It was only his third time in a bar. He didn’t tell anyone that, of course.
(He didn’t admit his first time either, after Ronnie had a particularly frustrating day pre-accident and said ‘you know what, screw this, let’s get a drink’ and Cisco had barely been 21 and he spent most of the night focused on making it look like he did that kind of thing all the time.)
He was acutely aware of being the infant of this group anyway, it didn’t help saying anything that called attention to his age. He especially didn’t want to say anything that night, with that group.
Not with him there.
Eddie. That’s how Iris introduced him. Eddie. Like he was the neighbor kid in some sitcom, and not this gorgeous blond man in a killer leather jacket with a smile that generated enough warmth to power city blocks. Eddie.
Cisco didn’t say much, just waved a hello as Caitlin shook the beautiful man’s hand, before Eddie’s focus went right back to Iris and stayed there. Which was fine, girlfriend and all, and Cisco was content to sit back and watch. That’s where most of his action was: watching people who never looked at him twice.
Eddie was a cop. Joe West’s partner, apparently. Iris’s boyfriend. Broad-shouldered and slender-hipped under that jacket. Gorgeous, that was worth repeating. Bright blue eyes and strong jaw and the kind of symmetrical features that walked down runways in, like, Paris or New York or...wherever they put runways.
But it was the grin that really killed Cisco. Guys like Eddie, guys that frigging attractive, weren’t supposed to smile like the sun coming out from behind clouds. They were supposed to smirk, to grant little patronizing grins on those who were worthy to accept them. They were maybe supposed to smile sincerely at the Irises of the world, but definitely not the Ciscos.
He found himself staring, and couldn’t bring himself to care. He had a beer, they were playing darts, Caitlin was being boring: he was allowed to stare. He was allowed to mourn a little for the impossible people of the world, and how wrong it was that anyone was allowed to be that attractive and that nice.
He could hear his mom’s voice in his head, practical and stern as always. “Know who you are, cariñito, and what you’re worth, and know that asking for any more or any less is the key to unhappiness.”
His brother Dante could have caught the eye of someone as attractive as Eddie. Dante of the cheekbones and the talent and the creativity. And the height.
Cisco? Cisco listened to his mom. He tried, anyway. He wasn’t entirely sure what he was worth yet, so he didn’t ask for...anything, really.
He sat and sipped his beer and watched gorgeous Eddie and his goddess girlfriend throw darts, and cheer each other on, and whisper secrets, and kiss.
When Barry came up announcing that he had a problem, Cisco couldn’t help a sigh. “We all do when guys like him exist.”
Luckily Caitlin agreed fast enough that no one paid his words much attention, or noticed when he flushed (because even saying that felt a little too much like asking for something that he couldn’t have).
Eddie spent ten hours a week at the gym.
More or less. Now that he had a steady relationship, he let himself deduct time from that grand total. Chasing criminals counted as cardio, after all. Sex, thank God, counted, and was way more enjoyable than the elliptical.
Still, ten hours a week of exercise. No matter what. He was a member at an overpriced (but worth it) facility downtown that had 24-hour access, and in emergency time crunches he used the weights downstairs at the station, or jogged a few blocks instead of taking his car for a lunch run or to get coffee.
The ten hours rule was immutable. It got him some gentle mockery from Iris: people who grew up slender and fit seemed to think all fit people lucked into it the same way. But he was devout.
And he hated almost every minute of it.
Some exercise was more fun than the rest. Punching a heavy bag was a great stress-reliever, and there were times when he could get into a rhythm on a resistance machine and fall into a reverie that gave him a sense of peace for a while. But most of it was thankless and tediously boring.
He kept at it because everything he had now was thanks to it. He had to be fit to be a cop. He had to be attractive to deserve a woman like Iris. He knew that, because back when he was the spotty-faced fat kid (and teenager, and young adult), he wouldn’t have deserved her. He wouldn’t have ever caught her eye.
Iris wasn’t shallow, but she was selective. And Eddie understood the importance of physical attraction in a relationship. So he went to the gym, and he got all his suits tailored, and he gelled up his hair in whatever ways the guys in magazines were doing it at the time. He lucked into an amazing girlfriend, he almost always caught the bad guys he had to chase, and he was happy. Ten hours a week to stay happy the other 158 hours. Not a bad trade-off.
Until he thought about the danger his relationship was in, and the ways his job was failing him.
But he tried not to think about those things. Life was about balance. Calories in and out, good and bad carbs, work and relationship, justice and fairness...and a heaping whipped topping of constant denial. Balance.
Eddie Thawne was good at balance. He knew his body inside and out, he had twisted it from what it wanted to be into what he wanted for it, and it did what he told it to do. And now that Iris was smiling at Barry in a way she never smiled at Eddie, and there were suddenly bad people running around doing superhuman things that made him think wearing a badge and a gun was useless…
His body was what he had left. All he had some kind of control over, at least for ten hours a week.
Cisco heard all about Eddie. He heard all about Eddie because Barry couldn’t stop droning on and on and ON about Iris and how happy she was and how perfect she and Eddie were for each other and how it was all FINE, THANK YOU, perfectly fine.
Not the details Cisco would have chosen to hear about if he had his druthers, but he took what he could get. And really, Eddie was only one more wistful sigh he’d met at a bar once. Cisco had dozens of them. Eddie was different because he knew people that Cisco knew, and he might float around the peripheries of Cisco’s life, but still. Nothing more than that.
So when he ran into Eddie at the Central City Mall, of all places, and it was Eddie that came up to him, he was so surprised he nearly forgot how to words.
“Right?” Eddie was saying as he managed to futz his brain into gear again. “It is Cisco, isn’t it? Sometimes I’m lousy with names, and--”
He swallowed and spoke, since Eddie looked legitimately worried and that was just wrong. “Sorry. Yeah, Cisco. I was just…” He waved a hand gracelessly. “Hi. Eddie. Right?” he added after a beat, in order to not seem weird.
“Right.” Eddie smiled. The sun rose, the birds sang, the muzac overhead turned into sweeping orchestrations.
Cisco had to resist the urge to sigh dreamily like he was watching Eddie on some movie screen. He cleared his throat. “So. Mall. What brings you to the mall?”
Eddie lofted his arm, revealing one of those thick black torso-shaped suit holders. “Clothes shopping,” he said with a slightly crooked version of the sunrise. “What about you?”
Cisco grinned, hauling up a small plastic bag with the video game store’s garish logo and three t-shirts crumpled inside. “Same.”
It was the lottery, good lord. Like a real laugh, and appreciation shining in his eyes, and what the hell? Cisco would have sworn his heart started beating faster.
But Eddie was a peripheral, a sigh, and Cisco drew in a breath knowing he’d already gotten more time in than he deserved.
Eddie spoke first. “Hey, that Starbucks is right down the escalator, you want to go get some coffee?”
For a moment he thought Eddie was just being thoughtful enough to give him a gameplan as he was being dismissed. He blinked, and common sense returned. “Um. Sure. Yeah. I am down for caffeine or sugar, those are always sure bets.”
“Great!” Eddie gestured him to lead the way.
Cisco led, feeling surreal. He wanted to stop one of the passing shoppers and ask if they could see Eddie too.
“I can never tell these days who’s going to get offended at the S-word and break into a lecture about corporatism.” Eddie kept pace with him easily.
“Hey, no, I kinda like Starbucks. And dude, the mom and pop coffee places around here?”
Eddie hummed in agreement. “They’re...inconsistent.”
“So polite.” Cisco shot him a grin. “Jitters is good, but the rest. Man. You know that one on 17th? With the black cheshire cat thing on the awning?”
“I’m pretty sure they literally served me a hot cup of liquid ass last time I went. Which, I mean, might please someone somewhere, but it’s not what I ordered.”
Okay, making Eddie Thawne laugh was already addictive. Cisco felt his face go warm, and had to pull his eyes away from that cheerful profile.
He was an utter stranger to Cisco. Not just Eddie himself, his whole type. That purebred American handsome blond that dressed like he came from money but looked out at the world through clear eyes that didn’t seem tainted by all the advantages he’d probably had in his life. He was charming, presumably reasonably intelligent if he was a detective, and he was half of one of those couples so beautiful they could top wedding cakes.
Cisco almost regretted this run-in, the coffee. They’d sit down and have nothing to talk about, and he would forever after be Barry’s wormy little science friend in Eddie’s mind. But damn it, chances like this didn’t come along often. Socializing with his sighs...it was a strange gift, but he was gonna take it.
Eddie ordered a skinny sugar-free something or other, and Cisco braved making a face at the order. Luckily Eddie just chuckled. Cisco went ahead and got himself a full fat extra sugar triple shot drink of his own, because he was him.
They got their drinks and sat in a table in the corner with an extra chair so Eddie could lay out his pricey-looking suit (and Cisco could let his bag of shirts thwap to the floor under his chair).
Eddie spoke. “So what kind of work do you do at that lab?”
It was small talk, which was better than silence, and Cisco accepted the opening. He couldn’t talk about what he really did these days, of course, but he gave a cursory job description for what he did pre-accident.
Eddie utterly shocked him with his response. “So...like Tony Stark, kind of.”
Cisco straightened up in his chair, because that might have been the nicest thing anyone had ever said to him from either a comic fan or engineering standpoint. But he fixed his face into a dry smirk, downplaying. “Oh yes. I am so very very Tony Stark.”
Eddie tilted his head a little. “But you are. Right?”
Cisco wanted to laugh, but damn. Clear blue guileless eyes. So he nodded. “I mean, in a way. We’re both engineers. And we make extremely cool things. I’d like his budget, I’ll tell you that much.”
“You’re a comic book character, that’s pretty awesome.”
Cisco beamed before he could control himself. “Dude, you’re a cop. You do more comic stuff than I ever will.” Which, thanks to Barry, wasn’t entirely true. But still. He studied Eddie, hands fidgeting with his coffee cup unconsciously. “You don’t look like the kind of guy who was ever into comics.”
Eddie smiled, and a moment later it grew into a chuckle. “Doesn’t pay to put much stock in what kind of person someone looks like. I mean, if I’ve learned anything in my life, it’s that.”
“Spoken like a true gorgeous person,” Cisco answered with a grin.
Eddie’s eyebrows went up. A moment later he dug into his pocket and pulled out a slim leather wallet. He slid out a small rectangle and held it across to Cisco.
Cisco took it instantly, curious, and blinked down at a feathery-edged picture. It looked like a yearbook photo or some kind of portrait shot, some round blond kid who was all double chin and smiled an empty smile, like he knew no one was ever going to look at his picture with anything but amusement.
Those crystal blue eyes were unmistakable, though, and Cisco looked up in surprise. “This is you?”
Eddie nodded easily. “Sophomore in high school. I got shoved. A lot.”
Cisco looked back at the picture in fascination. He could see Eddie in the kid’s eyes, and kind of in his mouth though Eddie’s smiles never seemed that forced. The coloring was dead on, but his entire shape was different. This wasn’t a vaguely chubby guy who chose video games over gym class, like most of Cisco’s nerd friends in high school. This was a genuine fat kid.
Wow. That put a lot of different perspective on Eddie Thawne. That in itself went so far in explaining how he smiled like the king of guy who didn’t realize he was blindingly gorgeous. Or how nice he was to everyone. In Cisco’s experience people who badly needed niceness at some point in their lives tended to be nicer people all around.
He smiled, almost wishing he could tuck that picture into his pocket and keep it forever. Instead he held it back out, and when he looked at Eddie he could see that round face and those strained eyes in him. “We actually could have hung out back then. That’s awesome.”
Eddie blinked, taking the picture back and looking down at it for a moment before tucking it back into his wallet. “We’re hanging out now,” he pointed out.
And they were. Cisco humphed out a breath, sipping his drink to avoid having to answer right away.
It was possible, just possible, that he had let himself get overwhelmed by sheer beauty and forgot he was dealing with an actual person. That was something Cisco did from time to time, when he was lucky enough to make contact with someone he couldn’t help but see as Better.
Which...come to think of it, might have been a problematic way to think to begin with.
But he wasn’t in any kind of mood to unravel his whole psyche. Instead he smiled at Eddie, big and sincere. “Yeah, we are.”
Cisco Ramon was a texter.
Eddie himself wasn’t, not to any great extent. He made calls to Iris and Joe when he needed them, and everyone else he kept up with on Facebook whenever he could sit down at his computer for more than ten minutes at a time.
His new friend, though, was definitely a texter.
So I think it was that Tony Stark comment that got me thinking you really really need to dress up as Captain America.
You know, for Halloween, or C-Cubed, or just for kicks.
Central City Comic Con. Should be C-to-the-Fourth, but I guess that’s not catchy enough. You’ve never gone? Oh, man, you’re going. We are absolutely going. It’s in eight months, save the date.
Eddie didn’t mind the texts. He had nothing against texting, he just didn’t know the kind of people who did it chronically. Cisco’s messages started coming in two days after their run-in at the mall, and just...didn’t stop after that.
It was nice, actually. Cisco was an easy person to talk to, even over typed phone messages. And he’d actually seemed to warm up to Eddie after seeing him in all his vast former glory. Most people - Iris, most recently - tended to be of the ‘but that’s not who you are anymore, so what does it matter’ school when he talked about the old days. Cisco seemed to understand that it was who he was now, because who could separate who they are from who they were? It all mattered, it all formed him.
Cisco seemed to be easier with him once he knew that part of Eddie. Which was really nice. Cisco told him stories about his own embarrassing high school days (which made his ‘we could have hung out’ comment make more sense, because it sounded like Cisco’s small group of nerdy friends had been a lot like Eddie’s little group), and he didn’t make jokes when Eddie had to sign off to go work out.
Cisco was smart. A genius, in the Barry Allen way where he could get going on something and it was like he was literally speaking a different language. The way his words fit together just didn’t make sense when he really got going, but it was interesting to listen to. Or read, because Cisco could ramble over text as quick as he did in person.
He was the last person Eddie would have pointed out as a potential friend. And that was probably true on Cisco’s side as well. But something about it seemed to work. Eddie started pulling out his phone with a smile whenever the text tone sounded, and Iris started making jokes about being jealous.
Of course Iris didn’t have anything to be jealous about, but Eddie was excited to have...something. Something new. A friend, something outside of the job, and the ticking time bomb that was his relationship. Eddie hadn’t made many friends since he moved to Central City, and most were work friends.
So Cisco was unexpected, but he was welcomed.
Eddie wasn’t stupid, but he seemed to be surrounded by brilliant people, and he had never been shy to say something when he didn’t understand a concept. Which probably made him sound a little dumber than he was, but whatever, that’s how you learned things.
Cisco didn’t mind explaining himself, and he was good at it:
“Okay, so imagine a balloon, right? It’s point oh one percent, you know, balloon, and ninety-nine point nine nine percent air.”
“And that’s people?”
“That’s everything! Just tiny, tiny, tiny balloons all bound together by quantum forces. I mean if I were to take a person, like you yourself, and compress all the empty space out of you - which could never ever happen, so don’t get all weird - then what’s left would be too small to see with the naked eye. Something like five hundredths of a centimeter.”
“That just...seems impossible.”
“I know! Isn’t it cool?”
Eddie liked listening to Cisco talk about things like that. He was smart in a bright and enthusiastic sort of way that made Eddie agree that whatever esoteric thing he was talking about really was totally cool.
He liked talking to Cisco. It made him forget for a little while that there were so many uncool things in the world.
“Okay, don’t focus too hard, don’t think about it too much. But right there near that cluster of stars is a fuzzy little patch of light. You see it?”
Cisco didn’t have a crush on Eddie. He did not. No way. At all. But when he took his eyes off the sky and looked over at him, he was caught by Eddie’s profile, the way the darkness silhouetted him. And the way his eyes gleamed as he tried to find what Cisco was directing him towards.
He watched Eddie squint, watched him search the sky in dead earnestness. Watched the moment his eyes widened and his mouth curled up in a smile. “Wait, yeah, I think so.”
“Here, cheat for a sec.” He handed out his binoculars.
Eddie took them and took a look through. “Okay, yeah. Yeah, got it.”
Cisco grinned and dropped back on his back. The blanket was thin and the night was cold, but he crossed his arms under his head and watched the stars with a smile. “That is andromeda. And that is the farthest thing from the earth that you will ever see with your naked eyes.”
Eddie lowered the binoculars instantly, as if they were a cheat, and squinted again. “Huh.”
“You want to know what’s super cool about it?”
Eddie glanced over at him. “You’re gonna tell me, aren’t you.”
“You know me so well. What’s really cool is that the light you’re looking at when you look at andromeda isn’t just far away, it’s also in the past.”
Eddie looked back at the sky. “Oh, wait, I learned about this. Because it’s so far away it takes a long time to get here.”
“Two and a half million years.”
Eddie turned to him, shifting on the blanket to face Cisco instead of the stars.
Cisco grinned at him, then past him at the sky. Hard to say which sight was more beautiful. Fuck, he had such a crush. “You’re looking back in time two and a half million years, and if that’s not the coolest thing ever then just shoot me now.”
“Didn’t bring my gun.” Eddie grinned and shifted, laying on his back beside Cisco and looking with him up through time. “You’re an engineer, how do you know so much about astronomy?”
“I’ve been a nerd with nerd friends most of my life.”
“So have I, but all I ever learned about was D&D and how not to talk to girls.”
Cisco laughed. “I got that second one covered.”
“I’m just saying. You’re a genius. Like an actual genius.”
“I mean.” It was hard to not look over at him, but Eddie was way too close and Cisco was way too stupid to risk it. “If you’ve got loose standards for gen--”
Cisco blinked and fell silent.
Eddie shifted onto his side on the scratchy blanket, and Cisco went a little wide-eyed from resisting the urge to look. “Hey,” he said again, more soft. “You’re a genius.”
Cisco chuckled. “I don’t--”
“I had an entire childhood of never accepting a single compliment about myself. I know what it’s like. I still have trouble sometimes, unless it’s something that I’m certain of. It’s an awful feeling, okay? Having to swallow hope that the words might be true because you’re more comfortable laughing at yourself. And it’s something you have to get over. I was a fat, unpopular loser with conservative parents and occasional leanings I’ll just say were fairly liberal. But you? You’re this young, funny genius. And a snazzy dresser.”
Cisco laughed, though for some reason it came out a little thick and clogged. He kept looking up at the sky. It was safer.
“So what’s holding you back? Why can’t you just agree with me?”
Pride, his mother would have said. It was pride to believe in your own gifts. You could only feel good about yourself if you ignored all the things wrong with you, and if you did that you would never grow as a person.
Dante had talent. Armando had charm. Cisco...read things in books and then repeated them for tests. Know what you’re worth, his mother told him over and over again. Don’t ask for less, but don’t ask for more either.
Cisco smiled faintly. “I am a snazzy dresser.”
“You are.” Eddie propped his head up on his hand. “And?”
“Totally not even that young, so you can stop that talk right now.”
Eddie laughed. “Considering how young you are, I’ll chalk that comment up as proof that you’re funny.”
“Okay, old man river.”
Cisco hesitated, but tilted his head enough to look over at Eddie.
It wasn’t even that he was gorgeous, though that was hard to ignore. It’s that Eddie’s face showed hints of that round, strained boy in the old picture, and his eyes were understanding, and his smile was so incredibly kind. He had more patience for Cisco’s rambling than a lot of people in his life.
He was good. He was a good person. That seemed like such an understatement to make about a guy like Eddie, but Cisco knew for a fact how amazingly rare a thing it really was.
Eddie watched him, a tiny smile playing at his lips. “Come on. Just say it once for me.”
Cisco flushed and rolled his eyes. He cleared his throat. “I,” he said solemnly, “am a fucking genius.”
Eddie laughed, reaching out and pushing at his arm. “There you go!”
His fingers seemed to linger for a moment, and Cisco’s heart tangoed around for a few beats in his chest.
He couldn’t even think of Eddie anymore as a sigh, some wistful pretty person in the peripherals of his life. Because Eddie was his friend. He was becoming a pretty close friend. Someone separate from S.T.A.R. and The Flash and everything that Cisco’s life had become since the accelerator accident narrowed all his possible futures down to just the one he was living.
Eddie was Iris’s boyfriend, Joe’s partner, Barry’s...coworker. But him and Cisco, their thing had always been separate from all the others. When they talked, Eddie felt like he was Cisco’s.
But he wasn’t. And Cisco was doing a disservice to their growing friendship when he kept thinking of Eddie in those terms. So he dragged his eyes from Eddie’s warm smile and looked back up at the endless sky ten miles outside of Central City’s light pollution.
Eddie dropped back on his back a moment later, sighing. “Okay. Where’d that little patch of light go?”
The station hadn’t been that psyched up since Tockman took everyone hostage and gave Eddie the shiny, workout-altering scar in his shoulder. And Eddie’d been too out of it to register the excitement then.
But he wasn’t out of it this time. Thank to The Flash, Eddie was alive and well and watching, cheering along with the rest of the cops crowding the station, as Leonard Snart and Mick Rory were dragged through the throng towards the holding cells for processing.
Catching those two was only half the source of the excitement, and as they were led away most of the talk around him turned to The Flash. This mysterious red streak that had been laughed at for so long and dismissed as fantasy. The Flash, who Eddie first met when he was being dragged out of a moving car by the guy, and last met as they saved each other’s lives that very night.
Eddie still wasn’t sure what he made of The Flash yet. This whole metahuman thing, it was beyond his abilities to comprehend, and his brief and incredibly rocky history with The Flash didn’t give him much insight into the whole thing. Talking with Iris didn’t help much either. Besides one brief period, post-car-dragging, where she hadn’t talked about the Streak at all, she’d been one hundred percent supportive of the guy.
Funny thing was, he’d thought a lot lately about asking Cisco Ramon his opinion about the whole thing, and suddenly Cisco was right there. Showing up at the station, walking around in Eddie’s normal life with his big grins and his scienced-up shields.
Eddie suggested turning over Snart and Rory’s weapons to S.T.A.R., and to his surprise Singh agreed without hesitation. Just a day before that Singh had mentioned how wary he felt about Harrison Wells when he came by to make the shield presentation. But even Singh seemed to like Cisco.
Eddie figured it was probably really, really hard not to like Cisco.
When he took the weapons over to Cisco, keeping things purely professional in deference to the throngs of chatting cops around them, Cisco hadn’t questioned it. He took the weapons, looking almost relieved to be trusted with them.
But when Cisco started to leave, to follow Barry out of the station with those guns in hand, Eddie found himself following, leaving the celebration behind.
Barry had gotten far enough ahead that Cisco was the only one who heard him. He looked back, smiling and hanging back when he saw Eddie coming. “Police escort? Is that for me or for these bad boys?”
“All of the above.” Eddie caught up with him and they followed slowly after Barry. “You know those shields of yours saved a lot of us.”
Cisco’s warm smile faded. “I heard a bunch of cops had to go to the ER with burns.”
“Yeah, but that wasn’t your fault. You were protecting us from that ice gun, and it worked.”
“If I’d just thought about it...wouldn’t have taken much more work to make the shields completely resistant to drastic temperature changes, cold and hot both.”
Eddie nodded, suddenly glad he’d gone with his gut and followed Cisco out. “You could’ve made them six feet tall and broad enough to block every part of our bodies. Given them airbags in case we got into an accident en route. Maybe just skipped the shields entirely and designed giant bulletproof bubbles for us to walk around in.”
Cisco made a face, but his mouth quirked upward. “Yeah yeah, I get it. Can’t protect you from everything.”
“No you can’t. But you tried. And it worked the way you wanted it to. Besides, one of those shields kept me and The Flash both alive tonight.”
“Oh yeah?” Cisco’s eyes slid away from him.
“You know...I’m kind of surprised you don’t ever talk about him. The Flash, I mean. Mysterious guy running faster than the speed of sound, saving people. Seems like just your kind of thing. Downright comic-book.”
“Well. It’s not. It’s super boring. I’m way too sophisticated for that kind of thing.” Cisco stared straight ahead as they left the station and headed down the stairs and around to the parking lot. Barry obviously hadn’t intended to wait for Cisco, because he was nowhere in sight.
Eddie kept quiet as Cisco led them to the S.T.A.R. van parked in the lot. He grabbed the tub from Cisco and slid the guns into the back when Cisco opened the side door. And when Cisco made to shut the door Eddie stayed right where he was, regarding him.
Cisco flushed after just a moment. “Look... “
“However deep you’re involved in this...are you careful?”
Cisco blinked up at him, those expressive brown eyes wide with surprise. He hesitated, but nodded. “I’m in way less danger than you were tonight.”
“That’s not saying much.” Eddie relaxed after a moment, though. He didn’t disagree with Singh about Harrison Wells - there was something a little sly about him, something Eddie didn’t really care for. But he trusted Cisco. “Tell me about it, okay? Someday. When you can.”
“Okay.” Cisco broke into a smile, bright and wide and relieved.
And it was...cheesy, maybe, sappy like Eddie could sometimes get, but when Cisco smiled like that, like he was lit up from inside and just trying to share as much of that light with the world as possible...sometimes it made Eddie completely stop and forget what he was doing for a minute.
There was a kind of dull shock in the air as the door closed behind her, and Eddie found himself pulling out his phone.
Iris left me.
The response came in the same minute. I’ll be right over. Liquor or ice cream?
Eddie considered the kitchen (their kitchen, now just his kitchen again) stocked with endless green leafy things, protein shakes and diet everything.
Pizza. Make sure one of the toppings is grease.
But he considered as he waited for a knock on the door that he wasn’t altogether upset. Of course he wasn’t, really, it had been inevitable for a long time. Still. Death itself was inevitable, didn’t mean it didn’t hurt when it hit.
Cisco somehow managed to acquire pizza and ice cream both and still make it to Eddie’s apartment in about ten minutes. They dumped the pizza box on the coffee table. Eddie grabbed them a couple of beers, and Cisco ignored the food and watched Eddie with soft, worried eyes as Eddie dug in.
It was fantastic.
“I worry this is some kind of regression that I’m supposed to, like, be a buddy and try to stop from happening.” Cisco broke the silence after Eddie’s third slice. “But there’s something in me that can’t object to someone enjoying pizza.”
“I knew she was leaving.” Eddie swallowed the bite in his mouth. He dropped the rest of the slice on his plate and sat back, wondering how badly his stomach was going to object to the grease infusion later on.
“You guys were fighting?”
“The day Barry woke up from his coma,” Eddie said, sitting back and thinking about it. Picturing it all over again. “Iris brought him to the station to surprise Joe. The minute they walked in together, I knew.”
Cisco didn’t seem at all confused about what it was that Eddie knew. Maybe he knew Barry’s side of it. Barry Allen wasn’t exactly hard to read, and his love for Iris would have been obvious from...andromeda.
“I saw a smile on her face I hadn’t seen the nine months I knew her before then. And I never saw it afterward. Not when it was me she was looking at.” He smiled faintly. “I knew it was coming. I was in denial for a while, but I knew. I just...I figured it would cut me up when it happened. I loved her. She loved me. That was maybe the worst part of it, that for a while there she really did love me back. If Barry never woke up, we might’ve had a lifetime together.”
“She’s more upset than I am,” Eddie said after a moment. “She never wanted to hurt me. She’s...a really incredible person, Cisco. I’ll miss…” He sighed.
She would still be around, which was strange to consider. Her dad was Eddie’s partner, she was always around the station. Barry worked there. It was strange thinking that not only would he not miss Iris, he wouldn’t be able to avoid witnessing her new relationship in real time.
But that wasn’t something to be upset about. Iris was great. He needed her in his life. The tragedy would have been losing her completely.
He slumped back against the back of the couch. “Tell me something sciency. I like listening to you talk.”
There was a pause, just a beat or two.
“So even if you don’t take into account the odds of your dad meeting your mom, and all their ancestors meeting their other ancestors, do you know what kind of odds you faced when it came to being born?” Cisco sounded a little unsteady at first, but as he went on his voice hit its normal speed.
Eddie watched him.
When Cisco got excited he tended to get hand-wavey, and when he was playing up his enthusiasm it was even worse. Eddie had no doubt he was putting on a show right then.
“I mean forgetting that the entire universe had to line up in just the right way for your parents to meet, and like each other, and decided to spawn...just looking at basic DNA, the odds of you, exactly as you are right now, being born is something like one in four hundred quadrillion. Which is absolutely a real number.” Cisco folded his legs under him on the couch, setting his beer down when a gesture threatened to bubble it over. “See, a woman’s body can produce like a hundred thousand viable eggs in her lifetime. And dudes produce something like twelve trillion sperm. Even if we cut that down to a third, since of course your dad probably yanked it way before he ever met her…”
Eddie couldn’t help making a face, which judging by Cisco’s grin was exactly what he was going for.
“Okay, even if we talk about the one specific time your folks had sex when the egg with half your exact DNA was in place, we’re talking about millions of sperm. Like anywhere from forty million to like three hundred mil. So the odds of that one egg with half of you in it meeting that one sperm with the other half of you in it...four trillion to one. Minimum.”
“So talking about parents having sex is your way to distract a guy?” Eddie was smiling, though.
Cisco’s own smile faded a bit. “Four trillion to one. Nothing in the world survives those kind of odds. See, but nothing is impossible. Not if you’re a physics nerd like some of us. Literally nothing is impossible, just really, really improbable. Which means that what people call miracles are just improbabilities.”
“Ah. So you’re saying I’m a miracle.”
“Absolutely.” Cisco’s answer was sincere, heartfelt enough that Eddie felt heat rising to his cheeks. “You don’t get much more improbable than one in four trillion. You are a miracle, Eddie. Just walking around this earth like you’re normal, but you’re a complete wonder of science.”
Eddie thought about that. He reached over and set his plate down, and found himself sliding (not unintentionally) closer to Cisco. “You know why I really like that idea?”
Cisco chuckled. “Because it means everyone else is a miracle too, and you’re such a sweet guy that that’s important to you?”
“You know me so well.” Eddie slipped a knee up on the couch to face Cisco better, his leg brushing Cisco’s thigh. He watched Cisco’s eyes go wide, and his face struggle to remain neutral.
He was reminded of a night under the stars not that long ago, looking down at Cisco with just the starlight painting him in the darkness. The way Cisco had looked up at him, like he was fighting back some serious urges. Cisco would never know how hard it had been for Eddie to resist leaning in right then and there and tasting the genius on his lips. Iris had been between them, though. For all that Eddie knew she was only his for a short time, he’d had no intention of cutting it any shorter.
But she was gone. And Cisco was still looking at him like it took everything he had not to move closer.
It was irresistible, that look. Coming from those wide eyes and that genius mind, that brilliant, beautiful guy. Eddie’d attracted a few admiring looks the last few years, but Cisco had gone from looking at him like he wanted him - Eddie hadn’t missed the crush Cisco had on him in the beginning - to looking at him like he saw him. Eddie, whether a spoiled child, or a round, unhappy teenager, or a fit, healthy, conventionally attractive cop, had always wanted nothing more than to be seen.
He reached out, sliding fingers through Cisco’s long, dark hair, pushing it back behind his ear.
Cisco drew in a breath. “Is this...is this a rebound thing? Because, man, I don’t have the amount of self-control I’d need to do the right thing if this is just a rebound.”
“She’s been gone since Barry woke up, remember? Her body just had to catch up to her heart. I’ve had months to mourn her.” Eddie’s fingers slipped to the back of Cisco’s neck. “I thought it would cut me up,” he said softly. “But it hasn’t. And I know why it hasn’t.”
Cisco’s lips parted and a small sound escaped, and it was intoxicating to be looked at with such open wonder by someone like Cisco Ramon.
Maybe that was the secret, Eddie couldn’t help but think as he pulled Cisco close and their mouths met. Maybe the secret was not to settle for someone you thought was incredible. It was to wait for the incredible one who looked at you like the real miracle was your being with them.
Then Cisco shifted himself right into Eddie’s lap, and their gentle kiss grew more insistent, and Eddie stopped thinking entirely for a while.