It’s not that Barry feels bad, it’s just that... Okay, he feels bad.
The problem, he thinks, is obvious. He doesn’t have a gym partner. No, scratch that. Barry doesn’t have a dance partner.
Well, technically he does. He does have a gym partner for the waltz, it’s just that his gym partner has taken it upon himself to set the record at Central City High for most number of skipped classes.
He’s staring at the empty spot right in front of him, completely unable to keep the disappointment out of his face. Their performance is in three months and his gym partner hasn’t showed up to any of their classes. It was fine the first few days, but then a month passed by with nothing and Barry’s getting nervous. Iris and Felicity are over to the other side, neither of them paying particular attention to their dancing, too busy giving him sympathetic looks. Barry does his best to force his lips into a reassuring smile. Judging by the looks on their faces, he’s not very successful.
Barry looks up to Mrs. McGee stern but concerned face. She’s tapping a pen absently against her class list, right to the beat of the music they’re supposed to dance to. The class is supposed practicing on their own but. Well, Iris and Felicity are doing something that’s close to practicing, the rest of the class is just slacking off.
“Cisco still isn’t here?” Barry shakes his head. Mrs. McGee’s brow furrows. “Don’t worry, Mr. Allen. If he doesn’t show up by tomorrow, you’ll be exempted from the final performance. We can’t force him to class, but that doesn’t mean you have to suffer for it.”
Barry hides a wince. The thing is Barry actually likes Mrs. McGee. He loves her British accent and the fact that she took ballet and it shows in the way she moves. He loves the fact that she’s strict and sweet at the same time. He loves how she can silence a room with just one look.
And he really loves the fact that she teaches dance and pushed for the Juniors class to have a waltz class performance instead of just adding to the list of useless skills high school seems intent on giving them.
What he doesn’t love is that his partner is refusing to show up for class so he can actually enjoy the class and do the dance, like he’s supposed to.
(Not that he’s going to be particularly good at it but it’s the thought that counts.)
“Okay,” Barry says, swallowing a thick lump in his throat.
Mrs. McGee nods, apparently satisfied, and moves on to turn on the radio like she always does to signal the official start of practice. Barry on the other hand goes to his usual spot on the benches (the first few times, they’d let him join in but a waltz is, y’know a waltz and it really does require a partner), wishing really hard that he’s dancing with the music along with them.
“Alright, everybody. Listen up,” Mrs. McGee says. “As you may well know, the prom is in three weeks time and your final performance would be on that night, so from here on out, I expect full effort from the lot of you. Is that clear?”
The class murmurs in agreement. Mrs. McGee nods, satisfied. She claps her hand and says,
“Alright then. Places!”
Barry puts his head on his chin and tries not to be too miserable.
“You have to talk to him,” is the first thing Iris says to him when class ends. Her hair is still faintly damp from her customary after-class shower.
Seriously Barry,” Felicity agrees. “I mean you’re all in the same classes together, well us, actually, since I’m in those same classes as you. And sometimes even Iris is there with us. Hey, do you want us to talk to him? Because I can totally do that. Maybe I can even rope Ray into it. We’re in the same Robotics class and…” Felicity trails off when she sees that Barry’s already shaking his head.
The three of them head towards the west wing. Barry and Felicity to Honors Physics and Iris to her Journalism Elective.
“I just feel bad about doing it,” he says, putting an arm around his neck. “I mean he looks so miserable all the time. It seems mean to ask him about not going to gym class. And don’t ask him about it. He looks like he has enough on his plate.”
His gym partner, Cisco Ramon, rarely ever talks. Just stares at the desk most of the time, a miserable look on his face, and does what seems like magic with their math that the teachers are content to leave him to his own devices. As far as Barry can tell, he doesn’t really have that many friends.
Felicity holds her hands up in mock surrender.
“Well he’s making you miserable,” Iris says. “And besides, he’ll have to come eventually. He does need to pass Gym to graduate. It’s hitting two birds with one stone.”
“Fine.” Barry’s learned early on that there’s no saying no to Iris. Not when she’s set her mind on something. “I’ll talk to him about it later after class.”
“Don’t sound so miserable about it,” Iris says. “It’s for both your sakes. Really, it is. Well, this is me.” She nods to the classroom that is in fact her classroom. “You two go and do science. And make sure he actually talks to him this time,” she says to Felicity.
“Yes ma’am.” Felicity gives Iris a peck on the cheek before seizing Barry by the arm and dragging him down the hall.
“Come on, Barry,” she says. “We are going to work on your social skills and get you a dance partner.”
“Great,” Barry says, only half-sarcastic. “I’m so excited.”
Because, if there’s anyone who can convince anyone of anything, it’s Felicity Smoak.
Barry had waited until the Physics lab was empty before he went over to Cisco Ramon. That way he won’t have to have an incredibly embarrassing moment in front of an entire class. Barry doesn’t really know how he knows it’s going to be incredibly embarrassing but judging from the fact that his heart is already trying to beat out of his chest, and he hasn’t even said a word to the guy… Yeah, it’s probably going to be incredibly embarrassing.
Cisco Ramon is always the last to leave Physics, always too busy fiddling with a hundred different equations that goes way over Barry, and sometimes even Felicity’s, head to notice that the class has, in fact, ended ten minutes ago.
Barry turns back to Felicity who gives him a thumbs up sign. He can literally feel how red his cheeks are. It’s not that he doesn’t want to talk to Cisco Ramon—Barry may be awkward but he’d never been shy—it’s just that he’s not particularly sure Cisco Ramon wants to talk to him.
Cisco Ramon looks at him from under his eyelashes. His hands are fiddling with spare bits of metal that look like they’re from a car engine. Almost all of his things are stained with grease.
“Hey,” he says, voice a near mumble.
“So um. I—I actually wanted to talk to you about something. I’m Barry, by the way. Barry Allen.”
He holds out his hand. It stays in the air for just a beat too long before Cisco takes it into his own. Nothing more than the briefest clasps, barely passing for a handshake, really.
“Cisco Ramon,” he says.
“Right. Right,” Barry says. “Yeah.”
He almost turns and runs away right then and there but a quick look back shows Felicity giving him her patented ‘Barry Allen I Know You Don’t Want to Do This But You Have Got to Do This’ look and Barry has no defenses against that.
“So, yeah,” he says. “I wanted to talk to you about something.”
Cisco Ramon doesn’t say anything, just stares at him with huge, brown eyes. Barry realizes after a few seconds that he’s waiting for Barry to speak.
“I’m your partner in Gym,” he blurts out. Cisco Ramon continues to stare at him, his eyes becoming confused. Barry is beginning to feel like an idiot. “We’re doing the Waltz and we’re partners. You and me, I mean. For gym.”
Cisco Ramon’s eyes widen.
“I thought Mrs. McGee assigned you another partner,” he says.
“Yeah no,” Barry says. “There’s no one left to partner me with. The class is an even number.”
“I just thought since I never came…” Cisco Ramon is staring at his sneakers. His hands have stopped fidgeting and the metal objects have fallen to the floor. He has the look of a man condemned. “I’m so sorry man. I just thought since—that it would be better—I’m not much of a dancer.” He adds the last part with a helpless, pleading look towards Barry.
Barry feels his resolve crumble from those wide, brown eyes. And it’s not like he had that much to begin with.
“That’s totally fine,” he says. “I mean—”
“What Barry means to say is that he’d appreciate it very much if he has a dance partner next week.” Felicity comes out from nowhere, holding Barry’s arm in a vice grip. She offers her other hand to Cisco Ramon. “Felicity. We’re in the same—”
“Robotics yeah,” Cisco Ramon says. And for the first time in Barry’s memory, he sees a smile lighting up his face. Not just a smile. He turns to Barry with a full on megawatt grin. It fits perfectly on his face, like it’s made to be there. Definitely much better than the permanent glum look on his face. “Her bot pummeled mine last week. It was sick.”
“Well your bot put up a really good fight,” Felicity says. “Tell you what, you come to one class and give Barry his dream of dancing the waltz, and I’ll show you my tricks of the trade.”
Cisco Ramon shifts uneasily, not meeting their eyes. Barry’s fascinated by his hands, which seem to be fiddling with some odd, metallic object again. He has no idea where he got it, but it’s amazing how Cisco Ramon’s fingers are nimbly fitting the pieces together, like it’s something he’s done a thousand times before.
“I don’t know… I mean I stand by what I said, I’m not much of a dancer. I’ll probably end up killing him or something. Not even joking here.”
“Same goes for you,” Barry says. “I don’t think I’ve walked in a straight line my entire life, so if you’re worried about serious injury…” He clears his throat. He’s pretty sure that Cisco Ramon hasn’t noticed his staring but he looks up and stares at a blank patch of wall, just to be safe.
“So what do you say, Cisco?” Felicity says. “You going to Gym next Tuesday?”
“If you want to, that is,” Barry says, clearing his throat. The blank patch of wall is not really that blank, there are ink stains on it, and what seems to be burn marks. It’s possible. Weird and dangerous and unpredictable things happen in Physics classrooms.
“Okay then,” Cisco Ramon says. “But are you sure—”
“It’s going to be fine, Cisco,” Felicity says.
“Okay,” Cisco Ramon says.
“Okay!” Felicity says. Out of the three of them, she seems to be the only person who isn’t affected by the oppressively awkward air. Or more likely because she’s Felicity Smoak, she’s just pointedly ignoring it. “Well, Iris is waiting for us. You maybe want to walk with us?”
“Uh sure.” Cisco Ramon is looking between the two of them like they’re a difficult math equation that he can’t seem to make heads or tails of. Barry’s rarely seen that look on his face. But he can sort of relate, though.
Cisco Ramon’s one of the most confusing things Barry’s ever seen, too.
Cisco’s shy demeanor lasts for all but three seconds after they began talking with each other. It turns out the guy can even outtalk Felicity. He’s smart, funny, and has an unhealthy knowledge about every type of movie in existence: the new, the old, and the downright weird.
Barry learned this through the past few days he’d been spending with Cisco, both in class and in walking home.
Other things Barry’s found out about Cisco:
- The guy’s obsessed with superheroes. He told Barry about entire closets he has, just filled with comic books.
- His favorite superhero is Spiderman for reasons he won’t disclose. Personally, Barry thinks it has something to do with how Peter Parker is juggling being a genius superhero and a highschooler at the same time.
- He’s basically Phineas Flinn in real life. The things he builds blows Barry’s mind. He has blueprints for devices that can go to absolute zero and create gold out of nothing!
- He can play the guitar but he’s weirdly shy about it. Iris asked him to play once, standing right next to the piano of the music room, and he just looked at the guitar and shook his head mutely.
- Despite his love for movies, he has an almost irrational, if completely harmless, aversion to horror films. Barry managed to weasel something about him watching ‘The Ring’ when he was a toddler and c’mon man, it’s terrifying for someone who loves watching TV to have an evil ghost monster coming out of a TV, Barry, it’s not weird!
- He’s incredibly ticklish. (They had a sleepover at Iris’ place once and Felicity had accidentally poked Cisco in the ribs. The tickle fight that followed lasted for more than twenty minutes, and would’ve gone on for longer if not for Joe coming into their room and asking them in a tired voice to get some sleep, please.)
- He actually is a worse dancer than Barry.
- He almost never comes home.
There’s something to be said about how quickly Cisco found his way into Barry’s life with the title of ‘best friend’ but it’s just… The two of them just fit perfectly together, like they’ve known each other for years and years. The only person that Barry has that close a relationship with is Iris and he actually has known her for years and years.
Cisco does come to Gym the following day. Mrs. McGee had looked genuinely surprised to see Cisco standing next to Barry, which is something Barry hadn’t even thought she could do. She didn’t say anything though, just gave the two of them a nod of acknowledgement and moved to turn on the music.
It turns out that Cisco is a very, very bad dancer; and Barry was never that good to begin with. The result is that the two of them spend more time hurting each other than any actual dancing.
“No, Cisco come on man, it’s two steps to the left not on my foot.”
“Right. Right. Sorry.” Cisco takes two steps to the left, just like Barry asked. Now, it’s Barry’s turn to stumble forward and into Cisco’s arms. The two of them topple to the floor.
Barry sighs. Apparently, dancing skills are not magically gained once he gets a partner. He wants to dance, he really does, but Barry never particularly said he was any good at it.
“Look,” Cisco says. “We’ve been at it for hours and everyone’s already left. Why don’t we take five?”
“That sounds great,” Barry says.
Cisco nods, satisfied. They head over to the benches. The gym is empty. Barry and Cisco had asked for extra practice time and Ms. McGee had just given the two of them an unreadable look and tossed them the keys and told them to lock up when they’re finished.
That had been three hours ago. Barry had texted Joe and told him he might go home a bit late for the movie night. Cisco hadn’t even made a move towards his phone for the entire period.
“Sorry I’m such a terrible dancer,” Cisco says. He produces a bag of licorice from seemingly nowhere and offers it to Barry.
“Hey, you and me both, man,” Barry says. “You still game for movie night later?”
Cisco flashes him a bright grin. Barry feels butterflies both in his chest and his stomach. The look has never failed to elicit that reaction.
“You know I am,” Cisco says. “I can’t believe you and Oliver have never seen Princess Bride. The two of you are missing out on so much.”
“Well then it’ll be your job to educate us,” Barry says.
“Too true my young padawan,” Cisco says, shaking his head mournfully. “Too true.”
“Wanna head over to Joe’s right now?” Barry asks. “And maybe ask Felicity and Iris for dancing tips?”
Felicity and Iris were unquestionably the stars of the Waltz class. Barry doesn’t know if it’s the natural chemistry that occurs between a couple, or because individually, the two of them are amazing dancers.
“You’re always the man with a plan,” Cisco says, his grin somehow managing to widen.
The ninth thing Barry found out about Cisco: He has that irresistible charm that’s pulling rapidly over the edge of falling in love.
The thing with the almost weekly movie nights at the West house, is that it hosts a lot of people. Between Iris and Felicity, they bring over a lot of friends. And it’s Cisco’s first movie night with them, with all of them and Barry is understandably nervous.
There’s Felicity’s best friends, Oliver and Thea Queen, Oliver’s girlfriend Laurel, John, and Lyla. There’s also Ray Palmer, the guy from Felicity and Cisco’s Robotics class that neither of them can stop gushing about.
Then there’s Iris who brings over Eddie and Linda. Of course there’s also Wally, and Barry who live there. And with the addition of Cisco, it brings the addition of more people. He takes two seniors named Caitlin and Ronnie.
What Barry’s trying to say is that whenever they have movie nights, it is a logistic feat on how they manage to fit so many people in one room. Add that to Cisco’s insistence of making the biggest blankest forts known to man (it’s not a movie night without a blanket fort, Barry!) the fact that they manage to fit everyone in one room is nothing short of magic.
And Cisco had looked overwhelmed at first, retreating into his shy shell as people began pouring in and in and everyone gradually pressed closer and closer together. But to Barry’s relief, Felicity immediately put him at ease by chatting to him about the merits of Star Trek against Star Wars and the next thing they knew, Barry’s setting up the DVD player and Cisco’s demanding quiet from the entire room.
“Alright I expect everyone to focus,” he says. He’s lying half on top of Barry, underneath the blanket forth they made. “We are watching classical material here. There will be no interruptions.”
There’s a grumbling from the couch that sounds a lot like Oliver before Felicity pipes up,
“Oliver’s complaining because he thought you were supposed to be the shy one.”
“Can it Queen,” Cisco says. There’s a faint blush to his cheeks but otherwise, he seems perfectly at ease at Barry’s house. “You need to learn how to respect art.”
“I’m excited for the movie,” Barry says. Beside him, Iris snorts. He nudges her in the ribs.
Cisco turns to him with a blinding grin. Barry makes a choked sound, like he’d been punched. It feels like he’d been punched.
But maybe that was just Felicity’s foot. They are getting really crowded for movie night.
“I knew I could count on you, man,” Cisco says.
Barry realizes how well and truly gone he is while waiting to watch Princess Bride with his best friend/crush.
So, so gone.
When Barry realizes how much of a crush he actually has on Cisco, he does the thing he always does when he has a problem: he goes to Iris.
“I don’t know what to do,” he tells her.
“Don’t worry,” Iris says. “Crushes are normal. We can do this. Let’s start with why you like him?”
Barry opens his mouth but comes up with no answer because he doesn’t even know where to start.
Cisco is amazing. He’s kind, smart, and he can always make Barry laugh. He can make friends with everyone he meets, once he’s out of that shy shell of his, even the worst of the bullies, but he’s not afraid to snark back when people are being mean. (Barry never quite understood that about him. He turns red and loses the ability to talk when strangers are talking normally to him, but make it a bully making threats, and suddenly he talks back like he’s the biggest person in the room. And yeah, Barry finds that incredibly incredible.)
He’s smarter than anyone Barry knows and there’s something about him that just fits.
The better question would be why Barry wouldn’t like him.
“I don’t know what to do,” Barry says helplessly.
Iris pats him on the shoulder. There’s a sympathetic smile on her face. “Oh Bar. But from where I’m standing, it sounds pretty simple to,” Iris says. “You ask him out like a normal person. That’s what I did with Felicity so it probably works.”
“You don’t understand, Iris,” Barry says. “I can barely talk when we’re in the same room together and we’re partners for The Waltz.”
“That is a very romantic dance,” Iris agrees. She looks like she’s holding back a laugh.
Barry shoots her a glare. She is not being helpful in the least.
“Yes Iris, I know it’s a romantic dance,” he says. “I know it’s a romantic dance because every time I dance it with Cisco, I get flustered and awkward and I’m scared he’s going to notice soon and hate me for the rest of my life.”
“Woah there man,” Iris says. “I think you’re getting ahead of yourself?”
“Yes Barry,” Iris says. “You are. And if it makes you feel better, I think Cisco’s already noticed and he’s not treating you any differently, so…”
Barry’s head shoots up. His eyes go wide and his breathing hitches.
“What do you mean he’s noticed?” Barry asks, completely aware of the fact that his voice had gone high and squeaky.
“Barry sweetie, you’re really not very subtle. He was asking about you the other day.” Iris pauses and she’s definitely holding back a laugh now. “Said you were acting strange. Asked if you were sick or something. ”
“What did you tell him?”
“I told him you had a crush on someone,” Iris says.
“Relax,” Iris says, giggling. “I’m joking. I told him you’re fine. Just a little stressed.”
“And what did he say?”
Iris rolls her eyes. She still looks like she’s trying to hide a smile.
“For god’s sake Barry, just ask him out already,” she says. “You’re already dancing together for the prom. Might as well go as his date.”
“But what if he’s…” Barry clears his throat. “I mean I’m bi but… But what if he’s not into guys?”
“Barry the guy quotes Star Trek to you like five times a week,” Iris says. “Isn’t that nerd speak for like, being really into someone?”
“I don’t know,” Barry says. “Is it?”
“Yes it is,” Iris says firmly. “And if you’re still not sure, you know what you can do?”
“You can ask him out.” Iris makes little waving and flashing gestures with her hand. Barry puts his face against a table and groans.
“I hate you so much right now,” he says.
Iris pats his arm sympathetically.
“I love you too, Bar,” she says.
Despite what Iris says, Barry does not ask Cisco out for a date. He does what is apparently a normal Allen reaction, if Joe’s stories about his Dad can be believed: he pines. Apparently, his pining got so bad, even Oliver noticed. And that’s how Barry knows it’s gotten really bad.
“Here.” Oliver hands him a bouquet. A very expensive looking bouquet. One with orchids and lilies and other flowers that Barry doesn’t even know. “Give it to Cisco.”
Well, ‘hands’ is a rather vague term. The more specific term would be shoves into his chest with the face of the man going to war.
“What? No, Ollie, I’m not giving him that. It looks ridiculous!”
“You want a way to ask him out, don’t you,” Oliver says. “Flowers and chocolates. That’s what I did with Laurel.”
Oliver and Laurel are seniors. They’re the perfect couple, the type people see on the covers of magazines, going off to Ivy League schools and future presidents or CEOs or supermodels. Barry doesn’t think he’s really ever going to achieve those levels of awesomeness.
Right now, Barry really wishes that his friends would stop giving him relationship advice by giving examples of what they did to get their own perfect relationships. First Iris now Oliver (granted he did ask for Iris’ help, but still). He gets it. He is a very awkward person who is unable to handle his own crushes. Seeing how everyone can do the exact opposite of what he’s doing is really not very encouraging.
“Thanks,” Barry says. He lets the hand holding the flower drop. He really doesn’t know what to do with it. “I’ll uh—I’ll keep that in mind. Ollie, where did you even get this?”
“I know a guy,” Oliver says.
“Okay,” Barry says. He tries to pretend that doesn’t sound incredibly sketchy.
“Right then. Good luck.” Oliver claps him on the shoulder, nodding decisively. Barry gets the very distinct feeling that he’s being dismissed.
“Okay,” Barry says.
Barry brings the flowers over to Cisco’s place. (Oliver gave them to him, might as well use them) with the full intention of asking Cisco out. He can do this. He’s Barry Allen. He’s done worse things than asking out the guy he likes to the prom.
There was a brief stint where Barry got lost. He only has a vague idea of where Cisco lives, told through the incredibly passing comment, and it turns out that a vague idea is not enough to find a friend’s house.
But he thinks he’s found it. Or at least he’s found Cisco. He’s sitting on the curb, in front of a nice looking house, chin on his hands, looking over what seems to be… Is that their Physics textbook? Deciding to ponder on this later, Barry takes a deep breath. Now or never. He can do this.
“Hey man. Cisco,” he says, trying to keep his voice level. Cisco doesn’t appear to hear him, too engrossed in, what did you know, it was their Physics textbook. Barry decides to ponder on that mystery later. He calls his name again. Cisco looks up, surprised.
“Hey Barry,” he says.
“Why are you sitting out here?”
Cisco shakes his head. His head tilts towards his house, a sharp, jerky motion. “Nothing,” he says. “My brother has some friends over. His band friends.”
Cisco says it all with such an air of resignation and general indifference that Barry’s heart breaks for him, just a little. This clearly isn’t a one time event.
“And you’re sitting out here on the curb because…”
“Just keeping out of the way,” he says. “My Mom doesn’t really like it when I clog up the living room with my homework so I usually just go to my room but they were already there when I got there so.”
“Still doesn’t explain why you’re doing it here? Couldn’t you, I don’t know, pass by them?”
Cisco shrugs, a blush creeping up his cheeks.
“Not going through there till Dante and all his friends are gone,” Cisco says. “Because if I do I’ll have to endure an entire hour of ‘Dante and his friends are so good at music, Cisco.’ ‘Dante and his friends play at Carnegie Hall, Cisco.’ ‘Why can’t you be more like Dante, Cisco?’”
“That’s rough,” Barry says. “But wait—Don’t you play the guitar?”
Cisco shrugs again, throwing a backwards glance towards his house.
“Don’t think they even noticed,” he says. “Dante suggested it but. Turns out they prefer the piano.” He shrugs again, seeming to look at anywhere but at Barry.
He turns back to the Physics book. His hand is absentmindedly tapping a pencil against it. He doesn’t even seem to see the words.
“So no chance of playing Skyrim?” Barry asks.
Cisco looks back up, eyes wide and nervous, the exact opposite of the reaction Barry was going for.
“I’m so sorry—I mean we can go up to my room and I have my console there but—” He cuts himself off, biting his lip.
“Hey no, I was joking,” Barry says. He clears his throat. “Hey, wanna head over to my place? Where there are actual tables and desks for that. And ice cream. We have ice cream.”
Cisco continues biting at his lips, chewing considerably. Barry doesn’t know how one person can have such pretty and entrancing lips.
“Can we watch Princess Bride after?” Cisco asks.
“You bet,” Barry says.
“Well then.” Cisco gets up, dusting himself off. He turns to Barry with his usual megawatt grin. Then his eyes stray downward to where Barry—
“Hey Bar?” Cisco says.
“Yeah?” His voice had gone high and squeaky. Barry’s mentally wondering the quickest and most efficient route he can take to Canada to get away because abort abort abort
“What’s with the ridiculously elaborate flowers?”
“Uh well. You know. Well.” Barry’s mouth seems to be refusing to work for him. “Oliver gave them to me!” he blurts out.
Cisco’s eyebrows shoot up in surprise.
“Oliver Queen gave you flowers?” he says.
“Yeah well. That guy, you know.” Barry tries to act cool. Probably ended up being incredibly awkward instead. “You know him. Who knows what even goes on in his head.”
“Okay.” Cisco draws the word out. He clearly doesn’t believe Barry. Barry gulps down the nervousness that’s rising in his throat. “Well then.”
“Hey,” Barry says. “Do you, maybe wanna have them?”
Cisco’s brow furrows. His hands grip the Physics textbook with white knuckles.
“You’re giving me flowers?” he asks uncertainly.
“Well you know.” Barry gestures to Cisco. “You—You’ve had a—You’ve had a rough day and that means you get flowers,” he finishes lamely.
“Oh,” Cisco says. “Right.”
He looks oddly disappointed.
Barry may be wrong, though. His heart is beating too fast and his palms are too sweaty; people see things that aren’t really there when that happens, right?
He means to do it, everytime they’re together, but Cisco is Cisco and has those beautiful brown eyes and Barry forgets how words work everytime he’s around him.
“Barry? You’re zoning out on me here, man. Don’t leave me to the mercies of Calculus on my own.”
Barry’s head snaps up. It’s their homework study session at the West house and Barry had been trying to work up the courage to ask Cisco out on a date. Or maybe just be his actual dance partner for the prom, as opposed to just a class dance partner. He is failing so miserably.
“Huh?” he says.
“You’ve been staring at that page for ten minutes,” Cisco tells him.
“Oh.” Barry closes his math textbook.
“Something on your mind?”
“Uh yes!” Cisco looks at him, somehow both patient and expectant at the same time. “I mean no.”
“Nothing,” Barry says. He swallows down the lump in his throat. “Nothing. It’s nothing.”
Cisco’s brow furrows.
“If you’re sure,” he says. “But you’ll tell me, right? If it is something?”
There’s something like doubt and hesitance in his voice. Barry nods, almost without thinking abou it.
“Of course,” he says.
“Right,” Cisco says. “Yeah. Okay.”
“Okay,” Barry echoes.
Another chance given. Another chance that flew away right before Barry’s eyes, and he’s still lost in Cisco’s beautiful, brown eyes.
“Alright class,” Mrs. McGee says. “Prom is tomorrow and we’ve all practiced very hard for this and I’m sure you’ll all do well but let’s do this, one last time.”
It’s been over three months since Cisco first came to class and prom is tomorrow. They’ve come a long way and with patient lessons from Mrs. McGee and tips from Iris and Felicity, the two of them can actually dance without being a danger to anyone and to themselves.
And Barry still hasn’t asked Cisco out.
Iris and Felicity are across the room. Iris makes pointing gestures towards Barry then towards Cisco, not in the least bit subtle. Cisco seems completely oblivious to her attention.
“Hey Cisco,” Barry says.
“Just—You’re a really great dance partner.”
Cisco smiles at him like he’s the sun. Iris buries her face in her hands. Barry doesn’t know if she heard or just figured it out from the expression on his face.
“Right back at you,” Cisco says.
“I’m really glad this happened,” Barry says.
Cisco glances at him from under his eyelashes, looking almost shy. It reminds Barry of the first time they talked.
“Me too,” he says. “You’re the best friend I have. And I’m really glad you talked me into going to this class.”
“I’m so glad you came,” Barry says, swallowing past the lump in his throat. “And Cisco?”
“Do you want to maybe—”
The music plays abruptly and Mrs. McGee is telling them to get into position.
“Rain check for this conversation?” Cisco says. He takes Barry’s hand in his.
“Uh Sure.” Barry puts his arm around Cisco’s waist and they’re too close. He gets the very sudden urge to just lean forward and—
“Alright class! One, two, three. One, two, three…”
They begin moving, with Cisco leading instead of the other way around because Barry’s too lost in his own head. It occurs to him that maybe, he’s actually lost his chance at asking Cisco to the prom.
Barry does up his tie one more time. He’s nervous and he’s more than willing to admit it.
“It’s going to be fine, Bar,” Joe says. Barry hadn’t told him about anything but he seems to know anyway. “Your guests are downstairs.”
“I didn’t ask him out,” Barry says. Joe smiles at him.
“It’ll turn out fine,” he says. “Stop worrying so much.”
With those words in mind, Barry goes downstairs. It’s only Felicity and Cisco there. The rest of the gang already went ahead of them.
Cisco marches up to him, handing him a single red rose.
“Here,” he says. “For your coat. A boutonnière, I think they call it.”
Barry takes it hesitantly. He pins it to the left pocket.
“I didn’t get you a flower,” he says, feeling very stupid. “Was I supposed to?”
Cisco shakes his head. He looks oddly disappointed.
“No. I mean you’re not supposed to do anything.” He’s staring at his sneakers and. Barry notices that he’s wearing socks with little candy canes on them. “I just thought that maybe. Yeah. It looks really good on you.”
From the other side of the room, Felicity groans loudly.
“You guys are the worst,” Iris tells them.
“Okay I take everything back,” Cisco says. “I wish I just never came to class.”
Barry would say that Cisco’s exaggerating but he’s probably just as nervous as he is. There’s dancing with each other and laughing at your own mistakes and there’s dancing in front of the entire student body who will remember their blunders for the rest of their lives.
And on top of all that, Barry’s mind is still whirling. The spot on his chest where the flower is pinned too feels entirely too warm. He doesn’t know what it means and he wants to take Cisco’s hand in his, and not just for the Waltz.
Cisco had given Barry a flower and he’s leaning a little too close to Barry but that could all just be the nervousness. Cisco’s been a fidgety mess ever since Joe’s.
A voice that sounds suspiciously like Iris tells them that he’ll never know unless he asks.
“Wanna dance with me?” Barry asks hesitantly.
Cisco looks to the dance floor, a little green around the edges.
“I thought we were dancing later,” he says. “For the performance, I mean.”
“No, I mean right now. Like as dates. If you want to that is. I realize that I never actually asked you out but you don’t have a date and I don’t have a date and I just—”
“Is that why you were acting so weird around me?”
Barry’s mouth snaps shut. He nods mutely.
“I thought it was maybe cuz you hated me.”
Barry’s mouth falls open. Iris had said that Cisco might be suspecting something but that was so far off the mark that the mark is probably smaller than an atom by now.
“No,” he says, shaking his head emphatically. “No that wasn’t—No. I’ve wanted to ask you out for ages and I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I love being with you, man. You’re my best friend.”
“I’ve had a crush on you since forever, man,” Cisco says. “I just thought. And then you begun avoiding me and you looked so awkward with the flower—”
“I didn’t know what it meant,” Barry says. “I thought flowers were supposed to be for dates.”
“You gave me flowers when you came over to my place,” Cisco points out.
“I was going to ask you out.”
“Well then.” There’s a soft look in Cisco’s eyes and a faint blush to his cheeks as he takes Barry’s hand in his own. Barry feels his heart flutter in his chest. If he dies right now as a gangly seventeen year old, he can die happy.
“This is a date,” Barry says. It isn’t a question.
“I think it is,” Cisco says.
“Cisco?” Barry says, hesitant. “Do you want to dance with me?”
Cisco smiles and it’s his soft smile. His shy smile. He’s looking at Barry like Barry’s a miracle and he’s the luckiest man alive. Barry wants to tell him that he’s wrong, that he’s got it all backwards.
“I’d love to dance with you,” Cisco says.
Barry smiles. He squeezes Cisco’s hand and they walk to the dance floor.
The music isn’t really for a waltz—something loud and full of drums and screaming—but that’s not important, they’ve learned the steps over and over again, arms wrapped around each other, learning how the other’s body moves with their own. Besides, Barry barely even hears anything, too lost in the deep brown of Cisco’s eyes.
One, two, three. One, two, three…
They dance. They dance and they dance and they dance.