid from his lap to go and collect his clothes. He took his time putting them back on, making himself look alright again, even if his face was probably still blotchy as hell.
And then he stepped up to HR and took his hand with a smile.
“I think I’ll like getting coffee with you. Let’s just find a place where they have cushions on their seats, yes?” He was rewarded with the wonderful sight of HR blushing, but he easily got up and followed along, picking up his percussion sticks on the way out of the room.
“You know, Hartley… next time you need a good spanking, I should use these. I think they might bring my point across even better. “
Hartley spluttered all the way up to the Cortex, where they found the rest of the team assembled.
“Great job today, Hartley!” Barry called out to him, and the whole team looked confused as Hartley and HR shared a look and both burst out laughing.
Maybe things were really going to be alright after all. Hartley took HR’s hand in his again and gave Barry a bright smile.
“Thanks, Barry. You too! HR and I are just… going to get some coffee.”
He quickly turned and tugged HR along, dragging him towards the elevator even while he heard Cisco shouting behind him.
“Hartley, you don’t even like coffee!”